Series: Brawlers #4
Publication date: June 13, 2017
Length: 160 pages
Reviewed by Meredith
Welcome to Brawlers Bar…
If there was a way to completely destroy his life, Hunter Black would do it. He was a catastrophe waiting to happen. Survival was his only priority and having to leave his old life behind that meant a job of the legal variety. He’d found one as a bartender at Brawlers Bar and a safe place in a huge house with the rest of the bar crew who quickly became the family he’d never had. The one thing Hunter didn’t need was his old life tracking him down.
Deputy Wren Gramble hated his job and his weekend assignment of staking out a bar in the middle of nowhere waiting for drunks. Although he’d heard the homophobic and racist jokes going around about the crew and customers, he kept his head down and stuck to his job and nothing else. He despised being driven back into the closet, but he’d reached the end of the line and what he’d do if he earned another transfer he didn’t know.
Linus Trenton was considered the normal one in his family and according to the weird ones that meant he should be punished on a daily basis. He never came out one way or another, if he found someone attractive he was attracted. His life was complicated enough having a crush on the sweet and awkward Hunter but now he had to throw Wren into the mix. Linus didn’t have time for dating or romance, most of the time he didn’t even think about having a sex life, although, Wren and Hunter were ruining his calm.
Hunter was in lust with the handsome deputy the minute the man pulled him over, but a man like that wouldn’t give him the time of day. His friend, Linus, was another matter all together. Hunter wanted both. His bosses made it work with their man, why couldn’t he? Could Hunter prove he wasn’t as much of a screw up as he appeared or would he have to call in backup to claim his men?
If you read Scary (JM's Twirled World Series) you know she can write ménage. In Hunter we have another one of those precious gems. Our characters are Hunter, of course, you've seen him in the other books. Super accident prone. You want to wrap him in bubble wrap and walk with him everywhere you go to keep sharp objects away from him. Deputy Wren is another MC. The deputy part tells you what he does for a living. He's the new guy on the force and not there to make trouble with the guys at Brawlers. He attracted to Hunter and it's adorable watching Hunter try and understand why. And the third guy in this throuple is Linus.... Lucky's brother (From Twirled World Ink) See what I'm saying about characters entwining? Anyway, He's rough and tough and can't seem to tell Hunter how he feels.... until he sees Wren scooping in.
Now I thought for a bit this was going to be a polyamorous situation. Nothing wrong with that just that Linus didn't seem to like Wren very much but the common denominator was Hunter and neither wanted to give him up. But, nope in this case it's an enemy of my lover is also my lover situation.
Really an awesome addition to this already fabulous series. Lots of action, hilarity, amazing characters! Seriously, that's my favorite part of all of JM's books. Her characters are just outstanding!
1 Did You Just Trip Over Air?
Hunter Black opened his calendar app and inputted his accident list of the day. His large hands quickly tapped the screen.
Accident 1: Stabbed himself with a corkscrew
Accident 2: Squirted lemon juice into my eye.
Accident 3: Possible concussion from tripping over air.
Fourth and Final: I walked into a brass knuckle enforced punch thrown by his coworker Psycho.
He was a fuck up, he knew it, and everyone else did too. He straddled his bike in the empty parking lot of Brawlers Bar where he worked. All he wanted was one damn day where he didn’t attempt to kill himself. From the moment he took his first step it was downhill from there. By the time he was five, his medical record was an inch thick. Burns, broken bones, accidents big and small. Inside the manila folder didn’t always give the truth. Not all his wounds were accidents. His parents loathed the odd child they had been cursed with, and they showed him just how unwanted he was.
All he had wanted was their love. Instead, he received pain and fear. When his I.Q. was tested, he had become more of an oddity. At sixteen, he’d graduated from high school and headed to college, homeless.
He turned his phone off and slipped it into his jacket pocket. Hunter raised his hands and slipped his reading glasses off. He didn’t want to remember, that wasn’t this life anymore, and he had new family and friends. A home he wouldn’t have to worry about losing. Warm and never hungry. He shook his head and glanced around the parking lot.
Scary and Tank’s bikes were still parked in their reserved spots, their husband Elijah was inside with them. Everyone else already left for the night. He picked up his helmet where it was balanced between his thighs and lifted it to pull it on.
The Sheriff’s cruiser was still parked across the street. Local law enforcement loved to give them shit, but he’d noticed the same deputy assigned every weekend for at least the last year. Crave said the guy seemed cool and didn’t give them shit, the only people he’d pulled over were visibly drunk when they started their vehicles. He closed the visor and started his bike, he pulled out slowly and headed toward home.
He slowed even more as he passed the deputy. The interior of the car was dark so he couldn’t see what the guy looked like. He didn’t know why he cared. He had another two years of probation, he didn’t need to be fucking with cops—even friendly ones. Once he was far enough away, he accelerated, and the deep growl of his engine brought a smile to his face.
It was the one place he felt free. He wasn’t Hunter Black the fuck up ex-con. When he’d been sixteen, a crew approached him. It was a simple hack job. They just needed a few alarm systems deactivated. He could do that shit in his sleep. The money was easy, and he never went inside, just shut down the systems, and the crew took care of the rest. Except for the last job that went from bad to worse.
First degree Grand Theft charge on his eighteenth birthday. He’d taken one step into the building, one, Hunter hadn’t touched anything, and nothing was found on him except his laptop and phone. None of that mattered when the crew removed almost two hundred thousand in diamonds from a safe.
It was an old fucking cliché, eighteen and in his third year of college. Kid from a bad neighborhood making good, but his scholarship only went so far, and he had to live. The full academic ride didn’t pay for a place to live or food. He fucked up like he always had and he’d paid for it with five years and another five years’ probation.
He liked the Brawlers Crew. He had a nice room and a job that paid well. Hunter wanted more, but what that was he didn’t know.
His headlight hit a set of eyes in the middle of the road, so he swerved to avoid hitting whatever it was. Which he learned was a mistake as flashing lights, and a siren rose above the sound of his engine.
Shit, his stomach had started twisting as he slowly pulled to the side. He kicked down the stand and removed his helmet. Just stay cool, Hunter, just explain—holy fuck, he turned his upper body almost completely around as he’d caught sight of the deputy. His compact body shown off in the uniform. The shirt strained across a broad muscled chest, and the short sleeves barely contained the mass of large biceps.
He must live in a gym. Hunter was big but genetics attributed to that, and he also sported a bit of a belly. His arms were covered in hair, but the deputy’s skin was smooth. The few men he’d hooked up with since his release complained about his hairy body. Why the fuck was he thinking about that? He was probably getting ready to be arrested.
“Sir, do you know why I pulled you over,” the deputy’s voice a soothing baritone.
Really, was that in the handbook to ask at every traffic stop? Don’t say it, Hunter, he ordered himself.
“I swerved.” He kept his answer short and to the point. If he learned one thing over his life, it was to keep his mouth shut around anyone with a badge.
“And why did you swerve?”
“My headlight caught on eyes in the middle of the road. I tried to avoid it.”
“Have you been drinking tonight, sir?”
“No, I was working, and I don’t drink.”
The deputy stepped closer and strong, broad features came into view. If not for the beard the guy looked young, maybe a few years older than his twenty-six.
“Can I see your license and registration?”
“Sure, I gotta reach into my backpack.”
He tensed as he noticed the subtle move of the deputy repositioning his left hand on his sidearm.
Hunter swung his pack off his shoulders and pulled it around to his lap. He opened the zipper and reached inside for his wallet. He took out the cards and handed them to the deputy. The man used the flashlight to check the information.
“Mr. Black, I’m going to let you go, but be careful. These back roads aren’t exactly safe this late.”
He was surprised the deputy didn’t call it in, but he wasn’t going to complain. The man would look closer at him if the deputy knew his background.
“Thank you.” He reached out to take his cards back and slid them back into his wallet then his bag. Hunter zipped it and slipped his arms back into the straps.
“Have a good night, Mr. Black.”
“You too, be safe.” He didn’t know what made him say it, but it was already out, and he restarted his bike.
Hunter took off, speeding up to the limit and hoped to get home without another stop. Next time by a cop who wasn’t as friendly as the one he’d just pulled away from.
It was only another ten minutes before he pulled into the yard of the farmhouse. The porch light was still on, and he noticed a few lights burned dimly. Bull was probably just curling up with his husband, Gregory. Crave and Twitch would be trying to break their bed as they did every night. At least Psycho didn’t live in the house anymore. He was getting damned tired of listening to everyone get laid but him.
He didn’t want to think about how long since he’d been in a man’s bed. It wasn’t like he hadn’t tried. He’d even gone out on a few dates, but with his friends, background and jobs, it didn’t work out.
He parked and dismounted. Hunter stood back staring up at the house. Maybe he should just crash in the barn since it was quieter, and he wouldn’t get jealous of the happy couples.
He quietly jogged up to the porch and then inside, locking the door behind him. No one was around, but he heard Crave trying to make Twitch break glass with his screams. Bull and Gregory weren’t far behind.
He pulled his earbuds from his pocket and shoved them into his ears, then started his music as loud as he could stand. Hunter headed to his room at the back of the house. He closed the door and locked it.
Carefully, Hunter set his bag on his desk and started to strip, he walked toward the bathroom to wash off the scents of stale beer and alcohol. The night couldn’t be over fast enough. In the bathroom, he removed his earbuds, then the last of his clothes and looked into the mirror.
Hunter pinched his love handles, then cupped his stomach giving it a little shake. He didn’t have an issue with his body, but he hadn’t really found anyone who liked it. Thoughts of the gorgeous deputy filled his head, and he groaned. Not going there, he spun away from the mirror.
He quickly started the shower and stepped beneath the slowly warming spray.
“Tomorrow will be a better day,” he repeated in a whisper and didn’t believe a damn word he said.
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