I perused Goodreads lists to find books set in my hometown of Asheville, NC, focusing on free downloads or books I could find at the library. That pretty much brought the choices to The Lonely Drop and Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel. Having grown up in Asheville, I've always felt like I should read Look Homeward, Angel at some point. But I'm reeeaally behind in this 50 Book Challenge, so when it came to a choice between a 644 page overwrought 'classic' (which I've already learned isn't really my bag) or 92 pages of hot m/m action, I picked short & sweet gay love. And I'm pretty glad I did, because now I've found a new author to enjoy.
The Lonely Drop did have some issues, but the awesome carried it along just fine. I'm not hiding this review behind a spoiler warning since the book itself gives away the tropes and ending in one of the first pages, but if you want a completely unspoiled experience, stop reading here and start the novella after the dedication.
The Lonely Drop is a sweet m/m romance about two college best friends who share one fervid kiss, part ways, and reconnect ten years later. I'm giving it four starts because it was well paced, moved along quickly, the sex scenes were both hot and romantic at the same time, and I somehow plowed through without even realizing it was in first person present tense (not my favorite). It has a lot of romance tropes that I don't usually like, personally, but they were well handled. I really only had one disappointment:
THAT COMMUNICATION ISSUE, THO. Gah! Gaaaaaah! This is one of those where a whole lost decade would have been avoided if they'd both just spoken up, and they each had ample opportunity to speak up along the ride after reconnecting, but each refused until the end because plot/trope required them to. I mean, I guess it was a decent slow build if you like that kind of thing, but other reviews are right where they say that the two MCs acted more like high schoolers than grown men who'd learned anything in the ten intervening years. I was frustrated as a reader even though I knew how it would end up, and even the 'cryptic' stuff was air-horn-blaringly obvious and our intrepid MC was just clueless because, um, cluelessness.
Don't let that deter you if this is your kind of story, though. Everything else was so on point that it really is an enjoyable read, even if you're unfamiliar with Asheville. I'm not, and I got nostalgic actually knowing the places described in the book. Our MC, Nick, moved to Asheville after losing his mom, and I moved away after losing mine. The parts about his and Kevin's shared grief were really moving, and I don't think that's just because it hit close to home for me. The sex is a bit vanilla, but it's romance, not erotica, and it was quite touching once they finally got around to it. Overall, a very satisfying, if short, read.