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Summary

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. 

The Fae Out of Water stories can be enjoyed in series order, or enjoyed on their own. Word count: 91,200.

©2017 E.J. Russell (P)2021 E.J. Russell

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I am head over heels in love with Mal and Bryce

I’m not sure if I can convey how much I love this book.

This is the second in the Fae Out of Water and the overall Mythmatched series. I will quickly list the series here as it is not obvious on Audible, Amazon or Goodreads that they are all related:

Fae Out of Water (Kendrick brothers)
1. Cutie and the Beast (also available on Audible)
2. The Druid Next Door
3. Bad Boy's Bard

Supernatural Selection
4. Single White Incubus
5. Vampire with Benefits
6. Demon on the Low-Down

7. Howling on Hold (also available on Audible)
8. Possession in Session (a free ebook download from the author's website when you subscribe to the mailing list)
9. Witch Under Wraps

This series, particularly the Fae out of water trilogy, is very strong on worldbuilding, with substantial lore and a lot of celtic terminology. I would strongly recommend that the books are read in the above order for complete understanding and enjoyment.

I fell in love with this series while listening to Cutie and the Beast, and proceeded to read or listen to all nine books in eleven days. I read The Druid Next Door on my kindle, and the audiobook came out towards the end of my Mythmatched binge. I was very happy to double back when I’d finished and listen to the audiobook.

We met Mal in Cutie and the Beast, as Alun’s lighthearted, flirty brother. He saved the day - twice - by rescuing David and Alun, and has ended up with a functionless hand, and barred from Faerie for his trouble. We find him morose and directionless, and winding up his next door neighbour Bryce. This book beautifully balances the paranormal and the action elements with the romance. The development of the relationship between Mal and Bryce is central to the story.

In the first book, Mal was a bit devil-may-care for my liking, and I didn’t think I would end up adoring him as I do. He is absolutely my favourite of the Kendrick brothers. This book delves much more into his character, and we see behind the veneer of charm and wit to the guy who has worked hard to protect his brothers and keep the family somewhat together over the last 200 years. With both Alun and Gareth drowning in sorrow and self-recrimination over their doomed love affairs, it has not been an easy task. His brothers really don’t appreciate the strain they have put Mal under, and are not similarly supportive of him. I was really angry with the way they treated Mal in this book. They were quick to accuse him without hearing him out, and I was delighted when Bryce told them to “back the fuck off” and leave him alone. This is just the type of back-up and protection that Mal has not had before.

David is still the wonderful darling we met in Cutie and the Beast, and is a wonderful support for both Mal and Bryce.

I just love the pairing of Mal and Bryce. They are the most unique pairing in the Mythmatched universe. That complete understanding, acceptance and support is exactly what Mal needs, and is heart-meltingly beautiful. I think that they are the most recurring characters throughout the series, so I'm obviously not the only one who loves them. Between them they appear in all of the books save the last two. We see them get engaged in Vampire with Benefits and Howling on Hold (same scene, different perspectives) and their bachelor party and wedding in Demon on the Low-Down.

I found this series by falling in love with Joel Leslie’s narration of another book, and searching out his other works. He has not let me down, in fact he seems to get better and better. I was feeling rather stressed when I first put this book on, but I instantly felt myself start to relax. Leslie’s narration of Mal is absolute perfection. Mal is constantly funny, albeit more of a dark humour in this book compared to the first, and that is conveyed from the very first words “A jar of pickles. A fecking jar of fecking pickles, gods damn it to all the hells.” I challenge you to listen without a big goofy smile on your face.

Leslie’s delivery is exquisitely sensitive to the emotions of the characters, so that there’s never a single second when you’re not sure what’s happening. His pacing, pronunciation, ACCENTS and comic timing are to die for. There are few narrators who truly approach audiobook narration as an art in itself. Leslie is one of those who makes a book greater by adding his own sprinkle of magic. I can - and do - listen to him all day.

I’m assuming we can expect the third book Bad Boy’s Bard in the next few months, and I desperately hope that the rest of the Mythmatched series will also be recorded. My next favourite is Vampire with Benefits, and it would be wonderful to listen to Joel Leslie read it.

If you are just discovering this series, E. J. Russell or Joel Leslie, I congratulate you. You have many hours of joy ahead.

1 person found this helpful

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No saggy middle here

This book picks up a couple of months from where the first one left off. David and Alun are settling into their lives as a couple, Gareth – the younger brother – is still performing with his band and moping – and Lord Malwin is…well, he’s not coping well. While saving his brother from the vile Rodderick, he severed the man’s hand. As the horrible man was the Queen’s consort, he had certain protections. What was done to him would be wrought back to the doer. Mal severed the hand, his becomes useless. Now, he’d do it over again because otherwise his brother would have died, but he’s descended into a pit of self-pity where being drunk is…acceptable.

Mal lives in a special sub-division where environmentalism isn’t a token, it’s an expectation. His neighbor is the self-proclaimed head of this area, and Bryce’s work on maintaining the wetlands is admirable. In today’s day and age, though, sometimes those battles are uphill or even unwinnable. Pristine ecosystems are laudable, but humans have a tendency to leave their mark. When Bryce sees Mal essentially littering, he loses his, uh, stuff. Bryce doesn’t want to hear Mal’s excuses, but when the man gets injured, Bryce is there to help. Or, force help upon Mal. Mal figures this is more baggage from the Fae world, but does call in David, his brother-in-law, to tend to him. David brings his Aunt Cassie the druid. Aunt Cassie meets Bryce and all of a sudden Bryce’s life takes a sharp turn with no warning.

Turns out Bryce is a druid. His affinity to the natural world comes, well, naturally. From there, the story moves at quite a clip as Mal continues to try to regain sensation in his hand. He even makes a deal with a shady character, not really reasoning out the consequences. I adored Mal, but he didn’t always make solid decisions. I also liked that he, uh, wound up taking the subservient role in the bedroom. I love turnabout in this way, and it was cute the distress it caused in both men as they’d seen themselves as set in their ways.

I did not see the ending coming and the book has set up the finale of the trilogy beautifully. While I’m waxing poetic, I’ll mention Joel Leslie and what a great job he did narrating these books. He has the perfect voice for each character and made the stories come alive. I can’t wait for the next book.

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Happy book

Liked humour in book. Short sweet story, happy ever after story. May have preferred as kindle unlimited title not worth audio price. Though characters well read by narrator

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Excellent sequel

I enjoyed this even more than the first book in the series. Druids and fae, a curse and a magical blight. Mal's surly nature compared with Bryce's sanctimonious eco warrior. Coupled with unwanted (?) bonds, issues surrounding consent and a task with a time limit made this a riveting audio.
Joel Leslie's performance was as on point as ever (kudos on all the Welsh).
Highly recommended.

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Sparks fly when fae and druid must join forces

His right hand rendered useless due to a curse, fae Mal ends up in a confrontation with his neighbor, Bryce, who turns out to be unaware of his own druid nature. In short order, however, they are magically tethered together and involved in tasks put to them by a mysterious third party, with the fates of Faerie, and Mal, in the balance. This was a very enjoyable tale of two men who struggle to understand what their true natures are when they are together, and the sexual and emotional pull they feel toward each other, while attempting to stay alive. The plot is a bit involved, but I was on board for all the twists and turns. The narration by Joel Leslie is nothing short of brilliant. Recommended!

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    4 out of 5 stars

Fun Followup to the Series w/GREAT Narration

If I had read the book first, it would have gotten a 4 rating, just as I gave the story in the rating system. I enjoyed it, but I loved book one. This audiobook gets an overall rating of 5 stars because of the narration. Joel Leslie shows his range of voices in this audiobook. With the vast number of side characters, JL couldn’t just use two. I mean...I guess he could, but he didn’t. He used a unique voice for each one and kept them all in character. I was in awe of his performance. He truly is a very talented voice actor/narrator. He did a beautiful job bringing this book to life.

This time we get Mal’s story, and it picks up right after, or not long after, he is cursed and banished. He’s still struggling with not being able to use or feel his right hand. I really enjoyed the scene where he meets Bryce for the first time. I am weird and find the give and take between ‘enemies’ kinda fun to watch. They are like oil and water, p!ss and vinegar, and even when they have moments of peace, there’s more barbs and words exchanged. While Bryce is a mc in this book, the story is more about Mal than it is Bryce. I feel like that is why Bryce’s apprenticeship isn’t finished at the end of the book. He has soooo much more to learn. I’m sure we will be seeing more of it in the background of the next book.

This story was a lot of fun and full of excitement. As with book one, this one is full of surprises and twists, along with a bevy of great characters. I would absolutely recommend this audiobook.

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The Druid and the Enforcer

I enjoyed this second book. I loved the meet cute between Bryce and Mal. They get stuck together to succeed on their mission. That forced proximity made them act on their attraction but frankly they seemed made for each other. There are misunderstandings and many obstacles but love wins in the end. Mr Leslie rocked the narration.

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Interesting world building

This was ok in terms of the world building, but on the whole neither the characters nor the plot were a home run for me. The enemies to lovers made me a bit uncomfortable in the way it was carried out and for me there were consent issues I couldn't quite get past. Joel Leslie's performance was exceptional as always.

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Love Druids!

Mel will crack you up and make you want to hug him until everything is better. Bryce is his perfect counterpart and is fantastic on his own. The twists and turns will cause you to grin and you will find yourself needing more from this world.

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Fun to listen to.

This was fun. I didn't enjoy it as much as book one but I do think this is shaping up to be a good series. Joel does a great job bringing these two to life. This continues on from book one so you need to have read or listened to that one first to really enjoy this story.

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  • Clau
  • 08-03-21

Not what I was expecting :(

I read the first book in this series, (Cutie and the Beast) and I really, really enjoyed it, so I was waiting for the second with a lot of expectations.

Sadly, I really found this story very disturbing. The whole consent issue was troublesome and it was never resolved; add to that the forced D/s relationship, justified with 'it's a psychological thing!' and... well... seriously, not my thing.

And Mal!!! He is nothing like we see in book one.

A sad disappointment :(

10 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • RandomHeart
  • 18-03-21

Not what I was expecting

First of all let me say Joel’s performance as always was wonderful, if it hadn’t been for him I would not have made it as far in this story as I did. I was really saddened by this story line. I couldn’t get behind Mals character he was nothing like we see on book one and I was so looking forward to this book too! Poor Bryce keeps being picked on lied to and attacked one way or another by Mal and I had just couldn't feel that this was a romantic story. I am sorry since I really loved the first book.

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Danagirl42
  • 11-04-21

So funny 🤣 😆 😄

This book so funny, it was like me and my husband we argue and fight but we love each other and come together when needed. Can't wait for book 3

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 05-03-21

where it all started

This is the second in the trio of books that created such a fun world that it less to myriad spin offs. Just this past weekend I listened again to the first book in this series and wished this one was released. imagine my happiness when it had been by the time I was done listening.

Joel Leslie wields his incredible range of accents well, and the story is an original twist on fae meets human.

I am looking forward to seeing three rest of E.J. Russell's books make it to audio. Her books are a perfect antidote to the reality of a 2020s world.

1 person found this helpful

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  • CH
  • 19-09-21

Love love love this series

This is a love story to the earth we inhabit, and the understanding that when we disregard it we are slowly killing ourselves like the blight that invaded the One Tree. It’s book 2 of 3 in the Fae out of water series and continues with the story of the 2nd Kendrick sibling. I love the fantasy, Celtic mythology and fairy tale influences and especially the shout out to Star Wars. I Look forward to reading about Gareth in book 3 as this author continues to deconstruct the human psyche and what it means to love and be loved.
Finally Joe Leslie is the master 😊

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  • Whitney
  • 14-09-21

If You Understand D/S You'll Love This Story

The characters struggles with how they feel about the d/s dynamic are super cute and relatable & the sex is so HOT!!! Yum Yum! Love this author, love this narrator.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Many Hat Momma
  • 27-07-21

Fun and imaginative!

This story is super imaginative! There is a lot going on and the relationships and people are very 3D and deep. This is book two of the series and is just as full of plot twists and mystery as the first. If you’re into fast paced faerie tales with druids and magic and a nod to other paranormal beings, this book might be something you’d like to read. My one critique is that I got kind of lost a couple of times when the main characters were arguing or going over things that happened and had to re-read to pick apart their meanings. Also- BUY THE AUDIOBOOK! Joel Leslie *sigh* - could this man get any better? Seriously, the audiobook is literally like 4D iMax theater for your mind with the level of narrative excellence he puts forth. Everyone talks about Leslie’s accents being amazing (and they are), but the dramatic recitation? That is what makes his audiobooks five stars for me- simply phenomenal!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Natalie Nicole
  • 13-07-21

A sequel that is every bit as good as the first!!!

EJ Russell continues her incredible stories of the group of fae brothers who ranked high in the Faerie's Seelie Court as Queen's Champion (Alun), Queen's Enforcer (Mal), and Queen's Bard (Gareth). In 'The Druid Next Door: Fae Out of Water Book 2', Mal Kendrick has been exiled from Faerie for preventing the death of his brother Alun by removing the would-be assassin's (the faerie queen's consort) sword hand. Because of faerie law, he is cursed with a useless right hand and is dismissed from his position as Queen's Enforcer. His life becomes even more complicated when it is discovered that his attractive next-door neighbor, Bryce MacLeod, is a druid in need of guidance and training. Dr. Bryce MacLeod is in touch with nature in a way that extraordinary having acquired knowledge from his grandmother by the time he was twelve years old. David's aunt is notified about the unaffiliated druid next door and she takes him on as an apprentice and charges Mal to teach him about the supernatural world after magically bounding them to each other, to ensure the lessons are taught. His unhappiness with all of the changes in his life drives Mal to get drunk and a mysterious stranger offers him an opportunity to regain all that he's lost and he goes for it only to discover an ancient secret binding the fae to the ultimate will of a druid. The stranger's proposition offers a way to save the realm from ultimate destruction if only the Seelie Queen can be persuaded to see value in his unorthodox offer. There were so many delightful twists and turns in this exciting novel. The pacing (the rate at which the writer introduces key elements in the story) and balance (distribution of varying types of element in the narrative) is impeccable, offering a reading experience that's free of dull points, sparse subplots, and frustrating oppositions. Though conflicts in the current story are beautifully resolved, challenges for the series arc exist for readers to happily anticipate. Goodness, how I've enjoyed this book!

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  • JEN
  • 16-06-21

Magic & a little mayhem

I found this very entertaining. I'm sure Mal would irritate some people & he certainly has some not-great moments, but if I had been in his position, I'd be even more disagreeable than he was. I'd be wallowing with a jar of Nutella & a spoon, personally. He might have been snippy, moody & not all together honest, but he did leave the house. Bryce has a couple imperfections, but is, in general, lovely & admirable. I enjoyed seeing their admiration for one another's good points and how they understood one another, despite having seemingly nothing in common. Seeing characters from the previous books make appearances was a real bonus.

I did figure out a bit of a riddle in the story WELL before the characters did & wanted to smack them on the head repeatedly for being so clueless. I'm sure most readers will want to yell at them as well. Maybe that's part of the fun?

For the audiobook, it was very quintessential Joel Leslie, so you either like it or not, depending on how you feel about him as a narrator. If you haven't heard Joel Leslie before, I say give it a try. He does snark and voice differentiation very well. His sex scene voice acting isn't all my bag, (and this book as more & hotter scenes than the previous one), but it might be good for others. ;)

I'm very much looking forward to starting the next book, as the Bard has definitely got my interest piqued.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Sue 🎧
  • 17-04-21

enjoyed it

Would I listen to it again: yes ✔
Did the story keep me engaged: yes ✔
Was I invested in the characters: yes ✔

📖 Story comment: good pace and an interesting story. It took me a while to warm up to Mal's character in this one, he wasn't what I was expecting from the character I met in Book 1. Over all it was entertaining, and I enjoyed it, but there was just something missing to make it as enjoyable as the first.

🎧 Narrator comment: Joel Leslie is a master voice actor, he has good cadence, inflections and intonations and it's easy to distinguish the multitude of characters from each other and feel the emotions of the story..