Wow, it's been a long time since I've done one of these. However, now that Brief Encounters is no more, I wanted to post some catch up reviews and this seemed the best way.
Taking a Chance by Anne Brooke
Benjamin meets a sexy man who is standing outside a restaurant waiting for a blind date. On impulse, Benjamin decides to pose as 'Timothy', only to find out that he may have bitten off more than he can chew when David starts talking about dominance, submission and safe words.
I very much enjoyed this cheeky story which managed to be blistering hot whilst retaining a lighthearted tone. I was a bit worried at first that Benjamin was going to be found out and then all would be tense and embarrassing, but I should have known that I'm safe in this author's hands and instead was treated to an emotionally gripping story where we see Benjamin begin to flower as a submissive. My only real complaint was that it was too damn short and I wanted to follow their relationship further on from where the story stopped. It also meant that whilst David was kind and likable, he remains a little under-developed because the focus is on Benjamin and his feelings. Having said that, this is definitely worth reading, especially if you are a fan of BDSM romance books. Grade: Excellent.
Sweet and Sour by Astrid Amara
This isn't a short story, but at 40,000 words fits nicely into the novella bracket. The story tells of Miles who owns a pickle shop and deli in Seattle (the sort of shop you would almost never find in the UK!). He's recently expanded and is supposed to be helped by his lover Itai except Itai is more interested in his ex and the start-up they have created. Miles is becoming suspicious of Itai's fidelity and annoyed that he's been left doing all the work. When undercover cop, Nic, arranges to work in the deli as part of a drugs sting, Miles is happy for the help and pleased when he and Nic seem to have so much in common.
I always love this author's Hanukkah stories and this was another enjoyable one, although maybe not her best. It's tough to make a new romance work over a restricted time period and yet I felt this was done successfully here. Miles is coming to the end of his relationship with Itai and the focus of the story is that sad decline contrasted with the beginnings of a new friendship/relationship with Nic. This means that we see quite a lot of scenes with Miles and Itai and part of me wished there had been less of that and more between Miles and Nic. I loved the way that Miles' job is shown, his love for the deli and the care and consideration he puts into his dishes, pickles and chutneys, made him stand out in the book as rounded, realistic and very sympathetic but also meant that Nic and Itai were less fleshed out. In particular, I wanted to know more about Itai who seems to have had an interesting past and it was good that he wasn't painted as a complete villain but someone with issues that would certainly be good fodder for a sequel/spin off book :). Overall, though this was a very pleasant read which left me feeling good and passed a cold afternoon rather nicely. Grade: Very Good.