Still working my way down the alphabet of authors who contributed to the benefit campaign for Doctors Without Borders.
The Pavilion by Tracy Rowan
Eliot is a doctor who knows he can't save everyone, but that doesn't keep him from letting guilt and grief shut down his life when his lover dies. He leaves everything behind, moves to a new city, and resolves to live a quiet, solitary life. He finds his way back to a medical practice after a few years, but even the satisfaction he gets from his work doesn't help heal his broken heart.
Enter Jamie, a younger man who works at the local diner and has ambitions to become a chef. He chooses Eliot as a guinea pig for his cooking, and as the object of his affection. Eliot's head tells him to send Jamie away with a polite refusal, but his heart is aching to open up to Jamie. Can an impromptu dinner in Eliot's garden be just the right prescription to get Eliot back on his feet?
This was fun, Jamie knows what he wants, how to get it, using food and humor as bait. But Jamie's not prepared for what passes for a Brit's sense of humor, either. Be sure not to have liquid in your mouth when you get to the negotiations, right about here:
"That's a little cold, but I guess it'll do. Eliot, I like you a lot, but hardly enough to do the whole I-love-you thing, and if I said different, you'd figure I was just lying to get you horizontal."
Cause what comes next will make you snort.
The time/location thing was a little clunky, it's told in flashback/flashforward, but Eliot's backstory matters. Jamie's ethnicity gets played up a lot, (having a part-American Indian cooking curry comes across muddled) but seems to be mostly for a way to have objections to starting a relationship, not because he couldn't be anything else and still be in this story.
These two look like they could manage an HEA.
Borders by Kathryn Scannell
Hooking up with a stranger in a bar is hard for a shy young doctor, but it’s the only option when not staying in the closet might get you killed. So Kevin has taken his first long weekend off from his job in Gaza City, and headed for Tel Aviv to find some action. Things are looking promising when he meets a handsome Israeli who seems just as interested as he is.
But it’s not so simple. David is an Israeli soldier, and Kevin may have noticed too much about a sensitive operation David was part of in Gaza City a few weeks ago. Is David’s interest genuine, or just a trick to get Kevin alone to find out what he knows?
I found the back away/come together/back away/ come together part of this story very authentic feeling - it isn't a simple situation on either man's part. Kevin has every reason to doubt David's direct approach and sincerity.
A couple things felt rushed; David's making a beeline for Kevin felt like kind of bad craft for a secret ops guy, it triggered the recognition, which seemed a bit premature from across the room even so. One part of the sex went by in a blink, too.
The setting is unique in my reading and feels real and gritty, and the feeling of living in a war zone was clear. I liked this story a lot, but would have liked it more had a couple things come about half a page later than they did.
General question for the universe -- why do authors assume that men who aren't in relationships aren't doing anything by themselves?
Eyes Wide Shut By Meredith Shayne
Adam Taylor liked working for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. He didn’t even mind the tiny outback town in Western Australia where he was based. If the downside was doing the regular clinic at the Mount Keith nickel mine where his mining engineer ex-boyfriend Chris Barker worked, well, he’d coped with worse. When a visit from Chris leads to an unexpected encounter, Adam can’t help but hope for things to get back on track.
If Chris couldn’t keep away from Adam, the least he could do was make sure that his redneck workmates never found out. It was better for everyone that way. At least, that’s what he’d thought, until Adam got caught in a mine cave in and Chris thought he was dead. After that, being outed didn’t seem so important anymore. Chris just hoped he’d get a chance to tell Adam that.
I liked this story enough to find a map and figure out where Meekatharra and Perth are relative to each other. Okay, ignorant American here. Another story with the Royal Flying Doctor Service, but a totally different flavor and focus, so not repetitive.
In the first heady encounter between Chris and Adam that we see, they are all over each other, but nothing about why they broke up has changed so it doesn't seem all that hopeful, and all the fighting that follows doesn't move them along, so frustrating, cause they obviously love each other. I think Chris has some legitimate concerns, too, which I didn't see Adam taking so seriously. Dropping rocks on his head did knock some ideas loose for Chris, I just wish that Adam had budged, too.
Buy one or all of the Healing Hearts Charity Sips, benefitting Doctors Without Borders, here.