Title: The Secrets in My Scowl
Author: A.E. Via
Publisher: Via Star Wings Publishing
Release Date: October 28th 2016
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 286 pages
Reviewed by: Belen
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Sparks ignite and tempers flare when a sexy, optimistic wedding planner moves his business in across the hall from a jilted, divorce lawyer’s practice.
“Look smart ass. This is the last time I’m going to remind you about breaking sections of the lease. If there’s a next time, I won’t stop until you and your frilly, white wedding shit is thrown out of here. Do you got it?!”
Wylde looked in Jacob’s pained eyes and answered in his deep voice. “Yeah, counselor. I got it.”
From high school, up until he became a successful attorney Jacob Snowden was convinced that love had it out for him. “Everyone left,” were the words he lived by. His mother, his high school sweetheart, his father, and his fiancé, all left Jacob just when he felt it was safe to let down his guard. Not any longer. Jacob was a determined man, set at keeping people at a distance. If his six foot one, military-made body didn’t scare people off, his permanent scowl surely did. At almost forty, Jacob’s social life was non-existent, but he told himself his work fulfilled him. He helped people get out of their loveless marriages. Jacob Snowden was one of the best divorce lawyers on the east coast and was damn proud of it. So, imagine his disdain when a wedding planner moves into the suite directly adjacent to his… an insanely masculine, male wedding planner.
Wylde Sterling had made quite a name for himself in his hometown of Roanoke, Virginia, working for a wedding planner that catered to the elite. He was known for his charm and impeccable taste. Yep, he was incredible at giving couples the wedding of their dreams. But he wanted nothing more than to plan his own. After striking out in love more times than he cared to admit, Wylde decided to start his own business in a new city, hoping Richmond would give him a fresh start. Things started out wonderfully – until he started to piss off the angry divorce attorney next door.
Wylde could see past Jacob’s mean scowl, knowing there was a reason for it. It was the man’s defense mechanism, his means of keeping people away. Everything in Wylde told him to stay away, but he believed Jacob just needed to meet a man who had been hurt as badly as he had.
A.E. Via has a way with writing a tortured hero that draws me in and makes me forgive even the biggest of jackasses.
It’s no different this time around with Jacob Snowden, who takes being obstreperous and difficult to new highs, yet Via made me feel for him and hope that he gets a happily-ever-after.
Wylde Sterling was a joy to read from the beginning. Reading about his failed dates was both funny and cringe-worthy, because I’ve been on those kinds of dates and totally related. I loved that Wylde is able to see the hurt beneath the gruff, the heart beneath Jacob’s scowl, and how he slowly works his way into Jacob’s heart.
“Point is, when you find someone brave enough not to be scared off by your fake male bravado. A person who will get in your face and tell you, ‘You’re going to love me whether you want to or not.’ Those are the keepers. The ones that aren’t willing to fight or put in the work for you, sacrifice for you…those are the ones you keep your guard up on.”
I did have some niggles with the story, including some obvious editing issues, and a side storyline with an ex, and one with Jacob’s mother, being dropped without, to me, proper conclusions.
However, the biggest thing that annoyed me is the timeline of the story. It goes from “The Past…” in the prologue to the “Present…” but then a couple of chapters later to “Five years later…” which made absolutely no sense to me. How could it be five years later? We were in the present, but now we’re in the future? But it’s the main part of the story? Then, just before the epilogue we jump to “The Future…” What?
The story starts with Jacob in high school, picks up after he’s spent eight years in the military, then jumps five years after that for the bulk of the story. It just would have made more sense to me to start the prologue in the “Past,” show time had moved forward eight years, then gone on to the present. But maybe I’m overthinking it all.
But overall, once I put aside my niggles and just let myself enjoy it, the story kept me glued from start to finish.
With a light amount of angst, some hot passionate encounters, a little bit of humor, and some feels thrown in for good measure the HEA doesn’t come easy, but it does come sweetly in the end.