Rating: 2.75 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Short Story
Knox Townsend and Trevor Channing were best friends in high school, teammates on the swim team, and frequent surfing partners at their local shore in Seaside, Florida. Knox felt an attraction he wasn’t sure was returned, but on prom night their senior year, he made his move, kissing Trevor while their dates were passed out drunk. Trevor seemed startled, and maybe not interested, so Knox cut off contact and moved to Wisconsin for college the second he got his diploma.
Now, four years later, Knox works for Playgroundz Cafe, a national chain of coffee shops, and he’s traveling the country to change out and retrofit cold brew machines. He returns to Seaside to work, not reconnect. Even though it’s his hometown, Knox seems to have few roots there, only a passing mention of his mom, with whom he presumably no longer speaks. And, Trevor, who he is surprised to learn is the franchisee operator of the cafe Knox is in town to service.
Trevor is stunned to see his old friend, Knox, in his cafe. His low-key attraction toward men started in his teens, but Trevor never acted on it, ashamed due to his late-father’s homophobia. Seeing Knox is a bat to the head; he instantly re-lives those furtive moments of complete attraction and bliss they shared on prom night. Along with this elation comes the hurt Trevor experienced when Knox blocked his communications and then left town without even a goodbye. Knox will only be in town for a week, and Trevor’s determined to see that it’s unforgettable for both of them. His big plan? Recreate some of their old ways, even returning to the scene of their kiss, to see if Knox is willing to really connect this time around.
This is a short, reconnection, New Adult romance for high school besties that find each other by accident four years after The Kiss that sent one of them running. For me, the reconnection romance seemed incomplete. The separation, while four years, felt short. Partly, this was because Trevor and Knox are barely started in the world – fresh out of college in Knox’s case – and their maturity felt low. Even after this time, neither man could confidently discuss their sexuality or attraction, even to sympathetic friends or each other. Instead, they plan furtive overtures with strong “going to the mall just in case your crush shows up” juvenile vibes. At the same time, the language felt very old fashioned for characters that were 22 years old. I also didn’t get the sense that either character was in a head- or heart-space for building a lasting relationship in the open, however, the story seems to imply this will be the course of action within 24 hours of renewed contact. Their struggles to articulate their attraction, even to one another, made those vows to stick together feel disingenuous.
For a short format, there was too much backstory, which took time away from the present and it’s confusing problems. Character posturing also hampered my ability to connect. Maybe if it had been a longer format, the story would have been better developed. In this short length, scenes seemed too abrupt and too stunted. I’m a huge fan of this trope and was sad this story didn’t really live up to the promise for me.