Southern Fried – Rob Rosen (MLR Press)

Buy it now direct from MLR Press.

You can take the boy out of the South, but you evidently
can’t take the South out of the boy. After dalliances in San Francisco (Sparkle),
Hawaii (Hot Lava) and Vegas (Divas Las Vegas), Rosen gets back to
his collards-and-fatback roots in Southern Fried, his latest novel.

Orphaned Trip Jackson’s plantation-owning granny dies,
leaving most of her estate to him as well as a mysterious brother he didn’t
know he had—but the mysteries don’t stop there. How did his parents really
die? What of the senator who shares his newly-found brother’s last name? And
does Billy Ray really have the hottest, saltiest nuts in the state? Only Trip
and his hot stable boy/boyfriend Zeb know for sure, and how they find out makes
for some hot and funny reading.

Rosen has a knack for this light, frothy mix (no, no…not
santorum) of sex, mystery and setting, and this outing is just as satisfying as
the others. Rosen’s characters are always enjoyable, and he puts them through
some very interesting paces here. And while Southern Fried can be
characterized as a beach read, it’s far more accomplished than many entries in
that genre. It never stoops to be cloying or cute, relying on a breakneck sense
of pacing.

But Rosen also has a way with false endings—just when you
think all the loose ends are tied up, someone else makes a confession or
another shot rings out and yet another piece of the puzzle falls into place.
The plots aren’t complex, but Rosen packs them with details that all need to be
ironed out for the kind of smooth ending he’s beginning to be noted for.

So if you’re weary of the holidays and just want a little
time away from the mistletoe, pick up Southern Fried and dig in. But
don’t be surprised if your turkey comes out deep fried.

Reviewed by Jerry Wheeler

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