Rating: 3.75 stars
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Teddy Harris has made a career out of helping others. He runs a touch therapy business that allows him to hug and cuddle those who have no one else. It’s a rewarding job and it suits Teddy’s naturally supportive and kind nature. But his most recent client may be more challenging than any other.
Riordan Darcy’s family is worried about him. For months he’s been distant and withdrawn. So his sister takes matters into her own hands and hires Teddy to be Riordan’s companion for a month. She’s sure Teddy’s sweet heart will help her brother find himself again.
Riordan isn’t used to having a roommate. His job doesn’t exactly allow for meaningful relationships and aside from his family, he keeps to himself. It’s not like anyone could accept him for who he is, so it’s easier to be alone. Teddy’s love of life is infectious though and Riordan finds himself falling for the man in a big way. But when the reality of Riordan’s work threatens Teddy, Riordan will have to fight death itself to save the man he loves.
Hug It Out is sort of a very loose sequel to Snow Falling. I loved Snow Falling so I was pretty excited to read Hug It Out. Unfortunately, it didn’t work quite as well. The book is well written and there’s a fleshed out story arc that serves the characters well. It’s pretty far fetched, but it still works on most levels. Teddy is endearing, if somewhat naive and prone to jumping to conclusions about people. Still, he’s the easiest character to connect with and he seems better defined than others in the book. Riordan is shadowy, which suits his job as an assassin, but he never seems to fit as a character. He just feels inelegantly created and somehow incomplete. His background is limited and the role of weary killer is a bit played out.
One of the reasons Hug It Out suffers in comparison to Snow Falling is the lack of chemistry between Teddy and Riordan. They feel awkward and stiff with one another and I just never believed there was any passion between them. In addition to this, while the author strives to strike a balance between humor and drama, this isn’t a story that lends itself to comedy. As a result, when there are funny moments, the laughs are forced. These situations are borderline ridiculous and don’t suit any of the characters very well. I understand the purpose of them, but when so many of the characters are assassins, the comedic absurdity was oddly out of place.
I wish Hug It Out was as strong as Snow Falling but the main couple lacks the spark that Snow and Christopher had. Both of those characters show up in Hug It Out and it makes the disparity between that couple and Riordan and Teddy all the more obvious. The story is decent, if somewhat prone to a lack of realism and Hug It Out is still enjoyable on a basic level. It just fell short of its predecessor.