Well, this puts the “ex” in “explosive”…
Felix: What would happen if everyone you’d ever dated got together and plotted against you?
For me, it’s glitter bombs. Lots and lots of glitter bombs.
Okay, maybe I deserved the first one or two. Or three. But when things become less glitter and more grenade, I’m forced into hiding with the smokin’ hot older client I just had a sizzling one-night stand with.
Malcolm’s gruff exterior hides a marshmallow center (who else would hire a pet massage therapist for their elderly cat?) — but until the bomber is behind bars, neither of us are safe.
And no one would risk their life for a disaster like me…right?
Malcolm: I wasn’t under any illusions the night I ended up in Felix’s bed. He’s just my type — smart, funny, and adorable with just the right amount of meat on his bones.
But a guy like that deserves more than a grouchy forty-something ex-FBI agent with a broken body and a screwed-up brain. So, I knew we were only ever in this for one night.
Except now with his dating history blowing up in his face, Felix is turning to me for help.
And I’m pretty sure my feelings can’t be defused.
Head Over Feels is a low-angst MM contemporary romance. Come for the grumpy/sunshine, forced proximity (but there are two beds, sorry), hurt/comfort, and found family. Stay for the 1985 Buick Riviera convertible, dreams coming true, personal growth, game nights, and an online date gone very, very, wrong. HEA guaranteed!
Head Over Feels is part of the Bent Oak, Texas series. It can be read as a standalone but will be more enjoyable if you’ve read Heart Me Up first. Characters from Holding On to a Hero have significant roles as well, in case you want the complete backstory.
Title: Head Over Feels
Author Name: Bix Barrow
Series Title: Bent Oak, Texas
Release Date: Friday, June 23 2023
Cover Artist: Cate Ashwood
(from Felix’s POV)
“So,” Jaime remarked as he forked up some of his osso buco, “Tell me your professional aspirations. Surely you aren’t planning on working in a call center forever.”
The way he phrased the comment rubbed me a little the wrong way, but I brushed the concern aside. He’d brought up something I was excited to share with him.
“I’m actually planning to go into business for myself,” I told him. He gazed at me with rapt attention while he sipped his wine. It was heady, let me tell you, to have someone that good-looking focused on me.
“I recently got my certification to be a pet massage therapist.”
Jaime went still, his wine glass midair. “I’m sorry, a what?”
“A pet massage therapist,” I repeated enthusiastically. “Animals get arthritis or other mobility issues, same as humans. Massage can help them walk more easily and reduce pain. I completed a certification course and in a few months I’ll be doing pet massage full time.”
While I’d expounded on my favorite topic, Jaime had slowly lowered his wine glass to the table. I’d been so energized by what I was saying, I’d finished speaking before I noticed his expression was… not encouraging.
Jaime’s eyebrows—which I now noticed had been waxed—scrunched together. “This is a career you are set on?”
Hadn’t I just said that? “Yes. I’d originally planned to be a Veterinary Technician, but I did some shadowing in a vet’s office and, well… it wasn’t for me. Doc Pinkerton, the vet there, suggested I try pet massage therapy instead. I love it.”
Jaime frowned and shook his head. “I’m sorry, Felix. It didn’t occur to me to ask about this when we were chatting online. I’ve enjoyed our dinner very much up to now.”
My mouth dropped open. He. Was. Not. And yet, he was. “But I cannot date someone with such an…” He waved a hand as if searching for the right word. “Unambitious career. I’d be the laughingstock of my friends and business associates.”
I sat there, staring in shock. I could feel the blood draining from my face. Jaime would be embarrassed by my being a pet massage therapist? My dream job?
Cal’s voice rang through my head, reminding me how vulnerable my former dates had made themselves by sharing their unusual pastimes.
Jaime interrupted my awful epiphany. “I’d still be down to fuck after dinner though.”
Who the heck did this guy think he was?
I sputtered, trying to form the words to tell him to go screw himself, when Jaime glanced past me toward the restaurant’s entrance.
He froze. His eyes went wide and his face went Oh shit. “Quick,” he said, his voice low and urgent. “You are my work colleague, an architect. Just play along.”
Oh, hell to the no. On top of everything else, he was cheating? My dream career was embarrassing to a cheater?
I considered throwing my drink on him, but I didn’t have much left. In the spirit of getting something, however small, out of this debacle, I drained my wine glass. Then I set my napkin next to my plate and pushed back from the table. I’d wallow in my anger later. Right now I needed to exit, pronto.
“Sorry, Jaime, I’m not helping you. You’re an ass.”
Jaime barely had time to look confused before a harsh voice boomed out, “What the fuck is this?”
Dang it, too late.
I couldn’t avoid looking at the man stomping toward us. He was in his mid-thirties, dark-haired, tall, and rangy like a runner. And—scowly glare notwithstanding—very attractive. Huh, Jaime must be one of those rare people who didn’t have a physical type. I mean, my face was okay, but….
What the heck was I doing? It was past time to leave.
Jaime’s boyfriend—hopefully just a boyfriend; I didn’t see a ring—was followed by two other men, another tall dark-haired guy and a shorter blond guy. The boyfriend’s entire body was taut with rage, and his friends’ expressions were grim. Any of them could probably kick my ass. Crap.
Jaime put out a placating hand toward his boyfriend. “Listen, babe,” he started.
“You said you had to work late. You said you’d be ordering dinner in with your team. He is not your team.” He pointed at me but stared daggers at Jaime.
Jaime’s expression said he was pretty sure he’d be able to talk his way out of the situation. I was pretty sure he was wrong.
Felix, get out.
I stood up, pushing the chair back with my legs. “I thought he was single, I swear,” I muttered, keeping my head down. Hopefully I’d be allowed to leave without getting punched first.
I stepped away from the table to make my getaway, but in my haste I caught my shoe on a chair leg, causing me to stumble right into Jaime’s boyfriend.
“Oof! I’m so sorry!” I cried as I thudded into his chest. He didn’t look like he lifted weights or anything, but it was like I’d hit a wall; he didn’t even step back. Did I mention I’m not the skinniest guy around? The boyfriend didn’t look at me, just put his hands on my biceps and pushed me upright. I sidled away as quickly and inconspicuously as possible. Thankfully the blond guy took my elbow and pointed me toward the exit. I managed to nod my thanks and hightail it out of the restaurant.
Cole owed me so hard for this.
I yanked my phone from my pocket as I power-walked through the parking lot. Should I call or text him? Yelling would be pretty satisfying right now, I decided.
This is a new series to me, as well as a new to me author. It mentioned that it was stand-alone, but the beginning was a bit hard to follow, so I’m thinking it would be easier to read the first two books.
Malcolm and Felix are quite sweet together, and I enjoyed how the author was able to integrate the mystery and the romance to their relationship. Felix was a pet massage therapist (who knew that was a thing?) with some serious dating disasters. Meanwhile Malcom was a grump, but also very protective.
While there was a lot of action, suspense, mystery, there was also a lot of funny parts. With great secondary characters that came from the previous books. If you like grumpy/sunshine, with a side of forced proximity, then give this one a shot.
3.5 pieces of eye candy
When Bix Barrow got an idea for her first book, it ended up turning into her second — and thus the first two stories in the Bent Oak, Texas series emerged. An aspiring author for most of her life, it took a foray into the MM romance genre to spark the steamy scenes and blazing banter Bix now weaves into her novels. Accompanying her on her writing exploits are her two dogs and multitude of cats (seven at last count). An avid traveler, Bix has started to view her expeditions as interviews for her future home. Born and raised in Texas, she is eager to move somewhere with fewer politicians, hurricanes and flooding. Connect with Bix at www.bixbarrow.com
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