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elizabetta

elizabetta

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All Wrapped Up
Morgan Harcourt;Laylah Hunter;Thea Hayworth;Gryvon
Wallflower  - Heidi Belleau
3.5 stars

We’re back with the housemates and friends of book one, [b:Apple Polisher|17946461|Apple Polisher (Rear Entrance Video #1)|Heidi Belleau|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1370231033s/17946461.jpg|25001195], who all now work shifts at the Rear Entrance Video (I keep wanting to type ‘rear entry’) store, helping Christian and his ailing aunt with keeping the business running.

This time the focus is on Rob. We remember him as the shy, quiet, diminutive Asian guy who was always getting lost in the… well, he’s a wallflower. But, he has a secret, inner persona, a feminine side, just wanting to bust out and bloom.

It’s great that a lot of the important action takes place in the seedy video shop that specializes in porn and sex toys. The customers are always colorful, sometimes shady, and even occasionally, dangerous… Interesting that working there helps Rob come out of his shell.

The author does very well giving us a world filled with ordinary, regular people (well, except for Rob’s sister, Bernice. She’s pretty fabulous.), who look like ordinary, real people with real world concerns. Kudos for the interracial/intercultural ’ships too, not seen enough in the genre.

The writing is very strong as it effectively colors the characters with interesting underlying traits… gender-bending, transgender, transsexual, cross dressing… we get a look at Rob’s exploring another side to his sexuality. How does he figure out what he really wants? Will he be accepted by friends and family? What dangers does he risk from ignorant bullies and bashers? Rob deals with all of these. Also…

How he explores this other side becomes an issue with Rob in the story… Role-play and flirting has consequences in some of his online and real life interactions as he tests out his feminine side. (So interesting in a world where connectivity through social media and the internet allows for lots of personal inventiveness.)

The story examines some of these concerns without hitting me over the head with them… though the romance at times takes a back seat to Rob’s processing. We see Rob grow into something more as he tests out his ‘softer’ side and boundaries. Rob makes it clear throughout the story that he is happy being a guy; he isn’t interested in changing himself anatomically. He just wants to be accepted to explore his fem side, while still ‘being a boy’ for Dylan.

The other characters dim somewhat in comparison to Rob. I wish we had a little more of Dylan. He’s Rob’s love interest and an Inuit comic book artist (could have used a lot more of that!!) who was adopted into a white family. His sister is a porn actress. Dylan obviously comes from a diverse background that sounds fascinating on its own.

Something that threw me is that things happen pretty fast for Rob and Dylan. Dylan goes from being one of the vid shop customers to falling in love so quickly it made me dizzy. While reading, it didn’t seem in keeping with his wise-ass, stand-offish character built in the beginning of the story when he we also see him as a classmate of Rob’s. This is addressed as we eventually find out more about Dylan and his family and background. We see why he is so open to Rob, but the pacing is off in the developing romance and this took some adjusting to. Still, Dylan’s wonderfulness is in what he gives Rob by the end of the story, and that’s what really counts.

In the end, I want to believe in Dylan and Rob, that they fulfill each other, so I’m happy to be left rooting for them. A note: This book can be read as a stand-alone but to get Rob’s full story it would be best to read [b:Apple Polisher|17946461|Apple Polisher (Rear Entrance Video #1)|Heidi Belleau|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1370231033s/17946461.jpg|25001195] first.

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