Release Review: Lickety Split: Damon Suede

Lickety Split
Damon Suede
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Released March 13, 2017
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Lickety Split: Love won’t wait.

Patch Hastle grew up in a hurry, ditching East Texas for NYC to make his name as a DJ and model without ever looking back. When his parents die unexpectedly, he heads home to unload the family farm ASAP and skedaddle. Except the will left Patch’s worst enemy in charge: his father’s handsome best friend who made his high school years hell.

Tucker Biggs is going nowhere. Twenty years past his rodeo days, he’s put down roots as the caretaker of the Hastle farm. He knows his buddy’s smartass son still hates his guts, but when Patch shows up growed-up, looking like sin in tight denim, Tucker turns his homecoming into a lesson about old dogs and new kinks.

Patch and Tucker fool around, but they can’t fool themselves. Once the farm’s sold, they mean to call it quits and head off to separate sunsets. With the clock ticking, the city slicker and his down-home hick get roped into each other’s life. If they’re gonna last longer than spit on a griddle, they better figure out what matters—fast.

Back when I was in my honeymoon period of reading M/M romance, I read Damon Suede’s Hot Head, a book that is still one of the most memorable I’ve read in the genre. For some reason, in the sixteen months since then, I’ve not picked up another of his books—perhaps it’s because I’m still waiting for Tommy’s story, but that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, the appearance of Lickety Split on my reading list was quite welcome, and after reading it, I once again have to ask myself why I haven’t read more of his books.

Patch Hastle escaped his boring, small-town life when he left home at sixteen. Now in his early twenties, he’s made a name for himself as a New York-based model and high-energy deejay for the hottest clubs and circuit parties in the world. The death of his parents should have been only a small bump in the road, something that should have amounted to selling off the family farm and being on his way back to the fast life. One of the other things he escaped all those years ago was his father’s best friend, Tucker Biggs, a man who at every turn, not unlike Patch’s father, made Patch’s life hell. But it looks like his father has taken one last chance to make Patch miserable by naming Tucker as the executor of the will. And it doesn’t help any that the minute Patch sees Tucker, he’s reminded of all the other reasons being around Tucker was tortuous for him back when he was a horny teenager.

The story is told entirely from Patch’s point of view (POV), and though it is not at all related to the other book, fans of Hot Head will instantly recognize some things that mark the storytelling in Lickety Split as being that of Damon Suede, namely the quick here’s-what-Patch-is-thinking witticisms to solidify the descriptions the author uses throughout the story. In this case, the story taking place in very rural southeastern Texas means a lot of it is the regional dialect. Since I’ve lived not far from there for the past two-and-a-half years, I caught enough for it to feel authentic to me without it seeming like the author was making fun of people who live there.

I love romantic pairings that start as adversarial, especially those where one of the characters doesn’t necessarily realize just how bad the other thinks he was treated in the past. That’s the case with Tucker, so much of their unwitting reunion becomes a conflicting contrast between how Patch feels about his past life and how Tucker represents Patch’s parents’ feelings, not to mention his own. The fact that Tucker is still the same masculine daddy-figure hunk Patch has always held as an object of his dirtiest fantasies, even more so now with a few more years added, doesn’t help clarify matters for Patch at all. The difference now is that Tucker can finally see Patch as a man instead of the boy he used to be, something that quickly becomes evident when they start fooling around.

The sexual progression in this story follows an unusual path—I’m not going to say more because I want you to experience it for yourself—but I have to admit that in many ways, it pushes good buttons that a lot of authors that I’ve read haven’t touched. There is a bit of kink here in the form of bondage and edging, as well as playing off the age difference between the characters. Whether or not the level of bondage is something that does it for you (I have to admit, it was a little beyond my comfort zone), the resulting sex is still blazing hot and intensely intimate.

But the romance aspect is also readily evident as the story progresses, and it hit me in an unexpected way that few other M/M romances have. There’s a point in the book where I admit to thinking that it was going to be a sex-heavy story when the scene suddenly turns into a beautifully simple and lovely romantic moment that brought a tear to my eye, and it fits in so well with the overall background theme that repeats itself from start to finish in the story. Call me a sap, or maybe it’s because I’m a forty-something gay man who, back when I was twenty-two, could never have done something as simple as dancing the two-step on the porch in the arms of the man I realize I’m in love with, but yeah, romantic as fuck.

Probably the only complaint I have about the book comes during their inevitable break-off scene. From the start, Patch intends only to stay long enough to pack up and sell the estate before going back to the city. There were times earlier in the novel where I found it a little challenging to understand exactly where Tucker was in the developing relationship. This isn’t a bad thing, because the story is from Patch’s POV so it makes Patch’s confusion more realistic. But when it came time for the “fight,” I’m not sure if it was the language used or what, but I had difficulty following the logic the men were using to explain themselves, so I wasn’t entirely sure what had happened until they walked away from each other. Regardless, this confusion was short lived as the pain of separation and joy of reunion quickly took its place. And it tugged at my heart a good bit, and yeah, more tears.

One of the things I use to determine just how much I enjoy a book is by how much I think about it after finishing it. Lickety Split went a step further than most, though, in that I’ve found myself pondering the potential virtue in my own life of slowing down to move forward instead of rushing to stay in place. So with that, I loved this book. That’s all there is to say.

The author and/or publisher generously provided me a complimentary copy of Lickety Split in exchange for this fair and honest review.

Damon Suede
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Damon Suede grew up out-n-proud deep in the anus of right-wing America, and escaped as soon as it was legal. He has lived all over: Houston, New York, London, Prague. Along the way, he’s earned his crust as a model, a messenger, a promoter, a programmer, a sculptor, a singer, a stripper, a bookkeeper, a bartender, a techie, a teacher, a director... but writing has ever been his bread and butter. He has been happily partnered for over a decade with the most loving, handsome, shrewd, hilarious, noble man to walk this planet.

Addictions: sweetness that isn’t sentimental, wit that isn’t bitter, strength that isn’t cruel. Allergies: professional victims, half-assery, clichés. Damon is a proud member of the Romance Writers of America and currently serves on its national Board of Directors. He also served as the 2013 president for the Rainbow Romance Writers, RWA's LGBT romance chapter.

Though new to gay romance, Damon has been writing for print, stage, and screen for two decades, which is both more and less glamorous than you might imagine. He's won some awards, but his blessings are more numerous: his amazing friends, his demented family, his beautiful husband, his loyal fans, and his silly, stern, seductive Muse who keeps whispering in his ear, year after year.

Damon would love to hear from you.


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