Malicious Compliance and Instant Regret by EM Lindsey (Loose Lips Sink Ships Duet)

The Loose Lips Sink Ships duet was published together so you don't have a cliffhanger ending!  Each book is told from a single POV and need to be read in order because the timelines overlap

From the Malicious Compliance Blurb:

There's nothing like an epic fall from grace.

Relationship: over.
Career: trashed.
Home: lost.

And somehow, it gets worse when I move into a run-down apartment with a neighbor who's made it his mission to make my life a living hell. Reeling from my tragic breakup, all I want to do is collect the shattered pieces of my life and put them back together in a shape I recognize, but it's hard to do that when the jerk next door is keeping me up all hours of the night.

Whatever he does with his loud woodworking tools, obnoxious nineties punk music, and his constant complaints about my working hours, sleep is now a fantasy. Where I once composed music, I now spend my nights entertaining myself with visions of revenge.

But as the war between us continues, things start to shift, and I come to realize our lives might not be that different after all. Where I once loathed the sound of him singing Sex Pistols and using his table saw, now I've come to crave it. And I'm starting to think that maybe a faceless stranger I've never met might be the key to finding the man I'd lost the day I met my ex.

I'm not sure if the universe has any kindness in mind, but maybe during the holidays, I'll find my way to hope.

Malicious Compliance is the first in a slow-burn, holiday romantic MM duet featuring enemy neighbors to lovers, the merits of the DIY punk scene, a series of bad dates, and an eventual steamy happily ever after. It is book 1 of the Loose Lips Sink Ships duet, ending in a small cliffhanger. Books must be read in order.

There’s nothing like having your sanctuary destroyed.

My life has been a series of carefully cultivated, strategic moves to ensure peace and quiet. I’m generally a happy guy but there’s one thing I can’t stand: having my space invaded. After all, that's why I chose this run-down building that no one wants to live in.

And then he moved in.

The obnoxious, arrogant classical musician who spent his first night banging on the wall and insulting my playlist.

But as much as it’s been fun driving him up the wall, I start to see the cracks in his holier-than-thou demeanor—which I suppose is impressive for a blind man.

Something about his life is more tragic than I want to think about, and it doesn’t take more than a few kind words to get him to open up.

Where I once wanted to torment him until he moved out, now all I can think about is how he’d feel in my arms. I’m not sure if he’s willing to give me a chance after everything I’ve done, but this Christmas, I have hope.

And this New Year’s Eve—if luck is on my side—I’ll be ringing it in with the one man I will never let go.

Instant Regret is the second book of the holiday duet featuring a smartass woodworker, a tired best friend, a wooing plan with deep enough cracks you could see through to the core of the earth, and the sweetest, steamiest happily ever after. Malicious Compliance and Instant Regret must be read in order.

Heather's Review:

It really is impossible to review each book individually after devouring them both... it was really interesting to read the story in single POV, because really, it is one love story told in two distinct parts - with a wall between the neighbours and almost as much emotional distance to start the story. 

The story would have lost something if the story would have been told in dual POV - the author wants us to be somewhat in the dark in the first story and use that knowledge we've gleaned to help understand the second POV - and it's beautifully done...

Don't plan to read just one novella and think you'll be able to save the other for a later date - as soon as you finish the cliffhanger ending of book 1, you'll immediately need to dive into book 2.

TW: for past traumas 

Rating: 5 Stars

Angel's Review of Malicious Compliance:

I love EM's writing; I haven't read a book by them that I haven't enjoyed. They are exceptional at writing, and you can always feel the emotion that's in the story. You can also tell just how much work they put into not only writing relatable and realistic characters, but they also put the time into researching the topic matters they write about. They also have such a way with words.. I'm always beyond impressed and in awe whenever I read another book from them. They know how to hook you in and make you an emotional mess, in a good way! 

Jules is struggling. His boyfriend and mentor took advantage of him and emotionally manipulated him for years. Secluded him from his friends, from his freedom and his independency. Now he's on his own in New York trying to restart his life and career, along with trying to rekindle his relationship with his sister. Which isn't going that well. 

I really enjoyed the relationship that bloomed between Jules and Forrest, how they started out with a terse agreement that slowly blossomed into becoming friends. Even though they never met face to face, they still built a connection and a companionship through talking through a wall. You don't always need to talk to someone face to face to get to know them. A complete stranger could turn into your best friend. It just depends. 

This is part one of a two-part series, so make sure you read the second one once you're finished with this one. Which is what I'm going to do! I'm so excited to read about what happens next!! 

Rating: 5 Stars

Angel's Review of Instant Regret:

This book shocked me. I did not see this coming. Which I love. I love when an author can blow me away without me really knowing what I'm getting myself into. E.M. just knows how to write characters you can't help but want to know, and wish were real. You cheer for them through their ups and you want to be their shoulder to lean on for their downs. I'm absolutely blown away by these duets of books. I honestly didn't know what to expect with these, and I'm so glad I got to read them. I would've missed out if I hadn't. 

And while these two books might not be all happy, and sunshine and rainbows, it was such a phenomenal read for me. Life isn't perfect, life has ups and downs, good and bad, gut wrenching moments, grief, loss, pain, fear, anguish.. you name it and that's life. But there are also the beautiful things to life to; Growth, companionship, family, chosen family, friends, pets.. Sometimes it takes someone else to make you see those things, to make you believe that going through all of the bad is worth it. And for someone to convince you that life isn't always a downward trajectory. This book did that for me. 

I'm not blind, nor have I been in an emotionally abusive relationship. However, I've been through a really rough couple of years. So I could relate to the overall message in these two books, and it was so poignant and so beautiful. I will definitely be rereading these soon. 

Thank you, E.M. Lindsey, for writing these books for those who need stories like these.

(Remember! You can't read this one without reading the first one. It's not a standalone.) 

Rating: 5 Stars

The Loose Lips Sink Ships duet is available in e-book form and can be read as part of your Kindle Unlimited subscription.