Monarch Springs is full of hot guys… So why is Aiden determined to be in love with the only one that he can’t stand?
Up-and-coming interior designer Aiden Hart came to Monarch Springs for an intriguing job and an escape from his old life. Redecorating the tourist trap that is the Monarch Mansion in a small town in Pennsylvania sounded like the exact opposite of his trainwreck of a life in Miami. Not to mention a way to jumpstart his DIY celebrity career.
Aiden didn’t want to think that his new start was cursed. But being assigned to work with the disgraced former TV carpenter Brett Jeffries at the last minute and breaking down by the side of the road not two minutes later made being cursed sound reasonable.
Things started looking up when a hot mystery man in a beat up truck stopped to rescue him. This flannel-wearing angel was not the kind of hot that happened in Miami. This was salt-of-the-earth, lumberjack, bearded, knows how to change a tire, H-O-T hotness.
Of course, his hot savior turned out to be none other than Brett Jefferies.
And that was only the start of Aiden’s problems. From a traitorous cat to exes showing up at the worst possible times, he still has to somehow get this remodel done before Christmas.
However, falling in love with the job, the town, and, worst of all, Brett, was not on Aiden’s Christmas list.
Title: Measuring Up
Author Name: Dani Hermit & Curtis Star
Word Count: 62K
Genres: small town romance, contemporary romance, romcom, gay romance
Tropes: hate to love, meeting the love interest before you know who he is, the hot ex shows up
“You know I’m not afraid of hard work, Brett. I don’t have your guns but I work out.” Aiden removed his fashionably torn sweater to reveal a tight navy blue t-shirt. “But it’s warm in here. I wasn’t expecting such an aggressive Indian summer.”
Brett probably wouldn’t notice but Aiden got a lot of numbers at the club in this very tee. Although that was seven years ago when he was usually covered in glitter and had just enough of the designer party drug of the day to offer to suck off somebody as yummy as Brett with ease.
The shirt was faded and paint-stained but Aiden still felt slightly bolstered with confidence when he wore it. He wasn’t intending to take his sweater off but now that he had, he wondered what Brett thought of him. Would he look at him the way the guys in the club did? Not likely. Not now that Aiden was about five years too old for that scene.
Aiden grabbed a brush and bucket of soapy water. He didn’t want to think about it anymore. Being over thirty and having lost his club boy appeal somewhere in the course of his failed committed relationship, Aiden often felt invisible.
“Are you sure about that?” Brett came up behind Aiden and squeezed his upper arms, lingering at his back for a solid minute. He walked away, not paying attention to the effect he had on Aiden. “I’m going to grab some more supplies. How about you start over there? I’ll start on this other side and we’ll meet in the middle?”
Aiden had to steady his breath. He was far too close to swooning around this guy. He stomped up the ladder to start washing the top of the wall. He tried to use the scrubbing to air out his irritation.
“Stupid jerk.” He muttered under his breath. “No reason to mock me. Maybe I haven’t gotten to the gym in a while. You can’t act like your stupid sexy self doesn’t know you have driven me crazy since the moment I met you. Stupid sexy jerk.”
Returning with more cleaning supplies from the truck, Brett set to work on the far side of the room. After about half an hour of silence, he paused and turned to Aiden. “Hey, pretty boy,” he called out. “Do you mind if I put on some music?”
And now he’s calling me pretty boy. Why would he do that? Oh yeah, cause he’s a stupid, stupid sexy jerk who knows he’s sexy.
Aiden began scrubbing even harder as if the wall had wronged him. “Yeah sure, but just know you are revealing a lot about yourself. So many secrets are spilled by what you listen to.” Aiden didn’t want to bother moving the ladder so he reached out as far as he could with the sponge while he waited to hear what Brett would put on.
Brett opened a door on the built-in cabinet that wasn’t far from where Aiden was scrubbing and plugged his phone into the stereo unit hidden inside. He hit play and classic rock began blaring out of the speakers that were concealed all over the house. Brett quickly adjusted the volume down to a more reasonable roar. Out of the corner of his eye, Aiden watched him as he lingered a moment, enjoying the song.
Aiden wasn’t paying attention to how far he was leaning, and the ladder he was sitting on started wobbling. Before he could correct his position or get his balance back, Aiden was tipping over. He closed his eyes and prayed he would hit the floor and not smash into the pile of tools that were nearby.
The current running tracks of thought in Aiden’s head came out of his mouth as he fell right into Brett’s arms. He couldn’t stop himself from hitting Brett’s chest as he ranted in an awkward attempt to get his heartbeat under control.
“Stupid, sexy jerk who rescues puppies. Of course, you are gonna catch me when I fall off the ladder.”
For his part, Brett didn’t say anything, he just let Aiden wear himself out. He stared into Brett’s eyes, his anger and fear played out, not sure what to do or say. It wasn’t like Brett was moving to set him down on the floor. The fact that the big man wasn’t dropping him like a hot potato was making Aiden’s heart beat fast again and his head filled with all the silly notions he was trying to avoid.
“Would you rather I let you crash to the ground and break your pretty neck?” Brett asked, not letting go of Aiden though he looked like he was tempted to drop him on his butt now that he was out of harm’s way.
Okay, this has gone on way too long, right? Why isn’t he putting me down?
Okay, this is a cute book. I’ve never read anything by this team of authors, so really not sure what to expect, to be honest. The cover wasn’t my favorite, and that is usually a call to me as a must read. It had some really fun elements…(I’m a crazy cat lady, so of course the ‘traitorous cat’ called to me.)
Aiden comes to this new town to start over. It’s a bit of a meet-cute after a car breakdown. I love inner monologues that really seem like they are talking to me and themselves, and Aiden’s inner monologue made me laugh.
Brett, the sexy lumberjack, just let Aiden get into his own little messes, I thought. Which made me laugh just a bit more.
There was a bit of a plot hole that I didn’t quite understand, but that sometimes happens.
Overall, a funny, cute holiday story.
3.5 pieces of eye candy
Dani Hermit & Curtis Star are a married pair of writers who have been perfecting their craft even longer than they have been perfecting their marriage – over 20 years for both! It was a mutual love of slash fic and writing deep, angsty stories that lead to their love for each other.
It has been a rocky road full of pitfalls and potholes that has lead to the current format of writing boy’s love serials that are becoming the bedrock of the Hermit & Star brand.
Author Website: https://hermitstarbooks.com/
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Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Dani-Hermit/e/B00BG3335E/