Overall Grade: 5 ⭐️
I don’t know what it is about the name Emmett, but Jay Hogan’s Unguarded is the second story I’ve read in a month with a main character named Emmett whose characterization steals your heart. I’m not sure what causes that name to come with a character who offers big love to the other main character, but you will find it distinctly in Unguarded, another Vino & Veritas story.
Tai has left his cheating ex-boyfriend, completely devastating his life. Finding escape in Burlington, Vermont, he comes to town with nothing except the ill-prepared clothes on his back and his car, his current lodging. After a night spent sleeping in his car, he happens upon Vino & Veritas, where he meets Briar (his story is told in another V & V book, J.E. Birk’s Booklover. While warming up in Vino & Veritas, a hurried, handsome man carrying a cat carrier enters the store, and Tai is drawn to him. When the man asks Tai to watch the cat so he can use the restroom, Tai finds himself intrigued with the man, who returns, taking the cat and departing the store. Briar notices Tai’s interest in the man and Tai’s need for a job. He recommends Tai for a position at the local vet’s office, where Tai runs into that man, the veterinarian, Emmett.
At first glance, Emmett is also drawn to Tai. Incredibly handsome, Emmett knows that taking Tai on will complicate his life, but he also realizes that Tai needs the position and the money. Even more, he needs the help, so he hires Tai and helps him find start to work on his life. Emmett’s issue in his attraction to Tai is his single fatherhooddom and his closeted bisexuality. As the story progresses and Tai and Emmett fall deeper into each other, these issues become problematic, and you can’t help but wonder if they will find their way together.
What is there to love about Unguarded?
Well as I mentioned above, Emmett is that type of hero who isn’t alpha in nature except in the bedroom. He tells Tai quite bluntly that he loves $ex, but his persona outside of the bedroom is a bit fumbling and a lot compassion. He helps Tai see his strengths and he encourages him in a way that makes for a lovely story between these two.
While Emmett is all sweet and compassionate, Tai has an edge to him and humor that balances Emmett. He also cares for Emmett, ensuring that Emmett takes care of himself. Even more, he falls quickly for Emmett’s son, Leo, oftentimes acting as a conduit between the two.
The story itself is a plodding journey where for half of it these two fight their feelings. However, once they fall, it’s all over for them. Instead, the story moves to more serious issues that surround Tai and Emmett individually. When Tai and Emmett choose each other, the tension of the story shifts keeping the reader in its thrall.
And at its end, Jay Hogan’s Unguarded leaves its readers with a sweet epilogue and bonus epilogue with twines of Tai’s humor and Emmett’s deep abiding love for Tai. This story reminds its readers that love can overcome one’s circumstances if we allow it.
In love and romance,