2.5 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Bi-Sexual Book class difference Contemporary DA Dreamspinner Exploration Gay Heat Index Hurt/Abuse Hurt/comfort Insta Love Little to no angst long distance love m/m/m May/December May/December Mid level steam/heat Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Reconcilliation second chance at love Sports Sports Standalone Widower

Gnarly (World of Love) by Mickie B. Ashling 

release day review 

Dreamspinner Presents



Dr. Ed Hollingsworth, widowed for five years, returns to San Sebastián, Spain, after a thirty-year absence. He seeks out his first and only male lover, pro surfer Javi Elizalde. 

After surviving a near-fatal shark attack, Javi turned his back on the sport he loves and became a recluse. 

Iker Lizaso, professional jai alai player, finds himself at loose ends now that his contract has expired. Forced to retire at thirty-eight, he returned to his home in the Basque Country to figure out what to do with the rest of his life. 

Three different men, encumbered by their past, converge in a city famous for its food, summer festivals, and romantic promenades. Can they find happiness together? It’ll be difficult, maybe even improbable, considering their backgrounds, but Cupid’s arrow usually hits the mark, and this particular strike might be epic.

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.



This just didn’t work for me.

Things I liked/loved: learning about the Basque, the language, the culture, the geography. The references to surfing. The information about Jai Alai. This country and the people sound amazing and so, so colorful. I could definitely feel the heat and passion and spiciness – it seems very rich and flavorful! I enjoyed learning about the advances in prosthesis technology.

Things that didn’t work: The ménage. I never felt like Iker was integral to this relationship and I really wasn’t sure why he was even part of this story. He felt like a third wheel. He’s so sweet and enthusiastic and I didn’t understand his willingness to be part of this couple or his attraction to the somber and rigid Ed. Which brings me to my second point. Ed. He was a total dick to Javi and seemed to completely forget him for 30 years! Then he suddenly shows up and expects that time to have just disappeared. Javi gave him a lecture – ONE – and that was completely insufficient. He’s bossy and manipulative and condescending at the best and cold and uncaring at the worst. I did not understand Javi’s attraction, nor Iker’s and I was always rooting for Iker and Javi to kick Ed to the curb.

This story was all over the map. It wanted to be a reunion story, a story of opposites attract, a May/December story, a bi-sexual discovery story, a PTSD/hurt/comfort/recovery story, a ménage…it was too much. As a reader I needed to understand how Ed could act like he did so that I could forgive him and I really received no other explanation other than – school kept me busy where I met my wife. And apparently left all of Javi and his life in the dust.   I ached for poor Javi and though I applaud his willingness to let Ed help him I couldn’t help but feel like he seems like a doormat almost as much as poor Iker.

Another thing that really bugged me was how the ménage worked. I felt like Iker was on the outside. Though it was sweet that Javi and Ed shared some firsts, Ed’s holding that over Iker’s head like a prize seemed unkind and definitely made me feel like the group was seriously out of balance.  We get a HFN instead of an HEA and that, too, left me a little disappointed.

I did not feel a strong connection between these characters and as a result the “romance” in this did not pass muster. The cultural information was interesting and for that I’ll give this a 2.5 of 5 stars.


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Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

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