To the Highest Bidder by Kate Steele
Ben Searcy’s best friend and business partner presents him with a very unusual birthday gift. Becca has bid on and won an auction and she’s handing her winnings over to Ben. The highest bidder gets the privilege of sharing lunch with Mitch DeSantis, star of wildly popular television show, Case Files.
Though he’s a huge fan of the show and not above entertaining a steamy fantasy or two starring Mitch, Ben’s not particularly thrilled with the idea. After all, how do you make conversation with someone you see on television every week? As it turns out, he needn’t have worried. While Mitch is as gorgeous in person as he is on screen, he’s also rude, arrogant, and a complete ass. Ben leaves before the main course is served, hoping never to see Mitch DeSantis again.
Fate has other plans. A completely changed and contrite Mitch shows up with an apology, a heart-stopping smile, and an invitation to dinner. It’s a combo Ben finds hard to resist. This new Mitch is someone Ben could lose his heart to, but it’s a one-time thing, right? No danger of that happening.
If he’d only known. Mitch has an ulterior motive that could lead to something neither one of them expected.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I read this short novella while waiting for my plane to take off so it was the perfect size and pace for an easy, forgettable but fun story. The characters play on classic archetypes but inject some fresh perspectives to keep the story from being a re-tread of any number of classic themes. The decent writing and crisp prose keeps the story as a cute, entertaining read but light enough that the relationship between the men never really develops any intensity or angst.
The extended summary above gives the basis for the story. Ben is set up on a lunch date with a popular TV star whom turns out to be a homophobic ass. However Mitch has a good reason for his behavior and sets out to make things right between them. The spark of attraction both felt is something Mitch is determined to explore and he quietly courts the young bookseller.
As I’ve said this is an easy and light read that is pretty entertaining. The beginning scenes with Ben and his partner are funny and when Mitch is finally introduced as an ass, the encounter is reminiscent of many Hollywood tales. The story takes a bit of a turn though when Mitch admits that he’s only ever been gay for one man in the past and he’s not sure what it means to be attracted to Ben. Mitch is a strong personality and doesn’t let anything or anyone get in the way of a potential connection so after his initial bad behavior, he is determined to be with Ben. He doesn’t worry about the ramifications and is willing to take any and all risks to ensure his connection to the other man is explored. This is a refreshing change, even if an unusual one, and allows Ben to be the one with doubts and misgivings.
The characters are well developed and each has reasons and context for their behavior. There are various secondary characters that move in and out of the story from Ben’s partner to Mitch’s publicist and although each is funny and interesting in their own way, none are that important as the focus is on Ben and Mitch. The short length of the story doesn’t allow for much focus on after their initial relationship starts. For example, there are several problems and complications the two would face being together such as Mitch’s fame, Ben’s Family, their work but all of it is virtually ignored and glossed over with a neat bow in the epilogue. Instead the novella just introduces the men, gives them a lot of hot sex scenes and leaves the reader with a happy ending.
As a fast, breezy story with some fun themes, this story delivered and was exactly what I wanted at the time. This isn’t a heavy, intense angst but if you’re looking for an entertaining story with well matched men, think about checking out this particular story.