Today I am so pleased to welcome Jay Hogan to Joyfully Jay. Jay has come to talk to us about her latest release, In Step.  Please join me in giving her a big welcome!


IN STEP, the third book in my Painted Bay Series is releasing Feb 10th. I’m super excited about this one and thanks to Joyfully Jay for featuring it in their blog today.

Painted Bay is a fictional small town in Northland, New Zealand. It is, geographically at least, based on a pretty little town we passed through one day while driving on holiday. That town was called Leigh and it also has a small wharf set in a sheltered bay, just like my books. The rest of the town has a lot of differences to the one in my books, but the first time I laid eyes on the bay and the wharf, a series came to mind. What it would feel like to have your international ballet dreams crushed and be forced home to a tiny town you couldn’t wait to leave as a teenager. And with that idea, OFF BALANCE, Judah, Morgan, and the Madden family was born. 

Painted Bay isn’t just a series about a small town, real and found family, and building new dreams. It’s also a series about complicated relationships. The Madden family has its own problems to confront, brothers who don’t see eye to eye, and a mother who struggles to let her adult sons find their own way. There are past hurts to heal, misunderstandings to set right, and new loves to discover, all set in a tiny town where everyone knows everyone else and nothing is secret.

ON BOARD, the second book in the series, follows Judah’s brother Leroy, a grumpy loner who is just starting to get his relationship with his brother back on track when he confronted by a wrinkle in his own sexuality.

IN STEP, the third book in the series has been in many ways the hardest book to write. Redemptive arcs aren’t easy per se and redeeming a disliked character is about as tricky as it gets. But Kane has been hovering in the background for two books, a quiet loner who is apologetic but marginalised. It’s clear he has a story to tell and a few secrets to reveal, but it’s going to need the right person to open that door and pull Kane out into the sun, and another dancefloor to do it on. Even then, there will be difficult bridges to build to heal past hurts.

IN STEP is an intensely emotional and steamy read about a man learning to forgive and believe in himself, a community learning to open their hearts, the power of found family, and the healing force of dance.


His eyes widened. And okay, I might’ve been messing with him a bit.

“How you hold someone sets the foundation for a kiss, right?”

He frowned. “I guess.”When I turned from washing the dry sweat off my hands, Kane was waiting quietly where I’d directed. He looked mostly terrified and just a little excited. And as he slowly tracked my approach, his cheeks stained pink, and my balls did a little happy dance in my tights. Of course they did.

I took a moment to roll down the high waist of my damp tights and undo the knot in my singlet so it hung loose to my thighs, aware of Kane’s eyes following every movement. And yeah, I was going to pop a semi if he kept that up.

When I looked up, there was that blush again. “So, the tango. A few things before we start.”

Kane’s eyes locked on mine, dark navy in the dim lighting, and it took a second to adjust to the intensity of that focus directed solely at me. Heady, breath-taking stuff. I swallowed hard and scrambled for what I’d been about to say.

“Yes, the tango is a dance,” I started again. “But ultimately, it’s an experience. I guess you could say that about all dances, but with tango, it’s just . . . more. It’s a deeply internal connection, not just a performance.” I shrugged. “I don’t know if I’m making any sense.”

He frowned and folded his arms, but there was curiosity there. “Keep going.”

“Well, it’s like I was telling the others at lunch today. Tango is as much about attitude as anything else. If you can walk, you can tango. But to be good, you have to embody the music.” I sighed and searched for a better explanation. “What I mean is that even if one person is more accurate with the steps, they can be less commanding to watch than someone who simply feels the music better. It’s a dance of love. But even more than that, it’s a dance of passion. It’s very deliberate. Dramatic. And the slow movements mean every look and gesture is amplified in importance.”

Kane smiled and shook his head. “I think you’re setting the bar a little high for me there.”

I snorted. “I don’t expect that from you or any of the others. It’s just good to have an idea about what the dance really means. The best tango dancers suck you into their bodies and emotions almost like you’re feeling it yourself. It’s a contact sport.”

He laughed, and the rare sound sparked under my skin like hot diamonds, and I wanted more.

“At one time, tango was actually forbidden because of its raw sexuality, which mostly came from the fact the leader puts their leg between the follower’s legs, something very definitely not allowed in polite society dancing at that time. It’s supposed to get your juices running.” I held his gaze. “Like the very best foreplay.”

This time he didn’t look away, and I didn’t miss the darkening of those pretty eyes. But he said nothing.

I cleared my throat and held my arms in position. “I’ll be leading and all you have to do is follow. You’ll find I’ll be quite strong in my direction to start with, so you’re clear about what I want you to do.”

“So, your leg between mine, then?” he asked roughly.

“If that’s okay?” I gave him an out.

He shrugged. “You’re the one who knows what they’re doing.”

And I couldn’t help but wonder if he was talking about more than the dance or if that was wishful thinking.

“We’ll start with the embrace.”

He arched a brow.

I smirked. “That’s what the hold is called.”

“Ah.” He didn’t look at all convinced.

“And for the record, the embrace, the abrazo, is the single most important part of a great tango. Every movement of your legs starts from the torso and embrace. It sets the scene. It’s the foundation of everything. Think of it like an actual embrace with someone you care about, just as you’re about to kiss them.”

“No guessing involved. If there’s no arms involved, it’s not gonna be much of a kiss, right? Acquaintance type stuff. But arms around the shoulders, arms around the waist, hands cradling a face, fisting a shirt, they all change what the kiss means. You follow?”

“Sure.” The flush on Kane’s cheeks, the pulse point in his throat, his darkening pupils, and the way his knuckles whitened on his folded arms told their own story.


in step coverKarma. You reap what you sow, and KANE MARTIN isn’t looking for forgiveness.

But the arrival of ABE TYLER in Painted Bay has Kane dreaming of the impossible. The sexy, silver fox choreographer is determined to pull Kane out from the shadows, but Abe’s career isn’t about to shift to Painted Bay, and Kane’s life is in neat little boxes for a reason.

A past he isn’t proud of.

A family he’s walked away from.

A job he doesn’t deserve.

A secret he’s ashamed of.

But life’s dance can make for unexpected partners, and learning to trust and keep up with the footwork is the name of the game.

Two steps forward, one step back.

It takes two to tango.

Trigger Warning: Contains references to past abuse and bullying.


Heart, Humour, & Keepin’ It Real

Jay is a 2020 Lambda Literary Award Finalist in Gay Romance and her book Off Balance was the 2021 New Zealand Romance Book of the Year. She is a New Zealand author writing mm romance and romantic suspense, primarily set in New Zealand. She writes character driven romances with lots of humour, a good dose of reality and a splash of angst. She’s travelled extensively, lived in many countries, and in a past life she was a critical care nurse, nurse educator and counsellor.

Jay is owned by a huge Maine Coon cat and a gorgeous Cocker Spaniel

Find Jay in all the places:

FILED UNDER: Excerpt, Guest Post