Country Mouse/City Mouse
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Country Mouse Books 1 & 2
Genre: GLBT – M/M Contemporary Romance
Book Source: NetGalley
Country Mouse, April 23, 2012
Owen may be a bit of a country mouse, but he’s loving his vacation in London. After a long day playing tourist, he’s on the hunt for some cheap beer and a good burger. Instead he finds a man hunting him, an arrogant prick with only one thing on the brain: the kind of meat that doesn’t come on a bun.
Eighty-hour weeks at a trading desk don’t leave Malcolm Kavanagh much time for meaningful relationships. Besides, in his world, everything’s a competition—even sex. When his newest one-night-sub fails to show, Malcolm sets his sights on the pretty young Yank on the bar stool beside him.
Owen’s all for an adventure with a native, but he’s not the pushover Malcolm thinks he is, and Malcolm’s not as shallow as he tries to be. They both soon learn that nothing’s too intimate to share with a stranger, and the strangest things happen when two people share the most important pieces of their hearts.
City Mouse, March 18, 2013
A magical weekend, a breathless declaration, a happy ever after… Right?
When Malcolm Kavanagh took his first step toward emotional maturity by declaring his love to Owen Watson, that was just the first chapter in their story. Anyone who’s ever been in love knows that happy endings take a lot more work than that.
One problem: Malcolm has never been in love. He doesn’t know the rules of a relationship and isn’t confident enough to trust that his is real. He learns the ropes by sharing his life and his flat with Owen, but relationship boot camp proves a challenge. Everything is a struggle, from accepting Owen’s low-status job to putting his boyfriend above his personal trainer.
Luckily, Owen knows a little more about relationships, and labors patiently to survive the first six weeks of their life together. From the art galleries of Cambridge to the tawdry majesty of the Dominion theatre, Owen adapts to England while Malcolm adapts to the whole human race. Maybe, if Owen is patient enough and Malcolm learns to give, the two of them can make it past Relationship Armageddon to a real happy ending.
As a fan of M/M Romance, I was very excited to have the chance to review both Country Mouse and City Mouse at the same time. As there is no significant time lapse between the two stories, they are perfect companion pieces, and it was a real pleasure to see both characters make their way from a passionate, impulsive, fairytale beginning through the more weighty strains of trying to live with the person they love.
In Country Mouse, we meet Owen Watson, an American on his own in London for the first time, and Malcolm Kavanagh, a British stock trader/occasional Dom with posturing issues. Owen’s liberal, open upbringing has given him an endearing honesty and confidence that is impossible to resist, as Malcolm quickly discovers. Malcolm, on the other hand, lives in a world where appearances are everything, and he’s become so good at maintaining a pretense of control that he can usually make himself believe it. That is, until he meets Owen.
I absolutely loved Owen, and eventually Malcolm, too, but that’s the idea, I think. Malcolm keeps the best parts of himself hidden, whereas Owen doesn’t hide who he is at all. From the moment they meet, Owen pokes through Mal’s carefully constructed façade, keeping him so off balance that the warmer, softer, more vulnerable side of himself, the one Mal thinks he can’t afford to reveal, shines through. And it’s that man, the one behind the bluster and expensive suits that captures Owen’s heart.
Of course, Owen and Malcolm initially get together under the premise of hooking up, and I am happy to say that they are exceptionally good at it! Even from their first encounter, their personalities are apparent, and very much a part of how they play off one another whether in bed or out of it. While the scenes are highly enjoyable and very explicit, what I liked best about them was seeing Mal give more and more of himself over to Owen, and Owen proving that he’s strong enough to keep Mal together through it all. It’s a nice situation all around, and Ms. Lane and Mr. Voinov comfortably maneuver what was intended to be a temporary thrill into much more.
By the time Owen and Malcolm should have said goodbye to one another, their story becomes something entirely different than either anticipated. Malcolm, stuffy, image-conscious, and afraid, discovers that what he wants most will take a leap of faith, and that, surprisingly, he’s up to the task. In one insanely romantic act, he questions everything about the person he thought he wanted to be, and, in the process, changes the course of both their lives.
City Mouse, by contrast, begins with a day or two of feigned food poisoning followed by a crash landing back into the “real life” version of Malcolm’s world. Neatly divided into seven chapters (one for every week leading up to “Relationship Armageddon,” and another that will decide whether there will be a good ending or a tragic one), it is the exploration of what occurs when Malcolm and Owen attempt to merge their lives into a lasting happily ever after.
Although Malcolm is slightly older than Owen, it is Mal that has the most growing to do in order to keep Owen by his side, and his fear of sabotaging their relationship is so pervasive that it nearly ruins everything. As the weeks tick by, both men learn a lot about the difficulties of making a relationship work when even the lure of phenomenal sex can’t always compete with the realities of utter exhaustion. There are so many obstacles in their way, mostly self-induced, in Malcolm’s case, that the sense of impending doom both men suffer from seems perfectly legitimate. But, the sweetness of their time spent together, whether watching a show, eating a meal, or waking up together brings all the noise of those conflicts to a standstill, leaving behind nothing but a longing for what they could have with each other. These scenes are lovely, and some of my favorite throughout the story.
The extension of their time together also leaves more opportunities for them to explore each other’s sexual inclinations. Mal is definitely the more adventurous of the pair, and in the earlier part of City Mouse he teaches Owen plenty. I won’t spoil any of the naughty fun, but it’s worth noting that Mal likes to play, and has quite a few kinks to work with. Owen, fortunately, isn’t afraid to experiment, making this one amazingly steamy read. I tend to avoid using the phrase “hot” with regards to sex scenes, if possible, but that’s simply what these are—and then some.
Country Mouse and City Mouse were both a lot of fun to read, and I loved them so much that I’ve bought them for my permanent collection. Read together, they satisfy a more frivolous desire for a love-at-first-sight kind of romance, as well as providing the satisfaction that comes from watching two people fight for one another and the love that they were lucky to discover. Owen and Mal are great characters, Owen for his generosity and ability to see people for who they really are, and Mal for trying so hard to be a better version of himself. Toss in those amazingly hot scenes the two get up to, and these stories are definitely keepers.
Loved it – enthusiastically recommend (A)