Author: Ethan Stone
Title: Starting Over
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release date: March 9 , 2011
Length: 34 pages
Backblurb/Goodreads link | author's website | buy link
Genre & keywords:M/M, Romance, Contemporary, Short story, One night stand, Marriage of convenience, New beginnings
Synopsis in short:Eddie meets Nate in a diner and they feel instantly attracted. They spend the night together but they know that's all there'll be, because Nate is married. The fantastic night and Nate's departing remark make Eddie see that he wasn't really living anymore after his ex Gill had left him. So he decides to change his life and starts living again.
POV: The story is told in first person and solely from Eddie's point of view.
H/H & characterization: It's only a short story, about 34 pdf pages, and therefore there's not much room to really get to know the protags. Because of the choice of perspective Eddie is the one we learn most about. We get his back-story about his former relationship with Gill and we follow him when he starts changing his life. He's a hard working, nice guy who has low self-esteem thanks to his pompous former lover. Due to the limited amount of pages that the two heroes actually share on page together, we don't see very much of Nate at all, and the fact that he wears a wedding ring adds to the confusion. He seems a considerate, nice and tender man though, but that's only based on how he acts in bed during the one night stand and the morning after.
Empathy level: Nate's thoughts and feelings stay unknown until the very end. That and his wedding ring make it not easy to relate with him. Eddie is easier to like and understand because we follow him from beginning to end. However the period after the one night stand, when he starts to make changes in his life, is told about in a recap style, which leaves little room to empathize with him all the time either. But when he deals with his ex Gill the way he does, I whole-heartedly cheered for him.
Heat level: There are basically only two extensive sex scenes, at the beginning and at the end of the story. In between, months pass in which Eddie and Nate hardly see each other. The hot get-togethers are detailed and written with emotion. 2 out of 3 flames
Angst level: It was clear from the beginning that there could never be more than that one night between Nate and Eddie. So, Eddie didn't hang on to his feelings for Nate too long. So, not much angst there, just a little sadness. Instead the unrequited feelings turned out to be a fresh and nice way to let Eddie find his new happiness, instead of letting him be ruled by his feelings of regret. This was a concept I rather enjoyed. 0.5 out of 3 hankies
Overall entertainment level: Given the limited on page time Nate and Eddie spend together, the one-sided point of view and the short length of this story, it's difficult to establish a satisfying insight in both characters' feelings and emotions. Therefore the love declarations felt a bit rushed. I admit that the insta-love is not often my favorite, especially not when I can feel the potential a story has in the emotional department, would it have been given more pages. This author's writing style and way of structuring a story are pleasant and skilful but in this form they lack tension and emotional depth. All in all, I enjoyed this story because of the sympathetic heroes, the fresh concept of starting over and the well-written, smexy scenes, but it didn't completely satisfy me in the relationship development and HEA department.
Final judgment:Hardworking, lovable hero finds his life back after a hot one night stand with an equally hardworking and lovable cutie, who could've used a bit more on-screen time to make the HEA more convincing. Theirs is an enjoyable, sexy, but also a bit rushed story about finding yourself back.
3.5 out of 5 stars