When a bathtub crashes through the ceiling and floods Jude’s apartment, he is stuck without a place to live for a few months during repairs. Jude is a successful model, but personal responsibilities mean he has no disposable income to spend on a place to stay, and as much as he loves his best friend, Dylan, listening to him have sex with his boyfriend Gabe every night isn’t appealing. So when one of Jude’s occasional hookups tells him his step-brother will let Jude stay at his house in exchange for some assistant work, Jude figures it’s worth a shot.
As it turns out, the boss in question is well-known actor Asa Jacobs. Things seem to be going well until the second Asa hears Jude is a model, at which point he immediately grows cold and assumes Jude is a total airhead. Jude figures he will have a bit of fun with Asa and show him just how dimwitted he can really be, making Asa totally nuts. But Jude is also surprised how much he likes Asa, how drawn he is to Asa’s son, Billy, and how much he enjoys the slight crazy, but warm and loving household. When Asa asks Jude to help out as Billy’s nanny, Jude becomes even more part of their strange little family.
As the summer continues, Asa and Jude draw closer, and finally act on their mutual attraction. Asa is everything Jude dreamed about as a boy and a life with him and Billy is everything he could want. But Jude knows he has way too much baggage for anyone to stick with him for long. That is why he is usually a short term only kind of guy. He’d rather leave before he has a chance to disappoint anyone. As much as he would love a life with Asa, Jude is sure he can not have it. But the idea of leaving the man (and child) he has grown to love is almost unbearable. Now Jude must decide if he can trust Asa with his secrets, and take a chance on an uncertain future for the opportunity to have his love of a lifetime.
You guys. OMG, you guys. This was soooooo good. I have a total book hangover and am still all emotional every time I just look at this cover. Deal Maker is just that fabulous.
Ok, to back up a bit here, Deal Maker is a follow up to the incredible Rule Breaker by Lily Morton. You may remember me going totally nuts for that one earlier this fall and it was one of my favorites of the year. So I’ll admit, as much as I loved Jude as a side character in that book, I was a little worried here that this second book wouldn’t compare. I shouldn’t have doubted, however, as I think Deal Maker is even better than the first book and totally grabbed my heart and wouldn’t let go.
One of the things I loved about Rule Breaker is just the crackle and energy between the characters, and this story has it as well. Jude is snarky and sassy and so much fun. The early chapters when he is pretending to be the moron Asa believes him to be are totally hysterical. I was seriously laughing out loud as I read it. Here is one passage just to illustrate what I am talking about (in Jude’s POV):
My ingenious answer nearly brought on an apoplectic fit.
It was dimmed however, by last week’s events, when his dry cleaners had mistakenly given me a child’s tuxedo rather than his own, which had been cleaned preparatory to him going to the opening of a film premiere. I checked with the dry cleaner bloke, and when I found out they didn’t need it back for a few days, I gleefully brought it home and hung it in his wardrobe.
I was slightly distracted by him appearing in the door of the study, dressed in nothing apart from a pair of clinging red boxer briefs. He was clutching the offending tuxedo and yelling. I managed to manfully ignore the miracle that was his torso, all hard lines and a broad chest narrowing down to slim hips and the mouth-watering grooves of his pelvis. “What the fuck is this?” he bellowed.
I stared at him, and said very slowly as if talking to someone a little slow. “Your tuxedo.”
“This,” he shouted, ripping it from the plastic wrapping and brandishing it like a flag carrier at the storming of the Bastille. “This is a fucking child’s fucking tuxedo.”
I repressed the massive laugh, feeling it fizz inside me, and put on a wide-eyed expression. “I thought you’d bought it to slim into.”
He sagged slightly in disbelief. “You thought I’d slim … into this?”
I looked at him, slightly patronisingly. “Stranger things have happened. Dean can get into a child size trouser.”
A dazed look crossed his face, as if he couldn’t quite believe we were having this conversation. Then he turned and left the room quietly. I worried at the time that I’d broken him, but now I still think there’s more torturous mileage with this.
So the story is hysterically funny, even when the guys get past this little charade. There is just so much spark between them, so much humor and joy that they both have. But also such a wonderful connection. They share a love of books (yay) and the outdoors and are so comfortable and casual with one another, it is just lovely. These are both famous men, and yet they are such everyday people who enjoy walking around in holey jeans and exploring quiet places. There are so many beautiful moments between the two of them, as well as with Billy, throughout the story. The men convey such warmth, such love, and such acceptance of each other. Jude is sweet and caring and hysterical. He has a fierce wit and a sassy tongue, but also an incredible commitment to those he loves and a complete loyalty. And Asa. Seriously, Asa is a dreamboat. Big and hulking with his long tousled hair (and man buns!), he is sex on a stick. But he is also incredibly warm and caring, he gathers people into his life from all avenues and is kind and loving and generous. I completely fell in love with Asa and his calm, steady presence is a perfect counterpoint to Jude’s more outrageous side. The guys are warm and wonderful together, as well as sexy and intense. I just loved them together completely.
It is hard to know what to say when you absolutely adore a book. I wish I had a way to convey everything in my heart out on paper, because I am just consumed by this one but don’t think I am doing it justice. So I am going to tell you to just go out and buy it. And while you are at it, get Rule Breaker too. You don’t technically need the first book, though Gabe and Dylan appear here, but you NEED the first book, you guys. So get them both and settle in for some wonderful reading. It will make you laugh and it will make your heart full. Deal Maker is a wonderful story and I am still recovering from the book hangover.
P.S. Lily Morton, how about Henry’s story? Pretty please?