Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
In Hawaii for the wedding of his lovers, Toby Lee wonders if he’ll ever find a love like Clay & Colin. When he meets Wolff, a hot bartender, over the course of a weekend he thinks it could just be possible. Toby Lee puts his foot down and decides that his love life is far more important than the so-called friends who take advantage of him. A broken law, handcuffs and a kiss might just seal the deal on his future.
Hawaiian Trunks by Caraway Carter is an enjoyable short story that has the legs and heart of a much bigger tale. The story is told through the perspective of Toby Lee in Hawaii to attend and manage his lovers/employers wedding. It’s a time of celebration for all except maybe Toby whose life is now as unsettled and rippling as the waves outside the resort they are all staying at. Employed as Colin and Clay’s houseboy, Toby became their “third” over the five years he lived with them but the wedding for these two changes everything, including their relationship dynamics. Why?
Because Toby now wants what Colin and Clay have together for himself. He wants his life to change. And he wants love, not just affection but the deep abiding love he sees in the men at the alter.
As the story opens, the reader is dropped down into the wedding ceremony as the vows are being said. It’s intimate, its lovely, and its also clearly heartbreaking for Toby, who loves these men but is ready to move on with his life but doesn’t know how. The story only takes place over a couple of days, the few last parties before everyone goes home to their now changed lives. You get a glimpse as to how wealthy Colin and Clay are and the lifestyle that Toby has lived with them as their lover/houseboy. It’s that brief look into their regular lives that lets you understand both Toby’s frustration as well as his yearning for more. It will take courage and determination to leave that life behind but does Toby have that?
Toby’s wish for change is helped along by continual encounters with a bartender called Wolff, who seems to pop up everywhere at the resort. A few conversations peak each other’s interest, a longer encounter deepens the attraction into something neither wants to define but both want to pursue. That’s a pretty realistic approach and one I appreciated when other authors would have gone for the instant love aspect. Luckily, that is not to be found here.
The ending is again believable in its resolution and HFN status for the main characters. There isn’t too much drama or angst…it is a wedding after all. And the challenges Toby faces are ones that come with change and maturity. The progression towards the character’s growth and the thought processes that gets him there flow smoothly and realistically. I believed in Toby and how it all ended and wished him well. You will too.
My only quibble is that it often felt as though we were missing either part of the book (the first half) that contained Toby’s life with Colin and Clay. It would have been nice to have more of a back history and substantial heft now lacking to the wholeness of the plot. Instead, as I said, it felt as though we were dropped down in the middle, and got that and the end. A prologue might have giving this lovely little story the final touch that it needs for completeness.
If you are looking for a lovely tale of romance to while away a hour or two, pick up Hawaiian Trunks by Caraway Carter. If you turn away from any sort of m/m/m element, don’t worry about that here as that aspect is over as the story begins and Toby is looking for that one person to be his alone.
Cover art by Deanna Jamroz works perfectly. I love the lanterns in the background and the Hawaiian print trunks in the foreground. Great job.
Kindle Edition, 40 pages
Published February 22nd 2015 by ManLove Romance Press