Knives in her nylons. Guns in her minks. What film noir movie worth its salt would be complete without a bad girl (a.k.a. a femme fatale)? Yes, that’s what I’m binge-watching this weekend. It is fascinating to witness these deadly women in action in the movies of the 1940s and 1950s. We’re talking women like Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity, Lana Turner in The Postman Always Rings Twice, Jane Greer in Out of the Past. Their macho leading men simply didn’t stand a chance. Using all the seductive charms of a black widow spider, they lured their prey (oops, I mean men) down the twisted path to death, destruction, or both. Oh–as a special mention, let’s not forget Audrey Totter in Tension.
Granted, given the climate of the times, film noir did show women who wielded a certain kind of power, and for actresses, the role of a villainess was usually the juicier part in such movies. These scheming women wanted something for themselves. Of course, by the end of the movie, the femme fatale winds up dead or in prison. If the production code hadn’t been nailed in place back then, a different ending could have happened in Double Indemnity: Fred MacMurray would have dumped Barbara Stanwyck and gone back to Edward G. Robinson on his knees, begging his forgiveness for cheating on him. That actually was the true love story in the movie, which required us to read between the lines.
On the romantic side, I had the pleasure of reading Ian Finn’s romance novel, Opposing Briefs (and yes, the MCs do get into each other’s briefs!). This is M/M romance of the enemies-to-lovers variety. Logan Daniels is an attractive, well-built man in his early thirties, an assistant district attorney for New York County, out and proud, cares about his friends, passionate about his causes, and advocate of justice for the everyman. His love life, on the other hand, leaves something to be desired. Given his track record with his last boyfriends, matchmaking guru Patti Stanger would most likely say, “Your picker is off.” Or could it be that, being a child of divorce, he is so afraid of getting hurt that he mentally sabotages himself?
On the other side of the courtroom aisle, we have Andrew Patterson. 6’5″, in his late thirties, practically built like Superman, cool, calm, confident in the courtroom. Did I also mention jaw-dropping handsome? Alas, Andrew is a defense attorney whose clients are entitled, white-collar criminals who care only about money, themselves, and making things go away. Needless to say, losing a case to Andrew does nothing to endear Logan, and having Andrew’s law firm as a competitor in the New York City Marathon only makes the animosity worse.
A look behind the curtain, however, reveals Andrew’s personal life as a hot mess. A controlling, golddigging wife, a homophobic boss, emotionally distant and controlling parents. Put it in the oven, set for 350 degrees, and the result: a repressed man in a climate-controlled closet complete with a security code. That is, until he falls in love with Logan.
It’s true, in the course of true love a person has to “look under the hood,” be willing to be vulnerable, and examine themselves. In that process, they find strength. Ian Finn does this with heat (there’s an abundance of that), heart, and humor. Logan and Andrew certainly got by with a lot of help from friends like Matt, Brooke, and Amanda. The growth of the couple was satisfying, and I was rooting for them at the HEA. I also loved the fact that this was a couple who was thirty-plus.
So, all you M/M romance lovers out there, here’s another one to check out at your local Amazon/Barnes & Noble library.