Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Tobias “Mas” Maslin doesn’t need much. A place of his own, weekends of clubbing, a rich boyfriend for love and support. Too bad his latest sugar daddy candidate turns out to be married with kids. Mas wants to be special, not someone’s dirty little secret.
When he loses his job and his flat on the same day, his worlds starts unraveling…until he stumbles across a vintage clothing shop. Now to convince the reclusive, eccentric owner he’s in dire need of a salesman.
Perry Cavendish-Fiennes set up Cabbages and Kinks solely to annoy his controlling father. Truth be told, he’d rather spend every spare moment on his true passion, art. When Mas comes flaming into his life talking nineteen to the dozen, he finds himself offering him a job and a place to live.
He should have listened to his instincts. The shop is already financially on the brink, and Mas’s flirting makes him feel things he’s never felt for a man. Yet Mas seems convinced they can make a go of it—in the shop, and together.
Warning: Contains an eccentric, bumbling Englishman, a gobby drama queen, fantastic retro clothing, scary fairies, exes springing out of the woodwork, and a well-aimed glass of bubbly. Written in brilliantly British English.
Stuff, the second in The Bristol Collection series, is a wonderful delightful romance from Josephine Myles. I think the world of the first story Junk. There Myles delved into the life of hoarder Jasper Richardson and the man who helped him clear the clutter from his life and house,Lewis Miller. That was an intense story that covered a lot of emotional territory for Jasper and the reader, especially those unfamiliar with the mental illness of hoarding. Myles did a spectacular job and delivered a sympathetic portrait of a man desperately in trouble that he needs professional help. Jasper’s illness and recovery was necessarily the primary focus of that story. It had to be and it worked. Here romance, quirky wonderful romance is front and center!
It’s all about the stuff! And Perry Cavendish-Fiennes has lots of it. A store called Cabbages and Kinks that Mas (Tobias “Mas” Maslin) accidentally hastens into one awful day. Mas is a oddly charming character we meet first off in Junk as a hookup turned friend to Jasper. It’s odd but for all his flamboyance and non stop talking, there is something weirdly fragile about Mas. Myles has given us someone who’s quirkiness and “living in the now” bravado is a shield we see through to the man we want to hold underneath. It takes a while for Perry to see that, but come around he does. Mas is great but Perry? Totally a match for Mas.
Perry an owner of a vintage store he’s not sure he even wants to run, full of ‘stuff’, Perry is one off kilter surprise after another. After that random encounter with Mas that becomes more, we’re side by side with Mas as the layers peel away from Perry, doors are opened from the living quarters above the shop revealing new dimensions into the man who owns all the stuff and the shop itself. Entranced? Yes, Mas was and so was I.
This is not an easy romance as both men have difficult pasts that come back to throw obstacles in the way of their love and happiness. Mas has made some really awful, or challenging choices in his past, including his ex. Neither will let him go easily. Perry too has things waiting to destroy his movement forward, including his own inexperience with relationships itself. The wonder and joy is watching the men work they way to each other time and again, through each missed step, each action or nonaction taken from fear or lack of communication, only to eventually find that their need for each other is greater than anything else. Myles makes us believe in them and their love for each other.
I also liked getting caught up again with Jasper and Lewis, a lovely touch that I hope continues in the next story. Yes, there’s another book to be had and I’m on my way there to Scrap (The Bristol Collection, #3). I can hardly wait. I love, love this series! Josephine Myles is a wonderful writer. Her stories are charming, her writing flows smoothly, effortlessly around characters you love spending time with, who settle themselves into your heart for a good long stay. I absolutely recommend not only this story but the one that precedes it. Next up Scrap!
Cover art by Lou Harper is just as charming as all the other in the series and just as effective as branding them as a group.