Are You There, Moriarty? (Parlor Games 1) by AE Lister


Are You There, Moriarty? Is the first in a new series.  Toby is a quirky guy who gets attracted to one of the patrons of the club where he works. Alistair isn't new to the club but when he runs into Toby, his life is forever changed.

From the blurb:


Book one in the Parlor Games series

Welcome to Maverick Molly' s— for the Victorian sex rebel in all of us.  

Toby Dunn has a fun job.

As a server-slash-performer at a newish establishment called Maverick Molly' s— a gaming parlor and kink club in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada— he dons bloomers and a corset to serve drinks and perform burlesque skits for the men who frequent the place. Maverick Molly' s hearkens back to a darker time, when sodomy was illegal and men who loved other men could be thrown in jail, or worse, for daring to be true to themselves and each other. Maverick Molly' s brings all the positives from that period— the daring dress and ribald performances, the joy in safe spaces and the resilience of people who didn't let anything stop them— and leaves the negatives in the past, where they belong.

Toby' s life isn't all fun, and he' s determined to move out of the home he shares with his alcoholic mother and keep up his average in his BA program at the University of Ottawa. Oh, and he's going to quit smoking... eventually.

But everything changes when charming Alastair Kenney walks up the stairs to the club and invites Toby for a casual hookup at the most prestigious hotel in Ottawa, surprising them both with the intensity of their chemistry.

What happens after that is up to them.

Reed Kaye's Review:

This is a real awakening story. Both guys are attracted to each other and both are sort of possessive.
Toby is a down on his luck guy who has been down his whole life. When he decides things have to change he turns to his bff but he can’t depend on her help forever.

Alastair never expected to run into Toby in a club he had visited many times before but it only took one time and he was hooked. He doesn’t quite know what to make of Toby.

This is a fun story. Toby, while having his share of problems, is quite entertaining. His personality just can’t help being adorable. Alastair is more than likable. He really puts up with a lot from Toby but he sees what causes Toby to be the way he is.

I really enjoyed this story. This author has a way of making the characters so attractive that the story is done before I was ready.

Lesetiger's Review:

Toby works in a club where men are entertained in a Victorian replica of a Molly house. This means that the waiters at the Maverick Molly club are dressed accordingly. Toby needs this job as he is desperate to move away from home and he is also attending college. Toby has had a complicated relationship with his mother for years.

At the club, he meets the much older Alastair, who is a regular guest there and uses a particular room. The two of them immediately feel a mutual attraction, and you notice this as you read. Alastair is more the type for one-night stands. And the next time Alastair shows up at the club, Toby has feelings that shouldn't be there.

The blurb made me curious, but I'm not sure I had this scenario in mind. The writing style is light and easy, the story reads well. There are a few places where the story drags on a bit, but in the next section there is more entertainment and variety. You get to know Toby really well while reading, whereas in my opinion Alastair remains superficially described until the end, which I think is a pity. I liked both of them from the beginning and I found it interesting how their relationship developed. There are some hot scenes and entertaining secondary characters.

Toby's problems with his mother were often mentioned, but I would have liked to know a bit more about them, especially towards the end. And then suddenly there was the end, which came too suddenly for me personally. I would have liked a few more points to be explained.

Heather's Review:

AE Lister has captured my imagination once again and hooked me on yet another series!  Set in Ottawa, the idea of Maverick Molly's captured me from the start, harkening back to a different era in queer history, but definitely giving it a modern twist.  

I love the way Toby and Alistair get together and the way this book paces their burgeoning relationship.  I also love Toby's bestie, Esther and the side characters we get to know a little more about at Maverick Molly's.  I love the way Toby's character grows and develops as they becomes more confident in themself as a genderfluid person and how Alistair blends that into their BDSM relationship and their lives together.

I can't wait to see what happens next at Maverick Molly's in future Parlor Games books!

Are You There, Moriarty? is available in wide release paperback and e-book.