So this is one of those books that leaves you thinking. The characters are not fantasticly handsom, strong, uber competant men. They're just a few guy...moreSo this is one of those books that leaves you thinking. The characters are not fantasticly handsom, strong, uber competant men. They're just a few guys trying to get from one end of the day to the other. They are flawed, they make mistakes, and they pay for those mistakes. And they have big hearts, patience, and are the kind of guy we all want. Isn't it always the way, they get each other.
John has the best grasp of his own emotional state I have ever seen in a man. It's really too good to be true. And then he goes and does something boneheaded, and the world tilts back to normal.
David is about as broken a character as I've ever seen. It's almost fantastic how he manages to stay alive and sane through everything he endures. You almost can't believe a man that damaged is capable of loving another person. Then he goes and does something completely selfless, and the world is righted.
It's amazing how the author has managed to create two such different, flawed yet perfect men, bring them together and rebuild their lives in such a way that the reader never doubts for a second that that's how it would really happen.
My Recommendation: Just read the book, and brace yourself.(less)
What an interesting take on the whole heaven and hell scenario. I rather like the idea that the only reason people end up in hell is because they thin...moreWhat an interesting take on the whole heaven and hell scenario. I rather like the idea that the only reason people end up in hell is because they think they belong there. It sits better with me than that avenging, judging God thing I grew up with and never really had much use for....
....Right from the start, this book sets out to be something just a little to the left of center and as far as the world building goes, Ms. Lynne has succeeded beautifully. Everything presented is grounded in the mythologies we know and then slewed just enough to make things interesting....
....And really, can I just say how much I love the idea of the devil being a diehard bottom?....
I wondered why this first book in the series is so very short. It gave the author so little room to get these guys together. But she did, and they did...moreI wondered why this first book in the series is so very short. It gave the author so little room to get these guys together. But she did, and they did, and then presto-chango, it's a love match, and not just a quickie in the storeroom.
Not that I'm complaing. About the love or or the sex. This was definitely a whirlwind ride. I thought it was too short, though, without enough build up to the "I love you's" but then, I'm all about the angst, and there was none of that here.
What's nice about it is that it's a refreshing look at the whole scene. Why shouldn't two men, in the prime of life, be looking for someone to love, rather than just someone to get them off? And why shouldn't they find what they're looking for?
So I complain and compliment the same aspect of the book. Go figure. Sometimes, it's just hard to figure out why it works for me. This book, it pretty much worked.
This book ran a close second to Twin Temptaione for me. The plot was good and tense, and Garron's strength and his love for Sonny are beautiful things...moreThis book ran a close second to Twin Temptaione for me. The plot was good and tense, and Garron's strength and his love for Sonny are beautiful things. My quibble with this book, as with the two earlier ones, is in the craft. Beginning books can be rough. There are places in his one where I winced a bit, but mostly because I've read much more recent work from this author, and I know she's improved in her skills. Her story telling abilities were never in question. That's wat saves this book; her ability to make you care about caracters in such a short space of time, to give you every reason to want the best for them, then to snatch away their hapiness...
And watch them rebuild their lives, and learn a little about themselves adn each other along the way. This book really showcases the love, not just between couples, but within a family. The brothers all show their weak sides, and shore one another up when they need it. This was really a touching story.
The introduction of Nate et al. in this book has me drooling and eager to move on to the Cattle Valley series which I know are going to give me a steady diet of lovely men loving each other for a good...well...week or so, anyway! It's really hard not to devour these books whole.
Of the Four Gootime Boys books, this one was my favorite. I think because the relationship between the twins is so deeply established, there's more to...moreOf the Four Gootime Boys books, this one was my favorite. I think because the relationship between the twins is so deeply established, there's more to lose when things beging to go wrong. Now, normally, I'm not interested in putting a girl beween the guys in my m/m romance, but this was a bit of a different scenario. These two men were stuck in a place in their relationship that had them both less than fulfilled. it took the woman they might both be able to to love to really see one another and accept that they needed to take the final step; come together for keeps or move on. I don't think they would have been able to really see what they each needed from the other if she hadn't come along.
I think Carol Lynne did a great job of giving each man his own distinct voice in the tale. It could have been difficult to do, given how close they are, but she managed to portray each of them as an individul with different needs and to show they each had their own road to travel toward a self determinaion that would let them make each their own decision about what they wanted out of life and each other.
This was an interesting book. Not sure why it struck such a chord with me. Normally, this type of art is not really my thing, but it meshedso well wit...moreThis was an interesting book. Not sure why it struck such a chord with me. Normally, this type of art is not really my thing, but it meshedso well with the story. This was a fantastic book. Loved it.(less)
Short and sweet in a completely naughty sort of way. There's nothing to dislike about this little story. Not sure if I'm reading in order, but I've a...moreShort and sweet in a completely naughty sort of way. There's nothing to dislike about this little story. Not sure if I'm reading in order, but I've a feeling for this story, order is irrelevant. It's about a man and his harley riding love interest, and how they find each other without having to look very hard. There's little conflict, next to no soul searching, but oodles of sexy action. A nice, spicey read for a day when you just need a little pick-me-up. These guys certainly got that part right!!!(less)
Normally, I'm not much into either sci-fi or war stories. Upside Down seems to have just enough of both to qualify for...moreMy review at Dark Diva Reviews:
Normally, I'm not much into either sci-fi or war stories. Upside Down seems to have just enough of both to qualify for the genres, but not enough to make me uncomfortable. There's enough war to hurt the love interest and enough Sci-fi to complicate the plot, but in the end, it remains a love story....
...I like really good characterizations, especially when it's a matter of showing how the hero will still throw up on his own boots from too much stress. It happens. Real is real, and Jeff is very real.
So, while this story might be billed as romantic Sci-fi, really, in my estimation, it's a touching, character driven, intensely emotional story about a man and his struggle to be true to his heart and honour the man he loves, even if those might be mutually exclusive activities.
To start off with, I have to share a bit of a personal preference. I’m not a huge fan of forced ‘seduction’. I know, it’s an often-used device in uaoi, and a legitimate plot within the genre – it’s just not one of my favourites. So, that said, now let’s now put my personal preference aside and talk about the book… it’s good.
Asakura is not just a pushy, egotistical rich brat bent of instant self-gratification- that’s just how he first appears. He’s actually a much deeper man, and his hidden vulnerabilities are what make him likeable, even though I could have really disliked the story. Those hidden depths are what Minamin finally falls for too, though he does spend a great deal of the book resisting both Asakura and his feelings for the older man.
One thing that never happens in this book – Asakura never changes his selfish, demanding ways. Minami just accepts that’s the way he is and goes from there. It’s refreshing when so often, the characters are required to transform themselves from what they are to what readers think they should be, to deserve love. I like that this book is about both characters loving and accepting each other for who they are, whether they deserve it or not. It’s a much more realistic look at what love really is.
The sex scenes in this book are frequent enough that they could have become repetitive, but the author escaped that trap by focusing on Minami’s emotional growth. It was fun to watch him evolve from inexperienced and frightened to just plain exasperated, and still, he retained enough uncertainty that Asakura never quite gets to relapse completely into selfishness. If he wants to reassure Minami that they are meant to stay together, he`s forced to be honest about his own feelings. They turn out to be a good compliment for one another.
The writing and translation of this book are pretty decent, too. I didn`t encounter that many typoes that I remember, and the prose flowed very smoothly. There was a nice amount of description, and I guess that`s a good reflection on the fact one of the characters is, essentially, an artist. It was a nice parallel.
The drawings make me happy. For starters there were plenty of them, and the character expressions, especially Minami’s, are fantastic. The detail in her work is fascinating, and makes me want to go looking for all kinds of manga from her. I hope I can find some in English! If not, I`ll have t just enjoy the pretty pictures here in The Lonely Egotist.
So, all in all, while this book pushed a certain bad personal button for me in terms of the strong aggressive behaviour of the seme, I found the uke managed to hold his own in the end, and the writing and art let me enjoy it well enough anyway. At the very least if the idea of forced seduction is one that works for you, then I whole-heartedly recommend this book. (less)
I'll get nailed by a few of my reader friends for not reading in order, but meh. It was worth it!
By page nine of this book, I knew. Jay is something s...moreI'll get nailed by a few of my reader friends for not reading in order, but meh. It was worth it!
By page nine of this book, I knew. Jay is something special; that perfect blend of vulnerable and stubborn that draws me completely into a character's orbit. He had a back story I knew I had to go back in the Cattle Valley series to read about. Erico's attraction to him had my sympathy. Watching him try to resist his growing need was almost as painful to me as it was for him! I felt their pain, and that says a lot about how well the characters are drawn.
I'd recommend this story to anyone who likes pretty boys, sensitive men and well developed characters. Oh. And a healthy helping of hot sex. Though I started in the middle of the series, I'll definitely go back and read the rest of this series. (less)
My Review: Tomoki has no idea what to make of these dreams he's been having. He does know they aren't something to be shared with his ribald classmate...moreMy Review: Tomoki has no idea what to make of these dreams he's been having. He does know they aren't something to be shared with his ribald classmates, though. No telling what they'd say to make fun of him if they knew. Strangely, he doesn't seem to have the same worries about the new guy, Yugo; handsome, tall, and flirtatious Yugo. In fact, Tomoki is pretty sure his reaction to Yugo isn't quite what he's come to expect as 'normal'.
So this story is nice, focusing a bit on Tomoki's coming out, mostly to himself, and admitting he's interested in Yugo as more than just a friend. Finding out Yugo's the one he's been dreaming about, and more, that Yugo is actually entering his dreams is something else again, though.
I like Tomoki, even if he is a little stubborn in seeing the truth and then in admitting it. Once he does, though, he's so loyal and fierce in protecting his lover, it's heart-warming to see, and heartbreaking to watch what he has to go through, and what he must sacrifice to do it. As with many of these novels, I'm finding out, there's not enough insight into the seme's point of view. I like semes, and I'd like to know what's going through their pretty heads, but that's me. In this instance, there seems to be a lot of sadness in Yugo's past that he doesn't really share with Tomoki, but it does explain his caution, and his patience. Maybe he's afraid to push Tomoki too hard, afraid to push him away.
Some of the illustrations in this book are less expressive than I like, but the middle black and white drawing, where Kisaragi shows her version of Tomoki saving Yugo from becoming a demon is absolutely gorgeous. The desperation in Yugo's expression and the sweet acceptance in Tomoki's are so perfect. I kept going back to look at it again. Her depiction of the villain is also so vivid, it gives a great sense of his cold cruelty, and beauty, which she later softens to something almost loving in the last drawing of him.
And his relationship with his slave is what I have the most problem with. I guess I'm just not a fan of violence paired with sex, which is different from D/s and BDSM. This was a little extreme for my taste. As for the writing, I'm not sure. There's a lot of clunky prose, and as I've mentioned in other reviews, not sure if that's a function of the original Japanese text or of the translation, or of an English translator with less writing experience. I've no idea what it takes to translate from one language to another effectively, so all I can speak to is the fact that the writing was not as immediate as I like. There is a lot of "he felt his body grow hot and sweaty." and "Tomoki was running around..." which puts an extra bit of stumbling words between reader and action. Could be lost in translation, could be the original Japanese is stilted. I only know I wish the writing to be a bit cleaner. That's probably the writer in me coming out.
All in all, I did like the story line, and the twists thrown in gave the overall story an emotional edge that reconciled a lot of the difficulties I had with it
My Recommendation: This one might not appeal to writers, but for fans of Yaoi, more willing to overlook the technical flaws, there's a lot of emotion, and lot of action, and a fantastic twist. And, of course, some lovely sex scenes between the main characters. (less)
My Review: It has to be noted, at least by me, as a writer of m/m romance from a western perspective, that had this book fallen into any romance categ...moreMy Review: It has to be noted, at least by me, as a writer of m/m romance from a western perspective, that had this book fallen into any romance category but Yaoi, there's a good chance it might never have been published. Tokiwa's 'seduction' if Itsuki is not gentle, and really, not consensual. At least not at first, and I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that. Knowing the genre, I'm well aware this is a common trope, but I have reservations about it, nonetheless. Lots of people who love the genre aren't really bothered by it, and as far as the execution of the much-used plot device goes, in this book, it's rather well done.
Itsuki's experiences and personality won't let him accept Tokiwa's advances, won't even let him see what Tokiwa is hiding behind his brutal demands on Itsuki's body. He's so far buried his own feelings under indifference and stoicism, just to get through his days as an untouchable, perfected bit of art to his current owner, it's impossible for Itsuki to admit his own feelings, let alone recognise them in Tokiwa. It's hard to see him accept what he thinks is indifference and even hate from the man he won't admit he loves, but he can't believe there's anything else there.
As for Tokiwa, it would have been nice to see what was going on inside his head as he's mercilessly demanding Itsuki take his advances. In the end, we see what he's thinking, and if, in the real world, his methods are at the very least, suspect, his heart is arguably in the right place. He wants to open Itsuki up to feeling again, and just doesn't know any other way to get through to him. The one-sided, uke-based way so many of these stories are written doesn't give the reader that insight until after the fact, and that makes Itsuki's struggles hard to watch, and Tokiwa's treatment of him hard to understand.
As tenderness grows between them, though, it becomes clear Tokiwa is very much in love with Itsuki, even if he never says so, and Itsuki can't see it. When this comes clear, then I waited and hoped they would make amends and come together. It's curious to me how the writer managed to make not just Itsuki forgive such brutal treatment, but how she managed to get the reader to forgive Tokiwa, too, and want him to succeed in wooing Itsuki back.
My Review: After being dumped by his lover and boss in favour of the company president's daughter, Tsukasa Shinozaki is convinced he has no taste or d...moreMy Review: After being dumped by his lover and boss in favour of the company president's daughter, Tsukasa Shinozaki is convinced he has no taste or discretion when it comes to men. When a beautiful stranger hits on him in a hotel bar, Tsukasa can't help but take the invitation, only to find his new mystery man refuses to reveal his identity. Despite this, he decides to continue the illicit relationship, and tries to make himself believe he isn't falling for his secretive lover. It isn't until the man makes a surprise appearance at Tsukasa's job that he finally has to admit he's fallen and accept that now the mystery is over, so the relationship is doomed to end as well. The game is over, Tsukasa resigns himself to another broken heart.
I found this story hit a personal chord for me. I can sympathise with the main character's conviction that he attracts all the wrong kind of attention from men. Full of self doubt and insecurity, even though he knows he's a very good looking guy, Tsukasa just can't believe in good fortune and spends much of the story convincing himself the relationship he so desires, and his own heart, are doomed. It doesn't stop him working hard, though, doing his best to serve his boss and put his own feelings aside. His self doubts might have become tiresome if not for his sincerity in all other things. He truly loves his man, he truly wants to do his best in his job, and in the end, he finds his own strength, rejecting the man who dumped him, and standing up to those who would disrespect him.
As for the mystery man himself, his devotion to Tsukasa even through the younger man's turmoil, made him instantly likeable. The pairing was a typical one, with the older, more powerful seme teaching the younger, more naive uke how very pleasurable love can be. The author showed not just the physical act, but delved into each character's feelings, adding an emotional element that made the love scenes a lot more intimate and enjoyable.
The cover art is a lovely representation of the characters, and the line art inside revealed just enough to fire the imagination! Kanae's focus on facial expressions brings the characters to life perfectly. All in all, the book was a pretty quick, very satisfying read for me. I was invested in the characters enough that the improbable amount of office sex didn't even faze me! The book embodied all those characteristics of the genre that you might expect, while keeping the characters real. For me, that was the biggest enjoyment; being able to really like the guys I was reading about.
I did notice a few typos, and one mis-used word, which I would have to hunt through the book for, but those are pretty minor details, especially since I've read translations with much more glaring mistakes. And the book fit in my pocket. How cool is that?
My Recomendation: Any fan of Yoai and boys love will appreciate this story, angsty uke notwithstanding (or maybe, like me, because of him!). All in all, Caged Slave was a pretty quick, very satisfying read. I was invested in the characters enough that the improbable amount of office sex didn’t even faze me. The book embodied all the characteristics of the genre that you might expect while still keeping the characters real. For me, that was the biggest enjoyment; being able to really like the guys I was reading about.(less)
My Review: I'm always interested to see how different authors deal with coming out stories. This one was interesting, but in my opinion, could really...moreMy Review: I'm always interested to see how different authors deal with coming out stories. This one was interesting, but in my opinion, could really have been a lot longer. I would have loved to see a bit more of Sam's struggle with his sexuality and especially more of his more of his acceptance of himself. As for his love interest, there was so much I would have loved to know about him and his thinking that was impossible in this format. A short story from one character's point of view is necessarily limited, so while I would have loved to get inside Hank's head and understand what he was thinking this whole time, that would have required a novel. I think Ms. Bishop might have skimped a bit on this most important growth point of the characters to get to the romantic bits.
Not that I had a problem with the romantic bits. She did a good job of drawing the two likeable characters together. Realistically what are the odds? I don't know if that matters so much as the story realizes an ending the reader wants, however farfetched the premise might be in some eyes. What I loved most was the way she made such a hot and sensual sex scene also seem like a sweet and innocent love scene, all at the same time. That takes some real talent, and was a perfect note to compliment the angst of Sam's struggle with his love.
My Recommendation: This is well worth the read. I really liked it, and will keep an eye out for more by this author. (less)
My Review: A very loose third person point of view and over-flowery prose did not make this an easy read for me. I like to get down and dirty with the...moreMy Review: A very loose third person point of view and over-flowery prose did not make this an easy read for me. I like to get down and dirty with the characters when I'm reading, and in this book, I just felt I was kept at arm's length the entire time, with the author telling me how the characters felt often, and colourfully, but never really getting into their heads and skin to show me what those feeling did to them. In short, I wasn't feeling it. And the fancy prose made it hard for me to picture it, as well. The author just wrote in a way that I do not see the world, so sharing his vision was sketchy, at best.
Now, the plot was a good one. There is scope here for a lot of fantastic emotional depth and conflict. Trevor could be the catalyst that sends these two close to the edge of calling it quits, or he could be the glue that cements an already strong bond. He could be an unwelcome reminder for Eric of all he went through himself, or he could give him the opportunity to give to someone else what Nick gave him: a safe place to fall. There is so much potential in this story line that can make for a gripping, emotional read. Potential that, in my opinion, was never realized, and in part, because we are never allowed into the characters' heads and hearts. We have to take the author's word for what's going on in there, and it just isn't the same.
There is one other thing that distracted me from really getting a good feel for the story, and that is the frequent, and flowery occurrence of sex. I'm not going to deny these guys are deeply in love and are going to go at it every chance they get, but to me, the sex scenes just did not have much to do with the plot. If they were meant to tie in with the actual story line, the how of that tie-in remains a mystery to me. This could be, again, because of the arm's length view of the people involved. What I was left feeling was that the sex was put in for the sake of having sex in the book. The story, had it lived up to its potential, could well have stood on its own without even a single love scene. The argument could also be made that the love scenes were necessary to illustrate the depth of change the lovers were willing to undergo to help Trevor, but they were never well enough integrated, or enough emotional depth was never reached, to make that connection to the plot strong enough, and they became, for me, just a distraction.
As for the characters themselves, they were sterling. All of them. While none of the scenes were ever told from Trevor's point of view, he remains for me, the most emotionally real and raw character in the book. Perhaps because here, the third person view, and the distance is legitimate; we can only ever see him from Nick and Eric's perspective, and their own honesty can only show how much pain Trevor is really in.
Nick and Eric themselves are lovely men; generous, loving, brave and honest, and it impossible not to like them, and even at a distance, to feel for them when things don't quite work out as they planned. In the end, though, their lovability was not enough for me to really love the book itself.
I can give this book a Diva for the wonderfully loveable characters, and one for the potentially heart smashing plot, but sadly, that doesn't amount to what it could have earned.
My Recommendation: Be prepared to want more. (less)