Dave is a bar owner in a Southern California. He’s in is late 20s, and a big burly man who finds a group of jerks beating someone down in the parking lot outside his bar one rainy night. Dave saves the guy, who turns out to be a slight, but definitely male, goth kid. Kyle claims he’s almost 20, and it’s clear he’s both homeless and injured. Dave offers Kyle his shower, a meal, and his spare room for the night, but Kyle’s no stranger to quid pro quo. Kyle’s not even a bit worried about the sexy hero wanting a bit of sexy payment.
But Dave’s not interested in that. He just wants to help Kyle out. And, it’s clear that Kyle has some big secrets. They hang out the next day, with Kyle fully up for propositioning his host. Why not? Kyle’s pretty sure he doesn’t have long to live, not after witnessing a murder. He’s been on the run for a while and doesn’t expect to make it to Christmas a week away. Dave’s a little on the kinky side, and his dominant loving is a balm for Kyle’s battered body and heart.
Instead of walking away, Dave convinces Kyle to stay with him a bit, sharing sexytimes and the Christmas holidays. Dave’s employees are friendly and help Kyle feel settled and satisfied. It’s not long, however, before the bad guys in Kyle’s life turn up. Going on the run is a lot harder than before, now that he’s leaving Dave behind. He hadn’t meant to get attached, but Dave isn’t willing to let Kyle go without a fight—and well—that means getting law enforcement involved. And, maybe a whole new life in the process.
This novella was a little light on the tension, but high on the initial connection. I liked both Kyle and Dave, and their quick fall into love was a bit unexpected. Kyle’s dark secret is the kind that usually leads to big plot arcs and terrifying chases, but it’s all abruptly chopped for a quickie epilogue. For me, that felt superficial, and I wasn’t satisfied with the story being so short. I get that it’s a novella, but I think the plot predicament lent itself for more development and a better balance between the first 24 hours of contact and the weeks-to-months before the ending. After knowing one another for barely two weeks, Dave’s decision to follow Kyle wherever he led seemed too convenient as well, short-circuiting any true obstacles for the characters to experience and grow from.
In all, I liked the characters, but I didn’t connect the way I’d have liked due to the short format and overcomplicated plot. This felt like a great beginning that had a very rushed and unsatisfactory, though technically happy, ending. I also didn’t like this cover, which doesn’t seem to depict Kyle the way he is shown in the story. And Dave seems far less burly than I expected given Kyle’s appreciative description. I’m mentioning it because I had different expectations upon seeing the cover compared to the story I read.