Review: On Board by Jay Hogan (Painted Bay #2)
Note: An advanced reader copy (ARC) was provided by the author via Eliza Rae Author Services.
"Right. Well, against all odds, I might have...feelings, Fox, fucking inconvenient ones if you ask me, about you, for you. As in us-type feelings...stuff, maybe. Fucking hell, I'm crap at this. Like not an experiment, okay? Like...more, maybe a lot more." I sighed. "Yeah, mostly that last one, dammit. But I get the whole no-promises thing as well, on both sides, and I'm not asking for any."
If there were an actual ferry that could take me to Painted Bay, I'd hop on board (see what I did there?) lickety-split, if only to meet the cast of characters from Jay Hogan's series that shares the same name with this small New Zealand town. I loved the series starter, Off Balance, and this second one totally soared past every single astronomical expectation I had for it. That tells you something considering how awe-inspiring its predecessor was.
On Board is the story of thirty-year-old Leroy Madden. Yes, that Leroy Madden--older brother to Judah Madden and friend of Morgan Wipene (Off Balance, book one of Painted Bay). If you've read the first book, you'll understand why many readers walked away from it not being huge fans of the guy. But I have a thing for redemption stories, and did Lee (wink) have a great one--one he shares with Fox Carmody, his unofficial stepbrother.
There isn't a whole lot of love lost between Leroy and Fox, so when the former enters his house to find the latter having made himself at home, Leroy isn't exactly rolling out the welcome mat. Sure, their mothers are together, and they're kinda-sorta-maybe family, but their most recent interactions highlight how much Leroy and Fox don't like each other. Or maybe there's a whole different reason Leroy is anxious around the not-quite-silver Fox.
Ladies and gents and everyone in between, Leroy Madden has redeemed himself and then some! The guy certainly had a heck of a lot of thoughts and emotions that he chose to bury deep within, not really having the opportunity or the inclination to discuss whatever was going on in his head and heart. Yes, Lee (giggle) has a heart, and it was a highly sensitive one, with deep-rooted insecurities, doubts, and confusion swirling about.
If I were forced to pick my absolute favorite thing about this book--and trust me, there was nothing I didn't like about it!--it would have to be the character development, particularly when it came to Lee (le sigh). My impression of him was re-shaped as the layers were peeled back, and he allowed himself to be more vulnerable. Naturally, it took Fox being around him to trigger that. More up-close-and-personal than forced proximity.
Okay, I can't finish this review without mentioning the romance beceause... GAH!!! Lee and Fox went from two people who went from brimming with hostility in Off Ground to wading in all the feels, but it was a journey getting there. It was complicated, but there was also an aspect of simplicity to it--that being the idea that love wins. Love of self, love for a significant other, love for home, and love for family. On Board earns five-plus stars.
Read my reviews for the Painted Bay series:
Off Balance (book one) - five stars - My Review
On Board (book two) - five-plus stars - My Review (posted above)