Jake Huntington works hard and plays just as hard in New York City, but when he receives a letter from his father, he hastens to Philadelphia to meet his father’s new wife. Surprised to find he likes the lady, Jake is even more surprised to find himself attracted to her son, Ash Moore. That first night, Jake convinces Ash to head out with him to a whore house, and they pass a hot and enjoyable evening sharing a woman. But after they leave, Jake gives in to his desires and makes a pass at Ash, one Ash enthusiastically returns.
The men find an instant chemistry and attraction, and though Jake has never been with a man, Ash has. They begin a friends-with-benefits relationship, and Ash accompanies Jake back to New York City. They spend their nights out drinking and dancing, and occasionally sharing women, but always end up back at Jake’s house and in bed together. Jake isn’t ashamed of what they are doing, and he’s certainly not ashamed of Ash, but the times do not allow for them to be open about it.
When Ash has to head back to Philadelphia to begin his next term in college, Jake is despondent, though he refuses to believe he loves the man. Love can only get you hurt when the one you love leaves you. But he still writes to Ash every day and counts down to Christmas when he can see him once again. Their reunion is passion filled. But when Jake realizes his love for the man, he pushes Ash away and breaks things off. Almost immediately, he realizes his mistake. But he knows he’s gone too far and lost Ash forever. It’s only after some well-intentioned meddling that Jake sees there might be hope. On the verge of fixing things, Jake’s dearest desire comes true and he and Ash just might have a chance at a future.
This week for Reading Challenge Month was a big challenge for me. There’s not a lot I won’t read, but I still wanted to find something I would enjoy. A historical romance not set in Regency England (and also not laced with magic) fit the bill perfectly for Genre Week. A Summer Pursuit is a hot, wonderful romance filled with two well done characters and I really enjoyed it.
Radcliffe did a great job of setting the scene of east coast America in 1853. I was transported to the era without difficulty, and there was a fantastic sense of place throughout the story. The scenes were described with lush language that had me picturing it all with ease. I did find some of the language a bit over the top, and while I appreciated the lengths the author went to in order to give it an authentic feel, it was far enough outside the norm that I had a little trouble parsing out the meaning of things at times. This detracted just a bit for me, as I was pulled out of the story while I mentally translated and figured out exactly what the characters were talking about. So while I liked this aspect, I think if it had been toned down a bit it would have been easier to get lost in the story. This was the only big draw back to the book for me though, and I really enjoyed the plot.
The story is told from Jake’s third person POV, and this is really his journey. He’s been hurt pretty badly before, and has suffered some losses in his young life. So it makes sense that he’s built a wall and keeps deeper emotions from forming. In particular, I really liked how he grew within the story, accepting his desires and then acting on them, establishing his relationship with Ash, and then even how he pushed Ash away. It all felt very real for the character, and it made the ending very satisfying, as he came to terms with what he wanted. I really liked that his biggest struggle was about opening his heart again, and not about his desire for a man. While the word bisexual is never used, it’s because the word had no place in this historical story. But Jake makes it clear that he enjoys both genders, and I really loved seeing this portrayed. Ash, too, identifies as bisexual, though perhaps prefers men. All in all, I thought it was handled beautifully, and it is gratifying to see bi men finding their HEA.
The chemistry between the MCs was smoking hot and just leapt off the page. From the instant Jake and Ash meet, it’s electric between them. I loved the way their relationship evolved into something deeper, into real love, and seeing them together was more than satisfying. Given the time period, their relationship isn’t going to be easy, but the book ended with a real sense that they could make it work. I’m also going to make a quick note here that technically they are step-brothers as Jake’s father and Ash’s mother have recently wed. But they didn’t grow up together, and they meet as contemporaries in their early 20s.
Jake and Ash were great characters, the author did a wonderful job with the time period, the secondary characters were fantastic and really fleshed out the tale. All in all, I really enjoyed it. And if you’re looking for a well done historical, then this is the one for you.
This review is part of our September Reading Challenge Month for Genre Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win a fabulous prize from Less Than Three Press. Three lucky winners will each receive a selection of print books. Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by Dreamspinner Press (a loaded Kindle fire filled with DSP books!). You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on Genre Week here. And be sure to check out our prize post for more about the awesome prizes!