Orc historian, Targan Wildethorne, has recently become the guardian to two young orklings after his close friend’s death. Targan is a researcher and writer and is used to mostly quiet isolation, so having the twins in his life has really shaken things up. He is finding it hard to get any work done and he feels out of his depth caring for the kids. Fortunately, Targan gets some good advice and decides to hire a nanny to help care for the children and get his hectic house back in order.
Max MacLeod loves being a nanny and is excited for his chance to live in a supernatural town and work with an Otherkind family. Max can tell right away that the kids are still struggling after the mother’s death, particularly as their violent father is the one responsible, and that they need some consistency, structure, and caring in their lives. And Max is just the one to do it. He showers the kids with love, delicious treats, and a sense of stability they badly need. With Max’s support, Targan also begins to learn more about caring for the kids and begins to really settle into the role of parent to the twins.
Targan and Max find themselves connecting personally as well. Max is immediately hot for the sexy orc, who is kind, attentive, and has a body that makes Max wild. And Targan loves that Max is such a ray of sunshine, brightening up his life with his enthusiasm and wonderful spirit. The two men find themselves quickly settling into a relationship between them and, along with the kids, are starting to make a real family. But not everyone is happy about their new lives and Max and Targan may find themselves in danger as the past comes back to haunt them.
The Orc and the Manny is the first full novel in Chloe Archer’s Monsters Hollow series. There is a shorter prequel story, The Bogeyman and the Schoolteacher, that serves as an introduction to the world, as well as providing a little background on Targan and the kids. It also gives readers a first look at the town and we do meet some of the locals there who then appear in this book. That said, this story does provide all the background you need and you can easily start here if you just want to jump in.
Archer describes this book in the tagline as a “cozy m/m monster romance” and I think this absolutely fits that description. The story is sweet, warm, and an easy read. Even with a bit of suspense and danger at the end, this is generally a light and low-key story. Targan and Max fall for each other right away and their path to love is smooth and fairly quick. The children are in a little bit of chaos when Max arrives, but they are settled almost immediately and are charming kids and adoring of both Max and Targan. I found the prequel story a little overly sweet, honestly, but I feel like this one pulls back just enough to keep that light, easy, comforting tone without being too sugary. You are definitely going to want to go into this looking for “cozy” like the book promises, but there is enough humor, charm, and spice to give it a nice balance.
Archer has created a really fun world here full of a variety of supernatural beings. Mystic Hollow is a sanctuary town that serves as a refuge for Otherkind and protects its inhabitants from those who mean ill will. So there are a host of different creatures here and I really enjoyed the variety of beings and getting to learn a little about them. Archer gives us some nice detail without bogging the story down with an info dump about everyone we meet. I particularly like how the supes go beyond the usual romance paranormals into some more unusual and unique beings. The small town is charming and the residents all friendly and lovely (again, this is a light and sweet story), and I found the setting fun and interesting. The book also leads into each chapter with an excerpt from either Targan’s book on orcs, or Max’s employer agency manual, and the excerpts tie in to what is happening in the story at the time. It also gives us a chance to learn more about orcs from Targan’s POV, which was some nice background.
I will say that this is a long book for one that has virtually zero conflict (and the conflict that does come isn’t a big surprise). Almost everything goes totally smoothly, from Max’s integration into the family, to the warm welcome from everyone in town, to the guys falling in love, to the kids being adorable angels. So I’m not sure there is enough story here to carry 300+ pages. We also meet Max and Targan’s best friends and spend time getting details on their backstory. It is clear Archer is setting them up for a future book, but I don’t think we needed so much page time dedicated to learning about them here in a book that is already so long.
Overall, I found this a fun official start to the series and I am enjoying this world Archer has built. I am looking forward to more and following along as the series continues.