Hard Pressed

Sharon Maria Bidwell
Hard Pressed
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Musa Publishing
Release Date
February 2014
Book 2 of Calm and Chaos
Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ

Can absolution arrive in three little words?
When one man has the worst of reputations and believes any misfortune befalling him is deserved, it's hard to feel worthy of love. Can absolution arrive in three little words? Journalist, Phillip Drake, is beginning to doubt the career he's chosen, his motivation, his whole existence. Despite attempting a change of direction, his paper has informed him that's not the sort of reporting they want. When an assignment arises -- to trail up and coming, and coming out, actor, Gary Caldwell, he's well aware it's his duty to dig for dirt… and when Caldwell seems less than co-operative, Phillip half-convinces himself he'll be happy to do so. For Gary, the interaction is surprising -- Drake is not all that he seems. Despite trying to be cautious, Gary has always been attracted to the reporter and finds it difficult to maintain a distance. Something is going on with Drake -- not least of all the surprising revelation when Gary realises Drake is gay, and the attraction is mutual. After an intimate encounter, Drake disappears and Gary sets out to unravel a mystery that not only involves tracking down the reporter's whereabouts, but may also explain why Drake has done the things he has, why Drake harbours more than a little self-hate and more than emotional scars, and why the one thing Drake doesn't believe he deserves -- love -- is the one thing he's worthy of.

Book Review by Susan Mac Nicol (author,reviewer)
Apr 24, 2014   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
162 people found the following review helpful
I read the other book in the Calm and Chaos series and loved it. That was Nick and Alex's story and they feature in this second one, too, with their very own cameo appearances. I loved Nick's little bit of advice to Philip towards the end; it was just so fitting. But you'll have to read it to see what he said.

This story is all about Philip and Gary. Philip Drake is an ambitious journalist who has the job of digging for dirt on celebrities and is rather good at it. Until he meets Gary Caldwell, up and coming actor and a man who really doesn't give a damn about his public image. In fact, he goes all out to give Philip a very tough time and shrugs off any warnings he gets about being unflatteringly represented in the tabloids. Gary is also coming out to his public himself and he's not one to be ashamed of that fact. Unlike Philip, who has tried to hide the truth about himself to himself for a long time.

And when, after a night's dancing together, Gary realises exactly what it is that Philip is running from, the attraction the couple has for each other gets even more intense.

Philip has a lot of demons in his past and they can be difficult to deal with. He is not someone who shares easily and his insecurities about himself and just how much he can or can't be loved are something Gary has to break through, to make him believe in himself once again.

This is a beautifully written tale of two men from opposite sides of the emotional spectrum trying to make it work together against adversity. It's a human journey into someone's past and future and in trying to come with terms with each other against the odds. Drake is insecure and frightened despite his sometimes blustery demeanour, and he's damaged. Emotionally and physically from a childhood that was less than ideal. While Gary is loving, patient, witty with a soft warmth to him and a view of the world that says "it's okay to be scared, but I've got you now." He's the light in Philip's darkness, even if he doesn't know it himself yet.

Sharon Maria Bidwell brings her scenes to life with humor, angst, emotion and more than a little lust. Her love stories are hot and sexy, her characters deep and detailed, and you really find yourself cheering them on and just hoping they are going to be all right. The ending is just wonderful, although it takes awhile getting there, and Gary has to be oh so patient and give Philip the space he needs to heal and be a whole man before they can take the next part of their journey together.

This is a definite recommended read and I'd suggest you start with the first one so you get to know Nick and Alex as well.
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