By Sam Thorne
Celeste’s just trying to do her job as the accountant for busy nightclub, but she has to deal with innumerable distractions— brusque emails sent by her dictatorial boss, incessant high volume chatter from the barmaids, and the silent, seductive presence of the temporary bouncer, Steve. He’s a quiet, unassuming hunk who’s forced to change into his uniform in the same staff room where Celeste works (or at least makes the honest attempt to do so). She can’t keep her eyes off him, and soon he’s starring in her nightly fantasies. Her taciturn co-worker, though, seems immune not only to Celeste’s less-than-supermodel charms but also those of her more glamorous work-mates. When Celeste’s patience with her employment situation finally snaps, though, she discovers that Steve is an ally and more. In fact, the fruits of her lurid imagination pale next to the reality of making love to single-syllable Steve.
Single-Syllable Steve is a delight. The story showcases Ms. Thorne’s crisp, lively style and her ear for dialect:
“…and Rick turns round to me and says, ‘Tish, I can’t meet you at eight,’ which properly pissed me off, right? ‘Cause Friday nights are supposed to be like our ‘thing’, yeah?”
“Arse,” Sandra agreed. “Told you he was all about him.”
“So I says, ‘Rick, I’m not having this.’ Then he turns around and says...”
Could these speakers be anybody but a pair of modern-day British barmaids?
Celeste’s an appealing and believable heroine. She battles her insecurities, swallows her indignation at the way she’s treated, and slaves away at a job she hates in order to achieve a bit of independence. Then Steve walks into her life and she’s smitten with helpless lust.
And Steve—well, we don’t get to know him very well until the end of the story, but he’s clearly one of those massive guys who tries to slink through life hoping people will ignore him. Turns out he’s got a sweet disposition and a stubborn streak, along with the body of a human tank.
There’s only one sex scene in this tale, but it’s full of tenderness and heat. In erotica, the personalities of the characters all too often blur once they get into a clinch. That’s not the case here. The sexual action seems to flow naturally, a genuine expression of the individuals involved. Steve’s sexy as hell, but still diffident and respectful. Celeste’s no femme fatale, but she definitely knows what she wants. Throughout the scene, we never lose sight of the fact that this is the first time these two people have had sex. There’s always some awkwardness involved.
“Celeste, that's getting me a bit wound-up.”
Wound up? She was annoying him? God, how badly wrong had she got all this?
“Do you want me to go?”
“No! No, I mean—” he moved her hand from his chest to the fold of duvet over his cock and moaned at the pressure of her palm against him. His eyes closed for a moment. “I mean, I was holding back for your green light. And that stroking—I can't take too much of that unless that's you saying you want more.”
She answered him by pressing a kiss against his nipple and sliding her hand under the covers, curling her fingers around the hot bolt in his boxers. The moist patch was warm against her palm. He slanted his lips across hers and then kissed her hard, his thumb stroking her face, his fingers wrapping into her hair, massaging her as he groaned into her mouth. Her moans mingled with his as he stroked the roof of her mouth with his tongue, tasting her as hungrily as she tasted him.
She wanted to enjoy his ‘wound-up’ body, pleasure him with her mouth. Not as a favour or bargaining tool—just because.
The scene comes off as fresh and real, a plausible encounter between two people who have a strong mutual attraction but don’t know one another well. No romance stereotypes here about instant connection or natural mates—Celeste and Steve are feeling their way into a new relationship (having a fabulous time doing so, of course).
My only complaint about Single-Syllable Steve is that I wish it were longer. These characters have enough depth to support a novella, maybe even a novel. Ms. Thorne doesn’t have time to explore the issue of Steve’s hearing impairment, for example, and how it affects his personal interactions, or, for that matter, his sexual style. Celeste has a somewhat richer back story, but that’s mostly forgotten in the thrill of their initial connection.
Not that this should put you off from reading Single-Syllable Steve. In fact, I recommend that you do read it. Then lobby the author for more.