Dawn reviews Apple Polisher (Rear Entrance Video #1) by Heidi Belleau (Riptide Publishing, July 29, 2013, 228 pages)
Dana reviews Wall Flower (Rear Entrance Video #2) by Heidi Belleau (Riptide Publishing, October 21, 2013, 205 pages)
MtSnow reviews ‘Straight Shooter:Rear Entrance Video #3 by Heidi Belleau (Riptide Publishing 274 pages, released April 7th 20140
Readers Copies were provided in exchange for honest reviews.
Evolution of a Cover: Apple Polisher
Hi, I’m Heidi Belleau! Over the coming days I’ll be touring the web showing off the gorgeous new covers for my queer NA rom-com series Rear Entrance Video, all about a diverse house of Vancouver roommates who wind up running a dilapidated porn store.
Today on the tour, I’m featuring a behind the scenes look of the making of the cover for Apple Polisher, the first book for the series.
After choosing a concept out of the four options our artist Vivian Ng gave us, it was time to transform that sketch into the finished cover you see. Try and spot the tweaks we made at each stage of the process!
After everyone gave this final sketch the thumbs up, it was time for Vivian to move from digital to traditional mediums, translating this concept into the gorgeous finished cover we now all get to enjoy!
Christian Blake dreams of being a kindergarten teacher, but making the grade means maintaining a squeaky clean image: no drinking, no drugs, no swearing, no sex. And definitely no falling for his new roommate-tattooed bad-boy Max, who may or may not be a drug dealer.
Most of all, it means no working at a porn store. But Christian’s aunt has cancer, and her beloved Rear Entrance Video will go bankrupt if Christian doesn’t take over managerial duties. Soon enough, Christian finds himself juggling sticky twenty-five cent peep show booths, a blackmailing employee, and a demanding professor who likes to make an example of him.
And then there’s Max, who doesn’t know anything about the store, but hates Christian’s preppy sweater vests and the closet Christian forces him into when they’re together. Max just wants Christian to be himself-even though Max is keeping secrets of his own. Christian struggles to find the impossible balance between his real life and the ideal one he thinks a teacher needs to live . . . all while trying to keep his aunt’s dream alive without losing his own.
Dawn’s Review: Meet Christian….. he is someone who is hidden firmly in the closet, mainly due his ambition of being a school teacher and the fact that his mother told him that he was a pervert and should not be allowed near children. He is currently living in a hostel, as his aunt could no longer help him with the fees for his dorm room.
This gamer geek has a lacy little secret.
Art student and MMORPG addict Robert Ng has always been a loner, but he’s recently made it his goal to make more (IRL) friends. Which is how he winds up working nights at Rear Entrance Video, shilling sketchy porn and blowup dolls as a favor to his roommate. The longer he works there, though, the more he realizes he’ll never be truly happy until he becomes the person he is online: his female persona, Bobby.
Bobby is cuter and funnier than Rob is, and a thousand times more popular with boys. Becoming Bobby IRL presents its own set of challenges, though . . . especially when you’re sitting on the fence between two genders, only one of which has caught the attention of your seriously cute customer/classmate.
Dylan Ford is a six-foot Inuit comic book artist who always says what’s on his mind, and screw anyone who doesn’t like it. As rough as he appears, though, Dylan has a soft spot for Rob. But will out-and-proud Dylan still want Rob if he’s not all man?
Dana’s Review: As a reader of m/m romance, I participate in many groups through Facebook and Goodreads. During a lot of discussions it has come up from many women that after reading this genre, that they sometimes wish they were gay men, or that they felt like gay men trapped in women’s bodies. I can’t speak for everyone, and I’m not sure if it involves real gender identity questioning or if it is just that the passion and romance that goes into each story is so effective that women wish to experience the story as it is told from a male pov. I admit I am one of those women, and that makes Robert/Bobby a very relatable character.
I felt connected to Bobby, as a gay man who sometimes wishes to be feminine but not transgender. I felt for him as he hid that side of his personality, afraid that the people in his life wouldn’t understand. But at the same time, I wanted him to be truthful to Dylan who I never believed was as clueless as Bobby thought him.
This story is not just about Bobby finding balance in both his masculinity and femininity, Dylan does go through a search as well. As an Inuit (Native American) there are things expected from him because of his heritage. He must reconcile the Inuit traditions and customs with who he is as a very modern man adopted and raised outside the tribe.
I found the story to be very sweet with moments of tension for Bobby. The ending was perfect for the two characters though, and I recommend the book. It can be read as a stand-alone, but some supporting characters in this book have their parts in the others books of this series. You might want to check those out as well. I know I do.
This macho jock has a crooked little secret.
College hockey player Austin Puett is in trouble. Unless he starts treating his flamboyantly gay roommate with respect, he’ll lose his room and his job at Rear Entrance Video. But Austin’s got a not-so-straight secret of his own: nothing turns him on more than insults implying he’s gay—even though he’s definitely not!—and all his old coping methods have stopped working.
Pure desperation drives him to rent a Mischievous Pictures porn flick about straight men tricked into servicing Puck, a male dominant. Instead of letting off steam, though, it just leaves him craving more, more, more, and suddenly, Austin finds himself at Mischievous Pictures Studios for an audition. After all, you can be Gay For Pay and still be straight . . . right?
But meeting Liam Williams, the real person behind Puck, confuses Austin even more. Liam really seems to like him as a person, and Austin likes him back. And while Gay For Pay’s okay, what does it make Austin if he still wants Liam when the cameras aren’t rolling?
MtSnow’s Review: So. What do you call somebody if they are not gay, but they aren’t exactly straight? That makes for a very interesting and struggling yet soul searching question for our last hold-out in the roommate scenario of the Rear Entrance Video guys.
One thing for sure. This book left me questioning myself, and my preconceived ideas of black and white or in this case; gay vs. straight. Is there such a thing as being neither yet being both? Who decides, and who has the right to decide or judge if something makes someone happy?
Austin, our super-uber athletic ‘straight’ dude from the previous two ‘Rear Entrance Video’ world is the main protagonist in this story, and I have to tell you, I really struggled to even like the guy. I did empathize with the voices in his head, but he made it very hard to pin down where he was coming from…this story had me running in circles and chasing my tail!
The other MC, Liam or ‘Puck’ as he’s known in the porn industry, well, at times I wanted to get in his head and see what really made him tick, as well. Neither of these guys fit any certain ‘role’ and actually seemed to be making things up as they went. But it seemed to work for them.
I can’t say this book gave me any warm fuzzies. In fact, I was kind of disgruntled when I completed the story, but I think, if anything, it was because so much of the subject matter was more out of my personal comfort zone, as I tend to avoid the subject matter that this story involved. But in this story, it seemed to work for the MCs, and who am I to question what someone needs or enjoys in their sex-life?
I had my eyes squeezed halfway shut through many of the scenes, and was holding my breath, afraid that I was going to see some things I didn’t want to …. But, the author pretty much ‘edged’ and ‘almost’ went there, without quite doing it…very tastefully done, if there is such a thing with this subject matter *smiles*
I would consider this story more a story of growth, and an HFN rather than an HEA, as the other two stories lead us to believe. I would definitely recommend as a completion to the series, but keep in mind, it is not for the faint of heart.
Author: Heidi Belleau
Heidi Belleau was born and raised in small town New Brunswick, Canada. She now lives in the rugged oil-patch frontier of Northern BC with her husband, an Irish ex-pat whose long work hours in the trades leave her plenty of quiet time to write.
She has a degree in history from Simon Fraser University with a concentration in British and Irish studies; much of her work centred on popular culture, oral folklore, and sexuality, but she was known to perplex her professors with unironic papers on the historical roots of modern romance novel tropes. (Ask her about Highlanders!)
When not writing, you might catch her trying to explain British television to her newborn daughter or standing in line at the local coffee shop, waiting on her caramel macchiato.
Connect with Heidi:
Cover Artist: Vivian Ng
Vivian Ng is an illustrator and occasional comic artist living in Mississauga, Ontario, working mostly in watercolour, ink, and digital media. Vivi’s hobbies include watching children’s cartoons, reading fanfiction, and drawing entirely too much fanart.
Use coupon code REVRECOVER to receive $2.00 off the ebook price of Apple Polisher!