Title: Vanilla Clouds
Author: Roe Horvat
Publisher: Amazon/Kindle Unlimited
Length: 117 Pages
At a Glance: For a breezy trip to new romance, with a few gusty winds before you get to the end, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend adding this novella to your reading list.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: “I could spend days listening to you talk about chocolate.”
Sex and chocolate are the two pleasures Michał enjoys most in life.
His sex life has been nonexistent for some time, though. After a particularly bad hookup, he keeps mostly to himself. That leaves chocolate. Luckily, he works surrounded by the most delicious, extravagant produce in Gothenburg. Beside his job at the chocolaterie, his main source of excitement is his online friend, Magnus, whom he stubbornly refuses to meet in person.
A customer turns up at the chocolaterie one day—tall, shy, and charming. He could be just the right man. If Michał can step out of his overly safe shell, there might be not only chocolate, but sex, too. Maybe chocolate-flavored sex. And if he’s lucky, maybe even love.
Review: Roe Horvat’s Vanilla Clouds is every bit as sweet and sublime as the title suggests. After reading a few of their novellas/short novels, it’s safe to say they have a real talent for telling a story that may be spare in word count but is abundant in emotion, this being no exception to that rule.
Vanilla Clouds is a modern romance in every sense of the word. In the digital age of dating apps and online hook-ups, Horvat has crafted a love story in which their MCs, Michał and Magnus, have never met in person but have become the best of friends via online chat over two years’ time. Their planned meeting was supposed to be for a one-and-done, but their conversations didn’t end even though the plan to meet face-to-face fell through. From Michał’s perspective we see how those conversations became a part of his routine, so much so that when he and Magnus didn’t chat for days, and sometimes even weeks, it left a Magnus-shaped hole in Michał’s life, and we see how an attachment that, logically, shouldn’t be so strong causes Michał some confusion. Because sometimes feelings just don’t make sense. How can you love someone you’ve never met? What if he meets Magnus and their online chemistry is just an illusion? Is it worth risking what they have now by wanting more for longer? These are some of the questions that Horvat addresses through a narrative and characters that charm from page one.
Because there are no easy answers to those questions, not without the potential for doing irreparable damage to their friendship, Michał decides to keep Magus firmly in the friend-zone, and I loved how this best-of-intentions scenario ended up influencing the course of their relationship and, as a result, the story. When a sweet, shy stranger walks into the chocolaterie Michał manages, he not only feels a bit smitten with the gentle giant but the immediate attraction he feels for the man also comes as a shock. Michał has good reason to be cautious—a past experience has ensured that—but this unassuming man, for inexplicable reasons, makes Michał feel like he wants to shower him in confections and hot chocolate and get to know him better.
Michał and Bernard’s connection was undeniable, and I understood why Michał fell for Bernard so quickly—I fell for him myself from the moment he appeared on the page. It was obvious he had a kind heart and seemed to understand what Michał needed, and the way Horvat teases out this part of their story is well-paced—just the right amount of anticipation to keep me involved. I liked that I was ‘in on’ this part of the storyline while these new feelings developed, and Michał’s reaction when he discovers Bernard’s truth gave a good tug on my heartstrings. The beauty of this being a novella, though, is that the conflict doesn’t have the opportunity to drag on for chapters. The economy of words works in the readers’ favor, as we get over the angst hump and on to the payoff that we all read this genre for.
The setting of this story is very near as much a character as Bernard, Magnus, Michał and Michał’s bestie and roommate, Lena. Horvat does such a lovely job of grounding their readers in a place that I know is far away from my own, and I enjoyed picturing in my head some of the scenery as I followed Michał on his journey to love. Not to mention all the decadent and mouthwatering sweets! For a breezy trip to new romance, with a few gusty winds before you get to the end, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend adding this novella to your reading list.
You can buy Vanilla Clouds here:
[zilla_button url=”http://authl.it/B07F75XHL2?d” style=”blue” size=”large” type=”round” target=”_blank”] Amazon/Kindle Unlimited [/zilla_button]