Bath Haus by P. J. Vernon


Rating: 5 out of 5.

What Is It About?

When do you call time of death on a marriage?

Oliver Park is a young recovering drug addict. His older husband, Nathan, is a prominent trauma surgeon. And yet somehow they have managed to create a perfect illusion of marriage. And illusion that’s beginning to crack when Nathan suspects Oliver of cheating. 

Oliver knows that Nathan’s ever watchful eye is always following him. He knows that he shouldn’t be going to places like Haus. He knows he shouldn’t be going into a private room with a strange man. But things go wrong quickly in Haus, and Oliver barely makes it out with his life. 

Faced with bruises on his neck and a stalker on his tail, Oliver watches as the secrets begin to pile between him and Nathan. And as he struggles to keep it together, a ghost from his past enters his life. Just who can he trust and how long can he go weaving his lies? 

Let’s Talk About It: 

Not going to lie, I put this book off for two years. Every targeted ad on my socials since June 2021, every book listicle emailed my way, every suggested book GoodReads and The Story Graph, every library app and Audible suggestion and Kindle screen lock advertisement have all told me how much I would enjoy Bath Haus. I did not believe them. I didn’t want to get American Beauty-ed again. However, the book promotion kept appearing on all-thing-Meta so I gave in. But I didn’t buy it, and I’m a little proud of myself for that. Instead, I borrowed the audiobook from Libby (though I’m highly considering buying a physical or Kindle copy for a reread). 

But oh my gosh – this book! This. Fucking. Book. Never have I been this close to the edge of my seat, holding my breath, trying to figure out the twist even though said twist should have been as obvious as the wrinkles on the back of my hand.

This book is the queer Fatal Attraction. It takes through both narrators’ perspective, tenses up the situations they find themselves in, all while trying to figure out the stalker’s motives for latching on to Oliver.  

P. J. Vernon depicts the toxic dynamic in Oliver and Nathan’s relationship in such a fantastic way there were moments when I wanted to shake Oliver and try to talk some sense into him. How his self-sabotage habits blinded him to the fact that his “good thing” may not be as good as he thought, trading one abusive boyfriend for another. And Nathan’s narrative screamed red-flags. The moment it seemed that I was supposed to be on his side about Oliver’s infidelity, I knew something was amiss. And the more I learned about his part in Oliver’s struggle, the more I understood that Oliver, flawed as he was, did not deserve the manipulation or Nathan’s controlling habits.

And let’s not forget the amazing performances by narrators Michael Crouch and Daniel Henning, who brought to life the characters in a remarkable way that I just may never be able to hear Henning’s without seething, “Nathan.”

I do highly recommend this book if you’re looking for a fast-paced, claustrophobic thriller with characters whose arcs are unexpected yet not surprising in the end. Not to mention a nice cast of supporting characters you’ll either grow to love or hate, depending on the character. This has to be the best book I’ve read this year thus far. Until next time, keep on huntin’.

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