Stranger in BlackRating: 4 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | All Romance | Amazon UK
Length: Novella

This is a short and not-so-sweet read about a man who’s been used, and gets his own back.

Christian is a gay man who had a relationship with a closeted friend, Carl, back in college. Christian never got over the heartache of Carl running off and dating women, and still harbored a secret affection for Carl. When they met again randomly six months ago, it seemed like fate bringing Carl back to him after so many years apart. But, Christian has noticed that Carl never wants to be “out” with him, in the literal or figurative sense. They only meet at Christian’s flat, and Carl rarely spends the night. Sure that Carl has been using him as a hook-up on the side, Christian devises a plot to catch his philandering lover at a masquerade ball. He attends as a Marie Antoinette lookalike, in full drag, and is surprised that the stranger wearing Carl’s costume is even better looking than Carl. And, devastatingly receptive to the brush-off Christian had planned.

Jarrod never anticipated that his best friend’s fiancé was screwing around with a man. How can he tell Mira that “Chris” is Christian? It would be cruel, and yet, Jarrod is totally drawn to Christian’s audacity and lithe looks. He never thought drag would be attractive; boy was he mistaken. After their brief encounter at the masquerade ball, Jarrod wants more than a brief tryst, but can he ask for it, and still keep his friendship with Mira?

This is a bit of a fun romp with everyone but Carl getting happy-ish endings. It all flows very nicely, and I had no trouble reading this whole novella one evening before bedtime. The characters are all relatable, including Mira—which was nice, as I expected she’d be trouble. I liked how Jarrod and Christian built something good for themselves. They each deserve a good man, and Christian was completely, and sadly, amazed to be treated like a partner, not a filthy secret.

I said it’s not-so-sweet because there’s that constant undercurrent of betrayal that permeates most of Christian’s interactions. That was certainly heart-tearing, and there are many awkward confrontations that expanded that bitterness. That said, I think it ended sweet enough, and I’d love to spend more time with Christian and Jarrod.

Note: This book is a re-release and was previously published by Amber Quill.

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

veronica sig

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