Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Just-You Eyes by Clare London

Elliot didn’t know that offering to help his sister get over her broken love affair would mean attending a speed-dating evening at the local hotel in their quaint English town. Obviously, as a gay man, he’s not the target group, and there’s nothing for him there except cheap wine and uncomfortable chairs. But when hotel manager Alexsy sits down opposite him and offers an evening of a very different kind than Elliot expected, Elliot’s tempted to try something for the very first time in his life—the tantalizing adventure of a one-night stand.

Elliot agrees to a Date Night at a hotel in the small town he lives in. The town is so small, most people know he’s gay and that going to a het dating night for him means more of a social thing than the actual dating aspect. He went because someone dropped out and the male numbers needed to be even. Elliot was bored, wanted to be anywhere but there, and if he looked at his watch one more time someone might notice and think him rude. The bell going off, signalling the end of each round, couldn’t come quick enough for him—until a man sat opposite him and began to talk.

Alexsy has an air about him that intrigues Elliot, but Elliot isn’t too hot on the dating thing, is out of his depth, so some of his responses come out abrasive, a bit sharp. I loved watching him in my mind’s eye as he tried to combat nerves, feeling as though he would put his foot in it at any minute, and generally defending his small town and his life when he thought he was being attacked. He wasn’t used to such direct conversation, so Alexsy’s blunt approach had Elliot off-kilter.

Later, when the two men have coffee together, and then alcohol, Elliot loosens up. He discusses one-night stands with Alexsy, who admits he’s had several, doesn’t see the harm in them if both parties know the score—ships passing in the night (loved that bit)—and there is the start of Elliot discovering new things about the world, life, and how other people see things. Elliot has never had a one-night stand—he’s more of a permanent relationship kind of guy—so when he agrees to give a one-night stand a try with Alexsy, he finds himself on an exciting journey, one where he questions whether this is the right thing to do. Whether it is or not, he goes for it, knowing that when it’s all over and Alexsy has returned to London, at least he’ll have memories to keep him company.

…walking across the room like Quasimodo…

…probably smelled of mothballs to someone more hip.

…so long as I didn’t scare the horses.

I felt something warm up and soften inside me like honey itself…

“No, I fucking well don’t!”

“Summer Breeze” maniac.

“Really, Annie, you shouldn’t watch C.S.I. every night.”

Her eyes were shining in that four glasses of wine way she had.

“No, Elliot, he’s actually the relief manager here…”

A brilliant tale that comes across in the most natural way. The words flow, there are nuances of reality in there that give you the feeling this is really happening, and all those Brit words and ways made it a super read for me. I loved it. Lots.

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