No Place for Little Ones is the sequel to Daniel W. Kelly's book Combustion, where we see the residents of Comfort Cove dealing with another supernatural set of circumstances in this cross genre novel. Private investigator Deck Waxer and his boyfriend Maru are the proud new entrepreneurs of the local occult shop in town, bringing in new business and a mysterious cub drifter with super powers named Jude.
Not being too familiar with the publisher Bold Strokes Books, any misgivings about their titles will be quickly understood. This book oozes with erotic content that mixes attributes of the horror genre. Readers unfamiliar with the first book, won't have any problem following this title. There are references to the first adventure, which come in the form of spoilers and backstory flashbacks. Those who want to find out for themselves what started these characters on their journey might want to start with the first book. Still, one wouldn't be too lost as much of the plot centers on a new story and isn't a direct continuation.
For some readers, it might seem like a blessing to have something that is catered so specifically to the niche of bear porn books with horror in it, but it might also be what alienates other readers. It lends a voice to a set of characters that are not beholden to one specific body type — namely the young, chiseled prince charming that would be the leading manscaped Casanova, with outstanding hygiene and manners. Here in Comfort Cove you get an array of body types that are spared no detail right down to the length of body hair. This is the books main contribution. Kelly deserves credit for being able to make sensual moments spontaneous and even humorous in certain sections of the book without relying solely on the act of sex itself. It is a change of pace to showcase how and why people are "getting busy" as opposed to colliding bodies written just to turn on the reader.
Kelly's other strong point in this novel is the humor. Camp is the subtext running through this book, and at about 270 pages, it's a pretty quick read that will make you smile in some parts and wince in others. The horror elements take a back seat to the more sensual, or at times, hardcore parts of the book. There's a noise here, a banging there, and that's pretty much it until the last 20 or so pages of the book.
There are also a lot of characters. On the erotic side, it's good to have variety for a reader, but many of the characters don't go much further than being "types" within bear subculture to sexualize. Plot-wise, it's hard to keep track of them all, especially when their contributions to the overall story is small.
However, what could be Buffy the Vampire Slayer for bears turns out to be more like an episode of Dante's Cove. The reliance on sex as the focus sees characters (at least the ones given any characterization ) act surprisingly out of character to serve the sex scenes.
Kelly does manage to give a few of the main characters some depth, even if it doesn't always make them likable. Other characters begin to descend into sadism and body punishing scenes that aren't always comfortable to read depending on what turns you on. Stories like this one provide great escapism up to a point. A place like Comfort Cove has sex happening all the time, everywhere, which makes it difficult to believe that any stable relationships could exist in a place with endless temptation. It was this factor that made the attempt at romance between Jude and another character feel a bit disingenuous.
The plot relies on the sex to take the reader through the story, and the "story" of this novel, the "little ones" feel relegated to almost being just a tag. The horror scenes are pretty straightforward, and the author mostly punishes the throwaway characters. We are supposed to root for Deck, Maru, and Jude, but the character of Missy, an older drag queen, is the most likable. He's the only character who is fully realized and has useful attributes to contribute to the town in the end.
No Place for Little Ones offers a unique concept that provides a great idea for escapism. A gay Mecca that's drama-free, all-inclusive, and with supernatural mystery has a lot of potential for page-turning. This book may cater to a specific audience, but it manages to make a fresh filter on a familiar genre by making it about husky gay men with super powers. They're characters that would otherwise not get much attention outside of being a punch line, but here, they're the main attraction.