Rating: 4.25 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
When Hurricane Sally threatens Mobile Bay’s coastline, Joe Deacon – “Deacon” to those who know him – owner of Deacon’s Place, finds himself watching the doors waiting for the mystery man who has shown up at the bar every Thursday night for the past fifty weeks. For some reason, Deacon has been unable to keep his eyes off the beautiful, inexplicably broken man since he first entered the bar almost a year ago. Despite the weather, the man he only knows as “Thursday” still shows up to sit at the bar in the middle of a hurricane and drink his usual. But when the man ends up stuck at the bar with no way to get home, Deacon offers him a place to stay for the duration of the storm.
Former Alabama star quarterback slated at one time to go pro and son of a prominent state senator, Shelby Bainbridge suffered a great loss one year ago that turned his life upside down. When his world fell out from under him, he stumbled into Deacon’s Place and found a sense of comfort and warmth that kept him returning every Thursday night. Watching the attractive bar owner has become second nature. His joy and exuberance is almost addictive. Shelby knew that he would have been safer staying home until the hurricane passed, but the peace of the bar called to him and he couldn’t refuse. When Deacon offers a place to wait out the storm, Shelby is grateful for a roof over his head and some company to stem the loneliness of the past year.
As the night passes and the sexual tension grows, Shelby vehemently denies his attraction to Deacon. Shelby’s not gay. At least, he’s pretty sure he’s not gay. His strong attraction to Deacon eventually wins out and he gives in to Deacon’s insistence. But Shelby can’t be gay. His senator father is planning to run for president in the next election and Shelby is expected to stand by his side with a wife. Can Shelby break away from his family’s expectations of the perfect son to be his own man? Or will the 51st Thursday be the one and only night he’ll be able to be himself ever again?
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Mercy Celeste’s work. A master storyteller in her own right, her stories are addictive and captivating. The 51st Thursday is no different.
I’ve always had a thing for broken characters – probably has something to do with the healing part. And both of these characters are definitely damaged, Shelby more so than Deacon, but then again, Deacon has had more time to heal. Shelby is angry and confused and hurt. He’s a puppet to his father, always doing what daddy expects. Then Deacon forces himself into Shelby’s life and Shelby doesn’t know which way is up. Deacon is self-assured, almost to the point of cockiness. His attraction to Shelby is almost uncontrollable when he gets the man alone. What I would have liked to see is more of their lives outside of the one night. I mean, we see a little bit of Deacon at the bar, but I would have really liked to dig into each character, see who they really are. I guess what I’m saying is that I would have liked more character and relationship development.
Now, as always, Mercy Celeste presents a romance that is fire hot. The chemistry between the characters begins scalding and only grows hotter. The sex scenes are both sweltering and beautiful. But there is a bit of story here too, it’s not just sex. It is Shelby’s inner struggle to be himself and not what he’s expected to be; that is the greatest part of this story, and a part that I would have liked more of. Like I said earlier, I would have liked the book to be a little longer, not only for character development, but also for the sake of the story. I would have liked to see their time apart, to see what happened when Shelby left, what was going through his mind, why did he do what he did, maybe even some flashbacks of Deacon’s past. I also would have liked to see their relationship develop more. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great relationship, but because I liked them so much I wanted more.
And finally, because I’m such a detail-oriented person, you know I can’t turn it off. Pronouns. He, him, and his – to be exact. There are several times when they tend to be a somewhat confusing to some readers. For example:
“Shelby could feel his gaze on him, watching him.”
“Sweat dripped onto his back as he moved over Deacon, his balls slamming against his, forcing his cock to rise again.”
I would have liked less pronoun usage and more ownership in the descriptions. Because I tend to re-read those passages in order to figure out what is going on when I would rather read it only once.
But in the end, The 51st Thursday is a very sweet story with only a little bit of angst. It’s a story of finding one’s self. Although I would have liked to see more of Shelby’s path to self-discovery, I’m not disappointed in this story. It’s a really good story that I enjoyed and I would have liked more of, period. I look forward to what this author still has in store for her readers.