Release Date: May 6, 2021
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About the Book
I fled Boston and my cheating jerk of an ex with three hundred dollars and a lip gloss in my pocket. Waking up the next day in Burlington, Vermont, with a crick in my back and a frozen ass wasn’t exactly in the plan. If there was one. Which there wasn’t. Story of my life.
Three hours later and I’ve been hired as temporary help in the local veterinary and grooming clinic, which is kind of impressive since I know zip about animals and even less about grooming. But one thing I do know—I’m crushing hard on the sexy, absent-minded vet I work for.
My life is a hot mess. The last thing I need is another relationship. Emmett pushes all my buttons, but he isn’t out. He’s overwhelmed with a business to run and a son to look after and the kind of domestic life I never thought I wanted.
I should walk away.
But Emmett believes in me, and I might just be starting to believe in myself. As different as we are, is it possible we’re exactly what the other needs?
The final client of the morning was a grumbling, overweight Pekingese cross named Charles, with an attitude to rival Genghis Khan and an owner who refused to come in with her dog because she didn’t want the nippy little demon to associate her with any discomfort.
Under instruction from Ivy, Tai had the growling, muzzled dog wrapped in a towel and pinioned against his stomach, his expression caught somewhere between are-you-fucking-kidding-me and abject terror.
I told him what we were about to do and he stared at me in wide-eyed disbelief. “You did not just say you were going to milk this little guy’s anal glands?”
I swallowed a laugh. “I believe those were my exact words.”
His gaze flicked down to the squirming dog, then back up. “Do I even want to ask why?”
I shrugged and pulled on some gloves. “The anal glands are two little sacs on either side of the rectum. Normally they get expressed every time the dog poops. Helps mark his territory.”
“Oh. My. God.” Tai rolled his eyes dramatically. “I think I dated a guy like that once.”
Ivy snorted while I grappled with an influx of images involving Tai with another guy and that whole territorial marking thing. I snapped the second glove on my wrist like an elastic band, hoping the pain might shock some sense into me.
Tai got his freak under control and tucked Charles firmly back against his stomach. It was the first time I’d ever been jealous of the mutt.
“I know I’m going to regret asking this,” he said, wrinkling his nose. “But what happens when things don’t get expressed, on the whole anal-gland front? And I can’t believe I just said that.”
“Welcome to my world.” Ivy appeared from the supply room.
I caught Tai’s eye and waggled my eyebrows. He was hella fun to tease. “I’m so glad you asked that question. If they don’t get expressed naturally, not helped by poor diet and excess weight, then the glands can block and get smelly and painful. They can even form an abscess that can burst onto the skin.”
Tai’s mouth dropped open in horror. “Holy crap. And also—another date of mine.”
I gave a strangled laugh and realized I hadn’t had so much fun at work since . . . well yeah, it had been a while.
“Damn, that’s disgusting. The poor thing.” Tai lifted Charles to smooch him safely around the back of his ears. “We need to talk about your diet young man,” he cooed to the dog who, miracle of miracles, appeared to calm. “Fiber is the key, plus plenty of water and attention to timing. Clean, screened, and fit for a queen.” He glanced up with a wicked grin. “Right, Mr. Vet?”
Ivy coughed loudly, while every semi-functioning neuron in my body focused on only one thing that shall not be mentioned.
“I, yeah . . . I guess,” I managed to croak. “Although maybe not the screening thing, not for dogs.”
Tai lifted Charles to eyeball him. “Safety first.”
Ivy joined us at the table. “Okay, you two. Let’s get this done so I can spritz the room. Keep a firm grip,” she told Tai.
His eyes widened. “This is going to smell worse than I thought, isn’t it?”
She wrinkled her nose. “Think fishy.”
Tai got a tight hold on the wriggling dog. “Huh? Not my first guess. Okay, I’m ready. I have to say, it feels a little like an initiation.”
I flashed him an encouraging smile. “You’ll be fine. Now hold that tail up.” As soon as the words left my mouth, I knew, and sure enough—
He snorted. “Not the first time I’ve been told that.”
I shook my head, gently squeezed, and . . .
“Whoa.” He gave a long blink and jerked his head around and out of the way. “Ewww, Charles. That’s some nasty shit right there.”
I grinned from ear to ear, pretty much as I had from the minute Tai had walked into my clinic. I was so fucked.
5 of 5 Stars
I’ve only read about half the books in this series and while they can be read as standalones, there are character appearances from previous books. Not enough to make a huge difference but I need to go back and read Briar’s story because I’m intrigued by him after reading this book and I cannot wait to read Jasper’s story!
Over the last couple of years, I’ve become a major Jay Hogan fan so I knew her contribution to this series would be great…and man, she didn’t disappoint! She actually brought tears to my eyes a couple of times which I was not expecting. I read this in less than 24 hours which is saying something for me right now.
Emmett and Tai are fantastic together. Emmett is just what Tai needs to help him see his worth and Tai helps Emmett start to live again after just barely surviving for the last four years. Their sexual tension is off the charts at first, but they move slowly because of Tai’s recent history and lack of self-worth, Emmett’s history and just plain moving through the motions, and most importantly, Leo, Emmett’s kiddo.
The setting is absolutely great – in the vet’s clinic – even with some of the almost sadness. These two men work seamlessly together.
The side characters are amazing – Ivy, Jasper, Briar, Leo, and both the families. For those of you who have read Aftermath (book 5 in the series), Jon’s ex Ashley plays a role in this book and is pretty great.
Needless to say, this is a must-read in the series (even if you’re not reading them all like me) and I’m anxious for more of the books in this series!
About the Author
JAY HOGAN IS A 2020 LAMBDA LITERARY FINALIST IN GAY ROMANCE and a New Zealand author writing in m/m romance and romantic suspense.She has travelled extensively and lived in a few different countries. In another life, she was an Intensive Care Nurse, Counselor, and Nursing Lecturer.
She is owned by a huge Maine Coon cat and a gorgeous Cocker Spaniel.
You can find Jay at: