5 May 2017
Gee it was good to be back in the Dive Bar, surrounded by old friends, immersed once again, in the stories of this band of brothers and the women who steal their hearts. Joe had piqued my interest in book 1, Dirty, the depth of his romantic capabilities hinted at when he helped set a scene for Vaughan and Lydia’s first time. We were also given a little teaser that he was hiding something and well, that my friends, is the ‘twist’ in this tale.
Choosing to step outside her comfort zone, Alex Parks arrives on the doorstep to the Dive Bar in search of her cyber friend Eric, whom she has formed a meaningful platonic friendship with, via an online dating site. For her this is a huge step, her anxiety issues, driven by insecurities, having kept her at home and virtually a hermit. When she discovers that it was Eric’s brother Joe on the other end of the keyboard, posing as his brother, she is understandably hurt, the betrayal of his lies of omission cutting deep. The one time she has put herself out there and this is what happens.
Alex was a girl I could connect to with ease, the difficulty she had, putting herself out there, opening her heart and letting others in, the difficulty she had trusting people with her heart, the choice to disconnect when that trust had been broken. She showed much bravery when she followed her gut and stayed in Coeur d’Alene with Joe. Her instincts about his character encouraging her to hear him out and see the man she had formed a bond with via email, made for a mature development of their relationship, her reactions understandable and relatable. I admired her strength when she stood up for her own self worth and didn’t give in to Joe early, demanding more than a flimsy excuse due to him shutting her out.
Joe was not her ‘type’, not by a long way, but something was drawing her to him. And, as we all know, whether you think you have a ‘type’ or not, if the one comes along, there is no inner stereotyping that can stop true chemistry or a bone deep connection. Nothing, short of asshatery betrayal by either party, can stop the seeds of true love from being planted in that instance.
Joe was the fixer, the one everyone could count on to help them out, the one who had everyone’s back. But, in the end, who had Joe’s? Alex begins to see that the real Joe is not the liar who pretended he was someone else. She sees the real genuine good guy who, unexpectedly had felt the connection with her through the emails. She sees the man who is loyal and selfless, whose character is solid. Unconsciously she knew the wait would be worth it when he finally let her in. Joe had a lot of depth, his own underlying issues and insecurities the reason he pretended to be his manwhore, woman magnet of a brother, but I loved him. Joe in all his glory was a pleasure to read. Joe became Alex’s rock, the person who gently but determinedly encouraged Alex to open up, to step outside her comfort zone in order to experience community and help overcome her anxiety. He thought she was beautiful inside and out and the world needed to experience that, thus emboldening her, lifting her up and feeding her confidence.
As a side note, an aspect of this book I enjoyed was the inclusion of emails that had gone back and forth between Alex and Joe before her arrival. It was the perfect way to see the progression of their friendship and illustrated how comfortable they were with each other, and the trust they had developed before Alex’s arrival.
As the blossoming relationship is challenged from multiple directions, old insecurities resurface, old habits re-emerge and choices are made that have heartbreaking consequences. During this time, one impetus for this heartache is a side story involving the other characters from the Dive bar, and I will not go into any detail as it is a major spoiler, but all I can say is, have your tissues ready. (there is also a trigger for certain readers at this point) There was running from both characters, mentally and physically, and I did understand their reasoning, but that doesn’t mean it made me happy. My heart broke for several people in these chapters and made way for some hefty character growth.
What I love about this authors writing is how she weaves several stories into one, the side stories never taking over from the main focus of the book, but enhance it, adding integral and important elements to the overall plot-line. As well as serious scenes, there are plenty of lighthearted moments in the Dive Bar. There is a lot of fun surrounding this group and the way they tried to set Alex and Joe up on their date night was hilarious, heartwarming and perfect. I love the banter and easy conversation between all characters, the portrayal of the entire friendship group, the loyalty and love between them enviable.
With a fantastic epilogue, that rounded out this episode of the Dive Bar gang beautifully, Twist was a great addition to this series, one I would highly recommend.
Copy provided by publisher for honest review