33 A Gay Love Story by J.J. South

33 A Gay Love Story
by JJ South
Self-Published, Amazon Digital Services
242 Pages PDF (475 novel-size pages)
Characters: Rick and Justin
Genre: MM Romance/Erotica
POV: First Person Narrative


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‘33 a gay love story’ comprises 3 story plots; the love lives of 15 gay characters set amid the suspense of an international corporate scam and intriguing murder, and the randy romp of a swimwear tour through Europe, Nth & Sth America and Australia.

33 is the story of two mid-20 year olds, Rick and Justin, who meet in a heated encounter in a crowded elevator in Sydney. In their ensuing relationship, they fight issues of self-doubts and fidelity, explore faith and courage, re-live past fragile moments and probe the anxieties and trials of gay life issues.

They bring twelve other lonely guys together, aged 18 to 30. The stories of these characters enrich the book’s themes, particularly those of John and Lou and the 18 year olds, Shorty, and Damien. Their inexperience and blossoming romance embellishes the story with the charm and quaintness of innocent, virginal teenagers.

33 is a story of loneliness, hardships, abuses, insecurities, denial, curiosity, desire and love, found in everyday situations that touch feelings and tug at memories. It is a story of deprived love; of the heart’s desperation to find a mate, of the body’s innate needs to find companionship. It speaks of the beauty and bounties realised by guys ending the abyss of loneliness, of guys falling in love, of fellowship and partnership. Balancing these emotions are humour and happiness, as shown by easy going Rick and love-struck Justin towards each other and their newfound friends.

Sinister corporate intrigue, greed and crime test Rick and Justin’s dedication towards each other. In life or death outcomes at a diamond mine in Australia’s remote north west, and in the miner’s boardroom in Perth, Justin’s courage and love for his mate are put to extreme tests.

Intimacy, love, intrigue and murder, what could be better? For readers who like hot and graphically described m/m scenes by hot, gym honed beach and surf loving guys, 33 is sure to please. Similarly, if you also like riveting intrigues of corporate mischief and a mysterious murder, 33 will pleasantly surprise.

33 comprises some 119,600 words over 33 chapters, equivalent to a thick 475 page popular sized paperback novel. Accordingly, 33 is twice the size of the average printed or downloaded ebook these days. The book downloads in approximately 242 A4 pages, equivalent to 250 Letter pages.


Is this not the longest blurb you have ever seen in your life? Well, wait until you read the story, as it is much like the blurb: very well-written though undeniably verbose. When I began this story, immediately I was taken by the impressive use of vocabulary and the magnificently descriptive prose. Certainly the strength of this novel lies within the writing itself.

As one author recently noted, however, “Writing isn’t about beautiful language. It’s about realistic characters living amazing lives.” There are plot issues which are rather difficult to swallow, and the entirety of the work is in need of editorial tightening. The plot itself is extremely repetitive, retelling the same scenario numerous times.

Rick and Justin are the central characters, and the story is written in the first person in Justin’s voice. They meet on an elevator in chapter one, and they both get off on the thirty-third floor, hence the book’s title. (The book also has thirty-three chapters). Immediately the couple is sexually intimate, and they fall in love. There is virtually no courtship or dating. Instantly they are fully committed to one another, becoming monogamous, and Justin completely abandons his former existence in order to move forward in his life with Rick.

Thereafter the couple functions as matchmakers. One-by-one, secondary characters are introduced who each are single and lonely, and the couple pairs them up with other lonely singles. In every case, it is love at first sight, and the result is instant happiness and lifelong commitment.

The plot drastically shifts about three-quarters of the way into the book. Up until this point, the story is basically a series of erotic encounters, then suddenly it focuses upon espionage as a sub-plot unfolds. Betrayal, murder, and a climactic confrontation scene comprise what I view as a book-inside-of-a-bigger book.

My feeling is that the story would have been far more interesting if this mystery and espionage had been interwoven into the story from the beginning and if the erotic scenes had been limited. It is a classic example of the adage, “Less is more”. The author is extremely gifted at portraying beautiful, sensuous lovemaking scenes, but it felt to me as if many of them were unnecessary. And with the plot not really beginning to take off until so far into the story, it was a bit frustrating because it seemed to be just one sex scene after the next.

The characters themselves were oftentimes charming, but they also were a bit too perfect. I loved the manner in which the author wrote Australian dialect, and I was especially fond of the young character Shorty. Truthfully I’d love to see a sequel or spin-off of this book which features Shorty. He’s absolutely adorable.

J.J. South clearly has literary talent, and his writing is most impressive. He’s eloquent in his use of vocabulary, and he definitely writes with sincerity and feeling. He has a distinct writer’s voice which is quite endearing. I look forward to reading more from him in the future.

The flaws I’ve identified in this review are primarily editorial, and I think that this self-published first novel is merely a stepping stone for some fantastic material which South is sure to produce in the future. At least this is my hope, for I’m anxious to read more.

Review by Jeff

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