Release Day Review – Say Cheese by Michael P. Thomas
Title: Say Cheese
Author: Michael P. Thomas
Length: short story
Genre: gay romance, contemporary
Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing
Grover Shepherd is the only thing Felix Medrano loves more than being the current darling of Hollywood. He throws a star-studded surprise engagement party to declare that love to the world, and it’s a smash, save for one detail: Shep is a no-show. Felix knows Shep missed his flight home from New Orleans, but that was fifteen hours ago. What’s the hold up?
Say Cheese was a wonderful treat for me. I initially read it in the Stranded anthology and what struck me was Michael’s unique way with words, his humor, and how easy to relate to his characters he makes it. I have since read some more of his work, and I just became more of a fangirl. Felix and Shep are a solid couple, yet they are not safe for worries and apparently all the travel mishaps that can happen to a person.
If you’ve ever just made it to a flight or train or bus, if you’ve ever missed your ride and had to find alternative routes back, or worse were stranded in any way because of weather, you will feel Shep’s pain! While all this madness is happening, Felix is stuck waiting for the man he loves, all ready with the party of the century. As one waits impatiently and the other struggles to get back, they reminiscence over how they’ve met and how they’ve come to be the couple that they are today.
Although short (and I will complain about length for any story that I love and I don’t want to let go of), I thoroughly loved Say Cheese and the two leads Michael P. Thomas introduced us to.
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And so they talked about acting. They talked about television. They talked about movie stars of old, and about how many of them you’d see if you watched The Love Boat on DVD.
“I mean, it wasn’t just Ted Knight and Charo on every episode,” Felix said. “I’m talking about Oscar winners. Olivia DeHavilland and Joan Fontaine, for Heaven’s sake! One day you’re in Gone With the Wind, the next you’re playing Captain Stubing’s Great Aunt Fanny? I wish they’d reboot that show. I’d have someplace to go when I’m yesterday’s news. I could find love with the lounge act, surprise them all: Grampa’s still got it!”
Shep laughed. “Maybe you could spearhead a revival. It can’t be that hard. All you need is a stowaway, a jewel thief, and a case of mistaken identity for each episode.”
“Sounds like you know your Love Boat,” Felix said admiringly. “Maybe that can be your Hollywood dream.”
“Okay, you really want to know my Hollywood dream?” Shep asked.
“More champagne, that’s my Hollywood dream.” He signaled their waiter, and just like that, it came true.
They cracked each other up brainstorming through ever-more elaborate Love Boat plots:
“Naturally, her father doesn’t approve because he’s not the right sort….”
“What he doesn’t approve of is how short his shorts are….”
“I see Raven-Symone as the former Broadway star whose agent books her on the cruise but forgets to tell her it’s unpaid.”
“So she has to cocktail to pay her fare, and Isaac falls in love with her.”
“This shit writes itself.”
Eventually they fell quiet, although they continued to gaze, tittering, into each other’s eyes. Felix reached across the table and took Shep’s hand. “I had a great time last night, Sheppy.”
“Me too,” Shep said with a laugh. He’d lost the battle where the sobriquet ‘Sheppy’ was concerned, although it had eventually been made clear to the rest of The Boyz (and Frieda) at the Clarion that it would only be tolerated when it issued from Felix, and then only with an unwavering eye roll.
“I think I might kinda like you.”
“Forget The New Love Boat,” Shep said. “Your true calling is obviously epic love poetry. Or at least romantic greeting cards.”
“Don’t mock me when I’ve had mimosas.”
Michael P. Thomas is a flight attendant whose writing is continually inspired by his work with the flying public, who flatly refuse to be boring. The author of three novel-length gay romances and a number of romantic and erotic shorts, he writes gay fiction because when he was coming out he sure was glad to have it to read. After misspending his youth in San Francisco, he now lives in his native Colorado with his husband.
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