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There are three Russian boys at the center of this sexy new novel by Neil S. Plakcy. Alexei Dubernin, the teenaged son of a Russian count longs to paint like his Impressionist idols. This desire brings him in contact with the Russian maestro Fyodor Luschenko in Nice, France, in 1912, as the Russian aristocracy celebrates its last few years of prosperity on the Riviera. Lusc There are three Russian boys at the center of this sexy new novel by Neil S. Plakcy. Alexei Dubernin, the teenaged son of a Russian count longs to paint like his Impressionist idols. This desire brings him in contact with the Russian maestro Fyodor Luschenko in Nice, France, in 1912, as the Russian aristocracy celebrates its last few years of prosperity on the Riviera. Luschenko paints an erotic portrait of Alexei, called Le Jeune Homme Russe, or The Russian Boy, which is received with scandal, then acclaim. Then, in the present day, the painting is stolen while being restored-- by another Russian boy, an art student in Paris named Dmitri Baranov. Dmitri's desperation to remain in Paris after his fellowship ends leads him into unsavory company, bringing him, and the painting, back to the Cote d'Azur, where someone is willing to stop at nothing-- including murder-- to possess this magnificent work of art. Hard on Dmitri's trail, and that of the painting, is his boyfriend, American art student Taylor Griffin, and Rowan McNair, a disgraced former professor of art history turned art detective. Partners change, affairs are begun and ended, and dead bodies appear with a disturbing regularity. In alternating narrations, Alexei, Dmitri, Taylor and Rowan tell the story of the painting, its theft, and a series of love affairs between older men and their younger protégés. By turns sexy, dangerous and romantic, The Russian Boy is a story of love and art that spans the ages.


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There are three Russian boys at the center of this sexy new novel by Neil S. Plakcy. Alexei Dubernin, the teenaged son of a Russian count longs to paint like his Impressionist idols. This desire brings him in contact with the Russian maestro Fyodor Luschenko in Nice, France, in 1912, as the Russian aristocracy celebrates its last few years of prosperity on the Riviera. Lusc There are three Russian boys at the center of this sexy new novel by Neil S. Plakcy. Alexei Dubernin, the teenaged son of a Russian count longs to paint like his Impressionist idols. This desire brings him in contact with the Russian maestro Fyodor Luschenko in Nice, France, in 1912, as the Russian aristocracy celebrates its last few years of prosperity on the Riviera. Luschenko paints an erotic portrait of Alexei, called Le Jeune Homme Russe, or The Russian Boy, which is received with scandal, then acclaim. Then, in the present day, the painting is stolen while being restored-- by another Russian boy, an art student in Paris named Dmitri Baranov. Dmitri's desperation to remain in Paris after his fellowship ends leads him into unsavory company, bringing him, and the painting, back to the Cote d'Azur, where someone is willing to stop at nothing-- including murder-- to possess this magnificent work of art. Hard on Dmitri's trail, and that of the painting, is his boyfriend, American art student Taylor Griffin, and Rowan McNair, a disgraced former professor of art history turned art detective. Partners change, affairs are begun and ended, and dead bodies appear with a disturbing regularity. In alternating narrations, Alexei, Dmitri, Taylor and Rowan tell the story of the painting, its theft, and a series of love affairs between older men and their younger protégés. By turns sexy, dangerous and romantic, The Russian Boy is a story of love and art that spans the ages.

30 review for The Russian Boy

  1. 5 out of 5

    Isa K.

    Let me ask you something: Who is the main character of The Russian Boy? Is it snarky, cruelly pragmatic Dmitri, an art student turned art thief who most of the plot revolves around? Is it his nimble and smooth talking American boyfriend, Taylor? Is it even Rowan, the down-on-his luck, art historian/private eye who is pursuing them and the artwork Dmitri stole? Hell if I know. It's difficult to think of The Russian Boy as a romance. Too much time is spent split between too many characters and all of Let me ask you something: Who is the main character of The Russian Boy? Is it snarky, cruelly pragmatic Dmitri, an art student turned art thief who most of the plot revolves around? Is it his nimble and smooth talking American boyfriend, Taylor? Is it even Rowan, the down-on-his luck, art historian/private eye who is pursuing them and the artwork Dmitri stole? Hell if I know. It's difficult to think of The Russian Boy as a romance. Too much time is spent split between too many characters and all of the relationships feel forced, contrived and under-developed. The narrator spends most of the book telling you that Dmitri and Taylor are not in love, they're not love interests! So stop wanting them it have a HEA reader! Stop it! I can feel you thinking about it!! Which is kind of unfortunate because Taylor and Dmitri's relationship was really the only compelling one in this hodgepodge of gay men. (Every single character in this book is gay. Every single one, even some of the minor characters! That must be some kind of statistical anomaly surely? I mean I know birds of a feather flock and all but GEEZ.) I really wanted to like The Russian Boy. It hits all my weaknesses: sexy slavs, homoeroticism, glamorous foreign locales, delicious sounding food.... (digressing......Mmmmmmmm~~) But I just couldn't. The characters were so irrational, their behavior towards each other so unsympathetic and sometimes just plain old fashion WTF? that it slowly drained any interest I had in them. (view spoiler)[I mean ... let me put it this way: You just found out that a young man you sent in to seduce information out of the evil villain is chained up in the basement and being repeatedly and violently raped. Do you A) Call the police B) Try to break in to rescue him or C) Leave him, update your love interest on the situation and then complain that your leg hurts and flirt while he gives you a rub down? ....... yeah, seriously *facepalm* (hide spoiler)] This book does kind of a weird bait and switch. It centers the plot around Dmitri, but then fails to provide Dmitri with a viable love interest and keeps smacking your hand when you reach for the obvious one. TAYLOR AND DMITRI ARE NOT IN LOVE OKAY? Forget that Taylor spends all the money he's saved up to try and track Dmitri down when he feels like Dmitri might be in trouble. Forget that it's Taylor that Dmitri turns to when things go wrong. Forget all the embracing they do when reunited. Forget that when he wants to set a seductive scene to bait a trap, Dmitri asks Taylor to dance with him. No ... instead Dmitri's love interest is this guy named Albin who ... well to call him a minor character would significantly inflate his importance. We know nothing about Albin, we spend no time with him, we're given no opportunity to see his relationship with Dmitri develop beyond Dmitri trading sex for some place to stay So we spend the first part of this book with Dmitri as our MC, getting to know him, hearing all about his backstory and then suddenly Dmitri is in love with Albin and the book shifts to being Rowan-centric. Rowan's love interest, if you haven't guessed by now, is Taylor. Actually I was receptive to the idea of Rowan and Taylor. They had potential, but the problem is that while this is going on you also have flashback scenes to the affair that produced the painting Dmitri has stolen. So for those of you keeping score at home, this book has THREE relationships competing for space and your attention at the same time. Four if you count Dmitri and Taylor despite the author's desperate attempts to convince you not too. It's just too much. None of these love stories seem even the slightest bit compelling or interesting. Top it off with mechanical and passionless sex scenes and I don't know what you're left with. Perhaps it would work if the mystery/thriller component was stronger, but I think that was the worse part of all. Here's an example: informant tells Rowan that he overheard minor baddie on his cellphone bragging about the stolen painting. Minor baddie briefly mentions needing it framed and informant knows only one person in Nice who would do such work, but he died three years ago. So rather than drawing any of the obvious conclusions everyone immediately realizes that so-and-so person MUST NOT BE DEAD AFTER ALL .... wtf? Seriously wtf? How is that in any way a rational conclusion to draw? No one else in the world can frame a stupid painting? (view spoiler)[And why does it seem the only thing one has to do to fake your death in Nice is .... move to a different house? (hide spoiler)] Yeah... On the bright side, this book was free!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    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 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 more 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

  3. 5 out of 5

    Will Lutes

    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 of 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 more 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.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jilrene

    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 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 more thievery follow. The men must work through all the twists and turns, some more 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.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Roger - president of NBR United -

    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 more. 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 wi 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 more. 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!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    I'm not sure about this one... to be honest, even the blurb exhausted me. FREE from Big Gay Fiction Giveaway! Nov 20-27th, 2026 I'm not sure about this one... to be honest, even the blurb exhausted me. FREE from Big Gay Fiction Giveaway! Nov 20-27th, 2026

  7. 4 out of 5

    Veronica of V's Reads

    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 st 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 night...or more. 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 more 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 more 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, more 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.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Terry

    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 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 more time could have been given to the main characters and fleshed them out more plus the ending seemed very short and ingenious as it was I would have liked a more "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.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Westbrooke Jameson

    This was well on it's way to being a favorite of mine. Then the author made a terrible mistake, in my opinion. (view spoiler)[He forces the reader to be present for both times Dmitri's is raped, and then, though we are told Dmitri is saved and that Albin will sponsor him so Dmitri can stay in Nice, we never see him again. (hide spoiler)] Given that Dmitri was a point of view character from the very beginning and had as much, if not more, stake in the outcome of the story as Rowan did -- and defi This was well on it's way to being a favorite of mine. Then the author made a terrible mistake, in my opinion. (view spoiler)[He forces the reader to be present for both times Dmitri's is raped, and then, though we are told Dmitri is saved and that Albin will sponsor him so Dmitri can stay in Nice, we never see him again. (hide spoiler)] Given that Dmitri was a point of view character from the very beginning and had as much, if not more, stake in the outcome of the story as Rowan did -- and definitely more than Taylor did -- I was greatly disappointed in this choice. I can understand and mourn how things ended for Alexi and Fyodor given their unforgiving historical setting (view spoiler)[(though at 19 I would have thrown a chair through the window and escaped), (hide spoiler)] but how things were left with Dmitri was simply wrong. I also have to mention that, though I do not tend to judge a book by its cover, this one was horrific simply because the entire book is plotted around a masterpiece of a painting. This man on the cover is nice enough, but I don't believe he represents any of the characters, nor does he come anywhere near to representing the art described within. Another bad choice, this time by the management.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Fangtasia

    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 promise...but 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 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 promise...but 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.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    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 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 more. 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 more relationship development in all three story lines. I did not feel connected to Alexei’s relationship at all and would have liked to know more 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.

  12. 4 out of 5

    George

    It is impossible to read a Neil Plakcy novel without learning something new about the history, culture, and societal norms of whatever setting in which he chooses to place his characters. His evocative descriptions of time, place, and locale lead the reader to believe he must have lived his entire life in whatever area of the world he’s chosen to write about. ‘The Russian Boy’, one of his lesser known and, to me at least, surprisingly underrated novels, is no exception. With three sets of older/you It is impossible to read a Neil Plakcy novel without learning something new about the history, culture, and societal norms of whatever setting in which he chooses to place his characters. His evocative descriptions of time, place, and locale lead the reader to believe he must have lived his entire life in whatever area of the world he’s chosen to write about. ‘The Russian Boy’, one of his lesser known and, to me at least, surprisingly underrated novels, is no exception. With three sets of older/younger lovers in multiple locations over two different time periods, I was immediately drawn into the mystery and intrigue of ‘The Russian Boy’. As the Goodreads narrative noted, ‘The Russian Boy’ is a story of love and art that spans the ages. I loved it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Erin (PT)

    I'm going to quote what I said about The Russian Boy in one of my Goodreads updates: this is one of those books that's not bad enough to quit, but is bad enough that you keep wondering why you keep going. And, unfortunately, it never gets any better, a story that didn't work for me on any level. First of all, Plakcy isn't what I'd consider a good writer. His style is very workmanlike and is all tell, no show. The parts where he describes the landscape read to me like it was cribbed from satellite I'm going to quote what I said about The Russian Boy in one of my Goodreads updates: this is one of those books that's not bad enough to quit, but is bad enough that you keep wondering why you keep going. And, unfortunately, it never gets any better, a story that didn't work for me on any level. First of all, Plakcy isn't what I'd consider a good writer. His style is very workmanlike and is all tell, no show. The parts where he describes the landscape read to me like it was cribbed from satellite views of Mapquest rather than genuinely invoking a sense of place or time. Sex scenes are mechanical and boring, peppered with unsexy language and weird details, like: "Rowan clamped his mouth on Taylor's kissing him with a lip lock that made both of them breath out of their noses." From the story's blurb, it would seem as though Dmitri, as one of the Russian boys in question, would be (one of) the story's protagonists, but from the way he's written, it doesn't seem like Plakcy even likes his own character that much, relegating Dmitri quickly to the background to focus instead on the two Americans, Taylor and Rowan, and generally writing Dmitri in the least flattering light. To be fair, none of the characters are sketched with a lot of depth or a lot of empathy. Even with his clear favorites, Taylor and Rowan, Plakcy doesn't give you a lot to hang your hat on; all the relationships are fast and facile, instant attraction that blooms into sustaining love with no real effort on anyone's part. It also falls into what I normally think of as fanfic tropes, in pairing off all the characters neatly and showing a world where a) there are no women to speak of and b) nearly everyone encountered in the story is gay. And, though in general, I love a good May-December romance, the fact that each of the young protagonist men is then paired off with an older lover feels weird and forced, a NAMBLA treatise rather than an actual romance, especially with the romances being so underdeveloped. And ultimately, I feel like The Russian Boy was a story that couldn't make up its mind about what it wanted to be. The blurb and it's arty European setting makes it seem like it's going to be a thriller/caper type of story, but the easy (and often banal) resolution of each obstacle of the mystery failed to sustain the feeling of tension and/or mystery you'd expect from that kind of story. The historical flashbacks illustrating the relationship that led to the genesis of The Russian Boy painting seemed like it was supposed to but failed to tie back in any meaningful way to the storyline in the current era. The main focus of the story would really seem to be the romances—between Luschenko & Alexei, Taylor & Rowan and Dmitri & Albin, but the story is so unfocused and all these relationships and characters so un- or under-developed, it's hard to care about any of them, their endings never in question. Honestly, there's a lack of dramatic suspense in every aspect of The Russian Boy that makes the story a long, hard and often boring plod towards its overly easy and convenient resolution. Plakcy first came to my attention as a recommendation by a friend for his Mahu series, but the books cost more than I wanted to spend at the time, on an unknown quantity. I'm glad I got to know his work through this freebie first, so I didn't waste the cash.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    My rating is just my personal opinion on the relationships covered in the book rather than the quality of the story. The writing was solid although the mystery was easily solved as was the conflict between the characters. I just find May/December romances very creepy and having not one but three in the same book increased my ick factor significantly. All the older men are late 40s to 50 and the younger men are in their 20s. If this doesn't bother you, it's not a terrible read. Another reviewer m My rating is just my personal opinion on the relationships covered in the book rather than the quality of the story. The writing was solid although the mystery was easily solved as was the conflict between the characters. I just find May/December romances very creepy and having not one but three in the same book increased my ick factor significantly. All the older men are late 40s to 50 and the younger men are in their 20s. If this doesn't bother you, it's not a terrible read. Another reviewer mentioned the mechanical sex scenes and I have to agree. They weren't at all steamy just matter of fact and kind of dry.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Drianne

    Well, this was... surprisingly different from the Mahu books. A lot (a *lot*) of explicit scenes, and some insta-love (why, I don't know, given all the age differences and mercenary attitude towards sex, and it's not that that's bad per se, but it wasn't what I expectd), and a gross non-con scene, and I was mostly just disappointed that the painting referred to is not real. Not surprised, because you do not paint male nudes even semi-erect pre-WWI (or afterward, for that matter) and so that desc Well, this was... surprisingly different from the Mahu books. A lot (a *lot*) of explicit scenes, and some insta-love (why, I don't know, given all the age differences and mercenary attitude towards sex, and it's not that that's bad per se, but it wasn't what I expectd), and a gross non-con scene, and I was mostly just disappointed that the painting referred to is not real. Not surprised, because you do not paint male nudes even semi-erect pre-WWI (or afterward, for that matter) and so that description ruined the verisimilitude, but I would much rather have read about a *real* gay male historical painter. It's not like there weren't lots?

  16. 4 out of 5

    Logan

    Intriguing and unique plot following the theft of a very provocative piece of art. The author weaves together the story of the theft with the creation of the painting, and while I wasn't all that interested in the historical side, it was a nice way to add meaning to the story. I thought the painter was too surly and icky to like all that much, so I much preferred the present day activities. Rowan and Taylor had a very sweet romance that I loved. While Dmitri wasn't the nicest of the bunch, he al Intriguing and unique plot following the theft of a very provocative piece of art. The author weaves together the story of the theft with the creation of the painting, and while I wasn't all that interested in the historical side, it was a nice way to add meaning to the story. I thought the painter was too surly and icky to like all that much, so I much preferred the present day activities. Rowan and Taylor had a very sweet romance that I loved. While Dmitri wasn't the nicest of the bunch, he also took a fair amount of abuse, and I couldn't help but root for him to find some happiness.

  17. 5 out of 5

    P Leslie

    *I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book. All opinion stated are solely my own and no one else's* Unfortunately, this book wasn't for me. There were too many characters, nothing was explored properly and the story was flat. I really tried to get into the book but I just didn't get drawn in by the characters or the story. *I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book. All opinion stated are solely my own and no one else's* Unfortunately, this book wasn't for me. There were too many characters, nothing was explored properly and the story was flat. I really tried to get into the book but I just didn't get drawn in by the characters or the story.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Deric

    I found this a compelling read, immersion in the characters happened easily.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    I tried so hard to like this book, but with too many characters and not enough sex it just didn't keep my interests. I tried so hard to like this book, but with too many characters and not enough sex it just didn't keep my interests.

  20. 4 out of 5

    K

    Chosen as a prize in the M/M Group's birthday celebration Chosen as a prize in the M/M Group's birthday celebration

  21. 5 out of 5

    Gary

  22. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Tufts

  23. 5 out of 5

    Biljana

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dana Mihalcea

  25. 5 out of 5

    Katarina

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tim Brehme

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kalani Konani

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alian345

  29. 5 out of 5

    Val

  30. 4 out of 5

    john m salerno

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