Friday, April 8, 2016

The Two Gentlemen of Altona (Playing the Fool #1)

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM
The Two Gentlemen of Altona by Lisa Henry & J.A. Rock

Age: Adult
Category: Romance, LGBTQIA+
Rating: 4 stars

Rosie Thinks: If you're not allowed to eat donuts, probably don't read this book. It will have you craving them like nothing else - even the scene breaks are tiny little pictures of donuts! But don't worry, I'm not recommending to you guys a book about a donut bakery. This is a fantastic thriller/crime/suspense novel, where one of the main characters is on a diet - thus the donuts everywhere.

FBI Agent Mac is having a bad day: not only is he now on a coffee-less/donut-less diet, but the key witness just conned him into letting him walk free out the front door of a murder scene. Henry Page may be the key to putting a mob boss away for life, but he'd rather keep his head down and go back to doing what he does best: conning old ladies out of their money. And so begins a cat and mouse game between them as Mac tries to tie down his major witness, and Henry does his best to escape, while trying not to get killed by the mob along the way.

Let's be honest here - I've read some variation of this plot line many a-time. It was pretty stock-standard mystery, with a touch of 'who's-the-mole'. But the reason this book is so good, is because of the characters. My gawd. I have become so sick of the usual recipe of m/m romance: two MCs meet, have a few lacklustre conversations where they prove to share a personality, then go and have a sex for a couple of hundred pages. This book wasn't like that at all! Mac and Henry were both so different, and characterised perfectly every single moment they were 'on screen'. Mac was grumpy and loyal and fierce and surly, while Henry was bloody frustrating and charming and deeply scarred and irreverent. He made me alternatively want to strangle him Homer Simpson-style or hug him close and pinch his cheeks. Their interactions were fast-paced and on-the-ball, and a complete joy to read. Their personalities served to transform every scene in this novel into something I was hooked on, and I couldn't stop reading. 

This is quite different from Lisa Henry's usual style, in that it wasn't super dark with severely traumatised characters. Rather, it was quite light-hearted and hilarious. Unlike our lovely judge Helen, crime isn't usually my thing. It's actually one of the genres I stay away from, but I can never resist the draw of an m/m book, especially one that Lisa Henry has co-authored. And I think if you go into this expecting a good crime-focused novel, it might fall flat. As I mentioned before, the plot was fairly obvious. But if you're looking for a fantastic romance with brilliant characters, this is it! The ending leaves a lot to question, but never fear - the next book in the series is soon to be released!


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