After breaking up with his boyfriend of five years, Jasper is headed alone on the Hawaiian vacation he planned for the two of them, bringing his sister along instead. Although Jasper planned on a quiet vacation, when he gets a text from an unknown number suggesting a hook up, Jasper is intrigued. It sounds like the text is from the resort’s hot yoga instructor and Jasper is definitely interested. Jasper’s boyfriend accused him of being too staid and boring, and he definitely has never been a casual hook up kind of guy. But Jasper decides to take a chance and do something totally out of character and indulge in a hot vacation fling.
Jasper and Tamal are definitely drawn to one another, but they connect on a level deeper than just casual sex. However, Jasper’s time on Hawaii is short and he soon will be headed back to London. Now the men have to figure out if there is any way to take their vacation romance and make it into something more.
Salute to the Stud is a light, cute story with two sweet main characters. There is a meet cute element of mistaken identity here that leads into a vacation fling that turns to more. We spend most of the time in Jasper’s POV, so we get to know him better than Tamal, but for a shorter book, I think we get a pretty good sense of these guys overall. We get enough balance to their early relationship to believe there could be more between them than just sex, and Laycock builds the plot in a way to give the men time to get to know one another rather than having them immediately in love. Things stay pretty light and easy here, but the story is entertaining overall.
Where I ran into trouble here is that the set up just felt way too contrived with some major plot holes and I just couldn’t get past it. This is definitely a situation where your milage may vary as some of you will totally agree with me and others won’t be bothered at all by my sticking points. Before I go too far, let me clarify that I have no issue with the set up on paper. I knew I was getting a wrong number/mistaken identity type story with a vacation hookup, and I was all there for that. So my issue isn’t with the set up itself, as much as how it actually plays out in this story. To avoid spoilers, I will keep things pretty general with details behind spoiler tags.
Ok, so the premise here is that Jasper gets a suggestive text from an unknown number, someone who clearly thinks Jasper is someone else. There is nothing to identify the texter other than the implication that he is yoga instructor. So somehow, Jasper immediately assumes that the person texting him is the yoga instructor at his resort, which makes no sense to me at all. It could have come from anyone, anywhere, so the idea that Jasper proceeds as if the person texting him is actually the guy teaching yoga on the beach in front of him made no sense to me at all. And before we go too far, sure, his caller ID may have shown a Hawaiian area code, but still that is thousands upon thousands of potential people. Also, it makes even less sense that this is the case [spoiler]as you read further since Tamal lives in London so his phone would have most certainly showed a London number, not a U.S. one. [/spoiler] So Jasper takes actions based on this assumption that it felt totally unreasonable that he would make. In the end, it turns out Tamal is the resort yoga instructor, but the plot hole just bugged me and threw me out of the story.
Then comes the explanation for how Tamal ends up texting Jasper in the first place. This felt so contrived and unrealistic, I again had trouble not being thrown out of the story. [spoiler] So Jasper’s sister, for reasons we never learn, gives his number to the receptionist to pass along falsely to Tamal (short version: they pretend Tamal’s friend lost his phone and give Tamal Jasper’s number, pretending it’s the friend’s new number). And somehow she convinces the receptionist (aka Tama’s coworker) to go along with these shenanigans. A receptionist who is so unprofessional as to not only agree to this stunt (with her boss’ son as the target no less), but presumably had to come up with the whole plan since there is no way Jasper’s sister would have known Tamal’s friend was in town to create this phony story around. Why his coworker knows so much about Tamal’s private life, why she agrees to this in the first place, why Tamal’s friend never reaches out on his own, or how the women knew this set up would lead to this suggestive texting is never explained. [/spoiler] I kept waiting for the story to come back to this in some way, to give us an explanation for the actions or show us the fall out, or even a follow up conversation, but that doesn’t happen. It just made the whole thing feel unreasonably contrived to get these guys together with no real logic behind what happens. I’ll also toss in that there is an almost absurd coincidence in Tamal and Jasper’s lives that is so far fetched, I had trouble buying it, especially in light of the other issues I’ve mentioned.
So as I said, either you are going to be bugged by this stuff, or you won’t care, and if it’s the latter, that is awesome. Aside from these issues, the story is pretty much some light, easy fun. There is a confrontation at the end that again feels contrived to bring conflict as it doesn’t seem particularly in character for these guys, but other than that, it’s mostly smooth sailing after the initial part of the book. So if you can overlook my issues, I think this is a nice vacation story with a satisfying connection between Tamal and Jasper.