Erryn reviews Vodka and Handcuffs by Brandon Witt (Published June 2, 2020, 162 pages) The audiobook version of this novella was narrated by Gerrod Larkyn, on June 30, 2020, and is 3 hrs and 20 mins long. A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this book: Brandon Witt audiobooks are a must for me.
Vahin Arora, Hamburger Mary’s sexy bartender, plays the flirtatious role so well even his closest friends don’t realize he hasn’t had a hookup in months. Then “tall, dark, and handsome” steps through the door, and Vahin’s passion races back to life.
Being a Black cop on the Denver police force is no easy job – Marlon Barton can’t imagine adding being gay to the equation. While Marlon loves his work, his life has taken a turn for the hellish because of his new partner, the nephew of a senator.
Fleeing his partner’s company one night, Marlon stumbles into Mary’s for the first time…and wakes up with a hangover in the bartender’s bed. The one-night stand heats up into a budding romance, but not without stress as Marlon’s partner’s actions threaten Vahin’s livelihood and Marlon’s future on the force. Can Vahin and Marlon face the challenges and hold on to the love and chosen family they’ve found?
I enjoyed the first story in this series and so was quick to pick up this next one. The two men in this story couldn’t have been more different than Cody and Darwin. Both these men have some miles on them. They’ve also faced down some pretty blatant racism in their time. What I loved was the color of their skin didn’t define them or their place in the relationship. They were just a black guy and an Indian guy who hooked up for one hot night and just couldn’t stay away.
Marlon’s a cop. A black cop in Denver. A black cop in Denver with a racist partner who also appears to be a homophobe. I mean, ick. Marlon’s superiors and his former partner know he’s gay, but he hasn’t gone around announcing it to everyone. It’s none of their business. One night he’s trying to get away from it all and he winds up at Hamburger Mary’s. The bar has drag queens and caters to gay patrons as well as plenty of clientele who are just LGBTQ allies and supporters. It’s a safe place for him to be – as long as he doesn’t get spotted.
Vahin is the bartender at Mary’s. His religious family rejected him when he came out and he’s found his own family at Mary’s. I always love the concept of found family. We can’t choose the family we were born into, but we can choose the people we want to spend our lives with. Interestingly Vahin once hooked up with Mary’s owner Steve. But that’s a whole other story. This night he’s intrigued by a beautiful black man who needs cheering. A few beers lead to the harder stuff and a night Vahin isn’t likely to forget and Marlon can barely remember.
But the men are drawn to each other. Despite their disparate lives, they keep finding ways to come together and even Mandonna and Ariel the Merman the drag queens don’t dissuade Marlon from spending time at Mary’s. But homophobes are never far away, and the men face some serious challenges to their relationship and their personal safety.
I loved this book. It had humour and levity and gravitas. It brought a smile to my face and a warmth to my heart. I want to mention the narrator, Gerrod Larkyn. He does a fantastic job with this series and I couldn’t be more pleased with the way this book turned out. Can’t wait for the next one.
Brandon Witt’s outlook on life is greatly influenced by his first eighteen years of growing up gay in a small town in the Ozarks, as well as fifteen years as a counselor and special education teacher for students with severe emotional disabilities. Add to that his obsession with corgis and mermaids, then factor in an unhealthy love affair with cheeseburgers, and you realize that with all those issues, he’s got plenty to write about…