Title: The Jack O’Lantern’s Grin
Author: Mell Eight
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 8k words
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Halloween, Shifters (Wolves), Mating, Short Story, Rent Boys
Rating: So So
When Lex, Neero’s brother and alpha, orders him to whore himself out to earn some money, Neero agrees. The needed cash will help their struggling pack. It’s just sex, after all, and it’s only for one night. But, once he meets the man he’s supposed to be keeping company for an evening, Neero starts to think that maybe his night won’t be so bad after all …
I’ve come to expect cute, short and easy to read stories from Mell Eight, and this was no exception. In many ways it is a prelude to a story, because at only 8k words we really only get some background, the “meeting” between the romantic pair, and the mating between the two.
Neero’s older brother Lex is the alpha of their little pack of misfits, and the power has gone a bit to his head. They’ve become somewhat disreputable after the death of their former Alpha, who was loved and revered, but with Lex’s ascension to the role as their currently strongest wolf, the pack has fallen on hard times. They’re broke and live in squalor and have very little protection. In the past, Neero has had to take numerous jobs to earn money to feed the pack, but lately he’s been having to do it to earn money to feed Lex’s obsession with showering the woman he’s courting with the jewels and finery that she requests.
Lex approaches Neero and compels him to sell himself for $10,000 — enough money to keep Lex’s girlfriend happy and buy her the diamonds she wants for her Halloween costume. Yet, the man that Lex ends up staying with is a complete surprise.
Okay, obviously Lex is an asshole, right? Yeah, that’s what I thought too. I felt like we got to know him enough that we could understand his motivations for what he did, but I also didn’t quite feel like we got to know him any further, or enough for me to forgive him for being an utter asshole, a TERRIBLE brother, and an extremely poor leader of the pack. It isn’t a huge deal, because he isn’t the main character in this story, but he does relate directly to the actions of Leero and the man he goes to meet that night and then comes to mate with, simply because of the way they treat him. This was basically the whole story and while I liked it… it just wasn’t enough for me.
I’m still having some trouble with this author’s work because while I always like what is presented to me, with this story I again feel like I was waiting for more of the story. We don’t really see any romance between the main couple and we get to know only the bare bones of their lives. Sure, this works well as a Halloween snippet (though it isn’t scary in any way, that’s okay though), but as a standalone story and even more as a romance, I didn’t get what I needed for the story to feel complete.
So I’d say to go into this story without expecting a full story and you might enjoy it if that is what you want. Sometimes that is nice to read and I certainly liked the story, but again I felt like this was a Mell Eight story that ended before much really happened or was explained.
The Jack O’Lantern’s Grin is available from Less Than Three Press tomorrow, October 31. Check the links above for where it is available. It is currently for preorder on the publisher’s website and at ARe.