Title: Bittersweet Candy Kisses (All Petit Morts Stories)
Author: Jordan Castillo Price
Publisher: JCP Books LLC
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novella (18K words)
Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
JP McMahon cruises into the small, oceanside town of Brightside hoping to score a bed for the night and a few dollars to fill the Miata’s gas tank. He discovers that cell phones and Internet are non-existent, and that without access to matchmaker sites and Craigslist, the local newspaper’s personal ads are booming.
He cooks up an unlikely scam, a foul novelty concoction called Spanish Fly. He also finds an unlikely accomplice in Ryan, the quiet local kid at the copy shop with a flair for designing irresistible labels.
Spanish Fly proves popular—almost too popular—and JP suspects his luck is about to turn. But that “little voice” inside tells him to stick around Brightside just a tiny bit longer
This is my second review of the books in the Petit Morts series, Jordan Castillo Price’s and Josh Lanyon’s take on la petite mort or “the little death”. While the stories are not high drama these “small bites” or orgasms have so far entertained me, and I look forward to reviewing tomorrow’s story, Slings and Arrows. Today I bring you Spanish Fly Guy……
J.P. hated Google and didn’t really care for those people who depended on technology for information, especially when they were trying to find out about his personal business. When he arrived at Brightside, a little seaside town of 1,200 people, it seemed the ideal location for him to try out his newest scam, make some money, and leave town before the locals realized that they had been had. On the one hand Brightside was ideal for a small time con artist because there was no Internet, and cell phones only worked sporadically, but on the flip side, having no technology to access sites like Craigslist presented problems for a gay man to make a temporary love connection. Without the Internet, the only means of communication, aside from face to face contact, was through the want ads in the local newspaper and J.P. knew that it would be difficult for him to hook up by placing an ad. Based on the number of ads from the locals it was obvious that at least 20% of Brightside’s population was actively trying to find that certain someone and a light bulb went on in J.P’s brain. His plan? Make his own version of Spanish fly, a powerful aphrodisiac, which he would sell for an exorbitant amount of money and leave town before his customers realized that the bottles contained nothing more than a harmless concoction with no magical properties.
J.P decided to troll the boardwalk to find some needed supplies for his new business venture but everything was closed except for the candy store. When he entered the store he had a really strange reaction, it was as if Chance, the man behind the counter, knew exactly what he was up to. When he found his voice he asked whether he could buy about 2 dozen small bottles for his product. Chance gave him the bottles but refused to take any money from him which was a good thing because he didn’t have any. 🙂 J.P. was very happy to exit the store in one piece and leave the candyman behind.
Next on the list were labels for the bottles, and he found his ideal but unknowing accomplice in the person of Ryan, the gay assistant at the local copy shop. After flattering him and throwing in a bit of sex to sweeten the deal, Ryan made the required labels at no cost and J.P. was in business except for one thing, he needed a place to mix his brew. He didn’t have far to go – it was easy to break into an unoccupied summertime trailer and complete the job.
The first batch sold out in record time and J.P. decided to celebrate by taking Ryan to the Friday Night Brightside Clambake, the biggest party in town where men took their best girls (or guys). The entire population of Brightside turned out for the clambake and everyone treated J.P. as if he were a celebrity because, strangely, his version of Spanish fly seemed to be the real deal, much to his amazement. Did he have help from an unknown benefactor with his own agenda? Aware that opportunities like this did not come along often, J.P. wanted to try his luck one more time, but he was getting the sense that if he did he would regret not moving on. Would J.P. heed the warning or would he be headed for disaster because of greed? What about Ryan – was it all a game or did J.P. care about him?
I really liked this story about J.P. the flim flam man who found out that at times there are better things in life than fleecing people out of their money. I thought that Jordan struck a perfect balance in his characterization by showing his sleazy underbelly while at the same time making me care about him as a person despite the fact that he was a crook. Ryan was very sweet and unsophisticated, the small town young man for whom life did not really hold a lot in terms of future prospects and those were rapidly drying up because his father had “invested” his college tuition in his own failing business. Ryan’s friends Miyra and Andy were typical of characters found in many small towns – not very ambitious, living from day to day and eventually opportunity will pass them by. Chance was as enigmatic in Spanish Fly Guy as in the other books in the series and I think each reader will draw his or her own conclusions about him.
Because I love flawed characters who try to separate others from their hard earned money, I thought that J.P. was quite delightful as the crooked Spanish fly seller who succumbed to his own ‘magical’ concoction. In the end Ryan was the one with the magic. I definitely recommend Spanish Fly Guy.