Title: Batteries Not Included
Author: J. L. Merrow
Length: 42 pages, 10k words.
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: M/M, contemporary, paranormal
Blurb: How would you react if you woke up one morning to find you were in bed with your favorite pop star? More to the point: how would the pop star react? Sam’s celebrity crush, Cain Shepney, isn’t so pleased to wake up with a stranger, but that’s far from the worst shock the day has in store for them both! Sam’s used to his mother messing with his love life, but this time, Lilith may really have gone too far.
This was an amusing, dream-come-true story, with an unusual twist.
A delightful rollercoaster starts with Sam waking with his popstar idol Cain in a very compromising situation. I admit I love this scenario in fiction! But instead of the plot then being the familiar get-together, the author cleverly twists us and takes us on a race with them across country to confront the odd conclusion that maybe Cain isn’t Cain at all. Yet who – or what – else could he be?
For me, the whole story hinges on how the reader takes to Sam. He’s a self-confessed conservative young man, who’s had a very un-conservative upbringing with his wild-child mother Lilith. Sam’s narrative style is idiosyncratic, frank and self-deprecating, with plenty of humour in it. Oh, bloody hell. It was turning out to be a nightmare. Which was odd, because usually my dreams about Cain Shepney were strictly of the pleasurable sort. You know, the sort where you have to change your boxers after, and possibly the sheets as well… is that too much information? I liked his wit, his pragmatism, his hopeless crush on his idol, his weary but loving frustration with his mother.
The start felt a little uneven to me. The original scene was fun, but diluted by Sam’s mental rambling about his mother. It was important to give the reader information about her, but a lot of it was anecdotal, and I found it too much, especially at the beginning when I’d barely been introduced to Sam himself. Perhaps this was a good illustration of how the chap had always been overwhelmed by Lilith’s larger-than-life personality! The pace picked back up again when Sam and Cain went together to find the truth.
There was little about Cain to go on, except for his reaction to his strange situation at Sam’s, but I did like the way they shared humour and quickly found rapport. And it was very refreshing that Cain developed the same pragmatism when faced with his history instead of turning diva.
I loved best the scene when Cain meets … well, his nemesis, for want of another word (no spoilers!). This was very well written because I was never confused as to who was who. Lilith came into her own and provided the plot explanation, and the characters from Cain’s professional life were amusing though I didn’t feel they added much more than cameos. Yet again, I was happier when Sam and Cain were back together alone. The sex scene was consummation of the suspense and very hot, and worked well because I’d come to like them both.
I didn’t find it particularly Christmas-sy, but that didn’t matter at all to the enjoyment, and I enjoyed the occasional digs at reality star-making shows. The author’s wit and British vocabulary were out in full force, and gave the story a unique style. A very good read, the plot was fun, the two main characters were very attractive, and I rate it a B+.
by pettyprose…my opinion alone.