Release – In Step by Jay Hogan

A big welcome to Jay Hogan as part of her release of In Step with Eliza Rae Services.

In Step: Painted Bay #3

Author: Jay Hogan

Genre: MM Romance

Standalone: Yes

Tropes: Small Town | Opposites attract | Hurt/comfort | Forced Proximity | Age Gap | Redemption | Forgiveness | Coming out | Living your truth | Found family | Humour

When hearts collide on the dance floor.


Catch up with the whole series here:


Karma. You reap what you sow, and KANE MARTIN isn’t looking for forgiveness.

But the arrival of ABE TYLER in Painted Bay has Kane dreaming of the impossible. The sexy, silver fox choreographer is determined to pull Kane out from the shadows, but Abe’s career isn’t about to shift to Painted Bay, and Kane’s life is in neat little boxes for a reason.

A past he isn’t proud of.

A family he’s walked away from.

A job he doesn’t deserve.

A secret he’s ashamed of.

But life’s dance can make for unexpected partners, and learning to trust and keep up with the footwork is the name of the game.

Two steps forward, one step back.

It takes two to tango.

Trigger Warning: Contains references to past abuse and bullying.


Apart from the rain clearing, nothing had gone right on the mussel farm all day, and everyone was in a foul mood by the time we docked at six, in the dark and much later than usual. We’d let Martha know not to hang around, and the entire wharf was cloaked in evening shadow apart from a glow in Morgan and Judah’s boathouse and another in the studio out back.

Were Judah and Abe still working? I knew Morgan didn’t like Judah pushing himself too hard. Then again, it was none of my business.

We cleaned up and left Patrick talking furtively on his cell while the three of us, and Mack, headed toward Leroy’s SUV, still bitching about the pissy day.

“Is Patrick seeing someone?” I glanced back. “He’s been very close-mouthed about his social life lately. And he’s been on his phone a ton.”

Leroy snorted. “Wasn’t aware he ever had a social life.” He caught the rugby bag Fox threw his way from the SUV.

“Didn’t think you guys had training on a Friday?”

“We normally don’t,” Leroy grumbled. “But our beloved coach has decided we need to win this bloody game tomorrow afternoon against Russell United, and we apparently sucked big hairy donkey balls at Wednesday’s run on the paddock. Like another lot of drills is gonna somehow raise our standard of ball handling from pitifully woeful to hands of steel. If there isn’t a beer in this after we’re done, I’m gonna be fucking ropeable.”

Fox chuckled and pulled Leroy into a kiss. “You’re such a big softy.”

“Idiot.” Leroy wriggled free but failed to hide his lopsided grin.

“Do you need me to take Mack home?”

The dog cocked her head at her name and Fox opened the rear door, waving her in. “Nah, she likes to run with the team. Tires her out.” He headed for the passenger seat, buckled up, and then pinned me with a look. “And here’s a novel idea. Since Patrick only needs you tomorrow morning, maybe you could actually leave the bedsit for once and go have some fun.”

“Yeah, I’ll get right on that.”

Fox rolled his eyes and I waved them off. So, I didn’t have a life. There was nothing new about that. I threw my bag over my shoulder and set off up the hill, my attention drawn to the glow in the studio and the upbeat music leaking through the fire door, which had been propped open with a chair.

The closer I got, the slower my steps, until I found myself at a complete stop about ten metres from the open door. I glanced around but I was alone. Beyond the studio lay Madden land and the hill up to the homestead. Judah’s boathouse, the wharf and Painted Bay were out of sight to my right, at the front. And behind me, the road was flanked by a steep, bush-covered bluff up to the township perched on top of the hill.

Feeling like a spy in some low-budget movie, I detoured down the small bank and picked my way across the sodden grass to the open fire door, the muffled thuds of feet hitting the floor growing louder by the second. The studio floor sat about thigh height, and I dropped my bag on the damp ground and sneaked my head through the opening.

The room was about twenty by thirty metres, big enough for Judah’s kids to comfortably move around with their wheelchairs and canes and other equipment that might be necessary, but tonight there was only one person using the space. Abe. And I was instantly spellbound.

His body flew across the room in a whirlwind of turns and leaps in sync with the rhythmic bass so loud it rattled my spine and thundered in my chest. Big band music—horns and saxophone, and double bass and piano, and drums. Memories crashed through my head and almost took my knees from under me—my mother dancing in our kitchen, my tiny hands in hers, spinning and laughing, dipping me, spoon in one hand like a mic as she crooned words that never seemed important at the time. The music was everything. How had I forgotten that?

A word popped out at me. Swing. This was swing music.

I startled as Abe landed a jump close to where I was hiding, so close I could pick out the small holes in those soft-as-butter leggings. The thin material outlining every fibre of muscle in his thick thighs and the bunched muscles of his arse, his cock nestled soft and large in his groin. The waistband rolled low on his flat stomach tight with ridged abs over a steel core lightly dusted with hair. The cut-off T-shirt wet with sweat and clinging to his toned chest and budded nipples.

Holy fucking hell.

I barely contained a yelp, ducking back into the shadows until the sound of his feet fell into the distance and I risked another look. Perspiration coursed down his face, his dark hair threaded with silver pulled into a topknot that bobbed with every leap and turn, eyes closed like he was dancing by feel, led around the space by some invisible force. And I stood transfixed, my ridiculous dick thickening in my jeans like the traitorous fucker that it was.

And still Abe danced, sliding past the open door where I crouched watching, his voice low with the music, singing, stray words catching in my ears, arms wide, then high, then circling into a spin. Around and around until he suddenly stopped, dancing on the spot, tap, shuffle. Whatever the fuck it was called. His body dipping and rocking to the beat, a wide smile on his face.

And then he was off again, and I lost myself in the pure, raw joy of his energy, pretty sure of only one thing: that I’d never felt anything close to whatever Abe was feeling in that moment—the energy of life rippling through him, power and hope and emotion. I’d never felt that, not even close. There was a magic to it, and heat and lust and wonder. A hunger I’d never allowed myself to feel ripped open in my heart. In that moment, Abe was alive to his core, and I couldn’t even begin to imagine what that felt like.

About Jay:

Heart, Humour, & Keepin’ It Real

Jay is a 2020 Lambda Literary Award Finalist in Gay Romance and her book Off Balance was the 2021 New Zealand Romance Book of the Year. She is a New Zealand author writing mm romance and romantic suspense, primarily set in New Zealand. She writes character driven romances with lots of humour, a good dose of reality and a splash of angst. She’s travelled extensively, lived in many countries, and in a past life she was a critical care nurse, nurse educator and counsellor.

Jay is owned by a huge Maine Coon cat and a gorgeous Cocker Spaniel

Find Jay in all the places:

About Anne Barwell

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning. In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra. She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ. Anne’s books have received honorable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical. Anne can be found at
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