Series: The Style Series #3
Author: Jay Hogan
Genre: MM Romance
Tropes: Opposites attract | Forced proximity | Hurt comfort | Found family |Believing in yourself | Overcoming your past | Humour and sass | Fashion |Risking your heart
Release date: October 27th, 2022
Amazon Universal: https://amzn.to/3zs0zdy
Bruised hearts and a fierce love.
For two years I’ve kept Leon Steadman at a safe distance, ever since the night he turned me down flatter than a pancake with a side order of syrupy disapproval. His loss. The world is full of sexy men. One and done is simply good math and efficient use of my time. Or it would be, if I hadn’t been lusting after the irritating, judgemental, gorgeous, mountain of a man, ever since.
The less I see of Leon, the better. Bad enough that his tattoo business sits next to Flare, the fashion store I manage, and that he’s friendly with my boss. But now he’s apartment-sitting above the shop, as well. Every time I turn around, Leon is there. In my store. In my space. Messing with my head. Being all nice and charming and acting like maybe he’s not the biggest jerk to walk the earth, after all.
Well, I don’t want or need Leon’s apologies, but maybe if I can have him, just once, it might put an end to this ridiculous hunger that sparks every time I lay eyes on him.
Yeah, I’ll get back to you on that.
Note: This book contains limited discussion of off-page past trauma.
I spun the wheel on my cherry-red Mini Cooper and smiled as it spat gravel and slid into the free parking space at the back of Flare, disturbing the grey early morning calm of the city. I cut the engine and frowned at Rhys’s van parked alongside. Damn. I should’ve guessed he’d be in early. A glance at the lights in the flat above Flare confirmed Hunter and Alec were also awake and moving about. Well, shit. There went my chance of slipping in unseen.
The three of them, along with Beck, were flying to New York that afternoon to scope out the Big Apple’s spring fashion week in preparation for Rhys’s formal invitation to the next one as a spotlight designer. Alec was walking for Berlini and a few other labels, and Hunter was shooting for Vanity Fair. Following the show, those two were off to London and Paris for more work, while Rhys and Beck were staying in New York for a much-needed vacation. I’d have given my left ball to join in the fun, but someone had to manage the store. And since Rhys had promised I’d be his assistant for the fall show, I wasn’t pouting too hard.
I grabbed my satchel and eased the car door open just enough to squeeze out without circumcising myself. “For fuck’s sake, could you spare the room?” I grumbled, firing a glare at Leon’s impressive Harley pulled just far enough to the side to let Delilah scrape by.
Not that I had a damn thing to complain about. As the leaseholders, Leon and Rhys had dibs on the only two parking spaces out back, and Leon didn’t have to make room for me at all. The fucker had just gone and done it, offering the space to me as soon as he’d learned I had a car that I actually gave two shits about. I should be grateful, right? Yeah, not so much. I hated the generous gesture with the heat of a thousand suns because it made me feel somehow beholden to him, something that rankled me like gorse up my arse.
Abso-fucking-lutely. But I loved my little car, and I wasn’t about to turn my nose up at anything that kept it safe and off the road. I’d lusted over Leon from the first moment I’d seen him and jerked off to images of him on his knees for me far more times than I cared to admit. But that didn’t mean I liked the guy.
I sighed and pressed the fob to lock Delilah before allowing myself a final drool over what I knew lay under that bike cover—Leon’s sexy metal 883 Sportster Iron. The fact I happened to know the name of the model came from a time in my life I tried to forget.
Not that I was about to give Leon the slightest indication that I knew anything about the sexy machines or that I could actually ride a motorbike. It was way too much fun watching his eyes spin in his head when I repeatedly called it a nice little Honda. Wouldn’t want Mr Sanctimonious thinking I was remotely interested in whatever he rode, even if I fantasised about him riding me more times than was healthy for . . . let’s be honest . . . anyone.
But knowing it sat there like a dangerous cat alongside my cute-as-fuck, I-dare-you-to-race-me Mini, kind of said all there was to say about the difference between me and Leon. Fast, flirty, and underestimated, versus arrogant, grunty, and all show. Not that I was averse to a little grunt. Just saying.
I slid the strap of my satchel onto my shoulder, chanced a look at the softly glowing windows above The Tattoo House, and sighed. Regardless of how annoying the man was, it was hard not to feel sorry for Leon stuck up there with not much more than a mattress, chair, television, and a lot of dust. He’d been camping above his business for two weeks, waiting on settlement so he could move into his newly purchased house, and when Rhys and I had recently taken a look at the empty, unrenovated space with the brilliant idea of making it into Rhys’s studio, let’s just say comfortable wasn’t exactly the word that sprang to mind.
I heaved another hungover sigh, because Monday was a cruel bitch after a last-minute Sunday swipe right had taken a sharp detour into tequila shots and an entire album of Pink until one in the morning.
And whose fault is that?
A quick check in the Mini’s side mirror was a mistake. I winced. Dammit. The wholepanda-eye thing hadn’t improved, and I should’ve gone with a fuckton more makeup. I should at least look competent. Then maybe Rhys wouldn’t fret too hard about leaving his precious store in my hands while he took a much-deserved break. It was the least I could do for him.
The fact I wasactually more than a little panicked at the idea myself—note aforementioned ill-advised shots and way-too-loud Pink interlude—was beside the point. Not to mention the hook-up left a fair bit to be desired as well, but the less said about that the better.
But now Rhys had beaten me into work—something he’d rarely done ever since he’d moved in with Beck, everyone’s favourite lumbersexual poetry professor—and I couldn’t help but wonder if he was more worried about leaving me in charge than he’d let on. It was a thought that did little to appease my own apprehension.
I sighed and donned my Oliver People sunglasses, because nobody looked bad in those puppies, and hoped the dark circles under my eyes would fade under the shop fluorescents.
I patted Delilah on her chequerboard roof. “Behave yourself with the sexy Harley. No tiny trike surprises, got it?”
Full disclosure…I’m a HUGE fan of Ms. Hogan. I’ve read all 16, now 17 books, and 11 of them including this one, are 5-star reads. All that being said, I absolutely loved this book and I almost said it’s my favorite, but I don’t know if that’s totally true. It is definitely one of my favorites – I truly love these two. While it’s probably not completely necessary to read the two previous books of the series, I highly recommend it because that’s the only way to get a complete picture of Kip.
It wouldn’t be a Jay Hogan story without some angst; however, this is more just heavy histories than true angst. Both Leon and Kip have issues they’re still working through. Kip hides his pain behind his SASS and Leon hides it.
At first, it looks like these two are oil and water but in truth, they are gasoline and a spark. Leon does not back down from Kip’s snark, in fact, he adores it. He just chips away at Kip’s exterior walls and burrows under his skin. Watching Kip fall for Leon, come to depend on Leon, and eventually fall in love with Leon is amazing to watch.
As much as I didn’t want this book to end, the epilogue was fantastic.
It sounds like Drew may get a book…and he’s come a long way.
Heart, humour and keeping it real.
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
Find Jay in all the places: https://jayhoganauthor.contactin.bio/