Published by: Riptide Publishing
Genre: BDSM Erotic Romance
Reviewed by: Erin
What to expect: Featuring: A well-dressed hare, an even better-dressed pony, killer training montages, and the long-awaited appearance of Fucktopus.
Plot: Look, I’ll never stop missing Hal, but this Subs Club my friends started to review suck-ass doms isn’t gonna bring him back or give him justice. For me, it’s just another chance to hang out with my friends, even if they think I’m too dumb to understand the important work we’re supposedly doing.
But maybe I’m not as dumb as they think—at least I know when I’ve got a good thing going. Which is why I just moved in with my dom. Ryan’s awesome possum. He’s really short, never makes me feel stupid, and is up for anything. One word: costumes. Two more words: women’s underwear. We’re all about the lace, no leather.
Except when we do pony play. We first tried it as a joke, but turns out I’m ballin’ at it. Now PetPlayFest is coming up, and I wanna take down the Subs Club’s archrival, Cinnamon the ponygirl, in the horse show.
My friends think I’m spending too much time with Ryan and ignoring my obligations to the group. But since when is friendship an obligation? Ryan’s my first serious relationship, and I want to take it . . . seriously. At some point I need to think about my future, not my past.
Review: JA Rock’s sublime Manties in a Twist follows Kamen, the big, happy-go-lucky jock of the Subs Club crew, and his boyfriend Ryan. Ryan is short, irritable, and impulsive. Kamen loves his town, his friends, and his mom. He’s happy with his job and just plain loves life. This story follows what happens after the HEA: How do Kamen and Ryan learn to live together on their own, as adults? How do they navigate young adulthood while still keeping the “young” in the adulthood? Rock nails this phase of life perfectly; from the epic Bed Bath & Beyond trips to the challenges of merging friend groups, to the goofy-yet-perfect painting of a well-dressed hare having pride of place in their apartment.
If I listed or quoted all of the delightful, spot-on character, setting, and dialogue moments, we’d be here all day. Simply put, JA Rock has a gift with words. Not one word is filler or misplaced. She manages to weave total silliness with this solid, profoundly realistic core of meaningful human experience. These books are wonderfully inexplicable until you read them: okay, the book features pony play, a character named Fucktopus, and the funniest goddamned watersports scene you could ever hope for, but it’s anchored by the exploration of Kamen and Ryan’s relationship, as well as Kamen’s friendships with the rest of the Subs Club.
The plot revolves around Kamen and Ryan learning pony play to compete against Cinnamon, the very best pony on the kink scene, at PetPlayFest. At first they’re just doing it to show her up, but they end up taking it more and more seriously. These scenes are wonderfully funny, awkward, and touching. The final scenes at PetPlayFest are…I howled laughing through the whole thing. I was making squeaking and giggling noises out loud and I didn’t care who was looking at me. And the beautiful thing about these books is that nobody is ever the butt of the joke. The humor is situational and witty, without ever feeling like we’re laughing AT someone, no matter what their kink is. These books are always so kind.
There are multiple subplots, involving the rest of the Subs Club’s relationship with Ryan, Ryan’s frustrations and dissatisfactions with life, and Kamen’s relationship with his parents. We also get to see the rest of the club and their significant others, including several hysterical conversations with D, who remains my favorite character of all time.
Hal, their friend who died before the start of the series, remains a strong presence. Kamen is not all light and joy, and we see him working through and processing Hal’s death in his own way. His friends assume he’s unaffected, but that’s clearly not the case. I am so looking forward to Gould’s book, 24/7, to see how this process is continued with him.
In summary: If you’re not reading this series because kink isn’t necessarily your jam, please reconsider. It wasn’t mine, and I am so in love with these books, JA Rock’s writing, and these wonderful characters.
What you may not like: Lots and lots of kink, though much less hardcore than in other books. There is a scene where the characters discuss a rape that happened at a kink club in some detail, so avoid if that is triggering for you.
What you will love: Brilliant, precise, hysterical writing; wonderful friendships, realistic young adulthood; humor, kindness, and joy in every page.