Title: A Rare Thing
Author: Alex Douglas
Length: 10,000 words
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m contemporary romance
Benedict Smith is an artist-turned-mature-student, and is feeling the pinch of funding his new studies. Forced to sell some of his grandmother’s jewelry to get some extra cash, it’s not just the antiques that have caught his eye but also Sam, the handsome owner of Carson’s Antiques. However, Sam has jewelry of his own – a wedding ring. Resigned to another doomed crush on a married man, Benedict brings an old necklace in to be valued with surprising results. Is all jewelry really what it appears to be?
This lovely story follows British mature student Benedict who has to pass an antique shop every day on his way to the university library. He’s admired the shopkeeper from afar, although has never had the courage to speak to him because Benedict has seen the ring on the other man’s hand. However, when looming university fees mean that Benedict has to sell off some of the jewelry left to him by his Grandmother, he gets his chance to at least talk to the man he’s been crushing on.
This was one of those stories where the combination of sympathetic characterisation, coupled with a simple but effective romantic situation creates a story which is just delightful. Benedict and Sam are both older men (in their late 30s/early 40s) who for various reasons just haven’t found the ‘one’ yet. Their first meeting is alive with sexual tension which the author sustains without it slipping into exaggeration and it was parts such as:
Breathless, Benedict stood still as Sam reached the necklace over his head and fastened it. It was cold against his skin for a second. Sam’s fingertips brushed against the back of his neck, and he felt goosebumps breaking out on his skin.
which made me read on eagerly to see how the pair would overcome any problems to be with each other.
It’s not only the scenes where the pair are together which zings on the page. Benedict’s thoughts are emotions are described succinctly, with a whole range of ideas and emotions packed into the sentences. We learn lots about Benedict, his life and even his friendships within the story and still have room for a very satisfying romance. The scenes that Benedict share with Sam are sexy and very down to earth, just like they should be for two men with the experience (both good and bad) that these characters have. The sex scenes are rewarding because there’s a strong impression that they actually really like each other, alongside the novelty of exploring a new body.
Overall, I greatly enjoyed this story from an author I’d not heard of before. I quickly connected with the written style, and these characters stayed with me long after I’d finished the story. If this is the first published story by Alex Douglas then I’m very impressed and look forward to reading more from this author.