Title: Bittersweet Candy Kisses (All Petit Morts Stories)
Author: Sean Kennedy
Cover Artist: Jordan Castillo Price
Publisher: JCP Books LLC
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novelette (12,680 words, 47 PDF pages)
Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5
Summary Review: This book gives readers an opportunity to enter the mind of a truly evil author, as he wields his pen and turns the most solemn event into a chocolate haze.
When he hung his brand new psychology degree on the wall, Jason Harvey had imagined working at one of the many hospitals or clinics in Melbourne. The want ads, however, hadn’t cooperated. Now Jason finds himself facing the newly bereaved across the counselor’s desk of the Newlin Funeral Parlour.
Certainly all people deserve sympathy and patience in their time of loss, but Jason’s current client has him at wit’s end. What’s worse, the deceased has included a bizarre request in her final wishes: that her passing be commemorated…with chocolate.
Things start looking up for Jason when amicable young Fred takes over the funeral coordination duties from his sour aunt, but despite their best efforts to honor the departed in the manner she’s requested, they find the memorial service sliding inexorably out of control….
I’ll say this about One Less Stiff at the Funeral, you have never been to a funeral where the guests and relatives of the dearly departed had such a rollicking good time. How much fun was it? I’m still chuckling (two days after reading it) at some of the lines and the antics.
Jason was a newly minted psychology graduate and found out, to his dismay, that jobs for someone with his credentials weren’t there waiting to be plucked. As a matter of fact no employer wanted to pluck him except the Newlin Funeral Parlour, where he was now ensconced as the counsellor/funeral arrangement assistant. In this capacity he had not encountered anyone like his current client, Miss Adele Conway, whose mother had just passed away. If I were kind I would say that Adele’s grief was making her difficult to deal with, but she was not grieving as she couldn’t even dredge up a single tear for her mother and she seemed annoyed more than anything else as she discussed the funeral arrangements and how to fulfill her mother’s last wish of being remembered in chocolate. Adele and Jason were not exactly on the same page as to how this should be done with respect, and eventually she left in a huff and Jason got the impression that the Newlin Funeral Parlour might be fired and “good old Grace Conway would never get her arse in the ground.”
Jason was only too glad to be away from the smells in the funeral home which were not conducive to eating anything so he left on his break, despondent about the real possibility of losing his job. He dropped by Sweets to the Sweet, a new chocolate store in the area, and barely escaped causing an accident because he was not looking where he was going. Once inside the shop he was distracted by the different aromas wafting in the air as Chance, the good-looking owner of the store kept plying him with different chocolate drinks, including one that seemed to be the flavour of the day, xocolatl. While he was having a good time with Chance, Adele called and suggested that it might be better if Jason were to deal with her nephew Fred on the matter of how her mother was to be commemorated. Glad to be rid of Adele Jason arranged to meet Fred at the chocolate store the next day, and when he arrived it was obvious that Fred was very open about his sexuality and was attracted to Jason, and vice versa. Jason thought Fred reminded him of a koala, in a nice way, and shortly after Chance appeared with a delicacy for Fred – a caramello koala chocolate – which was very weird. How did he do that? Jason and Fred got on like a house on fire and when consulted, Chance suggested that a chocolate portrait of Grace would be tasteful, photo realistic, yet filling as it could be cut up and shared among the guests. 😉
To say that the funeral was the best ever would not be an overstatement. It started off solemnly, as these things do, with the guest of honour Grace Conway in an open casket, but right next to her was the huge chocolate portrait designed by Chance. It was obvious from the speeches that she wasn’t loved but merely tolerated, and the only person who spoke kindly of her was Fred, although he took a bite of her before Jason wielded the carving knife. The guests were not kind to Grace and one even commented that she “looked forward to eating the old bitch later”. Once the speeches were concluded Jason carved the effigy in chocolate and served the guests, but everything soon became a feeding frenzy.
I can’t tell you how much I loved Sean Kennedy’s rapier-like wit when he described Jason’s thoughts as he cut up the portrait. He was grossed out as he sliced off body parts, but the guests didn’t seem to mind as they ate the remains in a “metaphoric cannibalistic ritual.” As soon as the chocolate was consumed the funeral descended into bedlam and free-for-all that you will have to experience yourself to believe.
This book is a gem, and for those of you who hate funerals and wish that they all resembled Irish funerals, this is your chance to live one through Sean Kennedy’s eyes and pen. His keen attention to detail, humour, and wild imagination as he described Jason cutting up the “remains,” was to die for literally. 🙂 The build-up, prose and dialogue, as well as Jason’s and Fred’s sexual shenanigans in the funeral home were unbelievable. The pace was fast and furious and the characterizations were realistic, especially Adele, and even Grace as seen through the eyes of her family. As for Chance, while more and more of his character is revealed, his air of mystery deepens.
The writing so far in this series is exceptional but I have to tip my hat to Sean Kennedy as One Less Stiff at the Funeral was amusing but charming, solemn and profound at times, and provided character studies that are particularly revealing when someone dies. Don’t miss this book!