A guest review by Jenre
A most excellent sequel to Like Coffee and Doughnuts where suave Dino is caught between his current love, Seth, and his ex-lover, Gigi.
Dino is caught off guard when his ex shows up out of the blue asking for help. His current lover, Seth, is pushing him to find dirt on his sister’s boyfriend. Juggling between two cases – and his boyfriend and ex – isn’t easy, but what choice does he have?
Working with his ex takes Dino on a trip down memory lane, raising a few doubts and stirring up Seth’s jealousy. Now he must save his ex’s restaurant and his relationship with Seth before it’s too late.
Like Pizza and Beer is the sequel to Like Coffee and Doughnuts which I reviewed here. Since my first reading, I’ve grown more and more fond of that previous book and it is now firmly on my keeper shelf – it’s funny how some books affect you that way, isn’t it? This means I’ve been greatly looking forward to this sequel and I’m happy to say, it didn’t disappoint one bit.
At the end of the previous book Dino, our first person narrator and private detective, had started a relationship with his best friend, Seth. As this book begins, Seth asks him to investigate his sister’s lowlife of a lover who is in debt and starting to bring her down with him. At the same time, Dino is called up by his ex-lover Gigi, who wants him to investigate a series of small, but significant, attempts to sabotage her restaurant business. This inevitably causes tension in the relationship between Seth and Dino, when Seth’s jealousy and Dino’s need for privacy leads to clashes between the pair.
There was so much to like about this book that I think I’ll struggle to do it justice in this review. Let’s begin with the character of Dino, who has to be one of the best m/m detectives I’ve read in ages. He’s charming, sophisticated, urbane and very much aware of himself as a dapper man about town. However, that sophistication is also tempered by street smarts and cunning which enable him to get the upper hand time and time again when he gets into tricky situations. His wry and very dry humour shone through the narrative making him a delightful voice to read.
This then compares with Seth, who is earthy and hot-headed. In theory these opposite men shouldn’t work as a couple, but they do. Seth brings out the animal side of Dino, especially during sex, and Dino’s influence curbs some of Seth’s impetuousity. The best part of their relationship is the easy banter between them and I thought that the dialogue between them was just perfect in its mix of laughter, smart remarks but with an underlying emotional intensity. Their sexual attraction is blistering hot, both during the sex scenes and in their day to day interactions which leant a realism to the relationship, despite their different personalities. That doesn’t mean that they don’t clash – they do, and frequently too, as Dino says at the beginning of the book:
He’s everything I’m not—wild, easy and free, completely uninhibited. It’s been a big adjustment for both of us.
This books shows how they are still adjusting to those differences in their personalities, especially in relation to the fact that Dino is a very private person – both in terms of his quiet nature and his sexuality – and Seth is ‘out and proud’, and pretty loud too. It was the way that the couple continue to work through those issues which form the basis for much of the emotional and romantic content of the book, and I was very satisfied with the way that the situation played out.
Another part which worked well was in the mystery plot. One of the things I loved so much about the first book was the way that it showed the less glamourous side of being a detective. That continued in this book and we follow Dino as he follows various leads by visiting local records buildings, talks to people and spends hours on his computer looking up information. This might sound dull, but it wasn’t because throughout it all Dino’s enthusiasm for his job was evident, even when doing internet searches. The more mundane detecting was then contrasted with the tense moments, as Dino entangles himself with local loan sharks, and pieces the clues together leading to the saboteur with the help of Seth. I liked the way that the story managed to combine the two mysteries, keeping them both fresh and interesting right up to the final page.
Those readers who liked Like Coffee and Doughnuts will love this book too. I don’t think it’s strictly necessary to have read the first book before this, but some of the subtleties in Seth and Dino’s relationship may be missing if you haven’t – besides the first book is damned good too, so you should read it! Overall, I highly recommend Like Pizza and Beer. I loved the opportunity to see more of Dino and Seth whilst also being hooked by a great mystery. Marvellous.