Review: The Rare Event by P.D. Singer

The Rare Event by P.D. SingerFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, paperback
Genre: M/M romance, Contemporary romance
Length: 350 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Date Released: March 30, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Hedge fund trader Ricky Santeramo has it all: money, looks, and fellow trader Jonathan Hogenboom. The two couldn’t be more different: Jon is from old money, while Ricky clawed his way out of blue-collar New Jersey. Jon hedges his positions; Ricky goes for broke. Jon likes opera and the Yankees; Ricky prefers clubbing. Jon drinks wine with dinner; Ricky throws back a beer. Jon wants monogamy… but Ricky likes variety.

Bankrupt airlines are facing strikes, the housing market is starting to crumble, and Jon can’t wait any longer for Ricky to commit. One last night alone and one last risky trade make Jon say, “Enough.” Then Jon’s old friend Davis comes to New York City, ready for baseball and forever. The whole world is chaos, but there are fortunes to be made—or lost—and hearts to be broken—or won.

Faced with losing it all, Ricky must make the savviest trades of his life and pray for a rare event. His portfolio and Jon’s love are on the line.

My Review:

A “rare event” in stock market terms is often referred to as a “black swan event,” something that is both disastrous and whose effects were impossible to predict in advance. A hurricane has a disastrous effect on the economy, but they can’t be predicted more than a few days out, for example.

All you can do is hedge your bets. Have insurance. Or not live in a hurricane-prone area. Or have an emergency evacuation plan.

P.D. Singer’s The Rare Event came down to two interwoven themes. One theme was that of redemption. In this opposites-attract romance, Jon Higgenboom is a trust-fund baby. He was raised with all the advantages. But there was an event in his life that undercut his sense of worth, and because of that one thing, he doesn’t feel advantaged in any emotional way. He’s still looking to redeem that one thing that cost him the man he loved, his entire social circle, the love of a family he thought of as a second set of parents and the brothers who weren’t born to him, and very nearly his future career. He still doesn’t know what he did, if anything.

The event he doesn’t understand has made him a hedge fund trader in a very unsavory firm, but one who carefully hedges his bets on every trade. He plays things both loose and safe in ways that make him and the firm a lot of money. But he’s someone who still wants things to be sane and stable, yet he’s pinned his heart on a man who sees commitment as a trap.

Ricky Santeramo pulled himself into a senior trader’s position at that same firm by playing every trade for the maximum gain, and hedging as few of his trades as possible. And also by being very, very lucky at a time when the market was going up, up, up like it was never going to stop. He wanted to have his cake and eat it, too, including in his relationship that wasn’t a relationship with Jon. Because Ricky didn’t do relationships. He wanted to keep everything as open as possible and never play anything safe. Not with Jon, and not at work.

Until Jon got tired of pretending that it didn’t break his heart to know that Ricky went clubbing with other men on the nights that they weren’t together, and equally tired of covering Ricky’s ass at work when Ricky refused to cover his exposed trading positions when millions of the firm’s dollars (and Ricky’s job) were on the line.

It’s only when Jon finally says that he has enough and breaks things off for good that Ricky discovers not just what he’s had all along, and lost, but that being a player is really about using people, and being used. He wasn’t as big or as smart as he thought he was, and it’s cost him the best thing he ever had.

Escape Rating B+: You do learn a lot about hedge funds and the stock market, and I found it fascinating. The how and why of it was absorbing, and I could see why people do this for a living. All the secondary characters of the firm were interesting, quirky people, even if there was one I wanted to strangle.

I said there were two themes. The other big thing going on in this story reminds me of the saying “for evil men to accomplish their purpose it is only necessary that good men should do nothing.” The story takes place in the months before the great recession of 2008. Jon sees the dominoes and can predict what’s coming, but only worries about making sure that their hedge fund will not get burned and how they can take advantage of the problem. No one thinks to warn the SEC that there’s going to be a major crash in the housing market because of repackaging the mortgage derivatives. Everyone was out for what they could get, even the good guys.

But on a smaller scale, the majority partner in the hedge fund is an equal opportunity sexual predator. All of the junior analysts, regardless of gender, are required to provide sexual services to this asshat in the office at regular intervals and everyone knows about it. Everyone knows who has been called into his office to service him and when. This is a private firm, and no one has been able to stop him. People either leave or swallow. That people in the firm felt like there was absolutely no recourse was, unfortunately, something I could understand. (Yes, the bastard does eventually get his comeuppance)

However, that all of the senior traders continued to have sex in the office where they had no expectation of privacy and where this known predator might walk in and/or have cameras filming (he didn’t, but how could they know?) tripped my willing suspension of disbelief a bit every time. I could accept that the owner was that evil, or I could accept the sex in the office, but not both in the same place.

If only for teaching me the financial term “dead cat bounce” I would think this story was fantastic. It’s certainly an image that is not going to fade any time soon. But it’s both Jon’s and Ricky’s redemption that sticks in the heart long after the story is over.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Guest Review: Fire on the Mountain by P.D. Singer

Formats Available: Mass Market Paperback, ebook
Series: The Mountain #1
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Release Date: June 22, 2012
Length: 212 Pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher, Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, Book Depository

Take a break from academics, enjoy the Colorado Rockies, fight a fire now and then. That’s all Jake Landon expected when he signed up to be a ranger. He’ll partner with some crusty old mountain man; they’ll patrol the wilderness in a tanker, speak three words a day, and Old Crusty won’t be alluring at all. A national forest is big enough to be Jake’s closet—he’ll spend his free time fishing.

Except Old Crusty turns out to be Kurt Carlson: confident, competent, and experienced. He’s also young, hot, friendly, and considers clothing optional when it’s just two guys in the wilderness. Sharing a small cabin with this walking temptation is stressing Jake’s sanity—is he sending signals, or just being Kurt? And how would Kurt react if he found out his new partner wants to start a fire of a different kind? Jake’s terrified—they have to live together for five months no matter what.

Enough sparks fly between the rangers to set the trees alight, but it takes a raging inferno to make Jake and Kurt admit to the heat between them.

Bonus Short Story: Into the Mountains

Long before he met Jake, Kurt Carlson climbed Yosemite with his best friend, Benji. But after a storm traps them halfway up the face of El Capitan, Kurt has to accept that their friendship isn’t what he thought.

Guest Review by Cryselle

Jake Landon’s ready to hide from the world and his own sexuality for the duration of the fire season, a plan that would work a whole lot better if his new partner wasn’t seriously hot and wholly uninhibited. From the opening scene, where Kurt rinses off the sweat from firefighting in an impromptu shower to an unplanned trip into a chilly mountain lake to retrieve runaway groceries, Kurt’s clothes don’t stay on consistently. For two guys who aren’t exactly part of civilization, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Unless, of course, everything about your partner, from his little adjustments of your arm to correct your archery stance to the sight of his ranger-green utilities stretched tight across his butt while he’s climbing a tree gives you a raging case of lust. Poor Jake—he’s terrified to reach out for what he’s not entirely sure is being offered. At twenty-two, he’s only now coming to terms with his own desires and is almost completely inexperienced.

The unresolved sexual tension chases Jake through the national forest where he and Kurt patrol and on into the tiny mountain town where the local girls see them as romantic opportunities. The mountains, the town, and the people they meet are vividly drawn and very much a part of city-boy Jake’s new experiences, and the firefighting that Kurt and Jake occasionally have to do leaps off the page.

Matters come to a head when a fire goes out of control and they find themselves trapped in a small cave, unsure if they’ll be alive in twenty-four hours and with nothing else to do except sleep, swap stories, and discover exactly what’s on Kurt’s mind. If they live through this, there will be time enough to find out what’s next, and the scene that makes it possible made me cry every time. (I’ve read this more than once.)

Jake is the POV character throughout the entire story, and so we’re privy to his longings and terrors, and we see Kurt only though his eyes. Kurt’s something of a mountain man, experienced in the wilderness, although his occasional lapses in either good sense or skills keep him from being too heroic to his greenhorn partner. Kurt has his own scars and fears, which come out very gradually, and explain the slow build of the relationship and the difficulties they have resolving it. It’s sweetly done in and around the adventure, and the ending is the perfect lead-in for the sequels.

This story was originally released in shorter form by another publisher, which I have read, and can say that the expansions are appropriate and add dimension to the story. As part of the re-release, the author included an 11k bonus story in Kurt’s POV, which elaborates on a pivotal incident in his past, touched on briefly in the story. While technically it’s a prequel, it belongs in its current position after the novel in order to avoid spoilers on Kurt’s personality and motives. It’s also an armchair adventure for those of us who will never climb El Capitan. Into the Mountains makes Kurt’s eventual HEA with Jake that much more poignant.

Fire on the Mountain is the first of five loosely connected novels which will be coming out at two month intervals; the next (Snow on the Mountain) is due mid-August. Three will have associated bonus stories, all will have both trade paperback and ebook versions, and I hope they’re all as good as this one! Escape Rating A

Cryselle can regularly be found blogging and reviewing at Cryselle’s Bookshelf.

Maroon: Donal agus Jimmy

Maroon: Donal agus Jimmy is an amazingly complex story that deftly interweaves three distinct themes;  a tender love story of sexual discovery, the debate about Irish Home Rule, and the building of the great passenger steamers at the Belfast Docks. I said amazingly complex because the book is only 73 pages long, but the melding works beautifully.

PD Singer’s novella begins as Donal Gallagher is waiting in line to collect his pay at the Harland and Wolff dockyards in Belfast. Donal is a master carpenter, skilled labor on the ship builder. He creates fittings for the luxury cabins. Normally his wages are enough to send money back to his parents and siblings, but tragedy has struck at home and they need more. He needs to find a roommate.

Salvation arrives in the form of a man two lines over.  Jimmy Healy, a boilermaker, also needs to find a room to share. The only problem for Donal is that he has noticed Jimmy for quite a while, in a way that would be more than embarrassing in the extremely religious atmosphere of Ireland in the early 1900s, let alone the testosterone fueled work-place that is the dockyards. Donal knows he’s gay, but there isn’t another soul in Ireland who does.

Jimmy does take the other half of Donal’s rented room, and moves into his life. He also moves into his heart. At last, Jimmy fakes being drunk one night in order to break through Donal’s reserve to explore what they both feel. The love scenes are very touching, in their sense of discovery. Both men know what they want, but don’t really have a clue about what to do. In that time and place, who the hell would they have asked?

This story begins in 1911. The Archduke Ferdinand is still alive and well, and World War I will not start for another 3 years. Ireland in its entirety is still under the dominion of Great Britain, and will be for another 9 years. Irish Home Rule is under heated debate. The Great Irish Potato Famine is 60 years in the past, but the diaspora it left in its wake means that every Irish family has kin in America.

Irish Home Rule is the one that gets them. Jimmy is a boilermaker, which means he’s an engineer, among other things. The Irish path to independence was long and bloody, and the ends of the journey were still drawing blood not all that long ago. But this story takes place at the beginning. Some very hard men come to see Jimmy, wanting him to store guns in the empty boilers. Jimmy puts them off with excuses, but he knows they’ll be back, and they won’t take no for an answer. What can he and Donal do?

The history involved in this story was what really drew me in. Donal and Jimmy manage to keep their relationship secret for a couple of years, but when Irish Home Rule starts heating up, they get sucked in. Jimmy doesn’t have any family, but Donal, and Donal’s big family, makes him vulnerable to pressure. If Donal were threatened, Jimmy would have to give in, and he would start making guns for the men who threaten their happiness. But Jimmy has found an alternative: emigrate to America. The risks involved seem less, but are they?

Escape Rating B+: The author sent me this story, and I started to read it at my computer, thinking I had a sample. Halfway through, I realized that I was hooked, that I had the whole thing, and that I needed to download it to my iPad and find a comfier chair. The amount of stuff packed into this story was amazing!