Author: Jane Davitt & Alexa Snow
Publisher: Loose Id
Pages/Word Count: 273 Pages
At a Glance: This is a pleasant, if not groundbreaking, story.
Reviewed By: Sadonna
Blurb: Dave’s taking life day by day after leaving Travis, his emotionally abusive partner of fifteen years. Working as the cook at the Square Peg is all the social life he has and he’s content with that.
When a swerving car leaves him sprawled on the snowy sidewalk with a broken ankle, being rescued by his new neighbor, young, sinfully pretty Jeremy, seems like the start of something good, even if twenty years separate the two men. But Travis isn’t content to let Dave slip away and Dave’s his own worst enemy, holding Jeremy at arms’ length when Jeremy wants to get as close as possible.
With decisions about his future complicated by his tangled past, can Dave accept the second chance Jeremy offers or will his heart stay empty of love?
Review: Note: I have to say I didn’t really realize that this was part of a series when I asked for this for review. I believe the first two books are about two other couples from the bar The Square Peg, but it seems like this can be read as a standalone, and I didn’t feel like I was missing any vital information to this story.
Dave is the chef at a local gay bar. One night, as he’s coming home after closing, he is walking to his condo when he is nearly hit by a rather reckless driver. He manages to get onto the sidewalk, but because of the snow and ice, he takes a pretty bad fall. He knows he’s hurt, but just not how badly. His new neighbor, Jeremy, finds him and takes him to hospital, where he learns it’s in fact a broken ankle and he’s going to be down for the count for a while. Of course Dave is cold and tired and cranky, so he’s possibly not putting his best foot forward with the new neighbor, but Jeremy seems to be somewhat socially awkward and a bit clueless, so they sort of balance each other out.
Dave is in his forties and has finally gotten out of a long term and very toxic relationship with his ex, Travis. Travis is a cheating, lying, addicted, manipulative asshole, and has taken Dave for a ride so many times he’d finally had enough and cut things off for good. Jeremy is only 29 and he is self-employed as a specialty computer builder and works from his condo. He also has a cat. :) Jeremy volunteers to help Dave around the house while he is convalescing. Dave doesn’t really want anybody’s help (he’s kind of stubborn that way), but Jeremy doesn’t want to give up on Dave either – since he confesses that he’s attracted to Dave.
While poor Dave is trying to heal, Jeremy manages to insinuate himself into Dave’s life. Jeremy is an interesting character. He seems to always be trying to figure out what the rules are and what he should say/not say. The authors don’t spell it out, but it’s almost like he’s got a spectrum disorder where he’s not sure what the “normal” thing is that he should do or say in any given situation. I liked Jeremy a lot though – his filter was kinda off, but he’s got a really good heart.
Of course, you know when there is a jerky ex around, he’s gotta cause trouble, so no exception here. Travis is also possessive, jealous and a vindictive user who always belittled Dave and everything he wanted to accomplish, on top of everything else in his lovely personality arsenal. When he figures out that Dave and Jeremy might be more than friends, he starts trouble. Jeremy and Dave do not agree on how to handle things with Travis, and this causes quite a bit of friction in their budding relationship. On top of that, Dave has a slight issue with the fact that Jeremy has never actually been with another man before, and has only dated women in the past. Jeremy is pretty convincing though. ;)
For those who read the first two books, the Square Peg, the owners, and other employees play a large part in this story. Ben and Shane support Dave while he is working to get back on his feet. Patrick and Vin are also there to lend moral support. There is also a lovely side story with a gentleman from the Farmer’s Market, whom Dave is friendly with. He is a gem of a character, and I’d love to read more about him sometime.
Of course, just as Jeremy and Dave finally get to a place where they are both happy, and they are supporting each other and doing exactly what they want to do, the other shoe has to drop. This puts a huge strain on their relationship and could unravel everything they have built together. With two guys who have spent so much time in their own heads, it’s definitely an uphill battle for them to find a way to communicate.
I really liked the characters and found Jeremy especially to be an interesting guy, with all his quirks. He refused to take Dave’s moods at face value and pushed him to stop perceiving himself through the Travis-colored lenses he’s worn for so long. I really loved the beekeeper, Locke, and his nephew. I also really liked the other characters from the Square Peg (and I’ll have to go back and read their stories). There wasn’t anything terribly new or different in this story, but I enjoyed the journey Dave and Jeremy take together.
You can buy The Empty Box here: