The Place Between

I haven’t reviewed a book on here for quite some time, but I finished one yesterday that I absolutely loved. It started out a little slow, but I think it had good reason. By the time I finished it, I didn’t want it to be over. The book is The Place Between by Kit Oliver. I’d never read anything by Kit Oliver before, but it was included in Audible’s Plus Catalog, which means with my subscription, I could listen for free. After reading the description, I knew I wanted to read it. Here’s what the blurb said:

Will Ned finally get a relationship right – even if it’s fake?

Ned’s exhausted from his divorce, single parenting, and graduate school, so when his boss comes up with a plan to ‘improve’ work-life balance, Ned wants no part of it.

But Dr. Charles Henry Abbot, PhD has other ideas. Once Ned’s least favorite professor and now his infuriating colleague, Ned needs Abbot’s help editing his dissertation. With their newly limited work schedules, Abbot suggests the worst idea Ned’s ever heard: pretend to date. Convince their co-workers – and their boss – that they’re in a relationship and nailing this whole personal life thing . . . and each other. 

It’s an awful idea, but, if it means a graduation cap, would faking a relationship be worth it, so Ned can finish his degree and move home to his daughter?

The Place Between is a steamy, m/m romance novel. If you like enemies to lovers, fake dating, and the thin line between bickering and flirting, then you’ll love this fast paced romance.

Buy The Place Between to watch Ned and Abbot’s fake relationship unfold as they stumble into the most real thing either of them has ever done.

First, I like the fake relationship to lovers genre of m/m romance. Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall and Love Happens Anyway (A fake boyfriend for Christmas story) by RJ Scott are two of my favorites. I have listened to Boyfriend Materialat least twice, and I have listened to Love Happens Anyway every Christmas since I first read it. Usually, my friend Susan suggests m/m romance books to read, and she’s an excellent judge of a good book. There are times that I have liked a book that she didn’t, but rarely (if ever) have I not liked a book she recommended to me.

Anyway, I don’t want to give too much away about The Place Between, but I do want to tell you about one scene that really hit home for me, and Oliver describes in such real detail, that I wonder if he has experienced something similar himself. In the book, Ned defends his dissertation (I’m not giving anything away; it was bound to happen in the book). When he walks out of his defense, he’s a bundle of nerves. He second guesses himself and feels like he’s going to vomit any minute. While I never defended my dissertation, because I never finished it, I did take the comprehensive exams for my PhD: four days of written essays and two hours of an oral exam. The professors on my committee could ask me anything, and while I knew I had done very well on the written exams (one professor told me that she’d heard they were the best any of the professors on my committee had read), the oral exams were a different story.

When I was in graduate school, I was not a very confident person. I hated speaking in front of professors. I could speak to a classroom of students, but when it came to professors, I always felt like I couldn’t put together a coherent sentence. It wasn’t true and I wish someone had told me that back then and encouraged me more, but no one did. Sadly, it’s not the way graduate school often works. I am far more confident now, and doctorate or not, I have no problem talking in front of professors and teaching their classes. But back then was a completely different story. I stuttered and stammered through my oral exams. It was beyond awful, though I found out later, that they thought I’d done fine. They had decided after reading my written exams that I’d pass no matter what, so the oral exams were just a formality. I knew most of the answers I was asked during the oral exams with the exception of one question from the Europeanist on my committee, but I don’t feel bad about that since the Americanists all apparently said afterwards, “What the fuck was she talking about?”

Anyway, when I walked out of that conference room after that oral exam and knew the professors who’d just grilled me with questions was determining my fate, I was a mess. My friend Tony said that I was white as a ghost, and he was worried I’d either pass out or throw up. Luckily, I did neither and shortly afterwards they called me back in. Apparently, they had been talking about other things since they’d decided my fate before I went into the oral exams. I knew I had to sit one on one with another professor for the women’s history portion of my oral exams (she was not able to make it up on the day of my exam). I was not too worried. We sat and had coffee while she asked me questions, and it went much more smoothly.

So the scene when Ned defends his dissertation is one that really resonated with me. I really did love the book. I usually listen to books only in my car, but this one, I spent yesterday listening to because I just couldn’t stop myself, and I was sad when I finished it. Reading this book, I laughed, and at times, I even got a little teary eyed. I felt a whole range of emotions reading this book, and for me, that’s always a mark of a great writer. The only drawback to the audiobook is the way the narrator voices Abbot. Though it fits with the character somewhat, I think the voice was just too monotoned and unemotional. Otherwise, I think Jeremy Frazier, the books narrator, does an excellent job. At 12 hours and 55 minutes, it’s a long audiobook, but if you are like me, you will not want it to end.

If the book sounds interesting to you, I hope you will either read or listen to it. It’s available in Audible Plus and Kindle Unlimited. Also, there is a short coda (or extra chapter) to download when you finish the book.


About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

2 responses to “The Place Between

  • bryandspellman

    OMG PhD exams. The orals were the worst. When I crushed my styrofoam coffee cup, my professors suggested I take a break and go for a walk around campus. While they deliberated, I stood in a nearby office wondering what I was going to do with my life since I obviously failed the exam. When my advisor came to get me, he said “We have decided to accept your answers. Congratulations.” Quite a difference from my Masters exams. After that experience, my advisor left the examination room and greeted me in the hallway saying “Félicitations!” (Congrats–my field was 20th Century French lit.) I am convinced that PhD orals are the academic equivalent of fraternity hazing. By the time you get there, your professors know if you know your stuff. But they had to go through this torture, and now, if you are going to join their “fraternity,” so do you. It was so traumatic, that it took me 12 more years to write my dissertation–which I did turn in, but didn’t have to defend. I had three different dissertation advisors, the first two retired while I dawdled, and to this day I have never met the man who actually signed off on my work. I ended up in higher education, but in administration, not as a prof of French lit. I tell people that I got my PhD so that my mother and Delta Airlines could address me as Dr. Spellman.

    And thanks to your review, I just used one of my stored credits to get The Place Between!

    • Joe

      I hope you enjoy the book, Dr. Spellman, and you’re right, professors just wanted to torture us. The worst part about my exams, besides the orals, was that a week or so before I had finally finished my study notes, a complete timeline of American history, listing the books (900 were on my required reading list), their arguments, school of thought, etc. it was a truly remarkable document. Then, my computer literally blew up. There was a pop and smoke rose from the back. I lost everything on my computer that I did not have backed up, which wasn’t much and I’ve learned my lesson on that. I hadn’t even printed my notes yet. Luckily, writing things down, whether I review it or not helps stick it in my memory. Still, I was a nervous wreck. A friend who’d already taken her comps gave me her notes to do I final review but she was a overachieving note taker so it didn’t actually help that much. I passed though, and that’s all that mattered at the time.

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