stopping place coverRating: 4 stars
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Length: Novella

When Simeon Frith was injured in a car accident, he left his busy city life to recuperate in his house in Cornwall. Simeon realized he needed some help with day-to-day tasks after the accident, so he put out an advertisement for an assistant. Ziggy Tuesday is not the type of man Simeon thought he would employ, with his free-spirited and laid-back vibe. But Ziggy turned out to be a perfect fit, and not only did the men become friends, but lovers as well. However, Ziggy is not one to stay in the same place long, and he was clear from the start that this would be a no strings only encounter while he worked for Simeon. However, to Simeon’s dismay, he now realizes he has fallen for the engaging man and is not at all prepared for Ziggy to move on. Now the men have to figure out if what was meant to be a short-term fling can turn into a life-long romance.

The Stopping Place starts off right in the thick of things, with Simeon and Ziggy in the throes of a passionate sexual encounter. It is the day Simeon is due to have his cast removed and Ziggy’s departure is rapidly approaching. So Lily Morton takes an interesting approach with this story, starting things off at almost the end and never really showing on page how it all started for the men, beyond a brief flashback to Ziggy’s job interview. I’ll admit, I did find this a little disorienting at first. We don’t know much about their backstory, individually or as a couple, nor do we have a sense of how the emotional side of their relationship has developed. But once some of the pieces were filled in and the story continued, I actually think this approach worked well for a shorter story, as we really hone in on the pivotal time where Simeon and Ziggy face their conflict. This is a shorter novella, originally written as part of the third Heart2Heart anthology and now released as a standalone, with a new scene and an epilogue added. So this isn’t meant to be a full plot arc, but more of a chance to jump into the story at a crucial time.

While we don’t see the relationship develop from the start, Morton still does a nice job of showing us their feelings for one another, particularly Simeon, who is our POV character. I could feel his longing and his desire for Ziggy, as well as his sadness that he had to let this man go. We also get a good sense of both men, and a few pivotal scenes showcase both of their backstories and what has shaped them. I think Morton does a lot in a small space here, and the characters felt rich and nicely developed for such a short work.

Things all come together nicely in the end and I loved the epilogue. The original ending gives the men their HEA, but the epilogue really wraps it all up well and gives a nice sense of how the future plays out for them. So I really liked this story. It took me a moment to feel acclimated at the start, but once things got going, I really enjoyed the men and their journey.

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