Casey’s a hotshot bartender in Chicago, but that doesn’t mean he’s not sensitive. Though uncharacteristic, Casey lets a big, charismatic Tennessee bear named Mike seduce him. Who can explain the laws of attraction? No matter, Casey’s hooked, and he knows what he wants. Unfortunately, Mike's only in town for the weekend. But then, Casey and Mike’s shot at something more is interrupted by Casey’s brother's death.
Casey sets out to accomplish making his brother’s dream come true, but that means quitting his job and moving to Tennessee. Months later, while still trying to cope with his loss, he runs into Mike, who’s running a bar he’s inherited from his father, and he happens to be looking for a new bartender. Casey and Mike reconnect, but the ghosts of their loved ones might ruin their chance for love.
I took a chance on a new author, and I hope there'll be more from Ms. Dyal in the future. I quite liked this short story about two men who forged an almost connection neither can forget when life derails what might have been.
The blurb describes the basic layout of the story, and I really liked the theme of living your own dreams, not those of your family. That applied to both Casey and Mike, who both had to realize that what they were doing wasn't really what they wanted.
I quite liked Casey. He was trying to do right by his brother's dream of fixing up that house, struggling with guilt for not having visited more often, and still somewhat pining after the guy that got away in Chicago.
I found Casey's mom to be a little too pushy to be likable, even though I understood wanting the best for her son, but there has to be a time to cut the umbilical cord.
I quite liked Mike too. Big and burly, he too was living someone else's dream, fueled by similar guilt and perceived obligation.
This is a nice, feel-good short, and the author did a nice job characterizing the two MCs, giving them good backstories that explained their actions, and included enough tension between them to make their HFN believable. The short didn't even need any kind of on-page sexy times to make me hope that their HFN turns into a HEA. Though I'd like to read about that, for sure.
The writing flows well, and is paced quickly, though never too rapid to make sense. I really liked how the two men needed each other to realize that what they were missing out on.
Excellent first shot - please give us more.
** I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **
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