Rating: 4.5 stars
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Michael “Finn” Finnegan has been attracted to Max Douglas since the first time they met. Finn was hired to tutor Max’s half-brother during the summer break. Max was everything Finn wanted, but it turns out he was also everything Finn needed to forget. After a meeting that spontaneously turned into the hottest of sexual encounters, Finn is stunned when Max fires him. Walking away with what little dignity and self-respect he has, if any, Finn is determined to forget Max Douglas.
Three months later, Finn is not only surprised but annoyed to discover that Max will be acting as bodyguard to one of Finn’s students. Not only that, but he will be living across the hall from Finn until a supposed stalker is found. Finn wants to despise Max. He wants to have moved on. But he can’t help being attracted to the man and he knows that Max is still attracted to him, too. This time, though, Finn is determined to keep things strictly physical and not add his heart to the equation.
As the stalker threats become more and more dangerous Finn is forced to work with Max in order to keep the students safe. Working so closely with Max puts Finn is danger of losing his heart and being hurt again, but Finn isn’t sure he can stop it and he’s not sure that he wants to.
Men of Smithfield: Max and Finn is the second book in L.B. Gregg’s Men of Smithfield series currently revised, re-edited, and re-published by Carina Press. While it is written in the same world and has a cameo of a character from the previous story, it is not necessary to read this series in order. Although I do think you will miss out on a wonderful Smithfield story if you don’t read all of the books.
Max and Finn is written in the first person POV of Finn. I am becoming more accustomed to first person depending on the author, and Gregg definitely has a way with this viewpoint. Finn is a strong character. He cares for his students and is invested in their lives and well-being without question. He has never been in a committed relationship, but feels the need when he’s with Max, although he knows that Max will only break his heart. Finn is hilarious. Coming into this book, I had high expectations for the amount of humor because the main character in the previous installment of this series had me laughing from beginning to end. I wasn’t disappointed, although Finn was funny in different ways, maybe just a little subtler.
The struggle between Finn and Max is entertaining to watch play out. Opposites attract is the best way to describe their bond. Each has preconceived notions about the other. Max thinks Finn is impulsive, emotional, and permissive, that he breaks rules, and that he is lax in his teaching methods. Finn thinks Max is stuffy, strict, and brash, that he is all work and no play, and that he doesn’t want nor need friends. They both have deeper hurts and issues that cause the lack of openness in the beginning. But once they break that barrier, quit judging each other, and get to know one another they really work as a couple. They complement one another’s personalities.
The mystery in this story revolved around a stalker targeting one of the students of a famous actor. In all of the books I’ve read of hers, Gregg takes civilian characters and inserts them into a place of amateur investigator in a way that makes them endearing. This story is no different. Finn is a teacher, one of his students is being stalked, and he has a need to protect his students from harm. He takes his role as protector seriously even though it also puts him in danger. The storyline and plot are very entertaining throughout the entire book. And I have to say, I am pretty impressed with this story. I can usually figure out who the antagonist far before he is revealed, but this story was more difficult. Of course, I had several guesses as to who the stalker was and why, but not with any surety. And that’s another reason I liked this book so much. I was surprised by the villain, and the way he was revealed was well played.
I thoroughly enjoyed this second installment of L.B. Gregg’s Men of Smithfield series. It is full of humor, mystery, and a steamy love story. I highly recommend Men of Smithfield: Max and Finn.