“Bath Haus” by P. J. Vernon— On the Edge of My Seat

Vernon, P.J. “Bath Haus: A Thriller”,  Doubleday, 2021.

On the Edge of My Seat

Amos Lassen

Oliver Park, a recovering addict from Indiana who finally has everything he ever wanted: sobriety and a loving, wealthy partner. Nathan is a prominent DC trauma surgeon and despite their difference in age and backgrounds, they’ve built a perfect life together. With everything to lose, Oliver shouldn’t be a gay bathhouse. But he goes and crosses the line. Inside, he follows a man into a private room, thinking that Nathan can never know. But then, everything goes wrong and Oliver barely escapes with his life.

Rushing home filled with terror and a bruise on his neck, Oliver knows that he truth will destroy Nathan and everything they have together, so he lies. The story is centered around Oliver and Nathan and below the surface there are a whole host of secrets and lies. The biggest secret is Oliver going to a local gay bath house (while Nathan is on a work trip), with the intent of sleeping with a stranger, only to realize the man he picks up has a fetish. Oliver’s bath house experience does not remain a secret and the lies he tells to prevent the truth from coming to light begin to unravel and take over his life and relationship.
This is a dark and sexy read with unpredictable twists and drama to have kept me on the edge of my seat.

Unfortunately, Oliver and Nathan have fallen into a rut. Oliver knows he could lose everything in an instant but he cannot resist a trip to Haus, a gay bathhouse. He’ll allow himself to give into temptation with an anonymous man and then return to his life with Nathan. However,
what starts as a seductive meeting between strangers both seeking the same thing ends in a shocking act of violence from which Oliver narrowly escapes with his life.
Oliver makes up a story to explain his injuries to Nathan but he does he know that his attacker is ready to play a game that could destroy his life or even end it.

We soon realize his Oliver’s relationship with Nathan isn’t as perfect as he thinks and that maybe Nathan has some secrets of his own.  As if that is not enough, Oliver’s former boyfriend Hector shows suddenly (and there is a sad history between them) and Nathan’s mother wants Oliver out of her family’s life. Then there are two separate and conflicting police reports filed by Oliver that make the detective who could help him doubt everything.

Every character is unlikeable and has ulterior motives and secrets. I found Oliver’s decisions were too frustrating and the twist became obvious pretty quickly but the drama kept me reading and turning pages. “Bath Haus” is fast-paced and sexy and I had no idea where the story would go. We see how quickly a life can unravel after a single bad decision.

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