The Gravedigger's Brawl by Abigail Roux

The Gravedigger's Brawl - Abigail Roux

I often bitch about cover art but there will be no bitchery today because this cover with its sepia tones and shadows so evoke the mood and eerie old timey feel of the book that I wouldn’t change a thing. I also loved the little addition of the top hat in-between sections and chapters. It made me smile every time it popped up.

Dr. Wyatt Case is head curator of the Virginia Historical Society Museum. He’s a bit of a bumbling professor type and is at home with history but unfortunately visitor numbers are down and the trustees are breathing down his neck to come up with something spectacular to draw people in or they’re going to terminate him. He needs a distraction and some stress relief and finds both after a friend brings him out to lunch at a place called “Gravedigger’s Tavern”. The place is like walking into another world and it’s there that he spots Ash Lucroix. Ash is an irresistible mix of quirky allure and sex with his lined eyes, tongue ring and penchant for suspenders and he fits right in with the gaslight aura of the tavern where he works as one of the talented barkeeps. Though Wyatt is reserved by nature, the two share an instant attraction that they act upon later that night after way too much booze. But Wyatt screws it all up when he panics . . .

Guilt ridden and unable to get Ash out of his head he frets and finally visits an annoyed and pissed off Ash to apologize mumbling something about the tavern’s “ghost tours” before he leaves.

Ash stood at the door, frowning as he watched Wyatt jog down the sidewalk toward the museum. “Why is it always the wackadoos who’re so good in bed?” he said sadly.

Their romance doesn’t exactly get off to a spectacular start but both are entranced by the other and when strange events plague Ash and the tavern Wyatt gets an idea to research its history and create a haunting exhibit to save his job.

What follows is charming romance between two slightly off-beat guys who are very different but fit together perfectly. I adored them both but I’d be lying if I didn’t say Ash stole the show for me. He is one of those irresistible types who is content in his own skin and can still laugh at himself. He’s lovely and never cocky despite the fact that he’s also super talented as well.

“Hold on! What are you doing?” Ash hurried to unload the silverware and follow. “You don’t know what’s up there, it might be dangerous. Hold on.”

“Ash, I don’t need a big bad man to protect me, okay?”

“Do I look like a big bad anything?” Ash asked, laughing as he put a hand on his chest.

I hadn’t read author Roux previously but am going to change that. She excels at bringing “Gravedigger’s Tavern” to life. I love it when an author pays as much attention to her setting as her characters and doesn’t depend solely on the sex (though, damn, it was good) to keep me hooked. Gravedigger’s came to life for me and I could completely understand its appeal. The cast of friends add a sense of belonging, of fitting in even you’re a little bit of an oddball, and they add lots of humor to the story. The writing has a great vibe and the dialogue often drips with sarcasm. Really, how could I not love it?

There is plenty of romance throughout the story (and even a charming secondary romance or two) but once Ash and Wyatt work out the kinks in their relationship, the second half focuses more on figuring out the cause of the genuinely chilling events going on around them. I thought it was fantastically entertaining and perfectly done and can’t wait to read more by Abigail Roux.