Friday, April 8, 2016

Release Day Review ~ Hearts Apart by HJ Perry ~ (Review + Excerpt)

Release Day Review ~ Hearts Apart by HJ Perry ~ (Review + Excerpt)

Title: Hearts Apart
Author: HJ Perry
Series: Streets Apart Book 2
Release Date: April 8, 2016
Length: 136 pages


Joe’s the reason the word sexy was invented

Four weeks ago, I’d never kissed a guy; now I’m dating Joe. We grew up on the same street, been friends forever. And I’ve had a crush on him for years before I plucked up the courage to let him know.

He’s my first everything!

Who keeps their boyfriend in the closet these days

I want the world to know how much he means to me. The guys in the team—I play amateur football in the Working Men’s League. I’m an apprentice plumber but can’t imagine being out at work. No one gets fired for being gay any more, do they?

I’m a grown man.

I’m twenty, I drive, I have a job. A young man, it’s true, still got my own hair and teeth but definitely a six foot adult. But on the inside, I feel like a little boy who might have his toys taken away and be sent to his room. At times, I want to run to my bedroom and hide under my duvet for the rest of my life.

I’m going to come out, but not today, I can do it next week.

***An upbeat, first love, gay romance, coming out story. With very little angst (honestly, just a tiny smidgen) and a happy ending.***
***Can be read as a stand alone or directly following on from
Streets Apart ASIN: B01C4HOE44.***


Chapter 1

I took out my rad key and began on the ground floor. Half my brain focused on the job in hand, while the other half replayed memories of Joe, consciously making the effort to keep them decent. Picturing the enthusiasm with which he talked about some of the books he read for his literature degree course, authors from Oscar Wilde to William Faulkner. Or remembering him that morning at our first and only breakfast together, when he surprised me with what he described as a BLT without the L and T, what I’d call a bacon butty.
Ignoring Mike Two, I pushed in and turned the little golden key. The gurgling juice move through the hollow steel panel and I waited for the familiar hiss and bubble. I couldn’t let my attention wander or in no time radiator blood would gush forth—splattering me, the walls and carpets with clear liquid, if we were lucky, but black was more than likely.
I barely registered the rainbow coasters on the coffee table or the centerpiece, a Michelangelo’s David action figure with articulated limbs and moving eyes. That made me smile. I snapped a pic and sent it to Joe.
A moment later a text came through. From JB, short for Joe Blackwell, identified only by his initials in case my phone fell into the wrong hands.
“I have positions in mind”
Followed by another.
“But not for David x”
Thoughts of my blond-haired, blue-eyed, slim and sexy boyfriend dominated my mind and kept a ridiculous grin on my face. We were long time friends and I’d had a crush on him for years. When we found out about each other, we decided to convert that into boyfriend status immediately.
“My boyfriend.” I said it aloud; I hope I whispered. I liked the sound of those two words together and still could hardly believe my good luck. Joe was filling that position.
“I’m going upstairs, Mike,” I shouted. It was a small house. I didn’t know where Mike had got to, but I was sure he could hear me.
The first bedroom I entered was used as a storeroom rather than for sleeping. Boxes and stuff were piled high. I could hear Mike bounding up the stairs behind me.
“Hold up!” he called. “The radiators in these bedrooms are hard to get to,” he said as he stood behind me, in the doorway. “The guy who lives here keeps ’em turned off and stuff piled in front of them. I told him we need to get them hot, even if he turns them off after we’ve left.”
I couldn’t see the rad but they were usually under the window so that’s where I’d start to look.
“These little houses would be so much easier to work in if the customers would just move all this shit beforehand,” Mike grumbled. “I think this guy’s a teacher and this is years of accumulated school work.”
The table in front of the window wasn’t heavy and the two of us made easy work of moving it into the middle of the room, along with a few boxes.
“Before you bleed this one,” Mike was already out through the door, “come with me into the master bedroom.”
“I thought you only said that to your wife,” I said.
“I won’t tell if you don’t,” he replied.
By the time I’d caught up, Mike was already in the bedroom facing me with a big grin on his face, watching me enter. A sure sign of a setup and I didn’t have to look far to see the source of the heating engineer’s amusement.
“There’s a purple cock on the bed,” I said. “And it’s not one of the chicken family.” Displayed, in the center of the bed, was the biggest, shimmering purple dildo I’d ever seen in real life. When I say biggest, I don’t mean to imply I’ve seen a whole flock of smaller shimmering purple dildoes, because I haven’t. This purple monster was as long as my forearm and almost as thick.
“Did the customer leave that out for us?” I accused without taking my eyes off the phallus. “Or did you put that there?”
“I found it before you got here. It was in the way and I had to put it somewhere.” Mike’s tone was a matter of fact, the same voice he’d use if he were telling me why a particular boiler required a vertical flue rather than the easier-to-install, horizontal option.
From dirty mags to sex toys and other private items, their discovery in a stranger’s bedroom was all in a day’s work for a plumber. Left alone in the customer’s house, we workers were not deliberately prying. We often had to move furniture in order to raise floorboards, get to pipework or reach a radiator valve. We uncovered lost and hidden bedroom items in the normal course of our work. If the residents were out, it was only right that we enjoy sharing this amusement among our colleagues. Naturally, Mike Two knew his duty, to display his tremendous find for my amusement.
“Good man,” I said.
“I just found it behind that chest. Come and give me a hand, we need to move it to get to the radiator. I didn’t want to lift it on my own, just in case.”
“Interesting color,” I said. “Goes with the decor.”
For a modest, two-bedroomed, terraced house with just one bathroom, it was beautifully decorated in rich colors and with a few touches of quirky. The Michelangelo’s David action figure downstairs was bound to be a talking point. It was the home of someone artistic with good taste and not afraid to be bold with color, or sex toys for that matter. 
“Doesn’t it just. Perhaps he has a weenie, tiny todger if he needs to use that on the ladies.” Mike’s laugh was loud and deep. He focused again on the dildo and not the salmon wallpaper or the attributes of little David.
“Do you think so?” I said. “Have you met him?”
“I don’t know about you, mate, but I can’t estimate the size of a man’s dingle dangle just because I’ve met him once. And I wouldn’t want to.”
“I guess the size of his accoutrement doesn’t matter,” I replied, “if he’s got what they want.”
Mike laughed and pointed to the dildo on the bed. “He’s definitely got what they want, but he’s left it here in the bedroom.”
Mike and I took hold of either end of the chest and lifted it. We only needed to move it a few inches for rad-valve access, to get the heating system going properly, at full capacity.
“What the bloody hell is he keeping in this chest anyway?” Mike said. I couldn’t believe my eyes when Mike flipped it open. I’d seen guys do this in people’s homes, open the drawers, look in the cupboards when a homeowner goes out to work.
Nothing was sacrosanct.
Not all the guys are like that. Mike My-Boss was old school and totally professional in his approach to customer care. He’d be mortified if he could see Mike Two spying on our client.
“I don’t think you should go through his stuff,” I said because my mouth was ahead of my brain. Mike was many years my senior in age, experience and qualifications. It’d be wise not to challenge such a guy because my future career, in this game, could be affected by my contacts. Fortunately, Mike didn’t take offense.
He simply held up the lid and looked inside, “I’m not going to touch anything, just curious. If the bloke didn’t want us looking, he’d move his shit out of our way. What the hell, Aaron, cast your eyes over this!”
Of course, my eyes did as instructed.
God knows what was lower down but we saw the guy’s dirty mag collection scattered over the top. Mike picked one out and flicked through the pages.
“Oh, fucking hell, my retinas ain’t never gonna forgive me for seeing this!” Despite his protests, considerately, Mike held up the magazine open on a double page spread, to make sure I saw it too. A hardcore, three-way. Spit roast. I might have spent a little longer looking at it if I didn’t have Mike watching me. It looked hot. Three gay guys fucking, what’s not to like about an image like that in a porn mag. Unless you’re straight, of course, like Mike Two, which I’m not, but Mike Two doesn’t know that.
“Here. You are over eighteen aren’t you, Aaron?” he asked.
“It’s a bit late to ask that now, but yes.”
Legally old enough to take any of their places and to watch dudes in those positions. What a great life!
I don’t think Mike Two was listening to me as he’d already turned a few more pages. Feeding those pained pupils with more of the images of the hot man on man action before he replaced the mag in the box.
“I’m going to have to spend a long time looking at naked women tonight to try and erase that from the front of my brain. Who would think? I never thought he was like that.”
“The David action figure in the sitting room wasn’t a clue?”
Mike didn’t answer; he walked toward the door shaking his head. “You’d never think it to meet him. He looks as straight as us.”
Left alone with my imagination when I bled the upstairs radiators, my daydreams turned to filthy, starring myself, Joe and something large and purple. While I was in the master bedroom, and supporting a hard-on that I hoped would go down before I had to face Mike Two again, my phone rang. I hoped it would be Joe, but realistically he never called me at work. He’d be more likely to send messages.
The boss, the screen declared.
“Hello Mike,” I said. All plumbers over a certain age were called Mike or Mick.
“Everything okay there, Aaron?”
“Yeah. Everything’s under control,” I replied. Perhaps he was just checking up that I’d arrived at work and on time without him propelling me there.
I had driven my van to work, after receiving a text at ridiculous o’clock in the morning, when I was still in bed with Joe, from Mike Numero Uno, the boss, asking me to make my own way to meet Mike Two.
“I’m going to need your help fitting the shower door at this bathroom job, so I want you to make your way here by midday.”
“No problem,” I said. “Mike, I want to ask you something.”
“I’m calling to ask you something,” he said, “but you go first.”
“About tomorrow. I have worked every Saturday since forever and I’d like to have tomorrow off.”
Mike paused before replying. I should have given him more notice. Saturday working isn’t compulsory but as I work every Saturday he had come to expect it. He’d have some work scheduled for me.
“I’m sorry about this Mike but I just feel like I need a day off,” I said when the silence continued.
“And Sunday’s not enough for you.” His voice sounded jovial; he’d taken it well. “Don’t worry. You are entitled to the day off. I’ll cope without you. You know I always used to, before you joined the team.”
He was a good sort, my boss. One of the older generation of plumbers still working but nearing retirement age. Easy-going, understanding and a good teacher. I was lucky to get my apprenticeship with him.
“So you got some special plans for your extra day of rest?” he asked.
I wasn’t ready for this question; I’d only just removed my palm from my crotch. Yes, I had plans for Saturday. They involved staying naked with my boyfriend, and not leaving the bedroom for hours. I didn’t say that.
“It’ll be great to have a lie in for once because you know I’m up Sunday mornings for football.”
“I guess that’s right. Pinvin Plumbers’ football team need you in good shape as you represent plumbers against all other local tradesmen. Can’t have the electricians beating us.”
“You called to ask me something.”
“Oh yes. Right by where you’re working, there’s a supermarket. When you’re ready, on your way over to the shower job would you stop off and get a lightbulb? Do you have some cash?”
“Yes, I’ve cash. I can do that.”
Mike gave me the details of the bulb and reminded me to be at the bathroom job by noon. As soon as the call ended I sent Joe a text to tell him that lounging in bed in the morning was on.
4.5 Stars

*copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review*

The continuation of Aaron and Joe's story picks up right where "Streets Apart" left off. It could be read as a standalone, but I wouldn't recommend it. Besides, book one was good, so why would you want to skip it? Aaron is still coming to terms with coming out to his family, and now he has to decide how he will handle coming out to his football friends and co-workers.

I love Aaron and Joe. I just wish Joe was a bigger part of the story. I really wish we could have gotten into his head. This is definitely Aaron's story. Aaron and and Joe had a great chemistry, and were hot together. The story was engaging, well paced and the storyline interesting. I loved getting to see more of Aaron's family and friends, and getting to know some of Joe's friends. I think there are other stories to be told from this cast of characters. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for more in the future. I do think this book could have used just another chapter. The ending felt kind of abrupt.

All in all this was definitely an enjoyable read, and I look forward to more from this author in the future. Highly recommended!!

Book One


A gay friends to lovers romance novella of 32,000 words.

I’m Aaron. I’ve got a crush the size of Europe on Joe, who lives across the street, and when he’s around, I transform into a prize idiot.

The rest of the time I’m a trainee plumber, following my father and brothers into the construction industry. On Sundays, I transform into a player in the amateur football league. In all, a confident, well-adjusted guy. For a 20-year-old virgin who lives with his parents and falls apart over the boy not-quite next door.

Joe’s cute, sexy and fun. I know he’s fun because we used to play together as kids in the massive posh house that he lives in with his parents, the doctors. Now he’s at university, studying literature; we don’t see each other anymore.

How do I ask a guy for a date when I can’t string together a coherent sentence when he’s around, and I don’t even know if he’s gay?

And what’s more, no one knows I’m gay.

This is a feel-good romance about two young men who are crazy about each other and do lots of kissing, hand holding and taking their clothes off.

A complete story with a happy ending

About The Author:
HJ Perry writes thought-provoking and sometimes funny books about people and their relationships. She particularly likes science fiction and LGBTQ romance.

HJP is almost 50 years of age, lives by the English seaside with three children and a patient partner. She is thoroughly British but is learning to accept having words translated into American for an international audience.

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