Guest Reviewed by Morgan
Title: Icon Men Box Set (The First Real Thing, Appearing Nightly, A Fool for You)
Author: Cat Grant
Series: Icon Men #1-3
Heroes: Cameron/Trevor, Mike/Ryan, Brian Barclay/Chase Aubrey
Genre: MM Contemporary
Length: 362 Pages
Publisher: Cat Grant Books
Release Date: November 25, 2014
Available at: Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: The First Real Thing
Cameron is the best—and most sought-after—escort in New York. He has only rule: never let anyone in. But when he picks up ad man Trevor Barclay in a hotel bar, Trev’s shy smile and soft green eyes have Cameron forgetting all the rules. Their steamy encounters leave Cameron shaken, breathless – and falling in love for the first time in his life. But how can he tell Trevor the first man he’s been with in sixteen years sells himself for a living?
Diva Michelle is the hottest drag act in the Manhattan bar scene. But behind the diva is Mike, a lonely man nursing a crush on the Icon’s hot new employee. Ryan’s not just another pretty face – the skittish, fearful young man’s holding back secrets. He may find comfort in Mike’s bed, but he’s not sure if he can trust Mike with the pain of his past.
A Fool for You
Brian Barclay is trying to make it in the New York music scene, but he doesn’t count on his boyfriend Kit stealing all the songs they wrote together. Kicked out of his own band, Brian has no choice but to ask his estranged father Trevor and his partner Cameron for help. Brian and Cameron quickly clash, and when tensions at home escalate, Brian finds himself leaning on sexy blues guitarist Chase Aubrey. Chase and Brian make beautiful music onstage and off, but when Chase’s past threatens their newfound happiness, Brian fears he’s about to be played for a fool yet again.
The First Real Thing: Cameron is a rent boy who picks up the wrong guy and falls in love. That’s the basics of this story. But what you get is a whole lot more than this.
The story is told like a first-person diary account, and it feels so authentic and real. I’m sure Cameron’s experiences of being a whore are a little bit watered down, in that by this time in his career, he’s with repeat customers who mostly give him respect rather than a beating. But – the emotional impact he feels about how to tell Trevor and how to get out of the business and why he went into it – all felt very natural to me.
Though there were times I wanted to shake Cameron and tell him he was being ridiculous, he’s a very likable character, and it feels wonderful for him to find someone like Trevor with which to share happiness.
The secondary characters play roles in the later books, so it was nice to see them begin to be developed here.
4.5 stars – I loved this!
Appearing Nightly: We met Mike in the first story. He’s Cameron’s new business partner and local drag queen. We also met Ryan, whom Cameron rescued from the evil clutches of Charles.
Mike is a hard-working, big hearted guy who is pretty lonely. Ryan is a totally messed up, broke, alcoholic, sexually confused, somewhat traumatized guy who just needs to make some money.
Ryan can’t help but be captivated by Mike/Michelle, but he’s not sure what to make of those feelings. Mike wants Ryan but doesn’t want to get burned by someone who is out to use him or who won’t come out of the closet for him.
In the end, both our guys go through a lot of really deep soul searching and some pretty stressful situations and end up with what feels like a tentative but hopeful HFN/HEA.
I’m not sure I love Ryan for Mike. I LOVED Mike. He and Michelle are wonderful. Warm, loving, funny, charismatic, giving… Mike really needs someone worthy of all that amazingness. Ryan is more or less a whiny, insecure, broken creature who never quite redeems himself in my eyes.
Though I rooted for the couple (of course I wanted Ryan for Mike if that’s who Mike wanted!), I really felt that Ryan should have grown more and come around more before the story ended. It felt really tentative, half-hearted and rushed. I can see Ryan on the path, but there were all kinds of commitments being made that felt really dangerous to Mike as Ryan had done very little to earn any amount of trust at that point. (IE moving in together)
So – though I still really liked the story telling (Cat Grant is a great author) and adored Mike’s story – I didn’t love this story because it felt really unbalanced and I didn’t trust the happy ending.
4 stars – I liked this!
A Fool For You: This story happens five years after Cameron and Trevor meet. Trevor’s son, Brian, is a 20 (almost 21) year old musician/student who has a crappy boyfriend and is in a mediocre band. One night, the crappy boyfriend literally steals Brian’s stuff and his songs, leaving Brian alone in NYC. Brian leans on Chase, a fellow musician he meets that night, and the two pretty much instantly hit it off.
From that night on there are several “hurdles” the couple has to overcome. Trevor and Cameron – the “parents”- don’t immediately approve of this rebound relationship with a guy 8 years older than Brian, and Brian is kind of a dick to Cameron so they squabble here and there as well.
Chase has a whole bunch of back-story that trickles in to disrupt the happy couple. Instead of just laying it out there, Chase tries to hide his past and it ends up biting him on the ass.
Brian’s music is a mini-hurdle. First, they have to fight the ex for the rights. Second, Chase wants Brian to write more, but Brian has dyslexia and resists learning to compose.
Ultimately, the romance between these two happens very fast. The rest of the story is them overcoming obstacles to them staying together. In fact, they essentially move in with each other after that first night, and end up there when their HEA comes along.
This was my second favorite story of the group. I liked Chase and Brian as a couple and felt each really helped the other grow. I was a bit dismayed by the amount of stuff they went through after they got together, considering how easy it was for them to get together in the first place.
I think, in terms of a more balanced story, I would have given them more of a build up to a relationship (I think Chase would still be pretty guarded with his past and Brian had only been single for like 22 seconds!) and let some of Chase’s past dribble in through the courting process. It felt a bit sudden that they’d meet at a gig and BAM! start living together.
But… I really felt that as a couple they had a great chance at making it and I liked them together.
4.5 stars – I loved it!
Overall Impression: I loved it!
*I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher in return for a fair and honest review.*