Nice Tie by Jules Jones

Nice Tie by Jules Jones
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (130 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal sex
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Cactus

Alex Hall likes watching good-looking men doing up good-looking ties, a kink he can safely indulge on his morning commute as long as he’s discreet. At least until the day he meets new client Robin Wood, whose face seems oddly familiar. Embarrassingly familiar, when Robin recognizes him as “that guy on the bus.”

Lusting after the client and his tie is a really bad idea. Acting on it would be even worse. Which doesn’t stop Alex’s impulsive suggestion when he realizes that Robin’s as intrigued as he is awkward. They’re both grown-ups, they can handle the conflict of interest, and if nothing else it will get the awkwardness out of the way. And there’s a cheap hotel at the end of their bus route.

Just one date. One night for Alex to enjoy watching beautiful hands managing a tie with style. One night for Robin with a man who can understand his own grooming kink, even if it’s not quite the same as Alex’s. One night, and then just good friends, while they’re working together. Nobody else’s business.

But Robin has entirely too much experience with romance at work, and the past isn’t staying past.

Sometimes a good tie is just irresistible. Alex is enjoying his daily commute on the bus when he notices another gentleman has the habit of tying his tie in precise fashion every morning. Alex quite likes the look of those elegant hands and imagines both the tie and hands on him. He’s always careful to keep his fantasies to himself, or so he thinks. When he encounters the gentleman, Robin, in a business setting they are quick to realize how they know each other. Since Robin had noticed Alex’s reaction to his tie tying and they now have business together, the two men meet to get any awkwardness out of the way. What is supposed to be a friendly café meal soon turns sexual but the specter of business and Robin’s ex-boyfriend means these two may never be more than friends.

Nice Tie is an easy to read, quick novella. Alex is the third person narrator and the subject matter stays light at the beginning. It darkens somewhat with a potential abuse subplot in the second half and some uncomfortable scenes between the two men and their respective bosses. However the pace remains fairly even, if rather slow. This is best described as a gentle romance without any great overwhelming passion. That’s not a bad thing but it lends an even pacing to even the romance aspect. The two men aren’t ever overtaken with desire or lust, even at the start of their association. Instead every action is carefully thought out and controlled, even the sex scenes, which created an atmosphere devoid of tension.

The characters are interesting but they feel very one-dimensional. I couldn’t get a feel beyond their basic actions. It was almost as if they were comfortable as friends and relatively attracted to one another so they might as well have a relationship. The comfort of their friendship, which felt very real, seemed more a basis for the sexual relationship than actual attraction and desire. Often the two men comment about their age and being “middle-aged” so they were content to watch tv or lie in bed together comfortably. It’s a gentle romance with undemanding characters. The only real hiccup is the slower pace and abuse subplot with Robin’s ex-boyfriend, which I never really appreciated or liked. Additionally there is a lot of preaching about polyamory and multiple relationships, which I felt was meant to educate but came off strident instead.

Mostly Nice Tie is a pleasant, easy going and undemanding romance with a very British setting. The writing is clean without problems and the characters are a nice change from randy youngsters, which are so often popular. I think the slower pace to the story and romance will appeal to some readers and the hope for a happy ending leaves a lot of room for the future.

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