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Release Day Review: Conversation Hearts by Avon Gale

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Book Info

About the Author
Avon Gale was once the mayor on Foursquare of Jazzercise and Lollicup, which should tell you all you need to know about her as a person. She likes road trips, rock concerts, drinking Kentucky bourbon and yelling at hockey. She’s a displaced southerner living in a liberal midwestern college town, and she never gets tired of people and their stories -- either real or the ones she makes up in her head.
Publication Date
February 10, 2016
IF GIVEN a choice, Levi Barron would definitely prefer to have been stood up, rather than have a gun pointed at his head.

His client for the evening was already two hours late, and just when it looked like Levi would be spending Valentine’s Day reading some poorly articulated thoughts of college freshmen about Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, he heard the unmistakable sound of a door opening. Levi put a bit more Southern in his Georgia accent as he went to meet his client—only to find himself greeting the business end of a gun.

“Well,” the guy said, sighing. “This is awkward.”

Levi couldn’t seem to breathe. He’d heard stories about this kind of thing happening (and he’d maybe, once or twice, watched a few similar-yet-sexy versions of this exact scenario on RedTube), but the reason Levi’s agency rented a room in a luxury hotel in downtown Nashville wasn’t just for client comfort.

It was also so that Levi and his colleagues didn’t end up robbed or sold into sex slavery.

“I don’t have any money,” Levi said immediately, raising his hands even though the man hadn’t told him to do anything with them. “The agency handles all of the financial transactions. Even, uh, gratuity.”

That Levi was a poor graduate student in American Literature being robbed at gunpoint was sort of hilariously depressing.

The guy lowered the gun. “What? I’m not here to rob you, for fuck’s sake.”

Oh God. Suddenly being a sex slave didn’t sound as appealing as those videos implied it would be. “Are you going to kidnap me and sell me to a sex dungeon?”

Worst. Valentine’s. Day. Ever.

“Are those actually real? I thought they just existed on RedTube.” The gunman, dressed in black with equally dark hair and eyes, looked kind of like Edgar Allan Poe. Only without the creepy mustache.

Levi couldn’t believe this was really happening. At some point he expected cameras and a television reveal, followed in a few days by an uncomfortable meeting with the English department about his choice in part-time jobs.

“Are you going to kill me?”

The man grimaced. “I’d rather not. Look, I just need to borrow the window for a few minutes in the morning. No reason anyone has to die.” The man paused. “Anyone other than the… never mind.” He set something down on the ground. Either the guy was going to pull a violin out of there and serenade Levi, or it was a rifle case.

Rifle case. Windows. Gun. Shady guy dressed in black, skulking around and breaking into hotel rooms.

Levi’s uninvited guest was an assassin.

“You’re going to kill someone on Valentine’s Day?” Levi made a face, even as he backed away and glanced anxiously toward the window. “That’s awful. What are you, evil Cupid?”

“Technically I’m not going to kill anyone until tomorrow,” quoth the raven. His voice went flat and cold. “But if you keep asking me questions, I might change my mind. Now sit down and let me think.”

Levi sat.
It’s Valentine’s Day, and grad student—and male escort—Levi Barron expects to spend his evening with a client who’s paying him for his services in bed… not an assassin who needs to borrow the view from his hotel room in the morning.

With nothing to do but endure the company of his unwanted guest, Levi and the assassin, Sinjin, spend some time bonding over HGTV, minibar beverages, Flannery O’Connor short stories, terrible Valentine’s candy, and the necessity of lying about their jobs.

Their evening takes an unexpected turn when they decide to indulge in their mutual attraction, and in the morning Levi doesn’t know if he’s spent the night with a hired killer or a hydraulic engineer with a very specific fantasy. Either way, the two have enough chemistry—in and out of bed—that Levi isn’t sure one night with Sinjin will be enough.

And a message left in candy suggests the feeling is mutual.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Perfect for Valentine's Day
Book – Conversation Hearts
Author – Avon Gale
Star rating - ★★★★★
No. of Pages - 31

Movie Potential - ★★★★★ (something along the lines of Looking)
Ease of reading – very easy to read
Would I read it again – Definitely. A new 'Valentine's Day' regular.

Reviewed for Divine Magazine

This was a really great, short, read. At just 31 pages, I'd wondered before reading if it would be one of those stories that I read and wished there was more of. In a way, yes. I wish there was more, but a bigger part of me knows that this is the perfect length, with the perfect amount of the story.

Funny, smart and hot, this story has everything you want in a Valentine's read.

There are quite a few movie, literature and music references, due to the characters trying desperately to find appropriate and safe conversation. Some of them are really funny, some are kind of sweet. There's also a very strong Edgar Allan Poe theme.

This makes the perfect little Valentine's Day read, which isn't too serious or ridiculous, is funny and sweet, with a nice “will they, won't they” ending. Pretty much everything you want in a Valentine's date.



“They kissed, quietly and without urgency, until Levi ran out of breath. And instead of making him love breathing, it just made him wish he didn't need to do it at all.”
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