Forbidden in the Falls (Devon Falls Book 2) by J.E. Birk

Moving on from your past means forgiving both yourself and others. Forbidden in the Falls is book two of Devon Falls and is a medium angst book with a boss employee age gap dynamic. One man is struggling with the town's perception of him, the other is struggling with the loss of his best friend and husband. Can these two work through their struggles, and find a way to be together?

From the blurb:

He’s my boss. He never smiles. I have a totally off-limits crush on him. Oh, and I just moved into his house.

All I’ve ever wanted is to escape the tiny town and trailer park that never accepted me. I came to Devon Falls to start over, and things here were starting to look up—until I accidentally ended up living in a drug dealer's barn and became a town pariah all over again. And on top of all that, I’m now homeless for a second time. Is there a hotter mess than me on the planet?

Things get really wonky when my boss rescues me from my car and takes me home with him. I’ve been crushing hard on Dr. Sam Evers since the day we met, and moving in with him isn’t making that crush go away. He may be one of the growliest people in town, but Dr. Evers takes care of me and protects me in a way no one ever has. Still, I know better than to think that will last once he realizes what a disaster I am. Plus, Dr. Evers swore off all relationships after he lost his husband. And then there’s the fact that he’s my boss…

But when I end up managing the Devon Falls Leaf Festival and quickly discover I can't do it all on my own, Dr. Evers steps in to save me yet again. Now I can’t decide what’s harder: earning the acceptance of an entire town, or making sure I don't fall hard for a doctor I can never have.

Forbidden in the Falls is a forbidden boss-employee romance. It comes with a grouchy doctor, his hapless young office manager, leaf festival shenanigans, and all the small-town quirk you’d expect from a Devon Falls book. This is the second book in the Devon Falls series, but it can be read as a standalone.

Angel's review:

I haven't read the first book in this series, but I still found this story to be very enjoyable without reading the first book. I didn't feel like I was missing anything. So having said that; this book, while part of a series, can be read as a standalone.

I quite enjoyed Sam and Malachi's story, it was complex and there were lots of twists and turns that made the story even more intriguing. There was an age gap between the two MC's, but in the story, it was a non-issue. For the most part anyway. Sam's character was a complex one, while he was kind and generous towards Malachi, he was also closed off and blunt at other times. I do understand why, we do get his backstory and why he closes himself off from others, which I think really helped to understand his character. He wasn't trying to be rude, he was just trying to punish himself for something that wasn't his fault.

I adored Malachi's character! Despite the world being against him, he always picked himself up, dusted himself off, and got back out there to try to do his best. I love how headstrong he was, but also how he genuinely cared for others and was passionate about the things he cared about. Despite some people of the town holding one mistake over his head, he did his best to try to ensure the success of the Festival. The relationship between Sam and Malachi was a slow burn, with LOTS of steam. The scene where Sam took Malachi to a restaurant was so sweet, and I wish there were more moments like that. More moments where they were being couple-y and going on dates. That being said, I still really enjoyed this story, and the town the story is set in is really interesting. Especially the infamous poop emoji statue! Oh, and we can't forget about Sherbet, the grumpy goat.

The side characters really made this story come alive, and gave the story a bit of a boost. They helped add more dialogue and they helped not only move the story along, but they also added depth and dimension to the story altogether. I'm looking forward to Gabe, Colin, and Tom's story, I cannot wait to read how those three men came together!

Molly Otto's review:

Sometimes forgiveness is so hard earned that it takes you longest to forgive yourself. Malachi didn't speak up when he should have left people to doubt how beautiful of a soul he is. Sam has issues forgiving himself for his husband passing when he should have been there. So when these two start something, it was meant to be no strings attached, both planned on moving on from Devon Falls. When these two open up more and more, they realize how right they really are.

Again, though, forgiveness is a problem. Sam not realizing makes Malachi's insecurities worse, and the town makes an error in not trusting the man they know over something said aloud in a public forum. It takes some serious work to make Malachi see he is not hated. It's a beautiful story. I just wish someone would have been by Malachi back the entire time.

Heather's Review:

This is not just a story of Malachi and Sam, but of Malachi and his adopted town... this book has a grumpy/sunshine, boss/employee, with some angst and some definite tension!  This book had a deliciously slow burn, with a building trust and a community feel that makes you want to buy land in this Vermont town... I couldn't put it down!

I can't wait to see what more comes out of the Devon Falls series!

Forbidden in the Falls is currently available as an e-book and can be read as part of your Kindle Unlimited Subscription