Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
After years of working on outback properties, Gazza Kelly is finally heading back to the city. With his criminal past behind him, Gazza has no plans until he’s invited to spend the night with a guy he’s never met before.
Partner with Benefits (Kolar Creek Tales #2) by Val Francis is one of those stories I had to slowly get into. I found the premise inviting and loved that cover but getting a real connection to the story can be laid at the feet of one of the main characters.
That would be Michael Broadhurst, the privileged, sensitive, and honestly, sort of whiny second son to the powerful Broadhurst family. Yes, the author sets it up that we immediately understand that Michael’s father and oldest brother are the bully bookends that have kept Michael sandwiched between them, beaten down and feeling inconsequential. But has Michael ever tried helping himself? Nope.
In some books, you feel that total lack of self worth and inability to protect one’s self. But here, at least in the beginning and really, most of the the first half, Michael just whines about the loss of the money, how he’s bad at writing, relationships with woman, etc. until you just want to smack him upside the head. The saving grace is that he’s offset by Gazza, the recently released ex prisoner who Michael meets on the train. Gazza full of gritty, real life issues and a past that Michael can’t begin to conceive of, befriends the “supposedly straight” Michael and they become friends of a sort.
The story’s focus is primarily on Michael, his cold, emotionally dysfunctional family and the challenge that awaits him and Gazza in Kolar Creek. That’s the section that saved this story for me and where Michael finally grew up and came alive. Here we learned more about Gazza, his background and the abuses in prison. Their slow movements towards a relationship, Michael’s acceptance of his sexuality, and yes, a permanence for them both. I wish this section had been extended and the early section reduced.
But that’s just me.
By the time you get to the Epilogue, you will get the HEA you will hope for this couple and their relationship. I have read the first Kolar Creek Tales story by Val Francis, Bombay Bushie (Kolar Creek Tales #1). But I enjoyed this one so I will seek that one out as well. Plus that couple makes an appearance in this story and they intrigued me.
If you like contemporary M/M romance, you will like Partner with Benefits (Kolar Creek Tales #2) by Val Francis. I’ll be checking out the other story in the series and will let you know what I find.
Cover art: Love this cover. great job with the characters and scenery.
ebook, 171 pages
Published February 23rd 2018 by eXtasy Books Inc
ISBN 1487418051 (ISBN13: 9781487418052)