Series: Southern Lights #4
Author: Jay Hogan
Genre: MM Romance
Tropes: Hurt comfort | Age gap | Humour | Found family | Loss and grief |Trauma | Return to hometown
Release date: March 18, 2021
Penn from Adelaide. That’s all I knew.
We shared a single kiss over a year ago, and I can still remember every toe-curling second of it. He thought I was too young for him. I thought he was running scared. But that kiss was the first time I’d felt alive in a long time, and I’ve been chasing the feeling ever since—doing my research, a lot of research, a lot of men. Something my protective older brother isn’t too happy about.
I’ve been through more than most guys my age, and I still bear the scars. My head’s not always my best friend, but I’m building a life, PTSD be damned. I can’t turn back the clock, and I’m not sure I want to.
Except maybe to that moment when Penn kissed me. I mean, the odds of us ever meeting again were slim to none, right?
Yeah, about that.
But this time I’m ready. I’m a year older, an ocean of therapy wiser, and I know exactly what I want.
Kurt, one of the main characters in this book, lives with PTSD as a result of a fire and a traumatic incident in his past (not sexual). Within the story there are instances of flashbacks relating to this, and descriptions of triggering events.
“Okay, then for your first tip, only take a small mouthful.”
Kurt sniggered. “I’m more of a take the whole lot to the back of your throat and swallow kind of guy, but I’m sure I can adapt, just for you.”
Sweet Jesus. “I have every faith that you can make the necessary modifications,” Penn deadpanned.
“Excellent redirect.” Kurt chuckled. “Must be those eleventy-billion years longer you’ve spent on earth than me.”
“For fuck’s sake, just take a damn taste and tell me what you think.”
Kurt laughed. “There are so many, many ways to respond to that question—”
“Just do it.”
“Yes sir. Okay, I’m going in for a sniff, but you have to promise not to get mad if I pick up a lot more than you. It’s to be expected. Nasal hairs flatten as you age, it’s not your fault.”
Penn wondered how difficult it would be to arrange a long slow death for the young man.
Kurt took his time. “Mmmm, aha, interesting—”
Tipsy Kurt was too damn cute.
“Okay, okay, I think I’ve got it,” Kurt pronounced, sounding exceedingly pleased with himself. “It’s kind of . . . earthy, and oh, oh, oh, I know . . . it’s got a spicy thing in there. Damn, I recognise it, I just can’t—it smells like Ethan when he’s been bak—cinnamon! That’s it.”
“Huh.” Penn had to hand it to him. “Pretty good. Anything else.”
Kurt sniffed again and Penn’s mind went straight where it shouldn’t.
“Nope, that’s all.”
“Okay. Not bad for a rookie. Now take a sip and roll it over your tongue and around your mouth to pick up all the flavours.”
“Then I can swallow, right? I like to swallow.”
“Yes, Kurt. Then you can swallow.” Death by killer bees.
“My favourite part.”
Penn banged the back of his head on the tree trunk a couple of times as a variety of suggestive noises spilled through the phone, most of which he’d never heard in any wine tasting he’d ever attended, and all of which went straight to his traitorous cock. Death by a million needle pricks.
“Damn that was a big mouthful but I got it down safely—just thought you should know.”
“And I’m pleased to say I have more answers for you.”
“I can’t wait.”
“Okay, here goes.” Kurt cleared his throat. “Berries.”
“I believe we’ve covered that.”
“Hush. And chocolate—”
“Not chocolate, chocolate. But you know those chewy Roses’ ones? Hard something—”
For fuck’s sake. “Caramel, yes, very good. A lot of people miss that one.” Kurt’s palate actually had potential, who’d have guessed?
“See? I told you I’d ace this.”
“I wouldn’t go that far.”
“But there was also something nasty.”
“Nasty?” Penn snorted. “Oh I cannot wait to hear this.”
“No, I’m serious,” Kurt protested. “Like sharp and just . . . blech. Like paint stripper. You don’t notice it when you drink it like normal people, but when you drink it slowly, it’s right fucking there.” He shivered dramatically for effect.
Penn could barely keep his shit together and had to clear his throat. “I believe you’re talking about tannin. And actually, Pinot Noir tends to be lighter in it than a lot of other reds. But trust me when I say it’s not usually described as a gaggable commodity. Most people love it.”
“A gaggable commodity, huh? You seem familiar with the phrase. You want to expand on that?”
“No, I do not.” Penn’s cheeks heated out of sheer ridiculousness.
“Surprise, surprise. Anyway that’s all I’ve got.”
5 of 5 Stars
Wow…so this series is just going to be perfect for me, I guess. Another 5-star story and another interesting food item from New Zealand.
Kurt’s all grown up in this one…and as snarky as ever. He’s still recovering from the fire but thinks he’s doing better with his PTSD. So much so, that he’s stopped his therapy and his meds. He’s thrown for a bit of a loop when he meets Penn’s dad for the first time. He’s thrown for more of a loop later in the story after forging a relationship with Penn. With startling brutality, he’s shown he doesn’t have his PTSD under control at all. Thankfully, he does make some headway on his road to recovery with a little help from all his friends…and his therapist.
Penn is dealing with his somewhat estranged father. Kurt has experience with his dad’s illness so he’s able to help with that a little bit. Penn goes through a bit of self-discovery as he attempts to repair his relationship with his father…and he’s a saint for even trying really. He’s a proud, insufferable man.
Neither Kurt nor Penn think they’re ready for a serious, long-term relationship with everything they have going on in each of their lives. However, they cannot ignore the call to each other or how much having each other to lean on helps.
I love them together and I loved watching them heal independently while forging a relationship with each other.
The entire series cast makes at least a brief appearance, although Ethan and Tanner are major characters because of Kurt.
I’m assuming Max is going to get a book at some point…at least I’m hoping. I’m not ready to say goodbye to this series yet!
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I am a New Zealand author writing in m/m romance, and romantic suspense. I have traveled extensively and lived in the US, Canada, France, Australia and South Korea. In a past life I have been an Intensive Care Nurse, Counselor, and a Nursing Lecturer.
I’m a cat aficionado especially of Maine Coons, and an avid dog lover (but don’t tell the cat). I love to cook, pretty damn good, love to sing, pretty damn average, and as for loving full-time writing, absolutely… depending of course on the day, the word count, the deadline, how obliging my characters are, the ambient temperature in the Western Sahara, whether Jupiter is rising, the size of the ozone hole over New Zealand and how much coffee I’ve had.
Welcome to my world.
Find Jay in all the places: https://jayhoganauthor.contactin.bio/