The Two Gentlemen of AltonaStory Rating: 3.75 stars
Audio Rating: 4.25 stars

Narrator: Nick J. Russo
Length: 5 hours, 11 minutes

Audiobook Buy Links: Audible
Book Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance

Call Henry what you will…a con man, a grifter, but he’s always scheming to find ways to entertain or protect himself. Henry’s latest scheme backfired when he was witness to a murder by a known mobster and he compounded that when he ran into Special Agent Ryan “Mac” McGuiness and impersonated a police officer to flee the scene.

Mac does not like being played for a fool and that’s just what happened when he unknowingly lets the sole witness walk away. He recently just gave up caffeine and sugar and carbs and if that isn’t making him cranky enough, the antics of Henry certainly will.

When Mac gets Henry back into protective custody, it is clear there is a mole within the ranks and Mac is tasked with keeping both of them safe so Henry can testify. Mac may just lose his mind or his temper being in such close quarters with Henry, but the one thing Mac can’t seem to lose is the way his eyes are drawn to every part of Henry. Henry is used to running and playing by his own rules, but something about the stoic agent has him hanging around. As the heat rises from all sides, the men have to put their feelings on the backburner to keep themselves alive.

Henry is the character that holds this story together and you have to like him, his antics, and the general tone of the story here to be able to get into this one. When we first meet Henry, at first glance, he comes off as more of a devious character than he really is. His schemes are more of the grown up versions of childhood antics taken to the next level. He is charming, can read people at a glance, and everyone just falls for whatever line he feeds them. But Henry also has a wounded, scared, vulnerable side that not only balances out his character, but makes him more interesting.

Counter to Henry we have Mac. Mac follows the rules catching the criminals and Henry is making him crazy. Well, his antics are making him crazy and Henry’s body…yeah that’s kind of making him crazy too. But any attraction between the two of them has to be put on hold as Mac feels a conflict of interest and there are bad guys on the loose.

Now how much of this book was supposed to be serious and how much was truly supposed to be a spoof on law enforcement in general I suppose is open to interpretation. The mole is immediately recognizable and Henry is constantly playing every one around him. These guys are kinda laid back even when in hiding, and Henry’s penchant for quoting Shakespeare evolves to the men dressing up and acting out a scene while in hiding and it comes down to personal preference of whether you want to see the characters doing that in the books you read.

This book is truly the beginning of a series and there is no conclusion. While the case is somewhat wrapped up, any relationship between Mac and Henry was not the focus here and while there was stated attraction and the guys liked looking at each other, I wasn’t feeling it for these guys as a couple of any kind. The book is well written and no doubt both authors have a proven track record, but this particular story line wasn’t engaging enough for me to have a strong opinion on this one. The book ends with a cliffhanger that pertains to Henry’s past and the vulnerable side that was shown to him offered just enough to pique my curiosity of what may come next.

Nick J. Russo added an extra layer to this book through his performance as narrator. His voice is mellow and smooth and the overall quality of the production is high. The voices of the characters are clear and easily distinguishable. Mac’s exasperation with Henry comes through and Henry’s playful, free spirit with a touch of vulnerability is also well performed. The narration throughout stays even and although there are more tense moments when the action takes place, the narration does keep a steady tone. If this book interests you, the audio version would be an overall recommended way to enjoy a Shakespeare quoting, mischief causing con man and the federal agent who remains his moral contrast.

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