A Lucy Review: And the next Thing You Know . . . (Why You? #2) by  Chase Taylor Hackett

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Rated 4.5 stars out of 5

Jeffrey Bornic has this vision of his idea partner.  He will be gorgeous, successful, fit, intelligent, socially adept, etc etc etc.   He was dumped by his musician boyfriend, Roger, months ago and he’s still working on the new partner thing.  Maybe because

“Got up in a bad mood. 

Again. 

It had been a stretch of bad moods lately.  Seriously.  Since like October.

I suppose that means since Roger.  Old boyfriend.  Make of that what you will.”

The thing is, Jeffrey is kind of an arrogant jerk.  He’s a lawyer and he puts a lot of time into that. He has one really good friend, Rebecca, who works at the same law firm, and that’s sort of it.  He works all the time and he can be so rude. 

When his apartment is under construction, this elaborate remodel, he turns to Rebecca for a spot on his couch. Problem is, Rebecca’s firebrand little brother, Theo, has already staked a claim on that spot on the couch.  The first time the two meet is a comedy of errors and Jeffrey comes off looking like an idiot.  Theo is a songwriter and is short, red-haired, snarky and homeless right now.  He will not, however, be jobless.  “As long as you’re sleeping on my couch, you’ll have a job.  Or it’s back to the farm.  This is not the Rebecca McPherson Unemployed Songwriters Retreat.”  Where does Rebecca find him a job?  At their law firm of course!  Jeffrey is facing not only the man who makes him crazy but finds out that Roger’s best friend, Tommy, is now working for the firm as well.

The two of them end up having to share the couch for a while and they spend all their time insulting each other, something starts to change.  At least for Jeffrey it does.  Theo has a maybe-boyfriend named Madison who treats him pretty negligently but he’s got harassing Jeffrey to brighten his days.  I admit, there were a couple times, such as blindsiding Jeffrey at the party with Roger, showing up where Jeffrey was having dinner with parents or the aftermath of Hamilton, where I thought, Theo is too much.  He’s out to hurt people.  Maybe it was because Jeffrey seems to be really in love for the first time (Roger W. Prescott Memorial Project notwithstanding) that he appears the more vulnerable one here.  He’s the one doing the sweet things (the shoelaces, omg) and trying hard.  Of course, his past actions of being a douche come back to bite both of them and that was painful.

Thank heaven for Tommy, who befriends Theo at work and is the voice of reason when Theo needs it.   We really, really need Tommy’s book. 

The story is told in alternating first person point of view and we also get Tommy’s thoughts.  I loved being able to connect with everyone like that.  Getting to see Jeffrey grow as a person, become stronger, was a glorious thing.  There were times I wanted to hug him, such as when he shows Theo his under-construction apartment, and times I wanted to hug Theo and times I wanted to shake them both.  They both do some growing up here and it was wonderful.

I have to admit I read this before the first in this series and I am so glad I did.  The Jeffrey Bornic of this book is snarky, obnoxious and arrogant but he isn’t vile as I thought he was in the first book, Where Do I Start?  Had I read the series in order I wouldn’t have bothered with Jeffrey’s book and I’d have missed out.  The Jeffrey of this book was serious.

Completely recommend this book, especially for those who love characters who redeem themselves and those who love the snark. 

The cover art was sort of middle of the road for me.  Headless torso in a long sleeved t-shirt was, I assume, Theo, with Jeffrey’s hands clasped around his middle.  While I liked the idea of the closeness, I was disappointed we didn’t get the red hair that Theo is so known for.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 290 pages
Published February 6th 2018 by Lyrical Press
Original TitleAnd the Next Thing You Know . . .
ASINB071VHV289
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesWhy You? #2

A Lucy Review: Where Do I Start (Why You? #1) by Chase Taylor Hacket

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

 

This is the first book of the Why You? series and I read this after I read the second book.  I wasn’t actually going to read it, considering that Fletcher Andrews, the MC, was such a cheater and broke Roger’s heart.  I don’t read cheating and I was going into this already hating Fletch.  He’s beautiful, languorous, gets what he wants and drops his pants for everyone.  So of course, I hate him.  But this book is about losing something you didn’t realize how much you treasured and what it does to you to try to get it back.

Fletch and Roger were living together, happily and homey, until Roger finds out Fletch has been cheating on him. It devastates Roger and he throws Fletch out.  They don’t see each other for two years until they accidentally meet at the opera.  Fletch is with his sugar daddy, Darwin, and Roger is with his bestie, Tommy.  While Tommy is thrilled to meet costume-designer Darwin, Fletch is more interested in Roger’s reaction.  “Was he impressed? With my six-time Tony-winning date?”  Right there I thought, my god, this guy is clueless.  Luckily, he gets that clue.  “And when Roger looked at me, he saw that I was just today’s eye candy, an expensive accessory like a watch.  The boy du jour.”  That one simple thing made Fletch take a hard look at himself.  “Let’s be honest – if you go on a date and can show profit at the end of the evening, there’s a word for that.  And that’s what Roger saw when he looked at me.”

Fletch also comes to realize that what he wants in life is Roger.  Roger has a boyfriend, Jeffrey, another lawyer but that doesn’t matter to Fletch.  He wants Roger back and he wants to do it right this time.  We get some flashbacks not only into the pain Fletch caused Roger but also the how they met and some good things.  “And although it ended miserably, which spoiled everything, if I could look beyond that – and let’s face it, I hardly ever could – but when I could look beyond that, I could see it had been a fantastic period in my life.  I knew it at the time.  I’d never been happier, and I had thought it would go on like that forever.”  Oh, Roger.

This is told in alternating first person point of view, so we get the full extent of Fletch’s remorse and Roger’s pain.   This is more striking because Roger is dealing with his current boyfriend, the infamous Jeffrey, who often acts like a jerk.  The Jeffrey of book two doesn’t seem to be the same Jeffrey here.  He does two terrible things, one of which I would expect of him but the other shocked me. No wonder Fletch got so angry, “Imagine how I felt, hearting Roger defend this smug, self-righteous, hypocritical little pr**k”. 

Fletch goes to great lengths to win Roger back, and sometimes is dangerously close to being a stalker, but he’s putting Roger first this time, all the way. Roger is trying to fight it because he’s scared.  The effects of infidelity can be long lasting and far reaching.  “Because that’s what it came down to.  Sure, Fletch says he loves me, and maybe he even meant it….But does any of this mean that he isn’t going to pull his boxers down for the next casual acquaintance or total stranger who looks even mildly interested?”  That is the biggest hurdle. 

As in Jeffrey and Theo’s book, there are times I wanted to hug Roger (well, that was really all the time) and times I wanted to hug Fletch.  These guys, they grow on you and make you care what happens.  When the bad things come out, I cringed and wanted it somehow to work out.

We get the history of Fletch, which isn’t pretty and he doesn’t share easily, and we get his dedicated efforts to win Roger back.  There are times when Jeff and Fletch seem like they are about to pee on Roger to stake their claim.  It was funny and ridiculous.   We also get to have Tommy in this and he is completely lovely.  I want his story so badly.  He gives such great advice.  “I don’t know.  Have you ever asked him?” 

One thing that I would have liked was a better reason why Fletch cheated on Roger, constantly and repeatedly, when he himself admitted he was a great boyfriend. Yes, I get it that Fletch didn’t believe in love, didn’t believe in relationships, didn’t believe in anything, but it really made him shallow.  “You could think twice about hurting me horribly, or you could get – whatever- with whomever.  And we can see which was more important to you.”  Even though it’s two years in the past, my heart broke for Roger. 

There is no on-page sex here and that worked for me.  I have a problem with all issues big and small being solved by the magic penis.  It makes me roll my eyes.  Here, they have to work things out the old fashioned way.  While I’m sure people are going to skip this book because of the infidelity, as I was going to, that would be a shame because that isn’t what this is about.  It’s about redemption, forgiveness and understanding what you need.  I would highly recommend this. 

The cover, two men walking a Scottish terrier with only half their heads visible, was pretty spot on for me.  The casual elegant beauty of Fletch and the more buttoned up handsomeness of Roger.  Oddly, throughout the book I kept picturing Roger as older or less attractive.  Maybe I was judgy about his name.  But the depiction on the cover is more how he should be. 

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 266 pages
Published October 17th 2017 by Lyrical Press
Original TitleWhere Do I Start?
ASINB01N5S23MN
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesWhy You? #1

A Lucy Review: And The Next Thing You Know by Chase Taylor Hackett

Standard

Rated 4.5 stars out of 5

Jeffrey Bornic has this vision of his idea partner.  He will be gorgeous, successful, fit, intelligent, socially adept, etc etc etc.   He was dumped by his musician boyfriend, Roger, months ago and he’s still working on the new partner thing.  Maybe because

“Got up in a bad mood. 

Again. 

It had been a stretch of bad moods lately.  Seriously.  Since like October.

I suppose that means since Roger.  Old boyfriend.  Make of that what you will.”

The thing is, Jeffrey is kind of an arrogant jerk.  He’s a lawyer and he puts a lot of time into that. He has one really good friend, Rebecca, who works at the same law firm, and that’s sort of it.  He works all the time and he can be so rude. 

When his apartment is under construction, this elaborate remodel, he turns to Rebecca for a spot on his couch. Problem is, Rebecca’s firebrand little brother, Theo, has already staked a claim on that spot on the couch.  The first time the two meet is a comedy of errors and Jeffrey comes off looking like an idiot.  Theo is a songwriter and is short, red-haired, snarky and homeless right now.  He will not, however, be jobless.  “As long as you’re sleeping on my couch, you’ll have a job.  Or it’s back to the farm.  This is not the Rebecca McPherson Unemployed Songwriters Retreat.”  Where does Rebecca find him a job?  At their law firm of course!  Jeffrey is facing not only the man who makes him crazy but finds out that Roger’s best friend, Tommy, is now working for the firm as well.

The two of them end up having to share the couch for a while and they spend all their time insulting each other, something starts to change.  At least for Jeffrey it does.  Theo has a maybe-boyfriend named Madison who treats him pretty negligently but he’s got harassing Jeffrey to brighten his days.  I admit, there were a couple times, such as blindsiding Jeffrey at the party with Roger, showing up where Jeffrey was having dinner with parents or the aftermath of Hamilton, where I thought, Theo is too much.  He’s out to hurt people.  Maybe it was because Jeffrey seems to be really in love for the first time (Roger W. Prescott Memorial Project notwithstanding) that he appears the more vulnerable one here.  He’s the one doing the sweet things (the shoelaces, omg) and trying hard.  Of course, his past actions of being a douche come back to bite both of them and that was painful.

Thank heaven for Tommy, who befriends Theo at work and is the voice of reason when Theo needs it.   We really, really need Tommy’s book. 

The story is told in alternating first person point of view and we also get Tommy’s thoughts.  I loved being able to connect with everyone like that.  Getting to see Jeffrey grow as a person, become stronger, was a glorious thing.  There were times I wanted to hug him, such as when he shows Theo his under-construction apartment, and times I wanted to hug Theo and times I wanted to shake them both.  They both do some growing up here and it was wonderful.

I have to admit I read this before the first in this series and I am so glad I did.  The Jeffrey Bornic of this book is snarky, obnoxious and arrogant but he isn’t vile as I thought he was in the first book, Where Do I Start?  Had I read the series in order I wouldn’t have bothered with Jeffrey’s book and I’d have missed out.  The Jeffrey of this book was serious.

Completely recommend this book, especially for those who love characters who redeem themselves and those who love the snark. 

The cover art was sort of middle of the road for me.  Headless torso in a long sleeved t-shirt was, I assume, Theo, with Jeffrey’s hands clasped around his middle.  While I liked the idea of the closeness, I was disappointed we didn’t get the red hair that Theo is so known for.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 290 pages
Published February 6th 2018 by Lyrical Press
Original TitleAnd the Next Thing You Know . . .
ASINB071VHV289
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesWhy You? #2

A Free Dreamer Review: Such a Dance by Kate McMurray

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

When a vaudeville dancer meets a sexy mobster in a speakeasy for men, the sparks fly, the gin flows, the jazz sizzles—and the heat is on…

New York City, 1927.

Such a Dance coverEddie Cotton is a talented song-and-dance man with a sassy sidekick, a crowd-pleasing act, and a promising future on Broadway. What he doesn’t have is someone to love. Being gay in an era of prohibition and police raids, Eddie doesn’t have many opportunities to meet men like himself—until he discovers a hot new jazz club for gentlemen of a certain bent…and sets eyes on the most seductive, and dangerous, man he’s ever seen.

Lane Carillo is a handsome young Sicilian who looks like Valentino—and works for the Mob. He’s never hidden his sexuality from his boss, which is why he was chosen to run a private night club for men. When Lane spots Eddie at the bar, it’s lust at first sight. Soon, the unlikely pair are falling hard and fast—in love. But when their whirlwind romance starts raising eyebrows all across town, Lane and Eddie have to decide if their relationship is doomed…or something special worth fighting for.

Meet Eddie, a Broadway starlet in 1927, NYC. He’s gay and fine with it, but if the truth about his sexuality ever got out, his career would be over. Because you just aren’t openly gay in this day and age. Sure, it’s an open secret that many of the men working in the theatres on Broadway are gay, but actually knowing that a somewhat famous man like Eddie is queer would be something else. But Eddie is fine with that. After all, queer men don’t fall in love, right? So when the mood strikes him, he buys some company for the night and goes back to his normal life the next day.

Lane is a mobster and gets bullied into running a speakeasy for queer men. His boss believes he’s the man for the job because of his peculiar tastes. Just like Eddie, Lane prefers men, but unlike Eddie, he knows that queer men can and do fall in love. First, Lane isn’t too fond of having to run a speakeasy. But then he decides to make the best of it and create a safe haven for men like him, which easier said than done. Being queer is illegal and serving alcohol is as well. In order to remain in business and out of jail, he regularly bribes the police officer who seems to have taken a special interest in this particular speakeasy.

When Eddie and Lane meet in Lane’s speakeasy, there’s an instant spark of attraction. But how can there ever be more than that, when Eddie’s so convinced love between queer men doesn’t exist and being seen anywhere near the speakeasy is a very real threat to his career? Because Eddie is married to his career and loves his show. And when Lane faces trouble with his suppliers and the officer keeps asking for more and more money, the clock starts ticking.

“Such a Dance” is definitely very unique. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a book with a similar setting and I’ve most definitely never read anything like it. I was hooked from the very beginning.

I loved reading about Eddie’s work. He lives to perform. It’s a little sad to watch how lonely he is in the beginning, even if he keeps telling himself that his career is the only thing that matters and that he can’t fall in love anyway.

Lane was also quite intriguing. He has such a sad past and it’s inspiring how he gets over it and falls for Eddie. I liked that he wasn’t completely callous about his work in the mafia but at the same time wasn’t all broken over it either.

The setting of the speakeasy felt very real to me. It was like I was on the dance floor with Eddie, showing the men how to do Charleston. Or sitting with Lane and watching Eddie dance. I could practically hear the jazz, smell the cigarette smoke and taste the gin.

The tone was very realistic. There was no magic pocket of firmly tolerant people surrounding Eddie and Lane so they could live happily despite everything. No, they had to face homophobia and were slightly racist themselves. They weren’t extremely racist, but there was the occasional casual remark that just fit with the opinion of black people back then. Like when Lane talks about a black musician and says that the man is good, “even though he’s a negro.” That’s just how people back then were and more often than not, historical novels tend to gloss that part over, making only the antagonists racist and intolerant.

There was plenty of plot outside the romance, which is something I highly appreciate. We get to see Eddie perform and read about Lane’s trouble with running the speakeasy. We also get to read about the difficulties they face eventually, because obviously they can’t live like this forever. This could’ve easily turned into an extremely angsty read, but it didn’t. Sure, there are some dark elements, but the author doesn’t focus on those. There is homophobia, but it’s not the main theme. Both protagonists have had their fair share of trouble in the past, but again the author doesn’t focus on that. Instead, the plot focuses on the here and now, on the happy parts as well as the darker parts. It’s perfectly balanced.

Still, sometimes it kind of missed a certain something. I can’t even say what it was exactly, but the book somehow missed some spark to make it not just really good, but absolutely amazing. That’s why I decided to give this “only” 4.5 stars, and not the full 5.

Overall, “Such a Dance” is a very unique, realistic historical novel that I enjoyed very much. The setting is extremely well done, there’s plenty of plot outside the romance and the characters are very interesting. I really enjoyed this novel, even if I felt there was a bit of a spark missing at times. I’m definitely going to read more by this author and would love to read more about this time period, which previously didn’t interest me at all.

Cover Art: I have a kind of love-hate relationship with the cover by Ellen B. Wright. When I first looked at it, I thought it was kind of ugly and rather generic. Then I read the book, looked at it again and suddenly realized that this is Eddie, right out of a scene from the book. So now I actually think it’s great, even if it’s still kind of ugly.

Sales Links:  Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details: ebook, 320 pages
Expected publication: October 27th 2015 by Lyrical Press
ISBN:  9781616507992