Jake Moore’s world fits too tightly around him. Every penny he makes as a welder goes to care for his dying father, an abusive, controlling man who’s the only family Jake has left. Because of a promise to his dead mother, Jake resists his desire for other men, but it leaves him consumed by darkness.
It takes all of Dallas Yates’s imagination to see the possibilities in the fatigued art deco building on WeHo’s outskirts, but what seals the deal is a shy smile from the handsome metal worker across the street. Their friendship deepens while Dallas peels back the hardened layers strangling Jake’s soul. It’s easy to love the sweet, artistic man hidden behind Jake’s shattered exterior, but Dallas knows Jake needs to first learn to love himself.
When Jake’s world crumbles, he reaches for Dallas, the man he’s learned to lean on. It’s only a matter of time before he’s left to drift in a life he never wanted to lead and while he wants more, Jake’s past haunts him, making him doubt he’s worth the love Dallas is so desperate to give him.
Buy links: Dreamspinner | Amazon
Tams gives this one 5 stars...
Jake Moore tries very hard not to be who he is, deep down, inside. He spends his hard earned money on a home for his homophobic father who truly deserves to rot in a ditch. But Jake is loyal to a fault, he's also buried so deep in the closet that it takes an almost stagnant body, wrought iron calligraphy, a confident drag queen and Dallas to break down the door.
Dallas Yates buys the building across from the shop Jake works at with a hope and a dreamy, not even realizing that destiny was his buy two get one free. But anything worth having is never really free, it takes hard work and stamina, which Dallas has in abundance.
Dallas is patient and unwavering, as is Celeste, both hovering and holding Jake up as he figures out that he's finally found the family he's ached for. But daddy dearest doesn't make it easy, the emotional abuse and self loathing are painted on so thick that Jake's welder may not even be able to burn it off.
I always know when I get my grabby hands on a book penned by Rhys Ford it's going to be juicy, sexy, invigorating and there simply must be the obligatory body(s) hidden somewhere waiting to pop out at the exact right moment, like a jack in the box. Nestled somewhere in the middle is this young man that has been told since he was a boy that he wasn't right, that to be true to himself was deplorable and disgusting. Somewhere along the way, Jake started to believe it.
I think that the wrought iron and the bars on the windows was meant to be a healing aspect of the story for Jake. It was like, working on them, perfecting them, changing them, everything lined up with the steps he was taking in his life at the same time. Maybe I'm reading too much into that, but that's what I took away from this story when I finished. Super sexy, of course, flowed well from start to finish and seriously grabbed my attention from that first, awkward chapter to the end.
He’d winked at the man the next time he spotted him, stupidly flirtatious in an area not known for its friendliness, but Dallas hadn’t given it a second thought. Their eyes had met, and the electric shock running between them short-circuited Dallas’s common sense. Or at least that was what he told himself when the worker jerked his head back and squinted, pinning Dallas in place.
They shouldn’t have had that moment. There were four damned lanes between them, four and a half if he counted the half-assed left-turn aisle at the cross street, and Dallas should have been able to do anything short of sticking his tongue out at the man or flipping him off and remained unnoticed.
Instead he’d caught Dallas in a wink and reeled back in response.
“All the hot ones are straight,” Dallas muttered to himself as Celeste carried on about palm trees and coconut smoothies. “Or assholes. And sometimes, if Mrs. Yates’s little boy is very, very lucky, they’re gay assholes and he dates them.”
“Dallas, the pink?” Celeste’s peeved query sliced through Dallas’s musings, a knife along the buttery wonder of what the worker’s thighs would look like if stripped of his old jeans. “What are you… oh. Well damn. That’s a good way to get your head beaten in, but sure, you just go on over there and introduce yourself. Just make sure you make me your beneficiary beforehand so I can paint this damned building bright fucking pink in your honor.”
“Celeste, no damned pink. It’s Bombshells and Beauties, not… shit, I can’t even think of anything disgusting enough.” The man glanced across the street at them, maybe a frown crossing his face. Then he disappeared back into the building, its shadows swallowing the welder back up, leaving nothing on the sidewalk but a few drops of spittle along Dallas’s licked lips. “Shit.”
“Bubblegum,” Celeste offered up, and Dallas turned in confusion. Her thin eyebrows darted in, elongated tadpoles fighting for the center of her forehead, and she sighed, resting one hip on a post near the building’s entrance. “Bombshells and Bubblegum. That’s what you should have said, and for all that is Patsy Stone and holy, would you get your head out of the clouds and stop staring at the eye candy across the street? And while you’re at it, get out of the fucking road before you get run over.”
Celeste’s voice teetered out of her normal husky alto and into the high-pitched tenor of Simon, the slightly overweight boy Dallas met at a New York bus stop more than twelve years ago. A string of diets and industrial-strength foundation garments shaped Simon’s body into the lush pinup figure he’d longed for, but it’d been Dallas who’d styled him into Celeste Glory, shaping everything from her signature ’50s naughty librarian clothing to the strong, powerful walk she’d taken on as her own. There were times when Simon’s overprotective Jewish mother seeped out from between the cracks in her lush character, and Dallas found himself on the sharp end of a nasally reprimand whenever Celeste reached her breaking point.
Right now, Dallas heard every drop of Simon stubbornly lingering in his best friend’s personality.
“What’s the matter, C?” He stepped out onto the sidewalk, hoping it would soothe Celeste’s rattled nerves, but the woman shook her head when he reached for her. “Love, nothing’s going to happen to me. We’re in WeHo for fuck’s sake. Or at least close enough to use its zip code.”
“We’re not in fucking WeHo, Dallas. Look around you. We’re in a fucking industrial park tucked in between the studio’s secondary backlots where they make B movies about screaming stupid women and monsters.” Celeste shuddered, taking a deep breath. Pressing her hand against her generous chest, she bit at her lip, worrying away a stripe of red lipstick. “Honey, I’m trying not to sound like some dramatic queen. I’m not. You and I both know I’m not, but this place… here… it’s not safe.”
“It’s totally safe. I checked the crime stats before I made an offer on the building. We’re fine. I’m fine. And even if it weren’t okay, we can’t keep running away, C. I’m not saying I’m going to go out and wave a red cape in front of a raging bull but….” Dallas reached for her, and Celeste let herself be folded into a soft embrace. She trembled, probably caught up in the memories of a night when she hadn’t been safe and he’d not been there when the dark closed in on her. “Things are different now. Much different. You of all people know if we hide, nothing changes.”
“I just don’t want anything to happen to you,” she mumbled into his chest, probably smearing half a ton of makeup on his white T-shirt. “The way you looked at that guy….”
“Yeah, well, I’m not the gingeriest cookie in the bag, so sometimes, I do stupid things,” he teased. “That being said, I promise you, no ogling hot straight men who look like they can crush my head in one hand, okay?”
“Okay,” she sniffed and pulled away, wiping at the dampness around her heavily made-up eyes. “But really, rethink the pink. It’ll be awesome.”
“You go on being you, Celeste Glory, and when you get your own place, you can make it any color you want,” he shot back, twisting his mouth into a smile. “Because I sure as hell am not painting our lifelong dream fucking bubblegum pink. Now, grab the champagne and glasses from the car, and let’s see what I’ve gotten myself into.”
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