Title: By the Rules (Evergreen Grove Series #3)
Author: Elisabeth Staab
Published Date: January 19th 2016
Genre: lgbt/new adult contemporary
***THIS BOOK WAS PROVIDED TO NERD GIRL IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW***
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 a vicious attack 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 re-evaluate 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.
AJ Fabin tries to live a quiet life. He is a gay man who has had a very difficult past. After being kicked out of his parents’ house, he had to make a living so he did anything and everything to make money. He’s since put that behind him and he works as a handyman in a rundown motel and is always ready to help a friend in time of need.
Hayden Price is only in his old hometown Evergreen Grove instead of New York because his mother had a heart attack and he is back home helping her. He left behind a job where he works under his father, and most of his coworkers think he is only in the position that he’s in is because of him, and he left behind his dancer fiancé who may or may not be cheating on him with a fellow dancer.
Once AJ meets Hayden, he immediately dislikes him. He thinks that Hayden is just a rich pretty boy with a snob attitude seeing as he’s from New York. However, AJ has known Hayden’s mom a long time and will do whatever he can to help her including trying to tolerate Hayden. The more they talk and hang out, the more AJ’s dislike goes away and their attraction grows for one another. With AJ’s past though he’s very reluctant to be with anyone seriously. Hayden also has many secrets that include feelings he’s had in the past for certain people that he isn’t sure if he’s ready to admit to just yet.
I thought this was an interesting story. You delve into a little bit of AJ’s past and see little by little why he is so against being in a relationship. AJ is a completely different character by the end because he has so many things coming into his life one right after the other and he is terrified by the changes and he needs to either step up and be there for the people who need him, or run away from the people he loves the most.
Hayden was never living his life for himself. He always had to please someone or try to work harder than anyone and prove that he isn’t just skating through life, and going home he has a chance to be himself and see where things in his life are going and decide if he wants to change things or go back to the way things were.
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