Jeff & Will discuss the very sexy bad boy and virgin romance Bad Boy by Emma Alcott. As 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 for the first chapter from the audiobook, narrated by Michael Ferraiuolo.
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- Emma Alcott website
- Bad Boy by Emma Alcott on Amazon
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast on Patreon.com
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast patrons on BGFP website
- Frolic Podcast Network website
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Will: Welcome to episode 359 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 back here with us.
Will: This episode right here, it just so happens to be the Big Gay Fiction Book Club episode for January. And this month’s pick is the very sexy, bad boy, virgin romance, appropriately titled, “Bad Boy” by Emma Alcott.
Now, before we start our discussion of this month’s book, we’d like to quickly thank the members of our Patreon community, including Guin and RegencyFan93, who recently increased their support. It’s because of patrons just like them, that we’re able to bring you podcast episodes every single week with interviews from some of your favorite authors and reviews of some of the most amazing books our genre has to offer.
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Jeff: Now you’re going to want to make sure you stick around after our discussion, because we are pleased to bring you an excerpt from the audio book of “Bad Boy,” with narration from Michael Ferraiuolo. You are not going to want to miss that.
Book Club Discussion: Bad Boy by Emma Alcott
Will: So, our story begins with young, imaginative Colton having no problem dreaming up all of the dangerous scenarios that could befall him in the murder forest he is currently driving through at night in the snow to get to a New Year’s Eve party his friend is throwing. But instead of the party house, he finds a remote cabin and promptly gets stuck in a snowbank
Jeff: Murder forest. I have dark forest issues myself, so I could relate to the concept of calling it the murder forest. Colton’s a little more imaginative than I am in that way, but I appreciate here how Emma immediately sets up how frightened he is of some things. You get immediately how tense he is in the situation that he’s in.
Will: Russ is a writer, a hardworking one. And since it’s Friday night, he has earned some well-deserved personal time. He fills the tub in his luxurious bathroom and sneaks under the therapeutic water. Tension easing away. And he is finally able to enjoy some personal time.
As his mind conjures up the fantasy of his perfect man, he hears his dog Kismet barking at something in the woods outside. He tries to finish his alone time, but the moment has passed. So, he dries off and then he hears the click of the front door. Someone has let themselves into his cabin.
Jeff: How much of a bad boy, can he be when luxuriating in that bathroom?
Oh my gosh. The bathroom will come into play again later, but he has a well-appointed bathroom in what is in another way is a ramshackle cabin. He has a very nice bathroom, so kudos to him.
Will: Colton tries and bang to get his car unstuck, but all he achieves is getting soaked by the freezing snow. His only choice is to see if someone is at home. He knocks on the cabin door, but there’s no answer except the bark of a dog.
He’s going to freeze to death if he stays outside. So, he lets himself in and is bowled over by this dog receiving sloppy, wet puppy kisses.
They go inside and no one is home that Colton can see. So, he makes himself at home in front of the wood-burning stove, the dog at his side. When Russ goes to the living room, he finds a cute guy has made himself at home and is having a conversation with Kismet.
A guy who’s adorable, perfect, everything he has ever wanted. Colton apologizes profusely. Russ reassures them that it’s okay.
And keep in mind that Russ is actually only wearing a towel and is having a very real reaction to this young man. When Russ notices Colton’s reaction to his reaction, he gently kisses him.
Jeff: A whole bunch of reactions going on right there in front of the wood-burning fire. It’s interesting as we see the major differences in Colton and Russ, just how big and burly that Russ is leading to his bad boyness and how Colton gets words like small, timid to describe him. It sets up some of the dynamic that’s going to come with these two in the coming chapters, as they get to know each other a little bit better in their little snowbound cabin.
Will: For virginal Colton, his world is on fire. The blaze has been set by this enormous, sexy, bearded, tattooed stranger. And when he finally grabs a hold of what’s underneath that towel, he practically combusts. They kiss and they grind but are interrupted by Kismet who wants his dinner.
Jeff: Silly dog. People are busy here.
Will: After the doggy is fed. They head up to the bedroom with Colton in his bed, Russ cannot believe how lucky he is to have this perfectly sexy, petite angel here with him. And he’s going to do everything he can to make sure Colton is deeply satisfied.
He uses his fingers and a lot of lube to prep his irresistible guest. Russ guesses that Colton might not be very experienced, but he is also greedily, desperately horny so soon they are going at it hard.
Jeff: They get right to it. Just as the towel’s coming off, Colton finally manages to ask what Russ’s name actually is because they’ve made it all the way upstairs before introductions are even made, the lust just really overtaking both of them.
I really like how much, even before Russ knows how inexperienced Colton is, he has a good suspicion of it and he’s doing his best to take care of Colton to make sure he has a good first experience.
Will: And that experience is wild and sweaty and intense and for Colton completely life altering. They go at it again and again until Colton is nothing but a blissed-out puddle of goo. Russ fetches him a glass of water and can’t believe perfect little Colton is in his bed. And that’s where he’ll stay since the snow is so deep, they won’t be able to get his car out for a day at least. Maybe two, maybe a week.
Jeff: If they had their way, it might be never that they’d want to get that car out. I love Colton’s point of view on this whole thing. I really have to share this it’s it might be a little bit much to share, but I’m going to share it anyway.
This is how Colton describes being filled up by Russ, quote, “It’s like trying to stuff your legs into a pair of pants, three sizes too small only you’re not the legs. You’re the pants. And while your fabric has some elasticity, you’re terrified for your seams.” That paints every picture you need to know about some of how Colton is feeling here, and yet he loves every single minute of this. It’s a wildly sexy and hot scene that Emma Alcott put on the page here.
Will: Russ make sure that Colton knows that he’s safe and protected. And if he wants, he can stay all the way until spring thaw. They have enough supplies, and they will want for nothing.
Jeff: If you had to get snowed in somewhere, it’s good to be snowed in with somebody who’s at least prepared to stay somewhere for the entire winter,
Will: Colton agrees. And as they celebrate with another round of sex, he admits his inexperience. He has never been with anyone besides Russ. They ring in the new year with more orgasms before falling asleep, though more likely just collapsing from exhaustion, and they do so in each other’s arms,
Jeff: it was quite the new year celebration.
Russ wakes early as per his usual schedule. He stokes the fire and attempts to get to work, thinking he might need to move a few deadlines with someone as tantalizingly distracting as Colton staying with him. And he’s going through a few happy New Year’s texts from his friends when Colton finally wakes.
Kismet barks up a storm at the loud pounding on the front door. Gavin, Colton’s best friend whose party he never made it to last night, might have sent his dad, the local sheriff, to come looking for him. Sheriff Draper is in a foul mood.
Jeff: I think the sheriff is always in a foul mood.
Will: Colton can sense that he and Russ really don’t like each other. Since the supposed missing person is now found, Draper can take Colton home. But Colton politely declines. No, thank you. He is happy just where he is.
Will: When the nature of the relationship becomes apparent, Draper assures Colton that he can do far better than the likes of Russ, but Colton repeats he is going to stay. Once the sheriff has left, they discuss the reason that Gavin’s dad seems to hate Russ so much.
Russ, once a criminal, served his time and started over. A new life in a small town in his out of the way cabin. He dated a guy named Luca briefly. They were hot and heavy for a while, but after they broke up, Luca vanished without a trace. Draper thinks Russ had something to do with it, but there was never any proof, and Draper has been waiting for Russ to slip up ever since.
Colton appreciates Russ’s honesty and filling him in on that backstory. And he admires how Russ has worked through circumstances to make himself a better life.
Jeff: It kind of broke my heart though, that Russ flat out says that he’s a bad man, even though it’s been a decade since, he committed his crimes, he got through prison, he got out. He has put his life back together again in a great way, as we find out more and more through the story. But just to still at this point, feel like he’s a bad man. It broke my heart a little bit for this bad boy that we’ve got here.
Will: Since it’s still relatively early on New Year’s Day, they head back upstairs and get back into bed and do exactly what they know how to do so very well. Colton has chosen to stay and they’re going to belong to one another as long as Colton is willing to let Russ pamper and care for him.
Jeff: I really like how already Colton is finding some changes in him. He is starting to realize as he puts it, that he’s not just a pretty face, that he can be strong, that he can be capable. And even when he’s scared, he can hold his own. Like he held his ground against the sheriff and didn’t just decide to, oh…
Jeff: Thank you.
I wasn’t even going to try and pronounce that word. He did not capitulate to the sheriff to just drag him home and drag him away from where he wants to be. I mean, Colton is 20 and so he is an adult and can do what he wants and be where he wants to be. And even at this early point in the book, we’re starting to see him change for the better for himself too, and not just losing his virginity on New Year’s Eve.
Will: Once Colton dozes off, Russ gets out of bed and asks via text his friend Will, who’s a fellow author and beta reader, for some relationship advice after spilling the story of the perfect boy in his bed and how his past and present situation has put him back on the Sheriff’s radar.
Will requests a virtual face-to-face conversation. They hop on to Discord and despite their long online friendship, they see each other for the first time. Will amusingly is at first kind of flummoxed that Russ is the burly living embodiment of the bad boy heroes featured in Scott Ryker’s best-selling novels.
Russ is a popular romance author. Scott Ryker is his very manly pen name. Eventually they settle in to figure out Russ’s situation, what Will declares will be the sexiest, swooniest, most worthwhile happily ever after of all.
Jeff: I love Russ’s friends, and I love how he initially decides to put this in front of Will, who eventually will expand the group. I could just see almost any romance author thinking this very thing that Russ thinks to himself, “whether it’s plot holes or unruly characters, writing fiction is tougher than it looks, and real life isn’t any different. But when push comes to shove and there seems to be no way out of the mess I’ve written myself into, there’s always one thing that never fails to get me back on track, the advice of my friends.”
How often do we see that in the romance community that everybody goes to help everybody else? I just love the sentiment. And I love how this got written into this book with Russ, embracing his friends to get help.
Will: Yeah. Once Russ has filled Will in on all the details of the situation in his own personal backstory, Will gives his opinion on how Russ and Colton’s real life HEA could and should play out. But he is quick to note that he is only one person. Opinions on the direction of a fictional romantic story or one thing, making real life decisions with real life consequences is another thing entirely. He recommends bringing in the rest of their author friend group to get more input.
Now, honestly, Russ doesn’t really want everybody knowing his business, but he isn’t sure he can figure out his situation with Colton all on his own. Russ says yes. And Will immediately creates a private server, which he names “masters of romance.”
Jeff: Which just coincidentally happens to be the name of this very series that we’re reading right now, with “Bad Boy” being the first book.
One of the most amusing pieces of this as they’re setting up the group and everything is that there’s a bit of a decision that Russ really has to be his very best self to prove that he’s worthy of Colton and somebody categorized it as you need to be the Gomez Addams to his Morticia. That just cracked me up in terms of characterizing it that way.
I really love though how the writer friends start to break everything down in terms of the romance tropes that we all know and love. It’s really amazing to see quote unquote, a real-life love story broken down into the tropes this way it made this book such a treat to read besides the romance itself, the way that there are people trying to help the romance move into the right arc.
Will: Yeah. This group is a very funny, very opinionated bunch.
Jeff: Just like romance writers are.
Will: And all of their exchanges with Russ are utterly hilarious.
Jeff: I really love on the audio book, how each of these individual romance writers got their very own distinct personality, even though we only really get them through Discord chats. It was just so wonderfully done.
Will: When Colton awakes, he can hear Russ having a conversation downstairs on the phone presumably. On the bedside table, he finds his phone has been fully charged with a note from Russ, with the wifi password. So helpful.
Will: So considerate.
Jeff: You’ve gotta be nice to your guests to give them the access that they need.
Will: He texts his dad to let him know he’s not dead. And they’ll talk later. He next texts his friend Gavin, and through a long exchange he explains his New Year’s Eve. How he got lost in the snow, and lost his virginity to the burly bad boy of his dreams?
Their text conversation is pretty adorable and pretty hilarious. Gavin is thrilled for his friend and, as it turns out, got laid last night, too. Both of them are rather proud to have started the new year so sexily. After his talk with Gavin, Colton heads downstairs and just watching Russ doing laundry and talking on the phone, he’s struck by how this amazing guy has somehow chosen him.
Well, Colton chooses him right back and is willing to do just about anything to show him just how much all of this means to him.
Jeff: It’s all happened rather quickly, and I suspect some people who read this might start to feel vibes of instalove, perhaps. But to me it happens really organically, even though it’s really only the course of about a day at this point that they’ve been together. But it has so much tilted Colton’s world in terms of somebody seeing him for who he is and actually liking him for who he is and how he is.
And also for Russ, it’s somebody who sees, I really think past a lot of his bad boyness, and the quote unquote “bad man” that he perceives himself to be. That already within this day so much is tilted for both of them in such a profound way.
Will: Russ’s con fab with his author pals generates several responses. From screwing his way to a happily ever after, because if the dick is good enough his past indiscretions will not matter to Colton, to a diplomatic chat and olive branch with the sheriff to show he’s not the monster everyone assumes he is.
When he finds Colton watching him from the bottom step of the stairs, he ends the call, kisses Colton thoroughly, feeds him chocolate chip pancakes, and takes him upstairs to make Colton as happy as he possibly can. Because that’s all he really cares about, Colton’s happiness.
Jeff: I love Dash to death. Dash is one of the romance writers in this group that Russ has put together. He states for the record, very loudly, that he is, and always will be, on team dick your way to an HEA. What better way to go?
Will: Since Colton’s happiness is at the top of Russ’s list, later over tea they discuss that happiness. Specifically, Colton’s failed relationship with a narcissist named Harvard.
Jeff: Booo. Terrible person.
Will: Russ assures him that he is perfectly capable of choosing and living his own life, living it the way he wants. It might not be an easy path, and it’s unlikely to please people like Colton’s father or guys like Harvard. Russ just wants them to be happy and true to himself. And he’s going to help Colton in any way that he can.
Jeff: I really liked this conversation because it’s really the moment where they finally have some of the talks that they’ve needed to have about their past and everything. They’ve talked a little bit about their individual backstories at this point, but this is really kind of where it all comes out.
What went on with Luca, the things that Colton went through with Harvard, and they really take the moment to tell each other that they’re liked for who they are in this case, both of them. Colton likes Russ for the man that he is. Russ likes Colton for the man that he is. And it’s a really nice affirming moment, I think for both of them, that they’re with the right person at this point. The conversation here really made me happy in terms of what they were saying and the things they were putting on the table at this point.
Will: Yeah. After that heartfelt conversation, they make love on the window seat that looks out over the snowy forest, beyond the cabin.
The experience is… I would describe it as possessive. Colton comes to feel that he is Russ’s and Russ is his. There’s an equal partnership going on.
While Colton gets on the phone to talk with his dad, Russ tries to get some work done, but gets caught up in the Discord conversation his friends have been having. The Masters of Romance agree that it is not enough for Russ to say he’s a changed man. He needs to prove it. Show the sheriff how much he’s changed by taking part in the community.
Jeff: This cracked me up so much.
Will: Yeah. Joining in isn’t exactly Russ’s forte. But if he’s going to change the Sheriff’s mind, he needs to volunteer at a festival or whatever, and show that he can be a kind, helpful, and totally non-murdery part of the community.
Jeff: I like how Will actually suggest that he goes to read Aaron’s books, because Aaron is the one who writes about small towns and essentially where they’re living. Russ’s cabin is outside of a small town in the upper peninsula of Michigan. And so, Will’s recommending Aaron’s books because that’s where all the small-town romance is so he can learn all about the festivals and stuff. This is not Russ even on his best day. Russ is not the joiner at the festival, but it was a very cute image to have in my mind too.
Will: Colton’s conversation with his dad it goes… Well, I mean, it could have gone worse. Predictably, his dad tries to get him to come home, convince him that Russ is a criminal, and that staying with him isn’t safe. Colton assures him that he is in fact safe, and that Sheriff Draper’s suspicions concerning Russ and his missing ex are unfounded. He will come home eventually and show him what a good man Russ is.
Jeff: I agree with you. It could have gone worse, but I think it went as well as it could have. Cause dad’s still going to want to be protective of his still relatively young son. And at this point, the sheriff has a little more sway in the situation because dad doesn’t know Russ yet.
Will: So, since Colton has stated that he’s going to be staying with Russ for the perceivable future, he comes to an agreement with his dad that he’s at least going to check in, either via text or phone call. His dad just needs to know that Colton is okay.
Jeff: I like the dad realizing that he’s an adult. Dad flat out says that, you know, I can’t make you come home, but let’s do this check-in just so that I know you’re not dead yet.
Will: So, we have just officially reached the 45% mark in the story, and we have covered the first 24 hours in Colton and Russ’s relationship. I think what you said earlier is very true. We are firmly in instalove territory. These two definitely have explosive sexual chemistry, but in this first 24 hours, I think they’ve not only proven how horny they are, but how emotionally open they are as well.
I think it’s pretty easy to see how amongst all the sex and all of the pillow talk that these two are having, it makes perfect sense that they would come to the realization that, you know, this is the guy for me. In the case of Colton and Russ, I think it’s a situation of when you know, you know.
Jeff: Yeah. And it’s because of all the amazing pillow talk that they have, they go really deep on some of this pillow talk, especially since they’ve known each other for only a day. I mean, some of the discussions they’re having are things that you would talk about maybe on date 3, 4, 5, down the line. But I think this is one of the places too where forced proximity plays in so well, because you’re not going to do much of anything else besides chat, unless you’re just going to sit and watch Netflix or something, which they get to later. But right now, it’s all about getting to know each other and having a lot of sex.
Will: This book does something that I’m particularly fond of and don’t see very often. It’s when the story takes place over a very short period of time, but we spend the entirety of that time with the main characters. And in the case of this story, the instalove aspects of the plot make perfect sense because we’re with Colton and Russ every step of the way. Through every sexual experience, through every feeling that they’re feeling, through every thought that they’re having, so that it’s not an unreasonable leap for them to realize after 24 hours that they were meant for one another.
Jeff: And it’s all right there on the page for us. I think it’s one of the things too, that the choice to have first person present tense as the point of view of the story, just really puts us right in there with Russ and Colton, because we’re getting their thoughts. We’re right there with them. We know what they’re thinking. We know what their thought process is. And it’s not a story being told to us from the past. It’s happening right now.
But I thought it was a really effective use of that in this book. Emma knew what she was doing when she picked this point of view format I think to really make it, here and now, and urgent and relevant for us. Instead of it being a past tense, sort of something being told to us afterwards.
So, since we’ve covered the first 24 hours in depth, Emma Alcott gives the story a little bit more in breathing room and we move forward a little more quickly.
The days of our heroes are quiet and filled with simple chores, work, and of course, lots of sex. One afternoon, Colton thinks he sees something out the back window amongst the tree line.
Jeff: As in, it’s in the murder forest.
Will: So, the two of them get bundled up and they take a mini excursion to the tree line. And after trudging through the snow, they wait patiently amongst the trees until Meredith, a very dear friend of Russ’s shows up. I just made a very dad-like pun there.
Jeff: You did.
Will: Meredith is in fact a deer and her herd consider Russ a friend after he tended to an injury. A hunter’s wayward shot on one of her friends. Colton and Russ pet them and Kismet romps around in the snow with the youngest of the herd.
Jeff: It’s so cute. It’s a Disney movie moment stuck right in the middle of this book, and I adored it. First of all, this really does help Colton move past some of the fears that he just carries with him. He’s mildly convinced as Russ is like, okay, let’s just go outside and see what this is, that he’s going to be like, served up to the murder forest, or like, this is the moment where he’s going to be killed and left in the woods. Or, you know, his brain just kind of spirals.
But then he trusts Russ enough to let him get him out there. And then he has this really magical experience with this herd of deer. It’s really touching. It’s a moment of more growth for Colton that not everything is as scary as he makes it out to be in that his brain. And sometimes it needs to calm down a little bit for him.
Will: So, after that woodland Disney-like experience, Russ continues work on his latest manuscript and sends a new chapter off to Will, who promptly messages him. What the hell is he doing? Why is he working when he’s trapped in the cabin with the man of his dreams? Well, Russ has deadlines. Will tells him to postpone them. This is his one chance to live out his own version of a romantic trope that could very well lead to a real life HEA. Russ wisely takes Will’s advice, and he and Colton watched the sunset together.
Jeff: I continued to love Will. He’s my favorite sub character in this story. And I really hope that maybe he gets a story of his own in a future part of this series. Cause the thing with Will is earlier on, before Colton showed up, Will was pushing Russ to get him the next chapter, get him the next chapter, get him the next chapter.
And now it’s like, why are you even working? You’ve got this romance novel happening in your home right now. Go deal with that. The other thing that happens in this chapter eventually is, I think it’s a turning point for Colton’s dad and how he seeds Russ, because Russ ends up kind of overhearing a part of the conversation of the check-in that he’s having with his dad. And he’s like, he made me go outside. Oh my God. And then it was the deer, and it was like, wonderful. And I think that’s a moment for Colton’s dad to realize that Russ might actually be pretty good for his son in some ways, because he’s helped him get past the murder forest concept.
It was a nice moment and Russ is cute. Cause he was like, you ratted me out to your dad, didn’t you? It’s another cute moment between Russ and Colton.
Will: After a morning of amorous activity, Colton notes that they’ve nearly gone through the giant box of condoms Russ had when he first arrived. Maybe an Amazon drone could deliver some more? What’s funny is this comment triggers something in Russ who furiously starts scribbling on a notepad. A drone is the perfect solution for something he’s been trying to figure out as part of his work.
Now, what Russ actually does for a living hasn’t really been discussed yet. They’d been a little busy doing other things and Colton and his very vivid imagination comes to the conclusion that Russ is obviously a secret agent.
Jeff: Of course, he is.
Will: Agent of love maybe.
It’s here that Russ finally explains that he is a writer, Scott Ryker. Colton is at first dubious, but looking at the shelves filled with his titles, all written by Russ, he is very impressed and in need of some kisses from a best-selling author. They forgo the condoms and fuck up against the bookshelf. It is savage and satisfying and incredible. Colton loves Russ and he loves him right back.
Jeff: I love this declaration of love. It’s so nice. It comes from essentially both of them at nearly the same time. They try to walk it back but realize it’s not what they want to walk back. They do love each other.
These two while they’re being so just savagely sexy. They end up with the tenderest moments worked in with that, and I just really love it so much. And we haven’t really talked about the consent part of this book yet, but there’s a lot of really awesome consent in this book too.
Russ really makes sure that Colton is taken care of each step of the way really nicely. He’s not going to do anything that Colton doesn’t want. He’ll stop if he’s told to stop or even if he feels like something’s not quite right. And it’s good, especially after Harvard, who we’ll get to a little bit later, that Colton is respected in this way. And I think Colton finds that sexy as well, that he’s allowed to have a thought and an opinion and to ask for and get what he wants.
Will: Later, when Russ hands Colton one of his titles, he’s impressed that Russ can be so successful writing gay romances. He starts reading and is swept up in the story and is proud that his Russ is the man behind such a fun, sexy adventure. As it turns out a very sexy adventure.
As Colton enjoys a savage sex scene in the book, Russ works him over, reenacting the character’s passion with an intensity of their own. The fact that these two are so horny for literature. Oh my God. I love them so much.
Jeff: Colton has this thought to himself after they’re done with this current round of sex, he thinks, “I wonder if Russ is so taken with me because I’m so much like one of his characters or if he’s written Daniel this way as a love letter to his perfect future lover. Are these books his way of howling at the moon, hoping someone out there might answer? I think it might be.”
What an amazing thought to have after you’ve, you know, been fucked into the next day or something.
Will: To alleviate any anxiety that Russ has about meeting Colton’s dad, Colton proposes that they dress up and have a proper meal at the table as a kind of dry run of how a meet the parents at a restaurant scenario might play out.
Jeff: I absolutely love that idea.
Will: The meal that Colton prepares, complete with improvised romantic ambiance, doesn’t go quite as planned.
Jeff: He tried so hard.
Will: Colton ends up inadvertently tossing a metal mixing bowl at Russ’s head. Russ appreciates the attempt to do something special for them, but they just end up eating their meal comfortably on the couch.
Jeff: You see the mixing bowl, he tried to recreate the little silver domes that you put over in the fancy restaurants to like, and then unveil.
Will: He wanted it to be like upscale and chichi. It did not work at all.
Jeff: And it’s so hard to remove the dome when there’s no handle on top to move it. it was like the most wildly comical moment in this book. And I could just envision it like in a movie somewhere. It’s like being that properly rom-comy moment in the middle of everything. If this was an eighties romcom, Meg Ryan would have been the one throwing the dome at somebody’s head.
Will: The next day, after several rounds of morning sex, Colton makes his afternoon video chat check in with his dad while Russ makes lunch. He joins the conversation with comments about fresh herbs and they all make plans to get together for a dinner once the roads are clear.
Once the call is over, they settle in for some soup for lunch. And I thought what was nice about this particular moment is that there’s a quiet domesticity to their lives. But quiet amongst the frequent rounds of mind-blowing sex.
Jeff: You do have to eat after all.
I agree, I like the way that we see more of these moments that there’s much more to the relationship than sex and good conversation, but these other moments and like this thing with the herbs and the discussion with Colton’s dad about the fact that he grows herbs in the cabin was just one more thing. I think that helps dad to see that Colton’s in really good hands here. So yeah, it just all starts to paint such a really nice picture.
Will: The snow has finally melted and it’s time for Colton to return to his friends and family. So, he spends a day saying goodbye to the cabin. Not because he’ll never return. He just wants to take time to remember this uniquely special time and place.
He takes photos. Says goodbye to Meredith and the herd. Gets some extra cuddle time with Kismet. Colton has been reading Scott Ryker books during his time in the cabin and has loved them. And is now going through Russ’s library of books his friends have written and he’s taking a few with him to enjoy until he returns to Russ.
They make love one last intense time. Russ needing the reassurance that Colton will come back despite what his friends and family will surely say. The question of whether Colton would return is yes. A million times yes.
Jeff: And you know, despite the fact that it is a million times, yes. I really like what he did here, because no matter when he comes back or under what circumstances he comes back, this was a moment in his life that he’s going to want to really remember forever, because it will never be exactly this way again, because now he is a different person than when he showed up at this cabin.
And to have all these snapshots of how things were when he’s leaving this place for the first time. Just really struck me as the right thing to do when the right memories to have thirty years down the line when they’re retelling this story to their grandkids, or something cause that’s how far out I projected their HEA to happen.
Will: In the morning they reluctantly prepare for Colton to go, and tears are shed as he drives off returning to his old life. In the days after Colton’s departure, Russ can’t get any work done. He is uninspired and too heartbroken to write someone else’s HEA. Even chat with his writer group doesn’t quite bring him out of his funk.
In an effort to cheer him up, Will gives Russ a sneak peek at his latest book cover. The cover is gorgeous, and the cover model, a new guy in the business, is just too hot and kind of familiar. Russ Googles the model’s name and finds a few more photos.
Russ has a sheriff that he needs to talk to.
Jeff: Yes, he does.
Will: Meanwhile, Colton and his best friend go out for coffee because Gavin wants every detail of cabin life with his totally not a murderer boyfriend. Gavin has a new man in his life, Sawyer, who he met at the New Year’s Eve party.
Jeff: Gavin’s a hoot and I absolutely adored his character. I know that there’s a short story that Emma’s got available that actually gives us Gavin’s New Year’s Eve as like a bonus and I have to go read that soon to see what Gavin’s like in that setting from what he tells in the story here.
Will: Yeah. After learning about the love story of Gavin and Sawyer it’s Colton’s turn. And he doesn’t go into the more intimate details of his relationship with Russ, but he can say that despite his slightly scary outside appearance, Russ is genuinely kind and only wants Colton to be happy. For Colton to be his best self.
Gavin is so happy for him and is thrilled that he is over that asshole, Harvard.
Jeff: Did anybody like Harvard except for the parents? I don’t think so.
Will: Now, unfortunately, Harvard as it so happens is back in town and Gavin being the loyal friend that he is, is full of righteous indignation. And he swears that he’ll make that dick apologize for the way that he treated Colton.
Jeff: Even more reason for me to like Gavin, he’s going to go take care of this ex.
Will: At the sheriff’s office, Russ shows Draper the latest portraits on a photographer’s website. The model Lucky is Luca. They are the same person. A visible tattoo on the model’s hip proves it. Draper wonders at the coincidence of the timing. The moment he starts dating a young man with close ties to Draper, the sheriff and Colton’s dad are best friends, Russ magically solves a years old missing person’s case.
And he’s like, look, these photos aren’t fake. That is Luca. Russ wants to know what Draper is going to do about it. And the sheriff says, he’ll get to it when he gets to it.
Jeff: The Sheriff’s a dick. I realized he thinks he’s doing what’s best for Colton, but his reaction to this information, I just kind of wanted to throttle him.
Will: At Colton’s dad’s law office, where Harvard is helping out in Colton’s absence, Colton and Gavin confront the dreaded ex who, as it turns out is just as shitty and manipulative as he’s always been. Gavin comes roaring to his best friend’s defense, but Colton is able to calmly ask for an apology, the apology that he deserves. He doesn’t get it.
God, what did he ever see in his tired poser?
Jeff: I don’t know.
I think it all comes down to manipulation. Colton even has this moment to himself where he says, “What he stole from me. Wasn’t just my time. It was my confidence. My peace of mind. My sense of self. And while Russ has put me back on the right track, I’m more the person I could have been, the one Harvard cut and cut until there was nothing left.”
Yes, he is just a terrible person, Harvard. I feel bad for whoever ends up with Harvard next. And, frankly, feel bad for Harvard because you have to make someone feel that bad to help yourself. It’s just… it’s terrible. I cheered for Colton here so much as he just stood his ground with this situation to get the apology that he deserved. A huge turning point here for him to hold his ground in this way.
Will: After Russ’s disappointing interaction with the sheriff, he’s on his way out of town and he sees the law offices of Colton’s father. And while he doesn’t expect to find Colton there, maybe he can find out where his boyfriend is at that moment. So, he pulls into a parking space and gets out just in time to see a confrontation on the front steps of the offices.
As Jeff just mentioned, Colton stands his ground. Unfortunately, this is just metaphorically because he ends up slipping on the icy walkway and nearly lands on his ass.
Jeff: I wasn’t going to mention that part.
Will: And he does demand an apology for all the pain and manipulation he suffered during his and Harvard’s time together. When it’s clear that Harvard is going to continue to be an insufferable douche, Russ steps in, grabbing him by the collar and forcing him to apologize, which he does a piss poor job of.
Will: Colton makes sure Harvard understands the depth of his shittiness. Even his apology was crap. He asked one more time and prompted by Colton’s indignation and the imposing wall of muscle that is Russ, Harvard squeaks out an acceptable “I’m sorry” before scurrying away. Gavin congratulates them on the sheer awesomeness of the confrontation. He’s like all God, I wish I had recorded that, because it was the closure that his best friend truly needed.
Russ drives Colton home and tells him the news about Luca. Colton is thrilled by the news, but Russ wonders if even with this new lead, Draper will ever see him as anything other than the man he once was.
Colton, whose confidence has been boosted after the confrontation with Harvard, thinks that he can convince the sheriff to see Russ in a new light. After all, their happiness is a two-way street. This relationship is going to be fifty, fifty. It’s up to both of them to forge their own path towards their happily ever after.
Jeff: I absolutely love that type of realization every time it comes up in this book that they’re in this to make it equal.
Will: Colton is a bundle of nerves and anxiety when he tumbles into Sheriff Draper’s office and things don’t start off great. But Colton finds his confidence, again saying that he is grateful for the help that he’s offered him in his dad over the years, but the way that Draper has been treating Russ just isn’t fair. The photos of Luca aren’t fake and his insistence at treating Russ as if he’s a bad apple when the reason for that treatment has vanished, well it sucks. And what I really particularly liked about this moment is that Colton is specifically saying to a man that is an authority figure in his life, he’s essentially going. I’m not mad. I’m just disappointed.
Jeff: I was so glad when he changed his approach with the sheriff too, because why I laughed when you started talking about this particular scene, is that in an effort to keep his self-confidence high he’s trying to go in being a little bit like Gavin, whose confidence is a little more on the comedic side. I mean, Gavin uses finger guns a lot and some other things.
And I could just see in my mind’s eye Colton trying to channel Gavin a little bit. I’m like, oh, this is bad. Just go back to what you were doing with Harvard. That was good. That was fine. That was you. But yeah. I agree. It’s like, I’m not mad. I’m just disappointed. And maybe you need to rethink what you’re doing. It was a great conversation.
Will: Once Colton is done pleading his case and is leaving the sheriff’s office. He runs into his dad who is going in. Dad was talking with Russ in the parking lot and is now going in to see the sheriff. It seems his dad has been collecting evidence of his own all along.
He’s seen how Russ treats him during their video chats. Plus, the events earlier that happened with Harvard outside the offices. Dad is now confident enough to stand up for Colton and Russ where the sheriff is concerned.
Jeff: I think he might have proved that Luca is Luca.
Will: When the Masters of Romance hear, how the story has concluded, they are happy for Russ, but a little sad to see that their grand HEA that they had plotted out has resolved itself in such an unexpectedly tidy manner.
Jeff: It wasn’t without drama though. It just was tidy, nothing wrong with that.
Will: Colton spends the night at the cabin, and they haven’t been apart for long, but they do take advantage of the opportunity for a grand lover’s reunion. Afterwards, Colton initiates the talk and wonders since the obstacles that were previously a problem are now gone, what’s next? What comes after the HEA?
Colton isn’t interested in what other people think. They don’t get a say. All he wants is to be with Russ. And do what works best for them.
Jeff: It made me so happy that Colton initiated this conversation. I had expected this sort of wrap up, stay with me, let’s have a life to really be led by Russ. But for it to be led by Colton, it’s just like his evolution and, coming into himself kind of all wraps itself up so beautifully in him being the one that kind of chart their future and to say, let’s have a future that it becomes concrete now. I loved it. It was another cheering moment for me where Colton was concerned.
Will: A week later, Luca’s missing persons case is closed. The sheriff hasn’t offered a mea culpa yet, but at least he didn’t try to talk Colton out of moving in with Russ. So, in its own small way, that’s a bit of progress.
Will: On move in day, a slippery patch of ice outside the cabin sends Russ and Colton tumbling into a snowbank where they ended up kissing. And Kismet hilariously just sits on top of them.
Jeff: They need to put some salt down there’s way too much ice in that driveway. Just saying, Russ would be better prepared.
Will: That little murder cabin in the woods is now their home.
An epilogue shows how, like in any good story, our two heroes have skipped the boring parts and created a life together that they both love. And they ended up celebrating Colton’s 21st birthday in grand romantic style.
Jeff: I love the argument that they have over when exactly they’ll get married. Just kind of made me chuckle right there at the end of the book, negotiating at what age Colton had to be. It was like the perfect topper to this story.
So, I’m really glad you picked this book. This is not one, that I would have read the blurb and been like, I’m going to read that. Because I don’t go for the bad boy books. This is the second month in a row you’ve given me a bad boy book that subverted my opinions on what a bad boy book could be. So, I’m kind of excited that happened, cause we did “A Boyfriend for Christmas” last month, which was also a bad boy story.
I really loved Michael Ferraiuolo’s narration in the audio book. I thought he captured Colton and his skittishness so well, but also there are some just evolutions in his voice as his confidence grows that I love Michael’s work with Colton’s character in particular. And like I mentioned before, I love how he gave voice to each of the Masters of Romance group because he gave them really spot on perfect voices for the Discord chats too. So, I really enjoyed that.
Just another example of your book club choices, putting something really exciting and fun in front of me that I wouldn’t have otherwise necessarily picked up.
Will: Yeah. Just to reiterate what you said, I really enjoy Colton and Russ’s relatively straightforward journey towards love. I think this story proves that you don’t necessarily need an overly complicated plot in order to have a satisfying story. Call me simple, but I love it when two heroes just can’t keep their hands off of one another.
Jeff: Yeah. They didn’t even have a black moment of their own. Like, I never questioned the fact that when Colton left, after the snow melted, he was coming back. He had to go home. If nothing else, the poor boy needed clothes because he kept wearing Russ’s oversized outfits a lot. Cause he was only there in his jeans and his shirt and his hoodie going to the party. And there was all the external stuff that was threatening to pull them apart, which they took care of in a nice tidy package that also felt like the right package to put it in. I don’t feel like any of it was forced.
So yeah, I really enjoyed the straightforward story. And it proved to me yet again, that bad boy doesn’t always equal angst, which is why I tend to stay away from bad boy stories because I don’t want all the angst.
Will: Well, I don’t know about you, but after talking about all that sweet loving, I am worn out. I think that’s going to do it for this month’s book club episode. We hope that you’ve enjoyed our discussion of Emma Alcott’s “Bad Boy,” 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 one, from the audio book of “Bad Boy.”
Will: Yeah, it’s in this opening of this story that we get our first look at Colton, some of his anxiety, and very active imagination as he gets lost on the way to that New Year’s Eve party.
Jeff: In the murder forest.
Will: All right, I think that’ll do it for now. Coming up on Monday in episode 360, we welcome February with reviews of what we’ve been reading recently, as well as a look at the books that are coming out during the month.
Jeff: I have started my reading year so well. Some really great books. And I’m looking forward to talking to you about those next week.
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 first chapter of “Bad Boy” by Emma Alcott, read by Michael Ferraiuolo. A big thanks to Emma for allowing us to bring this to you. This excerpt is copyright 2021 by Emma Alcott. Production copyright 2021 by Emma Alcott.
Note: A transcript is not available for the audio book excerpt. You can read chapter one in the “Look Inside” on Amazon.