Amy Lane & Aleksandr VoinovCountry MouseRiptide Publishing, April 23, 2012 | 79 pages
Amy Lane’s website | Aleksandr Voinov’s website | Goodreads | Buy book here
Owen may be a bit of a country mouse, but he’s loving his vacation in London. After a long day playing tourist, he’s on the hunt for some cheap beer and a good burger. Instead he finds a man hunting him, an arrogant prick with only one thing on the brain: the kind of meat that doesn’t come on a bun.
Eighty-hour weeks at a trading desk don’t leave Malcolm Kavanagh much time for meaningful relationships. Besides, in his world, everything’s a competition—even sex. When his newest one-night-sub fails to show, Malcolm sets his sights on the pretty young Yank on the bar stool beside him.
Owen’s all for an adventure with a native, but he’s not the pushover Malcolm thinks he is, and Malcolm’s not as shallow as he tries to be. They both soon learn that nothing's too intimate to share with a stranger, and the strangest things happen when two people share the most important pieces of their hearts.
Genre & Keywords:
M/M Romance, Contemporary, Self-Discovery, Vacation, London, D/s, Light Bondage, Spanking
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2.5 out of 3 flames
The cover and the name of Amy Lane attracted my attention and made me, along with the blurb, want to read this book. Lane's cowriter Voinov is a new to me author, although I've heard of his name, I've never read any of his books. All I've heard about them is that they are sort of dark. Add to that tidbit the fact that I know and love Lane for her angsty stories and one's expectations of Country Mouse can be easily predicted. But... to my surprise this novella was actually a rather light and angst free read! And I immensely enjoyed it, even though I never mind some angst in my m/m romances.
The back blurb is introducing the heroes quite accurately. Owen and Malcolm seem to be an odd match at first sight, the American country boy vs the slick business man from London. Malcolm presents himself as a dominating male who's looking for a one night stand, but Owen is not as submissive as Malcolm expected and one night with him does not seem enough once they get together. Owen's openness disarms Malcolm pretty fast.
What happens between them, happens over just one weekend, which is a very short period of time and makes this an instalove story. But despite that, it doesn't feel unrealistic at all. I think that's mainly due to the writing skills of these authors who succeed in giving a detailed and believable insight in their characters' feelings with very few words. Also, the heroes' personalities are distinct and clearly presented while there's a wonderful character development at work as well.
Apart from that, I interpreted the ending as sort of a solid HFN (Happy for Now) rather than a real HEA, because a HEA would've made the instalove harder to swallow and much less believable. The book ended when Malcolm asks Owen to stay in London with him instead of going to Paris for the rest of his European vacation, leaving the option open for a sequel where Owen and Malcolm actually have to learn to live together (I would love to read such a sequel!), although it's not a necessity.
The layered personality of both characters is what makes this book stand out for me. I loved the exploration of deeper emotions compared with the witty banter between the heroes, which showcased all the detailed aspects of their unique and irresistible chemistry. Owen and Malcolm are both a one-of-a-kind character and they are a perfect match in the end. There is a bit of a kinky side to their sexual relationship as well, that I wouldn't call BDSM per se, but which certainly has some D/s aspects and spanking, restraining and naughty games involved. The sex scenes are definitely on the hot and erotic side of the scale!
Everything combined makes Country Mouse one of my favorite reads this year. It's entertaining, emotionally satisfying, adorable and yet hot, funny, definitely memorable and special; especially when you realize that this is 'just' a novella.