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REVIEW: Nice Tie by Jules Jones

tieDear Ms. Jones:

I was intrigued by the premise of this novella because I often find reading about kinks fascinating — the intense excitement they create, and how seemingly random yet intricately developed they are. Who would have thought that a story about someone with a unusual fetish could turn out to be so dull?

It begins promisingly, with Alex noticing a fellow frequent bus rider who often does up his tie during the ride:

Eye Candy pulled the tie looser so that it hung slack around his neck. But rather than pulling it over his head, he undid the knot and slid the tie free of his collar, giving it a quick snap in front of him to shake out any wrinkles. Alex approved of this sartorial thoughtfulness. The tie looked as if it was silk, smooth and lustrous. It was a deep red silk that suited the man’s skin tone. It deserved to be shown off at its best.

So far so good — the level of detail is believable, and put me into the head space of someone who finds this exciting. Unfortunately, it didn’t even try to keep me there.

“Eye Candy” turns out to be Robin Woods, Alex’s new client, and he recognizes Alex almost immediately: “You’re the guy on the bus who gets a hard-on watching me do my tie up!” This seemed startlingly quick and unsubtle in light of the book’s beginning, but in fact the pacing of the entire novella is off. When they have sex for the first time, Robin’s tie is disposed of in five terse paragraphs — one fewer paragraph than is devoted to Alex making Robin a cup of tea. And that’s pretty much it for the tie, but it’s only the first of many times he makes Robin a warm drink. We get to read about every single one of them.

“Prosaic reality,” thinks Alex when Robin suggests he drink his tea before it’s cold, and sadly it’s also dry, prosaic writing. I think the intent is to create a mood of growing friendship and warmth, but there’s no spark or wit to keep it interesting. Just detail after minute detail:

Robin pulled himself out of bed, took the mug with him, and headed for the bathroom. A few minutes later he was back, bearing a rinsed mug, which he set on the the tray before coming back to bed.

Alex went to clean his own mug and teeth. He got back to the bed and put out the light.

The second half of the story gets a bit of conflict with the arrival of Robin’s controlling ex, but much of it is spent reiterating and dissecting information the reader already knows. Although I appreciate the inclusion of a monogamous bi character (Robin) and the attempt to write an m/m story about more everyday, realistic issues facing “almost middle-aged” men, such as potential conflicts of interest at work, domestic violence, and navigating fidelity, this often has more of the feel of a how-to manual than fiction.

I’m not sure who the audience for this story is. I don’t think it meets the minimum definition for a romance — the relationship never progresses beyond friends with benefits — and as erotica, it was largely unerotic. Unless, perhaps, you have a comforting warm drink fetish. D



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Willaful fell in love with romance novels at an early age, but ruthlessly suppressed the passion for years, while grabbing onto any crumbs of romance to be found in other genres. She finally gave in and started reading romance again in 2006, and has been trying to catch up with the entire genre ever since. Look for her on twitter or at her blog at


  1. Isobel Carr
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 12:13:30

    I’m trying to understand the use of “arterial” in the quote. Does that word have a meaning not listed in Webster’s or am I just not grasping the imagery?

  2. Jenny
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 12:30:04

    @Isobel Carr:

    From the excerpt on Loose ID’s website:

    “Alex approved of this sartorial thoughtfulness.”

    Typo in the excerpt. It was bugging me too, so I went searching.

  3. Shannon C.
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 13:06:51

    this is an author I’ve meant to try. But, while I like warm drinks as much as the next girl, I’d rather not read about people hanging out and doing their taxes or whatever. I read to escape the boring minutia of my life, not have it reflected back at me.

  4. Willaful
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 13:18:09

    Ack! Sorry about that. I proofread this about a hundred times, but I guess my eyes just glazed over the quotes.

  5. Willaful
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 13:18:43

    I need to be more careful, because I updated my OS and it autocorrects me now.

  6. Isobel Carr
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 13:31:13

    @Jenny: Thanks!

  7. hapax
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 18:38:38

    Well, fooey. Because I find ties dead sexy.

  8. Kaetrin
    Apr 24, 2014 @ 00:18:18

    At least it was a novella…

  9. CD
    Apr 24, 2014 @ 10:14:49

    “Unless, perhaps, you have a comforting warm drink fetish.”

    I think this book must be aimed at Brits. A guy who makes me a nice cuppa tea after sex is a keeper, you know. And nothing, I say NOTHING, is worse than drinking cold tea [shudder]…

  10. CD
    Apr 24, 2014 @ 10:22:32

    On tea fetishes, check out number 21 for “The sexiest GIF you’ve ever seen”:

  11. cleo
    Apr 24, 2014 @ 10:59:33

    @CD – ok, that link made me LOL

    And now that you mention it, even though I’m American, I knew my future husband was a keeper when he brought me tea in bed.

  12. Sirius
    Apr 24, 2014 @ 13:23:29

    Willaful, didn’t you review selkie novella by this author? or was it somebody else? Sorry forgot. I wanted to try that author, but did not click on that story right away. I think I pass on this one, thanks for the review.

  13. Willaful
    Apr 24, 2014 @ 13:32:20

    @Sirius: Same publisher, but that was by Mina Kelly.

  14. Willaful
    Apr 24, 2014 @ 13:32:51

    @cleo: Okay, I guess I’ve found the audience for this book. Enjoy! :-)

  15. cleo
    Apr 24, 2014 @ 13:40:49

    @Willaful:Hah! I think I’d rather drink a comforting warm beverage than read about someone else drinking one (well, it depends on who’s writing it actually, but this novella sounds a bit dull)

  16. Sirius
    Apr 24, 2014 @ 14:11:13

    @Willaful: Thanks!

  17. Kaetrin
    Apr 24, 2014 @ 23:51:32

    @cleo: My husband bought me a porcelain cup to drink my tea out of so I could have nice tea when I visiteed his place. So I get the tea connection! :)

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