Length: 46,000 words approx.
Cover Design: Lou Harper
With A Kick Series
Three men, one love—and a passion he only ever dreamed of.
Karel Novak is content with his busy job in hotel refurbishment, enjoying the social scene in Soho, London and the company of new friends he met through working at With A Kick. All he’s missing is a special man in his life. Or maybe two.
His first meeting with the mercurial pole dancer Leroy and his socially anxious partner Griff isn’t impressive, but none of them can ignore the sexual spark that flares between the three men.
Their relationship builds in steps of passion, frustration, and finally love. Both Leroy and Griff have complex issues in their lives to work through, and at first Karel brings a new dynamic that both settles and supports them.
But although he loves his men, Karel gradually realises the issues are still present. His partners struggle with living individually as well as together. His heartfelt wish is for them to create a lasting bond as a trio—but that means putting others first, all too often.
And will that mean sacrificing his own joy and dreams?
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“There are several sculpture exhibitions in the arts festival, one at the local school.” Griff opened the booklet, as if ready to search the index.
“Karel?” Leroy was looking at him curiously. His hand squeezed Karel’s, his thumb distracting, massaging Karel’s wrist. He threw a comment to Griff, over his shoulder. “Let’s talk about something else.”
Leroy rolled his eyes. “Man, it’s too late tonight for chatting about art and stuff. Isn’t it?” The question was aimed at Karel.
“I… don’t mind,” he said.
But Leroy laughed. He swept the brochure from Griff’s hand, dropped it on the far end of the counter, then turned fully to face Karel. “Yeah. Talk about something else, Griff. Something just for fun. Like the time you made chilli frozen yoghurt and burned my mouth at the same time my tongue froze to my teeth—”
“—or the time you bought kids’ dance tights by mistake, fell over trying to put them on, and nearly strangled your balls?” Griff countered.
Everyone laughed. The awkward moment had passed. Karel was relieved he hadn’t been led astray by his own worries. The kitchen was suddenly full again of amused banter, with Griff leaning over the counter to gossip, and Leroy’s soothing yet stimulating touch on Karel’s skin.
And underlying all of it, a thread of fizzing, humming desire growing between them. Karel wondered how he would have coped if the conversation had gone a more cultural route, when all he could think about at the moment was energetic, obscene sex with these men.
He didn’t think he was presuming anything, either.
Finally, Leroy collected their empty plates, placed them in the dishwasher, then sauntered back to where Karel sat. He didn’t sit back down again, but stood there, his hip nudging Karel’s. Griff wiped the counter briskly but thoroughly with a wet cloth, placed it neatly on the side of the sink, took off his glasses, then came to stand beside him.
The dance was moving into its second set.
Karel stood, as steadily as he could. His skin prickled as if electricity sparkled over it, and his limbs felt almost too weak to respond. But when Leroy leaned in to kiss him, he was more than ready. He cupped Leroy’s cheek, thumbing the gentle bed of stubble, enjoying the brush of Leroy’s hair on the back of his hand. Karel pushed his tongue gently at Leroy’s mouth and the lips parted quickly, eagerly, for him. They kissed in near silence, the only sound their panting, the soft slick of their mouths.
And Griff’s soft breath in Karel’s other ear.
“We’ve taken this evening in the wrong order,” he said. When Karel turned reluctantly from Leroy’s kiss, he found Griff staring at him with a slow, seductive smile that Karel hadn’t seen before. “Dessert before the main course.”
“No,” Leroy said from behind Karel. “That was only ice cream. The proper dessert hasn’t even been served yet.”
“Whatever,” Griff murmured, rolling his eyes like Leroy had earlier, still smiling at Karel. He lifted his face for a kiss. His lips were plumper, his mouth wider. Karel didn’t know why he should be shocked that Griff’s taste was so different, but he was delighted by it. Griff was surprisingly assertive, thrusting his tongue into Karel’s mouth, his beard softly tickling Karel’s chin.
Leroy hadn’t moved away. His breath was warm on Karel’s neck, but Karel appreciated the way Leroy took his time: no one was hurrying. He relaxed into Griff’s kiss as he had Leroy’s, and behind him, Leroy’s lips touched the nape of his neck, kissing around to Karel’s throat and down towards his collarbone. Griff nipped briefly at Karel’s lower lip, just shy of breaking the skin and Karel gasped. Leroy slid his fingers briefly, tantalisingly, under the neck of Karel’s T-shirt, running along the seam, tugging it away from his body.
“I worked on the site today,” Karel said, not surprised to find his voice was hoarse. “I’m sweaty. My clothes are dusty.”
“You can shower here,” Griff said quickly. “If you want. Or…”
“…No. Do it after,” Leroy said, just as quick. His tone roughened. “I want you like this.”
Jesus. A wave of desire swamped Karel from head to foot. He leaned away from Griff as Leroy peeled the T-shirt over his head.
Griff’s gaze dropped to Karel’s chest and he licked his lips.
Leroy sighed happily. Then he took Karel’s hand and led him out of the kitchen.
‘Top and Tails’ is the 8th book in the series ‘With a Kick’ by Clare London. First things first here… while I haven’t read any of the previous books in this series, I’ve wanted to and in spite the fact that I haven’t, I’ve still enjoyed the hell outta’ this book.
‘With a Kick’ is one of those series that connects the stories by location as much or more than the characters…although my impression here is that many of them are connected by the bond of friendship as well and while I definitely want to go back and read the stories that I’m sure will tell me more about a number of secondary characters that I was introduced to in this story, I wasn’t left feeling like something was missing because I haven’t read the previous books…it was more a case of being intrigued enough to want to go back and read what I’ve missed up until now and for me that’s a really good benchmark as to whether or not an author has successfully created a story that is 1. Part of a series and 2. Can truly be read as a standalone.
Thankfully I can easily catch up on this series since I have them in my TBR folder waiting patiently for my attention and while there is some connection between the characters as friends, the stories for the most part aren’t allowing them to be enjoyed as part of a series or as a standalone…just check the blurbs and you’ll quickly figure out where there’s a connection between stories.
‘Top and Tails’ is a story about one love shared by 3 men…that’s right it’s ménage and we all know that if not done correctly instead of a hot, sexy and sometimes sweet story about 3 men finding love, what I could have gotten is a train wreck especially when it’s an established couple adding a third person. For me this is probably one of the slipperiest slopes an author can navigate and while this story got off to a bit of a slow start for me in terms of capturing my interest, I’m a fan of this author and was more than willing to stick with it and stick with it I did and Ms. London did not let me down I was treated not only to a story that thoroughly enchanted me but one that convinced me that I need to go back and start at the beginning with this series so that I’m ready for whatever comes next.
For the most part this story is told from Karel’s perspective but that doesn’t mean that we don’t get to know things from Griff and Leroy’s point of view throughout the story by their interactions with Karel and each other. Griff and Leroy have been together for a number of years, but for as much as they love each other, and these two are very much in love and committed to each other, they both seem to feel that as a couple they just aren’t quite complete…somethings missing and while they’ve played before it’s not until Karel that they’ve felt right with their choice of a third…but that doesn’t mean it’s all sunshine and flowers. These men all have some adjusting to do. Like any relationship it’s all about the give, take and compromise.
I loved that we got to take this journey with Griff, Leroy and Karel as they struggled to make their relationship work…it wasn’t easy for any of them and there was growth and change required from them but anything worth having is worth fighting for and these men are willing to fight for what they’ve found together as the each come to realize that separately they might be good. Together they are able to find the strength, love and support they need to become more…to become better.
‘Top and Tails’ can easily be read on its own for anyone who hasn’t read the previous books but don’t be surprised if like me, you find yourself wanting to go back and enjoy those earlier stories.
An ARC of ‘Top and Tails’ was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
About the author:
Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter 3 stage and plenty of other projects in mind . . . she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home.
All the details and free fiction are available at her website. Visit her today and say hello!
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