„There is no friendship here. No support, or love, or honesty. It’s all need manifested into seduction, self-fulfillment achieved through destruction.“
This is the world John Liege enters when he agreed to follow the invitation to write Parker Chase’s biography.
Parker Chase, Hollywoods sex symbol par excellence and the man John’s sister warned him about. Parker is rich but lives a somewhat secluded life. John’s goal is it to show the man behind the Hollywood veneer.
And that is not a simple task because soon the diametral characters engage in a battle of wits.
Not long ago, John’s life was shattered when Logan, a young fan of his, who fell in love with John, committed suicide after John ignored the advances Logan made. That tragedy left John derailed, a wreck and subsequently even his partner, Sam, left him, not being able to handle John’s state of mind any longer. Despite all those terrible events, where unrequited love led to death and his partner leaving him, John strongly believes in true love.
Parker Chase has everything one can dream of. Success, a beautiful home, money and countless fans who adore him, love him. But long ago, Parker turned his back on the concept of love. For him it is enough if people come together for some fun. No obligation and no bonding. His career made Parker cold inside. He does not trust people, believing that love and friendship are sought by confused souls who yet need to learn the harsh reality of human interaction.
So John’s and Parker’s battle of wits seem entertaining at the surface but they have a much, much deeper meaning. It is a clash of diametral philosophies and I do not hesitate to say it is almost like a Greek tragedy: the forces of love and hope against abandoning everything that makes human relationship worthwhile. And because of this John is asking himself over and over again why him? Why does Parker Chase, with his character, wants an author, who writes romance novels, to write his biography?
And near the end, the novel is like a Greek tragedy. Already beaten by life John, despite getting several warnings that something is off, receives another blow. Finally when he is ready to take a risk, he is betrayed.
A.F. Henley wrote a brilliant character driven novel. As reader, I very much felt for John and also admired him. To try and believe in the good of man after all that happened to him is so awesome. He wants to write about the real Parker Chase behind the mask no matter how many times Parker tells him that there is nothing to discover. He put up that mask to shield himself from all the false love, he believes is out there, for so long that the compassionate and loving Parker is gone. There were moments when Parker seemes to be honest with John and lowers his mask. Only to ruin those moments instantly by being back to his old self. I wanted to like Parker because for me he seems like a confused child. Parker likes gardening and designing his estate. He can make something positive. Yet in the next minute it shows how he treats other people and all his positive attitude seems so fake again. Parker is smooth and it is impossible to get a grip on his personality. And that not only drives John crazy but did the same to me.
This is also a very meaningful topic, A.F. Henley brings up. Parker, behind his arrogance and keeping people at distant only tries to protect himself from being hurt. He prefers meaningless sex to a deep and honest relationship. John, on the other hand, has been burned so badly by love and yet refuses to let go of being his real self and stand firm to his believes.
This review would not be complete without mentioning two more characters.
There is The Cat. She comes and goes to Parkers estate and Parker says she is a free spirit like him. Never bonding with someone and going as she pleases. How very wrong he is about her as she keeps company with John and what an awesome way to show how little Parker understand others. By the way, in a brilliant show of symbolism, The Cat is renamed near the end of the story in so fitting way!
And there is William, Parker’s…yes, who is William? Not just Parker’s butler. He is with him since Parker’s childhood and still, even at nights, keeps an eye on him. John and William quickly become friends. They are both very much down to earth and form a bond since they are the only ones acting like normal people among Parker and his ”friends“. William seems to be disillusioned by Parker’s view of life and sees a friendly spirit in John. A pity how things ended between these two characters.
With ”The Chase and the Catch”, A.F. Henley forces his readers to think, to contemplate how one would react if life deals you a blow or how one wants to see the world and the people around her/him. But thanks to his wonderful way of writing the novel is not a heavy or depressing one. It is full of charm and tension, of hot lovemaking and deep disappointment. I highly recommend this novel to everyone who wants a m/m romance novel of high quality and great to read!