Sunday Shorts – “Save the Date,” by Annabeth Albert and Wendy Qualls

CoverRandall Young has one duty as his sister’s “man of honor”: to ensure she has the best wedding ever. That includes an epic bachelorette pub crawl, leading him to Portland’s most popular gay bar… and into Hunter Mitchell’s well-muscled arms. A one-night stand with a sexy soldier is the perfect way to ditch that pesky V-card and get himself in the mood for a weekend of flowers, cake, and nuptials.

Hunter wants to blow off some steam before he stands up as his best friend’s best man. He’s already married to his military career, not looking to settle down. He certainly doesn’t intend for the one guy he met (and, okay, got off with) in Oregon to be his counterpart in the wedding party. Or a virgin. Definitely wasn’t intending that. Luckily, they have the rest of the weekend for Hunter to show Randall what he’s been missing.

The more they’re thrown together by the wedding, the more Randall and Hunter grow together outside the bedroom… which is dangerous because there’s a lot more than 2500 miles standing between them and a happily-ever-after. If they want a future beyond their wedding weekend hookup, both must find the courage to take a chance on love.

This was a lot of fun. Quick, light, and not drowning in angst, it was very much a “Wait, what are you doing here?” mixed with “Opposites attract” story between a soldier and a nerdy astrophysicist (no, really). They meet at a bar when one is leading trying to keep his sister on track during her bachelorette party (which, as a gay man, made me laugh a bit: lord knows the last thing we want in our bars is yet another loud and rowdy bachelorette party). His sister moves on with her friends without him, and he ends up having a great night with a big burly sexy guy in an “Army” t-shirt, and then has to book it to make it to the start of the days of wedding fun…

…only to see the big burly sexy “Army” guy is the best man of the groom.

What follows is a bit of sexy fun as the two sneak off together between their wedding duties, then of course hit bumps when the fast-and-loose-past of the soldier comes to call. The brother is a virgin at the start of the story, which was actually handled pretty well: he wasn’t instantly good at everything he tried, and he also had played with some toys, which added at least a slight dose of realism to making first-time sex potentially pleasurable for him.

It’s a romance, so you know they end up together, and the path isn’t super rocky for them to make it. Like I said, this was fun and breezy. No chest hair in sight, alas (why is everyone super-smooth?)

Frequent tweeter, professional grammar nerd, and obsessive reader, Annabeth Albert is also a Pacific Northwest romance writer in a variety of subgenres. Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two toddlers.

Wendy Qualls was a small ­town librarian until she finished reading everything her library had to offer. At that point she put her expensive and totally unrelated college degree to use by writing smutty romance novels and wasting time on the internet. She lives in Northern Alabama with her husband, two girls, two dogs, and a seasonally fluctuating swarm of unwanted ladybugs. Wendy can be found on Twitter as @wendyqualls. She is represented by Moe Ferrara of BookEnds Literary Agency.

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