Title: Puzzle Me This (Second Edition)
Author: Eli Easton
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: September 6, 2019
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 120
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
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?
Second Edition: The new edition coming out Sept 6, 2019 has an additional 12,000 words plus an overall rewrite. It will be available in paperback for the first time as well as in ebook.
This love story between crossword puzzle author Alex and game designer Luke starts with a definitely “cute meet” as Luke figures out Alex is leaving love notes for him within the daily crossword puzzle. Luke is at the point in his life where he’s ready to find a meaningful relationship and from the start he’s surprised at how easy it is to be with Alex.
He liked Alex. He was intelligent and funny, seemed honest and kind, and they had a lot in common. […] There was a brink-of-a-cliff momentousness to the situation with Alex that he’d never felt with a guy before.
Alex is equally gobsmacked by Luke:
In person, Luke was laid back, crazy funny, and he seemed like a genuinely nice guy. He was also hot. Not in a cover model sort of way, but in a boy-next-door, tinge-of-nerd, semi-slacker way. Which was perfect as far as Alex was concerned.
And before too long, it’s hot blow jobs at a horror convention (Luke: “That was his definition of paradise right there”) and a comfortable dating relationship with loads of sex and plenty of HorrorPack blu-ray viewing. But the issue that both need to deal with is Alex’s wheelchair and what it represents. Alex has admirably dealt with his spina bifida birth defect and enjoys his independence. Luke has to deal with his fear of being stuck … stuck not being able to share long mountain hikes with Alex but also afraid of hurting Alex. “What if I’m miserable then? And I couldn’t leave because I would never want to cause him pain. […] I’d never be able to hurt him. So then I’d be stuck.”
Granted Luke is a bit of an asshat before finally coming to terms with his issues, but we get a frickin’ sweet ending and epilogue that really leaves a nice feeling at the end of this novella. I like the heat and sweet between Alex and Luke and how we get both men’s POV throughout, dislike the angst of Luke’s issues but admire the way he finally figures it all out, and really enjoyed their story. 4 solid stars for “Puzzle Me This.”
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