Brand New Flavor
Author: EM Lynley
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Length: 144 pages, novella
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
When artisan ice cream maker Jay Brown first meets food writer Cameron Clay at a charity tasting event, they get along like strawberries and chocolate sauce. Jay's unique flavors thrill more than Cameron's jaded palate, but after a delicious encounter in Jay’s delivery truck, where extra-creamy frozen treats are not the only delights sampled, Cameron loses Jay’s contact info—and any hope of a real date.
Desperate, Cameron convinces his editor to host an artisanal ice cream contest in hopes of drawing out the elusive genius. But more complications threaten to intervene. Will Jay even enter the contest? Or will the chance of a happily ever after melt away?
First off, this story made me crave some really good ice cream! EM Lynley describes the tactile sensations and the flavors in such a way that it was an absolute need to get a bowl of frozen confection, mostly because first choice (of hot guys) wasn't in grabbing range.
Cameron the food critic stumbles on the hottest, or coolest, new sensation of Jay’s novel flavors at a tasting, and also stumbles on the interesting sensation of not being recognized. Most of the folks in the food scene know who he is and fear his opinions, but Jay wants to get down and dirty in the delivery van, not court Cameron’s judgment on his wares—that Cameron even had a widely respected opinion came as a surprise. These hot gay guys consider that a good blowjob is like a firm handshake—do that first and then get to know each other.
If they could be in the same place at the same time, that would work better—and the whole world is conspiring to keep them apart. Every single secondary character has an agenda to stick between them, and only Jay’s good-hearted but manipulative staff oppose them. Cameron and Jay are both stubborn and intrigued, but a few of Jay’s quirks make it even harder for them to get together.
A couple of Jay’s idiosyncrasies seemed a bit over the top—why have business cards in your pocket if you won’t even give your phone number to a regular customer? But there are some explanations for even that, and it’s all good frustrating fun and treats for the reader. With every new setback creating a gasp and every fresh revelation bringing an agreeing nod, this story romps through the difficulties created for and by two obstinate men who really ought to have a chance at each other in fresh, crisp sheets.
The secondary characters, from Cameron’s ex who wants him back to Jay’s former partner and lover, plus other friends and foes with strong opinions, all stir the pot here, and are vividly drawn. One female character nearly went over the top, but ended with some nuance. Jay’s employees are darlings, well meaning if occasionally off based, and more help than hindrance, even if Jay would like to whack them with a ladle at one point. Jay’s so stubborn he’s probably the one who needs the thump upside the head—he creates huge vats of will he/won’t he tension.
I enjoyed this story greatly, and now someone better scoop me a big bowl of Jay's chocolaty lusciousness! 4.5 marbles