Max Tremblay should be happy. His night club, Frantic, is one of the most popular gay clubs in Toronto, and his childhood refuge, Ringside Gym, is well on the way to reopening. But when he finds yet another drunk in the alley beside the bar, Max isn’t sure this is the life he truly wants.Todd's rating:
Grady Barnes has it all. He’s rich, famous, and wants for nothing. Well, nothing but a good relationship with his father. When he discovers that his father is going to force him into an arranged marriage, Grady has had enough. He tracks down Max, the man who got him to safety after a night of overindulgence, and makes him a proposal: pretend to be his fiancé for two weeks and he’ll invest in Ringside Gym.
When the pair travel to Vancouver to attend a family wedding, the flames of their mutual attraction ignite, and they discover that the only difference between pretend and reality is how well they can fake it.
While I love a good fake engagement story, this one had some pluses and minuses for me.
On the plus side:
I absolutely loved both Max and Grady. Their banter and flirting was fun and definitely kept me engaged.
I loved Grady's brother and sister-in-law, too. They were his only true (known) allies against his controlling, vindictive, asshole "Father." That man gave me the serious creeps.
The sexy bits. Hot. 'Nuff said.
On the minus side:
When it suited the story and Max was supposed to come across as more innocent, he was supposedly not into hook-ups, nearly at all. Then as soon as Max was supposed to be a sexy and confident Alpha-type, he was suddenly no stranger to the hook-up, having been with 'many' men. Which is it?
Also, Max's ability to hold to his convictions in regards to not sleeping with Grady seemed to be controlled only by which direction that the wind was blowing his dick that day.
One minute he was all, "Nope, never, not gonna happen," then on the next page he's balls deep in Grady and groaning out "Yes, yes, fuck yes!"
It happened multiple times and I just didn't get it.
Another thing that threw me was where the story line with Grady's 'handler', Justin went, which left me simultaneously open-mouthed and scratching my head.
Then, lastly, when "The Big Public Break-Up" scene happened, I was utterly confused. I read the scene a couple of times and still thought, "Dude, he just told you he LOVES you, for fuck sake, so where the hell is all of this really coming from?"
That whole thing felt forced and more than a little manufactured, like Grady was doing it for show and would later explain to Max that it was all part of some bigger master plan he concocted to get around his hateful Father.
So yeah, while I enjoyed it a lot, I definitely had a few issues with the story to keep me from fully putting it into the 'love' column.
Overall, I'd rate this one at around 3.5 stars and am actually looking forward to reading Eli's story, where he reunites with his ex and long-lost son.
** Note: I haven't read book 1, but this one seemed fine as a standalone, although the boxing gym element in this story felt pretty irrelevant to this particular story line, unlike Max's ownership of the gay bar.
My ARC copy of the story was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.
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