Sunday Shorts – “Rebound Remedy,” by Christine d’Abo

CoverAs I’m sure I’ve mentioned a few times, I listen to audiobooks around the holidays, and I often try to listen to holiday-themed audiobooks, too, to make it possible to try and restore some smidgeon of my holiday spirit after two decades in retail.

It’s February now, but this latest story, Rebound Remedy, was the last short audio I listened to last Christmas, and it was a fun, light, pick-me-up tale.

The last thing Cole expects to get for the holidays is dumped. But there he is, in the airport on his way to Banff for a romantic getaway, helplessly watching as his boyfriend’s ex declares undying love, proposes—and is accepted. With a few weeks to go until Christmas, Cole’s mood dives from jolly to jaded. But instead of sitting at home alone and feeling sorry for himself, he goes to his favorite bar, McGregor’s, for a pint and some company.

The moment Owen McGregor sets eyes on Cole, he knows there’s something wrong. So he takes it upon himself to ensure that Cole has a happy holiday: twelve outings for the twelve days before Christmas. Even if he can’t quite think up twelve activities that don’t involve getting the forlorn hunk into his bed.

With each outing they take together, Cole realizes that the love he thought he’d shared with his ex was less than perfect. And that Owen might prove to be more than just his rebound remedy.

The blurb gives away the vast majority of this story, and overall, this one was a feel-good piece that lasted me a few walkings of the dog, and pretty much was cheerful and upbeat. There are some good comedy moments (Cole, who is a “helps others as a reflex” kind of guy, earns a shiner for his efforts helping Owen wrangle a drunk into a cab), and this is the beginning of Owen’s “I’m going to restore your Christmas spirit,” campaign.

On that level, I enjoyed the story. Owen has his own struggles going on, and the intersection of Cole and Owen’s spark of attraction, the resistance from Owen to be a rebound guy for Cole, and Cole being raw from getting spectacularly dumped all turns into a snarl of miscommunication and emotional wariness that I bought. The reader did a good job with the voices, too (especially Owen’s) and I liked that.

There were some “pardon?” moments of queer authenticity troubles—most especially was one in particular, when the guys are getting physical, and Cole’s tongue wanders a bit, and there’s this moment where they kind of talk about how none of Cole’s past boyfriends (the reader is left with the sense that there are quite a few as he’s a gay guy with a libido). The conversation turns to how these past boyfriends weren’t really into kink, and… well… we’re talking about rimming. Just, rimming. It threw me out of the narrative, as I can’t imagine the series of boyfriends a gay guy would have to have for rimming to not ever have appeared as an experience, period. Rimming isn’t particularly kinky on the scale of things. I get everyone has their own comfort zones, but it just struck me as so incredibly unlikely.

I kept going with the book, but it was an odd moment and I had to chuckle a few times after.

Overall, this was an enjoyable, easy listen, and if you’re willing to overlook a moment or two here and there, and want a well-performed piece, Rebound Remedy can fit the spot for a holiday listen.

A romance novelist and short story writer, Christine d’Abo has over thirty publications to her name. She loves to exercise and stops writing just long enough to keep her body in motion too. When she’s not pretending to be a ninja in her basement, she’s most likely spending time with her family and two dogs.

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