Rating: 4 stars out of 5
When Anthony Mercer walked into Au cœur du terroir, he was looking for good food and a pleasant evening spent with a friend. He never expected to meet—and sleep with—Paul Delescluse, a waiter at the restaurant. After spending a magical week together in Paris, Anthony must return to his life in North Carolina, while Paul remains in France.
Despite the distance and the lack of promises between them—Paul wants sex, not a relationship—Paul and Anthony forge a solid friendship. Then Anthony’s job takes him back to Paris, this time to stay. Paul is thrilled to have him back, but Anthony has a harder choice: be another of Paul’s conquests or fight for the relationship he knows they could have, if only Paul would believe it.
From the moment we enter the story of At Your Service, its immediately clear that France, and its culture is going to be on loving display as a major character in Ariel Tachna’s story. From the language to the food to the vividly described local venues, the reader feels as connected to the settings as Anthony and Paul due to the deep affection that the author holds for the people and places she is writing about. I cannot tell you how much that helps to elevate a story as it does here.
The characters are introduced quickly as it needs to be, given the time frame the author is working within. A week to meed and fall in love. Possible? Yes and definitely while in Paris. God, that city has its own magic. And Paul and Anthony definitely click over the food and wine of the restaurant Au cœur du terroir and other places Paul takes Anthony too. Its a quiet joy watching the men connect with each other even knowing what’s coming and the fear of relationships that returns along with Paul’s ex.
However, Paul’s has far darker issues than a simple fear of relationships and Tachna does a wonderful job of not glossing over the real pain involved for both parties in the sexual issues here. It took a story I was expected to be merely a pleasant romance into one with with emotional heft and characters that showed real growth by the end of the story.
If you love your stories with some angst, travel and struggles towards romance, then At Your Service by Ariel Tachna is the story for you. I absolutely recommend it.
Cover art by L.C. Chase is a delight and speaks towards the location.
ebook, 206 pages
Expected publication: March 14th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press