Just For Nice by H.M. Shepherd


Just For Nice by H.M. Shepherd
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short story (55 pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Nick Caratelli flees the city in an attempt to escape a broken relationship and a career he never wanted. He plans to set up a bed-and-breakfast in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country—despite the fact he has no experience in renovating the old building. Luckily his handsome neighbor Sam approaches him with a curious proposal: he’ll help with the restoration in exchange for Nick babysitting his niece.

As they work to have the bed-and-breakfast open for business by summer’s end, their lives become interwoven without them even trying. Before he knows it, Nick is recovering from his loss and taking his place in the unconventional family that seems determined to form. But for Nick and Sam to be together in all the ways they desire, they’ll have to realize all the arguments against romance exist only in their heads….

After his fiancée broke up with him, Nick flees the city to start a B&B, but he quickly realizes he’s in over his head. A friendly neighbor, Sam, offers to help with the renovations in exchange for Nick babysitting Sam’s niece. Can these friendly overtures lead to both Nick and Sam finding the loving relationships they long for?

I found this to be a well-written and light story. I instantly felt empathy for Nick – uprooting his life and searching for something more, and then his reluctance to be “that neighbor” who calls in the noise complaints at 3am when the kids next door just won’t quit partying…everything in the first few pages grabbed at me and touched a chord. I couldn’t help but enjoy Nick’s character and the position he found himself in life. Especially I understood how he longed for a simple, loving life and struggled to overcome the realities of what he was trying for. It made Nick feel really relatable and interesting to me and before the end of the first chapter I was totally hooked.

Sam was also a man I felt I could connect with. His character took a little longer to unwind – he didn’t share much of his history with Nick until almost half way through the book – but as a hard-working man struggling with custody of his teenage niece he was an interesting and appealing character to me.

While on one hand I really enjoyed the slower pace of the storyline just for the blossoming romance between Nick and Sam it was a little frustrating at times too. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know both men – and Ellie, Sam’s niece – properly first. I liked seeing them both in their own setting, watching their lives slowly merge first as neighbors helping each other out and then as men getting to know each other. But Nick initially at least was still pretty torn up about his fiancée ditching him – which was completely understandable, but while I knew he had to be bi, there was no mention of this until over half way through the story – so for quite some time there was a question mark there for me. And while Sam obviously was attracted to Nick, he also didn’t seem at all keen to make a move.

While I truly enjoyed the slower pace for the story, and appreciated Sam and Nick not simply glancing at each other then jumping into bed, not having more than the odd hungry look at each other for such a long way into the book had me wondering if they would even get together romantically at all. And for a romance story I personally prefer not to doubt whether the main characters will even get together – let alone have their romance and Happy Ever After. So this worry niggled me a fair bit.

That said, once Nick and Sam both get on the same page and admit their attraction the romance really progressed and became center stage for most of the rest of the story and I loved this. There is a small amount of sex in this – not enough in my opinion to put off more traditional romance readers, but certainly enough to satisfy those who like a bit of spice in their stories. I found this was a great balance and it helped round of the story perfectly in my opinion.

A slow paced, small-town feeling M/M that was both sweet and just spicy enough to keep me interested. With multi-layered and complicated characters and plenty of plot going around I felt this was a really good story that kept me eagerly turning the pages.

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