Author: Davidson King
Book: Hug It Out
Series: Haven Hart Universe
Categories: Gay Romance, Contemporary Romance
Release Date: March 29, 2018
Cover Artist: Morningstar Ashley
Riordan Darcy has spent the last fourteen years building a name for himself as a notorious assassin. He travels the world taking the lives of some of the worst humanity has to offer, leaving his signature on every victim.
Riordan becomes unhappy and withdrawn from the world after a job goes horribly wrong and he makes the decision to get out of the life he was forced into, so long ago. When his meddling, older sister gives him a birthday gift that’s impossible to refuse, his plans to leave his life of crime take a backseat when he’s forced to protect the life of a veritable stranger.
When professional hugger and TLC provider, Teddy Harris, is offered a month-long companionship contract, he’s hard pressed to turn it down. Cuddler by day and a video game reviewer by night, Teddy’s need to make people feel loved and cared for is what drives him. When he meets Riordan Darcy, professional challenge and personal temptation collide, making it nearly impossible for him to endure a whole month with the gorgeous, enigmatic man without falling head over heels in love.
When a mole is discovered within Riordan’s organization, relationships are compromised, and people’s lives are in danger. Time isn’t on their side, and they discover answers can’t always be found by hugging it out when someone is hell-bent on eliminating each and every one of them. Can Riordan and Teddy survive long enough to fall in love, or will they die trying?
When I opened my eyes, Riordan was watching me. He looked away quickly, but not fast enough. What did he see when he looked at me? A goofy gamer who loved to hug? Did he see the man behind the bunny suit? Maybe he wished I looked more like my friends and less like a nerd.
Odd that this was bothering me. Normally, I didn’t give a shit what people thought. Riordan was a client and I needed to remember that.
“I didn’t mean to be insulting, Teddy, or accusatory. It’s not every day I find out the man hired to keep me company is friends with Christopher Manos’ husband, a man who happens to be a well-known crime boss.” When he lifted his sunglasses and exposed his eyes, I felt better. The barrier was unnerving and reading people was better this way. “In my line of work, people are judged by those they associate with. Too many times, I’ve been right. Hang out with shit and you start to smell.”
Now it was my turn to react. “Snow is not shit. He’s an amazing guy. He may be married to a crime boss, but he’s not like that. He’s my friend because he treats me with respect. Now, I think I will be ending this lunch. You can put it all away. I’ll call a cab to take me home.”
Riordan jumped up when I did. His hands were inches from my arms, yet I could feel them as if they were on me. “Whoa, calm down. I wasn’t calling him shit. Wow.” He chuckled. “You’re a spitfire, huh?” He rubbed his hand over his buzzed head almost like he was nervous. “Here I thought you were all marshmallows and rainbows. It’s nice to see there’s a fire in your belly.”
“Look,” I said as I began putting the food away since it was obvious Riordan wasn’t going to do it. “I want to help you. Aisling hired me, and I know we said we’d give it a week, but I’m not sure it’s going to work. Perhaps you’d be more comfortable with someone else.”
I’d guessed Riordan was gay and called him paranoid. Both assumptions I would have never made with any other client. I also didn’t fight with clients. I was breaking all my own rules and cutting this short would be wise.
“You want to quit because we had a little spat?”
“It’s not a spat.” I tugged the blanket until he got the hint and moved off it. “I work for people who want me there. You don’t. This isn’t about you being a jerk about my friends or dropping me off to park.” I was mid-fold when I turned to give Riordan a sardonic look. “You do realize you pulled into a spot to let me out to find a spot, right?”
I could practically hear Riordan counting to ten as he closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. “I know. I had to deal with something. I can’t tell you, but…” He inched closer to me, eyes soft and sincere. “I don’t think you’re horrible. Our company is strange, but I like it. Let’s just do the whole month, it’ll be fine, I’m sure. I don’t want to start over with someone else.”
In a gesture almost too sweet, Riordan brushed a curl from my forehead and smiled. “I need you to not ask me about the things I do. I can’t tell you. Ever. But I promise I will relax more and stop being such a jerk.”
I could see the truth in his eyes. I knew calling it quits was probably the right thing to do. We were clashing left and right. He’d try to see things my way, but we’d argue again. But I was a fool sometimes and I really believed I could help him. “Okay. We can stick to the schedule for the month as planned. But if it doesn’t work, if we’re fighting or it’s stressful, we need to break the contract. Agreed?”
3.5✨s – I haven’t yet read Ms. King’s debut novel but I have a Pavlovian response to the word “assassin” in a blurb and had to read this. The idea of a professional hugger as his love interest was intriguing too. I liked the characters quite a bit, even when I wasn’t totally sold on the plot but the author did make disparate choices in characters work well together. Riordan is a killer with a conscience, sort of, and the author did a good job of presenting him that way. Talk of gruesome killing methods was often followed by scenes of fraternal and parental devotion. He’s a hard case for a tender-hearted and clueless Teddy, who tries to resist falling head-over-heels for the sad tough-guy. I have never heard of a job like his although I’m sure it exists and the benefits of touch and companionship were explained well, giving Teddy’s profession validity.
The plot became believable, absurd, silly, thrilling and heartbreaking all at the same time. Teddy’s innocent inclusion of a team of assassins in Riordan’s circle of friends was one humorous plot device, while setting the scene for danger later in the story. The first half did move along too slowly for me. It allowed room to expand on Riordan and Teddy’s building relationship and add detail to the secondary characters but still felt dragged out until the action finally picked up speed. Parts of the plot also seemed to skip over logic, some of the characters motivations not quite hanging together. I took it as a part of literary license, since it was still fun and got quite exciting in parts. It certainly wasn’t the dark, moody sort of book I’m used to reading with assassins as protagonists and I appreciated the lighter touch.
The book worked just fine as a stand-alone, even though Christopher and Snow, from book one, play a large role. I will go back and read their story for sure and I would be interested to see the next couple to be featured. For an original premise in a love story, with a seasoning of hard edged action and a serving of angst, this is a good choice.
About Davidson King:
Davidson King, always had a hope that someday her daydreams would become real-life stories. As a child, you would often find her in her own world, thinking up the most insane situations. It may have taken her awhile, but she made her dream come true with her first published work, Snow Falling.
When she’s not writing you can find her blogging away on Diverse Reader, her review and promotional site. She managed to wrangle herself a husband who matched her crazy and they hatched three wonderful children.
If you were to ask her what gave her the courage to finally publish, she’d tell you it was her amazing family and friends. Support is vital in all things and when you’re afraid of your dreams, it will be your cheering section that will lift you up.
Interview with Davidson King:
- As an author myself, I know inspiration is everywhere and can strike at the most inopportune moments (like in the shower, when you don’t have anything to write with!). So, what was the inspiration behind Hug It Out? A radio broadcast. A man called in during a segment about strange or unique jobs. He spoke about his job as a professional cuddler. From that Teddy was born. I had to find someone who would need someone like him to help and heal and how polar opposite would an assassin be? So, from there my story just sort of built itself.
- What is your writing process? (i.e. plotter or panster, explain) A little of both. I bullet point ideas, main plot points that need addressing and I establish a timeline. But I don’t want to write myself into a corner, so I leave a lot of room for creativity.
- What is the hardest part of that process for you? Rewrites. When I have to go back and change something that I obviously write for a reason. Getting back into that particular headspace isn’t always easy.
- There’s a big leap a writer takes from putting words down on paper for the love of it and actually publishing those words for public scrutiny. What was that journey like for you? Years in the making. It took me YEARS to decide to publish a book. Snow Falling was written over the span of two years but fear held me back. I’d written two other full-length books before that one that never saw the light of day because I had so much more to learn. I used notes from editors and beta’s as a template. When I chose to release a book, it was draining and I second guessed myself constantly. Hug It Out wasn’t easier. Each release feels like your first.
- What one piece of advice would you give an aspiring writing considering that leap for themselves? Have support. Great beta readers, editors, and proofreaders. They will be your saving grace.
5 Fun Quickies
- Least favorite endearment: puddin… I hate when I hear people say things like “I love you, puddin.”
- You’re auditioning for American Idol, what’s your song?: Manic Monday!!!!
- If you were ice cream, what flavor would you be?: Mint Chocolate chip
- Weapon of choice: icicle
- Evil mastermind, easily convinced partner in crime, or innocent bystander: Evil Mastermind of course!
Where to find Davidson King:
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