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


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

30 review for Off Balance

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sheri

    Can love change the world? Is it…possible? Absolutely! And in the small coastal New Zealand town of Painted Bay, it did. This story blew me away. I’m still dipping my toes into Hogan’s wonderful writing but now I want to dive straight in and immerse myself completely. I’m not ready to let them go. There is so much heart in this book. But not only are the feels in full effect but it’s passionate, lively, and overflowing with courage and hope. I believe courage and hope go hand-in-hand. You must b Can love change the world? Is it…possible? Absolutely! And in the small coastal New Zealand town of Painted Bay, it did. This story blew me away. I’m still dipping my toes into Hogan’s wonderful writing but now I want to dive straight in and immerse myself completely. I’m not ready to let them go. There is so much heart in this book. But not only are the feels in full effect but it’s passionate, lively, and overflowing with courage and hope. I believe courage and hope go hand-in-hand. You must be brave to dream and daring to trust. Both Judah and Morgan have each in spades, they just needed someone to nudge them along the path to reclaim their happiness. They bump, tap, poke, and jab…it was utterly breathtaking. What's to like: When a medical tragedy strikes Judah his world comes crashing down. His sole purpose in life is dancing. Ménière’s disease obliterates his professional dancing career and there’s no choice but for him to return to his hometown. He brought every piece of rubble remaining of his intricately built world and intends on hiding below them. He has no intention of even thinking of rebuilding and every plan to hide beneath the debris. Morgan has been in Painted Bay for five years but Judah has been gone nearly twice as long. And when the nosy fisheries officer snags Judah’s attention…something shifts. And this my friends, is where the going gets good! What's to love: Morgan, oh Morgan, how do I love thee? With all my heart! Judah is a lucky guy but then, I know Morgan would say just the opposite. Judah is fabulous in his own way but I’m always a sucker for a man in a uniform. The timing is all wrong. Neither are looking or prepared for a relationship. Yet, when fate presents you with a precious gift, a once in a lifetime gift or in Morgan’s case, twice, there’s no choice but to grab on with both hands and never let go. Morgan is solid with a tender heart, still recovering from losing his wife 5 years prior. She was the light of his life and still flickers from time to time. I loved how Morgan handled tough situations. He was clear and honest, voicing his opinions and feelings from the start. No wiggle room for misunderstandings. I loved how he saw past the prickly facade and straight into the sensational core of Judah Madden. I loved how he discovered his reset button. Yep, he totally has one. I loved their fierce magnetism and racy *gulp* passion. I loved toe-top dancing, facials, and ballet tights. I loved family dinners and love found in the sidelines. I loved how this amazing small town focused on “Judah-now”, not “Judah-before”. Had can be a painful word…so why not concentrate on have? Yeah, that’s much better. Can you tell I just…loved it? You really have to get this one! Oh, one more thing! Did you spy that cover? Gorgeous! Beware of: Rock bottom can be monstrous and full of monsters. Family can be endearing and maddening, occasionally at the same time. And love so strong, I can feel the tremors of their aftershocks across the world. This book is for: Anyone interested in witnessing a remarkable counterbalance to lost dreams and the beauty of fresh wishes becoming reality…this is exactly what you need. Book two…I can’t wait for you! Book UNfunk

  2. 4 out of 5

    Heather K (dentist in my spare time)

    *4.5 stars* I've been reading Jay Hogan for some time now, but she really hit her stride with Off Balance. Though it tops out at nearly 400 pages, it is a beautifully written, powerful romance, and it was exactly the kind of book I love to read. I have a deep love of romance books that feature characters living with a chronic illness or a disability. Working in the medical field, I know a lot about rare diseases, but this book was my first experience with Ménière’s disease. I found Judah to be an *4.5 stars* I've been reading Jay Hogan for some time now, but she really hit her stride with Off Balance. Though it tops out at nearly 400 pages, it is a beautifully written, powerful romance, and it was exactly the kind of book I love to read. I have a deep love of romance books that feature characters living with a chronic illness or a disability. Working in the medical field, I know a lot about rare diseases, but this book was my first experience with Ménière’s disease. I found Judah to be an extremely compelling MC, and his struggle to find his place and purpose after his dance career was ruined by the inner ear disorder was both moving and fascinating to read about. I also loved Morgan and how he complemented Judah. He didn't run away from his feelings, and I adored how communicative and responsive he was with Judah. I liked how the author weighed Morgan's memories and time spent with his wife with his new feelings for Judah, and I think Jay Hogan struck the perfect balance in the story. Their romance was, gah, just so good! Yes, there was a lot of initial attraction, but it built-up over time in a gorgeous way. There wasn't any manufactured drama or silly misunderstandings, and it felt extremely real and special. I was meh about the mystery aspect of the book, and I often think the author tries to cram suspense into her contemporaries unnecessarily, but it for sure gave a little momentum to the end of a long book. I would have been happy with just a relationship-focused contemporary, but I got enough of that to make me very happy. Jay Hogan wrote her strongest book to date with Off Balance. It felt perfectly New Zealand-y, just like her other stories, and like a great, small town romance. I adored it, and I can't wait to read more in this sure to be special series. *Copy provided in exchange for an honest review* goodreads|instagram|twitter|blog

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cadiva

    It's a simple fact, I absolutely love Jay Hogan's writing. It doesn't matter what she turns her hand to, I feel absolutely drawn into the world she creates and the lives of the characters she's writing about. Here it's a story which affected me deep in my gut, it's full of hurt/comfort, it's full of suppressed emotions, it's got chemistry which not only rockets off the charts but which wraps you up in all the feels of a fluffy blanket. There's a side order of suspense plot, a whole load of small t It's a simple fact, I absolutely love Jay Hogan's writing. It doesn't matter what she turns her hand to, I feel absolutely drawn into the world she creates and the lives of the characters she's writing about. Here it's a story which affected me deep in my gut, it's full of hurt/comfort, it's full of suppressed emotions, it's got chemistry which not only rockets off the charts but which wraps you up in all the feels of a fluffy blanket. There's a side order of suspense plot, a whole load of small town vibes with interesting and intriguing characters I hope are going to feature in the next book and such a sense of place. New Zealand has a unique vibe to it which Jay nails every single time. As for the main plot, as someone who danced ballet, tap and contemporary dance (although never of a level to do so professionally), Judah's heartbreaking diagnoses with Ménière' Disease had my heart cracking in two because the pain of what he lost is palpable. Morgan's also nursing his own pain, a widower, he's still missing his wife Sally although he's managed to move on from the numbing loss of her death five years earlier. The amazing way these men provide both healing and support to each other, without even really doing so consciously, is so beautifully depicted in this book. I loved everything about their friendship, their amazing sexual and emotional connections and the way they were both determined to do the best for the other. Do yourselves a favour and pick up this book, especially if you've never read Jay before, then go grab her back catalogue, I promise it's worth it. #ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review

  4. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Re-read January 2021 Still loved this. ---------------------------------- I liked this more than I thought I would. When Judah suddenly has a vertigo attack during an important ballet performance, he finds out he has Meniere’s disease. Now his entire career is over in a heartbeat. He has worked to become a very successful ballet dancer for almost his entire life. But now he has to return home to help his brother and their mother with the mussel farm. But home is not a good place for him. It’s the pl Re-read January 2021 Still loved this. ---------------------------------- I liked this more than I thought I would. When Judah suddenly has a vertigo attack during an important ballet performance, he finds out he has Meniere’s disease. Now his entire career is over in a heartbeat. He has worked to become a very successful ballet dancer for almost his entire life. But now he has to return home to help his brother and their mother with the mussel farm. But home is not a good place for him. It’s the place where Judah has been severely bullied for years when he was younger. Even his brother seems to hate him. But then there is Morgan, the fisheries officer he encounters one night on the pier, who turns out is friends with Judah’s brother. Morgan and Judah agree that despite the obvious attraction they should try to be friends. Judah isn’t in a place in his life right now to start anything. And even though Morgan is, Morgan agrees to be friends. But it’s not long before they both acknowledge that friendship is harder than they thought when they obviously both want more… I really liked these guys. Judah was a bit of an asshole at first, but it was clear from the start that it was just a defense mechanism and that he had a had time coping with the Meniere’s and how it affected everything in his life. Morgan had this solid presence that Judah really needed in his life. I thought they were perfect for each other. I did think there were too many sex scenes. But I solved that by simply skimming them. Overall this was a lovely romance with men who talk about things, no unnecessary angst, and a lot of lovely hurt/comfort.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ariana

    4,5 stars Fab and very fitting title. LOVELY cover pic. Two very sympathetic and engaging MCs. An age gap of 10 years (25/35). Medical issues. Clever wit and banter. Really loveable secondary characters. And all that chest hair! Oh Morgan, you caused me quite a heart flutter! This ticked so many different boxes for me. Morgan’s definitely in the top three for this year’s Mr. Nice Guy Award in my books! What a stellar guy! And sassy, effeminate Judah is as engaging. What he’s going through is just heart-br 4,5 stars Fab and very fitting title. LOVELY cover pic. Two very sympathetic and engaging MCs. An age gap of 10 years (25/35). Medical issues. Clever wit and banter. Really loveable secondary characters. And all that chest hair! Oh Morgan, you caused me quite a heart flutter! This ticked so many different boxes for me. Morgan’s definitely in the top three for this year’s Mr. Nice Guy Award in my books! What a stellar guy! And sassy, effeminate Judah is as engaging. What he’s going through is just heart-breaking. No wonder he’s in a bad place. I’d never heard of Meniere’s disease and how debilitating it is. I thoroughly enjoyed these guys and their windy road to a HEA. With Judah’s future up in the air and Morgan’s uncertainty if he’s ready for another serious emotional commitment, neither really wants a relationship. I liked that they try to be really sensible about their attraction to each other, but when lightning strikes it’s hard to ignore! I do wonder though why Jay Hogan usually throws a criminal element into her plots. I’ve read a few books by her, and it usually turns up at some point. Not sure it was necessary here. I also have to say that Morgan and Judah’s relationship advances at super speed and did feel a bit insta-everything. Saying that – I did love these guys a lot together and the sizzle between them was spitting and crackling all the way! I agree with some other readers – for me this is Jay Hogan’s best book to date. Looking forward to the next in the series.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Papie

    4.5 stars Judah is a brilliant ballet dancer who gets Meniere's disease and loses everything. He comes back from Boston to Painted Bay, New Zealand, working for his brother and licking his wounds. He meets hot AF Morgan, who moved to Painted Bay after losing his wife 5 years ago. Their attraction is intense and immediate. I loved these two together! Their relationship is strong and honest, no miscommunications or unnecessary drama. The secondary characters in this book were very well depicted and 4.5 stars Judah is a brilliant ballet dancer who gets Meniere's disease and loses everything. He comes back from Boston to Painted Bay, New Zealand, working for his brother and licking his wounds. He meets hot AF Morgan, who moved to Painted Bay after losing his wife 5 years ago. Their attraction is intense and immediate. I loved these two together! Their relationship is strong and honest, no miscommunications or unnecessary drama. The secondary characters in this book were very well depicted and felt real. I especially liked the difficult relationship between Judah and his brother, it felt so raw and honest. Families are hard. I really liked Cora and Martha, and Terry and Hannah. And the sex? Damn. Judah is a sex beast, and I didn't expect that. And Morgan was amazing and sexy and dreamy. The only thing was that it dragged a bit for me in the end, although the criminal aspect picked up then and made it more entertaining. I'm very curious about some of the other characters (Kane, and also Terry's mystery date, I really want it to be Kane or Leroy), and I can't wait for the next in the series. It was my first book by Jay Hogan, and definitely not my last!

  7. 5 out of 5

    W.

    Sweet. Emotional. Sexy. Off Balance is a beautiful , descriptive and vividly written, MM romance story , set in a tiny and picturesque village in New Zealand. Medium to low in angst and drama , with a bit of suspense , engaging heroes and lots of quirky , busy bodies secondary characters. I was entertained and charmed by this lovely , sexy and emotional tale. My first by this author.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    2.75 stars Not bad, but there's so. much. internal dialogue. (2020 has made me such a picky/grumpy reader!) 2.75 stars Not bad, but there's so. much. internal dialogue. (2020 has made me such a picky/grumpy reader!)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ele

    I had the hardest time with this but I'll go with 3 stars because the writing is impeccable, as always. I don't understand why there was a sort of mystery thrown in there and I did not buy Judah's change of heart (view spoiler)[about staying in Painted Bay (hide spoiler)] in the end. The inner monologues were so long I was bored. I could not feel the connection between the MCs, nor did I understand how the relationship between family members worked. Strangely enough, I am intrigued by the seconda I had the hardest time with this but I'll go with 3 stars because the writing is impeccable, as always. I don't understand why there was a sort of mystery thrown in there and I did not buy Judah's change of heart (view spoiler)[about staying in Painted Bay (hide spoiler)] in the end. The inner monologues were so long I was bored. I could not feel the connection between the MCs, nor did I understand how the relationship between family members worked. Strangely enough, I am intrigued by the secondary cast, especially Kane, so I might read the rest of the series. Good writing but not my favorite book by Hogan.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bev

    Yet another superb 5 star read from Jay Hogan...in fact, I think this is my fave Jay Hogan read yet [good job I've already given her a bookshelf of her own]!! If I could give more than 5 stars I certainly would, and straight onto my 2020 Best Reads and Creme-de-la-Creme bookshelves too!! These two MC's just had it all; I loved the sexy, suggestive banter, the feels, the puddle of goo moments and the fact that although Judah had his annoying, life-altering condition, Morgan did his very best to de Yet another superb 5 star read from Jay Hogan...in fact, I think this is my fave Jay Hogan read yet [good job I've already given her a bookshelf of her own]!! If I could give more than 5 stars I certainly would, and straight onto my 2020 Best Reads and Creme-de-la-Creme bookshelves too!! These two MC's just had it all; I loved the sexy, suggestive banter, the feels, the puddle of goo moments and the fact that although Judah had his annoying, life-altering condition, Morgan did his very best to deal with it AND make Judah feel good about himself. The secondary characters were great too...other than Judah's berk of a brother Leroy, who definitely should have been an extremely protective big brother when Judah was facing up to bullying and needed him at school. Book 2 of this Painted Bay series eagerly awaited!! Great read Jay.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Caz

    I've given this an A- at AAR, so that's 4.5 stars rounded up. In Off Balance, the first book in her new series of contemporary romances, author Jay Hogan takes a big geographical leap from one end of New Zealand to the other, from the lakes and mountains of the Southland (the setting for her recent Southern Lights books) to the coastal region of subtropical Northland at the northern tip of the North Island, and the small town of Painted Bay. It’s an emotional, powerful story about two very di I've given this an A- at AAR, so that's 4.5 stars rounded up. In Off Balance, the first book in her new series of contemporary romances, author Jay Hogan takes a big geographical leap from one end of New Zealand to the other, from the lakes and mountains of the Southland (the setting for her recent Southern Lights books) to the coastal region of subtropical Northland at the northern tip of the North Island, and the small town of Painted Bay. It’s an emotional, powerful story about two very different men who end up back in their home town following tragedy and heartbreak, and how they learn to come to terms with the past and move forward with their lives while also working out how – and if – they can manage to do that together. Judah Madden got out of Painted Bay as soon as he possibly could, having spent sixteen years never fitting in because he was too flamboyant, too gay and too unwilling to be anything other than who and what he was.  His ticket out was his talent as a dancer; his parents supported him both morally and financially, and helped him to follow his dreams of making it as a ballet dancer, and when we meet him, he’s twenty-five and has already made himself a name as a world-class performer.  But his world comes tumbling down when – during a performance – he has a severe dizzy spell which causes him to fall and then pass out.  Shortly after this, he is diagnosed with Menière’s Disease – a chronic illness which affects the inner ear, causing (among other things) vertigo, tinnitus and potentially, hearing loss.  It’s a condition for which there is no cure. With no alternative left open to him, Judah returns to Painted Bay to lick his wounds and try to work out what to do next.  The Menière’s means his future employment prospects are severely limited – he can’t drive, he can’t operate machinery - and in any case, the only thing he’s ever trained for, the only thing he’s ever been good at is ballet… which is no longer an option. Around five years before this, another man whose life had been devastated by tragedy arrived in Painted Bay, needing to get away from the suffocating concern of his family while he worked through his grief.  Fisheries officer Morgan Wipene lost his wife Sally to a particularly aggressive form of cancer, and it hit him hard, but over the years, he’s learned to process his grief and accept her loss, and while he still feels her absence at times, it’s a gentle comfort rather than a searing pain.   After five years, he’s ready to move on; he’s always known he’s bisexual, but has mostly been with women, and had certainly reckoned without being knocked sideways by a gorgeous, smart-mouthed, but obviously deeply wounded (and much younger) man who is not coping well with whatever has brought him back to Painted Bay. The sparks fly between Judah and Morgan from their very first meeting, and the pull between them only grows stronger as they find out more about each other. Both men are at difficult places in their lives and know that trying to fit in a new relationship is almost certainly a recipe for disaster, yet the attraction between them is so strong, the chemistry so intense that they also both recognise that they’re not going to be able to keep their hands off each other for very long. Their mutual attraction builds quickly, which happens often in this author’s novels, but she always takes the time to develop a strong emotional connection as well, so that what starts out looking a bit like insta-lust (and sometimes the mental lusting is just a tad overdone) grows organically into something deeper. Both characters are well-rounded and skilfully drawn. With the life he’d envisaged for himself in tatters, Judah is struggling to work out who he wants to be and what he wants to do with the rest of his life. He’s pissy, self-absorbed and narcissistic, full of hate, despair and cynicism, a complete contrast to the confident easy-going individual he used to be. And he doesn’t know how to pull himself out of the downward spiral. He isn’t taking care of himself properly, he’s depressed and won’t accept help or let anyone in. He hates being back in a place that so obviously hated him growing up, and worse, he’s come home broken rather than as a man at the top of his profession. Morgan is able to relate – to an extent – to where Judah’s head is and to his desire to push everyone away, because he’s hit rock bottom, too, and knows what it takes to be able to climb out of the pit. Yet although he’s put the past into perspective – and I really appreciated the way Sally’s presence in his life is handled in the story – there’s one niggle at the back of his mind that’s holding him back. They’re at different places in their lives, but both men are dealing with a lot – Judah especially – and the way each is able to provide the support, comfort and understanding the other needs is truly uplifting and immensely satisfying to read. The first book I read by Jay Hogan, Digging Deep, also featured a character living with a chronic illness, and here, as in that book, the author does a spectacular job when it comes to painting a realistic picture of the way Judah’s condition affects him and the long road ahead of him in learning to adjust and live with it. There’s an engaging cast of secondary characters (some more likeable than others) including Terry, one of Judah’s few friends from his schooldays and Terry’s nine-year-old daughter Hannah, who has juvenile arthritis, and Leroy, Judah’s brother, who has always resented him and who seems set on making his life even more of a misery. There are some intriguing relationships being set up and characters I’m hoping to see more of later in the series. Off Balance is a poignant, angsty and passionate story about love, loss and new beginnings, about finding the strength to overcome adversity, and the importance of knowing when and how to accept help. There’s family drama and a bit of suspense (as Morgan works to bring down a local poaching ring), and as in the author’s Southern Lights series, the locations and scenery are described in such a way as to be almost characters in the story themselves. All in all, it’s a terrific start to this new series, and I’m really looking forward to my next visit to Painted Bay.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Starr (AKA Bam Bam) Rivers

    This book had the potential to be 5 stars. Here's why it's not. I don't like Judah. He's not HORRID per se, but he irritated the hell outta me. First, we're supposed to feel bad for him bc he has a "disease." Well, this author picked the wrong disease to make that point, bc I have it myself and know all about it. My whole family has it cuz it's hereditary in a lot of ppl. And it's not that rare, so I'm sure plenty of others have it too, just varies from mild to severe. And having this "disease" it This book had the potential to be 5 stars. Here's why it's not. I don't like Judah. He's not HORRID per se, but he irritated the hell outta me. First, we're supposed to feel bad for him bc he has a "disease." Well, this author picked the wrong disease to make that point, bc I have it myself and know all about it. My whole family has it cuz it's hereditary in a lot of ppl. And it's not that rare, so I'm sure plenty of others have it too, just varies from mild to severe. And having this "disease" it's totally manageable if a person gets their head out of their feel-sorry-for-self ass and do what they can about it and live a perfectly normal life. I get that Judah is "special" bc he's a ballet dancer and it killed his budding career, but guess what, that's not ALL he is. Like he's born on this earth to do just ballet and might as well kill himself if he can't do it any more. People in these types of careers get all kinds of injuries, take all kinds of risks and get on with their lives. Also, I know lots of ppl who have a LOT more to deal with and deal with them with quiet dignity vs. this selfish brat who thinks the world owes him something - his bro, the bully he had in school who tried really really hard to apologize only to have him shut the poor man down who was OBVIOUSLY going thru his own trauma! I mean, soooooo many reasons I dislike Judah!! He's the entire reason this book gets 1.5 stars off rounded to 3. I love Morgan. And if Morgan loves Judah, lucky J. But I think Morgan deserves better.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ami

    4.25 stars Darn you, Jay Hogan, you DID it again!! I will shout this on the top of my lungs, Jay Hogan is an ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIC author! I don't think I have a "miss" book from hers so far, and this could easily be one of my top favorites along with Flat Whites & Chocolate Fish if not for that particular plot that I didn't really care about... Off Balance is the first (yay! 💃🏻) book of a news series, entitled Painted Bay. My heart already brimming with potential couples, since we get to introd 4.25 stars Darn you, Jay Hogan, you DID it again!! I will shout this on the top of my lungs, Jay Hogan is an ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIC author! I don't think I have a "miss" book from hers so far, and this could easily be one of my top favorites along with Flat Whites & Chocolate Fish if not for that particular plot that I didn't really care about... Off Balance is the first (yay! 💃🏻) book of a news series, entitled Painted Bay. My heart already brimming with potential couples, since we get to introduced to the Painted Bay citizens along the way. From Jam, an owner of Antiques and Collectables store, Patrick, a part time helper at Madden's mussel farm... Anyway, I get away from the main couple 😆. I fell in love with Judah and Morgan immediately. Yes, Judah Madden had quite a backstory, a heartbreaking one too. A young talented upcoming ballet dancer whose dreams shattered with his Ménière syndrome and must returned back to the small coastal town of New Zealand. Judah always wanted to leave the town; he never felt like he belonged there. But now he must return because he had nowhere to go. Then there was Morgan Wipene, an older fisheries officer who lost his wife to cancer five years previous. Morgan came to Painted Bay from Auckland to get away from the memories. And then he saw Judah, and things went supernova between them. What I adored the most from this story was even with the struggles and heartbreak, it didn't really bring the story down into huge angst level. Judah was snarky and sometimes full of anger, yes, but there was also LAUGHTER and FLIRTING and SEXY MOMENTS between the two of them. The arguments and conflicts felt real, and the secondary characters had TONS of dimension between them. They were never two-dimensional-straight-cartoon "villain". Like Leroy, Judah's older brother who seemed to harbor resentment. Then Cora, the Madden's matriarch, who had a surprise love story of her own. Hogan also managed to bring me down to tears with the scene between Judah and Hannah. Oh my GOD, that one WAS BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN!!! The only "downside" plot of this book is the one with the poaching. It felt a little too undeveloped. Like it appeared one time, then another, and it felt like it should be more (because it had to do with Morgan's occupation) but also should be less (because it totally didn't 'connect' with the whole vibe). I just didn't enjoy that part. But all in all, this is ANOTHER WINNER!! My God, another series from Hogan that I couldn't wait for the new books to be released. In addition to her Auckland Med and Southern Lights series. Yes, Jay Hogan, MORE BOOKS PLEASE

  14. 5 out of 5

    Florence .

    3.75 I wish this book ended at 75% stars “I’m not sure about this,” he panted, “but I suspect that molesting the local fisheries officer in the community centre car park, while wearing a royal crown, tights, and sporting an erection the size of Kilimanjaro, wouldn’t be considered appropriate behaviour.” I geniusly don’t understand what happened. I’m a massive fan of Jay Hogan, I have read and mostly loved all of her books before and I adore her writting style. I don’t get it, I was ADORING thi 3.75 I wish this book ended at 75% stars “I’m not sure about this,” he panted, “but I suspect that molesting the local fisheries officer in the community centre car park, while wearing a royal crown, tights, and sporting an erection the size of Kilimanjaro, wouldn’t be considered appropriate behaviour.” I geniusly don’t understand what happened. I’m a massive fan of Jay Hogan, I have read and mostly loved all of her books before and I adore her writting style. I don’t get it, I was ADORING this. All was so smooth sailing, it was loveling making its way to a five stars and on my favourite book of the year list. Judah and Morgan were so fucking good together. The sex scenes were brillant, their chemestry was off the charts. Loved the banter between them, and the humour was so so good. They had brillant communication, they talked about everything. They were so fucking solid together and they had all the ingredients of a star couple and then 75% hit and all went down hill... so down and i’m really bummed about it. I’m removing .25 stars from the 5 stars rating I would have given this book if it ended at 75% for each thing that really annoyed me in the last 25%: 1- These two were so good at communicating and saying how they felt and then a little thing happened and that was it, they forgot how to communicate and didn’t talk for days. 2- They never picked up talking about their disagreement, like sure they got back together, but they had forgotten how to communicate and it never came back. They just kept sulking on their own and never talked to each other about their issues. 3- The resolution didn’t make sense to me. It happened and I just didn’t get it. These two had stoped communicating with each other and suddently they were just all ready and willing to do giant commitments and changes for each other, I just didn’t buy it. They weren’t ready do any of that before and then, suddently, without talking to each other about what they wanted, they were ready to commit and change their lives around. That was way too out of the left field for me. I needed them to communicate and decide together what the best plan of action is. 4- Another thing about the resolution. It was nice the choice they ended up making to settle the conflict. But it was the one option that the author spent the entire book trying to tell you couldn’t happen and wouldn’t be it and the change between it not even being an option and then it being how they settle the conflict was way too fast and didn’t make much sense. I really didn’t enjoy that. It just didn’t make sense with the rest of the story. 5- There was this weird investigation plot with people doing illegal fishing. It was never resolved and was just in the back and it was barely talked about. It could just have been left out of the book if i’m being honest. I don’t understand why it was there and what it did to the story. It was really underdevolped too. If it had to be there, I would have liked it to be way more there. I just didn’t care for it and I would have enjoyed the last part of the book way more if it wasn’t there. It was so clear it was only used as a plot to manifacture drama and this book really didn’t we need, we had a main character with a chronic illness that wanted to move really far away from the town we’re in, that was more than enough drama as it is, we really didn’t need any more. P.S. all the bonus points to how Meniere’s was described, I loved seeing how Judah dealt with it in his every day life and how it affected him. It is a permanent disorder and I loved that we got to see how it kept affecting him, and that it wasn’t just brushed off as something not important and not there, to help the plot along. It was a really good representation of how he lives his day to day life with his disorder and for that, I am very greatful. PSS. I want my own really hot and hairy fisheries officer, Morgan seems like one hell of a man and sexy as all hell. Judah is a very lucky man.

  15. 5 out of 5

    M.I.A

    This is good. Really. Just a case of wrong metal space for this book ? I just found myself not quite on board with the writing style. Dialogue is on point, it's the inner monologues and the summary-like descriptions that had me disconnecting from the story line. I simply couldn't immerse myself or connect fully with the story or the characters. Which is odd because honestly the characters are all multi-dimensional, even the secondary characters. All of them intriguing. The protagonists had inter This is good. Really. Just a case of wrong metal space for this book ? I just found myself not quite on board with the writing style. Dialogue is on point, it's the inner monologues and the summary-like descriptions that had me disconnecting from the story line. I simply couldn't immerse myself or connect fully with the story or the characters. Which is odd because honestly the characters are all multi-dimensional, even the secondary characters. All of them intriguing. The protagonists had interesting personalities. Judah the ballet dancer who's had his life altered by health concerns. Mouthy, snarky, defensive, captivating, sweet and an overall complicated individual just trying to find a new purpose in life. Morgan, widower with an outer shell of a gentlemen, a man's man, reasonable, mature but with a deep well of surprising discoveries that make him anything but ordinary. See I liked them... I should be gushing. Really. The setting is super picturesque. Small town vibes. Many things to like. But, unfortunately I was bored with sparks of "nicely put Jay Hogan" . I think I'm just not in the mood for these kind of contemporary reads at the moment. >_< That's not to say others won't love this, and most of my GR buddies who's taste in books matches mine have loved it. So this definitely a case of it's me, not the book! Recommending to lovers of MM contemporary.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Gemini Chronicle

    Star removed because I felt like they got together too soon. I really enjoyed the side characters, the town, the banter, but what fell short for me was the steamy scenes. It almost felt like it was more intense leading up to the sex. After their first time, I kind of lost interest. Which sucks, but I’m a picky bitch when it comes to books. The two MC’s were very sweet together. I would’ve liked to see more push and pull, although I appreciated the low angst of it all. I’m more of a slow burn, de Star removed because I felt like they got together too soon. I really enjoyed the side characters, the town, the banter, but what fell short for me was the steamy scenes. It almost felt like it was more intense leading up to the sex. After their first time, I kind of lost interest. Which sucks, but I’m a picky bitch when it comes to books. The two MC’s were very sweet together. I would’ve liked to see more push and pull, although I appreciated the low angst of it all. I’m more of a slow burn, deny-feelings-until-they-explosively-blow-up-in-the-bedroom type of person. That’s just my own personal preference though, and I understand not all romance novels will be like that. The lead up is my favourite part of a romance novel. The stolen glances, subtle touches, the yearning...that’s not to say I ONLY enjoy that part of a romance novel. With this one, I didn’t feel like I knew the characters as individuals until they were together. But you know what? It made me grin like a loon. I was entertained and it made me very happy. This is my first time reading this author and I thoroughly enjoyed the writing.

  17. 4 out of 5

    ♥Sharon♥

    4.5 stars! What a little gem this was! My first time reading Jay Hogan and it was such a great story. The two men she dished up for this tale were simply beautiful. ❤ And holy shit were they HOT! Whether they were together, apart, fighting or loving on each other it really didn’t matter. Judah and Morgan was all that and a bag of chips! LOL Yummy delicious chips. ❤ But seriously Morgan was the dreamy one and Jordan had enough sass in him to cover them both. Jordan was Morgan’s yin and Morgan was J 4.5 stars! What a little gem this was! My first time reading Jay Hogan and it was such a great story. The two men she dished up for this tale were simply beautiful. ❤ And holy shit were they HOT! Whether they were together, apart, fighting or loving on each other it really didn’t matter. Judah and Morgan was all that and a bag of chips! LOL Yummy delicious chips. ❤ But seriously Morgan was the dreamy one and Jordan had enough sass in him to cover them both. Jordan was Morgan’s yin and Morgan was Jordan’s yang. Their story was sweet and sexy and had more depth than I was expecting. There were some pretty fantastic secondary characters too. Terry and Hannah were my favorites. And I adored how everything came together in the end. Even with that bit of mystery and suspense that I initially thought was it really necessary? It worked nicely and added another lovely layer to these two men. I know my review isn’t anything grand but if you enjoy Jay Hogan’s writing then this one is a must! If she is new to you then this one is a must! If you are looking for an age gap MM then this one is a must! I mean how can you pass up bearded Morgan and in dancer tights Jordan?? Just check it out!!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Denise H.

    Officer Morgan and the ex-ballet dancer, discover their fates ! Painted Bay, New Zealand, is where Judah has returned, when he couldn’t dance ballet any longer. Tragic. * Judah is 25, muscled, strong and lean, and was atop his field, but now he’s wallowing, suffering and lost. He helps his brother with their mussel farm. * Morgan, 35, is a Fisheries Officer, a big, hairy bear of a man, and plays rugby. His wife died of cancer five years ago, and he’s bi. The small town remembers young Judah, Officer Morgan and the ex-ballet dancer, discover their fates ! Painted Bay, New Zealand, is where Judah has returned, when he couldn’t dance ballet any longer. Tragic. * Judah is 25, muscled, strong and lean, and was atop his field, but now he’s wallowing, suffering and lost. He helps his brother with their mussel farm. * Morgan, 35, is a Fisheries Officer, a big, hairy bear of a man, and plays rugby. His wife died of cancer five years ago, and he’s bi. The small town remembers young Judah, and now they are different and care and are kinder. Judah and Morgan flirt and hang out, people begin to find out about his problems, and later, the two men will be getting sexy times, which change everything for them. We see family engaging, misjudging, fish poachers, and more bonding. Morgan and Judah get deeper feelings, but Judah’s health holds him back. They’ve become close, and Morgan knows what he’s getting into. So, we have tension all around, family issues, Morgan’s investigating, and looking ahead to new horizon’s. Meanwhile the guys hot and sizzling sex is truly powerful and passionate. When choices need to be made, they talk and postpone the decisions. The help Judah gives the school program changes his mind. We have internal thoughts, hot men, wonderful flawed characters, a busy, fast paced story, with everything we like for our reading. A marvelously written tale. Highly recommended. Enjoy ! =====

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alisa

    This is a new author for me so I wasn't sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised and found I really enjoyed this book. I liked the plot line and all of the characters. I think we got some clues as to who the next books will be about and I'm really looking forward to those. This is a new author for me so I wasn't sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised and found I really enjoyed this book. I liked the plot line and all of the characters. I think we got some clues as to who the next books will be about and I'm really looking forward to those.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Aki | nose buried in books | ❤️ |

    What a fantastic book, as always! I simply adore this author's style and I can't wait for the next book, it can't come soon enough!! What a fantastic book, as always! I simply adore this author's style and I can't wait for the next book, it can't come soon enough!!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Chappy

    AMAZING!!! I adored everything about this book. Judah is going through some hard times and he'll trying to come to terms with his new reality. He's lost so much but he starts to realize that a sexy fisheries officer might be just what he needs. The sex is full of off the charts hotness including a bossy top, lots of body hair and a ballet legging fetish. Highly recommend AMAZING!!! I adored everything about this book. Judah is going through some hard times and he'll trying to come to terms with his new reality. He's lost so much but he starts to realize that a sexy fisheries officer might be just what he needs. The sex is full of off the charts hotness including a bossy top, lots of body hair and a ballet legging fetish. Highly recommend

  22. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Jay Hogan has this beautiful way of writing that transports you straight into the story. I’ve never been to NZ, but almost can feel I have with her beautiful imagery. This story was no exception and I loved reading about Judah and Morgan. Both of them have been through a lot, but there is an instant chemistry and amazing banter right from the start. The secondary characters were amazing in their own right (even though there were some grade a jerks), and I can’t wait to see who gets the next in t Jay Hogan has this beautiful way of writing that transports you straight into the story. I’ve never been to NZ, but almost can feel I have with her beautiful imagery. This story was no exception and I loved reading about Judah and Morgan. Both of them have been through a lot, but there is an instant chemistry and amazing banter right from the start. The secondary characters were amazing in their own right (even though there were some grade a jerks), and I can’t wait to see who gets the next in the series. A lot of heat, a little dash of suspense, a whole lot of love (learning to love someone new and learning to love yourself as well), I have to say I definitely recommend this one.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Joyfully Jay

    A Joyfully Jay review. 4.5 stars I have read all of Jay Hogan’s books and this one hit the sweet spot for me. With two interesting characters that spark and connect from the start, Judah and Morgan’s story was a pleasure to read. Judah was living the life of his dreams until a medical diagnosis stopped it all. I enjoyed reading about an ailment not usually seen, and Hogan does a good job showing how debilitating Meniere’s disease is. Not only does it effect Judah’s balance so much that he can’t da A Joyfully Jay review. 4.5 stars I have read all of Jay Hogan’s books and this one hit the sweet spot for me. With two interesting characters that spark and connect from the start, Judah and Morgan’s story was a pleasure to read. Judah was living the life of his dreams until a medical diagnosis stopped it all. I enjoyed reading about an ailment not usually seen, and Hogan does a good job showing how debilitating Meniere’s disease is. Not only does it effect Judah’s balance so much that he can’t dance, some days just standing upright is impossible. He came back to the place he couldn’t wait to get away from—he was bullied as a teen and his brother never stood up for him—and Judah is not handling any of it well. His story is compelling and emotional and his struggles seem to have no end. There was a warm love story here for Judah and Morgan, complete with great banter, sparkling chemistry, and doses of hurt and comfort. Off-Balance is the first book in the Painted Bay series and with tiny sparks illuminated of whose story might be next, I look forward to returning to this small town. Read Michelle's review in its entirety here.

  24. 4 out of 5

    ⭐️AMST⭐️

    ~ 3 Stars ~ I really wanted to like it more then I did. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t bad, the writing was really good and the plot was interesting but I found most of the characters pretty annoying (except Morgan, I ADORED him). Also I felt like it was too long and it could have been easily a 100 pages less. I’d definitely check more books by this author cause I liked the writing and I’m hoping for a better luck with them 😊

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kazza

    Off Balance is the first book I've read by Jay Hogan. It won't be the last. Beautiful, emotional, visceral, passionate storytelling. Charismatic and totally endearing, engaging MCs - Judah and Morgan are favourites now. Great writing, all of it, including the poaching, the curveballs life can throw at you. However, the romance and the love is the essence, the heart and soul of the book, the town of Painted Bay and its residents, a past love, the necessary canvas, the backdrop. If you're looking f Off Balance is the first book I've read by Jay Hogan. It won't be the last. Beautiful, emotional, visceral, passionate storytelling. Charismatic and totally endearing, engaging MCs - Judah and Morgan are favourites now. Great writing, all of it, including the poaching, the curveballs life can throw at you. However, the romance and the love is the essence, the heart and soul of the book, the town of Painted Bay and its residents, a past love, the necessary canvas, the backdrop. If you're looking for a contemporary gay romance, and a couple to love and immerse yourself completely with, I have no fear in saying this is the book for you. Blog review at-

  26. 4 out of 5

    Amy Dufera

    4.5 Stars Damn, this cover! Not only is the cover spectacular, but the story is wonderful too. Jay Hogan's Off Balance captured me immediately, as the first page jumps us into a mesmerizing situation. My heart broke for Judah before the story even really began. Judah and Morgan's romance is complex. The two men work well together, with some fun first times, as Morgan's never acted on his bisexuality before. But, it's a tale with some tough angst at the core. Morgan's life revolves around the smal 4.5 Stars Damn, this cover! Not only is the cover spectacular, but the story is wonderful too. Jay Hogan's Off Balance captured me immediately, as the first page jumps us into a mesmerizing situation. My heart broke for Judah before the story even really began. Judah and Morgan's romance is complex. The two men work well together, with some fun first times, as Morgan's never acted on his bisexuality before. But, it's a tale with some tough angst at the core. Morgan's life revolves around the small town of Painted Bay. And, despite enjoying his time back home, Judah can't make a living in the small town. This is a tale with a serious health condition. The author excels in exploring it in an impressive manner. It's a guiding factor in Judah's life and the author handles it all with care. The storyline also follows Morgan's job, which is something I thought might be boring. It really isn't something I am interested in, but I enjoyed the way the author handles it. Honestly, I am still shocked that these two drastically different careers can be tackled together. The difference in their careers definitely parallel the differences in their characters. This is a story with a slew of family issues. I found myself mesmerized with some of the scenes. Judah and his brother are proof that there are always two sides to every story. I love their interactions and how loaded they are with depth. Written in first person pov, I love how easily the emotions jump off the pages. As well, the author transports the reader into the setting. New Zealand is one of the most breathtaking places on earth, and I love being reminded of it's beauty. The author also includes some intrigue and mystery that keeps things on the edge. Off Balance is a beautiful story of healing. Jay Hogan once again delights in a stunning story of learning how to pick up the pieces when you're life dreams are ended abruptly. It's a wonderful story which I highly recommend.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Yi1ian

    Why haven’t I read Jay Hogan before? This story was very well written, with engaging broken men, and entire cast of characters just waiting for their own novel. Clearly the author did a lot of research on Menieres and sympathetically depicted the impact it had on Judah. I appreciate authors who can portray a difficult life situation realistically and with hope. Anyone with a gigantic octopus has my attention!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Adriana

    After a minute or so, he lifted his chin slightly onto my chest, eyes hidden behind a swathe of dark hair, and spoke in a voice almost too soft to hear. “I think I love you, Morgan.” I froze, my head wanting to run, my heart wanting to take a shovel and dig a hole so big under the two of us that he could never leave me. I nuzzled into his hair and cradled him closer. “I love you too, Judah.” Not that it changed a thing. Not that it didn’t change the world.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Toni K

    I cannot read and rate this. I'm still at 50% and in the middle of a sex scene and let me tell you, it's not a place I generally stop at. The characters are great and unusual, as usual for this author. Everything is great, except it isn't. A lot of characters are introduced and I see the beginnings of a lot of stories here, which is always exciting for me. The sex is HOT. And still, somehow, it drags. A lot. The last 100 pages I read take place in a single day - not even a night and a day. It's I cannot read and rate this. I'm still at 50% and in the middle of a sex scene and let me tell you, it's not a place I generally stop at. The characters are great and unusual, as usual for this author. Everything is great, except it isn't. A lot of characters are introduced and I see the beginnings of a lot of stories here, which is always exciting for me. The sex is HOT. And still, somehow, it drags. A lot. The last 100 pages I read take place in a single day - not even a night and a day. It's too much. The characters are so hot for each other that they stop to shower and prep, yey, then stop again to talk about a dead spouse, always appropriate, and so on, and so forth... Aaaand I began to hate it instead of love it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sanaa

    3.5 stars. It wasn't a bad book but I just wasn't into it as I thought I would be. It's a case of its me, not you because a lot of people seemed to love it 3.5 stars. It wasn't a bad book but I just wasn't into it as I thought I would be. It's a case of its me, not you because a lot of people seemed to love it

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