Author: AJ Mars
Length: 58 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: m/m contemporary romance
Ezra is nineteen, going to college in his blue-collar hometown, and still living with his mother. It’s all very ordinary… but Ezra is gay, and “ordinary” isn’t really what he wants or needs. The romantic in him yearns for a story-book kind of love, but he certainly doesn’t expect to find it at a party that starts in an old field behind campus. That’s when he meets Nick. Ezra doesn’t believe in love at first sight, not really. But there’s a first time for everything.
I’m always on the look out for decent stories with young heroes who actually act and sound like their age, rather than like they are in their 30′s. This one hit the mark exactly. It tells of Ezra who is hanging out at an outdoor party when he sees Nick. There’s an instant connection between them and they drive off to a remote location to chill and get to know each other a bit better.
The main draw for me with this story was very intimate use of the third person narrative, through a very closed point of view. We get only Exra’s thoughts and feelings and I thought the author had managed to convey all the mixed emotions that occur in a young man. We begin with a description of the party, the sights, sounds and smells, all seen with an almost detached eye, giving us the impression that Ezra isn’t really enjoying himself. Secondary characters flit in and out of the scene but it isn’t until Nick arrives that Ezra’s attention gains focus. I liked the way that the general scope of the story suddenly zooms into his feelings for this stranger, especially the great mix of attraction, but also embarrassment to the reader that he’s contemplating something such as love at first sight.
Another thing that worked for me was the way that the awkwardness of new attraction is explored. The initial strangeness of spending time with someone you don’t know, the tentative discussion between them along with a desire not to look foolish, is shown accurately. Ezra spends time contemplating how different this meeting is to other times he’s ‘got off’ with people, it leaves him feeling a little unbalanced but with an undercurrent of excitement that Nick could be that one special guy he’s been looking for. Although we don’t get Nick’s point of view Ezra’s view of him manages to show the reader just how nervous Nick feels too. When they get physical, the descriptions give us a feeling of the awkwardness between them as they try and work out how far they are going to go, or what Nick wants from Ezra, coupled with a growing desire.
Any niggles I had were as a result of the narrative style. The intensity may be off-putting to some readers especially as it makes it very slow moving. Not much actually happens in the story and it relies on the reader becoming heavily invested in Ezra. I was, so the story worked for me, but it did take me a little time to get into the story and I re-read the first couple of pages a few times to try and orientate myself with the narrative style.
Overall, if you’re a fan of stories of young men falling in love then this will be a good story for you. I liked Ezra, and the story even moved me to tears in my eyes at the end. It’s happy, but there’s a moment or two when you think things are going pear shaped, which that made me sad for Ezra and I was pleased by the HFN ending.