I just absolutely loved this sweet book. I love the characters. Sure it’s cheesy like all Harlequinn books but it is so darn good.
I recommend this book.
Note: This is the fourth book in this series, but it can be read as a standalone. I personally enjoyed the previous books though, so I recommend reading them as well 🙂
Bram Larkspur has moved to Garnet Run after a betrayal and breakup. He loves being outdoors and he loves Wyoming. He’s a happy, outgoing guy with of course a golden retriever. When he moves to Casper Road and meets his neighbors, he can’t help but be intrigued by his neighbor across the street – Zachary Glass. Zachary is an architect who works from home in a suite every day. This is such a foreign concept to Bram who really prefers flannel and the outdoors. He also learns that the biggest thing on this street is the Halloween decorating contest that Zachary has won 6 years in a row. Being an architect, Zachary has a whole concept that he’s put together – starting on November 1 the year before 😉
As Bram gets comfortable in the town, he and Zachary keep “running into each other” mostly from Bram’s stoop as he’s there every day when Zachary gets the mail. Bram asks a lot of questions and he’s also excited about the Halloween decorating contest. He goes into town to get supplies and meets a bunch more of the townspeople. On the side, he’s also found a potential job with Rye, the guy who runs the local cat rescue. Making cat boxes to put out for the stray cats as part of a catch and release program becomes a joint project for Bram and Zachary as he asks Zachary for design help since he’s an architect. While making the boxes they become more friendly. Zachary has also started a bit of a prank war – although unintentionally – with Bram. This also leads to more time together as they also prank others.
Zachary has quite a bit of darkness in his past that colors the way he sees the world. Between his family and the bullying he was subjected to, he has focused on being the best. And so he is. But he’s not fulfilled and he wants more. He also has trouble communicating/articulating his feelings. He’s not that good at picking up social cues either, so when he hurts Bram, unintentionally, or makes him sad, he’s not exactly sure why and how. Luckily he does have a best friend, Wes (who we met in the last Garnet Run book) to give him some feedback 😉
When Zachary has the chance for advancement and he tells Bram, Bram is mad and sad and has trouble communicated why that is. As an afterthought Zachary proposes a solution without articulating why he thinks this would be a good idea. Bram throws himself into working on the cat boxes and helping Rye while trying to figure out why he seems to never get it right and trusts the wrong people. His family is there for him and maybe, just maybe, Bram is starting to figure out what works and doesn’t work for him.
When Halloween finally rolls around, the combination of Bram and Zachary will be very hard to beat. The children of Garnet Run love the decorations that Bram and Zachary have put together. A good time is had by all. And in the end, Bram and Zachary are both the winners – because they have found each other.
This is a really cute story about two guy who really are opposites in so many ways. Zachary reads to be maybe on the spectrum as he’s not good at picking up social cues. His life was altered at an early age but a family tragedy that has definitely shaped his personality and his view of himself. He’s stunned that someone like Bram – open and friendly and big and handsome – would have anything to say to him. Bram has his own issues with his bad breakup and trying to get his feet under him. He’s sort of like the human equivalent of his dog, a golden retriever, in many ways. I loved how he was scared and didn’t even like scary movies and how Zachary accommodated his feelings after he figured out how really sensitive Bram was.
This story also figures some prominent cameos from the couples who are the MCs of the previous three books in the series. Jack and Simon, Charlie and Rye and Wes and Adam and their daughter Gus all show up in this story, providing help and encouragement t0 both Zachary and Bram. Gus is still enamored of Wes’s pets and Adam is still not a fan 😀 It was fun to catch up with all of them here in this story as they move along in their lives.
This fairly low angst story really has at its heart the growth of the two MCs as men who have to learn to trust in themselves and their own desires and express their own needs. Zachary’s early life pattern has given him the impression that nobody will want him long-term as everyone leaves. Bram thinks that because he trust the wrong person that he doesn’t know why he is so bad at judging people. He doesn’t trust that whoever he gives his heart to won’t just turn around an betray that trust. It takes some heart to heart interventions from friends and family to help Bram and Zachary see that they have the answers if only they will look inside to find them.
If you like opposites attract stories with some humor and pathos thrown in, I think you’ll enjoy this adorable Halloween tale.
It's so nice to see some queer rep coming from Harlequin series. Roan Parrish has set up a really fun little universe within this series and I love seeing all these couples develop in this small town. Ready for the next one!
What I Liked:
Small town vibes
Catching up with prior characters
Issues I Had:
I just didn’t feel the connection between Bram and Zachary. I’m all for opposites attract but something was missing for me.
[ARC provided by NetGalley for an honest review]
I’ve enjoyed the Garnet Run books overall. They’ve had their ups and downs along the way, but I was so looking forward to this one. Halloween is my favorite holiday so two people trying to out-decorate the other with the best outdoor decor? It should have been incredible.
And yet, it didn’t do anything for me. I can’t even say it fell flat because it just… didn’t even manage that. I forgot about it as I was finishing it, let down by how unremarkable all of it was.
I wanted it to be more specifically anything. Instead, I got a little bit of some things. None of the parts added up to a whole for me.
2.5 stars rounded down
I loved the enemies to lovers trope in this book and thought it was done well, especially with the holiday setting. And really cool to see a queer romance in mass market paperback. It makes me very happy mass market romance books are becoming more inclusive, and I buy or read at the library any that I see.
Thank you to NetGalley for an eARC of this title
I was originally holding off on reviewing this as a result of the HarperCollins Union Strike, but have recently learned that Harlequin titles and it’s imprints are not part of the union and therefore reviewing their books does not cross the picket line. If you would like to know more and support the Union check out their account here.
For starters, I have loved the Garnet Run Series up until now. They have really become some of the most comforting reads since I first discovered them. The Rivals of Casper Road was no different. It was a lighthearted and fun read. I know that a lot of people were expecting some really heavy enemies to lovers vibes, and that wasn’t really the case with the book, but for me that was a bonus.
I tend to have a very hard time believing enemies to lovers, so seeing these two start off with Zachary being a little icy and uninterested, only for them to spend more time together and eventually start a bit of a prank war was nice. I liked watching them get to know each other and learn about themselves and each other. I always enjoy that Parrish talks about character histories, and pasts. It’s nice seeing them support each other through things and but not be magically fixing each other either.
While I don’t think this is my favourite of the Garnet Run series it will definitely still be a comfort read I return to and I look forward to the new things Roan Parrish has coming.
I'm withholding my review until Harper Collins meets with the union to negotiate a fair contract for their workers. Once they have, I will post my review to my blog and on social media.
Zachary loves nothing more than Halloween, and Casper Road is the perfect place to showcase his architectural talents--and win the annual decorating contest. Every year. When new neighbor Bram moves in across the street and threatens his crown, the prank war is on. But there might be more to their burgeoning friendship than either has bargained on.
This is a plaid-wrapped, cider-scented, crunchy leaves romance that is perfect for that autumnal feeling. Sweet and spicy in the right proportions.
Thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for the ARC to review. All opinions are my own.
An absolute triumph as always! Parrish never fails to deliver a story that so perfectly encapsulates the season! This is a warm of a book with so much heart. Parrish has become an automatic buy of an author for me!
I found the characters interesting and well thought of. Not as good as Roan's usual work but still very enjoyable.
enjoyed this story about two rivals who are trying one up each other on Halloween decorations and end falling in love.
Another story set in the small town of Garnet Run, this follows broken-hearted but free-spirited Bram Larkspur, who moves in across the street from buttoned-up architect Zachary Glass. We get cameos from the main characters of prior stories in the series, which adds to the cozy feel. This is primarily a light and fluffy Halloween romance, although it has some unexpectedly heavy moments in relation to Zachary's long-lost sister, whose disappearance irreparably damaged his family. The Rivals of Casper Road is kind of an all-vibes no-plot romance, which I enjoy, but I do think that relationship beats that could have been explored more fully ended up being addressed through some lengthy monologues. I wanted to see the character growth happen more naturally. I think we were supposed to think Zachary was neurodivergent in some way, but it wasn't explicitly stated, which I think worked well here. I will say that Roan Parrish has a history of heavier, angstier, and more thoughtful romances, and this felt extra-light, even in comparison to earlier Garnet Run books. I hope to see her take a turn in a new direction when she completes this series. Her writing is capable of much more depth than this confection.
Such a cute book, great for around fall Halloween time. I loved to see the bit of prank war between neighbors and seeing how their relationship was slowly but surely formed. I enjoyed seeing the romance between the two and seeing how life shaped both of their lives and how they got to this point in time. This book had plenty of sweet moments to keep any reader hooked and I really overall enjoyed it and recommend any romance reader to check this one out.
This is a great addition to the series. It’s the perfect mix between fluffy and steamy, which is what Parrish does best in this series!
Garnet Run series and Roan Parrish characters are amongst my favorite in the mm romance world as the stories are always heartwarming and sweet.
When I see a new book in Garnet Run I know I will read it as it's always a treat.
This one was excellent: sweet but never too sweet, well plotted, and compelling.
It's a sort of fairy tale but there's always some very realistic details.
I consider this series a sign of times and a hope that dark times will never be back as there's inclusivity and people accept the differences.
Many thanks to Harlequin for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
After he founds out that his boyfriend and his best friend were cheating on him, Bramble "Bram" Larkspur leaves all behind and moves to queer friendly Garnet Run to start a new life. There, he discovers Casper Road's Halloween decoration contest, and decides to join the competition as a way to meet his neighbors. Soon, he finds himself competing to take down his neighbor—and the contest reigning champion for the last six years—Zachary Glass, while immerse in a prank war with him.
Both Bram and Zachary are very different. Bram is like a sunny day, usually seeing the good in people. His recent breakup forced him to be more cautious, but he still has this kind heart, something we could see in his ability to create amazing sculptures with wood. As someone who has to start over again, Bram has a few struggles to do it but his friendly and open personality helps him overcome everything that comes in front of him. Zachary, on his part, is kinda cloudy. Having suffered a lot in his childhood due to his looks, for being Jewish and a tragic event in his teenage years, he's more introvert and lonely in some ways. He also has his life so rigorously structured that keeps him away to innovative things. Yet he's a visionary in his work as an architect, being frustrated when the firm he works with doesn't get his vision.
Zachary LOVES horror movies, Bam DREAD them. With that in mind, they started to watch movies and sharing points of view, realizing both men have more in common than they thought. And here's where love makes its appearance, creating an unexpected bond between them.
I have a few issues with this book. Its writing is nice, but it has some awkwardness in Zachary and Bram's interactions. The extremely slow pace of the plot doesn't help at all. This is a slow-burn romance...without the romance? I didn't see it, don't know why. Also for some reason I didn't didn't get fully connected with this couple, and I read enough gay romance books to compare. In fact, I read book 1 of the Garnet Run series and their heroes were better together than Zachary and Bram. Not that Zachary and Bram are bad characters. They're charmingly great, actually. Although I felt Zachary's character better developed than Bram's. It's just they are a bit odd together. Or so that's how I perceived them.
Since this is book 4 of the Garnet Run series, you can see characters from the previous books as secondary characters. Also, Bram's family was perfect for a man with such beautiful heart as his. At the same time, for someone as introvert as Zachary, his friendship with Wes is magnificent.
This book was a fabulous discovery for me because it's a LGBTQ+ romance. And I LOVE LGBTQ+ books! Ms. Parrish's town concept is spectacular and alluring. Likewise, she made a fantastic researching job for this story. Also, there's a nice balance between serious and funny moments. An easy reading if you consider it has a lot of architectural explanations. Looking forward for what this author brings to the Garnet Run series in the future.
This was the first book I read by Roan Parrish and I am immediately going back to read the rest of them! This was so sweet and I wish I had more time with all the characters. It was excellent!
This is another lovely entry in Roan Parrish's 'Garnet Run' series, though you certainly don't have to have read any of the others to appreciate this delightful, incredibly low-conflict romance. It still handles real issues with warmth and emotional maturity, and I LOVED the main characters and MC Bram's extended, crunchy, supportive family. I wish we lived in a world like this one.
It is a cute enemy-to-lovers story that will put a smile on your face. The perfect read for this Halloween season. The kind of book that you can read in one sitting. However, do not expect much heat if that is what you expect from a MM romance novel.
For this novel, the author used the right ingredients if the idea was to tell an innocent and sometimes cliched story. Do not get me wrong, LGBTQ literature needs this kind of formula.
I highly recommend it.