Author: Brandon Witt
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Darwin Michaels is living his dreams in the Mile High City. While Denver offers the perfect job, scrumptious dining, and whirlwind dating options, Darwin is losing hope he’ll find the right man to spark his interest for more than a one-night stand—until he sets eyes on Cody Russell.
Cody has just accomplished his life’s goal—get the hell out of Kansas. In one fell swoop, he lands a job at Hamburger Mary’s and gets a newfound family and the chance to be with other gay people! All that’s missing is someone special. But when Darwin shows his interest, Cody is sure it’s too good to be true. After all, what can Darwin possibly see in the high school dropout serving him nachos?
As Darwin falls in love, Cody struggles to realize his worth. When his past threatens the fragile life he is building, Cody spirals into a moment of dark desperation. But Darwin is determined to show Cody that love and family and home are there for him… will Cody accept what is offered?
In the end I was more satisfied with this than I expected. It was a good read, and worked well as an audio book. It was kinda insta-lovey and started getting a bit mush-tastic. But honestly, I had forgotten it was a novella. And when things were nice but not perfect, and life was good but still a work in progress, and things were mushy pushing the boundaries of too much… it ended. And I was pleasantly surprised the author had the restraint and the talent to not push too much unrealistic progress and perfection into a shorter story.
Cody is a tough nut to crack. Initially I thought he might have been raped or molested or very badly abused. He was abused, but in the way of an alcoholic asshole father. Which is unfortunately all too common, but also not as elaborate and over-the-top dramatic as many stories get with abused characters. Because of this, he didn’t see his own value and had created a protective shell while maintaining his vulnerable center. I wouldn’t say he was jaded or cynical, exactly, because he just saw the shitty parts of the world as common place and never expected different (aka better).
Darwin was sweet although a little less developed. I wish they had delved more into his attraction to Cody past the ‘there’s just something about him.’ I did believe him, but could have felt more chemistry. Especially when Cody was getting all skittish on their first date and it was clear that there was somewhat of a traumatic background. As well as later on.
The author handled the dramatic climax well. This story dealt with some serious issues, and was able to walk the line between not delving too deep in a novella AND giving it the gravity it deserved.
I was pleasantly surprised after the story to find out that Hamburger Mary’s is a real life franchise, and that they agreed to let the author use their namesake and image, and even helped with details and specifics. It’s a nice touch and adds a layer of realism, even though the MC’s aren’t based on real people.
The narrator did a good job, and I’m always a fan of novella length books in audiobook format. They lend themselves to it well, and work perfectly for my morning/afternoon commute. This one was no different. Initially I didn’t think this would be a repeat for me, but I’ll keep an eye out for more in this series when they come out in audio. They did a good job of introducing the characters of the next book without shoving them down our throat.