Apples and Regret and Wasted Time by Cornelia Grey
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
This short story is definitely one of my favorites. It hits all the high notes and great details that I personally adore while being short enough to leave me wanting more; the setting, writing, characters, and bittersweet but hopeful ending just do it all for me. This is a short story I’ll easily read again and one I’d recommend to anyone that’s a fan of urban fantasy-esque type settings. It’s not quite futuristic or even magic/fantasy based but the super hit man/cop dynamic gives it that edge and feel without those added details. In short, I loved it and highly recommend it.
The plot of the story is very internal and focused. It begins with a nameless first person narrator sneaking into an apartment. The place clearly belongs to an ex – a relationship that has unfinished business and emotion. When the unnamed ex boyfriend shows up, the two have an intense but sexy shower scene which sets up a delicious smoldering tension between the men. The resulting two scenes just cap the tension with emotion, longing, need, heart attack, and a hope for a future meeting.
The setting is very slick and city. There’s just a hint, probably nothing but a paragraph but the opening few sentences are strong and pack a punch. Immediately the gritty but edgy city setting comes to life, even an anonymous city. It reminds me of settings in urban fantasy stories with a super talented hit man gliding through a dark night looking for a place to relax for a short while. Even though the story is not in any way urban fantasy, it has a feel that I very much enjoy so it works for me.
The characters are pretty vibrant and eye catching, considering their names and backgrounds are never offered. In fact the reader knows very little about either man, yet they feel real and fully realized. The tension between the men, the emotion in a look, a smell, a taste, even the very few words actually spoken are enough. The strong writing here is to be commended. The prose choices grab the reader from the outset and never let go as we watch the unnamed hit man and his lover cop push and pull against fate and their nature. They clearly love each other and want each other but their opposite goals in work (perhaps life) put them at odds that they seemingly can’t overcome.
Another big positive to the story is the stunning cover. The cover definitely draws me to the book and immediately gives the dark, gritty feel of the story. It’s absolutely a great cover and works extremely well with the story itself. Together the various different parts of the story – the writing, characters, smoking hot sex scenes, insulated apartment setting, the gritty city feel, and truly beautiful cover – all combine to deliver a great little story. It’s one I definitely wanted more of and eagerly recommend to readers. If this is an example of this author’s work, I want more.