third time lucky coverRating: 4.5 stars
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Length: Novel


Grady Donehue is a grumpy and not particularly social guy, so he is not quite sure why he is at this party on New Year’s Eve. He is itching to head home when a man strikes up a conversation just before midnight. Grady isn’t quite sure of what to make of Lake McKenna, a guy so sunny and happy and in vast contrast to Grady’s own personality. Whqwen Lake kisses him at midnight, Grady is surprised, as Lake is straight, but Grady takes it mostly in stride and figures that is the last he will see of Lake.

However, when the two encounter each other once again, they begin to build an unexpected friendship. The two men are as different as can be; Grady tends to be a loner and a fairly grumpy one at that. And Lake is all sunshine and confidence and just barrels on through the emotional walls that Grady tries to put up. Before they know it, the men are spending all their free time together. Half the time, they end up sharing a bed at night when their evenings run long.

Grady finds himself so drawn to Lake, but he knows better than to fall for a straight guy… however, Lake is realizing he may not be totally straight. When Lake makes his interest clear, the men give in to their feelings and the connection between them is strong. Lake would love to be all in, but Grady can’t help but be wary. Love has burned him twice and he is afraid to invest his heart once again. But Lake is everything Grady ever wanted and Lake has enough confidence for both of them about their future. Now, Grady has to decide if he is willing to take another chance on love and the opportunity to find happiness with Lake.

Third Time Lucky is part of Aurora Crane’s Chain Reaction universe. It is billed as a standalone, and I think it mostly works as one. Those who read Catalyst might recognize Grady as Quinn’s police partner. Quinn plays a minor role as a side character here and there is some mention of the rest of the quad, but this one stands apart easily from that book. Lake is Avery’s brother and Zach and Felix’s best friends from Two Soldiers for Christmas and all three men appear here. I think this story ties more closely to that book, as not only do the guys play a role as side characters, but the fallout from them getting together is something that affects Lake here. His brother is now dating his best friends, which leaves Lake a little adrift as he tries to give them space, and that clearly plays a role in how quickly his friendship with Grady develops. So being familiar with that story will help here, though it is all explained. I also think having some familiarity with this world overall helps to give some larger context, as there are things referenced that will have more meaning if you have read the other books, such as why Grady doesn’t like Quinn’s boyfriend, Sebastian. All that said, I think Crane gives the information you need to pick up this book on its own and this is a side story in the main series, but if you have a chance to pick up the other books, do it, because they are great.

Ok, so all that said… this story is a really delightful, friends-to-lovers, grumpy/sunshine book and I just adored it. Lake is a force of nature; he is so relentlessly upbeat and happy and somewhat quirky and weird. Grady has so many walls up emotionally, not just in terms of being in a relationship, but also just interacting with people in general. But somehow, Lake’s confidence and shiny enthusiasm is what Grady needs to let those walls down. He keeps so much of himself reserved, but with Lake, Grady just opens up. It is like he finds himself best friends with Lake without quite realizing how it happened. There is just a really lovely dynamic between them where Grady accepts Lake for all that he is, even as most people find him too much, and Lake helps Grady open up and find some happiness.

The guys fall into a fast friendship and are essentially platonically dating without even realizing it. Grady is hot for Lake, but Lake has always seen himself as straight. So Grady is wary, even when Lake indicates interest. Lake is just an open guy who recognizes his attraction and has no problem going for it. The two men are hot and steamy together and there is a great sense of how the comfort they find together as friends then translates to chemistry together as lovers. The problem comes when Lake wants more, wants to call it a romantic relationship, and Grady is afraid of being burned. But this is generally a pretty low-angst story and the transition to friends and lovers moves smoothly.

I really enjoy this world Crane has created and just loved Grady and Lake together. If you are intrigued at all by this world, this story is a great way to jump into it or get started with Catalyst. And if you are just looking for a really sweet and sexy friends-to-lovers story, this is a great choice as well.

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