Cam Boy Cover
Title: Cam Boy
Author: Heat: Re
Genre(s): Romance Contemporary
Tropes: Office Romance
Tags: gay sex work
Where to Buy or Read:

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Synopsis from the Creator:

After years of making minimum wage, twenty-one-year-old Josh Clemmons may have found his salvation. Murmur Inc., a local adult entertainment company, is hosting auditions for new performers, and Josh has been invited to try out. If he can make it as a porn star, he can kiss his money troubles goodbye.

Mike Harwood is a loud-and-proud professional adult entertainer. In the past three years, he’s starred in dozens of films, and he’s very good at what he does. But as focused as he’s been on work, he’s neglected everything else, including his love life. He’s so used to faking attraction, he can no longer tell when something real is staring him in the face.

Josh gets the job, but when porn fails to live up to the fantasy, he quits to do cam work instead. But he can’t stop thinking about the one scene he filmed, and the captivating man he filmed it with. Their chemistry is undeniable, but Mike knows better than to mix business with pleasure. Then again, with true love on the line, this unorthodox office romance may need a second take.

Review: Cam Boy, by Quinn Anderson

[fa icon="calendar"] Feb 12, 2018 9:00:00 AM / by Suzanne

The plot summary for the book is so accurate that I don't think you need me to rehash that in a review. They have a meet-awful but are still drawn to each other, Josh decides porn isn't for him, takes up cam work for the same company instead. This is the bare bones plot of the book and, despite the porn industry setting, honestly the least interesting thing about it.

CAM BOY is Quinn Anderson's third Murmur, Inc. novel, and the other two also take place in the orbit of the same company, but all can be read as standalones. Murmur, Inc. produces an array of sexual services and content, everything from pornographic video to photography to phone sex to camming. One of my favorite parts of the book was actually when Josh went to his boss (the owner) to quit. She nodded, said she understood it wasn't a good fit, and offered him an alternative. It's the sort of thing you don't see often in these sorts of books. Usually, the stripper leaves the industry for good and often with some sex-shaming stigma attached. This entire novel was blissfully free of that.

You're waiting to hear what's more interesting than shooting porn? Most of the book. The porn shoot scenes are so awkward and clinical that it's a wonder Josh and Mike retain any of their chemistry. It's clear that Josh doesn't know what he's doing, and you get a distinct sense of second-hand embarrassment for the poor guy as the director tells him to move his arm here, stop doing that, do more of this other thing. Mike is kind and helpful, but it's ultimately still a job and it's not the right one for Josh.

The emotional and romantic core of the book is in the last third, but without the buildup and stage-setting of the first two-thirds, it wouldn't have made sense, so the pacing didn't feel off. Several small negotiations of trust and consent were important and memorable, so I'd like to highlight a couple of them here.

When Josh starts his cam channel, he leaves it open to his local area and shares too much personal information about himself. Mike happens to be scrolling through the Murmur, Inc. site and sees Josh's channel, then sees that Josh isn't protecting himself. He joins, buys a private session, and then uses that time to teach Josh (anonymously) how to better protect himself. Part of this is because Josh's character has quite a bit of growing up to do and is impulsive/reckless in comparison to Mike's years of experience. Part of it is because Mike wants to spend time with Josh. When Mike tells Josh what he's done, they talk about it like two adults who care about one another and work through their feelings and motivations. It's all very reasonable and not at all the "big misunderstanding" that it could have been.

Later, when they finally (I DO MEAN FINALLY) have sex that isn't being scripted, Mike uses his sexual experience in a really refreshing way. He doesn't just magically know what Josh will like, he tries different things and asks for feedback until he gets it right. This might have been my favorite part of the entire book - Mike does not have the stereotypical magic romance-hero penis. He has a sincere motivation to make his partner feel pleasure. So much better.

CAM BOY isn't perfect, however. Josh's attitude toward porn and personal safety really bothered me at some points. As mentioned, he's got some growing up to do. He thinks porn will just be having sex on camera, not hours of challenging physical activity and acting. He quits his job after getting an audition with Murmur and makes some other questionable choices. This could all be written off as a personality thing and part of his character arc, but I was really bothered by the fact that he didn't take it seriously after that, either. He obviously didn't read the information that Murmur gave him about running his channel, and it felt like a forced plot device to get Mike into his cam channel.

There's also an HIV scare, which is mostly handled with care, but the author left out any mention of PrEP, which I'd assume porn actors would be on. Murmur has strict rules about their actors being tested regularly and various safety measures, but there's no mention of what something that's become standard for sex workers or those at high risk of contracting HIV.

Overall, CAM BOY is a diverting novel that, for all that it's set in the sex industry, is definitely more  romance than erotica. I'm not sure I'd put it at erotic romance even, though the off-camera antics between Mike and Josh are quite hot. 

Topics: review