By the Rules, Elisabeth Staab, Book 3 in the Evergreen Grove Series
He thinks I want him because of the rumors around town. Because I think he’s easy. I want AJ, because he’s AJ.
No liars. No suits. Absolutely no straight guys…
AJ Fabin’s list of rules keeps him safe. Since getting kicked out of his parents’ home and attacked by a former escorting client, his rules and his life in the tiny town of Evergreen Grove provide a quiet haven. He may be lonely, and he may stick out like a sore thumb, but the folks like him well enough. When he’s not dodging his old pimp, things are peaceful.
Hayden Price is having a quarter-life crisis. Engaged to a woman he can’t connect to and working a job he secretly hates, he comes to Evergreen Grove to help his mother through a health scare. Returning to his childhood home makes Hayden reevaluate a lot of things, including himself. When he meets AJ and finds he can’t stand the mouthy jerk—almost as much as he can’t stop thinking about him—he has a lot more to change than his career.
To be together, they’ll both have to break all of their rules.
By the Rules is book 3 in the Evergreen Grove series, but reads as a standalone.
By The Rules has to be one of the best romance stories I've read in years. The third installment in Elisabeth Staab's Evergreen Grove series, the funny, tortured secondary character AJ Rubin finally gets his moment in the spotlight (where he belongs) and it's worth all the wait.
Please do not allow the fact the first two books in the Evergreen Grove series were M/F contemporary and book three is M/M throw you. Not only does the story flow seamlessly, Staab's strong storytelling skills allows AJ and Hayden's story to unfold and develop like a chocolate souffle - simple ingredients, requiring great skill to concoct and bring to completion, deliver unbelievable satisfaction when consumed.
Personally, I love M/M romance - I find there is a certain something missing in mainstream Het Contemporaries. Perhaps it is that things aren't taken for granted, attraction is only a part of the story and individuals, especially those with complicated pasts have to struggle and fight for that happy ever after that is sold as matter of course in Het romance. Yes there is a fair amount of angst and anger but the process of watching these two individuals fall in love is priceless.
You won't find a more colorful character than AJ - sweet, selfless, loyal to a fault. He'd give the shirt off his back (or the skivvies from his bag) to help a friend. Hayden is having an existential crisis - where AJ knows who he is and what he wants, Hayden is only aware of everything he no longer wants. Rule breaker meets Rule follower - rounds 1-3 are pretty rough albeit humorous as Staab easily interjects her trademark snark and charm into this quirky romance novel.
I'm not one to rehash story lines but I will say that you won't find more multidimensional characters with a cleverly woven story and very well crafted writing. The secondary characters in Evergreen Grove are every bit as captivating as the two main men and everyone loves a good Chinese mama to throw in her two cents worth. The alternating POV's also provide a very interesting look into both sides of this romance. If you haven't read the Evergreen Grove series yet, I highly recommend you do. If you are a fan of M/M romance, you'll definitely enjoy the third book in the series.
RATING: FIVE Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries. This rates the Guilty Indulgence Ultimate Indulgence Award. This book was given to us by the author for an honest review. Many thanks. This book was READ & RATED by Jenn
About the Author:
Elisabeth Staab started hunting mutant hedgehogs back in 1842… Oops, wrong bio… Elisabeth Staab digs coffee, saucy stories, and sexy things that go bump in the night. Once, she ate dinner in a jail and liked it. She lives in the Washington DC area with her incredible family and does her best to juggle life while ignoring the laundry