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The Two Gentlemen of Altona

(Playing the Fool #1)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  2,001 ratings  ·  395 reviews
The first title in the exciting Playing the Fool series

Mischief, thou art afoot.

Special Agent Ryan "Mac" McGuinness is having a rough week. Not only is he on a new diet, but he's also been tasked with keeping Henry Page -- the world's most irritating witness -- alive. Which is tough when Mac's a breath away from killing the Shakespeare-quoting, ethically-challenged,
Kindle Edition, 228 pages
Published December 29th 2014 by Riptide Publishing (first published December 27th 2014)
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Average rating 3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,001 ratings  ·  395 reviews

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Start your review of The Two Gentlemen of Altona (Playing the Fool, #1)
3.5 Dang, I HATED this book.

It gave me the most awful donut cravings. So I couldn't resist sneaking into a bakery. One donut didn't make the trip home.

A second one didn't survive me snapping a pic.

And do I really have to confess that the last two were gone before I finished The Two Gentlemen of Altona? Grmbl.

So the Two Gentlemen of Altona is nothing like the Henry & Rock collaborations Ive read before. And you know what? In my opinion thats a good thing! In this book, there are no
Lisa Henry
J.A. Rock and I wrote this. We hope you have as much fun reading it as we did writing it.

I think we can all agree our lives need more Shakespeare-quoting, ethically-challenged, egg-obsessed conmen in them. Also, candy.

Wow. Did you see how I typed "candy" there, without even flinching?

American English. I'm finally getting the hang of it!

Oh, and anything you want to ask about The Two Gentlemen of Altona, here's as good a place as any!

UPDATED TO ADD: You can now read an excerpt online at
Emma Sea
Aug 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars.

I really, really liked this. The humour was just right for me, and I adored the layer of tragedy beneath Henry's exterior. I mean, I actually seriously adore Henry. All of him. Mac's not good enough! Mac doesn't deserve Henry!

I knew going in that it was a cliffhanger ending, so I was okay with it, and it's not too long to wait before books #2 and #3. I can deal. Right? I totally don't need the next book right this second, curse you, JA and Lisa . . . *ahem*. Anyway, I thought the
Heather K (dentist in my spare time)
*3.5 stars*

I'm the first to admit that romantic suspense isn't really my thing, but I LOVE Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock so I felt compelled to give this a go. And this book was a pretty nice introduction to a new series, even if it ended on a huge cliffy and gave me the WORST case of blue balls (female equivalent, of course!).

Sometimes romantic suspense can be really serious and intense. This isn't one of those books, thank god. It was really clever, easy reading with a fast pace that kept my
Written January 31, 2015

4 Stars - Outrageously funny! - I fell head over heels.

Book #1

This was quite different to other Lisa Henry books I read. I mean neither positive or negative, just something completely different.

description description description description

A light-hearted fun "Catch Me" comedy
A con character who changes shape like a chameleon and a slightly pudgy FBI agent who longs to jail a murdering criminal (...and to find a ordinary nice boyfriend to love).

The Two Gentlemen of Altona is the first, of three, serial
3.5 stars

I liked it but i wanted to strangle Henry most of the time. And too many cock-blocks for my taste, i will maybe read the rest.
Rosa, really

Enjoyable start to a new series. Loved Henry and Mac's conversations--their snappy dialogue reminded me of a fast talking 40s movie in some parts. Such as this scene where Henry yet again gives Mac some super helpful diet advice:
"You know what you should try?" Henry tossed a couple of candies into his mouth.
"No advice necessary."
"Have you ever had it?"
Mac sighed. "No."
"It's good. It's a pseudocereal."
"That means nothing to me."
"All the grains look like little
The Two Gentlemen of Altona is book one of the Playing the Fool series.

Positives: humor and the mystery. I dont mind the cliffhangers and unanswered questions its a series after all.

Negatives: too long, too slow, low heat, no sparks, no sex. A bit melodramatic ending.

Actually, it is not an MM romance, at least, not yet. Hope it will be, eventually. I might give a chance to book two.
Aug 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance-suspense
The series title is Playing the Fool, now I'm sure future books will elucidate this further, but right now I feel like the Fool. *wags finger* Evil Henry and Rock.

This is playful and charming with a strong dose of understated pain. Deep pain. The kind that you ignore, but when you're weary suddenly comes upon you like a Mac truck. But the laughs, they lure you away, trick you, deceive you and on your merry way you go. After all, no one wants to linger too long in the dark.

That is precisely why
* A Reader Obsessed *
3.5 Stars

To be honest, I wasnt quite sure what I was getting myself into with this, but overall, I had a good time!

Ryan Mac McGinnis is bound and determined to arrest an infamous mobster, and he knows the only way he can do that is to get witness, Henry Page, to testify he saw said mobster shoot one of his lackeys. The thing is, Henry has no reason and no plans to do such. He wants to stay alive, and promising to point the finger is not going to help him maintain such a reasonable goal.

4 Stars

Suspenseful, fun and witty AF. Book, I liked you, a lot.

This is the story of when the FBI agent and the con man go on the lam together, and kind of maybe begin to develop some fuzzy feelings for one another amidst the chaos.

There are some bad guys and some good guys, and a lot of eggs.

Shakespeare is quoted righteously. (Twins named Sebastian and Viola? Seriously, perfection to thine own ears.)

Onward, to the next book!!!
This review might have spoilers

I finished this book two days ago, and I'm still not quite sure exactly what to write about it. I know that I liked it, but this feels very much like a 'part 1' than a full completed book, so I feel as if I'm giving a rating without the full picture. But even so, here's my review:

The first half of the book was very slow. The mystery aspect is very much so in the background, and is just being set up for the second half. What makes the first half readable is the
Wart Hill
Aug 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtq, arc2014
I received a free ARC from the publisher.

That ending! Are you guys trying to kill me?!

I love this book so much, I'm writing my review on my tablet because I'm too impatient and want to get all my flaily love out there for you guyz as soon as possible! Because I love this book!

So Henry Page is a con man and he's currently conning a mobster's granny. This ends about as well as can be expected: Henry witnesses said Mobster shoot a guy and, ignoring his self preservation instinct, calls the cops and
An entire romantic suspense novel and nary a handjob or blowjob in sight. *disapproving frown* Now, I know I'm a horny bunny, and I understand that sex isn't the be all and end all of romantic relationships - really, I do - but in my romance novels? I wants it. I needs it. I needs it baaaaaad.

My lady bits were having serious sympathy pains for Mac and Henry's blue balls.

Otherwise, I enjoyed this book. I loved Rock and Henry's writing, I felt the novel built towards the conclusion in a natural
Jan 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable, and not what I was expecting. Interesting characters and a sweetly predictable plot, I definitely liked it and I'll scoot right on up to the 2nd one (view spoiler).
Optimist ♰King's Wench♰

Ends cliffishly.

Russo does a good job with differentiating the voices.

Not super crazy about Mac at this point but I'm intrigued enough to continue on with the next episode.
♣ Irish Smurfétté ♣
Ok, this might frighteningly resemble a stream-of-consciousness review but I honestly don't care because this was fun and clever and complex and one of the best leading-men-duo character studies I've read and I love it.


Mac is tired, worn out, and tightly wound. And a good agent. And wants more. And doesn't know exactly what that "more" is or will or could be.

Henry, well, Henry is intelligent, and seen and done a lot in his young life, but has some blind spots that almost taste naive. Only,
Julio Genao
Aug 20, 2014 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition

this comes out on my birthday!
Mar 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ami by: MsMiz (Tina)
The good things about reading this book AFTER everyone else are two folds: 1) I know what to expect : cliffhanger, no sex (yay!), and how the story is basically a set-up for two more books; 2) I don't have to wait for the sequels (they're here!).

I found this book VERY fun -- and it was such a relief after almost a month without 4* category MM books (trust me, it was the longest dry spell ever for MM romance since I started reading this genre back in 2008). I don't read many Henry/Rock's
Aug 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Well, this has got layers. There are layers everywhere. Mac got layers. Henry probably much more so. Even the story has got layers, not to mention the layers in the writing. So let's mention them. There is the sweet layer, by which I mean, real candy and confectionery which gave me one hell of a sugar craving.
Then there is the snark layer and the humour layer which were entertaining. Then the other softer, more apt to hurt layers who wrapped themselves at my softer bits and tugged away.
Oct 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: m-m, cops-detectives
Fuck you. I have donuts and you don't, nah nah nah.

Mac is a Special Agent. Hes addicted to coffee and he loves sweets, but unfortunately hes on a diet. It makes him cranky, plus his witness is driving him crazy.

Henry is a con man. Hes hates guns, he's terrified of thunders and he cant stand silence. As the only one who witnessed a mob hit hes valuable for FBI. He doesnt believe that agents will keep him safe, so he opposes them and runs away. Soon he gets caught by Mac and goes hiding with him
4.25 stars!

Really, really enjoyed this one, which makes me feel super happy because there haven't been a lot of adult M/M romances I've enjoyed a lot lately.

FANTASTIC narrator! He made the book. It might honestly even be 4.5 stars (like it matters). Hilarious to listen to.

Unconventional characters, exciting plot that keeps me guessing and wanting more.

Really, just fab. Home run.
BWT (Belen)
Belens Audio Book Review

Con man meets G-man in this fun, funny, smart, and suspenseful read!

I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of Nick J. Russo's narration of this mystery!

As the sole witness to a murder by a mob boss, Henry Page is now the FBI's best shot at putting the bad guy away. But it's a little tricky here because Henry isn't that good a guy himself. Henry isn't even his real name. See, Henry is a con man who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and though he calls in the murder (because hey,
♆ BookAddict  ✒ La Crimson Femme
ARGH! Henry is annoying. I want to slap him.

Doing the right thing sometimes makes life complicated. Henry Page is a seemingly sweet college boy staying with an older lady. Some people think he is conning her out of money with sex. This is half true. However, the way Henry charms people out of their money is not exactly a con nor exactly illegal. The problem is when he witnesses a murder by a wanted criminal. He wants no part of testifying. His good deed was calling the cops and reporting it.
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lisa Henry and JA Rock are well known for being being dark, angsty and kinky; generally putting their protags through all kinds of hell. But these two authors have also got a wicked sense of humour and it shines in this brilliant FBI/con man/murder caper that, being exactly my type of funny, really tickled me, as well as satisfying in the plot and love/hate relationship stakes as well.

It's jam packed with delightfully snarky humour, spark-flying witty banter and has two extremely appealing MC's
Although it's mostly a lighthearted romp, the characters are anything but shallow and far from perfect. The push/pull attraction between the two MCs was delightful- it also felt real to me. These two are keeping their cards close to their chests and watching their attraction grow,seeing them reveal more of themselves is, for me, the very best part of reading romances.
The burn is oh-so-slow. (view spoiler)
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-my-kindle, mm
Fun, and funny without being too over the top silly or ridiculous. Perfect reading for the plane.

Yay!! A story where I COULD connect with the characters!! Absolutely loved this one, especially Henry/Sebastian. The 'whodunit' part was fairly obvious, but it was the interplay between the two MC's that sold the book to me, and of course, Lisa and Jill's customary one-liners which always make me laugh out loud. Can't wait to see what went on in Henry's past life...other than the fact that he was a rent boy AND that he has a 'lost' sister who has just appeared out of nowhere...awful timing on
Vanessa North
Jun 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was EXACTLY what I needed to read, exactly when I needed to read it. Perfectly suited to my mood (slightly restless) and my cravings (comedy and UST).

Smart, funny, and sexy even without on page sex, this book was the perfect antidote to the reading blahs and it was such a great thrill ride.

Highly recommend. Have donuts handy.
This was all kinds of fun! I love these two and I want the other books now, now now!!!
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Read an excerpt online! 1 8 Aug 20, 2014 01:30PM  

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I like to tell stories. Mostly with hot guys and happily ever afters. They gotta work for it though. No free lunches on my watch.

Other books in the series

Playing the Fool (3 books)
  • The Merchant of Death (Playing the Fool, #2)
  • Tempest (Playing the Fool, #3)

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“As a federal agent, I want you to know I'm disgusted by your lack of respect for the law."

"But you're impressed too," Henry said without turning around. "You're disguspressed.”
More quotes…