Book Reviews

Painted Bare (City of Fountains 4) by Hayden West at Pride Publishing

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Artists/Actors/Musicians/Authors / Law Enforcement / Romance
Reviewed by Bob-O-Link on 17-January-2023

Book Blurb

The canvas never lies.

Anthony Henson doesn’t do people. He prefers to be left alone with his paint, brushes and canvas. A world that allows his mind to be at ease, without the struggle to do what is right by societal dictates. His quiet universe is sent spinning, however, when a string of recent thefts brings a tall Irish detective into his circle.


Detective Liam Rourke has a hard, firm policy on not intermingling work and pleasure. Until now, it’s not been an issue to uphold it. Enter one painter and all he wants to do is spend more time around him. The lines between professional and personal are blurred.


When everything settles, what will happen to the straight-laced detective and the man whose own messy life doesn’t matter to him?



Reader advisory: This book contains instances of bullying, as well as mention of homophobia, adultery, and family/domestic verbal/emotional abuse.


Book Review

Are you taken with “shorties”? I refer to neither Toulouse-Lautrec, nor to a brief sexual assignation – though a combination of both might be quite memorable! Rather, I address the genre of a very minor story, easily completed on a bus going to work or while eating lunch. Think of it as a quasi-intellectual amuse-bouche, the brevity of which may be its best feature – even though sexual activity is merely implied and emotional connections between the main characters are expected to be taken on faith.


Much to his annoyance, Anthony, a painter, is unexpectedly visited by policeman Liam O’Rourke. Anthony’s work concentration is immediately disturbed, highlighting a disparate mood between his artistic privacy and police business. But while averse to any social niceties, Anthony is instantly artistically and sexually drawn to Liam, noting how handsome Liam is! The author masterfully uses but few words to posit Anthony’s attraction while throwing in a hint of some earlier romantic failure by the artist.


Several recent burglaries of art galleries injects a touch of noir. The two main characters engage in a scheme to catch the thieves before greater harm occurs, all the while becoming more erotically drawn to each other.


In all honesty, it is difficult to determine whether the story or the heroes bears the greater oddities – but, of course, that doesn’t really matter. The thievery is almost incidental to the plot; sexual intimacy is (as in abstract art) seems to be more in the mind of the reader than the of the author. Nonetheless, huzzah for a satisfactory shorty.




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


Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novella, 78 pages/16531 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 17-January-2023
Price $2.99 ebook
Buy Link