“Sometimes serendipity is just intention unmasked.” ― Elizabeth Berg
Nathan Smith is just playing out the night as usual, working the bar of the hotel where he is employed. The only thing different about this night is that Daniel Fletcher is drowning his sorrows in vodka and regret. When Daniel reaches his limit, Nathan cuts him off and sends him home in a cab with a bittersweet farewell to the handsome man he may never see again.
When Daniel sobers up, life seems to be a little more in perspective, yet he can’t shake the image of a guy he met the night before from his mind. When he finally regains all his memories of the previous night, seeing his ex with his new boyfriend seems like less of a blow to his ego, so he sets out to find something sexy to occupy his mind. Somehow he ends up back in the hotel bar and flirting with the handsome barman from the night before, and thus embarks on a whirlwind romance with Nathan that even his ex can’t threaten to destroy. A handful of dirty martini’s was all it took to show Daniel what can happen when you find yourself in the right place at the right time, with a barman who can shake a cocktail that will change your life for the better.
When you sit down to write a short story, there are an abundance of outcomes that are possible, a range of different things that an author can choose to set out in the small word count. Some authors opt to fill the pages with angst and drama, while some just choose to tell a sweet story that will leave the reader smiling. When Bette Browne chose to write this story, she opted for the latter. I read a lot of shorts of late, and each of them seem to be marvellously different, but with a great panache for the written word, Browne delivered what I call a “Rom-Com Mini” that was quite a change from the emotional pile-on that I am used to. This tale was 15,000 words of sweet and sexy story that really allowed me to relax into reading without fear of having to navigate the emotional high-water that is typically synonymous with gay fiction.
Dividing the action between the two protagonists was an excellent move considering the constraints of the word count, and the reader was plunged into the story with a different take from each of the men. It was really nice to read the budding relationship from both of these characters who were delightfully crafted to form the perfect couple. Nathan was strong and sexy, a caring guy who was understanding and patient, whereas Daniel was more conflicted, but his connection to Nathan allowed him to let down barriers. There was little by way of conflict in this story, which gave rise to focus on the budding relationship between our two MC’s and for once, love was all that mattered.
This story didn’t necessarily subscribe to the typical three arc drama of boy meets boy, boy loses boy, boy gets boy back. Instead, Browne just had boy meeting boy and boy keeping boy, and that was not only refreshing, but it was just what the story required to reach its HEA; nothing more and nothing less. The style in which the author writes is both effortless and completely encompassing, and I found it difficult to stop as I flicked through the pages and basked in the budding love between these two men. The character of Daniel’s ex was a hint at a possible conflict, especially since the narrative was divided, but ultimately, the story was not this supporting character’s for the taking.
Even in the face of a potential reconciliation between Daniel and the man who had betrayed him, love won out and the reader got their happy ending without either man ever having to question that the other man was who he belonged with.
For good, easy reading and a story that charmed with its minimalist plotline and attractive descriptive prose, I award this short story a four star rating, and hope to read more from the talented Ms Browne in the future. This was a great way to relax after a long day, an easy read that will charm you without draining your emotional reservoir. What a welcome change!