When I wrote a blog post for AAR called “Male fatphobia in romance novels,” I didn’t dare hope or ask for the bigger guys I find attractive to be heroes; I just begged authors to avoid stereotyping them as pathetic losers. Clearly, I had to try Jessa Kane’s short story Husky, which stars an overweight hero. It was a successful read, but one which comes with some caveats.
Parker Hauser won a reality design competition, and while most of her new collection is ready for unveiling at Fashion Week, she has nothing for her menswear line. Going for a walk to clear her head, she winds up at Daws Mulloy’s bar. One look at the bulky bartender, Daws himself, and Parker’s a goner. She needs him to model for her, but she needs something else from him even more.
While this is listed under Erotica on Amazon, I think the single core relationship and happy ending make Erotic Romance a better categorization. But yes, the sex scenes are scorching and well written, and they help the narrative progress. That’s important, because there are a lot of them, and there’s not enough page count in a short story to do sex and character separately.
Speaking of character... Daws is great. He’s gruff and loyal, and he questions that a banged-up, heavy, older guy like him could possibly be landing a girl like Parker. On her end of things, while I liked that she was genuinely good at sewing and design once inspired, I thought her young age (twenty-one) came across as immaturity when she had zilch for her menswear collection twenty-four hours out from her fashion week debut. Honey, I don’t care if you’re “uninspired.” Have SOMETHING to show, even if you hate it.
Part of what I liked about this book was the novelty of the reading experience. I usually glaze over descriptions of male torsos because, frankly, they don’t appeal. I’m not into hard ridges of muscle or smooth lines which carve a trail towards his belt buckle or whatever. Husky boldly gives me this:
“I watch in breathless anticipation as he reveals the thick hill of his stomach, the whorl of hair around his belly button. There is extra weight there and I’ve never, ever wanted to rub my face in anything so badly.”
This is the first time I’ve ever read an idea or an image like this from any place besides my own brain, and it was revelatory.
The downside is that I definitely felt a ‘fetish’ vibe from both Parker and Daws towards each other. It’s nice that Parker is captivated by Daws’ non-traditional body, but I wanted other reasons to be developed. Parker, meanwhile, draws appeal from being smaller, younger, gorgeous, and a virgin. She and Daws both use the nickname “Daddy” during sex, which hits me like doing the Ice Bucket Challenge mid-boink.
There’s a lot of financial potential for people who can prolifically crank out search-engine optimized specific sex scenarios, and that’s clearly the Jessa Kane business model. Her many fantasy premises, from nuns to stepbrothers to preachers and more, will run you ninety-nine cents for about sixty pages. However, unlike a lot of this stuff, there is quality in here. My vote? If she’s written something with a trope you like, go for it. You’ll get a lot of well-written banging for your buck.
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