curio coverRating: 4.25 stars
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 Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novella

 

Llewellyn Cooper helps run the Curio Cabinet, a New York City thrift shop, with his Aunt Julia. For a while, Lew has been crushing on one of the regular customers, whom he has dubbed “Professor Bow Tie.” The guy is not only hot, but he’s grabbed Lew’s interest by always buying the same thing — old photos. Julia has a habit of buying family photos rather than seeing them discarded and the shop has thousands of them. And for some reason, Professor Bow Tie keeps buying them. Lew and Julia can’t help but speculate what he does with the pictures, but Lew hasn’t worked up the nerve to ask.

One day, with some serious prodding from Julia, Lew finally works up the nerve to not only ask Professor Bow Tie for his name — it’s Henry McLaughlin — but also to ask him out. The guys connect immediately and, despite Lew being a bit bumbling and awkward, they have a wonderful dinner together. So wonderful that it leads to an equally amazing night. But when Henry does something that seems too weird even for Lew, it might derail things before they even start. Now, Lew needs to find out what Henry is really up to and it could lead to a real chance for the two men together.

Curio is a charming and entertaining short novella from author C.S. Poe. For a book with just 60 pages, Poe really packs in a wonderfully complete story that takes us to just the right point for Lew and Henry. Sometimes with shorter works, the pacing can be off, either too much happening or not enough. But I think Poe gets the balance just right here and the relationship didn’t rush ahead, but also left me confident that there is a bright future for these guys.

Lew is all stammering awkward adorability around Henry, who is a hunky, muscled, and incredibly sweet guy. These two men are both looking for something real and not quite fitting in with the dating scene. It takes a bit for them to take the chance on a date, but when they do, their connection comes through so well and they are just so good together. Things almost get derailed by a misunderstanding, as Lew spies Henry doing something he deems too weird (though honestly, I didn’t find it that weird, and certainly not “end things with a hot guy I really like without even talking about it” weird). Fortunately, given the shorter length of this story, the confusion doesn’t go on too long. Also, what Henry is actually up to is incredibly lovely and super swoony, so it all works out well in the end.

Just for clarification in case the cover confuses you (as it did me), this is a contemporary story. The older photo relates to the story and has some nice significance, but the book takes place in present day.

Overall, I found this one really charming and a fun read. There is a nice balance of humor, romance, sexiness, and poignancy, all in one short package. I read this in one sitting and really loved it.

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