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The Husband Gambit

Written by: L.A. Witt
Length: 10 hrs and 5 mins
Categories: LGBT
4.5 out of 5 stars (13 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Marry me for one year. Payment: $1.2 million.  

Hayden Somerset is convinced the ad is a joke, but he responds anyway because, hello, $1.2 million. He’s broke, living in a tiny apartment with two roommates, and exhausted from praying his ancient car survives just one more week. His skyrocketing rent and crushing student loans aren’t helping either. At this point, there isn’t much Hayden wouldn’t do for that kind of cash.

The ad isn’t a joke. Jesse Ambrose is absolutely serious. His father, the charismatic patriarch of a powerful Hollywood dynasty, has his eye on politics, and he’s counting on California’s liberals and progressives to elect him. But Jesse knows what his father believes when cameras and voters aren’t around. 

As the election looms, he’ll do anything to force the man’s hand and show the public who Isaac Ambrose really is. Anything, including marrying a stranger, so his father will make good on his promise to disown Jesse if he ever takes a husband.  

Now he just has to wait for his father to take the bait...and try not to accidentally fall in love with his fake husband.

©2018 L.A. Witt (P)2019 L.A. Witt

What members say

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    5 out of 5 stars
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What a yummy treat!

5 Blue Roses
4 Blue Flames

Narrators Greg Boudreaux and Michael Ferraiuolo performed the book with enough heat to set earbuds on fire. It was such a treat. I loved this duo. They are both old LGBT genre favourite narrators. The plot was laid out perfectly. The correct speed with great character development. It was the best fake husband book I've heard this year. I will add it to the Blue Encore list.

The plot was predictable, but very much enjoyable.
Hayden Somerset is broke and living in a tiny apartment with two roommates. He struggles from paycheck to paycheck to survive and pay down student loans. Hayden is desperate for cash and answers an ad placed by Jesse Ambrose. He needs a husband to prove his is father is homophobic and duplicitous, before he gets elected as governor of California supported by the liberals and progressives.

I do recommend this audiobook for when you are in the mood for a humorous, romantic drama.
Happy Listening

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Zero Sizzle

I have so many feelings about this book. Too many to really list them all, but ultimately, it boils down to this.

When I read a book, I want to escape reality and live in some good romance for a little while. Unfortunately, The Husband Gambit was full of politics--from the arguments of left vs right to rich vs poor, this book was packed. Jesse's homophobic family was horrible; so horrible, in fact, that I found them not quite believable. I get the dad and possibly even the mom characters, but how could his siblings be such static, one-dimensional characters that are only puppets for their father? They were completely unrealistic. That, and the constant punch-to-the-face hammering-the-point-home about Jesse's family completely overshadowed everything else in the book.

The politics and homophobic family in particular, but everything, really, was overly repetitive in the redundant, rambling internal dialogue of Jesse and Hayden. This made for a very slow-moving book, that at times had me wanting to skip ahead to something more interesting.

The worst of it all was the romance. Honestly, I could have dealt with the politics and pacing if there was a slow burning simmer of sexual tension building to keep me interested, but the glacial pace that this author took made me find it difficult to see any chemistry between our heroes at all. Sure, their friendship seemed genuine, due to their easy conversation and affable nature, but I didn't believe that they were falling in love. The sex, itself, was disappointing, because there was no build-up. It seemed to me like they did it out of a sense of convenience--we're both here in this room, both conveniently "hot" guys and horny, let's do it! *Ugh!* So frustrating when something that should read as so climactic ends up being such a dud. Also, why couldn't our author come up with any other descriptive words to describe these two, other than "hot"? After their first meeting, I genuinely forgot what they looked like, and found everything difficult to imagine. "Hot" simply isn't a good enough descriptor.

The narrators did a great job. I think that my only issue would be that the narration by Michael Ferraiuolo for Hayden's parts were inconsistent-sounding. Sometimes they were a bit nasal, other times a bit deeper in tone. Overall, though, both narrators did a great job. I would happily listen to both again.

This is the first book that I've read by L.A. Witt, so I don't know if this is the way this author writes, or if these issues are unique to this title, so I'll probably give them another chance. The plot had so much potential, and I was really looking forward to reading this, but it just didn't work for me.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Bookfriend83
  • NYC
  • 2019-08-08

Likable characters, solid narrators

Don’t let the initial premise of this story put you off. Yeah OK, generally if I heard that a story was going to be about someone who answered an anonymous Internet ad for a paid husband impersonator, I would roll my eyes and put the book aside, unread. The only reason that I even gave this book a shot is because LA Witt’s Best work is creative, funny, emotionally engaging and worth re-reading more than once. Because of this, I gave The Husband Gambit a try, despite the initially uninspiring premise, and I’m glad I did. The author deals head on with the ludicrousness of anyone actually doing what Hayden does at the beginning of the book, and in typical fashion does so with humor and insight. As a result, I was able to suspend disbelief and keep reading, without getting mentally stuck on the fact that anyone who answers an Internet ad like that is really too stupid to live.

This is a slow burn romance. Witt’s books are frequently filled with smoking hot sex scenes, and while there are a few of those in this book, they occur mostly toward the end, and occupy a smaller fraction of the story than is typical for this author. The majority of the story centers around how these two characters come together emotionally, and grow as individuals. Both Hayden and Jessie are likable, thoughtful people whom you might actually want to know in real life. The story is sweet and charming more than seductive, but there is certainly enough bedroom action to keep things interesting and fun.

If you are still unsure about whether or not this book is the right fit for you, you might also wish to consider the narrators. Both Greg Boudreaux and Michael Ferraiuolo are capable of narrating a mediocre book as though it were the best thing they’ve ever read. In this case, they had a good book to start with, and blew the narration out of the water. You just can’t go wrong with these guys, as long as the material they are starting with is worth reading, and this book is. That said, there was one teeny tiny thing that made me a little nuts. One of Hayden‘s best friends in the story is a man named Luis. Michael Ferraiolo pronounces his name with a “Z“ sound at the end so it sounds like the woman’s name Louise. I’ve read another book narrated by him which includes the same mispronunciation, so at least he’s consistent, but if you know anyone bearing this name you know that the last sound is pronounced “S“ and it’s a little jarring. Other than that little hiccup, the narration for this book is fantastic.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • MJ
  • Boston, MA
  • 2019-09-02

Ok plot with issues, sweet, audio better than book

Strangely unbalanced in several ways. I was disappointed in the plot, because as fake marriage tropes go, this is a smart and potentially interesting set up.

Annoyed rants below, some of which may be SPOILERy.

- It took way too long for the MCs to express serious romantic interest in each other. This meant that the entire first half of the book was focused on establishing how horrific Jesse’s family is, with secondary attention to how weird this arrangement is for Hayden, and only very little on the developing relationship between Hayden and Jesse, which simply warms into friendship. The focus on the horrible evil terrible very bad father is overdone at the expense of developing everything else, for example:

- Just exactly how are Hayden and Jesse establishing their couplehood publicly? They never discuss it. Not even once. They don’t have one single conversation about PDA, or being seen in particular places, other than at Isaac’s parties. They each get emotionally tripped up by things like trying on wedding rings, but they are apparently either not even trying to present as lovers, or they have no issue at all doing so - both of which seem highly unlikely. They give all this lip service to worrying about others’ suspicions, but whose? And what are they doing to convince anyone they’re more than dudes hanging out, anyway? Which forces one to ask:

- Where on EARTH is the freaking press?! This is a book about an extremely wealthy, extremely powerful Hollywood dynasty led by one of the most controlling, compelling figures in the industry. Even the lesser-known son is going to have press at his heels at every step of this developing relationship that is supposedly blossoming into marriage to Hayden. The wedding, the honeymoon- they’d’ve been hounded for their every look, kiss, thought, moment. And they could’ve made that work for them. They SHOULD have made that work for them! Jesse’s been in Hollywood his entire life. He would have had an excellent understanding of how to use the press to accomplish his goal, which is essentially something it will do for him (with avid, maniacal joy) if he can just present the right evidence. (And where the hell are the press the night of the party? People like this don’t have parties without the press. One major point of the party IS the press. They should’ve had the press breaking their door down five minutes after they checked into that motel.) The press is mentioned exactly once, near the beginning as Hayden is figuring out how this would work. It makes so little sense that it became a huge distraction.

- Leading to another press related question: Why would Isaac want to tow the car publicly making a huge fuss?! He’s just embracing his inner homophobe now for all the world? He’s still in public damage control, despite his eagerness to get the disowning show on the road in private. This is a moment Jesse could, and should, have turned to HIS advantage- his lying dick of a father *towing his kid’s car* in punishment for marrying another man. Pretty powerful image. A genius Hollywood director and his industry-steeped son would both understand that.

Really good audio performance. Both narrators are outstanding. Not a good choice to have them alternate chapters since you get two different voices for each character including the MCs, an odd effect.

Overall, this needed help in the story department. Characters are great, and it’s potentially the best fake marriage setup I’ve ever seen; disappointing that the execution was 3/5 stars.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-08-20

Good narration kept me listening

This plot has been done before and this version was just okay. What kept me listening was the good narration.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Zara
  • 2019-09-10

Oh wow!

Oh wow!!! This is so good .. extremely well written. And the story is so fun and quirky and still so serious.
And an absolutely phenomenal narration by Greg and Michael, they make an amazing teamwork and the result is a very enjoyable experience.
This one is highly recommendable.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Cynthia Shepp
  • 2019-08-09

Cute story

Great narration and a wonderful love story to listen to. Lovable characters who make you feel what they are. Good supporting characters, too.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Loyal Listener
  • 2019-08-09

Likes the story a lot but the narrators are the real treat

I really enjoyed this book. I liked the love story- it was sweet and funny.

But, the BEST part of this book is the stellar narration. I think I could listen to Michael Ferraiuolo read recipes and be fascinated. His inflection, accents, the way he stresses certain words... it’s really a whole other level than most narrators. I listen to A LOT of audiobooks and I truly have not heard better. Greg Boudreaux was fantastic too.

Well worth the credit!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Journey
  • 2019-08-18

typical story

Usually I love this author's stories, but this one fell short. Typical love story and actually struggled to finish, but because of these two fantastic narrators. I have waited years to listen to a duo with these two. These narrators are some of the best I've heard and would love to hear them again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-10-10

I would have liked a more vivid description

would like details on how each guy looked and physical attributes of their bodies, hair color chest hair etc

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • AH
  • 2019-10-09

Who needs sleep?

If you are looking for a fabulous listen about love and the families we make this is for you! I could not stop listening!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Dr. Street
  • 2019-10-07

Sappy, implausible, but fun

These are two of the very best readers of gay romances. But the author got very lazy with this story. There was one totally implausible plot element after another. Not a moment of uncertainty about how it would end and endless hand wringing by the principal characters, needlessly wondering if the other felt the same way he did.