Author ~ Jacques N. Hoff
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 10th June 2015
Genre ~ Paranormal M/M Romance, Humour
Peckers: Book Three
Mickey, Keyser, Clyde….
He goes by many names, calls many different countries home, and has a wardrobe that rivals most professional theater companies, but some days it’s impossible to remember who he really is. It’s the price he pays for the adrenaline. The Masked Booby. A man torn between his instinct to survive and his bird nature of taking a dive.
Irwin Stephens is in love—in love with life, his home, and the animals he watches over every day at work. He doesn’t have a man to call his own, but everything else is so perfect he can’t complain. Except maybe about the scratchy khaki uniform all zoos seem to require with fiendish glee.
When Mickey meets Buff Zookeeper, it should be a one-night love nest, but something besides peckers is up in the land down under.
I certainly didn't expect to like this book, let alone love it. When it comes to this sub-genre, gay shifters, I'm a dedicated no-show. Nothing personal, the whole concept doesn't ring my bell, yet if you throw a high-school quarterback, a rock-star, a couple high school wrestlers in Spandex or a billionaire, or two ,at me, I'm in my glory. But shifters? There's just something so, I don’t know... bestial about it?
And then when I realized this is about birds who shift to human form, I sorta got intrigued with it, and went with Masked Booby, and I mean really went with it. This parody of shifter novels, this brilliant take on birds cum humans, is nothing less than purely delightful. The plot almost doesn't matter because the writing is so witty, stylish, self-referential, over-the-top, and the endless puns so side-splitting, at times, that I can't remember having this much fun reading and laughing since my last Alexa Land novel!
Masked Booby captured me from the very first paragraph, in which the zookeeper (Irwin) is lamenting the drugging of his very best friend, a Tufted Puffin, who was under his care in the zoo's breeding labs. Atticus and Irwin had grown close (not in that way, keep your dirty mind in check!) as Atticus shifted to his human form and the two spent the evenings in deep discussion, sharing their lives and stories, thoughts and philosophies as only best friends do. But Atticus keeps getting himself in trouble. Every time they put him in a breeding cage with an aggressive female, Atticus screams, screeches, stomps and attacks, resulting in some (minor) injury to the females. To make him more cooperative, the dodos who run the breeding program thought it would make Atticus more amenable to mating if they drugged him to make him more compliant. Now that was stupid on two counts: any male human will tell you that taking downers is not amenable to mating (Viagra anyone?); and what the hell did they expect a gay bird to do when accosted by attacking females? Irwin keeps trying to get him to be more cooperative so he won't be punished any more, but really, Irwin is gay, and he should certainly know better.
They finally up the dose so much that Atticus is left unconscious, around the clock. And that's not the worst, because now that they consider him a danger to the flock, they've applied for permission to euthanize him. Irwin has to do something to save Atty, but he doesn't have a clue what. So, like all good, tuned-in young men, he Googles the problem, and finds an international group of bird-shifter rescuers that goes by the name "UC Peckers", for Undercover Peckers (just imagine all the puns on THAT name, and the authors don't miss a single one). They specialize in avian-shifter rescues. Headed by Sebastion , the renowned Avian expert, who happens to be married to Louis, the bird-shifter he both saved and married, UC Peckers is on its way to Australia to save the hapless Atticus.
I'm sure you get the drift by now. The authors (they are also a parody, since Jacques N. Hoff are actually two people who admit they're "authors who shouldn’t be allowed to interact with each other (at least in public). It was either co-write hot pecker porn or plot world domination." After reading Masked Booby, I'm not sure exactly which one they chose.
This is a fabulous book (in the gayest sense of the term "fabulous"), that includes an ironic, funny or side-splitting take on almost every trite meme of the entire gay fiction genre: there is a love story between Irwin and Mickey, a Masked Booby shifter, who has never let anyone get close to him because of the terrible cruelty of his own species (the "I'm not worthy" meme); a lovey-dovey pair, one shifter, one not ("gay -shifter - for you"), a twin brother who doesn't have a clue and is, of course, completely straight (straight, but understanding brother), condemnations of those who are too ignorant to think rationally and hence attack anything different from themselves (religious bigotry); and a host of other trite, but wonderful, excursions into this bizarre looking-glass take on the standard gay romance (shifter) novel.
The book is short, which I don't normally like, but jokes shouldn't go on for hours, so it's quite OK. Plus there are two earlier books in the Peckers series, and, I'm sure, much more to come - which is why the authors left everything but the love story hanging. Must be a happily-ever-after to the love story, even if everything else goes to hell, right?
If you're even vaguely interested in a wild, strange, charming and sexy journey to the wild side, make absolutely sure you don't miss Masked Booby. It's precious and silly - in a very smart way. And then do what I'm about to do, get my hands on the two prequels as fast as I can. God knows my life could always use a few laughs, not to mention an endless supply of groan-inducing avian and "pecker" puns.
For fun alone, Masked Booby definitely gets a happy, five-star recommendation from me!