An apple for the teacher or would a blow job be better? I just loved this novella about Nathan the rent boy who is determined to get himself off the streets, but what happens when the offer to help comes from a regular punter? Can business and pleasure really be mixed? Check out Mark’s review…..
Jamie is also stopping by with us today on her busy blog tour and giving her thoughts on student teacher relationships………….
Hi, I’m JL Merrow, and I’m thrilled to be here today as part of the Raising the Rent blog tour!
A lot of people, authors and readers alike, say they like m/m because of the lack of an inherent power imbalance between the partners. With m/f, it’s a rare man who isn’t physically stronger than his woman, and even if they were, by some miracle, equal in all respects (unlikely, as women tend to earn less than equally qualified men doing the same jobs) male privilege would still come into play. Even in these so-called enlightened times, a man is more likely to be listened to and believed than a woman.
But in m/m, the partners can start out with an equal playing field. So why deliberately tilt it by setting up a relationship with a power imbalance that’s inherent, such as one between pupil and teacher?
Well, there’s something very sexy about a couple who each know they shouldn’t be together—but just can’t seem to keep their hands off each other. Their love—or desire—for each other is strong enough to make them break the social taboo and risk the consequences.
Of course, if the pupil is underage, then any relationship with a teacher is likely to be nothing but harmful. In the UK, where Raising the Rent is set, the age of consent is 16, but the law recognises that young people between 16 and 18 are vulnerable in a position of power imbalance. Any teacher who has an affair with a student under 18 is likely to end up in jail.
But what if both teacher and student are consenting adults? Here, there’s still a power imbalance, but it’s much more akin to that in the workplace between, say, secretary and boss. It’s all a bit naughty, they probably want to keep it a secret and it could all end in tears, particularly for the one on the lower end of the power scale—but there are no legal repercussions, only possible career death and social stigma.
But how real is the threat to the teacher’s career? Where both parties in a student/teacher relationship are over age, the law won’t get involved—but what about the institute of learning involved? Well, in the UK at least, it’s a bit of a grey area:
“In 2005, figures revealed after a Freedom of Information Act request by Times Higher Education showed that 50 out of 102 institutions had no policy requiring staff to declare sexual or other relationships with students that might give rise to a conflict of interest. Of those that did, few appeared to apply them: just 17 universities had any current records on file.” Read the article HERE.
The same article has some interesting commentary on just why UK policy (or lack of it!) is in general much more lenient than that in the US: traditionally age gaps in UK universities between teachers and students are smaller, and UK lecturers don’t have the same power over students’ grades.
Well, you didn’t really believe that oft-repeated phrase, “No sex please, we’re British,” did you?
Question: When I was at high school, we had for a while a student teacher with astonishingly good looks who set girlish (and, I have no doubt, boyish) hearts a-fluttering all over the place. For some reason, probably buried deep in our adolescent psyches, the only people immune to his charms were a friend of mine and me. We took an instant and violent dislike to the poor man and got hauled up in front of the deputy head for writing very thinly veiled attacks on him in our English essays—not my finest literary hour!
Have you ever had a crush on teacher? ;)
Title: Raising The Rent
Author: J L Merrow
Released: 14th October 2014
Genre: M/M (contemporary)
Rent boy rule number one: Never fall in love with a customer.
Life as a rent boy is not a long-term career goal for Nathan, who’s determined to get an education. But when he turns up for his first day at college he’s horrified to find his English teacher is one of his regular customers: Stephen, the one Nathan dubbed The Voice for his educated, honeyed tones.
Stephen’s just as shocked to see Nathan sitting in his class, not to mention terrified he’s about to be exposed as having paid for sex with a student—which would mean public humiliation and maybe the loss of his job. Yet it’s clear Nathan is only interested in getting his A Levels, not in blackmail. And Stephen realizes there’s more to the nineteen-year-old than meets the eye.
Nathan still has to earn a living, though, and when a customer turns ugly, he finds himself homeless and unable to work. Stephen steps in to help, and Nathan starts to think they could have a future together—if Stephen’s guilt and lack of trust don’t end their back-to-front romance before it starts.
This book has been previously published.
Nathan hasn’t had it easy in life so far and I guess like so many young men and women plying their trade on the street, it is rarely a conscious choice that’s been made but more one of having been left with no other option I guess. Nathan is a rent boy and precisely because of having to pay the rent to provide a roof over his head it is obviously the only choice he has between that and living on the streets. The one thing I admired about Nathan is how he could just separate the one from the other. As if he has a mental brick wall around him, however that doesn't make him distant or introverted, quite the opposite actually. I loved his upbeat, positive view on things with a good bit of snark mixed in with a great humour. Once again JL Merrow manages to bring the light side of life and positive into her story rather than concentrate on the negative. However, you are left with no doubt that Nathan’s life is by no means a box of chocolates.
I also admired his tenacity to lift himself out of the gutter and trying to change his circumstances by going back to college to study. After all he has no family he can count on to finance this so he finances the only way he knows how. But what do you do when you turn up to your first English lesson and the teacher turns out to be a regular punter – oopppss! Mega embarrassment on both sides – lol! His teacher, Stephen, feels as awkward as Nathan does, but Nathan always the professional assures him that his anonymity will be safe with him. I just couldn’t help but feel the discomfort Stephen had, but then you might ask why is he looking for his tricks on the street anyway? We learn that even Stephen has trust issues and after one huge disappointment in his life finds it easier to have sex this way with no strings rather than let someone into his life and heart again. I suppose this is also just another form of severe emotional protectionism on his part which is also quite sad within itself.
Life on the streets are tough and JL Merrow doesn’t spare us this aspect of things either when one ugly incident means that Nathan can no longer go to college. This part was somewhat upsetting to read but due to Nathan’s attitude things are kept relatively light and I just love the way that Nathan bounces back like a ball from any situation. Stephen visits him and because his heart starts to open up to him, Nathan starts to let down his emotional guard as well. This is what I loved about this book especially; two characters each with their own emotional defence mechanisms which seem pretty impenetrable at first start to let their defences down bit-by-bit, opening up their hearts and finding that they are both more compatible than first could have been thought.
This novella is thoroughly entertaining from beginning to end and all served up with a great portion of humour while never letting go of the positive angle on life.
About The Author
JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea. She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy.
She is a member of the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.
Contact The Author
Also by Jl Merrow
J.L. Merrow is offering a $20 Amazon gift certificate to a randomly chosen commenter on the tour. (See here for a full list of the blogs she’ll be guesting on, in case you’ve missed any)
J.L. Merrow will be making the draw around teatime on Monday 27th October, GMT.
Good luck! :D
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