Title: Love’s Cabers Tossed
Author: Ari McKay
Length: 17,693 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Blurb: At the Coastal Carolina Highland Games, baker Martin Fletcher receives an unexpected visitor in the form of Fergus, Lyall McLannan’s escaped sheltie. When Fergus accidentally causes Martin to sprain his ankle, Lyall comes to the rescue, helping Martin run his booth at the Games. Unfortunately, Lyall doesn’t know a thing about baking, but he manages to avoid both disaster and Martin’s wrath by attracting patrons with his and Fergus’s showmanship.
Martin accepts Lyall’s invitation to stay in his RV during the fair, getting to know the lawyer-turned-Highlander he’s watched from afar. Martin is captivated by Lyall’s charm… and the tantalizing view of him in a kilt. Entranced by Martin’s dedication to his work and love for Fergus, Lyall sets out to woo him with starlight and bagpipe music, because he’s discovered opposites can attract and love can be found in the most unexpected circumstances.
Review: Lyall McLannan and his sheltie dog, Fergus, are the most popular every year at the Highland Games. Martin is a baker and owner of local bakery and celebration cakes business called Flour Power. Every year he goes to the games to set up a stall and sell his goods, even dressing the part (though quite toned down). And every year, from afar, he admires the gorgeous and outgoing Lyall with a real Scottish brogue. He never expects to meet him. No matter his fantasies, Martin is quite busy at the games baking and working his stall. This year is even worse — his assistants are busy with their cake orders back at the bakery, so he’s working the games all by himself.
When Fergus the dog shows up alone while Martin is baking and whines for a treat, Martin can’t help but fall in love with the dog and his antics. Like his sexy master, he’s quite charismatic and knows how to charm to get attention. And of course, Martin is surprised when Lyall shows up at his stall looking for his dog. Lyall has admired Martin from afar as well — no matter how Martin could never believe that he’d be attractive to the man who could have whoever he wants — and Fergus has given him the perfect opportunity to ask the man on a date.
The two get to know each other a bit that night over a pint in the tavern at the games, but a late night dog walk with a cat-chasing Fergus causes an accident that puts the Flour Power stall in jeopardy and makes Lyall feel incredibly guilty… enough to take the chance to spend the whole games with Martin, trying to learn to bake and getting to know each other at night under the stars and sleeping together in his RV.
The first thing you really need to know about this story is that… well, Lyall is almost perfect. I mean, he’s got the Scottish brogue going on, he’s incredibly sexy with muscles galore and wears kilts. And the way he cares for Martin is seriously swoon-worthy. He’s the perfect guy in a LOT of ways. And that bothers some people. I can’t count the number of bad to okay reviews I’ve seen for this story on Goodreads simply because people just can’t get behind the fact that Lyall seems too perfect. I honestly didn’t mind. I mean, it’s supposed to be a feel-good story, I think. Almost fairytalesque because the whole weekend is about fantasy. Everyone leaves their real personality and identity at home, and then once a year congregate together to be whoever they want to be. It’s a fantasy, and part of that fantasy is in having the perfect romance.
Granted, that leads me to the one thing that I didn’t quite like. I suppose maybe these authors didn’t want to keep the story going too far. That’s okay, I still really liked this story. But the story ends with a very shaky foundation for a relationship. The magical weekend is about to end and they’ve talked about how they’re going back to their real lives and who they are in the real world. And, they’ve talked about how different it will be if they try to have a real relationship in the real world. That’s a different story and exploring that would have made this story into a much longer novella. Still, part of me would have liked just a little more. Maybe one date in the real world to see if they could really make it of it all that perfection over the weekend was just a pipe-dream. In the end, they still don’t know each other that well, which makes my hopes for their future together really unsure.
So, the real question is if you have a problem with perfect characters. A lot of readers do. If you don’t, I think you should definitely read this one. Fergus the dog steals every scene he’s in! He’s adorable. Sadly, we don’t get to see a lot o