Wallflower by Heidi Belleau
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’m a fan of Heidi Belleau. Her writing feels ‘real’. That, to me, is what contemporary fiction is all about. Most people aren’t perfect with ideal lives or living in squalor and on the brink of complete meltdown. Yet those extremes are very well represented in MM fiction. Heidi takes stories about the average man, or woman, and makes them interesting.
Which leads me to Rob and Bobby. Okay, I’m not an online MMORPG fan. I’m not a game fan at all, but I love fantasy so I can understand the draw. With the advent of the online world, those fantasy worlds have exploded in popularity. They allow people an outlet to be who they want. Rob became Bobby. Both male names, but Bobby is the inner woman inside Rob’s body. She’s what he cannot be, sexy and outgoing, confident and casual.
That’s not to say Rob is transsexual. I don’t know that you could put a label on his character. He likes things about looking and acting like a girl, and he likes things about looking and acting like a guy. Where all this slams together is when his personas become alive in real life. Bobby agrees to a video chat, and then Rob decides … why not at work?
Unfortunately, his work isn’t a microcosm. It’s an interesting world, for sure, considering it’s an adult store called Rear Entrance, but people come and go. Some of those people are in Rob’s world too. Some good, some bad comes from that overlap.
That leads me to Dylan, who Rob meets in Art class. Of course … Dylan had already met Bobby. It was so interesting that Dylan’s character didn’t act any different. He was interested in Rob, and made it very clear. A man stuck in a world not quite his own, as an adopted Inuit, Dylan knows about pre-conceived notions and how they can hurt a person. I absolutely loved the evolution of his character throughout the story in relation to Rob and Bobby.
Telling how that evolution goes would be spoiling the story though. Let’s just say that not everyone is what they appear, and Rob is put through a wringer. He has to deal with all of his confusion and fear. Thankfully some of the cast from Apple Polisher returns to support him. Rob has a great network of people, and that’s an amazing aspect of this story.
The characters. I can’t say enough about Heidi’s ability to create men and women I feel like I can walk up to on the street. I love the creativity involved in making so many characters and letting them drive the plot. If they were one iota less real, it wouldn’t work, but it so does. I cannot say enough about the Rear Entrance books and definitely recommend them to anyone who likes contemporary stories with real life thrown in.
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