Greetings everyone! Sorry for being a bit late, as there were things I had do deal with in the morning. Hopefully you’re having a great time and are ready to read about gorgeous men engaging in adult stuff. I sure am! Today’s title was decided last minute, but it’s the work of an artist I love and I’ll try my best to get you in on the hype train. Let’s go.
Title: Under My Skin
Author & Artist: Usui Iroha
Status: Complete, 1 volume.
Where to read: You can find buying options on ShuCream’s website!
Drinking after work on Fridays, socializing with your co-workers, evening out the numbers in mixers. The events that you have to follow through to some degree even though you don’t enjoy them because otherwise, you stand out. You know, the trials and tribulations of working in an office. This is what puts Kudou into a dilemma; not wanting to participate because he isn’t interested in mingling one bit, but not wanting to be the unsociable or the outcast who isn’t invited out either. So this time, he accepts the mixer invitation because he has no clue that it’ll turn out to be a life-changing experience. Yet.
Enter Satou. Good-looking, well-mannered and well-built, a carpenter. He’s the only guy in the mixer who can rival Kudou, but for some reason, even though they sit in the same row, Kudou feels like their eyes meet a little too often. He could let it slide and focus on the conversation going on, but Satou becomes hard to ignore when they come across each other while the carpenter is out for a smoke. “The teacher, is he your type? Or is it… someone like me?”
You might not be a stranger to Usui Iroha‘s works as both More Than Just the Physical and I’m the Only One Who Knows Your Body are already licensed in English. Earlier this year, ShuCream has released their first batch of English licenses and Under My Skin was among other titles such as Ask and You Will Receive by Niyama or Wails of the Bound by Kusabi Keri and purchasing some of these releases, I’m very happy to see the great care and thought that went into these releases.
I might have mentioned it before, but I LOVE blue-collar x white-collar pairings a lot, even though the work aspect is usually secondary to romance in single-volume BLs. Not only because of different work attire (I drool over that too), but also the difference between work environments, and at times, the difference in their physical builds makes this pairing quite interesting. Under My Skin is a getting-together story, meaning the focus is again more on Satou and Kudou, however, there are little bits where they talk about work or we get to see Satou in his workshop and these small details made my heart flutter. And the desperate need for a second volume was suddenly there.
Kudou is a character who strictly plays by the book. His not being interested in a romantic relationship comes from being emotionally closed off and distant, for reasons we find out later on in the chapter. Hence, Satou functions as the catalyst to Kudou embracing a side of him that’s human, vulnerable, and worthy of love. In that sense, although we learn as to why he chose his profession, I wished we could get to know Satou personally a bit more as well. Sounds like a problem that can be solved with a continuation *peeks at the publishers*.
The “straight man” trope in BL is understandably not everyone’s favorite, including me. It’s a trope that, if handled well, can be very intriguing as an ‘exploring the self’ type of story, however, more often than not it leads to redundant and uninteresting denial of sexual identity. It was a nice change to read a character like Kudou whose dilemma lies not in his sexual identity, but emotional unavailability. He does claim to be ‘straight’ at the beginning of the story, which is in line with his viewpoint of relationships in general. But very soon he resigns to how good his first time with Satou feels, and that’s the kind of satisfaction he’s looking for in sex.
The art style of Usui Iroha, as you can see, is clean and crisp to perfection. It’s very easy to fall for these men, all it takes is a single glance. One detail I appreciate is the way characters gaze at each other, and I don’t know how Usui-sensei does it but, how the gaze itself is sexy and full of desire. I recall having several existential crises over Satou’s eyes piercing into my soul. Certainly not for the faint heart (a.k.a me).
One thing I should mention before I wrap up, I asked people if they would consider Satou and Kudou’s first time having sex together in Chapter 1 as dub-con. The results were heavily on the ‘no’ side, and although I wouldn’t consider it as dub-con either, I understand that it might raise eyebrows. Just wanted to point that out before you decide to purchase the volume.
Under My Skin is a title I’ve already read a couple of times and enjoyed greatly. If you’re looking for engaging main characters and a well-paced narrative, a story that’s both wholesome and sexy to the max, and my thoughts above seem like they’d work for you as well, I cannot recommend this title enough. Let me know whether you’d be willing to pick it up or what did you think about it if you’ve already read it yourself and see you soon!
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