“Love is for suckers. Jump in a wrapper, darlin’, and call yourself a lollipop.” — S.E. Harmon
Title: Stay With Me
Author: S.E. Harmon
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4 Stars
Blurb: Private investigator Mackenzie Williams’s newest client is everything he’s looking for in a guy—charming, beautiful, intelligent, and successful. There’s only one itty bitty problem—the guy’s not exactly gay. In fact, Jordan Channing is looking for a PI to follow his fiancée. The smart thing would be to thank Jordan for his time, turn Mr. Perfect away (don’t let the door hit you on the rump, thank you very much), and forget he exists.
Of course, Mackenzie has never been accused of doing the smart thing. Being a smart aleck is more his MO. Relationships aren’t up his alley, never have been. So why’s he so inexplicably drawn to his new client?
Jordan has always been the high achiever, a man who lives in a focused, controlled, and carefully constructed manner. But for the first time in his life, he has to admit the impossible—another man is getting his engine running on all cylinders. Despite Jordan’s denial, it’s not long before he can no longer resist the strong undercurrents pulling them together. Now Jordan must decide if he can go against everything he’s ever known to have the only love he’s ever wanted.
Review: I have to admit that despite containing a lot of predictable elements and leaning heavily on well-worn tropes, I really enjoyed Stay With Me. I think it is because of the characters. Mac’s conversation and inner monologue were really laugh-out-loud funny most of the time. But he also had tender moments and moments of deep self-doubt. He was a very well-rounded and fully developed character. His job as a private investigator put him in situations that are full of comedic potential, and Ms. Harmon used that to her advantage.
Mac has been hurt by everyone he has ever loved, from his mother to his most recent boyfriend. He uses his dark sense of humor and snark to keep everyone at arm’s length. When he meets Jordan, Jordan is straight and engaged to a woman. He hires Mac to find out if she is cheating on him. Jordan also happens to be a lawyer and work at the same firm as Mac’s recently “I love you but I think I’ve turned straight” boyfriend, Trevor. It was almost a refreshing change of pace to see a straight-for-you plot instead of the gay-for-you, which is used way too often.
Ah, but then we learn that Jordan just might be gay for Mac. There are the obligatory feelings never before felt with another human portion of their relationship, followed by the I can’t be gay, I’m engaged to a woman phase, and rounded out with the I just can’t stay away from you bow on the gay-for-you package. It was particularly enjoyable to see the fiancée not turned into a raving bitch. She was just a woman. Not to be hated but to be supported with friendship.
While poking fun at Stay With Me because of the overuse of these plot points, I really loved the way the author used them. Ms. Harmon brought an element of humor to every portion of what could have been boring, stale elements. She made them fun to read. And the sex was really hot, very well written and not over done.
I would have liked to get to know a little more of Jordan’s story. It felt like Mac’s history with Nick, his first love, was just touched on. I came away without a full understanding of what had happened between them years ago and why they hadn’t talked in so many years.
Ms. Harmon’s supporting characters were magnificent. Drew, as Mac’s business partner, initially looked like he could have been a love interest. He put up with more shenanigans from Mac than any friend or business partner should. Darcy was so sweet, I was rooting for him. I actually hope he gets his own book (hint, hint! It’s no coincidence that mention of Drew and Darcy in consecutive sentences.)
I loved Mac’s dad. After his initial meh feelings about Mac being gay, he turned out to be a great, supportive dad. And Mac’s brother Robert… Well, let’s say he was the epitome of a little brother, an annoying, tattling, PITA, but he was a solid presence in his big brother’s corner.
Stay With Me is an excellent beach read. There is some angst, but nothing that will break your heart so it needs to be put back together. The humor overcomes the angst by a mile. It is a fairly light story without a lot of surprises, and it will make you laugh and feel good inside. That’s what a beach read should do, right? Make you feel as warm inside as the sun makes you feel on the outside? Yeah, this is that.
You can buy Stay With Me here: