About the Book:
Can He Paint His Muse into 36 Views of Seattle?
Artist Ryan Ikeda’s domestic bliss shatters after an invitation to join a career-launching gallery show in 1990s Seattle. His artistic uncertainty and secret desires, dangerous as turpentine and flame, threaten to torch his bond with Ben, his handsome boyfriend and muse.
Suddenly, instability rocks every aspect of Ryan’s life: his grandmother’s sinking health, his friends moving on to new jobs, even his apartment is endangered. Worst of all, Ben’s work demands more time away from home, the overload of changes jeopardizing the stability of their open relationship.
Ryan’s long-time friends advise him to jump headlong in to the colorful Seattle art scene. However, Ryan’s deep examination of his creative needs outline new demands for his life with Ben. Striving for both balance and success, Ryan faces the greatest risks of his personal and professional life.
Just Like Honey peeks inside working artists’ studios, cruises the 1990s Seattle bar scene, and eavesdrops on artists gossiping about their competitors at hot gallery shows, while Ryan and Ben explore the communication and tenderness required for a deep, open relationship.
The Finer Details
Narrative Arc: Series
Series Detail: Queen City Boys, book 3
Series Arc: new relationship
Publication Date: December 15, 2017
Publisher: Jugum Press
Length: Novel, 367 e-book pages
POV: 3rd person
Identities: Gay, Polyamorous
Age Range(s): 30 to 34
Historical Era: Recent History (1980s – 1990s)
Tropes and Tags: established relationship, artist, open relationship
Settings & Locales: Seattle, WA (1997)
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Advance Review Copy generously provided by the author via IndiGo Marketing and Design.
Back Porch Thoughts
The books in this series, The Queen City Boys, are bittersweet and authentic glimpses into the days of a semi-recent yesteryear. A time, for me, that feels not so long ago. They span the 80s, into the 90s and the era of power ballads. And…that’s kind of what they are, grunge-streaked love songs and heart-rending odes to a place and time when the last strands of innocence were being stripped away as we counted down to the dawning of a new century we couldn’t yet envision.
I fell in absolute love with the first two books and have not-so-patiently but very, very quietly bounced in my seat in anticipation of this newest book. Because I don’t want to be that person, pestering an author, with when, when, whens and GIMME IT NOWs. They take as long as they take, and it’s always worth the wait.
Just Like Honey was everything I hoped, nothing I expected, but an achingly sweet treat.
It dives headlong into the cut-throat Art Scene of Seattle and is utterly fascinating due to the who-knows-who gossipy business that has the power to make or break a career. Drama y’all, painted up all pretty on the surface but has some twisted hues underneath.
And it brushes up beautifully with a cultural exploration into Ryan’s heritage, one he’s trying to grasp and honor in his art without a whole lot of help from his family. He has pieces he tries to fit together into a tableau he can mold and shape into his art to share with the world, only it might be too late.
We dive right into a relationship that’s in a precarious place, somewhat on the rocks, and could honestly go either way. In fact, I kept waiting for everything to fall apart irreparably and I expected to bite my nails to the quick while Ryan got down to the business of picking up the pieces. But that’s not quite what this is. And it’s sort of rare, I think, for romance to introduce us to and explore the ups and downs of a relationship in progress. I appreciated that immensely as a bit of a twist to what I’ve become used to.
Ryan is caught in that in-between place where everything is fine, but not exactly what he needs. The boyfriend situation…fine. His art…fine. His friendships…fine. It’s okay. It’s treading water. It’s safe, mostly. But it’s not everything it could be or should be for complete happiness. And he knows this and becomes restless as what ifs start bubbling to the surface.
Ryan’s world gets turned on its ear and those little whispers of is this okay, is this my life, and what if I… start getting louder and can no longer be ignored and the people who love him and know him best prod him to clear away the fog.
The open relationship he shares with Ben that has always worked in the way they needed is now, well, not as fulfilling as it once was. Can he talk to Ben about what he needs and be heard? And just how open is Ben to reshaping their dynamic?
Ryan’s art is glorious, but doesn’t feel like his authentic voice…but what is that voice? Is it the one that he keeps hidden in the back of the closet because someone once said a thing that’s made him doubt himself? Should he press on and embrace what truly inspires him, or throw in his brushes for good?
Ryan faces problems and challenges, that alone feel insurmountable, but are still daunting when you have a partner who doesn’t always feel entirely present. He struggles, and angsts, and pushes at his boundaries and…(not spoiling!)
This is about deeper levels of trust and communication with those you love, taking chances, getting out of your own way and following dreams — reshaping those dreams and figuring out what to sacrifice to make them come true. And do we really need to sacrifice anything at all?
The writing is gorgeous. I can swear I feel Ajax’s soul on these digital pages. Every word and action cuts to the bone with raw sensuality and so much depth I didn’t want it to end.
About the AuthorA SEATTLE NATIVE, AJAX BELL thinks the best things in life are loud music and bourbon. No matter the task, Ajax always has the right pair of shoes for it. Never a sea captain, but a background in library sciences and a lifetime of pencil pushing together left Ajax with a rich fantasy life and a compulsive need to write it down. One day Ajax hopes to own a genetically altered hippopotamus the size of a small dog.