Quick Review: Bridesmates by Sydney Smyth

Bridesmates by Sydney Smyth

Accused of being commitment phobic, Cooper is dumped by his boyfriend just before leaving for a weekend wedding. Nevertheless, Cooper heads to Montana where he’ll serve as maid of honor (or Bridesmate) for his best friend Lisa, who is marrying her long-time beau Travis.

After arriving in Big Sky county, he is pulled over by the local sheriff’s deputy, who just so happens to be former high school star quarterback and small-town golden boy Will – the guy Coop shared a very sexy kiss with ten years ago, after a Friday night football game.

Cooper is having trouble handling his rental car (it’s a stick shift), so Will drives him into town. On the short ride there he learns that Will is now out of the closet and he will also be Travis’ best man, so they’ll be seeing whole lot more of each other over the next few days.

In a conversation with Lisa involving copious amounts of wine, she asks Cooper that since he and Will are both single, why not have some fun? On their drive, Will didn’t mention The Kiss. That means Will either doesn’t remember it, or it meant nothing to him. A heartbreaking thought since it meant so much to Cooper.

At the wedding rehearsal, Coop and Will are asked to wrangle the ringbearer, Lisa and Travis’ Great Dane, Fred. Once that’s handled, and after rehearsal dinner is over, they share a few tequila shots and a rousing karaoke duet of ‘I’ve Had the Time of My Life’. It’s then that Cooper decides to take his shot and kisses Will. He shoots. He scores. Will invites Cooper back to his place.

After a passionate night together (and a sexy morning follow up), Coop realizes that his commitment issues might be due to the fact he’s been in love with someone for the past ten years. Hint: that someone is Will.

It isn’t until the ceremony that they’re able to talk about what happened the night before. Cooper’s insecurity about that long-ago kiss, and Will’s inability to acknowledge whatever it is that they have, leads to misunderstanding and miscommunication.

The ceremony is beautiful and at the reception, Cooper concludes his bridesmate’s duties with a heartfelt toast about the bride and groom and the joy of ‘finding your person’.

Sick over his missed opportunity with Will, Coop leaves the reception early.

The next morning, driving his rental car to the airport, he gets pulled over again. It’s Will, sleepless and still in his tux from the day before. He explains that Coop left before he could give his toast in which he agreed with everything Cooper said in his speech, and that he ‘found his person before he truly even found himself’. And by ‘his person’, he of course means Coop.

On the side of the road, they share the cutest, rom-comy admission of love. Six months later, we get a brief glimpse of their life together in Montana, and the wonderful things their future holds.

I love a good small-town contemporary romance and Bridesmates delivered everything I could have wanted, and so much more. I also have a soft spot for nice-guy heroes. Cooper and Will are likeable and endearing – a pair of guys that are easy to root for. I also enjoyed the secondary characters, who in their own ways were all working hard to make sure our guys achieved their happily ever after.

This novella has got so much heart and humor. A feel-good read if ever there was one.

Sydney Smyth has crafted a charming small-town, second chance romance and Teddy Hamilton does a wonderful job giving voice to the characters and bringing the story to life.

Bridesmates is an audible original and is available through the audible app and amazon. As of this writing, it is not available in either ebook or paperback formats.



Quick Review: Behind Our Eyes by Geoffrey Knight

Behind Our Eyes by Geoffrey Knight

Tobias and his adopted brother Thomas have been in love with each other for years. Now that Thomas is out of the Navy, they plan to move in together and open a café in New York.

The brothers, along with other members of the Whitmore family, gather at the family beach house on Montauk to celebrate their grandmother’s birthday. Things go well at first, but eventually several long-held secrets are revealed – including their forbidden relationship. Some family members take the news better than others, but after a heart-to-heart talk and some birthday cake, true love wins the day.

Behind Our Eyes was originally released during the step-sibling trend that swept through the erotic romance sub-genre a few years ago (Tobias and Thomas aren’t ‘steps’, but close enough). For a ‘taboo’ story, this short obviously has some heat, but I also felt it had a surprising amount of heart. There’s a lot of depth and genuine emotion in the relationship between the brothers, as well as the way they interact with the other family members featured in the story. I’m glad Tobias and Thomas were able to find their HEA together.

Thank you, Geoffrey Knight, for a compelling read filled with secrets and revelations, family drama, and lots of love.

Quick Review: Love – Limited Edition by Elle Keaton

Love: Limited Edition by Elle Keaton

Rory is visiting his parents in Hollyridge, a small town in the heart of Oregon’s wine country. While strolling down Main Street, he notices a new bookshop. Inside Lazy Dog Books he is charmed by Brett, the handsome owner, and his black lab Lucille, the aforementioned lazy dog. They take her for an evening walk at the park and later Bret asks Rory to join him for a drink at one of the many wine tasting rooms that make Hollyridge so popular with tourists.

The next day, Rory has gone back to his life in Seattle and Brett is kicking himself for not getting his number. Through Rory’s parents, Bret gets his contact info and heads to the big city, showing up at the coffee shop where Rory works. They go out on a real date and spend the night exploring their undeniable sexual chemistry. They’ve got something special and make plans for a new life together back in Hollyridge.

I really enjoyed Love: Limited Edition. Not only does it feature an engaging romance between two nice guy/cinnamon roll heroes, but it also has some wonderful secondary plotlines – like how Rory’s improved relationship with his parents leads to them joining PFLAG, proving it’s never too late to become an ally. And there’s also Jeff, Rory’s roommate from Seattle, who has a rough time coming out, so he joins our heroes in their move to Hollyridge to start fresh.

This is a sexy/sweet contemporary romance novella is filled with lots of heart. It’s got small town charm, books, dogs, and romance… what more can you ask for?

Love – Limited Edition is available in both ebook and audiobook formats.

Oodles of Recommendations – BGFP episode 287

This week’s episode kicks off with some news. Jeff will host a live virtual event for Doylestown Bookshop with author Philip William Stover, I started the 100 Stories 100 Day project, and Jeff will be re-releasing Love’s Opening Night.

We recommend some TV and movies we’ve recently enjoyed: new movie Breaking Fast, the Netflix series Gameboys, reality competition show Blown Away, and the documentary The Bee Gees: How to Mend a Broken Heart.

Jeff and I also review some really terrific book – The Beautiful Things Shoppe by Philip William Stover, Rendezvous in Paris by Merry Farmer, Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell, Grumpy Bear by Slade James, and Infinity Son by Adam Silvera.

Remember, you can listen and subscribe to the podcast anytime at BigGayFictionPodcast.com.

Quick Review: Kneading You by C.S. Poe

Kneading You by C.S. Poe

Christopher is thrilled to be Lancaster’s new Librarian, but the job comes with the herculean task of cleaning and fixing up the historic structure, as well as update the antiquated filing. The town selectmen will be voting on the future of the building next month. The fate of the library is in Christopher’s hands, good thing he has local handyman Miles to help him with repairs.

One afternoon, Miles shares his lunch with Christopher, which includes some bread that Miles has baked himself. Christopher is blown away by the flavor and is soon receiving a hands-on baking lesson from the handsome tattooed hunk.

As they work to meet the deadline, Christopher suggests Miles enter his bread in an upcoming competition. On the day of the festival, Miles wins first prize. He uses his winnings to buy modern check-out software for the library, bringing Christopher’s vision one step closer to reality.

The decision is finally announced. Christopher and Miles have saved the library and fallen for one another in the process. Love and books and bread… what could be better?

Kneading You by C.S. Poe has it all – a sweet small-town setting, a hero with a passion for literature and preserving history, a nice blue-collar guy for him love, and a deep understanding of how tasty carbs make life worth living.

This delightful short serves as an introduction the authors ‘Lancaster Story’ contemporary romance series.

Quick Review: Rendezvous in Paris by Merry Farmer

Rendezvous in Paris by Merry Farmer

It was a rocky road to romance for Dorothy and Marshall in The Duke from Paris (Tales from the Grand Tour book 1), but they survived scandal and blackmail to find their happily ever after. Now, in Rendezvous in Paris, it’s their brothers turn to find love. Lord Sebastian Stone and Damian McGovern are friends who’ve had their eyes on one other for quite some time. They definitely enjoy engaging in flirty banter.

But flirtations must be set aside, they have reason to suspect that the Dorothy and Marshall’s blackmailer may be at the masquerade ball, being held that evening in the palace in which they’re staying.

Damian dresses in an elaborate geisha costume that is so convincing that he and Sebastian are able to take a turn around the ballroom without the other guests being any the wiser. When their repartee turns suggestive, the two of them hastily exit the dancefloor to find a dark corner, but instead come face to face with Solange, Dorothy’s former lady’s maid and prime blackmailer suspect. They give chase through the palace but lose her in the dark passageways. Their investigation at an impasse, they head upstairs to Damian’s room to further explore their passions.

Sebastian is not at breakfast the next morning. While looking for him, Solange pulls Damian into a storeroom to explain her suspicious behavior. She is not the blackmailer and is on a mission to restore her family’s honor. As for Sebastian? She mentions that she saw him leave earlier on the road into Paris.

When Sebastian returns, he joins Damian and the other McGovern cousins on a leisurely trip down the Seine. Once everyone is aboard their well-appointed barge, Sebastian dodges the question of his whereabouts. Damian suggests that he can imagine a romantic future where they return to England to be together.

Distracted, the boat runs aground, sending the cousins tumbling into the water. After saving several soaked ladies, our heroes make their way back to the palace, find an empty parlor, begin to remove their wet clothes, and continue their amorous activities from the previous evening… when they hear a loud crash. They discover a peephole, a broken camera, and a secret passageway.

Sebastian fears it may be Fordyce, the villainous blackmailer who forced him to flee his home country. Its then that he receives a note and leaves once again. This time Damian follows him into Paris and finds Sebastian working as a waiter in a second-rate café. Sebastian may still has his title, but exile from England means he has no other income and is too proud to ask his brother for support. The two of them retire to Sebastian’s small room above the shop where Damian uses his powers of persuasion to convince him to join him (and their understanding family members) back in England.

Later, a note from Fordyce sends them racing out into the night. It’s on the crowded Parisian streets that they run into Solange who suggest that the blackmailer may be headed to the nearby offices of a tabloid newspaper. It’s on the steps of the office that our heroes, the blackmailer, and the powerful owner of the scandal sheet – finally meet. It’s Fordyce’s own greed that brings him to a bloody end.

Bedraggled but victorious from the evening’s events, Damian and Sebastian return to the palace and tumble into bed together. The couple are welcomed with open arms into the extended McGovern family, a happy ending to their story.

But what of Solange? She returns to service for the McGovern cousins. The quest to avenge her family’s name will have to wait for the next book in the series.

This Victorian novella is filled with passion and romance and adventure. Damian and Sebastian’s story was so much fun. I really enjoyed how they were able to fall in love, solve a mystery, and still find a way to steal a few private moments for some very spicy romantic encounters.

While this novella is the second in a series, it perfectly stands on its own. The previous plot points carried over from Dorothy and Marshall’s book are expertly explained by the author in a way that is organic and natural for the telling of Damian and Sebastian’s story.

To be honest, I was feeling a bit down on the day I started reading this story. By the end, Rendezvous in Paris had definitely lifted my spirits. Wonderful characters, great setting, a fast paced plot – Merry Farmer combines it all for an engaging and romantic read.