Independence Day by Christiane France

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Independence Day by Christiane France
Publisher: Loose ID
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (138 pgs)
Other: M/M, Multiple Partners, Anal Play
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Fern

Nick Gregorio is at a crossroads in his life. When his former lover, Al Martinsen, came to Vegas wanting to make up, Nick was prepared to listen. For Nick, however, returning to their hometown to resume playing second fiddle to Al’s ambitions was not an option, and he suggested Al move to Vegas permanently.

Six weeks have passed with no word from Al, and Nick doesn’t know what to think. Is Al still considering moving to Vegas, or does his silence say it all? When Nick finally receives news about Al, it sends him reeling with shock, anger and total despair. He knew Al had allowed ambition to dominate his life, but even he found it hard to believe Al would go so far as to commit the ultimate betrayal. There’s no going back for either of them now.

In desperation, Nick looks for temporary oblivion in the form of a night out that turns nasty and violent. Fortunately for Nick, his new friend and boss, Trip Browning, comes to his aid. With Trip’s support, Nick is able to resume work planning the gala opening of The Neapolitan’s newest restaurant. That is, until Trip delivers a surprise of his own and sends Nick’s world spinning in a whole different direction…

Nick is new to Vegas and has spent most of his time since arriving organizing and opening Butterscotch Dreams, a specialty café. After selling his own restaurant and leaving behind his entire life – including his married-for-convenience boyfriend, Al, Nick has taken time to settle down. But Vegas has finally started to work her charms on Nick. So when Al walks into Butterscotch Dreams out of the blue, Nick is shocked and maybe just a little bit happy. Can the two men work through their differences?

I really enjoyed this story. I found the history between Nick and Al to be really interesting and I quickly found myself quite emotionally invested in Nick. While I was a little surprised at how lust for Al clouded Nick’s better judgment, I couldn’t fault him for it as they’d been lovers and partners for many years. Besides, I felt Nick’s love and desire to believe the best of the situation added a wonderful realism to Nick’s character.

While some of the plot was quite easy to guess, the author managed to weave the story skillfully enough that I didn’t mind I could see certain aspects from a mile away. I was also really impressed how the author managed to make Al not appear like a cartoon villain. Sure, Al was in the wrong over a number of points, and Al was certainly a flawed man to my mind (being driven and ambitious to the point of blindness to everything else in particular) but he was not a “bad” or evil man in a traditional sense of a fictional villain. Also, having a few of the chapters told from Al’s perspective really helped me as a reader to get inside his head and understand where Al was coming from.

I also found myself deeply intrigued by Trip – Nick’s boss and only friend in Vegas. A funny misunderstanding meant that the working relationship and friendship between Nick and Trip added an twist into much of the plotline of this story. I had plenty of questions about Trip and deeply enjoyed learning more about him and truthfully he was my favorite character out of the three men.

I found this to be a great read with interesting, complicated characters, a great plot and plenty of twists. Recommended.

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