I wholly believed in Corwin as a character, and in the group dynamics as a whole. I can't stress enough how awesome that is.
This story to me seemed mo...moreI wholly believed in Corwin as a character, and in the group dynamics as a whole. I can't stress enough how awesome that is.
This story to me seemed more like a quiet coming-of-age / in-transition narrative on multiple fronts than an erotic romance. That said, the characters in transition (primarily Mike) and coming of age (primarily Corwin) were psychologically rendered so deftly I couldn't be upset when discarding my initial genre expectations.
Mike, in this story, is a former brat. This, coupled with his keen observation of others, lends credence to his conclusions about the living situation he's come to correct. He's highly attuned to the needs and limits of "brats" and those suffering their bad behavior, because he's a reformed brat who now loves playing Dom to them in scenes.
For much of the story, Mike seems unwilling to face the reality and consequences of his growing attraction to Corwin. His almost clinical level of detachment made him seem like observer to his own life, not just those of his friends. His reluctance to admit the intensity of his feelings for Corwin even to himself undercut his authority for me. His hypocrisy and refusal to be vulnerable amid continued demands for honesty from others was hard to ignore. In that way, this is his coming-of-age story too.
Corwin I loved and ached for even when wanting to throttle him, because I recognized in him a host of insecurity, impulsivity, self-awareness, and desperation common to young adults with ADD/ADHD. His basic needs have gone unmet because insecurity hampers his communication, and he seems resigned to his requests for discipline being rejected or inadequately met—hence the arrival of "Brat Whisperer" Mike.
Corwin is very psychologically self-aware, and when pressed for honesty, knows why he's really pushing loved ones' buttons. Discipline, for Corwin, is a surer way to externally address and enforce needs and behaviors he's failed to adequately address or enforce reliably on his own. Kudos to J.A. Rock for this troubled and troublesome character!
...And there ends my long-winded adoration of this story's characterization. J.A. Rock is an author I'll happily read more from in the future.(less)
This novella was a good read, despite how atypical it is for the m/m holiday romance it's classified as.
It's an emotionally difficult story in large p...moreThis novella was a good read, despite how atypical it is for the m/m holiday romance it's classified as.
It's an emotionally difficult story in large part because its protagonist, James McBride, is self-destructing, and the only one who refuses to see it is him. Although sympathetic, McBride isn't really likable for the first third of the book. Toby's entrance marks the point McBride stops drifting and starts waking up, facing the mess he's made, and dealing with the consequences.
I'd classify this as the story of a broken man's recovery, with crime thriller and romance subplots that drive the main storyline forward. Worth reading, but not the light and fluffy holiday story one would expect.(less)
This isn't my Official Review—I need a regular keyboard for this, phone won't cut it—but I felt it imperative my adoration for Wirth's writing be post...moreThis isn't my Official Review—I need a regular keyboard for this, phone won't cut it—but I felt it imperative my adoration for Wirth's writing be posted immediately! ^_^
Beth Wirth writes atmosphere beautifully! I expected a comic adventure of hate-to-love romance with alien shenanigans, based on the blurb. Instead I got a coming-of-age novella about a young man for whom the alien invasion becomes a wake-up call, a reminder to remember his roots and himself, and stop being the petty, hateful person he's become while using grief and rage to block out his conscience.
I love that through wandering with Kyle and Taylor, Matthew recovers himself and his center, opening himself to love and honesty, and to his drive to protect and help rather than bully or ignore. The journey seems a bit dreamlike in my head, and I love that it's during this dreamy desert wandering that Matthew wakes up!
Stopping for now because no keyboard (still!), and I refuse to write an essay—specific to this story—on why I'm going to "Fan" this author's GR page the minute this posts. <3(less)
A steamy May/December short story. Recent graduate Kyle is blindsided by lust for the man interviewing him for a job he desperately wants—a man around...moreA steamy May/December short story. Recent graduate Kyle is blindsided by lust for the man interviewing him for a job he desperately wants—a man around twenty years his senior. Mr. Sellers is the company higher-up with sole power over which applicant will be hired, and an appreciation for hot young men. Needless to say, Kyle's job interview heats up quickly.
I enjoyed this story. Others should note, however, that an element of dub-con is inexplicably tied to the story's premise and sex scene.
Although the author is careful to address this in the story so readers know everything is 100% consensual, some may find the scenario triggering by definition. (view spoiler)[Even I found Mr. Sellers's timing discomfiting: scheduling Kyle as his last appointment, ergo the office staff not gone already will soon leave for the day; assuring Kyle that having sex with him won't affect his hiring decision in any way; then, after sex, informing Kyle that he's hired. I might have enjoyed this story more had the above timing been different. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I liked the premise, and enjoyed Kyle and Mason's relationship both at the beginning and the end of the story. The sexual tension was clear from the g...moreI liked the premise, and enjoyed Kyle and Mason's relationship both at the beginning and the end of the story. The sexual tension was clear from the get-go, as was the tenderness they felt for one another.
The story fell short (for me) primarily in its final conflict. The trope of "easily resolved communication issue nearly breaks up the previously perfect couple", especially as the story's final conflict, and caused by both main characters acting in ways I thought unrealistic and out of character for them, is a huge pet peeve of mine.
Others won't mind that so much, however, and if you like sweetness and serendipitous meetings, you might enjoy this story. Meantime, I'll try some of Bowie's work not written to fit a collection's restrictions, as I hear good things about this author.(less)
This story's premise and blurb made it an immediate must-have for me. Upon reading, I found my hopes far exceeded, and was thrilled to happy, flutteri...moreThis story's premise and blurb made it an immediate must-have for me. Upon reading, I found my hopes far exceeded, and was thrilled to happy, fluttering pieces by the development of Avery as a man, and of Avery/Beaux as a couple.
While I think parts of the storytelling could be improved, these were almost all setting-related: I wanted more physical details to help ground me in each setting; and to feel the pressure Avery feels to be perfect, beyond reproach, and to settle for less than what he needs for fear of judgment.
I forgave all of that when rating this story. The emotional execution was absolutely perfect, and this book's a definite reread for me,. 5 of 5 stars, do recommend! ^_^(less)