Feb 1 2014 10:00am

First Look: L.A. Witt and Aleksandr Voinov’s Payoff (February 3, 2014)

Payoff by L.A. Witt and Aleksandr VoinovL.A. Witt and Aleksandr Voinov
Riptide / February 3, 2014 / $2.99 digital

Tristan and Jared have got it made. When they aren’t raking in the cash together at Market Garden, they’re burning up their own sheets and getting closer by the day. But something isn’t right. Tristan’s on edge, and Jared doesn’t understand why.

Before they can hash things out, their services are requested by none other than Rolex. And Rolex doesn’t just want to be a bystander this time. He wants Jared while Tristan watches, and he’s more than willing to pay for it.

But Tristan’s reached a breaking point, and even that huge wad of cash might not be enough to keep tonight’s arrangement from crashing and burning.

In the Market Garden series, L.A. Witt and Aleksandr Voinov explore the lives and loves of sex workers in London. The series follows many different characters as they work, make friends, live, and find love. While the books can stand individually, reading them all in order is recommended. This is the best way to understand the Market Garden and how it works.

Payoff is the sixth book, and features Tristan and Jared, two rentboys who became romantically involved in an earlier book in the series.  Tristan and Jared work by the hour at the Market Garden, often doing threesomes with clients, performing together, teasing and pleasing clients in a variety of ways. Tristan, the more dominant of the pair, charges johns a lot of money when they want to see Tristan and Jared together, and the two workers are becoming very popular. Money is rolling in. Yet, things are now different between the two, their new relationship having changed the dynamics of their working relationship.

From the beginning of Payoff, it is apparent that there is a problem between Tristan and Jared.

What is your problem? Jared wanted to ask, but concentrated on pulverizing the rest of the melting ice. This wasn’t Tristan’s first cold silence. In fact, Jared was starting to expect it whenever he went out with a john on his own. Every damned time, he came back to forced smiles and awkward silences.

Jared isn’t sure what to do. He is happy with his growing relationship with Tristan but is having trouble dealing with Tristan’s surly attitude. But before Jared can come to any concrete conclusions, one of their repeat clients walks into the Market Garden—Rolex.

Rolex is the john responsible for first asking Tristan and Jared to work together, having paid the two workers to have sex while he watched. He has been a repeat customer who pays handsomely for the privilege. And on this night, Rolex doesn’t want his usual. He is in the mood for something different.

“All right,” Tristan said, still locking eyes with Rolex. “What’s your pleasure, then?”
“Something I thought about all the way across the Atlantic.” Rolex’s gaze slid towards Jared, then back towards Tristan. “Watching you guys is hot, but I think I’m in the mood to be watched tonight.” Jared’s heart sped up. Tristan didn’t give any outward reaction. As always, he seemed bored by the discussion, but Jared had long ago learnt that was just part of his game. He played johns with the most skilled poker face Jared had ever seen.
Watched?” Tristan casually picked up his drink. “Doing . . . ?” Rolex nodded towards Jared. “Him.” And Tristan choked on his soda.

Despite his reaction, Tristan tells Rolex that this request will cost dearly. Rolex has a wad of cash and is willing to pay whatever to get his hands on Jared. After some additional negotiations, the three head out to Rolex’s hotel room. But Tristan is still off. There is a thick tension between him and Jared, and Jared is constantly questioning Tristan’s reactions. Things come to a head when Rolex prepares to have sex with Jared and Tristan reacts in an unexpected fashion.

Falling in love with each other has changed Tristan and Jared, and has changed the way they feel about their work in the Market Garden. Payoff is a book that looks at their changing relationship and what that relationship means for their job as sex workers. This is a book that will make readers think and give them a positive and sensitive look into the sex industry.


Jennifer Porter, a mild-mannered librarian by day, runs the review site Romance Novel News and is a compulsive romance reader. She has a tendency to live tweet her craziest reads as @JenniferRNN

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