Title: Bittersweet Candy Kisses (All Petit Morts Stories)
Author: Josh Lanyon
Cover Artist: Jordan Castillo Price
Publisher: JCP Books LLC
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: novelette (12.4K words, 48 pages)
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Planning wealthy socialite Mallory Dalrymple’s wedding is the coup of the year—maybe of Griffin Skerry’s entire career. If only Mallory wasn’t marrying Griffin’s ex. And if only Joe wasn’t messing with Griffin’s mind by sending all these mixed signals.
Of course, it could always be worse—and before long, it is.
Before I review Other People’s Weddings I should tell you that this is one of a series of 5 books written by Jordan Castillo Price and Josh Lanyon. The stories can be read and enjoyed in any order and I will be reviewing them on consecutive days. Now on to Other People’s Weddings ……
Griffin Skerry is a wedding planner and co-owner of Venetian Bridal Gowns. His most recent client is Mallory Dalrymple, a bridezilla if ever there was one. Griff wasn’t quite sure why he was hired to plan the Dalrymple-Palmer wedding since Mallory’s family was the wealthiest in their little town in North Dakota and Griff’s business, while thriving, was certainly not one that catered to people at the top of the social ladder. His other concern was that the groom-to-be was his former lover Joe, which could be a complication if Mallory ever found out, and this wedding was already proving to be the job from hell. At times Griff thought that Mallory knew about his affair with Joe which ended 6 months ago when the engagement was announced, and that she had selected him as the wedding planner to twist the knife in his heart. Joe hadn’t wanted him to take the job but Griff could not afford to turn it down because, like everyone else, he had bills to pay.
Griff was still in love with Joe whose engagement announcement had been an unpleasant surprise. Although Joe was in the closet and Griff knew he would never publicly acknowledge him as his partner, he never expected to be dumped for a woman, even one as wealthy as Mallory. Joe was still hanging around, although Griff had refused his offer of one last tryst before the big day. When Griff arrived home after a particularly rotten day Joe was waiting for him – apparently he had never given back his key to Griff’s house. Griff was not strong enough to turn him down again and they had one for the road which was bittersweet, and when Joe left Griff accepted at last that things was really over between them.
I thought this story was kind of sad even though Griffin was a positive person. He had lived in a small town all his life, giving up his dream of leaving and becoming a fashion maven in a big city like New York. Growing up gay in any small town is no picnic and Griff had been the object of ridicule by the other kids; the only person who came to his defense was Hammer Sorenson, with whom he had been best friends since childhood. But things changed between them in high school when he told Hammer he was gay.
I thought that Griff’s and Mallory’s characterization was stereotypical but it worked. In terms of the plot, I never realized how difficult the field of wedding planning was until I read this book, which was a real eye opener; Josh Lanyon must have done a lot of research on this topic to make Griff’s character so realistic in Other People’s Weddings. Mallory did everything possible to ensure that her wedding was the best ever, by being as difficult and nasty as possible about the smallest details. Griff’s job was to give Mallory whatever she wanted, no matter how unreasonable it seemed, so that she could achieve her dream wedding especially since money was no object. Poor Griff – what a career choice – planning dream weddings even though he could never get married! If this wedding were not difficult enough for Griff, his life became impossible when someone is murdered at the rehearsal dinner and he is the prime suspect. The Sheriff is none other than his former friend Hammer whose promising career as a professional football player had been cut short by an accident before it began. Strangely, Hammer seemed to be on his side when he was brought in for questioning, despite others pointing to his supposed guilt. Would Griff and Hammer renew their friendship and could there be a future for them with love on the horizon?
If you’re looking for an unusual story I would definitely recommend Other People’s Weddings. As always, Josh Lanyon’s stories are more about the characters and the romance is usually incidental, so readers should not expect a lot of action between the sheets. I enjoyed this story because I thought the characters were a wonderful and varied collection of people, from Mallory the bridezilla and her ugly family, to Griff a nice man who was just trying to make a living in a tough profession. The supporting characters didn’t have much face time because the story was so short, but there is one character that you will meet again. I liked Griffin who dealt with life’s adversities by being positive whenever he was hit by yet another blow and even though his career was not the one he had pictured, he was successful in his own little pond and was actually quite funny. Recommended!