Melting For You
Neighborhood Shindig Series, Book #1
Contemporary MM Romance
Release Date: 06.13.19
Cover Designer: Sloan J Designs/https://www.facebook.com/sloanjdesigns/
After his father’s heart attack, Isaiah Morrell gave up cooking in his own high-end Atlanta restaurant to return home to Reynolds, North Carolina, in order to help his father Thomas heal and to keep an eye on his business Neighborhood Shindig. A collection of food trucks and other small businesses, Shindig is a popular destination in this college town, but Isaiah longs for the fast pace of a big-city kitchen. Until he meets Joel…
Joel Fisher has been out of commission from a serious illness for the better part of a year, but now he’s ready to reclaim his life—except his apartment has been sublet, his partner is missing, and their shared food truck is stripped of everything not attached. In short, Joel has nothing. After an uncomfortable night sleeping on the food truck floor, Isaiah and Thomas Morrell give Joel an offer he can’t refuse: a rented room in their house, as well as their help creating a new food truck concept. Joel hates accepting charity, but he’s hit rock bottom and has nowhere to go but up.
Working with seemingly uptight Isaiah is actually pretty fun, and the pair bonds over a challenge to create a unique grilled cheese sandwich. Light flirting melts into a deeper connection neither man expects, but Isaiah isn’t in Reynolds for much longer, and Joel can’t get attached to the gorgeous professional chef. As Isaiah’s feelings for Joel strengthen and grow, he entertains the idea of staying in Neighborhood Shindig for good—but Joel hasn’t asked him to…
Welcome to Neighborhood Shindig, a friendly place where you can snack on a lamb kebab while getting your hair done, pick up your favorite herbal tea blend, and then go listen to live music under the pavilion. We’re happy to have you.
Universal Link: getbook.at/MeltingForYou
Joel found a parking spot near his building and got out, grateful to stretch sore, aching limbs. Long car rides were more difficult for him now, and he’d tried to stop as infrequently as possible, so eager to surprise Steve. Joel scanned the lot for Steve’s hatchback. It was midday on Tuesday, so the Shindig lot was closed—it gave not only the small business owners who rented pods, but also the owner/manager one full day off a week. Didn’t mean Steve had to be home, though.
Their unit was on the fourth floor, no elevator, and Joel hated that he was panting a bit by the time he got there. Definitely needed to start working out more, get back into shape. He was already tall and lean, but he’d lost about fifteen pounds of muscle this past year.
Excitement rolled through his belly as he put his key into their unit’s lock and turned—except it didn’t unlock. He double-checked, but yeah, right door and right key.
Maybe Steve had needed to change the locks for some reason? He pushed the doorbell and waited, trying to fight back a big smile. The knob rattled and a chain slid back. The door opened about a foot and a dark-haired woman stared at him. “Can I help you?” she asked.
Joel blinked hard. “Um, does Steve Winslow live here?”
Don’t I live here?
“Not since the first of the month,” the woman replied. “He had to move suddenly, so I’m sub-leasing it through the end of the month, until my place is ready downstairs. Who are you?”
“Joel. I live here.”
“Oh, right, you’re the ex he mentioned.”
“Ex?” Ex what? He’d texted Steve yesterday about frivolous things, and Steve hadn’t said a damned thing about sub-leasing their place. A place Joel had paid this month’s rent on. “What do you mean ex?”
“He said you guys broke up, so you moved back to live with your parents in Virginia, and he’s moving…somewhere, I don’t think he said where. But your stuff is still here. He packed it up and left it in the hall closet.”
Joel did not understand what was happening right now. “We didn’t break up. We have a business together for God’s sake. I don’t understand.”
“Listen, do you want to come inside and sit? You look pale.”
“Um, yeah, thanks.”
The apartment was small, one-bedroom and only about six hundred square feet. It had come furnished, so none of the big stuff was his, and he’d taken clothing and his electronics with him to Virginia. Those personal things were in his car right now, waiting to be unpacked.
He sat on the familiar sofa, legs suddenly trembling, and tried to wrap his brain around what was happening.
The woman appeared with a bottle of water. “Here. I’m Emily, by the way.”
“Joel.” Had he already said that? “Steve never told me he moved out.”
“Oh, wow, that’s harsh. He ditched your place without telling you?”
“At least the lease isn’t up until August.” It gave him time to plan, even if it meant a strange female roommate for a few weeks. He couldn’t really afford the place on his own, and he still had no clue what was going on with the food truck.
“Um…” Emily chewed on her bottom lip. “The lease is month-to-month. It’s over in, like ten days, and I have a document with the landlord stating I’m the tenant.”
Joel gaped. “But…this is my place.”
“My place, dude, and no offense, but I do not know you, and I make it a point not to live with strange men.”
“How the hell can he change the lease without me…signing…? Fuck.” Because he dealt with college students, the building’s manager had multiple lease options. Year-long, which is what Joel always signed, but also college-term leases that lasted the length of the college’s school year, and then month-to-month options for the summer, or for temporary tenants. When Steve said he’d renewed the lease last summer while Joel was sick, Joel had assumed he’d done another full-year contract.
Joke’s on me.
“If you don’t believe me, I can get a copy of the lease,” Emily said.
“I believe you. I just don’t understand why he’d do this. Why he wouldn’t at least call and tell me he was leaving, or that if I came back I’d be homeless.”
AM Arthur was one of the first authors I discovered when I started reading MM, and she has written the stories of some of my all-time favorite characters and I can absolutely add Isaiah and Joel to that list.
Isaiah and Joel were both sweet and likable guys you could really root for. They fit together so well and I loved that while Isaiah was conscious of Joel’s physical limitations and he took care of him, he did it without being too overbearing. Their romance was a bit quick in its time frame, but it felt natural and organic and definitely not rushed and they had great chemistry.
I not only loved Isaiah and Joel, but Isaiah’s dad was amazing and such a great support system to both Isaiah and Joel. I also enjoyed getting to know some of the other food truck owners and I’m really hoping we’ll get to revisit this little food court again in the future.
Overall, a well-written and enjoyable story that I have no problems recommending!
*copy provided by author/publisher in exchange for an honest review*
Joel has been recovering from a long bout with a serious illness. He has been recuperating with his parents and had to leave his cooking business with his partner and sometimes lover for the past year. Finally feeling stronger and eager to resume his old life, he decides to surprise Steve by arriving at their apartment. After all, they were talking just a week ago about his eventual return. Showing up at their place, Joel is stunned to find that Steve took off after not renewing their lease as he had claimed! Going to their burger food truck, he gets double slammed to see it stripped of all its expensive equipment they had purchased together. Realization hits him that he has no business and is currently homeless. He can’t stand the thought of going back to his parents as he feels that they shouldered so much of his financial and personal responsibilities already.
Isaiah is an up and coming chef who has relocated to Atlanta and is now back in his hometown ever since his estranged father Thomas had a heart attack. Their emotional distance seems more out of a lack of communication in the past but since this recent medical scare, the men are getting closer. Thomas owns a large retail site called Neighborhood Shindig. It is an eclectic mix of shops and food trucks with an interesting variety of themes. Nothing can be repeated in terms of merchandise so this shopping experience is very unique.
Isaiah has hired a manager and is overseeing the operation of the business until Thomas can resume work. He plans on returning to his upscale restaurant as soon as his father is healthy again. Meeting poor displaced Joel turns his perfectly detailed world upside down. Both men are attracted to each other and Thomas seems keen on being a matchmaker. Hearing about Joel’s plight as one of his vendors, Thomas generously offers him a spare room at their house. Isaiah and Joel put their heads together to reinvent a new theme for his food truck and come up with the idea of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. It sounds limited but there were so many delectable spin-offs on the standard grill cheese I could see this being a huge hit.
Joel’s contract permits him a month to get the food truck turning a profit and with Isaiah’s help, this could be a reality. Much to Isaiah’s surprise, he is having the time of his life planning the recipes and preparing for the grand opening. It is such a far cry from the fancy upscale restaurant he left behind but the passion he has for this simple eatery consumes him.
Isaiah and his father finally connect and Thomas acknowledges he had put his work first but wants to make amends to his son and tempts him with a joint ownership of Neighborhood Shindig. Will Isaiah take the offer and the new boyfriend or go back to the illustrious job in Atlanta? It is definitely worth your time to find out. The tenderness the two men showed towards each other was the major highlight in the book for me. I recommend this sweet slow burn romance when you need a pick me up.
***Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn’t a requirement.***
3.5* A tale with a nice community feel to it, that’ll no doubt spawn more foodie tales!
I would have liked to see Isaiah and his dad get closer, given that they’d been kind of distant for close on ten years and yet Isaiah had dropped his career to come home and help his dad. That had started to happen towards the end of the tale, and I think the catalyst was Joel, and I could see these guys working on their relationship.
I suspect Samir, the truck lessee with the model-worthy looks, will get his tale next, and that should be an interesting one to read, with a lead from an ethnic minority and no doubt, oodles of delicious food.
A.M. Arthur was born and raised in the same kind of small town that she likes to write about, a stone’s throw from both beach resorts and generational farmland. She’s been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long, in a losing battle to make the fictional voices stop. She credits an early fascination with male friendships (bromance hadn’t been coined yet back then) with her later discovery of and subsequent love affair with m/m romance stories. A.M. Arthur’s work is available from Carina Press, SMP Swerve, and Briggs-King Books.
When not exorcising the voices in her head, she toils away in a retail job that tests her patience and gives her lots of story fodder. She can also be found in her kitchen, pretending she’s an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.
Facebook group Pot O Gold: https://www.facebook.com/groups/300209733646247/