This is a wonderfully lyrical and beautiful romance that is worth reading. The writing itself is evocative and brings the French countryside alive jusThis is a wonderfully lyrical and beautiful romance that is worth reading. The writing itself is evocative and brings the French countryside alive just as the two men are vivid and captivating. The story is so enthralling that it masks the lack of the depth the relationship is given and lack of actual connection beyond physical between the men. Even considering these drawbacks, the prose shines and creates a lovely and romantic story that will delight and satisfy. It’s rare the writing is filled with enough imagery and emotion on its own to compensate for problems in the characters, but this story does so beautifully.
The premise is rather simple with an opposites attract chemistry between Matthieu, who is deeply rooted and married to the land, and Charlie, who has a deep love and need to travel constantly. These men have their own identities and know where they belong in the world, happy to spend a few hours indulging in surprising and vibrant chemistry with a stranger. This chemistry leads to desire and longing and eventually love, but with the opposite needs of the men more than simple compromise would be needed for a happy ending. Both men must sacrifice and evaluate what they need for their own happiness.
Both men are complicated with needs and desires beyond finding a mate. Matt has a deep love of the land and making wine, not to mention his close and loving family. These elements combine to create an environment that Matt is not willing to leave but also that he needs for his happiness. He has no need for travel and excitement in the ways Charlie does but is willing to hold onto people and things he loves. His open and easy mannerisms mask the complexity of the man. Although he is younger than Charlie, Matt is completely aware of his identity and his needs.
Charlie is also aware of his needs but they are complicated and warped by his life constantly traveling. He has never tried to have a relationship but experiences unease when attempting to settle in one place. His need to experience new things and travel are just as important as Matt’s need to stay in the vineyard. Charlie’s understanding of their opposite needs is a gradual process even though he recognizes the inevitably sad parting from the start. The concept of compromise is foreign to Charlie and he hides from his fears in rationalizations.
The process these two men go through is a beautifully written story, yet at the heart the men have very little basis for their lasting love. Told from Charlie’s point of view in first person, the connection between the men is deeply physical and becomes an easy companionship yet that essential element is missing. Matt is seen through Charlie’s favorable perception and thus lacks some depth. Just as the intensity of their emotion is too fast and too involved for their experience. This slides into love at first sight almost. However, the lyrical writing compensates for this lack and creates a lovely story regardless.
Examples of the writing which creates such imagery and emotion are:
At least, I told stories I'd picked up in my travels, and he talked about life in the valley here. We hardly actually mentioned ourselves at all. They were stories about chance-met strangers and close neighbours, always other people, other lives; but they served well enough for self-portraits. This is how I live, who I live among; the only person missing from this narrative is myself. See that gap I left, the absence in the story? That's where I fit, exactly. Like portraits drawn in silhouette and shadow. We gave ourselves away with every word. And:
Eventually, reluctantly, there was sleep of a sort, though I was still totally aware of his presence even in my thin and broken dreaming. I knew it when he moved, I knew it when he woke; I felt his arms come round me and knew that I didn't need to wake myself, not yet.
So I drowsed on in his arms, comforted and content, until he moved more purposefully. Until he deliberately set out to wake me with lips and fingers, with liberties.
I was disappointed when the story ended because I could have read the author’s writing and prose for much longer. The characters were engaging and afforded opportunities for future stories with a satisfying romance. The ending may not be perfect but fits the characters, their needs, and the story wonderfully. Overall, I highly recommend this story and think readers will greatly enjoy the romance and writing....more
This story is thoroughly engaging and wonderfully scripted, incorporating a vibrant BDSM world with fantasy elements. The characters are interesting aThis story is thoroughly engaging and wonderfully scripted, incorporating a vibrant BDSM world with fantasy elements. The characters are interesting and captivating and the sexual aspects of the world pale in comparison to the mystery and world building dynamics. Although the world building and characters had problems, the darker edge will entice readers and those who enjoy fantasy mixed with BDSM won't be able to put this book down.
As the blurb suggests, the story is about a house slave Tam who helps a Lucan, a mage, solve the mystery of who is attacking the wealthy and protected guild. Lucan is hired to investigate discretely, often using Tam to help navigate the city. Tam is essential in helping Lucan with the final resolution, but that may not mean much in the world when slaves are insignificant.
The story is told in first person from Tam’s point of view and is well written and complex, incorporating numerous elements and ideas almost seamlessly. The world building is really stunning with the complicated characters yet the strength of the writing shines in the use of magic and recognizable social structure. At the same time, this is one of the major problems with the book. Although the world building is really the best part, simultaneously the world created is too easy. There are very low levels of conflict, if any, within the world and the mystery is the main source of tension in a strictly regulated and harshly run world. The concept and execution of the guilds mean that the kind of destruction and chaos created is almost never heard of and thus, the unusual mystery.
At the same time, there is no abuse of the rules, no rebellion and angst among the slaves. This world is one where technology seems to be absent or at least rudimentary and the slaves are used for everything from message running to cart pulling. Slaves themselves are not bitter, angry, and resentful for their lot in life. Conversely, they accept their beatings as due course and consider their life as lucky for the most part. Even though the Free express their affection with slaps, hits, and the occasional thrown food, slaves fall upon this happily and eagerly. This world is intricate and interesting but skirts the line of too accepting and easy. It's difficult to add complexity and tension in a world where no one abuses slaves, slaves understand and accept beatings almost with a smile, and there is no jealousy or animosity among slaves.
This ease of life is likely created on purpose to offset the darkness of the D/s world where the edgy dynamic could overwhelm the story and turn the reader away. Since Tam has no issues with his treatment, the reader is lured into the same complicity and acceptance. Tam's easy and complete acquiescence of his status, life and treatment is essential to his character. His personality shows hints of intelligence, independence, and wit and these spark with vibrancy when shown against the backdrop of almost blind obedience. Tam is a strong character and craves the domination of his Master while clearly possessing an intelligence and skill set well above the menial and inconsequential tasks of a house slave. I do wish he had shown his personality more as his one, incredibly short lived sulking against his unfair whipping was anemic and showed more weakness of character than strength. If he'd shown more tension and drama for not only that beating but his growing emotional connection to Lucan, this would have added depth to the character.
Either way, Tam is a compelling narrator and creates a dark atmosphere and world with evocative phrases and prose. His views of those around him, specifically Lucan tantalite and show true mastery in almost casual cruelty. This bland acceptance of slaves' obedience and therefore station sparks with tension only intermittently when hints of more depth to Lucan are shown. If these hints remain true, a sequel could delve more intimately into the D/s dynamics of Tam and Lucan and their emotional connection.
Let me say even with the problems I've noted, this is a wonderful story. The prose is engaging and the author's voice as told in first person through Tam is instantly captivating. Especially wonderful is the trip to Hell and the scene of Lucan with the dead bodies. The world building and characters draw the reader in immediately and carry the journey to the end, leaving hope for a sequel. This book lacks the lyrical eloquence of the author's other work but instead delivers a story full of dark energy and creative interest. I eagerly await a sequel and easily recommend this book to those readers who enjoy BDSM themes and darker fantasy stories. Don't worry though, there is a happy ending....more
This short story (~50 pages) tackles a lot of elements and unfortunately not all successfully. However, there is definite promise to the author’s writThis short story (~50 pages) tackles a lot of elements and unfortunately not all successfully. However, there is definite promise to the author’s writing and while this particular offering didn’t work completely, I’m intrigued enough to read other books by O’Reilly. Aptly named, Tangled Web deals with a myriad of issues all stemming from Kevin’s self-denial and his secret fantasies. While the story had some problems with the telling, I was left with the definite feeling that older gay men may identify with the characters and storyline much more so than I – perhaps a better target audience.
Kevin Baker is an older gentleman, staid in his life with a boring job as a banker and living in hiding as a gay man within his marriage. Kevin is described as in good shape but with thinning hair as he approaches fifty-nine. He is gay and doesn’t necessarily have a problem with his sexuality as he knows he’s always been gay, but struggles with his “duty” of having sex with his wife. He comes across very content with his life and never considers leaving his wife, even as he longs for the love and sexual passion of another man. Kevin’s character is still very much a mystery as his past history is never explained and leaves numerous questions unanswered. If he’s always been gay, why did he get married? How was he able to be married for thirty years while struggling with his feelings? Has it always been a struggle? Kevin didn’t get married until he was almost thirty but claims Gloria, his wife, was the only woman he ever dated and a childhood sweetheart, thus begging the question of did he really know he was always gay? The answers to all of these questions and more would certainly have given more depth and understanding to Kevin as a character and explain his present situation.
As a married (but gay) man, Kevin transfers his longing for the love of another man to the object of his fascination. Jake is a body builder at their gym and although the two have never spoken, Kevin fantasizes about Jake and fancies himself in love with the stronger man. Very little is known about Jake except he is clearly an openly gay man and mistakes Kevin for the same. After a few aborted tries, the two finally are able to hook up together for some steamy sex that changes from an innocent one-night stand into something much more. Jake has an obviously tender heart and a conscience as evidenced by his thoughtful actions even well after the proverbial paint as dried. However miscommunication and lies lead to far reaching consequences for both men and Kevin must face the truth of his actions.
Without giving away too much as the “twist” certainly caught me way off guard, the resolution was very interesting. This turned the story from being a weak first offering to something deeper with more potential. It may not please hard-core romance fans but it had a genuine honesty that struck a cord. While not a perfect ending, it may be an honest situation that married gay men find themselves struggling to handle. Unfortunately there were problems inherent within the writing as the style and prose was often too simplistic and felt amateurish. The descriptions and characterizations fell flat with very little complexity or depth to the writing, leaving the story too one-dimensional. The shorter length certainly worked against the story, as more detail on the characters and better descriptive writing would have helped.
While this story had some issues as I’ve described, the author shows potential. O'Reilly depicts honest emotions and issues that gay men face instead of an overly flowery fantasy of two sexy gay men romping to a happy ever after. In addition, it’s not often I’m flat out shocked by a twist in a story and this achieved not only that, but in an entirely believable way. For a first story (which I *think* this is), it’s not bad. I look forward to seeing what else the author has to offer. ...more
In Ignite by Bonnie Dee, Pete Santori has his world turned upside down when he rescues Alan Delaine from a burning building but Alan confesses that noIn Ignite by Bonnie Dee, Pete Santori has his world turned upside down when he rescues Alan Delaine from a burning building but Alan confesses that not only did he set the fire, he also doesn’t want to be saved. Alan was trying to kill himself. Pete feels an undeniable connection with the disturbed young man and against his better judgment, just can’t stay away. This leads them both on a bit of an action packed adventure.
Alan was young when he discovered his fire starting talent and he had no idea what to do with it. He was stumbling along, accidentally causing small fires, much to his horror, without knowing what was triggering it. He was taken to a secret facility, which helped him learn to recognize his talent more but at a severe cost. He was isolated, lonely, sheltered and exploited for many years. He finally realized he would never have a chance at life if he didn’t leave and managed a lucky escape. He’s been living on the streets for some time until he decides he’s had enough and tries to kill himself.
Pete is an older man, experienced and a self-described “ho”, having several sexual encounters but no emotional connections. However, he recognizes Alan as being special and seems to be unique in his ability to help Alan channel the incredible heat he generates. While Pete was the firefighting hero, Alan with his quirks and sensitivity was the real star of this story. The initial connection is felt by both Alan and Pete, which developed into a passionate relationship at the speed of one of Alan’s flash fires. The chemistry was undeniable and the men acted upon it, not wanting to miss a chance at something more in depth.
The characterization and relationship of these two men suffered from the length of the story. The pace was sped up to accommodate both stories in the anthology and ended up feeling forced, unfortunate when they had a great beginning. Running parallel to the speedy relationship is a series of action scenes, which combine to be too much in such a short amount of time.
The concept, while reminiscent of other fire starter stories, has a fresh and likeable character in Alan, his relationship with Pete, and the ongoing conflict with the government facility. It would have benefited from a longer telling, allowing the author’s great writing to shine more and the characters to develop more naturally and fully. It’s an enjoyable story and Alan in particular is a fun, memorable character.
In Where The Devil Dances by T.A. Chase, Eric Sandel has been forged by fire, literally and figuratively. He was involved in a fire that cost him his partner, his confidence, and his life as he knew it. Eric has to rebuild everything from his facial features to his emotional stability, and comes out handsome, sexy and scarred. He ventures out into the world little by little, rebuilding his confidence as he recovers from his ordeal.
In a chance meeting late at night in a dog park, Eric meets firefighter David Browdie, sparking an interest between the two men and their adorable dogs. The dogs do reflect their owners, Dave with a greyhound and Eric with a Papillion. The brief meeting leads to more, building the foundation for a warm, charming relationship between the two. Their trust, confidence, and chemistry build with each interaction and though they easily could have fallen into bed on their first meeting, they are content to let that passion grow.
David is the taller, older, confident, sexy firefighter who has no problems being open and honest about his relationship with Eric. More so he understands Eric’s fears, perhaps better than anyone, and is alluring with his gentle but still passionate regard for Eric. David shows great sensitivity in letting Eric lead the pace, as he becomes more comfortable with David and his own physical scars.
However, amidst Eric and Dave’s growing relationship, the man who originally set the fire, scarring Eric and killing his partner, is stalking Eric. The characterization of the stalker was well done and the scenes involving him were creepy, engaging, and moved the story along very well. He added a great shadow to the atmosphere and story.
Both stories highlight the allure and appeal that firefighters have, with their sexy demeanors and protective instincts; however it was the other men in the stories that stole the scenes and charmed with their flaws, quirks, and passion. Although both stories were similar in length, Chase offers a more fully characterized duo, ultimately being my preferred story of the two. Both stories are sure to please and entice, so start this series with January’s offerings, you’ll have a fun, sexy ride....more
Rue is the best thief in the stealing business and his current assignment is to steal files from the best assassin in the killing business. Yet neitheRue is the best thief in the stealing business and his current assignment is to steal files from the best assassin in the killing business. Yet neither man was ready for the attraction that sparked immediately between Rue and Vlatko, complicating both their lives once they realize the little gem Rue recently stole is actually far more valuable than it appears. This "gem" might just save both of their lives. The deepening attraction between the men causes them to join forces to thwart power hungry governments as well as assassins in their quest for a long and peaceful life together.
While the plot line is rather thin in the first half of the book, it does pick up once Rue and Vlatko meet up with the Mitcovians. The first half heavily relies on the frequent and vigorous sex Rue and Vlatko engage in while Rue ostentatiously is looking for the files Vlatko has hidden, which Rue’s employer wants to recover. While the files are mentioned in several places there is very little plot progression or even character progression as these two indulge their rabid libidos in every way possible. Very few conversations or decisions are made without the involvement of sex as either a way to forestall the future or derail thoughts. Vlatko’s motivations are largely explored towards the end of their time in the deserted planet with Rue’s sudden change of heart exposed at the same time.
Rue and Vlatko have instant chemistry, as is shown too often at the start, but little progression is given to their relationship until they leave the barren planet. While it’s clear both men gravitate to the other for the lack of condescension and judgment, deeper values and qualities seem to be elusive and under developed. Once both men arrive at their destination, the real depth of their relationship becomes evident and the qualities each admires in the other are more fully exposed. The emphasis on their deep sexual longing for each other is lifted somewhat, not completely but enough to give more meaning to the characters and their thoughts and actions.
Small glimpses into Rue’s thoughts and past offer his need for stability and love as well as emotional protection. Vlatko’s obvious physical strength is a draw for Rue but more so, the larger man’s openness and willing to show and communicate his feelings comforts Rue tremendously. Vlatko’s more of a solitary person though there is no question he adores Rue and his bad attitude towards authority. Rue’s wit, humor, and resourcefulness make the thief attractive to Vlatko as does their undeniable sexual need. The emotional connection is more established as it’s clear these two men offer a unique support neither has experienced before and needed.
The secondary characters of Allaite and Zalaigh gave a nice compliment to Rue and Vlatko but again neither character was given much depth. Their relationship offered a teasing glimpse of the ruler and bodyguard theme but little time was spent exploring that and kept these two mostly as characters to further the storyline along without going into much depth. This left all four of the characters feeling flat and one-dimensional yet likeable and easy to read.
The plot picks up as does the pace towards Part Two, giving more interest to the story with a reasonable resolution for a science fiction based romance. The characters tended to be slightly corny with repeated winking at one another and exaggerated personalities but the easy flow of the story had it moving quickly. The world building was more explored in the latter half of the story, giving more depth to the plot line. Fans of the author will recognize and appreciate Chase’s trademark writing and dialogue as well as the hot sex scenes. Although I felt there were too many unnecessary sexual encounters in the story that did nothing for the progression and could easily have been skipped, this is an easy and light offering with a fun science fiction setting and some hot characters sure to please for some light reading....more
In the aptly named “On Reflection”, Nicolo has finally decided to end his life, having lost his purpose for far too long. As he travels to his homelanIn the aptly named “On Reflection”, Nicolo has finally decided to end his life, having lost his purpose for far too long. As he travels to his homeland to say goodbye to the places that held meaning for him, he reflects on his life and the men who he’s encountered. However once he arrives in the city, Nicolo meets a young man who makes him question his plan and offers Nicolo a choice he’s only contemplated once before.
In this beautifully written story with a lyrical prose that adds its own layer of romance to the story and characters, Nicolo’s life and memories are engaging and fascinating even among painful mistakes. From his meeting with his soon to be murderer/creator Andreas to his first tentative steps of love with Paolo, Nicolo has an unwitting charm that attracts even in the face of immature and rash actions. His ultimate choices are not as easy and clear cut as it would seem. The choice between living forever as an abomination with your lover or living a shortened lifetime but able to walk in the sun is one Nicolo struggles with not once, but twice in his existence.
The story is told mostly from Nicolo’s point of view with brief forays into the mind of men in Nicolo’s life and as such offers the most insight into Nicolo’s character. He is a rash young man prone to mistakes and harsh remarks when he is turned into a nightwalker and unfortunately he takes centuries to mature from that selfish and insular man. His relationship to Andreas is selfish for both men and toxic as they use each other without much more than a passing care. While both men claim greater emotions theirs is a relationship of convenience at best and later, vengeance and hatred.
Conversely Nicolo’s relationships with Paolo, Dante and finally Maxim show a progression of his own emotions and maturity. His ability to truly love another person grows as much as his recognition of what his first love, Paolo, was always trying to help him see and live. While not always easy or romantic, Nicolo’s life is provocative and set in a timeless and rich backdrop of European culture. The author’s attention to details added depth to the story and a warmth to the younger men that stood in stark contrast to the bleakness evident in Andreas and to an extent, Nicolo.
Woods offers a beautifully crafted tale with well-developed characters and a stirring ease to the story, allowing it to move seamlessly along through Nicolo’s life and memories. While some inconsistencies exist, they in no way detract from the story. Anyone looking for a wonderful romance filled with the wide and varying range of human emotions and desires extending to human and non-human creatures alike with all their flaws and charm will love this remarkable and moving story.
Kulisael, also known as Li, is a demon in this sci-fi world going against taboos in having a human as a lover, Cody. However, Li has been keeping thatKulisael, also known as Li, is a demon in this sci-fi world going against taboos in having a human as a lover, Cody. However, Li has been keeping that detail about himself from Cody. The opening introduces us to Li and Cody, one year after Cody walked out on Li without an explanation. In that time, Li has been trying to understand why Cody left him just as Li was realizing the depths of his feelings for the human. Cody, for his part, has been out for vengeance, becoming a demon mercenary and killing the demons that attacked him and left him for dead.
Now the two must work together to try and stop a zombie invasion in the east outlands that is infecting humans. As an aside, this was reminiscent of a current popular video game that featured a zombie invasion as an event leading up to the release of its recent expansion. This gave me a laugh and I liked the authors’ sense of humor in this aspect, even if unintended.
Cody and Li head off with a legion of elite demons to stop the invasion, which sets off mixed emotions in both men. The chemistry and attraction is clear, as are the deeper emotions within Cody as he struggles against anger, revenge and pain that threaten to consume him. Cody shows how hatred and revenge can become obsessive, forcing him to lash out against Li.
Clearly both men have made mistakes in their relationship and whether they’ve learned from them is left up to interpretation. They have, however, realized the love and desire they clearly share and the sacrifices needed to make such a relationship work, demanding quite a bit from both men. It’s not an easy path and is complicated by several external factors, weaving a complex story.
The book blurb is cleverly done in that it gives you the background information which sets up the story. This information is slowly trickled out through the course of the book, but in a somewhat confusing way, leaving me wondering if this was a sequel. Apparently, this is a standalone title so knowing the background of the characters and their relationship helps when you’re dropped into a readymade world. There is sparse world building in the story, although the authors clearly have a very well defined idea of the setting and its components so I’m sure we’ll see more of this world, maybe even more of these characters.
The authors have created an intriguing science fiction world, filled with endless possibilities, and chose to reveal a glimpse at two of the inhabitants. There is a lot of information presented in a short amount of time so don’t get lost in the details but let your focus stay on the characters, as it was intended. It’s a story that has a lot of subtleties and will keep me coming back for what bits I missed, like any good sci-fi book....more
This is a unique and refreshing story that feels very present with the choice of language and slang, leaving a thoroughly entertaining reading experieThis is a unique and refreshing story that feels very present with the choice of language and slang, leaving a thoroughly entertaining reading experience that may slide this book into the cult classic type of fans. With very few missteps and a range of fascinating characters with solid world building, this story dealing with demons, angels, incubi, and magic of all kinds is rather irreverent and light. The dialogue and characters keep the action moving and interesting without allowing the story to get too heavy or involved at any point. The incredibly hot and varied sex will keep readers glued to the story and the bits of humor may have them laughing out loud. For a rather entertaining and interesting story, this delivers.
The story is told in alternating first person point of view, which is risky but works incredibly well here. Both characters are strong enough to pull off the first person writing and the alternating chapters of POV allow for an ease of flow without any confusing head hopping. The continuity between chapters and scenes was well done, not jarring the reader but flowing naturally from scene to scene and glossed over jumps in time reasonably well. The prose felt very modern and relevant with phrases and comments that will resonate in readers easily. Part of this was the great humor infused into the dialogue with fun comments such as “surprise butt sex counts as a sudden move” or “Quinlin’s kisses were like a potato chip; I can’t have just one.” There are numerous examples of this kind of humor used to the benefit of the story.
As for the characters themselves, both men have strong personalities and temperaments. Quinlin is as fiery as his red hair and although he is blind, he defies any blind stereotype. Not only is he physically strong and more than willing to crack people over the head with his iron wrought cane at the least provocation, but his prickly behavior hides a teasing, caring individual that has had a unique upbringing. His Gift ~ the ability to see auras ~ is essential in giving him partial sight and added intuition into people. The descriptions used and Quin’s fascination with Ryzel’s aura was a wonderful addition to the book. In fact Ryzel’s physical attributes aren’t even described until much later when Quin’s best friend describes the handsome demon to him. That is the first time the reader and Quin are told of Ryzel’s good looks but they are a distant second to his personality and character.
Quin is the first person to stand up to Ryzel and has no problems hitting the powerful demon with his fists or cane for whatever slight Quin feels he was subjected to. Ryzel is by turns amusing and sympathetic as a character as he struggles with Quin’s prickly behavior and confusion over the fast moving events of their bond. Ryzel is no weakling but his intelligence, charisma, and common sense make him very likable. Additionally, he’s not the most powerful demon and it was refreshing to see that Ryzel has to watch his words and actions around more powerful creatures. Neither Quin or Ryzel are perfect and although they are powerful, the reminder that there are always other beings more powerful than them keep these characters from sliding into stereotypes incredibly well.
The world building and secondary characters are great in this story. From Quinlin’s older aunt who is crafty, unscrupulous and utterly unrepentant to Ryzel’s demon Prince father, each adds a layer of unique character and charm to the story. The intricacies of demons and angels are never overwhelming and often given just enough information needed but never too much to deviate from the focus of the story. The author continually adds in every day details such as paperwork to get an appointment in Hell to frustrations with their respective jobs to give this a relatable feel for the readers. This may be fantasy, but it’s the type of urban fantasy story that you could easily imagine existing.
Although the ending was rather abrupt, there were enough hanging threads from Quin’s best friend to the ongoing power struggles in Hell and the continuation of the relationship between Ryzel and Quin to show that there has to be a sequel (or more) coming soon from this author. Well-written, engaging, dynamic, and unique this story hits all great entertainment highs and makes you want more immediately. Be sure to get this light-hearted yet absorbing book, as you won’t be able to put it down....more
This is a really interesting first novel that has some problems but offers a new and distinct voice to his writing and a very different perspective. TThis is a really interesting first novel that has some problems but offers a new and distinct voice to his writing and a very different perspective. This first novella from a new author tries too hard and includes way too many elements within a book that is only 60 pages. The writing is also abrupt and direct which is not often the case in romance when euphemisms and lyrical prose seem to be the norm. However, the sensitivity and intelligence glimpsed within several scenes gives both the story and author promise. While I didn’t feel this story was entirely successful, I do suggest readers who are looking for a distinctly masculine voice to give this a try.
The main character is a successful black lawyer named Jim. His race is actually quite an issue and the texture and flavor given to Jim is apparent from clothing to dialogue. The dialogue includes several comments such as, “Little white girl like being fucked by this big, buck nigger?” and “Are you ready for me, baby? You ready for this big black dick?” So the interracial aspect is very integral to the characters and story. Sexuality was another important element used as Jim is openly bisexual. He is rather promiscuous but shows he can be monogamous when in a serious relationship. There is a scene early on when Jim has sex with the office secretary that is random, awkward, and unattractive. The purpose for this scene is likely to show Jim’s sexual desires are equal for men and women but the inclusion within the story when Jim immediately goes on to have sex with a man mere hours after the secretary is uncomfortable. The author achieved his goal in establishing Jim’s bisexuality in discussing his previous relationship with Alan and their threesomes.
Continuing with the theme of sex, the concept of safe sex is extremely important within the pages and thus the later non-use of condoms was shocking. I think the author did this on purpose to show the potential consequences and the deepening emotional connection between Steve and Jim, but the lack of protection is startling and sure to catch your attention. Just as the casual sex thrown about in the book gives a masculine flavor to the writing and shows that sometimes people just want sex without complications. While die hard romantic fans may not appreciate such, it was a fresh and different style to a contemporary romance.
The strength of the author’s writing really showed in his handling of Jim’s ex-lover, Alan. The sensitivity and emotion given to the flamboyant character and how both Jim and Steve reacted to the devastating news was touching and moving. Although, once again the author throws too many elements into this aside with disease, the will, the additional complications and so on. This aspect of the story would have benefited from being pared and kept to its basics where the emotion and connection between the men shine as well as the importance of the issues. Adding more details is not always a benefit and here it almost overwhelmed the story.
Although there are numerous stereotypes used and blunt, abrasive actions and language that may not appeal to all readers, this was an interesting and intriguing first story. The inherent limitations in the length of a novella kept the numerous elements the author included from being fully explored and realized. Instead each was introduced and given only a cursory glance then moved on due to the shorter length. However, even with that problem the potential is certainly there for a unique and different voice within the genre. The clearly masculine tone and themes stand out and I’ll be interested in seeing what else the author offers. If you’re looking for a different take on classic themes, check this out....more