Title: The Druid Next Door (Fae Out of Water: Book Two)
Author: E.J. Russell
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Length: 360 Pages
Category: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Action/Adventure
At a Glance: Other than one small glitch, I really had no complaints about this story—it’s clever, exciting and sexy and, overall, a worthy addition to the series.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Professor Bryce MacLeod has devoted his entire life to environmentalism. But how effective can he be in saving the planet when he can’t even get his surly neighbor to separate his recycling?
Former Queen’s Enforcer Mal Kendrick doesn’t think his life could get any worse: he’s been exiled from Faerie with a cursed and useless right hand. When he’s not dodging random fae assassins in the Outer World, he’s going toe-to-toe with his tree-hugging neighbor. And when he discovers that the tree-hugger is really a druid, he’s certain the gods have it in for him—after all, there’s always a catch with druids. Then he’s magically shackled to the man and expected to instruct him in Supernatural 101.
All right, now things couldn’t possibly get worse.
Until a mysterious stranger offers a drunken Mal the chance to gain back all he’s lost—for a price. After Mal accepts, he discovers the real catch: an ancient secret that will change his and Bryce’s life forever.
Ah, what the hells. Odds are they won’t survive the week anyway.
Review: In the second novel of E.J. Russell’s Fae Out of Water series, The Druid Next Door, we focus our attention on the bad boy of the three fae brothers, Mal. Now an outcast with a useless sword hand, Mal is indeed adrift and trying desperately to figure out who he really is, if not the Fae Queen’s number one enforcer—a job which his brother Alun took back when he was restored from his curse in the first novel. Now Mal is the cursed one, having attacked the Queen’s consort—an admittedly bad guy, but still not allowed—and Mal cannot be restored until he makes it right. So, without the use of his sword hand, and no longer allowed inside the fae kingdom, Mal has been set up in an eco-friendly house and, surprise-surprise, he hates it.
Those familiar with the first novel, Cutie and the Beast, will be happy to see David, Alun’s husband, featured in this story as well, but it’s really Mal who steals the show, as he should. Not only does he hate being crippled and cursed but also his neighbor is an uptight professor who takes his recycling and carbon footprint very seriously—oh, and he’s a druid as well. Those familiar with these books will already be shaking their heads, for we all know a druid is never to be trusted; it has something to do with the fact that they can push another to do their bidding by simply commanding them.
In a delicious twist that was both unexpected and so wonderfully written, tough guy Mal discovers a whole new side to himself and ends up liking the uptight druid way more than he ever expected. But all is not well in the Fae kingdom, and when a mysterious stranger offers Mal a bargain he cannot say no to, both he and his druid, Bryce, will need all their wits about them to stay alive and fulfill Mal’s hasty promise before all is lost.
I am a real fan of this series. I find the humor spot on, and the brothers just delightfully full of themselves and yet oddly humble when they are taken down a peg or two by the most unlikely of lovers. I loved how Bryce was continually second guessing himself. Much like the character of David in the first novel in this series, Bryce is an unassuming man, one not used to being the focus of a gorgeous bad boy like Mal, and it’s that bit of shyness that make these two work so well. Once again much of the action takes place in the alternate world of the Fae, this time introducing us to the Unseelie court and its seedy underbelly and unusual creatures.
What made this novel work was the growing realization Mal has that he never really meant to be just a tough guy. Running underneath that persona is a real need to throw off all that control and be a more submissive man. The real trick is for Mal to both understand that this has always been a deep-seated need of his, and to accept it as a strength and not a weakness. With anyone less gentle than Bryce, this self-discovery could have been crushing and overwhelming for Mal. As it is, both men must navigate a path neither has ever really been on before while combating the evil threatening to take over the fae world—no small task.
What didn’t work so well was the glut of other world history that happened a few times in this story. Between the unusual language and names and places, the history lesson itself was rather dry and felt forced into the story, which slowed the pacing and had me nearly gnashing my teeth and saying “move on already” under my breath. I understood the need for Bryce to be educated about the world in which he suddenly found himself a key player, but I wish the author had somehow managed to weave it into the story a bit better rather than give us this sudden history dump. Other than that small glitch, I really had no complaints about this story—it’s clever, exciting and sexy and, overall, a worthy addition to the series.
The Druid Next Door was an entertaining sequel and I look forward to the third story in this series.
You can buy The Druid Next Door here: