Author ~ Brandon Witt
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 25th January 2017
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
A Mary's Boys Novella
Darwin Michaels is living his dreams in the Mile High City. While Denver offers the perfect job, scrumptious dining, and whirlwind dating options, Darwin is losing hope he’ll find the right man to spark his interest for more than a one-night stand—until he sets eyes on Cody Russell.
Cody has just accomplished his life’s goal—get the hell out of Kansas. In one fell swoop, he lands a job at Hamburger Mary’s and gets a newfound family and the chance to be with other gay people! All that’s missing is someone special. But when Darwin shows his interest, Cody is sure it’s too good to be true. After all, what can Darwin possibly see in the high school dropout serving him nachos?
As Darwin falls in love, Cody struggles to realize his worth. When his past threatens the fragile life he is building, Cody spirals into a moment of dark desperation. But Darwin is determined to show Cody that love and family and home are there for him… will Cody accept what is offered?
I’m used to the Brandon Witt books I read being mostly drama and angst with a side of humor and lightness. Nachos & Hash was a delightful reversal. Yes, the MCs still have tough issues to face, but this is more a straightforward romance with a whole cast of loving and supportive characters to help push these two seemingly opposite men into holding onto what they want and deserve.
Having recently escaped the small town Kansas hell he grew up in Cody never dreamed he’d find a place where he can be himself, in a job he loves, with people he considers family. He is happier than ever, but is in constant fear it’s all a dream about to be taken away. This fear is never more realized than when the gorgeous Darwin shows an interest. The fact that Darwin wants more than a back alley BJ or a quickie in the bathroom boggles Cody’s mind. Why would a gorgeous, smart man so obviously out of his league waste any time with him? Cody’s low self-esteem, mostly a gift from his parents (and I use that word loosely here), isn’t going to allow him to feel completely happy and safe, no less accept what Darwin is offering.
Darwin is on another failure of a date. He’s got a good job and is ready to settle down so he has been dating with that end goal in mind. As this latest date crashes and burns he is drawn to the server in the restaurant, Hamburger Mary’s. Something about the “kid” draws him. Darwin may seem to have it all together, but he can relate to Cody in more ways than one. They both struggled to break away from a small Midwestern town, but there is even more that they share. It scares Darwin how much he wants with the almost fragile Cody, but he can only deny his feelings for so long.
This isn’t an age-gap story, Cody is 21 and Darwin 24, but it sometimes felt that way only because of the gaps in their maturity and outlook on life. Cody is so unsure of himself when it comes to their relationship while Darwin comes off as very mature and together. It could have been a weird dynamic, but having both their points of view throughout the story really endeared me to both men. Their feelings come on suddenly and strong and both have valid reasons to doubt going forward, but they also have such a hope and yearning that they are trying to hide from the other, I couldn’t help but root for them. As the men date it was really heartwarming to see Cody experience so many firsts and following his darkest moment, find an inner strength that allows him to reach out and grab his chance at complete happiness.
As I’ve found in the past, here again Brandon Witt’s writing made everything feel real; from the characters, to the settings to the emotions. My heart hurt for Cody. He has found everything he ever wanted and just wants to live his life, but his past was obviously painful and left him skittish and feeling unworthy. Darwin is a sweetheart, but even he wonders if it’s a good idea to be involved. Luckily the secondary cast provides much needed support to these two. Cody’s co-workers are fiercely protective of him truly are the family he never had, meddling where necessary but not being over the top.
This was a strong start to this series and I really enjoyed this lighter story from my usual Brandon Witt fare. I’m glad that there will be more to come of Mary’s Boys, and am definitely looking forward the next book featuring the sexy, flirty bartender.
Brandon Witt’s outlook on life is greatly impacted by his first eighteen years of growing up gay in a small town in the Ozarks, as well as fifteen years as a counselor and special education teacher for students with severe emotional disabilities. Add to that his obsession with corgis and mermaids, then factor in an unhealthy love affair with cheeseburgers, and you realize that with all those issues, he’s got plenty to write about….