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Hutch Crowley is well-liked in the small resort town of Mangrove—he’s got friends in his new neighbors, he’s the owner of the town grocery, and he’s building a community center—but he’s still unlucky at love. Every man he’s attracted to is either taken or simply not interested, including his best friend, Mike Rojas.
When Mike came to Mangrove two years ago, Hutch gave him a job and a place to stay in his guesthouse, where Mike has remained ever since. Despite the rumors circulating about them, Hutch knows Mike is straight and looking for the right woman. But his friends disagree, and after some hints to the contrary, even Hutch finally has to admit that maybe the rest of the town sees something he’s been missing. If Hutch wants to spend each sultry sunset with the man of his dreams, it might be time to figure out what’s going on with his best friend’s heart.
If you’ve been reading the series (which you should, but don’t have to), you know Hutch is our grocer, and so far he’s been “interested” in every gay man the town has to offer, but has failed to find “the one”.
We find out that for the last two years he’s had a best friend, Mike “Don’t call me Michael”, living in his guest house and taking up most of his free time.
As you can predict, there is more to them than friendship, despite the fact that up til now Mike has always been straight.
I compare these Mangrove stories to cotton candy – one of my all time favorite foods – because they are wonderful, light, sweet and just a touch unsatisfying. Because they are so short, we don’t get a lot of lead-time to develop the tension between our MCs. Sure, Mary always gives us wonderful characters and an amazingly sweet love scene or two, but I really miss her ability to create that heat and draw out the sexual neediness between her characters that she’s just so great at.
I still love these stories, don’t get me wrong – but boy I wish they were longer.
In this case the secondary characters of Ivy and Essien almost – almost! – steal the show, but Mike and Hutch are terribly sweet together and I love them as a couple.
The mangrove series is fun because the small town and the recurrence of previous characters feels like coming home and I eagerly await the next installment.
4.5 of 5 hearts