Title: A Bar Tender Tale
Author: Melanie Tushmore
Cover Art: Ria Chantler
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Buy Link A Bar Tender Tale
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Length: 170 pages Novella
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 rating stars
A Guest Review by Raine
Summary Review: Observant writing concentrates on the first stuttering steps of a romance with a close focus on gay bar life – UK style- that means a lot of beer and bad food in Brighton.
Blurb: Twenty-two-year-old barman Nathan is always the odd one out. It’s tough to get a date when his love of loud music, tattoos, and zombie paraphernalia usually sends potential candidates running for the hills. Trying to find anyone who wants to spend time with him, let alone stay in and watch trashy horror movies, has always been a problem.
Then, on his day off, Nathan does a friend a favor by covering a shift at a pub, and in walks a handsome stranger who shares his love of horror. It could be a match made in B-movie heaven, and Nathan is determined to pursue this new acquaintance, but—zombies aside—has Nathan got the guts to go on a real date?
I thought this well observed novella sounded fun and in some ways it was, just not the ones I expected. I found that the Brighton setting and Nathan’s casual everyday life – his boozy friends in particular- was shown with a nice touch of the real deal. This is not the eccentric Brit style that has become popular recently in M/M romances; it is another grubbier, more blokey, less stylised, take on young gay and straight male social habits.
I liked Nathan, while his passion for horror movie paraphanalia was used partly to define him, he came across as more than that. He did seem very young. I had no problems with his Romeo- esque about turn on his romantic interest- sighing over Danny in the the first paragraph then quickly being keen on Auryn. It was his insecurity especially when drunk on his first date with Auryn that I found unappealing. Because Nathan seemed quite a thoughtful, reasonable character his sudden immersion in irritating neediness felt wrong to me.
The main emotional tension in this story was the mismatch between Nathan’s over whelming anxious urge for instant gratification against the older Auryn’s need to take things more slowly. I must admit I did share Nathan’s concerns as I wasn’t quite sure if Auryn was that into him either! I got that they liked the same films early on. That worry was sorted out eventually, but it took longer than I liked and there still wasn’t- in spite of the title’s play on tender– quite the emotional warmth I felt Nathan needed. Auryn is clearly shown as the quieter, intense and more practical character, even the mention of a previous boyfriend into drag didn’t quite convince me he was right for Nathan.
I enjoyed the close focus of the writing on this little slice of Brighton nightlife very much, unfortunately the romance side didn’t quite work as well for me but that is very much a personal take. However I am looking forward to reading more work by this writer.