Review: J.M. Dabney – Crave (Brawlers #1)

Author: J.M. Dabney
Reviewer: Lucy
Publisher: Hostile Whispers Press
Genre: MM Tattoo
[xrr rating=4/5]

Summary: Welcome to Brawlers Bar…

A quick pit stop for a comfortable bed to sleep turned into an eight-year stay. Vincent “Crave” Butler hit the road the day after college graduation and hadn’t looked behind him since. He’d swore to never stop moving, but the night he drove into Powers, Georgia changed the course of his life. He’d hit a bar called Brawlers with its rundown exterior and pride flag beside the door, the next day he had a job. Second in command to the Head of Brawler security, Crave found the place he didn’t have to run from. No one would call Crave sane. He lived to make people as uncomfortable as possible just for his own twisted amusement. That all changed when a certain cute as fuck bartender walked in for an interview.

No one wanted Twitch Harrison around. He was small, femme and annoying on his best days, downright abhorrent on his bad ones. When college turned out to be a no-go, and the parents canceled his credit cards he’d needed a job. Walking into Brawlers, the roughest gay bar in his hometown, was like a game of pick the thing that didn’t belong—him. The two owners, Scary and Tank, hired him on and four years later he was still that thing that didn’t belong. No one made it more apparent than bouncer Crave Butler who didn’t hide the fact he barely tolerated Twitch’s presence.

Crave threatened every man who thought they’d get the pretty Twitch but would Twitch rather be in their beds than his? Only one way to find out and he hoped Twitch was ready for forever because that’s what Crave was determined to have.


This is the first installment of the Brawlers series, a spin-off to the Twirled World Ink crew.  The two places are very connected and the guys in this world interact a lot.  I was glad to get to see a lot of my faves from Twirled show up here.   This one centers on Crave, second in security at Brawlers, who has had the most massive crush on Twitch, the pretty bartender.  One thing about both Brawlers and Twirled World, the nicknames can drive you crazy!


Crave comes from an unhappy home and one of his biggest fears, and the thing that makes him think he is not worthy of Twitch or even love really, is that he will end up like his abusive father.  He takes care of his mother, in a nursing home due to damage from too many hits to the head by dad.  Crave is a bad mother, tough as nails, looks mean and has the heart of a marshmallow.  His mother often doesn’t know who he is and there is a scene where he’s talking to her about Twitch and it just melts your heart.


For his part, Twitch comes from an equally horrible, perhaps even worse, homelife of religious fanatics who have done much to erase who Twitch is.  Conversion therapy, religious edicts and treatment of him as a non-person have made him swallow anti-anxiety meds like candy and to stay away from anything physical.  He seeks platonic comfort and safety from his friends and they don’t disappoint.  This makes Crave insane with jealousy.


The issue starts to come to a head when everyone at Brawlers is ready to beat Crave, he’s so moody, uber possessive yet standoffish to Twitch and a general bear to be around.  More than usual, to the point where he is given an ultimatum by Bull, who owns the house they live in.  “Either you fucking straighten up, or you can leave.”   So Crave has to try.  It is this, the effort he puts into being what Twitch needs even though he thinks he isn’t worth it, that I loved.  These guys are so not what they appear on the outside and that’s the best part of the Twirled World/Brawlers world.


There is a definite need for some editing help, there are errors that occasionally made me have to read twice but there was nothing that dragged me completely out of the story.


Things aren’t that easy and there are roadblocks along the way but we remain hopeful that these two will get their acts together.  The ending is perfect and Crave’s tough guy reaction to the impending parasite was priceless.  I am looking forward to the next installment.  Psycho needs a story!



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