Monkey Wrench - Xara X. Xanakas 1.5 stars - Please be advised, this is a long review and contains severe spoilers.

My thoughts at the end of this book were along these lines, "Where's the investigation? Where's the romance?" I honestly think the blurb is very misleading mostly because it alludes to a mystery and a romance but I didn't see much of either of those.

I adored the first book in this series, Snakeskin Boots. This book, however, did a complete 180 and I honestly hated it and am extremely disappointed in it. It almost felt like it was written by a completely different author, to be honest.

Reading the blurb, I expected at least a romance and a mystery involving Aaron in an investigation. Instead, what I got was the 'mystery' in the first 20% or so (with the occasional mention of it sporadically in the story) and the 'romance' the last 15% or so (At least, that is where they are in speaking range and not eye-balling each other from across a distance). In the middle, these two things don't collide or even get close to touching. In fact, it goes into a whole different direction that just leads to a whole bunch of hot messes. And they weren't appealing to me mostly because what we see is a whole separate relationship going on with Aaron and another man, Gerry. That doesn’t go anywhere at all and still sort of in the background of everything else happening.

If I had known this book would just be about Aaron's self-discovery, I probably would have liked it. Although, I still think that part fell flat. After all, Aaron still feels and acts the same way, the only difference is now he has a big bobcat to sooth him when he panics. He didn't develop as a character, IMO. In the beginning, he was this cute, hyperactive, innocent guy and in the end, he's still the cute, innocent guy, sans being hyper. I was expecting more from at least that since he did get attacked by "a friend" multiple times.

In addition, the whole Gerry plot was unnecessary and honestly just felt like a set up for a future book so that Gerry could meet Thom. Which could have easily happened without the whole multiple dates aspect. Bringing Gerry in like that made Iggy a flat character because he doesn't show up until the very, very, very end. He came in so late in the story we know absolutely nothing about him except his job occupation and what he shifts into. I'm sorry, but I love my romance and this "romance" was bogus. Because there was none.

I loved Aaron in Snakeskin Boots but I disliked him in this one. He does some stupid moves, makes repetitive comments about his friend (I'm sorry but saying, "he's my friend!" over and over isn't going to change the fact he attacked you!) and honestly just acted like a child, crying at every possible moment. I get he's a victim but he's a freaking monkey. Those creatures are clever and smart. Where was that in Aaron?!

Onto the plot. It was too rocky and dysfunctional to keep anything straight. I felt like the author was trying to cover so much in such a short book that all of it fell flat. When one conflict happened, it'd be discussed then pushed aside for another to not come back again until the end for the 'resolution' to the forgotten conflicts. Everything is wrapped up in the end but in the most convenient ways possible. I want to know how a detective that claims a fellow cop brought his attack upon himself is just going to accept the attack now that there's a second victim. Not only that, but willingly question other people to get the case closed when he accused Aaron (A COP) of asking for it. I'm sorry but the douche bag would just claim Terron (the second victim and Aaron's friend) brought it on himself too! Beyond that, everything that is tied up, is done so within a few paragraphs. It's not elaborated on besides the bare bones of how it's being concluded and that's that. I was not happy. I at least wanted to see that bastard Miles go through a trial or something! And the reasons for what he did made absolutely no sense to me! Why Aaron?! If he was hopped up on drugs, he'd go after anyone, logically speaking, right?? But, no! It was always back to Aaron. He even thought Terron was Aaron.

Now we get to the other unanswered questions. What was with the whole expensive lawyer for Miles? What was the point of that? His supplier left the country! He didn't give a shit about Miles (that's actually said). Just nothing added up. Everything was too convenient but the story made it complicated and the 'resolutions', if you can even call them that, did not satisfy my questions. They just annoyed and angered me.

It ends with an HEA, though, but there's no connection between the couple. I couldn't feel anything from them. They were together maybe 15% in the story (I'm calculating only those times within touching/speaking distance) but now they are hunky dory and claiming forever together. I like insta-love but this was just too much for even me. Maybe if we'd seen them actually interacting and having a conversation instead of kissing, I'd feel a connection but there wasn't any. And if there was, then it was over so fast I forgot about it. In which case, please, someone point it out to me. I WANT to feel the connection here! I really, really do!

Now, for a positive! The only thing I liked about the story was seeing Jeff and Brad again and getting to know Rocco, Gerry's nephew. I also liked that we got some answers to the world that I had left over from Snakeskin Boots. Besides that, there was honestly nothing I liked. It was a hot mess. Nothing made sense and nothing added up. It was just a bunch of jumbled conflicts squeezed into one story in the hopes they'd work but for me, they just didn't.

I'll still read the next book but I sincerely hope it's not like this again because I can't put up with another misleading blurb. If the next book is about Aaron and Iggy please give them a proper story. This one just felt cheap and I feel ripped off, because if the next story is going to be about them, why couldn't it have been all one story? Or at least blending them together enough to actually have a romance and the self-discovery instead of what was delivered.

Overall, I didn't like it. I wanted to because I think this world is fascinating but after the first few chapters, even the shifter world is thrown into the background and we don't hear about it again. I had a lot of issues with this book, some I didn't even mention in this review because I wanted to stick with my biggest issues. I honestly did want to like this book but I just couldn’t. I feel horrible writing bad reviews (especially since I rarely do them) but this one just wasn’t for me. I’m sorry.