A Caryn Review: Last Call in Wonderland by Rob Browatzke

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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

You know that line from the old poem, “when she was good, she was very very good, and when she was bad, she was horrid”?  I think that expresses my thoughts about this book perfectly, and that made it very hard to rate.  The first 80% was shallow and boring – at least the characters were – and then it got very intense, very fast, and made me think about recent real world events in a much deeper and more personal way than I ever had before.  I was glad I finished the book, but have to admit that if I wasn’t reading for a review, I would have quit very early on.

The story is told from multiple points of view, from each of a very close group of friends who regularly party together at (and in the case of Brandon and Aaron, work at) the club Wonderland.  This is the third book in a series, and though I did not read the first two, it clearly works as a stand-alone.  Two couples – Jesse and Colton, and Steve and Alex – bartender Brandon, drag queen Aaron, club owner Chess, and a few other side characters each speak in chapters (fortunately titled by character so you can keep track of who’s speaking, which would otherwise be difficult) in a roughly chronological narrative.  At first, it seems to be random musings of good-looking, oversexed, shallow, alcoholic party boys, and I was completely turned off.  I couldn’t even say it was porn with plot, because there is minimal explicit sex, and there didn’t seem to be much plot.

The basis of the book is that Wonderland, the iconic gay club of River City that was founded by Chess and his partner Jack a generation ago in the early 90s, is finally closing its doors.  There are only 4 weeks, 4 final Saturdays, before this landmark of the gayborhood (a term used very frequently that to me is like nails on a chalkboard) will be no more.  It is the end of an era, and for this group of friends, it almost seems like the end of their lifestyle – because where else will they get blackout drunk and pick up random gorgeous guys to fuck?  It caused the men to examine not only the current way they were living, but also to realize that they really didn’t have any particular plans for the future, and that maybe they should, and maybe there was more to life than the next shot of tequila or the next hot threesome.

The only character that I really connected with was Chess.  The decision to close Wonderland was a difficult one for him – he reflected on what the world was like for gays and lesbians when they first opened, when a gay dance club was a safe place for them to gather and be themselves.  When society was more homophobic, when AIDS was the “gay plague”, when nothing about being gay was mainstream.  How ironic it was that as society became more accepting, that places like Wonderland were becoming unnecessary and irrelevant.  That the dream of acceptance that his generation fought for was beginning to come true, but diminished the importance and meaning of his club, his baby.  I found that whole discussion quite poignant, and resonant.

There is no way to discuss the events that changed how I felt about the book without giving extensive spoilers, so I won’t do that.  Suffice to say, circumstances shocked these shallow party boys into something a little more mature.  The way they experienced the suffering and pain of those events redeemed them to some extent for me, but I found myself again not really connecting to them, but to the collective emotion of the situation.

I can’t wholeheartedly recommend the book, but it had its moments.  Not enough that I would go back and read the first two in the series though….

Cover art: Alexandria Corza.  It’s eye catching, yet retains enough dark elements that run through the novel.

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US  |  Paperback  |  Amazon UK

Book Details:

Buy for $6.99 or try Kindle Unlimited to read over a million titles
Kindle Edition, 334 pages
Published August 4th 2019
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Dont Miss the Blog Tour for Last Call in Wonderland by Rob Browatzke (excerpt)

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BLOG TOUR

Book Title: Last Call in Wonderland

Author: Rob Browatzke

Publisher: Self-Published

Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza

Release Date: August 4, 2019

Genre/s: Contemporary gay fiction

Length: 62000 words/330 pages

It is a standalone story.

Add on Goodreads

 

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US  |  Paperback  |  Amazon UK

 

Last Call Is Coming

Blurb 

Wonderland is the hottest club in River City, but it’s time to close. It’s a different world now, and club owner Chester doesn’t see Wonderland having a place in it. What will that mean for resident bartender and hotty bottom Brandon Sweet? Or for headliner, the Queen of Hearts? Or customers like Jesse and Colton, whose open relationship and threeways are the stuff of legend? This group of friends navigate the changes in their lives until one night when everything changes for good.

 

 

Excerpt 

Brandon Sweet’s first thought on waking up was this isn’t my room.

His second thought was oh god, who is this?

He rolled over, facing away from the stranger next to him, in this strange bed in a strange room. He hadn’t even had that much to drink really. At least, not compared to a weekend night.

It’s the tequila, he thought. I need to stop with the tequila.

“Morning,” the twink next to him said with a moan.

Brandon rolled back over and took him in: brown curls and blue eyes and a smooth slender torso with a whisp of hair on abs that disappeared into the white sheets tangled around his waist. Whoever he was, he was certainly Brandon’s type.

“Morning,” Brandon said, sitting up in bed, letting the sheet drop to his lap. He looked down at his own body, comparing it to the twink beside him. Not bad, for thirty-one, but oh, to be twenty-one again! When he was twenty-one, he could’ve handled twice the tequila he’d had last night, and woken with half the headache. He knew he could have, because he had done just that. Week in, week out, for a decade.

Too early for that train of thought, he told himself.

“I had a really good time last night,” Twink said.

“Me too, me too. Hey, where’s my phone?” He looked on the floor for his clothes.

“Other room. You stripped off as soon as we got here,” Twink said with a smile. “So hot.”

“Hey, what can I say? I know what I want.” Don’t know your name, mind you, but I do remember how badly I wanted to get laid.

He did love a good Thursday night fuck.

“I can’t believe I finally got to fuck THE Brandon Sweet.”

Brandon smiled at him as he stood up. “Hope it was everything you expected.”

Twink reached across the bed to run his hand over Brandon’s abs. “And more!”

Brandon smiled again. “I’m going to get dressed then. Work night.”

“I’ll walk you out.” The twink stood up and yes, Brandon remembered that impressive appendage. Young, hung, and hard – check, check, check.

Had they gone to Brandon’s last night, if he’d woken up with home turf comfort, he’d be pushing Twink back into the bed and climbing aboard to go again. Here though, in a room he didn’t know, with a guy he didn’t know, he suddenly felt vulnerable.

Once he’d slid back into underwear and jeans, it was a bit better. But his phone had 3% power, 32 notifications and it was halfway through the afternoon. He had to get home.

“Hey, my phone’s dead. Can you call an Uber for me?” He hated to ask but…

“Really?” Twink asked. “You said last night you only live a couple blocks away.”

That rang no bells, but Brandon was professional. “Oh yeah, I remember now,” he said, pulling his shirt over his head. “Will you be out later?”

“It’s Friday,” Twink said. “Of course.”

As Twink walked him to the door, Brandon took in the apartment, trying to find something to jog his memory. It was simple, sparse, and wholly unfamiliar. Luckily, as he bent down to tie his Converse, he happened to glance at the fridge, where a photo radar ticket was held by a magnet. With his name in black and white.

“Ok, well, I’ll see you later then, Billy,” he said.

Twink laughed. “You don’t know my name, do you?” he asked. “Billy’s my roommate.”

Fuck. Brandon swallowed and smiled. “Sorry. Tequila. What was it again?”

“Derek.” Twink grabbed Brandon by the belt and pulled him closer, taking his hand and guiding it down. “You’ll remember this at least,” he said.

Brandon smiled again, kissed Derek’s cheek, and bolted out the door.

 

About the Author 

Rob Browatzke has been writing for as long as he can remember, and is pretty darn excited for someone else to be reading his stuff finally! When it comes to gay bars and booze and drugs and drama, he knows what he’s talking about. He came out in the mid-90s, and liquor and drama went hand in hand. He has 20+ years of experience working in gay clubs in Edmonton, Alberta, and his current Wonderlounge is every bit as amazing as Alex’s Wonderland. Rob is now 8+ years clean and sober, although there’s still a bit of drama once in a while, for old times’ sake. 

 

Social Media Links

Blog/Website

Facebook

Twitter: @robbrowatzke

Instagram: robbrowatzke 

 

 

Follow the tour and check out the other blog posts and reviews here

 

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

 

Check out the Release Blitz for Last Call in Wonderland by Rob Browatzke (excerpt)

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Last Call in Wonderland

Author: Rob Browatzke

Publisher: Self-Published

Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza

Release Date: August 4, 2019

Genre/s: Contemporary gay fiction

Length: 62000 words/330 pages

It is a standalone story.

Add on Goodreads

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US  |  Paperback  |  Amazon UK

 

Last Call Is Coming

Blurb 

Wonderland is the hottest club in River City, but it’s time to close. It’s a different world now, and club owner Chester doesn’t see Wonderland having a place in it. What will that mean for resident bartender and hotty bottom Brandon Sweet? Or for headliner, the Queen of Hearts? Or customers like Jesse and Colton, whose open relationship and threeways are the stuff of legend? This group of friends navigate the changes in their lives until one night when everything changes for good.

 

 Excerpt 

Jesse Sterling liked dick.

There was no denying that. If there was a twelve-step program, he’d be standing there saying, “My name is Jesse Sterling and I’m a cockaholic,” and he would have been saying it proudly.

Jesse sucked his first dick at thirteen, and he was hooked. All those after school specials about drug dealers who gave new customers that first hit for free? That was Jesse with dick. He was hooked from the first time a guy’s hard dick touched his lips.

He liked all dick: big ones, small ones, cut ones, uncut, curved, straight. He even liked soft ones because he knew they wouldn’t stay that way for long. Not around him.

Through his teenage years, he got his hands (and mouth, and ass) on as much dick as possible. He got them out, got them hard, and got them off. Nothing made him as happy as discovering a new dick and what made them cum. Every dick was unique in how they liked to be stroked or sucked or ridden, but one thing they all had in common…. they were all beautiful.

Well, not all, he sometimes reminded himself. There’d been one that was just…just not good. That had been long ago though, and there’d been dozens of dicks since to wash the taste out of his mouth. Literally.

And then he had met Colton.

Colton Wainford was perhaps the only other man on earth who loved dick as much as Jesse. And Colton’s dick? Perfection. Perfect length. Perfect girth. Perfect rigidity. Simply, perfect.

That they had found each other, that of all the gay bars in all the world, they had walked into the same one on the same night, and paused to take in each other’s sculpted bodies before stumbling and tumbling into a bathroom stall to appreciate each other’s dicks, that was also pretty perfect.

That bar had been Wonderland, nearly a decade earlier, and that’s why, when Brandon texted with the news of pending closure, Jesse had thrown his phone onto the couch, and exclaimed loudly. “Fuck! That sucks dick!”

“What does? Who does?” Colton called from the bedroom. “And do I get some too?”

 

 

About the Author 

Rob Browatzke has been writing for as long as he can remember, and is pretty darn excited for someone else to be reading his stuff finally! When it comes to gay bars and booze and drugs and drama, he knows what he’s talking about. He came out in the mid-90s, and liquor and drama went hand in hand. He has 20+ years of experience working in gay clubs in Edmonton, Alberta, and his current Wonderlounge is every bit as amazing as Alex’s Wonderland. Rob is now 8+ years clean and sober, although there’s still a bit of drama once in a while, for old times’ sake. 

 

Social Media Links

Blog/Website

Facebook

Twitter: @robbrowatzke

Instagram: robbrowatzke 

 

Follow the tour and check out the other blog posts and reviews here

 

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

➜ Sign up to become a tour host here