Series: Love By Numbers: Book 2
Author: Tia Fielding
Release Date: July 23, 2019
When unlikely attraction blossoms between a twentysomething genderqueer tattoo artist and an older, small-town veterinarian, both are forced to face their pasts for a chance at a loving future.
Four years ago Padraig Donovan lost his husband, the only man he’d ever been with. Now his life consists of the work he loves, a big empty house, and the possibility of a lonely future.
Kaos’s experiments with makeup landed him in the hospital at the hands of his disapproving ex. With nowhere else to turn, he flees to Acker, Wisconsin… and runs into a sexy widower and the kindest man he’s ever met.
Padraig and Kaos know there’s something worth exploring between them, and as they raise a puppy and deal with the ups and downs of their respective jobs, they fit into each other’s lives in ways they never expected. Being with Kaos—who is so different than the guys he’s always been attracted to—opens up an exciting new world for Padraig. But can he convince Kaos to trust another man with his body… let alone his heart?
Four is the second book in the Love by Numbers series by Tia Fielding.
Jeremiah “Kaos” is a gender-fluid tattoo artist. Desperate for money, he deals drugs, gets caught and does jail time where he meets Makai. After release, he goes home to find his grandmother who raised him has passed away. He meets and dates an old friend who ends up being abusive. Scared for himself he drives to Makai for help putting his life back together.
Padraig Donovan is the veterinarian in the town where Makai has settled down. He owned a joint practice with his husband, a medical doctor who died 4 years ago.
Both men are broken for different reasons and they are both surprised to see a romantic connection between them. With a lot of ups and downs can they learn to trust each other?
I really liked Kaos – there are not enough books around with gender-fluid characters, although my favorite character was Hestia, who was such a sweet little puppy. I wish there was more interaction with Kaos and Joey (Joie); we do get some but it’s vague and I would have loved to see the introduction. Padraig, despite a brief freak-out, has to be one of the most even-tempered persons I’ve ever read about. His marriage was very complicated and I honestly don’t know why he stayed. There are comments about because of the AIDS epidemic, he and his husband stayed together to feel safe. However, he seemed to love Marcus (his husband) very much, but a comment about loving and not being in love with Marcus kind of left me confused. Overall I am happy Padraig and Kaos got together. It was a little fast for my liking but the ending was very satisfying.
Overall, this is a decent book, though I preferred the first. I assume the next book will feature Francis and Marcus and I think I will enjoy that. I really like Tia’s writing style, which has me reading most books she releases. I am in a hurry for the next book.
*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by Dreamspinner Press for my reading pleasure, a review wasn’t a requirement. ***
3.5* A sweet read with decent characters, though it really needed to be shorter and tighter, because at times there was just a little too much going on…
I hadn’t realised that this was the sequel to Ten – it wasn’t until I read Makai’s name that I clocked the connection, and admittedly, it was nice to see him and Emil having made progress in their relationship. And, I got a chance to see the amazing Mouse again, that cat extraordinaire from Ten, and her son, Spike. Mouse once again stole the show with her ESP and how sweet and intuitive she was, and Spike – described as not being the brains of the family and therefore taking after his dad, lololol! – provided some sweet times, too. And, I can’t not mention Hestia, a pit-bull-husky pup that comes into the lives of the leads, Kaos and Padraig. She turned out to be a little bit of a guardian angel.
So, Kaos and Padraig’s relationship starts about a third of the book gone, and during that time, the tale focuses on Kaos, his past, his hopes, his fears and how he’s hoping to find a home in the town where his best friend Makai has settled. And, some of the tale kind of mirrors Ten, with the sheriff being able to influence things, though he’s a different man here, having seen how Makai has helped his son heal. Tbh, this bit of the tale felt a little overly long and there were a few bits that felt repetitive. I did stick with it, but I was getting a bit impatient for the leads’ meeting.
Surprisingly, the age difference between the leads, some 20+ years, didn’t feature at all, and that took some of the believability away from the tale. I would have thought that this would be something that would concern Padraig, at least, because both guys had been hurt; Padraig had been widowed some 3-4 years, after quite a long marriage (there were some surprising reveals, that kind of didn’t segue with how he was portrayed as a grieving widower, but, later on, a friend explained more to Kaos, and that seemed to draw him and Padraig closer) and Kaos had been abused inside and out of prison, and things had to move slowly as they came to terms with their attraction. I thought that was done realistically and it helped that they bonded over Hestia, who was a sweetheart.
But, the tale was also (not surprisingly) a vehicle to introduce the next leads in the tale, and one of those hadn’t been the most LGBTQIA-friendly, so there was a long-winded intro for him to redeem himself and join the happy LGBTQIA community that this little town is. The other lead was an unknown quantity, and the background to why he was moving here was alluded to – and then fizzled out. I wanted to know how he stood up to what seemed to be going down, as it was something horrible to happen to a person, but perhaps we’ll see that in the next book. I couldn’t see what made the future leads, well… guys worthy of being future leads. Individually, yes, I could, but I couldn’t see the tension between them that should have come across as organic, but that had to be written into the tale via a third party’s actions. I came away feeling that these guys hadn’t had enough time together for there to be UST, but, saying that, one guy had ended up doing a walk of shame one morning that he didn’t want to talk about, so maybe…
There was also an incident in which Padraig was injured and tbh, that was filler and lengthened the tale but didn’t do anything to add to it. I really feel as if the editing in this tale, like in Ten, needed to be tighter, as this tale also rambled. But, I persisted with it, because as I mentioned, this is small-town America with decent characters, LGBTQIA and non. They felt like real people for the most and had wonderful community spirit, though at times, I did feel like the book tried a little too hard to be PC. At times, the Joie/Joey/Joy character from book 1 got a bit confusing – even the author confused their pronouns/names at one point. I think in this case, a little less effort to always get everything right would’ve added authenticity and believability to the tale.
It does end with the leads in a good place and about to add to their little family, and with the community having come together to run a little shop/concessions store, which seemed authentic to the tale and to Kaos’s independence. I am looking forward to book 3, but I hope that it’s a little leaner and punchier.
ARC courtesy of Dreamspinner Press and Bayou Book Junkie, for my reading pleasure.
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