Ash Penn


Loose Id
Release Date
June 2010
Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance, LGBTQ

Bar worker and serial slut Terry Seymour is hardly charm personified when it comes to romance. In fact, he doesn't believe in love at all despite his latent desire for his best friend of fourteen years, builder Marc Pierce.

Dan Hutchinson is a young, homeless man living in a derelict house Marc's halfway to renovating. When Marc announces Dan's moving in for a while, Terry is understandably miffed. After all, it hasn't been that long since Marc spilt with his boyfriend of a year, so why is he intent on bringing a total stranger into their home?

It seems to Terry there's more to this arrangement than meets the eye. Marc must be providing Dan with food and lodgings in exchange for sex. And with the lusty vibes Dan sends his way, it's not long before Terry succumbs to the boy's talents between the sheets. But carrying on with Dan behind his best friend's back is not easy. Or desirable. And when Terry's plans to oust Dan fail, he's the one who finds himself out in the cold.

Book Review by DH Starr (author)
Apr 03, 2011
138 people found the following review helpful
Every once in a while, I come across a book that doesn't quite fit into the normal mold of what I tend to read, but which blows me away. Stray is one of those books. The story follows Terry, Mark and Dan as they struggle to deal with their individual problems and with young adulthood. Each character is flawed in their own way, and their flaws resonate as real…ones that we have within ourselves at one point or another in our lives.

Written from a first person narrative, we see the world and experience the story through Terry's eyes. Terry has a sharp wit coupled with a sharp tongue and isn't afraid to use either, especially on Daniel, the stray his best mate Marc brought to their home.

Daniel becomes an immediate thorn in Terry's side and Terry makes no bones about his assumptions of the boy's past and his distaste for his presence in their home. As the story progresses, we get to know Terry through his overly biting remarks and behavior. We question why he is so tough and hard-shelled on the outside when snippets of a kind and caring person can be seen on the inside.

Daniel is the opposite. He wears his heart on his sleeve, leaving him vulnerable and sensitive to the scathing treatment he receives from Terry. He is also relentless, knowing what he wants and what he sees in Terry. Younger than both Terry and Marc, Dan is slightly immature and can be vindictive, but the sweetness in him is unmistakable.

What I loved about Stray was how the story, through the inclusion of imperfect characters, struck a chord that was at once believable and real. I have known and been both Terry and Daniel at one point in my life. Watching their struggles, their feelings evolve, and the decisions they make was an emotional journey; an experience of thinking about people and how life changes us rather than a sporty plot line for a pleasant read. Stray certainly had a strong plot and was pleasant to read, but it was also difficult and sad at times.

In speaking with Ash, a member of my writing group, she explained that she wanted to read a story where the characters weren't perfectly likable. In the absence of any out there, she opted to write one herself. The result is a book that forces you to think and reflect; to accept some darker realities, but to see how even dark experiences can lead to something good and positive.
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