Molly Reviews: Open Seating by Mickie B. Ashling (Open Book 1)

Seth Wilder lost his partner of twenty years to suicide two weeks before a long-anticipated cruise. Cancellation insurance was never purchased, and Seth can’t get a refund. Bryce McFarland, his late partner’s gym buddy, appreciates his predicament, and when asked, agrees to accompany him on the trip. This way, Seth recoups the money and doesn’t have to cancel his plans. The gesture is unexpected but accepted gratefully.

The two men have nothing in common. Seth is a reclusive romance writer, and Bryce is a hard-core Grindr user with major commitment issues. Out of necessity and despite the seemingly insurmountable differences in personality, they develop a tentative rapport. As they begin their journey through the UK, Bryce helps Seth come to terms with his partner’s sudden death while Seth, in turn, discovers the root cause of Bryce’s phobia.

Shipboard romances rarely work. Sensible men resist, sexual tension notwithstanding. But a full moon and late summer breezes lend themselves to the impossible situation, barriers are crossed, and a love affair is kindled.

Where To Buy:
Dreamspinner Press || Amazon || Barnes and Noble || Kobo

This story was lovely. I adored Seth and Bryce. They went on this amazing adventure together. But they also overcame some major obstacles in their lives that kept both of them from going forward and being happy. Watching them both on their journeys was wonderful. I enjoyed getting to see inside both of their thoughts and how the overall experience affected both of them. The emotions that were brought out were so clear as I read. I felt so much along with the characters.

Seth broke my heart. Right from the beginning you could tell he had a hard path to follow in the future. There were a few times I felt like Seth was coddled by Mark but it’s easy to see it was done out of love. As Seth opened up and began to work through his grief a new man emerged and I could tell Seth was going to be happy and make it long term. I adored how his feelings for Bryce grew slowly and almost crept up on him.

Bryce was such a playboy at the beginning of the story I wasn’t sure if he’d ever get his head out of his ass. There are a few scenes at the beginning of the story you may want to skip if seeing one of the main characters with not the other character is a no for you. However it’s done in a way that shows Bryce’s character at the time and also how he changes by the end of the book. Even with how shallow Bryce is, I adored him right from the start. I loved getting to see him open up and the tender side of him that was always there. The way he cared for Seth, at first physically and then emotionally, was so sweet. It made me swoon just a little bit.

I was wary of how Mark’s passing was going to be handled. However I should have known it would have been done well since Ms. Ashling is the author. I was glad to see a tough and emotional topic was handled with care and respect. I’m interested how the shadow of Mark will play out in the next two books in this series. However based on this book, I’m pleasantly hopeful we’ll get to see more healing on Seth’s part and acceptance of Mark’s choice.

There’s a strong happy for now ending as this book closes. I adore these two and can’t wait to see more of them in the next book. I’m eager to see their feelings for each other grow. But I especially want to see how they handle living together and build a relationship full time with both of their quirks and idiosyncrasies. I imagine there will be bumps along the way but that will just make them finding their way so much sweeter.
Four and a half

About Mickie:
Reading and traveling are my hobbies, but writing is my life. I was introduced to the world of men who love men around the time I discovered Queer as Folk in 2000. The characters on that show intrigued me, and I began to read everything I could find in the m/m genre. Soon after, I found myself writing the kind of stories that I enjoyed reading.

All of my novels are contemporary, and yes, I admit, filled with angst. Drama and emotional upheaval seem to be the ongoing theme so far; I like hurt/comfort stories where my characters work hard for their happy endings. There are usually graphic sex scenes, so if you are uncomfortable with the concept of men loving men, I suggest you move on.

I’ve had the good fortune to live in many parts of the world, but right now, home is a suburb outside the Windy City where the long winters are very conducive to writing.

Author Contact:


2 responses to “Molly Reviews: Open Seating by Mickie B. Ashling (Open Book 1)

  1. Oh, I just saw this! Thank you very much for this lovely review. I’m so glad Seth and Bryce appealed to you. I like writing older couples but it’s not the norm in our genre (although I am seeing it more and more).


    • Definitely my pleasure! I enjoy reading older couples and I love when I find it’s done well. I binged this series so it was nice to get to read them in order immediately and find out what happens right away.


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