Natural Enemies by Roan Parrish 2018.
As always with Parrish’s work, the language is gorgeous, the details are lush and engaging, the characters are complex, and there is a large helping of angst that reaches inside me as a reader. This is the first short I read by this author, and it holds its space pretty well for the length, though I did yearn for what she might do with a longer version of this story. I read Stefan as autistic, though its not named on the page, because of his sensory experiences and the way he interacted socially. The sensory aspect in particular resonated for me as an autistic reader.
I adored them both as characters, and enjoyed the romance arc quite a lot. Their chemistry was glorious, and the sex scenes are full of heat and complexity and just a touch of kink, and they are among my favorite sex scenes in this collection.
The story goes into a bit of what it was like for Stefan growing up, and attributes some of his social ostracization and the bullying he experienced to him being Black and not fitting into Black community, and being accused of acting white. That part of the story made me uncomfortable as a white reader, like it was a gesture towards something the story was not holding deeply, amidst mostly incidental representation around race.
- Black queer man MC who I read as autistic
- Latinx queer man MC
Content Warnings (in white, highlight to read)
On the page sex. Light D/s and light bondage. Sex in a semi-public place. References to social ostracization and bullying.
- Source of the book: I read this book as part of an ARC for the anthology Exposed, which I received from the publisher.
- I have had some contact with the author on Twitter.
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