Friday, 22 February 2013
Review: Screwing the System by Josephine Myles
The story follows Cosmo who uses his time dodging gainful employment so that he can concentrate on his music. He's a very talented singer/songwriter and he knows he's going to hit it big, if only the local job centre would stop sending him on interviews and let him get on with his band. Cosmo has perfected the art of failing at job interviews, until a stunt to put off the prospective employer backfires and Cosmo finds himself under the protective eye of Alisdair who plans to sort Cosmo out and introduce him to a submissive side that Cosmo has only dallied with previously.
The author has taken a very brave step with Cosmo, especially with a US market which prides itself on a strong work ethic. I can see some readers being put off by Cosmo's shirking attitude to work, and the fact that he deliberately sponges off the welfare system to fund his dream of getting his band off the ground. I have to admit, I found this a difficult part of his personality and the story too, and one which is never really fully addressed in the book. Cosmo does change, does accept that he can't spend his life dodging employment, but he also doesn't show any remorse or repentance over the money he has received. Maybe if his dreams had started to come to fruition by the end, I may have felt that the time he spent with the band was worth it, but that doesn't happen and so the whole thing left me with a slightly sour taste in my mouth.
Having said that, Cosmo is a very charming and attractive narrator. I may not have liked some of his actions, but I did like him. He's engaging and witty with a tough determination to live his life as he chooses and a fierce, protective love for his Nan. This went a long way towards making up for Cosmo's shortcomings and I found as the story progressed, I grew to like him a great deal.
The romance was the strongest aspect to the book. Alisdair is almost the opposite of Cosmo, older, experienced in the world and someone who built up his cleaning company from scratch. His whole life is his work and Cosmo comes into that like a whirlwind, shaking Alisdair up and showing him how lonely his life was before a pushy, mouthy young man awoke feelings of protectiveness and domination. The push and pull of their relationship was a delight to watch, especially as Cosmo is no wilting submissive, but an active partner who makes Alisdair work for the dominance. Their differences cause friction, but it's the sort of friction which leads to several hot and steamy BDSM scenes as they work through their differences in the bedroom. Out of the bedroom their different outlooks on life almost force them apart, but this is where the older Alisdair is willing to think through the problems and find a solution. The older/younger dynamic really works during those parts because you could see how two younger men would allow their pride to get in the way of love, but Alisdair has the patience to work with Cosmo to save the relationship when things become too difficult.
Overall, I enjoyed this book a great deal. The characters were real and well drawn, showing two opposite men who are drawn through mutual lust and yet work as a couple. Aside from my initial feelings for Cosmo there were a couple of other niggles, such as the sudden ending which seems to have become a bit of a feature of this author's books, and the rather odd party scene towards the end of the book in which I felt Alisdair behaved a little out of character. However, these niggles were not enough to spoil my generally positive feelings for the book. I'm giving Screwing the System a grade of 'Very Good' and will recommend it to those readers who like BDSM and the older/younger man dynamic.
Buy this book HERE.