This, the second book in LB Gregg's Men of Smithfied series, begins just as explosively as the last book. Our hero Seth is stressed. He has a high pow...moreThis, the second book in LB Gregg's Men of Smithfied series, begins just as explosively as the last book. Our hero Seth is stressed. He has a high powered job, plus he is grieving for his twin sister, who died of cancer three months prior to the start of the book, and who left him the guardian of her six year old daughter, Molly. When we first meet him he is waiting for his weekly massage. His usual masseur is not able to come and the replacement is David, who is so skilled that Seth becomes rather *ahem* overheated, much to David's complete outrage. Later that day, Seth sees David again, waiting tables at a bar/restaurant. There's attraction but also antagonism between them as they try to hook up, sort out Seth's many misconceptions and deal with ex-lovers, stalkers and Molly's biological father.
I liked Seth, really liked him. He was, to be honest, a bit of a bastard. When we meet him at the beginning he seems your typical selfish Alpha male, but he has also has a number of things going for him. Firstly, he's trying his best to look after Molly, even whilst trying to cope with his own grief. He's endearingly clueless about how to look after children and treats Molly a bit like a mini adult, but I liked how he really did care for her and wanted what was in her best interests, even if it didn't tally with his own. Secondly, he genuinely loved his sister and grieves her loss. He spent the last few months of his sister's life caring for her at the expense of a long term relationship with someone he loved. Finally, he's honest and upfront with people. He doesn't mince his words, which sometimes makes him seem abrupt, but I liked how he wasn't prepared to lie or hide the truth. David wasn't so clearly defined. In fact he came across as a bit too good to be true and even his inexplicable temper tantrums weren't enough to change the fact that he was rather too perfect. However, I did understand that David was supposed to be the polar opposite to Seth and therefore balance him out.
This was a fast paced read, full of LB Gregg's trademark humour and wit. If I have any complaints it's that there was a little too much crammed into this short novella and as a result the ending was rather rushed, even if I did see it coming pages before it happened. Having said that, I read this compulsively from start to finish and was satisfied when I closed the book. I didn't like this book as much as Gobsmacked, but it was still a good read, meaning this book gets a grade of 'Very Good' from me.(less)
I have a pretty strange sense of humour. I like silly visual gags and people who are in potentially embarrassing situations. With that in mind, the op...moreI have a pretty strange sense of humour. I like silly visual gags and people who are in potentially embarrassing situations. With that in mind, the opening chapter of this novella hit all my funny buttons and I laughed out loud. I mean, how could you not laugh when a gay man storms into a Catholic church during an Ash Wednesday mass, denounces his lover as a cheat and liar and proceeds to hit him over the head with a bible? It certainly got my attention, that’s for sure.
The gay man in question is our hero and narrator, Mark. Earlier that morning he discovered his live-in lover, Jamie, in bed with the landlord. The rest of the book follows Mark over the next 3 days as he comes to terms with his lover’s betrayal, makes more discoveries about Jamie, before finding that his perfect man was actually under his nose the whole time. The book is basically about relationships: The ending of one relationship and the start of another; the relationships between Mark and the townspeople of Smithfield; the relationships within families. This all takes place within the slightly oppressive atmosphere of a small town in the depths of winter.
I have to admit I had very mixed feelings about Mark. At first I had a great deal of sympathy for him as he realises the extent of Jamie’s betrayal. However, as I got to know Mark better, I began to see how really self-absorbed he is, to the extent that he has behaved quite selfishly in the past. Mark is also very reactive, as can be seen from the opening chapter. He doesn’t seem to think things through very clearly before acting, which then leads to further trouble later on. Even a simple thing like a misplaced remark has him over-reacting and on a number of occasions I wanted to give him a bit of a shake and tell him to climb out of his own arse. Having said that, he does redeem himself by the end and part of my delight in this book was watching Mark come to realise what an idiot he has been. I am hoping that my reaction to Mark is one that the author was hoping for. At least I had a reaction.
In contrast, the other hero, Tony, is very reliable. He’s strong, dependable, sensible and thoughtful. The complete opposite to Mark and just what Mark needs during the few days where his life is turned upside down. Tony reminded me very much of a certain LA cop, except that he is firmly out of the closet – but that was no bad thing. I liked that it was obvious to the reader that Tony was attracted to Mark – even if Mark couldn’t see it himself – and that Tony was man enough to admit his mistakes, even before Mark wised up to his own mistakes.
One plus point for me was the setting. The snowy winter in New England was a perfect counterpoint to the warmth of the people who live there. I have a special fondness for NE, having visited a few times (once in a very cold March) and the people there are very similar in temperament to my native Yorkshire. The secondary characters, especially Mark’s family, didn’t appear very often, but when they did, there was a real sense of love and commitment to each other. The descriptions of the cold environment, especially in the scenes at the end of the book, gave depth to the book and emphasised the importance of the setting within the story.
I really enjoyed this novella. It was a smooth, fast paced read with some lovely use of descriptive language. There was no overblown prose here, everything was written for a reason – as should be the case in such a short medium as a novella. Despite my reaction to Mark, I can see that this is a superb effort from a first time author and I’m giving it a grade of ‘Excellent’. I very much look forward to the next in this series. Oh, and that was another great thing, there were no scenes setting up the next heroes in the series. The whole book was focused solely on Mark and Tony and their relationship. Bonus!(less)
This book caught my attention because it is set in the world of bull riding. Having recently read and reviewed a book by BA Tortuga in a similar setti...moreThis book caught my attention because it is set in the world of bull riding. Having recently read and reviewed a book by BA Tortuga in a similar setting, I was interested to see whether I would enjoy this one as much. And, yes, I admit, I find it hard to pass up a cowboy book! I also love that cover. Catt Ford is such a talented cover artist who shows imagination in her cover designs and doesn't rely on the old naked torso shots so prevalent in m/m romance these days.
Jeff and Clay both work the bull riding circuit and both are reaching the top of their game. This leads to fierce competition between them both in and out of the ring. The men love the lifestyle and attention from women that bull riding brings, taking advantage of the 'townie' women, who in turn take advantage of the cowboys. This all changes for Jeff and Clay when a confrontation between them leads to a passionate kiss. Suddenly both men are confused about their attraction to each other, Clay more than Jeff, and they spend the rest of this novella trying to work out what they both want from this new relationship: an opportunity to expend sexual tension or something which touches the emotions.
This was very much a mixed book for me. I really liked the depiction of the terribly competitive sport of bull riding: the camaraderie between the riders and the other men associated with the sport; the descriptions of the rides themselves; and the matter of fact way that the men deal with a lifestyle where they are constantly on the move. I also liked the way that these men thought and spoke and behaved with each other. These men interacted with few embellished phrases, dealt bluntly with one another and hid any emotions other than a strong ambition to win. For example in the scene where Clay and Jeff first come together:
Jeff tilted his head back and peered at Clay’s face. “You queer?” “Never have been,” Clay said. “So what the hell are we doing?” “You mind if we analyze it later?” Clay felt if he didn’t get some action soon, he was going to explode. “Yeah, whatever.” Jeff applied himself to Clay’s mouth once more, greedily sucking his tongue.
In some ways it is this reluctance to talk over their problems or even how they each feel about this new and somewhat frightening relationship that leads to much of the conflict in this book. Clay is determined that he feels nothing for Jeff other than lust and their relationship is nothing more than an opportunity to 'get their rocks off' whenever he's in the mood for sex. As a result, Clay spends most of the book jumping Jeff and then rejecting him afterwards. I could quite understand when this happened the first couple of times, but when it continued to happen over and over again, I got rather irritated. Clay's refusal to accept that he was at least bisexual - even if it was in a 'gay for you' context - made the middle part of the book drag and it all got a bit repetitive.
The characters of Clay and Jeff were, frankly, interchangeable. They both spoke, thought and acted the same, with the exception that towards the end of the book Jeff becomes more accepting that he might be bisexual. As a result of this, and also because there was a certain amount of headhopping between the two men, they became almost like just one character with two different names. This led to a certain distancing between myself and these characters which may not have occurred if they had different personalities. I liked them, I wanted them to succeed at both the bull riding and in their relationship with each other, but I never really fully engaged with them or their situation.
So, whilst the setting and the dialogue were done very well, the secondary characters fairly well rounded and the romance hot and believable, this book didn't wholly engage my emotions. I'm giving it a grade of 'Good' and I can recommend it to fans of the author and those who like cowboy books.(less)
No-one does Gay For You as well as Evangeline Anderson and this novella about two soccer playing friends who become more was a hot and delightful read...moreNo-one does Gay For You as well as Evangeline Anderson and this novella about two soccer playing friends who become more was a hot and delightful read from start to finish.
Mav and Duke have been best friends for four years. They are on the verge of moving on with their lives when the relationship starts to take a strange turn. Duke has always been touchy-feeling and Mav has tolerated this, even to the extent that he allows Duke to share his bed. Then one day a game of 'gay chicken' starts to bring out feelings in Mav that he has never had before. This, coupled with a chaste(ish) photo shoot for a gay mag is a catalyst for Mav having to re-evaluate his sexuality and in particular how he views his friend.
As this is told from Mav's point of view we get to tag along with his journey of self discovery, especially as he battles with his feelings for Duke. Both characters were sympathetic and I really enjoyed having two stubborn alpha men battling it out in a series of 'dares' which becomes much more than win or lose. The sexual tension was wracked up to high through the whole story and, although a fantasy like many GFY stories, it wasn't wholly out the realms of believability. This was one of the best GFY stories that I've read in ages and it's going to be one that I shall come back to again and again - dare I say that I enjoyed this possibly more than The Assignment. It gets a well deserved grade of 'Excellent' and is an absolute must for all fans of GFY.(less)
The opening scenes in this book perfectly set the tone for what is to come. We meet Freeman, our enigmatic hero, sitting in a seedy club, nursing a be...moreThe opening scenes in this book perfectly set the tone for what is to come. We meet Freeman, our enigmatic hero, sitting in a seedy club, nursing a beer whilst watching a young man give the club’s owner a reluctant blow job. In fact the book reminded me very much of a British gangster film. It has all the classic characters: The dodgy businessman; the heavy muscle bodyguards; the handsome right hand man; the put-upon wife; the not-so-innocent young man; the honourable hero. Much of the book takes place in seedy clubs, back alleys, warehouses or in Freeman’s flat and nearly all the action takes place at night or in dark places. This lent a claustrophobic air to the whole book adding to the sense that everyone is trapped somehow by circumstance. Alongside this we are given the wry, bleakly humourous observations of Freeman, our first person narrator.
In fact this whole book hinges on the character of Freeman, but he’s a sneaky narrator. I got to the end of the book and realised that I still knew next to nothing about him. We never find out what his job actually entails, or his background, or even too much about his past. We have to glean all information through the odd offhand remark or throw-a-way comment; through inference rather than being told directly. It’s a long time since I’ve been made to work so hard for a character and I have to admit I found it a refreshing change. Added to this is the knowledge that Freeman is also an unreliable narrator. He deliberately hides important information from us, just as he does the other characters, letting us see what he wants us to see, so that at certain points of the book I was as surprised as the other characters when he chose to reveal what he’d been doing. Freeman isn’t perfect though, he is completely aware of his own failings as a person, especially his inability to open up to others or to hold a conversation.
In contrast to Freeman we have Kit. Kit is young, impulsive, selfish, proud and a magnet for trouble. Much of his behaviour can be attributed to his youth and a certain naivety. He’s managed to get himself caught up in a life of lies, drugs and prostitution, yet remains wholly optimistic that he could walk away from it at any time. He appealed to all my maternal instincts which wanted to take him home and feed him as well as give him a slap round the back of the head for being a fool. Freeman is attracted to Kit but for various reasons can’t act upon that attraction, mostly at first because he initially feels Kit only wants him out of a sense of obligation. Eventually, Kit is able to convince Freeman that he feels more than just grateful for his help, and they have tender, beautiful sex. Clare London always writes a great sex scene and this was no exception as she combined emotion with a good dose of reality, showing that sex can be clumsy as well as hot.
It’s very difficult to explain any part of the plot of Freeman without giving away spoilers. The reader is drip-fed information throughout the book and it’s not until a climactic scene towards the end that all is finally revealed. I have to admit I was completely fooled by the mystery and I hadn’t guessed at all what was going on so this was just a great scene for me where I sat, openmouthed as all was revealed. Actually, this scene links with the first point about the book being part of a gangster film as it was very stagy. All the characters had their positions and as each new aspect of the mystery was uncovered we were shown the reactions of the people in the room, like a camera focusing on them to gauge their reactions. Marvellous.
This book won’t be to everyone’s taste; for a start it was very dark, with only occasional black humour to lighten it. Everyone in the book is hiding something both from each other and the reader, which is quite disorientating, but also means that the characters are complex and, well, very human. There is a pervasive sense of hopelessness throughout the whole book and even the HEA doesn’t wholly dispel that feeling. Clare London’s prose can only be described as sparse, pared down to the bone and stripped of all unnecessary description – both in terms of character’s feelings and setting – so those of you who enjoy lush, overblown descriptions may find this rather disconcerting. These were some of the things that I liked about the book, things that made it a bit different from the usual m/m read. However, those of you who like your romance to be sweet and fluffy won’t like this book at all.
Along with everything I have said above, there is Clare London’s exquisite writing. Her vivid descriptions of the seedy underbelly of the city, the rank, fetid places where nice people just don’t go and the creation of this calm, cold, yet utterly sympathetic hero makes this one of the most unusual, interesting books I’ve read in a while. I highly recommend that you read this book and I salute the author for being brave enough to write something so refreshingly distinct.(less)
I picked this book up Aspen Mountain Press because I'm interested in books which deal with a grieving character. I think that it's quite a difficult p...moreI picked this book up Aspen Mountain Press because I'm interested in books which deal with a grieving character. I think that it's quite a difficult plot device to pull off as there are many factors - such as length of time since the previous lover died; how consumed the character is by grief; and how quickly the previous lover is forgotten - which can affect how successful the author is at making the transition from past lover to new lover smooth and believable. The most successful one I've read so far was the heartbreaking story by Erastes in the "I Do" anthology.
At the beginning of the story we are introduced to Zach, who is still grieving over the death of his long term partner, Jay, who died two years previously. Since then he's continued to run the book and coffee shop business that he set up with Jay, with the help of Jay's sister, Rhonna. Since Jay's death, Zach has let the coffee shop (which was originally set up by Jay) run down but Rhonna insists that they need to re-establish that part of the business and employs Keith to do that. Zach is immediately attracted to Keith, but feels like he is betraying his memory of Jay by acting on the attraction. It doesn't take long for Zach to give into temptation, despite trying to avoid and then attempt to sack Keith so that he can go back to his dull, lonely life. Keith has his own problems. He is constantly on the run trying to escape a past lover who is trying to get back with him.
I felt that both characters were well realised and believable. The scenes where Zach reflected on his time with Jay had just the right tone of sadness and nostalgia and yet, when the time came to act on his attraction with Keith, I didn't ever feel that the past relationship was soured or intruded too much into his growing feelings for Keith. I liked how Zach slowly came to the understanding that he needed to have a new lover but that it would not spoil or taint the memories or love that he felt for Jay. Most of the focus on the second half of the novella was on Keith and his fear that his former lover had found him again. Stalker stories can often be a bit silly or unbelievable, but with this book, Keith's fear was very realistically portrayed through his reactions and especially when he discovers that Bryan (his ex-lover) had been in his apartment. Bryan's behaviour is genuinely creepy and I liked the way we never get to see him so all our emotions are focused solely on Keith and how he reacts.
This was a well written, fast paced read with empathetic characters in a believable setting. I do have a couple of niggles about the book: Firstly, we are never told how Jay died. This may not have been particularly important had Zach not blamed himself for Jay's death, but because he does, I was expecting to find out why he blamed himself and the circumstances around Jay's death. We are given some hints in the way that Zach becomes overprotective when he thinks that Keith is not being cautious enough with his home security but I would have liked a scene where Zach tells Keith about Jay and how he died. Secondly, the novella ended quite abruptly followed by an epilogue a year later and it jarred a little with the previously flowing storyline. It's quite odd that I had this complaint about the last book I bought from Aspen Mountain Press. The rest of the book though was a sympathetic look at a man slowly emerging from grief and joining with another man who is learning to face his fears rather than run away. This book gets a grade of 'Very Good' from me and I shall keep a look out for this 'new to me' author in the future.(less)
Are you a big fan of sci-fi? Do you love to read about gadgets and technologically advanced machinery? Are you interested in books which contain alien...moreAre you a big fan of sci-fi? Do you love to read about gadgets and technologically advanced machinery? Are you interested in books which contain aliens and their impact on our society in the future? If you are can I gently suggest that you stay right away from this book because it may make you a tad annoyed. Broken Boundaries is Evangeline Anderson at her finest. It's a gloriously over-the-top piece of high space camp that will appeal to those who love EA and are willing to set aside all pretense at a believable plot and hang on for a great ride. All her favourite plot devices are here: Straight to gay; gay for you; dubious sexual consent; public sex; fast pacing; oodles of sexual tension and evil villains. All this and lobster shaped aliens who are trying to take over the Earth. What more could a m/m reader want? Except, perhaps, fantastically hot sex scenes - and, guess what, there's that as well.
The story begins when we meet our hero, Chaz, who is newly arrived at the lunar station to train to be a 'needle' gunner. The needle is a technologically advanced space-craft, specially designed to be swift and deadly in a space fight. However, Chaz is not happy to discover that the only way to fly in this machine is for the gunner and pilot to be surrounded by a neural net. In order for this net to be effective the men have to pressed together skin to skin. The net works at its ultimate level when the men are joined together in sex. For the ostensibly straight Chaz this idea is completely horrific, especially when he discovers that his pilot is Ferrin, a man who is rumoured to have murdered his previous partner. As I'm writing this description now I'm thinking, 'this sounds like the biggest load of tosh' - and, to be honest, it is completely laughable and sounds like something out of a porn film or a gay space version of Top Gun ("Guns on Top", perhaps). The thing is, EA makes it work! I was wholly sucked in to the whole silly nonsense and couldn't stop reading it from start to finish in one sitting.
The relationship between Chaz and Ferrin shifted from tense to a gradual tenderness as Chaz began to realise that if he wanted to fulfil his life's ambition to be a needle gunner then he must set aside his inhibitions. Ferrin was very gentle and patient with Chaz, never pushing him to do more than he could take, but furthering their intimacies through constant touching and always being alongside Chaz. Thus the sexual tension grew and grew until an explosive finale. I liked both Chaz and Ferrin. I sympathised with Chaz and his mixed feelings about realising that he was attracted to Ferrin and I liked that Ferrin admitted that he too had been through those feelings when he first started his training. The scenes where Ferrin comes to terms with his previous partner's death were emotional and touching, allowing us to see how important that man had been to him.
There were a few things I hadn't liked about the book. Many of the secondary characters came off as a little too cardboard cut-out for my liking: The ultra evil homophobe; the campy twink; the thick-headed muscle guy; the twins who complete each other's sentences. I was also rather irritated by the way that Chaz refused to have sex with Ferrin because then he would somehow have to admit he was bisexual. There is also a graphic scene of non-con sex which didn't bother me too much (because of the circumstances, which I can't explain here or I'll give major spoilers away) but some readers may not find to their taste.
Overall, I was thoroughly engrossed in this wholly daft book. At no point did I think that this was anything but a tongue-in-cheek pastiche of a sci-fi novel. If you like reading thoughtful, realistic sci-fi which looks at the importance of maintaining cordial relationships with alien cultures, then I'd give this book a miss. However, if you are looking for a lighthearted space romp with lots of great sex and space battles, then look no further than this book. You won't be disappointed. I certainly wasn't which is why I'm giving it a grade of 'Very Good'. (less)
The book is basically a ‘straight to gay’ storyline which is a theme that Jet Mykles has used a lot, especially with the Heaven Sent books. However, w...moreThe book is basically a ‘straight to gay’ storyline which is a theme that Jet Mykles has used a lot, especially with the Heaven Sent books. However, whereas previously we have had the books written from the point of view of the supposed straight guy, this time the hero is Steven, the gay guy. Steven meets Devon, a young straight man, when he moves into the same apartment block as Steven. Steven takes Devon under his wing and, along with his neighbour, Patty, looks after Devon whilst he is finding his feet. Steven is very attracted to Devon as he pushes all Steven’s ‘gorgeous young guy’ buttons and much fun is had by the reader at Steven’s expense as we watch him trying desperately to keep control of his rampaging hormones whilst around Devon. The scene where Steven has to go into Devon’s apartment to wake him up is particularly delicious.
I liked Steven a great deal. He is a kind-hearted man, and perhaps at first I thought a little too kind-hearted. He is also very honourable, putting the needs of others before himself and trying to deny his growing attraction to Devon because he didn’t want to jeopardise their friendship. I was less sure about the character of Devon at first. I thought that he took a bit too much advantage of Steven’s generous nature, although this could have been put down to the usual thoughtlessness of young men just away from home for the first time, plus he was a bit of a slacker. However, by the end of the book Devon had redeemed himself and I think had become a more mature adult as a result of Steven’s influence. The only other character was Patty, the fag-hag neighbour. Even though she was described as white with blonde hair, my brain insisted in seeing her as a black woman. I have no idea why, except that she spoke with a cadence which reminded me of Whoopee Goldberg so maybe that put the picture in my head.
I spent a very pleasant couple of hours with these characters. I liked the fact that we saw the ‘straight to gay’ storyline from the gay man’s viewpoint; I liked that there was character growth on the part of both heroes, with Devon learning to stand on his own two feet and Steven learning to trust that Devon wasn’t going to run out on him; I liked the sex scenes which were emotionally fulfilling as well as hot. However, when I got to the end I was vaguely dissatisfied. I wished that the story had been longer; that there had been some scenes where Devon and Steven really talked, especially about past hurts on both sides. There was a lot of information thrown in almost as an aside, such as the problems Devon had with his family and the disappointments Steven had suffered with men in the past and the book would have been more substantial (in page and emotional terms) had those themes been given more of an airing. With that in mind, I’m giving this book a grade of ‘Very Good’. (less)
I bought this book in the spirit of New Year experimentation and started a few days ago with my first conscious trip into m/m paranormals. This book i...moreI bought this book in the spirit of New Year experimentation and started a few days ago with my first conscious trip into m/m paranormals. This book isn't a paranormal, it's a (gasp) menage. OK, it's not a m/m/f menage (I really don't think I can read one of those) but a yummy m/m/m.
The book centres round an afternoon's liaison between three close friends. Kasey, Warren and Mitch are long time buddies and work colleagues who have rented out a cottage for a holiday and are currently snowed in (like the title, you see). The book begins when Warren and Mitch discover that Kasey has a nice sideline writing erotic fiction. The trouble is that Kasey has been asked by his editor to include a m/m subplot which happens to involve a gay man seducing a straight one. Being straight (but apparently willing to experiment) Kasey hasn't got a clue about how to go about this so he asks Mitch for some advice as Mitch is bisexual. Warren is completely straight and has never been tempted to change that. There then follows an afternoon which involves them getting a bit tipsy, playing truth or dare and leads to Mitch seducing Kasey and Warren.
I have to say that there were two things which I enjoyed greatly about this story:
Firstly, for such a short story the characterisation was perfect. Each of the guys were distinct in the way they spoke and acted. The relationship between them firstly as friends and then as something more was believable and natural - I didn't feel that there was any forcing of characterisation so that the menage would work, no sudden changes in character. In fact the way that Warren is slowly drawn into to role play and games was expertly done.
Secondly, the sexual tension throughout was riveting. I couldn't put the story down as I was caught in the grip of it. One thing I always wondered about menage was whether one person would feel left out (the episode from 'Friends' when Ross describes taking part in a menage, always springs to mind). This wasn't the case here. The authors kept reminding you of what each of the men were doing and thinking and acting throughout their time together - and all without excessive head-hopping. It was great stuff. I have to say that Warren was my favourite out of the three men (and not just because he's British) because he is given space by the other two to think though what is going on and, despite his reservations, is perhaps the one most emotionally involved at the end of the story.
If you're looking for romance or a HEA then this may not be the story for you. Not to give too much away, but the story ends with a promise of things to come rather than everything neatly wrapped up, which I have to say is my preferred ending for short fiction like this. I'm hoping that this might mean we see more of these guys in the future. For now though, I'm going to grade this as an 'Excellent' read and look about for a few more m/m/m books.(less)
This historical, paranormal m/m is set at the beginning of the twentieth century and follows a period of about 48 hours of a train journey. Edwin is t...moreThis historical, paranormal m/m is set at the beginning of the twentieth century and follows a period of about 48 hours of a train journey. Edwin is travelling across the country with his mother and sister so that his sister may marry a rich elderly man and save them from financial hardship. Edwin is a repressed homosexual which causes him to have periods of depression and insomnia. On the train he meets with Satori, a travelling magician, hypnotist and spiritualist who arranges to have tea with Edwin, hypnotises him and then seduces him. The rest of the short story concerns Edwin's acceptance that he is gay and the gradual discovery of who Satori actually is. on the whole, I really enjoyed reading this as the historical setting was a bit different; the character of Edwin was likable and easy to identify with; and the sex scenes were tender and nicely written - and the hypnotised sex didn't bother me like it might some people. The only niggle I have is that I wished it was longer, that the time frame had been drawn out. However, without giving too much away, the rattling of the train wheels mimicked the rattling of the story as it sped on to the inevitable conclusion, so I understand why it had to be written that way. A great short read which gets a grade of 'Very Good' from me.(less)
**spoiler alert** How do you know that the book you are reading is something special?
For me it's by one of two different ways of reading. I either can...more**spoiler alert** How do you know that the book you are reading is something special?
For me it's by one of two different ways of reading. I either cannot put the book down; have to finish it; read to the exclusion of everything until it's over and I surface, blinking into the world or I savour the book by reading it in chunks; taking my time; thinking about the book when I'm not reading it; wake up in the morning to the happy thought that I've more of the book to read; feel sad when it's done, like I've lost a good friend.
I read this book the second way, taking over three days to read it - which is very unusual for me.
I wanted to write a review on this great book, spread the word and tell everyone what a wonderful experience reading this book is. However, after spending a couple of days with bits of a review going round my head, I've realised that I can't write a review without including spoilers, can't describe why I loved this book so much without discussing major plot and character developments and I don't want to do that.
Instead, I'm going to talk about two things in this book which struck me as unusual and which added to my enjoyment of the book as a whole. I think I can do this without giving anything away.
Firstly, the characters.
Like most books, Mitchell introduces us to the characters of Aaron and Joey early on and as a reader, I was left to make judgements about them. Nothing unusual there. However, as the book progressed I realised that the first impressions I got of these characters were actually not quite right. It's not that the characters changed or developed away from my initial assessment of them, but rather that my assumptions about them were wrong, and proved to be wrong later in the book. I hope I'm describing this in a way you can understand! It's actually a bit like real life when you meet someone new for the first time - you make very quick assumptions based on their looks and what they say to you at that first meeting. However, when you get to know someone better, they can be quite different from that first impression. This just blew me away when I realised what Mitchell had done. It was so clever and very unusual.
Secondly, the sex.
I've mentioned before how I get very bored with books which contain multiple sex scenes and can even get to the point of exasperation, wondering whether the book will ever get back to the plot. Well, in this book the sex was central to the plot. Each sex scene (and there were numerous) was written to show either something about one of the characters or something about their growing relationship. At no point did I feel bored or fed up with all the sex, in fact I found myself looking forward to the next sex scene to see what would be revealed next. Again, I was amazed when I realised what was happening.
I urge anyone reading this to go out and buy this book. Even now, three days later, I'm still thinking about parts of it - again the sign of an outstanding book. I'm giving it a grade of 'Excellent', but to be honest, Collision Course goes beyond that grade.(less)
I'd read the first book in this series Blue Ruin: Some kind of Stranger and enjoyed it, so when I began this book I was hoping that it would be as goo...moreI'd read the first book in this series Blue Ruin: Some kind of Stranger and enjoyed it, so when I began this book I was hoping that it would be as good as the first.
This book was really Blue's story, rather than Derek's and whilst we do get some of the book from Derek's point of view, we spend most of the time in Blue's head. This meant that I was able to sympathise more with Blue, than I did previously. In the first book I had several issues with Blue mostly to do with Blue's submissiveness and his lack of focus or direction other than staying with Derek and being taken care of by him. In this book we see that Blue's contentment with being a 'pet' was actually reasonably short lived as it doesn't take him long to get bored with sitting around all day in Derek's apartment and I liked that Blue recognised the need to go back to school and make something of his life. When he starts an intensive class which would enable him to finish school, he meets some people his own age and it's then that we also get to see another side of Blue, that of older teenager with his friends, larking about and essentially acting his age. This also went a long way to improving my opinion of him as he becomes less of a 'type' and more of a character. Blue's friends also go some way to breaking up the claustrophobic feel of the first book, where Blue and Derek are the main focus for much of the story.
When Blue goes back to school he meets his former nemesis, Cameron, who, as a young teenager, had bullied and beaten Blue for being gay. Blue has very mixed feelings for Cameron: On one hand he hates him for causing such misery during his school years and leaving behind deep psychological scars. On the other hand, Blue recognises that, despite Cameron's behaviour, he has always felt an attraction to him. When he sees Cameron again and learns that he is not only gay but deeply sorry for the hurts that he inflicted on Blue at school, he is even more confused. He still feels the attraction, but he loves Derek. It was this 'will they, won't they?' that forms the main thrust of the plot in this book. Blue's reactions to Cameron, a mixture of lust, guilt and hurt, were complex and believable, as were his conflicting actions of responding to Cameron despite his love for Derek. Blue is a nineteen year old boy, who has only had one lover in Derek and so it was entirely understandable that he is ruled by his teenage hormones for most of the book.
Derek very much takes a back seat in this story. He is hurt by Blue's feelings for Cameron and yet he is also old enough to understand why Blue is acting as he is. At one point Derek even reflects that at nineteen he was less controlled than Blue is now. It doesn't stop him feeling jealous though and showing Blue that jealousy through the sex scenes. One part of the book that I liked especially is where Derek himself is tempted to stray, the results of that scene provided a lovely contrast to the behaviour of the much less mature Blue.
If I have any complaints about this book it would be how quickly Blue forgave Cameron for his past behaviour, although I can quite see that it fitted in with Blue's rather too trusting nature. I also felt, rather like the first book, that the serial killer mystery was rather over the top and perhaps a little tagged onto the main story. However, Looking at the blurb for the third book, I can see that the events in that mystery plot are going to feed into it so maybe once I've read number 3 I will feel differently about this aspect of the plot in book 2.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. I felt that it built on what we knew of Blue and Derek from the first book, making them more rounded and less like yaoi stereotypes. I liked the dynamic of bringing in another man and how that impacts on the relationship of the couple, plus the added interest of Blue's friends. It was one of those books where I found myself thinking about the characters and the story even when I wasn't reading it. I highly recommend it to those who have already read the first book in the series and this gets a well deserved grade of 'Excellent'.(less)
I decided to buy this short story from Samhain and I'm very glad that I did. It's the summer and John is in his first job since leaving College. His c...moreI decided to buy this short story from Samhain and I'm very glad that I did. It's the summer and John is in his first job since leaving College. His car's in the garage so he walks into a nearby diner for lunch where he meets Keith who is spending the summer working at a waiter to pay his way through College. John and Keith hit it off straight away both in their interactions and their sexual chemistry. Keith, however, doesn't want to end up as a notch in John's bedpost so he makes him wait. The result is both tender and explosive. I've mentioned before that I like this author's style of writing and this story complemented his descriptive style: I could feel the heat of summer soaking through the entire story and I felt deeply the frustration of John as he faced his first summer in a job, unable to go and enjoy himself at the beach as he had done in previous years. In many way this was a story about growing up and learning how to be an adult as much as a love story. Both John and Keith were believable, well rounded characters and I was entirely satisfied with the ending. Overall, this was an interesting and engrossing read with a grade of 'Excellent' and I'm going to look out for more published works by this author.(less)