Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Review of City Mouse by Amy Lane & Aleksandr Voinov

Amy Lane & Aleksandr Voinov
City Mouse (Country Mouse #2)
Riptide Publishing | May 18, 2013 | 160 pages

Amy Lane’s website | Aleksandr Voinov’s website | Goodreads | Buy book here

A magical weekend, a breathless declaration, a happy ever after . . . Right?
When Malcolm Kavanagh took his first step toward emotional maturity by declaring his love to Owen Watson, that was just the first chapter in their story. Anyone who’s ever been in love knows that happy endings take a lot more work than that.

One problem: Malcolm has never been in love. He doesn’t know the rules of a relationship and isn’t confident enough to trust that his is real. He learns the ropes by sharing his life and his flat with Owen, but relationship boot camp proves a challenge. Everything is a struggle, from accepting Owen’s low-status job to putting his boyfriend above his personal trainer.
Luckily, Owen knows a little more about relationships, and labors patiently to survive the first six weeks of their life together. From the art galleries of Cambridge to the tawdry majesty of the Dominion theatre, Owen adapts to England while Malcolm adapts to the whole human race. Maybe, if Owen is patient enough and Malcolm learns to give, the two of them can make it past Relationship Armageddon to a real happy ending.

Genre & Keywords: Contemporary Romance, M/M, New Lovers, Living Together, London, Finding Balance, Communication

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2.5 out of 3 flames

The first book in this series, Country Mouse, ended on a HFN finish, so I was happy to learn that the authors would write a sequel to Malcolm and Owen's story. Because I really liked this couple, who are a typical example of opposites attract. In this sequel, City Mouse, the men are giving their relationship a serious try. Owen stayed in England, found a job and lives with Malcolm now. But not everything's going as smooth as they were hoping. Their differences are coming to the surface really fast and they have to work hard to stay happy.

I like the topic of couples working for a balance in their relationship after the exchange of the 'I love you's. Especially when they are as interesting portrayed as Malcolm and Owen. They become even more layered in this second book than they already were in the first. Their characterizations are done very well, which makes it a joy to witness their relationship struggles.
Most of their problems are caused by Malcolm's way of viewing life. He's used to live by a certain standard and he just can't seem to accept that not everybody wants to live like that. And Owen definitely doesn't want the same things Malcolm does, like wealth, status, and the long days that come with his well-paying job. Owen wants to help people, make a difference and do something he absolutely loves for a job. And he wants to spend time with Malcolm.

As a reader it's easy to be on Owen's side in this conflict. He's an altruistic guy after all, and he doesn't want Malcolm to change much, all he wants is for them to spend time together. And there are a few occasions in the story Malcolm definitely asks for a smack on the head for his behavior.
However, although my feelings were in sync with Owen's more and Malcolm did annoy me at times, I actually thought Malcolm was rather adorable in his unknowing clumsiness too. He had my sympathy as well, because it was so clear he couldn't help himself and he was trying (in his way) to make things right with Owen. The authors succeeded in making me relate to Malcolm as well as to Owen who had my natural sympathy already. And I just happen to have a weak spot for a grumpy, less likable character that I can still easily empathize with thanks to the writing skills of its creator(s).

As an added bonus we get the nice setting of London in City Mouse. I always like to get a feel for the surroundings in which the characters operate, and even more so when I can picture it clearly because I’ve either been there or know places that resemble it.
In this story the authors have the advantage and use the fact that one of the MCs is an American who is fairly new to London. The guys go on a trip to Cambridge to spend some time together and meanwhile we are treated to some colorful descriptions and that lovely London feel.

No need to say that Owen and Malcolm manage to find the much needed balance in their relationship by the end of the story, after all we’re dealing with a romance story. There was never a doubt that they would find it, no matter how bumpy the path that led them there. But what an entertaining path it was! Once more these collaborating authors prove to be a dynamic duo, who can write engrossing and engaging tales together.
They’ve again written a story with plenty of emotional layers, sexual tension and hot times. And the characters they’ve created together have the undeniable tendency to grow on you, with all their flaws and quirks, the longer you spend time with them. Which leaves me kind of hoping for maybe a third installment in this series... just to avoid having to say goodbye to this interesting and hot couple.

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