Title: Bittersweet Candy Kisses (All Petit Morts Stories)
Author: Sean Kennedy
Cover Artist: Jordan Castillo Price
Publisher: JCP Books LLC
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Paranormal M/M
Length: Novelette (12,635 words 47 PDF pages)
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Review Summary: I loved, loved, loved this story because I really got to know Chance and Hunter as they both seemed vulnerable and almost human.
If there’s one thing you can always count on, it’s change. But the shift in Chance’s job description is one change he could have done without. It’s an ill-fitting role, and his displaced colleague is just as much in the dark as to its purpose as he is.
Chance finds matchmaking particularly irksome from his lonely post behind the counter of Sweets to the Sweet. From Belfast to Auckland, Bruges to Los Angeles, he works his magic, hoping that sooner rather than later his own fate may be fulfilled.
Thus far, Chance’s only reward for a job well done is more of the same. Since he’s had enough with going through the motions, he decides it’s time to make a big splash. Will management take notice?
Sean Kennedy took a chance (if I can use that word) with this story which was quite different from the other books in the series. This could have been a huge flop or a wonderful character study. For me it was the latter.
As those of you who have been following Petit Morts are aware, Chance is the star of this series and ultimate manipulator of people’s fates, although on occasion he plays a very minor role after setting up the MCs. His job, in addition to being in charge of Sweets to the Sweet where he makes the most mouthwatering, succulent chocolate creations, is to find The One.
Most of the Petit Morts books follow a specific path even though each story is completely different: Chance arranges for The One to meet his true love, they fall in love and get their HEA. In other words you could call him an immortal matchmaker. Loose Change was unique because it was more about Chance than The One, in this case several “Ones,” and it showed him at his worst and his best. I love stories that are imaginative and authors who take risks, and Sean Kennedy gave his imagination flight with what on the surface may seem like a disjointed series of snapshots, but in reality are the beginning of Chance’s journey toward his ultimate destination, being with Hunter forever.
Loose Change starts with Chance musing about his (shitty) job, missing Hunter the love of his life, Fate, the past, and hints of the future. For the first time I began to fully understand the complex relationship and unbreakable bond shared between Hunter and Chance that spanned centuries. I experienced Chance’s almost human emotions, his feelings about his current assignment, and his annoyance at landing in each new country to start his quest all over again. The lack of consultation was getting to him as well as the changes his body experienced every time he landed at a new location.
The story flitted briefly from one pair of lovers to another through vignettes that are only a few pages long (I read the book on my Kindle so it’s hard to estimate what is actually a page). But in between fixing up The Ones, Chance longed to see Hunter. Many times he’s disappointed and frustrated when the person he’s sure is Hunter turns out to be an ordinary mortal. He travelled from Belfast to Auckland to New York to LA to Kabul at the speed of light and it’s not all sweetness and light each time he encounters his share of failure as Fate proves to be a capricious mistress. What I loved best were the glimpses of Chance and Hunter in the early days of their relationship as Chance wondered about the purpose and meaning of life, his life; but expressing his feelings to Hunter and vice versa proved to be impossible.
In case you think that Loose Change is too serious, at one point Chance was put on his mettle by someone who didn’t quite grasp his importance (in his mind anyway) 🙂 and he explained his role as follows:
“I am the law of this fine establishment, I am the final word, the head honcho, the grand poobah”
Loose Change was packed with action and funny lines as the characters changed and merged sometimes with blinding speed as their fates are decided, but occasionally time slowed down almost to a crawl so that Chance could do what he does best, manipulate humans into finding their one true love.
This story is the first of the last segment of 3 books and it propels the readers into Chance’s and Hunter’s heads as they try to get a breather in between being Death and the Love god. I thought I understood Chance since I had read all of the books but I realized that that particular mystery was still unsolved. Each time Hunter and Chance met their brief encounters were filled with pathos. They argued over unimportant things and it was obvious they wanted their fates to be decided soon because they were tired of being chess pieces in the whole grand scheme of whoever was pulling their strings, which I thought was ironic because the humans whose lives they changed seemed almost like a game to them. Payback is a bitch.
The constant power shift between Hunter and Chance added another layer to this story as the years passed and there was no resolution to their fate. Hunter’s vulnerability and Chance’s emotions almost made me cry when one assignment in Kabul overwhelmed Hunter, but conversely Chance could be almost surly when Hunter wouldn’t humour him. He got his big moment when the entire world stood still or at least his world, as he flung the dice in the air and let it fall …. everywhere. I admired his strategy and the results were amazing, especially as he was able to skilfully move many disparate couples in a short space of time to achieve his desired result. The best part? He hoped that his actions would piss off the other immortals into getting a move on to resolving his situation and Hunter’s. The worst? Never knowing if he and Hunter would meet again. I can’t say enough about how well developed these two characters were as they started to come into their own to set up the climax of the series.
You will either love Loose Change or you won’t because of 1) its unusual flow which may seem uneven and unfocused initially; and 2) its progression. As I said in the beginning, I wasn’t sure I would like this book until I realized what Kennedy’s game plan was and his strategy for getting there. For me this story rocks and demonstrates what an author can do with a very small page count, an innovative plan and a great plot.