The Bottled Up series by Andrew Grey consists of 8 books which are centred around a group of friends who live in the same town.
- The Best Revenge (book #1)
- Bottled Up (book #2)
- Uncorked (book #3)
- An Unexpected Vintage (book #4)
- Legal Artistry (book #5)
- Artistic Appeal (book #6)
- Artistic Pursuits (book #7)
- Legal Tender (book #8)
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Bobby Bielecki is heading home from art school to help run the family wine store so his adopted father and partner can take a vacation. While filling in, Bobby will have to deal with his once-best friend and lost love, Kenny, who pushed him away from their burgeoning relationship, encouraging him follow his dreams and realize his artistic talents. Despite the tension between them, Bobby and Kenny decide to put their differences aside and work together to figure out what happened to a case of expensive wine. Their investigation leads them to a young runaway and people from Bobby’s past, and dealing with them reminds Bobby and Kenny of how close they once were. But despite their growing feelings, Bobby is afraid Kenny will do what he’s done before and push Bobby away for his own good.
So what did I think?
This is the story of Bobby and Kenny, two young college men who have always been best friends.
Bobby is the adopted son of Sean and Sam, having been rescued from the streets when he was fifteen. Book #2 Bottled Up tells this story. Kenny was also taken in by Sean and Sam after his father is killed.
The boys have been best friends and are almost seen as brothers but the way they truly feel about each other is not brotherly and is certainly more than friends! Bobby is studying art at college and Kenny attends school elsewhere, planning to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a cop. The boys have not been close for a couple of years since Bobby tried to tell Kenny how he felt. When Sean and Sam ask the boys to spend a week looking after Sean’s business, Sommelier Wines they are forced to confront their situation.
This story is told in typical Andrew Grey style and slots nicely into the series. The conflicting emotions of the young men are handled well as they face the feelings they have for each other but also the larger decisions that go along with their stage in life. Bobby is looking for inspiration for his final college project and Kenny is doubting his original career choice.
Like all the main characters in this series, the men are kind and caring and there is a ‘rescue’ where they help a young boy who runs away due to his parents arguing. There is also a small drama caused by the return of Bobby’s father which leads to Bobby being able to have some closure.
The boys are running away from their feelings for each other, at times afraid to say what they really want. Kenny is worried because he loses everyone he loves and doesn’t think he is good enough for Bobby. Luckily Bobby makes him see sense as they reconcile after yet another separation caused by running away. “You say I have a great gift, and maybe I do, but Kenny, you have the key to that gift, because you have the key to my heart.”
I was expecting a sweet story with a happy ending and that is what I got. I only have two small issues with this one. Firstly, the plan set up by Sean to get the boys together just seemed ridiculous and unnecessary – they were working together in the shop anyway. Secondly, Kenny magically finding mink gloves under the bed seemed unlikely but also didn’t fit the character in my mind and once again seemed unnecessary.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Gary Keller is enjoying a cruise with new friends when he meets Scott Haworth, and unexpected attraction flares between them. But Scott has a past he’s trying to leave behind; nine months earlier he was released from prison after almost a decade. The Innocence Project and DNA evidence exonerated of the crime, but the victim’s brother still holds him responsible.
Gary finds himself drawn to Scott for many reasons, not least of which is that the big, physically strong exterior hides a vulnerable, unsure man trying to restart his life. But it’s only a seven-day cruise, and when it ends, they both have to go back to their lives in different parts of the country. Is a week long enough to build a relationship that will stand the strain of separation? Or will the cruise just fade to a happy vacation memory?
So what did I think?
Gary “Unlucky and unremarkable, that was him.” meets Tyler (his story is in book 1 The Best Revenge of the series) as part of his new job in town. He is a sales rep for a fabric company that supplies the fabric Tyler uses in his antique shop for reupholstering his furniture. Gary has had it tough, going through a number of jobs and has a fairly low self esteem.
Tyler befriends him and introduces Gary to the other friends in his group. While attending a party at Tyler and Mark’s home, he learns of a cruise where someone has backed out and is offered the chance of a lifetime – to join the group on a cruise, which is just the thing he needs after a hard couple of years.
This story was a little different to others in the series, taking a place primarily on the cruise ship. The setting was interesting, even if some of the descriptions of places and activities seemed a little bit like a travel brochure.
The other difference for me was that Gary actually had a brief sexual relationship with someone else before meeting Scott on the cruise boat, rather than the story just being focused on the one relationship.
The style of this series is interesting for me, in that people have traumatic pasts or dramatic events occur, but I don’t get a real sense of angst. I feel a little like a story is being told to me but I am not getting pulled into it emotionally. In this case, Scott is the one with the traumatic past and things come back to haunt him on the boat.
The plot has all the guys together (apart from Bobby and Kenny) and they all rally around to help Gary and Scott. Gary has only known the group of friends for a month so is amazed at the strength of support. Time is of little consequence to Gary when it comes to his relationship with Scott – in one week he knows he is in love.
Sweet story, interesting setting, lots of good people doing nice things for each other, some sex and a happy ending.
For more information on Andrew Grey and his books, check out his website.