Marc reviews ‘Bad Ideas’ (Itch 1) by Damon Suede. (Published by Dreamspinner Press on October 20, 2013, 436 Pages; Audiobook narrated by Charlie David, published on April 3rd, 2014, 14 hours and 42 minutes.
Why I chose to read: Before I decided to read this book, I read “Hot Head” by Damon Suede and was an instant fan. It still is the hottest M/M book I’ve ever read and one of the easiest recommendations I can make to people. I don’t think I’ve met the person who didn’t enjoy the heck out of that book. BUT, this one seemed to be different. A good friend of mine had to DNF the story, because she didn’t get into it at all, though she admittedly wasn’t able to give the book all her attention. Still, I hesitated with what should have been an auto-buy. When I saw the book at NetGalley though, I decided to try it and review the book for an honest review. My honest opinion? This book is Damon’s masterpiece.
Check out Jo and my double review of ‘Hot Head’ HERE!
Click on the cover to buy the Audio or eBook version of ‘Bad Idea’
Bad Idea: Some mistakes are worth making.
Reclusive comic book artist Trip Spector spends his life doodling supersquare, straitlaced superheroes, hiding from his fans, and crushing on his unattainable boss until he meets the dork of his dreams. Silas Goolsby is a rowdy FX makeup creator with a loveless love life and a secret streak of geek who yearns for unlikely rescues and a truly creative partnership.
Against their better judgment, they fall victim to chemistry, and what starts as infatuation quickly grows tender and terrifying. With Silas’s help, Trip gambles his heart and his art on a rotten plan: sketching out Scratch, a “very graphic novel” that will either make his name or wreck his career. But even a smash can’t save their world if Trip retreats into his mild-mannered rut, leaving Silas to grapple with betrayal and emotions he can’t escape.
What will it take for this dynamic duo to discover that heroes never play it safe?
The Cover & The Title: I have to talk about title and cover as one, because they perfectly work together. “Bad Idea” is a rather bold statement as title. On the cover you see the typical light bulb moment, though the guy looks mischievous, kind of devilish. It was very intriguing to me, I wanted to find out more.
The Story: As you might have seen above, this isn’t the first book of the author I have read. I was really curious to start it, even if it did not seem quite as universally loved by everyone. It quickly became apparent to me that it is not the same kind of book. It’s not just a ‘simple’ romance, there are layers upon layers of meaning, things feel very real and complicated. It’s not just a fantasy, a romantic and erotic love story. It is about more, seems to be deeper. The kind of literature that could be discussed in one of my university classes.
This is the story of Trip and Silas. Trip is a comic book artist and Silas an FX makeup artist. They meet in a very unusual way and their dynamic is interesting. I must admit it took me a bit to really get into the story. The style and the way it is written feels different. In a way, it feels very real and the characters feel extremely three-dimensional. Like they are friends.
I think that was what made it a bit hard for me to jump in right from the beginning. Nothing is made super easy for the reader. The characters have history and it is easy to feel that in the way they talk and act. As a reader, who doesn’t know the characters intimately yet, they are so real that it almost feels like you are missing some small, but important aspects. It’s very much like it is in the real world. Readers need to get to know the characters, spend time with them, learn their quirks, their tells, their history. Who they are. And suddenly the reader is on the inside. And the person who was someone’s friend a few pages ago feels like the reader’s friend.
I can only speak for myself, but when I found my way into the book, I had a much deeper connection to the characters than is common. My bond with the characters felt real. The characters felt real. The plot felt realistic and credible. It was so well-written, it didn’t feel like a book, like a story. It felt like things were happening to friends I knew very well. Their fate felt important. I was utterly invested in them.
In some ways the characters world was very different to mine and it did not matter. However, I admit to being a geek. I think I understood most of the pop-references in the book, even the more obscure ones. I understand that people who have absolutely nothing to do with pop culture might feel… excluded. But again, I love how realistic this book is. The author doesn’t just use two random jobs, because they seem cool and hot to slash together. It seems the characters chose their jobs. They are good at them. They live them.
And here we hit one one of the major themes. Just because they are good at their jobs, doesn’t mean the jobs fulfill them. Doesn’t mean they don’t have other aspirations. Trip is earning a lot of money with something people love, but he knows it is not original. Not the best he could do. It is very hard for him to sacrifice creating something deep, something he truly cares about, only to please his boss and his fans.
But doing something new, something original is a great risk. Doing it instead of something that is already a hit and brings in cash, is not gonna happen easily. While he really wants it, Trip is also scared of the thought, at the same time he can’t stand the mind-numbingness of creating well-selling crap.
Silas, a well-built hunk with a decidedly geeky streak, is his muse. While one might not expect it from his Hee-man looks, there is stark intelligence behind his smoldering eyes. His words and thoughts inspire Trip in new ways and it seems possible for the shy man to finally get his wishes fulfilled.
Of course it is not easy – it never is in real life, either. His boss still uses his own sexuality to chain Trip to his desk to be his gold-shitting donkey. There are fears, risks, betrayals, secrets, there is lust, romance, sex, love, lies, trust, creativity, manipulation, creation. I think every time you read this book, you will find new layers of meaning.
For me, there was one moment, one realization that stood out. I was reading, well into the book, and the notion of something creative, risky, something that was original and fulfilling seemed so very important. It was then that I realized that this book must be the same for the author. He put so much of himself into the book. It is original, truly romantic. There is real angst, especially after the reader cares so much about the characters.
With ‘Hot Head’ Damon Suede has demonstrated that he knows exactly what readers want, what they love, what sells. He combined the most beloved tropes into a well-written present to readers that catered to their every want and need. This book, however, is Damon’s masterpiece in my opinion. It seems to be the story he wants to tell. It doesn’t follow the usual rules of mainstream. The story is not cut into tiny pieces and neatly fed to the reader. Readers need too pay attention, listen to the words between the lines, to the subtle clues. If you just swim at the surface, you might not realize the depth of the story.
The trials of the characters are so real, so relatable that they might hit home. The kind of challenges many of us face. Even if we are afraid to even acknowledge them. If we ignore that we have a choice, that we can change something, it is so much easier to complain about the things we don’t like. In reality, though, we are often crippled by fear and convenience from taking risks and following through. From changing what we don’t like about our lives.
The ideas in this story touched me and made me think about my own live. The romance, while not the only focus of the book, is extremely important and the dynamic and relationship between Trip and Silas is the heart of the story. The erotic scenes are as hot as one can expect from the author of ‘Hot Head’ and I loved the geeky fun thrown in.
This story is easily in the top 5 of my all-time favorites. For me it was perfection, a masterpiece. And I did something rarely do after finishing a book, even though I know a lot of authors. I wrote to Damon and completely gushed over how brilliant the book was. Probably made a total fool out of myself 😛 But sometimes there are books that are so good that we can’t keep it inside and want and need to shout it from the rooftops.
That’s why I wanted to review it as my very first review on the blog. Why Karrie did this amazing piece of review art for me, even though the quote I wanted was so long. I had everything ready, except for the review. I couldn’t wait to write about my love for the book. I sat down and no words would come. It has taken me until now to finally find the words that can hopefully express my feelings. I know this book will not be for everyone, but I hope that a lot of you will give it a try. Because if you connect with the story, it will be so, so worth it! I can’t do anything more than award the highest rating for this book, a prefect 10 out of 10. But a book that is at my top 5 out of 400 books read in this genre must be special. And it is!
ADD TO TBR @ Goodreads
Damon Suede grew up out-n-proud deep in the anus of right-wing America, and escaped as soon as it was legal. He has lived all over and along the way, he’s earned his crust as a model, a messenger, a promoter, a programmer, a sculptor, a singer, a stripper, a bookkeeper, a bartender, a techie, a teacher, a director… but writing has ever been his bread and butter. He has been happily partnered for over a decade with the most loving, handsome, shrewd, hilarious, noble man to walk this planet.
Damon is a proud member of the Romance Writers of America and the Rainbow Romance Writers. Though new to gay romance fiction, Damon has been writing for print, stage, and screen for two decades, which is both more and less glamorous than you might imagine. He’s won some awards, but counts his blessings more often: his amazing friends, his demented family, his beautiful husband, his loyal fans, and his silly, stern, seductive Muse who keeps whispering in his ear, year after year..
Damon would love to hear from you…. Get in touch with him at DamonSuede.com.