This is the second book in the Jade Harbour Capital series, but each book can be read as a standalone as they focus on different characters. What both books in this series have in common though is the addictive stories set in the Canadian finance world and that they are full of diversity and family bonds. Just like with the first book, Hard Sell, I read this one in one sitting, completely hooked from the very first page!
In Going Public, the two main characters are Jade Harbour partner and playboy Raymond Chao (Ray) and his assistant, the shy, sweet and demisexual Elvin Goh. Elvin has been in love with Ray for as far as he can remember, but never even hinted it to Ray. Not only because Ray is his boss, but also because he knew Ray would never be interested in him that way, being a filthy rich and flamboyant player who goes from party to party and bed to bed. But when a scandal hits, Raymond leans more and more on Elvin and reveals more of himself in a way that starts to build a whole new intimacy between them.
I loved the slow burn romance, the right amount of angst, demisexual awakening and diversity. I also really enjoyed the family bonds and dynamics, with Elvin taking care of his large family and Ray’s strained relationship with his family and especially his father and head of the dynasty, Chairman Chao. I have to admit that I missed my favorite couple from the first book, Danny and Toby though. It would have been lovely to get some glimpses of their life after Hard Sell, to connect the two books in this series more.
But all in all, this was an addictive, romantic and highly enjoyable story with a bit of a thriller/mafia twist, and I sincerely hope that we will get more books in this series!
Thank you NetGalley and Carina Press & Carina Adores (Harlequin) for the ARC! All opinions are my own and I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.
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This was such an addictive, angsty and swooning second-chance, forbidden love m/m romance! I loved the diversity, the family bonds, the thrilling finance world setting and the heart-warming childhood friends-to-lovers plot, but most of all the message about finding out what you really need and want in your life and being brave enough to risk losing it all for love and happiness.
Danny Ip is the big shot private equity investor, a true investor shark, who’s worked his way up from his poor childhood to the absolute top of the Canadian finance world. He didn’t do it all on his own though, but had help along the way from his childhood best friend Wei Lok’s supportive family. For long he’d truly enjoyed being married to his work with its thrills and the luxury that came with the big money, but lately he’s started to feel burned out and has begun to slip. To not lose his position he needs to pull himself together and close the new deal, the acquisition of WesTec from the infamous Cyrus West.
Tobin Lok is the younger brother of Danny’s best friend Wei and has been almost like a younger brother to Danny himself. Tobin’s feelings for Danny have never been of the brotherly kind though, and at Wei’s bachelor party seven years ago his dreams about Danny became real in a drunken hook-up. The happiness was short though, as Danny left during the night full of guilt and did his best to avoid Tobin ever since. Until they suddenly meet at WesTec, both working with the company but on different sides, and the forbidden attraction is back with a burning intensity.
This book had so many things I love like second chances, forbidden love, strong family bonds and wonderful friends. I also really loved the diversity both in regard to the LGBTQIA+ representation and the Asian characters. There was also the right amount of angst and a burning attraction, and some truly amazing character developments, as well as really interesting insights to the private equity world. I rooted so much for both Danny and Tobin from the start. Their love was so obvious and strong, and I so wanted them to get the happiness they deserved that at times I almost wanted to scream at them both to just be brave and take a chance on each other, and not let the respect for Wei and his parents stop them.
The only minor objection I have to their romance was how the book took a jump from a sweet romance to being quite explicit sexually, but that’s just my personal reaction and I can certainly understand how other readers might appreciate these hot scenes more. I also had some issue with the subplot with Cyrus West and how he was such an one-dimensional villain (it would have been enough that he was a homophobic jerk, the extra stuff with his bad divorce and the trafficking/minor sex parts felt a bit too much). It didn’t sit very well with me how the main characters found out about Cyrus West being a sexual predator and never acted on it. It made me feel a little less for them that they just shrugged it off and never thought about reporting it to the police or anything. And then there was the issue with how the love story started and the ‘almost-being-brothers-growing-up’-aspect. It’s always a fine balance with this trope, especially since there was a quite substantial age gape between Tobin and Danny, but all along the story Hudson Lin did a wonderful job keeping this balance. I’m very happy that Tobin was 19 at their first hook-up, so that there were never any uncomfortable underage issues.
All in all, Hard Sell, was such an addictive, emotional and highly enjoyable story about second chances and overcoming barriers for a chance to find love and happiness. I can’t wait to continue the Jade Harbour Capital series with Ray’s story in the next book!
Thank you to Carina Adores and NetGalley for the ARC and blog tour invitation for this wonderful book! All opinions are my own and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
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