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Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Janitor by Jan Irving

The Janitor by Jan Irving
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (171 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/M
Rating: 4 Cherries
Reviewed by Fern

I’m a naturally optimistic type of person, you know? Yeah, I think good things will happen, only they usually don’t. Take Noel: even though he’s educated and rich and he don’t think he’s even gay, I want to belong to him. I want him to take me completely---Dane Connelly

Dane Connelly is a gay janitor and boxer with a soft heart and a simple outlook--he wants to meet the right man, someone who will look past his macho sport and put him in the place of a submissive. He wants to fall in love and belong to his partner.

On the surface, Noel Atherton, an intellectual, shy, and sexually repressed university graduate student with a crippled leg, could not be the dominant lover that Dane longs for. But after their first meeting, when Dane disables the fire alarm in the library and lights a cigarette, Noel is drawn from his shell. Soon, Noel needs to touch Dane, exploring his sexuality for the first time. And both learn that looks can be deceiving.

However, Noel's controlling father is appalled by the relationship and quietly arranges to get Dane out of the way and punish him for daring to love a man so far above his station.

The Janitor is a story that sticks with you long after you’ve finished. Author Jan Irving has crafted a poignant tale about accepting who – and what – you are, while challenging the preconceived perceptions we have about those around us.

It should be stated that this story is not an easy read. The hero Dane – to put it as kindly as possible – isn’t very bright, and at times, came across as eerily childlike. Though it is never addressed, I wondered if he didn’t suffer from some sort of mental handicap. With that in mind, and considering the sexual content and nature of the material, I found myself squirming uncomfortably during more than one of the intimate love scenes. To be sure, Dane is lovable, as is his love interest, Noel. However, I couldn’t help but feel that Dane was in need of someone to care for him as a parent would a child versus a lover. As Dane and Noel enter into a D/s relationship, it felt as if Dane were being taken advantage of in some way, and when he refers to Noel as Daddy during sexual play, I could only stifle a wince.

Yet, even with these portions that bristled beneath the skin and weighted the gut, there is something equally powerful in the storytelling and characters. Dane, for all his brawn and strength, is incredibly fragile. While his physically crippled lover, Nole, possesses the inner strength of will that provides the foundation to bring them happiness. Neither are what they seem, and that is the beauty of the story. You have the rich man who detests his life and the poor one who manages to bask in the splendor of the most simple of things. A juxtapose if ever there was, and it makes the material all the more indelible for it.

Heartbreaking at times, uplifting at others, you’re emotions will be taken on a roller-coaster ride when you read The Janitor.

Though not for everyone, I would recommend still recommend this story. The dark subject matter is impossible to turn away from as you’re experiencing the journey – and impossible to forget once you step off the train.

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