Title: When He Beckons
Author: Halli Starling
Publication Date: December 28, 2022
Themes: MM Romance, Older Characters, Chance Meeting, Hiking, Getting Caught In The Rain, Novella, Quirky Characters, MC in their 30’s, MC in their 40’s, Cats, Book Talk
A charming – but slightly strange – accidental first meeting at a skate park. Opposites attract. And technically…one works for the other one.
Zan has a fast mouth and a lot of technical know-how, so dating hasn’t always been easy. He’d set aside any notion of a romantic life to work and spend as much time outdoors as possible. Biking, canoeing, skiing, you name it. He’s never tried skateboarding, even though he stops by the skate park near the trail where he bikes to watch boards – and sometimes people – flip, or crash hard.
Instead of skater-watching, Zan meets Deacon. Deacon’s odd and interesting, and it turns out, the head of the small indie press of which Zan is a huge fan. Rochester Press puts out the weird and erotic, the dark and mischievous, and finally meeting the head of the press is great. Maybe not so great – Deacon has just hired the printing company Zan works for, and now Zan’s in charge of all the new jobs.
It’ll be fine.
Except Zan (and his big mouth) immediately asks Deacon out on a date. And Deacon accepts. There’s no fraternization clause in Zan’s contract, or Deacon’s. It should be fine.
A high-heat, quirky novella about two people who would never seek out a date via online platforms or at speed dating. But their weird seems to compliment each other.
Thank you to the author for an eARC of this book.
Alright, I’m not going to lie to you. I have loved everything I’ve read from Starling so far. I am already excited for anything new that gets released and backlist titles.
But, I won’t gush too much because then it will just become incoherent screaming and I think I do that enough. Alright. When He Beckons. For starters I was hooked immediately. We enter the story at Zan and Deacon’s first meeting and it’s the weirdest, flirtiest things I’ve ever seen. I adored it. The further we get into the story the more it just seems like these two clicked immediately. Like that feeling when you meet someone for the first time and you know you’ll just hit it off with them. Like their weird perfectly matches your weird. That’s what Zan and Deacon had and that’s what I loved about them. Their chemistry was immediate, but it didn’t feel forced. They had time to actually get to know each other and explore their feelings for each other before making any moves past planning a date.
I really loved that these were two men in their 30’s and 40’s, that were well established in their lives and happy with what they do and how they live. They weren’t trying to change each other or themselves, they were just looking for someone who could appreciate them and what they appreciated. I really liked how the two of them opened up to each other about their interests and that those interests overlapped. But it never felt like they were perfect either. Some stories have characters that their interest overlap and they click really well, but it doesn’t feel real. Like there’s not enough differences between them to feel like real people. Zan and Deacon felt like real people to me. They felt like people I could meet out in the world and they would be just how they were in the book. A little eccentric, but fun and sweet.
The only downside to this book was that it wasn’t like a million pages longer. I mean, honestly, it’s one of those books that’s warm and soft and I could just curl into and read hours and hours of, if that existed. I do think that (though I would have happily read more) the ending was perfect and I will definitely be going back to this novella when I need a soft story with some spice thrown in.
Rating: 5/5 stars