New York City, 1927.
Eddie Cotton is a talented song-and-dance man with a sassy sidekick, a crowd-pleasing act, and a promising future on Broadway. What he doesn’t have is someone to love. Being gay in an era of prohibition and police raids, Eddie doesn’t have many opportunities to meet men like himself—until he discovers a hot new jazz club for gentlemen of a certain bent…and sets eyes on the most seductive, and dangerous, man he’s ever seen.
Lane Carillo is a handsome young Sicilian who looks like Valentino—and works for the Mob. He’s never hidden his sexuality from his boss, which is why he was chosen to run a private night club for men. When Lane spots Eddie at the bar, it’s lust at first sight. Soon, the unlikely pair are falling hard and fast—in love. But when their whirlwind romance starts raising eyebrows all across town, Lane and Eddie have to decide if their relationship is doomed…or something special worth fighting for.
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“Smart. Sexy. Dangerous.” — Alissa, Reviews by Jessewave
Eddie took a cautious step forward and was immediately pulled into a room full of hot air and cool tempers. Everything was draped in red velvet and blue fabric. Men around him danced and sang and cavorted. It was everything he expected and nothing like he could have anticipated.
He pulled down the brim of his fedora, took a look around, and tried to get a handle on the situation. Did anyone recognize him? It didn’t seem so; his arrival was unheralded and no one so much as spared him a glance. Was there anyone he recognized? Not for certain. A few faces seemed vaguely familiar, like they might have been stagehands or people he worked with at the theater. No one whose name he could recall. Did anyone there catch his eye? Wasn’t that the bigger question?
There was one man, sitting by himself at a table in the corner, smoking a cigarette. He seemed to be surveying the room as well. He occasionally put the cigarette in an ashtray and picked up a highball glass full of God knew what and took a slow sip. He was remarkably handsome, that was what Eddie noticed, with a shock of black hair on top of his head, dark eyes, and a shadow of stubble along his chin. He was athletic-looking, too; thin, but with broad shoulders. He had olive skin, like maybe he was Italian or Greek. He was a sheik, Eddie thought, like Valentino.
Eddie found himself drawn to this stranger for reasons he couldn’t articulate beyond that he liked the man’s face, liked his masculine carriage, liked the way everything around him seemed to spell man—and he wanted to keep looking at that face for a while, wanted to see what the man’s hair would feel like under his fingers, wanted to know what it would be like to kiss and taste this man.
Which of course was impossible. Or was it? There was not a single woman in this club. Eddie suspected that if he hadn’t known the password, he never would have been admitted. But this man was seated alone at a table. Maybe his date had gone to the men’s room. Maybe he was only there to look.
The man looked up and made eye contact with Eddie. He crooked his finger. Come here, he beckoned.
So Eddie went.
The man kicked out the other chair at his table. “Have a seat,” he said.
“Hello,” said Eddie as he slowly sat.
The man took a drag on his cigarette and squinted at Eddie. “Do I know you from somewhere?”
Eddie considered asking if the man had ever been to the Doozies, but then the man would know for sure who he was. And Eddie was certain he had not met this man face-to-face before. This was someone he would have remembered. “I don’t think so.”
The man put his cigarette on the ashtray and took a sip of his drink. “You look a little lost.”
“You were looking at me.” The man picked the cigarette back up and took a long drag. The action drew a lot of attention to the man’s mouth, his thin but soft-looking lips, and Eddie couldn’t stop himself from continuing to look.
He blinked. He couldn’t figure this man out. Was he dressing down Eddie? Did he really recognize him? Was he a mobster who would take offense at Eddie looking? “You’re nice to look at,” he said with no small measure of defiance in his voice.
He braced himself for the impact of the man’s retaliation—for Eddie then recognized the small circular pin on the man’s lapel as marking him as a member of some kind of Mob organization—but the man laughed. “Well, thank you,” he said, still chuckling. “Are you sure we’ve never met? You look terribly familiar.”
The man smothered the stub of his cigarette in the ashtray. He extracted a slim silver case from his pocket, opened it, and displayed a neat row of cigarettes. “You want?”
Eddie shook his head.
The man shrugged and selected one. He slid the case back into his pocket and picked up a matchbook from the table. He looked right at Eddie as he lit the cigarette. Then, as casually as Eddie had seen anyone do anything, he shook the flame off the match and said, “We don’t get many celebrities in here, Mr. Cotton.”