Title: Mystic Man
Series: States of Love
Author: E.J. Russell
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 100 Pages
At a Glance: All in all, Mystic Man was a nice story. To me it was a bit flowery, perhaps, and the conflict toward the end felt a bit forced, but I can see a certain demographic of readers really digging it.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: When a series of personal crises prompt risk-averse research librarian Aaron Templeton to apply for a job on the other side of the country, nobody is more surprised than he is. He nearly runs home before the final interview except for one little problem: he has no home anymore. He put his condo on the market before he left California and it’s already sold. Only an encounter with free-spirited Connecticut native Cody Brown at the Mystic Seaport Museum staves off Aaron’s incipient panic attack.
Cody loves nothing better than introducing newcomers to the great features of his beloved home state, and when the newbie in question is a rumpled professorial type with the saddest blue eyes on the planet? Score! The attraction between the two men deepens as they explore Cody’s favorite spots, but when difficulties arise and Aaron’s insecurities threaten to overwhelm him, will Cody’s love be enough to keep him in Mystic?
Review: Connecticut is one of just a handful of states I haven’t been in, and one that I would really love to travel to; in fact, a trip up to the northeastern part of the U.S. during the fall is on my bucket list. So, when I saw that Mystic Man, one of Dreamspinner’s States of Love books, was set in Connecticut, I decided I had to give it a whirl. It was also an opportunity to read something by E.J. Russell, who I hadn’t read previously but have heard good things about, so I snapped it up for a quick weekend read. One of the things I love about this series is that most of them are right around the hundred-page mark, making it easy to transport yourself to another place in just an afternoon.
The book opens with Aaron in the midst of a near panic attack over his impulsive decision to pick up and move to Connecticut after seeing his ex picking out rings with his new boyfriend. At thirty-seven years old, Aaron has never even been out of Southern California. He doesn’t do impulsive. Yet, something inside him was looking for this fresh start on the opposite coast, where the ocean is on the wrong side and even the potato chips are completely foreign to him. Heh. But, as he’s about to head to the airport, to go home to see if he can get his old job back, he notices the quaint looking museum in Mystic Seaport Village and decides he might have time for a quick tour.
Cody, a twenty-six-year-old free-spirited Connecticut native who volunteers as a tour guide at said museum, sees the sad and somewhat lost-looking Aaron and asks him if he needs some help. The scene that unfolds in chapter two is adorable. Cody and Aaron engage in some fun banter that is at times endearingly awkward and at other times is funny and flirty, and Cody takes Aaron on a tour of the Seaport. They both realize there is a little spark of some kind there and decide to hang out again the following day so that Cody can show Aaron around a bit more.
I absolutely adored Cody and for the most part liked Aaron as well. Actually, I liked them both pretty instantly, but Cody’s character remained a bit more consistent whereas Aaron’s wasn’t as solid throughout the story. He had a few over-the-top, sort of out of character moments that were somewhat off-putting, but overall, I did like him. I also loved that Cody took it upon himself to “talk up” Connecticut. He was like a one-man welcoming committee, pulling out all the stops to convince Aaron that Connecticut was the place for him. Very sweet and fun.
The book started out on such a good foot. It was super cute in the beginning, and I found myself smiling my way through the first two chapters, especially. After a short while, however, it started dragging a little in places and got, for lack of a better word, a little…cheesy. I was talking about it to a friend and had a sort of mini epiphany about the issue I was having with it, which was, I wish Russell would have aged the characters about ten years. I think they would have been more realistic as thirty-seven and forty-seven. Some of it just felt a bit…I dunno…stuffy for a character who is supposed to be a twenty-seven-year-old with wanderlust. And, I don’t know any guy in their mid-thirties who would say a line like, “For now, I would really like to make love with you.” But maybe I just haven’t met those guys. I don’t know.
All in all, Mystic Man was a nice story. To me it was a bit flowery, perhaps, and the conflict toward the end felt a bit forced, but I can see a certain demographic of readers really digging it.
You can buy Mystic Man here:
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