Book Reviews

Bad Stepfather (Guilty Pleasures 3) by Romeo Preminger

Genre Gay / Contemporary / New Adult / Romance / Mystery/Suspense/Thriller / Drama
Reviewed by Bob-O-Link on 01-December-2020

Book Blurb

A story about finding your way back after a teenage trauma and discovering love along the way, with all the thrills and drama readers have come to expect from gay mm romance author Romeo Preminger.

My name is Elijah Masters, and I haven't been the same since my dad died in an electrical fire. My friends and teachers lifted me up to make it to high school graduation. But away at college, I chose sex and partying to cover up the gaping hole in my heart. I got sent home on academic suspension, and now I'm back in West Palm Beach, Florida, living with my mom.

That's seriously depressing, and then I find out my mom's got a live-in boyfriend. Really thoughtful on her part. We haven't even been through the second anniversary of dad's death, and the guy, Justin, is totally not age-appropriate. He's this sketchy "lifestyle coach," who's really obviously sponging off my mom. To make things ten thousand times worse, Justin's a gorgeous, golden haired fitness god, and as much as I want to hate him, he does things to me I can't control just being in his presence.

My daily escape from Crazytown is working as a barista-in-training at a coffee shop, where oddly enough this kid Mike Shatz holes up to study. We went to middle school and high school together, though we traveled in different circles. I don't know Mike's deal, but I remember he had it kind of tough. The rap on Mike was he was slow, but I think it's more like he's on the spectrum. People in our town are pretty ignorant, and meanwhile Mike's really come into his own. I'm kind of falling in love with his dark brown, wavy shag of hair.

I don't know if anything is going to come of that, but I need to keep an eye on Justin. I've got this feeling he's after something, and I've got to wake my mom up to the game he's playing.

A genre-bending thriller that's part family drama, part mm new adult romance, and part high stakes mystery suspense.

 

Book Review

Bad Stepfather’ is quite the smorgasbord, as can be judged by the genre listing, above.

 

It starts with Elijah, suspended from Stanford University, proceeding back home – where he meets Justin, his mother’s very young surprise fiancé. Justin is hot as hell, muscular, handsome and he ferociously exudes pheromones causing a corresponding hormonal response in Elijah. Are we off to the races, a dirty book in hand? Here’s a clue: Elijah realizes some satisfaction “grabbing a whiff of (Justin’s) jock.” Are we to wonder whether this is author Preminger demonstrating character development or, perhaps, this is to be no different than going to the zoo and observing the excited monkeys intimately consorting? [This is a good place to note that, as is currently the style, genuine incest is no longer politically correct in gay literary circles. And so we have only stepbrothers, stepfathers and their spouse’s children, even cousins – all acceptably engaging in the most erotic conduct. I’ll save a deeper discussion of this chickensh*t approach for some time when we are sufficiently bored to really care!]

 

Elijah and Justin, spicing their coital acts with chemical garnitures, engage in some short but finely described sex. Those intermittent interludes between Elijah and Justin are complicated not only by Justin’s engagement, but also because Elijah’s mother is slightly homophobic as regards her out son. Having thus accepted that our reading adventure is surely a voyage on the USS Erotica, to my surprise we are now introduced to Mike, a former high school classmate of Elijah’s - an intense and attractive young man with ADHD, dyslexia and a processing disorder. Kudos to Mr. Preminger for creating Mike. The reader is given an opportunity to learn (as I did when volunteering at a state facility for developmentally disturbed and emotionally damaged adults) that such intellectual shortcomings cover a wide gamut of abilities and intellect. Mike’s “problems” are clearly not functionally debilitating, but Mike’s issues do add extra special interest in his growing relationship with Elijah. It markedly lifts ‘Bad Stepfather’ above a run-of-the-mill story. It is promptly evidenced by Mike’s ability to sharply and thoroughly perform a personality assessment (or would deconstruction be more accurate?) of Elijah while, simultaneously, outing himself.

 

An added value of Elijah being merely nineteen is how quickly he can have sex with Justin, and then promptly discover an attraction to Mike – a virgin. “(Mike’s) got no hesitation, no awkward moment while he tops me. … A girlish whimper peals from my throat. He wets my bottom. Fucking creampies me. We both cry out in disbelief.

 

Now the novel fully evolves to a plot structure that would have done Hitchcock proud in his noir years. Justin, so far merely a cypher, blooms dangerous. Underlying subtextual issues, heretofore barely worthy of passing note, rise to prominence. Everyone is other than he has appeared. Even Mike surprises us with his modern computer abilities, furthering Elijah’s informational searches.

 

So – a hot and marginally dirty book becomes an exciting, page-turning thriller. And here are some of my random thoughts.

 

1. Elijah’s regular use of Pre P, versus condoms, is a open salute to the 21st century, and excuses the general literary requirement that gay characters are expected to “suit up” before sex.

 

2. ‘Bad Stepfather’ has several interesting asides, among which is a reminiscing discussion between Elijah and two old queens in a gay bar on afternoon. Another throw-in is a short, psychological, enlightenment about people who are hard on themselves and push others away – called “self-fulfilling narrative”.

 

3. A recognition that both Elijah and Mike are frightened of being boyfriends. “We can be scared together.” [I was inexorably reminded of the heroes of William Finn’s musical, Falsettoland, singing to each other: 

     ‘What good is a lover who’s scared?

     ‘Let’s be scared together.

     ‘Let’s pretend that nothing is awful.

 

Aside from you, dear reader, questioning whether you would be taking the same steps as Elijah, ‘Bad Stepfather’ is so very far from awful, and is highly recommended.

 

 

 

DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by the author for the purpose of a review.

 

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 321 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 01-December-2020
Price $4.99 ebook, $12.99 paperback
Buy Link https://www.amazon.com/Bad-Stepfather-Pleasures-Romeo-Preminger-ebook/dp/B08HMF5N4P