Neighborhood Shindig Series, Book #1
Contemporary MM Romance
Release Date: 06.13.19
Cover Designer: Sloan J Designs
After his father’s heart attack, Isaiah Morrell gave up cooking in his own high-end Atlanta restaurant to return home to Reynolds, North Carolina, in order to help his father Thomas heal and to keep an eye on his business Neighborhood Shindig. A collection of food trucks and other small businesses, Shindig is a popular destination in this college town, but Isaiah longs for the fast pace of a big-city kitchen. Until he meets Joel…
Joel Fisher has been out of commission from a serious illness for the better part of a year, but now he’s ready to reclaim his life—except his apartment has been sublet, his partner is missing, and their shared food truck is stripped of everything not attached. In short, Joel has nothing. After an uncomfortable night sleeping on the food truck floor, Isaiah and Thomas Morrell give Joel an offer he can’t refuse: a rented room in their house, as well as their help creating a new food truck concept. Joel hates accepting charity, but he’s hit rock bottom and has nowhere to go but up.
Working with seemingly uptight Isaiah is actually pretty fun, and the pair bonds over a challenge to create a unique grilled cheese sandwich. Light flirting melts into a deeper connection neither man expects, but Isaiah isn’t in Reynolds for much longer, and Joel can’t get attached to the gorgeous professional chef. As Isaiah’s feelings for Joel strengthen and grow, he entertains the idea of staying in Neighborhood Shindig for good—but Joel hasn’t asked him to…
Welcome to Neighborhood Shindig, a friendly place where you can snack on a lamb kebab while getting your hair done, pick up your favorite herbal tea blend, and then go listen to live music under the pavilion. We’re happy to have you.
Joel found a parking spot near his building and got out, grateful to stretch sore, aching limbs. Long car rides were more difficult for him now, and he’d tried to stop as infrequently as possible, so eager to surprise Steve. Joel scanned the lot for Steve’s hatchback. It was midday on Tuesday, so the Shindig lot was closed—it gave not only the small business owners who rented pods, but also the owner/manager one full day off a week. Didn’t mean Steve had to be home, though.
Their unit was on the fourth floor, no elevator, and Joel hated that he was panting a bit by the time he got there. Definitely needed to start working out more, get back into shape. He was already tall and lean, but he’d lost about fifteen pounds of muscle this past year.
Excitement rolled through his belly as he put his key into their unit’s lock and turned—except it didn’t unlock. He double-checked, but yeah, right door and right key.
Maybe Steve had needed to change the locks for some reason? He pushed the doorbell and waited, trying to fight back a big smile. The knob rattled and a chain slid back. The door opened about a foot and a dark-haired woman stared at him. “Can I help you?” she asked.
Joel blinked hard. “Um, does Steve Winslow live here?”
Don’t I live here?
“Not since the first of the month,” the woman replied. “He had to move suddenly, so I’m sub-leasing it through the end of the month, until my place is ready downstairs. Who are you?”
“Joel. I live here.”
“Oh, right, you’re the ex he mentioned.”
“Ex?” Ex what? He’d texted Steve yesterday about frivolous things, and Steve hadn’t said a damned thing about sub-leasing their place. A place Joel had paid this month’s rent on. “What do you mean ex?”
“He said you guys broke up, so you moved back to live with your parents in Virginia, and he’s moving…somewhere, I don’t think he said where. But your stuff is still here. He packed it up and left it in the hall closet.”
Joel did not understand what was happening right now. “We didn’t break up. We have a business together for God’s sake. I don’t understand.”
“Listen, do you want to come inside and sit? You look pale.”
“Um, yeah, thanks.”
The apartment was small, one-bedroom and only about six hundred square feet. It had come furnished, so none of the big stuff was his, and he’d taken clothing and his electronics with him to Virginia. Those personal things were in his car right now, waiting to be unpacked.
He sat on the familiar sofa, legs suddenly trembling, and tried to wrap his brain around what was happening.
The woman appeared with a bottle of water. “Here. I’m Emily, by the way.”
“Joel.” Had he already said that? “Steve never told me he moved out.”
“Oh, wow, that’s harsh. He ditched your place without telling you?”
“At least the lease isn’t up until August.” It gave him time to plan, even if it meant a strange female roommate for a few weeks. He couldn’t really afford the place on his own, and he still had no clue what was going on with the food truck.
“Um…” Emily chewed on her bottom lip. “The lease is month-to-month. It’s over in, like ten days, and I have a document with the landlord stating I’m the tenant.”
Joel gaped. “But…this is my place.”
“My place, dude, and no offense, but I do not know you, and I make it a point not to live with strange men.”
“How the hell can he change the lease without me…signing…? Fuck.” Because he dealt with college students, the building’s manager had multiple lease options. Year-long, which is what Joel always signed, but also college-term leases that lasted the length of the college’s school year, and then month-to-month options for the summer, or for temporary tenants. When Steve said he’d renewed the lease last summer while Joel was sick, Joel had assumed he’d done another full-year contract.
Joke’s on me.
“If you don’t believe me, I can get a copy of the lease,” Emily said.
“I believe you. I just don’t understand why he’d do this. Why he wouldn’t at least call and tell me he was leaving, or that if I came back I’d be homeless.”
3.5 of 5 Stars
This is a quick, super sweet, somewhat predictable, low angst read. I’d recommend this book after reading a really heavy, angsty read when you need something light and fluffy.
Both characters go through some life direction changes completely out of their control. They embrace these life changes and come out better for them. Starting as friends, then becoming lovers solidifies the longevity of their relationship.
There are several interesting characters we’ll see in future and I understand the first three will release quickly. I’m sticking with this series as it’s fun and light and sometimes you just need something like that after a heavy read!
About the Author
A.M. Arthur was born and raised in the same kind of small town that she likes to write about, a stone’s throw from both beach resorts and generational farmland. She’s been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long, in a losing battle to make the fictional voices stop. She credits an early fascination with male friendships (bromance hadn’t been coined yet back then) with her later discovery of and subsequent love affair with m/m romance stories. A.M. Arthur’s work is available from Carina Press, SMP Swerve, and Briggs-King Books.
When not exorcising the voices in her head, she toils away in a retail job that tests her patience and gives her lots of story fodder. She can also be found in her kitchen, pretending she’s an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.
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