Max Bergmann is Europe’s hottest drum and bass DJ. From the outside, his life is a whirl of glamorous vodka-fueled parties and casual hook-ups, whilst inside he craves the one thing he can’t have – his Greek childhood friend, Georgios Manolas.
Following a disastrous PR stunt and one drunken hook-up too many, Max realises the time has come to reassess his life choices. Returning to his childhood home on the Greek island of Aegina, if he wants any chance of having Georgios permanently in his life, he has to delve into the mystery of the longstanding hatred of the Bergmann’s by Georgios’s family.
Georgios is a chef and has spent his whole life on the tiny Greek island of Aegina. He has held the family restaurant together since he left school, with very little reward, and dreams of one day running a restaurant of his own on the island. Yet if he acknowledges his feelings for Max, he runs the risk of losing not just his traditional Greek family but also his livelihood.
As Max slowly uncovers the secrets of the past, he is left wondering whether a little Greek girl’s heart-breaking wartime diary could not only hold the key to his family’s history, but could it also unlock his and Georgios’s future together?
The Last of the Moussaka’s is a light-hearted, warm romance about two men’s quest for the truth about the past and unlocking a path to a future together.
Title: The Last of the Moussakas
Author: Fearne Hill
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: 03/08/2021
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, contemporary, gay, Greek island setting, Greek culture, celebrity Friends to lovers, In-the-closet/coming out, soulmates, humorous, chefs, musician, chef, second cousins, family drama
Most of this story takes place in Aegina, an island just off the coast of mainland Greece. It’s still largely undiscovered by international tourism – certainly compared to islands such as Santorini and Mykonos, and has maintained its rustic, simple charm.
I have visited the island many times and my inspiration for this book came from coming across frequent reminders, such as the abandoned lookout posts, of its German occupation during WW2. In addition, the decrepit old civic building mentioned in the book does indeed stand on the waterfront and has been for sale for years.
I can’t mention Aegina without mentioning the colours – Greece has shades of blue unlike any blues anywhere else in the world. Secondly, the food. Oh my goodness, the food. Visit Mykonos or Santorini or Corfu, and yeah, you’ll taste some traditional Greek dishes. But travel to Aegina and you’ll never want to eat anywhere else again.
Towards the end of the meal, a tinkling but insistent bell rings from inside the house, and I groan inwardly. I swear that woman can smell visitors. Either that or she has hidden CCTV installed.
“Go and say hello to Noni, Maxi,” says my mother, giving him a tired smile. “She’s been looking forward to your visit.”
We all know that’s a blatant lie, but obediently, Max rises from the table, and I go with him, like a pair of lambs to the slaughter. He’s probably wishing he’d downed a few more glasses of red wine when he had the chance. How can a defenceless wrinkly old woman instil such fear in two grown men?
Noni pretends she hasn’t heard us as we open the door, even though I know full well there is nothing wrong with her hearing. She commandeered the front parlour about twenty years ago and hasn’t budged since. Considering how long she’s lived in this room, she has very little clutter and very few possessions apart from the necessary, such as the commode chair and a low table holding an assortment of medicines and a small fan. There is the huge old telly, of course, permanently switched on, but no photographs and only one book—a tatty old black atlas that is falling apart and that we’ve never been allowed to touch. The hot fug of the room is cloying, a mixture of stale wee and dead flowers. I try to take shallow breaths.
She’s in her usual pose, bundled up under hideous crocheted blankets and propped on a pile of cushions, with the TV remote, a little brass bell, and a jug of water within reach next to the bed. Her thin white hair fans out on the flowery pillow behind her, two bony hands neatly lie across her chest. A grubby tissue pokes out of one of the tiny clenched fists. Max hovers nervously at my shoulder, and not for the first time as I tiptoe over, I wonder whether she’s dead—the frail skin drawn across her face is so chalky, her thin lips so bloodless. Two watery eyes stare sightlessly at the silent episode of Lampsi playing out on the television.
“Noni, it’s me, Georgios,” I say tentatively and will myself to cover one of those clawlike hands with my own.
The suddenness of her gaze jerking in my direction takes me by surprise, and I involuntarily pull my hand away. “I’ve brought Max to say hello. You remember Max, don’t you?”
Painfully, she inches her head in Max’s direction. (There’s not much wrong with her neck either, but from the way she hams it up, you would think her head is about to drop off). Finally, her eyes take in the handsome specimen of masculinity standing at my shoulder. She stares at him coldly for a few uncomfortable seconds before bringing the tissue up to her mouth and spitting into it with elegant disdain.
“I see him” is all she says in a hoarse whisper, but the hand holding the tissue trembles.
“Hello, Noni,” offers Max gamely, shuffling forwards. “How are you? You’re looking well.”
I had no idea he was such a good liar; she looks like she’s been sleeping in a coffin for the last hundred years. One of the claws darts out and seizes him by the wrist, and she pulls him down so that his face is closer to hers, making no attempt to hide a look of intense dislike. “You are more like him every time I see you,” she hisses, not letting him go.
Oh God, not this again.
When I read the synopsis of this book, I knew I had to read it. I was excited to read a book based in Greece and I love the childhood friends to lovers trope. However, I was not prepared for the history and the crying (not a lot, but enough for a couple tissues). I was very happy though to read this and enjoyed it from beginning to end. I loved the descriptions of the island, the people on it, as well as the history behind the island and the Nazi occupation.
Little spoiler…if you have a trigger warning for suicide you may want to avoid this book (it’s sort of off page, but still could be shocking to some).
That being said it was well written. I loved having two narratives…the main characters as well as a surprise about a quarter of the way into the book. Max and Georgios, the two MC’s, were friends from childhood and their families had bad history dating back generations. Yet, they had always been in love with each other.
It took an event that could have been tragic for Max to finally figure out that what he needed in his life was Georgios.
There isn’t much drama between the two main characters. In fact I was expecting some because Georgios was not out of the closet but that never really materialized. But there was definitely a lot to be said for the history between the two as well as the family. I loved how easy Max and Georgios were with each other once they got past the initial issue of Max saying he was in love with Georgios. They had been in love and just never acted on it. So when they decided to act on it, they just loved each other, as simple as that.
I would definitely recommend this book. I would also recommend having a tissue or two handy for a couple of parts. But in the end a happy ending for the two main characters who found their lives with each other and the place they both wanted to be.
4 pieces of eye candy
Fearne Hill lives deep in the southern British countryside with three untamed sons, varying numbers of hens, a few tortoises, and a beautiful cocker spaniel.
When she is not overseeing her small menagerie, she enjoys writing contemporary romantic fiction. And when she is not doing either of those things, she works as an anaesthesiologist.