Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Condor One Review

Condor One    
Author: John Simpson
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
American release date: July 4, 2008
Format/Genre/Length: Novel/M/M Romance/193 pages
Publisher/Industry Age Rating: 18+
Overall Personal Rating: A-

It’s six weeks until the election which will determine the next President of the United States. The two candidates—Republican Speaker of the House Daniel Gorski and Democrat multi-millionaire David Windsor —are appearing in a televised debate, the better to allow the voters to understand the issues and determine which candidate will make a better president. Things are proceeding smoothly until, in the last quarter hour of the proceedings, Gorski fires off the most irrelevant question ever to his political rival, the answer to which outs Windsor on national television as being gay! Now the question is—will Gorski’s strategy turn the voters against his opponent or will David Windsor become the first openly gay President of the United States?


After the debate, David has a furor on his hands, ranging from congratulations to why couldn’t he have waited until after the election to come out, but he handles everything with his usual aplomb. David talks to Agent Alvarez, who is in charge of his security detail, about having a certain agent, Shane Thompson, assigned as one of his close-in protectors—Shane is not only good at his job and unfailingly polite, but he’s easy on the eyes as well. Now David has to finish his campaign and do his best to convince the people of the United States that he’s the best man for the job, no matter what his sexual preference might be.  The next six weeks fly by and suddenly it’s election night—it’s all over now except for the counting. David waits in his hotel suite to watch the results, along with his nearest and dearest—including Shane Thompson, whom David has been getting to know better.

The election is very close and it isn’t until 2 am that a winner is called—David Windsor! The losing candidate places a grudging concession call, one which is filled with bitterness. An elated David requests that Shane be made a member of his personal bodyguard. Alvarez isn’t sure that’s possible, but David refuses to take no for an answer, and a solution to the problem of Shane’s training is found, even though it will remove him from David’s service for a few weeks. But David knows it will be so worth it.

As David begins to assemble his cabinet and prepare to take over in the White House, Shane becomes his constant shadow and protector, but there are forces which they are unaware of, which threaten to put a quick end to the first gay president.

David takes the oath of office and officially begins his presidency, but it’s just one thing after another—his vice-president immediately resigns, there is an escalating political situation in the Middle East, coupled with threats, and an attempt is made on David’s life. The pressure is on! Meanwhile, his relationship with Shane is only growing closer. Because David is not married, and is otherwise alone in his personal part of the White House, he is able to install Shane in a room near his own, one which turns out to be connected by a secret passageway which Shane is more than happy to utilize. As the first openly gay president, can David possibly have a love life of his own? Or does his position preclude that? What does Shane mean to him, and will he ever get the chance to show him?


The first book in John Simpson’s Condor One series doesn’t pull any punches—it hits with a wallop and just keeps on hitting. At first, I was unsure about the character of David Windsor, who is the narrator of the story, which is told in first person past tense. He started out seeming to be a bit stiff, but by the end of the book, I felt as though I’d come to know him and like him. Shane, his would be lover, is a lot looser character. The two of them make a great couple.

The action is great and flows well. I like the supporting cast of characters, including the two Mary’s—one is David’s 64 year old secretary, the other is his Scot Terrier. The human Mary is cantankerous but loveable, and the puppy is cute. I love the way David thinks and the way he handles situations and crises. I think it all sounds quite plausible, although I admit to not being the most politically astute person around, but I believed it, and that’s what I’m going by.

I do have to say that the writing comes off as stiff in some places, and it would have benefited by having had a better editor. Having been on both ends of the editing process, I’m beginning to appreciate just how invaluable a good editor can be. Plus I can see things that I might not have noticed before. It doesn’t detract from the book as a whole, but it would have contributed to making a good book even better. Hopefully that isn’t an issue in the other books in the series, as I’m looking forward to reading them all.

Also, as I said, it’s written in first person, past tense, but there are scenes which are related almost as if they are being witnessed, but that isn’t possible, and no explanation is ever given as to how David is able to relate them, especially not as they are occurring. I’m hoping that was an error of innocence and that it is not repeated in later volumes.

Condor One is fast-paced, smart, and dramatic; it has moments of humor, and it definitely has a lot of heat. The scenes between David and Shane are very hot and sensual and a pleasure to read. I definitely recommend this volume and I can’t wait to get more!

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