Well, it has been for me. Cwtching up in the corner of the sofa with tea, chocolate digestives and something a bit different on my ereader is a grand way to while away the time ’til sleep.
Anyway, in my quest to bring you something a bit different I’ve made an unusual choice this week. For a start I bought it purely because I liked the title and cover – and I’m not usually that spontaneous and reckless – and then it’s mainstream fiction not M/M romance, and finally it has no on page sex!! BUT it was very good and I really enjoyed it.
The book – Playing Charlie Cool by Laurie Boris.
This is the third book in a fairly loose trilogy. The second book, Don’t Tell Anyone, was written first and has a female MC. It is a family saga about the effect the terminal illness of the matriarch has on the rest of the family and in particular on the MC her daughter in law. A minor character – Charlie – required his own story told and so the author wrote a short story called The Picture of Cool, as book one of the trilogy, and Playing Charlie Cool is the third and final part. Having no idea the other two books existed I was a bit at a loss for a page or two but OH the story gripped and I soon picked up on the interwoven relationships and backstories.
Charlie of the title is a TV producer responsible for an award winning TV show with a bunch of gorgeous intelligent and charismatic ladies at the helm. I imagine it’s a bit like a cross between the UK tv show Loose Women and Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour only with size 4 clothing, Jimmy Choo’s and OMG so much more makeup. Charlie is in love with Adam, though Charlie calls him Joshua, a politician who has recently disrupted his whole life by coming out and who is now being urged to run for congress. Although deeply in love with each other, pressure from Adam’s soon-to-be ex-wife, her family, his family, and the requirements of political life mean that they have to keep their relationship on the down low, meeting furtively and briefly and generally making Charlie feel like a dirty secret.
But the relationship isn’t he only thing that’s impacting on their lives because they both have jobs to do, they both have relationships to maintain apart from each other, they have responsibilities and the joy of the book for me is that neither of them lost sight of those responsibilities. So often in romance we get the ‘all for love and the world well lost’ scenarios where the heroes are so desperate to be together than nothing else matters. Well it matters to me and makes me very annoyed. In this book both Charlie and Adam/Joshua spend time nursing extremely bruised hearts but are shown to be facing up to their problems and making sure that nobody else suffers through their distraction. I gave them both a big cheer and a thumbs up for that.
I also want to give the author a big thumbs up for her female characters. They are delightful. Don’t let the blurb fool you into thinking that you’ll find the usual evil ex-wife, bigotted parent cardboard cut outs. Sure there are ladies who behave less than well, but in the majority of cases you see WHY they behave like that and I found them sympathetic even while deploring what they were doing.
This is such good fiction – also gentle, kind, intelligent Charlie won my heart. Highly recommended.