Title: Profound in his Silence
Author: G. R. Richards
Length: 68 pdf pages, 17,ooo words.
Publisher: Amber Allure
Genre: m/m/m erotica
Will an opera novice snag the leading role…or the leading man?
For a cocky young opera performer, there sure are a lot of things Charles has never done. Until he snags the title role in a new production of Debussy’s impressionist opera Pelléas et Mélisande, he’s never even played a part outside the men’s chorus.
Rehearsals are hell with a merciless director like Jean-Luc, but Charles’s conversations with co-star Bo make the days bearable. In fact, things just keep getting better when the director finally admits that his artistic vision involves strong homoerotic overtones. Charles can get on board with that idea, on stage and also in his budding relationship with Bo, but in this domain, too, there are things Charles has never done.
Can Bo assuage Charles’s fears on his own, or will the director need to take charge once again?
Warning – this review contains major plot spoilers
This has been the trickiest book to review so far in my time with Brief Encounters. My personal opinion is that it’s a really well crafted piece of gay erotica, and that’s what I’ve awarded the grade for, but as far as m/m romance goes it falls short and would probably only scrape in at a C-. I’ll attempt to explain why…
I’ve read a few of Richards’ short erotic stories before and I knew I loved his style, but wasn’t sure how that would translate into a longer work. Camp was a bit of a mess with rather off-putting characters and insta-love, but I had high hopes for Profound in his Silence.
In many ways I was delighted by the story. The behind the scenes opera setting is beautifully rendered, and every character leaps out of the page in vibrant detail. Charles, our point of view character, comes across as a bit of an idiot at first as he constantly engages his mouth before his brain. However, as the novice fresh out of the chorus he is the perfect guide to that world, and I love the way Richards uses him to summarise the plot of the opera in a few lines for the benefit of the reader, simultaneously illustrating Charles’ rather simplistic view of things, and his antagonistic relationship with the director, Jean Luc.
Indeed, most passages in this story pull double–or even triple–duty in this way, giving insight into the characters and their backstory in a very organic way. You won’t find a single info dump or unnecessary paragraph–everything feels perfectly crafted. Richards has a wonderful command of language and there’s much subtle humour to be found lurking in this story. For instance, when Charles is feeling awkward, this is how he is described:
He shook his head like it was an Etch A Sketch and he could start over with a clean slate.
More to the point, as an erotic story this is smoking hot. Richards writes with the earthy, frank language typical of erotica written with a gay male readership–in other words, less euphemistic and sweetly perfumed than much m/m sex. This is sweaty, dirty, urgent sex that revels in exploding jizz. I enjoy erotica written in this way, but I do want to warn those used to reading m/m romance that they might find it a bit different to what they’re used to.
However, there are two major problems with reading this for the romance. The first is going to be the elision of the romance part. We go straight from Bo and Charles’ first sexual encounter during rehearsals, to dress rehearsals when they are in a relationship and clearly in love with each other. The whole falling for each other part just doesn’t appear in the story, although there were a couple of lovely friendship scenes early on.
The main problem for most readers, though, is going to be the forced seduction menage scene. This is an ideal solution to Charles’ fear of being penetrated if you read it as a piece of erotic fiction, but if you read it as a romance it feels out of place. Charles’ issue is that the one time he’s tried anal sex it hurt really badly, and as Bo is a big man, he’s too frightened to try it in case he ends up resenting his lover. Meanwhile, Bo himself cares too much for Charles to risk hurting him. I can imagine many readers are going to be horrified by Bo’s sneaky solution: having Jean Luc’s force Charles into letting him to do the deed instead, thus proving to Charles that it really doesn’t hurt when done properly.
Of course, Charles, and by extension the reader, have no idea that Bo is behind this, so when Jean Luc threatens to fire Bo unless Charles agrees, we feel his distress. He is turned on by the director, though, and goes along with the plan. If you can cope with dubious consent in your erotic stories you’ll probably be fine with this scene, but if not, I’d steer well clear of this story.
In short then, if you like gay erotica and don’t mind forced seduction scenes then I reckon you’ll really enjoy this one. If you prefer a romantic story, however, this book will probably have you cursing the day you parted with your money.