Advance Review by Rafa: The Secrets In My Scowl, by A.E. Via

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The Secrets In My Scowl, by A.E. Via
Publisher: Via Star Wings Books
Release date: October 28, 2016

Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars


Sparks ignite and tempers flare when a sexy, optimistic wedding planner, moves his business in across the hall from a jilted, divorce lawyer’s practice.

“Look smart ass. This is the last time I’m going to remind you about breaking sections of the lease. If there’s a next time, I won’t stop until you and your frilly, white wedding shit is thrown out of here. Do you got it?!”

Wylde looked in Jacob’s pained eyes and answered in his deep voice. “Yeah, counselor. I got it.”

From high school, up until he became a successful attorney Jacob Snowden was convinced that love had it out for him. “Everyone left,” were the words he lived by. His mother, his high school sweetheart, his father, and his fiancé, all left Jacob just when he felt it was safe to let down his guard. Not any longer. Jacob was a determined man, set at keeping people at a distance. If his six foot one, military-made body didn’t scare people off, his permanent scowl surely did. At almost forty, Jacob’s social life was non-existent, but he told himself his work fulfilled him. He helped people get out of their loveless marriages. Jacob Snowden was one of the best divorce lawyers on the east coast and was damn proud of it. So, imagine his disdain when a wedding planner moves into the suite directly adjacent to his… an insanely masculine, male wedding planner.

Wylde Sterling had made quite a name for himself in his hometown of Roanoke, Virginia, working for a wedding planner that catered to the elite. He was known for his charm and impeccable taste. Yep, he was incredible at giving couples the wedding of their dreams. But he wanted nothing more than to plan his own. After striking out in love more times than he cared to admit, Wylde decided to start his own business in a new city, hoping Richmond would give him a fresh start. Things started out wonderfully – until he started to piss off the angry divorce attorney next door.

Wylde could see past Jacob’s mean scowl, knowing there was a reason for it. It was the man’s defense mechanism, his means of keeping people away. Everything in Wylde told him to stay away, but he believed Jacob just needed to meet a man who had been hurt as badly as he had.


M/M Pairing
Gay Characters
Opposites Attract
Grumpy MC

I’ve enjoyed A.E. Via’s books in the past, but The Secrets in My Scowl didn’t work for me for several reasons.

Typos and minor editing issues aside, I didn’t think this book showcased the author’s best works. I’m usually all for some backstory, but quite frankly I thought the entire prologue and first five chapters could have been reworked. There were several time jumps and a lot of history to wade through. I felt that Jacob’s breakup with his ex-boyfriend Mark and introduction to his best friend Patrick could have fit in the prologue, and the rest of his history with his family and high school boyfriend could have been relayed via flashbacks.

Another reason the book kind of lost me before we even got to the present day was because I didn’t get Jacob’s relationship with his ex Mark at all. If anything, I thought they had been casually dating because they barely saw each other. Jacob had absolutely zero time for Mark because of law school (which, to his credit he made very clear was his top priority), then a whole bunch of things happened between them that had me rolling my eyes in disbelief. I never saw any sort of commitment between the two men, so I found it difficult to sympathize with Jacob for his time with Mark.

Which leads me to my other problem: Jacob was an asshole. I get it, he’s supposed to be the alphahole character with the painful past. I’ve enjoyed similar characters by this author (see her Nothing Special cop series for some OTT testosterone-fueled fun), but I just did not warm up to Jacob at all. His icy character eventually thawed out, and I was pleasantly surprised that his interest in Wylde was not the catalyst for turning over a new leaf. The fact that he didn’t change simply to pursue Wylde was refreshing and definitely earned him some brownie points in my eyes.

The pace of the book picked up as soon as Wylde was introduced, and thankfully the story and the writing flowed much better from there. While Jacob was predictable, Wylde definitely lived up to his name. He was fun, charming and visually striking, with his man bun and gold(!) facial piercings. Sadly, his biphobia, which reared its ugly head when he was out on a date, was a major NOPE for me.

The biggest problem was Ken was bisexual. Wylde preferred a man that was gay. Last thing he needed was his man to suddenly request a woman to join them in bed.

If you’re able to look past the random biphobia and some cheese (“Everything he said, did, was done with a kind of loving, racy passion that was unique to the best pornos in existence”), it’s a sweet story about two very different men who are looking for more. Their tentative attraction was palpable, and the sex was intense. The author writes alpha males pretty well, even though some of the macho posturing and sexual aggression can come off pretty funny.

… Jacob’s dick got hard enough to punch through his zipper.

The parts which attempted to reconcile the many ghosts from Jacob’s past felt a bit clumsy, but the book ended on a sweet and satisfactory note for the two men. I think fans of the author might enjoy this book. For everyone else, I would recommend some of her other works, especially if you enjoy alpha MCs.


A.E. Via is an author in the beautiful gay romance genre and also founder and owner of Via Star Wings Books. Her writing embodies everything from hopelessly romantic to spicy to scandalous. Her stories often include intriguing edges and twists that take readers to new, thought-provoking depths.

When she’s not clicking away at her laptop, she devotes herself to her family–a husband and four children.

Adrienne Via has tons of more stories to tell, but she really would like to hear yours. Via Star Wings Books is currently accepting submissions for established and aspiring LGBTQ authors. I’ve contracted and successfully published a couple authors – whose information can be found on my website – who can tell you that my passion is giving other writer’s stories the love and care it deserves so it could be a gift to another. Visit my site to learn more!

Go to A.E. Via’s official website for more detailed information on how to contact her, follow her, or a sneak peak on upcoming work, free reads, VSWB submissions, and where she’ll appear next.

You can purchase The Secrets In My Scowl at:

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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.


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