Eli’s sworn off irresponsible flirts, and Arjun’s one of the worst—aggravating, provoking, and everything Eli can’t resist.
After fifteen years in the military, Eli Reynolds has returned to San Francisco with broken dreams and a broken heart, courtesy of his now ex-boyfriend. He’s determined to avoid anyone like his cheating ex—which means steering clear of Tabletop Tavern’s resident flirt, Arjun Gupta.
Arjun wants a break. Ever since he added his grandmother’s nursing home to his monthly bills, he’s drowning in debt. On top of his job as chef at Tabletop Tavern, he’s been stripping at nights to cover the extra costs. She’s worth every sleepless hour, but he’s desperate for relief—of any sort. Too bad Tabby’s cousin Eli is too high and mighty for a fling.
Eli and Arjun can’t seem to avoid each other, and with each collision they realize more and more that they might have misjudged—especially when all those sparks spill over into something hot and unforgettable. However, when Eli’s folks decide to move across the country, Eli needs to choose: remain in the place that reminds him of his failures or start over fresh—and if Arjun isn’t here for keeps, Eli can’t risk his heart to stay.
Roll the dice on romance at Tabletop Tavern…
Okay, so I’m late to the party, what else is new? Dexterity Check is the first book in this series that I’ve read. I don’t have any excuse other than I think I was worried I would get lost in the D&D references. Which, of course, I did. However, the author kept the references easy and light, so the reader didn’t have to actually know anything about D&D to enjoy the book, or the Tabletop Taver (which is a BRILLIANT name, I have to say). So, with my lack of gaming knowledge, I ventured in, and am so glad I did.
I loved Arjun, a snarky, sassy man, who kept himself at a distance from everyone, because he was so afraid of everyone leaving him. He only ever could count on his Nani, and did not want to take any further chances, until he had no choice, and had to ask for some help. Side note: having dealt with my father, all his medical bills, his strokes and other medical issues, I understood the emotions Arjun expressed. The anxiety when you get a phone call in the middle of the night, or you rush over to find out what’s happening, without even stopping to put on your shoes. I lived that, and the way he felt, is exactly how I felt. Alone, scared, and afraid to count on anyone else. And I will say, personally…it was a little hard to read sometimes, but very well done.
Meanwhile, I appreciated that Eli, just home from the military, with a broken heart and no idea what to do was drifting. Sometimes, former military are portrayed as coming home and just jumping right into life, knowing what they need to do, etc. Eli did not have that. He was bouncing from one thing to another, not putting down more roots than he already had down, trying to rekindle family relationships, and struggled quite obviously with depression. He couldn’t seem to appreciate what he had to give the world, only what the world had given him, in all the negative ways. It was heartbreaking to see how much he struggled to keep moving forward sometimes.
These two settled each other, in different ways. Arjun needed someone steady, someone who would show up when he was needed, even if he wasn’t called. He needed to feel safe, but still held so much up to what he wanted in life. Eli, on the other hand, needed Arjun to bring some light into his life. He needed someone to bring back some fun, and some super sexy times…Arjun fit that bill perfectly. They offset each other in all the best ways.
The side characters, which likely were featured in the previous four books, were a mixture of all types of people, drawn together by the Tabletop Tavern. They supported each other, and enjoyed hanging out playing whatever game was on the docket that day. Eli’s cousin, Tabby, never let Eli feel he wasn’t wanted or cared for. They had a great relationship.
All in all, a good story, with lots of fun and sass. Definitely recommend. And now I may need to go back and check out the rest! Or wait for Charisma Check, book 6 and final in the series to come out in May.