Title: The Florist (Workplace Encounters)
Author: Serena Yates
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Length: Novella (148 pages)
Rating: 2.5 stars
A Guest Review by Sammy
Review Summary: A potentially interesting romance which unfortunately never completely got off the ground.
Blurb: Dylan White craves a life of adventure, and his job as freelance florist gives him the freedom he needs. So what will he do with the flower shop he just inherited from a good friend? Dylan decides to give it a try. Despite the stubborn resistance and sabotage of one of the employees, he manages to do a good job. Until he gets an offer to sell that sounds too good to be true. Sean Mellick, a defense lawyer at the firm that executes the will, runs into Dylan and is intrigued. He pursues a relationship despite his heavy workload and will do anything to convince Dylan to stay. Will Dylan be able to stop running and settle down?
Review: The Florist by Serena Yates had a lot of potential. The storyline that involved two men–each running from something and seeking to move toward a more stable life had some fantastic moments. Unfortunately those moments never morphed into a solid novel, instead it seemed to drift and ended up being less than fulfilling.
Dylan is lost–wandering–from thing to thing–unhappy with being adrift yet unable to settle on a job, a permanent home, and a lover he can commit to for any length of time. Sean has idealistic hopes that he will make a difference in the justice system, and works tirelessly toward that goal, He, too, is a bit lost, avoiding any hint of a relationship due to being burned by a previous lover.
When these two men meet, sparks fly and their mutual attraction is instant and hot! Being the more cautious one, Sean tries to put the breaks on and simply date for a while–constantly worried that Dylan will up and leave him. Dylan, in the meanwhile, has come to town after the death of a close friend, Mike, whom he had lost contact with over the last few years. He finds out that he is the sole inheritor of his friend’s estate and begins to ponder how life is too short and he should settle down.
It was at this point that the story became a bit convoluted, and two many elements came into play. Sean finds out that the clients he is set to defend are guilty of forcing small businesses–namely floral distributors out of business. He begins to question whether he can remain at his firm. Dylan takes over Mike’s business–a floral shop and within weeks finds out that the interim manager has been stealing and that the shop is on the brink of financial ruin.
On top of this plot twist, the author decided to throw in some light–very light BDSM role playing into the two men’s relationship and, to be frank, it never really worked. Suddenly their every moment together morphed into hot sex and the idea of seeing the relationship develop and grow over time was abandoned as quickly as it was introduced.
Other than the occasional chapter ending that saw Sean thinking aloud that Dylan might run, his fears and woundedness over the derailment of his last relationship disappeared. Yet that past relationship was the basis for Sean wanting to take it slow in the first place. I had to admit–I was confused at this point.
Then there was this sketchy mystery subplot concerning the shady dealings of the mafia-esque family trying to push small business owners to the curb by forcing them into bankruptcy and then swooping in like knights in shining armor to buy them out. This piece was so underdeveloped. Their “mole”, the interim office manager, was in only one scene and he was the reason for the near bankruptcy. In addition, we never really find out how the entire mystery was resolved–and it was so minor with so little time on the page that I felt that it really could have been left out altogether.
So many different threads..so little tying together. Ms. Yates has incredible potential as an author. When she hit her mark, you were pulled into the story, her characters were very likeable–sexy and fully developed. But her story plotting and her ability to write it cleanly–well those left a great deal to be desired.
The Florist by Serena Yates was a valiant effort with limited results. I do want to read other work by this author–I believe her potential as a good storyteller is plainly obvious–but still in the developing stages. However, as usual, dear reader, you must decide for yourself. Is The Florist a rose with too many thorns or a gilded lily?