Carlos O'Shea is stuck. He knocked up a girl in college after a night of too much drinking and then married her to be honorable. With little money, fewer options, and no degree, he winds up cleaning the floors in a small town gentlemen's club and thinking desperate thoughts about the handsome owner that'll lead to nothing but trouble.
Greg Moorehouse only invested in a nudie bar to help his best buddy out of a financial crisis. Now his drug-dealing ex-boyfriend, his reverend father, and a parade of surgically-enhanced DDs are driving him insane. But what's really stripped him of all good sense is his growing obsession with his married employee, Carlos.
They circle each other in a push-pull of misunderstandings and growing attraction. Carlos needs to get his boss out of his head, and Greg can’t abide cheaters and married men. So what are a strip club owner and the guy who cleans going to do with their undeniable desires?
Reviewed By: J9
In a Nutshell: I’m a fan of well written characters in angsty romance and that’s what I got here. However, even I have a limit on how much angst and this novel may have stepped a toe over.
The Set Up: Carlos is in a loveless, sexless marriage trying to work any job to save enough money for a divorce. He takes a job as a janitor in a strip club run by an out and proud gay man, Greg. Greg and Carlos are immediately attracted to each other but Greg doesn’t mess with married men. Still, life’s complications and tragedies keep throwing Carlos and Greg together.
Why I Read this Book: The synopsis really caught my attention.
What I Liked: I loved both Carlos and Greg. I loved their blue collar characters, just trying to survive in life. These aren’t alpha billionaires in the world of high finance but more complicated men struggling to make their lives work in any way possible. This in and of itself is rare in romance but when the author adds in more of their backstories and motivations I fell for both men. I don’t want to spoil either man’s backstory but suffice it to say they’ve each had rough lives and childhoods. Of course, as is the case with well written complicated characters, Carlos and Greg do stupid things. They say thing they shouldn’t, they push the other away when they should clutch them closer, and they don’t always articulate their feelings. I think some readers may be irritated by how long it takes Carlos and Greg to get together but it seemed perfect for these two fragile characters.
I also love the realism of Carlos and Greg’s relationship. Too often in romance sex and emotional intimacy comes easily. Here drinking and vulnerabilities affect erections as much as emotional stability. I love this in romance as it adds depth to relationship.
What I Also Liked: This book never takes the easy route with the leads, the setting or the secondary characters which I really like. I was apprehensive about the strip club setting but the gritty atmosphere worked very well. The secondary characters, from the strippers to Greg’s best friend and co-owner are well developed and have meaningful roles in the book. It would have been very easy to demonize Carlos’ wife for her actions but Carlos doesn’t and that I especially appreciated. The men’s relationships with their families are imperfect and messy as is their relationship with each other and I loved it all.
What I Didn’t Like: This book is angst-filled from page one to nearly the end. I totally bought into all of it until the very end when it became way too much. Carlos has so much to work with in his life and he and Greg are doing it. Greg has commitment and trust issues and the men are working on those as well. Then, BAM! something huge happens and it’s just too much. I really loved how the author wrote the sex scene following the big incident because Carlos refused to let Greg turn it an unhealthy direction but the issue itself was just too much. So much angst had already been introduced and worked out between Greg and Carlos that this last felt emotionally manipulative to me.
IMO: Even though the angst was a bit much for me in the end, I still greatly enjoyed this romance and will actively search out more books by this author.
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