Release Day and Review: Of Love and Corn Dogs by Parker Williams

Happy release day, Parker!

Of Love and Corndogs



With more money than he could spend in ten lifetimes, Darwin Kincade still couldn't keep death from stealing his lover. A little older and a whole lot wiser, flirting with his twice-a-week waiter is the perfect no-risk substitute for a real relationship. Until the night his routine is upended by the restaurant's newest employee.
Ricky Donnelly loves people. While being a server isn’t his dream, he’s good at it. When a grumpy man is seated in his station, Ricky sees there’s more to him than he lets on, and when the man relaxes, he’s actually sweet.
As the two men bond over a discussion about corn dogs—something Darwin’s never heard of—he realizes how much he’s missed out on in his life. He vows to open himself to new experiences—including, perhaps, a chance at finding love again.
Not wanting anything to muddy their blooming relationship, Darwin hides part of himself from Ricky. He likes the look in Ricky’s eyes, unclouded by Darwin’s notoriety. Unfortunately, the truth can never stay hidden, and when it comes out, Darwin may lose any hope of holding onto the future they’ve begun to build.

My Review:

Parker Williams has this incredible ability to make me empathize and bleed along with his characters. The emotional resonance I experience with Ricky as he comes to grips with Darwin and his larger than life existence left me adrift, the thought, "OMG, I would so react this way!" the only anchor I had to hold me throughout the book.
Darwin is so authentic. He is not some stereotypical super-alpha-playboy-assassin-billionaire-ultra-lover who cures the other MC's misgivings with repeated exposure to his Magical Penis. Darwin is a kind, loving soul who slowly comes to life after grief shut him down, Ricky's smile and effortless charm enticing him out of his shell. Darwin may be super-rich--but he acts like every other generous man with heavy responsibilities. 
Ricky has a dream, but the economy, student loans, and horrible employers are all stumbling blocks to attaining it. He works hard, honestly, and tries his best. He may be poor, but he isn't bitter or beatdown. He knows how to enjoy life, and he has a goal. (And Merlin, too, of course. Who's Merlin? Not telling, but he made the book.)
When the 'truth' comes out about Darwin's wealth, Ricky reacts in such a realistic way, it had me rethinking my dreams of winning the lotto. Something so large, so overwhelming as extreme wealth is SCARY. Forget the daydreams of jet-setting around the world and caviar and champagne. Such a life can bring chains and terrors and leave any of us frightened and feeling inadequate. The twist on the common Rich/Poor plot is invigorating and pulled me in deeper to the story, and I felt for everyone involved, not just Darwin and Ricky. I understood, and that understanding helped me to feel the characters' frustrations, love, and fears all that more keenly.
The resolution between Ricky and Darwin is sweet, charming, and full of hope. The best and truest forms of love are just that--made of hope. It is hope that gives us all our Happy Ever Afters.

I give this book a heartfelt 5 Stars. It's on my Reread List.

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“What are you having?”
“There’s a local cider I like,” Ricky answered. “It’s called Tempest Red Cider, and it’s really good. They serve it in a chilled mug, so it’s all frosty and cold.”
“Okay, I’ll give it a try.”
He watched as Ricky strolled to the bar. In his street clothes, Ricky still possessed a certain grace when he walked. It seemed almost hypnotic the way Darwin couldn’t take his eyes off the man. When Ricky brought the drinks to the table and put one in front of Darwin, he stared at the deep red liquid, with the tiny bubbles at the top. It reminded Darwin of a witch’s brew. His expression must have given him away, because Ricky laughed and picked up his drink, then took a sip, before he smacked his lips theatrically.
“See? Not poisoned. Try it. If you don’t like it, I’ll get you something else.”
Picking up the mug and bringing it to his lips, Darwin could smell the sweet concoction. His first taste, though, sold him completely. It tasted of apples, but had a definite kick to it.
“Good, huh?”
“Very. I’ll have to see about picking some of this up.”
“Don’t bother,” Ricky told him. “The bottled stuff isn’t nearly as good. I’m not sure what the difference is, but it’s really noticeable.”
“Then perhaps I’ll have to come back here again,” Darwin said, hopeful that maybe Ricky’d come with him. He looked around; it seemed like a nice place. The bar itself appeared to be oak with brass trim. The decor suggested they’d had a hard time deciding on a theme and had gone for the hodgepodge approach, with a multitude of pictures and other items dotting the walls, none of which went well together. But it work, at least to Darwin’s mind.
There weren’t many people in the bar, but it didn’t matter. Darwin could sit with Ricky all night and simply listen as he told stories about people he’d served, some of the more risqué things that had happened with patrons in the restrooms, or the things that went on in the kitchen with the irascible chef. Enjoying someone else’s company gave Darwin a warmth throughout his whole body. As the night wore on, the place began to fill with more and more men, dressed in a variety of outfits—businessmen, guys in leather, college students with their school names emblazoned on their chests—and Ricky, with his open, friendly manner seemed to be able to be part of the whole lot.
Darwin had finished his first drink and had begun his second. Ricky’s fourth had him slurring his words slightly, but beyond that, he seemed happy, which made everything okay. Darwin would make sure he made it home safely, even if he had to call Henley.
Ricky hiccupped, then grinned. He stared at Darwin for a few moments before he finally asked, “Do you maybe wanna dance with me?” He bit the corner of his lip, the uncertainty evident. Darwin could only describe the look as adorable. Ricky seemed to have so many facets, and Darwin hoped for time to explore them all.
Ricky’s chuckle snapped Darwin from his reverie.
Dance? Darwin turned his attention to the lighted stage where a few men shimmied together, pressed against each other in erotic ways. He and his brother had been taught to waltz and other ballroom dances. While repetition had deeply engrained those lessons, he had no clue how to do what he saw on the stage.
“I…don’t know how.”
“No problem,” Ricky said, grabbing Darwin’s hand and leading him up
to the raised dance floor. When they got there, Ricky leaned over and whispered in Darwin’s ear, “Just let yourself go. You don’t need to be great, or even good. Flow with the music.”
The music, much louder on the dancefloor than it had been at the table, wrapped around them, the pulsating beat reverberating through his core. He lifted his arms and started to sway, shifting his hips side to side. He peeked over at Ricky who flowed like he had been made of liquid. Other men pushed in against them, and a knot started forming in Darwin’s stomach. Why did it bother him so much to see men touching Ricky? Hell, Ricky didn’t seem to mind their hands on him. Darwin tamped down the uncomfortable feelings and let the music take him away.
The volume dropped, and the bartender called out, “Closing time.”
“Looks like we missed last call,” Ricky said, his voice soft as he gazed at Darwin through his thick lashes.
Darwin wanted to protest. They hadn’t even been there… Oh hell. The clock on the wall claimed it to be nearly two am. He’d been having such a good time he never even realized how quickly the evening had all passed.
“Well, that was….different.” Darwin smacked himself internally. Different? Why not say the truth? It had been amazing. Sublime, even.

Author Links:

Website: Parker Williams
Facebook: Parker Williams
Twitter: @ParkerWAuthor


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