Reviewed by Helyce
From Goodreads: Life as a rent boy is not a long-term career goal for Nathan, who’s determined to get an education. But when he turns up for his first day at college he’s horrified to find his English teacher is one of his regular customers: Stephen, the one Nathan dubbed The Voice for his educated, honeyed tones.
Stephen’s just as shocked to see Nathan sitting in his class, not to mention terrified he’s about to be exposed as having paid for sex with a student which would mean public humiliation and maybe the loss of his job. Yet it’s clear Nathan is only interested in getting his A Levels, not in blackmail. And Stephen realizes there’s more to the nineteen-year-old than meets the eye.
Nathan still has to earn a living, though, and when a customer turns ugly, he finds himself homeless and unable to work. Stephen steps in to help, and Nathan starts to think they could have a future together if Stephen’s guilt and lack of trust don’t end their back-to-front romance before it starts.
For a short story, JL Merrow succeeds in giving us an unexpected love story. The premise is not new, but I found the characters interesting and from the beginning I couldn’t wait to see just how the author would bring these two together.
Nathan is young and has had it tough since his mother died. Left with a stepfather who couldn’t care less about him, Nathan leaves and turns to prostitution to survive. His roommate, Adam, does the same but seems to be more successful at it. Nathan, not so much-though he does look forward to Thursday nights when he meets up with a regular he calls “The Voice”.
When Nathan starts college and realizes that his Thursday night regular is his esteemed English professor his careful plan seems to be in danger. I really liked where the author went with this. Clearly a conversation had to take place-they couldn’t really just ignore each other. I liked that it was Nathan who made the first move, putting it out there and making a case for keeping things separate. This seems to work for our characters, for a short time anyway.
When Nathan is beaten and ends up in the hospital, however, all those lines blur when Stephen can’t stop himself from helping. He offers Nathan a place to stay in order to recover-no strings, no expectations. But it is of course, during this time that Nathan and Stephen begin their awkward dance around each other, finding their way to romance.
Reminiscent of the movie Pretty Woman, with a little bit of Cinderella thrown in (minus the dresses and jewelry of course) I think the author accomplishes quite a bit in a short 99 pages. A quick read with a tiny bit of angst and happy ending.