Rating: 4.25 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novella

 

In the five years since the death of Filip’s father and Johan’s husband, CM, the two men have commemorated the death of their loved one by hosting fundraisers for cancer research. When Filip decides this year’s fundraiser should be a photo calendar and asks his best friend and photographer, Didrik to do the honors, of course Didrik agrees. It’s something he instantly regrets when he discovers Filip’s idea involves Johan posing naked to honor CM’s beloved garden and the couple’s participation in World Naked Gardening Day. Didrik can’t refuse, even though just the thought of Johan gloriously naked has him sweating with arousal and inflaming the crush he’s had on the man since he was thirteen.

Despite his inconvenient attraction, Didrik has always found Johan’s company companionable and comfortable and he soon discovers Johan is a wonderful collaborator and model as well. When Didrik learns his desire for Johan is reciprocated, their photoshoot sessions become full of hungry gazes and sexual heat. As their affair transitions into an easy and loving relationship, Didrik can’t help but question when the other shoe will drop—when their twenty year age difference or Filip’s reaction to their relationship will finally crush the dream he’s been living in.

Strike a Pose is a steamy, short novella that does what it says on the tin, though the blurb gives the impression of a slow burn evolution to their attraction that isn’t actually present. Told from Didrik’s POV, Nell Iris does a good job establishing Didrik’s connection to Johan and his history with the family. Didrik is a passionate, creative, and honest character with a very strong, confident voice that sets the tone for the story and is fun to follow. It’s very clear from the start that Didrik has it bad for Johan; considering Johan’s the reason Didrik realized he was gay and Johan is a great guy that’s never given Didrik a reason to dislike him, it makes sense that he would still have a crush on him almost two decades later. Thus, it’s also not surprising that as soon as Didrik realizes Johan is flirting with him, it green lights all the way down.

Iris is very much a low/no angst storyteller, and Strike a Pose is very on brand. Johan and Didrik’s relationship development is drama free without feeling trite, and while there isn’t much of that development on page, the discussions between the two keep its absence from being an issue and makes sense given this is a fast-paced story of around 60 pages. Once Johan begins blatantly flirting, the heat and intensity between the MCs is very apparent, immediate, and gives the impression that Johan too may have been attracted to Didrik for some time. This leads to my one real issue with the story—the when/why/how Johan becomes interested in Didrik is never mentioned. Johan’s personality, marriage, and thoughts are conveyed via dialogue so it would have been possible for him to give insight into the progression of his feelings for Didrik since they talk about everything else. With how quickly the characters jump from friendly conversation to all hands on deck heat and how different the evolution of Didrik’s feelings are as he’s been attached to Johan romantically from adolescence, having something from Johan could’ve offered a nice balance.

Although I would have liked for it to be a smidge longer with more from Johan, I found Strike a Pose to be a really enjoyable, quick, feel-good read featuring a steamy but uncomplicated romance, a precocious son/BFF, and a fun introduction to Naked Gardening Day.

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