Friday, 18 May 2018

His Cocky Valet (Undue Arrogance #1) by Cole McCade

347 pages
Release Date: May 12, 2018
Buy links: Amazon US | Amazon UK


Ash Harrington's life is out of control.

At twenty-three years old, he's suddenly the head of a multibillion dollar global corporation he is in no way equipped to run. His father is dying. His mother's run away. He's spent his entire adult life playing fast and loose with his life and his loves, but when he's dragged into a position of responsibility with the fate of the company on his shoulders, he goes spinning into freefall.

And Brand Forsythe is the only man to catch him.

Icy, detached, nearly twice Ash's age, the massive monolith of a British valet is impossible to deal with and like no servant Ash has ever met. Domineering and controlling, Brand quickly puts Ash's life in order.

And quickly takes Ash in hand.

Even if by day Ash has to project authority, leadership, and night he's discovering the breathless pleasure of giving up control. The shivering thrill of surrendering to Brand. The sweet taboo of being submissive to the man in even the smallest things. Ash can't quite understand why it feels so good to put himself in Brand Forsythe's capable, commanding hands.

He only knows, as he faces the hardest decisions of his life...the only thing that can save him is the love of his cocky valet.

Author's Note: If you're reading this, you likely know why this book exists. Bask in the petty, my darlings. Bask. 


In the past I’ve picked up books for all sorts of reasons. Word-of-mouth recommendations (of course), because a blurb intrigued me, because I’d been a fan of the author in question for ages, and, on very rare occasions, because the cover attracted my attention — never before I have decided to read a book to make a statement.

As they say: there’s a first for everything and His Cocky Valet will go down in my reading history as the first time I picked up a book because a point had to be made, once and for all and without any wriggle room.

I’m not going to get into the whole ‘cocky-gate’ debacle. Chances are you’ll know all about it, and if you don’t, I suggest you try Google. Go find one of the many well written accounts about this ill-advised stunt by an author who will remain unnamed here but should have known better. Or, read the author's note at the end of His Cocky Valet. I just want to add that Undue Arrogance can lead to surprising results; positive for some and shocking for others.

Since I knew this book was, initially at least, written to make a point and in record time and because I had never read anything by this author before, I have to admit that my expectations weren’t too high. I was fully prepared to cut Mr. McCade a whole lot of slack, provided he got that cocky point across. Before I’d finished the first 10% of this book I realised there was no reason to make any allowances. The story had captured me, Ash and Forsyth intrigued me, and I almost forgot why this story had been written in the first place.

Which takes me from my explanation to my actual thoughts about the story.

“Having a valet was weird.

Poor Ash Harrington is flailing. Twenty-three years young and never required to do anything except enjoy himself, he is lost when his father turns out to be dying and he suddenly finds himself in charge of a large corporation he knows little to nothing about. Torn between grieve about his father’s imminent demise, anger that he didn’t even know his father was ill, and utter confusion about what he’s supposed to do about running an empire, he just want to run and hide.

Enter Brand Forsyth, personal valet. Send to Ash by a friend, he takes one look at the young man and decides he’s in need of saving, and that he, Forsyth is the man to come to the rescue. Taking control from the start he sets about organising Ash’s life, not excepting no for an answer.

Ash may protest at first, but it doesn’t take long at all for both him and Forsyth to realise that being taken in hand is exactly what Ash not only needs but also craves. But, please don’t make the mistake of thinking this is one of those stories where one ‘weaker’, more ‘helpless’ character needs to be saved by someone ‘stronger’, more ‘resourceful’, even if that is the first impression this story makes. Ash may be in desperate need of someone to take him in hand, Forsyth’s need to be allowed to take care of someone, take control of them and their life, is just as pressing, the only difference being that he flays less when he doesn’t get what he requires.

There are definite Mary Poppins vibes to Brand Forsythe, starting with his ‘bottomless coat’ which somehow always contains exactly what Ash needs. But his apparent ability to read Ash like a book, and expertise at just about anything he turns his hand to, remind me of the world’s most famous nanny too.

This is the very sexy tale of two men who couldn’t be more different, finding exactly what they need in each other. The bond between them is established at lightning speed and yet, it didn’t feel contrived. There were moments when my heart broke, mostly for Ash but I have to admit that Forsyth got me going once or twice too.

I enjoyed the push and pull between these two characters. I loved that the author took me deep into both their minds, making me live through pain and pleasure with Ash and Forsyth. But the reason this book will stay with me is that it took me by surprise. The basic story line allowed for no end of stereo-typical and therefore predictable twist, turns, and angst. I’m so delighted the author didn’t stick to the familiar path but instead created his own. There’s nothing I love more than being taken by surprise by a book; His Cocky Valet did that in spades and I enjoyed every single word of it.

Cole McCade has earned my awe. I’m both jealous and impressed that he managed to rush-write a book and still come up with sentences like the following:

“That feeling of being weak and yet not afraid; of being overpowered and so entirely overwhelmed. It shot through Ash in warm, sighing sparks, until he felt as though he were flesh stitched from fireflies—and each slow, plying caress of Brand’s lips made the light inside him burn, until he was all warmth and melting softness to that firm and dominating touch.”

In fact, I found this author's writing to be lush, vivid and seductive. It drew me into the story and the individual characters' hearts and minds - made me part of their world and experiences skilfully and yet without ever coming across as contrived or manipulative. 

In his author’s note, Cole McCade says ‘bask in the petty’. After finishing this story my reaction to that statement is twofold. First of all, something isn’t petty if it needs to be said or done. And secondly, if this is what petty looks like, where do I sign up for more?

“He was tangled in Brand, and Brand was tangled in him, the knots so inextricably twined they’d never come free.”


  1. I completely agree. This was one of the best books I'v e read so far this year. The language was like a painting, it was exquisite. The love scenes were some of the most erotic and sensual I have ever read..

    1. And yet, written in record time to prove a point. As I said I'm both in awe and jealous.