Will opens this week with a remembrance of iconic author Victor J. Banis who passed away on February 22.

Jeff talks about the February 27 cover reveal for Netminder (Codename: Winger #4). The February 23 ShiMMer event is discussed. Jeff shows off the new Rhys Ford Casting Skill on Alexa. The guys take a moment to rave about Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy.

Jeff reviews A Lethal Love (Stonewall: Investigations #2) by Max Walker. Will reviews Fresh Catch by Kate Canterbary.

Jay from Joyfully Jay recommends books by Lily Morton, Piper Scott & Virginia Kelly, TA Moore and JD Chambers. Then Jeff, Will and Jay preview the upcoming Coastal Magic Convention. Jay offers tips for newbies to the con plus we talk about what each of us is looking forward to and what panels we’ll be moderating. Big Gay Fiction Podcast also plans to stream the Gay Fiction Roundup panel on Friday, March 1 at 11:30am ET on Facebook Live.

Remember, you can listen and subscribe to the podcast anytime on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play Music, SpotifyStitcherPlayerFMYouTube and audio file download.

Show Notes

Here are the things we talk about in this episode:

Book Reviews

Here’s the text of this week’s book reviews:

A Lethal Love (Stonewall Investigations #2) by Max Walker, narrated by Greg Broudeaux reviewed by Jeff

In this installment of the romantic suspense series, Alejandro Santos is a bored detective with Stonewall Investigations…at least until Griffin Banks stumbles in the front door needing help. Griffin woke up from a drunken stupor to find his roommate murdered. The cops suspect him and even Griffin can’t be totally sure he didn’t do it. Alejandro takes the case and begins to put together the puzzle of who would want this woman dead. As usual, Max Walker weaves an intriguing web as it’s revealed this woman is not at all who she seems to be. Griffin believed his friend was a down on her luck actress but the truth is jaw-dropping.

Along the way, of course, Alejandro and Griffin become attracted to each other and Alejandro starts to peel back the layers of hurt that Griffin carries with him. The son of a media mogul, Griffin lost his mom at a young age and became estranged from his father. Dealing with that, bipolar disorder and his drinking problem, Griffin was happy to spend his days doing nothing except muting his feelings. With Alejandro, he finds a reason to get his life back together–all the while hoping Alejandro gets the proof he needs to clear Griffin’s name.

As all of this plays out, the Unicorn killer continues to make their presence known in New York’s LGBTQ community causing unease for the detectives at the agency as it becomes clearer the killer is going after men who are partnered.

Max continues to craft tight mysteries that leave me wanting to listen far past the time I should stop. He made me late for work twice last week. His characters are compelling, likable and it’s impossible to not root for Griffin to get his HEA–not just with Alejandro but to also patch things up with his dad too. His broad range of characters is also fantastic. Reflective of the New York City setting, he populates these stories with characters that have a range of ethnic and social backgrounds.

The mystery here got me super tense. More than once I questioned if it was Griffin who’d done it. As a romance that doesn’t make sense since the characters need to get their HEA, but Max did his job of sewing the seeds just enough to where it made me wonder how it would turn out. I also couldn’t piece it together ahead of the big reveal, which made me happy.

Max’s writing on Griffin was extraordinary. There were a couple of scenes where you really get to see how Griffin gets wrapped up in his own head and considers taking a drink or doing something that would pull him back down. It was great to see these intense sides of Griffin to get more perspective on him–and to make you root for him even more.

A quick shout out to Greg, once again, doing a great job giving voice to Max’s world.

I’ve already gotten into book three, A Tangled Truth, which just released on audio on February 19. I’m sure I’ll be talking about that one in a couple weeks. For now, I highly recommend A Lethal Love by Max Walker.

Fresh Catch by Kate Canterbury, reviewed by Will

Fresh Catch is essentially a secret prince story, though instead of a hunky royal or bad-boy celebrity on the down-low – in this story we have a tech gazillionaire. Cole is a Silicon Valley wunderkind who’s been forced to take a leave of absence/vacation by his new board of directors.

He’s sailing up the eastern seaboard on his fancy sailboat when the navigation system goes on the fritz. He floats into the cove of gruff Maine lobsterman Owen. Things don’t exactly get off on the right foot for these two but, despite the fact that they’re from two different worlds, they begin to warm up to one another (it doesn’t hurt that they each find the other wildly attractive).

While Cole is waiting for his boat to be repaired, he’ll stay in the spare room of Owen’s seaside cottage and, since Owen is short a deckhand, they’ll work together each day pulling in lobster traps.

As they spend more time getting to know one another, the sexual tension builds until they each take matters into their own hands (so to speak) leading to a scorching sex scene where, in separate rooms with the cottage wall between them, they verbally express their need for each other.

As the days and weeks pass, they continue their sexy summer fling, Owen becoming adorably possessive of his new lover, and Cole reveling in the simple life of a quaint coastal town.

This may have been my favorite part of the book, where the main characters – two genuinely nice guys – go on dates and get to know one another. It sounds deadly dull as I’m explaining it here, but I think it’s a crucial step that a lot of authors miss. As the characters take the time to fall in love, we fall for them and become much more emotionally invested in their happy ending.

They’re both in love, and Owen is about to ask Cole to stay with him permanently when he sees a magazine expose in the checkout lane of the supermarket. Cole’s not just a tech guy from California. He’s a mogul who practically invented the internet.

The confrontation between our lovebirds doesn’t go well. The ensuing black moment is pretty textbook –
“Why didn’t you tell me the truth?”
“I tried, but you weren’t interested in the truth.”
That kind of thing.

Stuff we’ve seen a million times before, but because the author Kate Canterbary has done her job and laid the emotional groundwork, we implicitly understand how devastating and painful this moment is for our heroes… and, frankly, a punch in the gut for readers (like myself).

Thankfully, Cole quickly figures out how he can still manage his business empire and live with the man he’s come to love. Crisis successfully averted. There’s an adorably sweet epilog (that I particularly enjoyed) showing how Owen and Cole have made things work out, it may have involved baking and a precocious puppy.