TOBIN FOR HIRE
Russ is looking SMOOTH in his patterned shirt and bell-bottoms. Mayflower have dispensed with the blondes and paired him up with a brunette in a maid's uniform. As Russ DOES become initimate with a brown-haired maid in the book, this almost makes up for the unforgiveable inaccuracy of the Tobin In Trouble book cover. 8/10
TOBIN'S IN TORONTO AND GIVING IT HIS (MONTRE)ALL! Russ, along with his Aussie bosom pal, Buzz Malone, takes Canada by storm in this his ninth naughty escapade. Where there are beautiful women and wide open spaces Tobin's there and abreast of it all! So when Russ gets taken on by Hire-A-Guy anything is likely to happen - AND DOES! "...there stood the most voluptuous Fairy Queen I've ever clapped eyes on. She was gorgeous..." AND DOES! "...This was no ordinary wedding. This one was between a couple of fellas!..." AND DOES! "...two lovely birds in one household, each not only fond of it but downright KEEN on it! Unbelievable..." YES RUSS, UNBELIEVABLE BUT TRUE!
The story carries straight on from Tobin in Trouble with Russ waking up the next morning on Christmas Eve in Toronto. Russ and Buzz are staying at the King Edward Hotel (Notable for being where John & Yoko stayed immediately prior to their bed-in for peace in 1969. Other famous guests include Elvis Presley and Rudolph Valentino). He's been given a job by Greg Douglas' Hire-A-Guy agency (Greg is a pal of Buzz Malone) and Russ is about to commence his first day's work as Santa Claus at Simpsons Department Store (which Stan erroneously says is on the corner of King and Yonge - but he meant Queens and Yonge. King and Yonge is about 100 yards from the King Edward Hotel so Russ wouldn't have had to get a taxi there!). Unsurprisingly, Russ quickly gets friendly with his Fairy Queen Lily and stays the night with her, waking up on Christmas morning to see her off on the train to her family home in Ontario (do trains run on Xmas Day in Canada??). Russ returns to the hotel for a touching scene where he and Buzz exchange surprise gifts, despite their friendship only being 4 days old! Buzz announces that they've been invited to have Christmas lunch at an ice-skating party thrown by Greg Douglas, where a nasty skating accident sees him being "patched up" by Dominque De Neve. The rest of Christmas Day is spent "exchanging gifts" with Dominique and watching mucky films. Russ's prowess earns him a recommendation and before he knows it - he is being called on Boxing Day evening by Lucille Koeller-Jurling asking him to pay her a visit the following day at 8pm. Oh and Dominique has let him borrow a Cadillac!? Some guys have all the luck hey? Before he can get to Lucille's though, his next job is in the afternoon as a Barman at a gay wedding. Buzz heads off to Victoria, as Russ heads to the wedding, where even the guys can't keep their eyes of the HUNK that is Tobin. Unfortunately Russ gets in to trouble with a jealous boyfriend and ends up locked in yet another room, making him two hours late for Lucille. It matters not as he soon gets to do more than odd jobs for her, and even gets invited back the next day, only to find Lucille is out of town, but her maid - Brigitte is only too keen to get her slice of Russ. On the 29th December Russ returns for the third day of "work" at Lucille's. She is awaiting a $2m divorce settlement and is being spied on by her adulterous ex-husband who wants to catch her with another man so he can avoid paying out. Russ posing as a handyman is an elaborate ruse which finally goes wrong when the ex storms the house mid-action. Russ nearly dies from heat exhaustion whilst hiding in the Turkish Bath but then escapes via the bedroom window and manages to find Brigitte, then deliberately getting caught in bed with her instead. Lucille's settlement is safe, but Russ has to be ceremonially turfed out in order to keep up the pretence. He returns to the hotel, knackered, happy and wondering how his next job will pan out.
On Page 11 - Russ first sets eyes on his gorgeous Fairy Queen - Lily Long
It's Page 30 and Santa gets a lunch break - needless to say he takes his Fairy Queen into the back room and they take full advantage of the privacy...
On Page 37 Russ and Lily discover that, as well as an incredible sexual chemistry, they also share a mutual love of Vodka Tonics
Page 5. Russ immediately recaps on recent events to ease the reader into the swing of things.
When Russ is accused of being predjudiced and anti-gay (because he rejects the amorous advances of a gay man) he proclaims that "live and let live is my fervent belief". He explains that he has some gay buddies back home, but also has Jewish, Baptist, Hindu and Catholic friends - yet that doesn't mean he goes to church with them! Toronto was the centre of the Canadian gay rights movement in the mid 1970s so there was some clear support for the cause here even by just the casual inclusion of the concept of a gay wedding in the plot. Gay marriage wasn't legalised in Canada until 2005, so it's hard to conceive how brave it was to be talking about a gay marriage a full 30 years earlier. "My first gay wedding - not a bit different from a straight one". What is especially interesting is that it's not done in any kind of politically correct token manner. Some of the the gay characters are nice people and some of them turn out to be complete gits. Because that's just how life is right? Their sexuality is not what defines or constrains them within the plot. Writers take note!
After the thrills of Tobin In Trouble - Stan was up against it to make Russ's time in Toronto any more EXCITING. As a consequence it struggles to be any more than an average Tobin adventure but still - the gay wedding is something different and gives a new twist to Tobin's irresistable charm. There is a LOT of bedroom action (to the point where it starts to get a bit boring) and despite disappearing off to Victoria halfway through, Buzz features strongly and is integral to the plot- which is always a good thing! This books also seems to be the genesis of Stan's "handyman-for-hire" idea which he mined further in the Randy Comfort & Albert Shifty novels (as well as the aborted "Make Way For Tobin" TV Series). 7/10