Two best friends: One pining but reserved, the other affectionate but oblivious. David is the proprietor of an underground queer club (The Curious Fox) with a messy family history, Noah is a gifted tailor with an unflappable alter ego (Miss Penelope Penrose). The two met as schoolboys and have been (mostly) inseparable since. At the start of the novel they’re in a comfortable status quo of not acknowledging the thing everyone else can see between them. But then the shady owner of The Curious Fox threatens to close its doors and David’s life is turned upside down.
I enjoyed this book! There was something that didn’t quite work for me, but I’ve had a hard time putting my finger on what it is.
A Rulebook for Restless Rogues is the second book in Jess Everlee’s debut romance series. I haven’t read the prior book in the series (The Gentleman's Book of Vices), so I didn't come in with any knowledge of the characters or particular expectations about David & Noah’s romance. It’s hard to know if having read the first book would have changed my experience. There are some bits in the book that are clearly nods to characters from the first, but I never felt like I was missing important information. I do wonder if I would have felt more attached to The Curious Fox if I had spent time in the setting before it was under threat. So much of David’s actions are driven by his desperate need to save the club, but I didn’t feel that same level of investment.
For a lot of the novel, I felt nervous about where the plot was going, and I think that cut into my enjoyment of the book. David is set on a path to make what is very clearly a bad decision, and I spent a lot of time worrying about how that was going to pan out. In some ways, that's a tribute to the strength of the characters that Everlee developed, because I was worried about them and their choices! But since that's not normally how I react to books, I think there was also an element of me not having total trust in the storytelling. I don't know exactly why I felt that way, but I guess something wasn't quite working for me. By the end I really liked the direction the story went, I was just a bit stressed getting there! Overall, a fun book that made me curious to read more of the author's work.
Out July 11th!
You can find the book here: https://bookshop.org/a/83912/9781335680006
This month, we’re back with a new season! We started off last week with an episode about attraction, so if you want to hear us talk about the way we experience attraction, our personal issues, and the undeniable romance of Trader Joe’s, find us wherever you listen to podcasts.
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Evan & Christina