instant regret coverRating: 4.75 stars
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Length: Novel

 

Instant Regret is the second book in the Loose Lips Sink Ships duet by E.M. Lindsey and is meant to be read after the companion novel, Malicious Compliance. This review will reveal some plot points from the first book, so you should check out that one before diving in here. (Also, it is amazing.)

Dedication: For the ones we trusted to help us find our way home, and to the ones we are finally strong enough to leave behind.

After a mugging that left him traumatized and scared of venturing out on his own, Forrest has spent most of the last five years alone in his apartment. He occasionally goes out with his brother or his best friend, but he doesn’t live anything close to the confident life of freedom he once experienced. So when someone moves into the apartment next door, destroying Forrest’s solitude with his cello playing, Forrest can’t help but lash out that his little haven is being violated. After living next door for a while, Forrest comes to regret his rudeness, as his neighbor Jules is clearly so sad and beaten down by life, and Forrest hates that he hurt him. As the two of them talk exclusively through their shared wall, Forrest and Jules slowly become friends, and soon Forrest realizes that has fallen for Jules.

However, there is much that Forrest hasn’t yet been able to share with Jules. He never thought the two would become friends, let alone fall in love, so he never thought to mention he is blind, and now it seems awkward to bring it up through a wall. Forrest also hasn’t worked up the nerve to tell Jules about his mugging, about the fear that has been present ever since, and how he is just beginning to find a way out the small world he has made for himself. However, Forrest is determined, not only to share these things with Jules, but also to meet him face to face, to finally get his hands on the man who has come to meet the world to him.

Just as it seems the men might have their chance, Forrest is once again faced with violence that leaves him shaken — but to his pleasure and surprise, not destroyed. Forrest realizes that he has not lost all his progress, but that Jules’ support has made him confident to go forward. Even more, Jules’ bravery in the face of his own life crises have made Forrest want to be brave as well. With Forrest’s art show coming up on New Year’s Eve, it is finally an opportunity for the men to meet in person. After so much tragedy, Forrest and Jules may now be ready to find their happily ever after together.

Instant Regret completes the story for Jules and Forrest and I absolutely adored it. The two books are more than the sum of their parts. While each one was excellent on its own, the way they work together really elevates them to such a beautiful and moving story. Like the first book, this one is told from a sole POV (with one teensy exception), this time from Forrest’s viewpoint. The first half of the story covers much of the same time period as Malicious Compliance, only this time we follow it from Forrest’s perspective. Lindsey does a nice job with the balance here, giving us some interesting insight about what Forrest was doing or thinking during key events from the first book, but also providing enough new storyline to keep things from feeling repetitive. We learn more about Forrest’s attack, as well as his blindness, and his work as an artist. Then, the story moves to after Jules’ audition and leads up to the men finally meeting in person. As I said with my first review, this exclusive POV when the men haven’t even met in person really adds such intensity and a fascinating dynamic to the books.

What is particularly nice about seeing this second half of the story from Forrest’s POV is that we learn how much Jules has helped him move forward, just as Forrest has helped Jules. I included the quote above from the book’s Dedication as it so nicely sums up this story. Both men have a past that haunts them, one that left them feeling like their lives would be forever changed and unsure if they had it in them to move past it. Together, they end up each finding that inner strength needed to leave behind that past pain and those that hurt them, and instead, find a new future. It is a really lovely sentiment and the parallel circumstances these men face work really nicely for the story.

There are some lovely moments here, particularly as Jules and Forrest finally get a chance to meet in person. The intensity of this meeting really comes through, both Forrest’s nervousness as it approaches, but also the effortless way it all works out and the relief they both feel. I wished for a bit more time with them in the aftermath, but Lindsey does give them a well earned happy ending and a nice epilogue to tie things up (plus there is a bonus short for Ash and Ymir). I just adored this duet and it was one of my favorites from Lindsey’s incredibly body of work. This story is emotional and intense, but also beautiful and loving, with a really interesting set up. It is definitely worth your time to check out this series.

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