Monday, November 14, 2016

Blank Spaces by Cass Lennox

Absence is as crucial as presence.

The decision to stop dating has made Vaughn Hargrave’s life infinitely simpler: he has friends, an excellent wardrobe, and a job in the industry he loves. That’s all he really needs, especially since sex isn’t his forte anyway and no one else seems interested in a purely romantic connection. But when a piece is stolen from his art gallery and insurance investigator Jonah Sondern shows up, Vaughn finds himself struggling with that decision.

Jonah wants his men like his coffee: hot, intense, and daily. But Vaughn seems to be the one gay guy in Toronto who doesn’t do hookups, which is all Jonah can offer. No way can Jonah give Vaughn what he really wants, not when Jonah barely understands what love is.

When another painting goes missing, tension ramps up both on and off the clock. Vaughn and Jonah find themselves grappling not just with stolen art, but with their own differences. Because a guy who wants nothing but romance and a guy who wants nothing but sex will never work—right? Not unless they find a way to fill in the spaces between them.

The Toronto Connections stories can be enjoyed in any order — jump in wherever you'd like!

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Book 1
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Riptide Publishing

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I absolutely loved this book. I hadn’t actually planned to read Blank Spaces when I initially opened it – I was merely checking it out to make sure it delivered to my Kindle correctly. Yet Lennox captured my attention with the first paragraph because of Vaughn’s confusion and bewilderment over the blank space where a missing piece of artwork should be. Truthfully, I’m not sure why I was so affected by Vaughn’s reaction because much like Jonah, art is not my thing, yet I was, and the more I read, the more I had to keep reading, until I devoured the book in less than eight hours. Because I had to know… Who was stealing the artwork? Who Vaughn was? What made Jonah tick? And most importantly, whether or not there was any chance of a future for an asexual man and an extremely promiscuous man?

Blank Spaces is a study of contrasts, extreme contrasts, when it comes to Vaughn and Jonah. At first, second, and third glance, there is nothing about these two men that would suggest they would work, not even as friends. They do not complement one another with their differences… at least they don’t appear to. The only thing they seem to have in common is that they each find the other attractive and neither is interested in a relationship – but for very different reasons. But as their paths keep crossing and as they spend more and more time together, I couldn’t help but root for them to figure out a way to have a relationship that was more than just friends yet didn’t bring sex into the equation; at least not sex between them because Vaughn’s asexuality was such that he had zero interest in it.

I’m a reader who enjoys character-driven stories and has no problem reading books with little to no sex in them. There seems to be an expectation in m/m romances that sex is a must, but for me, books like Blank Spaces clearly illustrate how unnecessary sex can be to a story, especially as the true moments of intimacy between Vaughn and Jonah often occurred while the men were fully dressed. With that said, the sex scenes that do occur between Jonah and other men are used to show both Jonah’s character and Vaughn’s character, and lay the foundation for the hurdles they must overcome in order to have a future together (and not necessarily as one would expect). I adore both Vaughn and Jonah and love that Lennox was able to pen an ending that felt believable to me, one that eventually revealed the ways in which the two men did complement one another and how their differences that should not work, actually seemed to fill in the blank spaces in one another’s lives. The mystery regarding the art theft was an added bonus and Vaughn and Jonah’s part in discovering the identity of the thief made for an amusing moment. I sincerely hope that Lennox will give readers an update Vaughn and Jonah’s relationship in a future installment in the series because I’d love to see how they’re faring.

First in this series of Toronto Connections, this book is about Vaughn and Jonah. These two are anything but compatible, which gives the story some great angst, but also left me feeling as though this would never really work out in "real life." Vaughn is rich, but it's his family's money and he has no problem working hard, especially at the art gallery because he's an aspiring artist. He's also asexual with little to no desire for any type of relationship beyond light kissing. Jonah is from the poor side of the tracks. An orphan who grew up in foster care, but he's also a self-made man in the finance district as an insurance investigator and, for lack of a better term, a nympho! Hookups and anonymous sex in restrooms are his idea of bliss.

The story starts when Vaughn's art gallery has made two theft claims in as many years and Jonah's insurance company comes out to investigate. The two men are worlds apart but instantly attracted, and after a chance meeting one weekend while at the same club, they find they enjoy each other's company outside of work.

The robbery aspect was interesting, it kept us wondering "who done it" till the ending (although a bit Scooby Doo-ish, revealed with a big confession by the perpetrator). The boys had several stops and starts that kept me reading and hoping that something could come of their relationship and differences. In the end, I just wasn't sure I was able to really believe they could keep a relationship going with one still using hookup apps and the other still not wanting sex... BUT in book life, I was happy they tried and found love.

Cass Lennox is a permanent expat who has lived in more countries than she cares to admit to and suffers from a chronic case of wanderlust as a result. She started writing stories at the tender age of eleven, but would be the first to say that the early years are best left forgotten and unread. A great believer in happy endings, she arrived at queer romance via fantasy, science fiction, literary fiction, and manga, and she can’t believe it took her that long. Her specialties are diverse characters, gooey happy ever afters, and brownies. She’s currently sequestered in a valley in southeast England.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Blank Spaces (Toronto Connections #1) by Cass Lennox to read and review.

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