You Are Cordially Invited
Book five in the Auckland Med series (I’m not sure it’s the last one?), You Are Cordially Invited is ‘The One With the Wedding’ – although it’s much more than a fluffy wedding short – in which everyone’s favourite, fabulous, feisty Charge Nurse, Cam Wano, ties the knot with the love of his life, Reuben Taylor of the All Blacks. There’s a wedding, yes, but there’s a lot more going on as well, as Cam and Reuben are faced with some momentous decisions just weeks away from their walk down the aisle – and Cam has to face some of his worst fears and personal demons.
Around three years since Reuben and Cam first met in Crossing the Touchline, they’ve settled into coupledom and family life pretty well. Reuben has adopted his brother’s autistic son, Cory, and he and Cam are doing a great job providing a stable, nurturing environment for him. And of course, they love him to bits. But with Reuben being one of the highest-profile sportsmen in the country, the level of media intrusion into their lives is a continual worry; they both knew, going into their relationship, that it would be an issue, but there are still plenty of people out there who are prepared to hate on Reuben’s choice of such an obviously out and proud partner, and neither of them want Cory being dragged into the unwanted spotlight with them. With just a couple of weeks to go before the Big Day and following a riotous and raunchy bachelor party, Cam and Reuben are nursing epic hangovers when Cam gets a call from his mum – and is strangely uncommunicative about it. Reuben knows something is up, but he also knows his man and doesn’t push. But that doesn’t mean he’s going to leave it alone completely, and instead of heading off to training, he turns up at Margaret Wano’s house just in time to meet Cam going in.
The call Cam received was to tell him that his nineteen-year-old cousin Stella is pregnant. Stella plans to put the baby up for adoption, but wanted to explore the options of an adoption within the family first – and that Cam and Reuben are her first choice of potential parents, if they’re interested. It’s a bit of a bombshell; they do want more children, but had decided to defer enlarging their family until after Reuben retires from professional sport so that they can share the child-rearing duties – and obviously, there’s Cory to take into account, too. It’s a golden opportunity, but it’s not the right time… is it?
The adoption storyline is just one of the things that hit Cam and Reuben in the run-up to their wedding – like they haven’t got enough on their plate already, what with taking care of last-minute wedding details, fending off the increased media attention, and Reuben’s toxic and obnoxious father spouting off his homophobic opinions to anyone who will listen.
A shocking development later in the book (which I’m not going to spoil) just puts the couple under even greater pressure… and I couldn’t help feeling as though I’d stepped into a soap opera. Cam and Reuben are hit with one potentially life-changing problem after another – and it felt like overkill.
I enjoyed seeing the Auckland Med gang again; their friendships are really well written and the author has created a wonderfully strong sense of camaraderie between them so that you know, without a doubt, they’ll always have each other’s backs. Cam is still a standout as a character – snarky, bossy and with a huge-heart – and his chemistry with Reuben is as strong as ever. They’re a great couple, and the thing I liked best about this book is the way Jay Hogan continues to develop their relationship. There aren’t all that many “established couple” novels in contemporary romance, which traditionally end at the HEA, so catching up with Cam and Reuben and finding them still working at it was good to see. I liked the way the author explores an issue that could have become a serious fault-line for them – Cam’s need to control every situation as a way of protecting those he cares for. It’s well-intentioned, and a product of Cam’s need to create a safe space around himself, but when it comes to Reuben, wanting to enable him to focus on his professional life without sweating the smaller stuff means Cam has denied him the opportunity to make choices and have some say in the way they run their lives. And despite his promises not to keep things back or make decisions on his own, Cam has fallen back into his old ways – and has to learn that sharing burdens and asking for help are signs of strength rather than weakness.
That’s what lies at the heart of this story, the ways a couple finds to compromise and balance their relationship, and how difficult it can be when that couple involves two such strong individuals. Unfortunately however, while the extraneous drama provides some really good opportunities to illustrate that point, it also gets in the way, and it stretched my credulity just a bit too far.
There were things about this book I liked very much – the adoption storyline is really interesting, for instance – but it just didn’t hang together cohesively, and I can’t rate it as highly as I’ve rated Jay Hogan’s other books. I like a bit of drama and I like angsty stories, but here, I wish the author had reined it all in a bit. Sometimes less really is more.
You Are Cordially Invited may not have worked for me quite as well as I’d hoped, but I’m still a big Jay Hogan fan and will certainly be picking up whatever she publishes next.
Buy it at: Amazon or your local independent retailer
Visit our Amazon Storefront
|Review Date:||July 4, 2021|
|Book Type:||Contemporary Romance|
|Review Tags:||adoption | Auckland Med series | Male/Male romance | New Zealand | nurse | Queer romance | rugby|
I really enjoyed reading this but I, too, could have done without the ‘shocking development’. I just felt it was too predictable and a common plot line of sports stories, whilst the rest of this book dealt with less usual issues.
I loved meeting Cam and Reuben again, plus all their friends from the series, especially Sandy. I think I’d give it a solid B.
I really hope that the book to follow Off Balance is the next from this author!
I think it is – I can’t remember the title, but I’m sure I’ve seen her say on her FB page that it’s in the final round of edits.
I was wavering on the grade (between a B and B-), but in the end, I found it just too OTT. I did like the adoption storyline, though – that was unusual and I’d have liked to have seen a bit more of that instead of the Big Drama.
I liked this better than you did, Caz. I had heard it was a wedding novella and the end of the series so I went in thinking it would be lighthearted. I was pleasantly surprised to find the book had a lot of meat to it and I enjoyed seeing the further evolution of Cam and Reuben’s relationship. Although the viewpoints shifted back and forth between Cam and Reuben, I would say this was mostly Cam’s book but that was OK with me and I liked seeing Cam’s personal growth. The bachelor party scene was super hot! I was also happy to see all the other couples from the previous books, although I was disappointed that we really only got interactions with 1/2 of each couple (I think the ones that were closer to Cam). And I agree with you that at the end, it doesn’t seem as clear that this is the last book in the series….
JH does say in a note at the back that there are two other characters who deserve an HEA, but I’m not sure if that will happen in this series, or another one.
I’m glad you enjoyed it – I did, too, but not as much as her other books; I’ve not so far given her books anything lower than a B, but this one didn’t quite get there for reasons I’ve mentioned.