Today I am so pleased to welcome Joel Leslie to Joyfully Jay. Joel has come to talk to us about his recent audio release, Hither Page by Cat Sebastian. He has also brought along an audio excerpt and five copies to give away. Please join me in giving him a big welcome!
Thank you, Jay for inviting me back on the blog today! It’s only a few days until Jay and I will be hanging out at Coastal Magic and then terrorizing Disney Springs with her legendary lack of tolerance for a Margarita. [Jay: yes, it is true, I am a major lightweight]
But TODAY, I’m really excited to chat a bit about a new audiobook that just released called Hither, Page, written by the utterly brilliant Cat Sebastian. Cat is one of the most original voices in LGBTQ romance and if you haven’t read or listened to her work you’re soooo missing out. This is our fifth title together and she never ceases to surprise with a totally unique twist on any trope.
In this particular instance I was giddy as an over caffeinated gay squirrel because I learned she was writing in my all-time favorite genre: Cozy mysteries. I am a die-hard cozy mystery fan. My all-time favorite book series are actually the Agatha Raisin mysteries by MC Beaton and The Number 1 Ladies Detective stories by Alexander McCAll Smith. I’m also one of those avid Acorn TV viewers and I’m allllll about Masterpiece Mystery. Give me some well-cut clothes, a nice cucumber sandwich, an dead body, and I’m a happy boy. Lol.
But – here’s the bummer. For the most part Cozy Mysteries do not exist for male narrators. They almost always feature a female protagonist. In fact the Wikipedia entry ON Cozy Mysteries even mentions this (naming MC Beaton’s brilliant Hamish MacBeth as a very rare exception. And, even though I think that I do female voices well, no publisher is going to hire a male narrator to voice a 1st person female protagonist, and very rarely even with a 3rd person narrative.
But I want them. Wahhhhhhhhh. It’s not like people didn’t LIKE Hercule Poirot? Right?
So – When I found out Cat wrote a post WWII, English countryside romantic m/m murder mystery I peed a little, then camped outside her house and scratched at the door making pathetic whiny puppy noises until she relented and let me narrate it. Ok. Maybe not quite like that. But I certainly begged. Just read this delicious blurb:
A jaded spy and a shell-shocked country doctor team up to solve a murder in postwar England.
James Sommers returned from the war with his nerves in tatters. All he wants is to retreat to the quiet village of his childhood and enjoy the boring, predictable life of a country doctor. The last thing in the world he needs is a handsome stranger who seems to be mixed up with the first violent death the village has seen in years. It certainly doesn’t help that this stranger is the first person James has wanted to touch since before the war.
The war may be over for the rest of the world, but Leo Page is still busy doing the dirty work for one of the more disreputable branches of the intelligence service. When his boss orders him to cover up a murder, Leo isn’t expecting to be sent to a sleepy village. After a week of helping old ladies wind balls of yarn and flirting with a handsome doctor, Leo is in danger of forgetting what he really is and why he’s there. He’s in danger of feeling things he has no business feeling. A person who burns his identity after every job can’t put down roots.
As he starts to untangle the mess of secrets and lies that lurk behind the lace curtains of even the most peaceful-seeming of villages, Leo realizes that the truths he’s about to uncover will affect his future and that of the man he’s growing to care about.
When I asked Cat how the idea for the book came to her, here’s what she said:
“When I started thinking about writing the book that became Hither, Page, I had at that point written maybe six Regency-set romances and I really wanted a change. I figured that after reading eleventy billion mysteries, I could try my hand at writing one. My first thought was that I’d write a mystery with a romance subplot, but the balance wound up being the other way around–Hither, Page is mainly a romance with strong cozy mystery flavor. If you can bear with an analogy, I think Regency London is to romance what mid-century English villages are to mystery–they’re the quintessential setting. So just like I enjoy taking the Regency romance world and subverting it a little, I wanted to do the same thing to a Miss Marple type of village. I found it really satisfying to take stock characters (the vicar, the doctor, the retired military officer) and tropes (a character’s mysterious parentage, a troublesome will) that readers of the genre will recognize immediately, but putting them in a world where mental illness and queerness exist and aren’t things that make you a murderer. There are so many mysteries that are solved in the final chapter with a revelation that a character is gay and/or “mad” (and I really wish I were only talking about 1930s mysteries but nope, I keep running across it in books published today).”
The two main characters in this book are so charming and sexy together – think Henry Cavill and Ben Whitshaw (no really, think about that – holy yum). The villagers and suspects are quirky and marvelous. The writing has got a lovely James Herriot country charm to it, the mystery is brilliantly plotted out (and terribly clever) and most of all it has that incredible emotional core that makes all of Cat’s writing so special. She is always able to explore tricky topics like PTSD with such a deft grace and, most importantly, even in a period setting she is miraculously ALWAYS able to craft a true romance structure and HEA without breaking the reality of her setting. Really. She blows my freaking mind.
When we were first talking about the project, Cat was actually nervous because this was an indie project and it would be the first time she was considering doing audio without a publisher behind her. So she was a little hesitant. And I told her it would be great. And now I’m begging you to listen or read this darn amazing book because I WANT MORE OF THEM!!! 🙂
Suffice it to say I loved voicing this book and I only hope I did it justice. Grab a cup of tea, a buttered crumpet and enjoy a wonderful winter-time listen. (Admittedly, crumpets can be hard to come by, so you’re allowed to substitute a scone. Or a muffin. Or Cheetos).
I thought to whet your appetite we’d let you listen to the whole first chapter, and hopefully get you hooked!
I’m also excited that I’ve got FIVE copies of the audiobook to give away today! Just comment below with your all-time favorite cozy mystery, and we’ll choose winners at random.
Thanks so much for having me today Jay. As always, it’s a very special treat. And Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!
Joel Leslie has narrated nearly 300 audiobooks and nearly 200 of them in the m/m genre. He was named “All Time Favorite M/M Narrator” in the 2019 Goodreads Reader’s Choice reviews. He also records as Joel Froomkin. When he is locked in his little padded recording cell, he is chasing after two loquacious wiener dogs. www.joelleslienarration.com
Cat Sebastian lives in a swampy part of the South with her husband, three kids, and two dogs. Before her kids were born, she practiced law and taught high school and college writing. When she isn’t reading or writing, she’s doing crossword puzzles, bird-watching, and wondering where she put her coffee cup. www.catsebastian.com
Joel has brought a FIVE copies of Hither, Page in audio to give away. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Tuesday, February 19th at 11:59 pm ET.
- By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
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