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REVIEW: Off Balance, by Jay Hogan

Off Balance - Jay Hogan - Painted Bay

Genre: Contemporary

LGBTQ+ Category: Bi, Gay

Reviewer: Linda, Paranormal Romance Guild

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About The Book

When JUDAH MADDEN flees his tiny suffocating home town in New Zealand for the dream of international ballet stardom, he never intends coming back. Not to Painted Bay. Not to his family’s struggling mussel farm. Not to his jerk of a brother. Not with his entire life plan in shreds. And certainly not into the tempting arms of MORGAN WIPENE, the older, ruggedly handsome fisheries officer who seems determined to screw with Judah’s intention to wallow in peace. 

But dreams are fickle things. Shatter them and it’s hard to pick up the pieces. Hard to believe. Hard to start again. 

And the hardest thing of all? Finding the courage to trust in love and build a new dream where you least expected to find it.

The Review

Judah Madden left his home in Painted Bay, New Zealand to fulfil his dream of being a ballet dancer. Life in Painted bay was not filled with happy memories. As a gay boy who didn’t hide who and what he was, he was subjected to excessive bullying in school, and the town did not welcome him with open arms.  Now in Boston his dream has come true + he is the principle dancer. But then a lift turns his dream into a nightmare.

Falling in the middle of a performance and leaving his partner injured does not bode well for his future. And a diagnosis of Meniere’s Disease, which causes vertigo attacks, is the final nail in the coffin. Unable to drive or do something as simple as swimming leaves him no choice but to return home.

Now he assists his brother Leroy on the family mussel farm. Unfortunately Leroy has no sympathy for his brother, and the years of bitterness between them will not go away. Judah copes by doing everything he shouldn’t, like drinking in excess, being snappy and bitter and attacking those who are trying to help. His behavior does not speak well for a new future.

Morgan Wipene is a fishery officer who sees Judah one night sitting on the dock, unaware of the danger if he should have an attack and fall in. Morgan, like Judah, has faced loss – of his beloved wife Sally five years ago to cancer. And like Judah, he has not been able to move past it. He relocated to Painted Bay and loves the town and his job, but one look at Judah and he’s hooked. Morgan is bi, and although he has been with men in the past, he never envisioned himself being in a relationship with a man until he saw Judah.

Judah does everything he can to push Morgan away, but Morgan isn’t going anywhere. Although the two of them finally realize their true feelings for each other, neither of them is willing to admit to them. Judah knows he has no future in Painted Bay, and Morgan is ten years older than Judah and knows he has a life ahead of him. But losing someone else he loves is unimaginable.

In spite of Judah’s anger, which is very understandable, he has to find a way to bring his love of dance and his love of Morgan together.

This was such a lovely story about a man who had a dream that became a nightmare and who has to find a new normal – not easy when he could have an attack at any time and fall flat on his face. Dancing is Judah’s life, but how will it fit into his new world? A powerful story of overcoming what life throws at you, written so beautifully.

The Reviewer

I am an avid reader the mother of 3 sons and grandmother to seven grandchildren. Since retiring I have been doing more reading while volunteering as a CASA worker. CASA is an organization that works with the family court system to ensure that children are in the best living situation. There are way too many children that get overlooked in the foster care system and I visit homes and make visits to the parents. I was born and raised in New York and my husband of 50 years and I live in Upstate New York. 

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