I love books that explore generational differences through intimate relationships and the eff...moreRead original,complete review at Impressions of a Reader
I love books that explore generational differences through intimate relationships and the effects those differences may or may not have on the individuals. Stephen Greco's Now and Yesterday in-depth exploration of aging and the evolution of relationships through queer history from the 70's gay revolution to current times, partly met my personal expectations of this novel.
Through Peter's character, Greco focuses the romance aspect of his novel on struggles faced by survivors of an aging boomer generation of gay men who lost its vast majority to the AIDS epidemic, limiting choices to those looking for a meaningful relationship to a much-reduced group of contemporaries or men from a much younger generation. Additionally, because Peter's portrayal is largely anchored to the past, it affords Greco the opportunity to incorporate 70's post Stonewall queer liberation details and its resulting history through the same character.
Greco's novel touched a few unexpected chords. I love the frankness and truth that comes across through his character's musings on aging, as well as how tightly he weaves in the impact, cost and effect of recent queer history. On the other hand, I found the proffered views about the younger generation of gay men to be somewhat bogged down by retro thinking and a tendency toward generalization in their portrayals. Regardless, Now and Yesterday is unquestionably a beautiful piece of writing infused with nostalgia and multiple layers that deserve a reader's time to properly dissect and process. (less)
This historical western romance is set in Creek County, Colorado at the turn of the century in 1903, so it's a different sort of western. Townspeople...moreThis historical western romance is set in Creek County, Colorado at the turn of the century in 1903, so it's a different sort of western. Townspeople are settled, the law is enforced, and there's not much of the "wild" left in the West. Sheriff Eugene Grey, a local, has matters under control and lives a relatively peaceful life until the young, arrogant Federal Marshal Forest O'Rourke shows up with an ancient wanted poster looking to arrest a local resident.
"I considered punching Forest O'Rourke in the face, the first time, about two minutes after making his acquaintance."
The narrative in this novel is strictly from Gene's first point of view perspective. It is quick witted, engaging, and absorbing throughout the novel, so of course I immediately fell in love with Gene Grey's voice and character. Not so much with young, arrogant Federal Marshal Forest O'Rourke or his brand new shiny tin star. That changes as the story unfolds and Gene exposes Forest's truths and vulnerabilities.
"Still, I gave him the benefit of the doubt that day for a couple of reasons, though mostly I claim I was bedazzled by the sunlight sparkling off his shiny, new badge."
Gene and Forest's story is divided into three parts. It begins with "The Law & Rawley Scoggins" and includes that first meeting, Forest's stubborn determination to arrest the old-timer, the disturbing end to those events for Forest and old Scoggins, and a few days of intimate acquaintance for Gene and Forest. Conversations lead to unexpected private revelations from both sides, particularly from Gene who finds himself attracted to young Forest and takes a leap by answering with the truth when asked why he is not married: "Because I like men, not women."
What follows is a beautiful seductive scene where Forest takes the lead. This is a favorite scene where a tentative physical move with an almost tender quality builds into full-blown lusty passion between the two men. I found the depiction of this scene to be excellent, specifically in how well Wilson conveys sexual tension, lust, passion, and the emotions involved, without going into unnecessary minute graphic or explicit details.
In the second part of the book, "Diotima's Child," Forest returns to Creek County under false pretenses and moves in with Gene as his lover, eventually becoming Gene's temporary deputy. This section details a joyful period for Gene and Forest filled with passion and love. Their relief at having found each other, however, makes them a careless pair, so it's no surprise when all ends badly and the lovers end up making their way to Atlanta and Philadelphia in the final and, to my way of thinking, strongest section of the book "Lonesome Trail," where loneliness and terrible despair awaits them. And where Gene risks breaking the law, prison, and death for love.
Wilson's characters are a study in contrasts with Gene a confident, educated, working man from the West and Forest a hot-headed, almost illiterate (not-so-bright) well-to-do gentleman from the South. Needless to say, characterization is fine tuned as well, particularly Gene. Through Gene's narrative the reader experiences the full scope of the novel, as well as the inner workings of a self-assured man plagued by loneliness whose passionate love leads to such raging turmoil and despair that he will do anything for a smidgen of hope. To a lesser degree Forest's character, the man who inspires such passionate love, is also well rendered as he evolves throughout the novel. Wilson humanizes the characters by portraying their strengths and vulnerabilities during different sections of the novel, making them fit with each other, as well as with time, place, and setting.
A Shiny Tin Star is a romance with a hopeful ending. This historical western is memorable for its characters, its witty, engaging, straight-forward narrative style, and a sweet, passionate romance with conflicts that fit the historical period. It ends with one of the best memorable, quotable, last lines I've read in a long time. I would quote it for you, but don't want to spoil it. Read the book and find out!
I began reading Wingmen by Ensan Case on a Saturday afternoon and couldn't put it down until I finished it late the following day. It's that good!
The...moreI began reading Wingmen by Ensan Case on a Saturday afternoon and couldn't put it down until I finished it late the following day. It's that good!
The love story between Lt. Commander Jack Hardigan, USN and Ensign Frederick "Trusty" Trusteau begins in 1943 toward the end of the Pacific conflict during World War II, after Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway. The Navy is in the midst of reorganizing the fleet and reconfiguring their strategy against the Japanese. Experienced naval combat aviators are scarce with a majority falling under the young and untried-in-battle classification.
When Trusteau transfers to the VF-20, the fighting squadron of Air Group Twenty, aboard the fictitious aircraft carrier Constitution, he is an inexperienced aviator and his new skipper Jack Hardigan, a hotshot veteran of Midway with quite a few kills under his belt. Trusteau's admiration for Hardigan is immediate and on a grand scale. As events unfold and Fred becomes Jack's wingman, for Jack, the trust that develops between them in the skies translates to everyday admiration of a young man whose flying skills highlight personal qualities, such as loyalty, efficiency and an ability to think on his toes, while on the ground.
Fred is clueless about his sexuality, but knows he’s indifferent to women and doesn’t ‘fit in’ with the other men in his squadron. To fit, Fred follows their lead and has sex with prostitutes, including when he transfers to the VF-20 squadron where he gains the nickname "Trusty" after lasting 17 minutes and gaining a stud’s reputation. But Fred doesn't understand why the other men make such a big deal about women. Yet, Fred does everything in his power to get close to Jack, and although it takes him a while to figure it out, it quickly becomes clear that Fred’s crush on his skipper is enormous. Jack, on the other hand, is dating a wealthy war widow, and for him it's all about company while on leave. There's more of a friendship than a sexual vibe between them, and Jack prefers to spend time with his men than with her. Unlike Fred, Jack fits in with the men and it isn't until much later that he begins to equate his desire for Fred's company and fear of losing him in combat with a more personal attachment.
These are the 1940's, so the feelings that grow between Jack and Fred are kept closely guarded even from each other. There are two intimate scenes between Jack and Fred that take place away from the ship but, like in the old movies, everything fades to black when they hit the sheets. But feelings and emotions go deep for both of them, and before and after their intimate moments even when the two men are alone on the ship, conversations and physical contact are maintained on the buddy level. There's no outward acknowledgment of feelings, particularly under the circumstances since they were at war.
And it’s war! Ensan Case's Wingmen is a plot and character driven novel. His research of what transpired in the Pacific during World War II is fantastic and his take of life in an aircraft carrier is riveting. There is a particular vibrant atmosphere to his portrayal of the life men lead at close quarters on the ship, as well as when they are on leave -- the hard drinking and incessant smoking, the jocular ribbing and womanizing, as well as the desire to distinguish themselves during battle – that allows the reader to know these men. Additionally, Case gives them distinct personalities, making the reader care whether they live or die.
Case also hits the right note when focusing on the politics of command and strategies used by the Americans to hit the Pacific islands -- beginning with Marcus and moving on to Wake, Tarawa, Kwajalein, and Truk -- by incorporating details without, for one moment, slowing the pace or the excitement of the novel. Those details make this novel what it is, as he also incorporates what is critical to the men: the maneuverability of Hellcats, Corsairs and Avengers, dangers of landing on the aircraft carriers, the terrible accidents, lack of supplies. All of those details lead to the strategic air battles in the skies, as well as the one-on-one situations which become some of the most tension-filled and exhilarating moments of the story.
Case ends the book with a postwar section written in letter format that gives the reader a broad idea of what happens to the main characters after the war and an epilogue that ends in 1969. I would have preferred if Fred and Jack’s story had ended a bit earlier, but frankly that did not influence my love of this book one way or another. Wingmen by Ensan Case is a fabulous fusion of historical fiction and romance that I recommend to everyone, but particularly to those who love exciting, well-researched tales set in the Pacific during World War II, as well as to readers who love a war time, tension-filled romance.(less)
This contemporary fiction/romance has received some attention. I enjoyed that Simsion uses the first person point of view from the male's perspective...moreThis contemporary fiction/romance has received some attention. I enjoyed that Simsion uses the first person point of view from the male's perspective in this romantic fiction piece. It makes for a great change and it's kind of refreshing. And the fact that Don's point of view is skewed because he suffers from Asperger's Syndrome makes this novel an even more interesting read.
Simsion uses humor, tenderness, warmth, and the main character's personal frustration to develop the romance. The reader sees Rosie from Don's perspective and, in my opinion, this distances her from the reader to a certain degree. However, Simsion does a fairly good job of letting the reader "see" Rosie. I understood Rosie's need and insecurities, but frankly when it came to Rosie falling in love with our man I found there to be a disconnect... and hmm... maybe that was on purpose. I mean, if Don could not figure out what being in love felt like, how could he recognize it in her?
Is an adult with Asperger's stereotyped in this romance? I wouldn't know, but, I do know that Simsion's novel is an enjoyable read all the way from beginning to end. Don, if not necessarily Rosie, makes it so.(less)
Tim Z. Hernandez bases his novel Mañana Means Heaven on the story of Be a Franco, the young Chicana woman Jack Karouac meets while on his way to Los A...moreTim Z. Hernandez bases his novel Mañana Means Heaven on the story of Be a Franco, the young Chicana woman Jack Karouac meets while on his way to Los Angeles from San Francisco, during his travels across the United States, and who later appears in his famed novel On the Road as Terry, or "the Mexican girl."
"Mañana," she said. "Everything'll be all right tomorrow, don't you think, Sal-honey, man?"
"Sure, baby, mañana." It was always mañana. For the next week, that was all I heard --- mañana, a lovely word and one that probably means heaven. -- On the Road by Jack Kerouac
The title of the novel is taken directly from one of the passages of Karouac's novel, but this is Bea's story, not Jack's. That is made perfectly clear from the beginning. Hernandez takes Karouac's short chapter, and following the same timeline, cleverly weaves in Bea's background and breaths life into the woman by exposing the extreme emotional and familial circumstances that pushed her into opening up to a man like Jack, a gavacho "college boy," during that particular time in her life. A time that lasted but a blink in time, but one that changed both of their lives irrevocably.
Meeting Jack gives Bea hope while she is trapped in what seems like a hopeless and desperate situation that Hernandez utilizes to build tension throughout his novel. Franco's short time with Jack changes her. It gives her the determination and resiliency that may have been there all along, but that she learns to use to become a woman who expects better for and from herself. For Jack, much later that moment in time becomes the stepping stone that helps to propel his career as a writer when the Paris Review publishes his short story "Terry, the Mexican Girl," and well, the rest is history.
If Franco and her family are well researched by Hernandez, then so are the historical details. Hernandez takes the reader to a post WWII Los Angeles that comes alive with all of its paranoia and multicultural prejudices. But nothing comes alive more than the San Joaquin Valley and the plight of the pickers -- the smell and paranoia in the tent camps, the fear of immigration raids, the hatred for the implacable owners and the need for work, the child workers, the stultifying poverty, and through Bea, the desperation.
Hernandez utilizes mañana, tomorrow, as the main theme of his novel. The word mañana represents many different things to the different people who inhabit the novel. To Bea and her brother Alex it represents the possibility of a future and the realization of a dream. To the pickers in Selma it represents the basics, work, food, a warm place to stay. If not today, tomorrow things will work out. To Jack it is always a way to gain time, to learn more, to see more. To little Albert, it comes to represent lack of money, a lack of hope. However, Hernandez also uses partings, abandonment, leaving and returning as a secondary and more subtle theme throughout the novel.
As an award winning poet and writer familiar with Franco's cultural background, Hernandez was already well equipped to write a story about Karouac's muse. However, Hernandez's research into her life and his insights into the person Franco was, into the woman she became, takes her story beyond that of a myth. (less)
Claire goes to the YMCA to attend a support group after having been diagnosed with breast cancer, instead she ends up at a group for erotica writers -...moreClaire goes to the YMCA to attend a support group after having been diagnosed with breast cancer, instead she ends up at a group for erotica writers -- this is a fabulous beginning! She meets Justin, a younger man who tells her he's there attending the AA group, not because he's an alcoholic, but to pick up women. Claire is a 40 year-old, divorced woman who dedicated her whole life to raising her son Max who just left for college. She never made time for sex or herself, and now that she's ready to begin, feels that her body has betrayed her. Justin convinces Claire that before she goes through surgery, she needs to make a wish list of sexual fantasies and go through with it, ergo the "Now or Never List" is born. Now, let's get this straight, Justin doesn't plan on being part of Claire's sexual explorations, he is to be her wingman. He plans and helps with fantasies, and in the process they become friends.
Now or Never is short, but what a fantastic short it is! I've previously enjoyed Logan Belle's works, but this is different, it's more a combination of contemporary fiction with erotica than straight up erotica. There is depth in Claire's story, a 40 year woman who has been a "mother" for so long she has forgotten what it is to be a woman. She comes off as a woman with real fears, doubts and lacking in confidence -- all of this resonated with me, like part of a normal stage that women go through at some point in their lives. Justin is the mystery here. The male who you want to throttle one moment, but really makes you think the next. I cannot wait to see what happens next.(less)
In His Secret Life is a fantastic romance with forbidden love, sexual tension, intense yearning, and angst. It's one of those all-encompassing, sweepi...moreIn His Secret Life is a fantastic romance with forbidden love, sexual tension, intense yearning, and angst. It's one of those all-encompassing, sweeping, lasting romantic love stories between two men who are also selfish enough to cheat and lie to be together. They pay a high price, but in the end find their way back to love. The execution in this romance is fantastic, as Bossa follows through with all the characters, the choices, consequences, life and love. My favorite LGBT romance of the year to date... I highly recommend it.
I picked up The Tilted World because the setting and time period caught my attention. The whole story takes place during the "Great Mississippi Flood...moreI picked up The Tilted World because the setting and time period caught my attention. The whole story takes place during the "Great Mississippi Flood of 1927" in the fictional town of Hobnob, by Greenville, Mississippi. It's really a love story (a romance with a happy ending) that takes place between a bootlegger and the government man who came to town to make an arrest. There's murder, betrayal, saboteurs, an orphaned baby, and a flood that would change the course of history.
What I loved and remember the most are the historical fiction details in this book. There were also times when I enjoyed the suspense and different characters, plus the joint writing by Franklin and Fennelly is quite good. However, there was a lack of plausibility to the story as a whole that kept it from becoming more than a solid read. On the other hand, the romance, for some reason, worked for me. It is one of those warm love stories that seems to fit with time and place. I recommend it if you're looking for something different that will keep you reading. I read it in one sitting.(less)