I like erotic romance and MMF ménage is my favourite kind so when Candy Boys came up for review, I was quick to put my hand up. With narrators the calibre of Sebastian York and Ava Erickson (I had little experience of listening to Joe Arden previously) I was even more interested. In the end, the quality of narration outweighed that of the story – however the narrative performances alone made the listen worthwhile.
Candy Boys is told in alternating first person POV from all three main characters – Candy, Jethro (aka Jet) and Josh. Candy is a college student but is working in a bookshop full time while on summer break. She is also a blogger and reviewer who writes an erotic (and fictional) serial on her blog about two guys she’s been crushing on for a few years. Candy went to college with Josh and “stalked” him on Instagram where she was “introduced” to his best friend and roommate, Jethro. Ever since, she has entertained naughty fantasies about what the men might do together in their private time and what they all might get up to were she invited to join them.
Josh doesn’t know that Candy and he had shared a class in college but he did see her on the street and wanted to get to know her so he goes into the bookshop to try and get her attention. Because he is in a bookshop and needs a reason to be there, he buys Jet a book. About bananas. As one does. [cue all the banana-as-phallic-symbol jokes]
Jet got fired from his job at a bar after getting into a fight (he does have an anger problem which bothered me a lot actually – more on that later) and is ashamed to tell Josh.
Josh comes from money and has graduated college and is now in his first job. He doesn’t like it much but it pays the bills. By the way, this depiction was actually probably the most realistic I’ve seen of a young person’s first job post-college.
Jet feels inferior to Josh because he didn’t even finish high school. Exactly how this occurred without Josh knowing (they’ve been best friends since both were 17) remains a mystery.
When Candy hears that Jet will be helping out at a pop-up bar at a music festival, she attends purely to finally meet the man she’s been fantasising about for so long. Jet is immediately smitten and, during the course of their conversation, he lets slip he’s looking for a job. As it happens, the bookshop is down a salesperson and she invites him to apply there. When Candy leaves Jet gets into a fight. Again. Because reasons.
All three characters are very young. Candy is about 20 and the boys men are 21. Nevertheless, Jet seemed far less mature than the other two. He was always punching walls or shelves, or kicking plasterboard or pushing a table or getting into a fight. It did not warm me to him. That kind of volatility alarms me. Those issues were never really addressed unfortunately.
Anyway, soon enough Jet is working at the bookshop with Candy and Josh is visiting every morning, bringing Candy coffee. There is some initial confusion between the guys as each tries to bow out gracefully from pursuit of Candy until they start all hooking up together and get their HEA as a loving triad.
Jet is bisexual but not out to Josh when the book begins. Josh considers himself as straight as a very straight person who is straight but has been troubled by his inability to orgasm during sex for the past year. When Jet offers to “help him out” well, it’s a public service rather than a new state of their relationship, right? *sigh* Josh struggles with his sexuality over the course of the book but eventually realises that he, too, is bi – it may that the only guy who turns him on is Jet but he does come to accept his own sexual wiring.
Candy’s conflict is that she’s been writing this erotic serial which is very widely read and the guys don’t know. Josh in particular is very private and especially given that he’s struggling with his sexuality, the serial’s popularity could represent his worst nightmare.
Jet also has something terrible in his past and the story takes a suspenseful (and kind of ridiculous) turn late in the book.
The build-up of the tension felt uneven and the characters’ actions didn’t always make sense to me.
There was a lot of sex and, for the most part, it was well written but the plot linking the sex was a bit lacking.
Each chapter begins with, in Candy’s case an excerpt from her blog serial and in the Jet’s and Josh’s case, a kind of flashback. With Candy it was clear what was going on – I was assisted by the “from Candy Boys, a blog serial” at the end of it. But the other chapter openers were confusing and were not well differentiated as separate from the story by either Sebastian York or Joe Arden. I found myself often confused as each chapter began because there seemed to be no context to these sections, unlike the serial excerpts in Candy’s POV.
Ava Erickson and Sebastian York had the standout performances but I didn’t dislike Joe Arden’s narration. It may be that he was somewhat disadvantaged to my ears because he voiced Jet and I often thought Jet petulant, immature and a bit scary.
Perhaps this is bad of me but I did get a thrill listening to Sebastian York voicing m/m sex scenes. Just sayin’.
All three narrators displayed good pacing and delivered the sexual tension and growing emotional intimacy between the three main characters. If I had a bit of trouble believing the HEA that was because the story spans a few short weeks and insta-love is often a problem for me.
Even though the story was relatively underwhelming, the narration was very entertaining. I think Ms. Raven hit the jackpot when she signed up Ava Erickson, Sebastian York and Joe Arden for the gig.
Book Content: C
Steam Factor: For your burning ears only
Violence Rating: Fighting
Genre: Contemporary/Erotic Romance/MMF
Publisher: Podium Publishing
Candy Boys was provided to AudioGals for a review.