Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Torque by Charley Descoteaux

Sometimes letting things get complicated is the best way to figure it all out.

Mick Randall is on the run, from the biker culture he grew up in and his impossible vision of love. Alaska should be far enough to escape his old life—until he rolls into a wrecking yard and gets lost in a pair of pale, bottle-green eyes.

Scotty Bell has spent years learning to channel his fiery temper into the heat of a welding torch. His sexual heat has always been slower to ignite, but one look at Mick rouses confusion alongside desire. In all his life, he’s only been attracted to one other person—his best friend, Mercy Taylor.

Mick lands a temporary job at the yard, and finds an uneasy crash pad at Scotty’s place…where the ragged ends of his emotions get tangled up in Scotty and Mercy’s relationship.

But when Mick hears a Harley engine from his past bearing down on him, his first instinct is to go back to the half-life he’d been living. Lest his secrets destroy the only two people who’ve ever made him feel whole.

Warning: Contains references to abuse, subversive ideas about sexual identity and gender expression, and a free-range bisexual on a mission.

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Samhain  Publishing

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

4.5 stars of brilliance

This is a really good book, with some difficult themes, dealt with in a beautiful way. I enjoyed it very much, and loved the ending. All the way through each of the main protagonists gets to tell us their story, so we build up a wonderful picture of them. It reminds us of just how cruel the world can be, and how friendship and acceptance is a gift that should not cost so dear. Oh, and most of all – family is what you make it.

I will definitely be looking up Ms. Descoteaux's other books, as I really like her style.

I got way more than I bargained for with Torque, but in a good way. Based on the book’s warning, I knew that one of the male characters was gay and one of the male characters was bisexual. What I did not know, did not expect, and was taken off guard by was that the female character was actually transgendered and while she dressed like a woman and had breast implants, she still had her male member. Yes, my heterosexuality and my small-town upbringing is showing, but I’m trying to describe this in terms that will keep the haters away from a book they won’t like while preparing more open-minded readers for an unexpected delight. By the way, I fall in that second group because once I reread the passage that revealed Mercy’s physical attributes, I was hellbent for leather to find out how the book would play out.

When Mick shows up at Bell’s Auto Wrecking, he’s on the run. Not from the law, but rather the life he left behind and a mountain of guilt over his brother’s predicament. He’s just passing through and sees his time at Bell’s as a good place to earn some money, fix his car, and enjoy the sights, the best one being the owner’s grandson, Scotty Bell. Being as Mick grew up around bikers and in a less than tolerant neighborhood, Mick sees Scotty as a look-but-don’t-touch situation and when he meets Scotty’s girlfriend, Mercy, he realizes just how fruitless his fantasies will be. But when circumstances put him and Scotty in close quarters and Scotty makes a move on him, Mick finds it hard to say no to what he wants, and clinging to his convictions that he won’t be with someone who is involved with someone else proves to be moot when Mick learns that Scotty and Mercy have an open relationship. Just as things heat up between Mick and Scotty, they seem to come to a screeching halt when Mercy’s brothers beat her up and Scotty has to handle Mercy’s situation. But Mick finds himself in the position of caretaker when Mercy’s brothers show back up and beat up Scotty when he refuses to tell them where Mercy is. As it turns out, Mick enjoys taking care of Scotty and their time together helps strengthen their relationship as it weakens Mick’s resolve to continue on to Alaska. That is, until Mick’s past comes rolling up on a motorcycle and Mick finds himself once again alone and on the run. But when Scotty discovers where Mick is, he sets off to bring his man back...after a much needed pop in the nose, that is. Mick’s return to Bell’s means he not only has to face his past, but he also has to face his future as well and he does both far better than he expected.

While the romance is both sweet and angsty, and the sex is hot as freaking heck, what made Torque such an interesting read for me was the sexuality issues the author included. It turns out that Mercy being transgendered was only one of the surprises found within. Scotty is not only gay, he’s also asexual. What made this interesting was that Scotty’s asexuality fluctuates because there are times he is highly sexual and can’t get enough of Mercy or Mick, and other times he has no sexual desires, preferring to spend time with them engaged in non-sexual activities. My past experience with asexual characters in books is that there is zero sexual desire on their part, so Scotty’s fluctuations was a novel character trait for me and one that sent me to Google. Mick’s bisexuality was interesting as well because some of his recollections from the past almost indicate that it may have been a shaped behavior due to his brother’s regular lessons on how to avoid being labeled gay – not because his brother was ashamed of Mick being gay, but rather he didn’t want Mick to be attacked because of his sexuality. While I do believe that most people are born to their sexuality, Mick’s memories, behaviors, and musings led me to believe that were it not for his brother’s insistence that Mick “look at their tits” that he would have leaned more toward a homosexual lifestyle instead of a bisexual one. As it stood, Mick’s sexual preferences proved to be perfect for Mercy because she was the physical embodiment of all of Mick’s favorite parts and he not only accepted her transgendered status, but embraced it enthusiastically. I found the different facets of each character’s sexuality to be fascinating, as well as how accepting Scotty’s grandfather was that Scotty had finally found happiness with Mick and Mercy. While I expected to enjoy this book, Torque turned out to be a far better read than I anticipated, so much so that I read it twice back-to-back, hence the five stars.

Charley Descoteaux misspent a large chunk of her youth on the back of a Harley, meeting people and having adventures that sometimes pop up in her fiction. She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area during a drought, and found her true home in the soggy Pacific Northwest. Charley has survived earthquakes, tornadoes and floods, but couldn’t make it through one day without stories.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Torque by Charley Descoteaux to read and review.

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