Contemporary · MM romance · part of series · sexually explicit · substance abuse

REVIEW: Flat Whites and Chocolate Fish by Jay Hogan

The Official Description: ADRIAN POWELL has a secret, a secret he’s guarded for 17 years. But it’s come at a cost—few friends, fewer lovers and a lifetime of loneliness. If he’s a bit grumpy and a tad pessimistic, who can blame him? So, exactly how he’s ended up with a bunch of nosy friends, a beautiful lakeside cottage and a successful business, is beyond him.

It’s a life he never imagined, and one that includes a problematic new neighbour, NIALL CARMICHAEL–an irritating, equally grumpy, sexy as hell silver fox, who kisses like a dream, shakes every one of Adrian’s walls, and who might just prove Adrian’s undoing.

But secrets have a way of catching up with you. And when Adrian’s past comes knocking, it might just threaten everything he’s built.

Just the facts: MM romance, enemies to lovers, secrets in the past

A couple of grumpy neighbours can’t seem to get along…until they get along really well. But one of them has a secret that could change everything. – Kinzie Things

My thoughts bit: This book begins with Adrian arriving at his cabin… a place of absolute solitude and peace to discover that someone has brought the property right next door. Not only has someone bought the place… he is renovating it into a high-end hotel. Oh yes, and he’s completely gorgeous.

If I had to sum up this book… I think I would say that it’s about overcoming the past. These two main characters come from very different backgrounds but they are both trying to move forward in their own ways. The story is very character-driven which is always something that I enjoy.

Adrian runs Southern Lights Coffee Co. He went into business with his “friend” Ethan… although Ethan sure doesn’t know him very well. Why? Because Adrian keeps to himself. He doesn’t want people to get to know him… this is demonstrated by the fact that his friends don’t even know his sexual orientation at the beginning of the novel. You have to really have something to hide about your past if you go to that length to keep your distance from people.

Niall has come to renovate the cabin not only for the work but because his family lives nearby. He has become distanced from them because he’s just not the kind of guy who stays in touch with people. Family and friendships are complicated and he feels as though he’s not particularly good at those kinds of relationships. Maybe it’s because he got divorced from his husband because he just couldn’t be the man he needed him to be. His ex has even stayed in touch with Niall’s family when he hasn’t found the time to do it himself.

So – there are two characters who are both grumpy and isolated by choice and they are forced to be neighbors. They are attracted to one another immediately but it’s a natural kind of thing. The progression to a sexual relationship is at a good pace… and that’s when things get complicated.

There’s a lot going on in Adrian’s life because of his past… and it’s showed up full force by about midway in the book. When his life is threatened.. then the lives of those around him Adrian becomes acutely aware of the fact that the people he’s been trying to keep at a distance… aren’t.

There’s a real lack of trust in the main characters. Both of them have to learn to trust themselves before they can extend that to others. Hogan has really hit home that you can’t move on when you blame yourself for what’s happened in your past. Sometimes, other people need our forgiveness but more often I think we need to forgive ourselves.

This book is well-written and set at a great pace. I would suggest you read the warnings because there are some sensitive topics broached that may be triggers for some readers. This book is definitely on the heavier side of the emotional spectrum, but I loved it.

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) physical abuse, injured cat (recovers), implied cruelty to a cat that results in injury, mentions of past homophobia, mentions of past drug use, sexual harassment, hate crime, intimidation, character remembers abusive childhood

Links: Goodreads || The author

I received an ARC of Flat Whites & Chocolate Fish by Jay Hogan from Gay Romance Reviews n exchange for an unbiased review.

 


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