Title ~ Normal Enough (Grease Monkeys Inc.)
Author ~ Marie Sexton
Publisher ~ Amber Allure
Genre ~ M/M Romance
Published ~ 16th March 2014
Rating ~ 4.5 Stars
When Brandon Kenner shows up at Kasey Ralston’s garage with a 1970 Chevelle SS 454, Kasey is smitten by both the man and his car. Between what Kasey considers a shameful fetish and his long estrangement from his family, Kasey finds it easiest to be alone, even distancing himself from his coworkers. But Brandon doesn’t think Kasey’s fetish is weird. In fact, he likes it.
Kasey doesn’t know how to resist a man as charming as Brandon, and he’s more than willing to be seduced. But what are Brandon’s long-term intentions? Kasey is afraid of hoping for too much, but equally afraid that when all is said and done, Brandon will leave, and Kasey will be left alone once again.
Kasey is a mechanic. Estranged from his older brother, the only person left in his family, he's pretty introverted and keeps himself to himself, throws himself into his work, loves his dog Bandit and works quietly alongside his colleagues. Even though he gets on reasonably well with them, he shies away from any social contact. One of his workmates, Tony, never fails to ask him to go for a beer after work but every time he politely refuses ... and so his life plods on.
Then one day he's asked to go look at a car a client brings in and when he gets there he finds it’s a classic 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS. Now Kasey has a secret fetish and it just so happens to be something to do with his teenage years, certain magazines and his love of classic muscle cars.
Then he meets the owner, Brandon Kenner, who looks like he's just stepped out of the pages of a GQ magazine! Both car and man out of his league, or so he thinks! They go for a spin to find out what’s wrong with car and during the drive Kasey is mortified when Brandon notices his reaction to being inside the car of his dreams, and let’s just say it’s a pretty full on 'physical' response so it’s not just the stick shift standing to attention!
Brandon's own reaction to this is completely different to what Kasey expects, and as he leaves, he tells an embarrassed Kasey to look after his car but to also…
"enjoy her any way you want..."
Kasey is left feeling awkward and shame -faced but the lure of Brandon's invitation is too good to miss so he does exactly that and not long after finds out that Brandon has some fetishes of his own. So starts a seductive, sensual relationship between two completely opposite guys and one smoking car! In true Marie Sexton style though, this is definitely not just PWP! There's far more to it than that and that's why I got totally engrossed.
I loved this little story. It’s hot and sexy, as you'll gather but it’s not all sex and sizzle. What we do get is smoking hawt but there's also a really beguiling, captivating love story running alongside the heat and as the story progresses and the initial attraction and lust between them turns to true romance, Kasey also slowly starts to come out of his shell, opening himself more to the people around him, and past hurts begin to heal. I'd go as far as to say this is basically a very sweet (not sickly) satisfying romance.
Brandon is kind and gorgeous, Kasey is endearing and quietly loveable and the car kink is a perfect accompaniment to the story. One of my fave scenes is a sexy, voyeuristic interlude inside the car involving a mini ipad, face time and two very turned on guys! The only downside? I got so immersed I didn't want it to end. I wanted more so I'll be revisiting Kasey and his kink a fair bit I think. Another winner for me.
“Ralston!” Kasey’s boss Reggie bellowed from the door. Reggie was one of those men who called everybody by their last name and rarely did it quietly. Everybody in the garage turned at the sound, first to look at Reggie, then to look at the person he was calling for: Kasey.
Kasey wilted under the weight of their attention, but replied, “Yeah, boss?”
“I need you,” Reggie said, lowering his voice to a normal speaking volume as he drew closer. “Got a customer outside who wants to talk to you.”
“Why me?” Reggie usually dealt with the customers. Kasey stayed in the back with Tony and did his work. He liked it that way.
“He wants someone who specializes in classic muscle cars. That means you. But he wants to make sure you know what you’re talking about. He’s not taking my word for it, and he’s not leaving his baby in any old dumb fuck’s hands. So get out there and convince him.”
Kasey hated talking to people. Hated trying to look them in the eyes. Hated the way they often made him feel small and stupid and weak. That was why he did his best to avoid the other mechanics and the Wrench Wars crew. But then he looked out the door and saw the car in question.
It was a 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS, if he wasn’t mistaken. And when it came to classic muscle cars, he rarely was. Whoever owned her had taken care of her, too. She was silver, with thick black stripes up her spoilered hood. In damn good shape, and probably worth upwards of seventy-five grand. She was beautiful. Perfect. And she called to him in a way that made his skin tingle and his groin tight.
Kasey put on his long-sleeve flannel to guard against the wind, then glanced out the window to make sure the Wrench Wars team wasn’t outside. No cameras in sight, so he pushed through the glass door into the parking lot.
He approached the Chevelle slowly, taking in her lines, anticipating the way her interior would look. When he finally peeked in the window, he wasn’t disappointed. Her seats weren’t faded and torn like so many old cars he saw. No. This one was as perfect inside as out. He itched to get in her. To lean back in the seat and let the car do its work.
“You the expert?” a man asked from across the car’s hood, shaking Kasey out of his reverie. It took all his willpower to take his eyes off the car and look at the owner. The man was taller than Kasey and well dressed, probably in his early thirties, with dark blond hair that seemed to ruffle just the right amount in the autumn breeze. He may as well have stepped straight out of a GQ ad, and Kasey fought the urge to run and hide. Reggie had told him to make the sale. Besides, the car was worth the awkwardness of this meeting.
“Guess I am,” he finally said.
“What’s your name?”
The man cocked his head sideways, looking skeptical. “How old are you?”
Kasey hunched his shoulders and shoved his hands into his jeans pockets. “Twenty-four. Why?”
“I guess I expected an expert on classic muscle cars to be older. But no matter.” He leaned across the hood and held out his hand. He wore a suit, and his hands were so clean, Kasey was afraid to touch him. “I’m Brandon Kenner.”
The man’s smile unnerved him, as did his seemingly easy friendliness. Dressed in a fancy suit, yet he wasn’t looking down his nose at Kasey. Not yet, anyway.
Kasey forced himself to shake the man’s hand. Meeting new people was always awkward, and he was glad he had a legitimate excuse to break eye contact. The car demanded his attention.
“She’s a beauty,” he said. “A 454?”
“You got it. LS6.” Brandon came around to the front of the car, reached into the grill to pop the hood, then lifted it to reveal the V-8 engine. It was as clean as the rest of the car.
Kasey whistled in appreciation. “Where’d you get her?”
“Bought her at a show in Phoenix. Had her a few years.” Brandon smiled at him. “I’m a bit of a collector.”
Damn. Kasey shook his head, wondering at how much money it would take to collect cars. And not just any cars, either, but cars like this one. Of course, his father had collected cars, too, but his had been nothing more than rusty heaps in the weed-strewn back yard, many of them resting on cinder blocks. It was in their dark, musty interiors that Kasey’s perverse secret had been born. But most of his dad’s cars hadn’t even run, and none of them had been as cherry as this Chevy.
“She’s mint,” he said to Brandon. “So why you here? She giving you trouble?”
“Not trouble exactly, but she’s making a noise I don’t quite like.” He slammed the hood and nodded toward the body of the car. “Hop in and I’ll show you.”
Kasey’s heart began to pound. From the outside, he could admire the Chevy with the simple appreciation of any car buff, but the inside would be different. Because being inside cars like this one did something to him—something that wasn’t normal, by most people’s standards. Still, he couldn’t avoid it. Brandon was already behind the wheel, looking out the windshield at him expectantly, so he opened the passenger door and climbed inside. He concentrated on Brandon rather than the car. That seemed the simpler way. It helped when Brandon started the car. Engine noise wasn’t a turn-on, thank God. It was a diagnostic tool and nothing more.
“Sounds fine to me.”
“That’s ’cause we’re idling.” Brandon depressed the clutch and shifted into first. “Let’s take it around the block.”
Kasey swallowed hard and did his best to concentrate on his work. It was difficult, but once he closed his eyes and focused, it took only a moment for him to hear what troubled Brandon.
“There’s a bit of a knock, isn’t there?”
Brandon smiled at him, and Kasey knew he’d passed some kind of test. “Can you fix it?”
“Easy. Just timing. Don’t you have a timing light? You could do it yourself for free.”
Brandon shook his head. “I buy ’em, but I don’t know the first thing about fixing the things. When will it be done?”
“It’ll only take me a minute, once I get to it, but there’s a few cars ahead of you. Probably first thing tomorrow. ”
They stopped at a red light, waiting to turn. They’d barely left the garage, and even though it was a short trip around the block, it was torture. Kasey rolled down his window and tried to concentrate on the cool breeze blowing by, on the people walking down the street, but he couldn’t ignore the car. The slickness of the leather. The dark seductiveness of the dashboard. He shifted in his seat as they rounded the back of the block, hoping to hide his growing erection. It was ridiculous. It was a car, for fuck sake, but old cars like this always turned him on.
He sighed in relief when the ride ended. He pulled his shirt down over his groin and wiped a hint of sweat from his upper lip. He practically held his breath, anticipating his freedom as Brandon parked the Chevy.
“So,” Brandon said, turning to Kasey, “what time should I—” He stopped short, staring at Kasey, clearly amused, and Kasey had the distinct impression the man knew exactly what was going on in his passenger seat. “You okay?” he asked in a teasing voice.
Kasey’s cheeks burned. “Fine. We open at ten tomorrow. It’ll be ready then.”
He reached for the handle, desperate to escape the car and the laughter in Brandon’s eyes, but Brandon said, “Wait.”
Kasey kept his fingers on the handle and eyes on empty space between his knees and the dashboard. He imagined himself shrinking in the seat, turning small and ugly, his perversity somehow stamped on his forehead. At least his erection was gone. “What?”
“You like the car, huh?” There was laughter in Brandon’s voice, but somehow, no ridicule. Only curiosity. “I mean, it seems like you really like the car, if you know what I mean.”
Kasey ducked his head even farther. This was his worst nightmare come true. “I’m sorry. I’ll tell Reggie I didn’t know what was wrong with it. You can find somebody else—”
“Why would I want to do that?”
Was he serious? Kasey risked a glance at him and was surprised to find that Brandon didn’t look disgusted. If anything, he seemed intrigued.
“So, you find cars attractive? Is it like object sexualization?”
“No!” Kasey said, then immediately felt he’d reacted too forcefully. He shook his head, keeping his gaze on his feet. “No. It’s not like that. I don’t want to fuck the car. Or marry it, for God’s sake.”
“But there’s obviously something going on.”
Kasey’s cheeks burned in embarrassment. He nodded, hoping that would be the end of it.
No such luck.
“Well, what is it then?” Brandon prompted.
Kasey blushed more. Maybe it would be better to lie. Maybe he could convince Brandon it wasn’t about the car at all. Somehow, though, he knew it wouldn’t work. The man was too perceptive, and Kasey’d never been good at deception. So he took a deep breath and blurted out his darkest secret. “Being inside of certain cars turns me on. A lot. To the point where all I can think about is sex.”
A moment of silence, then Brandon said in a low voice, “That’s kind of hot, actually.”
Was he serious? “It’s not normal.”
Brandon laughed. It was such a sweet, open sound that Kasey found his embarrassment waning.
“Uhh—” Not getting a boner from a car. That was normal. But Kasey wasn’t sure how to say it without sounding crude, and judging by the way Brandon checked his watch, he was out of time anyway.
“Listen, I have to go. I’ll be back tomorrow morning to pick her up. In the meantime, you take care of her for me. And enjoy her.” He climbed out of the car and closed the door, then leaned down to smile at Kasey through the open window. “I mean that, too,” he said, winking. “Enjoy her, any way you want. Just don’t leave any pecker tracks on her seat.”
With that, he was gone, and Kasey sat there in that perfect, gorgeous car, wondering if it was possible to die of embarrassment.
About Marie Sexton
Marie Sexton lives in Colorado. She’s a fan of just about anything that involves muscular young men piling on top of each other. In particular, she loves the Denver Broncos and enjoys going to the games with her husband. Her imaginary friends often tag along. Marie has one daughter, two cats, and one dog, all of whom seem bent on destroying what remains of her sanity. She loves them anyway.
eBook copy of “Normal Enough” and a $50 ARe gift certificate for some of Marie Sexton’s backlist books.