Another enjoyable, feel-good story by Hank Edwards.
-Review by Kazza K
I love period pieces, so it gets a tick there. I love a big man that is a softy, tick, I love a loyal partner or two, tick, tick, and I like sexy pairings, tick, tick, tick, tick..........
It's 1941. Barry is a waiter at a restaurant in Baltimore, DuMochelle's. Just recently a local mob boss, Giovanni Lombardi, has started frequenting DuMochelle's, and Vinnie, one of Lombardi's bodyguards, is drawn to Barry. They get to know one another as Vinnie is mostly seated in Barry's section of the restaurant.
Barry is a nice guy working for a nice boss, at DuMochelle's, Enrique, who is gay and hires gay men-
Enrique was a kind-hearted professional who looked out for his staff. He called us his girls when no customers could hear him and listened to many broken-hearted sob stories
Barry hasn't had many men as partners and is smitten by the big, strong, intriguing bodyguard -
The direct eye contact with Vinnie had left me a little shaky. I felt drawn to his large body and dangerous good looks like pins to a magnet.
And when Vinnie turned up at the restaurant alone on Valentine's Day Barry wondered -
It was foolish, but I couldn't help thinking he had come to see me. Vinnie was hired muscle. Guys like him didn't go for waiters in dandy restaurants. They went for broads who liked to have a good time and were looking to maybe settle down one day. Guys like Vinnie beat the shit out of guys like me in dark alleys.
However, nothing could be further from the truth. Vinnie may be hired muscle, the biggest of Lombardi's bodyguards, but he is soft hearted and sweet towards Barry. Barry discovers that Vinnie is harbouring thoughts of him too when he goes to have a cigarette -
Dropping his cigarette, Vinnie ground it beneath his big shoe and leaned in close. The smell of him washed over me, a combination of hair oil, soap, sweat, and cigarette smoke that was all his own. His lips very softly brushed mine..... "Happy St. Valentine's Day, Barry." I'll see you again soon." "Yeah," I managed to say and watched him turn and stride out of the alley. I caught my breath and cleared my throat....I whispered to the night, "Happy Valentine's day, Vinnie."
After the intial kiss Vinnie and Barry have some clandestine meetings, it is 1941, and Vinnie is also a mob bodyguard, so it has to be covert. After one of these 'meetings' at a local theatre, Barry decides to follow Vinnie to see for himself just what it is that Vinnie does. He nearly gets caught and things start to hot up from there; both between the men and events occuring between Lombardi and his rival, Don Agostino.
Both of the MC's are lovely. Barry is nice, caring and so brave. Vinnie is so sweet and gentle with Barry, keen to improve his life. There's so many nice, tender, sexy moments as well as some tension and it's a quick read really, 80 pages. I won't say much more, but I must mention that I enjoyed the little touches here that I do notice in books, that make them a better read. I loved the music and other subtle little period references such as -
Glenn Millers, Moonlight Cocktail, Jimmy Dorsey's, Amapola, ...and the mint spun around like Esther Williams caught in a whirlpool.
I probably would have given Hired Muscle 5 stars if it were longer. The characters were so fantastic I wanted more of them. It was such an interestingly drawn plot I wanted more of that as well. I wanted more in general. It would have been great to have some more character development, but it was still good reading. I throughly enjoyed it, but I'm putting it out there that I would love more Barry and Vinnie. I hear Key West is nice too.
Hired Muscle is a feel good book with a main character that is big and not as...sharp as the other main character. While it's not the same, if you enjoyed Muscling Through, for example, I believe Hired Muscle may also appeal to you. Highly recommended reading.
What a perfect cover.