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Summary

Rabid readers. Backbiting authors. A romance convention from hell.

Shaw Aldrich and his best friend, boyfriend, and partner, North McKinney, are doing great, thanks. The aftermath of their search for the Slasher has finally settled down. Their private investigation agency is thriving. And after years of missed opportunities, they’re finally together. Sure, work might be taking up every spare minute, and their time together as a couple might have evaporated - but that’s normal, right?

When an author asks for their help investigating threats against a gay romance convention, Shaw sees an opportunity to shake up their routine and maybe have some fun. But the convention isn’t what he expects. Between the rabid fans and the backbiting authors, the death threats - which seem totally baseless - are the least of North and Shaw’s worries.

Until, that is, a best-selling author is poisoned in the middle of a panel. Then Shaw and North must race against the clock to find the killer before he (or she) escapes - and before the convention ends. But romance authors are more complicated than either North or Shaw expects, and a treacherous web knits the suspects together.

Shaw and North will have to unravel a skein of lies and half-truths to uncover the killer. It doesn’t help that, on top of everything else, Shaw just wants to find his next favorite book - and, if it isn’t asking too much, have sex with North at least one more time in his current incarnation.

Indirection is the first book in a follow-up series; listen to North and Shaw’s first adventures in The Borealis Investigations, beginning with Orientation.

©2021 Gregory Ashe (P)2021 Gregory Ashe

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The Borealis Boys are Back!

North and Shaw are back in Indirection, the first book in Gregory Ashe’s new four part series Borealis: Without a Compass, which sees them moving into a new phase of their lives – as both romantic partners and partners in a growing, successful business. All the things I so loved about them in their first series – their crazy chemistry, their frequently hilarious (and frequently bonkers) banter, their great friendship and deeply-rooted affection – are still here, and it’s nice to see them (mostly) happy and in love while at the same time, they’re hitting the same speed-bumps we all hit when it comes to juggling the demands of work and home - and a number of previously unresolved issues are starting to rear their ugly heads.

The business is going well; Borealis is making money and a name for itself, but it's clear straight away that both men have different views as to where it should be going and what cases they should be taking. When the woman who runs Queer Expectations – a gay romance book convention – turns up with tales of threatening emails and begs for their help, Shaw is chomping at the bit to take the case and get out of their current rut of corporate drudgery. North isn’t wild about the idea – they’re slammed with other jobs and – but, well, he’s putty in Shaw’s hands, and of course they take the case.

The case is pretty bonkers, with North and Shaw getting the run-around several times over, and then again when one of the big-name authors at the convention is poisoned in front of everyone. Setting this story at a romance convention is very meta and there's definitely some fun being poked at the prejudices held about the romance genre (and, it has to be said, m/m readers in particular).

If I have a complaint it's tthat at times it's all a bit TOO crazy; there's too much going on and it was difficult to take it all in. But there are also some lovely, tender moments between North and Shaw that show how much they care for each other - and others in which the cracks are starting to show.

North's awful "uncle" Ronnie continues to menace in the background; we find out exactly what his hold over North is, and all I can say is it's going to get worse before it gets better. (IF it gets better. Please!)

I really enjoyed Charlie David's performances of the first three Borealis books and was pleased to see he's back for this new series. He's an excellent vocal actor and he's completely nailed North and Shaw, from North's sometimes exaggerated grouchiness to Shaw's wide-eyed (not at all) innocence, and his comic timing in their banter is spot on. I noticed quite a few mispronunciations here that should have been picked up, however which is a shame in an otherwise excellent narration.

Looking forward to more!

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Enjoyable Story, annoying narration

l kinda think Gregory Ashe broke me when he employed Tristan James for his Hazard and Somerset series. Now, I find I measure other narrators of Ashes work to Tristan James standards. I'm not a fan of Charlie David's narration. He's fine with narrating character dialogue but everything else is a bit stilted. There was also a very annoying repeated mispronounced word- the story was set in a King Arthur themed hotel. Tintagel, an English village connected to the Arthurian myth, was the name of one of the rooms at the hotel. Tintagel is pronounced 'Tin-tahhh-jull', but the narrator said 'Tinta-gel'. This kind of pronunciation is easy to check before narration. It was like nails on a blackboard each time he said it.
Apart from that, the story of a murder at a Gay Romance convention amused me greatly. Ashe clearly used the story to have a dig at the ridiculousness of the con circuit, the outrageous behaviour of readers, and egotistical crazy authors. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the content was true as lots of stuff has happened at GRL that people in the MM community know about! It's why I'd never attend!
The relationship between North and Shaw continues to be dysfunctional. both of them have so much baggage that it will probably take the whole of this new series for them to end up on the same page! Fun, good writing, shame about the narrator.

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A crazy ride

I received this audio book as an advanced listener.
Why entitled this review 'crazy ride'? Well because Shaw and North cases take you to some ridiculous places. Some will make you laugh and some despair. It is always interesting.
You need to have read/listened to the original series to understand Shaw and North's dynamic and some of the recurring characters. The backdrop to the story is North and Shaw learning to accommodate one another as we delved into the world of gay romance writers. Bitchy much!! As for North's uncle Ronnie - you will have to listen to find out.
Lastly, I am pleased that Gregory Ashe has managed to keep Charlie David as narrator as he inhabits his characters so well that the translation from the book doesn't miss the nuances.
Are there some more challenges ahead for North and Shaw? Well we'll have to get book 2 to find out......

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North and his Shaw

Indirection (noun) – lack of straightforwardness, indirect action, lack of direction

Shaw’s note – like the time North got wasted at a Sigma Sigma party and tried to walk home and got stuck in a hedge for two hours until I found him

North’s note – better example: or like the first time Shaw used a Dab Pen and got lost inside his own sweater

Erryn’s note – I had to go look up what a Dab Pen was (thank you Google)


I adored the Borealis Investigation series and was sad to see it end. At the time, there was promise of more and this author tends to write prolifically when he zeroes in on a couple worthy of his attention. Shaw and North are such a couple. Although their respective arcs felt complete after the last book in the previous series, a few cracks let daylight through, so I wasn’t surprised to see my two favorite private detectives back. They’ve put the slasher behind them and are busier than ever with the business – especially the work they’re doing for Shaw’s father. They’re not getting rich, but things are at least comfortable.

When Shaw is approached by the organizer of a gay romance convention, Queer Con, to help solve the threats to the con, he grabs the opportunity because it’s something new. Something shiny. And he gets to pull out his manuscript about gay library sex (and a debate about whether you can return a book you’ve uh, you know…if it’s library hardback and you’ve cleaned it. (Hint – no ahem way.)

I have heard a few stories about cons over the years and have attended a few myself (although never a gay romance con, despite having always wanted to.) I’ve heard rumours about things going on behind the scenes, but I’d like to believe nothing as extreme as what’s going on in this story. That being said, I wonder how much is imagination and how much is rooted in those rumours. I was never quite sure.

Now, along with murder, there is a lot of humor in this book. Like at some points I laughed out loud (not common for me) and a couple of times, I actually snorted. Usually at Shaw’s antics. I can never quite figure him out. He seems almost ditzy at times and at other moments, he has great ideas. That being said, I’m firmly in Camp North. Shaw would drive me nuts. Sometimes I wonder why North puts up with him. Then Shaw does something super sweet and I think, yeah, I get it. Or he does something ridiculous (the red pen incident) and I think, OMG, I’d lose my, uh, stuff..

There is a lot going on in this book. Not just the con. And Shaw and North are in for a nasty surprise when they try to take down a criminal. North’s past might not be as clean as he’d thought.

Okay, and through all this, I had Charlie David. I adore him and his narrations are always brilliant. He has the couple nailed, and did a good job with the secondary characters as well. Obviously there are more books to come in the series and I can’t wait. And although you can listen without having enjoyed the last series, I would recommend tossing it in to the mix – if only for the sheer entertainment value.

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  • Sadie G
  • 22-05-21

Shaw is so precious

I love Shaw. He is just too pure. Shaw did not have enough Coke for my liking. The mystery was twisty and turny. The banter was witty as ever. If you haven't listened to A Borealis Investigations series, go listen to that, then this. Then listen to all of Gregory Ashe's books.

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  • Natalie Nicole
  • 15-07-21

The boys of Borealis Investigations are back! Yay!

Yay! Shaw and North are back! They're back! Our boys are back! Yes, I'm excited about that. When 'Declination: Borealis Investigations, Book 3' ends, Shaw and North have been given an opportunity to do lots of work for Aldrich Acquisitions, the company owned by Shaw's father. They are answering to someone else in the company other than Shaw's father Wilson, so North finds the work arrangement reasonably acceptable as it has less of the feel of receiving charity. The Borealis Investigation offices receive a much-needed facelift as cash pours into the agency as a result of their professional reputations, impressive solve rates, and their work from Aldrich Acquisitions. One client, however, pays the men for work by giving them an unnamed puppy that latches onto North without quite warming to the others. Along with the puppy, Zion and Truck from previous books are working for the agency performing other necessary tasks and providing a real sense of family among the folks at Borealis.
In 'Indirection-Borealis: Without a Compass, Book 1', a woman writer approaches the boys about investigating a threat against a gay romance convention that Shaw accepts gladly, though they have plenty of work to do. But the convention gives Shaw the opportunity to get his paperbacks signed and to check in on his favorite gay romance writers, so North is dragged along for the ride. Much to North's chagrin, he and Shaw are dressed to resemble a popular fictional gay romance couple. There were threats made to disrupt the current convention attributed to a woman who was banned from all Queer Romance literature conventions the previous year. Their goal is to locate the woman in order to prevent her from posing a danger to those attending.
Unfortunately for the men, Uncle Ronnie is still in the picture and he browbeats the men into tracking down a man who has been beating up young rent boys. The guys Ronnie has worked for him have been unsuccessful in locating the assailant, leaving it up to North and Shaw to do the job to stay in Ronnie's good graces. Ronnie has an audio recording of North's father asking him to do whatever it took to save North from the consequences of the bad case that was mention in Orientation: Borealis Investigations Book 1! Ronnie alludes to witness tampering and as North is the only one to benefit, he stands to spend time in jail for it is unable to prove he wasn't the one who paid to have it done. With North, and by extension Shaw, over the barrel, they have no choice but to try to find the attacker while working all of their other cases.
Meanwhile back at the convention, the best-selling author Scotty Carlson has proved to be a much more toxic personality than all the other writers combined (and that's saying something, folks!), being a man willing to humiliate readers and writers alike. Even Shaw, his number one fan, does not escape the public ridicule instigated by the writer. Scotty Carlson winds up dying at the hospital when the discussion panelists' bottled water is poisoned. Shaw and North unravel information about Scotty and the other writers at the convention that's truly remarkable even as they are a couple of other attacks on writers, both in an effort of eliminating witnesses and also for misdirecting the investigation. Shaw and North manage to catch the culprit on the very last night of the convention. With all the twists and turns in this book took, I was truly surprised by who done it in this incredible mystery!
With the capture of the West End Slasher, I didn't know whether there would be a thriving force in future Shaw and North books, but there appears to be a tension between the men. With all the information we are given in the past series, we know about the disparity in financial and social standing between the men. We also know that Shaw is a bit of a spoiled but absolutely lovable brat who is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder linked to two relationships: his brush with the West End Slasher eight years earlier and the betrayal he endured with Matty Fennmore in book 1. Shaw demonstrates continued difficulty understanding limits and boundaries within the relationship he has with North, especially with respect to sexual intimacies. Adding to North's rather large poop-pile is his crooked uncle Ronnie and the deal he made with North's father! And let's not forget North's husband, the viper-vicious Tucker who had always resented his feelings towards Shaw. All this partnered with new cases to solve promises to be a wonderful reading experience.

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  • Leshi Judy
  • 14-06-21

I laughed so hard. 🤣🤣Thanks to North and Shaw.

Audiobook – 4 stars
Story – 4.25 stars

GAAAHHH!!! The boys are back!

OMG this is the funniest Greg Ashe book I have ever read. Shaw and North gave me a free vacation. After all, laughter is a vacation.

I am happy that Greg is giving us another Shaw and North series like he did with Hazard and Somers.
The writing is stellar as always, I am now used to Greg’s style and I am officially a devoted stan. The story flows so well and it is well complemented by the audiobook.

The mystery was hilarious, it reminded of the supernatural episode where Sam and Dean see their lives on TV. This one is set at a Gay Romance convection. The interactions there are hilarious. Shaw is a freaking mm romance stan. I saw myself in some fans category. Damn! You can’t blame me, some of these characters are my life. I stan them hard! And did Ashe poke fun at some of the mm romance writers? Hmmmm! There is some truth beneath all the quirky humor. Some of the questions at the con are what I have seen being debated online for a long time. E.g Can straight women write genuine gay characters? Does reading mm romance fetishize gay men? Etc….. I have a whole rant about this but I will not go into it. All I can say and North agrees with me is, let people be, as long as it doesn’t cross the line and become disrespectful.

The 1st mystery kept me guessing until the end, I was very entertained and sidetracked by all the shenanigans going on at the Gay con. The other mystery? Oh! I don’t like it at all. UGH! WTF is Uncle Ronnie doing here? I don’t want to find out. 😣😣 I hope we get to see Kyle in the future. He only appeared for minutes but I am already interested in his story. He made an impact. I know Shaw felt it too.

The relationship between Shaw and North is growing slowly, after last series events, I am happy to see that not everything is being pushed under the rug. These two have a long way to go when it comes to healing. Good thing is that they are best friends and besties know how to work things out. Oh well, most besties, probably not these two fools. I love to see how their relationship is developing, mixing business, best friendship and pleasure is not always good. These two are trying their best to balance it all. I liked how it was not all roses, their struggle for balance is evident.

Shaw! Omg! Shaw need filters, he always says what he is thinking out loud, sometimes I want to reach inside the book and slap him to make him shut up but I love him anyway. His character is hilarious most of the time. I can live with that.
North! Northy! Oh boy, North needs to see a therapist and he also needs a big hug. This buff is a big teddy bear with issues. I think I am starting to love North more. GAAAHH!! This is hard but there is something broken in him that I want to fix.
Pari! Hmmmm! Jury is still out but I like where this is going.

Overall, I had so much fun listening to this audiobook. I can’t wait to see how their relationship will develop.

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

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  • Riva
  • 11-06-21

More Please

This is the 1st book in the 2nd series of the Borealis books. I remembered Shaw and North from the Hazard and Somerset series, but I had not listened to the 1st series before I started this book. With that said, it took nothing away from my enjoyment of this story. It also helped that I have attended a few Gay Romance Lit conferences, so I found myself laughing at some of the antics that really do occur there. Thankfully, no murders and I hope the authors are not as crazy as some in this story, but who knows.

The setting for this murder mystery is a conference attended by readers and writers of gay romance; BTW there really is such a conference call GRL, it’s great. Shaw “secretly” loves the genre, no surprise there, and the duo are swept into the intrigue; with North kicking and screaming, this is not his thing. Mr. Ashe really has an amazing talent for injecting hysterical banter and poignant moments into his stories. You are laughing one moment and crying the next. That is one of the reasons I love his books. And this story delivers.

In this series Shaw and North are an established couple, but still getting to know how that feels. They have known each other since freshman year in college (8 years ago) and Shaw has loved North since the first time he saw him. Their journey was a rough one, as chronicled in the first series. I loved this story so much, the first thing I did after finishing this book was purchase the first series. I love this couple and they are so complicated, but truly endearing. At the time I am writing this review, I have already finished the first book in the series. And even though there are some spoilers in this 2nd series, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Shaw and North from the beginning. It also supplied some very interesting insight into Shaw. He is not as “innocent” as one might believe by starting with this book. Like I said, I think you can enjoy this book without reading the 1st series, but I think I would recommend reading them in order to get the full effect.

Charlie David is just a master performer. He does an amazing job except mispronouncing some words. He really brings this story alive.

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

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  • Sandra Kirchner
  • 05-06-21

Even better in audio

North and Shaw find themselves visiting a gay romance convention in the first book of the next Borealis arc. Filled with every stereotype of the genre, this book is a riot without being mean-spirited. As always, the snark is on point and laugh-out-loud funny throughout. The tension is ratcheted up due to both the internal strife in their relationship and the external pressure from Uncle Ronnie's demands. The audio performance is top-notch. I especially love the way he voices Shaw.

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  • WW
  • 28-05-21

The Adventure continues.

After eight long years, our dynamic duo is now a couple, and we couldn't be happier for them. Unfortunately, it's not smooth sailing.

The good news is that Borealis Investigations is finally taking off and turning a decent profit, but that also means a workload that keeps North up at night, trying to catch up with the mounds of paperwork. Shaw took on a new client who wants them to investigate possible sabotage at the Queer Expectations writer's convention. Easy-peasy job, right?

But this is North and Shaw we're talking about, so...

North also struggles with his soon-to-be ex-husband Tucker, who won't give him divorce. And, there's "Uncle" Ronnie, a gangster acquaintance who is calling in "favors" to settle some debts. Simple, little jobs, which are always more dangerous than they seem.

Shaw loves North, North loves Shaw, but can they survive all this and still be happy?

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  • Michelle
  • 27-05-21

Happy For More Shaw & North

I am so happy to get more North and Shaw. I'm enjoying watching these guys grow in their relationship, even with the angst and feels as issues start to surface. Neither is perfect, and each is sometimes frustrating, but that's why I've become invested in them. The book convention setting is great and provided comedic moments even with the underlying suspenseful mystery. Charlie David continues to do a great job narrating both North, Shaw and the secondary characters. His voices each character distinctively and paces the story well. Overall, very happy to get another series with North & Shaw and looking forward to more.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 26-05-21

please write more books

I love your characters and series this one and the ones with somer and hazard

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  • kp
  • 25-05-21

Such a Treat!

Charlie David does an amazing job of bringing this story to life! There's nothing better than more Shaw and North! I have followed these two from their first book and I am never disappointed on the journey Gregory Ashe takes the readers on.
This mystery has plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. Sprinkled amongst the action are moments of complete hilarity that will have you crying with laughter.
I was drawn in from page one and didn't look up until the very last page!
Bring on more Shaw and North!!!!

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  • Dana Piazzi
  • 19-05-21

New Adventures for North and Shaw

In the first series, Borealis Investigations, featuring Shaw Aldrich and North McKinney, the two were partners in a P.I. business and best friends. Also the two had harbored a long time crush on each other, but couldn't admit it to each other. An attack on Shaw and an abusive husband for North later, the two finally got together in the last book. I knew there would be differences in this series vs the fist one just because the sexual tension and would they or won't they get together questions were done. But the bickering between the two definitely wasn't.

At times the little fights between North and Shaw are funny. At times, I would almost think it was an act meant to confuse anyone around them, especially criminals and/or cops who mean to teach them a lesson or question them. It definitely feels like a comedy schtick sometimes, but it is just North and Shaw being North and Shaw. When my co-reviewer, Erryn, asked me if I was Camp North or Camp Shaw, I'll admit that it wasn't something I really thought of in that way. I liked the two together and could see both of their bad sides and good sides. North is the tougher of the two. His family and his abusive marriage made him who he is; jaded and easy to anger. Shaw is definitely the lighter of the two. His past attack has affected him in some ways, but overall he is the more optimistic of the two. He is definitely silly and hippy-dippy. I can see why North can get frustrated with him, but at times North's tough demeanor can be cruel. After reflection, I probably identify with Shaw and his need to see the good in people; the silver lining on the cloud.

In Indirection, North and Shaw are working two different cases. One is less than on the level, since the person asking for their help is making nefarious threats. Young male prostitutes are being beat to the brink of death and they need to find proof of who is doing it. Though I'm glad they were there trying to help find this monster, the blackmailer forcing them to work the case makes me angry. This storyline will come back in the next book as the two try to get from under his thumb, I'm sure. The other case is at a gay romance con. I was lucky enough to go to one in 2014 and loved the experience. As a newbie to the genre and sort of shy, I didn't get caught up in any drama that might occur, though I am sure there was some. Just as there was in this book. The author does poke a little fun at author drama, and the handsy fans, but nothing I could find offense in. The mystery plot regarding the death of one of the authors and why he was killed was definitely interesting, though, and I was never sure who it was until the big reveal.

As far as this second series featuring North and Shaw goes, I am excited. I can't wait to see the ways they keep trying to work on their relationship and what might happen as their blackmailer keeps threatening them. There were appearances from previous characters in this series including Shaw's ex and a police detective Jaden. A brief crossover appearance of Winter and Snow, from C.S. Poe's characters was fun, but very brief to be sure. Since Gregory Ashe and C.S. Poe also co-author a different series together, I wonder if they will appear again. It definitely rounded out this story well and the narration from Charlie David was on-point. I definitely recommend this book. I do believe you can listen or read this series without having read the first, but I think it could be beneficial.