Series: The Style Series #2
Author: Jay Hogan
Genre: MM Romance
Tropes: Second chances | Trauma | Hurt/comfort | Courage | Found family | Humour | Friends to lovers | Fashion and its underbelly
Release date: July 14th, 2022
Amazon Universal: https://readerlinks.com/l/2416105
A dream within reach. A chance at love. A man who threatens everything.
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?
This book contains themes of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Halfway down the block I came upon a small queue outside a tidy brick establishment which proved to be Color. The distant thrum of Ariana Grande leaking through the double wooden doors onto the sidewalk reminded me I was close to a generation older than most of the guys ahead of me waiting to get in.
I joined the line, ignoring a low whistle of interest from one of the guys as I passed. I took his appreciation as reassurance that my skinny black jeans paired with one of Rhys’s new season tight black-and-white-checked T-shirts passed muster. I checked my phone as I waited and fired off a text to my younger sister knowing it was afternoon in New Zealand. A few seconds later the phone rang in my hand, and I smiled and swiped it open.
“Hey, you. I’m heading to the supermarket. What’s up?”
The line shrank by a couple of guys, and everyone shuffled forward. “Not much. I’m waiting to get into a bar and thought I might catch you.”
Silence. “Hunter Donovan is in a queue?” She chuckled. “You don’t do queues, bro. I thought you rarefied fashionista types skipped those pesky things.”
“It’s not that level of club,” I explained. “Think popular, off-the-beaten-track gay bar. I doubt I’ll see anyone I know and certainly no one who knows me.”
“A gay bar? Ohhhhh, are you on a date?”
“No, I am not on a date. You know me. Besides, I’ve only been here two days.”
“You’re right. I do know you. Which means you’re cruising for some pretty arse. You after a bit of downtown rough, big brother?”
“Jesus, Patty, you sound like a low-budget movie, and we are not having that conversation. Ever. If you must know, I met a guy I worked with in Auckland and he happens to tend bar here. I said I’d drop by.” Kind of, almost.
“Riiiight.” She sounded sceptical. “Do I know them? You’ve always said the best thing about your trips to New York was all the great clubs. I’ve never known you to waste your time on suburban bars.” My sister was way too perceptive.
“True, but this is that model from fashion week last year? The guy Rhys discovered—”
“Oh my god,” she blurted. “That gorgeous hunk of drool you shot for Flare. Alec someone, right?”
“Alec Williamson. He got signed by Cage Talent after the show and has been in New York since. I ran into him quite by chance.”
Patty was quiet for a few seconds as the cogs in her brain ticked over. “But you liked him, right?”
What the fuck? I said nothing
“You can’t lie to me, Hunter. I know you. He’s the one hanging in your office on your wall of fame, aka my personal wall of hotness. He’s wearing Rhys’s design. Holy shit, Hunter. Do you have a thing? Are you—”
I needed to shut this down fast. “He’s hanging there because it was my best friend’s signature shoot for his new label,” I argued. “Not because it’s Alec.”
“Mm-hmm.” There was an irritating smile in her voice. “Pull the other one. I called into Flare that day, remember? You couldn’t take your eyes off him. Neither could I, to be honest, but you were a little smitten kitten.”
I so was. “I so wasn’t. You’re dreaming. Alec is a great model, that’s all. If I was smitten, it was on a purely professional level.”
“And yet you’re queuing to have a drink at the place he works?”
Well, when you put it like that. “Maybe.” It was all she was getting. “It’s the friendly thing to do, right?”
“Aha. Yep. Very neighbourly of you. Oh, here’s a thought. If you like him, how about you keep it in your pants for once, at least for more than a day? Get to know him.”
Too fucking late. “Oh, look at that, the bouncer’s waving me in. Gotta go, sis. Nice talking to you.” I stabbed the End Call button, stared at the double doors for a second, took a deep breath, and then pushed through.
The immediate assault to my eardrums almost rattled my brain from my skull. Add that to the heaving crowd and multicoloured light display circling the room and dripping down the walls, and I needed a minute to orient myself. I passed the coat check desk and slid against the closest wall to take a look around.
The place was humming, the music pulsing loudly above the thrum of a hundred different conversations, while the surprisingly spacious dancefloor writhed with every possible combination of couples, throuples, and dogpiles of slick bodies. Like the queue outside, it was a younger crowd, mostly early twenties, but with enough around my age to drop the creep factor to acceptable. I watched the dancers for a bit, appreciating all the hot skin and tight muscle on display before scouting the bar.
“You wanna dance?” A warm body leaned close, and I turned to find an attractive dark-haired man just inches from my face. He had the greenest eyes I’d ever seen and a pouty mouth made for sucking cock. He licked his lips and ran his hand up my arm. “You’re fucking gorgeous.”
On any other night I would’ve had him down the back and on his knees with my dick down his throat in about five minutes flat, but I wasn’t even tempted—a disturbing fact that was worth an alarm bell or two. Instead, I simply smiled and covered his hand with mine.
“Thanks. You’re pretty hot yourself, but I’m meeting someone.”
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/
[I received a digital arc for an honest review]
Strut is the second stand alone in the Style series by Jay Hogan. Follows a small town boy who becomes a fashion model and the photographer he looses his heart to.
Alec and Hunter have a hot and heavy encounter at a club that leaves Alec heart a little bruised. He knows Hunter is a playboy, but didn’t expect to be treated so callously. Fast forward a year and their paths cross again. Neither has been able to forget the other, and Hunter begs for another chance. Just when Alec believes maybe he can have a future with Hunter his life and career is turned upside down when he becomes a victim of sexual assault. Will the connection they’ve built be enough to whether the storm, or will Alec push Hunter away for his own good.
“Everything, Hunter. I want everything with you.”
I need to be honest when I say that the premise of this series in general does not appeal to me. However, I love Jay Hogan’s writing and ended up loving the first book way more than expected to and I was hoping I would have the same result reading book 2. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. I couldn’t seem to invest in either main character. Their relationship goes from zero to sixty real quick, and I didn’t fully believe it, especially on Hunter’s end. Alec was a sweetheart with a heart of gold and the shining star of the novel. He was always looking after those around him, and he was so strong in the face of his assault.
The story itself is well paced, maybe I only had a problem with the speed of their relationship because of my lack of investment in it. The writing itself is moving and powerful when it needs to be, and light and fun at the right times to break up the heavy. While Strut might not have been a hit for me, I can see others really enjoying it, and I’m still interested in finding out who book 3 will be focused on.
In the end Strut by Jay Hogan is a contemporary romance between a model and a photographer filled with high steam, supportive friends, walks in the park, breakfast in bed, and standing up for what’s right.