Smolder by Soren Summers
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Gay Romance
Tags: Dystopian, Series, Sci-Fantasy, Christmas Theme
Length: 40,000 Words
Reviewer: Kazza K
Purchase At: amazon.com
Ambitious office drone Zachary Glazer just wants to come home for the holidays, but strange things are happening in the snowy town of Huster.
There’s this man at work with a razor smile and a cadre of alluring executives. There’s that handsome stranger who just moved in next door, the one with a perfect body and a shrouded past. And what about those fires all over town?
Huster is supposed to be quiet, and boring, and cold. Why all this weirdness? Why now? The questions stack up like kindling in the back of Zach’s mind, and a single spark is all it will take for his whole world to go up in flames.
This romantic horror story is approximately 40,000 words in length.
In my honest opinion, I believe this is a good book to read first in the Vertex series. At 40K words it’s a terrific way to dip your toe in. I knew who/what people were in this book as soon as I went in and I prefer it when I don’t know. A lot depends on your order reading preference. Anyway, what I’m saying is it’s a nice entry, it’s also me saying I’m the kind of reader who likes to go in blind to most things I read, but we’re all different.
This novella is the equivalent of Monster #1.5 in the Vertex series – see Monster review – it has different MCs, Zach and Nathan, as opposed to Jarod and Gabriel, and is set in a different town, Huster, as opposed to Pleasance. This is also a lighter, still tinted darker, holiday novella where you’re allowed glimpses into more of the murky Vertex corporation, including the quiet, painfully gorgeous, eerily enigmatic Jonathan Hargrove, one of the owners of Vertex, along with some… others.
Zachary Glazer is the PA to Tobias Wexler, the owner of DomestiCore, a company that seems more at home with everyday domestic/household goods than anything Vertex would be interested in. However, interested Vertex is, there was an accident, uh… discovery, involving polymer so DomestiCore is now highly fascinating to Vertex.
Smolder opens during talks between the aforementioned companies, with the ordinary, quirky folk at DomestiCore and the beautiful people of Vertex sizing each other up – the perfectly formed Vertexers suddenly made me want to crank up Marilyn Manson, specifically The Beautiful People, while reading. The meeting is about a merger, but it’s Vertex so that means takeover. Morale is down at DomestiCore with no one feeling like their job is safe for good reason, all corporate trust mes aside. Vertex is a heavyweight corporation, with their fingers in some very dark industry, technology, and experimentation. In stark contrast, Zach and Tobias are like father and son, they sit and have coffee and bickies every morning in Tobias’s office, making a list of what they’ll (maybe) do in a given day and what they can actually mark off. People like Phyllis Navidad, yep, that’s her name, and Stuart Stuartson are competing against corporate glamazons with exotic names like Ayesha. Mind you, ever the optimist, Stuart feels he’s in with a shot at sex with Ayesha, the company may be on the ropes, as his job, but Stu’s a glass half full kind of horny flexisexual trooper.
Odd things are happening during the DomestiCore “merger” and Zach notices changes. Sheep-like behaviour, or maybe staff really want to keep their jobs? Then one night when the normally affable and upbeat Stuart turns up four sheets to the wind, complete with creepy dark eyes and being a bitch about Zach’s sexual orientation, Zach knows things have gone to Crazytown, this isn’t the Stuart Stuartson he knows. There is also a new neighbour who Zach noticed when he turned up at his apartment complex in a tank top and shorts during a freezing, snowy winter; I mean, Zach’s not complaining, the guy is built and drop-dead gorgeous. Before long the new sex-on-a-stick neighbour, Nathan, is hanging out regularly with Zach, who is both interested and a little weirded out by some unusual events surrounding his new neighbour. I mean, a guy having forty seven different puddings in his fridge is odd, right? He also doesn’t seem to know how to work common appliances, has no phone, is seemingly naïve, and walks around half naked in the snow. But Nathan looks out for a stray dog that turns up at the complex, Zach is also feeding the stray, so Nathan is a strange but good guy, he’s sweet and has no parents so Zach helps him out while feeling the growing burn of attraction.
There is a great deal of humour in this novella, laugh out loud humour or more subtle humour, depending, with little nods to pop culture, doesn’t matter the age of the character either, there are spot on life nuances to each and every one. The author’s apposite look at non time-specific mass consciousness, smarmy behaviour, and let’s not forget quirky, with a dash of innocent and deliberate creepy, is perfection. This novella is not really horror, creep factor, yes, but Monster nails horror well (this is an offshoot) and this series is a sci-fantasy, dystopian series. Both books have a slightly slower start as character development and world building is developed, but it’s necessary for what lies ahead. I am very keen to see where and when these characters converge. Jarod and Gabriel will be back earlyish in the new year – oh, how I want them to eventually meet Zach and Nathan.
There were a couple of things that could have been tweaked in this story but overall I really, really enjoyed this novella, couldn’t put it down at all once I picked it up. Didn’t want to.
The well named Smolder was incredibly interesting, the characters very well developed, especially given the word count. I’m also giving a big shout out to Mrs. Wexler. You rock, Tabitha! I liked Zach a lot, but I fell right into Nathan – ah, Nathan – I even yelled at Zach in my only status update on Goodreads because of my Nathan adoration, I love it when a book can pull that passion from me. Monster was awfully close to being my Book of the Year in 2016 and Soren Summers is without a doubt one of the brightest, more clever writers I’ve read in quite some time, and I’m not pigeonholing him in a genre when I say that. The Vertex series is looking mighty shiny in his hands after book #1.5 being such a good follow-up to the force that is Monster. Do yourself a huge favour and pick up Smolder or Monster and start
reading your addiction to this series as soon as possible. 4.5 Stars!
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