Tag Archives: New Zealand

Release Blitz: Flare by Jay Hogan

Flare | Jay Hogan

Style Series #1


Release Date: April 21st, 2022

Universal Link: https://readerlinks.com/l/2360954

Add to Goodreads: https://readerlinks.com/l/2360942




My own fashion label. The shiny new sign above the door means everything. My dream. My life. Worth every gruelling hour I’ve spent making it happen. Nothing can stop me now. Not the fear. Not the nightmares. Not my sad excuse for a love life. And certainly not Beckett Northcott, the sexy English professor who wouldn’t know a fitted shirt if it slapped him in the face and who has flannel down to an art form.

I don’t date for a very good reason, and yet Beck makes me want to break every damn one of my rules. But with my debut at Fashion Week looming, my business in trouble, and Beckett Northcott peeling open my terrified heart to a future I’ve never imagined, the threads of my carefully woven life are unravelling at the seams.

I could walk away. Or I could take a chance that Beck and I might just have what it takes to fashion a new life, together. A fresh design from a new cloth.

What to expect…Fashion Fashion Fashion, Skulduggery in the fashion world, Found family, Handcuffs, Humour, Age gap, Opposites Attract, Hurt/comfort, Fashion designer with a painful past meets English professor who wouldn’t know a fitted shirt if it slapped him in the face.

FA 3 wanted to stay


Shayne extolled the virtues of his lookbook in painful detail, careful to point out all the high-profile designers he’d modelled for. The message was clear. If I wanted Flare, my shiny new label, to succeed in its first appearance at Fashion Week, I needed him, front and centre. I didn’t even have an open call going. He’d just arrived on the doorstep of Flare and assumed I’d be interested, no, gagging to see him. I’d have choked on the sheer audacity if it wasn’t for the fact he had a point.

I did need something, but it certainly wasn’t his or anybody else’s bullshit.

My gaze flicked over his shoulder to where my shop assistant stood with his lips flattened against the glass, his tongue darting obscenely in and out. Kip made no bones about his gutter-dragging opinion of the excruciatingly beautiful but arrogant-as-fuck model, and I made a fair attempt at swallowing my laugh. But the resulting half snort almost blew the show.

Shayne spun in his seat, but you had to be quicker than that to catch Kip Grantham napping—his attention locked on his steamer as he pressed my new season feather-collared jackets fresh from my manufacturer. He gave Shayne a waggle of his fingers that got ten points for insolence but didn’t fool anyone.

Shayne turned back with his lip curled. Beauty never made up for a personality that verged on the nasty, which was only one of the reasons Shayne wouldn’t be gracing my runway anytime soon. The other reason being his tendency for drama with a capital D, and I prized composure as much as looks in the models I employed.

“All my slots are gone for this year, sorry,” I lied unapologetically, doing my best to ignore Kip thumbing his nose in the background.

“That’s not what I heard,” Shayne said tartly.


“I can wear anything well, and you know it.”

Which was unfortunately true, but beside the point. “I’m sure you’ll have a ton of designers clamouring to add you to their list once they know you’re back. I’ve already chosen the one pinch-hitter model I’m allowed from outside the casting call. You missed that day, right?” I couldn’t resist the dig.

He sniffed. “I was overseas. Miami. Stockholm.” He waved a hand in the air. “The casting agency contacted my agent, of course, but it couldn’t be helped.”

Behind Shayne, Kip gave an epic eye-roll that would’ve given the London Eye a run for its money.

Shayne studied his fingernails. “And yes, I’ve had a lot of requests since I returned. But I like your work, Rhys. It’s a little raw, but there’s a freshness to it—”

I imagined strangling the man by his Hermes scarf, knowing Kip would help me hide the body.

“—and since this is your debut year, I thought I’d give you first shot at me. I can help make that splash you need.”

Again, unfortunately true. But Jesus fucking Christ, he’d never speak like that to a seasoned designer. It was all I could do not to boot the arsehole from my office, but New Zealand fashion was a tiny industry, and the last thing I wanted was to earn a name for myself as a prima donna in my first year.

“I’m flattered you thought of me.” I almost choked on the words as Kip mimed hanging himself with his tie while walking downhill. “But not this time.” Read ever.

Shayne stared, bewildered, like I’d lost my ever-loving mind, and maybe I had. Then he shrugged. “Well, I hope you don’t come to regret your decision.” He shoved his lookbook in his fashionable Burberry satchel with an audible huff. “Young-gun invites only happen once, right?”

“Right.” I nodded sagely, wondering if it would be considered a service to humanity to throttle dickhead sanctimonious pricks on a Friday afternoon before they were let loose on an unsuspecting weekend. If it wasn’t, I was going to petition for a law change. “I guess I’ll have to rely on my actual designs, won’t I?”

He sent me a look that said he knew there was an insult in there somewhere, but I wasn’t worth the effort to search for it.

“I should be getting back to work.” I pushed to my feet and circled around the desk, making it clear the meeting was over.

Shayne gathered his coat and satchel and then stood. “I, um, ended things with Marc, in case you were wondering.”

I wasn’t and looked puzzled just to piss him off. “Marc?” I knew damn well who he was talking about.

He narrowed his gaze. “Marc Norman.”

“Oh. Shame.” I felt oddly relieved for Marc, who was in fact a lovely guy, if a bit . . . vacant.

Shayne ran his gaze slowly up my body and I suddenly needed a shower. “Maybe you and I could do . . . something?”

Not in a million years. “Thanks, but I’m too busy to date right now.”

He shot me a sly grin. “It wouldn’t have to be a date.”

And yeah, I might’ve thrown up in my mouth. “The answer’s still no.” I plastered a grin in place. “Sorry.”

A spark of annoyance flashed in his eyes, but he didn’t push.

“Let me walk you out.” I ushered Shayne past Kip, who discreetly stabbed a finger in and out of his mouth, and then out the front door of Flare and into the crisp June air laced with salt from the harbour beyond. As soon as the coast was clear, I spun back to my assistant, my mouth open in a silent scream. Kip raced to my side, and together we watched Shayne cross the road and disappear from view in a cloud of Yves St Laurent and pissy flounce.

“Oh. My. God. That man is a douchebag of the highest order.” Kip slipped his arm through mine and pulled me toward the service desk. “He’s always dropping into the shop looking for you. I put him off as often as I can, but he does actually spend money, so I don’t want to piss him off too much. I don’t know why he’s so fucking popular.”

I snorted a laugh. “You mean apart from his scorching angular waifish look and ability to have both men and women drooling over their credit cards as they rush to buy whatever the fuck he wears?”

Kip huffed. “People will follow any idiot off a cliff if they look like they know what they’re doing. Your clothes stand on their own, Rhys. They don’t need a pretty clothes horse.”

I shot him a look and he pulled a face.

“Okay, maybe one or two pretty clothes horses wouldn’t go amiss.

FA 9 sent me a look

About The Author


Jay is a 2020 Lambda Literary Award Finalist in Gay Romance and her book Off Balance was the 2021 New Zealand Romance Book of the Year. She is a New Zealand author writing mm romance and romantic suspense, primarily set in New Zealand.

She writes character driven romances with lots of humour, a good dose of reality and a splash of angst. She’s travelled extensively, lived in many countries, and in a past life she was a critical care nurse, nurse educator and counsellor.

Jay is owned by a huge Maine Coon cat and a gorgeous Cocker Spaniel

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Jay delivers a spectacular hurt/comfort romance with a Kiwi ‘Flare’

Flare-600x900Flare by Jay Hogan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, that was a ride and a half and I loved every bit of the tumultuous journey.

Flare is set in Auckland’s high fashion world and its two central characters couldn’t be more different if they tried, an opposites’ attract romance which worked on every level for me.

Rhys is just the type of man I adore to read about finding a happy ever after, he’s someone who suffered great trauma (read the trigger warnings, the effects of it are a critical part of the plot which unfolds many years later) and has learned to control and compartmentalise his life.

He’s sharp, spikey, but also achingly vulnerable and lonely, though he would never let himself think about it.

Beckett, by contrast, is a lumberjack of a man, an English Professor of Poetry who doesn’t hide his romantic soul half as well as he thinks he does. He’s also unexpectedly found himself having to parent his 16-year-old nephew Jack and it’s his struggles that throw the two men in to each other’s orbit.

There’ll be no plot spoilers here but, like with all Jay’s stories, there is a solid and strong sense of place, a cast of both blood and found family to bring depth and strength to the narrative and it’s this which is a such a draw for me with Jay’s writing.

She creates a compelling tale which feels like you’re being given a window into real peoples’ lives, as they struggle to deal with emotions, with teenage fears and hormones, with the consequences of choices either made or abandoned.

But, most of all, they’re about love. About the missing puzzle piece which slots into place when you find someone who will not only be your rock, they’ll also lean on you too when no-one else will comfort them.

My only niggle relates to something I won’t spoil which happens late in the story and which, for me, just felt like maybe one dramatic step too far.

Not that it doesn’t fit within the plot, it does, but on top of everything else, it felt more like it was redundant given the other tension arising elements which had worked beautifully for me and which had already driven key moments to fruition.

It also didn’t ruin anything either, which is why it’s only a niggle and not something which affected my enjoyment of the book.

Overall though, this story is a triumph and I cannot wait for more in the series.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review

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My First Impressions of Jay Hogan’s debut novel were great!

First ImpressionsFirst Impressions by Jay Hogan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review to come.

ETA: This is a debut novel from Jay Hogan with a Kiwi feel to it which is subtle but definitely plays a part in the narrative.

It’s a classic enemies to lovers with a bit of a suspense/crime drama element on which the quite lovely (if somewhat dramatic) relationship is sat upon.

The pacing is good (I had an ARC so there were edits which I believe are to be ironed out in the final copy) and there are some time jumps which are managed well and clearly marked and which definitely were needed to advance the plot along.

Both Josh (oh Josh!) and Michael are fully fleshed out characters with believable human frailties and both acted like utter arses at times and both were vulnerable and made mistakes – as happens very much in ‘real life’.

Josh is easier to relate to (although still an arrogant arse!) but Michael eventually wormed his way into my heart because he really needed Josh (much as he didn’t want to) and he had an epiphany about his own behaviour which felt earnt and not just chucked in for the dramatic effect.

I enjoyed this one a lot, it’s a decent length and the pacing allows for the romance to develop from the instantaneous lust which hits them both at a most unwelcome event – the scene of a police raid on a gay nightclub.

The secondary characters are good too (I want both Cam and Mark’s stories next please Jay!) and Josh’s almost 12 year old daughter is well written, not an uber child speaking like a grownup, but a developing mini-human learning to deal with changes.

When these two finally do give in to the lust, the scenes are explosive, powerful, passionate and – in a complete turnaround for Michael – with a hint of a submissive kink and a whole lot of emotions neither man was expecting.

The crime element of the story I thought also worked well, it hooked into the very real drugs issue which plagues some of New Zealand’s major cities and I felt it had believable outcomes and the police elements were also well researched (imho as someone who spent almost 20 years as a journalist dealing with the police a lot!)

I’d love a follow up for these guys a few years down the line because I did honestly believe in their HEA.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

View all my reviews