"Rob never broke down. He never needed help. He was the rock, and Matty was the bird who flew. It was the way it worked. But as it turned out, Matty was the bird that broke the rock's back."
This book exhausted me, and I so wanted to like it.
I loved the first book in this series, Training Season, so very much. In fact, I even rated it 5 stars and added it to my "favorites" shelf.
For me, it was the perfect mixture of funny and light-hearted in the first half and heartbreaking and moving in the second. Throw in some BDSM light elements for an amazing hurt/comfort and I was perfectly happy. Looking back, I should have been satisfied that it ended on such a perfect note and left it at that.
This book though? Well, let's just say that it's never a good sign when the best part of a book for me are the secondary characters because they bring a much needed comic relief.
This book was angst-fest galore! Everything that was going on between Matty and Rob was so dark and painful to read. Basically, it was hurt/hurt/hurt/hurt/a little comfort/hurt/hurt/hurt.
The story takes place 5 years after the first book, and Matty's eating disorder (or disordered eating) has become worse than ever. Gone is the bratty and flamboyant twink from the first book. Now, all that's left of Matty are his insecureness and his self-loathing. He's insecure about his job, his talent, his relationship, even about his looks.
And this went on and on and on ALL THE TIME. It was so stressful to be in his head that at around the 30% mark, I was just SO OVER IT! I was over his constant self-loathing and selfishness and his endless needs and demands from Rob. The worst thing for me was that he took Rob along with him in his downward spiral.
"Matty, when it came to sex, was the very definition of greedy - more, more, more, and me, me, me was pretty much his chant."
Yeah, that's Matty, the annoying bird, in a nutshell.
I was also this close to be over Rob too, who should have kicked Matty's selfish and demanding ass to therapy, no matter the money. But instead, he tried to help Matty and his illness with sex. Lots and lots of sex. Because the cure to an eating disorder lies in BDSM, obviously. Lovesick doormat is lovesick.
The BDSM scenes that worked so well in the first book became much more extreme and disturbing here. In the first book, they were a means to an end to establish and strengthen the relationship between Matty and Rob, and to give them both what they needed from each other.
Here, the BDSM went from light to very extreme and it was a cry for help on Matty's part and an expression of helplessness on Rob's. Which made for some VERY uncomfortable scenes that I had to skip over most of the parts.
The end made up for most of the frustration, but I was past the point where I cared anymore.
It's not that this is a bad book. Far from it. It's just that I hardly recognized the characters from the first book anymore which I so fell in love with.
And it's also one of those cases where I wished I would have stopped at a certain point in a series and let the MCs just have their HEA. Because I couldn't care less what happens after that. I know that real life is about physical and emotional struggles and financial problems and juggling work with free time. But I just don't want to read about it.
"Normal was balance. It was peace in a storm. It was the measure of justice that didn’t require a revolution. It was simply what was supposed to be. I craved normality. However, my turbulent mind buzzed with the realization that my definition might be out of date and out of whack. I had a premonition it was about to be tested. Again."
I liked this one better than the first book in the series, "A Kind of Truth".
And yet I can't seem to warm up to this series or this author. I can't put my finger on it - the writing is decent, the characters are likable and the romance is sweet. But I can't shake off the feeling that something is just plain missing.
The story in a nutshell: "Uptight businessman is irritated at first with the flamboyant twink. Until he isn't. The end.". That's it. I think the fact that I have dozens of shelves and I could only shelve this book under "Theme: flamboyant character" speaks for itself.
Maybe you'll like it better than me (there are a lot 5 stars-reviews!), maybe I just had a bad day or maybe it just simply wasn't for me. And while I don't want to discourage anyone from reading this series, I'm not exactly holding my breath for the next book.
"Cats ain’t the only ones who like cream,” he teased."
This was so much fun!
I was a little disappointed at first that this wasn't a full Rook/Dominic story since I enjoyed their prequel short story "The 13th Hex" very much.
But it didn't take me long to warm up to the flamboyant and snarky Cicero and the gentle and good-hearted Tom. They were a perfect familiar/witch match, even though they didn't think so at first.
I really like how Jordan L. Hawk manages to write not only sweet and steamy romances, but also captivating and suspenseful mysteries. I was on the edge of my seat more than once.
This was a great romance as well as a well-written mystery that's set in a quasi-historical New York at the end of the 1890's.
4 out of 5 stars, would definitely recommend!
Thanks to Julie & Momo for the BR!