It Can’t Be You ( Phoenix Club 1) by CJ Bishop

Title: It Can’t be You            Word Count: 175 pgs
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

ABEL

Blurb:19-year-old Abel Sims – hot, sexy stripper – is a favorite at the gay strip club The Phoenix. Having no family but his 16-year-old sister, Savannah, and coming from the streets – The Phoenix club has become his home, the other boys his close-knit family.

Abel doesn’t trust the outside world and is content to remain within his safe haven. But when an overzealous customer sends Abel to the ER, he meets young, handsome Dr. Devlin Grant. The instant attraction he feels for the man stirs up the nightmares of his past, causing him to resist his new feelings. But when Savannah gets sick and ends up in Devlin’s care, it becomes impossible to avoid the doctor.

And just when his heart is ready to trust this new found love – Abel is confronted with a disturbing fact about the doctor that reaches deep into the past he has been hiding and running away from.

ABEL is an emotionally charged, sexy, heart-wrenching love story that will break your heart, then put it back together again.

Warning: This book contains homosexual relations and crude language not suitable for readers below 17yo.

NOTE: For those coming across the ‘Phoenix Club’ series sporadically, they were written in this order, and if possible, should be read accordingly, due to story lines that run through all the books :

ABEL
CALEB
ANGEL
GABRIEL
MAXWELL

My Review: Abel is one of the sexy young strippers at the Phoenix Club. He is only 19 yrs old , but he has lived a very rough life from an early age. He does his best for the only person that’s ever loved him, his sister Savannah. Savannah is 16 and very sickly. Abel has spent all his life protecting the very fragile young girl, but he wouldn’t trade it for anything. Abel was repeatedly rape by one of the counselors at the shelter they stayed at. Abel stayed quiet and endured his abuse, so that the counselor wouldn’t start on Savannah.

When he is hurt at work by an overzealous client who tried to rape him, his friend Cole takes him to the hospital. This is where his path crosses Dr. Devlin Grant. Devlin is very interested in the sexy young man, but he tries to maintain his professionalism. Devlin causes Abel’s heart rate to kick up a notch. Abel feels a frisson of fear, because for the first time he is attracted to someone and would like to pursue it. Abel knows he has too much baggage and he feels like his life is too tainted for a man like Devlin. He makes an effort to keep his disinterested facade in place. After all, Abel won’t have to see Devlin  once he leaves the hospital.  
                                                                                     

 Little does Abel know that their lives will be even more intertwined. When Abel’s beloved sister falls sick in the middle of the night, Abel calls his friend Cole who helps them to the hospital. Devlin happens to be the doctor on call. He is very surprised to see Abel so soon, the young man who has dominated his thoughts. After running a battery of tests, Devlin gives Abel the most devastating shocking news, Savannah is HIV positive. Abel feels gutted and his world starts imploding around him. Abel blames himself and scrambles to find an explanation for this diagnosis. He thinks back to one of the nights when they lived on the streets and went dumpster diving for food. Abel remembered  something pricked Savannah and she said it felt like a needle. Everything is clear to Abel now and he just knows he has to do whatever it takes to keep Savannah alive.  

A solution falls into Abel’s lap via an indecent proposal. His boss Max tells Abel about a proposition he has received on his behalf. Horatio Kaplan a wealthy client of the club wants to pay Abel handsomely to spend time with him sexually. Abel feels disgusted and dirty , but he knows there is no other way to pay for the care Savannah will need. Abel visits Savannah everyday in the hospital and he is always tortured by his ever growing feelings for the handsome doctor. Devlin starts developing serious feelings for Abel, but he soon realizes Abel has been hurt deeply and is very skittish.

Their first attempt at a coffee date goes horribly wrong when Devlin encourages Abel to have faith that his sister will be alright. This touches a nerve in Abel , because of all the memories it brings up of the horrendous injustice of the rapes that he endured when he was no more than a child. Devlin realizes that Abel’s outburst stems from a far deeper pain than him saying the wrong thing. His suspicions are tentatively confirmed by Savannah when she breaks down and tell him the life they have lived thus far. Devlin cries for these two beautiful souls who have sustained so much pain.   

Abel tries to keep his distance and pushes Devlin away as he knows its for the best. He is in no position to start any kind of relationship, when he is burdened with so many issues. Abel goes ahead and set up the parameters for the ‘arrangement’ he will be entering with Kaplan. Abel’s friends Cole and Gabe help him  in a most pleasurable way to get used to intimacy so that he won’t get a panic attack when he has consensual sex. It is Cole’s and Gabe’s  loving friendship that keeps his demons away. The only place Abel really feels safe is in the controlled environment of the strip club.

Abel is shocked and nervous when Devlin shows up in one of the private rooms in the club saying he wants to talk. Abel is so afraid of the hopes and dreams he sees reflected in Devlin’s eyes, but he is weakened by his desires to taste something good and wholesome for a change. Abel gives into his desires to take something just for himself. The spark between the two soon turns into an inferno and they both give into their carnal desires. Devlin leaves after with hopes and the promise of a lunch date. Abel doesn’t want to give Devlin false hope or hurt him, but he wants this.

Devlin proposes a way to help Abel take care of Savannah financially through a fund set up with insurance from his brother’s death. Abel feels a glimmer of hope to have an alternate plan. Devlin tells Abel the story of how his brother Craig was a counselor who was killed by one of the teenagers he tried to help. Immediately Abel’s hopes are dashed when he realizes that Devlin’s dead brother Craig and his former abuser is one and the same. It turns out that Abel is the teenager who killed him. To be continued…..I give this my ratings of 4- lose the underwear.

 

 

 

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