Reviewed by Gwen Masters
When I looked at the cover of Hard Hats: Gay Erotic Stories, it took me back to one of my very first fetishes. I’ve always had a thing for men with big muscles, lots of brawn, and more than a little attitude. Maybe it comes from the unique pleasure of growing up on construction sites, watching those big muscles work and hearing those deep voices shout over the roar of machinery. Or perhaps I just like the idea of a shirtless man, working up a good and honest sweat, handling those tools like he was born to build something strong and sturdy.
Two of those men, or even more of those men, together...doing naughty things...well, let’s just say that if reincarnation does exist and I get to come back for another life, I want to be a construction boss.
The cover of Hard Hats is a succulent taste of what’s inside -- a big, broad, shirtless man (oh, God, yes), with a mischievous smile. Handsome. Sweaty. Wearing a hard hat, of course.
All of the stories in this fantastic collection live up to the promise of the cover. There are chance encounters, like Rob Rosen’s “Hammered and Nailed.” There are drawn-out seductions, like the tempting “Fantasy Man” by Aaron Michaels. There are threesomes, like the sexy romp in G. Russell Overton’s “Live Wire.” The action slows to allow for a bit of tenderness and first times, like the tale of “High-Speed Connection” by Dalton. After reading the first few stories, it’s obvious -- pardon the pun, but his book has every kind of manly sex under the rainbow.
Some stories in the book are standouts, not only for the variety of sex but for the creativity in getting there. One of my favorites is “Constructional Voodoo” by Logan Zachary, where a writer meets a construction worker with the aid of an action figure who has a supernatural ability to make a hot sweaty man do whatever he wants. The final line of the story made me burst out laughing. It’s not the kind of twist you would expect to find in a book about men who wear hard hats, and even among the gems in this book, it’s a breath of fresh air.
That’s not the only surprise in the collection. I never expected to find a foot fetish in a book about tough construction guys, but that’s exactly what is served up in “Foot Bridge.” Just when I thought all the angles of construction jobs had been covered, along comes a chimney sweep in “Sooty” by T. Hitman. Funny, I never thought of a chimney sweep to be a sexy job, but you can bet that from here on out, I’ll look differently at the guy who comes to haul my ashes. Ahem.
Another keeper is “An Office Romance” by William Holden. It’s hard to pull off a sexual encounter where the characters can’t touch each other -- even harder to pull it off when the characters can’t hear each other’s voices. But that’s exactly what happens. One on the inside, one on the outside, a thick layer of high-rise glass between them, and what happens is enough to steam up the windows. The sexy voyeurism is made even hotter by the desperate need to touch, and the knowledge that it is entirely impossible.
“Glory Days” by Laura Bacchi is one of the best stories I’ve read in a while. The sex is hot, but what’s hotter is the emotional back-and-forth between former lovers. It’s obvious that things ended badly between the two men, and now there is that razor-sharp current of bitterness, as well as the difficult “should we try again?” issues. The story beautifully portrays that complicated mixture of dread and hope.
Editor Neil Plakcy has put together a collection of erotica that has everything from sensual lovemaking to down and dirty smut, and every one of the stories is filled with hard-bodied men whose desires practically burst from the page. Plakcy knows that of which he edits -- he is a former construction site boss. (I can’t help but wonder what he would look like in a tool belt...)
I think Hard Hats might have scarred me for life, to be honest. I can’t look my plumber in the eye anymore. I can’t talk to the guy who does my yard without wondering what he does on his days off. Hell, even the guy up on that ladder next door makes me wonder...well, all sorts of things I probably shouldn’t be wondering. I can’t walk past a construction site without giving a wolf-whistle to the stud in steel-toe boots and dirty jeans.
If this collection ever produces a sequel, I won’t be fit to leave the house.