There are two certainties in life for Edward: his love for his best friend, Jay, and his hatred for his cosplay nemesis, Izzy Montes. Their first meeting consisted of exchanging insults, getting drunk, and getting it on in the bathroom—a mistake that unfortunately the two men seem to repeat all too often when they meet up at cons, much to the frustration of Lewis, Edward’s manger. The real conflict begins when Izzy decides to appear as the lover of Edward’s current cosplay character and the two of them catch the eye of movie producers. Before either man can blink, they are on their way to LA and meeting the very stars they play at conventions. It’s all much too insane for Edward, especially when he discovers that he and Izzy must not only share a hotel room, but a bed as well.
In retrospect, it is this very weekend that both Izzy and Edward will cite as the pivotal moment in their on again, off again bathroom sex relationship. Suddenly, it is all too real and actual feelings other than lust and hate begin to surface, which scares both men. They agree to an arrangement of sorts that allows them both to evade looking too closely at it all. Everything is going just fine until a stolen kiss sets off a chain of events that will force Edward and Izzy to analyze just what is going on with their friendship/hook-up arrangement that suddenly seems to be a bit more complicated than they originally thought.
This second installment in Charlie Novak’s Roll for Love series is all about Jay’s friend, Edward, and his cosplay career. This series is best read in order, as it relies on previously introduced characters who are integral in Edward’s life.
Edward is so talented at creating costumes for both cosplay and paying customers that his convention schedule carries him to the big cons. It’s there that he meets the man who will both rock his world and make him furiously angry, Izzy Montes, aka The Masked Gentleman. The two begin a snarky, mean-spirited relationship of a sort that entails them barely being civil to each other until the anger spills over into a lusty sex encounter in a locked bathroom. It happens at every con they appear at together. Izzy is Edward’s dirty little secret and vice versa—until a trip together changes it all and the two men are face to face with the fact that they actually might like the other.
I am so glad I stuck with this series because in my opinion this second story is so much better than the previous one. Instead of characters going slightly off course as I felt Leo and Jay did in the first novel, Edward and Izzy remain true to how the author first introduces them. They gradually change both their attitudes toward each other and how they view the idea of relationships and commitment. For Edward, this is huge mainly because of his past family issues, which are honestly horrid and crazy. But Izzy too has some things to overcome and does so a bit more rapidly than Edward—but again not too quickly—and that is the key to the success of this novel. The slow move toward love, the thoughtful doubts and wistful wishes on both Izzy and Edward’s part, and the hate/love relationship that blossoms and then changes all work to make Charisma Check an outstanding enemies to lovers romance.
Charisma Check is a delightfully hard-earned romance that pits natural enemies together and allows the reading audience to witness their marvelous change to sweet and funny lovers. It is a testament to the talent of this author that they can create an even better story the second time around and I really look forward to the next book in this series.