Author: Cat Grant
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
You can call me Mike—or Diva Michelle on the weekends, when I perform at the Icon, a bar I own with my good friend Cameron. But just because I strut onstage in an evening gown and high heels doesn’t make me a sissy. I’ve still got a man’s body, feelings and desires. I’m also a man who knows what he wants—and that would be Ryan.
One look at our new employee, with his hot physique and boy-next-door face, and I was lost—falling hard and fast. It broke my heart each time he rejected me…until the night he finally fell into my arms, desperate for the comfort only I could provide.
Each night our passion burns up the sheets, but Ryan’s holding something back. He’s been hurt in the past, leaving him scarred both inside and out. He won’t let me reach that secret part of him. I’d be willing to give him anything, but if he can’t trust me with the pain of his past, is there hope for a future?
Sequel to THE FIRST REAL THING
Ryan spent Saturday afternoon dropping off flyers for that night’s show at every shop and restaurant within a five-block radius, then rushed back to help Cameron with final preparations behind the bar. Business started to pick up around seven. By eight thirty, there was a line trailing out the door. He and Cam could barely keep up with all the drink orders.
“What the hell happened?” he wondered aloud, shooting Cam a bewildered glance as he topped off the fifth pitcher of beer he’d sold in as many minutes. “I didn’t think we’d get this kind of a turnout.”
“Word’s probably gotten out about last night’s floor show. I’ll bet they’re hoping for a repeat performance.”
“Something tells me they’re gonna be disappointed.”
Cameron grinned. “Not when they see what Mike’s wearing tonight. It might just cause another riot.”
His curiosity now cranked into overdrive, Ryan slipped away a few minutes before show time and poked his head in the office door. He couldn’t see Mike’s face from this angle, but he caught a glimpse of something white and billowy in the bathroom mirror. Something making a soft, rustling sound.
It was too damn tantalizing. He couldn’t resist. Ducking inside, he tiptoed a few steps closer until the mirror came into view. One peek, then he’d go.
But he hadn’t counted on his breath being stolen away. He had no idea who was standing not five feet away from him, but it wasn’t Mike. It couldn’t be. It was a woman. The most gorgeous woman he’d ever seen.
She wore a white halter dress and strappy white sandals with bright red polish on her toes. Matching lipstick. Platinum blonde wig. The dress ended right below the knee, showing off nice, shapely calves. Really nice. So nice Ryan couldn’t stop staring.
The skirt flared out as she twirled from side to side, inspecting herself. She adjusted a bra strap, smoothed down an imaginary bulge. Then she swung all the way around—and stopped short the moment she saw Ryan, letting out a gasp.
“God, sugar, don’t sneak up on me like that! You just took five years off my life!”
“Sorry, sorry, I didn’t mean to…” Jesus, now he was out of breath—or rather, he was still out of breath. It was starting to make him lightheaded. “I-I just wanted to get a sneak preview of your new outfit.”
Working all hours of the day and night to keep a business going is never easy, but for Cameron and Mike making the Icon theirs was a decision that they made knowingly but unsuspecting if the amount of work and sheer stress that is involved in keeping said business running smoothly and staying fresh recently was anything to go by.
While Cameron did his thing behind the bar, Mike otherwise known as Diva Michelle is the act that gets the weekend going and hopefully also gets the customers so pumped up that they would drain the joint dry before they go home. Things are good on one hand for the guys – the building is standing and the crowd is consistent if nothing else but other things are not so good – more fisticuffs are happening, Diva Michelle is having more ripped dresses rather than rip roaring success on the stage recently and then there is Ryan. He skirts around the edges of the Icon, jumps if Mike looks at him a second too long but despite that he is totally hot - and also off limits as he is an employee.
Things had to come to a head eventually, Ryan is barely making ends meet as he also has his own set of trials and tribulations both physically and mentally that he has to work through. However it’s not Cameron nor Mike that makes Ryan crack a smile but Diva Michelle and before long he is doing up zippers and actually getting along with the flirty personality that seems to take Mike over when he becomes the crooning Diva.
Mike has always been smitten by Ryan and he is only too willing and fantastically pleased when he finds himself in a position to help him and be there for him as much or as little as he needs. Ryan on the the other hand is not as comfortable in his skin as he should be, with alot of uncertainty with his future and too much memories of his past, he doesn’t trust easily and this more than anything else hurts Mike – because if their is one thing Mikes hates, it’s not knowing.
What I liked
Cover – Love it ( I know those models are becoming a bit over-use but which model isn’t). But I like the pose and the backdrop..
The Blurb - I have always been a sucker for pieces that are personalised and this blurb coming after reading THE FIRST REAL THING was nice touch I thought.
The characters – There were more or less three main player in this book,
- A big part of Ryan’s journey really come over from the prequel THE FIRST REAL THING, his character is further improved and given additional depth that I think will have readers either liking him or hating him. His character starts the books off as the one that needed the most work, the one who was just existing. But like a flower opening I watched him straighten his spine, took charge and come to terms with life, It didn't come in five minutes though and the journey there not without it’s pitfalls but it was a treat to watch.
- I really like Mike’s character, I have always had the impression that drag queens were more like split personality – bombastic personality on one hand and that softer tender side on the other hand. Mike was kinda in-between all that and I really liked him. He has a sort of style all his own and he knew how to work a room.
- Cameron who I totally adored in the THE FIRST REAL THING lost some of his gloss with me in this book. Don't get me wrong I still respected him, liked him even but I understood that this is a different life for him now – but “seeing Cameron “ was one of the better storyline of this book I thought.
I liked the pace of this book, it had the making of insta-love production but it wasn’t as I thought there was a pretty decent build up and gaining of confidences before any of the relationship sort of stuff got in the way.
One of the main story line in this book was about trust and confidences. I thought both Cameron’s “do it himself and deal with his own things sort of attitude” as well as Ryan's “bury his head in the sand mindset” lends itself perfectly to this story line. The big misunderstanding of course made an appearance between the main protags but I thought it only aided the characters in finding out more about themselves as well as their working relationship with each other.
I have always liked Ms Grant style of incorporating more of the everyday struggles into her books and it was no different in this one. From Ryan’s fall from grace from his lucrative hotel job to showing his decline into the hell that he now finds himself in – I do know and see how that could easily happen and it was all realistically describe and also showed a whole lot more to Ryan’s character.
While the backdrop to this book is mostly the Icon, the book does move around a bit, from Ryan’s humble hovel to Mike 70’s digs and I even got a chance to revisit Cameron's uber posh flat. I also got a good feel of the surrounding neighbourhood from the goings and the comings of the men as well.
The connection between Mike and Ryan was sweet to watch, I personally was good with the low keys sort of sex that existed in this book, it suited the place were Ryan was at in his life and it also showed up Mikes more than generous side.
Most of the niggles for me with this book lies in more admin areas, predictables and my own bloodthirsty need for a good feud to be just that good and lengthy.
APPEARING NIGHTLY is the follow up book to THE FIRST REAL THING and I am a little put out that this is not promoted as such on the publishers site. Reading the first book is really essential to understanding at least one of the main protags in this book.
Despite the cover of this book, it is not erotica. The scenes while descriptive and sweet are no where in the ball park of erotica. This was a really sweet romance and I enjoyed it as such.
I love a good huff, cold shoulder, fuss , feud – whatever the hell you want to call it between lovers. I am all for the make up sex, so I wanted something suitably bloodthirsty or at the least totally embarrassing to make up for hurt and heartache. I thought the make up between Mike and Ryan was too predictable, I knew they would get back together but me being me wanted a little begging and all that…
APPEARING NIGHTLY was a book I was not expecting to be written as the prequel was wonderful on it’s own and I liked where I had left everyone, however after reading APPEARING NIGHTLY it now feels like I got the all round package.
While I had a few niggles here and there with this book overall, I must admit they were not enough to put on a damper on how much I really enjoyed this offering.
Ms Grant voice is one I love,there are some author that just click with me and this is one. I liked that she explored so many sides to all the characters, the fact that this was also a drag queen book where the alter ego also had a “voice” of her own was a really nice touch as well I thought.
Fans of Ms Grants work, this is a great book to end the year with and you should have on excuse for not having it yet. New readers, if you are looking for a set of book that is different, something that makes you think and ultimately enjoy go ahead and pick up APPEARING NIGHTLY and it’s prequel THE FIRST REAL THING .