Close Encounters by Xara X. Xanakas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Vin and Jali have been paired up to shoot a pornographic movie for a high-paying customer, the only problem is that Jali is an alien of a species that Vin has never seen before… and that the customer wants him to bottom, something he doesn’t do on camera. Will Vin and Jali figure it out or will Vin have to negotiate an escape clause and take a penalty?
I was very excited when I read the blurb for this story. Sci-fi? Futuristic pornography? Alien sex? Sold. However, while the setting of this story was interesting, I felt a little disappointed when I actually got around to reading it. It’s still an interesting, well-written story with developed characters that’s worth reading, especially as it is free. However, it comes with some drawbacks that keep it from earning a higher score in my opinion.
Jali was probably my favorite character in this book. He’s an interesting alien with blue skin and the power to project thoughts. He’s pretty matter-of-fact about his job and doesn’t seem to be shy about being on film at all. Vin was a little more reluctant but by the end of the book I had warmed more to him as well, especially when he finally stands up for himself and what he wants.
While I’d hoped for Vin and Jali to film the vid and find a deeper connection, this story actually takes place before the shoot and ends at the very start of it. I was fine with that because I figured it would help Vin and Jali find a deeper emotional connection, but certain things about their relationship fell flat for me regardless. I felt that Jali jumped the gun, so to speak, on announcing that they might be able to share a permanent bond. The sex lacked intimacy for a private act in my opinion and would have been better suited to being in front of the camera. When we finally got to the shoot, the story abruptly ended with a hazy HFA.
My other complaint is that some consent issues made me feel a little uncomfortable at the beginning. While Vin is understandably under a contract, it seems at the start that he is almost being coerced to co-operate. He’s scared by the size of Jali’s dick. He’s being forced to wear a cock ring that penalizes him for taking it off. Top it off with the fact that he’s being asked to participate in a sex act he’s uncomfortable with and can’t just walk away from killed some of the hotness for me. I don’t really enjoy fear or reluctance in a sexual relationship that’s supposed to be a HEA or HFN. When Vin does come around to the idea of sexual congress with Jali, it turns out that Jali is emitting pheromones and I really did wonder how much of their connection was real and how much was Vin under the influence of that. Jali did seem like a nice, interesting guy and I didn’t think he was taking advantage of Vin at all, but I really did feel that Vin was a reluctant porn star who shouldn’t have been in the business in the first place. The ending did resolve a lot of that but at the start I was mentally begging Vin to just break his contract and leave. I know it wasn’t really intended to be read that way, but my mind does go to dark places occasionally. Perhaps I was just in a dark mood when I read this and I’d say that if you’re interested in reading it, please don’t let my review put you off.