Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a recently published M/M contemporary romance from Viki Lyn. A RUMORED AFFAIR pairs a closeted capitalist with an out activist, and boy do the rumors fly!
About the book:
Vacationing at a gay resort is risky business for Winter Media’s CEO, Graham Winters. In negotiations for the purchase of an anti-LGBTQ publication, if found out he preferred men, the deal would collapse, along with Winter Media’s bottom line. But take a risk, Graham does. He can’t pass up two weeks where he can be himself.
But when Graham arrives at Secretus, there is no record of his reservation. Never one to take no for an answer, he coerces the owner of Secretus, Chris Katsaros, to let him stay in Chris’s home.
Winter Media owns one of the worst gossip rags in the country, so Chris has no choice but to agree to Graham’s terms. Chris keeps a low profile when it comes to Secretus, securing a safe environment where high profile gays can relax without media hounding their every move. An introvert by nature, Chris has a difficult time letting anyone into his life. As a foster kid, he had never experienced love until adopted by Pete and Bob.
Forced to entertain Graham, Chris finds they have more in common than he ever thought. The attraction between them is real, and Chris’s guarded heart begins to thaw.
How about a little taste?
Chris Katsaros set down his cell phone after the call from Josh and quickly did an Internet search on Graham Winter’s name. Holy shit. The guy’s company owned Gossipy!—the worst of the worst rumor-mill rags in the country.
Shit. Shit. Shit.
Maybe he should call Josh to sit in on the meeting. Tact was not one of Chris’s strong points, and he’d need backup in dealing with Winter.
All thirty cabins were rented until five days from now. Thankfully Josh had had the foresight to call the Coastal Pines and reserve a room. In all the years he’d been running Secretus, he’d never had this problem. Now he had to contend with an angry guest who was huffing and puffing toward his office. This major clusterfuck should never have happened. He’d have to call Honda Bergen as soon as he finished with Graham Winter. Good thing Chris’s best friend gave him 24-7 on-call tech service.
Before the bull came storming in, Chris clicked on the images, his brows knitting as pictures of Winter came into view. Good-looking in a GQ sort of way, Graham Winter wore his brown hair slightly longer than the usual short-cropped business style. A few of the photos showed him at society events with his mother?
Other pictures had him coupled with beautiful women. One caption read “America’s most eligible bachelor.” So this eligible bachelor was a closeted fuck?
Chris detested successful gay men who didn’t have the balls to be themselves in public. His dads fought for gay rights and instilled in Chris the need to speak out against injustices. Not hide behind fake girlfriends and one’s mother.
Chris’s head snapped toward the door when Graham Winter strode in, the screen door slamming behind him. Heat spiked in Chris’s chest. Fucking Jesus. Good-looking was not enough of an adjective to describe the man. The chiseled jawline and intense green eyes made Chris’s mouth dry. Not a hair out of place, an expensive-looking watch on his right wrist… The man’s image screamed wealthy, arrogant SOB.
Those shapely lips thinned when he glared at Chris.
Sweet lips. And fuck, stop. This man would eat Chris for breakfast if he weren’t careful.
At least Mr. Winter kept his gaze steady even when he took in Chris’s scarred face down to his scarred hands.
Got to give the guy a gold star for not flinching.
Running his hand along his stubble, Chris felt like one of the homeless who hitched rides along the coast highway. He slipped into his worn sandals. When he brushed back his hair, his fingernail caught in one of his curls, and he winced. Grim amusement glittered in the man’s eyes.
Why did those judgmental eyes have to be such an awesome green?
Chris cleared his throat and motioned toward the only chair in his office not covered by files. “Mr. Winter, please have a seat.”
Mr. Winter took in the room in one glance. When he met Chris’s gaze, his expression soured further. “You’re the owner?”
The disbelief in his grave voice made Chris’s hair rise on his nape. His heartbeat pumped a tad too fast from the anger roiling in his stomach. So what if he dressed in shorts and a T-shirt? His private office was not some corporate boardroom. He forced a smile. Josh had taught him a few tricks in dealing with irritable guests, but Chris never mastered the fake smile.
Mr. Winter sat in a chair, his back mimicking the straight backrest. “Call me Graham. My father was Mr. Winter. Now, do you have room for me or not?”
“Unfortunately our system double booked your cabin. It won’t be available for a few days. My manager called the Coastal Pines, and they can set you up in their penthouse suite. It’s a five-star hotel, and of course, we’ll pay for all the room charges and your meals while you stay there.”
That should satisfy the asshole.
“I’m not going to be shuffled back and forth like a piece of luggage. I like it here. If I wanted to spend time in a pretentious hotel, I’d have stayed in New York.” Graham drummed his fingernails on his thigh. He eyed the doorway leading to the hall. “Do you live here alone?”
Chris’s jaw twitched. “I don’t see how that relates to the situation.”
“This must place must be what, three, four bedrooms?”
“Three, but I—”
“You married? Boyfriend living with you?”
Chris clutched the papers on his desk, crumpling the edges. “That’s none of your business.”
“Just as I thought. You live alone. Then I’ll stay here until a room opens. Perfect solution.”
Chris’s mouth opened, but he was too stunned to speak. Already his head was buzzing. The last thing he wanted was a stranger lodging in his home. Not that he’d ever be interested in this guest. The man had the power of the media to bully people. Most likely Graham abused this kind of power to get what he desired.
Chris cleared his throat. “No resort in Big Sur is stuffy. You’ll be comfortable at Coastal Pines.”
Chris’s ire rose at the shark-like expression. Graham reminded him of the boys who used to bully him in school. Taunts of faggot, pretty boy, echoed in his memories. Buffering against the predator smile, Chris repeated, “As I’ve said, we’ll pick up the tab for your stay. It will only be for a few days. We’ll make sure the transition is seamless. You will not be inconvenienced.”
“I already am.”
“If you don’t like the arrangements I’ve made, then I’m sorry, but this is my home. I don’t open it up to guests. We’ll arrange for your airfare back home or a hotel if you decide to stay in the area. That’s my final offer.”
Graham sat forward, his hands casually in his lap. “I won’t be inconvenienced if you let me stay here until a room opens up. You said it’d only be a few days. Keep in mind that bad press is not always better than no press.”
Shit. Just as he’d thought, the guy used his power of media over him. Chris ran his hand through his hair. He licked his lips, tasting the big NO. If Gossipy! got a hold of this fiasco, they’d have a field day at the expense of Secretus’s reputation, not to mention blowing the anonymity that he coveted. The social-media sharks would pick up the story and twist the facts with fake news.
Better to take it on the chin.
“Well, what’s your decision, Mr. Katsaros? Do I stay or go?”
Chris could hide out in his office. They wouldn’t have to see much of each other. His most experienced concierge could serve as Graham’s private valet. Henri was one of the more mature staff and would be able to handle this asshole. Yeah. It’d be cool. Chris could do this without disturbing his routine.
Counting under this breath to ten, he squashed his pride. “You can stay through the weekend, and then you’ll need to either move to another room or a hotel if a cabin doesn’t become available.”
Graham Winter is a stressed out owner of a media company, who’s toiled hard to return it to solvency after his father’s poor stewardship. He’s also a closeted gay man, and he’s lonely. When his assistant books him into a discreet gay resort in Big Sur he’s not sure if he should thank her, or fire her. And this isn’t decided when he arrives at the resort to find there is no record of his reservation. Put out, yet oddly attracted to the resort’s owner, Chris Katsaros, Graham levees his weight to secure a room. In Chris’ home. Oh, and Graham wants the full experience, including Graham as his valet.
Chris isn’t best pleased that a stranger’s sharing his private domain. And especially not pleased that it’s Graham. Winter Media is on the hit list of one of his gay advocacy groups because they are buying an historically homophobic newspaper line, and already own an on-line gossip site that’s outed a number of prominent people against their will. If Graham thinks his power outside the walls of Secretus are going to give him an advantage wooing Chris, well…he’s somewhat mistaken.
Still, both Graham and Chris are lonely men, and Chris is still grieving the loss of his dads, the previous owners of Secretus. They recognize that their lives took alternate trajectories when dealing with family legacy, and they are otherwise comfortable with each other one-on-one. Graham wants to turn what’s happening between them into something more, but Chris isn’t interested in a long-distance relationship. When a stalker comes to Secretus looking for dirt? Well, it’s going to set all their plans, including Graham’s business acquisitions, on pause.
This was an interesting and well-told love story. The problems they each face are real and pose true obstacles to their budding romance. That said, there were some details I felt were missing in the story–namely what happened with Graham’s reservation? And why didn’t we see his big showdown with his mom? HE seems to agonize over the possibility, and then poof! on to the next scene. For me it was an easy read. I liked it, and it kept me turning pages; it didn’t get too deep, excepting Chris’ strident belief that Graham should do more for the gay community than he does. Otherwise, it was pretty good.
About the Author:
Multi-published and award winner, Viki Lyn is a successful writer of gay paranormal and contemporary romance. After reading and collecting whatever she could get her hands on, she wrote her first male/male romance. And that was ‘it’ for her. She never looked back. Viki travels the world in search of inspiration. She considers herself blessed to have traveled to many of the mystical sites she had dreamed about as a child. Her travel experiences have been influential in creating her paranormal worlds. When she needs to relax, she calls a friend to meet at their favorite coffee house. When the chattering in her head goes off the charts, she plays one of her favorite RPGs on her PS4 and immerses herself in the world of dragons and magic.