Dare feels like he has the neighbor from hell. Every weekend the guy manages to wake him up way too early with some sort of intrusion, whether it’s mowing his lawn at the crack of dawn, or bringing in a petting zoo for the birthday party of his friend’s daughter. For his part, Stone enjoys winding his grumpy neighbor up. He doesn’t know why the man took such an instant dislike to him the moment he moved in, but paying him back gives him a strange pleasure. The fact Dare is hot has nothing to do with it. Really. Even when the misunderstanding that caused Dare to angrily refuse Stone’s friendly introduction as his neighbor is cleared up, the idea that the two could be friends, or more, just doesn’t seem realistic to either of them.
As in the first book of this series, Caulky, “Nailed” follows the somewhat unusual, and in this case rocky, start of a relationship. You could probably classify this as an enemies-to-lovers tale. Both Stone and Dare come across as rather average guys. They’ve reached their 40s without any long term relationships, but are now in a place where the find the idea of “settling down” quite attractive.
The point of view alternates between the two main characters. Stone was introduced in the first book, along with all four partners of Four Bears Construction, but he didn’t really play a role in that story. You could, in theory, read this book without having read the first one, but then you’d miss out on some of the running jokes between the four partners.
Stone seems to be a born joker, but not the sadistic kind. He seems to get off on getting an emotional response from people, which is probably why Dare proves to be such an irresistible target. Aside from his penchant for annoying people he likes, Stone is a very likable character. He’s easy-going and can be very determined to do the right thing, even if, or perhaps especially if, it annoys Dare.
It’s clear from our first encounter with Dare that he has anger management issues. At least he admits to it and has been in therapy to try and mitigate it. The story goes some way in trying to show us why Dare may be the way he is. It didn’t quite add up for me, but I think that’s more to do with not having a personal frame of reference than any shortcoming in the story telling. Dare nonetheless comes across as a very believable character.
There’s no denying the weird sort of chemistry that Dare and Stone have together, even though they sometimes drive each other crazy. It’s a rather classic form of tempestuous romance that you don’t often see pulled off this well any more.
“Nailed” is available from Amazon.