REVIEW: You Are Cordially Invited – Jay Hogan

You are Cordially Invited - Jay Hogan

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

LGBTQ+ Category: Gay

Reviewer: Ulysses, Paranormal Romance Guild

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About The Book

There’s a wedding in the air at Auckland Med, but Reuben wonders if they’ll survive the stress long enough to say, ‘I do’. Cam is directing the entire operation with his combat eyeliner in place, whilst the wedding party is doing its best to ignore him. The pressure is mounting and the cracks are beginning to show.

There’s a bachelor party to survive.
The paparazzi to outrun.
A wedding outfit to confirm.
A rugby game to win.
A jerk of a father to cope with.
A stunning opportunity to consider.
A relationship to untangle.
And a shocking event that could derail everything.

With the universe conspiring against them, Reuben and Cam will have to summon every scrap of belief they have in each other to make it to their vows.

The Review

It is testimony to a writer’s skill as a storyteller that she can drop you into the middle of a series – almost in the middle of an episode, it seems – and still be able to draw you into her world. This book is overflowing with emotion, which is true of many good romances, and Jay Hogan wasted no time in sucking me into her drama-charged plot, even though I was a newbie to her distinctive New Zealand narrative world. 

It’s an odd thing to be plunged immediately into a frenzied bachelor party, but I quickly got caught up in trying to figure out what the heck was going on. I puzzled over what a “med wedding” could possibly be, wondering if it was some esoteric Kiwi slang; until I realized that Cameron Wano, one of the two principal characters, is a charge nurse at Auckland Medical Center.  His fiancé, I figured out pretty fast, is a star player on a New Zealand rugby team called the All Blacks. Reuben Taylor is also the adoptive father of a special needs boy, named Cory, and has come to this significant point in his relationship with Cam Wano– after something of a struggle. Cam is a piquant counterpoint to Reuben’s classic jock machismo, a fiercely femme guy, prone to eyeliner and strong opinions. Both men are instantly appealing. 

Once I oriented myself, I pretty much let myself go and just had fun. The author provides plenty of information to answer basic questions, but also piques curiosity, thus encouraging newbies like me to acquire her other books. Smart, that. 

The central focus of this narrative is the pending nuptials of what has become a widely known couple in the Auckland sports world. The bumps along the way are rather more critical, and life-changing, than in your usual romantic comedy, and what becomes the sharp point upon which the story teeters is Cam’s deep-rooted desire to control everything. Reuben, for his part, is easy going and admiring of Cam’s strong-willed working style, until the point when he realizes that the man he loves above all else isn’t being square with him. The story becomes an extended conversation about what the supposed partnership in their relationship really means. 

There is not a lot of action in this story – other than a few critical moments. There’s a lot of conversation and soul-searching; a lot of exploration of family dynamics and cultural realities. I happen to love this sort of thing because I like knowing how people’s minds work. Cam and Reuben have to confront some pretty scary stuff, and the author is depending on her readers’ emotional engagement to make it work. I was engaged, and so it worked really well for me. 

The Reviewer

Ulysses Grant Dietz grew up in Syracuse, New York, where his Leave It to Beaver life was enlivened by his fascination with vampires, from Bela Lugosi to Barnabas Collins. He studied French at Yale, and was trained to be a museum curator at the University of Delaware. A curator since 1980, Ulysses has never stopped writing fiction for the sheer pleasure of it. He created the character of Desmond Beckwith in 1988 as his personal response to Anne Rice’s landmark novels. Alyson Books released his first novel, Desmond, in 1998. Vampire in Suburbia, the sequel to Desmond, is his second novel.

Ulysses lives in suburban New Jersey with his husband of over 41 years and their two almost-grown children.

By the way, the name Ulysses was not his parents’ idea of a joke: he is a great-great grandson of Ulysses S. Grant, and his mother was the President’s last living great-grandchild. Every year on April 27 he gives a speech at Grant’s Tomb in New York City. 

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