Title: Raising the Rent
Author: JL Merrow
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Characters: Nathan, Stephen
Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance
Rent boy rule number one: Never fall in love with a customer.
Life as a rent boy is not a long-term career goal for Nathan, who’s determined to get an education. But when he turns up for his first day at college he’s horrified to find his English teacher is one of his regular customers: Stephen, the one Nathan dubbed The Voice for his educated, honeyed tones.
Stephen’s just as shocked to see Nathan sitting in his class, not to mention terrified he’s about to be exposed as having paid for sex with a student—which would mean public humiliation and maybe the loss of his job. Yet it’s clear Nathan is only interested in getting his A Levels, not in blackmail. And Stephen realizes there’s more to the nineteen-year-old than meets the eye.
Nathan still has to earn a living, though, and when a customer turns ugly, he finds himself homeless and unable to work. Stephen steps in to help, and Nathan starts to think they could have a future together—if Stephen’s guilt and lack of trust don’t end their back-to-front romance before it starts.
Contains unfashionable haircuts, unreasonably long words, and a May-December romance between a not-so-streetwise rent boy and an erudite English teacher.
May/December Romance…Check. A story about a Rent Boy with a heart of gold…Check. A story written by JL Merrow…double check.
As you can see, reading and reviewing this book was a little bit of a no-brainer for me. As soon as I read the blurb, I knew I had to check it out and I’m happy to say, Raising the Rent gave me a couple of hours of sheer, romantic entertainment.
Nathan is an 18 year old young man who has a goal in life. He wants to continue his higher education, but to do it, Nathan has to survive by selling his body on the streets. Nathan has been on his own for a whilem so he knows what it’s like to be without. His roommate is also a rent boy, and although they are friendly toward one another, Nathan really doesn’t have any true friends or anyone that he can rely on.
Nathan hates being a rent boy, but it keeps a roof over his head and food in his belly. Lately, Nathan has one customer in particular that he’s come to look forward to seeing. He’s an older man with a gentle smile that begins to haunts Nathan in his dreams. Every week it gets harder and harder for Nathan to not look forward and fantasize about his customer, so when Nathan attends his first day of English class and his professor is his favorite fantasy come to life, Nathan doesn’t know if he is horrified or thrilled to be around the professor.
Stephen is appalled that his secret rent boy is in his class. There is something sweet, sexy and sad about the young man he’s come to reluctantly care for. When Stephen and Nathan swear to keep their affiliation secret from others, Stephen begins to relax and see the younger man for who the sweet, goal oriented and nice guy, Nathan really is.
When Nathan is attacked, Stephen becomes his savior. As the two men begin to form a true friendship between them, they cannot forget the passionate attraction they have for each other. Will they be able to work through their past, so they can have a future together?
I really enjoyed this story. I thought the chemistry between the two men was very strong and highly addictive to read. I liked how they’re relationship evolved from a business one to a very loving, personal one. It was easy for me to root for this couple and hope they somehow find the happy ending they deserve together…and I wasn’t disappointed. I do wish the story had been longer. I would have liked to see them really work to make their relationship work and see how they deal with their age differences and so on, but for a novella, I thought Ms. Merrow did a good job at still making it a pretty well-rounded story.
Ms. Merrow writes with a humor and a quick wit that is both entertaining and addictive to read. Raising the Rent is a sexy, heartwarming read from start to finish. It’s an easy book to recommend and I’m looking forward to reading more books by Ms. Merrow in the future.
Reviewed By: Gabbi