Book Review – As You Wish by Isobel Starling

Shatterproof Bond #1
Publisher: Self Published
Pages: 216
Characters: Sam/Declan
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Series, Contemporary
One wedding, two best men, one hell of a love story!

Declan Ramsay’s brother Oliver was marrying Annabelle Aiken at a fairy tale castle on the banks of Loch Ness in Scotland. The bride and groom decided, so that he didn’t feel left out, that Annabelle’s gay younger brother could share the best man duties with Declan.

Declan had never met the kid who was to be his joint best man. Sam Aiken was abroad, working as an interpreter and finishing his studies. He wouldn’t meet Declan until a few days before the wedding, so the best men communicated and planned their speech by email for more than a year. But on meeting Sam Aiken, Declan is surprised to realize the kid isn’t a kid at all, but a tall, blond and athletic young man. Declan is sure he’s straight, so he’s alarmed by the ferocious attraction he feels for Sam. And as the attraction is reciprocated, the events at Dunloch Castle change everything Declan has ever believed about himself. But, is Samuel Aiken all that he appears to be?

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At first I found the POV head hopping a little distracting but as I read more, I got used to it. Ditto with some of the punctuation and capital letters where they didn’t need to be, although the former made me twitch a bit until I got caught up in the action toward the end of the story. There’s a comment mid way through the story about sex with women which was a bit WTF, too, plus one of the women is a little too stereotypical for my tastes.

However, despite that, I found the story an enjoyable one, and I liked both Sam and Declan and how their growing friendship leads to love despite a rocky start. The quotes from The Princess Bride were amusing, and I enjoyed watching them bond over their common geekiness of the movie. I liked that how it took a while for them to mesh the man they’d exchanged emails with to the one in front of them. One of their romantic gestures was very sweet, but I didn’t need to re-read the repeated details of what was all over it—eww. I also thought Declan’s response to Sam’s prolonged absence was realistic, and I’ll be interested to see how he adjusts to the new life he’s now a part of.

Although the story starts out as a light contemporary romance, shortly before the end it changes into something very different. That bit really got my attention and my interest in reading more, although I enjoyed the earlier part of the book too.

I’d recommend As You Wish to readers who enjoy a fun romance with a bit of geekiness, likeable MCs, and a twist in the story. 4 out of 5 stars.

About Anne Barwell

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning. In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra. She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ. Anne’s books have received honorable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical. Anne can be found at
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