Pricks and Pragmatism by JL Merrow
This is the second book that I’ve read by J.L. Merrow, the first being the excellent “Muscling Through”. In “Pricks and Pragmatism”, Luke Corbin is an aspiring journalist in his early twenties, who maintains a life of leisure, by being a “kept” boy, for a series of sugar daddies. One night, one of Luke’s benefactors, named Sebastian, comes home and simply tells Luke that it is time for him to move out, since Sebastian has found another love interest. Luke is used to be easily discarded, so he does not make a big deal of it. Instead, he goes right ahead and tries to find another man to live with temporarily, while he finishes his college exams.
One of Luke’s friends, named Tom, sets up an arrangement with a timid engineer, named Russell, allowing Luke to stay at his apartment until Luke finishes his college exams. Eager to please, Luke is willing to use sex as a way of paying rent to Russell, since he does not work, even though physically, Russell is not Luke’s type, Luke is still surprised when Russell continuously shuns Luke’s sexual advances, and does not seem to respond at all to Luke’s charm and good-looks, the way other men do.
Throughout the course of the book, Luke and Russell get to know each other and Luke finds himself unexpectedly drawn to Russell. Perhaps it’s because Russell does not yield so easily to Luke the way other men do, and Luke finds himself attracted to Russell’s genuinely nice personality, but does not make much of the situation, believing that Russell has no attraction to him at all.
Like “Muscling Through”, “Pricks and Pragmatism” works because of its well-written narrative and strong characterization. The author does a good job at making Luke believable and likeable, even though it is easy to dismiss a character like Luke, who uses his looks to get what he wants out of life. We learn about Luke’s early life, his strife with his father at a young age, and his motivation to become a journalist, so that he does not have to rely on the benevolence of wealthy older men.
The ending is sweet and predictable—it is a romance novel after all. But once again, Merrow does a good job at creating a naturally-flowing, well-plotted story, with engaging characters. I would definitely recommend this book.
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Michael S. Booker
Author of “The Shadow Series” “Freshman” “Freshman 2”