Toy: a contemporary m/m romance.
Troy the toy isn’t looking for a relationship. He gets all the sex he needs whilst working at Priapus: a brothel in inner city Melbourne.
Over the past three years, he has learned to turn himself off and load his Tommy program whenever he is with a client. A saleable commodity in today’s consumer society, he is well aware that his cute twink appeal has an expiry date, but he is content for now with the status quo.
That is, until his homophobic high school bully books an appointment.
Seeing Nick Stephanides again after all these years gives Troy’s operating system a bit of a jolt. Troy has always assumed that Nick is straight, but Nick is gay, lonely and determined to start a bromance with Troy. How can Troy say no to those broad shoulders?
Troy and Nick begin a tentative friendship, whilst Troy continues to provide good customer service to his clients, some of whom have very interesting requests.
Offering advice and support are his friends at Priapus: Melissa, his manager, who keeps a maternal eye on her boys, Brett, the bear and Ari, the surfie dude, whose passionate love affair is the catalyst for much soul searching, Qiu, the cheery Goth and Damien, the beautiful redhead who, for some reason, tenses up at the mere suggestion that Troy might one day break his dating embargo.
And then there’s Desmond the politician, who pays to watch Troy dance.
Of course, Troy’s operating system is bound to glitch sooner or later. Will it be Nick who finally sneaks under his defences? There is that ancient proverb about Greeks bearing gifts…
Toy is a bit different than the standard M/M romance. In fact, it takes a bit for there to really be a romance. It's more about Troy's day to day life as a sex worker, and while we do get the details of many of Troys encounters with his clients, I hesitate to call those parts steamy. Troy treats his job as just that, a job, and like any of us would do throughout the course of a day at work, he thinks about dinner prep, grocery lists, bills, etc - all those mundane things that we all have to deal with. So, this one is definitely a different take on the world's oldest profession. The romance is a slow burn that gradually builds over time. Of course, it's not without a bit of angst leading to that epiphany about love, but mostly, it's about the building of a friendship that leads to something more. This is an illustrated story, but it's not what I initially expected. There aren't pictures on every page. Instead, there are entertaining little illustrations scattered throughout the book. And while the pictures are suited to the story, the book would be the same with or without them as far as the story goes. This one did hold my interest, and I liked that it was equally amusing and serious. All in all, this one is a bit different than my usual read, but it's certainly thought-provoking, and the characters are engaging and fun.