Title: The Kaiser Account
Author: Louise Blaydon
Publisher: Torquere Press
Length: 36 pages, 10,100 words
Genre: m/m Historical (recent)
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Romance to Sex Ratio
Keywords/Tags: Recent Historical, Short Story, 1960s, HFN, Sexy to the 999s
Rating: Me Like
It’s 1965. Evan Jones is an account manager for a major advertising company in New York City, engaged to the boss’s daughter in a half-hearted sort of way and gradually making his way up into the highest ranks of the company, and into the boss’s favor. The Kaiser Motors account is one they’ve been angling at for years, and Evan has absolutely no intention of letting it slip through his fingers. But the man from Kaiser, Mark O’Brien, is not what Evan is used to dealing with, and, moreover, is someone who hits him right where it hurts: in the long repressed part of him that prefers men and is ashamed to admit it. When it comes to O’Brien, ‘going to any length’ has a whole new meaning, because O’Brien wants Evan – and worse still, Evan wants him back. O’Brien, in the space of a night, shows him something more than the staid life is possible. Can Evan take the risk and close the deal?
Reminiscent of Mad Men’s 60′s New York City ad agencies, spirited pitches, and back room (or gentleman’s club) deals, The Kaiser Account focuses on Evan Jones, prize pitch boy favorite son of the ad agency and his silk green tie. Used to pump up his confidence, Evan seems unstoppable and consistently wins over clients. He has it almost down to a science, even so that he can spot the man whose account he needs to win over the smoky dark lighting of a strip club 10 times out of 10 — that is, until he meets Mark O’Brien. Mark is renowned as a ladies man who seriously likes to party. The only problem is that Evan doesn’t know how much Mark likes to party with men as well as women, and when Mark starts coming on strong, Evan sees a future with his secrets spilling and the foundation of his carefully planned heteronormative life crumbling, all if he lets Mark know that he’s already taken the bait.
I have to admit, that I have bought several of Louise Blaydon’s works, but never gotten around to reading any of them. For over a year I’ve heard about her wonderful writing and was happy to take this chance to see what I thought with a short story. For the most part, I liked this story. The writing was certainly fabulous — she shows in this story a flare for detail that really comes alive in the story (the tale of the green silk tie taking precedence here, giving the story a spin right out of the gate). I suppose I would have been a bit more satisfied had I not been expecting a romance, but a mere connection. As the story is, I wouldn’t fault it, but perhaps I would have changed my expectations a bit. Readers should know that this isn’t really a romance, but more of a liaison. This makes sense for the time period, where both characters watch carefully over their shoulders, especially when they could be in real trouble. As Evan says (in regards to the boss’ daughter, whom he’s expected to marry at some point):
Danielle was a beauty, and she deserved better than him, but if she didn’t want better — and she didn’t seem to — Evan figured he could live with that. After all, it wasn’t as if he had many other options. It was 1965 and free love was ostensibly on the rise — but free didn’t quite mean what it purported to, even to the hippies. And Evan was definitely not a hippie.
There is a hint toward an HFN, but more likely personal growth for Evan. The encounter serves to broaden his horizons a bit. Where previously he’s only had rough fumbling with other men in back alleys, the chance at something real with another man hasn’t seemed to cross his mind, and real happiness for himself outside of making a success of himself through his career seemed impossible. To settle for the Straight American Dream is all he’s allowed himself of his future. I understood this as the real focus of the story — there isn’t supposed to be a real hope of a lasting relationship with these two men (though I’d love it if it were, they were extremely hot together), but for character growth. There is a chance that Evan can now find happiness later in life, if this one encounter can serve to successfully skew his perception of himself. In that sense, this story succeeds wonderfully, and that works for me. Still, I know other reader’s would be a bit unhappy with this and perhaps don’t’ like to read stories like this, so I will warn those away and other’s perhaps to tailor their expectations.
As the story is, the characters and writing really shine. The sexual tension is written exceedingly well, building almost through the whole story to a fever pitch. I like the “loose morals” type of character in this era, but without becoming the Mad Men archetype. Even Mark, whose POV we aren’t privy to seemed fully fleshed to me, perhaps because he seems like such an open and easily readable guy. I like how Evan’s tie signifies the suit of confidence he puts on and strips off when he needs it. There’s a significant dichotomy between the two Evan’s presented, the one that charms the clients in his sharp suit and green tie, and the almost nervous and unsure guy he is when it comes off. The two together have a huge amount of chemistry.
I definitely recommend this story for the right readers, and I’ll be dusting off some of this authors books that I’ve had languishing in my TBR pile and reading them very soon. Well done.