To whom it may concern,
I can’t be sure what you’re into, that being said, if you like sexy and sweet romance with a whole lot of quirk, keep reading…
Ever since Clay Saxon’s parents passed away a year ago, he’s been stuck in a rut, running their business, and suffering from the worst writer’s block ever. But when Syrus Albie, aka yellow sweater guy, (you’ll see) walks into The End Book Store, Clay’s mundane little world turns to sunshine.
I don’t want to ruin it, but I can definitely say, when an introverted as hell narrator finally meets his favorite author and crush, all of his usual protocols go up in flames.
Set in the For Him World, this standalone is the perfect introduction or addition to this steamy MM collection.
Sincerely yours, A.M. JOHNSON
To Whom It May Concern (For Him, Book 3.5)
By A.M. Johnson
It was noon when he walked into the bookstore wearing a yellow sweater and pale blue jeans. The yellow, not quite yellow, more mustard than canary, stood out against the muted colors of the book spines stacked against each other on the shelf. A shock of dark brown hair fell over his brow as he dipped his head, kneeling to get a closer look at something on one of the lower shelves. His long legs folded neatly beneath his trim waist, his broad back facing me, I most certainly checked out his ass. He was fit, built more like a runner and less like a tank. And from my first glance, I thought he had a nice face. Handsome with a short, trimmed beard, and a strong profile. I wanted to ask him if he needed any help, but something in the way he held himself, eyes down, shoulders tight, told me he didn’t want to be bothered. I’d been working at The End, my parents’ bookshop, long enough I’d learned how to read people. Hell, I’d worked here ever since my folks had deemed it safe for me to climb the ladders on the stacks. I wouldn’t have ever considered my parents the cautious type, they’d allowed me to cook my own pancakes at the age of six, but apparently climbing a ladder had been too perilous for anyone under the age of ten.
“Do you have this in paperback?” A pimply teen pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose and set down a copy of The Street Vendor’s Son, blocking my view of the yellow sweater guy.
Sighing, I leaned an elbow on the counter and shook my head. “The paperback hasn’t been released yet.”
“I heard on Reddit that Wilder Welles hid a bunch of copies throughout the city.” He stared up at me with a superior look on his face.
I’d heard the same rumor, but I didn’t have the heart to tell the kid it wasn’t true. I actually knew Wilder, the author of said book. I was represented by the same literary agency, Lowe Literary, and had met him through our mutual publisher, Bartley Press, at a Christmas party a couple of years ago.
“Maybe try Book on Main?” I suggested and he nodded, his hazy blue eyes widening. I imagined he was plotting out his next move. “I’d hurry though. I heard yesterday there were only a total of three.”
“Three,” he hissed. “Dammit.”
He turned for the door and left without a thank you. Maybe I should have broken his heart. Laughing to myself, I picked up the book and placed it under the counter next to the small pile I planned to reshelve when we closed in an hour. Distracted, I didn’t realize the cute yellow sweater guy had approached the counter. He cleared his throat, keeping his quiet gaze pointed at his feet.
“Hey, man,” I said, smiling in what I hoped was my best flirty, easygoing, no-I- wasn’t-staring-at-your-ass-earlier smile. “Did you find everything okay?”
He cleared his throat again, setting two books down in front of me. “I’d like to purchase these.” Though unsure, his voice was the perfect harmony of smooth and low. It settled in my stomach, warm and heavy. “No bag, please. I prefer to carry them.”
“Yeah… sure.” I picked up the titles, both nonfiction reads on shipwrecks, and rang them up. “Are you a fan of Jack and Rose?” I teased and his shoulders stiffened.
“What?” he asked, and I couldn’t tell if he was confused or aggravated.
He raised his gaze, revealing in short blinks, bursts of green and amber. I’d never seen eyes like his. Hazel, but more. Shiny, but shy. I struggled to remember what the hell I’d said in the first place.
“Um… uh…” I smiled, rubbing at the back of my sweaty neck. When he didn’t smile in return, I scratched my head, looking down at the shipwreck books, and it came back to me. “Titanic. Jack and Rose? I’m the king of the world.” I held out both of my arms like an idiot. Who knew I had such a thing for yellow sweaters?
He blinked again, his throat working as he stared at me. “I haven’t seen it.”
I didn’t waste too much time thinking about how that was possible, and told myself not everyone was into overly produced blockbuster movies. “It’s not the greatest film of all time or anything, but if you’re a shipwreck kind of guy, it would be right up your alley.”
“I’m not a shipwreck kind of guy,” he said, his cheeks ruddy as he handed me his credit card. “This is research.”
I swiped it through the card reader and let the three words hang in the air, hoping he’d elaborate. He didn’t. He didn’t seem much older than my twenty-three, but I was a shit gauge when it came to age. He couldn’t be over thirty, though, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t in college. Or maybe he was a scientist? A sexy, sweater-wearing nerdy chemist or botanist, or something equally intelligent.
“Cool.” I slid his receipt across the top of the counter along with his credit card. “Are you a scientist?”
“What?” He grumbled as he picked up his card and slipped it into his wallet. “No? Why?”
“Research? I figured…”
“That I was a scientist? Lots of people do research for their work. Actors… I could be an author, or a professor, or a… ship maker. Among many other options.” He didn’t sound rude, per se, but definitely annoyed. “A treasure hunter.”
“Now that sounds like fun.” I tried a smirk this time and his entire face flushed.
“I can’t say I agree.” He scooped up his books and tucked them under his arm. “It’s dangerous, for one, and stealing history seems unethical.” I wanted him to keep talking. Honestly, I could listen to him talk for hours. His voice was like a balm, even if he was kind of an asshole. “And there’s no guarantee you’ll ever find what you’re looking for. Seems like a waste of time.”
“But if you do find what you’re looking for, what then?” I asked.
He’d avoided direct eye contact until that very second, and holy shit, my lungs forgot how to work.
Air out, air in. Or was it air in and then air out.
“It has been my experience that life is only a game of mishaps and unexpected coincidences,” he said, and I laughed.
“You just quoted my book.”
“Yeah… The Branches Between Us,” I said, feeling a puff of pride as I exhaled, remembering how to breathe after all.
His throat bobbed again, his face paling as he took a step backward. “Your book. I didn’t realize you were—”
“I’m flattered.” I leaned both elbows on the counter. “Not a lot of people liked… or read that book.”
“I enjoyed it immensely,” he said but not in a starry-eyed, starstruck way. He was matter of fact in the delivery, and even more so when he continued. “I’ve read it ten times.”
“Wow.” My grin pinched at my cheeks. “Ten times.”
The air snapped in the brief silence that descended. I stole a few seconds to unabashedly stare at him while he glared at the floor. His thin nose twitched, and I noticed his upper lip was fuller than his bottom. A subtle crease sat between his thick brows, and it deepened when he scowled.
“I need to go,” he said, tacking on a curt, “Thank you,” before he turned to leave.
I watched him exit the store, bewildered and a bit shocked.
Okay, after I read this novella, I went and looked the author and the series up. I had never read either before. I have every intention of rectifying that. 🙂 I really enjoyed this, and after getting a tiny glimpse of other characters in the series, I’m looking forward to going back and checking it all out.
To Whom It May Concern has to be one of the sweetest books, with a super introvert. Myself being married to an introvert who has so many of the same characteristics, I can see how challenging it would be for Syrus to find love. Putting himself in a situation where he could be embarrassed, or seen in any negative light is one of the most terrifying things extreme introverts can go through. This author portrayed that so well. Syrus’ expressions about how much he loved Clay’s book were 100% on the mark. His logic said he loved it, so why would someone else, even the author NOT love it.
Meanwhile Clay, who is still grieving for his parents, running the store they loved, even as he knew his mother would have wanted him to keep writing had to find little ways to stay within Syrus’ orbit. Their communication via email in regards to Clay’s book, which Syrus wants to narrate is cute and sweet, and oh so flirty. Clay really just didn’t let Syrus get away. He had to make a little more of the effort to win some time with Syrus, even if it meant just saying he wanted a date, even when Syrus couldn’t fathom that. So sweet!
There wasn’t a need for there to be grand gestures, and in fact, with such an introvert as a couple there could not be, but just a sweet story about two people finding each other, and a little more of themselves.
4 pieces of eye candy
Amanda is an award winning and best selling author of LGBTQIA and contemporary romance and fiction. She lives in Utah with her family where she moonlights as a nurse on the weekends and hikes in the mountains as much as possible.
If she’s not busy with her three munchkins, you’ll find her buried in a book or behind the keyboard where she explores the human experience through the written word, exploring all spectrums and genres.
She’s obsessed with all things Hockey, Austen, and Oreos, and loves to connect with readers!
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