Sunday, April 26, 2015

LGBT Sunday: The Two Gentlemen of Altona

The Two Gentlemen of Altona (Playing the Fool, #1)Author: Lisa Henry & J.A. Rock
Series: Playing the Fool
Released: December 27th 2014
Publisher: Riptide
Length: 228 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

Mischief, thou art afoot.
Special Agent Ryan "Mac" McGuinness is having a rough week. Not only is he on a new diet, but he's also been tasked with keeping Henry Page-the world's most irritating witness-alive. Which is tough when Mac's a breath away from killing the Shakespeare-quoting, ethically challenged, egg-obsessed Henry himself. Unless killing isn't really what Mac wants to do to him.
Con man Henry Page prefers to keep his distance from the law . . . though he wouldn't mind getting a little closer to uptight, handsome Agent McGuinness. As the sole witness to a mob hit, Henry's a valuable asset to the FBI. But he's got his own agenda, and it doesn't involve testifying.
When evidence surfaces of a mole in the FBI office, Mac and Henry are forced to go into hiding. Holed up in a fishing cabin, they're surprised to discover that their feelings run more than skin deep. But as the mob closes in, Henry has to make his escape. And Mac has to decide how far he's willing to go to keep Henry by his side.

Note: My review is for the entire trilogy (The Two Gentlmen of Altona, Merchant of Death, Tempest). These books are compulsively readable and fairly short, you’ll want to read them all at once anyway.

Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock, the lovely ladies who co-authored this trilogy, usually write dark, deeply emotional books that focus on abuse and many other extremely difficult topics. Lisa Henry especially is known for exploring the darkest side of human nature. That’s why Playing the Fool came as such a surprise – it’s everything we never expected to read from these authors, but it’s also exactly what some of us wanted.

That’s not to say that this trilogy is all fun and games. The events have significant weight, especially when it comes to Henry’s past, but the way they are presented simply closes to door and doesn’t allow any angst to sneak in. While some of the plot may be difficult, the approach is pretty lighthearted, albeit in a respectful way. They never make light of the issues presented and they bring us some very emotional moments, but they answer to most things with a healthy dose of humor and they simply refuse to wallow in angst.

Our two protagonists in Playing the Fool are like oil and water – one is an FBI agent, and the other a con man and a former prostitute. Henry, the hustler, happens to be a witness in Mac’s case and Mac is supposed to protect him, but Henry’s self-preservation instinct keeps pushing him in a different direction, away from the law and definitely away from Mac.

They are wildly attracted to each other from the start, but they are also entangled in a never-ending game of one-upmanship. Neither actually trusts the other and neither is particularly trustworthy. They dance around each other and deny their feelings, but they can only do that for so long before one of them breaks.

Although frustrating at times, their weird dance is simply hilarious. I loved their easy banter and their push-and-pull relationship. I love that they ultimately knew to turn to each other and that they helped each other even when common sense told them not to. I also loved the fact that Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock took the time to build fabulous secondary characters, even though some of them broke my heart.

For me, the trilogy lost some steam in the second installment, but the slower progression was necessary to give us time to learn more about Henry and understand his attraction to Mac. It picked right up in the third book and became more exciting than ever. As a whole, this trilogy is slightly ridiculous, endlessly funny and perfect for a few rainy afternoons.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.


  1. Sounds like a fairly good trilogy all around! Sorry the second book wasn't the best, but that's good to hear it picks up in the final book.

  2. Glad the third book picked up and made it worth it in the end. Wonderful review Maja!

  3. Oh, interesting. I've been meaning to read more of what Riptide puts out - this sounds like a good place to go (anything that involves Shakespeare-quoting characters is right up my alley). I also really enjoy the "forced into close quarters together" trope in romances, so I think I'll pick this one up. Great review, and thanks for the heads up about this one.

    1. Their titles are usually hit-or-miss for me (I'm more fond of Dreamspinner), but some are really worth your time. This trilogy definitely is.

  4. Sounds like a very interesting trilogy, and I sure like the lack of angst!
    Also, that cover makes me crave donuts too!

  5. Oh it's nice that the stories are finally short and that you were able to read everything. It sounds like my kind of books and it sounds also so much fun. I'm curious to discover the frst one!

  6. What an interesting mix! I am intrigued and I hope to find time to read these books - I'm especially interested in that healthy dose of humor applied to not so humorous situations, as I suspect it is quite interesting to absorb. Great review, Maja. Enjoy your Sunday!

  7. Sounds like an interesting series for sure. I like that is different and that it is funny. Definitely something you don't see every day.

  8. I like this feature, Maja. I'm quite behind on my LGBT challenge this year (I just finished my first one *groans*). I wonder if I can ride on your coat tails? :D Anyway, I know you didn't quite enjoy this one, but I love a good back and forth between characters and their dynamics sound fun, regardless. I think I'd like to read this series in the future.

  9. This sounds like an interesting read, Maja. I like that it's simultaneously dark and funny. I think I would be frustrated too, but I'm still interested in this because the way you describe their relationship has me curious.
    Great review!

  10. Ooh I actually love these kinds of back-and-forth dance relationships! So fun. Glad you agree and had fun with this one as well. This series sounds like it must be quite addictive!

  11. Sometimes I don't like the push pull and one-upmanship in relationship books but your talk about how she explores characters gives me pause. I do like that she explores the darker side. I do like that it is complete with the trilogy. You do have me curious about this one.


Thank you for stopping by and commenting. If you're a fellow blogger, I'll visit and return the favor as soon as possible. If your're using Google+ to comment, please make sure that your blog link is clearly visible on your profile.

Unfortunately, this is now an award and tag free blog, but I do thank you for your consideration.