Dana reviews Ace by Jack Byrne (Published by Dreamspinner Press, July 15, 2015, 210 pages) A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Blurb: Jake Tanner is a gay asexual man who finds peace on his small Australian farm and is content to lead a quiet life taking care of his animals. Then a random act of kindness on his part sets in motion a complex series of events that results in him playing the piano in a local pub and meeting Damien Jamieson, a sexy gay biker with a penchant for leather. Damien finds Jake instantly irresistible, but that could be the worst thing for their budding relationship, as Damien is determined to bed the reluctant Jake. However, Jake has no intention of going along with his plan. If there’s a chance for anything between them, Damien will have to figure out how to turn Jake on without scaring him off.
Ever since I started reading and reviewing m/m romance, I’ve been really interested in reading or learning more about the other letters that make up the LGBT spectrum. LGBTQIA for others. I have read plenty of gay and bisexual stories, one transgender, and recently one intersex. So I was excited when Ace was released and I could learn more about asexuality. Yeah, I could look it up on the internet, but somehow reading, and getting into a character’s head makes it easier to understand. I will say that I learned a lot, and that I had a lot of misconceptions about asexuality prior to reading.
For those who might be as unaware as I was…
The story is set in Australia, which is always cool, because it’s neat to learn more about their culture and the different animals they have. When Jake and Damien meet on Jake’s doorstep, it seems like fate guided them together. Damien is very attracted to Jake but Jake doesn’t feel the same way. Not that he has anything against getting to know him better or thinks he’s ugly or something, but because he doesn’t feel sexual attraction. Ever. I heard someone say that the blurb turned them off because you can’t be gay and asexual. I thought about that and decided that it could happen. I don’t think being gay or straight is all about sexual desire, it could just be who you are able to get closer to, find yourself wanting to be near. Sometimes labels can make things more confusing.
Two things that surprised me in the story is that first, Jake didn’t have a name for his inability to desire someone, which I think brings to light how overlooked asexuality is in society. Secondly, I was surprised when Jake explained that he had slept with both men and women. That had to do with my misconception that lack of sexual desire meant lack of sexual function. No matter the past experiences Jake might have had or that he found Damien pleasing to the eye, he didn’t want to sleep with him.
Even learning about Jake’s uniqueness didn’t deter Damien from wanting to be with Jake, who was looking for companionship and love but thought he might never have them. They agree to a trial period in which to get to know each other and be friends before intimacy. This is hard for both of them. Jake is sure it won’t work because let’s face it, most relationships thrive with sexual contact. Damien is sure he can make Jake feel good enough that he will feel desire, but those are his misconceptions. It’s also hard for him because he takes Jake’s lack of interest personally, that it’s him, no matter how many times Jake says it’s the same for everyone else.
The two men do go through some things that show how much they care for each other, but the lack of sex does take it’s toll on them to some degree. I would say that this story has a HFN ending. They do come to some agreements, but I have to wonder through Jake’s viewpoint whether Damien will stick around for the long haul. And whether Jake will feel like he’s failing Damien, as well. At the end of the story, Jake meets a group of people who give a name to what he is much to Jake’s surprise. All I have to say is that I hope there is a sequel. I would love to know more about his reaction to the new knowledge and whether they can build something strong enough for a HEA.