I’m a huge fan of Jay Hogan’s character driven mm romances set in New Zealand, and The Art of Husbandry certainly didn’t’ disappoint. It was such a wonderful and swoon worthy gay romance with two amazing main characters to root for, and some added layers of grief and PTDS after the loss of a child.
This is the first book in Jay Hogan’s new Mackenzie country series, and follows two main characters, in alternating POVs; the sheep farm boss Holden with commitment issues and the grieving Gil who lost is daughter in a car accident one and a half year ago, and his marriage soon thereafter.
In an attempt to get a new start and find a way forward from the anger, the grief, the nightmares and the sheer hopelessness of it all that has been his life for the past eighteen months, Gil accepts a temporary offer to be a chef for three months at a high country sheep station in the middle of nowhere. Leaving his psychologist practice and his old life behind, he hoped for a way to move forward. But he got so much more when he unexpectedly connected with the young station boss and suddenly started to feel again…
I truly rooted for both Holden and Gil, and I really appreciated the way in which they slowly began to open up to each other, and for Gil to possibly see a new beginning and hope for happiness and love again, and for Holden to deal with his relationship and commitment problems.
Jay Hogan did a wonderful job with Gil, truly making us see and feel his loss and grief and his inner turmoil, his vulnerability and fear for opening up again and risking more pain. And Hogan was such a cocky and sexy, fun guy with a heart of gold and his own battles. The way the two of them lifted each other was so amazing!
There were also some great side characters and some interesting insights to the hard sheep farming life in southern New Zeeland that I truly appreciated. Sometimes there were perhaps a bit too many details about the farm and its surroundings and the description of the muster and all other farm work that slowed the story down. I also wasn’t a big fan of the way the characters not only told us about their feelings, but also analyzed them for us readers. Especially Gil, which of course in a way makes perfect sense with him being a psychologist, but I still think the story could have benefited from leaving a little more up to the readers. But those minor complaints set aside, this was a beautiful and wholesome story. I especially appreciated that there weren’t any truly bad guys. (Apart from Zach’s homophobic dad.) Gil’s ex Luke was also grieving and just dealt with his grief in another way than Gil, and Zach was jealous at first of course when founding out this best friend/long time crush had moved on, but quickly became supportive.
All in all, this was a heartwarming, poignant and addictive reading experience and a great way to start a new series! I can’t wait to read Zach and Luke’s story in the next installment!
I received a free ARC of this book, which I have voluntarily reviewed.
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This was such an emotional, completely addictive and swooning enemies-to-lovers story with amazing character growth! And some truly amazing chemistry between the main characters... I read this book in one sitting due to how much I loved it.
On Board is actually the second book in the Painted Bay series, but I had no problem to get right into the story without having read the first book. The books in the series focuses on different persons, and even though the couple from the first book and other side characters played a major part in this story too, it was so well done that it was no problem to follow the story along. Some events from the previous books were also discussed, but everything was explained to keep you clued in to what had happened in the past. I actually really love it when an author creates an own literary universe by weaving stories together the way Jay Hogan has done with this series.
The two main characters of this story are Leroy Madden, who is the brother of Judah from the first book, and Fox Carmody, who is the son of Leroy’s mother’s lover. The very first time Leroy met Fox he felt an overwhelming attraction. Which made no sense at all, since Leroy is straight. Or isn’t he? Struggling with his new confusing feelings, Leroy hid his attraction in irritation and pointless bickering, to keep Fox at a safe distance. But when Fox needed a place to stay after his divorce and Leroy’s mother ignored Leroy’s complaints and invited him to the house, it became impossible for Leroy to keep his true feelings hidden.
I absolutely loved Jay Hogan’s writing style and the amazing love/hate-dynamic between Leroy and Fox. I loved their banter and the humor, and not to mention the burning chemistry… I wasn’t a fan of Leroy at first with his grumpiness and slight homophobia, but he really stole my heart soon enough! It was so adorable the way we got to see him be confused about his sexuality and not knowing how to act on his attraction to Fox, it all felt very real and realistic. The sexy parts were quite explicit, but still very sweet. They really showed how Leroy felt vulnerable from not having any experience from being with other men, but how he allowed himself to open up and trust Fox to explore new things in a safe and respectful way. I also really appreciated how Leroy never was ashamed of his feelings once he understood them, and he how he was proud of who he was with Fox.
My only minor complaints are about Fox’s ex and how he was portraited as purely evil and selfish and how the dog custody fighting was just a little too much drama for my taste. I also had some problems with Leroy’s brother Judah, but that might be because I hadn’t read “his” book and didn’t fully understand his reasons for being so self-centered in the way he reacted to Leroy’s and Fox’s relationship and some other things and persons in the story.
But those minor complaints set aside, this was a truly amazing bi-awakening, slow-burn enemies-to-lovers romance with all the feels and character growth. I read it in one sitting, it was so addictive and I rooted so much for all characters that I just couldn’t bear to put it down until the very end! Highly recommended and I can’t wait to continue this series and read more from Jay Hogan!
Thank you to Xpresso Book Tours for the ARC and blog tour invitation for this wonderful book! All opinions are my own and I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.
4.5 flaming stars rounding up to 5
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All 1 Star 2 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars 5 Stars Abbi Glines Abby Kaitz Abdi Nazemian Adam Silvera Adib Khorram Aiden Thomas Aisha Saeed Aislinn Brophy AJ Collins Alexandra Christo Alex Beltran Alexene Farol Follmuth Alexis Hall Alex Kelly Alex Sanchez Alice Dolman Alice Oseman Alice Winn Ali Hazelwood Alison Cochrun Al Riske Alwyn Hamilton Amanda Ferreira Amanda Woody A. Meredith Walters Amy Aislin Amy Harmon Amy S. Foster Amy Spalding André Aciman Andy V Roamer Angie Thomas Annabeth Albert A. Poland Ashley Poston Ashley Woodfolk Ashlyn Kane Audrey Coulthurst Ban Gilmartin Becca Fitzpatrick Becky Albertalli Benjamin Alire Saenz Beth Bolden Bill Konigsberg B.L. Maxwell Briar Prescott Bri Spicer Brooke Skipstone Cait Nary Cale Dietrich Cara Dee Casey McQuiston Cassandra Clare Cat Sebastian C.F. White C.G. Drews Charlie Adhara Charli Meadows Chasten Buttigieg Chris Bedell Christina Lauren Christina Lee Ciara Smyth Claerie Kavanaugh Clarissa Pattern C.L. Beaumont Colette Davison Colleen Hoover Courtney Kae Crystal Frasier C.S. Pacat Dallas Smith Daven McQueen David Biddle David Yoon Dean Atta Debbie McGowan Debbie Rigaud Debbie Schrack Deborah Harkness Delia Owens D.G. Carothers Dhonielle Clayton D.N. Bryn Douglas Stuart Dustin Thao Elisa A. Bonnin Elizabeth Acevedo Elizabeth Arroyo Elle Kennedy Elle Wright E.L. Massey E. Lockhart Emery Lee Emily M. Danforth Emily Mims Erin Watt Ernest Cline Evan J. Corbin Eve Morton Everina Maxwell Evie Dunmore Felice Stevens F.T. Lukens Grace Williams Gwen Martin Hannah Grace Hanya Yanagihara Hayden Stone Heather Truett H.E. Edgmon Hettie Bell Holly Black Hope Irving H.S. Valley Hudson Lin Ingrid Sterling Jacob Gelman Jacqueline Lee Jacqueline Woodson James L. Sutter Jamie Deacon Jandy Nelson Jax Calder Jay Hogan Jeanette Winterson Jeff Zentner Jen Bailey Jenna Evans Welch Jenn Burke Jennifer E. Smith Jennifer G. Edelson Jennifer Gilmore Jennifer Iacopelli Jennifer Kropf Jennifer Niven Jenny Downham Jenny Han Jeremy Ray Jesse H. Reign Joelle Lynne John Green Jonny Garza Villa Julianne Donaldson Julian Winters Kacen Callender Kami Garcia Kara Leigh Miller Kasie West Kate Larkindale Katharine McGee Kathleen Mareé Kathy Anderson K.A. Tucker KD Casey Kendall Grey Kevin Van Whye Kiley Reid Kim Fielding Kim Holden Kim Liggett Kitty Bardot Kris Ripper K.S. Marsden Laura Hall Laura Pavlov Laura Silverman Lauren James Lauren Shippen Laurie Frankel Leah Johnson Lee Matthew Goldberg Leigh Bardugo Lex Croucher Leylah Attar Lisa Henry Lisa Williamson Lisa Wingate Liv Rancourt Liz Plum Lola Noire Lynn Michaels Mackenzi Lee Madeline Miller Magdalena Di Sotru Maggie Doolin Maggie Stiefvater Malin Persson Giolito Malorie Blackman Margaret Stohl Marie Lu Mary E. Pearson Mason Deaver Matthew R. Corr M.A. Wardell Melanie Munton Melina Marchetta Meredith Russo Miel Moreland Mila Gray Miranda Kenneally Moa Backe Astot Morgan James M. Tasia Nancy Garden Natalie Haynes Nathaniel Shea Nicholas Sparks Nicola Yoon Nic Starr Nic Stone Nina Kenwood Nita Tyndall Nora Sakavic N.R. Walker Nyla K. Owen Lach Penny Aimes Phil Stamper Quinn Anderson Rachael Brownell Rachael Lippincott Rachel Hawkins Rachel Reid Racquel Marie Rainbow Rowell Ray Stoeve Renée Dahlia Rhiannon Wilde Riley Hart River Braun Roan Parrish Robin Gow Roseanne A. Brown Rowan MacKemsley Ruby Moone Ruta Sepetys Ryan La Sala Sally Green Sally Rooney Sarah J. Maas Sarah Waters Sarina Bowen Sasha Laurens Saundra Mitchell Saxon James Serena Bell Shannon O’Connor Sidney Bell Simone Elkeles Siryn Sueng Sophia DeRise Sophia Soames Sophie Gonzales S.R. Lane Stephen Chbosky Stephenie Meyer Steven Salvatore Susan Mac Nicol Suzanne Collins Tahereh Mafi Tal Bauer Tamara Girardi Taylor Jenkins Reid Teagan Hunter Terry J. Benton-Walker Tiffany D. Jackson Timothy Janovsky T.J. Klune T.L. Bradford Tobly McSmith Tomasz Jedrowski Tomi Adeyemi Tracy Deonn Tucker Shaw Val Wise Veronica Rossi Veronica Roth V.E. Schwab Wesley Chu Victor Dixen Victoria Aveyard V.L. Stuart Xan Van Rooyen Yamile Saied Méndez