Author: David Marlow
Release Date: January 30, 2008
How Received: Publisher
Summary: Unlike so many of his gay buddies, Chase Hyde had no plans to settle down. A self-acknowledged “roamosexual,” his foremost objection was that having a partner would take him off the market. So even if love was never in the air, lust was always just around the corner.
Chase expected to continue his carefree lifestyle until, through a correspondence in cyberspace, he met Hunter Row, an up-and-coming Madison Avenue advertising executive and fellow bodybuilder who, unlike Chase, pined for a monogamous, long-term relationship.
Driven by their shared passion for muscle, the two men form a powerful connection and jump into an intense, long-distance love affair. Neither Chase nor Hunter can imagine the twists of fate that await in Muscle Bound, a passionate tale set against the turbulent and perpetual pursuit of sexual conquest.
I think I should start off by mentioning that this book has a lot of erotica. A lot. In between the back story would be wedged numerous sexual encounters between Chase and his “love” interests. Normally, I wouldn’t mind a few scenes here and there, but the thing with the sex scenes in this book was that they were blunt and vulgar. None of that “fading to darkness” stuff or toned down stuff (like "manhood", etc) – it takes you for the entire ride, very matter-of-factly. I had no idea you could say... certain words in so many different ways.
This book also deals with homosexuality. Chase, our MC, is a homosexual body builder and he enjoys hooking up with a lot of other muscular men. However, while the book has homosexuality in it, it doesn’t really deal with the emotions and uncertainty of homosexuality. The only time it did so was when one of Chase’s interests was questioning his sexuality – but Chase never dealt with it. He was certain of who he was and how he got there. Rather, the book focuses on the gay relationships revolving around the world of body building.
All of the characters were... interesting, to say the least. I couldn’t connect with most of them (most of them were obsessed with steroids and body building) on a basic level, but if you looked past their body building obsession, there are real emotions underneath. I enjoyed reading about Chase’s sexcapades and the diverse range of guys he chose to be involved with. Half of the time, the book almost felt like a drama or soap opera. (ex. Chase being involved, and loving, a married man who swore he was straight but loved Chase, also). There were so many issues and drama that could be applied to my own relationships, so I was able to connect with Chase through that outlet.
The book is divided into four different sections, named The Roamosexual Agenda, True Jock, Pumping Irony, and Muscle Bound. Each respective section deals with Chase in different areas of his life. The first is when he meets Hunter and starts a relationship with him. The second is with his sex partner turned close friend/brother, Kutchie. The third, and arguably largest section in the book, was with Christian, a married man who was Chase’s boyfriend. And the last is Chase and Hunter again. The way the book was cut up into sections was... I’ll leave it with the word “confusing”. Basically, the first book and the last book are about Chase’s relationship with Hunter. The second and third books are Chase’s backstory, giving an example of what or who shaped Chase to be the person he was today. While back stories are great, the third book was a huge chunk of the entire book. By the time we got back to Hunter and Chase in the fourth book, I had stopped being giddy about their romance and rather just felt sad about what happened between Chase and Christian.
But despite all that, the writing was superb. I loved the way David wrote. His prose wasn’t the best I’ve read, by far, but you could tell he had a handle on the English language and he used a lot of huge vocabulary that made my inner geek really happy. I wasn’t too crazy about the alternating POVs in the same chapter. Or, heck, I would have been fine with it if it had just been two central characters, but almost every supporting character had a few sentences for their own perspective.
Going beyond the erotica, homosexuality, and confusion, Muscle Bound is a book about love, really. Well, okay, not just about love, but rather about how many different events can shape you to be who you are. Chase’s love life was a predominant aspect in the entire book, making him hopeful, crushed, and even bitter. Deep down, he didn’t know how to love because he was always so guarded and refused to submit to the idea of love. But taking chances, opening yourself up to hurt, is what life is all about. At least, that’s what I got out of it before the fourth book. Once the fourth book rolled around, that message pretty much went out the window. To be honest, I’m a little pissed at the ending and how Chase handled Hunter and Christian. The ending is definitely not happy and ended quite abruptly.
Cover Musings: I don’t really like it at all. There are a lot of other muscle building images that could have been used – perhaps a body builder at Venice Beach, or at least in LA?
Okay, so, I normally do memorable quotes. However, when I went back through my notes for all the memorable quotes I wrote, they were all... er... Rated R. Or wouldn’t make sense out of context (like “the 51st state”). So I decided to omit quotes for this review. Sorry guys!
Overall Thoughts/Final Comments: I surprisingly had a lot of fun reading this book. It almost felt like a drama, with all of the troubles Chase had to suffer with his relationships. The writing was awesome, and I loved David’s use of vocabulary! I kind of wish we had a more conclusive ending, because I absolutely hated the ending. I kind of wanted Chase to have a happily ever after, not a sad ending.
**This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. (Thank you, Jason!)