Book Review: Rough Canvas

Author: Joey W. Hill

Book Title: Rough Canvas, Publisher: Ellora’s Cave

Author Website:

Genre: Contemporary


Thomas is a true artist – an immensely talented painter of erotic art – who has given up both his painting and his relationship with his muse and Master, Marcus, to run the family business after his father’s death. His sense of duty towards his mother, sister and crippled brother, and his attempt to disown everything that makes him himself are threatening to get him killed through apathy, accidents and ulcers. That’s when Marcus walks back into his life.

A hard-boiled, hardcore BSDM master, and an urban sophisticate, Marcus seems like bad news to everyone who meets him, but he knows that he is fighting not only for his own happiness but for Thomas’ very soul. Trouble is, the one who trusts him least and fights him hardest is Thomas himself.

I think that if I had to sum this book up in one word, that word would be ‘intense’. It is a wonderfully written book, but the writer’s clean, powerful style is in perfect harness with her insights into the artistic soul, human nature, the nature of love and obsession. What drives the book is a strong conviction in the power of and need for love and honesty not only between lovers but in each person’s own inner life. I suspect every person to whom their creative side is a driving force will be able to sympathize with Thomas’ dilemma of being torn between their art and their real life.

Characterization too is strong and unforgettable – both Marcus and Thomas are simultaneously likeable, admirable and annoyingly stubborn and self-destructive, and a host of supporting characters are beautifully drawn and fun to be around.

There is a lot of sex, but not once did I feel I was reading a cookie-cutter sex scene slapped in there at the expense of the plot. Each scene is simultaneously new and exciting, and reveals something about the heroes and their relationship with each other. And they are consistently scorching hot.

The story is complex and worth getting your teeth into, as well as being a real page turner. If I had one criticism it would be that I preferred Marcus without his tragic past. He was more interesting as a mystery than he is as a victim.

Also, if I read one more time that no woman can do a hand or blow-job like a man I’m going to set the feminist police on that author – after all, a fair proportion of the male population would be in disagreement with this common trope of m/m fiction. But those are just quibbles. This is a superbly written and gripping book, sometimes disturbing, always hot, and at times genuinely moving. It brought tears to my eyes three or four times. Highly recommended!

Heh, and after this I’ll never be able to claim I’m a prude again 😉

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