Notch In Your Belt by Kayla Bain-Vrba

Notch In Your Belt by Kayla Bain-Vrba
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (47 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Wyatt’s first album launched him into country music stardom, a shocking success of gay-country. But now he has to record his second album, and all efforts are coming up blank. His manager finally runs out of patience and sends him inspiration: Bryce, who played keys on Wyatt’s tour, and the man that Wyatt is secretly in love with.

Bryce has been in love with Wyatt for a long time, but everyone knows he’s a notorious player, there and gone again as soon as he’s gotten what he wants. Then Wyatt unexpectedly admits his feelings, and Bryce thinks maybe he’s been wrong this whole. But when he wakes up the next morning, Wyatt is gone.

Wyatt has been struggling. Day after day he goes to the studio, but accomplishes nothing. His album wasn’t even close to finished. There were a few great songs – maybe even hits – but he’s been struck by writers block and has no inspiration. He needed an optimistic song, something besides the usual lost my dog/truck/woman. Gay country music might be a niche, but he desperately wanted to fill the void. But that meant writing something amazing, and Wyatt is coming up dry. And then Bryce walked back into his life and things finally begin to turn around.

This is a fun short story, one that I really enjoyed. I found myself pleasantly surprised by the small turns in the plot, ones I didn’t find at all clichés but rather refreshingly different. I also strongly sympathized with Wyatt. He wanted to avoid the usual route most country artists take, and is determined to make something meaningful and still his own. Bryce is the perfect counterpart for him. Bryce is happy to push Wyatt out of his comfort zone and get him thinking along different lines. I think it’s exactly what both men need and was thrilled at how great they came together.

There’s a very sensual M/M love scene. I found it smoking hot, but not outrageous or offensive. I also enjoyed the build up to it – Wyatt and Bryce didn’t just hop into bed with each other. Plenty of ground work is laid out beforehand. I was a little disappointed with Bryce and Wyatt’s reactions after the sensual scene – that alone was the only part of the story I felt clichéd and a let-down, but I did find the resolution satisfying and the happy ending is always a bonus in my eyes.

A strong M/M short story that I’d recommend to other readers.

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