Tricks - Rick R. Reed Full release day review originally posted at Sinfully... Addicted to All Male Romance

3.5 stars

What started off as a sweet opposites attract romance, morphed into a suspense story that had me on the edge of my seat. The story had its ups and downs for me but I wound up really enjoying ride.

Arliss is twenty-one and has worked as an exotic dancer at Tricks for the past six months. He’s been on his own for a while and has had a tough time of it, but he’s holding his own. Quiet, conservative Sean is thirty-seven and has just been dumped by his boyfriend of three years after asking him to move in together. While Sean is slumming it at Tricks he takes note of Arliss dancing, but is also disgusted by the scene. Arliss has also noticed Sean and can tell he feels sad and out of place. A chance meeting later that night leads to the two lonely men hooking up and becoming an unlikely couple. From there, the book becomes a roller coaster ride when as the two men start to settle into a relationship Arliss is offered an opportunity to make one of his dreams come true.

Although Sean seems to have come to terms with Arliss working as a dancer he is still jealous and insecure. Arliss has a big heart and this relationship is a first for him so he is also insecure, waiting for Sean to tire of him. When he is approached by Josh Tyler, the gorgeous talent scout for Bad Moon Entertainment, who offers him a role in a porn film, Arliss is ready to live out his dream of being a star the only problem is he never expected have fallen in love and now he is torn between his dream and Sean. While Arliss thinks Sean should support him in his dreams, that he should understand that it would only be acting, Sean obviously feels very differently. Neither character was completely right, or completely wrong in the situation, and both make some poor choices that wind up with Arliss in a predicament he may not be able to escape.

I found the characters Arliss and Sean interesting and at times thought that their many differences just might be too hard to overcome. A significant difference in age and upbringing are just the tip of the iceberg. The relationship moves fast, and there is a time jump of two months after their meeting. I would have liked to see a bit more of their early days, but it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story and I was still invested in the relationship enough to want to see things work out.

Rick R. Reed managed to ratchet up the suspense very well. There are hints dropped and insinuations that this film is going to be more than Arliss ever expected. Each of the two men behind the movie were creepy in a different way. Josh is a fascinating character who may not be as evil as he is mentally unstable, while his boss is seemingly just a vile human being. As Josh uses his good looks and smooth talk to ensure Arliss signs on you just can feel the web spinning. I was pulled in and on pins and needles for the situation Arliss found himself in. For me, I thought it wrapped up a bit too easily, but I wasn’t disappointed with the ultimate ending.

While the story starts out with a bit of fluff, it is overall a gritty and slightly dark story, but it does have a happy ending. The romance moves fast and while they may not always have been likeable I really wanted these two to come through for each other and I really just wanted Arliss to come out of the whole mess unscathed. As romantic-suspense this story worked well and had me eagerly turning the pages.