The Night Of – Tal Bauer
You’ve heard this story before: a guy supposedly kills himself, but his best friend can’t accept it. He calls in an investigator he knows to take a second look, certain there’s more going on.
I’m the investigator. Secret Service Agent Sean Avery. The guy who called me? My ex, Vice President Jonathan Sharp. And the guy he doesn’t believe put a bullet in his brain?
That was President Steven Baker.
The deeper I dig, the more things fall apart. I’ve got a dead president inside a locked room. A hidden note. A secret gun. A missing CIA officer.
And no one I can trust.
Now Jonathan’s in the crosshairs, and if I don’t figure out what really happened that night at Camp David, the love of my life might be the next president to die.
***This M/M romantic suspense features smoldering forbidden love and a May/December second chance romance that ignites your pages.
I’m not too keen on politicians as the love interest but the premise for The Night Of intrigued me right away. Secret Service Agent Sean Avery is doing night patrols at the G8 Summit. All while trying really hard not to think about that fateful night exactly one year ago. The night he spent with Jonathan Sharp, the VPOTUS.
It was a drunken night he barely remembered, but Sean was convinced he fucked up so bad he really should be in jail. His angsting was interrupted by a gunshot and a dead president. The next thing he knew, he was called by the VPOTUS, now POTUS, to investigate if it was indeed suicide or murder.
The case was a locked door mystery and a damn good one. Sean’s investigation had him involved in federal pissing contests and unearthed evidence that cast him and Jonathan in a suspicious light,
The book had one heck of a twisty turny plot that kept me on the edge of my seat. Although I had my suspicions regarding a certain well-placed individual, it kept me guessing until the third act. This was when Sean’s spidey senses started tingling around this person as well.
The WHO might be relatively easy to suss out but the WHY and the HOW was what made the mystery so clever. Things came to a head, in the Oval Office no less. It was such a super intense, super suspenseful climactic scene, I held my breath the entire time.
The book deals with a lot of heightened emotions that jumped off the page. The grief was almost unbearable. The way the writing and narrator John Solo brilliantly portrayed it, I deeply felt how devastated Jonathan and the First Widow were.
The aga-gap, second chance romance between Sean and Jonathan was beautiful and tender. I loved how the two men were both strong and vulnerable. Sean may smart-mouth his way around his colleagues, but it’s easy to see how badly shaken he was to have a president die under his watch. It was also easy to see how much he loves Jonathan.
Jonathan making Sean coffee exactly the way he likes, even after That Night!, slayed Sean. Jonathan, stoic ex-military general and new POTUS, giving his trust, his heart, himself to Sean, slayed me! ♡✧。 (◍＞◡＜◍⋈)。✧♡
My favorite part was Sean counting how many times he could make the famously unsmiling Jonathan smile.
Almost no one could make him smile, but damn it, I had. I’d felt like the biggest man in the whole damn world the first time I’d teased a smile out of him. It was the first time my heart had stutter-stepped, too, the first time I’d realized I was fucked. But not as fucked as that night, when—
This part had the reader guessing about that night a year ago. Why is Sean beating himself up over it? What exactly did he do that he feels guilty Jonathan was still so nice to him after all this time?
For their confrontation scene alone, I highly recommend experiencing this story as an audiobook. John Solo is a narrator who takes you inside the story and his portrayal of this particular scene was sublime!
The way he emoted Sean’s self-flagellation with such rawness, the way he voiced Jonathan’s response with such vulnerability, that scene felt so real. It was like I was there in the Oval Office with them. And the way he portrayed the love scenes, lowering his voice to a whisper, he gave them an intimacy most narrators don’t bother to do. I was struck with the odd feeling of wanting to give them privacy.
The Night Of is Tal Bauer doing what he does best, gripping romantic suspense that breaks the heart into pieces and puts it back together again. The audiobook is the perfect marriage of writing and narration. All in all, an experience worthy of the Presidential Seal of Approval.
5 Stars – absolutely perfect
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Is It Over Yet? – L.A. Witt
Rhys Powell and Derek Scott are divorcing. Mistakes have been made, lines have been crossed, and there’s no going back. Both men are exhausted and ready to move on.
But their daughter is getting married soon. In the name of not putting a damper on her wedding, Derek and Rhys agree to keep the divorce on the down-low and show up as the happy couple everyone still believes they are.
And between a roller coaster of a road trip and the love and joy surrounding the wedding… Derek and Rhys just might remember why they fell for each other in the first place.
Are they only kidding themselves? Or can a rekindled spark really light the way to forgiveness?
Most romance novels I’ve read go out of their way to avoid cheating. I automatically DNF a book when there’s cheating involving the main couple. So a story that revolved around the issue of cheating and divorce? I don’t think so.
But this is L.A. Witt we’re talking about here and she specializes in making her MCs go through rings of fire before giving them their HEAs. This is as tough a hurdle as it can get. Despite myself, I was really intrigued. How is she going to convincingly pull off a happy ending for a premise like this?
Is It Over yet? is about two married men about to split up but hesitated to tell their daughter because they don’t want to ruin her upcoming wedding. The cheating part is off-page and happened months before the story started. I appreciated that the author spared us the details. We only know that this happened when Rhys was at a low point and their marriage was on a rocky patch at that time.
My knee-jerk reaction to this was to hate the cheater. I was even prepared to do so. But I couldn’t hate Rhys. He didn’t justify his actions. Derek didn’t catch him or even suspected. He confessed voluntarily. Since then, he was beating himself up for his mistake. It was very significantly pointed out that he was sorry for what he did, not because he was caught. I knew his heartfelt apologies were sincere.
Derek was hurt and angry as to be expected but it was pretty obvious that they still love each other. The ‘romance’ here is certainly different. The USTs have a different vibe from what I’m used to. Not exactly love/hate because I didn’t feel they hated each other. So how do you describe that thing where you want nothing more than to separate from your cheating husband because if not you will end up killing each other but you still find him attractive as fuck?
The story is a journey to forgiveness. Witt takes us on this very bumpy, highly emotional road trip complete with a playlist and drunken motel sex. I liked both MCs and I was rooting hard for them. They didn’t make it easy for themselves though. They tried truces after truces but always end up at each other’s throats.
How they finally reach their destination, that of forgiveness and a new beginning, was satisfying and more importantly, convincingly done. I liked that the epilogue was a realistic portrayal of lessons learned and making it work.
Cheating is still a hard line for me but Is It Over Yet? did a great job making me not only read a book about a broken relationship but also making me enjoy the story. It made me sympathized with the characters. I felt each heightened emotion. I was cheering when they finally danced at the wedding. I have no doubts Rhys and Derek will eventually have their HEA.
I wouldn’t say I recommend this because this might not be everyone’s cup of tea but do give it a try if you are looking for a second chance romance where the head wants to go but the heart wants to stay.
L.A. Witt books here
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits