Review: Ethan Stone – Small Claims

small claimsAuthor: Ethan Stone
Reviewer: Lucy
Publisher: Totally Bound
Genre: MM Contemporary
ISBN: 9781784304836

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Summary: Judge Shawn Rosen is about to take on the toughest case of his life.

Small claims judge Shawn Rosen is comfortable in his career, but his personal life is another story. His twenty year relationship ended two years ago, but while he accepts the end, he hasn’t even started to move on. He lives a generic life.

Everything changes when Jody Jacobsen walks into his courtroom and Shawn is attracted to him. Following the case, they have a chance meeting which leads to a wild night. Waking up to cold sheets should have been a sign, but instead Shawn keeps coming back for more and eventually falls fast and hard—so hard he might be missing the clues that the commitment isn’t mutual.

There’s trouble when the case that brought them together could also tear them apart. Will Jody give in to his tendency to run, or will he finally be the man that Shawn deserves?
Reader Advisory: This book contains references to paraphilic infantilism.

Review: Shawn is a judge in small claims court and while he’s happy with his job, his personal life leaves a lot to be longed for. He had been with his husband, Scott, for twenty years but that relationship ended two years ago and he’s sort of floundered since then.

When he meets Jody in the course of a small claims dispute, he is immediately attracted and a random run-in with him at a club turns into a hook up. Of course, Scott lets Jody know how long it’s been for him and when Jody conveniently takes off with no note and no number the morning after, well, Scott is upset.
This leads to a blind date with a friend of Shawn’s brother that doesn’t work out, followed by the shock of having Jody turn up at the courthouse as a temp worker. And this gives rise to the second chance, although I admit I kept wondering why Shawn was giving him more chances.

Adding to the difficulty, Gabrielle, Scott’s daughter, desperately wants her dads back together again. While it’s a little heartbreaking how badly she wants her family back together, it’s also not something that’s going to happen. This adds additional stress to Shawn and Jody because Jody can’t handle it.

It’s hard to put into words my thoughts on Jody. I rated this story almost exclusively on the writing, the premise and Shawn. Had I rated it on Jody, it would have been significantly lower. Even though he ends up (sort of) redeeming himself, it was too little, too late for me. I understood his reasoning a bit but my immediate thought was that this is one incredibly selfish man. “I only have good memories of lovers”, yet does it even cross his mind that his actions cause heartache, pain and bad memories for those same lovers?

As far as secondary characters, let’s hear it for Shawn’s brother, Frank. He made me laugh and he’s loyal and outrageous. I am so happy Shawn has a brother like that.

The ending is a little bit fairy tale and while I’m hopeful for them, I’m not completely convinced Jody can step up. But let’s be positive about it all!

As a random note, the blind date who is very into paraphilic infantilism was very interesting and a little bit sad. So fearful of losing his job if anyone finds out, yet needing that to be fulfilled. I hope he finds his HEA as well.

Buy Link: Totally Bound 

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