Hue, Tint and Shade (Petit Morts 1) by Jordan Castillo Price
When Jordan Castillo Price wants to be romantic, she masterly manages it, always preserving her little “creepy” core (and I’m using the word creepy with a positive connotation).
Since the first sentences you understand that Tommy is not your usual nerd guy, or at least, he is a bit of a nerd, but he is also horny enough not to let a good chance at love pass by. Tommy is desperately shy, and he would do anything to being cured of it, even contacting a faith healer. The first appointment is at Chance’s Sweets to the Sweet, a little patisserie on the Magnificent Mile in Chicago; Tommy more than in the faith healer is interested in Chance, and so the reader understand that Tommy’s shyness manifests when he is trying to hook up with boys. At the beginning Chance is so nice and sweet with Tommy, that I really hoped he was the one who would cure him, but he has someone else in mind.
The next scene introduces us to Nathan, the man at the opposite of Tommy: where Tommy is shy, Nathan is outrageously cheeky; where Tommy is a white collar worker (a car salesman), Nathan is a blue collar one (a window washer); where Tommy behaves and dresses to meld with the tapestry, Nathan is a punch in the eye, eyeliner and all; but there is something in Tommy’s shyness that draws Nathan’s protectiveness (and lust), and Tommy is like a deer caught in the headlights, he can possible refuse Nathan’s advances.
Even the main set of this brief romance, an old fashioned theatre, helps to give a strange atmosphere to the story, and the ending is both surprising than sweet: for the sake of his possible newfound true love, Tommy will find the courage to get free of his shyness, to finally take in hand his life, and to fight for something, even if that something, for now, is only a possible “sleepover”… but there are good chances that it will be not only that.
To the most romantic readers, don't worry, the creepy factor is only an exotic spice on a pure chocolate truffle, and this is basically a very sweet romance.
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Amazon Kindle: Hue, Tint and Shade (Petit Morts)
Slings and Arrows (Petit Morts 2) by Josh Lanyon
It’s common knowledge that I like college boys, they are always so cute, and the two in this novella are even cuter in their indecision, typically of an age that is not meat or fish, when you are on the edge of becoming the man you will be.
Carey is an average student, not particularly clever so that, he is doing good in College, but he needs to work a lot for it, he has good friends, he is on the swim team, he is not a nerd but he is not even a jock, he is cute but not drop dead gorgeous, and so he basically has to be committed on what he does. Then to this average guy happens something unexpected, two days before Valentine’s Day he receives a box of expensive chocolate from a Secret Admirer. He has not idea who he or she is, but he would like for it to be Walter, the TA of one of his college courses: Walter is the odd one, aloof and seldom smiling, he is not even so handsome, but love is blind, and he is the one Carey is in love with. Maybe pushed by the search of this Secret Admirer, or maybe by the love is in the air feeling near Valentine’s Day, Carey has the courage to approach Walter, and surprisingly Walter seems to reciprocate the interest. But Carey and Walter are so young and insecure, that when one offers a way out to the other, fearing the other wants it, but hoping he doesn’t take the chance, the other thinks the same… it’s like a pull and push, like pulling the stone and hiding the hand, sometime I wanted to knock them on the head to make them see the true, but in the end, they were so endearing and sweet.
I have already noticed it in the recent past, but here even more than before, I had the feeling that Josh Lanyon was really writing a true to good romance, even the little “mystery” of the Secret Admirer is really nothing in comparison to the love story between Walter and Carey. And despite their insecurity when dealing with feelings and the awkwardness when they have to admit them, sex instead is easy and nice, as it should be at their age.
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Amazon Kindle: Slings and Arrows (Petit Morts)
Moolah and Moonshine (Petit Morts 3) by Jordan Castillo Price
This is probably the strangest in the Petit Morts I read till now (but I have still 2 to read, so maybe it will be not in the end): Chance, the owner of Sweets to the Sweet, is again playing matchmaker, and this time he decides that Emmett, the thirty something lonely man who is loosing his girl best friend to Paris, needs the companionship (friendship, love, or whatever) of Sam, the twenty something handyman; the official reason is that Emmett has a very old and decrepit house that needs maintenance, the real reason is that both of them, Emmett and Sam, are perfect together.
Emmett is not a daring man, he has always dreamed to do something special in his life, but in the end, he is setting himself for a boring, and lonely, old age. He is the perfect friend, the perfect uncle, the perfect son… but he is not, and has never been, the perfect lover; not since he is not a good man, but since, probably, he has never dared to try. Sam on the other hand, is yes a bit shy, but maybe he has still the carelessness of being young; and maybe, when it will be the moment to deciding of giving a completely turn to their life, the fact that his actual life is not so great, and that he has never to loose, will be of help in his decision.
The author decided to give an unexpected paranormal twist to the story, and it’s a good and light one, but basically the story was already a sweet one. Emmett and Sam are like those average men who alone are nothing special, or at least not someone you will notice on a street, but together are a perfect, and enviable, couple; even without the paranormal twist, they would be happy and perfect together. But, after all, they are living in Kansas, and we all know that in Kansas everything is possible, don’t we?
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Amazon Kindle: Moolah and Moonshine (Petit Morts)
Other People’s Weddings (Petit Morts 4) by Josh Lanyon
Other People’s Weddings is a romance with a dark shade, but not too much dark to tinge the pink feeling of the story. Griff is a wedding planner, probably the epitome of “gay” job, and of course he is gay; more he is probably one of the few openly gay men in the little town where he lives, and he is planning the wedding of his secret lover, Joe. Joe is not exactly Griff’s dream lover, but he is at least a lover, something Griff is missing. I think Griff doesn’t estimate himself good enough to be allowed to have a “public” lover; other than moral issues that should have forced him to not accept the job, there is also the very real downfall economic trend, Griff really needs the job, and Joe’s soon to be wife’s family is among the wealthiest of the town. So Griff is grinding his teeth and doing the bitter work with a sweet smile on his face.
Then, just when he is almost done with it, Griff meets again Hammer/Hamar, former high school mate and nemesis; at the beginning the reader doesn’t understand Griff’s cold attitude towards Hamar, a prank joke in high school seems too little thing for a long lasting resentment; something like that you could expect from a wounded lover: for example, Griff is not saving the same cold behaviour with Joe, and Joe is marrying a woman! Little by little the truth is unveiled and maybe for once, Griff will have to plan his own happily ever after.
The story is nice and sweet, very romantic but not at all sexy; despite this, I think it’s a very good romance, and it’s strange, since the only sex scene is not even between the two romance heroes, who neither share a kiss. There is a whole entire story after what happens in this novella, the author can decide to write it or to let to the reader the task to build it in its mind, in any case he gave enough details, in the characters, in the setting and in the story to not leaving the reader, at the end of the story, with the feeling that something was untold.
Amazon Kindle: Other People's Weddings (Petit Morts)
Spanish Fly Guy (Petit Morts #5) by Jordan Castillo Price
This is basically the story of Ryan and JP, but I think that Chance had an interesting development in it. Chance is the thread of all five stories, his candy shop Sweets to the Sweet is the place where everything starts and ends; it’s a magical place that appears when people need it and disappears when the mission is accomplished and Chance is needed somewhere else. Moreover Chance is teasing with a lot of guys, but he is not for them, he is the matchmaker and for all of them he will find the right partner; he is kind and sweet, always caring for the destiny of the men eating his candies. Only that this time Chance is not at all kind, he is almost rude and he seems to not like at all JP: I’m not sure if he helped him with Ryan since he wanted to help Ryan himself, or since he wanted for JP to go away from Brightside, the little town where Chance landed with Sweets to the Sweet.
JP is like one of those fake healers populating the border towns at the end of the XIX century; they arrived with glitters and fanfare and most of the time they went away with more coins and some broken hearts behind. But while JP is fake, Chance is all true, and I think he doesn’t like for another seller of dreams to pouching on his territory. I had the feeling that Chance helped JP to not have his townsfolf being disappointed by JP’s promises.
In the spat between Chance and JP, Ryan has nothing to do; he is only a young man with little dreams, but even if they are little, there is no space in Brightside for them. When JP arrives in town, Ryan is not expecting big changes, but at least he is hoping for a little distraction: the summer is almost at the end, and why not having a last days of summer fling? JP is handsome and sexy, and once he will be gone, no one will question Ryan. But as I said, Chance has other ideas, and while he is protecting Brighside’s people from JP, maybe Ryan is the only one who doesn’t need to be protected by JP, maybe JP is the right care for him. After all, JP is a seller of dreams, and Ryan needs to buy a little more of them, what he has is not enough to fulfil his young life.
In a way, even if Spanish Fly Guy has an happily ever after, as the other in the series, I think this one was the darkest and also maybe the more disturbing: Chance showed a side that was almost scaring.
Amazon Kindle: Spanish Fly Guy (Petit Morts)
Amazon: Petit Morts 1: Sweets to the Sweet (print book)
Petit Morts 1: Sweets to the Sweet by Jordan Castillo Price & Josh Lanyon
Hue, Tint and Shade (Petit Morts 1) by Jordan Castillo Price