Book Reviews

Off Balance (Painted Bay 1) by Jay Hogan

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Artists/Actors/Musicians/Authors / Age Gap / Erotic Romance
Reviewed by Kristin F. on 23-October-2020

Book Blurb

When JUDAH MADDEN flees his tiny suffocating home town in New Zealand for the dream of international ballet stardom, he never intends coming back. Not to Painted Bay. Not to his family’s struggling mussel farm. Not to his jerk of a brother. Not with his entire life plan in shreds. And certainly not into the tempting arms of MORGAN WIPENE, the older, ruggedly handsome fisheries officer who seems determined to screw with Judah’s intention to wallow in peace.


But dreams are fickle things. Shatter them and it’s hard to pick up the pieces. Hard to believe. Hard to start again.


And the hardest thing of all? Finding the courage to trust in love and build a new dream where you least expected to find it.


Book Review

‘Off Balance’ is a wonderful combination of complex, educational, sweet, and steamy all wrapped up with a big happy ever after. That doesn’t make any sense? Allow me to elucidate without spoilers.


The story is somewhat complex as there is the main plot comprised of Judah and Morgan. Flowing underneath this is Judah’s relationship with his brother, his mother, his best friend, and the town of Painted Bay. Yes. The WHOLE town. Judah is also navigating the uncharted waters of Meniere’s disease which has completely derailed his professional ballet career, forcing his return to the one place he despises. There is a lot happening in a mere 300 pages, and it’s not just with Judah and Morgan.


The plot is also educational in that the author has researched aspects of Meniere’s disease and based a story around this. This is not a new plot device or technique – what makes or breaks a book is how well the author can educate the reader through a character without the story moving into “a lecture”. From my point of view, the author succeeded in informing the reader of the nuances of Meniere’s via Judah and Judah’s actions and reactions. I found myself wanting to know more.


This was so SWEET! Now my disclaimer – it took me several chapters to warm up to Judah. The book begins with a whole boatload of resentment, snark, and self-destructive behavior that I honestly questioned if Judah was a character I wanted to keep reading about. I’m so glad I did! There is the perfect amount of happy sweetness to counter the complexity of the plot and the educational theme of Meniere’s. I HEART Morgan and Judah!


Lastly – yes, this is a bit steamy. If prone to blushing, maybe don’t read on the subway or the bus during rush hour.


To conclude, this was a delightful story with a group of interesting characters, chances to start over, learning how to cope, and a huge dollop of lovability to tie everything together. I would quite like to read another story set in Painted Bay.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by the publisher via GRRT for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novel, 396 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 29-September-2020
Price $4.99 ebook
Buy Link