Counting Fence Posts (Counting #1)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
There are over two hundred thousand fence posts between Syracuse and Boston. Henry Auttenberg likes numbers—it’s his job—but he isn’t going to count them all, even if the view outside the rental car is less confounding than the driver, his attractive but oh so obnoxious colleague, Marcus Winnamore. It’s Christmas Eve, and Henry would much rather be home with his family. When the blizzard that grounded their flight forces them off the road, however, he’s stuck with Marc until the storm passes—or a plow digs them out.
As the temperature outside plummets, the atmosphere inside the car slowly heats up. Henry learns the true reason for Marc’s chilly distance—he’s not exactly straight… maybe… and he’s been fantasizing about Henry’s mouth, among other things. Confession laid out, Marc is all for sharing body heat… and more. Henry isn’t interested in being an experiment, but as the night and cold deepen, he could be convinced to balance certain risk against uncertain reward.
Counting Fence Posts is such a wonderful feel-good story. I basically read it with a smile on my face from start to finish.
The story is told from Henry’s point of view and boy does he go through a range of emotions, not to mention a shock or two. Henry has admired Marc ever since he started working for the company where Marc has a two year head start on him. He is in awe of Marc’s professionalism and the path his career so far has followed. But, more than that, he’s been attracted to Marc for almost as long. But with Marc being straight, Henry has made a point of keeping his attraction secret…or so he thinks.
Driving back together after a business meeting is a fraught affair long before the find themselves caught up in a blizzard and stranded at the side of a secondary road. Initially their conversation is a combination of stilted and almost adversarial. It’s only once they realise that they’re stranded and may be for some time that the atmosphere between them warms as the world both outside and inside the car gets ever colder.
When it turns out Marc might not be as straight as Henry (and even Marc) assumed, things heat up, be it initially against Henry’s better judgment. What follows are scenes which veer from sweet to hot and intense and back to adorable again. Kelly Jensen writes kissing scenes like few other authors I know. Phew, those men may have been cold, I was certainly heating up.
This is not a long story and takes place over two days, so don’t expect a happy ever after by the end of this novella. But, don’t despair, there’s more to come and I have utter faith that these two men will find their way to happiness. They’re too good together not to.
Counting Stars (Counting 1.5)
Free read on Kelly Jensen’s website to be found here
At the end of my holiday novella, , Henry invites Marc back to his parents’ place for Christmas. Actually, it’s less invitation, more assumption, but Marc doesn’t object. After two days of haunting the lobby of a crowded hotel outside Albany, they’re finally on their way back to Boston.
When this story starts, Marc has a hard time explaining to himself why he agreed to spend Christmas with Henry and his family. Second thoughts and uncertainty are creeping in, except that he knows very well and his reason can be described in one word, or rather one name: Henry.
Henry has equal difficulty believing that he’s invited Marc to his parent’s house and that the man is actually there. Henry is a champion second guesser
We learn more about Marc in this story, not so much from what he says or does but rather from his reactions to seeing Henry’s family, celebrating Christmas with them. Self sufficient, ambitious and powerful Marcus, as Henry realises when they part at the end of the evening, is not so very different from him after all. He yearns for security, family, and somebody by his side, just as Henry does.
I swear, these two men are the best kissers ever. I could read about their mouths pressed together forever and not get bored. In fact, I could happily read more about Henry and Marc; they are a delight to read about. I love how we get to know them better little by little, just as they are discovering more about each other — slowly. And I thoroughly enjoy Kelly Jensen’s storytelling voice. This story and Counting Fence Posts are both flawlessly written and smoothly told. The balance between introspection, dialogue, funny and more serious was just about perfect.
I’m thoroughly enjoying these stories and I’m so very happy there’s more to come. Trust me, if you’re looking for stories that are going to leave you happy and with a smile on your face, reach for the Counting stories.
Counting Down (Counting #2) by Kelly Jensen
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
It’s been a week since a Christmas Eve blizzard changed the course of Marcus Winnamore’s life. Plan A is now Plan B, and the first item on his new agenda is taking Henry Auttenberg on a date. They’ve been invited to a New Year’s Eve party, and Marc is counting down the hours until midnight… until he can kiss Henry in front of his colleagues and friends.
Things don’t quite work out to plan. Finding the elevator out of service, Marc and Henry check the stairs, only to choose the wrong door and become locked in the basement. Close quarters once again make for close conversation, and as they explore every avenue of escape, they also explore the deepening attraction between them. For Marc, this isn’t an experiment. Will he still feel that way when he has to admit to someone other than Henry that he’s gay?
Oh my, these two men make me smile. They sure have a special talent for ending up in impossible situations. In Counting Fence Post they managed to get stuck in a car during a blizzard and in this book they find themselves locked into a basement while they should be at a party, several floors higher, awaiting the New Year.
Of course they’re predicament leads to quite a few laugh-out-loud moments, but these stories are a lot more than a comedy of errors. In between funny escape attempts and mostly friendly banter these moments of ‘captivity’ also provide Marc and Henry with the opportunity to get to know each other better and discover what each of them wants. Because, while the circumstances of their times together it may make it feel as if they have been together for quite some time, only about a week has passed since the blizzard episode. Marc is still trying to figure out what it means to be gay and how to deal with that fact in the world at large, while Henry can’t quite shake the feeling that he may be ‘just’ an experiment for Marc. Both of them need reassuring and supporting and the wonderful thing about these stories is that both Marc and Henry are able and eager to provide that for the other, no matter how deep their own concerns.
I love how the author managed to tackle these issues without ever giving the stories a heavy or angsty feel. Of course, the kissing and sexy times (not to mention getting caught in an act) do a lot to ensure that the story doesn’t get lost in too much soul searching.
Reading these three stories has been an absolute delight and I’m so very happy I won’t have to wait much longer before I get to spend time with Marc and Henry again. I have it on good authority that there’s another short story as well as another novella to come in the not too distant future and I can’t wait to get my hands on those. Marc and Henry have captured my imagination and to say I’m now well and truly invested in their journey and relationship would be a gross understatement.