It appears we are in a renaissance period for crime fiction from LGBTQ+ perspectives. It is not that these stories never existed before, but now we are witnessing the end of the days when they were deemed “special interest” or hidden away in the farthest reaches of the local bookstore. Just as we are seeing with Writers of Color, other marginalized voices are resonating with a wider swath of the reading public. Many authors are taking the existing sub-genres and the tropes that are so familiar to fans of crime fiction and disrupting their expectations by introducing LGBTQ+ characters and themes in ways that are both creative and impactful.
Take for example, Jonathan Parks-Ramage’s Yes, Daddy. This novel weaves threads of both domestic suspense and gothic romance together with the coming-of-age tale of a young gay man trying to find his footing in world where his youthfulness and naivety become burdens that others abuse, flaunt, and ultimately weaponize.
Jonah Keller yearns to one day be a famous playwright, but he is tired of the struggles necessary to reach this goal. He knows first-hand that those with money have a better chance of gaining the power and influence needed to succeed. When he sees an opportunity to meet Pulitzer-Prize-winning playwright Richard Shriver, he hopes that maybe his luck is changing. But, instead of a mentorship, Jonah and the much-older Richard begin a steamy love affair. Lulled by the lavish treatment bestowed upon him, Jonah is oblivious to the many signs that this fantasy lifestyle conceals much darker truths. When Richard invites Jonah to his secluded compound in the Hamptons, what should be a relaxing getaway instead becomes the start of a nightmare.
Domestic Suspense fans will recognize the dynamic of the powerful man who wants to control every aspect of the relationship, all while manipulating minor details in subtle ways. Meanwhile, it is impossible not to think back to the gothic novels of Victoria Holt and Phyllis A. Whitney when witnessing Jonah being swept away – not to a castle or monastery – but to an estate in the ultra-rich Hamptons. There is even a direct reference to Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca within the novel. By centering Jonah Keller in the role of the virginal “ingénue,” Jonathan Parks-Ramage shatters the illusion that only women are victims of this type of abuse and control.
It is even possible to list off the trope elements within Yes, Daddy. Everything from gaslighting and complicity to self-esteem issues and trauma, yet because they are detailed in the context of a gay relationship, these elements feel fresh and untested. Yes, Daddy leaves readers with the sense the regardless of gender, unsolicited magnanimous gestures often come with hefty price tags. At one point, Richard even says to Jonah “The things we worship eat us alive” and that will resonate with readers in profound ways as they follow along on Jonah’s unfortunate journey.
Yes, Daddy speeds along at a propulsive pace and the fact that Jonathan Parks-Rampage eliminates any extraneous scenes or information make this a speedy read; however, readers will find themselves ruminating on much that occurred long after closing the cover. Without a doubt, those readers will eagerly await Jonathan Parks-Ramage’s next novel.
Disclaimer: An e-galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the author. No promotion was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.