The Brothers Grime: Eddie: Grime Doesn’t Pay – Z.A. Maxfield
Loving oneself can be a dirty job…
Eddie and Andrew have dynamite chemistry, except Eddie is profoundly dyslexic, and Andrew lives to read. Andrew is pathologically disorganized, and Eddie likes things neat and clutter-free.
Andrew is desperately ashamed of his hoarder father–a secret that could pull them apart even as a friend’s tragedy brings them together.
When Andrew’s father’s condition deteriorates and he nearly dies because of his compulsion, Eddie and Andrew must learn compassion begins with loving one’s self in Eddie: Grime Doesn’t Pay.
Eddie hardly made on-page appearances on Jack: Grime and Punishment but the man turned out to be the best Grime Brother yet!
The Brothers Grime is the titular company co-owned by three friends, Jack, a retired firefighter, his cousin Gage, and their friend, Eddie. They specialized in industrial clean ups, mostly violent crime scenes and biohazards.
Eddie: Grime Doesn’t Pay shows the The Brothers Grime cleaning up other nasty spots aside from crime scenes. They tackled a problem rarely featured in books: hoarding.
This is also a book about teachers. Eddie’s childhood had been heavily impacted by teachers and even as an adult, they continue to change his life.
Eddie was forever pining for his niece’s teacher. Trying his damnedest to impress in his best threads whenever he drops his beloved niece to school, he was often reduced to an awkward mess whenever he tried to talk to Andrew. Andrew tends to drop some book references in an effort to engage his student’s attractive uncle. Eddie ends up running away, leaving the other man wondering what had he done wrong?
Unbeknownst to most, Eddie has dyslexia so reading is a struggle for him. This made him feel his crush was out of his league.
I really liked how the story handled Eddie’s issues. Eddie doesn’t go out of his way to let people know he had a learning disability and he did feel “orcish” as he puts it, when he was with Andrew’s erudite friends. However, it did a great job portraying how Eddie adapted and overcame the obstacles. He developed an effective system that helped him with his daily tasks. It was uplifting and really showed how far Eddie had gone, from having teachers give up on him to becoming a successful businessman.
There was a teacher who never gave up on Eddie though. Mrs. Henderson saw his true grit and helped him channel his energy. And so Eddie became Eddie ‘Cha Cha’ Vasquez, busting out dance moves no one can beat.
Mrs. Henderson was also the teacher who brought Eddie and Andrew together many years after. One day, Andrew found her very disoriented in their campus. He called for help. Later, they found out she has dementia and her husband was dead for a week. Dave, Eddie’s detective friend, called him knowing this was relevant to Eddie. He quickly took responsibility to make sure his former teacher was properly cared for.
I liked Andrew a lot at the start. He was funny, flirty and spontaneous. He jived fabulously with Eddie once they broke the ice. But he had his own dirty secret though. His father is a hoarder and Andrew was ashamed of the state his house was in. It was so bad police gave the older man an ultimatum to clean up or lose his house.
Andrew really had a tough time handling this. It brought out some of his unflattering characteristics that made me feel less keen about him.
But this is where Eddie shines the brightest. He was the nicest, most understanding, most patient teddy bear ever! He talked sense into his panicking boyfriend, offered unconditional support and he even volunteered to have his company clean the house pro bono. The best thing here was that he, profoundly dyslexic, completely understood what the hoarded books meant to Andrew’s father. I loved the connection he established with his father-in-law.
This had the cuteness and lightness that was mostly missing in Jack’s book. The serious themes were deftly balanced by the humor. The first half of the story showcased the delicious USTs between Eddie and Andrew in the best way possible. The couple remained strong throughout even with the meltdowns and blow ups.
The crew pitched in to help. They were as awesome as before and I loved reading about them. The group dynamics really worked so well. Jack and his boyfriend, Ryan, made a few appearances here and there. Gage had major page-time. I have yet to understand what he sees in Dave. The detective is still an asshole but their book is next so that might shed some light on his mysterious appeal.
The Brother Grime‘s most notorious employee, Skippy, is my favorite. I need his book! His wife, Kelly-Ann, sounds quite a character herself. We only hear about her from Skippy but she made an impression. How did a former mob enforcer turned industrial cleaner and a tarot card reading woman who believes cats steal breath from babies end up together? Inquiring minds are dying to know!
Eddie: Grime Doesn’t Pay took the series up a notch. It’s a great mix of levity and angst. It had gritty details and a whole lot of heart. It is a story about family, self-acceptance, coping with a loved one’s mental illness and appreciating triumphs no matter how small. Eddie really went above and beyond with his kindness and compassion. So it’s no surprise that he became the teacher’s pet.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
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The Brothers Grime: Jack: Grime and Punishment – Z.A. Maxfield
One man’s tough job is a path to love.
The Brothers Grime is Jack Masterson’s way of helping people in crisis after disability ends his career as a firefighter. Jack’s people get to a scene long after the physical trauma ends. They don’t solve crime or rescue the victims. They help people move on. The new job is all Jack wants or needs, until he gets the call about old flame Nick Foasberg’s suicide.
Ryan Halloran’s cousin Nick has been on a downhill slide for a long time. Despite that, Ryan does everything he knows to help. Ryan only understands part of what happened between Nick and Jack in high school, but after Nick’s suicide, Ryan agrees both he and Jack need closure. They work together to clean the scene and despite the situation, heat flares between them.
Jack is keeping a painful secret and fighting his attraction to Nick’s lookalike cousin, Ryan. Ryan calls himself a magnet for lost causes and worries Jack might be the next in a long line of losers.
Despite his misgivings, despite the past and the mistakes they’ve both made, Jack gives Ryan something to look forward to, and Ryan gives Jack a reason to stop looking back, in Grime and Punishment.
This is a rerelease of the 2013 novel with bonus stories in the Grime-verse!!!
Pun-y titles always make me think light and humorous so I was surprised that this was rather bleak and angsty. Well, at least the first 30% of the story. I nearly dropped the book but I’m glad I hanged on. I mistakenly thought this was going to be mystery but it’s actually contemporary romance.
The Brothers Grime has a very interesting set-up that’s quite unique. This is the name of the company that specializes in cleaning up crime scenes. It is co-owned by three friends, Jack, his cousin Gabe, and their friend Eddie. Jack was a former firefighter who came up with the idea after he had a serious accident that left him with a disability and needed a cane to walk.
Jack: Grime and Punishment opens the series with a suicide. Jack receives a call from their detective friend and his occasional fuck buddy, Dave, that a friend from high school shot himself in his bathroom.
Nick was Jack’s first love, his bestfriend and lover. He was very closeted. He and his friends nearly beat Jack to a pulp when he publicly tried to ask Nick to the prom. Jack’s cousin and friends never forgave Nick for that. The incident left marks on everyone. Jack carried the wounds ever since. He goes about life avoiding relationships. He also had to deal with the chronic pain from his injury as a firefighter. Understandably, he’s an angry man.
This part was came off a bit heavy for me. After all he had suffered and through the past 15 years, Jack kept Nick’s secret closely guarded despite urgings from his friends, who also knew the truth, to tell the whole story. You have to admire Jack’s loyalty here. He badly needed closure and cleaning up the scene of death was it.
Ryan is the other person who needed closure. Nick was living with him. Ryan is a magnet for lost causes who took in his drug-addicted cousin.
Ryan put Jack in a dilemma. He looked so much like his dead cousin. This brought in the conflict of whether Jack was attracted to Ryan because he reminded him of his lost love. Many times Jack drew comparisons between the two. At one point, he wondered if he can think about Ryan without thinking about Nick. This also colored Ryan’s perception of Jack.
Another thing here was that both MCs slept with other people off page. If you are like me, a stickler for exclusivity between MCs the moment they noticed each other, I’m happy to say this part wasn’t that off-putting. I did wonder for a while if there was going to be a love triangle with Dave. Thankfully it was emphasized that there were no feelings there therefore no cheating for all parties involved. The thing with Dave was automatically put to a stop.
The book took a lighter, happier tone after the funeral when Jack and Ryan had their official first date. Ryan had the brilliant idea to test his dates with the first date playlist. This was the moment Jack’s sense of humor came to the fore and his character became infinitely more likable.
Same with Ryan. I first thought him as abrasive but that was because he was dealing with a lot of things. It was him who smoothly turned a difficult day at Nick’s funeral with Jack into a fun getting-to-know-you session on their way home and capped it with a nice dinner date. He had a playful, flirtatious streak. My favorite part was how he breathed life into Jack’s morose world, reminding him how to have fun again.
And with the similarities, I liked that Jack was honest that he had a type when it comes to looks and Ryan and Nick both shared that look. But he also made it clear he liked Ryan for who he is. “Ryan was so like Nick. Yet…they were as individual as snowflakes.” He had to work hard to convince Ryan though.
Given that both MCs were trying to move on from a tragic incident, the romance was not cute and fluffy. There was also misunderstanding and a separation period. But it had plenty of enjoyable parts and the flirting/banter between Jack and Ryan brought the book up a notch.
This series had a great supporting cast of characters I’m eager to read more about. Gage was the client whisperer who certainly lived up to his reputation. He and Jack were pretty close. Dave wasn’t my favorite person here but he was certainly intriguing. He’s going to be paired with Gage in the third book. He’s so deep in the closet I’m curious to see how Gage convinces him to come out of it. Skippy, a Brothers Grime employee who takes morbid glee in his job would make for a very interesting MC but he’s straight and married so he’s off the list. Eddie was mostly off page but his book is next.
Jack: Grime and Punishment is a good book to pick up if you have a yen for contemporary romance with a gritty, unusual set-up, engaging characters, and serious themes balanced out by adorable kitty antics and a lot of sweetness and humor. I really liked how the crime scene clean up was worked into the plot. After all, it was what I signed up for and it didn’t disappoint. There were some gory details illustrating the kind of work involved but not too much to make you lose lunch.
The Brothers Grime is a nasty business but it also brought together two men who would have otherwise missed the fateful connection that brought joy and healing to their hurt, angry souls. Jack’s company logo maybe “Life is not a fairytale“, it certainly doesn’t say he can’t have his happy ever after.
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love
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You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperbacks and MP3 CD audiobooks and help support independent bookstores.