The Official Description: When JUDAH MADDEN flees his tiny suffocating home-town in New Zealand, for the dream of international ballet stardom, he never intends to come back. Not to Painted Bay. Not to his family’s struggling mussel farm. Not to his jerk of a brother. Not with his entire life plan in shreds. And certainly not into the tempting arms of MORGAN WIPENE, the older, ruggedly handsome fisheries officer who seems determined to screw with Judah’s intention to wallow in peace.
But dreams are fickle things. Shatter them and it’s hard to pick up the pieces. Hard to believe. Hard to start again.
But the hardest thing of all? Finding the courage to trust in love and build a new dream where you least expected it.
Just the facts: M/M romance, living with a disability, family issues, coming out, bullying
A devastating diagnosis forces a ballet dancer to retire and return home. This is a beautiful struggle to find life again. – Kinzie Things
My thoughts bit: Off Balance by Jay Hogan is a beautiful novel. As a former dancer myself, I thought this story was absolutely heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time. This book is a remarkable journey for one man that, in turn, makes one small town a bit better for everyone.
Judah has retired from a successful career as a ballet dancer because he’s been diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease. He has a severe case of the disease and suffers from nauseating vertigo, drop attacks, and other dangerous symptoms. Lost and devastated by the loss of his career… his life… Judah returns home.
Home is a complicated place for Judah. He was bullied as a kid, his own brother hasn’t ever been supportive of his career, he misses his deceased father and he just doesn’t want to be there. The only bright spot in his life is his friend Terry and his daughter, Hannah.
When Judah meets fisheries officer, Morgan… his life improves slightly… a little bit of his spark returns. But this isn’t just a relationship story. It’s so much more than that. The romance in this book is lovely. Hogan gives us a mature, dynamic relationship that’s very real… there’s no superfluous drama, just two men trying to figure out how their lives might fit together.
This book is about life taking a U-turn when you think you have everything figured out. Having to retire from such an all-encompassing career like dance is life-changing. Jay Hogan has captured Judah’s journey with compassion, empathy, and authenticity. I loved the way that the author has created a wonderful small town with all the ups and downs that come along with it. Everyone knows what everyone else is doing – or at least, thinks that they do. The supporting characters are great examples of small-town closeness and character.
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) detailed descriptions of giving up dancing, depression, substance abuse, intoxication, vomiting, brief mentions of hate violence in past (severe beating and bullying), descriptions of Meniere’s Disease (drop attacks that result in injury, severe vertigo, vomiting, lethargy, brain fog), mentions the death of a spouse in past due to cancer
I received an ARC of Off Balance by Jay Hogan from Gay Romance Reviews in exchange for an unbiased review.