About the Book
Title: Oscar Down Under: Part One
Author: Jack Ladd
Length: 211 pages
Publication Date: 23 August, 2017
Categories: Gay, Contemporary, Erotica
A Finalist in the 2017 Rainbow Awards for Best Gay Book and Best Debut Fiction, Oscar Down Under: Part One, is a contemporary erotic tale of self-discovery teaching us how miserable life can be when we are selfish and self-centred, and how fulfilling it becomes when we open our hearts and minds.
Once a jaded user of people and substances, Oscar is now a handsome and successful thirty-something in love. But before he can commit to his new man, he’s forced to reflect on his troubled past, and figure out if he’s truly changed from the manipulative, damaged boy he once was.
This is where we meet Oscar, fourteen years earlier at twenty-one, with a bad reputation and worse proclivity for lying to others and himself. One hungover Saturday morning trawling through Grindr he meets David, a tall, handsome Aussie living in London who, with the right coercion, offers him far more than the free meal he’d hoped for.
But, he soon finds out that travelling to the other side of the planet, to sunny, scorching Sydney, isn’t enough to escape his demons. And, by telling his greatest lie to date, he learns the toughest but most valuable lesson of his life.
Set across London, Edinburgh and Sydney, ODU#1, is a lush, sensory experience exploring the intrinsic need we all feel to grow and learn, and how no matter what we’ve done or has happened to us, it’s never too late to change.
Based on true events.
I don’t generally read books categorized as erotica. Meaning, I don’t seek them out or purchase them intentionally. My typical response to suggestions that I try some is usually a non-committal mumble. So when this one crossed my desk, tagged with erotica, I’ll admit my first reaction was a pretty firm eye-roll. Until I read the blurb.
This is absolutely not a typical erotic novel. Is there a lot of very descriptive sex? Yes. But this is distinctly what I would call literary erotica, meaning it blends the two genres heavily (and expertly). I freely admit to not being invested in the sex, but the story itself is compelling. Once started it was hard to put down.
Oscar is just about the most lovable yet unlikable character I’ve ever encountered. Older-Oscar, who we meet in the first pages, is gentle and kind. Younger-Oscar, on the other hand, is probably the sort of person I’d have stayed far away from even at his age. He’s self-absorbed, mildly arrogant, and frankly irritating. And yet, there is something underneath all that, a sweetness even his bad-boy play-acting can’t entirely cover. That’s the person I wanted to see succeed.
I have virtually no complaints about this book, even with my apathy toward graphic sex. Those scenes fit perfectly and pushed the plot forward. Make no mistake, this is a heavily character-driven story. The whole purpose is for us to see and experience Oscar’s personal growth.
With the exception of the couple of brief scenes of Older-Oscar at the beginning and end, the entire story takes place in a matter of days. It’s Younger-Oscar’s wake up call, his motivation to mature beyond partying and shallow encounters designed to prevent him from having to think or feel. The process is gut-wrenching, sometimes painful to watch and other times marvelously cathartic.
It’s a given that anyone who has been in Oscar’s shoes can relate to this. What surprised me was how easy it was to relate as someone who does not share any general traits with him. The push-pull of wanting to be better while secretly believing it to be impossible is familiar to many people and situations. By the end, I mostly wanted to give Oscar a hug and tell him that he is worth far more than he thinks he is.
For a compelling voice, flawless writing, and a story that left me a better person for having read it, this gets 10/10 fountain pens.
About the Author
Jack Ladd was born in the UK, grew up in a small English town and fled to Sydney, Australia, as soon as he could. There he spent many years discovering the world, the people who call it home, and, most importantly, himself. Oscar and his adventures are based on true events.