Title & Link: Starting Over
Author: Ethan Stone
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Short Story (34 PDF pages; word count unlisted)
Rating: 4.75 out of 5 stars
A guest review by Buda
Summary Review: This beautifully written short story packs an emotional punch right. A must-read for Ethan Stone fans.
After a killer shift at work, all Eddie wants is a quick meal before heading home to shower and fall into bed. Then he meets Nate at a late-night diner. Eddie’s self-confidence is gone along with his ex-boyfriend, and the last thing he’s looking for is a one-night stand – especially not with a married man. But Nate doesn’t just have sex with Eddie, he makes love to him—and even after Eddie lets Nate walk away, he can’t go back to his old, empty life.
Eddie is a man who works with his hands. He’s just finished a punishing 16-hour shift at work fixing a dump truck. All he wants is a hot meal and a chance to unwind before crawling into his lonely bed for a night’s sleep. He winds up at his usual all-night bar-and-grill, reading a book while he waits for his food. While he waits, he is distracted by the arrival of an attractive man whom the bartender calls Nate.
Eddie has been single for seven months, ever since his selfish prick of a boyfriend left him for a younger model. Eddie prefers making love to just having sex. But he’s been alone and lonely for a while and this newcomer is ridiculously sexy. Then Eddie notices the band of gold on Nate’s left hand and mentally backs down.
Nate, however, has other plans. After giving Nate a quick blow job in a room upstairs from the dining room, Eddie asks what Nate wants. The answer is just one night together. And, dear god, what a night it is. Those of you who read Being Taught (reviewed here) know that Ethan Stone can beautifully write amazing sex between strangers. This book proves he can also beautifully write amazing lovemaking between strangers. He delves into the depths of Eddie’s psyche without and tells of the emotional abuse he suffered at the hands of his exboyfriend, all while making the sex between Nate and Eddie so much more meaningful and hot. Honestly, I was reading through a thin film of water at one point.
After their one night together, Nate goes back to his life and Eddie decides to get one of his own. In the seven months since his ex left him, he had only been existing. Meeting Nate changed Eddie, made him determined to claim his life and be happy instead of just going through the motions.
Even though this has all the hallmarks of a Bittersweet Dreams title, Ethan manages to pull off a reunion and a happy ending full of promise.
I am not a fan of reading about extra-relationship sex, but I trusted Ethan Stone enough to give him the benefit of the doubt. And, of course, he pulled through just as I knew he would. Nate is not a low-down dirty cheater–not the way it sounds in the blurb. Trust Ethan.
I have to say that I really enjoyed the scene between Eddie and his ex. It was fun to see Eddie come fully into his own and reject Gil (the skank!) in no uncertain terms. The only thing that kept this from being a 5-star read for me was that the build-up to Eddie and Nate’s reunion almost wasn’t there. I would have liked some more tension, but I can’t reveal details without spoiling the book. So…that means you should read it for yourself and tell me if you enjoy the book as much as I did.
Starting Over releases tomorrow, March 9, from Dreamspinner Press. Highly recommended.