Bath Haus by P.J. Vernon
Recovering addict Oliver has found happiness in his sobriety thanks to help from his partner Nathan, a prominent surgeon in DC. Though their pasts and age difference make them an unlikely couple, they’ve created a life together.
Unfortunately, they have fallen into a rut. Oliver knows he could lose everything in an instant but he cannot resist a trip to Haus, a gay bathhouse, while Nathan is attending an out of town conference. He’ll allow himself to give into temptation with an anonymous man and then return to his life with Nathan.
What starts as a seductive meeting between strangers both seeking the same thing ends in a shocking act of violence in which Oliver narrowly escapes with his life.
Terrified Oliver creates a story to explain his injuries to Nathan but little does he know his attacker is ready to play a game of cat and mouse that could destroy his life …or end it completely.
Whoa, this story was bananas! Man seeks man for a one-night stand and instead escapes a stalker intent on destroying him. Suddenly Oliver has to create lies on top of lies in order to maintain the life he has created …but soon readers realize his relationship with Nathan isn’t as perfect as he thinks… and maybe Nathan has some secrets of his own.
To add even more drama, Oliver’s former boyfriend Hector shows up out of the blue (and there is a sordid history there!), Nathan’s mother is intent on getting Oliver out of her family’s life, annnnd there’s the fact that he filed two separate and conflicting police reports which makes the detective who could help him pretty skeptical.
Every character is morally questionable and generally unlikeable with ulterior motives and shocking secrets. I appreciate flawed and genuine characters but most of the characters here felt over the top for the sake of shock factor.
I had to set the book down several times to shake my head at the ridiculous decisions Oliver made at every turn. I even yelled at him several times: “Whyyyy are you doing this? … LEAVE him already, he is toxic and he doesn’t love you! … Do not get in that elevator! — Are you for real… why— WHY ARE YOU GETTING IN THE ELEVATOR???”
I clearly understand the whole point of a runaway-train narrative; the ripple effect, the events set in motion as the MC digs themselves deeper into a hole. This one just didn’t do it for me; Oliver’s decisions were too frustrating and the twist became obvious pretty quickly. Still, the juicy drama kept me reading and evoked strong emotion, even if it was exasperation.
Thanks to Doubleday and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. Bath Haus is scheduled for release on June 15, 2021.