Release Blitz ~ Connor & Ash (Barista Boys #3) by A.E. Ryecart
Barista Boys Series
Stevie & Mack (Book #2) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Length: 84,500 words
When you live in the shadows, it’s hard to believe in the light.
Each time Ash Hemsby strips off for a stranger in a hotel room or gets down on his knees in a back alley, a little piece of his soul dies. But debt is a hard task master, and money lenders don’t take IOUs.
From a shadowy corner of a hotel bar, Connor O’Brian watches the rent boy’s clumsy attempts to ply his trade. Beneath the younger man’s brash exterior Connor senses desperation and vulnerability, and his heart goes out to him – because he too bears the scars of living crushed and defeated.
A whispered conversation, a key exchanged, and the deal is struck. Yet the night turns out in a way neither expects.
A chance meeting brings Connor face to face with the man he can’t stop thinking about, and he’s determined not to let him get away a second time. Ash owes Connor for what happened that night in the hotel, but what was meant only to be the fulfilment of a promise begins to feel like something more.
Step by step, they begin to mend what is broken in the other. But life has a habit of tripping up the unwary. A random discovery, a scribbled, desperate note and a race across London brings each man face to face with the secret shame they have only ever wanted to keep hidden.
Secrets and half-truths have kept Connor and Ash in the shadows. Only the raw, heart wrenching truth can lead them out of darkness and into light. But is it already too late, and will the shadows reclaim them?
Ash is up to his eyeballs in debt and working two jobs and turning the occasional trick to make ends meet. Selling himself is killing him, though, but he doesn't see any other way to get the money he needs. After another rent boy suggests he trying to pick someone at a posh hotel, he decides to give it a try.
Connor O'Brian sees Ash at the hotel's bar and notices his desperation and how awkward he is at trying to pick someone and is drawn to him. He strikes a deal with Ash, but the younger man leaves when he isn't sure what Connor offers him is real.
A chance encounter allows them to clear the air and they get closer, but the two of them have secrets that they can't bring themselves to share, no matter if their feelings for each other have deepened in the meantime. But, what will happen if by the time they are ready it's already too late?
Connor and Ash is book 3 in the Barista Boys series by A.E. Ryecart and technically it can be read as a standalone. There are mentions of other characters in the series, but I was never confused, there was enough backstory to fill in the blanks for me.
The book was very enjoyable, even if it was the typical lying by omission until it's almost too late kind of story. It was lovely seeing Connor and Ash's relationship change from wariness into love. They both had a hard time before meeting each other, which accounted for them keeping from sharing their secrets with each other. Then, it was too new, too tentative and it wasn't the right time and then, of course, came some misunderstandings and more. While it was a tad frustrating from a reader's point of view, it was also realistic all things considered. You don't go and tell someone you just meet the secrets you've been keeping for a long time, especially when you've barely shared bits and pieces with some of your friends. So, in that sense, it was understandable, if a tad annoying.
I loved the chemistry between Connor and Ash, it didn't happen overnight, even if their relationship kind of did, but grew gradually as they got to know each other. It was sweet to see them fall in love.
Also, this book has a bit of an age gap, but really, due to both Ash and Connor's past, it wasn't that much of an issue. Nor was the fact that Connor was loaded and Ash trying to keep his head above water money-wise, and that was very refreshing.
I adored Louis and Bernie, they were awesome friends to Ash and Connor. Bernie, especially, kicked-ass at the last portion of the book. I really hope Ms. Ryecart will give us their story (wouldn't mind those two together, btw, just saying). ;)
Overall, this was a very entertaining read, with great main and secondary characters, in a plot-driven story with some angst and mystery, I was in tenterhooks waiting for Connor's secret to be revealed, since we had more information regarding Ash's. Very recommendable!
*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement. ***
A E Ryecart writes mm romance/gay fiction about complex, multi-faceted men who don’t always make the right decisions. Filled with angst, high drama and emotional tension, she writes the books she likes to read. An avid people watcher, most of her writing takes place in a local café amidst the background hum of hissing coffee machines, where she can check out the other customers for character and story inspiration!
A born and bred Londoner, she may have moved to someplace more leafy but the city is still very much part of her DNA, which is why her books are set in and around present-day London, providing a thrilling, metropolitan backdrop to the main action.
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