Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for By the Rules by Elisabeth Staab. My stop includes all the deets on the book and series, my review, and a giveaway. You can follow the tour here. Enjoy!
By the Rules by Elisabeth Staab
Evergreen Grove #3
Release Date: January 19, 2016
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, M/M Romance
Source: I received a complimentary copy as part of the tour, but I also purchased my own copy from B&N.
Rating: 3.5 Bookworms
Challenges: COYER B2B, #2016NewRelease
Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ B&N
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 served as my introduction to Ms. Staab, whom I've wanted to read for quite awhile. I will absolutely be readin gmore from her. I did not read books 1 and 2 from the Evergreen Grove series prior to read By the Rules and while I'm sure having read those would have added depth to the story with character development, I certainly was not lost.
I really liked both AJ and Hayden. AJ is quite the character. I can see the compassion shining through him and that's something considering all he's endured - especially being completely shunned by his family because of his sexual preferences. He lives with a 'love me or not' philosophy in his hot pink sneakers and tie-dye shirts. And he also lives by a set of rules that keep him safe from heartbreak. I admired his desire to help others in need. Hayden was a little more difficult to get a handle on. He's come back to Evergreen Grove to take care of his mom after a medical scare. He's been working for his dad - working himself into the ground in order to prove himself and also, maybe, in order to forget what's really plaguing him.
The interactions between AJ and Hayden are fun for the most part. There was a lot of sexual tension in the snarky banter. And I ejoyed seeing them get acquainted. However, I felt the story overall had a rushed feeling. I wished I'd had more backstory for Hayden - more about why he'd left home and more about the things that had shaped who he was. I wished AJ's rules hadn't kept him from going on an actual date with Hayden from the beginning because I think he'd have appreciated a more traditional approach to their relationship. I'd have liked t see more interaction between Hayden and his mom - that is why he was in Evergreen Grove - because I think that would have given more insight into his character.
Overall, I liked By the Rules but felt it could have been a deeper read if there'd been a little more. I do plan to pick up the first two books in this series, though, as I'm curious about Cassie and Jake's, and Dante and Michelle's stories now. And even though I wished for a bit more in AJ and Hayden's story, I liked Ms. Staab's writing style.
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.