Ethan is having the worst run of bad luck. On graduating in the top of his class in accounting, he takes a contract with the mining colony of Ore 5, but on his arrival after the two year journey in cryo-sleep he finds he's been downsized out of the promised positon. To add insult to injury, the severance isn't enough to cover the cost of a return journey to earth. Then they put him up in worker accommodation where one of the miners attempts to rape him in the showers. Trying to cheer him up, the one friend Ethan has managed to make takes him to Black Ryder, one of the most popular clubs featuring male dancers. The owner of the club, Ryder himself, catches Ethan's eye. Ryder catches everyone's eye. He could have anyone he wants, so why would he be interested in overweight Ethan? It turns out Ryder has his own problems, including the need for a new accountant and inventory manager.
“Roughnecks and Butterflies” is the first book in a new series by the author of The Cubi books. Like the other series, which is still on-going, this one manages to wring more out of the story than the blurb might suggest. Ethan and Ryder are two very interesting and complex characters, so it's a good thing we'll have more stories to get to know them better.
Ethan is probably the one we get to know best in this book. He's not your typical gay romantic leading man. He's a little flabby rather than well-built or an impossibly beautiful twink. His experiences with bullying and the resulting emotional damage is entirely relatable. Ethan is a character I can easily identify with, perhaps a little too easily. Ryder is a little harder to understand. Even after he opens up at the end, I still found it hard to figure out what was driving him. Maybe it will become clearer in future installments.
This first book of the series ends in a good place. It gets Ethan and Ryder together (not much of a spoiler, I think), as well as introducing a few other people that will probably continue to play key supporting roles as the series goes on. It also feels like a few seeds have been planted that will grow into new challenges for the men in future books. Given how rich The Cubi series has become from relatively humble beginnings, I have high hopes that Ore 5 will eventually match it.
“Roughnecks and Butterflies” is available from Amazon.