Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Book Review: "Bath Haus" by P.J. Vernon

Bath Haus, P.J. Vernon's upcoming book, is a taut and twisty thriller about truth, trust, and the cost of secrets.

Oliver and Nathan have been together a while now. They have a solid, stable relationship, even though there is a difference in their ages and their income. Nathan is a successful surgeon from a wealthy family, while Oliver's upbringing in rural Indiana was quite the opposite.

One night while Nathan is out of town on business, Oliver decides to go to Haus, a gay bathhouse. He knows he shouldn’t do what he’s gone to do, he knows there’s a significant risk Nathan will find out, but he gives in to his urges. He goes with a handsome man into a private room, where things go completely awry, and Oliver has to fight for his life.

He is able to escape and runs out of Haus, afraid, shaken, with angry bruises already forming around his neck. He gets home and realizes he’s in a quandary—how can he explain this to Nathan? So he does the only thing he can think of: he lies.

“When it comes to lying, there’s a golden rule: tell as much truth as you can. The truth is, after all, the easiest to remember. It’s the most consistent with inarguable fact.”

What Oliver doesn’t realize is what a ripple effect his lies will have. More and more, he finds himself enmeshed in a game of cat and mouse, fearing for his life and his relationship and his future, but he doesn’t know whom to trust or what to expect next.

We’ve seen this scenario before but almost never with a gay couple, so that brought an added dimension to this terrific, tense thriller. There’s a lot at play here—issues of trust, communication, addiction, secrets, lies, infidelity—and it all makes this story so compelling.

I’ve seen a lot of people on Bookstagram rave about this, so I felt a little like the last gay in the village to get my hands on an ARC, but it definitely lived up to the hype. Congrats to Vernon on creating such a fantastic thriller, one I’ll definitely think about for a while!

NetGalley and Doubleday Books provided me with a complimentary advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making it available!!

Bath Haus publishes 6/15.

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