Book Review – The Glamour Thieves

The Glamour Thieves by Don Allmon is one of the most delightful books I’ve read in a while. It has a sort of fantasy-cyberpunk feel to it, a bit of Bright meets Mercedes Lackey’s SERRAted Edge series.  With lots of queer inter-species sex thrown in, to make everything better.

The story is mostly told through JT’s POV, an orc former car thief, with occasional glimpses into Austin’s POV, an elf who is an ex-fwb who drags JT back into trouble on the wrong side of the law.  We also get a few snippets of Buzz, a human hacker who JT has an old crush on, during the climax.  JT is the perfect combination of shy, horny, and kinky to make me fall in love with him.  He’s easy to sympathize with.  Austin could very easily be obnoxious to the point of unlikable, but I found him endearing.  I’d hate him if he were a real person, but when it comes to fictional characters, I love that brand of asshole.  None of the other characters stood out quite so vibrantly, including Buzz, but none of them fell truly flat, either.  It was simply clear that this wasn’t their story and there wasn’t room for anything else.

At 46k words, The Glamour Thieves is more novella than novel, which works perfect for a quick read.  On the other hand, I felt like the story had pieces missing (namely, any subplots whatsoever), but that might just be because I’m not used to the novella format. I have a great love for convoluted epic fantasy, so it throws me a little to read a straight (ha) story all the way through with no detours or complications. Like, other than the climax (and you have to expect things to go wrong at the climax), there was only one place where things didn’t go perfectly according to plan.  Like, I know half the plot was focused on the sexual tension here, but it still felt really easy.  I would have love to have seen this more drawn out, but then this would have crept into novel length, and if a novella is your target, then keeping it simple works.  This may just be a happy reader wanting more of the story.

I have to admit, this may be the first time I’ve ever actually enjoyed a love triangle. Maybe because it’s the first time it’s an explicitly queer one?  Or maybe it’s because both love interests are give their pros and cons and treated like real people?  Either way, I loved it.  And I loved that it was resolved not with the death that I was afraid of as we built up to the climax, but with two of the characters simply continuing their lives in different directions. That sounds oddly drama free for a novel, but it was truly refreshing.

I also loved the worldbuilding in this. It was familiar enough to the US to be vaguely recognizable, but there were enough hints of the way things had twisted and the larger weirder world that I adored it.  It truly felt like stepping into the world.  There were no infodumps, or at least none that stood out to me.  We were simply there with the characters, as we should be.

For 46k, there were a lot of sex scenes in this.  Well-written ones too, nothing that made me cringe or roll my eyes at the biology, or even get bored and skim forward.  Now, I write erotica so this was right up my alley, but if explicit M/M sex isn’t your thing, maybe give this a pass.  I even appreciated that condoms came up–and got insisted on.  (Once, at the end, but that’s still better than most of what I read.)

My one real critique of this is that I felt like JT let Buzz’s fantasy racism go too easily–especially since it was directed at him. Buzz calls him an animal an a cannibal and is consistently afraid of JT throughout the novella, and JT basically lets it slide.  I find that hard to believe.  Like, even if he let it go on the outside, most of the novel was in JT’s head, and some sort of rant or resentment should have come up there.  The fact that it didn’t felt hollow–but no doubt necessary for that leg of the love triangle to play out.

Overall, I enjoyed this quite a bit.  I was smiling and laughing reading most of it, from the banter of the characters and the characters’ inner thoughts.  And it ended with a blatant Star Wars reference, which I absolutely adore.

Recommended for: Fans of sexy urban fantasy, fans of sexy cyberpunk, anyone looking for M/M in the fantasy genre, anyone who is looking for an orc/elf relationship as much as I am, anyone looking for a quick, fun, sexy read

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