Buy Link: Every Time a Bell Rings
Author: Missy Welsh
Publisher: MLR Press
Length: Short Story

Rating: 4.75

Life has been rough lately for Brian Bailey.  He recently lost his mother after devoting his life to caring for her for a year, and now his apartment has burned down days before Christmas.  Luckily his best friend Mike takes him in and offers up his apartment while Mike is away for the holidays.  When Brian meets Mike’s hunky neighbor Trent Stuart, things start to look up.  Over the past year things have been pretty dry for Brian as he cared for his mom, but he is definitely interested now.  And with the fates conspiring to get them together, it looks like Trent may be just what he needs.

This was such a sweet story, and a lovely mix of poignant and fun.  On one hand there is no missing that Brian has been in a bad place for a while.  He is still emotional over his mother’s death, and losing so much in the fire only adds to that.  Mike and Trent both offer a lot of comfort but it is still clear he has a way to go before he will fully overcome his grief.  I think this part of the story is really well done, meaningful but not overly depressing.

On the other hand, Brian has a wonderfully fun inner voice and there is a lot of humor and liveliness to the narration.  Just an example from when Trent calls him to ask what he wants at the grocery store:

“Ice cream,” I said.

“Oh yeah,” he practically groaned, making me squirm a bit. “I’m an ice cream junkie too. What flavor do you want?”

“Something seasonal?” My favorite was vanilla, the kind with bean bits in it, but after that sexy growl I couldn’t do potentially boring. I wanted tie-me-to-the-bed-and-fuck-me-sideways exotic ice cream. I supposed I was lucky I didn’t actually request that.

This lightness gave a nice balance to the book and keep things from being too sad.

I really loved Trent, Brian, and especially Mike, with all his enthusiasm for the new couple (I’d love to see a Mike story, hint hint).  Although this is technically a holiday story, it is easily something you could enjoy the rest of the year.  I would definitely recommend Every Time a Bell Rings.