Rating: 4.25 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Ashley Byrne is the titular party boy. He works as an apprentice at a tattoo parlor, training for the day he and his friend Ty can open up their own shop. He has a fun life full of flirting, partying, and doing what he loves. He enjoys clubbing and with his looks and charm he can (and does) get just about any guy he wants. That is until he meets Fee Navarro.
Fee is a friend of Ash’s brother Jack and his girlfriend Mari. When Ash first meets Fee he is totally taken with him. Although Fee is an IT guy and a bit of a geek, he is also totally gorgeous. And Ash is definitely picking up vibes that Fee finds him attractive, but Fee still turns Ash down when he asks him out. Ash doesn’t give up easily though, and keeps trying to get Fee to agree to date him. But Fee is not interested in casual sex, and after hearing about Ash’s reputation, is not interested in getting involved with the man. But Ash is determined to be the man Fee deserves and the guys slowly get to know each other, and over time develop not only a friendship, but eventually a relationship as well. With love developing between them, both men need to learn to have trust and confidence in their relationship to ultimately make things work.
I love a good geeky hero and I am a big fan of opposites attract so this book appealed to me from the start. The first part of the story focuses on Ash meeting Fee and pursuing him, in hopes that Fee will agree to go out with him. Some might say a bit stalkerishly, but since we get things from only Ash’s POV, it didn’t come across as heavy-handed as it might have if we were seeing Fee’s reaction to all this. During this time, Ash gets a big splash of self-awareness as for the first time he finds someone he is interested in that doesn’t appear to want him back. Or more accurately, who won’t agree to date/hook up with him. Because Ash can tell Fee finds him attractive, but it becomes clear that Ash’s reputation is causing the trouble. But the more Ash gets to know Fee, the more it goes beyond that initial physical attraction to finding Fee an overall great guy that he really wants to be with. While I liked seeing Ash’s growth and increasing self-awareness, I do think this section went on a bit long for my taste. I felt like we spend quite a while with Ash pursuing Fee, and again, with only Ash’s POV, we really don’t see Fee’s side of things. So there is a lot of one-sided communication and pining on Ash’s part without hearing much from Fee. I was also a bit bugged by the fact that Jack and Mari especially seemed to be so freely disparaging Ash’s reputation. I mean, he is a single guy with no attachments, why can’t he go out partying if he wants to? It just seemed odd that Fee, having never met Ash, would have already heard so many negative stories about him as to be scared of dating of him.
The second part of the book focuses on the development of the relationship between Ash and Fee, and I really liked this part because I loved the guys together. They really bring out the best of each other. Ash helps Fee open up and relax a little, to enjoy life more and have more fun. And Fee motivates Ash to get moving on his dream of opening a tattoo shop, to get more focused and get his life moving forward with a bit more energy. Despite their titles as “party boy” and “geek,” these guys are actually not all that different. They have enough common interests and similarities that it is easy to see why they fit together.
The story is framed in terms of a self-help book that Ash buys in hopes of better understanding Fee and convincing him to go out with him. Each chapter starts with an “excerpt” from The Party Boy’s Guide to Dating a Geek, and includes details on Star Wars vs Star Trek, understanding role playing games, and the definition of binary. I thought this part was a lot of fun and well incorporated without being heavy handed. We don’t actually see Ash sitting down and reading the book or referencing it all the time, which might have pushed the joke too far. But it is used to tie the story together and I think it is very cleverly done. As I mentioned above, in reality the guys aren’t all that different. Yes, Fee is a shy IT guy and much more technically skilled as well as sci fi pop culture aware than Ash. But he is also perfectly social and aside from his job and some of his interests, comes across just like any other normal guy. And despite his partying lifestyle, Ash is also perfectly capable of getting involved in a serious relationship and focusing on his career goals. So while the story sets them up as opposites, they really work quite well together and make a great couple. Really the biggest difference between these guys is their views on casual sex. Fee only wants to have sex when in a loving relationship, while Ash had previously been willing to hook up with anyone hot when the mood struck. But Ash is very patient and willing to wait for Fee to be ready, adding some nice sexual tension and a great pay off when the guys finally get together.
Despite my annoyance at Mari and Jack’s need to blab about Ash’s sex life to Fee, I actually did really like them and thought they were a great addition to the story, along with Ash’s friends and roommates. I liked seeing the family Ash has built for himself and these characters really helped get him through the early periods of Fee’s rejection. They provide support and a sounding board for him as he goes through the process of wooing Fee. And they continue to be there to support him (or in some cases be concerned about him) as he enters into a relationship with Fee and occassionally struggles to find his way. I think the authors did a nice job with these secondary characters, making them distinct and interesting.
My only other small issue with the story is that I am not a fan of the 11th hour conflict and this one just screamed “big misunderstanding” to me. I know a book needs some conflict to make it interesting, but I think these guys work through enough issues over the course of the story that they didn’t need the last minute monkey wrench. Especially because Ash goes into a crazy spiral of self doubt that seems so over the top based on where these guys are in their relationship.
But overall I really enjoyed this one. It was clever and fun and sexy and I really liked both Ash and Fee. I am really looking forward to future installments in this series.
Note: The Party Boy’s Guide to Dating a Geek will be available on October 10th from Less Than Three Press. And be sure to check out my interview later today with Piper and Xara!