Mark is a Brit working in Basel, Switzerland for three months and enjoying it a little. He’d been bored of his life and position in Reading, England, and was looking for a change of scene to hopefully help him get over his latest relationship disintegrating. He’s invited out for drinks with some co-workers and meets Steffen, a native of Basel. Steffen is attractive and direct—not hesitating to offer Mark some no-strings sexytimes and fun outings while he’s still in the country. Steffen had his heart crushed by his first love and knows that most of his recent lovers are all more attracted to his family name and reputation; Mark has no such interest. Not that he isn’t interested in Steffen.
They hit it off and the sex is awesome. But, so is the companionship. Steffen is sweet and leaves anonymous treats on Mark’s desk when he stops by his workplace, where Steffen is a consultant who occasionally drops in for meetings. There he hears what a great worker Mark is and it feeds Steffen’s growing esteem. Mark, for his part, finds the outings with Steffen—from witnessing a penguin parade, to a huge three-day Fasnacht festival—to be the adventure he’d craved and Steffen is an excellent partner. Candid discussions help them build a bond that surpasses a friends-with-benefits arrangement. Mark’s soon recognizing that he’s getting attached to Steffen, and that his heart will break when his work contract expires and he must return home.
I liked how Steffen and Mark discussed how their feelings had grown and changed in the six weeks that they’d known each other. Neither man is willing to just walk away, but the immigration issues threaten to separate them. In fact, the plan they arrange isn’t convenient; it’s just barely manageable. Still, their commitment allows them to put the pieces of a life together in place.
I really enjoyed the rich descriptions of Basel. They helped me share the culture and experiences Mark was learning about. There are a few side characters that help Steffen and Mark navigate the tricky business of facing their fears. I also liked how Mark’s family wasn’t best pleased with his decisions—that made it real to me. Moms are often hard to satisfy and I could empathize. This is a fun cross-cultural read, with a guaranteed happy ending.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.