REVIEW: The Happy Onion by Ally Blue
Dear Ms. Blue:
I was so excited to see a m/m author at the RWA Literacy signing (yes, July last year in DC) that I bought two of your books — your lightest and your darkest, at your suggestion. The Happy Onion was your light book and a lot of fun. It was a sweet, cute read and I closed the book with a happy sigh, despite a couple of issues.
Thom arrives in Ashville, NC to find that the job he’s been promised as a nightclub owner is on hold because the resort company opening it is in legal limbo. He has to find a job and a place to stay right away, which he does when he goes into a bar/restaurant and is hired as the bartender and rents the upstairs apartment. He celebrates by going out to the local gay bar and finding a guy to fuck. The encounter is one of the best he’s ever had…and of course, he’s shocked and stunned to find out ten days later — when the restaurant’s owner finally shows up at the restaurant after 2 weeks off — that his amazing fuck is, indeed, his boss, Phil. His earthy-crunchy, vegan, far-left liberal, hot as anything, best lay he’s ever had, boss.
I love these two men. Thom is small and blond and everyone assumes that he’d the twinky bottom, but he’s an assertive dominant top with a really bad temper that Phil finds especially hot. Phil, on the other hand, is above six feet, and a big, nelly, hungry bottom who is perfectly comfortable with who and what he is. They’re amazing together as a couple and wonderfully distinct as characters. I very much enjoyed watching them get to know each other.
“It’s fine,” Phil spoke before the silence could become seriously uncomfortable. “I’m the one who should be apologizing to you. For real this time.”
That made Thom look at him. “Are you saying you pissed me off on purpose?”
Those big eyes seemed to see right through Phil’s skull and into his innermost thoughts. Phil hunched his shoulders and forced himself to hold Thom’s gaze. “Um. Yeah.”
“Because I’m sexy when I’m mad.”
“You’ve been doing that all along, haven’t you?”
Phil swallowed. “Maybe.”
Sighing, Thom ran a hand through his heair. “What the hell’s wrong with you?”
He’s not yelling. That’s a good sign. Phil ignored the rebellious parts of him which disagreed and risked a cautious smile. “There’s just something about a hot little blond with a temper that turns my crank like nothing else.”
Thom eyes him with a calculating look. “Hm. Isn’t that interesting?”
The predatory way Thom was looking at him sent goose bumps racing up Phil’s arms. “So. Are you mad?” He sounded hopeful. Dammit.
Thom gave him an evil grin. “Do you want me to be?”
The EW factor: Jayne noticed something similar in her last review of one of your books. My “ew” wasn’t a body odor issue, it was a sexual practice issue: I’m really not that interested in reading about felching. I mean, really. Thanks but no thanks. Other than that one unfortunate incident, however, I also very much enjoyed the sex scenes. They were hot, interesting, distinct, and…oh yeah, very hot!
I also think there would have been more character growth and relationship conflict if the owners of Thom’s nightclub, which finally got off the ground, weren’t so irredeemably crooked. If Thom and Phil actually had to work out their political differences, to the same end, of course, I think it would have been a more interesting book. Of course, it’s not my story to write, but it seemed to me to be a cop-out to have a common enemy appear so obligingly just when Thom and Phil were figuring out how they fit together. And whatever Thom might think when he goes to a lawyer with his discrimination suit, yes, throughout most of the country, you CAN be fired for being gay. Sorry. And boy, he was pretty stupid when his boss called him into her office: hmm, I wonder what she wants me for? That seemed a little disingenuous to me, one instance of TSTL in an otherwise beautifully constructed character.
Overall, however, I really enjoyed this book. It was a strong romance between two great characters. Nothing brilliant, but a lot of fun, and a feel-good happy at the end when I closed the book (yes, OMG, a REAL book with pages and everything). Thanks for those happy hours I spent with Thom and Phil.
This book can be purchased at Samhain (non affiliate link) in ebook format.