Is this out yet? Why can't I buy it for my kindle? Needs it now!
The one thing I love most about m/m/m romance is when an author looks at the difficult...moreIs this out yet? Why can't I buy it for my kindle? Needs it now!
The one thing I love most about m/m/m romance is when an author looks at the difficulties of such a relationship and the realities of sharing your life as three people, rather than two. I felt the author of this book had done a great job in showing how a couple in the tentative first few months of what could be a long, established relationship bring in a third man. There's no shying away from the problems and yet the author manages to make this a relationship that I felt worked as a three. I liked all three characters and the initial set-up was ideal in setting up the dynamics between the men later in the book. I'm a huge fan of this author's books and once again she has shown a masterful touch and a real knowledge of how relationships work. Definitely recommended.(less)
Why I Bought the Book: Lynn Flewelling was a key invited speaker at Yaoicon last year. I have to admit, I'd never heard of her before, but the seminar...moreWhy I Bought the Book: Lynn Flewelling was a key invited speaker at Yaoicon last year. I have to admit, I'd never heard of her before, but the seminar she led with Ginn Hale, Astrid Amara and Marie Sexton made me interested in buying at least this book, the first in the Nightrunner series to see whether I liked her style of writing.
Plot: Sixteen year old Alec of Kerry is a bit of a bad situation. He was stalking a wild cat for its fur when he wandered onto private land and was caught. As well as being tortured for information he doesn't have, there's talk of selling him to the slavers. Fortunately for Alec, one of the men in the cell with him turns out to be Seregil, a spy and con man who rescues Alec and invites Alec to join him on his journeys. Alec readily agrees and it isn't long before the two are thrown into danger and excitement.
One thing to say about the plot is that it grips you and never lets go through the entire book. The pace is swift as the two men, plus assorted comrades and friends, move from one exciting situation to another. Along the way the author provides information and background on the places that Alec and Seregil visit, deftly combining religion, history, social and economic details to create a wholly realistic and vivid setting for the reader.
Characters: Alec is a complete sweetheart. Innocent and naive at the beginning but with a willingness to learn from Seregil and a strength and determination to succeed. Next to Seregil, he comes across as a little slow witted, but that's not actually the case and as the book progresses so does the reader's understanding of his intelligence. He's very much a boy on the cusp of manhood: Old enough to understand the ribald jokes but still young enough to blush. He's very attractive but not yet self-aware enough to understand that or use it to his advantage. His feelings for Seregil are that of towards a mentor - he respects and admires him and longs for his approval. When that is witheld, or when he's shut out for any reason, the young boy comes out in Alec in fits of surly anger and sulking. It was all rather endearing. Seregil is both a contrast and a complement to Alec. He's much older with a wealth of experience to call on but this can sometime lead to over-confidence on his part. He's charming and handsome with a bit of a silver tongue, and yet finds dealing with Alec sometimes baffling as he often cannot read Alec's moods and as a result says the wrong thing. As a pair they work well together and although there is no sexual attraction or feeling between them at the moment, I can see how it may come to grow as Alec gets older. The other characters are all fully fleshed out and I found myself liking characters such as Micum, Seregil's good friend, and Nysander, Seregil's wizard mentor and friend as much as I did Seregil and Alec. Even the most minor characters, such as the captain of the boat taking them to Skala, were three dimensional.
Overall: I greatly enjoyed this book which managed to combine an intriguing and arresting plot with fabulous world building and very sympathetic characterisation. I was immersed in the story and rather displeased that I had to make so many breaks in reading due to other commitments. Some more squeamish readers may not be fond of some of the more macabre elements to the story but these didn't bother me - in fact they rather enhanced the story. For fantasy fans this really is a must read, especially those who like high fantasy. Romance fans are going to have to be patient as that aspect of the series doesn't begin until well into the next book. I'm happy to wait for that - and what a wait it will be if the next book continues along the same vein as this one. I highly recommend Luck in the Shadows with a grade of 'Excellent'. I've already ordered the next two books in the series and can't wait for them to arrive through my letterbox(less)
Just a warning, there will be spoilers for the first three books in the series in this review.
I've been very much looking forward to this fourth and f...moreJust a warning, there will be spoilers for the first three books in the series in this review.
I've been very much looking forward to this fourth and final book in the Seasons series. The other three books took the same story and looked at it from three different characters' point of view and I wondered how this book was going to be structured since there wasn't a fourth character who could take on another narrative. Instead the author has rather cleverly taken a separate character, Jason, and used him to link with the other three characters, taking us from the time just after Jace's first blood clot and into the future with Ben and Tim. Jason is a 15 year old boy who has been bounced around in foster care since he was 7. He never stays in a family for long because he deliberately sabotages his placement. His social worker is Michelle, Jace's sister, and this time he promises Michelle that he will make a good go of the new family he is placed with. It's tough at first, but Jason tries to get along with the new family for one reason, the eldest son of the family, Caesar, who Jason develops a huge crush on. We follow Jason through the next few years as he falls in love and marks out a future for himself with the help of good friends.
Like the other books in this series, this story contains the themes of growing up, falling in love, making mistakes and learning to become an adult. The main story centres around romance, but it's so much more than that. It's also about making choices about who you want to be with and finding a family who will accept you for who you are. Jason isn't perfect and I have to admit at times he is very immature - just like a 15/16 year old boy should be! He is desperate for affection and confused, hurting from the past but fiercely independent. I liked him very much, liked that he was flawed and did stupid things at times, that he took risks because underneath it all he was a good, kind person who just needed a big hug and some stability. As the story develops, Jason changes until by the end he is more mature and happy. He's still independent and stubborn but he has learned how to compromise instead of running away and hiding, and that makes him a better person.
This isn't just Jason's story. It's also an opportunity to see the future for Ben and Tim. They come into the book part way through and we see their relationship through Jason's eyes. Ben is his usual sweet self and Tim is working through some issues and it was nice to see that their relationship is still evolving. There were a couple of poignant conversations between Ben and Jason about Ben's feelings about Jace which helped to sort out some of my feelings about how the first book in the series ended. Tim also has to face his past, as well as resolve some problems with Jace's family. I liked that their relationship wasn't this perfect ideal, but just two guys with a mixed history who love each other but still have the occasional difficulty. Just like real life! The book ends on a high note which was a little sappy but had a huge awwwww factor. It was a fitting end to Ben and Tim's journey and I'm happy to leave them to their HEA now.
I haven't said much about the romantic plot mainly because I don't want to give away spoilers. Let me just say that Jason's love life is not all plain sailing but it definitely has its high points. One thing I love about this author is how much he seems to be able to understand the mind of a teenage boy with all the confusion that comes with hormones. I like that he doesn't shy away from the fact that teenagers have sex, although the descriptions are vague and concentrate on emotion rather than mechanics. If 16 year olds having consensual sex on page offends you, then this probably isn't the book for you. I saw it as a necessary part of Jason's journey and it didn't bother me at all. As for the romantic interest in Jason's life, my lips are sealed :). All I'm going to say is that they weren't as well rounded in terms of characterisation as Jason, but that was more to do with the fact that our focus is mainly of Jason and so the other character is seen through slightly idealised eyes at times. Having said that, the flaws of the other character do come through eventually and so this is only a minor criticism.
On the whole, I love this author's books and his fluid written style. This means I was quite forgiving of some of the books' faults, such as the idealisation of characters as I mentioned above, because I was enjoying myself too much. My main niggle was that the book was a little overindulgent at times with some scenes that didn't really further the plot and so could have been cut from the book. One scene in particular where Jason and another character visit an art gallery was a pleasant enough scene but when it had finished I wondered what the point had been. None, apparently, just another opportunity to see the two characters together. The book is a decent length and cutting one or two scenes would have made the plotting a little tighter.
Having said that, this was still a terrific read. I liked that although this was Jason's book, there was still an ensemble theme with a mix of well loved and new characters. It fleshed out the world away from the fairly tight circle of the previous books. I was also pleased to discover that the author intends to continue writing within this community of characters, not Ben, Tim and Jason, but other secondary characters who need some loving in their lives. I shall look forward to those books. As for this book, if you are following this series then this is a must-read which I would recommend with a grade of 'Excellent'. If you like YA romance and haven't read any of these books then this is probably not the place to start. I would suggest starting with Something Like Summer and working your way through to this book. You're in for a treat! (less)
This review is for the story Like Autumn Leaves and Camp Fires by Elle Parker only.
Like Autumn Leaves and Campfires is a short story of about 10,000 w...moreThis review is for the story Like Autumn Leaves and Camp Fires by Elle Parker only.
Like Autumn Leaves and Campfires is a short story of about 10,000 words which can be found in the anthology First Frost. I don't usually do a review of just one story in an anthology but in this case I made an exception. Firstly, because author sent me the story to review; secondly, because it's the only m/m story in the anthology and I wasn't interested in the m/f/m menage or m/f romance stories; and thirdly, because it's a Seth and Dino story and I was just so excited to have the opportunity to read it!
The story begins with Dino and Seth taking an autumn holiday in a cabin by a lake. The cabin belongs to Dino's neighbour, Ruth and both of them are pleased to be getting some time away together. Things start out well until Dino's curiosity is piqued by reports of strange goings on at a nearby cabin.
At such a short word count - presumably a stipulation for the anthology - there was never going to be room for much in the story but the author has managed to pack in quite a lot nonetheless. I've always been fond of Dino's narrative with his dry, witty observations and his ability to see the sly humour in most situations. Reading this story reminded me again why I liked him so much as a character. We get to see Dino and Seth being relaxed together, teasing each other and happy. Theirs hasn't always been an easy road to romance and I was pleased to get a peek into their HEA. There's still a certain amount of insecurity in their relationship although I liked how Dino begins to address this during this story, giving us some extra development in the romance.
The mystery plot is more of a teaser as things are resolved quite quickly but it adds some much needed action and tension to the story. Without this aspect the story could have been a little self-indulgent. As it is, the mystery allowed us to see our heroes interact with some secondary characters and meant the story wasn't just focused on sex and romance. The mystery is also worth reading to get to the point where Dino can barely contain his amusement over the way things work out - an amusement I shared.
For those of you who have never read a Seth and Dino story, well shame on you! Go and read the first two books now and then you'll see why I was so excited about a new story :). For those of you who are already fans of this couple then I'll leave it up to you as to whether you feel it's worth buying an anthology of nine stories when you may only read one of them. I'm hoping the author releases it as a separate story as some point in the future.
ETA: I've just found out from the author that the anthology is free so you don't have to decide whether it's worth buying for one story. Bonus!
As for me, I loved the chance to read more from this wonderful couple and I'm looking forward to the release of book 3. Hopefully I won't have too long to wait. (less)
Every so often I pick up a Neil Gaiman book, start reading and wonder why I haven't managed to read all of his novels by now. I think I still have two...moreEvery so often I pick up a Neil Gaiman book, start reading and wonder why I haven't managed to read all of his novels by now. I think I still have two more to go after this. This book was spawned from a BBC TV series and contains the story from that series, plus all the bits that Gaiman had to remove from the TV script. It tells of Richard who after he rescues a bleeding girl in the street, finds himself having slipped through the cracks of London, becoming part of London Below. This catapults him into an adventure along with the rescued girl, Door, a con-artist Marquis, and a female bodyguard, Hunter, where they are being chased by the odious Mister Vandamer and Mister Croup. Let's face it, this was fantasy writing at its best. I love Gaiman's macabre sense of humour, his talent for producing 'everyman' heroes and his weird and wonderful imagination in creating settings. London Below was just marvellous, a mix of creepy characters, dangerous locations and tricksy people. Richard's bewilderment at what is happening to him strikes just the right balance to keep him sympathetic and I really enjoyed his growth as a character. I was wholly immersed and was disappointed when it was all over because I loved it so much.(less)
Wonderful, action packed science fiction story, full of verve and humour. It has everything: cinematic set pieces of gunfights/bombs/chases; a tender...moreWonderful, action packed science fiction story, full of verve and humour. It has everything: cinematic set pieces of gunfights/bombs/chases; a tender romance; wisecracking side-kick/buddy/lover (who also happen to be an alien who live in the body of the hero); Russian mafia bosses and the US army. What more could you want?! One of the best I've read in ages and a contender for one of my books of the year. LadyM's review says it all - thanks for the rec, my dear! A definite must read.(less)
Josh Lanyon doing what he does best. Take two guys; put them in an awkward situation; add in some sort of weakness with the narrator (in this case a r...moreJosh Lanyon doing what he does best. Take two guys; put them in an awkward situation; add in some sort of weakness with the narrator (in this case a recovering alcoholic); stir it all up during a series of highly emotional conversations; add a dash of hot but tender sex; before coming to a somewhat abrupt but satisfying conclusion. Marvellous.
I really liked In a Dark Wood and this builds and improves on that previous story.(less)
I always know that I'm going to be in for a great read when I pick up an anthology from this particular publisher because it's made up of five favouri...moreI always know that I'm going to be in for a great read when I pick up an anthology from this particular publisher because it's made up of five favourite authors. I really enjoyed their Winter Warmers anthology and this one turned out to be equally as wonderful. I shall take each story in turn.
Summer Hire By Chrissy Munder The anthology kicks off with a sultry tale of mutual attraction. Jim is working for his friend's boat hire place in the hope that after the summer one of the many job applications he is filling out will net him a job. The boat hire place is owned by Aaron, a bad boy turned good by hard work and good business decisions. As soon as Jim sees Aaron he's instantly in lust but thinks that there's no way such a gorgeous guy would go for a clumsy geek like him. This first story was lighthearted and a perfect way to ease the reader into the anthology. It's set in Michigan during a typical hot summer and I could practically feel the heat shimmering off the pages in the description. The two characters are likeable and I was cheering them on. I particularly liked the character of Cheryl who offered advice without being interfering and the lovely sexual tension between the leads. Overall this was a good start to the anthology.
Lost and Found on Lindisfarne By JL Merrow Chris and his daughter Kelis are on holiday in Northumberland and visiting Holy Island. They discover a group of people who are acting as vikings for the holiday crowds. One of vikings, Ian, catches Chris' eye but Chris is leaving to go home to Cambridge the next day so nothing could come of a holiday fling. On the surface this story seemed like a light and fluffy tale of viking reenactments on Northumberland's Holy Island. However, the added addition of a young girl with a less than stella start in life added a much needed darker vein through the story, given depth to the characters but not overwhelming the witty and charming narrative. Despite its short length, the story brimmed with wonderful characterisation and a sweet opposites attract romance. This made it my joint favourite from the anthology.
Salt 'n' Vinegar by Clare London This was my other favourite story and was another story full of wit, but with a much darker theme than any of the other stories in the anthology. Joe and his sister are working the summer at a fish and chip shop in Brighton - and how I smiled at all the changes of name for the shop. Joe has the hots for regular customer, Steven, and it seems as though his feelings are returned. Joe can't help think that Steven isn't telling him everything and is proved right when he makes some discoveries about Steven's past. The highlight of this story for me was the way it dealt sympathetically with the darker theme but also showed us a realistic portrayal of a guy who felt unable to cope and out of his depth. Joe wanted to support and help Steven but felt awkward and unsure of how to go about it. It made a nice change from all these stories where the steady guy sweeps in and makes it better for the guy with the problem. Joe couldn't do that but I liked the way he tried. Another plus point was the relationship between Joe and his sister which was also realistic with a mix of bickering, teasing and genuine love and concern. Overall, a very enjoyable story with a great British setting.
Werewolves of Venice Beach by Lou Harper Bryan is house and dog sitting at Venice Beach during the summer before he heads back to college to finish his degree in engineering. His neighbours are an eclectic bunch but their friendliness and kindness soon draw Bryan in and he discovers that there's more to life than engineering textbooks. I'm always a sucker for a nerd and Bryan fit the bill perfectly. As the narrator he hides his loneliness well but I liked how the reader builds up a picture of a friendless and isolated man who is rather overwhelmed by all the kindness bestowed on him by his unusual neighbours. There's humour in the story but also lots of pathos as Bryan tries to navigate his first ever relationship with free spirit Slade. They were a mismatched pair and I did wonder how it would work out for them but, sadly, we never see beyond the summer when they meet. Having said that, I liked the humourous tone to the story and the werewolves part made me smile.
By Quarry Lake by Josephine Myles The final story of the anthology is a second chances tale of two former close friends. Tommy and Rob were inseparable when growing up but a falling out meant they haven't seen each other for three years. During that time Tommy has come to terms with being gay and now wants to see whether he can rewind back to that fateful evening when their friendship fell apart. This was a gentle tale but full of emotion as Tommy tries to make amends for his past behaviour. I liked the tentative first meeting between the former friends and the confusion of Rob over Tommy's change in behaviour. We know how things are going to turn out but there's still a delicious underlying tension in that first meeting. Another plus point was the awkward meal between Rob and his dad which managed to convey a wealth of parental love in a few gruff words. The quiet bravery of Rob at the end left me feeling happy and optimistic for their future. A great end to the anthology!
We may now be in the grip of autumn here in the UK, but it was nice to revisit summer with these stories. They were all worth reading, being well written, witty and full of great characters. I'd highly recommend Summer Lovin'(less)
*There are spoilers for this series in this review*
Something Like Autumn is the third book in the Seasons series. Although it's not necessary to read...more*There are spoilers for this series in this review*
Something Like Autumn is the third book in the Seasons series. Although it's not necessary to read the books in order, I would start with the first book Something Like Summer. It is possible to read this book, or even the second book, first, but because the character of Ben features as a main romantic interest in all three books then I think it's possibly best to get his story first.
Let's get the warnings out of the way first, shall we? Those readers who have read the other books in the series will know that there is no HEA for Jace. Those readers who loved the character of Jace and were hoping that the author might fudge a happy ending are doomed to disappointment because the book stays true to the events in the previous books. In fact, when I got to the end, I cried a great deal. I'm not saying any more but if you're looking for rainbows and fluffy bunnies, you won't find them at the end of this book, although you will find a sort of bittersweet happiness.
I really liked the character of Jace in Something Like Summer. Some readers complained that he was too perfect, but I liked that about him. He was perfect for Ben and I wasn't particularly happy with the way their relationship ended. This book shows us Jace's story from when he was 17 through to when he meets Ben and all that happened afterwards. We get to find out why Jace is so calm, so understanding of Ben's faults and how he came to be a flight attendant on the flight where he met Ben. It's not a easy journey for Jace who suffers a number of ups and downs through the years but has the support of a loving family and a wonderful best friend.
The story begins as Jace tries to commit suicide. He knows he is gay and having read several biographies of famous gay men, he realises that he is doomed to die alone and so decides not to put himself through years of torment by ending it all now. After throwing himself off a bridge, realising half way down what a terrible mistake he is making, he is rescued by Bernard who makes sure he's OK and then offers Jace a job at the local gas station. It's whilst working one evening that Jace meets Victor, a free spirited young man whose laid back approach to life fascinates Jace.
The book is divided into two distinct parts of Jace's life. The first part is all new and original material which covers maybe four years of Jace's life from the last few months of his senior year to his college years and centres around his relationship with Victor. This was my favourite part of the book because it shows a great deal of character growth in Jace as he deals with coming out and the highs and lows of his first relationship. Victor is Jace's first boyfriend and the two are polar opposites. Jace has a loving family and a close friendship with his best friend Greg. He works hard at school and in his job, is biddable and obedient (mostly) and has a strong sense of right and wrong. Victor only has his mom and doesn't see her very often, dropped out of high school and spends most of his time camping out, sponging off Jace and spouting philosophy about how he is unable to conform to society's expectations because he is a free spirit. His friend is Star, an ex of Victor's who becomes a rival for Jace. I have to be honest and say that I didn't like Victor very much. Jace thinks he is wonderful, follows him round like a puppy and provides Victor with food and cigarettes whenever he needs it. Despite my dislike of Victor, I could see why Jace would like him and the author does a really good job of showing Jace's fascination with Victor and in showing that Victor does have feelings for Jace. It was also interesting to see how Victor's view on life changes Jace, and how their push/pull relationship is reflected in Jace's later relationship with Ben. There were a few lightbulb moments for me when I connected the dots between events with Victor and later events with Ben. It was cleverly done.
The second half of the book covers familiar ground and deals with Jace's relationship with Ben. There are a few cross-over events from the first and second books such as when Jace first meets Ben, their first dates and the arrival of Tim in their lives - it was especially interesting to read the water park incident from Jace's point of view. On the whole this part was used to expand and fill in the gaps of their relationship, things that there wasn't time or space to cover in book one. For example we get to see them going away on holiday together, and there are one or two very poignant scenes set around 9/11. I loved seeing again how much Ben and Jace worked as a couple and getting further insight into the events of other books because I was seeing it through different eyes.
There were plenty of other wonderful things about this book that I don't have the space to cram into this review. Things like the characters of Greg and of Jace's sister Michelle, both of whom were fully fleshed out and extremely likeable - I wish that Greg was my best friend!; or the way that this author has a gift of being able to get into the mind of a teenager and coherently show all the jumbled mix of hormones and emotions that comes with being 17/18 and in love; or how Jace was just so delightful as a character that I could have read 400 more pages of his narrative; or how masterfully the author handles emotion in the book so that I was laughing one minute (the scene where Jace's dad offers to give advice on safe sex had me in stitches) and in the next I was in tears. The book is long but the pages flew because I was so engrossed in the events that were happening on the page.
The first book in this series, Something Like Summer was the first book I had read by this author and I've now read all his books. As an author he just keeps getting better and better and I highly recommend this latest book. For those of you who have read the other books in this series, don't be put off by knowing the ending of this book because you will miss out on meeting the wonderful character of Jace properly and that would be a great shame. For those readers who haven't read any of this series, what are you waiting for? Get to it because you'll be in for a treat. (less)