Title: Open Seating
Series: Open 01
Author: Mickie B. Ashing
Length: 204 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (June 10th 2016)
Heat Level: Moderate
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥3 Hearts
Blurb: Seth Wilder lost his partner of twenty years to suicide two weeks before a long-anticipated cruise. Cancellation insurance was never purchased, and Seth can’t get a refund. Bryce McFarland, his late partner’s gym buddy, appreciates his predicament, and when asked, agrees to accompany him on the trip. This way, Seth recoups the money and doesn’t’t have to cancel his plans. The gesture is unexpected but accepted gratefully.
The two men have nothing in common. Seth is a reclusive romance writer, and Bryce is a hard-core Grindr user with major commitment issues. Out of necessity and despite the seemingly insurmountable differences in personality, they develop a tentative rapport. As they begin their journey through the UK, Bryce helps Seth come to terms with his partner’s sudden death while Seth, in turn, discovers the root cause of Bryce’s phobia.
Shipboard romances rarely work. Sensible men resist, sexual tension notwithstanding. But a full moon and late summer breezes lend themselves to the impossible situation, barriers are crossed, and a love affair is kindled.
Review: I am so thrown after reading this book, because there were some hard limits of mine that were stomped on. But despite that, this was a beautiful love story. A story of second chances, if you wish. There were things I couldn’t get past despite the lovely setup here, hence my 3 Hearts rating. I probably would’ve given this 2 Hearts, if not for the good writing and nice character development.
Two weeks before the vacation planned for their anniversary, Seth’s partner of 20 years took his own life while lying in bed next to Seth. Mark has been diagnosed with an incurable disease, and as a pharmacist he knew that putting Seth through that would be unfair and it would destroy his spirit. Seth is wrecked in the worst way possible because he found out about Mark’s disease from his suicide letter.
Seth’s feelings and stance on Mark’s death were pretty easy to understand. Sorrow, heartbreak, sadness, rage, fury…. how does one cope knowing that your partner didn’t give you a choice and kept you in the dark while taking the easy way out?
Seth decides to go on the trip and knowing that cancelling Mark’s ticket would be a loss of money, he invites Mark’s best friend Bryce to go with him. Bryce is the ultimate playboy, unwilling to accept his age and be realistic about life. Picking up barely legal boys on Grindr and fucking his way through the twink population, Bryce is unwilling to open his heart to anyone. He doesn’t believe in the sanctity of marriage and truly believes it wrecks people’s lives.
Bryce and Seth couldn’t be more different: the monogamist vs. the whore, the idealist vs. the realist, the dreamer vs. the jaded. And yet there’s something between them that neither of them can ignore, no matter how hard they try…but, for different reasons. Seth doesn’t want to be another notch in Bryce’s post, and Bryce is not looking for anything serious and permanent. Fortunately, things don’t usually go the way people plan and Bryce and Seth find themselves is a relationship of sorts.
Of course Seth has to work through the guilt and anger and Bryce has to come to terms with the fact that finding the right person can make you happy and content, instead of miserable.
What I hated with a passion was that Seth’s guilt was handled by putting down Mark. He’s dead already for fuck’s sake. Why couldn’t he be remembered as a dedicated partner who loved Seth enough to put up with his neglect?
Seth worked as a writer and depended on Mark financially, yet Mark was still the one who had to clean and cook and take care of him after working 60+ hours a week! And what does he get as a reward? All his faults are thrown out there for all to see. Though I thought they were minor things that every human has after being in a relationship for so many years. (And he didn’t even have a chance to defend himself)!
Also, it took Seth only 3 weeks to sleep with another man. Where is the grieving period? One moment he’s wrecked and the next he gets a magic cock up his ass and all is good.
Speaking of dick, I still didn’t understand why Seth and Mark never had penetrative sex in the whole 20 years they’ve been married. Clearly Seth loves getting fucked, so why did it never happened for them? I needed more explanations to understand what exactly the nature of their relationship was. Especially since Seth believes their sex life was pretty happy and satisfying.
Bryce goes from being allergic to commitment to being in love overnight. What caused this change of mind? When did his feelings toward Seth start to change from annoyed babysitter to love? Despite how lovely their second chance at love was, I couldn’t get past the many inconsistencies.
Overall an OK book and I’m sure you fans of second chances will fall in love with this book.
* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through http://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com *