Tuesday, May 29, 2018

New Release-Review & Excerpt: BREAK THROUGH by CF White (The District Line #2)


Should falling in love really get in the way of your lifelong dreams? 

Sebastian Saunders is 3000 miles away from home. Working for his father’s expanded business in New York, he's left behind the music career he craved, the friends he relied upon and possibly the love of his life. In a city that never sleeps, how can the nights cure a broken heart? 

Jay Ruttman is in London, throwing himself harder into football and his quest to make it on the professional playing field. Locking himself back in the closet, how can he ever open the door, and his heart, again?

A chance encounter in New York where Jay and Seb rekindle their lost romance sets them both on a path to self-discovery and coming to terms with their past, their present and their future. 

This is the second part of the District Line serial, where half-time oranges are swapped for the Big Apple.


Jay inhaled a sharp breath, calming his nerves. Scraping a hand through his hair, he tried to get a hold on his over beating heart and the mush swirling in the pit of his stomach. He’d just bailed. On the team. Having landed, then ushered into the hotel, he’d then snuck out. Career suicide. But he had to. After listening to that iPod on repeat for eight hours straight, and going through all the old phone messages he hadn’t ever returned, he knew he couldn’t let this opportunity pass him by. Perhaps it was then a good thing when his phone had been ripped from his trembling hands by Bruno and shoved in the Skipper’s hotel room safe with cackling heckles from the rest of the lads. It meant he couldn’t call ahead, and gave him the perfect excuse to leave them to their team camaraderie and slink off out the back. But it also meant that he now had to do this in person. 

He peered up at the glass-fronted sky scraper that he’d managed to track down its whereabouts using the hotel’s free internet service, and licked his dry lips. Now he was here, he wasn’t sure he could go through with it. Maybe he should just turn on his heel, leap back in the cab that had brought him here and return to his team and training.

The yellow taxi skidded off from the roadside, joining the bustling Friday afternoon traffic in New York’s financial district. That felt like a shove to his back. So with a deep breath he pushed open the revolving doors and into the reception area. Scanning the residing business, he located the one he needed and bounded over to the turnstiles, managing to creep in behind some girl using a lanyard. Confidence. Like he belonged here. That should work, if he didn’t open his mouth to scratch the ceiling with his Cockney accent. 

“Which floor?” the suited girl asked with a broad smile as she stepped into the arriving elevator.

Sh*t. Jay followed after, then simply pressed the correct button. East End cheek could also work in these situations. He hoped. The elevator dinged and Jay stepped out and into a bustling office, separated by reception desk where a red-haired girl sat filing her nails. 

“Good afternoon, sir.” She slipped the emery board into her drawer and smiled all white teeth. “Welcome to Saunders & Son. How may I help you today?”

“Here to see Seb―Mr. Saunders.” His attempt at masking his accent failed through the trembling delivery. 

“Do you have an appointment?” 

“No, I just―”

“I’m terribly sorry, sir. Without an appointment, I can’t disturb him unless you are on his list.” 

“What list is that?”

“His VIP list. But even then, I probably shouldn’t―”

“Ruttman, Jay Ruttman.” A small smile curved Jay’s lips as Natalie rolled her finger down the names scrawled in pen on a torn piece of lined A4 paper. That handwriting, carefree and messy with circles over the i’s instead of dots, made Jay’s spine tingle.

“I’m very sorry, sir.” Natalie furrowed her brow. “But you’re not on the list. I’m going to have to ask you to make an appointment.” She swivelled in her chair and clicked a few buttons on her mouse. “How about next Thursday at two p.m.? He has a vacancy then.”

Jay’s heart thumped, his shoulders deflating. He’d been so close. He could almost taste the scent of Seb’s distinctive aftershave lingering in the air. And that gave him renewed vigour to keep trying. 

“How about I go knock on his door?”

“I can’t let you do that, sir. It really is more than my job’s worth.”

Jay glanced over Natalie’s head. “What if I guarantee you that he won’t mind?” He wasn’t sure he could guarantee that, what with having ignored Seb’s attempts at keeping in touch. Maybe this was Seb’s way of proving that Jay now meant nothing to him. That their time together was now a distant, forgotten, memory. Then the lyrics from the last song that he had listened to on the flight over rang in his ears. I’ll never forget the time…

“You’re not on the list, sir. This is my guarantee.” She waved the piece of paper in the air. “He’d fire me on the spot. He did it to Geena last month. And I need this job. It’s really good money.”

Jay scanned the office again, brain ticking over. He’d come this far. Regardless of his nerves, he had to try. He had to see for himself. Just one look will tell me if I’m wrong. He tugged out an envelope from his inside jacket pocket and waggled it. “How much is a week’s wages for ya, then?”

“What? Why?”

Jay opened the envelope, showing the wodge of American dollars wrapped up in a travel currency wallet. “There’s about five grand in there. How about I go knock and if you do get fired, you can keep it.” Being confident might make her think he’d be right, even if he wasn’t so sure himself.

Natalie gaped. Slowly, she reached over the desk, slid the envelope from Jay’s hand and flicked through the paper bills with a low whistle. “Okay.”

Nodding, Jay pushed open the hip-height barrier. With soft steps, he walked through the main office, focusing on the closed wooden oak door ahead displaying the name Mr. Sebastian Saunders, Partner, engraved on a brass plaque.

Natalie trotted after him as quickly as her tight pencil skirt would allow. Clutching the wallet of cash to her chest, she swallowed as Jay rapped his knuckles on the office door.

“F*ck off!” The reply barked through the wood.

Natalie raised her eyebrows and bit her manicured thumbnail. Jay cleared his throat, pressing down the brass handle and as he opened the door, Seb whipped his head up from the computer with a firm scowl across his lips.

“I know I ain’t on that special list of yours.” Jay’s heart beat a little faster as Seb’s gaze finally met his. “But I sorta hoped that was an oversight on your part.”

Seb blinked. “Jay?

Jay smiled. That look. He then angled his head back to Natalie peering in through the doorway. “I’ve given your receptionist five grand to be able to come in here and she not get the can. Don’t make me lose that cash. It’s all I got ‘til I get home.”

Seb’s mouth fell open. His fingers hovered over the keyboard, as if he were frozen to the spot. Eventually, he cleared his throat. “Natalie?”

“Yes, sir? I’m sorry, sir—”

“Close the door behind Mr. Ruttman, please, and divert all calls to the sh*tbag. I’m no longer available for the rest of the night.”

Jay’s smile grew, his cheeks hurting.

“Yes, sir. No problem, sir, and by sh*tbag I assume you mean Mr. Coles?”

“That’s right, Natalie. Thank you. Oh, and Natalie?”

“Yes, sir?”

“Mr. Ruttman would like his money back.”

“Oh right, yes, sir.” Natalie handed the envelope back to Jay and closed the door behind her swift exit.

Tucking the envelope into his inside jacket pocket, Jay’s stomach fluttered unbearably as Seb’s impenetrable brown doe-eyed stare landed on him.

“Now, Rutters, you best tell me how the f*ck you are here.” Seb stood, his chair rolling away on its wheels. “As I am hoping to f*ck this isn’t some dream. Because if it is, I don’t want to wake up.”

Jay smiled, his chest rising. “I made pro. West Ham. We’re playing the New York Red Bulls tomorra for a pre-season friendly.” He shrugged. “Thought I’d check you out while in the area. Rude not to. I’m actually skiving training to be here, which’ll probably land me back on the bench.”

“F*ck,” Seb breathed out, shaking his head as he smiled. “That f*cking accent.”

“Fancy hearin’ some more? If you ain’t busy?” He tucked his hands into his jeans pockets. “Might even say Babs for ya.”

Seb laughed, then switched his computer off at the mains. “Well, in that case.” He scooted around the desk and loosened the knot on his silk tie. “I better make this little rebellious stint of yours worth the while.”

Jay reached out, delicately brushing his fingers over Seb’s to prevent him ripping the tie off altogether. “Leave it.” He roamed his gaze up and down Seb’s suited attire. “Quite like it.”

Seb cocked his head. “Whatever you want, Champ.”

Carra's Review

Okay, first things first—if you haven’t read Kick Off, the first book in this series, you’ll want to make sure you read it first before starting Break Through.  This second book continues the relationship started between Seb and Jay in book one where things are left off on a cliffhanger at the end of that story, picking up not too long after the end of the first one.  I was a bit perturbed by the way things left off at the end of book one, none too happy with either Seb’s father or Seb’s ex, so I was ready to dig in to Break Through as soon as I could.

When things start out, Seb and Jay are still living their separate lives, each following the paths they originally expected to be on.  After as intense of a relationship as they shared in the first book, I was hoping for a lot more this second time around; I found that in spades, and honestly I loved this story more than the first one.  

It’s a case of getting what you want back when you shouldn’t have ever let it go, then not wanting to give it up again no matter the cost and being brave enough to stick to your choice even when things might go sideways on you.  I was proud of Seb and his words and actions, as well as Jay when it came to Seb’s ex.  The advancement of their relationship here was satisfying to watch, even as there was still enough doubt and tension introduced on both sides to keep me wondering if they would truly be able to make a go of it.

While Seb’s father didn’t factor as much into this story (though he still did some), Seb’s ex Stephen did—and if I wanted to slap him silly in book one, here in book two I was pretty much ready to strangle him…which made Jay’s handling of him all the more gratifying.  With Jay still needing to come out to his parents and eventually his team, that’s just one more aspect that was addressed in a manner that had me riveted to the pages.  

Break Through was written well, and ends on a happy note—though since there’s another book to come in the series, I’m not going to get too complacent with this ending.  This story was a 4.5-star read for me, and is one that I’d definitely recommend to M/M romance fans.  Just remember you need to read book one first!  Seb and Jay are scorching hot again, so between that and the adult language this story is meant for readers 18+.

About the Author

Brought up in a relatively small town in Hertfordshire, C F White managed to do what most other residents try to do and fail—leave.

Studying at a West London university, she realised there was a whole city out there waiting to be discovered, so, much like Dick Whittington before her, she never made it back home and still endlessly search for the streets paved with gold, slowly coming to the realisation they’re mostly paved with chewing gum. And the odd bit of graffiti. And those little circles of yellow spray paint where the council point out the pot holes to someone who is supposedly meant to fix them instead of staring at them vacantly whilst holding a polystyrene cup of watered-down coffee.

Eventually moving West to East along that vast District Line, C F White settled for pie and mash, cockles and winkles and a bit of Knees Up Mother Brown to live in the East End of London; securing a job and creating a life, a home and a family.

After her second son was born with a rare disability, her life changed and brought pen and paper after she’d written stories as a child but never had the confidence to show them to the world. Now, having embarked on this writing journey, C F White can’t stop. So strap in, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.  

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