Counting Fence Posts, by Kelly Jensen
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: July 23, 2016
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
There are over two hundred thousand fence posts between Syracuse and Boston. Henry Auttenberg likes numbers—it’s his job—but he isn’t going to count them all, even if the view outside the rental car is less confounding than the driver, his attractive but oh so obnoxious colleague, Marcus Winnamore. It’s Christmas Eve, and Henry would much rather be home with his family. When the blizzard that grounded their flight forces them off the road, however, he’s stuck with Marc until the storm passes—or a plow digs them out.
As the temperature outside plummets, the atmosphere inside the car slowly heats up. Henry learns the true reason for Marc’s chilly distance—he’s not exactly straight… maybe… and he’s been fantasizing about Henry’s mouth, among other things. Confession laid out, Marc is all for sharing body heat… and more. Henry isn’t interested in being an experiment, but as the night and cold deepen, he could be convinced to balance certain risk against uncertain reward.
Writing a good novella takes a certain amount of skill, something that Kelly Jensen has in spades. The first novella I read by this author, When Was the Last Time, drew me in with her touching story about two men trying to rekindle the spark in their relationship. What I loved about that story was that it felt real. Real relationships go through highs and lows and it’s the way that you handle the tough times that really matter. It was a gorgeous little book and you should go read it immediately. Well, right after you read this review, that is J
In Counting Fence posts, Henry and Marcus are successful financial analysts at the same firm, trying to make their way from Syracuse to Boston during the Christmas holidays. Henry is going home to his parents to spend Christmas with his family, while Marc is…well, Henry doesn’t know where Marc is headed exactly, only that Marc doesn’t seem thrilled with the idea. While comparisons between the two are always being drawn at work, both of them being young professionals eager to make a name for themselves, they’re not exactly friendly with one another. Marc is outgoing and sociable while Henry is more reserved and aloof. And while Henry is quietly out at work, Marc only dates women. But that doesn’t stop Henry from noticing Marc in some very unprofessional ways. So, while Henry is busy talking himself out of a crush on yet another straight man, Marc is starting to give off some very odd vibes. Suddenly, the quiet and uncomfortable drive Henry was expecting, is turning out to be quite different. And when an icy storm pushes them off the road, Henry and Marc find themselves heating up the very cold car in totally unexpected ways.
I really enjoyed this story. Even though this is a novella, there was still a nice, slow burn between the two MC’s that allows the reader to fully appreciate all the moments leading up to an amazing first kiss. While the backstory is understandably short, it’s nice to be given the opportunity to get to know the MC’s first before thrusting them into a relationship. I also liked how Marc was able to come to terms with his attraction to Henry. Not that there isn’t a certain amount of indecision on his part, but he manages to overcome his own objections with a minimum amount of angst. If anything, it’s Henry that initially holds back from going any further, particularly as he doesn’t wish to be another straight man’s experiment.
Everyone knows the best sign of a good novel is that you always want more and I would definitely like to read a little more about Henry and Marc. I would especially like to see one from Marc’s POV so we can see why he was being cagey about his personal life. I have no idea if the author plans such a book but I’m hoping we can put a little gentle pressure encouragement on her to write one.
All in all, this was a lovely little story featuring two very likeable MC’s and enough snow to cool down even the hottest summer afternoon. Although if you read this at Christmas, it will certainly be the perfect accompaniment to a mug of hot chocolate and a warm blanket.
If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.
Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, co-written with Jenn Burke. A lot of what she writes is speculative in nature, but sometimes it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.
Find Kelly online at https://kellyjensenwrites.com/
You can purchase Counting Fence Posts from:
Barnes & Noble
I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.