Jeff & Will kick off the show with an announcement about the Big Gay Fiction Book Club. They also share some answers they got to the question about owning physical books versus electronic copies, and talk about a recent marathon of boat movies they watched.
The guys preview thirteen books they’re looking forward to in February, including titles by Cait Nary, A.C. Everett, E.M. Lindsey, Garrett Leigh, Ella Frank, Phil Stamper, Penny Jessup, Jeris Jean, Stephanie Hoyt, Susan Scott Shelley & Chantal Mer, Kosoko Jackson, Kelly Fox, and Parker St. John.
Jeff also reviews Shades of Winter by E.M. Lindsey, Gaycation in Paradise by Ariella Zoelle, and Icebreaker by A.L. Graziadei.
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.
- Episode 359 – Big Gay Fiction Book Club January 2022: “Bad Boy” by Emma Alcott on Big Gay Fiction Podcast
- The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- The Extraordinaries series by TJ Klune on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Boat Movie Marathon
- February Book Preview
- Season’s Change by Cait Nary on Amazon | Kobo
- An Angel’s Song by A.C. Everett on Amazon
- Fated Mates Podcast
- Shades of Lust by E.M. Lindsey on Amazon
- Devil’s Dance by Garrett Leigh on Amazon
- Big Gay Fiction Fest Holidays 2021 Edition
- Wicked Heat by Ella Frank on Amazon
- Golden Boys by Phil Stamper on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- The Alpha’s Son by Penny Jessup on Amazon | Kobo
- Historic Event by Jeris Jean on Amazon
- The Magic Between by Stephanie Hoyt on Amazon | Kobo
- Smolder by Susan Scott Shelley & Chantal Mer on Amazon | Kobo
- I’m So (Not) Over You by Kosoko Jackson on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Extradition by Kelly Fox on Amazon
- Down in Flames by Parker St. John on Amazon
- More February Releases
- The Lines We Draw by CD Rachels on Amazon
- Perfect Ten by K.M. Neuhold on Amazon
- Egotistical Puckboy by Eden Finley & Saxon James on Amazon
- Extended Stay by Mia Monroe on Amazon
- Spirited Situation by Louisa Masters on Amazon
- Honeymoon Ever After by Ariella Zoelle on Amazon
- The Cook and the Gangster by Jackie North on Amazon
- Sink or Swim by Annabeth Albert on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Hot Seat by Eli Easton and Tara Lain on Amazon
- Finding Finn by Charlie Novak on Amazon
- Jeff’s Reviews
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast on Patreon.com
- 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, we’ve got reviews of some of the books that we’ve been reading recently, as well as previews of some books that are headed our way in February.
Jeff: Welcome to episode 360 of the Big Gay Fiction Podcast, the show for avid readers and passionate fans of gay romance addiction. I’m Jeff, and with me as always is my co-host and husband, Will.
Will: Hello, rainbow romance readers we are so glad that you could join us for another episode of the show.
Jeff: As always the podcast is brought to you in part by our remarkable community on Patreon. Thanks to Megan for recently increasing her support. If you’d like more information about what we offer to patrons, go to patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.
Will: Now we hope you’ve all had a chance to enjoy the book club pick for the month of January, Emma Alcott’s crazy, sexy book “Bad Boy.” If you’re interested in what we had to say, we hope that you’ll give it a listen or give “Bad Boy” a read. I genuinely don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Jeff: No, I really don’t think they will. It was such a good book.
Will: Now, the beginning of the month is usually when we announce the next selection for book club. But for 2022, we’re going to be switching things up a little bit. In the future, book club episodes are going to be moving towards a quarterly schedule. Jeff and I have been rethinking how we do a couple of things behind the scenes here on the show, and by making book club slightly less frequent, it’s going to give us an opportunity to try out some new ideas.
But don’t worry, book club episodes will continue and once we have made our selection for the spring episode, you will be the first to know.
Jeff: Now in episode 359, we talked about what makes a book something we want to own a physical copy of versus having an electronic version. And we asked you how you made the same choices. And we got some answers that we wanted to share.
Rhonda, who’s a member of our Patreon community said this, “I agree with Will that acquiring a book and keeping it long term are two different decisions. In my m/m reading, I generally get print copies if it’s a book I absolutely loved, or if I’m trying to encourage Barnes and Noble to keep carrying them.”
Amen. We agree with you, Rhonda. We go to our Barnes and Noble all the time and we pick up the m/m novels to make sure that they keep stocking them.
Anyway, Rhonda goes on to say, “When we moved just before the pandemic, I ended up getting rid of a lot of books that used to meet a lot to me, but my reading had changed and they didn’t have the same meeting. Two years on I’ve barely touched the six boxes in the basement labeled TBR, while acquiring shelves more of new things. Thanks, pandemic shopping. So another cull may be in order.”
Rhonda sounds very much like us. We buy a bunch of stuff. We put it in the shelves and then you’re usually the one who goes “it’s time for a cull.” And you take care of the library.
Jeff: Will is the librarian of the Adams-Knauss home, just so everybody knows.
Over on Instagram, we heard from Lucy who said, “There are a few authors and series that I want in hardcover, but that’s really limited. Recently it’s been TJ Klune books, “House in the Cerulean Sea,” “Under the Whispering Door,” and the two “Extraordinaries” books, mainly because I want to share them.”
How do you share your books Lucy? I have to ask because I have a hard time loading things out because sometimes they don’t come back.
Mary said, “During the pandemic, I purchased tree books.” I love that term tree books. That’s really cool. ” To support indie bookstores. But normally it’s ebooks, unless I get it from the library. I read too many to get physical copies.” I love that you’re supporting local bookstores too. We absolutely love doing that as well. Pandemic or not pandemic. Because the local bookstores are such an endangered species anyway.
And the B.B. turned the tables on us a little bit, and actually asked how do we choose books for the podcast?
There’s not really a science there. It’s called. We picked up a book. We liked the book. And then we tell you about the book. Would you categorize that in any other way?
Will: I can’t believe you just divulged our plan for literary world domination. In all seriousness, that is the actual process. It’s not particularly complicated.
Jeff: Yeah. We, we decided when we started the show that we were going to basically very much curate it. So as much as anybody may come to us and say, will you read my book? Can you review my book? Can I come on the show? It all comes down to the mood that we’re in at the moment and what we feel like we can get into as a reader. And then if we love it, all of you get to hear about it. So, yeah. I’m sorry. I gave up our plan though.
Do I need to delete that from this episode?
Boat Movie Marathon
So in addition to spending all of our free time reading books that we love, Jeff and I also spend a lot of time watching television, whether bingeing shows or watching older movies that have particular meaning. And over the past couple of weeks during January, Jeff and I inadvertently stumbled upon a movie watching theme.
We’ve been watching a lot of boat movies. Kicking off, of course, in the new year with the greatest New Year’s Eve movie ever conceived, “The Poseidon Adventure.” We followed that up by watching the sequel that essentially nobody asked for, “Beyond the Poseidon Adventure.” We also watched “Raise the Titanic.” And then finished out the month of January by watching a TV movie that I fondly remembered called “Goliath Awaits.”
Jeff: So, yeah, it was all fairly inadvertent. I mean, “The Poseidon Adventure” is essentially our New Year’s Eve tradition. We almost always watch that movie on New Year’s Eve because why not watch an ocean liner flip over and everybody have to escape? And that’s a star studded cast to led by Gene Hackman and Ernest Borgnine and Shelley Winters. It’s an absolute amazing thing.
And you’re kind of right “Beyond the Poseidon Adventure,” I’m not sure anybody did ask for that. But it’s got its charm in its own way. I mean, it’s got Michael Cain, Sally Field and Sally Field’s an absolute hoot in that movie. It’s like almost she’s in another movie sometimes because of some of the lines that she drops.
She’s very much…
Will: Sally Field is the comic relief in this disaster movie, which kind of tells you everything you need to know about “Beyond the Poseidon Adventure.” It’s super stupid, which is why I love it. But when you watch the two movies back to back, the tone shift is a little bit jarring,
Jeff: It really is. And we did literally watch them like within days of each other. So that the original, which is a good Irwin Allen disaster movie was followed up by this comedic thing where I swear Sally Field was actually in a Burt Reynolds movie and not in this movie.
Will: That’s exactly what it was a hundred percent right.
Jeff: “Raise the Titanic” was one that I brought to the table. I get these emails from Shout Factory, which, if you’re not familiar with Shout Factory, they’re always bringing back classic and camp and genre movies from the past. And this was in my newsletter as being something that was available on their streaming service. And I was like, have you seen this? I don’t know this movie and you, I believe, had seen this movie at some point in the past. It was fine. We needed to get the Titanic off of the ocean floor because it had a storehouse of some super rare mineral that we needed to build a space defense system that then didn’t work anyway. It’s very anticlimactic in that way.
But as I brought that movie up, you had asked if I’d ever seen “Goliath Awaits” and I’m like, I don’t know what that is. And this is by far the most bonkers of all the movies, because this is about people who survived on a ship that was sunk during World War Two. They have lived on this ship underwater for 40 years and they’re just accidentally discovered. You told me about it. I’m like, what? What is this? And it’s a huge cast. It’s got Mark Harmon. It’s got Eddie Albert, a who’s who of like early 1980s television. Emma Samms before “General Hospital.”
And it’s a two-part TV movie and it’s, I don’t even really know how to describe it. Did it hold up well for you? Because you had fond memories of it. How was the rewatch for you?
Will: Well, unfortunately, one of the problems with “Goliath Awaits” is that it has never been officially released on DVD in the U. S., which means we had to watch a fuzzy, wonky looking dupe on YouTube. So that wasn’t an ideal viewing experience.
But watching it again, I remembered all of the reasons why I loved it in the first place. “Goliath Awaits” first aired in 1981, which means I would have been eight or nine, and I was utterly fascinated by it. It was just one of those things that really captured my imagination. And watching it again now that I am significantly older, I was able to enjoy the story, but also pay attention to some of the other things that were going on.
Primarily some of the really good performances by some big name stars from Hollywood’s golden age and how they genuinely make it seem plausible that a group of 300 survivors could live, in a sunken ocean liner, on the bottom of the Atlantic for 40 years.
The story itself is really a faithful retelling of the “Tempest,” but instead of a remote island or a forbidden planet, we have a sunken ocean liner. Christopher Lee is the captain essentially playing the Prospero role. Frank Gorshin is his evil right-hand man in the role of Caliban. As Jeff mentioned, it’s got Emma Samms as the daughter who eventually realizes how much of a monster her father really is. And Mark Harmon and Robert Forster help round out the cast as two of the heroes of the salvage team trying to save everyone. Like I said, I really liked it. Perhaps more than it genuinely deserves because I have such fond memories of my childhood.
But all in all, I would rate them as number one, of course is “Poseidon Adventure,” because it is the one, the only, the original followed up by “Goliath Awaits,” then “Raise the Titanic,” and lastly “Beyond the Poseidon Adventure,” because qualitatively, it’s not very good, but I still enjoy it nonetheless.
Jeff: Oh, it’s absolutely watchable. If only because of the cast I would rate them much the same way that you did. Between two and three, I could flip flop those between “Raise the Titanic” and “Goliath Awaits” because they both have their pluses and minuses. But I would keep pretty much the same rating that you did.
If you would like to have your own boat movie marathon, we will have links in the show notes where you can find those. And we’ll see if we could maybe find a slightly better “Goliath Awaits” as well.
February Book Preview
Shall we get into what we’re actually here to talk about? Which is some books.
Will: Yeah. It’s the beginning of the month so that means that we have the great joy of being able to discuss some of the amazing things that are going to be coming out in the month of February.
And coming right out of the gate on the first is “Season’s Changed” by debut author Cait Nary.
Olly, a veteran hockey player, and Benji, a rookie, spend all their time together, on the ice, in the locker room, in their apartment. They can’t get away from each other, or their own desires, in this sexy, heartfelt opposites-attract hockey romance, the first in the new “Trade Season” series.
Jeff: It’s a hockey romance. It’s a new author writing hockey romance. You know, I’m going to have to check this out. Anytime you get a little opposite attract thing going on there, I’m kind of down for it. So yeah, I will be having this one drop into my e-reader on the first.
Will: Another title also coming out February 1st is “An Angel’s Song” by A.C. Everett.
Casper has officially hit rock bottom. After waking in a gutter with no memory of who he is or how he got there, a chance encounter with Aiden triggers a chain of events that could lead him to discover secrets best forgotten. Their attraction is undeniable, but their chemistry could be the catalyst that ignites a war between Heaven and Hell, in this, the first in the paranormal “Infernal Affair” series.
Jeff: So many things happening there, a little amnesia story, but then, basically a big war between heaven and hell also. So yeah, that’s interesting. And I have to say, I think this cover’s gorgeous too. The golden tones on that cover and everything is really striking. So yeah, that book sounds kind of interesting.
Will: Yeah. When I saw the cover and read the blurb for this particular book, I immediately thought of Sarah from the Fated Mates podcast. In a recent episode, she freely admitted that angels are her thing. She doesn’t care who wrote it or what it’s about. If it’s about angels, she is 100% onboard. So if you feel the same way “An Angel’s Song” is coming out on February 1st.
February 2nd, the new title from E.M. Lindsey, “Shades of Lust” is going to be releasing. In this one, Stone runs The Carnal Tower, a place where people can have their deepest and darkest fantasies realized. When a young artist comes to Stone with a suggested trade, seven paintings for seven nights with him, he can’t say no, not when it means he’ll be able to have August in any way he wants him. He plans to strip August down to his very soul. But as the week goes on, Stone comes to realize that August might very well be his undoing.
Jeff: So coming up in a few minutes, I’m actually going to be reviewing an E.M. Lindsey book, which was my first E.M. Lindsey book. This story isn’t exactly in the wheelhouse of what I would tend to read, but now having read E.M. Lindsey, and the amazing writing that they put on the page. I think I’m going to have to read this book because of how they portray artists and how they portray, how sometimes sex and romance connects to the artist’s journey. And even some of the darker themes that show up in there, which is really not my thing, like I said. I think I have to read it because I became an instant fan of E.M. Lindsey writing.
Will: ” Shades of Lust” is the kickoff to the new “Carnal Tower” series.
Coming out the very next day on February third is “Devil’s Dance” by Garrett Leigh, which has a couple of tropes that some of you might be interested in, the outlaw biker and the accountant, straight laced versus straight to hell, or heaven, depending on how you look at it. In this one, Cam has loved Saint for years. But Alexei brings him to life in ways he can’t describe. He loves them both and, with the weight of the underworld bearing down on him, he just needs to stay alive long enough to tell them, in this, the first in a hurt/comfort, dark romance, ménage duet,
Jeff: Garrett mentioned this when we talked with her for the Big Gay Fiction Fest holiday edition. And I was like, hmm. Again, darker themes not usually my scene, but I do love Garrett Leigh’s writing and this story. When she talked about it, it fascinated me. Now the blurb really interests me. So I think I may have to pick this one up too. I’m going to need to get in the headspace to read some darker stuff. I hope I can do that, cause these sound so good.
Will: Yeah. And the official blurb for this book, it is described as m/m/m, but I said ménage simply because it’s easier to say on a podcast, despite the fact that I don’t see ménage used as a descriptor very often any more. I mean, it used to be back in ye olden days that that was the only word that you would use to describe three main characters who are all involved with one another. But, I’m seeing it less and less. Usually it’s either called m/m/m or characterized as a poly romance. So I don’t know, just me thinking aloud on trends in the industry
Jeff: You mentioned ye olden days, and I was going to say, it might just date us as gentleman of a certain age that we occasionally use ménage because you’re right…
Will: Back in my days we had ménages.
Jeff: Nowadays it is m/m/m Or thruple sometimes…
Will: Oh, yes. Exactly.
Jeff: Or poly. I think ménage is fine. I don’t think it’s a wrong term to use, but I think it’s a little more dated, perhaps. We’re old here at the podcast folks, in case you didn’t know.
Will: No matter how you describe it, I’m sure this new Garrett Leigh’s book is going to be amazing. Devil’s dance is coming out on February 3rd.
Next up, let’s talk about “Wicked Heat” by Ella Frank, the first in her new “Chicago Heat” series. Firefighter Jamison doesn’t do relationships and saving some rich guy from losing his wallet at a sketchy club is the last thing he wants to do on a Friday night. Especially when Ryan looks like he just stepped off the cover of “GQ.” A wicked heat simmers between them and though Jamison’s been trained to put out fires, he can’t help but think: What’s the worst that could happen if he lets this desire burn out of control?
Jeff: He will find his true love. That’s exactly what’s going to happen. Ella is an author that I have been wanting to read something from because, wildly popular, people recommend her books all the time. And this one sounded interesting to me, just because of the characters and the situation you set up there. So this may be the one that I finally pulled the trigger on.
Will: “Wicked Heat” is going to be headed your way on February 7th.
And on February 8th is the new YA novel from Phil Stamper called “Golden Boys.” In the summer before senior year four queer boys with big hearts and even bigger dreams, each embark on their own adventures. Gabriel is volunteering at a nonprofit in Boston. Reese is attending design school in Paris. Sal is interning on Capitol hill and Heath is headed to Florida to help with his aunt’s boardwalk arcade. What will their season of travel and life changing experiences mean for each of them, and for their friendship?
Jeff: Phil’s written a lot of books that… it’s such a common theme on these shows where I want to read that author so badly.
Will: I know.
Jeff: And Phil’s definitely one of them, like all the YA authors that I follow and really, pay, pay close attention to, all talk about Phil’s books. This one sounds so good. These four independent plot lines that I’m sure all tie back together in various ways. It sounded a little bit like “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” kind of story, where you get these different.
Will: But gay,
Jeff: But gay.
Will: I was like 1000% on board for.
Jeff: Exactly. Seeing these various stories, and how they all affect these young men’s lives. I’m very down for that. I feel like this is going to be a book that you and I are like mine. No, it’s mine, mine. Who knows? Maybe it’ll be one that we jointly review for the show at some point.
Coming out on February 12th is the debut title from author Penny Jessup called “The Alpha’s Son.” And for this one, imagine if you will, Netflix’s “Young Royals” meets “Teen Wolf.”
Jeff: Do you need to say anything else? I think you could stop right there. Say nothing else and we can just all go get the book.
Will: Like I’m done. It’s like, I don’t even need to know anything else.
This one is a young adult, Boys Love, wolf shifter romance. And it’s all about Max, who couldn’t care less about finding his mate. But all of that is about to change at a summer camp for elite pack wolves. It’s a rite of passage and this year, the alpha’s son Jasper as attending for the first time. When Max finds himself inexplicably linked with the exceptionally handsome, but totally jerk-faced heir, he’s forced to grapple with the unexpected feelings clawing at his soul.
Jeff: Hmm. Jerk-faced. It just makes me chuckle.
Will: So yeah. Penny Jessup, just give it to me right now. I can’t wait. I want it.
Will: And I need it.
Jeff: What an amazing cover. Oh, the cover just said it all. It could be a movie poster. It’s so gorgeous. Yeah. “Young Royals,” “Teen Wolf.” I’m there. We’ll fight over this one to.
Will: “The Alpha’s Son” is coming out on February 12th.
And on the 14th, it’s the new title from Jeris Jean called “Historic Event.” In this one, a B&B owner’s entire business hangs in the balance when he breaks his leg a week before the biggest event in the B&B’s history. But there are no elevators and historical mansions. When the only person who is willing and able to help is an adorkable local professor, he enlists him as a fake boyfriend to help pull off the event. But once they start acting like they’re in love, the chemistry between them feels anything but fake.
Jeff: Jeris Jean plus fake boyfriend trope and in the new “Coleridge Cliffs” series. Yeah. I need to catch up on those books anyway, and this one sounds absolutely wonderful. I’ve seen those Hallmark movies about, I broke my leg. I need help at the inn, and then how that works out. So I’m sure this is going to be wonderful. Since we are already big fans of Jeris’s.
Will: “Historic Event” is coming out on Valentine’s day.
And following that up on February 15th is “The Magic Between” by Stephanie Hoyt. A.B. is an obsessive-compulsive pop star with the ability to turn invisible. He thinks dating in the spotlight is a hassle at best and a nightmare at worst. Matthew is the NHL’s number one goalie prospect, the youngest and a hockey dynasty, and one of the rare few who can see the unseeable. They’re a textbook case for bonding, but legend never said anything about sparks flying between people opposite in more ways than magic.
Jeff: Right up there with the “Teen Wolf,” “Young Royals” mix, this book really caught my attention. There’s so many interesting things there. Pop star who could be invisible, a hockey player with some kind of different sight. There’s obviously magic taking place kind of in our world. So it might be an urban fantasy sort of deal, but strip all that away. Hockey player, pop star, that’s right in my wheelhouse already. So I think I’ll be checking that book out.
Will: So many tropes worth loving. “The Magic Between” is going to be coming out on February 15th.
And on the same day is the new title from Susan Scott Shelley and Chantal Mer, it’s called “Smolder.”
Cameron is a hard-working single dad and the captain of the over-30 rugby team he founded. When Aspen, the attractive and aggravating captain of the under-30 team, is revealed to be the mystery man he’s been communicating with via text, Cam is forced to rethink the relationship and admit there’s more to his fascination with Aspen than his ever-changing hair color, and kaleidoscope of tattoos.
Jeff: Another from the great duo of Susan Scott Shelley and Chantal Mer. I really want to read these rugby books so bad. That first book got so many good notices and now the second one’s coming out right here. Could be a springtime of rugby for me I think, catching up with these players that they’ve created. Plus the captains of the under-30 and over-30 team, a little bit of an age gap there it sounds like to me. So yeah, I’m very interested in that.
Will: Yeah. I really liked some of the tropes in this one. Especially the “Shop Around the Corner,” “You’ve Got Mail” trope of inadvertently falling in love with your worst enemy via communication, like writing letters. Or, in this case, writing texts.
Jeff: That trope could never go wrong really.
Will: No, you can’t. You can never go wrong with that. It’s adorable and fascinating, and I’ll watch that movie or read that book no matter how often it happens. “Smolder” is coming out on February 15th.
And coming out roughly a week later on February 22nd is the new title from Kosoko Jackson . It’s called “I’m So Not Over You.” In this one, Kian’s ex has a favor to ask. Hudson wants him to pretend to be his boyfriend while his parents are in town. Soon, Kian is Hudson’s plus one to George’s wedding of the season. If Kian goes, he’ll get the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the biggest names in media. And this could be the big career break he needs, but their fake relationship is starting to feel like it might be more than a means to an end. And it might be time for both men to fact-check their feelings.
Jeff: So here’s a fact. You need to put this book on your TBR this minute. Just go pre-order it. Pause the podcast and go pre-order it. I’m actually reading this right now. I love Kian so much. Oh my goodness. He is a fabulous character. The way he stands up for himself sometimes. I’m only 25% in, but I am loving this so very much. I can see why it ended up on so many of the recommendation lists that it’s on right now. Such a good book. I’ll say more later after I’m done, but so far that first 25% kicks ass.
Will: So if you’re in the mood for an ass kicking, good time, Jeff recommends that you check out “I’m So Not Over You” by Kosoko Jackson.
On February 23rd is the new title by Kelly Fox. It’s the first in her “Mobsters and Billionaires series. It’s called “Extradition.”
When the son of a mafia don goes head-to-head with a billionaire CEO, they’re heated exchange goes viral. And to save Rand Wolfe from mob retaliation, the kind that ends with him at the bottom of the Hudson River, they’ll need to lay low at Rand’s swanky Manhattan penthouse. While they’re hiding out, the mafioso’s son will be put to the test. Is he mob enough to save the man that he’s falling for?
Jeff: That is the best line ever. Is he mob enough to save the man? I like everything that, that book kind of has going for it. You usually think the mafia and the power CEOs are pretty equal in terms of money and power and pull. And now they’re kind of, one having to save the other. I don’t know, the power dynamics in that book seemed like it could be really fascinating. So I’ve kind of down to reading that.
Will: Yeah. Kelly Fox is kind of known for her particular take on dark romance, which admittedly is not my thing….
Jeff: Mine neither really, but.
Will: But the fact that this is like so forced proximity.
Will: It’s like, oh, oh, I don’t know if I could resist it.
Jeff: Is it really forced proximity the Manhattan penthouse though. I mean, you might be in that room, but there’s so much outside.
Will: It’s the best kind of forced proximity, because you can order in.
Jeff: You don’t have to scrape for the food or plan in advance. Cause you could just get takeout.
Will: “Extradition” by Kelly Fox is going to be coming out on February 23rd.
And we’re going to wrap up this particular list with “Down in Flames” by Parker St. John.
In this new novel, sexy, older cowboy meets innocent ranch hand, in the latest book in the “Down Home” series. Rugged widower Michael has sworn off relationships. Where have we heard that before? And West, his new ranch hand, begs for experience between the sheets and Michael cannot resist the temptation. But West won’t be satisfied with scraps of affection. He wants all of Michael and he’ll be merciless until he gets it.
Jeff: Cowboys. I still want to go back to cowboy books. I think I said that maybe three or four months ago that I still wanted to go back to cowboy books.
Will: Well, I have a TBR. Well, actually in the interest of full disclosure, I have several TBRS, but one of them is specifically titled cowboys.
Jeff: How full is that list?
Will: This one is in that list right now.
Jeff: I need to organize my TBR better. You’ve given me an idea to like organize by…
Will: It was like he was a mountain. It wasn’t a list anymore. It was just a mountain of amazing titles and I had to just kind of…
Jeff: put some organization to it…
Will: for my own sanity.
Jeff: Yep. I understand totally. So yeah, this one would be sitting there alongside some of the other cowboy books that we’ve seen come up lately. And this one, the whole idea of like begging for experience and stuff, something about that just made me want to like see exactly how that manifested itself on the page. And I also imagined that that’s also going to be super sexy, hot as well, especially from Parker St. John, who I have read books from before and really enjoyed them.
Will: “Down in Flames” is coming out on February 25th.
And if you’re interested in any of the titles that we just spoke about, you can find the complete list at biggayfictionpodcast.com. Just look for the show notes on episode 360.
But if you’re saying to yourself, Will that is simply not enough books for me. I need more.
Jeff: And good for you for having that much reading time and space in your TBR.
Will: Well, guess what? I’ve got you covered. We’ve got an entire second list of books that are also coming out in February. The reason being that if I mentioned every single amazing title that was coming out this month, this episode would be three hours long.
Jeff: And we are not that show
Will: February is an embarrassment of riches. We’ve also got titles coming out from K.M. Neuhold, and Mia Monroe, Annabeth Albert and Charlie Novak. If you want to look at our secondary list of releases coming in February, check out the show notes at biggayfictionpodcast.com.
Jeff: And I’m just going to add to that list just a little bit more too, because Eden Findley and Saxon James have more hockey coming, and Eli Easton and Tara Lain are kicking off a new series. So yes, so much good stuff going on there in February.
Jeff: And as part of our goal to just keep adding to your TBR within this episode, I’ve got reviews of some books that I’ve been reading. My 2022 reading kicked off in such an amazing way. And I’m excited to share that with you now.
Shades of Winter by E.M. Lindsey
Jeff: And we’re going to kick off with “Shades of Winter” by E.M. Lindsey. It was a great introduction to E.M., as I mentioned earlier. Somebody I’ve been wanting to read for a while and this forced proximity, age gap romance that is also peppered with some romantic suspense.
Will: Oh my ears just perked up.
Jeff: I know, I know. Right?
Will: Why didn’t I read this one.
Jeff: I don’t know. Where were you? You’re the one…
Will: I don’t know. I was asleep on that one.
Jeff: You were the one who threw it out there like a month ago.
So, and beyond the forest proximity and the age gap, you’ve got a little romantic suspense. There’s some workplace elements to it. Some dom-sub play. E.M. brings all of it together in a fantastic package that had me turning pages, eager to know what would happen next.
Young twink, bratty cellist Liam starts off at a club where he’s dancing and looking for something. He finds that something in Dante, who definitely satisfies what Liam is looking for in a daddy-type. They hook up in the bathroom, after quickly sizing each other up and liking what they saw. That should be that. Except it’s very much not.
You see, Liam has a stalker one that has security detail. Can’t quite get a handle on the stalker. Knows exactly what went down at the club and has made more through.
You see, Liam has a stalker, one that his security detail can’t quite get a handle on. This stalker knows exactly what went down on the club and has made more threats. Liam’s father, a senator, fires Liam’s detail and hires… Guess who? Dante and Dante’s company. Now, Liam’s father is truly terrible, seemingly only paying attention because Liam’s being threatened and it would look really bad if something happened to his son.
Needless to say, it’s wildly uncomfortable for Dante to discover he’s now expected to protect Liam after the hookup. It makes this job all the more difficult because these days Dante’s used to running the protection company, not actually being in the field. Dante lost someone in the past, and combine that with protecting this kid–he’s not at all happy to take this job. But he does. The idea seems simple–take Liam upstate so he can practice for an upcoming concert, and then bring him back to New York City to perform. And, of course, watch over him to make sure nothing happens.
They’re barely in the SUV to start the trip than Liam is poking at Dante’s buttons, trying to get a rise out of the older man. Liam is the very definition of brat, seemingly even unconcerned for his own safety. It’s a very entertaining bratty though, especially with how it clashes with Dante because he wouldn’t mind teaching Liam to give him some respect. Bratty doesn’t always go over well with me and my reading, but somehow E.M. made it wildly fun for me to watch these two go through their motions of pushing each other’s buttons and pushing each other away, but then getting drawn back together again.
Why I think the brattiness worked so well for me here is because it connects directly to what Liam needs. He craves someone to set boundaries for him that no one has set in the past, not his father, not his security detail who let him go off to that bathroom hookup. He craves feeling safe, which hasn’t happened for him in a very long time. He’s also unsure of himself and his talent, even though he is kind of a virtuoso. In simple terms, Liam’s very fragile.
Dante is exactly what he needs, and eventually Dante figures this out. And at the same time, Dante figures out that Liam is also what he needs. And it’s very hard for him to admit that because of what happened in his past. Dante very much has a daddy streak. And as we already saw, that’s exactly what Liam needs. So if it’s what Liam wants, it’s what Liam’s going to get. It’s an interesting dynamic though, because there’s a lot of consent that’s also negotiated for both of them as they determine what they want, what they need, what they’re going to allow, setting up safe words if something goes too far and they have to figure all that out outside of Dante’s role as the official protector for Liam.
And it’s that protector role that really has to get started out too, because Dante doesn’t want to lose focus of what he’s actually there to do. And that is keeping Liam safe, not falling for him. It was a tightrope they had to navigate that E.M. moved them through so perfectly, and of course not always making it easy either.
While both characters found healing through the story, I was really struck by Liam’s journey and how he grew, both by finding the safety he needed but also asking for what he wanted. Even more I loved how both men found far more than what they were expecting as they came to really love each other. Force proximity in the upstate cabin, help them explore all of it. E.M. used that trope expertly here, meaning that you really should pick up this book sometime and read it because you will dig it so hard. She cut them off from everything to give them just enough time to sort everything out before the romantic suspense plotline really had to come to the forefront.
Throughout it all. Dante is trying to get info on the stalker and where this guy might be. He’s a known fan of Liam’s who’s gotten just a bit too close and boy is it nail biting as the book gets into the final act. All I’ll say about the end is that it was so perfect in so many ways. I was extremely satisfied with this book and I’m so glad I picked it up. These characters and the story were great. And even while the tropes, that age gap and forced proximity and romantic suspense, are some of my very favorite things, E.M. wrapped those in a story that wasn’t the type that I would normally read with the daddy and the sub-dom elements. I loved every single minute of it. And I’m definitely picking up more from E.M., perhaps that book we talked about earlier, even. So I absolutely recommend “Shades of Winter” from E.M. Lindsey.
Gaycation in Paradise by Ariella Zoelle
Jeff: And let’s go now from winter in New York to the sunny, warm Maldives. I was so thrilled with Ariella Zoelle’s “Gaycation in Paradise” after some of the more intense themes of “Shades of Winter” heading off to this oh, so sweet romance that takes place in paradise was a perfect change of pace. It’s another great example of forest proximity and action too, though this time there’s no snow in sight. Still, it’s the perfect set up for another age gap romance, this time between a Hollywood star and the guy who is his live-in butler at this super swanky resort.
Rook has come to the Maldives to get away from the press after photos of him kissing a male co-star go viral. He’s gay, but he strives to keep that part of him secret so he doesn’t ruin his career as an action star. So, it’s off to a remote location to lay low, wait for the brouhaha to blow over, and for his team to figure out what he should do next.
Rook is tired, tense and not in the best mood as he arrives at his isolated bungalow, but he is immediately greeted by the ray of sunshine that is Aldo, the butler. Even in Rook’s jet lagged and slightly dejected state, he and Aldo have an amazing chemistry. Some of that stems from their very first interactions when Rook doesn’t want formalities, and even to the fact that he’d like Aldo to have ice cream with him so he doesn’t eat alone. That relationship grows into some easy conversations and some great talk about the situation Rook is involved in, and even about Aldo’s upbringing and how he came to be in the Maldives.
The chemistry Ariella sets up between these two is incredible. The way they bridge, acknowledge and play with the age gap is just wonderful. The banter is priceless and I loved how Rook and Aldo keyed into major things about each other so quickly and how it kept building, drawing them closer. The flirtiness was there from the beginning too, right in the first few pages they’re already talking about handling spunk. And that’s all, I’ll say it. Cause you need to read that entire exchange for yourself. These guys are fun and playful from the beginning and that makes it fun for the reader too.
While I like both Aldo and Rook, Aldo really struck me. He’s young, but he’s wise–what you’d like call an old soul. The way he could look right into and through the walls Rook had around himself was stunning. In some author’s hands this would’ve come off as not realistic because of the age difference. Here it absolutely worked and kept pulling me further into the story.
It also worked for Rook because he knows exactly how good Aldo is for him, especially since he constantly hides part of himself. Even before the half way point, Rook has this thought: “His bright presence felt like the last life raft I could grab hold of before I disappeared forever. And I desperately wanted to cling to it and have him save me.” I mean, oh, that’s just so sweet. And so exactly where Rook is in this book for a while.
While Rook has all of his career things going on. For Aldo, he’s come to the Maldives because he knew he wanted more than living at home, working with his parents, who also own a hotel that happens to be in the same chain as this place that he’s working now, which is what interconnects this series for Ariella Zoelle. Aldo’s not into commitments though, until he falls into more of a domestic routine with Rook who is exactly his type and happens to be his celebrity crush too, which Aldo really does his best to keep it under wraps for a long while, because he doesn’t exactly want to fanboy all over Rook. He could see in Rook someone he might actually want to settle down with.
Both guys through this relationship, do exactly what you want to see in a romance. Not only do they grow in terms of desire for each other and to have a commitment, but they grow in so many other ways too. As they keep revealing things about each other, Rook delves deep into his life in Hollywood and how he’s struggling more and more to be the image that everyone wants for.
Aldo reveals he’s an amateur photographer and that he’s saving everything he can so that he can get more equipment and get training because that’s what he wants to do. The way these guys lift each other up is amazing. And you just know that they’re going to be so good for each other in the long-term on just every single level.
So what did I love most about this book? The angst and conflict was nearly zero. What there was I’d say was 99% external. Aldo and Rook just kept growing together and even the things I thought might drive a wedge didn’t because the guys dealt with it before it could be any kind of a problem. I loved reading the story that kept it on the light and fun side.
I got to give a special shout out to Rook’s photographer friends who show up later in the book, and who just might help Aldo get ahead with his career dreams. They were fun and I loved how eager the friends were to help. I also love the person who finally came to Rook’s rescue to solve his image issue. It was so wonderfully awesome.
Yes. You could say I loved every single thing about this book, the setting, the forced proximity, these wonderful characters who brought me so much fun, flirty sexiness. I immediately went and picked up the freebie that was at the back of the book because it’s a scene of Aldo and Rook a little bit into their happily ever after, because frankly I just needed to know more and I needed to know it right then.
So, I’m definitely going to be picking up more Ariella Zoelle in my future. And you should definitely pick up “Gaycation in Paradise” because it’s just the perfect light, fluffy read that I think everybody could really use.
Icebreaker by A.L. Graziadei
For the last of my reviews for this episode. I want to talk about the incredible “Icebreaker” by A.L. Graziadei. If this book doesn’t end up on my best of 2022 lists, I will be so surprised because I was absolutely blown away by this book. Now you all know, I love hockey romances. We’ve seen a couple of them in the list earlier here. And it’s honestly something that I don’t find enough of in the young adult category. “Icebreaker” goes way beyond being a YA romance though, as it’s got some fantastic depths. I would say, if you love Rachel Reid’s “Heated Rivalry” and the love story between Shane Hollander and Ilya Rozanov, then you’re going to want to grab this book because it focuses on two young hockey, hot shots, getting ready to go for their NHL glory. Except for them, they have to play together while they wait to see who gets the coveted top draft spot.
Mickey James III is a third generation hockey player, and is expected to be a legend just like his dad and grandfather. He’s a 17-year-old college freshmen and the college where the family’s dynasty began and to say there’s pressure on him is an understatement. Not only to excel on the ice for the school, but to make sure he racks up stats to get the draft spot.
He’s not the only highly sought after player in the freshmen class though. Jaysen Caulfield is a talented player in his own right, and battling Mickey for that number one position. It’s a classic rivalry as the two start the season–constantly trying to one up the other, sniping at each other, and sometimes forgetting their actual teammates even while they’re rivals in other aspects.
Their teammates and coaches push them to gel as part of the larger team, which works well for Jaysen, but not so much for Mickey. He’s not much of a social person–happy to be hanging out with his sister who also goes to the same school and plays on the women’s team. Mickey also doesn’t seem to be happy playing–rarely celebrating goals, or even having a moment of enjoyment on the ice. He’s also messed up because he’s very attracted to Jaysen, even while being frustrated by him. Mickey’s a bit of a mess and he doesn’t know what to do.
A.L. packed so much into this book. Not only is there the enemies-to-lovers romance between Mickey and Jaysen, which is so amazing to watch unfold. They want to get together, but they also resist it, while wanting it so bad. Sometimes they’re super sweet with each other, and then it runs cold again until one of the breaks and moves it back in the other direction. I loved the trajectory they took, and even some of the conversations they had while trying to decide if they were going to go for it or not–and what it might mean if they did.
So, I have to share a favorite moment that isn’t spoilerly. As they’re spending time together, there’s a moment where they’re sitting on the bed in Mickey’s room and actively sniping each other in response to a Twitter post about them. It’s hilarious how they dissect their Twitter responses right there next to each other. They know they’re provoking the peeps on Twitter with what they’re saying, and they love doing it.
Along side the romance, A.L. digs into Mickey and his mental health. I mentioned that he wasn’t happy–and he’s not. Is the NHL want he really wants? Part of him just wants to go to school? He also wants to enjoy hockey again. He want to not feel alone, and isolated. He’s partially aware that his brain his feeding him all kinds of false information, but he doesn’t know how to shake it. It’s one of his instructors who figures out what might be wrong and recommends he see someone. He also gets support from his roommate and teammate who also suffers from depression. Honestly, it was great to see the amount of support he got as he decided who he could trust with the information. Given the dialogue Simone Biles opened about mental health and athletes during the Olympics this past summer, I love that a YA book is tackling the topic as well. I can imagine many young athletes feeling seen while reading this book.
I also loved that Jaysen is black. Persons of color are very much in the minority of hockey players and putting Jaysen as a high level, sought after player was fantastic. He’s also the one who helps draw Mickey out and that dynamic was wonderful to see.
I hope A.L. gives us more with Mickey and Jaysen. I’d love to see how they’re doing in the future. I’ll say that I both loved and hated the point where the book stopped. It’s completely perfect, but at the same time I craved more. Kudos also to Tom Picasso on the audiobook narration. He perfectly captured Mickey. The book is all in Mickey’s POV and Tom got the highs and lows, the frustrations, the triumphs, the romance. It was a great audiobook.
I hope you’ll give “Icebreaker” by A.L. Graziadei a try. If hockey romance is your thing, I really think you’ll love this YA version because of the incredible characters.
Will: As we wrap things up for this week show, we want to remind you that this episode’s transcript has been brought to you by our community on Patreon. If you’d like to read our conversation and reviews for yourself, simply head on over to the show notes page at biggayfictionpodcast.com. It’s also there that you’ll find links to everything that we’ve talked about in this episode.
All right, that was a lot of books. I think that’s going to do it for now. Coming up next in episode 361, we’re going to be celebrating the release of the fifth edition of the “Heart2Heart” charity anthology.
Jeff: That’s right. This year is anthology, with the theme of never have I ever, actually released today on January 31st as this episode drops. And next week, Leslie Copeland, who is the anthology organizer, will join us along with authors Jodi Payne, Mia Monroe, Neve Wilder and K. Webster. We’ve got a great, fun conversation about their stories. And, of course, we’re going to play a little bit of never have I ever as well.
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.