Mark is having an affair with a married man. He feels guilty and used, but he swears he’s in love. His “boyfriend” only gives him the time of day when he wants to, and Mark (and his coworkers) are determined to break things off.
Austin is still mourning the man he loved who was killed in a car accident. He spends time on his balcony making up stories about the lives of the people he watches passing by. One of those people is Mark. Austin finds himself wanting to learn more about the handsome man across the way, so he arranges to “bump into” him at a coffee shop. Later, he finds himself in the position to assist Mark during a difficult situation.
Mark and Austin begin to spend more time together and a friendship is formed, and as that friendship slowly deepens, they realize they can help each other get past their personal issues and move on together.
When I read the blurb to this little novella, I was kind of excited. One of my favorite pastimes when I’m out and about is to make up stories about people I see. It’s super fun and I thought it would be really cool to read about someone else who enjoys it. It felt like a great concept for a book, and I dove right in. I’m so sorry to say, I was a little on the disappointed side.
I do want to say it wasn’t that I didn’t like the story. I just didn’t connect. Mark and Austin were nice enough, and I sympathized with them, but I wasn’t all that eager to get to know them. Perhaps if the story had been longer, they’d have had the chance to grow on me, but the never really did. I couldn’t feel their connection.
There were a couple of things that stood out for me, though. I don’t want to give too much away, but the issue Austin was able to help Mark with was amusing, and when Austin finally was able to talk to Mark about his former partner and how his death affected him, it was moving and I was able to imagine his pain. In fact, I think these parts were the best scenes in the story.
One more thing I’d like to mention is what I would call the tone of the story. The dialogue comes off as rather formal. Here are two examples.
“I’d kiss you,” Austin said. “If I thought you were amenable to the idea.”
Mark smiled back. “Let’s say, I wouldn’t resist if you tried.”
Next, we have this. The men have been picking vegetables from their container garden.
“I could go all metaphorical and say my love for you grew the way the garden has, in abundance”
Mark chuckled. “The editor in you coming out?”
Hugging him, Austin replied, “Probably. It’s true though”
“I know. So…” Mark eased out of Austin’s embrace, rubbing his knees after standing up.
“I think we should take the fruits of our labor–” he picked up the bowl of beans “–inside, put them in the fridge for now, and cement our admissions of love in the best way possible.”
The whole thing feels clunky and almost…clinical. This last bit led to their first time together, and the lovemaking was “off camera.” That, in itself, wasn’t a bad thing. It kept things in line with the rest of the novella.
The ending tied up neatly enough, but everything happened rather quickly after that. By then, it was 92% in and there was only three minutes left. I was left feeling unsatisfied. I wanted more. I’m damn near positive if this was a novel, maybe 50 more pages, it would have been a completely different situation. I have read a few other books by Edward Kendrick and I’ve enjoyed them and I’d have no problem reading more. This was a rare miss for me.