Taste by Mickie B. Ashling

Taste - Mickie B. Ashling

GR Cleanup Read in June 2011.  This one was one of those rare "first reads" books I won over at GR.

Architect Lil is visiting friends during the Taste of Chicago event when he spots a tattooed, muscled cutie serving up ice cream. Lil, ever the flirt, is delighted to find his interest (and ogling) being returned by the younger man. A little later they make plans to have a fun no-strings-attached hookup. They’re hot, they’re horny so why not, eh?

Though the two have some intense chemistry they don’t get to have their dreamy “hook-up” and kiss each other goodbye as expected. Instead drama happens (lots of freaking drama) and because of it, they are able to discover that, despite their difference in appearance and age (Lil is 37, Grier mid 20’s), they have a lot in common and enjoy each other’s company out of bed. This is new for both of them and as things go along they realize they just might be falling in love for the first time. Awwwws, I think my cold heart might’ve just melted a smidge.

I have to admit this story took me a while before I warmed up to the characters and fell into their romance. It starts off too info. dumpy and I felt as if I were being bombarded with too many facts about Grier’s past, his family and “friends” (most of whom were unpleasant to the point of cruelty) and his backstory as an out gay man who has no support system. Those who should love him basically walk all over and manipulate him for their own selfish means. All of this, right out of the starting gate, was a little too much to handle. I felt Lil was getting the short-shrift and really just wanted them to get to knowing each other, minus so many issues, and for their romance to start heating up.

As the story shakes out we discover Grier has a young son named Luca whose mother, a childhood friend of Grier’s, is a real bitch who has manipulated him into denying that he’s the boys’ father. She uses Grier as a convenient babysitter while degrading him because he’s gay. Grier has put his entire life on hold in order to stay in Luca’s life and given up on his own dreams. It’s so, so sad that he’s such a “pleaser” and frustrating that he doesn’t stand up for himself. He looks all tough on the outside but in reality he’s too tender-hearted for his own good. When he meets Lil, he’s just coming to terms with the loss of his loving mom, beginning to stand up to his dad who refuses to believe he’s gay and is dealing with a nasty, rude homophobe brother who sides with Luca’s mother and makes matters worse. Poor Grier, his life really bites at this point and the author really makes you feel for him. Lil is there to lend support, to listen and take Grier’s mind off his many problems with lots of hot sex.

Honestly, I wouldn’t have blamed Lil for running far and as fast from the mess of Grier’s life and have to give him props for sticking it through. He’s putting others first, probably for the first time in his life, and it surprises him. I thought his slightly confused emotions were beautifully written. There’s no denying the call of true love and mind-blowing loving and he realizes that pretty quick.

I’m glad I read this, despite that fact that my rambling paragraphs of complaint might make you think otherwise. When Grier and Lil are together the story buzzes with the strong emotions of brand new love and discovery. Grier ends up being stronger for knowing Lil and finds the courage and support he needs in order to get his life back on track. I despised mostly ALL of the secondary characters though with the exception of Grier’s old dad who did try to understand Grier. His deep love for his son was always clear even when he was being a stubborn old fool. I also liked cute little Luca, despite the fact that he had a lisp that was a bit overwritten. He was sweet and gentle much like his daddy and he loved kitties. What’s not to love?

Taste ends on a temporary fix/happy for now note and I’m good with that. I’d like to see more of these two experience life as a couple, and I’d like to get to know Lil better but only if all of the baggage is dumped!