Jeff discusses this week’s release of Netminder (Codename: Winger #4). The guys also announce that they’ll be returning to Coastal Magic Convention for 2020 and that the con’s featured author list and registration will open on June 1.
Jeff reviews Gregory Ashe’s Orientation (Borealis Investigation #1). Will reviews Louisa Master’s The Athlete and the Aristocrat and Human Omega: Discovered on the Slave Planet (Pykh Book 1) by Eileen Glass.
Jay from Joyfully Jay stops by and recommends books by Nora Phoenix, Harper Fox, Lily Morton and Jordan L. Hawk. Jay also talks about the recent Book Lovers Con, which took place earlier this month in New Orleans.
Complete shownotes for episode 190 are at BigGayFictionPodcast.com.
Here’s the text of this week’s book reviews:
Orientation (Borealis Investigation #1) by Gregory Ashe. Reviewed by Jeff Listeners of the podcast know I’ve become a huge fan of Gregory Ashe’s Hazard and Somerset series. Because of those books, I was eager to get Orientation, which is the first in Gregory’s Borealis Investigation series (just released this past Friday on May 24), and the new book simply extends my love of Gregory’s storytelling.
Borealis Investigations is run by Shaw Aldrich and North McKinney two friends and private detectives who are on the verge of losing their business. Because of events that happen before the book begins, North’s license is suspended meaning he can’t actively work on any case. But, one arrives on their doorstep is Matty Fennmore comes looking for Shaw. The young, blonde pretty guy is being blackmailed and he wants Shaw’s help.
It’s not just Matty being blackmailed though. As Shaw and North begin to dig into what’s happening they find an undercurrent of blackmail and deception running through the local LGBTQ community–including politicians and police…and it goes back for years.
It’s also incredibly elaborate, as Shaw and North keep chasing leads they find that even the blackmailed are also blackmailing. They persist with their investigations though even as their lives become in danger, Matty is attacked and demands are made. It’s particularly rough on Shaw because he’s developing feelings for the young man even as he already carries a torch for the married North.
In the vein of Hazard and Somerset, things are never what they seem and that’s one of the many things I like about Gregory’s books. This is a twisted tale and yet there’s never a red herring (at least as I read them) because everything matters and it’s all connected. Once you get to the end you see it as clearly as the detectives do.
I love how Shaw and North are opposite of Hazard and Somers too. Shaw and North have years of true friendship in their history and that makes their working relationship far different than the other two. They rely on and trust each other and that gets them through things that would break most other relationships. There are some particularly difficult situations Shaw and North face and the way Gregory manages to keep the characters grounded–including some really incredible banter–shows their strong history and drives the story forward.
People often keep secrets and boy are there some secrets in here. Shaw has a lot of baggage because he and his boyfriend were assaulted while they were in college and he carries physical and mental scars as a result–those are deeper than North knows. North has some pretty massive secrets as well–and what was going on with him was one of the big shocks of the book for me. Gregory is masterful in how he weaves everything together. It’s stunning and compelling reading.
The second book, Triangulation, is due out August 9 and I can’t wait.
The Athlete and the Aristocrat by Louisa Masters. Reviewed by WillThe athlete of the title is Simon Wood, a world-renowned, but now retired, footballer. And by footballer I mean soccer player.
He’s putting all his time and effort into a new sports charity for underprivileged kids. He gets the backing he needs from the Morel Corporation, with the proviso that Lucien Morel (the aristocrat of the title) serve as business consultant.
Lucien suggests Simon fly with him to Monaco for the weekend. They can work on the plane and discuss business plans for the charity for a few days. The chemistry and connection between them is almost immediate, and it’s not long before they tumble into bed together.
They enjoy a wonderful few months of being “co-workers-with-benefits”, keeping everything on the down-low, fearing that any appearance of impropriety would reflect poorly on the charity. That still doesn’t stop them from falling hard for one another and dreaming of a future together.
The charity launch is a resounding success and, just as they’re about to go public with their relationship, a grotesque tabloid story comes out, threatening everything they’ve worked so hard to achieve.
Things, of course, are eventually resolved. What Louisa Masters did with this particular ending left me deeply satisfied as a reader. The kind of ending that makes you simile and sigh because it’s so utterly, completely perfect.
The thing I loved the most about The Athlete and the Aristocrat is the small, cute, intimate moments that Simon and Lucien shared throughout the book on their way to their HEA. It made them more real. Both of our heroes are insanely handsome, wildly successful, and inordinately wealthy – but it’s how they treat each other during their everyday “regular” lives that humanizes them, and makes you root for their love story.
While this book isn’t officially part of a series, it does share a story world with the author’s previous book, The Bunny and the Billionaire. In that book, Leo (Lucien’s best friend) falls for Australian tourist Ben. Leo and Ben both make an appearance in The Athlete and the Aristocrat and are an important part of the story.
The standard series caveat applies, both books can be read as a stand-alone, but you might get more out of it if you’ve read both. Which is what I recommend, simply because both stories are terrific.
Kudos to the audiobook narrator Seb Yarrick. The book is chock full of international accents (Lucien is French, Simon is British, Ben is Australian). He does a wonderful job. If audio is your thing, I recommend you check it out.