Frat House Troopers by Xavier Mayne
Blurb: State trooper Brandt’s new assignment to infiltrate a sex-cam operation puts him in a very uncomfortable position, especially since he’ll have to perform naked on camera for his audition. Fortunately his partner and best friend, Donnelly, has his back—whether that means helping Brandt shop gay boutiques for sexy underwear or offering Jäger and encouragement while he researches porn.
Despite his mortification, Brandt gives the audition his best “shot”—and becomes an overnight sensation. But to meet the man behind the operation, he’ll have to give a repeat performance, this time live on webcam opposite the highest bidder. Donnelly makes sure to win that auction for his partner’s sake, but their plan has a flaw: faking it is not an option.
In the aftermath, Brandt is a humiliated mess trying desperately to come to terms with what he’s had to do for the job and his own mixed feelings. But Donnelly has been on a journey of discovery of his own. Suddenly everything the two men thought they knew about themselves and each other gets turned inside out. Meanwhile, they still have a case to solve… but it may not be the case they thought it was.
Every once in awhile, I like to read a story I know will be a thinly veiled excuse for lots of sex. Just like in real life, sometimes you’re in the mood, sometimes you’re not. When I’m in that kind of mood, I seek out stories related to the porn industry, or stories with BDSM elements. Frat House Troopers seemed to fit the bill quite nicely, based on the blurb and the cover.
Not only was I not disappointed by the level of heat within the book, it provided an interesting story to go with it. The unease Brandt experienced in taking on an undercover assignment very much outside his comfort level was believable in that he flipped back and forth between confidence that it was just wanking off in front of a camera and sheer terror that someone he knew would see the video of him posted online and know what he’d done. I would imagine anyone in the online adult performance industry would feel the same their first time in front of a camera. The emotional whiplash was well done, and through it, I got to see what kind of man Brandt was. He was a good cop, dedicated to doing the right thing despite the cost, and capable of finding the value in any situation.
His partner, Donnelly, was a good friend, willing to do some metaphorical hand holding while Brandt suffered the indignity of shopping for clothes that would get him noticed by those hiring at the “frat house” where Brandt’s superiors had gotten him a position posing as a construction worker. Brandt’s goal was to get noticed and get hired as some of the talent for the site, and then dig into the business side of things to see if the accounting books were on the up and up. Donnelly, good friend that he was, tagged along with Brandt in every situation he reasonably could where Brandt was forced to endure the indignity of finding slutwear, face the lecherous eye of a swishy salesman, Bryce – who was a total scene stealer and I would be very interested in a story about him – and the embarrassment of having someone gay judge Brandt’s ass…ets for the job at hand. What Brandt suffered, Donnelly was there to suffer with him, up until Brandt faced insertion into the undercover role.
Donnelly was also there as Brandt’s shame reared its ugly head, and did his best to alleviate those feelings. Since the beginning of the book focuses more on Brandt’s inner turmoil, we don’t see much of Donnelly’s until one particular scene where everything changed. And when it did, whoa. I was just as blindsided by Donnelly’s involvement and motivation as Brandt was. As Brandt, and by extension Donnelly, got pulled deeper, their relationship evolved. The scene that was the pendulum swing for them from friends to lovers, while hot, showed more depth of character than I expected.
There were weaknesses in the story, however. The editing staff at DSP missed some pretty bad POV shifts that hopped between Brandt’s and Donnelly’s heads and I got confused as to who was having the thoughts and feelings at the moment. Also, the investigation took an unexpected turn and because the author had set up the characters in the frat house to be likable, I was pleased with the outcome; unfortunately, the motive behind the ‘bad guy’ seemed either weak or not fleshed out enough. I won’t give it away, but truthfully, the bad guy risked an awful lot for what I felt was a fairly flimsy reason. If there’d been more discovered as to why the wheels of this particular investigation were set in motion, perhaps the ending would have seemed like more of a bullet dodged and therefore a more satisfying conclusion to the story.
Still, an entertaining read with likable characters (Bryce needs his own book, no lie). After reading some heavy hitters lately dealing with loss and apocalypse and saving the world, this was just the ticket for a more lighthearted read where I laughed out loud a few times and got to read about hot men doing hot things. Not a bad way to spend the afternoon, hmm?