Rhoades is a wealthy, but lonely, man. He’s a real estate investor and everything he touches turns to gold. Rhoades mourns his former partner, Lance, and feels guilty for his death. He’s not been interested in anyone for four years…until he lays eyes on Austin, a dancer at strip club Man Up. Rhoades feels an attraction to Austin he can’t explain. At first, it’s purely physical, but as time goes on, he finds he wants to know the real Austin, but Austin is aloof and reluctant.
Austin not only dances at Man Up, he teaches ballet to children. He enjoys teaching the kids and he sees Man Up as a way to make money. Austin has a dream. He wants to be a designer. He sketches the interiors of apartments, clubs, and other buildings thinking about how he’d furnish and arrange them. He knows Rhoades comes to Man Up simply to watch him dance. Refusing to fall for his charms, Austin is determined to keep himself away from the man. Now, if only he can stop thinking about him every waking moment.
I will start by telling you I read and reviewed Austin, the short story leading up to this book. It was there I fell head over heels over both Austin and Rhoades. I got a taste of their personalities and the story started to scratch the surface of what made them the men they are. Anyway, I mention this because I feel you must read Austin before you begin to read Rhoades. There is some exposition at the beginning of this book, and I suppose you wouldn’t be lost, but it would help you really experience the magic between Rhoades and Austin.
I found both men to be compelling. Both were damaged. Their fathers were complete bastards. Rhoades’ partner was killed by a car. Austin’s ex was a controlling loser, and both were afraid to commit to another person. Rhoades’ wealth contributed a large part as well. Austin had issues with it because he thought Rhoades believed he would let him do whatever he wanted because he was rich. At one point, Austin tells his friend, Frankie, “I’m no whore.”
Rhoades only wants Austin. He doesn’t care if he’s a stripper or how much money he has. He wants Austin for the man he is. He wants to learn everything about him and not just sexually. I think this is why I connected with him just a teeny bit more than Austin (I mean like miniscule). Rhoades was honorable. He could have whoever he wanted, but he was willing to wait. He made a few mistakes along the way, but he acknowledged them and apologized.
Austin was, in my opinion, a little more broken than Rhoades. His childhood was horrible. His mother died of a drug/alcohol overdose due to depression about his father’s leaving. He wound up living with his father, who saw him as nothing but a way to improve his reputation. There was also an abusive ex boyfriend who made it difficult for Austin to trust any man. Rhoades begins to chip away at his defenses, but it was a difficult journey. I was with him all the way, though, and I thought Stevens did a beautiful job with capturing his struggle.
The plot was fantastic. It had just the right mix of romance, sex, and the smallest bits of angst. I was never overwhelmed by that angst, though. I hung on every word of this book, and I was never tempted to skim to get to another part. Rhoades and Austin had chemistry to spare, and together, they melted my Kindle. I loved how there was this slow burn build up to when they finally did make love…and it was making love, not a quick and dirty f**k. I also loved how Austin realized he missed and needed this love in his life. Their continuing relationship felt natural, and I enjoyed how willing they were to pretty much show the entire world they were together. It was just so, so sweet.
Another thing I really liked was the way Rhoades genuinely loved Austin’s designer’s eye. He actually hired him to furnish a new condo he’d built. At first, Austin thinks it’s because Rhoades wants him in his bed, but Rhoades had no ulterior motives. He just acknowledges Austin’s talent and when Austin finally excepts that, he dives in with gusto and works really hard to impress Rhoades.
There were a two major background characters in Rhoades-Undeniable. Frankie is a dancer at Man Up and is Austin’s best friend. Also, James is the owner of the club and Rhoades’ half brother. Both truly cared about Rhoades and Austin. They have a few quirks, but that made them interesting and also made me want to know more about them. Obviously, they’ll be MCs in future installments in the Man Up series. Other background characters include several dancers at the club, Frankie’s parents, a family who runs a bodega across the street from Austin’s place, and Austin’s horrible, horrible father. I felt all of them contributed to the story and helped move it along.
Honestly, I cannot recommend Rhoades-Undeniable enough. Felice Stevens has written a book (well, two if you count Austin) that is a perfect start to a new series. As I said, I do think you should read Austin first, but I believe you’ll enjoy it as much as Rhoades. If you’re a fan of two damaged men who find their way to each other and heal each other…this is the one for you. Get this book!