Friday, February 12, 2016

Review: By the Rules (Evergreen Grove #3) + Giveaway!

Title: By the Rules (Evergreen Grove #3)
By: Elisabeth Staab
Publication Date: Jan. 16th 2016
Genre: M/M Romance
Format: Paperback and E-Book
Em's Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Book Blurb:
He thinks I want him because of the rumors around town. Because I think he’s easy. I want AJ, because he’s AJ.

No liars. No suits. Absolutely no straight guys…

AJ Fabin’s list of rules keeps him safe. Since getting kicked out of his parents’ home and attacked by a former escorting client, his rules and his life in the tiny town of Evergreen Grove provide a quiet haven. He may be lonely, and he may stick out like a sore thumb, but the folks like him well enough. When he’s not dodging his old pimp, things are peaceful.

Hayden Price is having a quarter-life crisis. Engaged to a woman he can’t connect to and working a job he secretly hates, he comes to Evergreen Grove to help his mother through a health scare. Returning to his childhood home makes Hayden reevaluate a lot of things, including himself. When he meets AJ and finds he can’t stand the mouthy jerk—almost as much as he can’t stop thinking about him—he has a lot more to change than his career.

To be together, they’ll both have to break all of their rules.

By the Rules is book 3 in the Evergreen Grove series, but reads as a standalone.

Amazon | ARe | iTunes | Google | Kobo | B&N | Goodreads

Em's Review:
I probably loved this story way more than I should for a contemporary romance.  Not saying that contemporary romances are bad, but they are like a drug for me. Read one, enjoy the high,and move on to my next fix. By The Rules is a high I want to relive. I honestly wondered, after reading, if it was too soon for a re-read. Something my TBR pile told me I have to wait on.

So, By The Rules is the 3rd book in the Evergreen Grove series, which can stand fine on its own, seeing as I didn’t even KNOW  it was part as a series, until I read the “more from the author” bit in the back. Yep, that’s me doing research like a good blogger. (eyeroll) But, it proves my point. You can pick up this book, read it, roll around in sweet snarky goodness, and not have to go on a treasure hunt (okay 2 mins on amazon) to enjoy this one.  

I loved both AJ, your non tropey ex-hooker trying to make his life better, and Hayden your non-tropey man with the money, in their much better Pretty Women retake.  And I mean MUCH better.  Both our main characters were sharp witted, enjoyable and not some unbelievable man love interest.  (Thank you Ms. Stabb)

Okay, so I know you are dying to hear what I loved about the book, so here is a non-spoilery list on way I loved it, and you will too.

  • This is a better “Pretty Woman” story than Pretty Woman. Yes, I said it. Deal.
  • No one is saving anyone here. If you are looking for a Dude-sel in distress skip this. If you want two main characters that, even though their shit is not together, they are not set out to fix the other’s problems, I have a book here for you. *points to buy links above*
  • No insta-love here. In fact we have a lot of hate to friendly lust, to love.
  • Snark. Sass. And snarky sass!
  • Real feeling “bad guys”  There is no mustache twirling in here.
  • Tropes that don’t trope.  Which I know sounds like ice that doesn’t freeze, but it was like our esteemed author had a trope bingo card, and was trying to both win the game, and break the trope at the same time.  
  • One character can fix your toilet, box and snuggle a unicorn. Although I don’t think at the same time.
  • The other can belt out a crooner worthy song, and apparently have people do laundry with his abs.
  • They're assholes and we love them!
  • Secrets
  • No slow paced filler scenes.  This is important to me. I don’t want to hear about someone vacuuming their floor, for no point in the plot line.
  • Pizza rolls
  • And, because it is my blog and can say it again - Unicorns.

But in the words of LeVar Burton, you don’t have to take my word for it. You can just read this passage:

Excerpt (AJ’s POV):

I jog down Main Street to get to Cassie. I’m reaching for the door to Delia’s Coffee Shop and Bakery when the damn thing swings wide to reveal a younger man wearing a suit and tie. At least I think he’s younger. I’m nearly blinded first by his face, and then by the door smacking me in mine.

When I swing around to confront him we collide, hard chest meeting hard chest. I put my hand up to brace myself and wind up grabbing a firm pec, only missing smacking faces when he jumps back with one arm out to avoid smashing his to-go cup. We get close enough that his stubble scratching against mine and I smell mint on his breath as he pulls away.

I guess I should appreciate that in spite of getting harassed by my old pimp and nearly having my nose broken (again) this morning, Cranky Businessman didn’t add second degree burns to my Early Morning Shit List.

“Jesus, man. You know people are coming out of here carrying hot drinks, right?” His accent is strange, but I hear a definite hint of ballsy New Yorker in there, which makes him seem even more of a cocky bastard with his tall, broad body and that pricey Brioni suit he’s wearing. His eyes flare before they narrow and sharpen. He glares at me, coal-dark stare scraping from the top of my rainbow hoodie to the bottoms of my sneakers in judgement.

Yeah, well. Screw him very much.

About The Author:
I know, right? Who can write this ab-fab meet hate? Well meet Elisabeth Staab, who was kind enough to send a few words in with this book. And a photo! 

Elisabeth Staab started hunting mutant hedgehogs back in 1842… Oops, wrong bio… Elisabeth Staab digs coffee, saucy stories, and sexy things that go bump in the night. Once, she ate dinner in a jail and liked it. She lives in the Washington DC area with her incredible family and does her best to juggle life while ignoring the laundry.

Follow the Tour:
For more chances to win follow the tour! You can find the rest of the tour stops HERE

The Giveaway:

There’s a tour wide giveaway for a $50 Amazon Gift Card! So, if you win you can buy this book and then have like 40 bucks to buy MORE books! Win-Win! For a chance to win just fill out the giveaway form below!

Special Thanks:
We don't get to do things like give-a-ways on this blog, mainly cause we are still so new, but I would like to give a shout out to Anna, who put this together, invited me to join as a late reviewer, and awesomely answered any questions I had. I hope I can do this again!

Now go read, enter things and give love!


  1. Love some good snarky sass :D And this totally made me snort ---> This is a better “Pretty Woman” story than Pretty Woman. Yes, I said it. Deal

    Thanks so much for joining in on the tour and sharing your thoughts!

    1. Thank you too! I enjoyed both the book and the experience.