Title: Apple Polisher
This straight-A student has a dirty little secret.
Christian Blake dreams of being a kindergarten teacher, but making the grade means maintaining a squeaky clean image: no drinking, no drugs, no swearing, no sex. And definitely no falling for his new roommate—tattooed bad-boy Max, who may or may not be a drug dealer.
Most of all, it means no working at a porn store. But Christian’s aunt has cancer, and her beloved Rear Entrance Video will go bankrupt if Christian doesn’t take over managerial duties. Soon enough, Christian finds himself juggling sticky twenty-five cent peepshow booths, a blackmailing employee, and a demanding professor who likes to make an example of him.
And then there’s Max, who doesn’t know anything about the store, but hates Christian’s preppy sweater vests and the closet Christian forces him into when they’re together. Max just wants Christian to be himself—even though Max is keeping secrets of his own. Christian struggles to find the impossible balance between his real life and the ideal one he thinks a teacher needs to live . . . all while trying to keep his aunt’s dream alive without losing his own.
Author: Heidi Belleau
Other books by this author that we've reviewed: Wallflower, Bliss, The Burnt Toast B&B, Rules to Live By
Published by Riptide Publishing Source: Publisher
Published: 29 July, 2013
Genres: Erotic Contemporary Romance, Male Male Romance
See the title at Goodreads
Purchase your copy: Amazon
Visit the Author's Website
Apple Polisher was a surprisingly non-drama filled story with a ton of heart, humor, some steamy sex and interesting characters. Following a fairly standard rom-com plotting arc, Belleau manages to include elements that increase the uniqueness of the series and keeping it from feeling clichéd or trite.
Christian is the main character and narrator in this book. He is a Jamaican-Canadian, a grad student in pre-school education, on scholarship, broke and his favorite aunt is losing her battle with cancer, most probably after her Rear Entrance Video store fails. With no money and few options, Christian answers an ad for a house share with 4 other males, all gay. Oh, and I did forget to mention that Christian dresses like Erkel and is conflicted about his sexuality, partly from his upbringing and part is due to his career aspirations.
With 5 gay men living in the same house the easy way to write the story would have been increase the drama and the bed-hopping. Instead, Heidi Belleau manages to create a story that is loaded with real-feeling interactions and just enough conflicted desires for the main character of Christian and his undeniable attraction to Max. Added to that she managed to give us a multi-cultural cast of roommates, and provides introductions to each character showing their unique traits and personalities.
The attraction between Christian and Max is well-written, and while Christian is intrigued, he is so wrapped up in his own concerns he doesn’t see the more subtle clues until Max just lays his offer on the line. When Christian does finally let his heart speak instead of his worries, the scenes are super-hot and sexy. And the whole storyline of the Rear Entrance Video store, and the scene in there…. Smoking hot!
This is a rom-com with erotic elements and characters to enjoy: far from the clichéd examples the hearts of the characters show through even as their words, reactions and actions may bring a few laughs.
I received an eBook copy from the publisher for purpose of honest review for the Jeep Diva. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Why Vivian Ng?
Hi, I’m Heidi Belleau! Over the coming days I’ll be touring the web showing off the gorgeous new covers for my queer NA rom-com series Rear Entrance Video, all about a diverse house of Vancouver roommates who wind up running a dilapidated porn store.
For the new covers, I really wanted something youthful, queer, and done-by-hand, and I found my perfect artist in Vivian Ng, a young non-binary illustrator from Toronto with . In my search for an artist, I wasn’t just looking for a specific esthetic (and saying “I’ll know it when I see it” over and over again much to the chagrin of my publisher Riptide), I was looking for an artist who really gelled with the subject matter, who I could trust to “get” what these books were doing and who I specifically wanted these covers to appeal to.
Just looking at her sketches and illustrations—of both and–I got the sense that Vivian could really capture the spirit of what I’d written. Her proved she knew how to tell a compelling story in images. Her mastery of as well as experience creating meant I knew she could create one of a kind cover art that looks and feels like it was created with care and skill by an independent artist . . . the perfect esthetic for a book series set in a modern but idiosyncratic city like Vancouver.
There was a personal side to picking Vivian, as well. Knowing she was (at the time, at least) a Canadian college student, living in metropolitan Toronto, and a part of the LGBT community, also meant a lot to me. She could have easily been featured as a character in the series and fit right in! And hopefully after seeing these covers, you’ll agree her art fits right in, too.
Author: Heidi Belleau
Heidi Belleau was born and raised in small town New Brunswick, Canada. She now lives in the rugged oil-patch frontier of Northern BC with her husband, an Irish ex-pat whose long work hours in the trades leave her plenty of quiet time to write.
She has a degree in history from Simon Fraser University with a concentration in British and Irish studies; much of her work centred on popular culture, oral folklore, and sexuality, but she was known to perplex her professors with unironic papers on the historical roots of modern romance novel tropes. (Ask her about Highlanders!)
When not writing, you might catch her trying to explain British television to her newborn daughter or standing in line at the local coffee shop, waiting on her caramel macchiato.
Connect with Heidi:
Cover Artist: Vivian Ng
Vivian Ng is an illustrator and occasional comic artist living in Mississauga, Ontario, working mostly in watercolour, ink, and digital media. Vivi’s hobbies include watching children’s cartoons, reading fanfiction, and drawing entirely too much fanart.
Apple Polisher (REV #1)
Wallflower (REV #2)
This gamer geek has a pretty little secret.
Art student and MMORPG addict Robert Ng has always been a loner, but he’s recently made it his goal to make more (IRL) friends. Which is how he winds up working nights at Rear Entrance Video, shilling sketchy porn and blowup dolls as a favor to his roommate. The longer he works there, though, the more he realizes he’ll never be truly happy until he becomes the person he is online: his female persona, Bobby.
Bobby is cuter and funnier than Rob is, and a thousand times more popular with boys. Becoming Bobby IRL presents its own set of challenges, though . . . especially when you’re sitting on the fence between two genders, only one of which has caught the attention of your seriously cute customer/classmate.
Dylan Ford is a six-foot Inuit comic book artist who always says what’s on his mind, and screw anyone who doesn’t like it. As rough as he appears, though, Dylan has a soft spot for Rob. But will out-and-proud Dylan still want Rob if he’s not all man?
Straight Shooter (REV #3)
This macho jock has a crooked little secret.
College hockey player Austin Puett is in trouble. Unless he starts treating his flamboyantly gay roommate with respect, he’ll lose his room and his job at Rear Entrance Video. But Austin’s got a not-so-straight secret of his own: nothing turns him on more than insults implying he’s gay—even though he’s definitely not!—and all his old coping methods have stopped working.
Pure desperation drives him to rent a Mischievous Pictures porn flick about straight men tricked into servicing Puck, a male dominant. Instead of letting off steam, though, it just leaves him craving more, more, more, and suddenly, Austin finds himself at Mischievous Pictures Studios for an audition. After all, you can be Gay For Pay and still be straight . . . right?
But meeting Liam Williams, the real person behind Puck, confuses Austin even more. Liam really seems to like him as a person, and Austin likes him back. And while Gay For Pay’s okay, what does it make Austin if he still wants Liam when the cameras aren’t rolling?