Title: Between A Rock and a Hard Place (London Lads #5)
Author: Clare London
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Extended Amber Kiss (16K words, 66 PDF pages)
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Summary Review: An unusual M/M romance with a couple of delightful secondary characters who almost stole the book.
Garry’s definitely at the end of his tether. He’s waiting in an airport lounge to meet his friend Will, to go on holiday with mutual friends in a Scottish highlands hotel. Now there’s a ten-hour delay to incoming flights, the seat in the lounge is more like an instrument of torture, and he’s beyond tired of airport food. What’s worse, he’s also dreading having to apologize for the pass he recently made at Will, under the influence of too many beers and a long-held crush. And the suddenly shocking realization that when Will accepts a new job offer on a continent thousands of miles away, it may be the end of their close friendship—let alone anything more.
To add to Garry’s stress, he’s treated to the company of Emily and Max, two young people who think he needs educating in the ways of the world—and his love life—whether he welcomes the interference or not. Struggling with their well-meaning help and the startling mess on his clothes from spilled ketchup and noxious-smelling sweets, he’s encouraged to re-examine how he feels about Will and to decide what kind of journey he’d really like them to take together…
London Lads Series
The one thing readers can never accuse Clare London of, is being predictable. She writes stories about regular guys and most of her locations are not exotic, but her characters don’t fit the mold that I’m accustomed to in M/M, and that’s a good thing.
This story takes place almost entirely at the Glasgow airport in Scotland as Garry waits out a 10 hour delay which was extended to 12 hours for incoming flights, so you have to draw the obvious conclusion about the amount of sex in the book. If you’re looking for a sex filled romp, this is not the book for you. However, if you’re in the mood for an unusual but delightful story where one of the protagonists spends almost his entire time in the company of two manipulative, but very funny and charming children that he had never met before who considered it their job to keep him entertained while he waited for his best friend to arrive, then you’ve come to the right place.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place reminds me very much of Deep Cover, a TQ Sip reviewed here which introduced me to this talented writer 2 years ago. That story was so cleverly written and the characters so well drawn that Clare London became an auto buy. In this story Garry is fretting about how he was going to face his friend Will after making a pass at him the last time they were together. Throughout the story Garry replays in his mind (when he’s not interrupted by his new best friends, 7 year old Emily and 10 year old Max) the last scene in the bar with Will, when he grabbed and kissed him. The shock on Will’s face was like a glass of ice water thrown in his face as he realized that he had misread Will and that their long and close friendship may be over. Now he has 12 hours to relive the worst moment in his life and he’s stuck at an airport lounge because Will had asked him to wait there for him. Since he had no idea where they were staying in Glasgow and could not contact Allen their mutual friend who had made the hotel arrangements because his cell was not working, he really was between a rock and a hard place. Remaining at the hellhole that was the airport was his only option.
Will was flying in from New York after the final interview for a prestigious job and he and Garry were meeting up at the airport prior to the start of their 2 week holiday. Garry was facing the real prospect of losing his best friend and constant companion, the man he had only recently realized he loved, but unfortunately it might be too late for them because Will would soon be winging his way back to New York if he were offered the job, (and it seemed more than likely that the job was his) where he would probably be meeting other men. Although they had never talked about anything but the usual topics – sports, jobs, movies, shows, etc. they were constant companions and even stayed over at each other’s apartment on occasion. But Will had not given any indication that he was thinking along the same lines as Garry who didn’t want to rock the boat even though Will might be leaving London forever, but the thought did cross his mind to start looking for a job in NY.
I really liked this book however if you don’t like children, no matter how adorable, and these two were adorable, then you may not like Between A Rock and a Hard Place. Emily and Max were not precocious and I think they stole the book from Garry who was fixated on what he was going to say to Will when he arrived from NY. I loved the fact that Garry was great with the kids even though he obviously had no experience with children, especially little girls who asked embarrassing, nosy questions and 10 year old Max who was unusually protective of his sister but was still your typical boy who loved his Gameboy. Despite the way Emily destroyed his clothes by spilling every food item imaginable on them, critiqued his appearance, and showed unusual interest in his love life, he maintained the well known British stiff upper lip. 🙂 Where were Emily’s and Max’s parents you ask? You have to read the book to find out.
Clare London’s stories are mostly character based, and this book is definitely character based with no bells and whistles, and it’s told almost entirely from Garry’s first person POV except at the end. I enjoyed Between A Rock and a Hard Place very much, and even though Will was only present physically at the very end I was able to get a sense of his character because Garry described him so well in his musings. As for Emily and Max, they are are now two of my favourite characters and at times I really felt sorry for poor Garry. If there was one thing I would have wanted I would have loved to have spent more time with Garry and Will after they left the airport, so that I could have shared some of their private reunion. Definitely recommended.