Title: Puzzle Me This
Author: Eli Easton
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: Reese Dante
Buy Links: Publisher, Buy LinkAmazon
Genre: Contemporary m/m
Length: Novella (88 pdf pages)
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 Rating Stars
A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: A not too demanding, all-around pleasant geek-meets-geek, only that one of the main characters happens to be wheelchair-bound.
The Blurb: Luke Schumaker designs computer games, working from his home. Every day he walks his dog in the woods nearby, never suspecting that someone who is completely smitten is watching. The watcher is Alex Shaw, and he too works from home, designing logic and crossword puzzles. Alex’s options are limited: he’s too shy to approach Luke and his wheelchair won’t let him follow into the woods. His solution? Secret messages for Luke in the crosswords he writes for the local paper. When Luke decodes them, romance begins, but then they face greater puzzles, like Alex’s interfering sister and what commitment to a man in a wheelchair really takes. And, most puzzling of all, how do you know if love is real?
Luke and Alex have a lot in common: they’re both good-looking, brainy gay men in their thirties, they like fantasy adventures, dogs, hiking, flannel clothes, and they both like puzzles. So it’s no wonder that they click once they get to know each other. That one of them sits in a wheelchair? Barely relevant.
That’s about the sum of this novella, and also its positive message. Alex’ wheelchair is a fact, but not much of an obstacle. At least in the beginning, during the first rush of getting to know each other, exploring mutual sexual attraction and growing to like each other. I liked that part of the story a lot; it was beautiful to watch how Luke saw only Alex, the person, instead of Alex, the guy in a wheelchair–and how Alex refused to let himself be defined by being in a wheelchair. They were just two ordinary guys gradually falling in love with each other.
However, once the first euphoria had passed and the realities of life started becoming relevant again, this was when Alex’ disability started coming to the fore. Like in any other relationship, there were doubts, misgivings and miscommunications between Luke and Alex, and understandably, mostly centered around Alex’ disability. And this was where the story lost part of its appeal for me, because for one thing, the wheelchair becoming an issue came somewhat suddenly, and for another thing, the solution appeared rushed and rather starry-eyed to me. Both Alex and Luke had very reasonable concerns about their relationship; it didn’t feel as if those problems were really resolved in the end.
All in all, rose-tinted glasses aside, this was a nice and uplifting story, low on angst and pleasantly written. If you’re in the mood for an easy, positive read, you should try this.