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Against the Grain

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I don’t like labels and I’m happy that way, but it’s taken a long time to get here. A jerk of a father, too many bullies to name, and a string of dipshit boyfriends whose interest in me rarely made it past the skirts I sometimes wear. Suffice to say, my faith in men runs a little thin. The last thing I need is a gruff, opinionated, fiery, closeted, Paralympian jock messing I don’t like labels and I’m happy that way, but it’s taken a long time to get here. A jerk of a father, too many bullies to name, and a string of dipshit boyfriends whose interest in me rarely made it past the skirts I sometimes wear. Suffice to say, my faith in men runs a little thin. The last thing I need is a gruff, opinionated, fiery, closeted, Paralympian jock messing with my hard-won peace. Miller Harrison is a wrinkle in my life I could definitely do without. I have a job that I love at Auckland Med., a boss who understands me, and a group of friends who accept me as I am. I should walk away. But Miller knows a thing or two about living life against the grain, and that hope I thought I’d buried a long time ago, is threatening to surface.


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I don’t like labels and I’m happy that way, but it’s taken a long time to get here. A jerk of a father, too many bullies to name, and a string of dipshit boyfriends whose interest in me rarely made it past the skirts I sometimes wear. Suffice to say, my faith in men runs a little thin. The last thing I need is a gruff, opinionated, fiery, closeted, Paralympian jock messing I don’t like labels and I’m happy that way, but it’s taken a long time to get here. A jerk of a father, too many bullies to name, and a string of dipshit boyfriends whose interest in me rarely made it past the skirts I sometimes wear. Suffice to say, my faith in men runs a little thin. The last thing I need is a gruff, opinionated, fiery, closeted, Paralympian jock messing with my hard-won peace. Miller Harrison is a wrinkle in my life I could definitely do without. I have a job that I love at Auckland Med., a boss who understands me, and a group of friends who accept me as I am. I should walk away. But Miller knows a thing or two about living life against the grain, and that hope I thought I’d buried a long time ago, is threatening to surface.

30 review for Against the Grain

  1. 5 out of 5

    Heather K (dentist in my spare time)

    DNF at 54%. No rating. It's rare that I read that far into a book and leave it with no rating, but I didn't feel right about rating Against the Grain. Sometimes, Jay Hogan work for me, and sometimes they linger on my shelf for months, half read. This is one of those cases. In theory, I should have loved Against the Grain. I recently ADORED Off Balance, which featured a chronically ill MC, and I've been fascinated with wheelchair rugby since I watched Murderball all those years ago (I actually re DNF at 54%. No rating. It's rare that I read that far into a book and leave it with no rating, but I didn't feel right about rating Against the Grain. Sometimes, Jay Hogan work for me, and sometimes they linger on my shelf for months, half read. This is one of those cases. In theory, I should have loved Against the Grain. I recently ADORED Off Balance, which featured a chronically ill MC, and I've been fascinated with wheelchair rugby since I watched Murderball all those years ago (I actually re-watched prior to reading this book because I was so excited). But, alas, this book and I weren't meant to be. When I have issues with a Jay Hogan book, it's always because they start to feel too long and too unfocused. Her books tend to be very long, over 350 pages, and I often wish the editing was tighter so 50 pages or so could have been trimmed off. Against the Grain felt like it meandered for a long time with no direction, and I found my mind wandering for so much in the middle of the book that I totally lost the motivation to pick it back up again. Would I have been able to read through the whole thing in a non-Covid time? Maybe. That's why I hesitate to give this book a rating. It takes a snappy plot and a very well-written story to hold my attention right now, especially because alone-time is non-existent at the moment. Do I think many readers would enjoy this book, especially if they have read this whole series? For sure. Not the book for me at this point in time, but I'm not discounting it for the future. *Copy provided in exchange for an honest review* goodreads|instagram|twitter|blog

  2. 5 out of 5

    Cadiva

    My new favourite from Jay! All the stars and then some. Full review tomorrow. *** Every time I read a book from Jay Hogan I'm reminded of two things: 1 She researches thoroughly and whenever there is a disability or cultural theme in her books, they are 100% given all the necessary attention to detail needed to come across as thoroughly real. 2 Her books transport me into a world where I feel I'm watching real people through a looking glass or as part of a TV show following them through their daily l My new favourite from Jay! All the stars and then some. Full review tomorrow. *** Every time I read a book from Jay Hogan I'm reminded of two things: 1 She researches thoroughly and whenever there is a disability or cultural theme in her books, they are 100% given all the necessary attention to detail needed to come across as thoroughly real. 2 Her books transport me into a world where I feel I'm watching real people through a looking glass or as part of a TV show following them through their daily lives. Here she looks at the world of Paralympic wheelchair sports, murderball aka quad rugby in particular and, as someone who is also an ambulatory wheelchair user, although not as much as when first discharged from hospital, let me say I absolutely believed 100% in Miller's experiences. Writing about a disabled character when you aren't one yourself, is a gamble, over complicate it and it comes across like you're just reciting your research, don't give it the attention to detail it needs, and it sounds like lip-service. But with Miller, he was utterly real. His frustrations, his fears that his disability was getting worse and threatening to derail his professional sporting career, and his dawning awareness that he'd met someone that was going to mean he had to come out publicly. They were visceral. And Sandy, he might just be my favourite of all Jay's characters so far. He's unapologetically out and gender fluid in his outward expression through clothing. He's had to fight hard for his equilibrium and he's been disappointed time and time again by men who've asked him to tone it down at some point in their relationship. When they meet, it's in a flurry of misunderstanding and bruised egos, but the sparks are flying from the off. Miller is fascinated by Sandy and the pathologist's assistant finds there's more to the Paralympian than his outward arrogance. There're plenty of guest appearances from the other pairs in this excellent Auckland Med series and I loved seeing Josh and Michael, Reuben and Cam, and Mark and Ed, this friendship group is a strong one and both Miller and Sandy turn to it for help. I'm not going into the plot, but it's one which will take you on a rollercoaster journey through all the highs and lows of a realistic relationship which has stumbles on the journey to happiness. Read this book if you love people who've fought hard to be themselves, if you like vulnerable disabled sportsmen who are just finding their feet in the out and proud world, hurt teenagers, family and friends who will move the Earth to help protect the ones they love, and two men who work through a myriad of challenges to find the happiness they deserve. Another absolutely brilliant entry in this fabulous series from Jay. #ARC received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review

  3. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    [I received a digital arc for an honest review] Against the Grain is the newest standalone in Jay Hogan's Auckland Med series. This is a series I have enjoyed and have fallen in love with all its wonderful and unique characters. This one is by far my favorite of the series and I just loved it so much. Sandy Williams loves his job at Auckland Med and the close group of friends he's made there. Miller Harrison, player for the NZ Wheel Backs and new employee at Auckland Med, gets off on the wrong foo [I received a digital arc for an honest review] Against the Grain is the newest standalone in Jay Hogan's Auckland Med series. This is a series I have enjoyed and have fallen in love with all its wonderful and unique characters. This one is by far my favorite of the series and I just loved it so much. Sandy Williams loves his job at Auckland Med and the close group of friends he's made there. Miller Harrison, player for the NZ Wheel Backs and new employee at Auckland Med, gets off on the wrong foot when he first meets Sandy being rude. Sandy is used to people judging him for his choice in clothing, so he writes Miller off. After another random encounter Miller finds himself entranced by Sandy and wants to get to know him better but also is fearful as he is not out of the closet in his sport or at work. Sandy hid or dulled his shine long enough and although he truly comes to care for Miller he refuses to be forced into a societal norm and stops being true to himself. Will Miller be able to get over his long engrained fears or risk losing Sandy and his new-found true to himself life? ""He lifted his hand to brush across Miller's bright red cheek. 'You're a bit of a puzzle, Miller Harrison. I think I'm going to enjoy getting to know you." Oh goodness, I loved these men so much. Sandy is amazing a force to be reckoned with. He is strong, kind and proud of who is. He refuses to bow down to the society's expectations of males, in clothing choices and in life. Sandy has to make tough decisions when it comes to Miller and put their feelings to the test, he is in the right and really is the driving force to making their relationship long-lasting. "Kissing my palm, Mr Harrison? Who knew there dwelled a romantic under all the f*ckery?" Miller has struggled most of his life with his physical disability and coming out publicly gay has always felt like more drama than its worth until he meets Sandy and that all changes. He is a bit prickly at first but the second he lets those walls down with Sandy he becomes a whole different person. He is charming, and does little things to show he cares that are just absolutely precious. He really has no clue how to have a relationship, but he genuinely tries. It was hard to watch him dig himself into a hole at times and hurt Sandy in the process, but he fights to correct his mistakes and there's no denying how much he loves Sandy. "I have no words," he whispered in his ear." You're the sexiest man I've ever laid my eyes on, and I'm not sure what you see in me, but I'm so f*cking grateful you decided to give me a chance." I could read about these two and never get bored. They were just perfect together and honest, pushed buttons, and didn't shy from tough subjects. They joked about the boyfriend handbook because relationships are complicated and only get harder as the feelings grow stronger but these little moments of light-hearted joking helped. Also, I can't not mention how hot as hell their sex life is 🔥🔥 Plus the found family Miller and Sandy have is so heartwarming and the family and friends they have around them and supporting them put a smile on your face. "You gave my heart a soft place to fall, do you know that? You're a good man, You're sexy as hell, and I couldn't be happier." Against the Grain is a little on the long side but I didn't really notice it. The book has a lot of drama that both characters are dealing with but it's not anything over the top or unrealistic. Miller is wading through coming out publicly, facing the end of his athletic career, and being in a relationship. Sandy is battling reconnecting with a homophobic parent, trusting Miller with his heart, and problems from judgmental people over his choice of dress. They work hard to balance this new relationship with everything going on in their lives and it's a little harder for Miller whose avoided drama his entire life. I loved this book so much.. in case I haven't said it enough haha I guess the only thing I didn't love was the cover but I get that it is supposed to be Sandy and it comes close to how I picture him but there's just something about it that I don't like lol 🤷‍♀️ In the end I can't stop myself from giving 5 stars to this mm romance between two drastically opposite characters who need each other, their found family and their blood families to find a happily ever after.

  4. 5 out of 5

    True Loveislovereview

    Sandy and Miller their first encounter isn’t the best one. Sandy is thirty-four, fierce, true to himself, genderqueer, gender fluid, non-binary, wearing what he wants, some days skirts and some days trousers. He has androgyny features, he’s snarky, honest, sweet, and humorous. Miller is mesmerized by Sandy. Miller is thirty-five, attractive but grumpy, a wheelchair rugby player, a full-contact sport that gives injuries. So Sandy and Miller meet at Auckland Med. in not the nicest circumstances. Th Sandy and Miller their first encounter isn’t the best one. Sandy is thirty-four, fierce, true to himself, genderqueer, gender fluid, non-binary, wearing what he wants, some days skirts and some days trousers. He has androgyny features, he’s snarky, honest, sweet, and humorous. Miller is mesmerized by Sandy. Miller is thirty-five, attractive but grumpy, a wheelchair rugby player, a full-contact sport that gives injuries. So Sandy and Miller meet at Auckland Med. in not the nicest circumstances. They collided literally, Miller in his wheelchair against Sandy his shins. Not knowing Sandy is the RN Forensic Pathology Assistant at Auckland, Miller blows it all away with a lot of grumping. That’s where he meets Sandy’s fire. The next encounter is much nicer and every next more and more. Sandy just doesn’t chase guys, Miller seems an exception, even though the guy is the opposite of himself. Miller is a sports guy, with a lot of masculinity, blunt, and to a lot of people mostly closeted. “One of life’s little gems” That he is!! So far where it all started, the continuation is where there are obstacles on their journey. Mild ones and events that can break up their relationship. If you read any books by this author you know this one will be good. For me this one was even more than good, it was excellent! The relationship they start is thoroughly analyzed and developed. Personal events are relevant here, with family, friends, colleagues, teammates, and work. There are also dirty actions ugh. The further the journey comes the more circumstances, environments, and personalities are developed and revealed. A beautifully layered, well thought out narrative. Two hot guys with explicit characteristics that made them unique and attractive. I loved them. The diverse side stories were, just like the main story, all plausible.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Joyfully Jay

    A Joyfully Jay review. 4.25 stars Against the Grain continues the Auckland Med series, which features the hospital where some of the characters work. Miller and Sandy are new to the series and their relationship does stand alone. Several former main characters from the series are mentioned here, with Cam and Reuben appearing on page, and it’s always a richer experience for me to have all of the background of the series. Hogan often creates interesting characters and Sandy and Miller are both well A Joyfully Jay review. 4.25 stars Against the Grain continues the Auckland Med series, which features the hospital where some of the characters work. Miller and Sandy are new to the series and their relationship does stand alone. Several former main characters from the series are mentioned here, with Cam and Reuben appearing on page, and it’s always a richer experience for me to have all of the background of the series. Hogan often creates interesting characters and Sandy and Miller are both well developed. The men are opposites in many ways and together they clash at first, but then settle into each other. With cameos from other MCs in the series, and a look ahead to a definite must read coming next for the series, Against the Grain is a good choice for characters taking an unapologetic stand for who they are and a gruff rugby player with a soft spot for the man he loves. Read Michelle's review in its entirety here.

  6. 4 out of 5

    .Lili.

    There was a lot that worked in Against the Grain. - Characters - Character development -Relationship development, from their first meeting to navigating a relationship. -Heat My only complaint is that this book did start to feel too long. At the halfway point, it began to drag, and the story felt... messy? Unfocused? I powered through because I knew it would pay off, and it did. All in all, 4 stars for Against the Grain by Jay Hogan.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Caz

    I've given this an A- at AAR, so that's 4.5 stars rounded up Jay Hogan returns to her  Auckland Med . series with Against the Grain, which features a romance between sassy spitfire pathologist’s assistant Sandy Williams (who appeared as a key secondary character in the last book, Up Close and Personal) and Miller Harrison, a member of the Wheel Blacks elite wheelchair rubgy team as well as a new member of staff at the busy hospital.  During the course of the story, the author explores some impo I've given this an A- at AAR, so that's 4.5 stars rounded up Jay Hogan returns to her  Auckland Med . series with Against the Grain, which features a romance between sassy spitfire pathologist’s assistant Sandy Williams (who appeared as a key secondary character in the last book, Up Close and Personal) and Miller Harrison, a member of the Wheel Blacks elite wheelchair rubgy team as well as a new member of staff at the busy hospital.  During the course of the story, the author explores some important issues around disability and gender, adds in a bit of gripping drama and develops a warm, sexy and very genuine romance between the two leads, weaving it all seamlessly together to form a very enjoyable, cohesive whole. After a car accident put paid to his dreams of playing for the All Blacks, Miller fought hard to get his life back on track, and now, ten years later, has competed – with the Wheel Blacks – in two Paralympics and is aiming to make it to a third, and maybe even a fourth.  But wheelchair rugby isn’t known as ‘murderball’ for nothing; like any elite sport, it’s incredibly tough on mind and body, and at thirty-five, Miller knows he’s only got a few years left playing at that level and is utterly determined to keep doing it for as long as he can.  He’d never really looked beyond professional rugby as a career when he was younger, and he’s just as focused now, having little room in his life for anything but his sport and his job.  That narrow focus is the main reason he’s never come out to anyone but his family; after his accident he prioritised his rehab, knowing it was going to be hard enough to adjust to living with a disability without the added drama likely to follow an announcement about his sexuality.  But it’s not really an issue, as he doesn’t have time for anything more than the occasional casual hook-up anyway. Sandy Williams – “six foot three of insecure, gangly, potty-mouthed confusion who struggles to find a dress size to fit” – is out and unapologetically proud.  He’s not a great believer in labels; the only one he’ll attach to himself is that he’s  sexually attracted to men, but when it comes to gender identification, that’s more or a fluid issue and he’s doesn’t see why he should have to fit into a particular box.  He wears whatever reflects the way he feels on the inside on any given day, be it jeans or skirts, heels or Doc Martens, and fuck anyone who doesn’t like it.  He’s fought to be who he is almost his entire life; school bullies, an arsehole dad who left the very same day Sandy came out, boyfriends who wanted him only for the novelty value or wanted him to be other than he was – and it’s taken considerable time and effort for him to get to a place where he knows who he is and is comfortable in his own skin. Sandy and Miller make an inauspicious beginning when, after sustaining a gash to his arm during practice, Miller needs to visit the ER at Auckland Med, where he’s recently taken up the position of Clinical Governance Coordinator. He’s exiting the staff accessible bathroom in the ER and almost collides with Sandy, who – not having seen him before – asks rather sharply to see his ID. Miller’s already had to deal with an insensitive arsehole in the car park who had a go at him for parking in a disabled space, he’s injured, he’s worried about a pain in his hip that might be getting worse, and the last thing he needs is some jobsworth going off at him about which bathroom he’s using. Even through their mutual animosity, the sparks fly like nobody’s business, and thankfully, the misunderstanding is sorted out and they go their separate ways. But not before Miller has become smitten by Sandy’s take-no-prisoners attitude and striking good looks and Sandy… well, he’s surprised to find that Miller ticks so many boxes he never knew he had, but ultimately being seriously hot is no excuse for also being an arsehole, so he mentally consigns him to the ‘jerk’ pile. Another chance meeting a few days later seems like it’s going to go the same way, until they find themselves laughing together at something totally random and silly, and the ice is broken. A cup of coffee, some conversation and a bit of subtle flirting later, and they’re getting on really well, finding lots to talk about and thoroughly enjoying each other’s company. From there, it’s a short step to an actual date, to spending more time together getting to know each other and then to deciding that they want to see if this thing between them has legs. The relationship development in this book is stellar, and although Sandy and Miller’s life experience has been very different and they make mistakes along the way, the author clearly shows that these two people are perfectly matched on every level. Miller has never had a long-term relationship at all, let alone one with a man, and doesn’t have much of a clue how to go about it, but he tries hard to do the right thing and the little things he does to show he cares are very sweet. Being in a committed relationship is new to Sandy, too; being with someone who sees him so clearly and loves him exactly for who he is is liberating and wonderful. He and Miller make a point of being honest with each other and talking through things that bother them, and I loved watching the progress of a genuinely adult relationship between two ordinary-yet-extraordinary people who love each other and are prepared to do whatever they need to do to make things work. Their relationship is really put to the test near the end, when a work-related situation threatens to drive a wedge between them, and the way they find their way back to one another is extremely well done. I’ve enjoyed all the <>b>Auckland Med. books, but this is the best yet. Jay Hogan has obviously done a lot of research into Miller’s disability and his life as a disabled man, integrating this fully into his character so there’s never any suggestion of her just parroting her research or underplaying the problems he faces every day, whether it’s misunderstanding and prejudice of others or his own fears that his condition might be worsening and threatening his future in professional sport. I was engrossed in his journey, in watching him realise how life in the closet has developed an instinct in him to keep his head down and not draw attention, and then watching him push his way through the barriers he’s erected, to realise that if he wants to be with Sandy he needs to do better. The sub-plot centred around Sandy’s relationship with his father, and his struggles for acceptance are equally well-rendered, and I loved his inner strength and the way he is so true to himself throughout the story. There are a couple of really well-done sub-plots, and a lovely found-family aspect to the story, and I was delighted to see some of the characters from the other books in the series cropping up, most notably the “Yoda of sass” himself, ER Charge Nurse Cam Wano, who can always be relied upon for the snarkiest smackdowns and the biggest hugs. Funny, warm, poignant and scorchingly sexy, featuring a fantastic cast of characters and a superbly developed romance that arrives at a hard-won, well-deserved HEA, Against the Grain is a compelling and hugely entertaining read. It earns a strong recommendation and a place on my keeper shelf.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    It's a pretty good book overall. I like that Miller is an ambulatory wheelchair user and that it shows a bit of the contradictions of living with a disability (fighting for having aids while trying to blend with everyone else) and how that contrasts with Sandy's experience and life. It's pretty superficial in those struggles, which I don't mind as the book centers more in the relationship rather than any kind activism without truly brushing those concerns aside. It's lighthearted despite the the It's a pretty good book overall. I like that Miller is an ambulatory wheelchair user and that it shows a bit of the contradictions of living with a disability (fighting for having aids while trying to blend with everyone else) and how that contrasts with Sandy's experience and life. It's pretty superficial in those struggles, which I don't mind as the book centers more in the relationship rather than any kind activism without truly brushing those concerns aside. It's lighthearted despite the themes it touches, which is something plenty of people can appreciate at this time.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Vicki

    This is such a beautifully crafted book with smooth and seamless plot formation, perfect pacing and superb character development. Jay Hogan certainly has the ability to weave a wonderful story that grabs your heart from the very beginning and doesn’t let go until the very end. The relationship that develops between the very likeable two main characters, Miller and Sandy, is very realistic with fun, laughter, sweet moments, heat filled moments, a bit of drama, miss steps and bumps along the way. This is such a beautifully crafted book with smooth and seamless plot formation, perfect pacing and superb character development. Jay Hogan certainly has the ability to weave a wonderful story that grabs your heart from the very beginning and doesn’t let go until the very end. The relationship that develops between the very likeable two main characters, Miller and Sandy, is very realistic with fun, laughter, sweet moments, heat filled moments, a bit of drama, miss steps and bumps along the way. Through it all Sandy remains true to himself and Miller emerges from a self imposed compartmentalised life of work and sport out into a life filled with colour. All aided by the fantastic cast of side characters including the couples from the previous books in the series. Be prepared for some feels to come at you, from tugging at your heart strings to laughing out loud at some of the sassy dialogue. If I could give this gem of a book more than 5 stars I would, it’s an absolute delight of a story that worked its way into my heart and makes me smile just thinking about it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    ~nikki the recovering book addict

    4 stars! Oh... this was good! I feel like maybe I didn’t give this series a proper chance. Am thinking of doing a reread. This was definitely my favourite in this entire series. Some issues raised that I can’t believe we’re still fighting over in 2020! But definitely loved the way the author handled these delicate topics. For that, definitely giving an applause to the author. 🙌🙌🙌 Sandy was definitely the light to Miller’s broody self. I’m quite happy that for all that Sandy is perhaps non-binary b 4 stars! Oh... this was good! I feel like maybe I didn’t give this series a proper chance. Am thinking of doing a reread. This was definitely my favourite in this entire series. Some issues raised that I can’t believe we’re still fighting over in 2020! But definitely loved the way the author handled these delicate topics. For that, definitely giving an applause to the author. 🙌🙌🙌 Sandy was definitely the light to Miller’s broody self. I’m quite happy that for all that Sandy is perhaps non-binary but doesn’t really conform to any labels, he wasn’t written like a typical over dramatic twink. He was definitely different and unique and counterbalanced Miller’s stark personality. I hope we get Geo’s story as well. But he’s possibly too young. Boo... but alas, definitely going to reread this series 😄

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ami

    3.5 stars I LOVE Jay Hogan and her books -- but this time, I hit a stumble with Against the Grain , the fourth installment to her Auckland Med series. I liked both Sandy and Miller just fine. I enjoyed their first meeting (misunderstanding and snappish! *lol*), which then developed into tentative friendship then romantic one, all filled with cozy moments, flirty moments, and sexy moments. But I thought in terms of romance, Sandy and Miller became solid pretty quickly. I mean even Miller, who s 3.5 stars I LOVE Jay Hogan and her books -- but this time, I hit a stumble with Against the Grain , the fourth installment to her Auckland Med series. I liked both Sandy and Miller just fine. I enjoyed their first meeting (misunderstanding and snappish! *lol*), which then developed into tentative friendship then romantic one, all filled with cozy moments, flirty moments, and sexy moments. But I thought in terms of romance, Sandy and Miller became solid pretty quickly. I mean even Miller, who started the book with one feet still inside the gay closet, he came out not long after he acknowledged his feelings to Sandy. It didn't dragged on. Yes, Miller and Sandy had problems, mostly because Miller was a "relationship virgin" and he had been trying to avoid personal spotlight all his life, while Sandy practically screamed "my life my way" attitude, but they did talk it out. Acted mature about it. So everything else became things OUTSIDE their relationship. Like Sandy's issue with his father, Miller's inability to quit wheel rugby, and later on, their taking in a teenager who had homophobic father (Geo is Miller's nephew's best friend), oh and the hospital complaint. It felt crowded to me. This book is not my personal favorite. But Jay Hogan still is. I'm still waiting for her next book 😊

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jane Wheeler

    This book had a LOT going on. I highlighted so many passages because of the care the author seemed to take with the main characters. They’re both so fully human and complex. It sort of took a turn about halfway through, shifting from their interpersonal dance to the larger drama of helping someone who needed them. Still, I enjoyed the characters so much that I liked spending more time with them.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Carvalho

    Nothing I write here will make justice to this book. Really, there aren't enough words to describe how perfect and awesome is the love story between Miller and Sandy. This is the second book I read from Jay, and I am shocked at how it keeps getting better and better. I have to say, I usually read series in order; few are the times I pick books before reading the previous: I'm always afraid something will be missing. Thankfully, this is not the case here. The couples from books 1-3 are there, are p Nothing I write here will make justice to this book. Really, there aren't enough words to describe how perfect and awesome is the love story between Miller and Sandy. This is the second book I read from Jay, and I am shocked at how it keeps getting better and better. I have to say, I usually read series in order; few are the times I pick books before reading the previous: I'm always afraid something will be missing. Thankfully, this is not the case here. The couples from books 1-3 are there, are part of the story, and it feels like they belong there! As for the story itself: Miller and Sandy go from two guys who started with the wrong foot to two guys flirting to two guy who fell in love and... have issues to deal with. And Jay did an amazing job developing the love aspect, at the same time dealing with all the things from the past that need closure and being solved. Their relationship grows beautifully and it is a balm to see it through the pages. The story balances low key times and scorching hot ones, the ones that make you hot all over! I recommend this to everyone who wants to read a good story, a very well written one with good characters, an AMAZING HEA and a side character that * definitely * needs his own story ♥️

  14. 5 out of 5

    Elle Schroder

    This is the fourth book in the Auckland Med series.  You can read it as a stand-alone, but you'll enjoy it more if you read it as part of the series. This book has some strong similarities to the second book, Crossing the Touchline.  Miller used to be a Blues rugby player and an All Black wannabe, same as Rueben is in Crossing The Touchline.  However, Miller was in a car accident and now primarily uses a wheelchair to get around.  He plays for the Wheel Blacks, the national wheelchair rugby team, This is the fourth book in the Auckland Med series.  You can read it as a stand-alone, but you'll enjoy it more if you read it as part of the series. This book has some strong similarities to the second book, Crossing the Touchline.  Miller used to be a Blues rugby player and an All Black wannabe, same as Rueben is in Crossing The Touchline.  However, Miller was in a car accident and now primarily uses a wheelchair to get around.  He plays for the Wheel Blacks, the national wheelchair rugby team, and also the Auckland team.  Although I was aware that wheelchair rugby was a thing, I was unfamiliar with the sport prior to reading this book.  However, the author does an excellent job of teaching the reader about the sport, and getting across how intense, fierce and physical it is.  It helps that Sandy, who works for Ed (from the previous book) is also new to the game, so the new knowledge is shown to the reader that way rather than by info-dumping (which is appreciated!). I found Miller, who has spent his entire life prior to this book in the closet (much the same as Rueben in the second book) a little frustrating.  I understand that he is out of touch with the politics and such of the rainbow community, despite being a member - sadly, that made a lot of sense, and I'm sure there are people in real life in exactly the same position through choice or circumstance.  However, I felt that at time he leaned too much on this excuse.  He informed Sandy at the beginning of their relationship that he was new to relationships and new to the gay scene and was bound to make mistakes, and then I felt like that was a ready-made 'get out of jail free' card for him to play.  Every time he stuffed up, he was all 'Well I told you I'd be bad at this and make mistakes!'  Well, yes, but you still have to own them.  You still have to make amends.  You still have learn and improve and try harder.  Which he did, but I found it a little frustrating.   I thought the whole situation with Geo, a young man who comes to stay with Miller to escape his homophobic father, helped enormously with seeing the best in Miller.  Sandy was easy to love, with his sassy vulnerability. My favourite scene was definitely when their friends and family rallied around Sandy at the hospital.  I could picture that so clearly, including the Maori colleague starting a waiata.  I found myself picturing the scene from New Zealand parliament when same-sex marriage was legalised, and I wondered if the author was inspired by that moment.  That was the song I heard in my head as I read, anyway - Pokarekare Ana.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Didi

    Jay Hogan always came up with stories that had me laughing, smiling, sniffling, and thinking; with non conforming, quick-witted, non conforming, and wonderful leading men. This latest addition to her “Auckland Med” is no different. Miller and Sandy were such an opposing characters yet so fitting to one another like pieces of puzzles. The atmosphere between them were sizzling since day one when they clashed upon first encounter. As scorching as the chemistry was it also hinted at bumpy path ahead Jay Hogan always came up with stories that had me laughing, smiling, sniffling, and thinking; with non conforming, quick-witted, non conforming, and wonderful leading men. This latest addition to her “Auckland Med” is no different. Miller and Sandy were such an opposing characters yet so fitting to one another like pieces of puzzles. The atmosphere between them were sizzling since day one when they clashed upon first encounter. As scorching as the chemistry was it also hinted at bumpy path ahead - as often for Hogan’s MCs - unusual courting for the men before they truly began their happy ever after. AGAINST THE GRAIN told the story of these two strong characters coming together amidst prejudice; Miller rebuilt his life after the crash that cut short his path to become an All Black and instead becoming a force to be reckon with in Wheel Blacks and Sandy a brilliant man and nurse despite his wrecked of dating history. Yes, Miller was a bit of in-the-closet jock stereotype and all, but with the history he had I truly thought he deserved some leeway to come to terms with thing. I also love how loving, close-knitted, and supportive his family was. Despite the many friends he got, Sandy came across as aloof and pretty set in his way. Personally, I felt this story leaning pretty much to Sandy’s side but it relieved me no end that in introspection, he saw the bigger picture - admitted his own’s failing and owned it. As often with Hogan’s tale, it drove me on emotional trip with its ups and downs - mostly up and amusing - and had me look up some of new (to me) terms and literally opened my eyes. What a ride AGAINST THE GRAIN was - but also, an education. I can’t wait what’s more Hogan would bring in her next writings! Copy of this book is kindly given by the author in exchange for an honest review.

  16. 5 out of 5

    ButtonsMom2003

    I want to read the other books - STAT! This is only my second Jay Hogan book and boy am I ready to read more. Against the Grain is the 4th book in the Auckland Med series but it can be read as a standalone. I never felt lost while reading this story but now I really want to go back and read the first three. The couples from the first three books are secondary characters in this one so if you’re like me you’ll probably want to go back and read their stories if you do read this one first. This was a I want to read the other books - STAT! This is only my second Jay Hogan book and boy am I ready to read more. Against the Grain is the 4th book in the Auckland Med series but it can be read as a standalone. I never felt lost while reading this story but now I really want to go back and read the first three. The couples from the first three books are secondary characters in this one so if you’re like me you’ll probably want to go back and read their stories if you do read this one first. This was a well developed and intense story. The main focus is on Miller, a masculine character who plays wheelchair Rugby, and Sandy, a more femme character who’s a nurse in the hospital where Miller works. Miller isn’t exactly in-the-closet but he’s not out to his teammates or most of his co-workers. Sandy wears what he likes to wear, and sometimes it’s skirts or dresses and sometimes it’s not. They don’t meet under the best circumstances but Miller was captivated by Sandy right from the get-go. I almost don’t know where to start with my review so I’ll just say I loved everything about this story. Beyond the somewhat difficult road that Miller and Sandy travel to their HEA there are a couple of other very interesting subplots. One of these involves a 17-year-old bisexual friend of Miller’s nephew with a homophobic father. If you like complex stories, with more than one plot line, I can highly recommend Against the Grain. I don’t know if there are other books planned for this series or not but I will be reading them if there are. A copy of this book was provided to me but my review was voluntary and not influenced by the author. ***Reviewed for Xtreme-Delusions dot com***

  17. 4 out of 5

    Anne Barwell

    I love Jay’s books, and am a huge fan of this series. This one kept me up reading late, and then later still than I planned when the suspense part of the story kicked in. I’d wanted Sandy’s story since his first appearance in an earlier book, and I loved him and Miller together. I liked Miller immediately, and I liked how the author introduced his back story bit by bit as it needed to be known. Nicely done. I liked that Miller is aware of how much of a dick he can be at times, but is trying to b I love Jay’s books, and am a huge fan of this series. This one kept me up reading late, and then later still than I planned when the suspense part of the story kicked in. I’d wanted Sandy’s story since his first appearance in an earlier book, and I loved him and Miller together. I liked Miller immediately, and I liked how the author introduced his back story bit by bit as it needed to be known. Nicely done. I liked that Miller is aware of how much of a dick he can be at times, but is trying to be better. I also liked how Sandy doesn’t fit any labels, he’s just him and true to who he is. I love how he doesn’t see the chair, just Miller. I enjoyed how their friendship didn’t get off to a great start, which changes as they get to know each other. It made for a fun and realistic read. One of the things I love about reading series is catching up with characters from previous books. I loved Cam and Sandy’s friendship and how protective and supportive Cam is. It was fabulous catching up with the other guys too, and Paris! I liked Sandy and Miller’s families, and the subplot with Miller’s nephew Sam, and how Miller and Sandy supporting him also helps Miller not be so isolated. I love how their group of friends feels more like a family, and how much of a part family plays in the story. I loved how the tension rises as the story progresses, and everything Miller and Sandy have to work through to get to achieve their HEA. The action scene as the drama ramps up was tense and exciting. This story is a page turner I didn’t want to put down. I didn’t know anything about the NZ Wheel Blacks either, and enjoyed that part of the story. Those games are full on!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    4.5 stars Against the Grain is pretty different from most of the books I’ve read of late, covering a fair amount of ground with memorable characters, a sexy romance, a great story, and substantial subplots and character exploration. I love characters who make you think and bring awareness, and Against the Grain does just that. Not only does this standalone address disabilities, familial support of marginalized people, and LGBTQIA equality within the sport and professional workplace worlds, but it 4.5 stars Against the Grain is pretty different from most of the books I’ve read of late, covering a fair amount of ground with memorable characters, a sexy romance, a great story, and substantial subplots and character exploration. I love characters who make you think and bring awareness, and Against the Grain does just that. Not only does this standalone address disabilities, familial support of marginalized people, and LGBTQIA equality within the sport and professional workplace worlds, but it also takes a stab at negotiating the system and labels. The fourth book in the Auckland Med series, Against the Grain has remarkable characters, who snagged and held my attention throughout the book. Sandy is a force all his own, and I admired his strength and genuineness. His tendency to balk at labels and boxes opens the vital discussion for why those can be stifling, even within one’s own community. I also love that Miller isn’t at all who I expected at the start of the book. Though there are definite stumbling blocks between Miller’s closeted, jock persona, and Sandy carving his own path, the couple’s willingness to accept one another, grow, and understand the other’s viewpoint makes this romance feel all the more organic. The chemistry between Sandy and Miller is intense—burgeoning with heat and a connection that frequently ignites on page. In short, Against the Grain hit on many sides, and makes for a great read. Jay Hogan is noticeably adept at covering weighty discussions without letting the story feel bogged down with the subject matter. With the inclusion of lighter exchanges, some humor, vivacious characters, and blisteringly hot scenes, Against the Grain was smooth and thought provoking as much as it was enjoyable. If you like stories with substance, I definitely recommend this title. *** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement. ***

  19. 5 out of 5

    Maryann Kafka

    Miller Harrison has an important job and one he likes at Auckland Med as the Clinical Governance Coordinator. He was headed for a career after playing rugby for the Auckland Blues and had a shot at the All Blacks. One night and a horrible accident left Miller a paraplegic. But his love of the game and support from a great family kept him in the game. He became a Paralympian and plays rugby/murderball for the NZ Wheel Blacks. As Miller’s life was consumed with education, work, keeping fit, playin Miller Harrison has an important job and one he likes at Auckland Med as the Clinical Governance Coordinator. He was headed for a career after playing rugby for the Auckland Blues and had a shot at the All Blacks. One night and a horrible accident left Miller a paraplegic. But his love of the game and support from a great family kept him in the game. He became a Paralympian and plays rugby/murderball for the NZ Wheel Blacks. As Miller’s life was consumed with education, work, keeping fit, playing in the All Blacks league, he didn’t socialize much and kept a secret. Sandy Williams is a RN and Forensic Pathology Assistant at Auckland Med. He’s has had to fight most of his life to just be himself. When Sandy came out to his family at a young age, his father Floyd Williams walked out and Sandy has struggled with blaming himself for his fathers choice. But with a wonderful and supportive Mom and sister he made it through life but there were still hurtful memories along the way. When Sandy and Miller run into each other sparks fly and not in a good way. Miller’s just another jock who’s bound to screw up somewhere but something about Miller peaks Sandy’s interest. If there’s even a chance of these two getting together, will they be able to take on all the chaos that awaits them? Jay Hogan really brings the “being true to yourself” to the forefront and what makes an individual comfortable in their own skin. It’s also about perception of one another, making judgements and hope that people can change for the better. She also does a magnificent job with explaining the disability that this story surrounds. She takes time to educate on the Paralympic wheel chair sport and makes it clear that there’s danger involved for the players who already have life long injuries. I felt I was right there with Sandy learning about the game of rugby. In addition, Hogan is all around brilliant in handling so many sensitive issues that make this an interesting read. I also, liked the addition of the younger set: Sam, Geo and Jacob and how they faced the issue of coming out and how everyone rallied together to support them. Even though this is not a holiday story, it has that feel to it, with all the gang getting involved in this one. Cam and Rueben, Mark and Ed, Michael and Josh and Paris gets into the act too. Also, Miller’s family with Dad James and his Mum and Sandy’s Mum Fiona and sister Lizzie. And all the amazing individuals that came together in support of Sandy. I highly recommend this powerful and interesting novel from Jay Hogan. “Against the Grain” is a great addition to the “Auckland Med” series and I’m looking forward to the next book from Jay Hogan!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bev

    4.5 stars rounded up. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 When I read book 3, First Impressions which was Mark and Ed's story, I desperately wanted a HEA for Sandy, and luckily, Jay has more than met my expectations for him with this story. Miller was a really strong and forceful personality [although closeted] and a perfect match for the formidable and highly knowledgeable swishy nurse who knows what he wants, but in reality hides past family heartache and pain. We get to play catch up with all of the characters from the pre 4.5 stars rounded up. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 When I read book 3, First Impressions which was Mark and Ed's story, I desperately wanted a HEA for Sandy, and luckily, Jay has more than met my expectations for him with this story. Miller was a really strong and forceful personality [although closeted] and a perfect match for the formidable and highly knowledgeable swishy nurse who knows what he wants, but in reality hides past family heartache and pain. We get to play catch up with all of the characters from the previous books in the series in this particular instalment, and I honestly do think that readers would benefit from reading them all, although I suppose you could treat it as a standalone if you really wanted to. None of these stories have been lower than 4 stars in my ratings, although I have to admit I do actually prefer the Southern Lights series myself AND Jay has already got 3 stories on my 2020 Best Reads shelf. She's an absolutely wonderful author, and I LOVE her work....no wonder she's had so many nominations in this year's MM Members Choice Awards, most of which I've voted for.

  21. 5 out of 5

    LauraSt

    +5 STARS I knew Sandy and Miller were going to be great, but I didn’t even imagine this level of perfection. I’M OBSESSED! This was such a wonderful story. From the good and the bad. The small steps and the big steps. Amazing. I couldn’t be happier with this series. It’s magical and perfect and everything you could ever want! Cam, G, Reuben, Ed, everyone, all these men have stolen my heart. Jay does it again 🖤🖤

  22. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    A Wonderful Book I have to say, this was the best book in the series. I loved the characters Sandy, and Miller, they were made for each other. The book was well written, and had a great story line.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sharing The Book Love

    I really enjoyed it ..I thought Miller was gonna be a complete ass at the start of the book but he grew on me I guess as he grew in himself. Sandy 'dee' loved the nick name was just perfect and as a hubs who works in disability i believe Jay did the wheelchair/ canes etc justice I really enjoyed it ..I thought Miller was gonna be a complete ass at the start of the book but he grew on me I guess as he grew in himself. Sandy 'dee' loved the nick name was just perfect and as a hubs who works in disability i believe Jay did the wheelchair/ canes etc justice

  24. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

    Jay Hogan has become one of my favorite authors, this author has such talent that she can write stories within the main story and has it flowing perfectly. The book will grab you at page and not let you go until The End. Which will leave you wanting the next brilliant book from her. Against the Grain has Sandy and Miller who could not be more different and that makes for some very interesting interaction between the two. Miller is very defense and spends all his time with his sport and training Jay Hogan has become one of my favorite authors, this author has such talent that she can write stories within the main story and has it flowing perfectly. The book will grab you at page and not let you go until The End. Which will leave you wanting the next brilliant book from her. Against the Grain has Sandy and Miller who could not be more different and that makes for some very interesting interaction between the two. Miller is very defense and spends all his time with his sport and training and not really willing to put himself out there for love. Sandy who is very sassy and very out there and does not think he will find love. Both of these two have had to fight for the right to be equals in life. There are so many fantastic moments in this book not only between Miller and Sandy but some new characters and some from previous books in this series. You get the full package of some angst, humor, some of the sweetest romance, and then there is this beautiful connection with these two. I very highly recommend reading this and all of Jay Hogan's books. They are all on my fav re-read list. 5 star +++++

  25. 5 out of 5

    Fanni's So Many Books

    One man living with disability. Another living with constant judging and prejudice. One man struggling with people who all have an opinion on his condition. Another strughling with the same just about his appearence. One living in the closet. Another living openly out. And one crushing meeting that changes everything. Sandy is a man who hates labels and mostly identifies as fluid. He wears pants, he wears skirts, he wears make-up... depending on his mood. But findig acceptence is hard. Especially in a One man living with disability. Another living with constant judging and prejudice. One man struggling with people who all have an opinion on his condition. Another strughling with the same just about his appearence. One living in the closet. Another living openly out. And one crushing meeting that changes everything. Sandy is a man who hates labels and mostly identifies as fluid. He wears pants, he wears skirts, he wears make-up... depending on his mood. But findig acceptence is hard. Especially in a partner. Miller has lived with disability for 10 years now. He uses a chair or he uses canes, but surely, he's deifferent. He found his place in the wheelchair rugby but he hasn't found his place as a gay man. Their crushing meeting sets out a lot of changes in both their lives. Sandy's guarded heart is in trouble as well as Miller's closet door. Can they live up to the other's needs to be together? The Characters: I really loved Sandy's character with his unique style and confidence in himself. That confidence is damaged a lot in the book and the story amazingly shows how it can hang on threads, especially when someone close to you does the damage. He was sassy and confident and stylish and brave. I was amazed by him. Miller is in some way the complete opposite. He likes to be somewhat invisible, not sticking out of the croud. He's kind of an asshole because he has storng opinions, but also he has a kind heart that rarely anyone sees. I absolutely loved the story. So much to think about after reading it. Gender expression and labels are one topic that was amazingly described and also the fact how much struggle it can be to be yourself in a world that's not ready to accept you. The other thing was living with disability and overcoming the endless challanges it poses. Also I was quite stunned how the disabled sports industry is much the same as the regular one. The same issues with toxic masculanity and the fear of coming out are there. The issue of coming out as a teen was also raised in this story and mostly the impact the familiy's reaction can make on the individual is harshly described. I loved how the book was not afraid to talk about the really bad thing that can happen to a family when the parents are not ready for a LGBTQIA child. The love story was funny, hot and sweet and I seriously enjoyed reading it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Larissa

    Against the Grain is the 4th book in the Auckland Med series but can be read as a standalone. To say I loved this book would be an understatement. Vibrant, unique characters wrapped up in sublime writing about an unusual take on the opposites attract romance with sensitive treatment of disabilities. Sandy Williams is my hero. He is completely unapologetic about who he is and refuses to compromise that for anyone, including Miller, or anything, including his job - even though he loves them both. Against the Grain is the 4th book in the Auckland Med series but can be read as a standalone. To say I loved this book would be an understatement. Vibrant, unique characters wrapped up in sublime writing about an unusual take on the opposites attract romance with sensitive treatment of disabilities. Sandy Williams is my hero. He is completely unapologetic about who he is and refuses to compromise that for anyone, including Miller, or anything, including his job - even though he loves them both. Miller Harrison, player for the NZ Wheel Blacks, is a complete contradiction; he is prickly on the outside, but a loving, doting, selfless man on the inside. He’s also adorably, and frustratingly clueless at times, but due to his good intentions and willingness to take responsibility for his actions and apologize, it’s all forgivable. Miller has struggled with balancing a physically disability due to a car crash and also being gay while being in the public eye; he felt he couldn’t manage the attention from both so he focused on the former and buried the latter. So without necessarily meaning to, he essentially closeted himself. Sandy makes him realize he needs to be authentic. Jay Hogan’s treatment of Miller’s disability is stellar. It’s obviously well-researched, sensitive and not the focus of the story or the focus of who Miller is. It is just another characteristic about him, like his gorgeous red, wavy hair, but does not define him. That treatment is so unusual in a book and I applaud her for writing him that way. Miller and Sandy are so different and yet together, they just fit. The chemistry between them is evident and smoking hot. 🔥🔥 The “family” they create around them through friends, family and an abused, gay teenage friend of Miller’s nephew is lovely and some of the funniest, and most touching, scenes in the book involve them. Jay Hogan always includes a bit of action and drama in her stories and this one is no exception. It’s the perfect counterpoint to the rest of the story and is incorporated in just the right way. Overall, this is a terrific read and probably one of my top books of the year.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    Jay Hogan has such a talent and I joyfully look forward to her work. Her latest can be read as a stand-alone but you simply have to read the others. She does a great job of getting you up to speed with the characters so if you only read this book you won’t be lost. Just trust me that the others in her Auckland Med series are amazing and really add to the overall experience. Miller is a grumpy yet quite sexy member of a wheelchair rugby team. It is a full-contact sport and at times, extremely dang Jay Hogan has such a talent and I joyfully look forward to her work. Her latest can be read as a stand-alone but you simply have to read the others. She does a great job of getting you up to speed with the characters so if you only read this book you won’t be lost. Just trust me that the others in her Auckland Med series are amazing and really add to the overall experience. Miller is a grumpy yet quite sexy member of a wheelchair rugby team. It is a full-contact sport and at times, extremely dangerous. Having limited use of his legs, Miller can manage short distances on his canes but depends mainly on his wheelchair for mobility. Having his dreams crushed a decade ago, playing with this team and competing at the Paralympics allows Miller to continue with rugby which means the world to him. This along with his new position at Auckland Med giving support to various sub-committees makes him fairly content, but still difficult to get along with. When the big grump plows into a man with his wheelchair, he finds himself face-to-face with Sandy Williams, an RN in the forensic pathology department. The encounter was not the best and Sandy really thinks Miller is an idiot. Miller who never allows himself to think about attraction can’t get this handsome and beguiling man out of his head. The rugby player has told only a choice few he is gay and being in the sport, has never shared this part of himself with his teammates. Miller apologizes to Sandy and soon they are spending time together. Sandy sometimes craves using more feminine attire and will occasionally dress in silky tops and skirts. This tends to be a deal-breaker with all of his past love interests but Miller, much to his own surprise, appears to be the exception. Sandy possesses a very strong and brave personality that is an interesting complement to his choice of clothes. The writing just flows as Jay writes books full of passion, intrigue, and danger. I urge you to try this book of acceptance and challenging perceived norms. A masterfully written and heartwarming delight. Happy reading! * * * Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn’t a requirement. * * *  

  28. 4 out of 5

    Christina Wade - BFD Book Blog

    Gah! I wish we could add .5 stars! 3.5 Stars so rounding up to 4 So, I can normally read a book in a couple of days. Even when I’m as busy as I am now…but this one took me 5 days to get through. And it’s not that I didn’t like the book, more that it was just long and a bit slow for me. There are some parts of it I loved and some parts I just skimmed because it felt so long. I do usually really like this author’s books and I like her writing, this just was weird for me…not sure if it’s this year o Gah! I wish we could add .5 stars! 3.5 Stars so rounding up to 4 So, I can normally read a book in a couple of days. Even when I’m as busy as I am now…but this one took me 5 days to get through. And it’s not that I didn’t like the book, more that it was just long and a bit slow for me. There are some parts of it I loved and some parts I just skimmed because it felt so long. I do usually really like this author’s books and I like her writing, this just was weird for me…not sure if it’s this year or just me. I think it might be best to just talk about what I like and didn’t care for instead of trying to get my feelings on paper. I’m going to list what I liked first. I liked Sandy and Miller together. I liked their differences and how they complemented each other. While I hated what happened with Geo I loved how Sandy and Miller reacted. I loved seeing all the characters from previous books. Every one of them fit into this book organically and added to the depth of the story. (sidebar – if you haven’t read the other books in this series you might get confused by the characters because there are a few of them and keeping them straight could be a problem) I appreciated that the relationship drama didn’t carry on for more than a day. If it had, I probably would have abandoned the book because it already felt really long. The following sums up why I’m not 100% feeling this book even though I did really like a lot of it. I honestly can’t even imagine watching chair rugby and enjoying it. The plotline with Sandy’s father felt unfinished or abandoned. As stated above, the story just felt too long. I’m not sure where this series goes from here…there are a few things to wrap up I think, but there isn’t much left after that I don’t imagine.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Anna Torres

    I love reading all of Ms. Jay Hogan's books, but especially An Auckland Med. Story series, and this one didn't disappoint! Miller and Sandy have had their fair, sometimes more than, share of heartaches, be it about family, career, disappointments and life-changing situations that they have forged through and still fighting for, in some cases. You cannot really choose who to love, when your heart starts beating for someone, that's it! Falling head over heels for Sandy was something that Miller didn I love reading all of Ms. Jay Hogan's books, but especially An Auckland Med. Story series, and this one didn't disappoint! Miller and Sandy have had their fair, sometimes more than, share of heartaches, be it about family, career, disappointments and life-changing situations that they have forged through and still fighting for, in some cases. You cannot really choose who to love, when your heart starts beating for someone, that's it! Falling head over heels for Sandy was something that Miller didn't see coming. Coming out hasn't really been paramount in his life because let us be honest, Miller didn't have someone important enough for him to do it. His family knows and that was enough for him at the time, but Sandy makes him want to have a freedom to show the world who he loves and cares for. Sandy's coming out resulted to something that required him to avail of psychological attention for a few years. Whenever he meets someone who doesn't know him yet, his defenses are always up. He doesn't allow himself to be judged, he lives how he wants to live, for himself. Maybe it's selfish, but he decided that if he let people's opinions and homophobia affect him, he will live a miserable life. He knows that he is an acquired taste but if someone truly cares about him, they will accept him for who he truly is. I love Miller and Sandy/Dee, they had to go through a lot in order to have their own happiness. And that is why I love Ms. Hogan's books, they are amazingly written, with endearing characters in situations that are true to this day.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    This is the fourth book in the Auckland Med series and I think they just keep getting better! I am glad a re-read Up Close and Personal just before reading this as it had Sandy fresh in my mind. While the story in each book stands alone, the characters appear in subsequent books and there are references to things that happened in prior books so it really helps your enjoyment of this book if you’ve read previous books. The MCs in this book are Sandy, a RN and forensic pathology assistant and Mille This is the fourth book in the Auckland Med series and I think they just keep getting better! I am glad a re-read Up Close and Personal just before reading this as it had Sandy fresh in my mind. While the story in each book stands alone, the characters appear in subsequent books and there are references to things that happened in prior books so it really helps your enjoyment of this book if you’ve read previous books. The MCs in this book are Sandy, a RN and forensic pathology assistant and Miller, a hospital administrator and wheeled rugby player. These two characters grabbed me right from the beginning of their story partly because they are so different from the usual characters we come across and partly because the decidedly DO NOT have a “meet cute” nor do their subsequent meetings go smoothly. I liked the learning curve and forcing each character out of their comfort zones. (We saw some of this in book 3 as well and Hogan does it well.) The story arc moves at a good pace as does the character development. The challenges that the characters are presented are interesting and pull out the range of emotions in the reader. I was at turns amused, annoyed, sad, hurt, in tears and infuriated. I always consider it a win when I want to throat punch someone! Another winner for Hogan. I can’t wait for the next installment in this series. **I voluntarily read an arc and this is my unbiased opinion.**

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