“You can’t always judge people by the things they done. You got to judge them by what they are doing now.”–Kate DiCamillo
Heidi Belleau’s latest offering is the first in the “Rear Entrance Video” series. You have to read the book to understand just how unbelievably clever the name of the store/series is. There are five guys living in the house where the MCs of Apple Polisher live, so there’s potential for at least a few more of these guys to have their stories told.
In Apple Polisher we have the honor of meeting Christian and Max, two of the roommates in the old, dilapidated house Christian is forced to move into because it is all he can afford during graduate school. Christian came out to his mom when he was 16. She left the country for her homeland of Jamaica and told Christian he could join her when he gave up his perversion. His Aunt Beverly took over and finished raising him, even paying for his college degree. She has been fighting ovarian cancer and is unable to help with Christian’s grad school expenses.
In order to get the teaching certificate he has long dreamt of, Christian has to maintain a perfectly spotless image, so he is back in the closet. No drinking, drugs, swearing, social media faux pas and definitely no male lovers. And absolutely no working in a porn store. Enter Max, the tattooed, lean, muscled apparent bad-boy of the house. Max definitely has some secrets of his own. Christian is a goner. He and Max have a night together, then Christian gets all caught up in his head and can’t handle it, so he pulls back. Ms. Belleau is great at writing bunches of Christian’s internal monologue. We know exactly what he’s thinking and what he really wants to say, but just can’t make it come out of his mouth.
When ignoring each other becomes impossible, Max decides to leave the house. Ms. Belleau gives us another peek into Christians head, but this time she enables him to pull out some of those painfully honest feelings to convince Max to stay and be his boyfriend.
Meanwhile, Aunt Beverly becomes sicker by the day. Her business is failing. After overhearing Christian discussing the situation with another roommate, Max suggests that Christian work there to help out. At this point, the roommates still don’t know what kind of business it is.
Christian takes on the responsibility of the store and is shocked to find out the condition to which it has deteriorated. The staff is lazy, dishonest and just don’t care about anything but their paycheck. Christian has been compartmentalizing his life up to now. School, work, home all in separate boxes. He is again ignoring Max. It is extraordinary to see how Ms. Belleau empowers Christian to grow and become more assertive. His Aunt’s failing health becomes the last weight that he can handle on his back. He reaches out to Max for comfort and advice.
Boy, do Max and the roommates come through. After a scorching sex scene between Max & Christian in the open (then quickly closed) store, all the walls come down and Christian pours it all out to Max. It is gratifying that Max rallies support for Christian. The roommates all come in and help in the store. Christian realizes with Max’s help that giving up who he really is, is just too much to ask of him just so he can become a teacher.
The secrets just keep coming, though. Max reveals the last secret he has been keeping, thinking that Christian will think Max isn’t good enough for him. Not only does it not drive Christian away, Christian embraces this part of Max’s life and becomes involved in it.
The thing I liked best about Apple Polisher (Rear Entrance Video #1) was the internal dialogue that Ms. Belleau gave us access to. The interplay between the men living in the house was enthralling, in turns funny, friendly, brotherly, supportive, honest and loving. This is a group of guys I look forward to reading more about. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by: Tina