Five years ago Rowan McNair was a 45 year old professor of art history at a prestigious university When he became involved romantically with a much younger but adult former student and his relationship with the young man was discovered, McNair lost his tenured position, his marriage, and most of his contact with his two sons Now at 50 he s barely making ends meet as a consulting detective on cases where a knowledge of art is required However when a notorious painting of a beautiful Russian lordling is stolen, McNair is tapped to track down the missing masterpiece The story quickly evolves into the tale of three love affairs involving older men and their younger paramours Rowan meets a young American who helps him with the search The story of the painting s creation and the affair between the painter and his muse is revealed and lastly the thief, a modern day Russian boy, becomes involved with a French older man This story is complex and in trying to summarize it one quickly understands that challenge that the author had in presenting the material in an interesting manner While he did a better job than I just did in my recap, there were moments early on when the changes of POV were a bit offputting but as soon as the three couples were a bit established that difficulty faded and the tale became much engaging One of the best features of this novel for me were the painterly descriptions used to describe certain of the settings and the little cultural lessons wedged into the story It s clear that the author knew his locales and several parts felt like a really well crafted travelogue much like I felt when reading the Bourne Identity.However here I had the added pleasure of spending time with three m m couples, all consisting of a younger man and an older man where the chemistry and the attraction just felt right Once I had the characters firmly established this was a quick and engrossing read and was a great bit of fantasy fulfillment By all means, check it out and judge for yourself Note I received a review copy of this novel through a Don t Buy My Love event the GoodReads M M romance group sponsors I got this for free for an honest review through the DBML program of the M M Romance group on goodreads.I got hooked on Neil Plakcy when I read his Mahu Series So I was expecting good thing from The Russian Boy Neil delivered all of my expectations and It is hard to write a story that has two different time lines, He made it flow together good The characters in the modern timeline were well built and acted like real humans a mix of rational and irrational behaivor that was consistant with how they were built It is easy to see how poor Dmitri was lead astray by Yegor, even as he did steal the painting The Russian Boy his conscience was tugging at him The setting was describe with an artist sensibility which make sense because three of the main characters were artist or trained as an artist As in most mysteries, the body count grew It was interesting that both of the young artists fell in love with older men Dmitri with Albiin a frenchmen living in Nice and an IT specialist, and Taylor with Rowan, An art historian hired to recover the painting I can t recommend this book too highly it is a MUST READ SIDEBAR Having received this as part of the Don t Buy Me Love event the M M romance group was sponsoring, I was pleased to receive the copy from the author in exchange for this review The Russian Boy is, at it s core, an interesting concept Art theft amongst art students that involve the Russian mob, a former art history professor turned art theft investigator, the French police, nefarious characters at every turn, all found along the picturesque coastline of Nice, France has everything to offer an interested reader You d think so, right To a certain degree, Mr Plakcy succeeds in his endeavor to captivate us with his tale of intrigue, romance, mystery and adventure There s the theft of a valuable painting at that center of this story However here is where the author allows the story to get away from him a bit.To begin with the first couple of chapters are a bit disjointed that takes the reader out of the moment because of their awkward phrasing and composition Thankfully, if the reader is patient through the first couple of chapters, they are rewarded for their efforts This is something that the author might want to re examine as some readers may not think it worth their while to give it a chance In the end, I was fairly happy I pressed on to the juicy elements of the story as they were worth the read.For reasons that aren t very clear, however, Mr Plakcy splits the timeline between the modern theft and subsequent adventure to recover it, and a historical story that imparts the actual history behind how the painting came into being I am not so sure this manner of storytelling works to the novel s advantage.To have this historical rundown of how the provocative painting of a naked studly boy parading everything that is beautiful in a young male, down to a salacious element within the painting itself that the author seems to fixate upon, it is in this novel ultimately just that a footnote Something that could ve been as easily imparted to the reader via a quick rundown by Rowan our art history professor turned PI In fact, Plakcy does that in a modified form using Rowan to provide this to the reader via a discussion he has with another minor character thus rendering the actual historical story to become a plot driven distraction It breaks the momentum of the adventure by doing so Perhaps the story would have been better served to have the historical story as the first part of the book, told in its entirety to the conclusion that the author only infers when he quickly wraps up this part of the book towards the end In the case of The Russian Boy, it is definitely a mixed bag where the timelines are concerned disjointed in the beginning, historical timeline breaks the momentum a bit that also cheats the emotional element that could have been extremely powerful if they d been imparted as a whole before we get to the modern tale which I suppose would ve turned the painting into a pseudo central character which I think would ve been an even interesting element to explore With regards to the historical element, I had the feeling like okay, we re running out of paper digital or otherwise so let s wrap it up quickly so the end to this part of the story fell flat and lost any emotional impact that would ve benefited the value of the painting in the reader s mind if they were allowed to experience the full effect of how it came into being This would ve left the reader to feel the torment the painting ultimately extracted from the lovers involved during its creation I felt cheated by the way this part of the story was revealed and the subsequent quick wrap up I wanted to feel for Fydor and Alexei but their story sort of stumbled along and the emotional impact is what suffered for this oversight A shame really, because the opportunity was definitely there and ripe for the picking Instead the author went for a craft element of weaving two timelines when distinct timelines might have served the story better.The central characters of the modern story Rowan, his new found boyfriend Taylor, Dmitri the art student thief are likable enough with Rowan and Taylor being strong enough that they could bode well for a art mystery series should the author wish to develop their relationship further just the fact that it is inter generational is a unique element within the genre and warrants further exploration Dmitri is likable to a lesser degree almost less so than the French man who becomes his love interest The other characters are not very memorable and women in this story are almost non existent relegated to waitresses, property caretakers or ex wives in the modern tale and a grandmother in the historical which seemed a bit off the mark and a little unrealistic.There were other sub plots that were hastily woven into the fabric of the story that either weren t explored or were merely fluff to flesh out the story rather than serving a purpose that drove the story forward e.g focus on the art thievery and forgo the sex slave element You can mention the thugs dabbling into other areas but the sex slave element just seemed like a salacious point that ultimately didn t contribute to the overall story The Russian thug who was after the painting and his bodyguard could ve just as easily used Dmitri as a personal sex toy when they had him There was no need to weave this other element of sex slavery into it late in the novel It seemed rushed, and rather poorly executed window dressing on a not very interesting window.So is this a better to pass this one up The short answer is mixed I liked Rowan and Taylor very much So much so, that I think it would be interesting if the author would consider them as future amateur art sleuths who could happen on other adventures together Their age difference and how they deal with it and rise above the cliches of how the world would think that they d eventually part over this difference is a gold mine of drama to plunder if the author is up to the challenge I would like to see these two triumph over future adventures and perceptions about their relationship showing how strong they can be for one another So yeah, I m glad I pressed on for this reason alone Rowan and Taylor are worth investing in as on going characters Neil, are you listening Provided that they have a great vehicle to press forward with that doesn t pull focus from their burgeoning relationship.I know I d pick up another installment of these men s lives and adventures if one were in the offing But I d only hope that the author would do them and the story justice and examine the structure of the story to be sure if the way it s told is the best possible way to do it The Russian Boy held so much promise The author hit a vein that is an interesting one If he d exercised some purposeful thought as to how the story was told, I think he might have made choices that would only have strengthened this work My advice, and it s to the author, don t give up on Rowan and Taylor Give them a story that will make all of us want to join them on future adventures We d be all the richer for it. I received a free copy of this book via the Goodreads Don t buy My Love program in exchange for an honest review.4.5 stars Four lives intersect in a compelling story about art, starving artists, theft and murder It took me several pages to settle in to the writing style, but once I did the pages flew by Even switching from present day to 1912 13 and back was smooth The descriptions of everything are vivid I especially enjoyed the view in Nice I can see those buildings and how the light and shadow work to make them stand out I can see the sky and the water The waves The palm trees, which I didn t know grew in the area I was there I could smell the flowers and the food Oh, the food I could taste it, just the way the author described And it is so good The book starts at a run and the story never stops moving Dmitri steals the painting on the first page and the problems and consequences begin immediately Taylor figures out what Dmitri did Then Dmitri flees to Nice with the painting because his contact demanded he meet there instead of in Paris Dmitri meets Albin in Nice while he s waiting for his contact Rowan, an investigator of sorts, travels to Nice when his boss learns the painting may be there Then Taylor follows Dmitri because even though he doesn t want Dmitri as a boyfriend any longer, he still cares what happens I loved the plot twist in the mystery of the stolen stolen artwork Yes, I said stolen twice Dmitri stole it first, and then he was robbed Murders and thievery follow The men must work through all the twists and turns, some harrowing than others, to finally find The Russian Boy The suspense builds for the heroes save themselves Along the way, they find love I couldn t stop reading I had to know what happens How do they get out of this mess Dmitri created All four men survive, and the couples get their HEAs and I loved the journey. I received a free copy of this book via the Goodreads Don t buy My Love program in exchange for an honest review.This contemporary mystery describes the circumstances surrounding the theft and recovery of a painting known as The Russian Boy Dmitri, an actual Russian boy, is studying art in Paris He is only a few months from the end of his scholarship, and will have to leave his studies due to no money Then, he is approached by Yegor who offers him 20,000 Euro to steal the painting from the studio where it is being restored Dmitri is counseled by his boyfriend, an American art fellow named Taylor, to refuse Yegor s offer.Dmitri doesn t He steals the painting and heads for the rendezvous with Yegor in Nice Only, Yegor never shows Always resourceful, Dmitri makes the acquaintance of Albin, a man willing to take him in for a nightor Worried about his lover, Taylor travels to Nice, hoping to help Dmitri out of what will surely become a debacle.Debacle it becomes Former art professor Rowan is dispatched to Paris by the insurers to track down the missing painting Interpol is alerted Dmitri is double crossed by Yegor, and Yegor ends up dead Painting Seemingly gone Rowan s investigation not only yields Taylor, and Dmitri, but engagements with the Russian mafia, and a human trafficking ring The tension of the whereabouts of the painting, and recovery of it, continues to build throughout At times I felt this was of a thriller than a romance.Other reviewers have commented on a lack of investment in the relationships, but I felt all the men in these partnerships were well described and conceived Further, we get some flashback of the painting s development and the scandalous nature of the relationship between artist and subject The painting is a sensual depiction of a naked, aroused young 19 y o man Alexei, son of a Russian Count, back in 1913 Nice Alexei and the artist Lushenko had a Master Apprentice relationship, as well as a physical relationship I really connected with the historical and cultural aspects of their story I also enjoyed the descriptions of Nice, and the experiences to be had there.In M M romance, one has to be prepared for some odd pairings, and some brutality Dmitri and Taylor are the initial couple, but they are together of convenience and quickly sever ties when Dmitri steals the painting Then Dmitri meets Albin, who is a bit older, but kind and companionable And Taylor is attracted to Rowan, despite Rowan being twice his age It seems Taylor has always fancied older men, even Dmitri noticed And the Lushenko Alexei, well, May December It s not all that uncomfortable for me to accept these pairings I wasn t thrilled by the rape bondage scenes, but it seemed in line with the dangerous plot line.For a mystery thriller there was a lot of sex, and for a romance, there was a lot of suspense There were some HEA s to be had, as well In all, I liked the story. I m not sure about this one to be honest, even the blurb exhausted me.FREE from This book is like two books rolled into one really and I think that is why quite a few people who have reviewed it have had difficulty with it The Russian Boy of the title refers to a painting being restored at an art academy in Paris, the problem I think for many is that it is stolen by another Russian boy Dmitri who has been studying at the academy and whose scholarship and money are running out so steals it to order to get money to continue studying The story running in parallel is about the subject of the painting a young Russian boy called Alexei in the year 1912 who wanted to be an artist and convinces his family to apprentice him to the artist Luschenko whose primary work appears to be painting portraits for wealthy Russians who winter in the south of France The main story of the art theft has many twists and probably would have been better without the background story of the painting What I found interesting was the inter generational relationship between the American investigator and Dmitri s artist friend Taylor which seemed to simmer for quite a while with will they or won t they moments.Had the book not had the background story of the painting then time could have been given to the main characters and fleshed them out plus the ending seemed very short and ingenious as it was I would have liked a paced last couple of chapters with maybe an epilogue to see where everyone was a year later All in all I would give the book 3.5 to 4 stars but I can understand others criticism that the sex was sparse but in my mind was exactly right. I seem to have no luck whatsoever with this author s books This is the second one of his that I reand and it had such promisebut alas, it wasn t to be The characters are two dimensional paper figurines moving to and fro as directed by the strings I can clearly see The plot had promise, in the hands of another m m mystery author it would have been divinely handled, probably ending up feeling a bit like an Agatha Christie Not in this one The relationships felt forced, the story moved along as if coerced by a very visible hand The sex was a nightmare Can you expect anyone to believe that a character who was raped mere hours before could now enjoy sex Nope, ain t happening.Isa K wrote an infinitely better worded review Read it and that s how I feel Will still try another one that was recommended to me by someone I trust to know what I like, Noche Buena It s strange because I just finished an anthology he edited and loved the story he contributed to it. A Famous, Erotically Charged Painting Called The Russian Boy Depicts A Nude Russian Noble Named Alexei Dubernin, Younger Lover Of Painter Fyodor Luschenko Their Affair Takes Place In The Elegance Of A Lost World, The Russian Enclave On The Cote D Azur In The Years Just Before The Revolution Of The Painting, Owned By The New York Museum Of Fine Arts, Is Stolen From A Restorer S Studio In Paris, Bringing Together Three Very Different Men, Each Of Whom Must Risk His Life To Return This Precious Work Of Art And Earn The Love He Deserves Fifty Year Old Rowan McNair Was A College Art History Professor Until He Lost His Marriage, His Family And His Job After An Affair With A Young Male Former Student Now He Struggles To Make A New Life In New York As A Journalist And Art Theft Consultant Taylor Griffin Is Finishing His First Year On A Painting Fellowship At The Institute Des Artistes In Montmartre, Sharing A Tiny Studio Apartment With His Russian Emigre Boyfriend, Dmitri Baranov, A Fellow Student When Dmitri Steals The Russian Boy, He Plunges Himself, Taylor, And Eventually Rowan Into A Dangerous World Of Drugs, Sex And Intrigue The Russian Boy Is A Sexy, Romantic Story About Older Men Involved With Younger Men, About Art And Love And The Risks We Take When We Fall In Love I got this book free in exchange for an honest review.This story follows 3 young male artists as they follow their dream of painting It is told in two different timelines with Alexei s story unfolding in 1912 and Dmitri and Taylor s in current time Each young man is enthralled with an older man who inspires their artistic muse The main focus of the story is a painting, The Russian Boy, of Alexei done by his lover which is stolen in current time by Russian boy Dmitri.It was a nice story, but I wanted it to be so much It wasn t a fully developed romance, and the mystery line wasn t strong enough to carry the story to a higher rating for me I wanted relationship development in all three story lines I did not feel connected to Alexei s relationship at all and would have liked to know about what happened to him The same with Dmitri s story it just ended and we never find out what happens with him As for Taylor s story it just wrapped up far too conveniently There were several timeline inconsistencies that pulled me from the story.
Neil Plakcy is an acclaimed author of cozy mysteries the Golden Retriever Mystery series as well as gay mysteries, M M romance and gay erotica.A journalist, book reviewer and college professor, he is also a frequent contributor to gay anthologies.A three time finalist for the Lambda Literary award, he teaches at writers conferences and can often be found walking his two golden retrievers.
- 206 pages
- The Russian Boy
- Neil S. Plakcy
- 14 November 2018 Neil S. Plakcy