Adrian DeSoto spent most of his time in high school being bullied and beaten up, simply because he was perceived as gay. Always slight, effeminate, he was the perfect victim for guys like Martin Cavanaugh, one of the high school jocks. When it all got too much, Adrian was faced with two options, one more devastating than the other. Eleventh grade saw a new Adrian, one who hid his fears and pain behind a mask in a bid to survive.
Eleven years later, and Adrienne is one of the top drag acts in Orlando. She’s fierce, funny, and exuberant. A face from the past gives her a shock, and after that there’s only one thing on her mind – revenge.
Marty Cavanaugh has a particular kink. He loves it when a drag queen goes down on him. But that’s as far as it goes. He won’t admit to himself what’s under that tight fitting dress. And then he meets Adrienne and his whole world goes into a tailspin…
Warning – Contains men in drag, honey! You have been warned.
Review by Morgan
I really enjoyed book one in this series, and I haven’t (yet) read/listened to book two, so I believe this is totally fine as a standalone.
I love the different levels of complexity explored here. We get a lot of “gay guilt” but also this weird hybrid that allows Marty to feel “okay” as long as it’s a drag queen which is kind of the reverse when some gay guys feel drag queens aren’t “manly” enough for their “gayness”… or whatever. There’s a lot of crossing over sexual identity lines that are fascinating to explore.
Adrian/Adrienne is awesome! What a great character! I wish he/she’d have made Marty earn his way back with a bit more groveling, but I was pleased to see that hurdle crossed without a lot of angst.
I thought Marty’s self evaluations and movement toward self appreciation and forgiveness was authentic and moved at a good pace, but I do wish he and Adrian had spent more time together on page getting to know one another again as adults. There’s a big (6 week) time leap that frustrated me a bit and I wish we’d seen some of what happened during that time.
The birthday “gifts” were funny and sweet and though I wish we’d had more work up on page towards these events, they themselves were well done.
I’m not sure I’d have been as motivated to read this as I was to listen to it. Joel’s addition to the equation meant I was totally enthralled by all the flavor and color he adds with the addition of accents and other auditory pizazz which really brought these guys to light. Marty felt a lot more “flat” than did Adrian/Adrienne and I think listening to this helped him to “pop” more and feel more like a three-dimensional character.
Given that this is a relatively short story I think it met my expectations for feeling fully developed, but – as I said – if it’d been a bit longer I’d have felt more of a connection to our guys as a couple with staying power. Where it stands it still felt a bit like the main connection was their sexual chemistry and some lingering feelings from high school rather than a more mature and mapped out relationship between two adults.
All in all it was a fairly light read with a bit of emotional impact and a very good way to spend a few hours.
4 of 5 stars for the audiobook
Review by Anna
Adrienne is a fierce drag queen, however her alter ego, Adrian, is not quite as confident. He is still haunted by his past, by the incessant bullying and loneliness in High School and when Adrienne spots one of her tormentors is the audience when she’s on stage, she can’t help giving Adrian the revenge he needs.
Marty, is not the same guy he was in High School, in fact he is one of the most lonely, sad and depressing characters I have read in a while, when we first meet him. He is a severe closet case, hiding so far back he can see Narnia. In his attempt at denying himself, he has developed a kink for drag queens. Men, but with all the outer trimmings of women.
This was a super sweet enemies-to-lovers story, with a long slow burn between the two main characters. I did however feel a bit let down, that we did not get to experience the first couple of weeks of their relationship. I felt cheated when the story suddenly jumped 6 weeks in time.
This is book 3 in the Lightning Tales series, and even if the story sort of works as a stand-alone I was a bit confused at the beginning as to Ric’s role in this. He plays quite a big part in this story, and I didn’t know him! I might have to go back and get his story too.
I listened to the audio version of this book and thought that Joel Leslie did a credible job with the narration, but I never warmed to his choice of voices for the two main characters, unfortunately. It was, however, not too bad, and the prose of the story flowed easily, the plot and the characters were engaging and interesting. I would recommend for an easy read with loads of queens!
3.5 out of 5 stars
Copy Generously Provided For Honest Review