Audio Review: Jay Bell – Something Like Stories: Volume Two (Something Like #8)

41BCfemx09L._SY346_Author: Jay Bell
Reviewer: Barb
Publisher: Self published
Genre: Contemporary

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Narrator: Kevin R. Free

The Something Like… series is drawing to a close! Before it ends, reunite with favorite characters and meet others for the first time in this special collection of fourteen stories. Highlights include Something Like Champagne, in which Marcello searches for the truth behind a drunken vision. In Something Like Bunnies, a young Jace Holden struggles with his first crush. Ben and Tim return in Something Like Memories as they debate when exactly they should celebrate their anniversary, and Jason finally makes an important decision about his future with William in Something Like Sun. Joyful reunions and tearful goodbyes await you, as do many affirmations of love, in this second volume of short stories.

A year’s worth of stories await us in this volume. I totally and completely loved every single moment and I hope other MM romance readers will too!

Something Like Infinity
A delightful story of a young substitute teacher whose Spanish classes include an estranged Ben and Tim and a potential teen arsonist. The sexy cop who comes to investigate the arson pushes all Ross’s buttons, though the apparently straight man wouldn’t be interested in someone like him. Surprise. He’s not straight. He is interested, at least until their moral codes clash, and Ross decides to put the student’s welfare before his own chance at happiness, while the straightforward cop wants to strictly follow the law. The infinity symbol on Ross’s wrist reminds them both that they shouldn’t give up. Love could be infinite. It’s a lesson he’s able to impart to Ben, bringing him a bit of comfort in his otherwise challenging school term.

Something Like Turkey
Oops! Ben’s Thanksgiving turkey dinner doesn’t go according to plan. At all! He and Tim are together again; it’s 2013, and Ben wants to surpass Eric’s culinary skills by showing Tim that he can do anything Eric could do. Unfortunately, he can’t, and when he accidentally kills the bird, he runs to the market to get a ready-prepped turkey – all without letting Tim know of his failure. Thankfully, Alison accompanies him because all he manages to find is turkey lunchmeat and on the way home, he gets a flat tire. Alison knows how to change it. Ben doesn’t. As it turns out, Tim knows Ben well enough to have made secondary plans to save his guy’s humiliation, and the holiday turns out okay, with yet another lesson on love added to Ben’s storehouse of memories.

Something Like Ornaments
Austin 2008 – Ben and Tim unpack ornaments Ben had put away awhile past and the more Tim makes fun of the funny-looking things, the more quiet and subdued Ben gets. Apparently, these were ornaments Jace gave him – one for every year they were together. In a flashback sequence, we get to witness Ben and Jace’s first anniversary together—the Christmas Eve Ben took the flight where he first met Jace is marked by Jace as the date he will always consider theirs. And the first ornament Jase gave him, promising they’d have one every year from now until forever. Back in the present, Ben’s wearing his heart on his sleeve and barely hanging on when an unexpected remark from Tim and a package from an unexpected source end up making this his best Christmas so far and has him looking forward to many more with Tim.

Something Like Champagne
Marcello and Tim fondly remember Eric and take an opportunity to revisit his house on New Year’s Eve in the hopes that Marcello can finally locate something long-forgotten that he’s not sure is a memory or a dream of a conversation about Gabriel with Eric. It’s a sweet little vignette which showcases Marcello’s soft side as well as his loyalty to his deceased friend and his respect for Tim, who turned out to be so much more than he initially thought when Eric first brought him home.

Something Like Hearts
The finale to Nathaniel and Kelly’s love story that actually started during a photo session. Kelly has agreed to one last shoot for Marcello—with a wedding theme on Valentine’s Day. What he doesn’t know is that Marcello helped Nathaniel arrange everything so that he could pull off a major surprise for the love of his life when the other model working with Kelly suddenly falls ill. For a man like Nathaniel, who doesn’t do romantic gestures, this is one of the best I’ve ever read.

Something Like Shamrocks
Austin 2009 – A story about Layne, a flamboyant boy in Kelly’s gay support group who takes on a bet with Katsu, another boy in the group, that he can get seven pictures of him kissing seven different boys in the next seven months. Layne goes to great lengths, mostly comical and sometimes sadly pitiful, to find boys willing to kiss him. When he gets to number seven, at the conclusion of his pictorial journey, the surprise is on him.

Something Like Bunnies
It’s 1987. and teen Jace has his first sexual fantasies when his family takes on an exchange student, a young man from Italy named Gianni. Over the time he’s with them, Jace has his first love experience and he’s heartbroken to learn that Gianni finds his female tutor much more to his liking. Though he recognizes Jace’s love, and acknowledges it before he leaves the country, Jace’s feelings go unrequited. On a happy note, the story ends three years later when Jace receives an announcement of their wedding and turns to discuss it with his own lover, Victor.

Something Like Flowers
Mother’s Day is something that Jason, even now in 2015, can’t relate to, and his reflections on the holiday cause him to miss his boyfriend, William. Feeling down and knowing two people who can always make him feel better, he heads to the home of his adoptive parents: Ben and Tim. Jason accompanies them to Jason’s family dinner, which includes a visit with Michelle, his former social worker, Ben’s sister. When Michelle helps him track down his real mother’s burial place, he realizes she’s been the mother of his heart all along, and he didn’t need to look far for the unconditional love he’s been receiving through the years.

Something Like Memories
It’s their anniversary and Tim is bummed out that Ben wants to celebrate only the eight years they’ve been back together – from the time Ben walked into Tim’s gallery. But Tim believes that’s nonsense. They dated in high school and got back together and broke up and got back together again. He thinks those times should count, so he pulls out the big guns and goes to see Ben’s BFF, Alison Cross, who tells him about the journal Ben once kept. Pursuing the lead, Tim manages to find the exact date when Ben first laid eyes on him and he’s able to surprise Ben with the perfect anniversary gift—the gift of memories.

Something Like Sparks
Rent boys Calvin and Harold spend a last weekend together before Calvin moves in with one of their clients. However, Harold isn’t aware of that and his plans are to spend the 4th of July holiday with Calvin at Calvin’s summer home and he’s going to ask Calvin to marry him. I’m not sure who these characters are, i.e., which story they originally appeared in, but they seem to be former models of Marcello’s, now escorts, and though neither wants to remain an escort forever, Harold doesn’t seem to mind. This one was sad and depressing and ended on a downer. I hope Mr. Bell has a little vignette planned for Harold in the future. He’s a sweetie.

Something Like Sun
Austin, 2015 – Jason flies from Texas to Oregon to visit William. This isn’t just a simple visit, however. It’s the one in which he’ll decide if he’ll be staying with William forever, no matter where William’s Coast Guard career takes them, or if he’ll be staying closer to Ben and Tim, his adoptive parents and the family of his heart. It’s a difficult decision and during this story we witness the dynamic between the two young men and the love that has become stronger over time, but we also bear witness to Jason’s memories of Ben and Tim and the love he has for these two men who’ve changed his life. As the story closes, his decision is made… And as usual, Jay Bell leaves us with more to think about. Those who know these characters will likely be able to guess the “right” answer… but maybe not. LOL

Something Like Cake
Also in 2015, we visit with Caesar Hubbard who’s surprising his girlfriend, Mia, by bringing home a man they can both have sex with. The problem, of course, is that Caesar doesn’t realize she views this as cheating, so he’s dismayed when she leaves in a huff. Poor Caesar, never got it right, from Jason to Nathaniel to all the others since then. But a surprising visit with Marcello actually helps him gain perspective, and as the story ends and Mia is speaking to him again, he gets to finally verbalize his own needs.

Something Like Braaaains – Ben and Tim are at home on Halloween, Ben expecting carloads of kids, Tim expecting none—after all, they live in an isolated area. When a knock sounds on the door, Tim refuses to answer, but Ben flings the door open to find a young man named Victor standing there. While Tim is talking to Victor about his apparently broken down car, Ben opens the back door to a creature that looks remarkably like Jase. Oh, oh! You have to read this one to appreciate it fully. Take it all the way to the end because the last few paragraphs are priceless! I love Jay Bell’s creative genius!

Something Like Samson
Part One – Warrensburg, 1986
First and foremost, Kevin Free did an outstanding job on this audiobook, but I must say that between the writing skills of Jay Bell and Mr. Free’s narrative skills, this segment told in Samson’s POV was phenomenal! In this segment, we travel back to Warrensburg in 1986 when Samson is born and bought by Victor for his mother, who is slowly going senile. From Samson’s POV, we witness not only her struggles, but Victor’s as well, when she’s taken away and he’s lost in despair and depression in a house in which there’s no food and no heat. Victor and Samson keep each other company in Victor’s basement room, until Jace arrives to save the day. There’s only one conclusion he can come to – Jace is his new mother! But Jace eventually goes away and things go downhill for Victor until one day there’s a loud explosion and Samson doesn’t have anyone coming in to care for him. This story, as I said, was fantastic. Between the story itself, the cat’s POV, and Mr. Free’s narration, I never wanted it to end.

Part Two – Houston, 1998
And then we come to part two… In this part of the story, Samson witnesses Jace falling head-over-heels for Ben, Ben staying with them for the summer, and their eventual move from Austin to Houston so that Ben and Jace can live together. (Or was that vice versa? ) In any event, Samson is there when the men with red and blue lights come to take Jace away, but Samson knows he’ll be back because Jace promised him, when Victor died, that he’d never leave him again. Then Jace does return but he’s not quite the same, and Samson is there the day Jace brings Ben into the bedroom and all three lay on the bed together as the worst happens (Something Like Autumn), and it’s Samson who eventually pulls Ben out of his funk.

I think this was my favorite segment of the book. One of the funniest was Samson’s POV of meeting Chinchilla for the first time. Fantastic! I laughed so hard during most of this section that I couldn’t catch my breath. Highlights include Samson speculating with Chinchilla about whether or not there will be puppies when Ben and Tim go into the bedroom and make certain noises. And their affirmation of at least one puppy when Jason shows up to live with them. Of course, then we came to the end of the segment and the book, and you know Jay Bell—I had tears of a different kind at the end.

I kind of feel like I’ve lost a group of friends. They’ve grown up, or moved on, or passed away, or simply faded into the background. I’ve laughed with them and cried with them and celebrated good times and bad. I’ll miss them terribly. Needless to say, I can’t recommend this book and this series highly enough. If there were more than five stars available, this series would be given a galaxy.



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