Title: Sweet as Chili Pepper
Author: Veronica Sloane
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: contemporary m/m romance
Length: short story (46 pdf pages, 12.200 words)
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 rating stars
A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: A sweet, positive, romantic story, just right for a Valentine’s read.
The Blurb: Meet Theo, an art teacher looking to start over. An accident has robbed him of his sense of smell and taste, not to mention ended his long term relationship with the melodramatic Ian. At a diner on the way from his old life to his new one, Theo will meet Jude, a busker, looking for a ride that will take him away from past mistakes. The two of them share one steamy night that will change them forever.
The Review: As the blurb states, Theo and Jude meet at a roadhouse. Jude is a street guitarist looking for a ride, and Theo appreciates the company on his long drive. Along the way, they get to talking and discover that they share similar experiences in regard to love and loss, and they’re both on their ways into a new life. Even though they’re quite different in many regards, they connect. The encounter ends with them in bed together. But in the morning, Jude is gone, and all that Theo has left from him is a somewhat cryptic, if hopeful note and a newfound possibility to reawaken a sensual pleasure he’d thought lost for good.
Theo can’t forget Jude. But life goes on, and when his old lover Ian tries to reconnect with him, Theo finds himself faced with a crucial question. Will he fall back into the familiar and content himself with being… content? Or is he really ready to risk moving on and starting over anew?
Short as this story is, there’s a lot of emotion packed tightly in it. I thought the connection between Theo and Jude beautifully done; even though they only knew each other for less than a day, they formed a fathomable bond that I could actually believe solid enough to last through their months-long separation.
Theo, the narrator, is the only fully developed character in here, no surprise given the short length of the story. Despite a few small inconsistencies in his characterization, I found Theo convincing as a person, and I liked his voice. Jude remained a bit sketchy, necessarily so I guess, but he was a dear and just the breeze of fresh air to rouse Theo from his morose brooding. Their first connection–not to mention their reunion–were just so sweet and romantic that the insta-love element barely bothered me here. Well, and the writing was skillful, good dialogue and smoothly flowing narrative.
I closed the book with a smile and a wistful sigh, just as it’s right for a Valentine’s read.