The Out-Of-Towner
Willa Okati
ebook
Novella
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What happens when a stuck-up gay society “princess” finds himself involved with a prince hidden in deep disguise?
Kiss him and find out, or walk away clean but alone?

Top:
First of all, I have to say that there are simply no words in the English language to express my loathing of this cover art. I’ll spare everyone my initial reaction when I first laid eyes on this monstrosity, but I will say that I found it repulsive and hideous, and after I read the novel, I found it confusing as well, as it in no way illustrates any character or setting described in the novel.
Before anyone thinks to remind me of the perils of judging a book by its cover, I would like to point out that while I can appreciate ugliness for both its sexual and artistic merits, the cover illustration is still a large part of the satisfaction of reading any good novel, and in no way do I appreciate the decision of whoever was responsible for covering this particular rose in the visual equivalent of a large, stinking cow patty.
That said, I have to say that I liked this novella. A lot. It’s well-written, and the sense of humor is my favorite kind, the spontaneous humor of an author who is merrily causing havoc in her own Universe instead of making a strained, deliberate attempt at amusing her readers.
The sex is hot, although I share LdDurham’s quibble about both men wearing a condom. I mean, there’s safe sex, and then there’s the waste of a perfectly good condom. Still, I didn’t even flinch during the kissing scenes, that’s how hot these two men are together.
I can’t say I liked Joey too much. The first view we have of him is in his interaction with Ixtl, and to me, he seemed weak, nervous, and somewhat stupid – not exactly qualities I want to see in a seme. Later, in his interactions with Micah and some minor characters, he continued to seem rather stupid. It was only in the final scenes, in the neediness he felt and how much care he was taking to lure Micah into staying with him, that I finally started to have any sympathy for him as anything other than a foil for Micah’s dazzling presence. The best thing about Joey is that it’s easy to mentally erase him and imagine myself in his place.
If Joey is the rather cheap setting, though, Micah is a glowing gem.
One of the ancient rules of romance is that the heroine is a lovely, demure virgin, and that the villainess is the used-up, slutty bitch trying to steal her man. I hate this form of romance novel, since I always get the feeling that the moral of the story is that virginity should triumph and women with a past should be left in the dirt where they belong. Willa Okati, however, has upended that rule in Out of Towner and has given us a bottom who is as spiteful, catty, and conniving as any traditional villainess, who starts out with no redeeming qualities and ends up being one of the most sympathetic, charming, and desirable characters I have ever read.
Micah may be conniving and shallow, but above all, he’s a survivor. His courage is of the grit-your-teeth-and-smile variety, his moments of uncertainty are heart-breaking in their honesty, and in the end, it’s his hard-won ability to roll with the punches and get up again that carries the day. I have to give Willa Okati a standing ovation for having the guts to follow through with making a character like Micah the hero of his own story, in all his grime and glory, especially in a genre where his character type is often reviled. He’s not cute, not adorable, not demure or shy or virginal, but good God! he’s magnificent. I’m more than half-way in love with him myself.
Willa Okati strikes me as being clever, creative, amusing, and highly entertaining. The Brotherhood is an eleven-part series that seems to have an incredibly interesting concept and is precisely the sort of thing that I would want to read. But none of them seem to be stand-alone novels – the way the series is apparently set up, I have no choice but to buy all eleven novellas, ten of them at novel price, in order to get the full effect of the series, and there’s no way to guarantee that any individual purchase will be worthwhile until after I’ve read them all. I rather resent being made to pay that much for one/eleventh of the full story, especially given the crappy cover art. It might be lucrative for the author and the publisher, but it’s rather gouging for the reader.
I can’t honestly recommend The Out of Towner as an individual purchase, no matter how much I admire Micah. So do I recommend The Brotherhood? Only if you want to spend $47.89 to take a leap of faith in Willa Okati.

Bottom:
Honestly, I really, really liked this book. It’s like an America’s Next Top Model Beauty and the Beast story.
The story is of a man, Micah, who has hit a very large dip in his road and it has spilled his cart all to hell. The dip was an ex-boyfriend that walked out and took the money, friends, and influence with him. Now, Micah is an aged model who is desperately trying to hold onto his self-respect, his home, and not to mention his fabulous clothing. He plans on hooking a Sugar Daddy at the Amour Magique club. But fate steps in and his plans are ruined.
Micah is a character that I have always wanted to read. He is shallow and avaricious and cold-hearted, and yet, not. He lives the life that he seems to have fallen into and excelled at, and having it ripped away from him has forced him into desperate measures.
I really loved the way Okati wrote Micah. His voice was amazingly clear, as were his motives. This is a person who you would hate and despise if you passed him on the street or read about in the papers. But being able to view his world through his eyes was perfectly rendered and you felt for him. Hell, I wanted to be him. Those that don’t know him may revile him, but he has an amazing sense of who he is. He doesn’t pretend that what he does and how he acts is nice. It’s his honesty that is truly honorable, even in its un-honorableness.
His counterpart, Joey, was again, written with an amazingly strong voice. I was incredibly impressed with his dialog. Joey is not native to English and it truly, truly shows. This isn’t cave man speech, here. This is switching placement of nouns and adjectives. This is written by an author who I believe has some experience in learning another language and utilized it well.
This book, though, did have two irritating flaws. The sexual chemistry was really well written and the sex was, too, except for one thing: Both men wore condoms when all they did was rub their cocks together in a scene. I salute the author for her responsible safe-sex practices, but this was just irritating. And it made no sense.
The second flaw was the ending. Not only was it too short, but also a tad bit unbelievable. And this is a book with a space alien in it! I say it was only a tad bit unbelievable because it cuts off before you really know if what was said and done is the final resolution. My opinion would be that the author should have skimmed off a few paragraphs from the first chapter and added that to the last chapter to make the ending a bit more palatable.
I would have also recommended that the publisher add a couple pages and make an Index of Characters and a brief synopsis of what The Brotherhood series is all about. I have two of these novellas now and I only have a brief idea of what the series is trying to accomplish. Having characters from other stories briefly mentioned is more annoying then enticing. Both stories I have gave me low-grade irritation because it’s as if I got three chapters to an awesome story and then had the book closed on me. Especially with the cool villains that were only briefly mentioned and then never seen again.
Although I agree with CarvedWood in that I don’t really want to pay for the privilege of piecing together the whole story, novella by novella (there are at least three novels in the series, but also at least eight novellas), I can recommend this to anyone who loves characters that you want to fall in love with. This book is short but I think it can stand alone for those who are not annoyed with not having the complete story. It doesn’t have a whole lot of room for a plot, but it does have two characters that make you really happy to have met them. Especially Micah. Have we mentioned how awesome Micah is? Because he is. I sincerely hope and plead that Okati writes a full-length novel, using Out of Towner as the prequel. We know she could pull it off and we know we’d be first in line to buy it. (Just ditch the ultra-uber-safe sex.)

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