Title: After the BBQ
Author: Matthew Lang
Cover Artist: Deanna Jamroz
Publisher: MLR Press
Length: 9000 words
Trent Gaudeen was going to spend Australia Day alone--on principle, of course. When an invitation comes out of the blue to attend his ex's holiday barbeque, he goes along despite himself. Will he open a can of worms or find the perfect match to his American pumpkin pie?
I like stories with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Here the beginning starts out with the promise of paranormal that doesn’t mesh up with the contemporary middle, which in turn doesn’t support the happy ever after ending. This could have made a lot more sense.
After getting the story, reading it, and wondering what the heck I just read, I discovered that this is part of a series, but even so, this degree of ?? wasn’t necessary. Merely starting the story a few pages later would have removed the paranormal element that went nowhere and let this story stand properly on its own. Just because the paranormal element was front and center in other books with other MCs doesn’t mean it has to appear here.
Once past the red herring, American in Australia Trent meets up with Vijay, a New Zealander of mixed Greek and Indian heritage, at Jake’s Australia Day barbecue. He’s intriguing and sexy, and Trent wants to be all over him. A walk home with adventures later, they’re home, getting in each other’s britches, and all is copacetic.
The HEA happens about 12 hours later. Um, whut? The middle doesn’t support this—it comes out of the blue. The story feels like a slice of life, kind of fun, but not utilizing the “two outsiders celebrating someone else’s holiday” set up and doing nothing at all with the paranormal elements. If you’re a fan of the other Talmor Manor stories, you might follow along better and enjoy this more. It’s pretty choppy, even for those who know the setup. 2 marbles