The Cabin on the Hill

Title: The Cabin on the Hill
Author: Shae Connor
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Length: Short Story ( 48 pdf pages )
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A Guest Review by Cole

Review Summary: A sweet short story, without conflict but great for a pick-me-up, about two men sharing a remote cabin for a weekend.

BLURB

Jesse hadn’t planned for anything more than a break from the noise and heat of Atlanta when he returned to the cabin he rented each year in the Smoky Mountains – but that was before he met Eli, the handsome man renting the other side of the cabin. Eli’s plans to mix a little hiking with his relaxation match Jesse’s perfectly, and before long the two men are sharing more than just a wall and a view. Jesse’s not one to let an opportunity like this pass him by, though it remains to be seen whether the weekend encounter can turn into something more permanent.

REVIEW

Jesse, a biologist who works at the CDC, goes away one weekend a year to a remote cabin in the Smoky Mountains given the appellation of “The Cabin on the Hill” by it’s frequent guests. He has grown to love the area — the hiking trails, waterfalls, and the serenity he feels there that is absent from his fast-paced lifestyle in Atlanta. He plans to spend the weekend in solitude, but on his second day as he is sitting on the deck and watching the sunrise creep over the fog above the forest, a man comes onto the deck and introduces himself. His name is Eli, an architect who is also from Atlanta and is staying in the other half of the cabin. It seems like kismet as the two get to know one another — taking a hike, watching a game, and cooking dinner. They find that neither had expected anything more than a quiet weekend away from their hectic lives, but somehow that makes their meeting all the sweeter. They spend the day, the night, and half the next day with each other, and Jesse hopes (the story is solely in his POV) more time than that when they both return to Atlanta.

I found this story rather refreshing, though I don’t think everyone will agree with me. It is a very sweet, endearing story. Jesse and Eli are both very caring and average men. We never learn their age, though I presumed them to be in their mid-thirties. They’re nice looking, but not runway models. They are intelligent, but not pretentious. They both occasionally say something corny, though it come across to the other as endearing. They seem to fit together like puzzle pieces, thrown together by the cosmos. It is for this fact that I think some people won’t like this story. There isn’t any conflict presented. It is what it is: a short, sweet story about two men who find that they like each other very much, in and out of bed. I suppose that this is what I liked about it. Had the story traveled further, into their return to their lives and out of the idyllic setting they had constructed for themselves, the story might have fallen apart. I appreciated that the story stood for what it was, though it might not be to some readers’ taste.

I wondered about this lack of conflict, however. Though this might not have been the author’s intent, I occasionally felt like certain discussions were glossed over specifically in order not to bring up things that would lead to conflict (their past, their lives in Atlanta). It could be that this was a natural reluctance on the characters’ parts, to not deal with the conflict until they absolutely have to. It still left me with lingering questions, however. Though the characters have a great natural chemistry, we don’t know very much about them. In one short conversation we learn a bit about their families, one past relationship of Eli’s, a bit about their education and careers, some of their likes and dislikes, and they briefly touch on the fact that they are both currently single. That is the basis of their conversation about their lives. It might be a natural tendency for the characters in this situation to not go into those things, to enjoy the fleeting moment they’ve created, but it left me with no idea what their lives might be like together once the weekend has ended.

That said, I still enjoyed the story quite a bit. The sex scenes were very steamy and had a lot of connection and passion. The writing was clean, concise, and very sensory detailed. I think that this story is one that reader’s might like as a small treat on a rainy day. The lack of conflict will be a deal-breaker for some, but if it isn’t, and you find yourself having a bad day, or just want to curl up in bed while it is raining, this is a good story to read. It is sweet, sexy in parts, and doesn’t require you to put your emotions on the line. Sometimes, that’s exactly what I need, to simply experience two characters who are smitten, and I am lucky that I read it when I wanted something just like that.

Author

26, male, gay, baker, knitter, sometimes writer, and voracious reader of all things | contact me: cole.riann[at]gmail.com

9 comments

  • Ah. Erm. Yeah. So it’s not really a story… more of a mood piece then. I mean, if there’s no conflict then nothing can change… so nothing actually happens other than, well, two guys really really getting along while on vacation.

    Short fiction is so difficult. :afraid: Scares the bejeesus out of me as a writer because of the compression and the limits. To do a narrow slice of a relationship andfit the wordcount means you have to lop off things and hint at things that would be a given in a longer form.

    It sounds like this story took the shortcut of kinda not having a story. As you say, if I’m in the mood to read a very charming character description I’d dig it. Hard call, that. Thanks for answering my quiestion so fully. That was what I was wondering.

    Reply
  • Sometimes I think we all read “drama is conflict” and some folks take that to mean that every story has to involve electrified-katana fights and screaming matches between supervillains. I mean, people can be conflicted about getting out of a bed, the trick is dramatizing a struggle that subtle.

    And as you say smitten is a wonderful thing when it lands, but I’m also a little tired of instant connection, perfect happiness, no stakes jogs-through-daisies masquerading as romance. Still, it doesn’t sound like that’s what’s going on here.

    Here’s a question: did you feel like there WAS tension under the surface that kept you involved, or was it more of a gentle amble? Were you in suspense as to outcome to any degree? You hinted that you almost projected tension into their dynamic because it would be normal for them to be private about some things. DId that involve you or exclude you?

    Reply
    • Hi Damon,

      Here’s a question: did you feel like there WAS tension under the surface that kept you involved, or was it more of a gentle amble? Were you in suspense as to outcome to any degree? You hinted that you almost projected tension into their dynamic because it would be normal for them to be private about some things. DId that involve you or exclude you?

      That’s the problem, I didn’t feel like there was any tension. The story was almost a prelude to the start of their real relationship, since the story only shows them in the safe seclusion they’ve created. They aren’t in any danger there, so there’s no need for any kind of conflict. In a way that is nice and in a way it just makes me wonder how different these characters are from the ones they are when taking part in their daily lives. I suppose it depends on the reader, whether that matters to you or not.

      On the other hand, the little bit of tension that I did feel was my own, for thinking past the story, and possibly expecting there to be some kind of uncertainty over seeing each other after their vacation.

      It must have been a deliberate choice for the author, because though we learn little about both of them, there is always conflict possible, and there are certainly very different directions she could have taken the story simply from what little is revealed. I’m not saying that’s what I wanted, though I think a lot of readers do. But, in a short story, that would have made the story very difficult to pull off while sticking with this premise. I know it could be done, but I suppose it depends on what we expect when we pick up the story, and whether it lives up to those expectations or not.

      I liked that they were smitten, rather than falling in love. I can believe in an instant connection (though the repetition in romance books may get tiring), but not more than that. At least in a day and a half!

      Reply
  • Wow, 2 nice guys meet, like each other and possibly attempt this thing called a relationship. What a concept 😆 Honestly, that sounds so fab in a non-angst RL sort of way. Though like you, I’m all about what happens next. Then again I can always imagine they live HEA. :love2:

    Off to check the book out, as it sounds great for this sort-of snowy day.

    Thanks for the review.

    Reply
    • Hah! Yeah, what the hell is that about? You know what’s strange? It seems like the more books come out, the more odds authors are stacking against their couples. It makes me wonder when I finish a book how they could EVER make it?! That’s probably why I like stories like this — they’re just smitten. Smitten is the best emotion ever :hearts02:

      Reply
  • I enjoyed this one as well. It is just two normal guys meeting. No stalkers, no crazy exes, no messy divorces or mafia hitmen after them. People like me (except for the genitals part). I don’t suppose the first weekend you meet someone you spill ALL your baggage. In case the glow rubs off once you get home you need to keep some stuff close to your chest. The allure of mystery and all that. 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Tam 🙂

      Yes, you’re right. It’s so nice not to have to deal with a crazy subplot!

      I don’t suppose the first weekend you meet someone you spill ALL your baggage. In case the glow rubs off once you get home you need to keep some stuff close to your chest. The allure of mystery and all that.

      Yes, I agree with you. I think it is really normal to be like this in the very, very beginning of something, not even a relationship really, yet. I think, I just think of it as far as story construction, and I want to know where they’re going. But that’s just me being a nosy reader 🙂

      Reply

Please comment! We'd love to hear from you.

%d bloggers like this: