Jeff & Will begin the show with the news that the podcast will be on hiatus for the month of September.
Then it’s on to reviews of what they’ve been reading this summer: Rookie Mistake by Anna Zabo & L.A. Witt, Like I Promised by Charlie Novak, Rainbow’s Seven Duology by Max Walker, Double Exposure by Rien Gray, Cafe Con Lychee by Emery Lee, and The Heartbreak Bakery by A.R. Capetta.
Look for the next episode of the show on Monday, October 3.
Remember, you can listen and follow the podcast anytime on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, Stitcher, YouTube and audio file download.
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.
- Book Reviews
- Rookie Mistake by Anna Zabo & L.A. Witt
- Like I Promised by Charlie Novak
- Like I Pictured by Charlie Novak
- The Sunset Job (Rainbow’s Seven Duology Book 1) by Max Walker
- The Hammerhead Heist (Rainbow’s Seven Duology Book 2) by Max Walker
- The Happily Ever After Collective on Patreon (where you can get Double Exposure by Rien Gray)
- Cafe Con Lychee by Emery Lee
- The Heartbreak Bakery by A.R. Capetta
- Find Selected Books from this episode at Bookshop.org and support a local bookstore
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast Links
- Rainbow Romance Reader Report Subscription Sign Up
- 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.
Jeff: Coming up on this episode, we’ve got second chances, heists, hockey, and bakeries to save as we catch you up on what we’ve been reading.
Will: Welcome to episode 397 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 reader. It’s great to have you back for another episode.
As always, the podcast is brought to you in part by our remarkable community on Patreon. Thanks to Sarah for recently joining the community. If you’d like more information about what we offer to our patrons, go to patreon.com/BigGayFictionPodcast.
Now as we get started this week, we do have some news to share. After nearly 400 episodes and eight years, for the first time, we’re going to be taking a bit of a hiatus. We’re taking the month of September off. And to be a bit honest, burnout has been a factor for both of us for a while now, and we’re going to be hitting pause on the show for a moment and do a bit of regrouping.
Now, if you’re a member of our Patreon community, you may have already heard the news about the hiatus during our August Fast 15 episode. But in case you didn’t, we have put Patreon on pause for September, so you will not be charged for that month.
So, after this episode, we’re going to be off for four weeks and we’ll return with a brand new episode on Monday, October 3rd.
Will: Now, while the show is on hiatus during September, the Rainbow Romance Reader Report, which is, of course, the show’s official newsletter, it’s going to continue. There are so many incredible books out there, we want to keep the recommendations coming. Now, if you’re not already a subscriber, you can sign up at BigGayFictionPodcast.com/report so that you’ll have news about new and upcoming releases delivered to your inbox every Friday. Plus, as you may have heard, as a bonus for signing up, you’ll get a free ebook called “Happily Ever After,” which has more than 50 reviews of romances that we personally recommend.
Jeff: And speaking of recommendations, shall we get into all these reviews that we’ve got for some of the amazing books we’ve read?
Will: Yeah. Why don’t you kick us off?
Rookie Mistake by Anna Zabo and L.A. Witt
Jeff: All right. Let’s talk about some hockey.
As soon as I saw that Anna Zabo and L.A. Witt were writing a hockey book together, I knew it had to be at the top of my TBR. Holy crap hockey romance fans! They scored a hat trick and then some with the outstanding “Rookie Mistake.” I loved every single minute, even the difficult and heartbreaking ones, in the story of Julien and Isaac, two hockey players with the Pittsburgh Griffins. As I get started here, I will recommend that you be aware of the content warnings, which include discussion of, and the trauma associated with sexual and emotional abuse and some allusions to suicide. Well talk about that more in a moment, but I did want to call that out up front.
Isaac Rivera is a rookie with the Griffins, and he can’t believe he’s playing on a team with a bunch of superstars, including Julien Landry, a player he’s had a crush on for years. Part of getting his footing on the team is being able to keep his crush under control as he doesn’t want that to interfere in his game play. But as you might expect, Julien catches on that there might be something there and one night he invites Isaac to join him, and that spark ignites one hell of a romance.
These two are swoony–they’re passionate, they’re caring, they talk a lot about what each other needs, and their desires, in the bedroom and out of it. Over time they’re great about anticipating what the other needs too–the support they show for each other made me crazy happy. Anna and L.A. build this incredible relationship bit by bit and I loved it so much. In particular it was interesting how Isaac, the younger man by five or six years, if I remember correctly, discovers that his idol and crush likes to be told what to do. How Isaac and Julien talk about and manage the power dynamics through the story was wonderful, and really added to the steamy sexy level of the book, but also to their emotional connection to. You know what else does it for me, and what makes this book so awesome for me–Julien and Isaac are kind, caring, gentle people. And not just with each other, for those around them to–their friends, family, and team.
There’s darkness in Julien’s past though, and it’s always with him. When he was a 19-year-old rookie in Pittsburgh he was befriended and mentored by a teammate, someone he looked up to. It didn’t take long for that relationship to turn abusive though, sexually, and emotionally. Julien was, as he describes it, messy but the fuckery done to him by Travis made it far worse. It lasted for his first season until Travis was traded. While Julien stuck with the team, the game, and excelled becoming a top defenseman, it doesn’t stop Travis from getting under Julien’s skin, and pushing buttons every time they play against each other. Once Julien and Isaac become public, in what I found to be one of the cutest reveals, Travis steps up his attacks.
Anna and L.A. both write mental health with a delicate and realistic hand, and of course do so here as well. It’s still difficult to understand what Julien has been through, alone, for many years. He’s kept the majority of it from his best friends on the team, and he keeps it from Isaac too–at least for as long as he can. The revelation of everything to those closest to him is emotionally raw, and even more so with the outstanding performance Michael Ferraiuolo gives in the audio book. This is why I mentioned to mind the content warnings, and if these are difficult topics for you, please tread carefully.
Isaac, and Julien’s besties Elias and Nikki, have Julien’s back as does the rest of the team. To say that the last quarter of the book is an emotional gauntlet is an understatement, but it’s satisfying in every single way. Anna and L.A. give Julien and Isaac a great HEA, and set Julien on a path to better mental health.
I really loved the pace of the story too. Not too fast and not too slow. I didn’t know what to expect with an audiobook that runs 16 and a half hours, but the pace was perfect. There’s nothing I would’ve wanted to cut, and nothing I can imagine to add.
I’ve got to shout out the supporting characters. Elias and Nikki as teammates and friends were incredible. And, by the way, I could listen to Michael talk like Elias all day, everyday. That accent. Wow! Anyway, Isaac and Julien’s family too are all wonderful. And I’ll use that word “kind” again. I also loved that, across the board, there was zero homophobia in the book. It can justifiably raise its head in sports books…but here there’s nothing.
We’re past the halfway point in the year, and I can say for sure that “Rookie Mistake” will be on my list of favorites for the year and has a very good shot at book of the year. I can’t say enough about it and I can’t wait to read what Anna and L.A. bring to the next book in the “On the Board” series.
Like I Promised by Charlie Novak
Will: So recently I read, “Like I Promised,” which is the first book in the new “Heather Bay” series by Charlie Novak. And at the start of our story Oliver has returned to Heather Bay, his hometown in Yorkshire, to oversee the renovations on the seaside cottage his nan left him in her will. Once it is fixed up, he can sell it and return to his life in London.
To his surprise, the man hired to lead the work crew is Lane, his former best friend and, most importantly for this story, his very first boyfriend. This is a little awkward for Oliver since he was the one to leave to go to university all those years ago.
Lane seems content to keep things professional, but when the first morning of work begins, they can’t help but reminisce about the good old day over cups of tea and it’s comfortable and nice.
You see, Lane likes Oliver, he isn’t sure that her ever really stopped liking him and invites him to pub night out with his friends. It goes really well, Oliver getting along great with Lane’s friends.
The next morning isn’t a workday, but Lane stops by the cottage and they’re able to talk through the break-up and apologize for hurting each other when they were dumb 18-year-olds. Oliver kisses Lane which quickly to a hard, rough, satisfying fuck against the kitchen counter. A summer fling might be just what each of them needs.
Now, Oliver’s day job is an editor for a small press. Since he’s in town, he takes a meeting with one of his authors who just so happen to live in Heather Bay. Once they’re done discussing Ander’s books, they’re joined by his boyfriend Bastian. With them, and Lane’s group of friends, Oliver is beginning to realize that former hometown is a lot more cozy and queer than he remembers. Incidentally, Ander and Bastian’s love story is featured in “Like I Pictured,” the novella that serves as an introduction to the Heather Bay series.
When a delay with the renovation means Oliver will be without a kitchen for most of the summer, Lane offers his place. It’s the polite thing to do. Oliver can think of worse places to stay then Lane’s bed, which they promptly hop into when Oliver moves in for his extended stay.
They join Anders and Bastian for quiz night at the local pub, and it’s a lot of fun, but Lane worries that they’ve gotten to boyfriendy too fast. He hopes his friends will talk some sense into him, but they point out that not everyone gets a second chance as good as this. Meanwhile, Oliver is having nearly identical thoughts and can easily imagine giving up London for a life with Lane in Heather Bay.
Oliver makes them a special dinner, which is extra super boyfriendy, and after eating they fuck each other senseless.
An inability to choose a paint color mirrors Oliver’s inability to choose between staying or going once the reno is over. Pragmatically blunt Alex at the coffee shop, who has known Lane and Oliver all their lives, thinks he just needs to make up his fucking mind.
They have friends over for a BBQ, which is another opportunity to be as boyfriendy as possible without really acknowledging it. After another round of mind-blowing sex, Lane knows that this is everything he’s ever wanted.
These two lovable dummies.
When the kitchen components finally arrive and can be installed, Lane worries that the end of the cottage renovation means the end of their time together, but after work, Oliver has planned a surprise and announces he wants to stay. It may have taken a few years, but they’ve found their way back to the love that they’ve always shared.
When the kitchen is finished, Oliver loves it, it feels like home—It’ll be perfect for the two of them and Lane’s loveable old dog. Lane goes on to explain the other renovations he’s dreamed up, including Oliver’s new office, so he can work remotely, and his new home library. Charlie Novak really knows her audience, because come on, a romance hero who will build you a library. Game over. I’m done.
Lane and Oliver announce their official coupledom to all their friends, though no one is really surprised and in an epilogue a few months later they throw a housewarming party where we see our heroes in co-habitational bliss surrounded by their wacky found family, a loveable group of friends, with some not to subtle hints dropped for the romantic escapades that we’ll get to see in future books.
So, such a great story, and like I mentioned earlier, Lane and Oliver—such loveable dummies. They’re so sweet and so sexy together, I just wanted to eat them up.
So the characters, hands down, made “Like I Promised,” one of my absolute favorite recent reads, but what I also really appreciated was the low-angst approach Charlie Novak took with this story. And when I say Low-angst, I essentially mean no angst because there really is no dark moment or third act brake-up. The closest thing we get is Lane’s worrying about finishing the project and Oliver leaving, but that concern is very sort lived because Oliver has prepared a little picnic at a cove they used to go to as kids to tell him that he’s staying. It’s cute and romantic and a super satisfying way to wrap up this second chance romance.
Really wonderful. So not only do I recommend the book but check out the audio book as well. I think Dan Calley does a wonderful job with what is considered in the biz as a relatively ‘straight’ read, meaning it’s not a very actorly performance. The words are what’s doing the work, and I really enjoyed it.
So, “Like I Promised” by Charlie Novak, give it a read or a listen.
Jeff: I think you’ve given me the hook for future books. I’ll just start having my heroes, build the other a library because that sounds pretty awesome.
Rainbow’s Seven Duology by Max Walker
Jeff: All right, from a couple of contemporary romances, now I’ve got a couple of romantic suspense books that have heists as their backdrop.
I love a good heist story, whether it’s a movie or a book. Add to that that I’m already a fan of Max Walker’s romantic suspense stories from his “Stonewall Investigations” series and it was a foregone conclusion that “Rainbow Seven” duology would be on my TBR from the moment Max announced it. I love the crew that Max introduces in “The Sunset Job,” which is the first book. And I especially adore the second chance romance between Roman and Wyatt that’s at the center of the story.
Wyatt is understandably confused when Roman shows up at the Miami Science Center, where he’s working a job that’s way below his expertise but one that also allows him to work on side projects–like coding apps–without anyone getting in his way. Roman, however, is there with a purpose, he’s looking to get his hands on the Tome of Tomorrow. The Tome was written by an eccentric and it contains accurate predictions of the future. Think Nostradamus but like several times more accurate.
Trying to lift the Tome from the science center goes very wrong, when a rival gang, The Pride, shows up looking to get it for themselves. In the shootout, Roman protects Wyatt and in fairly short order Wyatt ends up going with Roman to not only help get the Tome itself, but two pages that were torn out of the Tome by its author before he died to help protect its secrets. Why do they want this book? Getting it and decoding its secrets will lead to vast riches. It’ll be the team’s sunset job so they can go into retirement.
Like any good heist, the Rainbow Seven travels around the globe. First, they have to get their hands on those two pages, which of course is not easy to do as the Pride is out to thwart them at every opportunity. Eventually it’s on to Los Angeles to where the Tome of Tomorrow went for its next exhibition after Miami. Of course, security is all the tighter here after the last attempted theft, so the Rainbow Seven has its work cut out for them.
I love the setup and romance Max created for Roman and Wyatt. They ended their romance and friendship under terrible circumstances as Roman let Wyatt take the fall for something that happened in college that, as Wyatt puts it was a, quote, “domino effect of life altering fuckery.” There’s a lot of trust issues and baggage to sort through as a result. Before they set off on their globe-trotting adventures they start talking, apologizing, and sorting out the past and getting to know one another all over again. Having the time to get from place to place gives them those moments where they can rekindle all aspects of their relationship while still being on the clock to get the job done. Now, you know, I love guys who talk and Max delivers everything I wanted in terms of having the conversations Wyatt and Roman needed to have.
Alongside all that great talking is how they work together as they, along with the rest of the Rainbow Seven, plan how they’ll get the needed pages, and the Tome. There’s also recovering from when things go wrong–and oh boy do they go wrong. The Pride is on the tail of the Rainbow Seven and that means nothing is easy. And I mean would you expect anything different from a heist?
Speaking of the Rainbow Seven, what an amazing lot Max assembled for this crew. Each one of them brings something interesting to the story, not only in terms of the skills they bring to the heist, and by the way, Wyatt is a computer guy so he brings a lot of things that I like to see to the heist itself and to the crew. But also, the Rainbow Seven offer a lot of guidance and support to Roman and Wyatt in terms of helping them sort themselves out.
Kudos to Max on the heist scenes as well. There are four between the initial attempt to get the book in Miami, plus there are two pages to get and then once again trying to acquire the Tome. Each one ratchets up the tension and action so amazingly well. The finale, taking place in L.A., was an epic page turner to see how the team would come through.
Now, fair warning, there’s a huge cliffhanger at the end of “The Sunset Job,” which is okay since you can move right on to the second book in the duology, “The Hammerhead Heist.” The action picks up right where book one ends–and things are not in a good place for the Rainbow Seven.
I’m going to tread lightly here because I don’t want to give away anything. As you might imagine when I say there’s a cliffhanger, the Rainbow Seven actually ends up in two different places and the first thing to do is to become a unified team again. Max does an incredible job with this–the tension is high, the obstacles are huge and as I was reading the first section of this book I couldn’t imagine how Max would pull off continuing to up the stakes through the book.
The push to get the Tome is nail biting. I couldn’t read fast enough because I had to know what was going to happen and I needed it right now. It was a struggle to read at a normal pace and not start skimming because I was so anxious. Kudos to Max for getting me that absorbed in not only the heist–because holy crap the final heist sequence is pretty mind blowing–but also what Wyatt and Roman have to navigate to get to their HEA. There are a lot of roadblocks that get thrown in front of them. I couldn’t be more happy with how everything worked out, to be very honest.
I hope Max does more with the Rainbow Seven. He’s brought together some terrific characters, and he certainly proves that he can write a tight and engaging heist. I absolutely recommend the complete “Rainbow Seven” duology with “The Sunset Job” and “The Hammerhead Heist.”
Double Exposure by Rien Gray
Jeff: I want to tell you quickly about another heist I recently read. I discovered “Double Exposure” by Rien Gray because it was available as a selection from the Happily Ever After Collective, which is a new way to get books that’s available on Patreon. The Collective offers up four new, exclusive books each month. There are some amazing authors that are part of the collective. And, depending on your support level, you can choose between one and four books. I’ll have a link in the shownotes so you can find out more about the HEA Collective on Patreon, and we’ll actually be having a whole show featuring the Collective this fall.
But right now, back to “Double Exposure.” Wow! This book simply incredible. Jillian and Sloane are both master thieves dealing in high-end artworks. They had a brief, fiery fling three years ago that resulted in a messy, hurtful breakup that has had the two seeking vengeance ever since. Now Jillian and Sloane are after the same thing, a collection of provocative photos that are about to go on display at the Art Institute of Chicago. Jillian was hired by the artist’s son who wants to recover the work of his late father, which his mother gave to the museum in a moment of duress following his father’s death. Sloane is looking to get the images for a regular client who likes to collect.
I love how Rien sets all this up. Not only do we get Jillian and Sloane plotting how to pull of their heists, they also have to deal with each other. Who will get the pictures first? How might one sabotage the other? Then of course there’s also the feels. Jillian considers Sloane as the person who broke her heart. Sloane, however, thinks they did what Jillian wanted and ended the relationship. The two have been enemies ever since, even while still carrying a massive torch for the other.
My mind was blown by how the heist, or should I say heists, went down. So many awesome twists and turns, which more than once caused me to gasp out loud as I read. And the enemies-to-lovers side of this to, because of course there’s an HEA to be had. I have to admit with the vitriol that Sloane and Jillian had against each other, even with the strong feelings they had, I stressed over them getting the HEA and how that would be pulled off. Of course, Rien delivered though… and delivered above beyond. I’m not saying much here because I don’t want to spoil the wonderful journey that is “Double Exposure.” And I have to say I’m also looking forward to checking out more from Rien Gray, who was a new-to-me author, because I’m now hooked on their storytelling.
Now, if you join the HEA Collective on Patreon, you will be able to get rain’s book, even though it’s one of the August selections, you’ll just have to message the collective for details when you join and you should definitely have a look because among the authors still to come, our Lucy Lenox Zio Axelrod, Rome parish, may Archer, Robin Covington, Gabbi Grey, Adriana, Herrera, Cat Sebastian, and many, many more. It’s such an amazing author lineup. And as I mentioned, we’ve got an episode all about the collective coming up in the fall. So we’ll be able to tell you even more about how it started and what their plans are.
Cafe Con Lychee by Emery Lee
Now, before we wrap up, I’ve also read a couple of fantastic young adult books recently that both involve saving a bakery.
I love Emery Lee so much. Emery’s first book “Meet Cute Diary” was simply extraordinary and now “Cafe Con Lychee” is another fantastic story. We’ve got an enemies-to-sort of friends-to-let’s be boyfriends. There’s a great “save the business” story. On top of all that, there’s a coming out and navigating complex parent and cultural expectations. It’s a diverse, rich, terrific read.
To say that Theo and Gabi are enemies is putting it lightly. Their parents are in fierce competition with Theo’s parents owning an Asian American cafe and Gabi’s owning a Puerto Rico bakery. The businesses aren’t just competing with each other, but also with a new fusion cafe that’s a threat to both. As if that’s not enough, Gabi wants to eventually take over the bakery, and Theo wants to make sure his parents are on solid ground before he takes off for college. It’s a lot for two teens to worry about.
Beyond that, Theo and Gabi are both on the school soccer team. Theo is a star player on a failing team. Gabi is a self-proclaimed disaster on the field, often making the wrong plays and even taking Theo out of plays by crashing into him. It’s just one more point of friction between them.
Emery does an incredible job with Theo and Gabi. Two very, very different people who often have the best of intentions, while also not dealing with all the pressure very well. Theo’s family knows he’s gay, but it’s a point of contention with his parent’s parents. Theo also feels his parents don’t tell him stuff, that his older brother is never on his side and that they view him as a failure. For Gabi, he’s not out–and doesn’t feel he can be since his parents have made it clear that gay is not something they approve of. He also feels he must play soccer to appease them, even though it’s not for him. What he wants to be is a dancer, but that’s something he can’t share because it’s not mainly. These two are messy and complex and impossible not to root for in every way.
It’s really a comedy of errors that get Theo and Gabbi working together to try to save their family businesses. Once they do come together though it’s really a match made in foodie heaven as they work on recipes and ways to get the food into the hands of a demanding public–meaning their fellow classmates at school. It doesn’t come without its challenges to be sure with the other demands on them from friends, family, and school. Not the least of which on the school side is homecoming, which is just weeks away and has demands placed on Theo and Gabi.
Emery weaves the stories together perfectly, alternating between Theo and Gabi’s point of view. We get into their thoughts about everything. It’s heartbreaking the stress they both feel from their families, and that they feel like they’re not fully seen, fully able to be themselves, being able to be someone that can help and have an opinion on what’s going on. The story spends pretty equal time between what’s happening on the family side along with the relationship the boys are forming. I absolutely loved how equal it was because I was fully invested in both even while the family parts of the story often hurt my heart because of how Gabi and Theo’s families treated them [though to be fair sometimes it was not how they were treated but how they perceived that they were being treated].
And speaking of that relationship, this is such a great enemies to lovers story. Granted, it’s mostly Theo who carries the hate for Gabi and his family, while Gabi isn’t quite sure what he did to draw such ire. Gabi certainly moves past it quickly to help Theo and that shows Theo that Gabi isn’t as terrible as he’d thought. It’s not a straight line to arriving at a relationship to be sure. These guys are volatile and complicated and their trajectory was really wonderful on their way to being friends, and more.
Kudos on the audiobook as well with narration by Avi Roque and Kurt Kanazawa. I loved their performance here, doing fantastic work capturing all the complexities of Theo and Gabi, along with their families and friends. Truly a great listening experience.
I absolutely recommend Emery Lee’s “Cafe Con Lychee” and I can’t wait to see what comes next from Emery.
The Heartbreak Bakery by A.R. Capetta
And one last book, “The Heartbreak Bakery” by A.R. Capetta was an unexpected delight. This book’s been out since last fall, but it only arrived on my radar during pride month. What an incredible story this turned out to be with a bit of heartbreak but also some very sweet romance too.
Teenage baker Syd loves baking. Syd’s got a job at The Proud Muffin, a place that’s not only super queer friendly, but a queer community hub in Austin, Texas, where Syd works many hours per week when not being a senior in high school. When Syd and W breakup, Syd’s world is rocked and so, of course, it’s time to bake through the feelings with a batch of chocolatey brownies. It doesn’t take long though to discover that there’s magic of some kind in the brownies because everyone who eats one ends up in relationship turmoil and either broken up, or on the verge of it. This includes some people very close to Syd.
Now it’s a race to find the right baked good–a cake, a scone, a pie, a cookie–to bring the couples back together again. Syd discovers that it’s far from simple though as sometimes the magic may have done example what it needed to do. I loved the magic A.R. created in this book, how Syd discovers more about what baking and the magic can do and the nuances around it. There’s also a lot to be said about the power of baking in general to bring people together. To say that you’ll get hungry reading this book is a huge understatement.
There’s also a super sweet romance for Syd too. In the aftermath of the breakup, Syd’s not really sure if a reconciliation should be attempted or what a relationship could even be. Part of this comes from Syd trying to figure out what it means to be Syd. A r gives us a wonderfully complex teen with Syd who feels the stress to figure out how to be labeled–what pronouns to use and how to be introduced to people who all want to apply the right label. Syd is one of the best characters I’ve ever read exploring gender identity, right alongside characters from Jason June, Emery Lee and Jeff Garvin.
Harley, who either uses he/him or they/them depending on the day, is a great friend, baking sidekick and possibly more for Syd. Harley displays his labels via a pronoun pin that is always present, usually on the messenger bag. Harley’s the delivery person for The Proud Muffin, and instantly helps Syd deal with the aftermath of the brownies. These two get up to so many adventures, and even though they were at least work friends before all this started, watching the two of them learn more about each other and talk about everything under the sun was so wonderful to read. As always, I like characters who talk and Syd and Harley did just that–until some of the relationship stuff got a bit too complicated, but I did love a whole bunch where Syd and Harley ended up and some of the new confidence Syd found by the end.
One of the things I loved about this book was how A.R. brought complicated relationships to the page. Syd got a deep dive on so many different couples as baking magic was created to bring people back together. Like I said, it’s not always something baking magic can fix since maybe the baking magic caused something to happen because it needed to. I liked the fact that, spoiler alert, Syd couldn’t fix all the couples and Syd couldn’t fix everything that brownies had allowed to surface, or some of the impacts of the subsequent bakes. Through Syd, the reader sees a lot of relationships, how the people evolve over time, how keeping secrets and not expressing feelings can cause trouble. It was really fascinating to read, far more than I had ever anticipated when I picked this book up.
One of the couples that’s in trouble are the owners of the bakery. They’ve been together a long while and the brownies brought up some issues they were having. Syd values The Proud Muffin so much, so there’s a great save Vin and Alec’s relationship and save the bakery story that plays out here too. It was a perfect ongoing part of the plot.
Krystal Hammond does a fantastic job on the narration for the audiobook, playing all the characters with just the right touch. Krystal in particular brings a great emotional depth to Syd, which really make A.R.’s words come to life.
If you’re concerned where this story all ends up, I can say that I was wildly satisfied. Syd and Harley end up in a good place with each other and where their immediate future is going. The other couples in the book all end up at exactly to the point exactly where they should be. There wasn’t one couple that didn’t feel right and authentic. I loved “The Heartbreak Bakery” and am glad I’ve been introduced to A.R. Capetta. I’ll definitely be picking up some more stories from this author in the future.
Will: 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 for this episode at BigGayFictionPodcast.com. The show notes page also has links to everything that we have talked about in this episode.
All right. I think that’ll do it for now. As a quick reminder, we are taking the month of September. There will be no new episodes, but we are looking forward to seeing you back here on Monday, October 3rd for episode 398.
Jeff: We hope you have a great September and read some awesome books.
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 kinds of stories 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.