Craig, a history teacher, is on break at Two Waters Beach, enjoying his month-long cabin rental when he spies Seth on a beach towel nearby. Seth is exactly Craig’s type and immediately Craig tries to figure out the best way to approach him. Seth has the exact same reaction to Craig, and runs up to introduce himself. After an afternoon of hot sex, Craig and Seth find out they have much in common. Both teach at the high school level and never has the sex been as right as it is with each other.
Just as they are getting to know each other better, Seth gets a call from a fellow teacher to return home for a school meeting. At the meeting, the school administrators inform the teachers that the private school is closing and they are all fired. Shattered by the loss of his job, Seth wonders what the future will hold for him and Craig.
Summer Sizzle is a short story, but to be honest, it often felt much longer. Brown’s descriptions of Two Waters beach contains more feeling and heart than her descriptions of Craig and Seth who come across a cardboard cutouts of each other. Both teachers at the high school level, one teaches history, the other English. Brown does a nice job of bringing in bits of information about Beowulf and ninth grade reading lists to make their discussion of crossover subjects in teaching both realistic and knowledgeable. This and the section with Seth’s job interviews struck me as authentic and made me wish she had used the same amount of skill throughout the story. Unfortunately that was not the case.
As I said, the men never came across as fleshed out human beings, and the same goes for their sexual encounters. Given the large amount of time Craig and Seth spend having sex, I would have hoped for some real sizzle with descriptions that raised their scenes together above the “insert tab A into slot B” activity. But Brown’s descriptions and word choices for her “dirty talk” never engaged me as a reader. Some authors can turn up the heat with a simple “pull on the hair.” To make the scenes heat up the pages, I need to feel the men are emotionally invested in each other’s pleasure. I need to “feel” the sizzle between them. Instead it felt like reading a “How To” manual on sexual positions.
And finally we come to relationship timing. Like that overused lesbian joke (What does a lesbian bring to a second date? A U Haul), this is Craig and Seth’s relationship two week plus time line: They meet, have lots of sex (including blowjobs without condoms but have sex with condoms?), they talk, Seth loses job, Craig helps Seth get a job, they declare their love for each other, and move in together.
If you are going to go that route, at least make me believe in that instant love. That these two men were so passionately drawn together that being separated was unbearable. Did anything here make me believe that about Craig and Seth? No. I came very close to giving this 2.75 stars but Brown’s feelings about Two Waters beach where she spent time growing up and that lovely bit about teaching history and English pushed it up to 3. I haven’t read anything else by Brown so I am left wondering if this is typical of her stories or just an off day at the keyboard. Let us know what you think if you have read other books by this author.
Note: Summer Sizzle was previously published by Elloras Cave in 2010, now available at Torquere Press.
Cover: I think I actually prefer the first edition cover to the latest version. Both sizzle. What do you think?