Style, the high fashion series from Jay Hogan, has as its core elements high fashion, those that work within the industry ,whether it’s designers, models, photographers, fashion bloggers, and, sexual assault.
I’ve finished Strut and Flare, and each of the main characters of those storylines has been the victim of a sexual assault, past as part of the storyline.
I mention this immediately for several reasons. One to let readers know if this would be a potential trigger for them. Another reason that using sexual assault as a element in storylines has become so prevalent that the majority of the last ten recently released books I read used it as part of their plot.
For me that’s a disturbing trend. Whether the author does well by the subject matter, as Hogan does here, or as a disposable element, poorly executed and one dimensional as I’ve seen so often lately.
In Strut it highlights an entire industry’s lack of care towards its models, the very real dangers a young person faces through big contracts, unscrupulous business practices, and a unthinking fashion industry that’s allowed certain practices to go forward until recently. The new rules and #Metoo movement has forced some significant progress .
Hogan’s storylines has handled this, the ramifications of sexual assault, respectfully and with regard to the reality of the situation. I liked the characters, ones we met previously in Flare and very much committed to their relationship.
Alec, the model we met in Flare who modeled for Rhys’ show in Auckland, has now relocated to the powerhouse high fashion world of New York City. He’s in debt but rising up in reputation as a runway model. He’s reunited with Hunter, the extremely talented, well known fashion photographer who’s best friends with Rhys and Kip. Hunter, Alec’s former crush was something that didn’t go well.
They are terrific characters. Alec is especially endearing. Hunter is a bit older and a player, until Alec. Both layered personalities with great chemistry, enough that you can understand them as a couple.
And it’s that foundation that gets them through the trauma that happens to Alec. It’s believable and highly realistic.
Hogan includes all the responsible choices in the aftermath, communication, reporting, therapy. Action to aid recovery, and bravery to aid others.
While I was thinking about the story and manner in which Jay Hogan wrote it, I couldn’t help but remember those other books that used SA in a way that borders on glibness. Quite the contrast to the pain, humiliation ,and trauma Alec feels here. Hogan includes the waves of emotion that wash over friends, family, and Hunter as they deal with their own personal feelings while trying to support Alec.
It’s very believable, which for some people might make it extremely hard to read. Please do not ignore the trigger warnings.
Jay Hogan has written a lovely romance that involves a major sexual assault element, one Hogan handles with responsibility and realism.
I’m recommending the story on the basis of the great characters and writing.
But I hope that the next book focuses on fashion and romance, and the young queer scene in Auckland. And not another sexual assault plot line.
When did this become so common in our stories that it’s a trope itself?
Something to think about.
New Zealand farm boy turns New York fashion model.
Fairy tale? Maybe. But it hasn’t been easy. A year in this crazy city, working my tail off just to survive in a ruthless industry where sex sells and boundaries are too readily crossed.
A year and a reassuring ocean away from Hunter Donovan—a sexy, humiliating mistake that I’m not about to repeat. Distance is good. Distance is safe.
But now Hunter is back. In New York. In my life. In all those treacherous feelings that haven’t gone anywhere. But when my world suddenly crashes and I have to piece myself back together and fight for my career, will Hunter be there when I need him? Will we have what it takes to make it through this, together?
Note: This book contains themes of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Unless it’s noted, all books reviewed have been purchased by the reviewer.