Title: Academic Pursuits
Author: Lou Harper
Publisher: Amber Allure
Pages: 30k words
Characters: Jamie, Jo, and an ensemble cast of sex partners
POV: first person
The son of a well-to-do family and blessed with both dark good looks and buckets of confidence, Jamie lives for the chase. He has a well-deserved reputation around college as a seducer of straight frat boys. No man is off-limits to Jamie—he’s happy to help fellow gay students out of the closet, too. He even has lustful designs on his oblivious English professor, so it’s no surprise that his amorous pursuits often land him in sticky situations.
There’s just one flaw in Jamie’s perfect world—Roger Hunt. The hunky grad student, who dresses more like a lumberjack than the talented artist he is, gives Jamie hostile looks every time their paths cross. Jamie tries to ignore Roger, but they can’t seem to stop running into each other, and Jamie’s beginning to wonder if it’s more than chance that continues to steer them down the same halls..
Jamie is a 22 year old college student in Missouri, but he has an obsession with British culture—particularly British men. His best friend and roommate, Jo, is also his cousin. Jamie’s family is wealthy, thus he and his cousin Jo have their own apartment. Jamie is very good looking and knows it, and he leads a very promiscuous lifestyle, proud of his talent at seducing straight men.
The story chronicles the multiple sexual exploits of the central character which ultimately lead him to a place where he begins to rethink his approach to sexual relationships. When an unlikely suitor begins to pursue him with the intention of something more meaningful than a one night stand, Jamie initially bristles but eventually has to make a big decision.
I tried from the beginning of this story to like it, but I’ve got to be honest: I could not stand the protagonist. The story was a first person narrative, told in the voice of the main character, and he was sarcastic, snarky, rude, abrasive, arrogant, and oftentimes offensive. He struck me as someone who felt it was funny to put other people down, and by doing this he made himself feel better. Oddly, he had no reason to act this way. He was attractive, intelligent, outgoing, and very popular. He reminded me of the sort of person who goes around bragging about how much of a bitch they are.
In defense of this author, I would add that this is perhaps a very realistic portrayal of some (many) gay men. It gave me flashbacks of the bar scene in my younger years, where the guys who knew how attractive they were flitted around acting campy and tried to compete with each other by telling the snappiest insults.
I like to think that by the end of the story Jamie had learned something and perhaps started to evaluate beauty in a different light. I am not sure this was really the case though. It seemed more that the message was that it is okay to be materialistic, ego-centric, and shallow. This carrousel of sex partners that Jamie cavorted with were all guys that he just used and discarded, and he seemed to have no conscience about it. When he finally stopped this behavior, it was not because he had an epiphany or even a sudden surge of morality. He merely felt sorry for himself because he saw other people in happy relationships while he was alone.
The writing itself was fantastic. I hope that there are other books by this author that I may enjoy, but I’ve got to say that this type of sardonic humor is just not for me.
Reviewed By: Jeff