17 September 2014

Phoenix Rising by Kimberly Gardner

Two dozen roses, one dozen balloons and a night with a sexy, young stripper. What a thirty-sixth birthday for Jimmy Trent. But the ultimate gift is yet to come as he finds himself falling in love with the beautiful dancer. Adam Hyland's life is in the dumps. Living in his car and stripping for his supper, he doesn't expect much when the birthday-boy invites him to stay for cake and champagne. Yet seeing the look in Jimmy's eyes, Adam dares to hope for more. Will their differences tear them apart? Or can their love take flight like a Phoenix Rising from the ashes?

What an absolutely lovely story. Knowing that Phoenix Rising was about the relationship between closeted gay man and an out gay man, I admittedly expected a ton of angsty drama. And while there is drama, particularly from Jim's family, it was more focused on the actual relationship between Jim and Adam. By doing so, Ms. Gardner gave the book a more realistic feel than I anticipated.

That said, I found the opening scene of this book to be extremely entertaining. I mean really? ... a strip-o-gram ... what's not to love? It has to be one of the funniest meets I've ever read. I was actually quite sad for Jimmy when he woke the next morning to find Adam already gone, but thankfully fate intervened and their paths crossed again and again until they finally agreed to give it a go. Despite their age difference, it became clear rather quickly that Adam was actually the more mature member when it came to being public about their relationship. Sadly, his maturity came from the backlash he had to deal with living as an openly gay man and as much as he wanted a public relationship with Jimmy, he didn't want it at Jimmy's professional and personal expense, which was quite indicative of how much he loved Jimmy. Jimmy's naivety came not only from being closeted, but also from his natural personality trait of thinking the best of people.

Adam and Jimmy’s personalities complemented one another beautifully and their physical chemistry was palpable. All of the sex scenes were hot, but the club scene at the end was effing HOT!!! I didn't know Jimmy had it in him. I think that what made Phoenix Rising such a lovely read for me was that Jimmy and Adam not only found each other, but they found themselves as well. As this is the first book in the Playing for Keeps series, I can only hope that the next book lets us catch up with Jimmy and Adam while giving us Jason and Benny's story. Either way, I am so looking forward to reading Bound to Please.


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