• Yet a Stranger

  • The First Quarto, Book 2
  • By: Gregory Ashe
  • Narrated by: J.F. Harding
  • Length: 11 hrs and 22 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (71 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

When Auggie Lopez returns to Wroxall College, he’s determined that his second year will be different from the chaos he faced as a freshman. He’s living in the Sigma Sigma house, he’s got a good group of friends, and his social media presence is growing. Meeting a hot older guy on move-in day is just the cherry on top. All he has to do now is avoid getting dragged into another murder.

That last part, though, turns out to be easier said than done, especially when Auggie’s ex-roommate, Orlando, asks for help. Orlando’s brother Cal has gone missing, and Orlando wants Auggie to find him.

Auggie knows he’ll need help, but recruiting his friend - and crush - Theo is not as straightforward as he expects. While Auggie was gone for the summer, Theo has started dating someone, and neither Theo nor Auggie knows how to handle the shift in their relationship.

Finding Orlando’s brother dead only makes their situation more complicated. Although the police are quick to write off the homicide as a drug deal gone wrong, Auggie and Theo aren’t so sure, and Orlando begs them to keep investigating. To learn the truth, Auggie and Theo will have to untangle a web of lies while keeping each other safe from a killer who is determined to stop them.

As Auggie and Theo dig deeper, they realize that Cal was a stranger even to the people who thought they knew him. And Auggie and Theo both begin to fear that they are also strangers to each other.

©2020 Gregory Ashe (P)2021 Gregory Ashe

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Two Steps Back

This is the second book in The First Quarto series. This was a hard read for me as Auggie and Theo seems to have taken two steps back from the one step forward of the first book. As we all remember from childhood, summer vacation often breeds distance among friends, and that is the case with this couple. Both seemed to have “moved on” from their budding romance and I hated it. I also couldn’t figure out why they decided to become unofficial PIs in a case that was only tangentially associated with them. I realize they were helping a friend but they seem to pay a pretty big price for getting involved. I also did not like either of their new romances. The mystery has many red herrings and twists and some hospital bed declarations, so I was able to get my “feels” on. So overall it was a frustrating read for me because I’m really not a fan of angst.

That said, since I am obviously invested in this couple making it, I know I must get through this time to get to the other side. It was also great to see John Somerset make more than a passing appearance. This is set before he and Hazard get together as he is still with his wife. The author is known as king of the slow burn and I can see this is going to be one of those. However, this story did keep me engaged and there was some pay off by the end. Of course, it ends on a cliff hanger that will keep me looking forward to the next installment.

J.F. Harding gives another great performance. I can’t imagine any other voice for these men.

I was given a free copy of this audiobook in return for an honest review.

1 person found this helpful

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  • WW
  • 05-13-22

You'll always get more from a sophomore.

After spending the summer with his family in California, Auggie Lopez, who is now out and proud, is ready to take his social media audience through his sophomore year Wroxall Campus in Wahredua, Missouri. His older brother Fer is as protective as ever, and struggles to hold their dysfunctional family together, or at least stave off disaster until he gets his little brother through college.
Professor Theo Stratford’s life has not gotten any easier. His relationship with the still-closeted Howard Cartwright, his late husband’s former partner in the Wahredua PD, is not something he is completely happy with. But between his own classes, teaching and visiting his disabled daughter, his grief over losing his husband, Theo just isn’t ready to deal with it, one way or another. It doesn’t help that he is struggling with a growing dependence on pills to get him through his day.
The last thing either of these men need is another investigation, but his friend Orlando’s brother is missing, and Auggie doesn’t know who else to turn to for help. Theo was hoping their separation during summer months might have helped he and Auggie get over their attraction to each other, but as they search for Cal while fending off attacks from a corrupt police detective, their feelings for each other only grow.
But it’s impossible.
Is it? Theo is a teacher, Auggie is a student, but they need each other if they’re going to catch a potential murderer.

J.F. Harding is a favorite of mine, and, as usual, he brings Theo and Auggie to life brilliantly!

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Wrapped up in a bow? Not so much, real world ending.

A part could use a tigger warning and it was really hard to hear. The story really draws you in with a great mystery and rooting for the characters to work through their pain. Many times a character actions made me reflect on all the stupid actions of my youth. I really want a 3rd book to to continue the story, so we all know they are getting through their pain.

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Another great book!

I love Auggie and Theo. The book was great and the audio made it even better. I don’t know how every book he writes is so compelling, you just can’t put it down! So good!!

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Couldn't Stop Listening

Finished this one in three days. Loved 😍 it even thru the vice & violence. Strong characters. Enjoy the tension between Augie & Theo characters. Can't wait for more to come.

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Loaded with angst

I finished this book yesterday and my thoughts and emotions are still all over the place. It feels difficult to organize my ideas into a logical review, but I will do my best. I will start with the narration, because that is pretty easy. J.F. Harding is a good narrator who I have listened to many times and wouldn’t hesitate to listen to again. I think he did a good job bringing the story to life.

I really liked Auggie and Theo when I met them in the first book of the series. Auggie was somewhat self-obsessed, and trying to make a name for himself on social media in hopes of getting rich and famous. His older brother is the head of their family and provides for Auggie in many ways, and also teases him. Over the course of the first book, Auggie is outed and suspected of murder and these things are humbling. Theo is a widower, who lost his husband in an accident and was left grieving with a child who remains severely affected from the crash. He doesn’t change as much as Auggie, but he does start to realize he might be ready to fall for someone again.

Like most of this author’s books, the love stories contained within are slow-burn and take a backseat to the mysteries the characters are trying to solve. Though Auggie and Theo had chemistry, the last book ended with them not together. I was okay with that because I fully expect them to get together at some point in the series and I like it when couples have to work for their happy ending. What I didn’t expect was for both of them to hook up with such manipulative and emotionally abusive jerks. Theo is falling for his deceased husband’s work partner who is a closeted officer in the Wahredua police department. Auggie likes the attention he is getting from his older frat brother. In both relationships, Auggie and Theo seem to be bending themselves into pretzels to please these guys and it’s never good enough. At times they seem to realize how they are being gaslighted, but then decide they don’t deserve better. It was killing me and I wanted to yell at them to leave these toxic men.

Auggie and Theo, together, are less toxic but they are really doing a good job trying to tank things before they begin. For the most part, they snipe at each other while working to help figure out what happened to Auggie’s old roommate’s brother. But when they each experience emotional and physical crashes they turn to each other. Theo is mixing pills and alcohol while yelling at Auggie not to do the same at parties. Auggie gets emotional and reckless and puts his life in danger. I like how they find comfort in each other, but it’s far from a healthy relationship.

I will admit what these two characters are going through in their personal lives weighed heavy on me during this listen. I will also admit that I am not complaining about it at all. I am a bit of an angst junkie when it comes to books and audiobooks. And even though Auggie and Theo are still single at the end of this book, I am still holding out hope that things are going to get better. Hopefully, soon.

That leaves me with the mystery featured in this book. I know part of me was highly invested in the relationship part of this book, so it’s possible it overshadowed the missing person/murder investigation Auggie and Theo take on to help Orlando, Auggie’s former roommate. His brother went missing and when they find his dead body, clues unravel that seem to link to the attack on another college student and the police shooting of another young woman a few months before. Auggie and Theo think it might be drug related and have a violent run in with corrupt cop Linder from the first book (and the Hazard and Somerset series.) They almost get put in jail themselves, when a search for evidence goes too far. When they find the right culprit, the explanation of why and how it happened felt a little wild.

I did enjoy the mystery but after Auggie ended up injured and in the hospital twice in this book, I really felt for his brother who was stressing over Auggie’s safety and the bills he was racking up. Auggie does seem to go through even more change in this book, at least when it comes to his consideration of how his behavior affects others. And he seems to want to be more self-reliant and that can’t be a bad thing. Theo seems to be slipping backwards though and I do think he will have to want to help himself before he can enter into a healthy relationship with Auggie in the future. I am looking forward to finding out how they might get themselves wrapped up in another mystery in the next few books, but am really eager for them to get their problems sorted out so they can be happy.

For fans of the Hazard and Somerset series we get more interaction with John Henry Somerset and that is definitely fun. I loved the story and the narration in this book so I would definitely recommend it and the series.

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The slowest of burns

After a summer apart, Augie and Theo both struggle to find their way. The central mystery is more emotional than the previous book, probably because I have a soft spot for Orlando now. Although I really want to be angry at Cart, I just find myself feeling sorry for him throughout the book. On the other hand, I didn't think I could hate Dylan more than I did while reading the book, but actually hearing his words spoken out loud made me physically ill. I screamed at the radio in the car a lot.

The audio performance is much better in the second book, with only a handful of the odd pauses.

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Another Winner of a Mystery & Narration!

Auggie and Theo are EVERYTHING! 4.5 Stars!
Although in this 2nd book they are with other people.
The men they are dating are idiots at best & abusive gas lighters at worst.

This is not a stand-alone.
This is not a love story, although the two fools love each other.
This is another murder mystery & amateur sleuthing gig.

Low steam.
Crazy plot.

Triggers: dub-con, drug use/abuse, emotional abuse, internalized homophobia.

The audiobook by JF HARDING was SINFULLY GOOD!

Thanks to the author for a copy of this audiobook!

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  • kp
  • 05-25-21

Such a Treat!

This is Gregory Ashe slow burn at its best. The tension and chemistry he has created between Auggie and Theo is addictive. I can't get enough.
Once again these two are caught up in murder and trouble. The murder mystery carries the reader along for the ride, I couldn't put this book down.
J.F. Harding does a terrific job of bringing this story to life!
Buckle up and get ready for a rollercoaster of a ride!

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More Theo & Auggie!

Gregory Ashe continues to age me, because I swear every time I finish one of his books I've stressed, cussed, raged and/or cried enough that I'm pretty sure I've lost at least a couple of years. But what keeps me coming back is the characters that barge right into my heart and stay there. Uninvited, I might add. 😏

To be fair, I also get the best dialog. No matter what the relationship between his MCs, they're always terrific friends as well, and the banter is always stellar. I was happy to get all that here though it came with a whole lot of complications.

Theo and Auggie come back to Wroxall College for the new fall semester. Theo's trying to move on with his life and Auggie's just trying to figure out what he wants from his. Almost as soon as Auggie gets settled, Orlando shows up. But he's not there to hassle Auggie, he wants Auggie and Theo to look for his brother Cal, who's gone missing.

Predictably *and kind of understandably*, Theo is adamantly against this. Also predictably, when Auggie tells him he'll just do it on his own, Theo agrees to help him. He's too protective of Auggie *which I love*, no way he'd let him go off on this alone.

I love Theo and Auggie for who they are alone but I enjoy them together so much. Mostly. They're funny, and Auggie loves to needle Theo and make him lose his mind. I always laugh when Theo goes "dad" on him and Auggie turns right around and proves his point by acting like a sulky teenager, LOL. Which he actually is. But their friendship is so tangled up with all of the other things they feel for each other and can't *won't* act on that sometimes I just want to smack both of them really hard and see if it won't shake some sense loose.

In the midst of all this, Theo is trying to build a relationship with Cart, and Cart says all the right things....as long as they're alone inside Theo's house. 😒 Then a careless comment at a birthday party sends Cart running in the other direction. He says some terrible things to Theo, and I am done with Cart. I hope he goes away and never comes back. At the same time, Auggie has become involved with an older student but the situation is abusive and controlling. He hides it from Theo, of course, but Theo finds out. And I have never been happy before that Theo had such a rough upbringing but I was grateful for it then.

It wasn't enough but I'll take it. For now. 👿

When they finally figure out what happened to Cal, it's just...a whole lot of sad. Terrible family situations and jealousies end up with unintended consequences.

And though we didn't exactly get a cliffhanger, the scene at the end was just WHAT? I mean, what???

Have I said before what a sadist GA is? Yeah, that. It cannot be repeated enough. 🙄

Ashe's excellent writing and the exceptional storytelling was all present, he always hooks me into the plot and keeps me there until the end. His characterizations are second to none. Despite the fact that some of them just might be the most exasperating book-people in all of fiction *side-eyes, well, everybody*, his MCs are some of my most loved ever and Auggie and Theo fit right in with the rest of them. 💕 I'm super invested in where they go from here.

And for the audio, as always J.F. Harding can do no wrong with me! 🥰 His voice for these two, as well as every other character is pitch perfect, and his narration keeps me hanging on every word. I love listening to him, every time. I'm so looking forward to the next book!

Disclaimer: A copy of the audiobook was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Mary
  • 06-14-21

FANTASTIC, STUNNING, BRAVO

I don't know whether Gregory Ashe has gotten a new editor or he's just upped his game. One of my criticism's with his other books is that he tends to waffle - saying in a few paragraphs what can be said in a handful of sentences. It's quite a trend with many American authors - word count is king, and it's like measuring dicks at this stage in the game, But no matter the waffle I've stuck with Gregory Ashe because when he's good he's amazing.
The writing in Yet A Stranger was STUNNING. The plot was tight, the prose beautiful, the psychology of the connection between Theo and Augie was realistic and painstakingly painted for us with no fluff or filler. The relationship between these two is inevitable and yet the listener is on a knifes edge hoping they'll get their acts together, despite the consistent holes they keep finding themselves in during their illegal investigation of a murder. Each man is trying to grow independently from the other and yet when they're together the chemistry is undeniable. Both characters are deeply flawed and make stupid decisions, but the lengths Augie and Theo will go to for one another is at once heartbreaking and life affirming.
The narration was perfect. As soon as I finished this audiobook I wanted to listen again - which is a rare thing!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Wendy
  • 08-30-21

Another stunning page turner from Gregory Ashe

I’m disappointed that I have to wait for book three in this stunning series to be released. Having already listened to books one and two I feel I now know Theo and Auggie and am sad to be leaving these two intriguing young men behind for a while.

Gregory Ashe’s character building is quite unique. He couples up flawed men from very different backgrounds and makes us love them. I’ve been with Hazard and Somerset throughout two series - back-to-back - and was sceptical because I adore H &S and did not believe it possible that he could have me invested in another two characters so much, so quickly, but of course, this is Gregory Ashe - and he did.

As is GA’s style, his men get involved in absolutely bonkers scenarios which he convinces me are plausible without too much effort - I mean, no one could sustain so many injuries etc, so many times and stay alive - could they? But in Gregory Ashe’s world they do, and he certainly had me biting my fingernails.

After success in book one, and on the strength of that success, our two amateur sleuths, Auggie and Theo are asked to investigate the death of a young man whose body is found under suspicious circumstances of what appears to be a drug related crime.

One of the things Gregory Ashe does so well is the sheer emotion he writes which charges full pelt through his writing like electricity. Notwithstanding the bonkers (but plausible), plot lines, there’s so much going on. Auggie and Theo are each involved in toxic relationships in Yet A Stranger - especially Auggie who is still quite a sweet and innocent boy. Theo, too, is hurting badly after the terrible events which upended his life a few years previously. Obviously our two boys are meant for each other but the stars are not quite yet fully aligned - it’s not the right place nor the right time yet. But they always gravitate towards each other, especially when there’s trouble, and it’s obvious those stars will line up eventually.

So the crime is solved in a very convincing manner and our two young men are getting there in their relationship, but as I said, still not quite. But this is Gregory Ashe and he likes to turn the thumb screws and the romances between his characters are always very slow burn but honestly so worth the wait if lyrical writing and clever plotting is your thing.

JF Harding does an absolutely fabulous job in bringing Gregory Ashe’s words to three dimensional life. Auggie is how I imagine the sweet and innocent, nineteen year old boy would sound, and the world weary, Theo, ten years older, and not a little pissed off with life, is just perfect - his ennui with life is obvious and the only real spark he shows is when he’s around Auggie. The best moments for me were when these two great characters had their ‘moments’ - where I could see that they will eventually connect fully. Gregory Ashe and JF Harding are a great team and this audio book is highly recommended. However, potential listener, you would need to be prepared to listen to book one as Auggie and Theo’s relationship is a slow burn romance over (I believe) three books in this series.

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  • Erryn Barratt
  • 08-05-21

Auggie and Theo are back!

So Auggie didn’t land those lucrative endorsement deals for his social media presence on Instagram. Outing himself definitely hurt his potential advertisers and doesn’t that speak poorly of the state of the world? So he’s back at Wroxall College in Missouri – about as far from SoCal as he can get. Sophomore year’s going to be quieter – right?

Yeah, probably not.

Theo was Auggie’s professor and even though their, uh, romantic relationship (what of it there was) began after they departed the professional relationship, Theo’s in hot water in the department - not just because of his relationship with Auggie - but also because of his drunken behavior at a Christmas party last year. Now, he’s a grad student - so they can’t fire him. But they can demote him. This year he’s been relegated to teaching assistant for an old professor who has a propensity for chasing young and clearly uninterested women. Double standard, anyone?

Anyway, Auggie’s in the class – studying Romeo and Juliet – and you just know there’s going to be trouble.

Orlando, Auggie’s roommate from first year (and who was formerly obsessed with Auggie) is back with a problem. His brother Cal has gone missing. He believes Auggie and Theo can solve the disappearance. Now, it felt like a bit of a stretch, but Gregory Ashe had to make it plausible the two would be dragged down into another murder investigation. And it worked. At first, they’re just looking for a missing person but, unfortunately, when they find him, he’s dead. Auggie and Theo are offered a pile of money by the family to solve the crime. They feel badly agreeing to take it, but both men need money. Theo for the cost of caring for his daughter who was so tragically injured in the car crash that killed his husband, and Auggie because, frankly college is expensive. Oh, and having POS for a car doesn’t help either.

And while they’re trying to figure out who murdered Cal, there are romantic entanglements to sort. Now, as much as I want the two men together, this is a Gregory Ashe series, so I know I’m going to have to wait. Theo is getting more involved with his husband’s former police officer partner. Cart is very deep in the closet and that’s getting on Theo’s nerves. He doesn’t want to be anyone’s dirty secret. And Auggie’s met an upperclassman at the fraternity. Dylan seems like a great guy, but I never quite warmed to him. I also want to mention that Auggie’s experiences in the dorm are bringing back memories (good and bad) of my own time living on campus – I think I need to call my therapist.

Anyway, the men also have family entanglements. Theo’s brother Luke died of an overdose for which Theo blames himself. Auggie’s brother Chewie is an addict and his brother Fer is barely holding the family together. And Auggie keeps spending Fur’s money and I cringed. Fer is being put in an impossible situation – carrying everyone. I was waiting for him to break.

Now, back to the murder mystery. All the usual suspects show up. The dirty cop, the Ozark Volunteers (the white supremacist group), as well as some other characters who might or might not have been involved. And Cal was basically leading a double life with his family being in ignorance – or so I believed. I predicted some of the dénouement, but not all of it. Ashe kept me guessing until the end.

Like the previous book, there is plenty of violence. Disturbing violence. Made my stomach clench violence. And I’m no faint of heart, but this book got to me. Will that stop me from reading the next one when it comes out? Uh, oh hell no. And again, I loved how Romeo and Juliet was interwoven in the story. I can’t wait to see which tragedy Ashe picks for the next story.

Finally I’ll mention J.F. Harding. I really enjoy his narration style, and I’m always happy to pick up one of his books. Here’s hoping there’s more to come from this writing/narrator duo.