Hollister is working himself into the ground, trying to please his boss (who’s also his father), despite the fact that he knows nothing he does will ever be good enough for the man. Hollister barely gets out of the house, never tries anything new, and is stuck in a major rut. Now, Hollister is turning 40 and his friends and family are staging a birthday intervention. They have decided that Hollister will take a long weekend and do fun things, have new experiences, and break free of some of the routine that is grinding him down. Hollister’s guide for the weekend is his best friend, Axel. The two have been friends since they were kids and continue to live together now. If there is anyone who Hollister trusts to lead him blindly into new adventures, it’s Axel.
Axel has a whole weekend planned and he knows it will be good for Hollister to take a break from work and get out of his rut. The shake up may be good for Axel as well, as after selling his company for a huge profit, he is finding himself a little out of sorts as to next steps. But Axel never expects the weekend to be this life changing for both of them. As a result of not reading the fine print, the men end up with some experiences Axel didn’t anticipate, ones that begin to open their eyes to things they never even considered. Both men not only start to recognize a never before realized interest in kink, they also find themselves with an attraction to one another, even though neither has ever considered themselves anything other than straight.
The weekend shakes both men up, but in all the best ways. In fact, Hollister finds himself so changed that it has given him a totally new perspective on his life and what he wants from it. And one of the big things he wants? Axel. And Axel seems to want Hollister in return. Now, the men have to figure out if they can take their feelings from the weekend and turn them into something lasting, without ruining the close bond they already share as friends.
Calculated Chaos is a really entertaining dual bi-awakening, friends-to-lovers story. If you are a fan of these tropes, I think this story will be particularly appealing. It is low angst, high heat, and really leans into the sense of self discovery for both men. What I found especially nice here is the way Axel and Hollister go through this whole experience together and come out the other side happily in love and with a new perspective on life. I won’t get into too much detail on what happens to these guys that sort of awakens all these feelings for each other, so as not to spoil events, but they are exposed to a chance to see each other, and themselves, in a new light. Neither man knew he was into kink, and neither knew he was into guys (or at least into one another), and suddenly they are realizing how much they want both. I loved that Axel and Hollister are open and honest with one another about how they are feeling. It is a little surprising and awkward at first, but they don’t shy away from their new self discoveries and it gives them a chance to really explore it together. Author Mia Monroe does a nice job here with the balance, as they talk to one another and take their time thinking through what they want and how they feel, but at the same time, the story isn’t bogged down with too much discussion or hand-wringing. Axel and Hollister are sexy and fun together and I loved watching them figure out how much they truly want each other.
Aside from the relationship development, their weekend also affects both men in some other big picture ways. Hollister has been working himself to death to please his father, something that will never happen. The man is awful and will never be satisfied, so Hollister has himself caught in this never ending attempt to be good enough. He has put aside his other ambitions in life to work for his dad, and spends endless hours on the job rather than having any fun. After his weekend with Axel, Hollister finally is able to step back and get some perspective and realize that he is emulating a man he doesn’t want to be like and wearing himself down to satisfy a man he doesn’t care about pleasing anymore. So there is a really nice sense of Hollister finding real happiness that has eluded him for so long. Axel is generally more well adjusted when the story starts, but after making enough money to retire early, he is a little aimless and is ready to figure out what is next for his life. Caring for Hollister and helping him work through his new dreams becomes a way for Axel to find some focus for himself. So I liked that this story isn’t only about the sex and relationship side, but also explores some bigger picture issues.
I found this one a lot of fun and a really entertaining read. I think it will appeal to a lot of readers, especially those that enjoy bi-awakening and friends-to-lovers stories.