Ep 182: Erin McLellan Returns to Farm College with "Clean Break" - Big Gay Fiction Podcast
Jeff & Will talk about their upcoming trip to the 2019 LA Times Festival of Books. They also discuss two series they’ve been watching: Comedy Central’s The Other Two and Freeform’s Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists.
Books reviewed this week include Kim Fielding’s The Spy’s Love Song, Ari McKay’s Take Two and Erin McLellan’s Clean Break.
Jeff interviews Erin McLellan about Clean Break, the second book in her Farm College series, and about why it’s important for her to tell stories based in her home state of Oklahoma. They also talk about her Love Life series, what got her started writing, her author influences and the TV she likes to binge watch.
Complete shownotes for episode 182 are at BigGayFictionPodcast.com.
Here’s the text of Jeff’s book reviews:
The Spy’s Love Song by Kim Fielding
Rock star and secret agent on a mission to a foreign country to topple a dictator all wrapped up in a Dreamspun Desires package. That combination pushed all of my romantic suspense buttons and I had no choice but to pick up this book. And I loved it every bit as much as I thought I would.
I was in tropey goodness heaven with the rock star thing, a bodyguard vibe plus lovers on the run and some occasional forced proximity.
Jaxon Powers is a jaded rock star who’s at the end of a long tour. After waking up in a hotel room barely remembering what happened the night before, he might also be ready for a change in lifestyle. He gets a lot more than he bargained for when his manager brings him to a meeting with the State Department. It seems the dictator that runs the small country of Vasnytsia is a fan and wants Jaxon to perform a private concert as well as a large outdoor one for a worker’s festival. The U.S. wants Jaxon to do this because it’s a chance to improve US relations with the Russia-supported dictator.
The only person going with Jaxon on the trip is secret agent Reid Stanfill. Besides keeping Jaxon safe, Reid’s got an agenda that has global ramifications.
I fell in love with this book right from the beginning. Kim plays with expectations from the beginning. While Jaxon appears to be the spoiled rock star we quickly find that’s not what he wants to be. He’s a small town boy, doing what he loves to do but he wants more substance to the way he’s living. The trip to Vasnytsia does exactly that as his world view gets a complete makeover.
Not only does Jaxon end up traveling without the entourage he’s used to, as Reid’s mission goes sideways the two end up on the run. Reid’s mission is to try to destabilize the country and force elections and that makes him an enemy of the state. Despite his fear, Jaxon won’t leave Reid to fend for himself. Jaxon knows his celebrity can protect both of them and he sticks by Reid even as Reid tries to force the star to safety.
Through all of the crazy events that could result in either of them dying, Jaxon and Reid manage to start a romance. Reid tries to keep it from beginning since they’re in a country where homosexuality is illegal but they give in to their passions. That’s just the beginning as they share stories about their pasts, which only endears them more to each other. The mix between the romance and suspense is perfect, giving our guys time to fall in love even while things around them go crazy.
I liked that Kim avoided the usual Dreamspun scenario of having alternating points of view. Everything in the story is Jaxon, which works perfectly so we don’t know Reid’s mission or anything else too early. It makes for a very snappy read going on the roller coaster that Jaxon experiences.
Kim brings Vasnytsia to life through its people. It starts with the guides taking Jaxon around the country, giving him peek behind the propaganda. As he meets fans who must covertly speak to him as it wouldn’t be proper for anyone to talk with the American he begins to understand why Reid’s mission is so important. Ultimately it’s these people who shelter Reid and Jaxon and help co…