Anyone But You
Author: Brien Michaels
What I’m Talking About:
I wasn’t sure about the premise of Anyone but You when I first saw it, but it sounded interesting, and I was eager to check out another “new-to-me” author. Having had a short time to think things over, I can say, without hesitation, that it’s not like anything I’ve read before. And while I wasn’t able to stay rooted in the narrative throughout, I did fall into the story more closer to the end.
I’m going to repeat a complaint I’ve made before about trigger warnings. The publisher’s website lists them clearly on the story’s main page and includes the option to view more details with a click—which is very much appreciated. Still, I didn’t see any on the Amazon or GR pages, which could be a problem for some readers who rely on them. I’ve seen warnings added as a preface within the blurbs for other books, I just don’t think it’s done often enough.
Of the two main characters, Ryan was my favorite. In particular, I liked that the author was very specific with regards to the distinction Ryan makes between himself and Sheila. Ryan’s confusion isn’t about who he is, just about how much of a risk he’s willing to take on Jack, which is a completely legitimate question for him to ask. That Ryan’s submissive streak and affinity for really rough sex runs counter to his professional position of authority was another interesting aspect of his personality. Ryan’s shaky self-confidence is also mostly treated as a separate matter, which I felt added more dimension to the character.
Jack, on the other hand, is a mess for most of the story, but, given his (sometimes) violently homophobic family, that’s not a surprise. Even so, I really had hoped he would make a stand for Ryan sooner, at least behind the closed door of the bedroom. But, my biggest difficulty regarding Jack was that I found the repetitious back-and-forth between his determination to be honest about what he wants and needs and the immediate abandonment of the idea difficult to sympathize with after a time.
However, nothing in Anyone but You gave me as much trouble as a particular scene just past the midway point that nearly caused me to stop reading entirely. Not only did it strain the trigger warnings that were listed, but I believe it did so for reasons I still can’t understand. That it was a break from the killer’s pattern wasn’t even an intentional attempt to obfuscate his trail, but was, rather, an afterthought. And without a clearer motive, it seemed gratuitous. It might have been one scene, but it cast a shadow over the rest of the narrative for me.
Overall, I found Anyone but You to be an interesting introduction to this author that left me conflicted. On the one hand, I had some issues with the narrative as mentioned above, as well as a few less-important matters that didn’t really affect my conclusions, in general. On the other, I enjoyed reading about the lives of these two characters as a unit, and Ryan, more specifically. I also feel that the author has a good sense of where to leave breadcrumbs for his audience to follow, and am curious to try another of his stories in the future.
My Rating: C, Finished It – Liked some, didn’t like some
About the Book:
Murder is one hell of a drag.
Jack Kieza has a problem. He’s deeply attracted to men, but his homophobic family has left him too afraid to act on it. With his thirtieth birthday around the corner, his curiosity gets the best of him, and he finds himself at a gay club. After spending a fiery night with drag queen Sheila Saltue, everything changes. Especially when he discovers her alter ego: his boss, Ryan Swift.
Ryan knew he should’ve said no the second Jack approached him. Now he can’t stop himself from texting Jack every chance he gets. But Jack won’t let him take the wig off during sex, and being Sheila off-stage is wearing thin.
The more time they spend together, the more intense their feelings get, but Jack isn’t ready to date a man yet. When drag queens start turning up murdered, it forces Jack to reexamine his feelings, because what if Ryan is next? While Jack wants their burgeoning relationship to work, it would mean having to admit who he is to the world. And that’s an idea as frightening as death.
Release Date: December 7, 2019
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: Suspense, LGBTQ, m/m
Format(s): paperback (180 pages), e-book
Book Source: NetGalley/Publisher
Amazon (affiliate link)