By Jason Collins
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
After breaking away from the small conservative town where he was born, Nicholas Cole has been working as a dancer at The Warehouse, a dimly-lit bar where men can retreat from public view and indulge in hidden fun. His coworkers welcomed him with open arms and watched as he grew to be their top dancer. Never one to be distracted by a relationship or a handsome face, Nicholas seeks the constant excitement of dancing for large sums of money and teasing the countless men who worship him.
When a party of women and straight men walk through the door, Nicholas is surprised to say the least, but one guy in the group catches his eye.
Personal fitness coach Clint Meyers is attached to the arm of a pretty girl who seems to monitor his every move, but she doesn’t notice when Clint’s eyes land on Nic’s barely-clothed body. His coworkers insist he’s wasting his time lusting after a straight guy, but Nicholas is captivated by Clint’s ripped physique and chiseled face. The two men begin to meet in private and bond over their love of fitness, but Nicholas is distracted by the presence of a strange new loner who shows up at The Warehouse and refuses to accept rejection. As Nicholas copes with an unwanted and potentially dangerous admirer, he and Clint start to explore – and push – Clint’s boundaries.
Tempted by primal attraction, Nicholas thinks he’s up for the challenge of seducing Clint, but he quickly realizes that he might be interested in something more than just a physical connection. Under the watchful eye of coworkers, girlfriends, and stalkers, Nicholas and Clint meet in secrecy to test each other’s limits and explore their potential.
First off, I recommend The Warehouse as an easy, enjoyable, and low anxiety book definitely worth reading. My initial comments may appear that I’m throwing it under the bus, but that’s not my intention at all, and be sure to read my entire review – deep down, this story has good bones and is one that has a lot of good things about it.
It read a bit disjointedly for me, and it became repetitive – and frustrating – at points, such as Clint’s consistent rehashing of not being sure if he was going to continue in his relationship with Kelly; Nicholas’s willingness to call, text, or even travel by bus to see Clint in the Hamptons (only to turn around and head home within hours of arriving); and the repeat of some basic information a few chapters in after it was already introduced thoroughly in the beginning. As a reader, I would’ve enjoyed it more – I think – if the author had further developed/explored the characters by situating them in some additional shared scenes with expanded dialogue and time getting to know one another, and/or back story woven in somewhere. There were some time jumps that could have been drawn out more effectively to solidify the attraction between these two, propelling their friendship/relationship validity, and adding some depth to the two of them as a couple.
The creepy Kenneth served as a solid plot tool, but Clint’s reactions left me guessing – was his quick and seemingly (initial) calm, almost robotic, reactions a sign that he was somehow in cahoots with the guy (and was it reasonable to assume he wouldn’t want Nic to call the police so he could go beat him up), or was Kenneth even maybe Kelly’s dad? (Maybe my suspicions became a bit ambitious with that, but you never know with plot twists.)
I didn’t exactly feel a palpable connection between Clint and Nic aside from the initial glances and discussions the two shared at the club, and then their first kiss, of course; but I wanted to, especially when Clint turned on the romantic charm – walk on the beach, booking a suite at the B & B – and then the dominance (who saw that coming?).
All that said, I liked the storyline itself. The Warehouse, along with its supporting cast of characters in Greg and Allan especially, proved to be a nice change-up and entertaining. The characters had definite individual personalities, and their friendship was never in question – some other things were maybe in question between these guys, but never friendship or loyalty. Clint’s exploration was an agonizingly overwrought drama, but he had his own problems to solve with a girlfriend that potentially held the key to his career in the palm of her hand. Nic never was too focused on committing to a relationship, but as soon as he laid eyes on Clint, he seemed to have a change of heart, even eventually minimizing his hours at work. Both guys have things to figure out, but they actually give each other a chance, even though Nicholas attempts to walk away a couple of times.
You can’t help but like both Nic and Clint, and somewhere deep down, it’s pretty easy to find yourself cheering them on and almost volunteering to boot Kelly for Clint and then lock Nic and Clint in a room and tell them to get over themselves and get it on.
The HEA is more of a HFN, but it comes with a bit of a question mark in the form of Greg. Maybe Nic is right: “Old habits (do) die hard.”
Original review posted on Amazon and Goodreads on April 2, 2017.