Review: Hot New Boss by Cheryl Dragon

Hot New Boss (All Male Nudes Series, Book Two) by Cheryl Dragon
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Hot New Boss
All Male Nudes, Book Two
Cheryl Dragon
Resplendence Publishing
Male/Male

More please? HOT NEW BOSS is the second of what I hope is a very long series. Carl wants to open his own business but after being around a bunch of naysayers he decides to take his Aunt Bev’s offer to keep an eye on her strip club while she is looking for a new location in Vegas. Carl figures he will take the opportunity to look for a location to open up the piano bar he is hoping to open. But there is one thing he never mixes business with pleasure but there is one guy who works for his aunt that it would be his business to pleasure Hunter.
Hunter makes a silly bet with the guys to prove  that Carl is gay.  Not one to believe in relationships he soon cannot keep his hands off his sexy temporary boss.

It is no secret that I love male/male romances and Cheryl Dragon is one of my favorites who write that genre.  The love scenes between Carl and Hunter makes readers reach for their favorite battery operated device but the scenes not involving them getting hot and sweaty makes readers want to just hug them. I love the guys in the All Male Nudes series. I for one am anxious to see what happened between Avery and Ken.

                                                              EXCERPT:

Some believed doing business with family was a mistake, but Carl D’Agostino needed someone he could trust. He stood alone on the still dark side of Big D’s Strip Club in Las Vegas, Nevada. Both sides were fairly identical and kept insanely clean due to his Aunt Bev’s high standards.

Aunt Bev was the most successful member of Carl’s family, at least in his opinion. She’d made her club a destination in a city that had plenty of sex and shows for sale. He’d asked her for the start up loan because he admired her. If she approved of the business plan, he’d feel even more confident about it.

But instead of interest on the loan or part ownership in his business, she’d asked for him to prove himself. At thirty, he’d managed plenty of small night clubs around Vegas. Wanting to start his own club wasn’t so crazy. Unfortunately, his investments had gone bust back when everyone else’s had. He’d been in for high returns, which had meant high risks. He’d pulled out of the stocks before he’d lost it all at only thirty-one-years-old. His investment hadn’t been long-term dollars for retirement. It had been his startup capital.

He’d gambled and lost. Now, he’d manage the strip club for Bev while she was up in Reno working on her deal for a second location with a couple of her best dancers. That meant the club was minus the two top draws, but not the guy Carl had always stared at whenever he’d stopped in to see Bev.

Hunter Campbell stood out because he had real muscle, but it wasn’t grossly overdone. Still, he always drew the caveman routine and bodybuilder acts because of his form. His dark brown hair and piercing green eyes made Carl stare every time he saw Hunter. He had to ignore the part of him that saw something deeper in Hunter’s eyes. Now, he might have to talk to the tanned hunk. Carl wanted to focus on his career, not flings.

The lights snapped on, and Carl turned. Avery, the older African American bartender, waved. Carl knew Avery used to dance, but according to Bev, he’d keep an excellent eye on the men’s side. The bartender on the women’s side was equally good so Carl could float and supervise.

“You can relax. The guys know what they’re doing,” Avery said.

Carl nodded. “I know, but I want to show my aunt I can handle it. Maybe have an idea or two.”

“Ideas are good. The schedule is pretty much set though. It’s only for a couple weeks.” Avery shrugged.

“I know. I won’t get in the way of the normal stuff. Still, a fresh set of eyes never hurt.” Carl knew they didn’t need him. Avery had been here for years, and so had another dancer named Ken, who strutted around as if he were now in charge. The day-to-day stuff would be fine in their hands, and Carl didn’t want to step on any toes. They didn’t understand why Bev had bothered to bring in Carl, but Carl did. It was a test.

“No, nothing wrong with a new perspective, but Bev knows what she’s doing. Rehearsal starts in half an hour. New act ideas are always welcome. She likes to keep the routines fresh. Not sure what you know about dancing or performing, but if you’re trying to impress Bev, start there.” Avery nodded.

Carl smiled. “Thanks.” He was used to people underestimating him. No one would put him on stage. A regular guy who was too tall and on the skinny side, Carl wasn’t turning down tons of dates. He was smart, but unlike his parents, a routine corporate job couldn’t satisfy him. His mom and dad talked about Aunt Bev as if she were the black sheep and crazy. While Carl wouldn’t dance on stage naked, he admired her for wanting more than working for others.

She owned this place and was expanding to a second location. It was a huge responsibility and risk…and that was something his parents hated. Since business school, Carl had been learning about the real world and had been burned. Part of him wondered how bad it would be to get a middle management job in some casino or other business. He could take up rock climbing for an adrenaline rush.

In the end, he’d never last. He wanted to be the boss, the owner who’d profit from the risk and hard work. Aunt Bev was giving him a shot, and he couldn’t screw it up. He’d manage the club and keep things steady, but if he wanted that money, he knew he’d have to show her something worth investing in.

* * * *

Hunter spotted their temporary boss exiting Bev’s office and went back around the women’s side, so Carl didn’t see him. The cash bag and receipts were dropped off, and it was rehearsal time. Carl had been the subject of a ton of talk by the dancers.

In the rehearsal studio, Hunter changed into comfortable shorts and a T-Shirt. Stretching, he blended in with the other men. Ken led a familiar routine and put the newer dancers into a loop until they were flawless.

Ken walked over to Hunter and smiled. “Seems the new boss will let us do our jobs in peace.”

“We don’t need a babysitter,” Peter piped up from Hunter’s other side.

Hunter kept quiet as they finished the stretches. Peter was a ballet veteran who could out bend and dance anyone. Peter was hard to impress and not a big fan of new blood.

“Bev wants family in charge. We won’t let her down,” Ken said.

“The guy is in the club. I don’t think he’s a total slacker.” Hunter kept the books, so he found himself alone with Bev at various times. He’d heard a lot about Carl from Bev. She loved her nephew and believed in him. Too bad, his family had doubts that they’d infused in the man. Hunter had never admitted an attraction to Carl, but then again, he and Carl had never even spoken. After all Bev’s chatter, Hunter felt as if he knew the new boss.

“He better not try to change everything.” Peter sighed.

Ken nodded. “We’re a well-oiled machine. Hunter, you’ll be on every night since we’re short two dancers.”

“Fine.” Hunter normally was a part-time dancer. He did the books here, as well as for a few other small local businesses. Dancing fulltime would mess up his schedule a bit, but more cash tips weren’t bad since tax season hadn’t ramped up yet. The guys he did taxes for were the last minute types, but he’d earn a lot of cash from those late nights as well.

He’d been laid off in the downturn. Vegas had taken a serious beating all around, and the recovery had been slow. Small gay owned businesses and stripping had saved him. The rush he felt on stage beat any boring day job. Now, going back to the grind of a day job seemed foolish. All your eggs in one company’s basket meant at any time they could toss you out…splat!

Now, he had multiple bookkeeping clients and the stripping thing. It wasn’t perfect, but if one business closed, another opened. He had more connections and options now.

Ken called for the dancers to work on their own acts. The guys broke up into groups and rehearsal went on as normal. After Ken gave some of the newer guys a few pointers, he walked back over to Hunter.

“I wonder why Carl isn’t in here,” Ken said.

“Maybe he’s not gay?” Peter shrugged.

“Why does that matter?” Ken replied.

Hunter chuckled at how Ken pinched his lips together and studied all the performers. Ken was a great dancer and a perfectionist. He seemed content to dance forever. Hunter respected his dedication since Ken was no young hot stud. The guys called him the Silver Fox behind his back because his blond hair was slowly silvering. There was no debate that Ken’s body was still good.

“Not every dancer is gay. We give the customers what they want to look at. If Carl can’t handle naked men, he’s not doing his aunt any favors.” Ken tapped his toe to the music.

“That’s true. Think he’s gay?” Peter asked.

Ken inhaled and pouted. “No. If he liked it, he’d come around and help his aunt all the time. She’s not a prude. He’d get comped at the bar and the door. Why wouldn’t he bring friends in and stir up business for his aunt? She’d be flaunting her gay nephew all over the men’s side, especially for pride events.”

Peter nodded. “Probably.”

Hunter understood Ken’s assessment, but part of him hoped for better things. Just as Carl stepped into the room, the attraction hit Hunter hard, and he blurted out, “No, he’s gay. I’d bet on it.”

The look in Carl’s brown eyes made Hunter sure of it. The guy was cute and sexy. Tall and lean, he had curly black hair and a shy smile. His clothes didn’t show off his body, and his shoulders slumped as if he didn’t want to be noticed for being so tall. Not a huge flirt and not movie star handsome, Carl could be overlooked by plenty of men. Hunter liked diamonds in the rough.

“Bet? How do we prove that?” Ken asked.

“I think Hunter wants to find out for himself,” Peter said.

Ken folded his arms. “Well, he’ll have to prove it if he wants to collect on an actual wager.”

“Terms?” Hunter knew Ken loved a good wager to keep things entertaining around the strip club.

“Five hundred cash. You have two weeks while Bev is out of town to find out if he’s gay,” Ken said.

“How can you prove that without getting graphic?” Peter smirked.

Hunter cleared his throat as Carl wandered closer. “I’m not taking any bedroom pics. A kiss should do it. A long, serious kiss here, witnessed by Ken.”

Ken nodded. “Fine, we’re just after sexuality confirmation. I don’t care if you score. But you can’t pin him down and force the make out session.”

“Please, Carl and Bev would fire him for that. She’s tough on sexual harassment,” Peter said.

“I’m not going to push myself on a straight guy anyway. Peter, you’re the witness?” Hunter held out a hand.

“Sure,” Peter replied.

“It’s a bet.” Ken shook Hunter’s hand. “Two weeks.”

“It probably won’t even take one.” Hunter smiled at Carl. One week for a kiss, no problem. If Hunter had his way, he’d soon have a lot more. The bet was just the cover he needed so the other dancers didn’t freak out when he made a play for the new boss. Peter had moved on already and was no doubt talking about the latest bet. Gay or straight, men loved to one-up each other. Winning was always good.

Ken shook his head. “You can do better, Hunter.”

“You’re shallow, Ken,” Hunter replied.

“We’re selling sex. It’s the business.” Ken shrugged. “Sexy people sell the fantasy. Whatever you’re up to, I hope you know what you’re doing. Bev loves her family, and if you screw him over in a bad way…job over.”

Carl came over as Ken went back to running the men through the acts they knew so well they needed no coaching. Hunter knew Ken was absolutely right. If he hurt Carl, Bev would be royally pissed. That wasn’t pretty, but deep down, Hunter couldn’t resist the chance.

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