Support Big Gay Fiction Podcast on PatreonWe talk books with Jay from Joyfully Jay and Lisa from The Novel Approach. They recommend six of their recent reads including titles from Kate Hawthorne, Justin Schuelke, Iris Foxglove, P.J. Vernon, A.C. Everett, and Con Riley. They also shout out books they’re looking forward to from Vaun Cassidy and K.D. Edwards.

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Show Notes

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Jeff: Coming up on this episode. We’re talking books with Jay from Joyfully Jay and Lisa from The Novel Approach.

Will: Welcome to episode 367 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.

We’ve got so many books to talk about so we’re going to get right into my recent chat with Lisa and Jay. As usual, they’ve come with a variety of books, including some recommended series reads, a little bit of fantasy, a comfort read, and even some darker suspense.

Jay & Lisa Recommendations

Jeff: Jay and Lisa, welcome back to the podcast. It’s good to have you here for kind of our spring check-in.

Lisa: Yes.

Jay: Great to be here. Hi Jeff and Lisa.

Jeff: So, I don’t even need to set up a preamble here. We know what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna talk about three books each of you have read recently and you’re going to do significant damage to my TBR while we do it. So, Jay, this time we’ll kick it off with you.

Matter of Fact by Kate Hawthorne

Jay: All right. So, the first book I’m going to talk about is actually, one of my first five-star reads in a really long time. It’s actually book three of a series. And while I think it can stand alone, I think that you’ll do better starting at the beginning. The book is called “Matter of Fact” by Kate Hawthorne, and it is part of her “Two Truths and a Lie” series and the story features Rhys St. George, who is the very clear villain in book one. And in book two, we start to see sort of behind the curtain as to what’s really going on with him and, maybe, why he behaves the way that he does, and why we might have been misinterpreting some of the things that he does. And then book three is his story.

I really loved it because first off, I loved the first two books and I love a good redemption, villain redeemed story. Rhys St. George is super wealthy, oldest son, of a powerful businessman. And, in the first book the main character is Rhys’s ex. He had a very bad breakup, and they have sort of a very traumatic and difficult relationship in the first story. And like I said, Rhys is very clearly the villain.

In the second book, it features Rhys’s brother, and there, we start to see a little bit more, and Rhys comes into town and now he is now moved into town where Sebastian lives, where Callahan lives, where sort of this whole gang lives.

Rhys is basically spent his life under his father’s thumb. As the oldest child, his father has sort of hyper-focused on him and controlling him in everything that he does. And one of the things that we learn as the series progresses is that Rhys has really taken the hit for his brother in a lot of cases. That he does these things that outwardly appear quite horrible when you don’t know the motivation, in an attempt to sort of keep the spotlight off of his brother and let his brother live as normal life as possible.

So, it’s really redemption story in that we just slowly over the course of the series, start to see there’s more to him than meets the eye. So, in this book, he is at a restaurant, and he meets Beckett, who is his server and leaves him this sort of ginormous tip because he’s, you know, millionaire, gazillionaire, whatever.

And comes back to the restaurant later, an asks Beckett out and, Beckett’s sort of a little taken back by how wealthy and sort of in another world Rhys is. And what’s really nice here from a relationship end is that while everybody else basically wants Rhys for either his money or his power. Beckett’s actually kind of, not turned off, but that’s not a positive to him that this man has so much money, that he just doesn’t even know what to do with it all. Because Beckett sort of has a more humble background and he doesn’t want to be spoiled and indulged. And suddenly Rhys has to figure out how to have this relationship where the money is not the thing. And where he has to be himself and have the security to believe that being himself is enough, which is very hard for him when he’s used to people just wanting him for what he can do for them.

So, it’s a really great relationship dynamic between the two of them. And then also there’s this really great redemption arc as we start to learn more and more about what’s going on, and he’s trying to figure out how to establish himself independent from this domineering father and how he can break that hold. It’s very difficult, again, because he’s such a protector, but also because his father has a lot of control over his life.

So, it’s just a great redemption story. And I feel like writing a good redemption arc for a villain, especially somebody who’s been the villain of two books, and making it believable, and making you empathize with them, but not making them suddenly turn into a totally different character, is not easy to do. And Kate Hawthorne does such a good job with that. I love that he’s still not perfect and he doesn’t really know how to be a good friend. He doesn’t really know how to be a boyfriend in the beginning, and he struggles, and he makes mistakes, and so it’s not just this, like suddenly he’s this angel.

But he really goes through this process and, I love the way that Beckett becomes his defender and protector. Whereas Rhys has been always the strong one and always the one to take the hits for everybody else. Beckett sort stands up and says, you know, we can’t leave him to solve all these problems themselves. We need to be there for him. And what are you guys doing that you’re just letting him resolve everything.

So, there’s sort of some nice moments there where you see him finally getting that support from somebody else that he’s been giving to other people. Loved the story. It was a great redemption arc.

All three books are excellent. While I think you could read this one by itself, having that history of just how bad things were, will really make that redemption arc a lot richer. So, I would start with the first book in the series “A Real Good Lie.” This one is “A Matter of Fact”, by Kate Hawthorne.

Jeff: Just that book alone sounded so good. You had so many things going on there, even aside from the redemption arc that we’re like, ooh, that’s really interesting.

Jay: Yes.

Lisa: Yeah, and the great thing is that sometimes you get a character that’s so, like you can’t stand them to the point where you don’t even want to read their story. So, it’s great that she kind of led you along there through that too, to make you want to read that story.

Jay: I think it helps, especially is it’s like partway through book two, you just start getting those hints. There’s little bits and pieces, so those breadcrumbs are dropped. So, you’re not coming in cold to him suddenly being the good guy.

Like we knew there was more than we thought happening. And you know, we’re learning along with the characters what’s really going on, but I think that helps cause it sort of eases the way into that idea that yes, there is something there that’s worthy and he’s not just a bad guy and, you know, he’s sort of this prickly cinnamon roll underneath. I really enjoyed it and like I said, it was one of my first five star reads in a really long time.

Jeff: I have to ask to that end, like what kicked it into that five-star level?

Jay: I don’t tend to give a lot of them. I had a really emotional response to the story. I found myself just really loving the characters and loving his story arc and also just being impressed with the way that she carried that over three books. Especially because I don’t think Rhys originally was intended to be a hero in his own story.

It’s sort of amazing how she was able to craft those other books to turn that whole piece together. I just loved him as a character and I just felt like Kate did such a great job with that redemption story overall, in addition to the relationship story between Beckett and Rhys in this particular book.

Jeff: Very cool. All right. There’s one down for my TBR, right there.

Lisa: Sounds great. I might have that book actually. So yeah, I need to bump that up.

Jeff: Moving up your reading list.

Lisa: There’s so many books. I read a tweet once that said that buying books and reading books are two different hobbies. And I was like, oh, that’s so true.

Jeff: Absolutely true. I will buy more than I will ever read.

Jay: It’s like buying yarn and using yarn also has the same problem.

Lisa: I think anything you have a passion about it yeah. That’s very true.

The Incarnate Accounts series by Justin Schuelke

My first choice is a book that was already in the three books series, and I just discovered it back in January.

So, it is a series by an author named Justin Schuelke and it’s called “The Incarnate Accounts.” The three books that are out so far are “Incarnate,” “Loophole Ex Machina,” and “Literal Demons.” And this is just one of those series that just blew my mind what a great storyteller Justin is.

I’m not spoiling anything here because this is in the blurb. Emery Luple is the protagonist in the book, and he dies like first couple of pages of the story. But as incarnate as you might imagine, he comes back 1,001 days later. So, the world that Justin has built here is a world of incarnates. So, he has characters from, you know, all sorts of legend and mythology. So, vampire, genie, you know, just, and it just about anything that New York sewer Gators, anything that you could think of that has been built up into legend, legendary status. Is important in this world that he’s built. The differences is that there’s only one. So, there’s not many vampires. There is the vampire. There is the genie. There is the werewolf. So, these beings, when they’re killed, when they die, however they perish, they come back 1,001 days later, and they are still the vampire, the genie, et cetera, et cetera.

But with Emery, he comes back and with the other beings that are referenced, characters that are referenced, he comes back, but he’s just a little bit different every time. He’s been a woman. He’s been a man. So, he has all of these centuries and centuries and centuries of lives that the longer he is in this iteration of Emery, he starts to remember just a little bit more, just a little bit more. So, it’s just really cool. The way that Justin has this whole world set up.

And the great thing about, at the beginning of the story, when Emery is hunting the Yeti in Saudi Arabian desert, which you will get there. Doesn’t sound like it fits, but it does eventually. So, he’s hunting the Yeti in the Saudi Arabian desert, and he is killed. He comes back 1,001 days later as an Emery who lives in Seattle and he has an entire back story as this particular Emery. Including friends who remember going to school with him. So, every iteration, every incarnation he gets a backstory. So, the way that Justin built creating stories and storytelling into this verse in how his characters get their backstory. Even though they don’t remember, or they didn’t live them, they do remember living them.

So, Emery has a vlog called “There’s Always a Loophole,” which is a play on his last name Luple. So, he has this vlog where basically he goes around hunting different beings and whatnot from the legends and debunks them. So that the general public does not figure out that incarnates exist. It’s such a big world. I can’t even encompass it in the three books within just a simple explanation, but the first book takes place in New York.

So, Emery is led to New York because he’s made to believe that someone is impersonating him, and he’s trying to find the imposter. And in, in doing so he discovers that he’s not the character, he’s not the incarnate that he thought he was.

So, getting to know Emery as a character. Getting to know his partner / vlog, best friend, Rochelle, getting to know her. And then the character who is introduced as Emery’s love interest is Caleb. I’m not gonna give anything away about what Caleb is, because you just have to learn this all yourself, but it turns into an Alice in Wonderland down the rabbit hole, murder, mystery, adventure, and Emery’s antagonist, the arch-villain, his arch-nemesis is introduced and she plays a significant role in Emery finding out who exactly he is, within this story.

There’s a lot of like just meta kind of stuff going on here. Like even to the point where the author, has the potential to become a character in the story. The way that it’s written, it’s just such a cool world and learning about all the different things. Even, okay a 1,001 days, 1,001, it has to mean something. And the only thing I know, a 1,001 of is “1,001 Arabian Nights.” So, I Googled it to see how it played and it even plays into the story of “1,001 Arabian Nights,” very loosely, but still it does. And all the, you know, the headless horseman and it just, all of the characters that Justin drew into this world, made it so fun and so vibrant and so intensely interesting. And then you just add all of the great characters from imagination and from legend into it and it’s just such a fun series.

The fourth book I think, is coming out this year. I haven’t seen any firm announcements on it yet. But they’re back in Seattle now. This story takes place in Seattle. And moving into this, the world of incarnates, creating their own sort of like coming together to protect each other. And some of the incarnates who are the more villainous incarnates are fighting and it’s just, there’s going to be a lot of in fighting and political intrigue. And so, it’s just a really fun series.

So, Justin Schuelke “The Incarnate Accounts” so far three books, and it’s just a big, gorgeous, fun, action packed, humorous. It just has everything that you could possibly want in a fantasy series. It’s just so much fun.

Jeff: That’s amazing, and you found it three books in, which means it’s just a couple of years. That’s impressive.

Lisa: I wasn’t sure how I ran across it. But I thought, oh, you know, this sounds fun. The cover was great. And I binged all three books in like just a few days. I could not put them down. They’re so good. And now I’m so mad that I have to wait for the next one, but yeah. It’s such a big, imaginative, fun world. And the way that he’s just brought all of these different characters and their storylines, it’s such an impressive verse. I just love it. Loved it. And I, in the imagination again, where it’s like, how can you write a book and then suddenly all of a sudden the author might be able to be a character in the world? It’s just so great. It’s so great.

Jeff: And yetis in the desert.

Lisa: Yeah, it goes from he’s in the desert and then Seattle to New York and now we’re back to Seattle again. It’s fun trying to imagine all of the ways that he’s going to introduce the, you know, there’s just such a wellspring of legends and monsters and stuff out there. So just even to imagine how in the world he’s going to bring something else into the story and see how he does it is just, yeah. It’s very impressive. He is such a consummate storyteller.

Jeff: I may have to check those out. It’s not my genre, but I always love to see how authors build big, impressive worlds and pull you through multiple books especially with a single character in the lead.

All right, Jay, back over to you.

Seasons of the Lukoi series by Iris Foxglove

Jay: All right. Actually, I have another series. I read book two, but I’ll back you up a little to give you the premise. This is the “Seasons of the Lukoi” series by Iris Foxglove, which is a dual pen name of Avon Gale and Fae Loxley.

So, they have written another series, I believe it’s the “Starian Cycle” takes place in the same world. And then this is a four-book series, “Seasons of the Lukoi.” so it’s starts with “Winter of the Owl,” and then the second book is “Spring of the Wolf.” And then presumably will continue to summer and fall.

So, the setup here, it’s a fantasy world, but there is this island where generations ago, this group was exiled from the main continent, the main kingdom. It was sort of like the witches and the prisoners and a bunch of other sort of people who were considered undesirable were, shipped off to this remote island essentially left to, to die.

They barely managed to survive. The island is quite cold. It’s mostly winter there and very harsh conditions. But this one group of them managed to settle and they have this little village. And the first book features Victor, he’s a student in the mainland. Victor, he had a relationship with a professor and the professor arranges for him to go to this island to study the Lukoi because he’s a linguistics student and the boat drops him off and never comes back.

So, he has this sort of fish out of water. How is he going to adapt to this society that, you know, doesn’t really speak the language? He can make bits and pieces of it, but so completely foreign from this warm tropical climate that he lived in and this completely different society, because these people have been isolated for generations.

So, the first book features Victor and his love interest Sava, and sort of introduces you to this world. The second book, which is the one that I’m going to focus on today is “Spring of the Wolf.” And in this story, we get a little bit of a twist because we’re told in the first book that the settlers were one big community. They were sort of hiding in a cave. the bulk of them went off and established this community, but there was a splinter group that left that didn’t want to build this communal, sort of village and they left and were never heard from again. And we’re presumed all dead.

So, what we learned in the second book is that actually the splinter group survived, and they’ve been living in this cave system on the other side of the island for all of these generations. And the main village had no idea that they were there. So, then we learned that there’s contrasting societies. The main village is very communal, very collaborative because the conditions are so harsh that if you don’t all sort of chip in to help everybody store up for the winter and survive, you’ll never make it. Whereas this other community has turned very competitive, very harsh.

So, into this sort of whole setup, we meet Zephyr, who is a rare shifter. So, this is not a community and really a paranormal world, except for this one element in that years ago with a guard who was taken off the splinter group, angered a witch who then cursed him and his descendants to turn them into wolf shifters.

But the sort of catch is along with this power, when they shift, they sort of lose their fur. So, they have this pelt sort of very selkie-like, and when they shift and somebody touches their fur, they get control over them. So, Zephyr is from that line. One of these rare shifters and was taken in as a child by this man who essentially keeps him as a slave because he can control his every move by keeping his pelt. Zephyr’s never been able to shift. He’s been taught that he’s violent and dangerous and mistreated.

At the beginning of the story, he escapes, and he escapes to this other village. So, he meets Dragan, who is the chief of the village who takes him in. And at first sees this wolf and has no idea that the wolf is human and eventually he puts together that they’re one in the same, but they want to keep the secret from the rest of the village, because Zephyr’s very worried if anybody finds out that he has the ability to be controlled like this, that somebody is going to try to manipulate him.

It’s that romance between him and Dragan and coming to this place of sort of peace and trust. And then the story also has like a mild dom-sub kind of dynamic in that everybody in this world is either submissive tendencies or dominant tendencies. So, it’s a very low key on the kink side, much less so. I think if you’ve read their other series, I think is much more hardcore. This is very mild. But one of the interesting elements is Zephyr’s so afraid that Dargan’s going to try to control him, and Dragan says, you know, I’m the leader of this village and I am a strong, dominant man and people listen to me because they respect me and care about what I say. I would never want to control somebody through force.

So, sort of that contradiction between his old life and the new one. And of course, he has to deal with both the fear of being found out, and when to trust the community with his secret, but also the fact that his old community wants him back and, those threats. So, it’s a really interesting series. A really fascinating world and the books flow nicely into each other.

And the third story, I won’t to give too much away about the plot because you sort of learn who the characters are going to be in each book, but the third one, it looks like it’s going to be an m/m/f story.

It’s just interesting, the way that they’ve built this sort of season, where you’re following this progression because the climate and the landscape of this island are such almost a character in and of itself. As these people try to survive in this such a harsh environment and the way it connects with the larger world, which I haven’t read the other series and had no problem jumping in here.

But I’m finding it really fun. I don’t read a ton of fantasy. But picked this up just because it sounded so unique and I’m really finding it interesting world-building and fun relationships, and just the way that the authors have sort of tweaked, the sort of spin on paranormal shifter, which is so different than, your typical shifter and pack sort of dynamics. I’m having a lot of fun with it. I’m really excited for the third book because we know who the characters are going to be and seeing how all that plays out.

Jeff: Totally flew under my radar that Avon Gale had that co-writing thing going under a singular pen name and that she was writing fantasy, I love her hockey books from so many years ago. So now I’m intrigued that there’s this other side of Avon Gale.

Jay: Yeah. it’s completely different. If you’ve read her contemporary work, it’s a completely different spin. And like I said, my sense is that the “Starian Cycle” books are darker and more intense on the kink end. It also has this sort of dom-sub, everybody’s one or the other, but I think more hardcore. This is very light. So even if you’re not into sort of a BDSM kink type stories. I think this is very accessible to pretty much everybody. It’s more behavioral and personality tendencies more than I would say, kink focused, if that makes any sense.

It’s really interesting, again, just the idea of this community gets made of people who were sort of exiled from other places and how they built this communal society that also welcomes, you know, when Victor comes in the first book, they welcome him because anybody who’s sort of unwanted. Or even for Zephyr as well, who’s unwanted somewhere else is welcomed there because they have thrived sort of hidden away from the rest of the world that’s forgotten about them by having this sort of collaborative community, where they look out for each other. And in the third book, it looks like they’re going to be back on the mainland. I’m curious to see how that dynamic works when you’ve got that crossing cultures. So yeah, interesting series.

Jeff: I don’t think it’s fair that you’re adding to my TBR, both of you now, by series. Not just singular books.

Jay: I know, I know we did pick the series.

Lisa: But when you don’t run across a book until it’s like three books into this whole series, it’s kind of, yeah. You can’t help it.

Bath Haus by P.J. Vernon

All right, my next book is a book called “Bath Haus” by P.J. Vernon When I go looking for books, I tend to read the one- and two-star reviews about them because I tend to, there are more hard no’s for me. Then there are, you know, like, oh, okay. I’m just, I love that too.

So, I went in and read some of the one-star reviews and almost to a review, it was like, I hated everybody in this book. And so, I was like, well, now I have to read it. I love this book. It’s not a romance. I will let you know that right now.

So, it is a psychological thriller, and the story revolves around a character named Oliver Park. Who is a recovering drug addict, and while he’s in recovery, while he’s going to narcotics anonymous or rehabilitation, whatever he was attending. He is approached by a doctor at the hospital, Dr. Nathan Klein. You already understand what the boundaries are that when you see how they met, but the story opens with Oliver at a bath house, and he is getting ready to cheat on Nathan.

I think P.J. did an amazing job of first of all, just kind of setting up the atmosphere. You’re walking through these dark hallways and smelling what Oliver smells and seeing what he sees. You immediately know that Oliver is not a hero in the story. You’re not going to root for Oliver.

So, he meets the person that he decides that he is going to commit the act with, and they go back to one of the rooms and this man proceeds to try to kill Oliver, and Oliver barely escapes.

So, the entire beginning of the book now is Oliver spinning his web of lies. How he’s going to explain the choking marks on his throat to his husband, Nathan. They are not legally married, but Nathan prefers that they call each other husband, which is also significant to the story in a very small way. If you love to figure out what makes people tick, this is the book. This is the book that you want to read.

So, we know that Oliver is a prodigious liar. We know that he is an absolute compulsive liar. What we don’t know at that point is if he lies well. You learn throughout the story, whether or not he is a good liar or not. In the meantime, we start learning more about his husband. Nathan is, he’s quite a character. As poor and disadvantaged as Oliver’s background was, Nathan comes from an extremely wealthy family. So, it’s a wrong side of the tracks, opposites kind of story, and creates that imbalance in their relationship.

So, the more we get to know Nathan, the more we understand Oliver, and why Oliver is how he is and perhaps, why he does what he does. In the meantime, the person who tried to kill Oliver at the bath house is stalking him. So, there’s just all of this intensity going on. You know, is Nathan going to find out? Is he not going to find out? And in the meantime, you’re learning that Nathan is not a great person. He’s not the loving husband that Oliver believes he is. You know, Oliver thinks this whole time that he’s just this horrible person. Well, everybody in the book is horrible.

So, it’s all relative really. So, it becomes this very much a cat and mouse kind of scenario where Oliver is the mouse, and there’s just a cat around every single corner in this. You just don’t know how many more bad people can be in a book. I mean, they’re narcissistic and they’re just, they’re abusive and just horrible people.

The story just kind of plays out where you don’t know, until all the way until the very end, not only if Oliver is even going to live through all of this. But who is the person behind all of this bad stuff that’s happening? It’s just a really intense. It’s not a story where you’re going to go, “oh, the end, hooray it ended so….” No, no, no, no. This is not that kind of a book.

But P.J. Vernon just writes it so intensely. Like I was turning pages and turning pages and then I was like, oh, fudge, except I didn’t say fudge. And then I just couldn’t even take it anymore. If you love a good psychological thriller where you don’t really know who to root for, or there’s just not even anybody to root for, but you’d like to kind of figure out what’s making this person, what’s compelling this person to be who they are and do what they do. I thought it was a really fun read, really fun. So “Bath Haus” by P.J. Vernon. Really good, psychological thriller.

Jeff: I like how you could take all that then at the end say it was fun.

Lisa: Yeah. I love those kinds of books though. I don’t need everything to end in a happily ever after. Sometimes I just like to get into those where, you know, your heart starts racing and the adrenaline is pumping and you’re like, ahh, because you don’t know what’s going to happen next. It was great if you like that kind of adrenaline rush sort of psychological. Almost just horrific how just narcissistic these people are. It was just a really intense read, which I thought was fun.

Angel Song by A.C. Everett

Jay: All right. My third one is, “Angel Song” by A.C. Everett who you might know under his YA pen name, Alexander C. Eberhart. This is a sort of paranormal urban fantasy story.

It starts off with, Casper waking up in an alley injured and with amnesia and having no idea who he is or how he got where he is. And we see him go into this bar where someone tries to kidnap him and there’s this big, giant battle. And you know, he’s saved at the last minute. And what sort of fun about the opening is that we also see Aiden who’s the other main character and he is at the same bar, and he notices Casper and he sees all this happening, but of course, neither of them know each other at the time.

So, we sort of get two points of view of these strangers observing these same events. So, then the next, day Aiden goes into work. He works for his best friend who owns a cafe, and he sees his friend talking to this woman and this man hiding behind the counter and sort of eavesdropping. It turns out that this is Casper, so another sort of chaos ensues, and they end up on the run.

So, Aiden, Casper, and Aiden’s best friend who it turns out knows what’s going on as, because he is involved in this paranormal world. And so over the course of the story, we uncover exactly what’s happening, but the main piece of it is that we find out that Casper has amnesia because he fell you know, hit his head, injured himself, but also that there was one crucial memory that he had magically removed from his mind because he felt that it was not safe to have this memory.

So, we know that early on, but neither the reader nor Casper knows what this memory was or why it was so dangerous to have it. But he starts to feel like the only way to sort of resolve the fact that some of these trying to kill him, he keeps being attacked, they’re on the run, to figure out what’s going on, is to somehow retrieve that memory.

So, part of the adventure is watching him try to figure out what it was that he hid, why he hid this memory, how to reclaim it in the midst of these people who are all trying to attack him and kill him and why they want to kill him and who they are, how it all pieces together.

And what I think is, sort of super fun about this is I’m a big amnesia story fan anyway, but what I think is super fun here is it’s almost although Aiden doesn’t have amnesia, it’s almost like a double amnesia scenario in the sense that neither of our main characters know what’s going on. And often if you read a lot of amnesia, the other main character, the one who has his memories knows what’s happening. And so, as the reader, we’re sort of let into the world through their eyes, even if the other character doesn’t remember anything. So, we have some sort of sense of orientation of these things that this person forgot.

But in this case, Aiden is like, he has no idea that magic exists, or paranormal world is out there. That his roommate is involved in it. That these beings exist besides humans. So, he is a completely new to the world, and he of course has no idea who Casper is or what happened. And then you have Casper who has amnesia and who has this specific memory also removed.

So, as readers, we’re really finding out about everything at the same time as these characters, because neither of them is able to give us insight into the backstory. So, it’s sort of all being unveiled at the same time. So, lots of interesting different paranormal beings over the course of the story we do uncover what this memory is, why Casper hid it. Who’s trying to kill him sort of all those mystery pieces, but it opens up a larger story arc because this is the first book in the series, “The Infernal Affairs” series. As we get the answers, new, bigger world and bigger complex that these characters have to face.

So, sort of a fun, like I said, it hasn’t very much of an urban fantasy vibe. This sort of fish out of water in Aiden, who has no idea about this new world he’s coming into. Both of them sort of figuring it out as they’re going along a little bit of a road trip vibe. A lot of excitement and battles and you know who to trust, who not to trust.

Along the way, people you think are friends are enemies, people you think are enemies are friends, you know, trying to sort of uncover all of it. I found it a lot of fun. I have not read any of his YA books although we’ve reviewed quite a few on the blog and seems to have a great reputation for the YA work. So, I was really excited to try this one, you know, because urban fantasy is a little more my speed and I thought it was a great story.

Jeff: I am super excited that you read that because it’s on my TBR already because I love Alexander’s YA work. Yeah. It’s so good. And I’ve been super curious about what he does as he moves into this adult urban fantasy realm and this whole idea of like this super selective amnesia, just take that one thing out.

Jay: Right, right.

Jeff: That’s interesting.

Lisa: Yeah.

Jay: So, yeah. So even as he’s regaining some of his other memories and understanding. This memory was specifically removed and, you know, he wants it back, but he knows he has a reason that he had it removed. So, what is he risking by, you know, trying to regain this memory when clearly like past him had a very clear reason for trying to lose the memory. So, it’s an interesting twist. Lisa you’re an urban fantasy fan this is really I think, up your ally.

Lisa: I want to read that book really badly. And as a matter of fact, I remember reading Alexander C. Eberhart based Jeff, on one of your recommendations. So yeah, I’m familiar with his work too.

Luke by Con Riley

Alright. My last book, talk about switching gears. My last book is “Luke” by Con Riley, my old favorite Con Riley. “Luke” is the third book in her “Lessons in Love” series. And this series takes place at a school called Glen Harbor. And Glen Harbor is in financial trouble. And Luke is the headmaster of the school, and we meet him in the first book in the series, “Charles.”

And so, we’re kind of getting to know Luke a little bit more throughout the series. And we also meet the man who is his love interest in this story. Nathan was Luke’s first love, and he has been in and out of the picture, for quite some time now. And Luke finally has decided he can’t do it anymore. He’s in love with Nathan. He feels like it’s unrequited. And Luke, it just decides that he needs to let Nathan go.

Well, of course, that doesn’t happen. Nathan finally wakes up and decides, okay, this is it. I, you know, I need to be present. I need to be present in, in this man’s life. So, the story takes place entirely at the school. And I don’t know, Con Riley has such a way of creating these huge numbers of characters and in her stories, without it ever feeling like why do we even know this person? Why is this person on the page? Her characters are all significant in some way. And in this particular way, you get, I’m not going to go into the backstories at all, but these people are very significant to Luke in not only his backstory, but in his mission to save his school.

And so, Nathan volunteers to be a teacher at the school for free, he is not going to take a salary because Glen Harbor just can’t afford it. So, the story around the school is trying to figure out why the school is just bleeding money. And there is a dark corporate entity kind of in the background who is trying to find ways for Glen Harbor to even cut back even further when Luke is already using his own credit card for things for the school. And so that introduces a character who is going to be the main character in the next book.

So, the story kind of just revolves around this particular character who comes in and basically is doing sort of a forensic audit to try to figure out how they can take more money from the school. When the school is already, you know, trying to get blood from a rock, you know, and the more that this person, Austin, digs the more the numbers aren’t making sense.

Then he starts to get to know the children and he meets the children, and all of a sudden everything becomes a little bit more human. It’s not numbers, and it’s not facts and figures anymore. It’s how the children’s lives are going to be affected if they don’t have their school.

It’s a really warm story where the romance is definitely a focal point, but it’s not the only thing happening in the story. So, you just get this really rich world and a lot to just really sink your emotions into, and there is a lot that Luke and Nathan have to work out from there past both apart and together.

It’s a warm and wonderful, it’s as opposite of “Bath Haus” as it could get. if there is such a thing as the perfect book at the perfect time, it’s something that I really needed to find that kind of kindness and compassion and warmth and humanity to make you believe that there is still good and there are still good people in the world and that there are people out there doing kind and wonderful things.

And eventually you get to figure out with them who the bad guy is in the background. And there’s the confrontation so you get that little bit of drama and excitement there towards the end. But overall, it’s just a really warm and lovely story about two men who lost their way and get a second chance to come back together and find what they were missing years ago when everything kind of fell apart and it’s a story of found family and it’s just a really warm and lovely book. If you’re looking for something kind of just soft to sink into when everything else around you feels like it’s going crazy, “Luke”, by Con Riley. Just a lovely romance. Beautiful book.

Jeff: Sold. Cause I am all about the books that are like nice and warm.

Lisa: Yeah, it really is. I think Con does that so well in every single book of hers I’ve ever read, which I think is every single book she’s ever written. She does that so well where you get so, not invested only in the two people who are the main characters in the story, but you get so emotionally invested in everything else going on around them and all the other people who influence the story and influence their lives.

And it’s just a really, yeah, she does a really amazing job of creating these, big, robust casts and making every single person in them feel like they’re important to the story. So, I saw a tweet one time, the reader asked for who, who is your favorite swoony author or something like that, and I’m like, well, I know mine. It would be Con Riley. So yeah, it’s really, and the whole series is just lovely. It’s a beautiful series, but Luke’s story she just kind of really went next level with it and it was just really beautiful.

Jeff: Fantastic.

Books Jay & Lisa Are Looking Forward To

Let’s look a little bit into the future. Jay, what’s something that is coming up later in the spring that you’re looking forward to?

Jay: So, mine is actually coming out, not too far from now, March 29th. And it is “Definitely Deacon” by Vawn Cassidy. The first book came out, “Suddenly Beck,” I talked about how much I just went crazy for the story. Takes place in Cornwall in a little beach town, and the main character there, Beck Ainsley. This is, I believe it’s his brother. So, this story features Jesse. They have sort of a large family.

So, Jessie Ainsley and his love interest, Deacon James, and this is a friends to lovers story. It sounds like they’ve been best friends for a long time. And based on the blurb, it seems as if there was some sort of rift where they haven’t seen each other and then get back together and, there’s, you know, sort of uncovering of just what it is that caused this rift and you know, coming back together.

But I really loved the first story. It was sort of sexy and warm and just featured sort of a character who is this sort of a free spirit, artistic, living in this beach community. And then you know, another character who comes in and is sort of figuring his life out. And I just love the setup and the family dynamic and the way they all sort of banter and give each other a hard time.

So, I’m excited to see that the series is following, you know, with this family. I know we meet Jesse. I think we also meet Deacon, I may be wrong cause I read it a while ago, in the first book. So, I’m really looking forward to that. Cause I thought it was a great first book and I’m really looking forward to seeing where the series goes.

So, this is “Definitely Deacon” by Vawn Cassidy coming up 3/29. If you haven’t read “Suddenly Beck,” I would definitely recommend it cause it was a great start to series.

Jeff: Nice. And Lisa what’s on your upcoming list.

Lisa: I had a hard time settling on just one. I feel like there’s so many books coming out in May. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this or not but may seems like it’s going to be a big month.

I know I did “Prince’s Poisoned Vow,” Haley Turner’s book comes out in May.

This book is one that I’ve been waiting on for a while though. It is “The Hourglass Throne” by K.D. Edwards and it’s book three in “The Tarot Sequence” trilogy.

Jay: Yes

Lisa: So, this is the one that’s going to wrap everything up. This is a world. I know, I think I’ve, I think I’ve talked about all of the books with everyone, like best book of the year. I mean, K.D. is such a great storyteller and he has taken the tarot, which I, you know, I have only a passing knowledge of if even that much. You could fit it in on my pinky, you know, it just… But he has taken the tarot and turned it into these big, beautiful characters in this magical world. This is going to be where Rune Saint john, who is the main character in the story, is ascending to the Sun Throne, his rightful heritage. The Sun Throne was destroyed when Atlantis was destroyed. And so, the Atlanteans are now living on an island off of Nantucket.

So, it’s a Nantucket island that has been turned into New Atlantis. And so, this is going to be him now coming into his own. And again, I, you know, found family is, such a recurring theme, I think. In, you know, in, in so many of the stories that we read and it’s the same for Rune. And he is building this family around himself with the help of his bodyguard, Brand, and I say bodyguard, but Brand is so much more: brother, friend, companion, you know, soulmate. But not in a romantic way. Just the bond between these two characters, when you say, you know, this character would die for you. I mean, these two guys have, they proved it time and time again.

So that relationship is just absolutely just so deep and so amazing. And then Rune also does have a romantic relationship, with a character named Adam Saint John. I’m so, so, so excited and I’m so, so, so, so sad that this is the last book in the series, but it’s just such a big action packed, magic filled world. And K.D. Edwards is just such a great storyteller. And so yeah, the hourglass throne, it comes out May 17th. So excited, can’t wait.

Jeff: Fantastic. It was so great talking to K.D. back, gosh, it must’ve been two years ago now.

Lisa: Yeah, its been a while. It’s been a little while.

Jeff: So, it’s great that trilogy is finally wrapping itself up.

Lisa: Yeah. Kind of a double-edged sword.

Jeff: Double-edged sword, always when a series ends.

Lisa: Yeah. I’m really excited to see how this one is going to wrap up because you know, just at every character is just so beautifully drawn and just the action again. And the emotional connection between Rune and Brand to me is more important to me than the romantic connection between Rune and Adam, really. In some ways, because there’s that bond there between them is just so, so almost indescribable. And now with all of the new family dynamic going on now, that’s yeah. It’s going to be really fun to see the end of it.

Jeff: Fantastic. Well, as always, wonderful books that we got to talk about and believe it or not, the next time we get together, it’ll be Pride month.

Jay: Crazy. How it’s the middle of March already?

Jeff: I know, right? It’s pretty insane. And June, of course, will be here before we know it. So, what are we talking about books again soon? So, I hope you both have a great springtime, and we’ll see you back in a few months.

Lisa: Yeah.

Jay: Thanks for having us.


Will: This episode’s transcript is brought to you by our community on Patreon. If you’d like to read the conversation for yourself, simply head on over to the show notes page for this episode at Also remember the show notes page also has links to everything that we’ve talked about in this episode.

Jeff: And as always, thanks to Jay and Lisa for sharing some recommendations with us. It’s always wonderful to talk books with them and as usual they’ve given me some interesting stuff to look at. I’m super curious about “The Incarnate Accounts” by Justin Schuelke that Lisa mentioned, I hadn’t heard about that before and between her recommendations and reading some more about the series. I think I will be checking out book one very soon.

Will: All right. I think that’ll do it for now. Coming up next in episode 368, we’re going to be returning to “Dante’s Cove.”

Jeff: This time we’ll be kicking off season two of the sexy supernatural soap opera. Big changes are in store as there’s some re-castings plus a brand new Hotel Dante.

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 Production assistance by Tyson Greenan. Original theme music by Daryl Banner.