Rhys has worked hard to open his fashion store and design his own label. He’s been invited to Fashion Week to showcase his designs and this is just the publicity he needs to get his name out there. It’s Rhys’ sole focus and he’s not going to let anything get in his way. Rhys has become skilled at pushing aside his feelings and, while he still has nightmares and panic attacks, he’s determined to move forward with his life. Dating isn’t something that comes easy to Rhys after a traumatic assault and he knows he comes with a lot of rules that most men don’t want to handle. But most men aren’t Beck Northcott.
Beck is the opposite of a fashion label as he hides behind a beard and baggy clothes. He was comfortable with his life as a poetry professor, but his life got turned around as his nephew has come to live with him under difficult circumstances. One look at Rhys and Beck wants everything with the man. But Rhys puts him off at first and when Beck finds out why, all he wants to do is protect Rhys and take care of him. Rhys can’t allow himself to want more, but Beck is making him break all of his rules. With a business on the brink and a head and heart full of hurt, Rhys has to decide if he can take the biggest chance yet on a future with Beck.
Flare opens the new Style series from Jay Hogan set on the edge of the high fashion world. I say on the edge since Rhys is an emerging designer getting his first collection ready for Fashion Week. The main focus of the story takes place in Rhys’ personal life set around his high end clothing store.
The prologue sets up the foundation of Rhys’ character and then we see him 17 years after a traumatic assault. He’s moved on with his life as a designer and is on the edge of public success, but he’s never dealt with the impact of the trauma and that is bleeding into every area of his life. He’s tried dating, but without the right partner to work with him on his issues, finding a long-term relationship hasn’t worked out for him. Rhys is attracted to Beck from the start, but keeps shutting his own thoughts down as he can’t allow himself to reach for more.
Beck comes across as the perfect partner for Rhys. He is endlessly patient and from the start he’s focused on Rhys’s needs. Beck has his nephew living him and his story with his sister is a focus of the book as well. Beck is a poetry professor and he recites poetry within casual conversation and that didn’t work as well for me. At one point, Rhys even thinks that Beck is too nice and too perfect, and it did seem that Beck was putting aside his own needs to step up for everyone else, which is fine to do sometimes, but this was excessive.
There were several storylines going on within this book and I didn’t think that they all blended well together. There is Rhys and Beck and their personal stories, and then there is a business-related retaliation storyline, and there are a number of secondary characters and all of it didn’t make for one cohesive reading experience from my perspective.
I liked the setting here with Rhys’ store and I liked his character and his journey. This book overall, however, didn’t resonate with me as much as other books by the author and it was a slow read for me. There is a “mystery” added in as well and that was not a strong point of the book for me. At the end, Rhys and Beck were working toward their HEA and even though this is the start of a series, it didn’t all feel fully finished. There will be more stories for some of the characters that were introduced here and as the characters seemed interesting on their own, I would hope their stories would resonate with me a bit more.