Flare is a very intense contemporary romance set in Auckland’s high fashion world. The first of a new series that will incorporate , at least from looking at the description of Strut, the second novel, high fashion, models, a certain circle of friends that starts with this fashion line, and, unfortunately, a element of assault.
That’s certainly a center theme here and if it’s a trigger for some readers, please take note.
Here it occurs in the Prologue to the main character, Rhys Hellier, when he was 16, sneaking out to a gay club with a friend.
The ramifications from that night’s assault are a haunting, realistic thread of one man’s continuing to deal with living with the aftermath of rape. Rhys has PTSD, and has only told a few trusted people about his trauma.
It, naturally, has effected his relationships, and his need for constant control. I think Hogan does an excellent job with the character of Rhys. He’s believable in his vulnerability as he is in his fierceness to protect what he’s built.
It takes the addition of Beckett Northcott, Professor of English literature and uncle to troubled teenager Jack. When Beck arrives to heat up things, so will the need to start the conversations going between them when they begin their relationship as to the full extent of the damage the assault has done to Rhys emotionally and mentally.
Without turning the book into something clinical, Hogan works a great therapist, open communication, necessary breakdowns, and , more into this engaging and wonderful relationship. It makes them easy to root for and love as a couple.
And it’s not just them alone. There’s an entire group of found family around them. For Beck, it’s his nephew, Jack, for whom he’s becoming a father figure. And his sister, Serena, in prison. And fellow professor, Rafe. For Rhys? It’s his mother, the irrepressible Kip ( his assistant), BFF photographer Hunter, Alec ( newly discovered model), Leon (shop owner), Greg, and Drew, a trans teenager for which Flare represents a safe haven from home , an abusive situation.
This is a wonderful story full of amazing characters. Most of which inhabit the world of fashion. Which is Flare, Rhys’s fashion line and store.
There’s another plot thread concerning the store, which is emotionally fraught with threats and action. It’s a great balance for the other elements here.
I would have wished for more of a foundation or history behind all the villainy. But it was still resolved in a manner as to satisfy the characters and readers.
The next installment will center on Alec , the model discovered here, and Hunter, the photographer best friend of Rhys. That’s Strut. Out later this year.
From the description, it too has an element of assault. I’ll be waiting for the release date to check it out.
In the meantime, I’m highly recommending Flare. It’s a terrific contemporary romance. Wonderful characters. But please take note of the triggers.
🔹Strut #2 TBR July 14, 2022
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.
This book contains references to past sexual assault.