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Summary

I don’t like labels and I’m happy that way, but it’s taken a long time to get here. A jerk of a father, too many bullies to name, and a string of dipshit boyfriends whose interest in me rarely made it past the skirts I sometimes wear. Suffice to say, my faith in men runs a little thin.

The last thing I need is a gruff, opinionated, fiery, closeted, Paralympian jock messing with my hard-won peace. Miller Harrison is a wrinkle in my life I could definitely do without. I have a job that I love at Auckland Med, a boss who understands me, and a group of friends who accept me as I am.

I should walk away.

But Miller knows a thing or two about living life against the grain, and that hope I thought I’d buried a long time ago is threatening to surface.

©2020 Jay Hogan (P)2021 Jay Hogan

What listeners say about Against the Grain

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Interesting story of a cross dresser

The whole story is around a cross dresser and a wheelchair sportsman and covers all the problems that gay people have to suffer. Interesting and well written and narrated I recommend it.

1 person found this helpful

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Roling into love

This is the fourth book in this series. It is great to see Sandy get his story. He is feisty and capable pathology nurse who literaly bumps into Miller, who he mistakes as a 'just' a patient, but he turns out to be a colleague and athlete.. After this bumpy start they hit it of as friends who quickly become more. Both men are strong, but also vunerable persons due to things that happened in their past. They find their hea after some incidents. In this book we see all the previous characters again, with a starring role of fabolous Cam, so good to see them stick up for Sandy and the next generation. It pays to read the other three books first to get the whole picture. 4,5 stars for the story.
5 * stars for the spot on narration by Gary Furkong. Hitting the right notes throughout tge whoile story. Overall 5*.
I recommend this whole series in writing and audio.

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Jay Hogan At Her Best

Every time I read a book by Ms Hogan, I go all fan girl on her. This was no exception. As I was, reading Sandy and Miller's story, I was like all swoony, then noooo, then I don't believe it! ,then get out of here! , then all swoony and sighing again. Bravo, Jay x

A wonderfully written story, there are various misunderstandings between both main characters, but when you read it, you'll understand why. I absolutely loved it, and found it hard to put the book down. I truly wanted to know what was going to happen with these two guys, who were so diverse in character. Sandy and Miller really should not have worked, but somehow they did.

Through it all, Sandy and Miller have their ups and downs, but they never give up on one another, and work hard to keep their relationship alive, even when they are afraid to admit it. If you enjoy a feel good story packed with lots of emotion, fantastic characters, and a well deserved happily ever after, then do yourself a favour, and pick up Against the Grain now. I loved this book so much, I immediately went and re read the previous three books, (starting with First Impressions), I so hope there'll be another one. Can I just say that Cam rules OK!!! Once again, Gary Furlong does an amazing job ias narrator.

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Another great narration from Gary...

***Audio Review***

Gary Furlong's narration of this series improves with every story that Jay publishes, and I simply cannot wait for his 'version' of You Are Cordially Invited, which should knock the socks off every other one he's done. It is no surprise that Cam and Reuben are my favourite couple in this series, but Hells Bells Sandy and Miller run them a very, very close second. Such a great read and listen.

***Book Review***

4.5 stars rounded up. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

When I read book 3, First Impressions which was Mark and Ed's story, I desperately wanted a HEA for Sandy, and luckily, Jay has more than met my expectations for him with this story. Miller was a really strong and forceful personality [although closeted] and a perfect match for the formidable and highly knowledgeable swishy nurse who knows what he wants, but in reality hides past family heartache and pain.

We get to play catch up with all of the characters from the previous books in the series in this particular instalment, and I honestly do think that readers would benefit from reading them all, although I suppose you could treat it as a standalone if you really wanted to. None of these stories have been lower than 4 stars in my ratings, although I have to admit I do actually prefer the Southern Lights series myself.

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A fabulous story of Triumph over Adversity

Jay Hogan is up to book four in her Auckland Med series and I’m just loving the fascinating world she has created. Over the course of these books we have seen her develop and pair some intriguingly complex characters and I really thought she’d reached the top of her ‘amazing character’ quota after I listened to CROSSING THE TOUCHLINE (Auckland Med #2). How could she possibly top or even match Rueben and Cam? Don’t misunderstand me, all her Auckland Med characters are fabulous, but Cam is someone rather special, and although only a secondary character in AGAINST THE GRAIN - pardon me… Cam could never be an ‘only’ - whenever he sashays into any scene, he can’t help but take centre stage and always plays a blinder. Having said all of that, Sandy and Miller come a very close second to my favourite couple and the storyline in AGAINST THE GRAIN might possibly be my favourite in the series so far.

To begin with, I was lulled into a false sense of security and thought we were going to have a relatively angst free story. The two MCs, Sandy and Miller, seemed to get over their initial sparks-flying meeting and seemed to sort out their differences fairly early on in the story. Silly me. Maybe Sandy will help Miller out of his closet, I thought, and that would be fine, because Jay Hogan always writes beautiful, very different love stories. How wrong was I? But quite honestly, I should have known not to underestimate her, because she is no lightweight in this area of love and we can always be sure that there’s a pretty serious moral issue that needs exploring, highlighting, and explaining to the layman.

Sandy is a gorgeous, leggy, willowy, sassy, hip swinging hunk of man who unapologetically wears skirts and stockings on occasions, and who teaches the fiery, opinionated Miller a few valuable lessons in acceptance. Miller is very taken with Sandy (and vice versa) from the minute he meets him, so the prejudices are not his - he loves that Sandy lives life his way - it’s more about what others might think and, in his misguided way, he’s only trying to protect him. Miller has lived almost his entire life in his self-constructed closet. He’s out to his family and always has been, with their complete acceptance, but he’s an athlete and there are still a lot of prejudices in sport. So now that he’s finally met his soul mate he makes a snap decision to come out to his Paralympian rugby team mates. Coming fully out is obviously a huge deal for him, because living with a disability AND being gay is no small thing, but it is by no means the biggest issue in this story. As Miller quickly finds out, he has an awful lot to learn about supporting his man, and protecting him is not the answer.

Sandy, on the other hand, has always been out and proud, but mostly alone after a parade of men who never got him or what he stood for - his right to be himself, preferably with no labels attached. Such is the author’s skill, not least her obvious empathy, that his loneliness and vulnerability comes over very strongly and I wanted to reach out and hug him on more than one occasion. The love and support of his mother and sister have always been his, especially as his father left the family when Sandy was a teenager. But the ‘coming out’ to his family had seemed to him like the trigger that made his father leave them, and even after years of counselling, he’s still that insecure young lad underneath his protective layers, albeit brave and uncompromising about his chosen lifestyle. The author skilfully ratchets up the drama throughout her story showing how important it is not to hide one’s true self, and not to take any sh*t from judgemental pr**ks who think they have a right to an opinion on how others dress or live their lives.

I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but how Jay Hogan gets her very valid point across is really quite remarkable, and the platform she uses extremely well researched and thought out - I was truly impressed. She brings together all the main characters from the previous stories in this series and the fabulous world she has created, giving us a glimpse of a utopia that ought to exist and making it possible for us to believe that there is hope, for the future at least. These wonderful men rally round to help and support Sandy and Miller as the drama increases and a positive outcome looks increasingly unlikely.

There’s much humour amidst the drama, and there were a few moments when listening to my audio book (with earbuds), whilst replenishing the toiletries in my workplace supermarket at night, where I realised I probably shouldn't have been listening to Jay Hogan’s particular brand of droll, witty humour in a public place. Two such moments (and there were many) spring to mind - Cam choosing his wedding lingerie… I actually snorted out loud and a male colleague asked me what I was laughing at… err! And Miller’s mum and sister ‘surprising’ him and Sandy early one morning - just priceless. I won’t say much more, other than Sandy hadn’t realised they were there. Yes, awkward but hilarious…hey, meet my Mum and sister for the first time.

Jay Hogan’s choice of narrator for her work is another aspect I’m extremely happy with, because Gary Furlong is one of my favourite narrators, if not my number one. I’ve loved him since listening to his narration of Dal Maclean’s fabulous Bitter Legacy series and the rest is history, because that led to me searching for his work and listening to other books he’d narrated. So imagine how happy I was to learn he was to narrate Jay Hogan’s Auckland Med series. Jay Hogan’s work had already been highly recommended to me by a friend, so I was cock-a-hoop at the thought of Gary Furlong and her in collaboration. The addition of this narrator to Jay Hogan’s fabulous set of connected stories and absolutely wonderful characters only serves to improve what is an already outstanding story. What a fabulous twosome.

There’s always a lot said about the authenticity of accents in narration, but as Jay Hogan is a New Zealander and Gary Furlong is not, and she personally chose him, I’m assuming she’s more than happy with his interpretation of her native homeland’s dialect. He certainly sounds great to me, but then he can do no wrong in my eyes (or ears). He has a voice like warm honey - it’s sexy, soothing and calming but also extremely funny when called for, and he can pull off anyone of any age or gender, smoothly switching during multi character conversations to achieve remarkable results.

Sandy is a blend of sweet-natured vulnerability, dogged determination, passion and sassiness and is consequently a particularly difficult character to capture; his quicksilver moods can change in an instant, ergo his vulnerability. Gary Furlong manages these changes effortlessly. And then there’s Miller, the often grumpy and blustering ‘don’t-pity-me, don’t-dare-even-think-about-helping-me’ paraplegic athlete, who has been semi closeted for most of his 35 years. What a difficult duo to work with, but so well done.

And the ending… oh my - was there ever such a fabulous ending? A beautiful, moving, rousing, utterly perfect finish to a very special story of triumph over adversity. HIGHLY recommended.

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  • Abe Fan
  • 05-12-21

Excellent and educational read!

What a great insight into the problems of bigotry and what great talent to know how to include this in a top tier lgbtqia+ romance novel. The story runs at a good pace, the MCs are lovable and grow at a steady pace, the side characters funny and give enough support to make this a very enjoyable read. A reader who is not too knowledgeable with the subject matter becomes educated fast. Come to think about it, women wear pants as they please, why is it that only the Scots can wear them? Too ridiculous for words. I loved it and recommend this whole series! 🤎❤️💛💚💙💜🖤🤍

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