The Rare Event

Title: The Rare Event
Author: P.D. Singer
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Amazon:
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel/340 pages
Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Review Summary: An almost perfect book.


THE BLURB

Hedge fund trader Ricky Santeramo has it all: money, looks, and fellow trader Jonathan Hogenboom. The two couldn’t be more different: Jon is from old money, while Ricky clawed his way out of blue-collar New Jersey. Jon hedges his positions; Ricky goes for broke. Jon likes opera and the Yankees; Ricky prefers clubbing. Jon drinks wine with dinner; Ricky throws back a beer. Jon wants monogamy… but Ricky likes variety.

Bankrupt airlines are facing strikes, the housing market is starting to crumble, and Jon can’t wait any longer for Ricky to commit. One last night alone and one last risky trade make Jon say, “Enough.” Then Jon’s old friend Davis comes to New York City, ready for baseball and forever. The whole world is chaos, but there are fortunes to be made—or lost—and hearts to be broken—or won.

Faced with losing it all, Ricky must make the savviest trades of his life and pray for a rare event. His portfolio and Jon’s love are on the line.

THE REVIEW

This story is extraordinary, with characters that are immensely complex and pacing that is so fast I felt as if I were riding a wave that kept on building. I admired the author’s ingenuity, audacity and skill in writing a story based on the money markets that evolved into an exciting adventure and love story. The Rare Event absolutely blew me away and changed my perception of the world of hedge funds. What a coup for P.D. Singer – this is her best and most complex work to date as well as a wonderful journey into a world very few of us ever experience.

Meet Ricky Santeramo, the most vibrant and conflicted character in the book: The world is his oyster; he is self made, has money and looks to burn and a man who adores him, but that’s not enough for Ricky. He doesn’t believe in monogamy and screws everything that moves because to him sex is another high stakes game just like making trades, which he does without a safety net, and the only winner is Ricky. He doesn’t believe that he’s cheating on Jon because his lover knows the score and Ricky expects him to accept his philandering because he always comes back. Ricky lives by a double standard – he wants Jon but he’s not prepared to give up casual, predatory and sometimes unsafe sex with other men. It wasn’t until Jon grew a pair, recognized the rare event of happiness with Ricky and told him it was over that Ricky realized what he had lost. Unfortunately Ricky’s lack of good judgment flowed over into his business decisions, as living dangerously was second nature to him, and that cost him his job when his latest trade blew up. His favourite phrase? “Stop-losses are for pussies. It’s like planning to lose.” Loser: Ricky.

Jonathan Hogenboom is very different from Ricky. He comes from a privileged moneyed background, but one horrific incident ten years ago was like a stab to the heart and hurt him deeply. He learned a bitter lesson about lack of trust which cost him his lover and his second family, changing his life and expectations of others. When Ricky showed up Jon fell in love again, but it was almost as if he had given up on something intrinsic – fidelity. He knew there was no possibility that Ricky, being a player, would stop his sexual encounters in the backrooms of the bars he frequented, but Jon stayed with him when he really wanted someone who would be faithful, and it just seemed as if he didn’t think he deserved any better. He thought that being second banana in Ricky’s life for 2 years was better than not having him, until he realized that the investment was not going to pay off. Loser: Ricky

All the characters were well drawn and flawed. They were a mixed bag, some were weak while others were strong, just like people in real life, and there was no attempt to downplay their faults and make them perfect, a quality that is indicative of an intuitive and talented writer. So why, you may ask, didn’t I rate The Rare Event 5 stars? The book certainly deserved it but my rating came down to one secondary but important character, Edgar Wolfe, senior partner in the firm.

To me it was incomprehensible that for almost a decade Edgar was able to demand oral sex from his staff during business hours and they acquiesced because they were afraid of losing their jobs. “A minute of your time” became a phrase that I will always remember as a precursor to the grossest and most egregious abuse imaginable in the workplace and Edgar’s business partner was complicit in allowing the abuse to continue. It wasn’t until Ricky, who had himself spent 4 of the 9 years he worked for the firm on his knees for Edgar, got sick of the abuse, stood up and protected the more junior and vulnerable staff, thus embarrassing the other senior members of the firm to join him in stopping Edgar. Perhaps such blatant sexual harassment like this could happen in the workplace in this day and age but I couldn’t accept that no one had filed a sexual harassment lawsuit or bitten off Edgar’s penis in revenge. Maybe in an alternate world this abuse was possible, but even with all the uncertainty and job loss on Wall Street it didn’t seem probable to me. When the showdown with his staff came Edgar proved to be a sniveling coward and folded like a cheap suit.

Jon’s and Ricky’s romance played out against the increasingly volatile background of the meltdown in the financial markets, as tens of millions changed hands within seconds. It was fascinating to be behind the scenes and see how easy it was to trigger the subprime mortgage crisis in the US. The age-old lust for more and more money, regardless of the human cost, played out in brilliant colour in The Rare Event, as move and counter move was the name of the game as if it were a game of Monopoly, and the traders hedged their bets with billions at stake. Ricky flew without a parachute the way he did everything in his life: covering his ass on his trades was a dirty word until the inevitable catastrophe happened and he was faced with the consequences of flying without a safety net. The sophistication and speed of the trades and the situations involving puts, stop loss orders, black swan and a rare event were all very exciting, but the most exhilarating and exhausting plays were between Ricky and Jon. Ricky was Jon’s Achilles heel but Jon eventually saw where the relationship was headed and put a “stop loss” order on it.

The character who showed the most growth in this book was surprisingly, Ricky, who changed from a selfish, sex driven, thoughtless, volatile jerk into someone who really cared about Jon and finally understood what commitment meant. But it took another man who upped the ante and made it clear that he going for broke in the fight for Jon’s heart, before Ricky realized what he had almost thrown away because he had treated Jon as if he were of no consequence. The story is told mostly from Jon’s third person POV and I loved his “voice” which was self deprecating as well as strong and decisive – quite a contradiction – but very human.

I should mention that this is not a light read as there’s a lot of information about the markets in the book, and while it’s not an info dump because I consider most of it to be necessary, you should read the Glossary at the back of the book first if that helps.

If you hate cheating (or what appears to be cheating since Ricky’s and John’s relationship is not monogamous) this is probably not the book for you, but if you believe in redemption The Rare Event shows how someone can make a 180 degree turnaround and come out a winner when he realizes he has lost the most important person in his life. You may not like Ricky (I didn’t some of the time) but you may admire this extraordinarily complex and unusual man who used people just because he could. Ricky grew exponentially as the book progressed and became a different man in the end. If you like flawed, conflicted and complicated characters you will admire P.D. Singer’s gamble which paid off. Her writing was incisive, fresh, lush as well as crisp and so darned enticing that I couldn’t put this book down once I got into it. I can’t imagine the amount of research involved, but for the author the investment paid off as she gave readers a knock it out of the park with the bases loaded book unlike any I have read in the past, as she showed that characters playing with other people’s money in the world of high finance had the biggest balls.

 

Highly recommended.

Author

I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports – especially baseball

19 comments

  • I loved this book, the way Ricky gets stripped of everything that matters and has to come back inch by inch. I’m willing to ignore two words of Spanish (which I missed too), since even the cleanest book has a typo or two somewhere. And DAMN but I hope Davis gets a story of his own, because there is a guy who needs an HEA.

    Reply
    • Hi Crys
      You and I talked about this book when I first started reading it. 🙂 I enjoyed The Rare Event tremendously and I was pleased that Ricky suffered a lot before he was forgiven by Jon. 🙂 I was even happier when that bastard Edgar got his comeuppance. What a turd!!!

      Maybe Davis’s story is next. 😀

      Reply
  • Thanks for this review. I was intrigued by the blurb to read the sample on Amazon a few weeks ago but was thrown off by the incorrect Spanish. I wasn’t sure if this was a sign of a poorly researched book so I opted to wait until some reviews came in.

    Glad you liked it. I may pick it up after all.

    Reply
    • Hi Aquina

      I hope you like The Rare Event. I think it’s P.D’s best book. Since I don’t speak the language I’m afraid I was unaware of the incorrect Spanish.

      Reply
  • Regarding a couple of the comments above: cheating is really not the same thing as nonmonogamy. Cheating is lying to someone and going behind their back when the two of you have agreed on an exclusive sexual relationship. Nonmonogamy is when both parties are aware and have accepted that the relationship is not sexually exclusive. It sounds is though the characters in this book have a nonmonogamous relationship and that one of them decides that that situation no longer works for him.

    Reply
    • You’re absolutely correct GR. As I said in the review, Ricky didn’t cheat because although Jon was monogamous he knew that Ricky slept around. When Jon decided enough was enough he called it quits.

      Reply
      • Wave, thanks for understanding. My relationships are usually nonmonogamous, so I appreciate it when people realize that there’s a difference.

        Reply
  • I spent half the night last night reading this – loved it. Your review nailed my take on it – I usually don’t like reading about cheaters, but I LOVE stories about redemption, and this was a great one.

    Reply
    • Hi Pea

      I’m really pleased you liked this book as well. It’s not an easy read because of all the technical information on the financial markets.

      As GR pointed out and I think I did in the review, what Ricky did was not cheating since Jon knew he was not monogamous and accepted their relationship on those terms.

      Reply
      • Hi Wave,

        I take your point. However, I usually pass on stories involving open or non-exclusive relationships, too, so this still was a read that went against my usual tastes!

        Reply
  • I just finished reading this yesterday, and while I really enjoyed it (this author’s writing is fantastic and I did love the characters, even Ricky!), there were two things that made me not “love love” it, and the cheating was definitely not one of them.

    The first thing was that there was a whole lot of “stock” talk and I mean a LOT. I found myself skimming through quite a bit of it because I was lost with all the terms (I kept having to go to the dictionary and that kept jolting me out of the story). But the major thing that bugged me was the horrible incident you mentioned. To me, it was a “big misunderstanding” that drove those terrible events so I had a hard time buying the extreme reactions from his best friend to this misunderstanding (he tried to ruin him?). I also kinda wished there had been a little bit of closure from Cam, the ex, but that’s just me, I think!

    However, despite all that, I really did like this book. I loved how that despicable Edgar got what was coming to him at the end. Awesome showdown. And Ricky and Jon are most definitely hot together 🙂

    Reply
    • Hello Daanquai

      I’m happy that the “cheating” didn’t put you off. You may recall that Jon and Ricky were not in a monogamous relationship so this was not technically cheating. As I mentioned to Susan, casual sex is not usually accepted among “romance” readers even if the couple is not in a committed relationship, so P.D. took a risk.

      I agree with you about the amount of financial information in the book – it was a lot. I was fortunate that I knew some of the terms, having read a lot about the markets and I have a few friends who work in the industry. Also P.D explained all the terms at the end of the book so I didn’t have far to go for an explanation of what each one meant.

      I totally agree with you about what happened to Jon 10 years ago and I didn’t think that Spenser’s investment in the firm made up for the grief he caused Jon. Also I felt that while closure with Cam would have been great the book was already 340 pages and what would be the purpose except for Cam to apologise. He had already judged Jon and found him wanting.

      Edgar really bothered me and I don’t know if these things happen on Wall Street but I couldn’t buy it. The two showdowns with Edgar were delicious.

      Reply
  • Hi Wave,

    I read this book at the beginning of the week and totally agree with your review. However, at the time I didn’t form the same thoughts you had about Edgar, so much as I just went along with the storyline. But I do agree that these days it does seem kind of outrageous that that kind of behaviour would continue for so long.

    It took me 2 days to read this, but that’s only because I began late on a work night. Otherwise I would have gladly read through the night. It was so good and held my interest throughout.

    Reply
    • Hi Susan

      Thanks for commenting.

      Edgar really bothered me because he was so casual about demanding “sex for your job” or you’re fired, and this behaviour continued for almost a decade (or as long as Ricky was with the firm) and no one let him have it in a way he didn’t expect, except for the junior analyst who kicked the crap out of him. She had a lot of balls.

      I loved the book and the risks that the author took with the characters. As you know casual sex outside a relationship, even if the couple is not committed in the usual sense, is not an accepted thing among romance readers.

      Once I got going I kept on reading because I wanted to see how it would play out and how Ricky would fare.

      Reply
  • I had noticed the pretty cover for this book, but neither the blurb nor the excerpt sold me on it. Your review is making me reconsider though: the characters sound interesting and I enjoy fiction that shows me a part of life that I don’t know much about. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hi GR

      I hope you enjoy this book. It’s not the usual run of the mill story. I started it and put it aside for a day because of the amount of technical information on the money markets even though I was familiar with some of it, but once I went back to the book I couldn’t put it down. Just so you know, all of the terms are explained at the end of the book.

      Reply
  • Oh I was staring at this one almost the moment it came out. Definitely getting it now. Thanks for the great review – love complex, flawed characters and if cheating is as well handled as it seems to be from your review, I know I will love it.

    Reply
    • Hi Sirius

      This is definitely a complex book and you may end up hating Ricky, but what a wonderfully written character. There’s cheating and there’s cheating. Ricky and Jon were not in a committed relationship so he felt that what he was doing was not cheating.

      Reply

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