Author ~ Kate Fierro
Publisher ~ Interlude Press
Published ~ 21st April 2015
Genre ~ New Adult Contemporary M/M Romance
Micah Geller considers himself lucky: at 27, he has more money than he needs, a job he loves, a debut book coming out, and a brilliant career in information security before him. What he doesn’t have is a partner to share it with—a fact that’s never bothered him much.
But the romantic in him isn’t entirely dead. When a moment of weakness finds him with a contact to a high-class escort specializing in fulfilling fantasies, Micah asks for only one thing.
Show me what it’s like to feel loved.
This is an amazingly polished, cogent, beautiful story that is much more sophisticated than I would normally expect from a first-time author. But Kate Fierro is not your normal first-time author. With a notable career behind her as a book translator and editor, she certainly knows her way around the English language. Even more impressive is the fact that, according to her Bio, she’s writing in her second language, not her native one. I would never have guessed.
She’s also based in Europe, which is another surprising fact because she absolutely nails Minnesota, American idioms, slang, and (praise heaven, probably the first time this has ever happened) is even fluent in IT and Internet Security speak – I know, the Web is my day job – and there’s not a false step, misused term or inappropriate acronym anywhere to be found. Great job and, for a debut novel, almost unbelievable.
She weaves a charming story. First, there’s Micah Geller, nerd extraordinaire, who’s carving out an impressive niche for himself in the Corporate Security industry, leveraging his experience as a teenage hacker into a great reputation as security consultant, trainer and author. But his personal life? Not so impressive. He’s one of those cases whose first lover abused him – not physically, but endlessly found fault, hated any kind of display of affection and was terrible in bed, while blaming Micah for their erotic failures. Micah had come to believe that what he and Brian had was love, and that he didn’t really want any part of it. Instead of going through the endless machinations and insecurities of a relationship, he has decided to be a celibate hermit. He works twelve hours a day, seven days a week, without weekends or vacations off. And he likes it. He doesn’t feel like he’s missing much because, when he did have a relationship, it didn’t make him even the slightest bit happy.
His BFF, tired of his reconstituted virginity, gives him a business card for a brilliant high-end escort who specializes in fulfilling fantasies. Well, Micah can well afford it; his star is rising and so is his income. So, in a moment of weakness, he calls and makes an appointment.
The time he spends with the gorgeous Angel turns out to have been a great investment. They don’t even have sex. They go to dinner, they cuddle, they kiss a little. Micah had never before realized how much touch matters, how much intimacy brings light and joy to life. But he’s well aware that this is just a fantasy – the one he requested: that Angel show him what it feels like to really be loved, since he’s sure he’s never experienced it before.
Unfortunately, he’s spotted by a friend of his sister’s while on his date with Angel, so his family attacks with a vengeance. They so want him to be happy, to have someone, to be in love, like them, that he doesn’t have the heart to tell them that Angel isn’t a real boyfriend, but a hired escort.
Like most lies, this one builds on itself, requiring more and more dates as Micah brings Angel to his parents’ 30th Anniversary weekend and to Thanksgiving. His parents love Angel, which makes it even more difficult to reveal his little fraud, so they continue maintaining this paid-for “relationship”.
And, of course, they find they really like being together, that they’re quite compatible, and that they’re both coming to care for the other. That’s a bad thing. Angel (whose real name turns out to be Adrien), believes that Micah deserves a real relationship, not a pale imitation. He knows he has to move on, for Micah’s sake. Micah, on the other hand, is happy to settle for friendship.
Which is how they leave things, spending a lot of time together as friends, but not boyfriends. That is, until something really dangerous happens that threatens Aiden’s very life. Micah will not accept it, he refuses to let a terrible, dangerous, situation continue, but Aiden doesn’t want his situation to threaten Micah, so he walks away from him, perhaps permanently.
Micah is left to confront two big issues in his otherwise charmed life. The first is the fact that he’s fallen in love with an escort. The other is that Micah has long been a coward, as far as his heart is concerned. He took Brian’s garbage, without complaint, until Brian confessed to sleeping with other men, and it still took Brian to end their relationship. Micah has always been conflict-averse, and thus suffered whatever came his way without fighting back or fighting for more.
He can’t afford to be a coward any more, and he doesn’t really care what Aiden did to put himself through law school. He is finally passionate, and it’s time for him to fight for what he wants.
I don’t want my synopsis to drift dangerously close to spoilers, so let me stop here and just reassure you that this is a gay romance, and it does have a happy ending - as it should. The great joy of this book is seeing how the two men get past their bizarre beginning and painful pasts to negotiate a life together that works for both of them.
Kate Fierro is an author to watch. She doesn’t do pyrotechnics, jut straightforward, fluent writing. Her prose has a rhythm to it that’s superb, her settings are realistic, her dialogue absolutely believable (some that’s downright clever), and her characters so real it feels like they will step, any moment, right off the page.
And this talented author doesn’t take any shortcuts. There are no standard gay fiction memes, no predictable characters, it’s as though she wrote in longhand and loved every word she wrote. As I mentioned, at the start, this book is unusually mature for a debut novel, which leaves me wondering how good she’ll get with more books under her belt? Is there any limit for her? Somehow I doubt it.
Therefore, I suggest you read anything by the remarkable Kate Fierro you can get your hands on, and I sincerely recommend, from the bottom of my heart, that you read “Love Starved”.
A final note: I’m not sure the book cover does justice to the author’s writing. At first glance, I assumed it was a heterosexual novel because the depiction of Micah is so feminine (I don’t mean effeminate) that I could have sworn he was a woman. To be honest, I think he was a woman on the cover. But take heart. Ms. Fierro’s descriptions are so subtly evoked, yet vivid, that I hasten to reassure you that Micah looks thoroughly nerdy-masculine, and nothing like the glamorous woman on the cover!!