All Washed Up by Sharon Maria Bidwell
Publisher: Changeling Press
Length: Short Story (68 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play, Voyeurism
Rating: 4 Cherries
Reviewed by Xeranthemum
When Peter Blake takes a job working for Walker's Wash-ups, little does he know that the easiest part of his day will be deciding which of his "uniforms" he hates the most. Needing the money to pay off a loan, Peter decides there are worse things in life than wearing a nude male grilling "Hot Sausage" apron, even if he can't exactly remember what at the moment. His life shouldn't be like this. Alas, he didn't foresee corporate redundancy. He didn't foresee a time in his life when he'd have to take such a peculiar job, having to grin and "bare" it, where both pairs of "cheeks" burn equally with embarrassment.
Even more surprising, he didn't expect the sanest person in his growing list of crazy clients would be another man with a bruised heart, who has a lot to answer for, including his future.
The best thing about a seduction is the emotions behind it and this little gem packs in enough to make any romantic happy.
All Washed Up starts off with a bit of fun with the hero finding himself in the unenviable situation of having to take a less than satisfying job that impinges his dignity and makes him blush. I also am quite intrigued by the thought that such a service might possibly exist. My first thought was “where can I find me some of that?” but after reading a bit from the hero’s perspective, I realize that it’s not all that funny. In fact, a few of the situations he found himself in were sort of degrading and scary. Ms. Bidwell did a good job of reminding readers that there are real people with feelings that matter; who do jobs that may have to be done that we as consumers take for granted or don’t want to look too deeply at. It’s a good lesson, intentional or not.
The basic premise of the story is about two men accidentally finding each other. One has experienced the loss of a loved one and is in the dumps without knowing how to start living again. The other never explored who he really was and settled for meeting other people’s expectations of himself but never feeling happy or content. It’s a great emotional hook because the author lets a reader in on each of the heroes’ inner demons and despair. When they meet, it’s a balance of tentative hope and skittish experimentation with dialogue, actions and touches.
The scene was interesting when Chris first encounters Peter. I liked how the author had Peter meet some whackos first so when Chris comes in the picture, it’s a breath of fresh air and an infusion of sanity. I enjoyed the sweetness of it and the initial gentle approach. It was a true seduction of the senses and I had a great time watching it all unfold. What breaks the ice is Peter’s work wardrobe. I wish I could see such things in real life because I am sure it would be a memorable event. As it is, it is the means which the author uses to bring the men together and move the relationship forward; it’s is unique and worth reading.
The only drawback is the accelerated condensing of it all. Because the author gave me characters I could like, I wanted to spend more time with them.
Although this is a short story, All Washed Up is well balanced in its light personal drama, sensual build up and erotic delivery. It should appeal to romance readers who enjoy man on man action because it has the power to touch the romantic inside while delivering entertainment, humor and keeps a person interested from beginning to end. I’m quite glad I read this book.