Chris Kenry, Author CAN'T BUY ME LOVEChris Ke $23 (326p) ISBN 978-1-57566-845-1

Jack Thompson, the 26-year-old, unemployed, spoiled brat protagonist of Kenry's rollicking debut receives a rude awakening when Paul, his lover (and unlimited source of income), dies suddenly, leaving his entire estate to Wendy, his homophobic sister. Banished from Paul's house, penniless and clutching a blank résumé, Jack halfheartedly follows the advice of his parents and numerous credit agencies and pursues a variety of minimum-wage jobs. He repeatedly and predictably gets fired, ultimately succumbing to the lure of easy money by becoming an "independent hustler," a trade at which he is uncannily adept. As the cash begins to roll in, he and fellow sex worker/aspiring artist Ray pool their clientele into an agency: "Harden Up, Inc." Ray wants to get out of the business eventually and open an art gallery; in the meantime, the recruitment of new hustlers and the excitement of a growing client roster puts Jack back on top, but just how long can his luck last? Thankfully, Kenry infuses the narrative with a healthy dose of reality as a violently aggressive customer beats one of Jack's employees, his sister Carey starts to suspect something's amiss, a client dies in flagrante delicto and the Denver police close in. The author's talent for catchy, catty dialogue and innovative (and often quite humorous) sexual interplay buoys a prolonged story line that occasionally bites off more than it can chew. Still, Kenry shows promise with this first effort, and his moxie shines through in moments when Jack and Ray are allowed to be fully developed characters, instead of the hyper-stereotyped caricatures so popular in contemporary gay fiction. While seasoned readers will see the inevitable, saccharine-sweet conclusion (and sequel?) coming a mile away, that won't diminish the charms of this satisfying confection. (May 1)

Reviewed on: 04/09/2001
Release date: 05/01/2001
Paperback - 342 pages - 978-1-57566-846-8
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