As the temperature outside plummets, the atmosphere inside the car slowly heats up. Henry learns the true reason for Marc’s chilly distance—he’s not exactly straight… maybe… and he’s been fantasizing about Henry’s mouth, among other things. Confession laid out, Marc is all for sharing body heat… and more. Henry isn’t interested in being an experiment, but as the night and cold deepen, he could be convinced to balance certain risk against uncertain reward.
Oh how I do love Jizzmas in July!
Counting Fence Posts did not disappoint and it actually worked really well for a July story since the Christmas theme is subtle. It’s there but it’s subtle. This is a sweetly realistic character driven story. Given that it’s just over 60 pages, the author was able to give me fully fleshed out MC’s with enough backstory to give them depth and without the time I did have with them used to info-dump unnecessary filler.
Marc and Henry are returning from a business trip when they get stuck by a snowstorm leaving them on the side of the road and waiting for a plow to get them out. Henry has idolized the seemingly perfect Marc since he started at the financial firm they worked at. Marc is a few years Henry’s senior and he’s on the fast track to success. Marc is a little intimidating and, Henry assumes, very straight. They haven’t had much conversation on their trip to this point and Henry just assumes that Marc is too much of a single minded workaholic to bother with the likes of Henry.
As they set out on the road to try and beat the storm home, it turns out the assumptions Henry had been making weren’t even close to being accurate. And this is where the author did such a good job of making these characters read as real people. The evolution of their conversations was spot on to what their personalities would have allowed. They have moments of frustration with one another, but they were minor, good natured and the result of the situation and aforementioned assumptions.
Since the two of them are stuck and really don’t know each other well, the conversations started out slowly and were pretty superficial, as would be expected. Henry started to see glimpses of the “real” Marc and that didn’t really help with the crush he’s got on the guy. Henry is a very methodical man. It works for him, making him good at his job and helps to keep him safe from heartbreak, especially when crushing on a straight guy who is the star of his fantasies. He keeps his head down and focuses on his job. Marc assumes Henry is shy and as the communication continues it shows that neither of them knew the other at all.
So, it turns out that Marc isn’t as strictly straight as Henry assumed and he’s got some crush-worthy feelings of his own towards Henry. The story evolved here perfectly. The author intertwined the assumptions each guy had of the other with the sharing of information they had going on to move the connection forward organically. Marc’s feelings aren’t new to him, but this is the first he’s acted on them, Henry is protective of his heart and not interested in being a “gay experiment”. I appreciated the honesty and mature dialog that can be so rare to read and even more so in a Christmas novella.
Marc and Henry may not have given each other enough of a chance had they not been stranded as they were. The situation gave them more of an opportunity to be open and honest without sabotaging their potential relationship with incorrect assumptions.
The story ends on an optimistic HFN with a little help from a dash of Christmas spirit. There were no declarations of undying love or plans to pick out china patterns. There was however, the promise for open-mindedness and a commitment to try because each thought the other was so worth it. I would love a follow up story with the two of them.
There’s a lot of delicious potential with these two in introducing Marc to the realities of a relationship with another man. There’s also a lot of potential for some serious sweetness as they open themselves to each other romantically and support each other through their new dynamics. I would auto buy that story.
For more information and to get your copy of Counting Fence Posts, check it out at Dreamspinner Press.
**a copy of this story was provided for an honest review**