Sala Bim's Reviews > The Pedlar and the Bandit King

The Pedlar and the Bandit King by Kirby Crow
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's review
May 06, 2015

liked it
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I enjoyed this story, but I think I liked the "concept" of it better than the actual execution of it. I enjoyed the lack of sex and the humor and I loved that the main character was strong and unwavering and not a damsel in distress waiting to be validated by a man. I enjoyed the subtle flirtation, the fighting, the wit, and the power play between the two protagonists and I enjoyed that the story did not rush in development, though it packed a punch to be only 129 pages. HOWEVER, my cheif complaint is one that I seem to have a lot lately in reading gay literature and one that I will probably be alone in feeling, but it was the ever-present element of sexual ambiguity/fluidity/bisexuality in the gay romance genre. It's as if some authors don't want to fully commit to just just writing "plain old" gay characters who're strong, self validated, masculine, and proud. I get bothered easily when I feel cheated by authors who are supposedly writing "gay lit" but then we have to endure sex scenes with women or thoughts of it. I can't figure out if authors are doing this to play up the stereotype that a REAL masculine man likes both sexes, or if they feel that gay readers prefer the "straight man fantasy" instead of two men who are just gay, or if the authors simply don't care enough to change it or support the notion that two not-completely-uber-hyper-masculine gay men can be just as sexy and appealing together as a straight/bi man and a gay man can. I don't have any issues with bisexuality or sexual ambiguity or anything of that sort, but why can't some "gay" stories just be....well you I'm sure I'm ranting but this is a quibble of mine and it seems to be everywhere as of late in gay literature and it irritates me. I don't like gay-for-you lit so maybe you can see where I am coming from with this one, though this story wasn't technically GFY. I was loving it and then the author kind of changed the dynamic when she casually mentioned that Liall was into women (and prostitutes, which is another pet peeve of mine, but that's quite another story). Anyhow, I loved this plotline and it would have been absolutely perfect for me if the autrhor hadn't felt the need to assure us that Liall was into women or that he slept with whores. I just honestly wished I had not had to think about it at all. It was a turn off. Strangely, I've learned that I get more satisfaction out of a story when the author makes NO (literally none at all) mention of the characters' sexual past or preferences. That way I can kind of pretend it is what I want it to be.....Oh, maybe this is a better example to express how I feel: flip the concept and think about if a heterosexual reader (who has absolutely no interest in gay literature) is reading a heterosexual romance novel which has no advertisement of LGBT themes and, out of nowhere, the author casually mentions that the male romantic lead also has sex with men. Now, the story up until then had nothing to do with that as it is about him and a female, so that tidbit really has no place in the story and it doesn't ever really come up again, but in the back of your mind you are always going to know it. So why, then, is it even there? What is the author really trying to say? I believe the author simply could have deleted that one tidbit and it would not have taken anything away, yet its presence changes the dynamic of the story a little bit. This is just how I felt about it. I hope that makes some kind of sense to someone. Anyway, other than that, the story was good.
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