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.