Hi! We’re Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock, the authors of THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF ALTONA. We’re touring the web taking about our influences, our processes, anything we can think about actually, and even giving you guys a sneak peak or two! And what would a blog tour be without a contest? Check out the details at the bottom of the post to see what you can win!
Today we’re not talking about our influences on the book though. No, we’re talking about the book’s influence on us. It’s bad influence.
Lisa: Something weird happened when JA Rock and I were writing the PLAYING THE FOOL series. One of our MCs, Henry Page, has a slight junk food addiction. And our other MC, Ryan “Mac” McGuinness is trying to quit sugar and caffeine. And for some reason this was the book I chose to channel a character from in my daily life. But of course I didn’t choose Mac.
Oh no no no. It was Henry who kept whispering in the back of my head: Oh, you’re writing more scenes with me today? You know what would help you get into my character’s headspace? Skittles. Skittles and donuts and cake.
The worst thing was, this is a trilogy. Between planning, writing, and editing these three books, my Skittles addiction has lasted for months. I’m only just breaking it now. And I don’t even want to talk about the cover for THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF ALTONA. Because holy crap. How can anyone look at that and not immediately want a donut? With sprinkles?
I think that next time J.A. and I write a book, we need a main character who eats all his vegetables, and exercises at least thirty minutes a day. Although, to be honest, I hate the sound of him a little bit already.
J.A.: He sounds like a boring human who will probably live a long life free from chronic illness and pain.
I love how we can justify eating a shitton of cake during this writing process, yet when we wrote WHEN ALL THE WORLD SLEEPS, we were never like, You know what would help you get into your character’s headspace? Burning down the homes of your enemies.
At least, I never did that.
*suspicious look at Lisa*
That said, I ate a lot of donuts while we wrote this.
THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF ALTONA is the first in our PLAYING THE FOOL trilogy. Book 2, THE MERCHANT OF DEATH, will be available on February 2. Book 3, TEMPEST, will be released March 9.
You can preorder the series, and check out excerpts, at Riptide.
The Two Gentlemen of Altona (Playing the Fool #1) by Lisa Henry & J.A. Rock
Title ~ The Two Gentlemen of Altona (Playing the Fool #1)
Authors ~ Lisa Henry & J.A. Rock
Publisher ~ Riptide Publishing
Published ~ 29th December 2014
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Mischief, thou art afoot.
Special Agent Ryan “Mac” McGuinness is having a rough week. Not only is he on a new diet, but he’s also been tasked with keeping Henry Page—the world’s most irritating witness—alive. Which is tough when Mac’s a breath away from killing the Shakespeare-quoting, ethically-challenged, egg-obsessed Henry himself. Unless killing isn’t really what Mac wants to do to him.
Con man Henry Page prefers to keep his distance from the law . . . though he wouldn’t mind getting a little closer to uptight, handsome Agent McGuinness. As the sole witness to a mob hit, Henry’s a valuable asset to the FBI. But he’s got his own agenda, and it doesn’t involve testifying.
When evidence surfaces of a mole in the FBI office, Mac and Henry are forced to go into hiding. Holed up in a fishing cabin, they’re surprised to discover that their feelings run more than skin deep. But as the mob closes in, Henry has to make his escape. And Mac has to decide how far he’s willing to go to keep Henry by his side.
Lisa Henry and JA Rock are well known for being dark, angsty and kinky; generally putting their protags through all kinds of hell. But these two authors have also got a wicked sense of humour and it shines in this brilliant FBI/con man/murder caper that, being exactly my type of funny, really tickled me, as well as satisfying in the plot and love/hate relationship stakes as well.
It's jam packed with delightfully snarky humour, spark-flying witty banter and has two extremely appealing MC's who bounce off each other; working up some great tension. Both exasperation when they first encounter each other, and sexual, when the attraction starts to kick in. I loved, loved, loved this book and now have two more favourite men to add to my "couples I heart" shelf.
I can't see anybody not falling hard and fast for Shakespeare loving Henry Page's annoying, but at the same time, endearing pain in the ass, cheeky, conman and Ryan 'Mac' McGuiness's dour, pissed off, cranky ass agent. When they're in each other's company, playing off each other, it really makes for some funny, laugh out loud moments as well as some entertaining, opposites attract chemistry. From the start Henry becomes Macs nemesis as he cant help fucking with the no nonsense cop and it annoys the hell out of Mac that he's the only one who seems to be affected by the young grifter, as Henry charms the pants of most people he comes into contact with; manipulating them by using his larger than life, lovable rogue personality to dupe them. Except in the beginning, the grumpy agent isn't the only one who's not really taken in by the sweet talking con artist. Mob boss and bad guy, Dean Maxfield, who Henry witnessed shooting a man to death, wants him dead so it's down to Mac to make sure that doesn't happen, but not without a few trials and a lot of tribulation, due to the fact that with Henry (aka Richard Falstaff...Toby Seacoal...Sebastian Haynes...etc etc...) he's definitely got his job cut out for him.
What Henry doesn't factor into the equation though is the attraction he begins to feel for Mac, which doesn't make it easy when a hitman is brought into the mix, bringing them the realisation that there's a mole in the Bureau, forcing the two of them to join forces and go into hiding in a out of the way cabin belonging to Mac's family, that no one else knows about. Unfortunately against Mac's better judgement, they have to combine both of their talents to stay under the radar, until Maxwell goes to trial, when hopefully Henry can testify. Being used to changing his identity at the drop of a hat gives Henry a bit of an upper hand when it comes to disappearing off the map, but it seems this time he may need the help of his agent too.
"How much of this stuff did you actually pay for?"
"Paid for the milk and the bread. And the pretzels, because they would have made too much noise under my shirt. But the tuna, the beans, and the toothbrushes...not so much."
"As a federal agent, I want you to know I'm disgusted by your lack of respect for the law."
"But you're impressed too," Henry said without turning around. "You're disgustpressed."
Some of my favourite bits in the story were the sarcastic, quick witted exchanges and come backs between the two of them. Henry never shuts up but what comes out of his mouth at times is priceless and even Mac does a bit of 'mouth twitching' every now and again against his better judgement. I found myself snorting out loud when they were in snark mode. It's not all fun and games though. There are moments of seriousness and poignancy threaded into the storyline, as there's a more grim side to Henry's past that gives hints into why he's turned out the way he has, drip fed to us as the story progresses but never fully addressed, so ultimately we're left with Henry still a bit of a mystery. Over time Mac begins to see the more vulnerable, not always so confident side of his generally cocky witness and it becomes a bit of a vice versa situation, as of course being in such close proximity both of them let their guards down a touch, which brings in an emotional undertone that balances the humour. Although the sarky nature of Henry is never far from the surface and poor Mac is generally the guy at the end of it.
There's a real will they/won't they vibe going on here too, so the sex is actually pretty much on the down-low but because the sexual tension and chemistry is so good, that was never an issue for me because the way they interact still felt sexy and sensual enough to direct my brain from missing it. The anticipation and dancing around each other outweighing the need to see these two actually doing the nasty. My favourite scene of all....Henry and Mac acting out a scene from 'The Taming Of The Shrew', followed closely by Henry in full on 'con mode,' scamming a car salesman when he and Mac first go on the lam.
"Holy shit. You set fire to the dealership?"
"A tiny tiny fire. Hardly a fire at all. More of a distraction. Do you want to stay here and talk about it, or get in our stolen car and get the fuck out of here?"
Mac very much wanted to get the fuck out of there.
He glanced back at the office of the dealership, wondered what he was doing, and followed Henry to the car.
As far as the crime based part of the story goes this one is pretty good, there comes a point when the shit really hits the fan and the question is does Henry choose to do what he does best and run?!? I'll leave that for you guys to find out for yourself but one thing I will say is "DAMN!!!" That ending has left me pouting and stamping my feet, desperate now for the next in this series because...yes...It's a cliffy!!! But honestly, don't let that cloud your judgement because more of the Henry and Mac show, is a very...very... good thing! I think we've only seen the tip of the iceberg as far as these guys are concerned and it looks like some of the questions which were left unanswered, especially where Henry is concerned, will be addressed in book two and some of the intriguing supporting characters who appeared in this, will hopefully get more airtime as well. Some only had a fleeting introduction but from the little I got, I really wanted to find out more about them, so I can't wait. Next please! And hopefully as quickly as possible...I just adore these guys! Honestly? I really like the darker side of Lisa and JA but I do love their funny side and I reckon this has just become my personal favourite Henry/Rock collaboration up to now. All down to its two cleverly written, memorable MC's. Fan-bloody-tastic!
Buy it Here
Meet the Authors
Lisa Henry lives in tropical North Queensland, Australia. She doesn’t know why, because she hates the heat, but suspects she’s too lazy to move. She spends half her time slaving away as a government minion, and the other half plotting her escape.
She attended university at sixteen, not because she was a child prodigy or anything, but because of a mix-up between international school systems early in life. She studied History and English, neither of them very thoroughly.
She shares her house with too many cats, a dog, a green tree frog that swims in the toilet, and as many possums as can break in every night. This is not how she imagined life as a grown-up.
J.A. Rock has worked as a dog groomer, knife seller, haunted house zombie, standardized patient, cashier, census taker, state fair quilt hanger, and, for one less-than-magical evening, a server—and would much rather be writing about those jobs than doing them. J.A. lives mostly in West Virginia, and always with a beloved dog, Professor Anne.
Thanks for following our tour! To celebrate our release, we’re giving away an awesome prize – an ebook copy of a novel of your choice from either of our back catalogs. We’re also giving away a $20 Riptide gift voucher, and the contents of Henry Page’s bag during his arrest in THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF ALTONA: that’s some Shakespeare and a bunch of Henry’s favorite candy!
All you have to do is leave a comment on this post with a way for us to contact you, be it your email, your twitter, or a link to your facebook or goodreads account. Please put your email in the body of the comment, not just in email section of the comment form, because we won’t be able to see it otherwise! On January 9, we’ll draw a winner from all eligible comments! Be sure to follow the whole tour, because the more comments you leave, the more chances you have to win the prize!