Title: Beyond the Grill
Author: Tracey Michael
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: October 5, 2016
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 96
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Justin Walker is used to being the hookup but never the boyfriend, and that’s okay. Justin has goals—he might sling burgers by night and work on his car by day, but he has plans to go to school and make a life for himself. He also has a few friends and loving parents.
What more could a guy ask for?
Hot, muscular, manly Shane Steel is a walking wet dream. Justin fantasizes about having Shane as more than a casual acquaintance, and one night he works up the courage to flirt with Shane. To his surprise—and terror—Shane is interested. Very interested.
As they bond over their love of cars and drag racing, Justin begins to believe he can be more to Shane than a side guy. Too bad Shane’s manipulative and dangerous ex is dead set against letting that happen.
Justin and Shane hang with the same crowd and play Street Fighter at the mall arcade occasionally, but don’t know each other well. One night Shane stops by the burger joint where Justin works, they talk (and flirt a bit), and after Justin leaves work, he finds Shane by Justin’s ’69 Mustang, waiting to take him to Denny’s for breakfast. Turns out Justin is a gearhead like Shane, who owns his own garage, and before too long they start dating.
The pace of the story is fairly sedate as Shane and Justin attend a drag race and grill out afterwards. There are few sexually explicit scenes and their chemistry is fairly low-key. But soon trouble comes in the form of Lukas Meed, Shane’s former classmate and ex-boyfriend, as in “They’d tried a relationship once, but it didn’t work for long.” A series of highly-implausible events compounded by lack of communication between Shane and Justin move the story along to a haphazardly ending, plus a short epilogue.
I did not find “Beyond the Grill” very compelling, and the characters felt too under-developed. For example, we never really get an idea of how old either MC is, nor what Shane looks like, and Lukas was very much a caricature. I would recommend this book with caution, but if you like cars and racing (the book is dedicated to “Vin Diesel and Paul Walker. The real love they had for each other as brothers was in every moment they shared on and off the screen. It was truly inspiring.”) give “Beyond the Grill” a read.