Justin works hard. Very hard. He’s a shift manager at a local burger place and is saving up to go to school. Justin loves cars and he wants to work with them. He doesn’t really have much luck in the dating department and he has hookups, but nothing serious.
Shane has a custom workshop where he builds/rebuilds cars for his customers. He goes to the burger joint where Justin works. Shane has an attraction toward Justin and he likes to flirt with him. One night, he waits in the parking lot for Justin to get off work and they decide to go out together. They hit it off beautifully. Justin and Shane share a mutual love of cars and they both enjoy drag racing.
Justin wants to take Shane on a date, so they go to a bar/restaurant for dinner. It’s there they run into Shane’s ex, a serious jerk who makes Justin feel invisible and openly hits on Shane right in front of him. Things get really rough after that.
Beyond the Grill had some potential, and I really wanted to like it. I really enjoy friends to lovers stories, and this one started out well enough. Justin and Shane are casual friends who sometimes meet up and play video games against each other at the arcade in the mall. Sometimes it was with a bigger group of friends, and sometimes it was just the two of them. I was happy to see Shane stop at the burger place to see Justin and seeing them go out for dinner.
After that, I felt a disconnect from the story. I wish I could put my finger on it. I kind of stopped feeling the attraction between Shane and Justin. Yes, they had fun together at the auto shop and at the races, but I just wasn’t FEELING it. Then, when Justin tried to take Shane on an proper date, I got angry. Shane’s douchy ex starts fllirting with him and Shane just goes along with it. Justin may as well be invisible. I wanted to slap both Shane and the ex. Justin was humiliated and that played right into the ex’s plan.
What followed seemed disjointed and choppy. I won’t give away any spoilers, but it took a bit of a disturbing turn. I think if a bit more would have been written about the situation, maybe I’d have been able to get more into the story, but this was a short book, and there just wasn’t enough time to get into everything.
The boys get their HEA, but I felt like there were a lot of loose ends I’d have liked to have seen wrapped up. Maybe another 50 pages and a little more description?
I didn’t NOT like Beyond the Grill. I think Tracey Michael had a great idea, but the execution was a bit off. I would definitely give her another shot and read other books she’s written.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.