Publisher: Velvet Cucumber
London Dates is an MM erotic romance novel, which consists of five parts:
1. First Wound – young Castor arrives in London and his first romantic experience.
2. A Man in Budgie Smugglers – that steamy weekend, Castor learns that sex can be good as just sex.
3. Sex in the Cave – Castor goes to Edinburgh for Christmas where many surprises await, including a cave where naughty things can happen.
4. Sputnik 2 Love – back to London, back to studies – but no, Castor isn’t falling for a fellow student, a young Russian poet called Alyosha.
5. A Million Dollar Man – not knowing if his love is mutual is one thing, now Castor has to battle other obstacles on his path to conquer Alyosha’s heart.
London Dates is a light, emotional and humorous coming-of-age LGBT story set in London.
I have to say it is very appropriate that London Dates has been published in the form of five separate parts seeing how they deal with five different stages in Castor’s coming of age / growing up process.
When Castor first arrives in London to start his studies, it is his first time away from home and his first time being attracted to / falling for another man. He meets Mike when he gets off the bus from Edinburgh and the attraction is instant and mutual. Mike is basically Castor’s first when it comes to everything related to intimacy and sex, so it’s hardly surprising that Castor falls hard and fast. Neither is surprising that he’s devastated when it appears Mike might not feel quite as deeply or be as loyal as Castor does. Thank goodness for Violet, the caretaker in his dorm who takes Castor under his wing right from the moment they first meet and provides both entertainment and moral support when he (and the reader) most needs it.
The subsequent stories take Castor’s journey further. A hook-up with a very sexy Australian in a leisure centre teaches him that attraction doesn’t necessarily have to mean deep feelings or commitment, while his trip to Edinburgh forces him to grow up fast when his parents share shocking news. A hook-up with a somewhat older man is just the distraction Castor needs to deal with what could have been a ruined Christmas.
“His lips soothe my past and future wounds.”
Everything changes when Castor first sets eyes on Alyosha, a fellow student. Castor falls head over heels and hard despite the fact that he has no idea whether or not the beautiful Russian youngster is attracted to men or returns his feelings. And when Castor at last gets what (or should I say who) he’s been longing for, it turns out there are those who would put obstacles in the way of young love. Having to stand up to the world at large is either going to bring the two young men closer together or tear them apart.
This is a charming, humorous, and touching coming of age story. Castor is absolutely adorable. He feels with all his being and he fully embraces every new experience he encounters. This is a story about growing up and young love and as such the characters experience everything profoundly. Castor’s love, when he first experiences it, is all or nothing just as his loyalty knows no bounds.
While this is basically a light-hearted coming of age tale, it doesn’t shy away from touching on heavier topics, such as the Russian attitude towards gay relationships. Personally I found this to be a comfortable balance between easy reading and thought-provoking. I also appreciated the fact that this book is almost (but not quite) angst-free.
Long story short, I thoroughly enjoyed this story and will most definitely read more by Brad Tanner.
“He straightens my bowtie and this is the moment I think I’ll always remember. It’s a first time you notice someone you love is looking after you.”