Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 3 stars
Type: Novel from Series
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Twenty-six-year-old barman and cabaret entertainer Justin has recently moved to London for a fresh start. Charismatic and flirty, Justin is naturally the center of attention wherever he goes. There’s only one problem: the object of Justin’s affections, a handsome, enigmatic bartender named Yena, isn’t won over by Justin’s charm. In fact, he flat out turns Justin down.
Stripping off his showmanship frills and charms, Justin aims for a different approach: reveal himself for who he is. Underneath his public face Justin is an honest young man who wants someone special to share his time with… and laugh at his awful jokes.
Justin can only hope the real him is irresistible to the man he loves.
Review: Love On The Rocks is the second book in the Bar Tenders series. I read it without reading the first, but as each book follows a different couple, it can be read as a standalone.
The story is told from the POV of Justin as he goes about his life as a bartender and one half of cabaret act Dancing Queens with his best friend, Tam. In the name of research, Justin, Tam and Justin’s flatmate, Tara, are out hitting the bars so Justin can observe the art of cocktail making for his own job when Justin meets the intriguing Yena, a hot bartender at Foxy’s. Despite the best efforts of Yena’s fellow bartender, the stunningly gorgeous Eric, to lure Justin away, the draw of Yena is too strong. Yena, however, is not interested in Justin’s attempts at seduction, despite showing interest in Justin. Justin can’t get Yena out of his head no matter how much he tries to. Not even rehearsals help to distract him. So he finds himself back at Foxy’s to see Yena again. He eventually talks Yena into going on a date, promising that it is with no expectations. He surprises himself when he realises it’s true. Justin’s nervousness when confronted with the realisation that he also wanted more with Yena than a no strings attached romp is endearing. Was endearing. To start with. Then it just went on. And on.
Despite Yena’s initial resistance – Yena made it clear right from the start that he was a relationships kind of guy, and one night stands held no attraction for him – they still ended up having sex on their first date. That seemed to happen way too fast considering Yena’s previous stance. And also, what was actually shown of the date was awkward. The connection between them still felt too tenuous to me because I hadn’t really SEEN them more relaxed together. We were never actually shown them getting on really well. Except when they were having sex. Which was pretty hot (and there was a lot of, even if it wasn’t all on page). Justin was hornier than a teenage boy! Otherwise it was just awkwardness on Justin’s part and since it’s all from his POV, that’s all the impression I got of them as a couple. There were a few sweet moments, but nothing that ultimately stood out or remained with me.
There wasn’t really much to the romance, and what there was of it was pretty much all sex. And awkwardness. The rest of the time was just Justin going about his day dotted with a lot of “why isn’t he texting me?” moments. I liked Justin well enough, he was fun and flirty, and I think I would have liked Yena if I’d had a chance to get to know him. There was nothing wrong with the writing itself, but there didn’t seem to be much of a plot and the romance never really went anywhere. The ending was very abrupt and, much like the rest of the story, didn’t seem to have a point. Although the characters were likeable and more than cardboard cut-outs, it felt like there was very little character growth. Everything felt under-developed and as a result, didn’t hold my attention. It wasn’t a bad book and it certainly wasn’t badly written, it’s just more that it was kind of boring. It just didn’t quite get there for me. I really liked a previous book I’d read by this author, so regardless of my disappointment with this one, I’d be happy to give future books a go.