Cort is a transplanted Texan living in New York and dancing at a male strip club called “Man Up.” He’s all by himself and he’s lonely. One evening, Cort is at an event at the bookstore he loves (and where he sometimes works). Cort looks up and there is an obvious looking homeless man, and he feels an instant attraction. After everything is over, Cort sits with the man and learns his name is Harlan. They chat, quote from Pride and Prejudice, and eat cheese and crackers. Because Cort always wants to help people, he invites Harlan to move into his apartment to give him a place to lay his head and make it easier to find a job.
Harlan is really down on his luck. He used to work as a lawyer in his father’s firm, but his constant drinking and drug use, along with treating the staff like they were slaves, finally caught up with him. His biggest screw up to date comes back to haunt him, leading the firm to fight against a lawsuit brought against them. His father fires him and takes away his apartment. Harlan is not equipped for street life and is starving by the time he meets Cort at that bookstore.
Can Cort and Harlan find a way to get away from their less than happy pasts and reach their happily ever after?
Oh, how I love Cort and Harlan! They’re perfect for each other. Each is broken because of their pasts, but together, they can fight for their happiness. Colt has what I consider to be a positive attitude. However, under that positivity is a sadness and deep loneliness. Cort’s the kind of man you would want by your side if you need him. Harlan? Harlan tore at my heart because he wasn’t born to be positive. Go to school, study law, work for the family firm, make a lot of money, marry and continue the line…those were heavily impressed into him. Harlan did the extreme opposite and lost it all. It took awhile, but he finally realized he had a problem and was willing to do what he could to fix it. That’s what I really liked. Everything he’s ever been has brought him to the pinnacle moment where he actually does something about it. He’s also not afraid to admit his fear of failure.
Together, Cort and Harlan are…well, I hesitate to say magical, but they’re close. I loved watching their slow fall into each other’s arms. I liked the back and forth. Like real life, things don’t always go smoothly for them. It’s kind of a one step forward, two steps back situation for awhile. There was clearly respect between them, but the love had to be earned. Stevens managed to give Cort and Harlan a lot of depth without taking huge amounts of time to do so. They’re compelling, whether it’s the two of them together or individually. The chemistry between them is off the charts. There was a spark from the beginning, but when it became a fire, well…it was hot!! I would call them dirty sweet. They had a real connection, but the dirty talking and heated touches were amazing! Once again, I credit the author because she was able to include just the right amount of sex for this book. It’s sexy without being overwhelming.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Felice Stevens novel without putting our men through an emotional ringer before giving them the happily ever after they so deserve. Not only do Harlan’s past misdeeds come back to haunt him, he also gets a comeuppance from some of his old employees. Meanwhile, Cort has to come to terms with anger and shame about what happened when he was essentially run out of his small town by his own family. They learn to support each other through any trial, and the biggest accomplishment of it all is how Cort can actually defend Harland to his doubters…the men he used to dance with at Man Up, their boyfriends, and the owners of the bookstore and club.
Speaking of the men Cort used to dance with and their boyfriends, they’re really the biggest background players in Cort–Unbreakable. They only want what’s best for their friend, and they don’t trust Harlan. Along with them, we have James, the club’s owner; Mal, who we don’t really know too much about, but we will find out; Race, the bookstore’s owner; and finally, Jose, who is in charge of the bar. All of these characters have appeared in books 1-3, but while I recommend you read those simply because they’re excellent in their own right, I suppose you can read this as a stand alone. There is some exposition, and I don’t believe you’d be confused or not enjoy it.
The ending was perfect for me. Cort and Harlan get their well deserved HEA (I don’t figure I’m giving that away. Heh.), but I was left with the feeling they’d continue to grow and learn from their successes and their setbacks. Their road will be bumpy at times, but I firmly believe that will only make them stronger.
The Man Up series is one of my favorites. I can’t wait to see what Felice Stevens does next, and I’m certain I’ll love it. I think you will too, so do yourself a favor and go pick these up.