A Not So Hollow Heart by Sharon Maria Bidwell

A Not So Hollow Heart by Sharon Maria Bidwell
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (85 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal sex
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Cactus

Mason’s facing more than one apocalypse. The darkest hours are those spent alone when memories surface and the touch of his lost love can make the most erotic of dreams horrifying. He’d rather face danger than recollect how he loved Antonio, and what he was prepared to give up for him. He’s never going to fall in love again…

That vow wavers when he rescues Kyle, although he’s certain luck had more to do with saving Kyle than anything he did. Now Mason fears something more than the walking dead. He’s afraid giving in to lust may lead to love, if the walking dead and homophobic hatred don’t murder them first.

Just because love is dangerous doesn’t mean you can run from it. Ever since Mason lost his partner at the start of the zombie plague, he’s been determined to never feel that kind of pain again. It’s simply too hard to care about someone in such a dangerous world. He’s even isolated himself from the small band of survivors he’s joined with. None of that can stop him from wanting Kyle though. After Mason saved Kyle almost by accident, the two men are drawn to each other. It’s a dangerous game in uncertain times but age-old sparks can’t be denied.

A Not So Hollow Heart is a story about redemption. Mason must come to terms with his grief so he can move on and find love again, even during a zombie apocalypse. The story is obviously well known and familiar, just set during a post-apocalyptic time. This edge of uncertainly laced with understandable fear and the very reality of death makes sense for Mason to both cling to his past hurt and quickly get over it. With Mason as the narrator I could understand his fears and hesitations, his lingering guilt over his dead partner but also the desire to move on eventually. The sheer battle for survival limits grieving.

For this reason the story mostly works. It’s understandable, relatable, and above all very human. I could easily believe in the story and the characters. Mason and his fellow survivors offer a compelling backdrop and the action to move the story forward. Kyle as a love interest is serviceable but mysterious. We’re not told much about his background and very little insight is offered into his thought processes. So I’m not entirely sure why these two men hooked up together but I can appreciate the need for hot sex after a scary day killing zombies.

My only other qualm is that the story is so short it feels incomplete. Several of the scenes feel rushed, as if trying to keep brief when a longer, more involved scene would have been better. Since the story is only a novella, it’s a quick fun read but I was frustrated because I wanted more from it. The background, characterization, the romance, and the ending all feel like they should have more to them. The only thing not lacking is the sex, of which there are numerous scenes. For readers looking for a sex filled romp about emotionally moving on and happens to have zombies, this might suit.

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