Title: Behind the Stick (The Speakeasy Book 3)
Author: K. Evan Coles and Brigham Vaughn
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Release Date: August 20th, 2019
Page Count: 283
Reviewed by: Kirstin
Heat Level: 3.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Love, served behind the stick.
Kyle McKee lives a charmed life. He co-owns Under, an uptown speakeasy, where he is chief mixologist. Friends poke fun at Kyle’s tiny one-bed apartment in Chelsea, but they’re the best support system a man could ask for. Unfortunately, Kyle’s lackluster love life has led him to take a break from dating.
Harlem resident Luka Clarke is a lieutenant with Engine 47, the Pride of Morningside, where he carries on his father’s legacy with the FDNY. Luka, who is mixed race and bisexual, has his eye on Kyle, whom he met at a local burger joint and he just needs to make time to visit Kyle’s bar.
Before work one evening, Kyle is trapped inside the luncheonette when a fire breaks out. Luka’s firehouse answers the call and he connects with Kyle again under the most unexpected of circumstances. When Kyle gratefully invites Luka and the firehouse squad to Under, the flirting between the two men leads to a date.
Kyle and Luka quickly grow close, but Luka’s mother and sister distrust Kyle for being both white and gay. Luka believes his family will come around and accept Kyle in the end, but Kyle is not optimistic and hides his disquiet as attraction blossoms into love.
Kyle and Luka’s near-idyllic bubble is shattered one evening after a hate crime leaves them scarred, inside and out. Shaken, they put on a strong front but struggle inwardly against fear and personal demons. As the emotions seething beneath the surface finally come to a head, both men must decide if they have the strength to find love enough to conquer hate.
Honestly, I devoured this story. I have really enjoyed the first two books in this series, but this one had my heart in a vice and didn’t let go until the end.
Kyle McKee is part owner and mixologist of Under, the speakeasy that’s the focal point of the series. He’s sweet and flirty, but he wears his heart on his sleeve. While he’s not opposed to sharing in the bedroom, he’s more of a one man kind of guy.
When he’s caught in a fire and rescued by dashing fireman Luka Clarke, he feels like Luka is just what he needs. But not everyone is supportive of their mixed race relationship and it takes them to some dark places where fear and self loathing come out to play.
This story felt more emotionally charged to me and really resonated in my heart. I felt like I had a bit of an idea who Kyle was from the previous books, but I didn’t realize just how nice he was. And smart. And giving. And caring. And yeah, he’s absolutely my new book boyfriend.
And then there’s Luka, who is Kyle’s equal in every way. If there was ever a perfect pairing, it would be them.
The writing was just lovely. I laughed, I choked up and I wanted to scream many times while reading, but it was all worth it. If you haven’t started this series yet, you should. Right now. Because the next book sounds scorching hot and while they could be read as stand alones, the series is good enough you really need to read it all. Seriously. Right now.