A Chaos Moondrawn Review: One Step Back by Edie Danford

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 Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Asher is the good boy nerd and Joe is the bad boy jock. Joe’s mom and Asher’s dad have been dating for four years and are about to get married before everything falls apart. Eleven years later, Asher and Joe meet again at a business meeting when they realize they will be working on an account together. This might appeal to those who like the second chance trope. Through scenes and flashbacks, we get layers of their personality and history together a little bit at a time throughout the book. By the end of chapter four, I am wondering why they are not together? There is never a really good answer. Immaturity? Stubbornness? Pride? Fear of more rejection? Maybe all of the above, but if they can’t talk and work things out, they shouldn’t be together anyway.

I think this is a stylistic thing for me. It’s not that it’s badly written–it isn’t. I’m not a huge fan of flashbacks, but they are effective here. I think the alternating first person POV also works well to slowly reveal both sides of the story evenly. It may be that what I don’t click with is: there is so much inner monologue in a way that doesn’t match the style of what they each say when they talk. Even though it is supposed to be first person, the inner monologues of both characters are the same, and really the author telling us what we need to know to make the story work–most of which is complicated family histories or complicated work politics. These feel like manufacturered crisis. I do like that Joe being bisexual is never a problem or issue between them.

The angst and all consuming lust/love is kept high at all times: “…the amount of energy I’d spent thinking about him had probably caused a shift in the universe and, after coming within fifty or so miles of him, I figured we’d be thrown together by the force of cosmic rays.” It’s exhausting. But, plenty of fans love angsty OTT feelings, this style seems to be popular so you might like it. I think it would be more effective if it was used more sparingly for the dramatic moments like a crescendo. Even the sex scenes, while explicit and hot, have a lot of thinking, which banks the fire for me, leaving me distanced from what’s happening. Then, there is sex scene after sex scene after sex scene, past and present. The final complications all happen because they are making plans without talking to each other. I understood that when they were teenagers, but they are late twenties (29?) now at least. Of course, they finally work it out because this is a romance, but it felt hard won even though nothing much happens in my opinion.

The cover is by Black Jazz Designs. This is obviously supposed to be Joe. With dual POV, it seems strange that only one of them are on the cover.

Sales Links:  Amazon
Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 316 pages
Published October 23rd 2018 by Edie Danford
ASINB07GNY5Z8C

New Release Blitz for One Step Back by Edie Danford (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: One Step Back

Author: Edie Danford

Publisher: Edie Danford

Release Date: October 23, 2018

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 85,000 words

Genre: Romance, Enemies-to-lovers, coworkers, workplace, stepbrothers

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Synopsis

When you fall for a guy who’s about to become your stepbrother—do you listen to your heart and risk everything? Or listen to your head…and take one step back?

In high school I had a hundred reasons to steer clear of my soon-to-be-stepbrother, Joe Beneventi. He was a hothead, and I was reserved. His life was football,
mine was academics. He wanted to be out and proud, and I desperately needed to keep my orientation secret.

But when we fell in love, my heart took the wheel, and I took every risk to be with Joe. Then one horrible night our secrets shattered. Joe disappeared—wrecking our
families and breaking my heart.

Eleven years later, I landed a challenging job at a premier PR firm. And the hotshot publicist who’s been assigned to my first big account? Yep. It’s Joe.

Fate truly hates me because now Joe and I have three days to hole up in a Chicago hotel room and nail down a deal that could make or break our careers. He
keeps distracting me, but I’m too jaded to fall for sexy smiles, bedroom eyes, and his impossible-to-ignore body. Except…

I like being close to him again. A little too much. Working together 24/7 is showing me sides of Joe I’ve never seen before.

And when we touch, being together seems like the only step worth taking.

Excerpt

I take a deep breath. Gotta prepare myself for being up-close and personal with the force of nature that is Joseph Vincent Beneventi.

“Hey, Joe,” I say, my voice cracking. Not how I’d wanted to sound.

His sexy mouth curves, and I get hit with the full impact of his attention-sucking energy. It zaps across the entryway. Through the guesthouse and the five-acre yard. All of Chicagoland. The state of Illinois, the entire Midwest…

Yeah, you get the picture. Joe has <em>it</em>. Chemical hoodoo-voodoo oozes from his pores and makes you forget whatever it is you’re doing, whatever happened to be on your mind. And all you can do is stand there and stare at him. And listen to the ridiculous shit that comes out of his gorgeous mouth.

I’ve had to cope with this Joe-phenomenon for three years now, as long as his mom and my dad have been dating. Weekends and vacations together at first, and then mostly full time as of last year, after Kim and Bernie got engaged and bought this monstrosity of a property together.

Wedding-planning and “a home where we can be a family” was supposed to bring us stability. Wishful thinking, because things between my dad and Joe’s mom—between all of us, really—seem rockier than ever.

“Hey, you.” Joe leans against the door jamb, killer smile flashing.

He’s a big, glossy beast, and he lights up the night that I’ve tried to darken. I look away from his shining eyes, but his jacked chest and abs, his maybe-too-tight board shorts, his legs, his feet, aren’t any easier to ignore.

“Why didn’t you tell me you’d be home tonight?” he asks. His deep voice has a slight throb, like he’s actually hurt. “You didn’t answer my message. Any of my messages. I get why you didn’t want to show for my amazingly fucking boring graduation, but… I was hoping to hear about your plans. For the summer.”

He reaches up to brush damp hair from his face, the movement popping every muscle from shoulder to wrist. Matty actually sighs from behind me. I try not to notice how the longer hair and the scruff on his chin make Joe look hotter than his usual smoking hellfire.

He spent his senior year at a therapeutic high school here in the Chicago area and the place didn’t demand buzz-cuts the way the military school did. The longer black waves do amazing things for his cheekbones, his squared-off chin, his sin-dark eyes.

I’m supposed to be saying something. So I open my mouth and a lame excuse comes out. “I wasn’t sure about flight times. Until the last minute. Storms in New York.”

He nods, head tilting as he scrutinizes my features. He wants to believe me even though it’s obvious I’m lying. The sky had been clear when I’d jetted away from LaGuardia, my freshman year of college complete.

I’d been avoiding all contact with Joe since Christmas break. I’d figured he’d understand why I didn’t respond to any of his messages today. Or at least take the hint. <em>Hey, Joey, after I don’t answer your two-hundredth-and-seventieth voicemail, maybe that means I don’t want to communicate with you. </em>But Joe is thick in more ways than one.

His dark eyes get warmer as they take me in, the dimple in his right cheek popping. His thumb traces the sand-dollar tattoo under his left nipple, a move I’m sure he’s making unconsciously. I do the same thing sometimes. I have a matching tattoo; we’d gotten them in Mexico during Christmas vacation two years ago. The ’rents had been very confused when both of us suddenly wore rash guards 24/7 for the rest of the break. Joe had come up with a BS-but-brilliant excuse about stingray sightings and the angle of the sun and the chemicals in sunscreen lotion killing off coral reefs.

And, okay. I’m not being fair. Joe isn’t thick. He’s probably smarter than me. He just doesn’t know how to rein in a lot of the bad shit that constantly roams his head. I’ve actually tried to help him figure out some stuff, given him some pointers about how to focus and prioritize—

There’s a crashing noise from the pool area. More shit breaking.

“Fuck,” he mutters, looking over his shoulder.

“You better get back there. Broken glass. Blood. Nastiness. It’s all gonna happen.”

He sighs—a shudder wracking his six-five frame. “Should’ve never invited anyone over.” His smile is crooked. “Your fault. I wouldn’t have had to get up to shenanigans with Bran and Troy if I’d known you’d be here tonight.”

And, there it is.

The reason why he always, <em>always </em>manages to piss me off. I’m not responsible for him. Not responsible for his feelings, for his actions. I refuse to be.

“Not my fault,” I say, my voice cracking again, damn it. I take a step backward, my hand pulling the door closed.

“Asher, come on. You know I didn’t mean it like that—”

I shut the door in his face. Then I pull the blinds closed, blocking out his beauty, blocking out his hurt expression. Maturity can go fuck itself, because literally closing off Joe from my senses will be the only way I can survive the summer.

“Wow,” Matty says.

“Yeah,” I agree.

#

It’s probably a few hours later when something jolts me awake. It’s Joe looming over me. I must’ve passed out after Matty left. I’m sprawled on the big chaise in the guesthouse’s living room, Joe standing so close his knees are touching the cushion’s edge.

There’s only one light on, a yellow glow coming from the glass-fronted cabinet that displays Joe’s shell collection. It creates weird, streaky shadows across his super-defined chest and abs.

His shorts are dry now, not as tight on his thighs or his package, but I can see he’s erect, a righteous bulge that’s impossible to miss. And, when I look up into his face, my gaze snags on his parted lips, his heavy-lidded eyes .

The house is quiet. No more party outside. When Joe inhales suddenly, I can feel the sharpness of his breath in my own lungs.

I sit, swinging my legs to the side of the chaise, planting my feet on either side of his. He takes my face in his hands. His fingers are warm, familiar, his touch so tender it makes me want to cry.

And, God, when our gazes connect, and I immediately fall into that dark brown and gold I dream about, tears clog my throat, for real.

“Ash,” he whispers, his voice so hoarse I can barely hear it. The pad of his thumb passes over my lower lip. I lick away the taste of him and he sighs. “Damn, I missed you.”

I nod. I can’t speak. It hurts.

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Meet the Author

Edie lives in Vermont with her husband, two sons, and random creatures that might or might not be pets. She loves libraries (where she’s found play, work, and love since she was a kid), long walks (unless ice is involved), lewd language (in the right context), luscious romance (of any variety), and alliteration.

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