Review: Apple Polisher

Apple Polisher is the first book in the Rear Entrance Video series by Heidi Belleau. Some of the Wenches might know Belleau as the co-author of the Flesh Cartel, a gritty and dark series about sex trafficking. If one were to compare the two series, Apple Polisher takes a left turn, buys a black market passport from a shady back room, then rapidly flees from the country that is the Flesh Cartel.

In Apple Polisher, set in Vancouver, Christian is in school to become a teacher. As such, he's on something of a probationary period, where he must show that he is of upstanding moral character, which includes dressing as a teacher would dress on a day-to-day basis, excelling in his schoolwork, never being late to class, and any number of other things determined at the whim of his teachers and advisor. And so Christian makes the decision to stay in the closet; being a teacher is important to him, and he won't do anything to risk this opportunity.

Christian moves into a house with four roommates, Noah, Austin, Rob, and Max. Five college-age men living in close quarters, living paycheck to paycheck, sharing food, clothes, and getting closer than any of them ever thought. Oh, wait. This isn't that kind of book. Just kidding! But don't worry, dear readers, Apple Polisher promises plenty of sexy times. It just actually has a plot, too.

Click through the jump to read more about Apple Polisher and find out what it's really about.

Back to the story. Christian's mother lives in Jamaica, and Christian's only family in Vancouver is his aunt, who is ill with cancer. In order to help her, he starts working in her video rental store to keep it afloat. In her porn video store, Rear Entrance Video. Shilling porn and sex toys won't exactly score him points if his school finds out.

The story centers around Christian and roommate Max. Max is more of a free spirit, and challenges Christian on why he is putting up a false front in order to achieve his goals (being in the closet, wearing clothes he doesn't want to wear, etc). Christian makes a fair number of assumptions about Max, Max makes a fair number of assumptions about Christian, conflict arises from those assumptions, and more conflict (then resolution) arises when they both find out they've been wrong about each other.

I have to be honest. Christian frustrated the hell out of me. I thought he was pretentious and worried too much about appearances. For example, when he first arrives at the home he is hoping to rent and finds it a bit run down (as, I don't know, most housing that college students can afford tends to be), he reacts:
Nobody answered the door, though, so Christian was left to stand around and scrutinize the stained-glass window above his head. Which could use a few replacement planes, a couple hours of elbow grease, and a bottle or two of glass cleaner. He sighed.

This is all you can afford now, he said to himself again. Maybe he'd get it tattooed on himself, like some people got fortifying tattoos like
This too shall pass, or Not all who wander are lost, or that twee Lord grant me the strength poem that somebody had been so kind as to lovingly cross-stitch and hang in a place of prominence on the chemotherapy clinic wall.

At last, a series of clicks came from inside the door, four locks in all from top to bottom: the sign of a house broken into with depressing frequency. Christian stood straighter and tried to wipe the expression of disapproval—this is all you can afford now—off his face before the door finally opened a crack.

I was definitely on Team Max in this book. Which made for an interesting reading experience. Christian was likable. He's a good kid in a bad situation, making bad choices albeit with good intentions. But as I read, I consistently identified with Max, a secondary character, but I never get anything from Max's perspective or POV. I only get the POV from the character who frustrates both of us. I understand where Christian is coming from, even if I don't agree with him; and I think Max is feeling the same way. I wonder if that was intentional on Belleau's part? I mean, I should be identifying with Christian and annoyed with Max because Max doesn't "get it," and wondering why Max is being such an asshole all the time. Except I was usually wondering why Christian wasn't "getting it," and why Christian was being so obtuse all the time.

Overall, Apple Polisher was an enjoyable read, fairly light and quick. I received an early copy from Riptide Publishing through for review purposes. It releases to the general public on July 29th and would make a great beach book for fans of m/m.  Wall Flower, the second book in the series, releases on October 21st.

This Wench rated it:

I'd love to know if anyone else had a similar reading experience. What did you think of Christian? Of Max? What about the other roommates? With this being the first book in the series, which roommate are you most looking forward to reading about?


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