Review: Puzzle Me This by Eli Easton

Luke Schumaker designs computer games, working from his home. Every day he walks his dog in the woods nearby, never suspecting that someone who is completely smitten is watching.

The watcher is Alex Shaw, and he too works from home, designing logic and crossword puzzles. Alex’s options are limited: he’s too shy to approach Luke and his wheelchair won’t let him follow into the woods. His solution? Secret messages for Luke in the crosswords he writes for the local paper.

When Luke decodes them, romance begins, but then they face greater puzzles, like Alex’s interfering sister and what commitment to a man in a wheelchair really takes. And, most puzzling of all, how do you know if love is real?

I have determined that when I’m in the need for a literary hug I should look no further than an Eli Easton story. In this one we have Luke and Alex who live in the same apartment complex and the way they meet, through Alex’s secret notes in the local papers crossword puzzle is both sweet and unique. It made sense that Luke would figure it out, being a video game designer and puzzle geek himself. Their courtship is both thoughtful and steamy and I really liked reading about them together.

Alex is wheelchair bound and is too shy to approach Luke in a more traditional manner. When Luke and Alex do meet, Luke admits to being completely flattered by Alex’s overture and he’s very attracted to everything about Alex. Now, one thing I really appreciate about this author’s characters is they are likable but not perfect. I hate a perfect MC, I love real human reactions and when characters question themselves like real life people do. It’s important to Luke that he is with Alex for the right reasons and that a life together would be practical for them both. I realize that doesn’t sound really romantic, but it’s realistic and I give Luke credit for that. Alex’s family and friends don’t make it easy on Luke and I could understand Alex’s sister and her protective nature. Luke sticks it out though and I was all kinds of happy.

Of course angst has to happen, but it wasn’t overdone and fit the storyline. The outside world separated the boys for a time and Luke’s overwork and second guessing left me frustrated but that’s what was realistic and what kept the story from being too much fluffy love and instead was a really sweet romance with just enough realism. There were only two things I would have liked to see, the first being more of the puzzle courting with a little more mystery. It was fun and I loved that premise so I would have been completely happy with more of it. Secondly I think Luke needed to explain himself and his epiphany more to Alex. I bought what he was saying because I was in his head, but Alex didn’t get to hear that inner dialog and I wanted him to, he deserved it.

This is a perfect read for when you want to be hugged without being patronized and you want to meet a couple of MC’s you want to hang out with in real life.

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