Jeff & Will discuss the virgin meets tattooed bad boy holiday romance A Boyfriend for Christmas by Jay NorthcoteAs always, in our book club chat there are spoilers ahead so keep that in mind if you haven’t read the book yet. Make sure you keep listening after our discussion to hear the third chapter of the audiobook, narrated by Hamish Long.

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Show Notes

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.

Look for the next episode of Big Gay Fiction Book Club on Thursday, January 27.

Transcript 

This transcript was made possible by our community on Patreon. You can get information on how to join them at patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.


Intro

Will: Will: Welcome to episode 353 of the Big Gay Fiction Podcast, the show for avid readers and passionate fans of gay romance fiction. I’m Will, and with me as always is my co-host and husband, Jeff.

Jeff: Hello, rainbow romance readers. It’s great to have you here with us.

Will: This is the Big Gay Fiction Book Club episode for the month of December, and this month’s pick is the virgin meets tattooed bad boy holiday romance, “A Boyfriend for Christmas” by Jay Northcote.

Jeff: Before we start our deep dive discussion of this month’s book, we’d like to quickly thank the members of our Patreon community. It’s because of them that we’re able to bring you podcast episodes every single week with interviews from your favorite authors, and reviews of some of the best books our genre has to offer. On the Big Gay Fiction Podcast Patreon page members get early access to the book club episodes and author interviews, as well as an exclusive monthly bonus episode that can’t be heard anywhere else. Patrons held keep this podcast running and fund the transcription of the episodes, making sure that this show is accessible to all readers and listeners. If you’re in a position to help the podcast grow and would like more information simply head on over to patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.

And you’re going to want to make sure to stick around after our discussion, we are pleased to bring you an excerpt from the audiobook of “A Boyfriend for Christmas” with narration from Hamish Long. You are not going to want to miss that.

A Boyfriend for Christmas Discussion

Will: So 21 year old, Archie is fresh out of uni and is decidedly bored at his sister’s high tone engagement party. His mom tries to set them up with Fiona, a nice girl from a nice family.

Neither of them are looking for a relationship, and since she is, in fact nice, they decide to be friends at the very least for appearances sake, to keep their matchmaking parents off their backs. On the walk home, Archie sees a gay couple kissing outside a bar and dreams of having someone, anybody like that in his life.

Jeff: So much about Archie came through in this very opening chapter. Jay does a great job of setting up who Archie is and kind of where he is in his life. And the thing that struck me, and just made me go, awww, and wanted to wrap Archie in a hug was this little internal dialogue of his own saying that “he was a misfit for no reason.”

There’s a lot of things going on with Archie that we’ll unwrap as we get into this story. But that thing right there tells you a lot about his current mental state. But I have to say, even in these opening moments, I also dearly love Fiona and the fact that they’re kind of making this little Christmas pact, and she’s going to become an awesome friend as this goes along. But yeah, love her too.

Will: Cal is a tattooed nice guy who happens to have struck it big in the lottery. One morning, his best mate Danny is over and as Cal goes through his mail, opens a swank invitation to a Christmas party thrown by the investment firm that handles all of his money. Fancy hotel, free food, free booze. Danny is intrigued. Cal less so, but tells his friends that if he wants to go so badly, Cal will take him, but only if they play boyfriends for the night.

Jeff: Fake dating abounds in this book. It’s just awesome. And Cal has gotta be one of my favorite bad boys ever. He has this bad boy exterior, but he is such a marshmallow inside. I’m so enchanted by him and the even the facade that he puts on around being a bad boy whereas he’s just really not, I love him so much.

Will: Archie is on the steps of the hotel, about to go into the party where his father will be making a speech, when a motorcycle roars to a stop just past him. The rider and his partner are Archie’s tattooed hipster, bad boy, fantasy come to life. He briefly locks eyes with his dream man, before shuffling inside.

With a glass of champagne in his hand, he scans the party looking for his siblings, his parents, and Fiona should be there somewhere, when there’s a commotion at the entrance. It seems Archie’s bad boy will also be attending the party and has already made quite an impression. His parents do not approve. But Fiona seems intrigued. She thinks bearish Danny is hot. Archie, of course, prefers Cal. Archie and Cal’s shared financial advisor, waves them over and makes introductions.

Fiona just happens to mention their fake arrangement and their mother’s apparent enthusiasm for the match. But they’ll need to tread carefully or else a grand wedding will soon be in the planning.

Jeff: And no one wants that.

Will: She and Danny step out for a quick smoke, leaving Archie in Cal alone together.

Jeff: There’s a super cute moment here where Archie comes out to Fiona. Really the first time he’s uttered the words to anybody that he might actually like a guy. And it’s so sweet and so innocent and just projects all the more that kind of, virginal, nice guy person that Archie is.

And I could only, I kept having this vision in my head of like the stir that Cal was making in this room with all these really fancy people and him having the bad boy look with Danny along with him. I want to see this party turned into a movie. I want to see this play itself out somewhere because the vision in my head was pretty awesome.

Will: Archie is shy, but Cal is very interested and thinks this cute posh boy might be as well. When food is served, the foursome sit together, and Danny let slip that he and Cal are not partners. Fiona helpfully gets Cal to clarify that he is indeed gay and very single. This is of course for Archie’s benefit. She is a seriously good friend.

Jeff: And a good matchmaker too. She’s just saying all the right things to kind of make this happen.

The thing that I was sad about in our little fake dating scenario here is that Danny actually has a girlfriend already. And so we couldn’t pair up Cal and Archie, and then Danny and Fiona too cause that would have just been even more awesomeness in this book. If Fiona could have gotten that too, cause Fiona needs love, man. She needs somebody.

Will: You think it should be a movie and I do too. I think it would be totally amazing, but I also wish that these four people were real because I would totally hang out with them. They are so much fun. And Jeff will tell you, I don’t want to hang out with anybody.

Jeff: It’s true. I’m lucky he wants to hang out with me.

But yeah, I think these four would be really fun together. And I have to imagine that even on the side that Danny’s girlfriend is pretty fun to be in his life. So I’d even sweep up all five of them, if necessary, to be able to hang out.

Will: They talk about Cal’s work as a tattoo artist, the work he’s done on himself and Danny, and exactly how much of his body is covered ink.

Jeff: Wouldn’t Archie like to know.

Will: He’s a proud socialist and remarks on how this upper-crust soiree is not his usual social scene. He bad mouths capitalism in general and the sure to be boring speech forthcoming from Archie’s dad. And Archie agrees with Cal completely.

Jeff: Yeah. Archie. The only reason Archie’s here is because he was forced by his awful parents.

Will: Danny and Fiona slip out for another cigarette, and Cal places his hands seductively on Archie’s thigh underneath the table and asks if there’s any reason that they can’t slip out as well. Archie agrees to meet him in the downstairs bathroom.

Jeff: Maybe there’s a little bit of bad boy and Archie too.

Will: So up until this point, Archie has been the quintessential blushing virgin. So when he agreed to do this, I was like, hell yeah, go get ’em. Carpe diem. Seize that hot, bad boy biker.

So they go downstairs and meet in the farthest stall. Archie admits to his inexperience, like literally none, and Cal says corrupting him is going to be a whole lot of fun.

Jeff: To which Archie agrees that he’ll be corrupted completely.

Will: They kiss, which is mind-altering for Archie. Remember, this is his very first time. Cal gets down on his knees and expertly blows him. They trade places and Cal gruffly gives orders that Archie is only too happy to obey. Once finished, they head back upstairs. The speech is now over.

Jeff: Not only do I really like that Archie just seizes this moment and goes after what he really wants. But Cal for all of his bad boyness that he portrays, is actually quite tender here. Yes, there’s some bossiness that goes on and everything, but he also is making sure that Archie gets his moment of consent and that he’s okay with what happens along the way. Even making sure that his clothes don’t get too fussed because they do have to go back upstairs.

So it is exactly what Archie needs to the bossiness level that he needs, but it’s also tender and caring in its own way at the same time. I really enjoyed how this scene played out.

Will: Archie’s mom is none too pleased by his absence during the speech.

Jeff: Too damn bad.

Will: He feigns feeling ill and begs off. Cal offers to take him home. He hops on the back of Cal’s bike for the short but thrilling ride back to his place. They say they’re good nights.

And, the next morning over toast and coffee, they text about meeting up again. They make plans and Cal clarifies that he’s not looking for a relationship, which is fine with Archie. He’s still mainly in the closet, looking for a little fun and some experience, and Cal can’t wait to give him all the experience that he can handle.

Jeff: Archie had quite an evening meeting Cal, getting blown in the toilets, losing his virginity, you know, in regards to that. And, then you had a motorcycle ride on top of it. I mean, what a night. And good for him.

Will: Date night arrives, and Archie goes to Cal’s place. They share a quick drink, kiss, and then go upstairs, eager to do more. Still shy, Archie does manage to ask for what he wants. For Cal to rim and fuck him. He gladly obliges and goes slowly in consideration of Archie’s inexperience, but he’s an eager and fast learner and is soon able to take everything that Cal can give. Afterward, Archie is exhausted but elated. #Virginnomore.

Jeff: I was impressed with how fast Archie went. I mean, from just losing any aspect of its virginity and then going off the deep end and wanting to get rimmed and fucked. It’s like, I guess all that time being a virgin, he was just ready to let it all go.

Will: They get cleaned up and watch a little tele while finishing their drinks from earlier. Cal enjoying how easy it is to be comfortable with Archie. He gives him a ride home and makes plans for the weekend. Archie giving him a sweet kiss goodnight, before going into his flat.

While at work, Cal’s mind drifts to thoughts of the holiday. Present for his mom. A gay gift for Danny. And, if they’re still seeing each other, something special for Archie.

Jeff: He’s already thinking presents. I love Cal. The level of caring that runs through him, how he takes care of Archie at every moment, without being overbearing, even down to the finer points of like how to communicate while they’re on the bike together. If he needs to slow down or if he needs something, you know, they have all these signals that they’ve kind of set up for it.

You know, you called it a bad boy biker thing up front, but it’s not that at all because Cal’s just the sweetest guy who just happens to be wrapped up in this leather exterior.

Will: Yeah. And as you mentioned, bad boy bikers, the next time that they see each other, Cal takes Archie for a ride on his bike. It’s really cute because they’re both wondering, are they at the dating stage? They’re not a hundred percent sure. Are they just hanging out? Is it a date, date? They don’t know.

Jeff: Neither one of them is clear, and I… neither one of them really wants to label it at this point, either for fear, it’ll be…

Will: Right.

Jeff: Moving it in the wrong direction or moving it too fast, you know?

Will: Archie borrows a pair of Cal’s leathers. They’re baggy, but Cal insists Archie looks cute. So they go out zooming into the countryside, and it’s exhilarating. They each enjoy spending time together. And, despite Cal’s earlier proclamation of nothing serious, he admits taking it slow, and seeing where this takes them sounds good.

Jeff: Kinda a bit from Archie’s part of you that happens while they’re hanging out in this bar, having, having a little bit of food and essentially the internal monologue says, “How is this actually happening? Archie felt as if he’d conjured himself a new reality by sheer force of his longing, and the only way to keep it was by appreciating every tiny detail of the day. If he relaxed or forgot to be grateful to the universe, it might drift away like smoke.”

Oh, Archie. But, yay you for conjuring good things.

Will: So on the drive back, they stop at a local sex shop. I thought this was particularly hilarious.

Jeff: Well, what else could it be when you stop at a sex shop with a virgin?

Will: Okay. Here, here’s the thing. I have no actual concept what the UK is really like. I’ve only ever seen it in movies and TV. So when you say quaint English village, I feel like, you know, thatched roofs and twee little houses and stuff like that. So the fact that they end up at this sex shop called Secret Desires, I think is the most hilarious thing ever.

Cal explains that he’s there to get Danny an embarrassing Christmas gift. It’s one of their traditions.

Jeff: Hmm. And what a tradition it is, they really do a number on each other with these gifts that you find out through the book.

Will: Archie is a little bit disappointed by this because he thought they might be shopping for the two of them.

Cal suggests that he browse for anything that he might like. A pair of tight leather pants catches his eye. And, he tries them on, wriggling into them. Cal teasingly pulls down the easy access zipper in the back. Oh yeah. He really likes them. Archie says he’ll think about it and maybe get them later.

Jeff: The shop keep in this cute little sex store just egg them on.

Will: I know, right?

Jeff: Totally

Will: It’s the best.

Jeff: Go ahead. Go in there with him. It’s fine. Just don’t make a mess.

Will: Back at Archie’s place, they order in and end their day with blowjobs, a 69 to be exact. Another exciting first for Archie. And this is another moment, like Jeff pointed out earlier, I really like how, despite his inherent shyness, Archie is really making up for lost time. I’m just like, yeah, you go for it.

Jeff: Yeah. Go get what you want. Make up for all that stuff. But again, I have to point out because Jay just does a beautiful job of giving us what’s going on in Archie’s mind.

And this was another passage that really caught my attention as they’re at the end of this wonderful day that they’ve had. “Possibilities unfurled in Archie’s mind, sending out vague and hopeful tendrils as he imagined how his life could be if he could stop being afraid of his sexuality and find the courage to let the world see him exactly as he was.”

Absolutely.

Will: As Cal prepares to go, he gives the leather pants to Archie who insists on paying him. Cal says he can pay him back by wearing them on their next date, and just like that, they are officially dating.

Jeff: Can you wear provocative pants like that out in public? I mean, there is a zipper in the back, after all. I hope it’s tucked away appropriately so that only the right people come after the zipper.

Will: At a tiresome party of Archie’s mom’s friends like second cousin. He chats with Fiona getting her caught up on his fling slash relationship. Fiona is upbeat. I mean, obviously, things are going well. The fact that Cal has asked him to lunch with his mom has got to mean things are going in the right direction. And the lunch itself goes really well. Archie and Cal’s mom get along like a house on fire.

Jeff: Almost to Cal’s displeasure at times because there are stories told and other things, and it’s really cute watching how Cal occasionally gets a little bit embarrassed.

Will: Hen the inevitable question of what Archie does comes up, which is temporarily helping at his dad’s office, he mentions the idea of starting a non-profit for queer youth. The first time he’s ever spoken about the idea to anybody. And Cal’s mom is happy to talk out some of the initial concepts of the idea. And later, back at Archie’s place, he decides to make good on a previous promise and models those leather pants for Cal, who is very appreciative. They end up in the bedroom where Cal dictates what they’ll do and how they’ll do it, just like Archie likes.

They make good use of the backdoor zipper. And after they’re satisfied and get cleaned up they order pizza for a Netflix and chill.

Jeff: I’ve talked a lot so far about Archie’s kind of state of mind, and there’s a moment that Cal has with his mom that I kind of want to back up on here a second because he actually says to her, “What the hell is wrong with me? I never normally stress over guys.” And his mom says, or his mum as it’s written here in the book because this is British, and I could just envision this through like some of those accents that we hear on the “Great British Baking Show.” “Oh, love, maybe you’ve never met one who matters enough before.” It’s like what a lovely moment between mother and son.

And again, you can kind of see in these moments with his mom, where Cal gets his overall demeanor and his caringness and everything. Cause his mom is so awesome. There’s such a dichotomy in this book between Cal’s mom and Archie’s parents that I just love. I would also want to hang out with Cal’s mom.

Will: Archie is going to be away for an extended family holiday between Christmas and New Years. And, is considering coming out to them since the whole family will be there. Cal is cautiously optimistic but also realistic. What if it doesn’t go well? If that is the case, then he’ll come rescue Archie, his tattooed night on shining Harley.

The night before he leaves, they have a quiet evening, enjoying a joint, savor some particularly amazing ice cream, before retiring to the bedroom where Archie tries his topping skills for the very first time. Like everything these boys seem to do, it goes very well.

Jeff: It is a lovely evening. I have to talk about ice cream for a moment.

Will: Feel free.

Jeff: Archie’s really into ice cream. And the conversation was like chocolate brownie, salted caramel or both. And then Archie’s thinking to himself cause he had to think about this, you see, he liked both, but did he want them in the same bowl? What if there was too much transference of flavor and then could he really fully appreciate both of them?

And he just left with a “well, that’s difficult.” And then ultimately, Cal comes to the rescue with the idea of separate bowls, and they’ll just share, and they can sample out of the bowls. Poor Archie. He knows exactly what he wants in the bedroom and will say it, but the ice cream thing throws him. It’s like, aww. But, I totally get the transference of flavor thing cause sometimes you don’t want that. So I also related to that.

Will: Well, you’re totally right. Whether it’s the bedroom or the kitchen, Cal is always able to assess the situation and figure out exactly what Archie needs.

Jeff: Yes. If Archie can’t actually say it for himself. Cal will sort it for him.

Will: But after this amazing night, they don’t stay amazing for long. In the morning, over coffee, Cal can feel that the mood has changed. Archie has had time to think and is panicked over the thought of coming out over Christmas. In fact, he doesn’t think he’ll be able to come out anytime soon. So where exactly does that leave them? Cal wants to be as supportive as possible, but can’t see a future with someone who’s in the closet indefinitely.

He doesn’t give Archie an ultimatum like come out, or we’re through. But, he does suggest that they take a break and use the time while Archie is a way to think about the future and what they really want.

Jeff: It was the right choice, but my heart just ached. Cal was being very practical and appropriate, giving Archie his space, but it’s like, oh no, no, no. It was only the fact that I was reading a romance, that I knew it would all sort out okay. I did not have to totally freak out about this. And also, it’s clear, even in this kind of darker moment, that neither of them want to break up.

Will: Exactly. I was just going to say that. They don’t want to go on a break. But Cal is genuinely trying to be sensitive to what Archie is going through. Everything that they’ve done in such a short period of time. The idea of being out publicly and to your family, I mean, that’s all a lot to handle. So Cal is trying to be a good guy and give Archie his space to work through this stuff.

Jeff: Yeah, it’s all the right stuff. It’s just like, it’s heartache at Christmas time.

Will: Yeah. On Christmas Eve, while out with friends, Cal is completely miserable. He asked Danny what he should do. And there’s nothing really to do until New Year’s and see how he feels when Archie gets back. They exchanged their naughty gifts and wish each other, a happy holiday.

Jeff: Cal so cute saying, “I’m assuming I shouldn’t open it in front of my mum.” And Danny’s like, “Yeah, best not.”

Will: Christmas Day with Archie and his family is dull and tiresome. During luncheon, his mother mentions a salacious piece of gossip, that a friend of the family’s husband left her for another man. Archie excuses himself full of fear and anger at their snobbish homophobia. And that he really doesn’t give two fucks what they think anymore.

Jeff: It was kind of his light bulb moment that whole thing that went down over lunch.

Will: When his sister Lottie comes to check on him, he comes out to her. And it’s fine by her, but suggests that if he’s going to tell the family, he wait until morning when they’ll all be a little less surly in far more sober.

At the same time, Cal is at his mom’s opening presents and enjoying the big Christmas Day meal she’s prepared. When she asked how Archie is doing, he is overcome by how much he misses the guy and that maybe the no contact over Christmas break idea was a bad one.

He knows Archie must be going through it right now. He should have been more thoughtful and supportive of what he was going through. He decides that a text, at the very least, is an order. Cal messages him, offering support and wishing him a Happy Christmas.

Jeff: I thought Cal beat himself up a little too much here. I mean, they’d kind of mutually decided how they were going to play this. I thought they were both a little extreme in deciding not to talk at all over the break because that’s not really good for anybody. But, since they did come to that decision mutually, I really wanted Cal to cut himself a little bit of a break. Which his mom also tried to nudge him towards that you know, he was doing the best he could in the moment, and now he’s had a moment to think more clearly. So I was super glad he did the text because it turned out to be a well-timed text as well.

Will: That text from Cal is everything Archie needs, and he decides that hiding is no longer for him. He heads back downstairs, where everyone is watching the Queen’s Speech and tells them he’s gay. He’s got a working class boyfriend. He wants to start a queer youth non-profit. And he’s a socialist who votes the labor party.

Jeff: I don’t know which one his family didn’t want to hear more, the fact that he was out or the fact that he was a socialist.

Will: No, that last bit is what horrifies the family the most, definitely.

As Lottie drives her brother back to Bristol, Archie can finally call Cal with the details of his coming out. That he is gay with a boyfriend the whole bit.

Jeff: I adore a Lottie and it should be noted Lottie’s pregnant and she has left the family on Christmas to drive her brother, at least an hour, I think it was an hour, maybe 90 minutes away, to get him to Cal, because Cal who was going to be the night on the Harley, unfortunately he’s had a bit too much to drink in his Christmas celebration. So, he’s not exactly roadworthy. Lottie’s fine because she is pregnant and therefore cannot drink. And she really stepped up for her brother in this case. She really kind of plays the role here that had Fiona been at this party, Fiona would have done these things.

But yeah, Lottie was a delight. I loved how Archie just threw it all out there, put everything on the table. It was like, and now I’m going to go see my man for Christmas. Goodbye to all of you stuffy people.

And Lottie, the other thing I really adored about Lottie was, as they were getting ready to leave, she was like, “That was so epic. I wish I had videotaped it. So you could have seen it for yourself.”

Will: Lottie drops him off at Cal’s mom’s house. And there’s this cute little scene involving the four of them talking about what to expect from motherhood. But our two heroes eventually excuse themselves and celebrate the holiday with mutual blow jobs. Afterwards, Archie realizes to his etiquette minded horror that he hasn’t gotten Cal a Christmas gift. But he assures Archie he has everything he needs. After all he got a boyfriend for Christmas.

Jeff: It’s the perfect little wrap-up. I mean everything from Lottie and Cal’s mom hanging out to that last scene. And, I love Cal because he’s just like, yeah, I got a boyfriend for Christmas. He even says, “Seriously, there isn’t anything money could buy that could be a better present than that. Are you satisfied now?” As have to make sure that Archie was a hundred percent okay with the fact that he was, in fact, the best present.

Will: In an epilogue a few months later, Cal meets Archie’s father for the first time at a proper upper-crust spring garden party for his 60th birthday, and all preconceptions aside, Archie himself is surprised at how welcoming his dad is.

Jeff: Yeah. This was a little bit of a surprise how well received Cal actually was, which just goes to show that maybe it was that whole socialist thing that was really the biggest bomb dropped back during the coming out.

It was a really humorous thing that happens here as well. A couple of the kids who belong to some of Archie’s siblings catch the ink that’s on Cal’s arms, and they actually go off and get a marker and draw ink on themselves, proudly pronouncing that “look, look, I’ve got pictures, like Cal.” Nothing at all to do with its story, but it struck me as absolutely hilarious the way that Cal has started to integrate himself into this family by, you know, essentially being a bad influence on the kids now drawing tattoos on themselves.

I absolutely adored this book. Jay just wrote one of the most perfect Christmas romances. A wonderful British Christmas and introducing us to such warm and awesome people like Fiona and Cal’s mom and Lottie. There were so many great side characters here too. And Danny as well. I can’t leave him out. Danny was also a super good friend to Cal. It was just kind of a perfect little book for me.

Will: Yeah, so many wonderful tropes, perfectly packed into a single story, virgin, and bad boy, and holiday themes.

Jeff: Is Cal really a bad boy?

Will: Yes. He’s got tattoos. Yes. He rides a Harley, 100%, he counts.

Jeff: He’s just not a gruff bad boy.

Wrap-Up

Will: We hope that you’ve enjoyed our discussion of Jay Northcote’s “A Boyfriend for Christmas,” and if you haven’t read it yet, we hope that you’ll consider giving this book a try.

Jeff: And just a reminder for you to stick around after the closing music for chapter three from the audiobook of “A Boyfriend for Christmas.” And why chapter three, instead of chapter one, you might ask. We wanted to bring you that chapter because it’s where Archie and Cal meet and it’s so super good.

Will: All right, I think that’ll do it for now. Coming up on Monday in episode 354, it’s our 2021 wrap-up as we talk about our favorite books from the past year.

Jeff: This is the list that I’ve been making and checking it twice over the past couple of weeks. Definitely looking forward to talking about what we liked best for the year.

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.

Jeff: Now we’re proud to present the third chapter of “A Boyfriend for Christmas” by Jay Northcote, read by Hamish Long. A big thanks to Jay for allowing us to bring this to you. This excerpt is copyright 2019 by Jay Northcote. Production copyright 2020 by Jay Northcote.

Note: A transcript is not available for the audiobook excerpt.