Doukyuusei Seikatsu – Kinoshita Keiko
Mizuno and Mitazon were middle school classmates with polar opposite personalities. One day, years later, Mitazon calls Mizuno up to help take care of some stray kittens. Mizuno agrees to stay in his house to look after the kittens for a short while. This is living together with a classmate!
Kinoshita Keiko has been mostly hit or miss with me. Classmate Living is definitely a hit. It’s a childhood friends to lovers story, a slow burn romance between two middle school classmates who somehow maintained a connection up to adulthood despite separate schools.
Mitazon is a poker-faced tsundere who is adorbs when flustered. Mizuno is the more outgoing of the two. I am so happy this was written in his POV. Typically, we get the story from the POV of the one pining for the other person. Seeing the romance unfold through the eyes of the one pined for is a refreshing take on the trope.
The atmosphere is gentle and the artwork matched that vibe. The pacing was great, never too slow or fast with each scene executed just right. For me, this is the mangaka’s best work to date.
Shot In The Dark – Riley Long
If you win the bet, we’ll let you disappear. If you lose, you’ll be trapped on stage forever.
I’m definitely straight, but when rock god Eli Steele offers me the opportunity of a lifetime in exchange for being his fake husband for a year, I can’t say no. That’s how I find myself sharing a bed – and more than a few kisses – with the lead singer of Blood Money. All I have to do is stay focused on my work and pretend to be in love with him. Easy, right?
I took a stupid fucking bet and now I have to convince Charlie to fall for me without using mind control. He’s straight, but the bigger problem is that he’s human and I’m not. Once he finds out I’m really a vampire, will he be able to look past my fangs and see what’s in my heart?
Shot In The Dark grabbed my attention because of several things. We have a rock star who’s also a vampire who wrangled a fake husband in order to win a bet. If he wins, he gets to hang up his guitar and fade into oblivion a.k.a. retire. What he didn’t count on was falling in love with his fake husband who is straight.
The rock star in question is Eli, 290 years old, the youngest in a band of vampires known as Blood Money. He’s tired of his current life and wants to leave it all behind. The band made a deal with him that they would end their life as a band if he falls in the love with the first person who walks in the bar.
Eli is my favorite vampire here. He’s got that intense vampire charisma down pat. He’s also gentle, sweet, caring, and generous. He closed his heart, determined not to fall in love again, after his human lover was killed by a coven of vampires many, many years ago. That’s why the band came up with the bet.
The other members were Drew, Rudy and Zach. The one who stood out the most was Drew, mostly for being an ass. He was right about a lot of things but did he have to be so goddamn obnoxious about it?
Charlie was the lucky man who came in at the right place, at the right time. He’s an aspiring filmmaker who wanted to create a documentary about Blood Money. Meeting the great Eli Steele, he couldn’t help but feel things even if he was as straight as they come. And to his amazement, the rock star offered to let him secretly document the notoriously private band in exchange for pretending to be in love and becoming his husband. They had to convince the band their relationship was real.
At this point, I was left wondering, how come nobody questioned that Eli was suddenly married despite knowing Charlie for only a couple of days? I would assume Drew was sharp enough to pick up on that suspicious timing.
That little niggle aside, Eli and Charlie went about this fake husband thing in the most spectacular way. Right off the bat, the chemistry between the MCs was palpable and gave the story sparkle and zing. The way the romance was pulled off, in that delicious journey from uh-oh there’s only one bed to I can’t he’s straight to so very gay for you right now, was the best thing about the book.
And alongside of the romance, the friendship that blossomed between Eli and Charlie was a beautiful thing too. It highlighted how good they are for each other. Charlie is lovely! I loved his open-minded approach to their relationship and how he just naturally fell into place in Eli’s life.
I also liked many of the concepts presented in the story. However, they were as not fully explored as I would have liked. The world building was minimal, just enough to give paranormal color. We get only a small glimpse of the larger vampire world but that is already at the latter part. The secret documentary could have been an interesting issue, especially with vampire identities needed to be kept on the down low but that went nowhere. I also wished we get a more fleshed out backstory for Eli and his friends. Majority of the book was spent with the band on tour but I didn’t get a strong grasp of the other personalities apart from Eli, Charlie and Drew.
Too bad we only hear about Eli’s fierce fighting skills after Charlie was captured by the bad vampires. That would have been one heck of a climactic scene had it been shown. Instead we get a ridiculous separation period that was totally unnecessary. Although, I get that the book was going for conflict but it could have been done differently.
The audiobook is narrated by Andrew Morrison. He is a new-to-me narrator. He brought Eli, Charlie and their friends to life with distinct personalities, recognizable voices and accents. Although, there were a couple of dialogues where the accents bled a bit into another character, specifically Eli’s British accent and Charlie’s American accent. Nonetheless, I greatly enjoyed his performance. I was able to listen to the story in one sitting because he made it flow so easily.
Shot In The Dark is a sweet, low-angst novella, focusing primarily on the romance with the paranormal elements mostly low key. If vampire-flavored fake husbands, gay for you tropes tick your boxes too, this one is definitely worth a shot.
Thank you to Gay Romance Reviews and Audible for giving me a copy in exchange for an honest review.
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love
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For the soundtrack to a novella about a tired rockstar vampire, I went with Joshua Hyslop’s aptly named song that speaks about a musician on tour for many years, already growing long in the tooth, and slowly burning out. I especially liked the line “It takes one shot in the darkness/To change my mind”. It’s Charlie coming into Eli’s life and changing everything.
Whole stage is set like always
Won’t be long before I’m gone
See them coming through the doorway
Wonderin’ whose side they are on
So I take one shot in the darkness
And move along
I was on the way to Memphis
Got no love from Caroline
How much longer can I do this?
Leaving half my heart behind
It takes one shot in the darkness
To change my mind
And the years are passing by me
Oh, the years are running on
The fire below is coming and it won’t be long
Got enough left just to get there
Not enough to make it through
If I cannot live without this
I don’t know what I’m gonna do
So I’ll take one more shot in the darkness
Aim for you
Oh, I’ll take one more shot in the darkness