I like romance and boys loving boys in my books.
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Very cute and fun novella about two young men who meet time and again, fortuitously, and begin a romance.
Marc is living in a model condo, thanks to a friend, after his own place had a fire. Most of his clothes and other stuff is gone, and he's basically forced to ask his friends for help. The new place being a model, he needs some kitchen essentials.
In the Goodwill store, he runs into Cas and his best friend Maisie, who are shopping for costumes. Halloween is just around the corner.
And then he runs into Cas again. And again. In one case, literally. In another case, he happens to be at the same hotel as Cas and Maisie, and initially thinks they're there for their wedding, but Cas clears that right up.
Cas and Maisie had an, uhm, interesting relationship. In some aspects, Maisie used Cas as a crutch, so she didn't have to fess up to her parents that while she is bi-romantic, she's sexually attracted mostly to females. They're no longer in a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, but they come off as a married couple, which a lot of Cas' love interests don't appreciate. Maisie too has lost potential girlfriends this way. Cas longs to get out from this part of their friendship, but since he's living with Maisie in a condo owned by her parents, with special low rent, he's a bit stuck.
Marc too is bi. He's very open about it, too. When he first sees Cas and Maisie, he assumes that they're a couple, based on how familiar they are with each other, but soon realizes that's not the case. I loved how the author made both of her main characters bi, and stuck with it. They happen to fall for each other, but that doesn't make them any less bi. Cas even has an almost-fling with a woman at the wedding, and it's made clear time and again that both Cas and Marc are bi.
Neither also assumes anything; instead they stay open-minded for the most part as they get to know each other a bit and then begin a relationship. This being a novella, the sizzling starts relatively early on, as does the heavy, but the author manages to pack a good amount of plot into a short story, and make it work, too.
I disliked Maisie intensely. As the ex-girlfriend, her role was still major, and the amount of time she demanded of Cas to be at her beck and call was off-putting. Weekly brunches with her parents, pretending they're still together? WTF? The many times she reminded him that they lived in a low-rent apartment because of her parents also felt a bit like blackmail to me. And when Cas told her that he was trying to date and maybe find someone to be with long-term, she didn't like it. Her actions seemed to be based on fear, more than jealousy, but I still didn't appreciate how she acted, and how she ended up hurting her best friend.
Their relationship was a bit dysfunctional, and I resented her making trouble for Marc and Cas because of her own issues. I think Cas felt stuck, but also hadn't found anyone so far for whom he was willing to make changes in his life. I also got the feeling that there was a lot of co-dependency happening, especially considering they haven't been boyfriend/girlfriend since they broke off that part of their relationship EIGHT years ago. I realized that they truly love each other, but more like brother/sister, I suppose. It still prevented both of them from moving on, from living their own lives.
Until Marc, that is.
Marc and Cas fall hard and fast, and while Marc considers himself someone who does that in general, I didn't get the impression that Cas was like that usually, but fall he does. Their moments together were sweet and fun and sexy too, and I loved how they talked and discussed things, and how honest and open they were with each other almost from the start.
There was a bit of drama toward the end, when Marc visits Cas and sees something he wrongly interprets. They are both hurting afterwards, but can't quite figure out how to make things right. Marc observes a lot, and doesn't make many assumptions, but this time he does - and it's an assumptions many would make just the same. Their issues are caused by Maisie, and I didn't really like how she continued to try to pressure Cas into doing her bidding, when she herself was dating someone. She also didn't seem to make any attempts to right the wrong she had caused - instead left Cas hurting, knowing that she had contributed to the issue. And even at the very end, Cas needed to remind her again that he was going to be with Marc. He was much nicer about it than I would have been, too.
But all is well that ends well, and this being a romance, the two men get their HFN. You knew that, of course, so this isn't a spoiler.
The author gave her characters a lot of depth, which isn't easy to do in a novella, so kudos to you, Posy, for doing that so well. The characters were also fully fleshed out, and none of them one-dimensional.
** I received a free copy of this book from its author. A review was not promised in return. **