Author: Andrew Grey
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4 stars
Buy Links: DSP
Received From Publisher
Blurb: To make a small fortune, start with a large fortune and open a bakery. That’s the advice Marcus Wilson has heard. Unfortunately, Marcus doesn’t have a large fortune—just a bakery, A Slice of Heaven, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and the determination to make it successful. He needs more help than he can afford, so when he hires accountant Gregory Southland, it’s for hours in the shop as well as on the books.
Gregory takes a second job at the bakery to help pay the bills now that his health is improving. Soon he’s looking forward to spending time with Marcus, but as the business—and their relationship—grows, so do the complications: First Marcus’s stepmother involves him in a cause that could give the bakery a reputation it doesn’t need. Then Marcus and Gregory disagree over whether to involve A Slice of Heaven in a civil rights dispute. To top it off, Gregory’s ex-boyfriend makes an appearance just when he is at his most vulnerable. But the greatest complication by far is Marcus and Gregory’s struggle to learn to trust each other and themselves, especially when it comes to baking up matters of the heart.
Review: Marcus Wilson has realized his dream of opening his own bakery, but the hours are long and exhausting. He has Angie and Becky, an elderly friend and her granddaughter, who work the front of the store during peak hours, but he needs more help. Unfortunately, he’s just at the point where he needs more help to allow the business to grow, but can’t afford to hire enough help to meet the demands of more business. Walking home one evening with his neighbor Sebastian, Marcus ends up telling Sebastian about his concerns.
Sebastian just happens to know someone who may be just what Marcus needs. Gregory Southland is Sebastian’s ex, having not only cheated on Sebastian but ending up HIV positive as a result. They ended their relationship, but have remained friends. Sebastian and his partner Robert even took Gregory in when he was very ill, had lost his job, been rejected by his family, and had nowhere to go. Gregory is now receiving effective treatment and has been able to get a new job and his own apartment. He works as a shipping clerk, but is an accountant by profession. He is also looking for a part-time job for a little extra money.
Sebastian calls in the favor that Gregory promised in return for Sebastian and Robert’s help when he was sick, asking him to help Marcus with his books. He introduces Marcus to Gregory, and Marcus and Gregory work out a schedule. Gregory starts helping in the bakery and with the books. He reveals his HIV status to Marcus at the beginning, but Marcus has no issue with it, in fact telling Gregory about his friend and lover Teddy, who was supposed to be his partner in the bakery but died suddenly from an illness his immune system could not conquer.
Gregory turns out to be a natural salesman and starts bringing more business to the bakery. He and Marcus also recognize a growing attraction, but Gregory is hesitant because he has a very poor track record with relationships. He doesn’t want to end up hurting Marcus, but he can’t ignore that he and Marcus are really very good together. They become lovers, business is great, and things are looking up. Then Marcus’s stepmother appeals to Marcus to help with a fundraiser for a boy who has been denied admission to a private boarding school because he is HIV positive. Marcus feels sorry for the boy and is outraged at his situation, but is also worried that publicly supporting the boy’s cause will result in negative publicity for the bakery. He does eventually follow his conscience and lend his help, but not before Gregory overhears a conversation between Marcus and his father that almost destroys Marcus and Gregory’s relationship.
Gregory and Marcus work things out, express their love for each other and start looking for an apartment they can share. There is so much publicity about the young man for whom the benefit is being held that the school relents and admits him. Longstanding family issues are at least partially resolved for both men, the business is becoming more and more successful, and they are planning a life together.
I always enjoy Andrew Grey’s stories and this one is no exception. His characters have real lives to which everyone can relate. No super angst fest, no glamorous lifestyle, no extraordinary drama, just warm human characters who could easily be your neighbor or your friend. I’m always smiling at the end of his stories because I have come to care about these characters and am so glad to see them end up happy and building a life with the perfect partner.
This was the audio version of this book, narrated by Andrew McFerrin. The narration was excellent, and I feel he was really able to capture what I expected the characters to sound like. His narration added another dimension to an excellent story.
By the way, Andrew dedicated this story to a boy who actually was denied entry to a private school because he was HIV positive, and was the inspiration for the character of Reggie, the young man for whom the benefit was held. That only made it all the better for me.