Reviewed by Gloria Lakritz
Sr. Reviewer and Review Chair for the Paranormal Romance Guild
Jamie Fessenden never ceases to amaze me. He pics no genre type and I love that in an author, although it sometimes is hard to cultivate a following some say. I do not think he is having a problem.
From mystery writing Murder on the Mountain, to light romance in A Cop for Christmas, to one of the toughest books I ever read Violated, and today’s review The Rules which involve a charming read of the relationship of three men.
Ewww some might say. Mr. Fessenden has brought the reader into meeting three rather totally different young men bringing them together like on a chess board, moving them one square at a time.
Let’s start with how we got there. College student Hans Bauer has seen an ad for a house cleaning job. He shows up for an interview, and is looking at this beautiful formal home interviewed by Thomas who explains he and his husband live there. The last housekeeper had quit. Hans thought it was because she didn’t like that the couple was gay, but to his amazement it was because Thomas’s husband Boris does not wear any clothing at home.
Boris is a Russian immigrant, a talented writer, who suffers from depression and PTSD. He is very formal in all ways except for lack of clothing. They speak only Russian in front of Hans which at this point make him feel more of an outsider.Thomas is out of the house during the day. Hans is to clean downstairs Tuesdays and upstairs Thursdays. Hans is to not disturb Boris, but is to do his bidding when asked. The strangeness of the arrangement was daunting, yet Hans felt he could handle it, after all he was gay as well.
So now Boris begins talking to this young man, then flirting with this young man, and Hans does not want to get into trouble and lose his job, and do something to the couple’s marriage. When Boris is outside in the sun and Hans reminds him he needs sun screen, Boris hands the tube to Hans and asks him to put it on him. Hans freaks, not wanting to ‘touch Boris’, so Boris called his husband Thomas at work and asked permission….The Rules have begun.
I loved this story because our author did not make either of the three weaker than the other. Hans the baby in this relationship was no wall flower to be taken advantage of by this older couple. There were times he was the instigator and they followed. I think the timing and storytelling emboldened how the reader would feel it was equal. If you enjoy a fun story of love, laughter and family…A Must!
I have reached out and was told he would answer 3 questions to add to the review.
- Tell me what prompted a Poly book by you at this time?
I’ve been tempted to write a MMM book for years. I’m not in a poly relationship myself—I don’t think I’d be able to keep my jealousies at bay, for one thing—but I have several friends who are in poly relationships, and the idea of it has always intrigued me. The Rules was my way of exploring the idea safely without upsetting my husband.
- Tell me how fun was it to write Boris?
Boris was an intriguing character for me. I wanted to create a Russian character for several reasons, not the least of which was to talk about the abuses LGBT people are currently subjected to in Russia. But I wanted to avoid him being too dark, even with everything he’d suffered through. That could have ended up being preachy. So he became somewhat comic—at least, on the surface. He has a lot of pain, but he hides it by being eccentric and funny.
- Tell me how you knew so much about Russian food, heritage, and gov’t
I was a teenager in the 80s, when Reagan and the Soviet leaders were doing all their saber-rattling. I refused to believe in the idea of a country full of evil people who all wanted to destroy us at any cost, so I began reading books written about life behind the Iron Curtain and signed up for Russian language courses. The language turned out to be extremely difficult (I’d had far less trouble with German), and I gave up on it. But I remained interested in the culture. Twenty years later, some Russian coworkers renewed my interest, and I found someone who could tutor me in the language. She’s done an amazing job taking me beyond the rudimentary “This is an apple. The apple is green.” level I was at in college, and I’ve spent the last few years catching up on Russian politics and culture. I don’t like a lot of the stuff going on in Putin’s administration, to put it mildly, but the people are just as good—or bad—as people in any other part of the world.