Monday, August 15, 2016

The First Morning After by Marie Lark

For as long as he can remember, Danny Rojas has wanted all-star first baseman Mitchel Finch. And he could swear that in high school, Mitchel was maybe interested, too. But the baseball team made Danny’s life a living hell back then, and the moment he was able, he got out. Five years later at a friend’s wedding, Danny finally has the chance, and more importantly, the courage, to act on his years-long crush.

Mitchel Finch used to have it so good--a brilliant athlete with lots of friends, a gorgeous girlfriend, and a place of importance in his home town. All he had to do was play it straight. But when an injury ends his baseball career, and his best friend’s wedding reminds him of everything he lost, Mitchel jumps at the opportunity Danny gives him--a night to be honest with himself. A night to finally feel wanted for exactly who he is.

The trouble is, neither of their circumstances has changed by morning. Mitchel is still closeted, and Danny is still the town pariah. Can a connection, building for years and forged in one night, survive the first morning after?

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I love stories about returning to a hometown, and the character development in this short novel is wonderful. Danny is an incredibly complex character. Just beneath the surface of the confident, independent university graduate is a vulnerable young man still desperate for his peer’s respect and his parents’ affection. While the story only captures a few days in Danny’s life, the author manages to pull all the warring threads of Danny’s life together in a very powerful way.

The unchanging nature of Danny’s hometown is bleak and the author captures the stagnant glory days reminiscing beautifully. Former homecoming king Mitch hasn’t aged well and his closeted life is stifling. While I felt empathy for Mitch by the end of the story, I never really felt he was good enough for Danny, despite Danny’s lifetime of hero worship.

The relationship between Danny and Mitch is awkward. There were times I hated Mitch for his treatment of Danny and times I wished Danny wouldn’t forgive quite so easily. While neither man’s behaviour is heroic or inspiring, both Danny and Mitch are uncomfortably believable.

This is more of a coming of age/coming to terms new adult character study than a romance and I I’m glad the author doesn’t force an awkward happily ever after on readers. This is a well written little gem and I look forward to reading more from this author.

Dual point of view, this story spans only a few days and gives us a glimpse into the lives of Danny and Mitchel 5 years after high school. Both men are at different stages in their lives. Danny is openly gay and has moved away from the small town he grew up in to create a life for himself. Mitchel is very much in the closest and living a fairly miserable life trying to meet his family's expectation.

We learn so much about these two in such a small space of time. They each have demons to face and their tenuous connection felt like it would snap at any minute.

The First Morning After isn't a long story but it has plenty of substance. I didn't want it to end and I wonder if the author is going to give us more of Danny and Mitchel. Part of me wants more and another part thinks this story is special and should left as a standalone. Either way, I loved The First Morning After and I have already gone in search of more work by Marie Lark.

4 Angsty Stars.

Marie Lark is a new-to-me author, and from word-one I was hooked. Steady pacing and a storyline that was both lusty and angsty.

The First Morning After is a sexy yet emotional novella, featuring Danny, a man coming home to small-town Pennsylvania for his best friend's wedding, sharing the groomsmen's duties with his crush since 8th grade. Mitchel is the town's golden boy, with his core group of friends still stuck in high school, unable to be the man he wishes to be.

I found the novella to pack a punch, eliciting emotions from me, particularly when it came to Danny's narration. Mitchel said and did some nasty things, but I could still empathize with him.

Sexy, real, angsty, and emotional, The First Morning After was an engrossing, entertaining read. While it did have a solid, fully-fleshed out beginning, middle, and ending, I would happily read another short novella by these same characters as a follow-up on where their relationship has developed, and I'm usually a one-and-done (pun intended) type of girl.

Recommended for MM romance fans.

Marie Lark is a part-time teacher and rest-of-the-time writer. She lives in New York with her very respectable husband and tiny dog. She writes contemporary New Adult and LGBTQ romance, but loves love stories of all kinds. Romance is like kung fu—it’s in everything. Jackie Chan said that, right?

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The First Morning After by Marie Lark to read and review.

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