Eloreen reviews ”Where There’s Smoke’ by Nico Jaye. Part of the 2015 Daily Dose – Never Too Late package set. Published by Dreamspinner Press on June 1st, 2015. 58 pages
We were provided a copy in exchange for an honest opinion.
Why I read: I wanted to read something easy and short. I asked the other RGR reviewers for recommendations, and this one was available. Then I saw it involved a firefighter. I’m so there. Firefighters, along with most any story involving men in uniforms are always on the top of my list. 🙂
If he can make room in his life and his heart, an isolated medieval history professor might find a real life knight in shining armor.
A terrible breakup in his early thirties left David shying away from relationships. For years he’s been content with his solitary life, finding fulfillment in his career, books, television show marathons, and his cat’s companionship. When David meets his neighbor Zach, he can’t tell if Zach is just being friendly or if the handsome fireman might actually be interested in him. The more time they spend together, though, the more David questions his resolution to remain single. If Zach can extinguish the flames left by David’s past, David might finally break away from his structured life and take a chance on love.
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publication Date: June 1, 2015
Word Count: ~18,000 words
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
It’s not a deep story: light and fluffy just as the kitten depicts on the cover. Summed up in one word – perfect. It was perfect timing and a nice, short story to spend an hour and a half relaxing. It had a perfect little cat, Astrid, whose antics match and counterpoint David Waterman, her owner, well. Mrs. Pettifer, one of David’s new neighbors, was… perfect in her own way. 🙂 Then there’s the other new neighbor, Zach Ford, the fireman hottie. Both are older men, established in their careers, and gave a more-focused short story.
As Nico says herself:
“Who doesn’t love a meet-cute?? 😀 Based on the cover, you can probably tell that an orange cat has a starring role in Where There’s Smoke. What you might not have guessed, though, is Astrid the cat appears on the very first page and is instrumental in getting our two heroes together. As a self-proclaimed lover of HEAs, I’m sending along a little meet-cute action for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!”
Overall, a perfect novella deserves a perfect ten pots of gold.
From Where There’s Smoke by Nico Jaye:
“No, no, oh sweet Jesus, no! Astrid, get back here!”
A blur of orange streaked out the open front door, and, his arms full of grocery bags, David Waterman could only watch helplessly as his orange tabby raced down the walkway, came face-to-face with Mrs. Pettifer’s Shih Tzu, and promptly scrambled up the nearest tree.
Which happened to be the twenty-foot maple on his front lawn he’d admired when he’d moved into the house three weeks ago.
It wasn’t very admirable right now.
“Oh dear,” said the tiny woman.
With a sigh, David set his bags down on the front stoop and turned to face her. His gaze traveled from her purple nylon tracksuit, down the hot pink leash, over to the still barking, pink bow-wearing terror, and all the way up the tree trunk to find Astrid perched on the fourth branch from the top, approximately thirteen feet off the ground. As David watched, the volume of barks increased, and, with a glance at the dog, Astrid moved up another branch.
So, fifteen feet.
David pinched the bridge of his nose briefly, then turned to Mrs. Pettifer with a strained smile. “Mrs. Pettifer, why don’t you and Mitzy continue your morning walk?”
“Oh! But, David dear, your poor kitty!” She fluttered her fingers in the direction of the tree. “What was her name again? Heloise? Francine?”
A genuine smile, however unbidden, crept onto David’s face. “Astrid, Mrs. Pettifer. Astrid.” Brushing his light brown hair out of his eyes, David squinted up at Astrid, who still watched Mitzy with an unblinking stare. “And I think she’s a little more terrified with Mitzy around than she’d be without.”
Mrs. Pettifer raised a hand to her cheek and glanced between the two furry enemies. “Oh my, you could be right. But how in the world will you get her down?”
At that moment, a low chuckle rumbled from behind David, and immediately, the barking stopped as Mitzy swiveled her bow-bedecked head to take in the newcomer.
David bit his lip.
What a way to meet the new neighbor.
“Everything okay over there?” The low chuckle was accompanied by a rich baritone voice that sent shivers down David’s spine. He slowly turned and found Mr. Blue House crossing the lawn between their two homes. Mr. Blue House wore charcoal gray sweatpants low on his hips, and his chest was broad beneath a rumpled white T-shirt that looked like it had been hastily thrown on. His flat abdomen and trim waist had David unconsciously sucking in his own slightly rounded belly. The brown hair cut close to his neighbor’s head appeared somewhat sleep-ruffled, and he wore a curious grin as he approached their little group.
David swallowed hard.
He’d caught glimpses of Mr. Blue House in passing over the last few weeks, but Mr. Blue House was around at odd hours of the day or away for long stretches of time. In fact, this was the first time David had seen him up close. He had some silver at his temples, and the creases around his eyes suggested a quickness to laughter and perhaps a few more years of age than David’s own thirty-six. As he walked closer, though, his fit physique and strong features clearly proclaimed Mr. Blue House to be a handsome man.
“Hi, I’m Zach Ford.”
Nico Jaye is a fan of all things HEA and has dragged her romance collection along for her moves from San Francisco to Los Angeles to Chicago to New York and back. She thinks reading is awesome and loves that she can hang out night after night with crinoline-wearing debutantes, brawny firemen in suspenders, and werewolf shifters with Scottish brogues. An overall feline enthusiast, Nico secretly (or not so secretly?) adores Hello Kitty, cat GIFs, spontaneous traveling, pretending to be crafty, emoticons, hot menfolk, and parenthetical statements (not necessarily in that order). After starting as the pitcher for Team Awesome (literally) and visiting places like South Africa, Oman, and Fiji, Nico discovered that letting the boys in her head tell her where they want to go could actually be the most exciting journey of all.