Friday, January 27, 2017

ARC Review: Hipster Brothel by K.A. Merikan

--- The lumberjack of his dreams is now available for rent. ---

Mr. B has always been a safe guy for Jo to crush on. He’s the cutest bearded lumber-god to salivate over. Add to that his friendly, outgoing personality, and Mr. B might just be the first guy Jo would be willing to kiss. Fortunately, Mr. B has been in a relationship for years, and Jo is no home-wrecker.

But when Mr. B breaks up with his partner and all of a sudden is single, available, and talks about his plans to be sexually adventurous, Jo isn’t so sure anymore if he has the guts to come out as bisexual.

After a sour breakup, Mr. B wants to show his ex that he’s independent, exciting, and can do very well without him. His best friend Jo is there to the rescue, and they come up with a great new business venture. One thing they lack to start their own line of artisanal boozy jams - money for the investment.

After a drunken brainstorming session, Mr. B finds a way to both gather the cash and show the middle finger to his ex. He will create a one of a kind Hipster Brothel - The Lumbersexual Experience - offering wood chopping lessons, pipe smoking, and a reclaimed wood bed where the magic happens. It’s bound to be a success… if only Mr. B can go through with it, because the mixed signals from Jo are making him wonder if his best friend is as straight as he always seemed.


Themes: Hipsters, sex work, friends to lovers, bisexuality, post-breakup issues, coming out, first time, alternative lifestyles, lumbersexual bear, commitment

Genre: M/M contemporary romance Length: ~50,000 words (standalone novel)
WARNING: Explicit content, strong language. A shameless amount of buzzwords. May cause second-hand embarrassment

Jewel's rating:

Hipster Brothel was delightfully adorkable. This is a fun read, folks. Low on the angst, high on cuteness and cuddly lumberjack bears. A friends to lovers story that is supremely enjoyable. Plus, boozy jam. I want some of that!

Mr B is a beefy, bearded, cuddly, teddy bear of a man. He's sweet, loyal, and is pretty damn handy. He builds furniture, he upcycles things in clever ways, he makes fruity booze and delicious jams. He's been doing CrossFit for a few years to keep fit, and that is where he met Jo Lau.

Jo is slightly younger than Mr B's 28 years. He's Chinese, has long dark hair and prefers edgy styles for clothing. And he lives with his mom, but that's just economical. Jo and Mr B are a lot different, but they're best friends and neither can imagine life without the other.

After Mr B breaks up with his longtime boyfriend, Mr A (there's actually a point to the nicknames), he feels kind of lost. For several years he's lived with, worked with and had a relationship with Mr A and now? He has none of those things. He's moved into a train car he has on some land his brother owns and he's working on making it livable. Jo comes over to commiserate and they get a bit drunk on booze that Mr B made and brainstorm about what Mr B can do, now. Drunk brainstorming is dangerous, my friends. Dangerous.

So what do Jo and Mr B come up with? Combining Mr B's homemade booze and his homemade jam -- boozy jam! Now, that is brilliant and I would order lots of this. Breakfast would become infinitely more awesome with boozy jam for my toast. But, there's a bit of a problem -- Mr B doesn't have the capital to make and market the boozy jam. Ok…so they brainstorm and brainstorm and the Hipster Brothel idea is born. Yep, Mr B is going to sell the Lumbersexual Experience. Ok, so I admit, this is also a brilliant idea. But not for Mr B.

Mr B is a relationship kind of guy. He can't do open relationships and needs a connection to his lover. Becoming a specialized escort, just does not fit with his personality, at all. But he wants to try new things and be adventurous and have casual sex (really he doesn't, though). So he marches ahead with this plan, fixing up the train cars he has and creating a lovely outdoor space so he has somewhere to entertain his…guests.

If Mr B got his real wish, though, his best friend Jo wouldn't be straight because Mr B has been crushing on Jo for ages. But Jo is straight, so that's no dice. Well, Mr B, Jo is not really straight!

Jo is actually bisexual, but he's never acted on it. He watches gay porn, fantasizes about guys (especially Mr B) and loves being pegged by his girlfriends. But he's never liked a guy enough to act on it, or come out at all, until Mr B. And since B was attached, Jo trained himself to not act on it. But now that Mr B is single? Well, that opens up a new set of complications, and Jo doesn't want to be a rebound lover.

Parts of Hipster Brothel were pretty damn comical. Mr B and Jo dance around each other a bit much, but in trying to discourage this new business venture, Jo ends up encouraging it -- Jo should take note that reverse psychology isn't optimal for Mr B.

And after acting on his desires for Mr B, Jo says all the wrong things and sends some seriously mixed signals and Mr B, who is a pleaser at heart, tries to navigate the new waters with his best friend, but he's not as assertive as he needs to be, either. There was actually a bit too much miscommunication for my general tastes, but they do finally get it together and they have some amazingly hot sexy-times, and I really loved it.

Plus, we get a gorgeous HEA with no doubt at all that our guys are in it for the long haul.


ARC of Hipster Brothel was generously provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review.

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