REVIEW WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT DEAR AUTHOR WHERE I RECEIVED THE BOOK AS FREE REVIEWING COPY
When Mr. Glad Rags meets Mr. Riches, the result is flaming fun.
The Bristol Collection, Book 2
Tobias “Mas” Maslin doesn’t need much. A place of his own, weekends of clubbing, a rich boyfriend for love and support. Too bad his latest sugar daddy candidate turns out to be married with kids. Mas wants to be special, not someone’s dirty little secret.
When he loses his job and his flat on the same day, his world starts unraveling…until he stumbles across a vintage clothing shop. Now to convince the reclusive, eccentric owner he’s in dire need of a salesman.
Perry Cavendish-Fiennes set up Cabbages and Kinks solely to annoy his controlling father. Truth be told, he’d rather spend every spare moment on his true passion, art. When Mas comes flaming into his life talking nineteen to the dozen, he finds himself offering him a job and a place to live.
He should have listened to his instincts. The shop is already financially on the brink, and Mas’s flirting makes him feel things he’s never felt for a man. Yet Mas seems convinced they can make a go of it—in the shop, and together.
Warning: Contains an eccentric, bumbling Englishman, a gobby drama queen, fantastic retro clothing, scary fairies, exes springing out of the woodwork, and a well-aimed glass of bubbly. Written in brilliantly British English.
Dear Josephine Myles,
When I briefly “met” Mas in the first book of this series, he was Jasper’s “friend with benefits” and I wanted him to get his own happy ending, after being disappointed that Jasper fell in love with Lewis.
I have to say that in the first chapter of this story Mas and I got off the wrong foot. No, it has nothing to do with Mas’ exuberant, drama-queen persona. It has to do with one very specific action which irritated me. You see, he decided to get a little something from his job and I could not quite figure out why. Was it an act of revenge for his boss daring to fire him? Was it an attempt to portray Mas as Jean Valjean (which failed for me right away, if that was the attempt, because no, he did not look desperate any more than anybody who just got fired from their job)? Of course it is devastating, but it was just happening, no devastating consequences could have occurred yet if that makes sense. Or did Mas just decide to take a little revenge on his job and his boss? Initially even though I was a little irritated- I did not allow myself to dwell on it because I decided that this was the first chapter and if this action of his would be in any way significant, it would be addressed later in the story. I am asking myself these questions now because having finished reading the story, of course it was important and no, I am not clear on what it meant and why it happened.
Mas’ attempt at shoplifting was halted through no fault of his own. He did not change his mind – his boss wanted to search his bags. He is being forced to leave the premises and pretty much run and hide from his former boss and as a consequence he stumbles upon Perry’s shop. He decides to wait there till his ex-boss is tired of chasing him. As you can guess, Mas likes Perry, decides that Perry needs a lot of help (which he does) and pretty much makes himself welcome eventually.
Because the first book dealt with hoarding, I at first thought that Perry was a hoarder too, because his shop was so cluttered, but I am not sure that this was true. I was actually agreeing with Mas that Perry was not really attached to the extra stuff; he just did not have energy and did not know how to manage the store properly. Perry says at some point closer to the end that he was depressed before Mas came along, and I would rather pretend not to hear that – because I would rather not to think that author wanted me to think that Mas made him *not depressed*. I do not want to sound negative about their interactions, because I actually really liked those interactions overall. Mas persistently drew Perry out of his shell. Sometimes I felt that he was a tad too pushy, but what mattered was what Perry wanted and it looked to me that Mas was exactly what Perry wanted and needed. I want to use the word *exuberant* to describe Mas once again.
Perry has issues with his rich family – some you would expect for the hero of romance novel to have and some not quite. Perry wants his shop to succeed, but he would rather spend his time making art and I love how this writer often provides unusual hobbies/profession for her characters. The art Perry makes is not the most common one (they are sculptures of a sort, but you have to read to find out what kind). Perry may be somewhat terrified about the changes Mas gently and not so gently pushes him to make, but I did not notice that he was really opposed to any of them, when push came to shove. I thought the changes made him happy and that included his sexual life. I guess this story offers some gay for you/ bi for you undertones, but Perry’s hesitations in this area were over so fast, that there wasn’t a lot of angst about it. I mean he hesitated a bit, but I thought when he ended up in bed with Mas that it was something he really wanted. And Perry never says that he is not attracted to women anymore, so I prefer to think of this one as “bisexual for you”.
And I always love how Josephine Myles writes sex scenes; it just tells me so much about the characters. This book is no exception.
“So yeah, he’d done this enough times to know the drill, but nothing about Perry felt familiar. It wasn’t that there was anything unusual about his technique. He was currently kissing down Mas’s chest, and he had the feeling he was in for another blowjob attempt. Hopefully – for Perry’s sake- a more successful one this time. No, it wasn’t in what Perry was doing so much as in the way he was doing it. There was passion there. Extreme, wild passion, but Perry kept it under a knife-edge of control. Yet Mas could see it dancing in his eyes, feel it in the way Perry clutched him with barely restrained violence. And yet, despite all this, Perry was treating him with consideration and respect, rather than letting rip and taking what he needed. Mas had never before felt simultaneously desired and cherished to that degree”.
I did think that Mas was a little delusional in thinking that he fell in love with Perry after a week of knowing him, but I could see how he was ready to hold on to somebody as kind as Perry, so it was not the worst Insta!Love scenario I have ever read about.
I liked the disagreements between them too – it made sense for a new couple, made sense in light of Mas’ insecurities, and I liked that none of those disagreements resulted in a prolonged break-up. One took I think a day and another an hour or so? I thought that the substance of the last disagreement was annoying though,
Spoiler (spoiler): Hide
What annoyed me was that Mas had the nerve to get upset Perry because was upset. Granted Perry goes a little bit overboard with blaming, but the bottom line is Mas never, not once says that he is sorry for trying to shop lift and that made me think about his reasons again. I sincerely hope that Mas shrugging off the incident is not because he thinks it is ok to steal from a big company because I hate that attitude. In general, when I am happy with how the character is written, I have no issues with fictional thieves even if they steal stuff as a career. But usually characters like that own what they do, they feel it is their job and in fiction that can be tons of fun. Mas just seemed to be happy about his ex -boss not being able to press charges. It made me scratch my head.
Anyway, I was of two minds about that accident. On one hand I was glad it was resolved fast, on the other hand, I wish Mas would give more attention and consideration to Perry’s concerns, because face it Mas, you attempted to steal stuff and your ex-boss gets the credit for stopping you and you do not get the credit for changing your mind or ever feeling guilty about it. Own it one way or another IMO.
I also wanted to mention that Lewis and Jasper appear several times throughout the story to play “oh we are happy, so happy”, give sage advice to Mas and be his friends. I was kind of annoyed, because I did not really feel Lewis had much room for giving sage advice and thought that the opportunity was lost to show Lewis doing a little bit of soul searching before he goes to get his Ph.D in psychology, because as those who read the first book know Lewis slept with his patient. I was actually really happy in the first book to read Lewis’ hesitating about him continuing to be a counsellor because he was wondering whether he went into profession because he really liked manipulating people. I mean, I get that this book is not their story, but they made enough appearances in the book that I thought at least some attention could have been given to them as well.