This is Not a Horror Movie
by Sara Dobie Bauer
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow Designs
Release Date: May 13, 2021
Genres: m/m new adult, gay paranormal romance, LGBTQ, romantic comedy
Trope: Friends to lovers
Themes: non-explicit, humorous, teens, Florida, summer vacation, hauntings, evil spirits
Heat Rating: 2 flames
Warnings: Scenes of graphic violence, death of minor characters, mentions of bullying, alcohol use
Length: 78 000 words
It is a standalone story.
Buy Links - Available in Kindle Unlimited
Emory Jones loves two things: horror movies and Connor Nichols.
For the past four years, Emory, Connor, and their families have vacationed side by side on Longboat Key, Florida. Eighteen-year-old Emory has pined for his neighbor from behind the covers of Stephen King books, but college boy Connor has never noticed him. Probably because Emory looks like Jack Skellington with good hair.
Emory anticipates another predictable summer of sunburn and disappointment. Instead, he ends up with a mystery on his hands when a beloved beach bum goes missing, and Connor volunteers to help with the search. Turns out it’s not just scary movie cops who are worthless, so the boys start an investigation of their own—leading them straight to an abandoned beach resort.
Despite the danger, Emory and Connor grow closer, but as Emory’s gay dreams start coming true, so do the horror movie tropes he so loves. Even though he knows that sex equals death in slasher flicks, Emory can’t keep his hands off the guy of his teenage dreams.
I’m about to follow a mysterious rat into the darkness when a hand lands on my shoulder. I suck a panicked gasp in through my lips as Connor says, “Sorry! Sorry.”
I put my hands on my knees and relearn breathing.
He stands there, backlit like some kind of hot angel, and shrugs. “Maybe you should be thanking me.”
“You like to be scared,” he says.
He’s right. Haunted house in the neighborhood? I’m first. Spooky cemetery? Coming through. Maybe that’s part of the reason I always let Liz drag me to parties at the Outpost. It feels like being in a scary movie. I’m waiting for Leatherface to show up and murder the morally reprehensible youth. Of course, if horror movie rules are true, I’m totally dead. I lost my virginity at sixteen and more often than not spend “happy hour” sharing malt liquor with Longboat’s famous homeless dude, Leland.
“What are you doing over here?” Connor asks.
“Befriending local wildlife.” I glance over my shoulder into the dark. I shove hair out of my face—a nervous tic I’ve acquired since growing it out. Because I needed another nervous tic. “What are you doing over here?”
“Talking to you.” He grins, but I can feel a disconnect.
Connor and I have always had a mutually agreed upon rhythm. He’s the big, gorgeous straight dude who puts up with me, the skinny, little gay kid.
No one knows I’m gay down here. Florida is for family, not fu— Anyway.
In summers past, Connor wrestled me and tickled me, and I pretended not to like it. We talked about some things, mostly scary movies, but kept an emotional distance. He accepts me being a drama queen, and I never let him know I would climb Everest for his kiss.
Staring at me with a dumb look on his face is not our rhythm.
I finally lose my sh*t. “Jesus, am I bleeding from my eyes?”
He coughs out a laugh. “What?”
“You’re looking at me funny.”
He looks away. “Oh.”
I cross my arms. I have, in fact, filled out a lot since last summer—and the lifeguarding helps—but I’m still self-conscious about my small frame and will probably never forget the jocks calling me “Tinker Bell” from seventh to tenth grade. I press my lips together and side-eye the kids dancing to some club beat on Liz’s phone. “Everyone’s looking at me funny, actually.”
Connor clears his throat and plucks at the front of his tight, white T-shirt. He looks like he wants to dive headfirst into the empty pool at his back.
“You don’t have to talk to me, you know.”
His blue eyes flit back my way. Even in the dark, I know they’re blue. He says, “But I like talking to you.”
I hug myself tighter and lift a shoulder. “Seen any good horror movies lately?”
His smile is back. “Tons. I saw this French one called Raw.”
I bounce up on my toes. “Cannibals! Oh my God, that movie was so good! The writing.” I tear at my hair in euphoric bliss.
He nods. “And the scene with the roommate.”
“And the ending!” I poke him in the chest. “Dude, I tried to get Liz to watch it. She’s all vegetarian now because she dated this hippie dude senior year. She said she gave up meat for her health, but I think it’s because he said he tasted death in her mouth.”
Connor does the silent open-mouth laugh thing that happens when my storytelling reaches peak levels of absurd.
“She made it thirty minutes into the movie before she had to leave the room and vomit. Meanwhile, I was sitting there eating, like, spaghetti.”
He puts his hand on my shoulder as he keeps laughing. I smell his deodorant: sporty man stuff. “I can’t believe I almost didn’t come this year.”
That steals the air from my lungs. Sure, I should be avoiding the guy, looking forward to the future, but all of a sudden, I can’t imagine a summer without Connor Nichols making me blush.
I tend to stay away from stories with younger main characters, usually shying from the new adult category. But I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve read by this author, and since this is friends-to-more and paranormal I decided to give it a go.
Emory is well, frankly he’s adorable. Newly graduated from high school (along with his twin sister) and ready to head off to college, he still is a bit awkward and clumsy, not quite used to the height he gained before his final year of high school—or the apparent label of “hot” that now applies to him (of which he is blissfully unaware). Connor is well aware of it, though he was already drawn to Emory for the past several years their families have been vacationing next to each other.
Something very wrong is happening nearby, something eerie and dark…and yet, even with the inevitable evil waiting to ruin everyone’s vacations this story still manages to be funny and light. Well, except for the, you know, bloody parts. I suppose you could say the funny balances out the monstrous and while it is all going on Connor and Emory finally fall for each other. It’s sweet and yet also horrific, with some fun stereotypical horror movie and Stephen King references to boot.
This is Not a Horror Movie was a truly enjoyable read, and I keep bouncing back and forth between 4-4.5 stars. Fans of the genre will definitely want to add this to their collection!
About the Author
Sara Dobie Bauer is a bestselling romance author and mental health / LGBTQ advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. She lives with her hottie husband and precious pup in Northeast Ohio, although she’d really like to live in a Tim Burton film.