Jeff & Will preview 14 books that are coming before the end of October, including titles by Ariella Zoelle, Max Walker, Kai Butler, J.R. Gray, Edie Montreux, Roe Horvat, Sam Burns & W.M. Fawkes, Keira Andrews, Alice Winters, E.M. Lindsey & Marina Vivancos, Merry Farmer, Noah Steele, Joanna Chambers & Sally Malcolm, and Lauren Blakely.
The guys also review books they’ve recently read:Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki, Head to Head by Eli Easton & Tara Lain, A Lord to Love by Sara Dobie Bauer, and Brook Street: Thief by Ava March.
Big Gay Fiction Podcast is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. Find many more outstanding podcasts at frolic.media/podcasts!
Here are the things we talk about in this episode. Please note, these links include affiliate links for which we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase. These links are current at the time the episode premieres, however links are subject to change.
- Love at Fourth Sight by Ariella Zoelle on Amazon (pre-order until October 15, 2021)
- Suite Dreams series by Ariella Zoelle on Amazon
- Ride the Wreck by Max Walker on Amazon (pre-order until October 15, 2021)
- Stonewall Investigations: Blue Creek series by Max Walker on Amazon
- The Inconvenient Count by Kai Butler on Amazon (pre-order until October 18, 2021)
- Imperial Space Regency series by Kai Butler on Amazon
- Pretty Obsessed by J.R. Gray on Amazon (pre-order until October 18, 2021)
- Pretty Broken series by J.R. Gray on Amazon
- Uncertain Future by Edie Montreux on Amazon (pre-order until October 19, 2021)
- Teacher by Roe Horvat on Amazon (pre-order until October 20, 2021)
- Submitted by Sam Burns & W.M. Fawkes on Amazon (pre-order until October 21, 2021)
- Star Marked Warriors series by Sam Burns & W.M. Fawkes on Amazon
- Wed to the Barbarian by Keira Andrews on Amazon (pre-order until October 21, 2021)
- The Barbarian’s Vow by Keira Andrews on Amazon (pre-order until November 4, 2021)
- Ghost of Lies by Alice Winters on Amazon (pre-order until October 21, 2021)
- Open Ice Hit by E.M. Lindsey & Marina Vivancos on Amazon (pre-order until October 26, 2021)
- Never Judge a Duke by His Lover by Merry Farmer on Amazon | Kobo (pre-order until October 26, 2021)
- After the War series by Merry Farmer on Amazon | Kobo
- Catch Me If I Fall by Noah Steele on Amazon (pre-order until October 26, 2021)
- Total Creative Control by Joanna Chambers & Sally Malcolm on Amazon (pre-order until October 28, 2021)
- The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Hollywood Hopefuls series by Jeris Jean on Amazon
- The Bromance Zone by Lauren Blakely on Amazon | Kobo (preorder until October 29, 2021)
- Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- “Faust Meets Galaxy Quest”- Light from Uncommon Stars with Ryka Aoki on Smart Podcast, Trashy Books Episode 477
- Head to Head by Eli Easton & Tara Lain on Amazon
- Jocks vs Nerds series by Eli Easton and Tara Lain on Amazon
- A Lord to Love by Sara Dobie Bauer on Amazon
- Brook Street: Thief by Ava March on Amazon | Kobo
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast on Patreon.com
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast patrons on BGFP website
- Libro.fm website (use this link to receive your Big Gay Fiction Podcast special offer)
- Frolic Podcast Network website
This transcript was made possible by our community on Patreon. You can get information on how to join them at patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.
Will: Coming up on this episode. If you’re looking for something to read, we’ve got you covered as we preview more than a dozen books that are coming out before the end of October.
Jeff: Welcome to episode 339 of the Big Gay Fiction Podcast, the show for avid readers and passionate fans of gay romance fiction. I’m Jeff and with me as always is my co-host and husband, Will.
Will: Hello, rainbow romance readers.
Jeff: As always, the podcast is brought to you in part by our remarkable community on Patreon. Thank you to Cynthia for recently joining the community. If you’d like more information about the bonus content we offer our patrons. Go to patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.
So like Will said at the top of the show, we’ve got more than a dozen books to preview it. You know, we already previewed eight books at the top of the month. Something about October has so many people releasing so many things to get excited about. So we’re going to dive right in. What’s the first book you’ve got for us?
12 Books Still to Come in October
Will: “Love at Fourth Sight” by Ariella Zoelle is coming out on October 15th and it’s the latest book in the “Suite Dreams” series. It’s an age gap, instalove, opposites attract romance where Albie reluctantly falls for Luca, the guy who’s in town to help Albie’s parents open a new ski resort. Luca is handsome, charming, and an excellent baker. How in the world is Albie supposed to resist all of that?
Jeff: How indeed, this has so many of my favorite tropes stacked up. You’ve got the age gap and the opposites attract, and I’m always good with a nice love at first sight kind of deal too. And there’s a baker. I’m so into bakers right now cause we’ve been bingeing, a certain British baking show.
I’ve actually started to ship bakers. This is kind of ridiculous what’s been going on. So yeah, just bring this book on because I think it’s going to be wonderful.
Will: Also coming out on October 15th is “Ride the Wreck” by Max Walker. It’s the second book in his “Stonewall Investigations: Blue Creek” series. Ryan’s life as a detective is predictably routine, hashtag boring, until he is assigned to Elijah, a self-described grumpy ass drag queen whose life is being threatened. Can Ryan find a stalker and bring a little light back into the life of the exhilarating man he’s beginning to fall in love with?
Jeff: I’m so happy that Max continues to extend the “Stonewall investigation” series. And yet I lament the fact that I am very behind on these books. Super eager to catch up though. And this one sounds kind of fun. I mean a grumpy ass drag queen. That sounds like it’s going to be an interesting go for this poor detective.
Will: Next, I want to talk about “The Inconvenient Count” by Kai Butler. It’s like “Bridgeton,” but in space. Rumor has it, that Count Yun married, then killed, his elderly husband. Captain Ado is assigned to gather proof against the Count. The only problem is Yun was once his fiance Ado must somehow find a way to serve the royal crown, protect the man he still loves, and find the true culprit in this, the third entry in the “Imperial Space Regency” series.
Jeff: So the first thing that I thought of, as you said, “Bridgerton” in space is like, I wonder what those costumes look like. Is that terrible of me? That’s where my brain went, but the whole rumor mill thing that’s in play here and the romantic suspense plot line, I’m very into the sound of this one. And to see what regency looks like in space. This whole series actually it sounds like a lot of fun.
Will: Yeah, scifi historical is sort of a interesting mini sub genre niche. Kind of similar, at least in my mind, to the way that steam punk is able to pull in lots of different tropes and can be explored in a lot of different ways.
Jeff: That is an interesting analogy. I’d never thought of it that way. But I think you’re quite right. That, makes a lot of sense. I’m intrigued by this too, because regency in space, you can kind of make up your own history as you’re doing it too, which can always be fun.
Will: ” The Inconvenient Count” by Kai Butler comes out on October 18th.
Also releasing on the same day is the first of a new series from JR Gray. “Pretty Obsessed” is a modern m/m twist on “Cinderella” about a dirty talking rockstar and a cinnamon roll writer. You see River’s dalliance with an anonymous guy at a club, leaves him wanting more. And he soon becomes obsessed with uncovering the identity of the mystery man, who after a single encounter sets his romantic heart racing.
Jeff: I enjoy rockstar romances as we’ve talked about periodically before. But here’s the thing, back in the day when I was first starting out in my career, I really wanted to be a music writer. So rock star and writer kind of work for me. Is like that, kind of, fantasy element and then add in that Cinderella thing too, and I’m really intrigued by this because that, just layers in more things to get excited about. And JR Gray, here’s a writer that I have wanted to try for a while. So this could be the book where I finally pulled the trigger on that and see what a JR book is like.
Will: Yeah, bad boy and a nice guy. It’s an irresistible combination.
Next on our list is “Uncertain Future” by Eddie Montreux coming out October 19. Vampires usually suck, but some want to save the world. That’s the case for vampires Flavius, Isak, and their friends in this collection of stories that cover their heroic exploits from World War II to the near future, where they strive to save humanity from itself and manage to fall in love in the process.
Jeff: This just made me smile because it’s such a wonderful idea to be able to tell the story of two vampires over decades. And I’m like what a wonderful idea for a short story collection, because then you get their story really across time. Instead of larger books, you can just read a whole bunch and read their adventures. I was really enamored by this.
And of course, vampires and Halloween, they go together. Even if the stories aren’t even horrific at all, they still go together. Cause it’s Halloween and vampires.
Will: Like peanut butter and chocolate.
Will: It’s a perfect combination.
Coming out on October 19th is the latest from Roe Horvat. It’s called “Teacher.” The emotional stakes are high in this super sexy omegaverse romance from author Roe Horvat. It’s about a guy named Walter Sébastien, who is an alpha for hire, a preeminent heat teacher, who’s never even kissed a client, let alone fallen for one. and All that changes the day Daniel, a nerdy single dad with trembling fingers and inconspicuous glasses, smiles at him.
Jeff: So many things you just said that I would’ve never considered, like the concept of an alpha for hire or having somebody teach about heat. I think this book is going to take a lot of boxes for fans of the omegaverse.
Will: Yeah. I haven’t really read or even talked about any omegaverse books in quite a while. And this book description really intrigued me. In part because it’s the bad boy and nice guy combo that I love so much. But also this particular blurb is in first person and I thought it was intriguing, and kind of hilarious, that even in just a few sentences, this main character has got such big dick energy. You just know this one’s going to be hot. “Teacher” by Roe Horvat comes out on October 20.
Coming out on the 21st is “Submitted” by Sam Burns and W.M. Fawkes. In this romance Beau is rejected by his family, and promptly kidnapped by aliens. Hybrid human/alien warrior Vorian frees him from captivity and, through their love and bravery, the bonded mate pair will battle alien foes for the future of planet Thorzan in the third book of the “Star Marked Warrior” series.
Jeff: The more we talk about this series, the more I really want to try it. The mix of scifi elements that kind of work their way in here, just kind of calls to me a little bit. And I mean, just that first sentence you read, Beau is rejected by his family and kidnapped by space aliens. You go from something that is the worst experience and then you’re immediately kidnapped by aliens, but then you go off and save the universe. And then you got the romance on top of it too. This is another one that is like, every time we talk about it, it notches a little further up my TBR list.
Will: Yep. If you want hot and horny aliens, give this series by Sam Burns and W.M. Fawkes a try.
Also coming on October 21st is the new story from Keira Andrews, “Wed to the Barbarian.” Timid prince Jem is forced into marriage with the brutish barbarian Cador. What starts as an alliance between their kingdoms soon turns to a desire that burns hotter than either of them could have ever imagined. It is a trope free-for-all in the sexy gay fantasy, featuring enemies-to-lovers, age gap, forced proximity, first times, and a happy for now ending. The romantic adventures will continue in next month’s, “The Barbarian’s Vow.”
Jeff: This book had been at the cover reveal. I’ll just say that now. I don’t even care what it’s about. It’s all about the cover in some ways for this one, it is so very old school and awesome. And in Keira’s hands, of course, this trope free-for-all that you explained is going to be, oh, so super good. I suspect it’s going to be a race between you and me to see who reads this book first.
Will: Yeah, I’m definitely looking forward to this particular duology. It looks like an awful lot of fun.
Also coming out on October 21st is “Ghost of Lies” from bestselling author Alice Winters. It’s her newest paranormal romantic suspense story. Hiro is determined to find his brother’s killer. His main obstacle is the ruggedly handsome detective Maddox, who doesn’t believe that Hiro can communicate with the dead. But, time is running out and a serial killer is on the loose. Teaming up might be the only way to solve the case.
Jeff: So I’m a big fan of Alice and she is such a master of romantic suspense, but she also weaves in some of these paranormal elements so good. This one I really want to check out because why would you ever try to go against somebody who says they can speak with the dead? I mean, come on, obviously he’s going to help your case. Just roll with it.
Will: The next book I want to talk about is “Open Ice Hit” by E.M. Lindsey and Marina Vivancos. It’s a classic enemies-to-lovers scenario for pro hockey players, Noah and Tommy. They can’t stand each other, but a chance meeting in the off-season changes everything. They keep falling into bed together, and the more they try to push each other away, the more their souls seem to connect. Can they ever find a way for their hearts to be vulnerable and let love in?
Jeff: Can they? It’s October. Hockey season has begun. So yes, absolutely signed me up for a brand new hockey series. And I’m especially finding in sports romances that I really dig the enemies-to-lovers vibe. It’s not my favorite trope usually, but in sports books it’s been really working for me over the last few months. So yeah, I’m eager to see how E.M. and Marina begin this series.
Will: ” Open Ice Hit” comes out on October 26th.
And coming out on the same day, we’re going to be moving from hockey to historicals with “Never Judge a Duke by his Lover” by Merry Farmer. In this one, widower Anthony has children to raise, an estate to manage, and his family’s expectations to uphold. He thought that hosting his youngest brother’s friends would be nothing more than a minor inconvenience, but handsome and charming Barrett stirs feelings in him he never thought he could have. They embark on an eye opening summer love affair, but soon must decide whether to follow their hearts or their family’s wishes.
Jeff: And this cover too, is another one of like the great old school kind. So I think October is going to be a little bit of a historical read for me because at least one of these either Keira’s book or Merry’s book, I’m going to have to read it and just kind of go back in time for a while.
As a sneak preview will tell you too, that Merry’s actually going to be on the show October 25th and we’ll be talking more about this particular book.
Will: Yeah. Merry is one of those authors who’s been really hitting it out of the park in 2021. So many great books to discuss, and we can’t wait to have her on the show.
Next up, also releasing on October 26th, is “Catch Me If I Fall” by Noah Steele. Jasper and Cole were once best friends. They both returned to their small Canadian hometown, and Cole is looking for some closure. Jasper wants to relive their former friendship with a walk down memory lane. Their heart pounding reunion presents them with an intriguing second chance. Maybe this time they will finally get things right.
Jeff: Second chance of course is very much in my trope catnip. The fact that it’s categorized as an intriguing opportunity as a second chance also piques my interest. And then let’s talk about this cover for a second. If ever there was a cover for the season, this just gives off cozy fall vibes from the very get go. So the whole package just said, pick me up, read me now.
Will: Yeah, I know we both sound like broken records when it comes to our particularly favorite tropes and, like you, this is one that I think is moving to the top of my personal TBR. I can’t wait for it to release.
Jeff: Uh-oh. Another one that we’re going to have to race to get to first.
Will: Next up is the contemporary romance “Total Creative Control” by Joanna Chambers and Sally Malcolm. This is a sunshine PA meets grumpy boss in a romantic workplace comedy. The story is about a successful TV producer, Lewis, who finds himself trapped at a hilariously awful corporate retreat. His assistant Aaron is his only friend and ally. As the professional lines between them begin to blur, their long simmering attraction starts to sizzle.
Jeff: This one kind of had me at its title, just “Total Creative Control.” I don’t know why that clicked in my head for me so well. But then rom-com in the workplace, that’s already going to be a lot of fun. I think back to “The Charm Offensive” that I read a few weeks ago. And then there’s going to have to be at least a little bit of forced proximity going on in here because they can’t leave this event that they’re at. So that kind of spoke to me too. So this one sounds like a big old winner.
And what is it about TV lately and Hollywood? You know, “Charm Offensive.” And we’ve both been reading “Hollywood Hopefuls” from Jeris Jean. And now there’s this one, suddenly the TV industry is like the thing to write about it feels like.
Will: Well, if I could hazard a guess, I would say most of us have been bingeing heavily on our favorite TV shows. And romance writers are only human. I think it’s natural that their creative juices would start to flow, and plots would start to emerge with TV shows as irresistible places for romance to happen.
Jeff: Well, since I’ve enjoyed all that I’ve read so far, I’ll just say, keep bringing them on.
Will: Yeah, I know me too. ” Total Creative Control” comes out on the 28th.
Then on October 29th, “The Bromance Zone” by Lauren Blakely is releasing.
Best-selling author Lauren Blakely’s latest m/m romance is a deliciously flirty, red hot, sexy friends-to-lovers story about a charming guy next door, who’s sworn to never date his best friend, the flirty hot nerd who’s been secretly crushing on him forever. Just one night, snowed in together in a cabin, proves just how dangerous the friend zone can be.
Jeff: After several sports books, I’m loving that Lauren is moving over to a little bit of forced proximity and dating the best friend. Even better that it’s a hot nerd because that’s been something that I’ve also been enjoying reading a lot this year. I have no doubt that this is just going to be awesome.
Will: So that was our extended list of upcoming releases for the end of October.
If you’d like the complete list of recommendations, I think, you know what I’m going to say next. We’ve got all of that over on the show notes page, head on over to biggayfictionpodcast.com.
Jeff: And because we want to keep damaging your TBR. We’re going to get into some books now that we’ve both read that we want to recommend to you.
Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki
Jeff: And the first one I want to talk about is the absolutely incredible “Light From Uncommon Stars” by Ryka Aoki. I first became aware of this book because of an email with the subject line “space donuts, cursed violins, and queer aliens in California,” which came from Caro, who’s a publicist over at Tor Books. Now, of course, I had to know more about this book because of that awesome subject line, which I told Caro was like the best subject line ever that I’d received in an email. And this book went right into my TBR. That subject line only scratched the surface of the wonderful story that waited for me.
Shizuka Satomi is a renowned violin teacher, known in violin circles as the queen of hell, because of her style. It’s also an apt nickname because she’s made a deal with the devil to deliver seven souls to hell. She’s already delivered six who were happy to make the trade for success. She needs one more to complete her contract. And if she fails her soul is doomed.
She finds her final soul one day playing violin in the park. Katrina Nguyen is a young transgender runaway who has arrived in Southern California with her violin and few other possessions. Katrina is understandably skittish of Shizuka because why would this woman want to help her teach her, even take her into her home? But Katrina has no other options. And so she goes along.
Someone else Shizuka meets is Lan Tran, the owner of Starrgate Donuts. Lan runs the donut shop with her family, which are her twins, her aunty and her other daughter who just happens to be a holo projection. Yeah. You heard that right. Lan is a star ship captain who has whisked her family to Earth to help keep them safe from the Endplague. Their ship is under the donut shop and the shop is their cover with the real work being building an actual stargate while trying to escape that plague.
See everything from that email subject makes sense now, right?
But the story is so much more than space donuts and deals with the devil. There’s a love story here. There’s a story of a young woman coming into her own. It’s about the healing power of music on the soul. For all the characters, it’s about embracing kindness and finding the courage to be who you really are and fiercely protecting those who matter to you.
The primary stories are between Shizuka and Katrina and then also Shizuka and Lan. While Shizuka’s primary goal is to deliver Katrina’s soul, there’s far more to it than that where Katrina is concerned. Shizuka has a comforting parental influence that Katrina’s parents never had. At every turn, Katrina is surprised by the kindness extended to her by Shizuka and Shizuka’s friend slash assistant slash housekeeper Astrid. Beyond shelter, food and clothes, there’s also intensive violin study and Shizuka helps Katrina find the courage to stop apologizing for everything. Katrina’s been beaten down by a lot, and as she witnesses, Shizuka not allowing anyone to berate her she finds more of the confidence to be herself. It’s a wonderful coming of age and coming into herself story for Katrina.
For Shizuka and Lan, there’s a love story blossoming. They’re both smitten from the first time that they meet over the donut counter. After that Shizuka is at the donut shop a lot more and then they end up going out for tea or for a meal or to the park. Remarkably in short order, they’re talking about the realities of Shizuka having to deliver souls and that Lan’s actually a space alien. This doesn’t stop them from spending time together at all. They hardly even had a pause over that information as it was revealed. Make no mistake, they’ve got their issues as their romance and relationships starts to blossom. But interestingly, it has nothing to do with these two big factors in their life. The gentle way these two are with each other, warmed me through and through, and it shows that truly nothing can stand in the way of a budding romance.
Ryka is such an incredible storyteller. There are so many threads in this book. Beyond what’s going on with collecting souls and the romance. There’s what’s going on with Lan’s family, both running the donut shop and with their stargate project. Katrina is deciding if she can be bold enough to actually perform on stage, and even what kind of performer she wants to be while also fully embracing her self and learning to stop listening to the haters, but focus more on the people who are supporting her. Shizuka is also questioning whether she can actually bring herself to complete her contract and what it means if she doesn’t.
At every turn, I was delighted by “Light From Uncommon Stars.” It’s a very, very uncommon book. Ryka manages to make bargaining with souls and having a starship captain running a donut shop seem just like another day in Southern California. All the intersecting stories and relationships added to the wonder of this story. I was truly swept away by the whole thing. In particular, I have to call out how Ryka wrote about music and performance. Katrina’s big performance towards the end of the book, and how she experienced what was happening to her on stage as she performed, and what she was thinking about was one of the most incredible and moving passages I’ve read anywhere.
And a big shout out to narrator Cindy Kay. Cindy’s performance was spot on at every turn. She captures all the emotions and characters beautifully. And in particular, that moment I just mentioned about Katrina’s big performance was simply wow.
So I absolutely recommend “Light From Uncommon Stars” by Ryka Aoki. I have not done a great job really explaining how great this book is, because I don’t think I have the words for it. But you should definitely pick this up and give it a try.
And if you want to learn even more about this book, Ryka had a great conversation with Sarah Wendell on “Smart Podcast, Trashy Books,” episode number 477. I highly recommend you have a listen to that as well. You can find that episode wherever you listen to podcasts. And of course we’ll have a link for that in the show notes as well.
Head to Head by Eli Easton & Tara Lain
Jeff: Now, moving from cursed violins and space donuts over to a new adult contemporary story. One of my favorite things this year has been the “Nerds Versus Jock” series from Eli Easton and Tara Lain. And I’m glad that I’ve now read the third book in the series called “Head to Head.” The first two books focused on rival frat houses that, after one prank too many, had to work together or the university was going to shut them down. The nerds had to take two jocks onto their quiz bowl team while the jocks had to add two nerds to their flag football team. Of course, in each book, the nerds and jocks paired off together for happily ever afters.
“Head to Head” is the story of the frat presidents. Rand is the high strung, heir to a business empire, leader of the ALAs, or the jock house. Jax is the laid back, brainy head of the SMTs, a.k.a. the home of the nerds. Rand hates Jax and has for as long as anyone can remember. Despite Jax’s chill demeanor, Rand pushes all of his buttons and he’s not even sure how that started.
The book opens at the finals for the quiz bowl, where Jax and Rand have shown up to support their guys. Of course, they jab at each other at every turn. Shortly after the quiz bowl they’re off their separate ways. Rand’s going to see his father, who runs an energy conglomerate where the plan is for Rand to eventually take over. Jax’s meanwhile has picked up a car that has been in his family for years and driving it back to his parents’ house so that his sister can start driving it.
Because nothing’s better than a little forced proximity to bring people together, Jax’s car breaks down before the trips barely started. Who rescues him? Of course, it’s Rand. At his core Rand’s a nice guy. And even though it’s Jax’s, he can’t just leave the guy potentially stranded. It turns out the car is better off if it’s just junked. And Jax’s parents happened to be on the way to the flag football finals, where Rand is headed, so the two travel together.
Now, if you heard the interview we had with Tara and Eli back in episode 310, you know, that they admitted when they started writing this series, that they had no idea why Rand and Jax hated each other, until they prepared to write this book and they kind of had to figure it out. I’m not going to spoil the why, but I will say that it was an awesome reveal for them as characters and for me as the reader. I loved it and how it connected to other parts of the story so perfectly.
I really loved how Eli and Tara brought Rand and Jax together. Once they figure out the seeds of their adversarialness, it doesn’t immediately set them on the path to being friends though. There are a lot of differences. Rand’s family, for example, runs an environmentally destructive business and it’s against everything Jax and his family believe in. But here’s the thing, Rand is actually for green energy and he’s trying to push his dad and the company in that direction. So it turns out they’re actually more of like mind than they could have ever imagined in the first place.
This book is really focused on Rand, who has quite the journey. Beyond figuring out why he hated the guy that he’s had a crush on for years. He also comes to discover that his father isn’t as awesome as he thought. There are things going on with his sister that his father hasn’t exactly been honest about. And that’s not the only thing where perhaps the truth has been stretched.
Jax is really good for Rand though. As Jax helps him see where his father might not have his best interest at heart. It’s a slow one step forward, two steps back prospect, and it becomes a great external conflict for Rand and Jax. I really love how Eli and Tara show Rand discovering the life he really wants to live, and how that includes Jax. The external conflict throws a hell of a curve ball as we head into the last act of the book. Eli and Tara, of course, navigated the way towards a brilliant happily ever after with a spectacular couple of grand gestures that I absolutely swooned over.
These writers have also, at every step, created such wonderful examples of family. That goes back to the first book where we saw so many rich family connections and just families that radiated, warmth and goodness and welcomingness. Jax’s family is very much that. And the family, just as much as Jax, really helped show Rand what his future could be.
I absolutely love what Eli and Tara have done with the first three books in the “Nerds Versus Jocks” series. “Head to Head” was a great cap to the original trilogy. And you really should read these books in order because they interconnect so brilliantly. They’ve just released a fourth book called ” Betting on His BF,” which focuses on PJ and Felix, who we’ve seen throughout the first three books. And I will definitely be picking up that one soon.
So I highly recommend that you give “Head to Head,” along with the previous books in the “Nerds Versus Jocks” series by Eli Easton and Tara Lain a try. They are super sweet, new adult romances that I just adore.
A Lord to Love by Sara Dobie Bauer
Will: So from sci-fi donuts and collegiate romance, I’m going to talk about a historical short that I recently enjoyed. It’s called “A Lord to Love” by Sara Dobie Bauer. Now, if that name sounds familiar, it just so happens to be the name of the author who is our book club pick for the month of October.
Not only can this author write horror themed, new adult romance, she’s also a really damn good at writing short historical sexy times. Now in “A Lord to Love,” John has had a years long legal battle with the neighboring Lord over a piece of land, adjoining their two estates. When the neighbor dies and leaves everything to his youngest son, John proposes a unique solution to the dispute. He’ll give up the land, if the new Lord agrees to marry him.
John has been pining for Harrison for years, and as it so happens, Harrison has craved that attention from his older neighbor. He formerly agrees to the deal, but doesn’t want to wait for their wedding night. He wants his first experience with John immediately, and they spend an amazing night together exploring the desires that they’ve each held for so long. Over the next month, they grow even closer. Their wedding day is beautiful and romantic. And their wedding night is filled with more passion and declarations of devotion. What started as a business transaction proves to be an ideal love match for Harrison and John. They undoubtedly have many happy years to look forward to.
Now “A Lord to Love” is unquestionably, a sexy historical short, and Sara Dobie Bauer does a terrific job of bringing that passion to life on the page. But it’s not just about the sexual chemistry between the characters and trust me, there is plenty of that. It’s about the way they love each other and how they express it with small acts of kindness or how they are each invested in being equal partners who lift each other up. I thought it was wonderful how in just a few pages, we were able to understand how John and Harrison are completely devoted to each other’s happiness.
Brook Street: Thief by Ava March
Will: And I guess you could say I was in a certain mood because I read another sexy historical, “Brook Street: Thief” by Ava March.
In this one, Benjamin can’t bear the thought of another London season without experiencing firsthand the affection he’s always craved, but never had the opportunity to explore. So he goes to a gambling den known for its a male clientele who prefer the company of other gentlemen. Benjamin plays a few rounds of cards and is joined by the devilishly handsome Cavin.
They casually flirt and eventually end their evening in a hotel room. And it’s better than anything Benjamin could have ever dreamt up. The next day, Cavin notices that as he left Benjamin in the dim light of morning, he accidentally mistook Benjamin’s waist coat for his own. He must return it. So he goes to Benjamin’s townhome on Brook Street. Needless to say he is very happy to see Cavin. And they’re unable to keep their hands off of each other and have sex in the study, laying on the rug in front of the roaring fire.
Benjamin would like to get to know Cavin better, spend more time with him, but Cavin begs off. Benjamin begins to sense that he is keeping something from him. And that something is that Cavin is a professional thief who works for Hale, who is his boss, kind of like Fagan and Oliver.
While burgling a home, that is an awful lot like Benjamin’s, Cavin has an unusual about of integrity and begins to rethink his current profession. This moral about face is all thanks to his feelings for one irresistibly appealing lord.
Days later, Benjamin returns to the gambling establishment in hopes of running into Cavin, but no such luck. Meanwhile, Cavin has taken young Sam under his wing. When it becomes clear that Sam is going to be pimped out to one of Hale’s associates, Cavin brings Sam to Benjamin and hopes that he can help him find a suitable job.
He does one better and offers Sam a position as part of his household’s staff. While Sam is getting settled, he asks Cavin to stay for dinner and attempts to tease some information out of him during the meal. But Cavin is expectedly tight lipped, eager to use those lips for other things, they retired to Benjamin’s bedroom.
In the morning, Cavin is gone. And after a fortnight, without hearing from him, Sam brings Benjamin word that Cavin has been brought in for pick-pocketing. Benjamin finally begins to understand that it is a combination of Cavin’s pride and his unsavory past that has kept them so far from having a life together.
He rushes to the station, bribes the constable, and brings Cavin home. After they’ve made love, Cavin sneaks downstairs and finds Sam in the kitchen. While preparing a midnight snack, Sam asks why since Cavin and Benjamin are together, why won’t he stay? He insists that it is not that simple. Benjamin joins them and tells him that it is in fact that simple. He doesn’t care if Cavin is a former thief, all he cares about is now and their future together. They can have everything they’ve ever wanted. If only he’ll let himself have it. Cavin agrees to a position as part of the staff, for appearances sake, and is happy to have found a man that he loves and a place that he can finally call home.
Now, honestly, if there is one author who knows how to bring the historical heat, I think it is Ava March. Her stories are passionate and sexy and emotional. Three of the key things that make Benjamin and Cain’s story so enjoyable. From the night Cavin tenderly guides Benjamin through his very first time, to all the other crazy hot moments that they pounce on one another, the one thing these two characters definitely don’t lack is chemistry.
I really liked the character of Sam as well, a street urchin where the heart of gold and the classic Dickensian style. Cavin is a big brother to him, striving to make sure he has better opportunities than Cavin did. And the way that it works out in the end with everyone together, a wonderful found family happy at last. Well, I mean, come on, who can resist the HEA like that?
Charlie Belmont narrated this particular audio book. And, you know, I love a good British accent, especially when it comes to sexy historicals. They just end up sounding sexier. Kudos to him for doing a really terrific job with these lovely characters. “Brook Street: Thief,” which is part of a trilogy by the way, is an older title, but I think it deserves attention from current readers of the genre, because what is it they say, if you haven’t read it yet, then it is new to you.
Jeff: That is so true.
Jeff: I think we have covered more genres in this episode, possibly than any other, as we’ve talked about…
Will: In the history of the entire podcast.
Jeff: As we’ve talked about more than a dozen books so far. It’s been really amazing.
This episode’s transcript is brought to you by our community on Patreon. If you’d like to read our conversation and the reviews for yourself, simply head on over to the show notes page for this episode at biggayfictionpodcast.com. Don’t forget the show notes page also has links to everything, yes every single book, that we’ve talked about in this episode.
Will: That was a lot of talking. I think that’ll do it for this episode. Coming up on Monday in episode 340, author Sara Dobie Bauer is going to be joining us to talk about “This is not a Horror Movie.”
Jeff: It was such a joy talking with Sara about this amazing book, which as we’ve mentioned is this month’s Big Gay Fiction Book Club selection. Make sure to join us, to find out more about this romcom horror story.
Will: On behalf of Jeff and myself, we want to thank you so much for listening, and we hope that you’ll join us again soon for more discussions about the kind of stories that we all love, the big gay fiction kind. Until then keep turning those pages and keep reading.
Big Gay Fiction Podcast is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. Find more shows you’ll love at frolic.media/podcasts. Production assistance by Tyson Greenan. Original theme music by Daryl Banner.