Shattered Glass by Dani Alexander
Title: Shattered Glass
Author: Dani Alexander
Publisher: Dani Alexander, January 2012
Rating: A List
Blurb: A male prostitute, a mangy cat, a murder and a maniacal mix-up that threatens his career, his impending marriage and his life. Nothing is going as planned for Austin Glass.
Austin — seems to have it all. At least on the surface. A loving fiancee. A future with the FBI and a healthy sized trust fund. He also has a grin and a wisecrack for every situation. But the smile he presents to everyone hides a painful past he’s buried too deeply to remember. And his quips mask bitterness and insecurity. Austin has himself and most of the whole world fooled. Until he meets someone who immediately sees him better than he sees himself.
As events unfold and Austin’s world unravels, he finds himself pushed into making quick life-changing decisions. But can he trust Peter or what’s happening between them when each meeting seems to be just a series of volatile reactions?
Review: This book was not what I expected when I purchased it, as evidenced by the very first sentence: Fucking Bunny Slippers. Okay, that’s a chapter title, not the first sentence, but still. Threw me off.
I’ve said before that I don’t like to be uncomfortable when I read. I don’t like being unable to tell where a story is going, and it makes it really difficult for me to get my brain on straight when I’m literally cringing at the story as I read.
But I’m a fucking idiot.
Because those are the stories that I end up loving beyond belief. And Shattered Glass is one of them, completely unpredictable, and one hell of a wild ride. I need to get my head out of my ass, stop thinking I’m smarter than the writer and just let them tell me the story already!
I expected an emo tale about the psychological impact of prostitution and a Cinderfella-esque push and pull between the wealthy Austin Glass and whoever the male prostitute is (because that blurb is the vaguest of vague) and something about a murder thrown in somewhere.
That was not what I got, and I’m beyond glad for it. Austin Glass is an irreverent, sarcastic man who had me laughing out loud and stomping my feet in glee every few pages. I read each quip and snark with unbridled joy and growing awe that such a quick wit could ever exist (and it does exist, even if Glass is fiction, because Dani Alexander exists and I want to bow down to his smartassery, for he is the king of it). Peter Cotton (yes, I know, but again, trust the author) is the reformed prostitute for whom Austin finds himself in the midst of his Big Gay Crisis, and my god, a funnier crisis I have never read.
“Definitely a him. And my fantasies were filling with images of his mouth on naked things of mine.
Naked things. With a guy. Naked things with a guy. Surreal.
I sat outside for half an hour with those words buzzing in my ear, before giving myself a mental slap and driving home. I resolved to forget Bunny Slippers.
A block later the resolve crumbled as I began picturing those slippers’ ears flopping around with the guy’s feet in the air while I pounded into—
Jesus! Okay, that’s just disturbing.”
Or this gem of a phone call with his overbearing, rich, reputation-whore father:
“Who is this person I’m hearing about; making you break things off with Angelica?”
I grinned maliciously. “That would be my ho-mo-seckshuul boyfriend. He’s moving in this weekend.”
Then, “Don’t be a fool. Think about your future and quit vying for attention. Do you think the FBI will take you knowing you’re…”
“A faggot?” I finished gleefully. Huh. Way more fun that I’d thought it would be. Maybe I’d give him a coronary. “Fudge packer? Homo? Queer? Butt Pirate? Trud Driller? Cum drink—”
“You’re not amusing. You’re just destroying your life to get back at me. Go back to Angelica. She loves you. You love her.”
Why Dad, I thought, you sound almost as if you care. And of course this had nothing to do with the fact that I might make news, right? Austin Glass Homo-extraordinaire Strikes Again. I was sincerely digging ‘Butt Pirate’, but the Homo-extraordinaire sounded like a superhero. How awesome would that be?
“I’m thoroughly embracing the gay right now, Dad. Guess what. I won’t even be the one that gives. I’ll take it, Dad. Right up the ass. And you know what? I’ll like it.”
I could totally keep going. This one had me laughing so hard I had to explain to people around me that I was actually reading a book instead of hooting like a defective barn owl:
“Fairy?” I said to Luis, jerking my thumb at Del. “Is he for real? Richie Rich and fairy?” I glanced at my watch again and shook it. “How do I get back to the 21st century?”
“Click your heels three times, Dorothy,” Del said. I wasn’t expecting him to get better at insulting me, so I was rendered speechless for a moment.
The heat of humiliation warmed my cheeks as my friend and partner said nothing in my defense. “You want to be my first gay experience, asshole? Turn around, because I’ll click my heels right up your ass until you scream ‘there’s no place like home’, bitch.”
I’m dying even now, rereading it. Goddamn, that’s funny shit.
It’s impossible not to watch Glass go from well-respected detective to losing his fiancée, his fellow officers’ respect, his career, all in the pursuit of becoming who he was meant to become. It’s an ugly downward spiral, trainwreck-ian to watch, and very, very entertaining. I instantly loved Glass and had to see how he’d get out of this mess, because he’s the type to always get out of the mess. I think what I liked was how Glass didn’t succumb to self-pity, and just kept helping Peter and his family with one more thing, and one more thing, and oh, let me help with that one more thing. That proved to me that Glass was a good, kind man, even if he sounded like and pretended to be a complete asshole. He still wore his heart on his sleeve. Or maybe that was just Peter’s effect on him.
Peter was much more difficult to get a handle on, and that was as entertaining to attempt figuring out as it was watching Austin try to figure him out. By the end, there was still a lot I felt I didn’t know about Peter aside from fierce loyalty, maturity beyond his years, and how thick his walls were, which therefore made it more important those walls not keep Austin out.
The secondary characters—Austin’s partner Luis and Peter’s brothers Cai and Darryl—were as entertaining as Austin in their own ways, and equally sympathetic for the things they endured. Although I think Luis needed to give Austin’s Hump Day celebration more of a chance. I was gratified to see the next installment will delve deeper into Cai. He fascinated me for his incongruous innocence, his talent, his mental hurdles, and his endearing nature. He’s beautiful, plain and simple, and I could see why Peter was so loyal.
The plot itself? Very original. I didn’t know what was going to happen next so just had to read one more page, and one more page, and oh I can’t stop now. I loved that Alexander didn’t patronize me by assuming I, as a reader, needed everything spelled out. The things I was confused about were explained by the end, and there were several times where my conclusions were solidified later but not overly explained.
On the whole, I loved this book, and I will definitely be watching for the release of the next.