Release Day Review: My Busboy by John Inman

Robert Johnny just turned thirty, and his life is pretty much in the toilet. His writing career is on the skids. His love life is nonexistent. A stalker is driving him crazy. And his cat is a pain in the ass.

Then Robert orders a chimichanga platter at a neighborhood restaurant, and his life changes—just like that.

Dario Martinez isn’t having such a great existence either. He needs money for college. His shoes are falling apart. His boyfriend’s a dick. And he has a crap job as a busboy.

Then a stranger orders a chimichanga platter, and suddenly life isn’t quite as depressing.

But it’s the book in the busboy’s back pocket that really gets the ball rolling. For both our heroes. That and the black eye and the forgotten bowl of guacamole. Who knew true love could be so easily ignited or that the flames would spread so quickly?

But when Robert’s stalker gets dangerous, our two heroes find a lot more to occupy their time than falling in love. Staying alive might become the new game plan.

Anyone who is an Inman connoisseur knows that his books are more than one note. His library includes a range of genres from comedy to angst to horror to mystery and a mashup of everything in between. In a nutshell, there is something for every reader. My Busboy falls in the funny/mystery/shenanigans categories with a sweet dose of romance that I ate up with a big ol’ spoon.

Robert is a writer with a case of writer’s block. His personal life is in the crapper and he’s a true artist with a flare for the dramatic. Not in an overt way, but more of a “glass is half empty” way. Not being an author/artist type myself, I can only imagine what being inside of their brains is like, but I like to think that many are like Robert when he’s in a state of feast or famine with the word flow. The all-encompassing passion was pretty interesting to be a part of and I liked being inside Robert’s head through his processes.

He’s got a best friend who has been in love with him forever and while on paper, Chaz should be the perfect match, Robert just doesn’t have that THING with Chaz that would make him the one. Chaz would beg to differ on that count and their friendship was a little heartbreaking but very honest. Both sides were very clear and I appreciated Robert’s clarity with Chaz even if it wasn’t easy.

Jealousy rears its ugly head when one fateful evening, Chaz and Robert hit their favorite Mexican restaurant and Robert lays his peepers on one very delicious busboy. Said busboy just happens to have a copy of Robert’s first book in his back pocket and reading about the effect that had on Robert was seriously adorable. The moment was really the epitome of the meet-cute. Chaz is less than impressed, but Robert gives very few fucks about Chaz’s opinion at that moment and makes it back to Sombrero’s to see Dario and a relationship is on its way to happening.

Chaz was sure to point out repeatedly the age different between Robert and Dario and that does weigh on Robert’s mind. Robert is not that much older, but he is pretty set in his ways and what I got out of it was that the dried up well of writing was making Robert feel and act older than his chronological age. The concern that his best work was behind him made him a tad touchy about the whole thing and best friends now how to hit those buttons, especially when they see the object of their affection turn their attention elsewhere.

Dario has an asshole for a boyfriend, very soon to be ex, and Robert ends up at the right place at the right time to provide Dario a strong shoulder and a safe place. Getting to know Dario was delicious. I loved his character. The more I read about him, the more I could see his openness and honesty as a perfect balance to Robert’s artistic temperament. While Robert would have a tendency to over analyze the hell out of something and worry a thought to pieces, Dario would cut to the chase, wrap it up and put Robert’s heart and mind at ease.

One of my absolute favorite things is John sets so many of his stories here in San Diego. We’re a big, little city and reading about it from someone who knows how to capture the mood and the setting perfectly is very satisfying. He doesn’t just keep his characters in the city either, in My Busboy, Robert and Dario head out to the high desert of San Diego and being that it’s one of my family’s favorite places to be, I was all kinds of happy and homey reading that part of the story. That whole section just melted me to pieces, it was the perfect vehicle for the budding relationship between them.

Being a relatively well know author, Robert does have himself a stalker. And this is where the mystery follows the characters. John throws in a couple of tricky deflections and a hint of his horror side comes out to play when the stalker ups his game. Especially the part with Clutch (Robert’s cat), holy hell, stress me out why don’t you John?? The stalker is both scary and sad, you have to trust me on that one and while the ending was prophetically fitting, tense and really well done, it was still realistically heartbreaking keeping the story grounded.

I need to take a moment to discuss the epilogue. All I can say, is “D’awwwwwwwww”. So many things made me happy in the epilogue and while everything was wrapped up it was done well and didn’t have an air of convenience about it. The author built everything up to that point to make the epilogue work and give me the HEA I really needed for these guys.

For more information on My Busboy and to get your copy, head over to Dreamspinner Press.

**a copy of this story was provided to BMBR from the publisher for an honest review**

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