REVIEW: Straight Up (The Speakeasy #4) by K. Evan Coles and Brigham Vaughn

The Speakeasy Series

Media mogul Jesse Murtagh and bartender Kyle McKee decide to go into business together and open Under Lock & Key, a speakeasy on the upper West Side of Manhattan. The bar, with its secret passphrases and craft liquor cocktails, becomes a sanctuary for Jesse and Kyle’s circle of friends, who gather once a month to catch up with each other and share their experiences.

Under is both hang out and haven for the men who spend time within its walls and their friendships build family ties that are sometimes missing from their own lives.

Overall Heat Rating for the series: 4 flames


The newest release in the Speakeasy series is on its way! Catch up on the rest of my reviews for the first three books.

Book 1: With a Twist || Book 2: Extra Dirty || Book 3: Behind the Stick


Book Title: Straight Up (The Speakeasy Book 4)

Author: K. Evan Coles and Brigham Vaughn

Publisher: Pride Publishing/Totally Entwined Group

Length: approx 94 217 words/ 267 pages

Release Date: June 9, 2020

Genre/s: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, Gay, Ace Spectrum, GLBTQI

Trope/s: Opposites Attract, Bi-Awakening, Coming Out, First Time, Found Family

Themes: Acceptance, commitment, family conflict, denial,

closeted kink, taboo, experimentation/first time, sexual awakening.

This book can standalone or be read as part of the series.



Buy Links

Choose Your Store | First For Romance

Amazon US | Amazon UK


The Official Description: Love, served straight up.

Malcolm Elliott has been keeping secrets. Helping his mom through a financial crisis has nearly emptied both his bank account and his kitchen cupboards, despite his thriving career with Corporate Equality Campaign. Malcolm is also bothered by his inability to tell the most important people in his life that he identifies as gray ace.

Stuart Morgan has a secret of his own. Though years have passed since the tattooed chef fled the Mormon Church in Utah for New York, he’s never truly come to terms with the kink that ruined that rigid but outwardly perfect life. Experience has also taught Stuart that keeping his love of lacy things under wraps is safer than telling the truth.

After Malcolm’s boss, Carter, hires Stuart’s restaurant to cater a gala fundraising event, the strait-laced Malcolm is thrown together with badass biker Stuart. Despite their differences and a couple of false starts, the men discover they work well together and a friendship quickly forms.

As Malcolm’s feelings for Stuart deepen, his sexuality awakens, but he remains tight-lipped about his problems. And though Stuart grows more and more attached to Malcolm, he remains fearful of confessing his kink.

When both of their secrets are finally exposed, they find themselves at a crossroads in which they must choose between playing it safe or finally coming clean to the person they love.

Reader advisory: This book contains references to homophobia and polyamory.

Just the facts: M/M relationship, a character is on the ACE spectrum, trust and getting to know one another

Malcolm is surprised when he has feelings for Stuart, but together they have such an emotional connection they can explore anything.  – Kinzie Things

My thoughts bit: Another delicious installment in the Speakeasy Series: Straight Up by K. Evan Coles and Brigham Vaughn. As I’ve read along in this series I have really become invested in the crew of friends that inhabit the Speakeasy. Each character is unique and likable in their own way. It’s been a pleasure getting to know them all.

In “Straight Up” the authors are telling us a bit more about Malcolm. Malcolm is one of the quieter characters in this book – bless him for his perseverance hah. He works hard and is happy with the time that he spends with his friends but the day he meets Stuart things begin to change.

Stuart is a Chef and brought into the speakeasy after a last-minute cancellation by a caterer. Stuart is immediately attracted to Malcolm but he can’t seem to get a read on Malcolm’s sexual orientation.

It turns out that’s something Malcolm himself is dealing with. In his trademark thoughtful way, Malcolm is trying to understand his feelings. He has had sexual relationships with women but has never felt as though sex was a priority or even something he thought about on a regular basis. Eventually, Malcolm comes to the conclusion that he is on the Asexual spectrum.

What I really enjoyed about this novel was the way the authors addressed Malcolm’s sexuality. In a variety of ways, the authors illustrate the people on the spectrum can have a variety of different wants and desires. As Malcolm explores his own sexuality with Stuart, the two men often have lovely discussions about it. I also appreciated that the authors included a note at the end of the book reflecting their understanding that the experiences of people who identify as asexual may be different from Malcolm’s.

Stuart has his own demons to battle. He was excommunicated from the Mormon church after coming to the realization that he is gay. He hasn’t seen his family in years and it’s likely he won’t see them again. He finds the speakeasy crew a bit overwhelming when he is first explored to them. And let’s face it, who wouldn’t? They are a found-family of independent, unusual, lovely, and gregarious people.

The love story between Malcolm and Stuart is sensual and emotional. I really enjoyed their struggle with trust and taking leaps of faith. That’s what it’s really about when you have things you haven’t revealed to a partner. Both Stuart and Malcolm have things they haven’t revealed and I’m not revealing much of that so you can find out when you read!

I have really enjoyed this series! Great character development and lovely banter. The characters are all unique from one another and I loved getting to know them.

Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) brief discussion of sexual harassment, a character is excommunicated by the Mormon Church, mentions of open relationships.

Links: Goodreads // Brigham Vaughn // K. Evan coles //

About the Authors

K. Evan Coles

K. Evan Coles is a mother and tech pirate by day and a writer by night. She is a dreamer who, with a little hard work and a lot of good coffee, coaxes words out of her head and onto paper. K. lives in the northeast United States, where she complains bitterly about the winters, but truly loves the region and its diverse, tenacious and deceptively compassionate people. You’ll usually find K. nerding out over books, movies and television with friends and family. She’s especially proud to be raising her son as part of a new generation of unabashed geeks.

K.’s books explore LGBTQ+ romance in contemporary settings.

Author Links

K. Evan Coles

Blog/Website | Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Facebook Reader Group

Twitter | Pinterest | BookBub | Instagram

Goodreads | Newsletter


Brigham Vaughn

Brigham Vaughn is on the adventure of a lifetime as a full-time writer. She devours books at an alarming rate and hasn’t let her short arms and long torso stop her from doing yoga. She makes a killer key lime pie, hates green peppers, and loves wine tasting tours. A collector of vintage Nancy Drew books and green glassware, she enjoys poking around in antique shops and refinishing thrift store furniture. An avid photographer, she dreams of traveling the world and she can’t wait to discover everything else life has to offer her.

Her books range from short stories to novellas. They explore gay, bisexual, lesbian, and polyamorous romance in contemporary settings.


Author Links

Brigham Vaughn

Blog | Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Fan Group (Brigham’s Book Nerds)

Twitter | Newsletter sign-up | Instagram | Pinterest



Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win

a $10 Amazon Gift Card

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Hosted by Gay Book Promotions


I received an ARC of Straight Up by K. Evan Coles and Brigham Vaughn via Gay Book Promotions in exchange for an unbiased review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.