I liked the narrator's voice but the structure of the book was all over the place and the writing wasn't great. However, the stories were good, it hadI liked the narrator's voice but the structure of the book was all over the place and the writing wasn't great. However, the stories were good, it had so much potential to be a fun, funny, sexy read about a gay guy's pursuits for cock. Shame the editors at Kensington didn't see the potential I did, it could have been so much more....more
Was an ok story, but nothing groundbreaking. The narrator had a lovely voice but just needed a little more acting when changing characters, then it wo Was an ok story, but nothing groundbreaking. The narrator had a lovely voice but just needed a little more acting when changing characters, then it would have been spot on. Will definitely try the next book in the series when I want something light to listen to....more
Merry Gentlemen is a quick, sweet Christmas romance, and my first by Josephine Myles. I've heard many good things about this author, so I thought thisMerry Gentlemen is a quick, sweet Christmas romance, and my first by Josephine Myles. I've heard many good things about this author, so I thought this was a good way of trying out her writing style. The author's website states her work as "Gay romance with lashings of English sauce" and this is exactly what Merry Gentlemen has.
The story is set in Bath, and told from Riley's point of view. Riley's working his way up the corporate ladder, and he's been given the task of managing Bath's annual Christmas Market. It has to go without a hitch if he wants that promotion. The only thing missing from his life is Stan. He still thinks of him all the time even though it's been five years since they broke up.
While he's making his rounds, ensuring all the stall owners are happy, Riley bumps into Stan who's hired one of the stalls to promote his new business. All his old feelings come rushing back and the spark ignites once again between them.
Unfortunately all the things that tore them apart in the first place are still there. Riley is a city-boy working on his career and Stan is an outdoors kind of guy, living in nature and making things with his hands, such as the new house he's built.
Although Stan is only in town for two weeks, they rekindle their relationship, but this time it's even harder to say goodbye. But after a few compromises on both sides, things take an unexpected turn, surprising both of them.
Although things work out between them a bit too quickly, I did enjoy how these two guys came together and worked things out to get their HEA. It just shows that things can be successful if compromises are made. A cute ending that really warmed me.
As well as the romance side, there's lots of fun too. Riley is a funny, charming character who enjoys having fun, so there are quite a few lighthearted moments that move the story forward. The christmas theme is really evident for the first half of the story and made me feel all Christmassy, but is somewhat lost in the second half.
Merry Gentlemen is a lighthearted, second chance at love romance. A lovely way to spend a couple of hours during the festive season. I'd definitely read more from this author....more
The Christmas Throwaway is the story of police officer, Ben, who finds Zach sleeping in the village graveyard, cold, alone, and homeless. Being ChristThe Christmas Throwaway is the story of police officer, Ben, who finds Zach sleeping in the village graveyard, cold, alone, and homeless. Being Christmas, Ben decides to take him home to his family for a bit of TLC (tender loving care). Luckily, Ben’s mum is also a compassionate person and doesn’t find this odd at all. She sets Zach up in one of her son’s bedroom (who’s now left home) and together they work to put Zach at ease, going so far as to give him gifts and allow him to stay over the Christmas period and even into the New Year. Zach also meets the rest of the family, who also take him under their wing.
Unfortunately there isn't much depth to the story or the characters, even though there are a few sensitive issues within the storyline, such as parental abuse (Zach is abused by his father and thrown out onto the street for being gay). I feel as though the author tried to add too much to this novella, which ruined what could have been a heartwarming read.
Everyone is kind, Ben and Zach form a bond, even one of the children shares their computer games, but sadly, the story fell a little flat for me. The Christmas setting isn't a big part of the plot and I didn't feel Christmassy while reading it, which, to be honest, is what I'm looking for when reading a Christmas romance. There was little or no romance between Zach and Ben, and the sex scenes came in a rush later in the novel, which did absolutely nothing for me - I'm guessing this is because I couldn't connect to the characters.
I think the structure was this novella's downfall. Rather than focusing on the Christmas in the present, the story jumps a few months into the future halfway through, then a year, then another year, giving us short glimpses into what Zach and Ben are doing and how Zach's coping post his abuse etc, so we end with the story two years or so from where we first started. This may have worked for a full length novel, but for a novella of only 168 pages it didn't. If the story remained in the present and then had an epilogue at the end it would have worked much better.
As this is a festive romance, I did have to put my cynical hat aside and just let the story take me on its journey - would people really take home a complete stranger and let them into their lives, leaving them alone in their house etc? It's a nice thought, but I'm not sure if it's real life. Although Ben's kind act is kind of wonderful, and should have tugged at my heartstrings, it sadly didn’t.
The Christmas Throwaway was ok but not great. It certainly didn't fill me with Christmassy warmth and I couldn't really connect with the characters. Sadly this one fell flat for me and I probably wouldn't recommend it....more
I had high hopes for Let it Snow. It sounded so good. Unfortunately, it was all a bit meh. I haven't had much luck with m/m christmas themed romancesI had high hopes for Let it Snow. It sounded so good. Unfortunately, it was all a bit meh. I haven't had much luck with m/m christmas themed romances this year. This is my third, and none of them have hit above the three star mark.
Let it Snow isn't particularly Christmassy, snowy yes, but festive, not so much. Which is a shame as that's what I want and expect from a Christmas romance, and especially from a series called Minnesota Christmas.
Hairdresser, Frankie is heading back to the city after visiting his parents but gets stuck in a snow storm. After swerving to miss hitting a moose, Frankie ends up in the ditch and has to walk to the next available house. Luckily the door is unlocked and so he heads inside and falls asleep on the sofa. He's woken by three guys who are also gay. Luckily they are understanding and let him stay.
Marcus is trying to get over his ex, Steve, who cheated on him and so is avoiding relationships altogether. But when he sees Frankie, he's reminded of Steve; they are the same height, same build, same mannerisms, so Marcus isn't too happy about having Frankie stay. However, he's a nice guy so won't kick him out while a snow storm is raging.
Over the next few days, the guys talk, drink, and play board games, while riding out the storm. In this time, Marcus and Frankie begin a sexual relationship, knowing that it's short term as once the storm is over, Frankie will be heading back to the city.
I liked Marcus a lot. I understood his concerns about getting involved with Frankie, but I didn't understand what he saw in Frankie when he finally gave in to his feelings. I can deal with Frankie being slightly camp and feminine, but he is really wimpy and wishy-washy - he irritated me no end. Marcus is big and manly and Frankie is concerned that he's too swishy, as he calls it, for Marcus. He's insecure, whiny and too needy for my liking.
There was also a lot of negativity about being gay. I realise that there's a lot of homophobia, but talking about it over and over in a story gets tiresome. Airing a character's concerns regarding this gives depth and I appreciate that, but to go on about it eventually makes the character seem weak, and therefore diminishes what is a very serious issue. There is a scene where Frankie suddenly realises he's stronger than he thought, but it was unrealistic. I couldn't believe that one incident would change his personality so definitely.
The boys do get their happy ending, but I didn't really care that much. I loved Marcus but I just couldn't connect with Frankie.
Let it Snow isn't particularly bad, but it isn't great either. It sits in the middle, where I neither like or dislike it - hence the rating. Maybe you will like it better. ...more
Warning: may contain spoilers for Agamemnon Frost #1 and #2
Agamemnon Frost and the Crown of Towers, is the third and final instalment in this trilogy, so fair warning this review will inevitably contain spoilers for Hollow Ships and House of Death.
Crown of Towers picks up almost immediately after the action of Hollow ships and the impending Martian invasion. The action is based around the final Martian push to take Earth. As converted automata, Frost and Mason are the first and best line of defence.
Mason, oh Mason, I alternated between wanting to hug him and to slap a little bit of sense into him. He is trying to do the right thing and keep to his role as Valet to Frost, as the rescued fiancé, Theodora, is recovering nearby. Mason is quite resolved to try and do this even though the only thing keeping him from slipping under Pandarus, the Martian leader's control, is Frost.
Frost as ever is dashing, sexy and the right kind of authoritative. We see a different side to him in this novella. He feels responsible for Theodora's fragile condition since rescuing her from the Martians, yet he clearly has feelings for Frost. There is a conflict between duty and desire which is interesting to read.
In the earlier stories I was frustrated at the lack of sex. Mason and Frost make sparks in every scene they have together and it has bordered on annoying to see them get hot flustered and then interrupted. Seriously, there is only so much this reader can take. When I read the blurb I was worried that this trilogy would end without the two leads getting steamy. When Frost and Mason finally get some quality time, it was not disappointing. I think that if the novella's were in an omnibus edition I would worry less about the sex as it would seem less frustrating.
As with each book in the series, Crown of Towers is short and pacy with a lot of plot to fit in. Part of me feels that now I've read all three, some of the Martian names and practices only now make sense. I think the series would work well as one bumper novel rather than three shorter pieces or as I've said before a glossary would have been useful.
I liked the ending, a little bit neat and convenient in some respects, but I did feel that Mason in particular got the ending he deserved. I would love to read more based in this universe. It seems a shame to end the series now.
Agamemnon Frost and the Crown of Towers is a fun and fitting end to this trilogy, plying the reader with all the thrills and drama that they could ask for. Let's hope that Agamemnon and Mason will return in the future for more adventures.
Rating: 4 Stars
Agamemnon Frost and the Crown of Towers by Kim Knox (Agamemnon Frost #3) M/M Steampunk Romance Carina Press (14 Oct 2013) Ebook: 104 pages
Few are Chosen is a short story by Storm Grant about a teenage Demon Hunter called Blake St. Blake. He is the Chosen One. An orphan raised by a secret order to battle demons and other hell denizens. He believes himself to be unique until he runs into Shadow, a young mage who similarly has been raised by a magical order to fight demons.
This story is a fun, super quick read about an adolescent boys's first experiences of becoming an adult, slaying demons and reconciling their feelings. It is told with a huge sense of fun and there are surprises throughout. It is aimed squarely at teenagers and deals with everything from that perspective. I liked the story but I didn't feel there was enough in it to keep me interested beyond the initial storyline.
Blake is a typical teenager, he has a healthy disrespect for his guardian and mentor, Hadley. Grant describes Blake's reactions to things in an earthy way, and after reading I felt like I'd been in conversation with him for some time and knew rather more about the way his body reacted to things that I'd ever wanted to know.
The romance element is secondary to defeating the demon. Blake and Shadow have to overcome obstacles in order to accept each other, first as friends, and then as potential boyfriends. The storyline is predictable but the romance elements are strong and particularly effective.
I think my favourite character was the Reflux demon, he was brilliantly described and very funny. Clearly at home in the real world, his assortment of t-shirts were great touches.
On the whole I don't think that Few are Chosen was aimed at me and so it didn't really grab me, however, it does have a lot to recommend it to a young adult audience of thirteen upwards. It is very funny and very sweet. I hope that Blake and Shadow get some more stories together.
Rating: 3 Stars
Few are Chosen by Storm Grant Paranormal M/M Romance Riptide Publishing (20 Feb 2012) Ebook: 45 pages
Agamemnon Frost and the Hollow Ships by Kim Knox is the second episode in this Steampunk series. It follows on directly from the events of House of Death, so I would recommend that the books are read in order. Also this review will be a spoiler for The House of Death so bookmark here for later if you haven't read it yet.
Mason and Frost are offered little respite at Station X. After Sir Randolph's body-death, Pandarus, the Martian leader on earth, has changed host and could now be anyone. With this in mind, and the knowledge that there is an invasion on the way, Frost and Mason are in a race against time to track Pandarus down and stop him for good.
Mason is still the focal character, we see everything through his view point. As the action unfolds we are privy to his thoughts and doubts. After Mason's transition into Automata in the first story, he has fought the voice of Pandarus in his head. This time he is very aware that he could betray Frost and everyone at Station X and he struggles to keep the voice under control. He is also plagued with doubt about Frost, because they are both automata their attraction is hyperreal and extreme but Mason thinks that Frost is just helping him keep the voice in check.
Frost is a contradictory character. Once you think you have a handle on him, he does something surprising. In this story we learn more about the effect of being an automata is having on him. Mason struggles in his skin as one who is newly transformed. Their skin is now super sensitive and the reason that Frost wears only the finest clothes.
This novella is more into the technology. There is a mechane which is a truly terrifying machine – capable of taking energy from a person to fuel the transformation of others into Martian servants, the Koile. The creation of Koile is horrifying and offers a glimpse of a future under Martian rule.
One of my niggles with The House of Death was the intense attraction between Frost and Mason with no reward for either of them and I was rather hoping that the two would get lucky this time round. There is a really hot scene between the two of them but I was hoping for more. I am invested in these characters and want them to get together properly.
Last time around I found the terms like Ilarches and Kardax that Knox used irritating and wanted a glossary, I am getting used to them, though would still like a reference guide just to help me keep things straight and understand them properly. Verdict
Another fun story from Kim Knox with a good balance of adventure and character development. There are still times when I get confused with the story and I still think at times more detail is needed, but despite that the stories are growing on me and I want to know what happens next.
Rating: 4 Stars
Agamemnon Frost and the Hollow Ships by Kim Knox (Agamemnon Frost #2) M/M Steampunk Romance Carina Press (16 Sept 2013) Ebook: 78 pages
I really tried with this one. The writing is ok, the characters are ok, and I think I could possibly have finished it if it wasn't*No rating as DNF*
I really tried with this one. The writing is ok, the characters are ok, and I think I could possibly have finished it if it wasn't just so very dull. Hardly any zombies or action and the sex scenes were devoid of any sexiness. ...more
Raised in a small village which has no love for those of mixed race, Etan Dairan finds himself with nowhere to turn after the death of his father. Left with years of accumulated debt to settle, Etan parts with all of his belongings and everything he has ever known to move to the city of Kered in hopes of finding work. Fragile from a bout of sickness as a child, his options are limited. It is only a chance encounter after much bad luck that sees Etan contracted to a Master Artist. His role is simple – he is to be Master Tallisk’s newest canvas.
Etan finds himself thrust into the unfamiliar role of a courtier whose sole purpose is to flit about in displays of living art for the pleasure of the ruling class. Sought after not only for his beauty but for his influence in powerful circles, Etan must tread carefully - political unrest is brewing in the city and the Adorned are a symbol of the upper class’ frivolity.
Against the background of Etan’s profession, this book is more a story of blossoming love. As a very young and inexperienced man, Etan has much to learn about himself and what he wants in life. What he does know is that he is fascinated by his master, Roberd Tallisk. Nevertheless, an Adorned is dependent on his master. Dare Etan pursue his feelings and jeopardize his new position?
The Adorned is a throwback to traditional fantasy – a genre I haven’t payed much homage to of recent years but have always loved. This book was no different. After a few chapters, I was already kicking myself for not picking it up sooner!
I don’t think it would be possible for me to review this book without pointing out how much it reminded me of Jacqueline Carey’s world in Kushiel’s Legacy. I would be stunned, in fact, if Tristan hadn’t read Carey’s work. There are just so many similarities; limned courtesans effecting political influence, easy sexuality and a romance between master and his servant etc. I immediately thought that this story could even be interpreted as a fanfic of the relationship between Carey’s Anafiel Delaunay and Alcuin no Delaunay.
I don’t think that associating the two books is in any way a negative thing. In fact, I think it is high praise indeed, considering how much I love Kushiel’s Dart (If you haven’t read it, get on it. It’s excellent). As for The Adorned, I would recommend it to those looking for a romance in a non-contemporary setting. Though there are paranormal elements in the story, they are few and far between. So don’t let the paranormal-ness sway your decision to read either way.
The romance was lovely. I very much enjoyed the ending. This story does not have a fairy-tale ending, but will leave you warm and fuzzy nevertheless.
This book is a quick read with an interesting concept and a very satisfying end. I'd recommend it to lovers of non-contemporary M/M Romance .
Rating: 3.5 Stars
The Adorned by John Tristan M/M Paranormal Romance Carina Press (12 Aug 2013) Ebook: 280 pages
Unhinge the Universe
is a m/m historical romance set in France towards the end of the Second World War. It tells the story of Hagen Friedrichs, an SS Lieutenant on a daring mission to rescue his brother whilst carrying sensitive mission secrets. John Nicholls is an American Captain in the Allied forces charged with extracting information by any necessary means. At the beginning of the novel Hagen mounts a futile rescue attempt of his brother and is captured by the Americans. He meets John in the interrogation room where John has twenty-four hours to find out what Hagen knows.
I have to confess I read this book with a lot of trepidation. It is outside of my comfort zone in a number of ways. I don't read things set in the Second World War, romance isn't my favourite genre, and I'm really not sure why I picked it for review. Having said that, I'm awfully glad I did as there is a lot in this book that I really enjoyed.
I was troubled by the opening third of the novel. It being set in war-time France with opposing sides meant that there is a heavy vein of violence. It isn't gratuitous but it did build a barrier to me believing in the possibility of a mutual attraction. John is Hagen's captor, he is in complete control of the other soldier's life. I may be missing something but I did find it hard to believe that John would be attracted to Hagan, because he is supposed to be the enemy, and likewise for Hagen to be attracted to the man responsible for hid brother's death. It felt a little bit contrived. But once the novel moved on from the opening, the relationship between Hagen and John becomes compelling, and I wanted to know how it turned out.
John is the more dominant character in the relationship, as captor interrogator and senior officer he has a lot of power in the relationship. He has suffered his own loss and his grief allows him to empathise with Hagan. His journey goes from distrust and hate to affection, and has to protect those who would do Hagan harm.
Hagan is not weak, he is submissive in that as a captive he has limited options open to him. There were times where I thought that the narrative would become uncomfortable but Voinov and Witt skillfully do not let this happen.
The romance element is strong and the sex scenes are hot, I didn't feel they overwhelmed the story but complemented it. The Second World War setting offered some different twists on the obstacles that John and Hagan had to overcome, not least death and discovery on a couple of occasions. The threats feel real and it was then that I really began to root for the relationship. With the subject matter it was hard to judge as to whether there was going to be a happy ending. I'm not going to spoil it for you, you have to read the book yourself to find out.
Unhinge the Universe is an unusual m/m historical romance. It has challenged my preconceptions of the romance novel and it has opened my eyes to reading a genre I would have actively avoided in the past. Give it a go, it is a worthwhile read.
Rating: 4 Stars
Unhinge The Universe by Aleksandr Voinov and L. A. Witt Historical M/M Romance Riptide Publishing (15 July 2013) Ebook: 228 pages
Agamemnon Frost and the House of Death is a Steampunk M/M adventure romance by Kim Knox. The narrative is written in the third person but allies itself to the viewpoint of Mason, an ex-army man who had fought in Afghanistan.
After being pensioned out of the army, Mason has fallen on hard-times and has entered into service (working as a servant in a big house like Downton Abbey). Times are tough and he finds himself having to take a one night engagement as a valet for Agamemnon Frost, who is staying with Sir Randolph and his family where things are not all that they seem.
Mason is a sympathetic character. He is honest and upright and dismayed that he will be working for someone whom appears to be a bit of a fop and a dandy, concerned more with fashion and his appearance that other issues. Mason's first encounter with Agamemnon is confusing. Agamemnon consistently wrong foots Mason by revealing that there is indeed more to him than meets the eye and in addition to that he elicits a physical response from Mason so that he is unsure of how to react.
Agamemnon is very much in the mould of a steampunk gentleman adventurer. I liked his character and the way he drew Mason in with the force of his personality. One thing the book is, is very short at some twenty-six thousand words, and it felt to me that the author could have spent time fleshing out some aspects of the story to make it a richer read. For instance, the romance element of the novel is incredibly frustrating. Frost and Mason get close numerous times and every time someone interrupts and the passion is left unresolved. I suspect that the romance element will be touched on again in later outings but the lack of them getting it together when there was so much made of the instant attraction felt disappointing.
Mason learns that Agamemnon is visiting Sir Randolph because he believes that the family and house-hold have been replaced by martians; invasion of the body snatchers style. Mason is doubtful and thinks that Frost is playing an elaborate joke until Randolph pulls out a weapon that disintegrates a cupboard. From that moment on, it cements the relationship between the two men.
As for gadgetry, apart from one scene it isn't that gadget heavy. There is a brilliant sequence when Mason and Frost are captured and they both undergo a procedure, which is thrilling and things really go up a gear. I don't want to give too much away because it would be too much of a spoiler.
The action zips along, although I found the later stages of the story, when the Greek words started getting thrown around, a little bit annoying, I would have liked a glossary to refer to, especially as they all take on significance with regards to rank and level.
Agamemnon Frost and the House of Death is an entertaining romp in a Victorian steampunk setting against the threat of alien invasion. It has a great deal of potential and I hope in future instalments Kim Knox gets to explore the characters further and fleshes them out a bit more. There's a lot of promise here, I'd definitely give the second one a go.
Rating: 4 Stars
Agamemnon Frost and the House of Death by Kim Knox (Agamemnon Frost #1) M/M Steampunk Romance Carina Press (19 Aug 2013) Ebook: 77 pages
In this case, the cover is better than the actual book. The writing is a little off, far too many repetitions to be acceptable, especially with "JacobIn this case, the cover is better than the actual book. The writing is a little off, far too many repetitions to be acceptable, especially with "Jacob Lee" - dialogue a little cheesy too. Not much happens other than it's Donathan's birthday and Jacob Lee wants to get a tattoo to please him. Will admit I skimmed a few pages just to get to the end a bit faster. This one just wasn't for me....more
The premise for Waiting for Ty is an intriguing one. Two guys, who have become the best of friends after meeting four year’s previously, are sexually attracted to each other without the other knowing.
Reporter, Tyler Coil, is travelling to see his sexy best friend, Landon Burke, staying at his place while he works on a story. He’s nervous as hell because he doesn’t want his feelings to betray him. He's always felt a strong connection with Landon but has never acted on it for fear of the consequences.
Ty and Landon greet each other as always, but after a quick hello, a couple of beers, a slice of pizza and half a football game, they are ripping each other’s clothes off. It’s difficult to really become connected with the romance as it moves along quite quickly. The fact that neither Ty nor Landon have been with a guy before is lost in the lust of their first time together. It was all a little rushed for my liking.
King can certainly write hot sex scenes though, these two guys were hot for each other and it showed; the pages sizzled. But as they hadn’t been with another guy before, a little more hesitation and anxiety about what they were about to do would have given authenticity to the story. Instead they seemed to be totally at ease with it, as out came the lube and off they went!
With just a few extra pages their first night together could have been much more realistic and meaningful, and I would have been able to immerse myself completely. As it was I found the quickness of them getting in bed together a little jarring and it took away from the impact of the situation for both guys, because, for them, this was no one-night stand.
Ty and Landon spend the entire weekend together until Ty decides that what they are doing isn’t a good idea. He cares for Landon but he can’t ever see himself telling his God-loving family that he is in a relationship with a man, they would disown him, and he worries about what his work colleagues will think of him. So Ty makes the decision to walk away, neither knowing if they will be able to even continue their friendship.
Of course things don't run smoothly from here on out, and both Ty and Landon go through quite a few ups and downs, with their family and with each other, but I won't give away too much. Let's just say, overall I did enjoy this story, despite my misgivings. Verdict
It is a shame Waiting for Ty is such a short read as it had potential to be very good. Unfortunately because of its length much of the substance needed was missing. However, Waiting for Ty is a fun m/m romance. I would still recommend if you're looking for a quick, sexy read. Though this is the second book in the Lovers and Friends series, it contains a completely different set of people and so can be read as a stand-alone.
Rating: 3 Stars
Waiting for Ty by Samantha Ann King (Lovers and Friends #2) Contemporary M/M Romance Carina Press (July 2013) Ebook: 100 pages Website || Goodreads || Amazon UK: Kindle || Amazon US: Kindle
Ash Winters is a literary writer who has succumbed to the dark side and written genre crime fiction. He has bipolar disorder and also suffers from depression and anxiety, preferring to stay in the four walls of his home (aka prison) than face the world. Going to the supermarket to buy groceries can send him over the edge of an overwhelming, all encompassing anxiety attack.
But one night, while at a friend’s stag-do which he couldn’t get out of, everything changes. He meets Darian Taylor, a stereotypical Essex boy, complete with fake tan, fake jewellery, and artificially white teeth. With the club's glaring lights, the thump of the music, and oppressive heat, compound his feelings of utter worthlessness. All Ash wants is nothing more than a one-night stand to help him forget his miserable life.
Glitterland is written from the view point of Ash, and so we get to hear his inner most thoughts, feel his anguish about his condition, allowing us to understand why he is the way he is. I think one of the most difficult things to write about is mental illness, but Hall does it with absolute expertise. Although most of the book is about Ash and his mental illness, it never moves into too dark a territory and yet still portrays the absolute despair that this illness can cause.
What prevents this book from sinking too deep into Ash's despair comes from the wonderful, Darian Taylor. He is probably one of the most funny and endearing characters I've ever read. Although this is written in the third person, we only get the perspective of Ash, I really wish I could hear Darian's thoughts too, but alas, we only get to see him through Ash's eyes and through their dialogue together. I desperately wanted to hear Darian's thoughts so I could really understand what he was thinking and feeling regarding Ash.
Some of the most perfect lines came from Darian. At first, Ash sees Darian as vulgar, fake and way too glittery. But then something happens.
Suddenly he looked up at me and grinned. An absurd, wide, endless grin filled with artificially white teeth. And I forgot how to breathe. I expected him to go back to dancing but instead he climbed onto one of the floor speakers beneath my balcony, pulling himself almost up to my eye level, like the world's most ill-suited Romeo in pursuit of the world's least convincing Juliet.
"I gotta say, babes," he said in a nasal Essex whine, "you're giving me sutcha bedroom look."
Now if you don't come from Essex, you may not get the accent, because you really need to hear it inside your head for it to be funny when it's meant to be funny. I hope that I'm wrong, and anyone, no matter where they live, understand him, as he is just hilarious. I was giggling so much throughout this book as well as my heart breaking just that little bit for Ash and how he feels he has to live his life because of his illness.
After their first sexual encounter, Ash leaves in the early hours without saying goodbye, thinking that was the last he would see of his "glittering pirate" but he was wrong. While at a signing event for his new book, Darian comes in and gives him what for, in only the Essex way.
Another copy of my book appeared in front of me, dogeared and well-read, which pleased me, just a little. I'd always found something slightly eerie about untouched books. Glass coffins, with the words sleeping inside.
"Who should I make it out to?" I asked, not quite managing to look up.
"Oh, I dunno," said a far too familiar voice, "'ow about maybe 'To the geeza what I slept wif and then done a runner on in the middle of the night, making 'im feel like a right slapper'?"
There are a few secondary characters, a couple of Ash's friends, Naill, Max and and Chloe a friend of Darian's as well as the mention of his and Nan, Dot. Although these weren't in any detail they still felt really well rounded characters. Verdict
Simply put, I loved Glitterland and I can't wait to find out what Hall has in store for us in the future.
Rating: 5 Stars
Morose from failing to get out of his friend Max’s stag do, all Ash Winters wants is a casual hook-up – anything to feel free from his depression for just a moment. His life has been reduced to a solitary existence and venturing outside his apartment causes him extreme anxiety. Dragged to a Gay Bar for Max's last single night, he spots Essex boy Darian for the first time. Ash is appalled at his attraction to the fake tanned, tasteless ‘Glitter Pirate’. Nevertheless, letting Darian take him home feels like a good solution to the growing horror he feels at being in public.
After sneaking out the next morning, Ash never expects to see his one-night-stand again, let alone at the signing of his new book. Darian shows up with a bone to pick - no pun intended - and lets Ash know just how 'aht of order' his disappearing act was. One well-deserved telling off later, Ash can’t deny that Darian is beautiful, vibrant and makes him feel – though what exactly he feels he isn’t sure. Thus a fledgling relationship is born.
I loved this book. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to after reading the blurb – but after a few chapters I was hooked. The blurb really doesn't do it justice. I finished the entire thing in one night, and it wasn’t exactly a quick read either. The relationship between the two is the kind we all hope for – Darian swoops in unexpectedly to save the brooding Ash. Usually I feel pretty cynical about a protagonist that needs someone else to save them, but it's only further testament to Hall’s talent that instead of bothering me, this story just gave me butterflies – exactly what I want in a book. Instead of attempting to 'fix' Ash, Darian is supportive and gives him a reason to want to better himself.
The way Hall writes Darian’s accent was jarring and un-appealing, though intentionally so. Don’t let it put you off; it only serves to better mark the differences between the two men. The prolixity and grimness of Ash’s inner turmoil and Darian’s lively banter make for a stark contrast; though as the book progresses Darian’s influence is obvious. He makes Ash a better, more hopeful person.
There isn’t a whole lot more to say – I wasn’t left wanting for much here. I could’ve done with more of some of the supporting characters, but lack of them didn’t detract from the story. Chloe and Amy - Darian and Ash's friends, are both interesting enough characters to have their own stories. As I was reading Chloe's few brief scenes, I was thinking of Amy from The Only Way is Essex. Not that I watch that show - ahem.
I loved this book, and would definitely recommend it. Despite the heavy issue of mental illness throughout, it was a feel good story. I actually ended up re-reading the ending a couple of times, it was just so great.
Rating: 5 Stars
Glitterland by Alexis Hall Contemporary M/M Romance Riptide Publishing (26 Aug 2013) Ebook: 214 pages
Once A Brat is the first short story in Kim Dare’s Kinky Cupid universe. It’s a m/m BDSM romance, and despite the fact that the romance didn’t quite get there for me, it was cheeky and fun to read.
The story starts from the perspective of Marcus Tremayne – an experienced Dom at the Spread Eagle, a BDSM club. He’s drawn the attention of submissive Bret Daniels; a newbie to the scene whose bratty persistence is about to pay off.
The perspective switches between the two characters, with the focus on developing Bret as a character – we get to see his sexual awakening from both his and Marcus’ eyes. He is innocent and willing to learn – as long as Marcus is the one to teach him. Comparatively, Dare sets Marcus up as a bit of a grump; which only makes it sweeter when Bret discovers his softer side. I particularly enjoyed Marcus’ resistance to his realization that he had actual feelings for Bret, that this sub was special.
As far as the two developing a relationship beyond their sexual forays was concerned, I felt the journey was a bit lacking. Don’t get me wrong, Marcus and Bret had a lot of chemistry, but in a down and dirty kind of way, as opposed to romantically. The whole romance thing escalated too quickly for me, without much fuel for those feeling.
My absolute favourite parts of the story were the few brief times that the characters had contact with others. There was very little of this, with the exception of a few moments with Marcus’ friends and fellow doms McCormack and Jack. Bret’s attitude towards them is too cute; he dismisses them in true brat form – after all, he’s only interested in one Dom.
About halfway through the reading, I realized I was giving the characters British accents in my head. Even though I hadn’t yet read the author bio, there was no mistaking Dare’s inherent British-ness (Lo and behold, she’s from Wales). Her turn of phrase and casual use of words like ‘bollocks’, ‘bugger’ and ‘sod’ are all the proof I needed.
I liked Dare’s writing style, and I would definitely pick up some of her other works. She makes BDSM very approachable, which is a must for readers who, like me, have limited knowledge of the scene. She places a lot of emphasis on the need for trust in the Dom/Sub relationship and the use of safe words to achieve the trust.
I would be interested in reading something of hers that was more narrative driven, as opposed to character driven.
Once a Brat is a quick, sexy read. It’s a promising start to Kim Dare’s Kinky Cupid series, which aims to release a new story every Valentine’s day. Though the romance element didn’t exactly convince me, I can’t deny that Bret and Marcus had some sweet moments and a whole lot of chemistry.
Rating: 3 Stars
Once A Brat by Kim Dare (Kinky Cupid #1) Contemporary M/M Romance Riptide Publishing (Feb 2013) Ebook: 95 pages
Tavish MacIntyre and Iain Munro have been lovers for years, but now they no longer have the excuse of ‘boyish fancy’ if they are caught; for loving another man in 16th century Scotland is considered a sin against God. Tavish is being groomed as the next Laird of Creachann-Dubh, but when it comes to modest, farm-boy Iain, he has no concern for obstacles of rank or religion. Iain, on the other hand, is more practical. He worries constantly about being caught, and despite the pain it causes them both, tries to stay away. Therein lays the best part of the story – Tavish’s determination to be with Iain and keep him close.
The narrative is peppered with flashbacks from when they first fell in love, their stolen moments, and their relationship up until the present day. This sounds potentially jarring but the flow between tenses was seamless. It also switches perspective between the two men, so we as readers get a deeper understanding of their different backgrounds, and the expectations placed on both by their families.
When I first started reading, I was immediately distracted by the Scottish brogue and turn of phrase that the characters spoke with. This kind of thing can be jarring and usually stops me from getting into the story. Luckily though, Gormley did a good job with it. After my initial distaste, the lingo just became a means by which the reader could become involved in the time period.
Though I liked their romance, and appreciated the struggles they faced down in order to be together, the couple’s intimate scenes were a huge turn off. The whole bent over a bale of hay thing doesn’t really do it for me, and when they were together, it just seemed like a couple of guys blowing their loads all over the place. I get that the whole finding your sexuality thing can be sweet, especially since they’re each other’s firsts, but the author didn’t exactly capitalize on that. It just came across as awkward – not something I was expecting in a story which promises ‘romance’. That aside, there were some beautiful moments. I especially loved Tavish’s anguish when he thinks that Iain has been unfaithful. His reaction really speaks for the depth of his love.
What draws me to historical m/m romance is that there is such a stigma about two men being involved – it’s a ready-made obstacle that the characters need to overcome to be together. This story is a great example of this – the way that the situation is resolved is not perfect but it was satisfying. Don’t let the vernacular distract you, this story is worth the read. It’s a short one, so you really have nothing to lose.
Rating: 3.5 Stars
The Laird’s Forbidden Lover by Amelia C. Gormley Historical M/M Romance Riptide Publishing (May, 2013) Ebook: 86 Pages Website || Goodreads || Amazon UK: Kindle || Amazon US: Kindle