This was a hot, sweet, and good ride. It was a quick ride, but a good one, nonetheless. That said, it also had so many elements of what it so prominently selling right now – a book very similar in many ways to the Fifty Shades and Crossfire series. In some ways that was positive, and some ways, it was meh. But I’ll get back to that in a moment.
Not Planning on You begins with our heroine, Suzy, an event planner for Danvers International located in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, finding out that the uberhawt, ubersexy, all alpha male, CEO of Mericom, Grayson Merimon (Gray for short) will be spending a lot of time at Danvers in Myrtle Beach…much to her chagrin. She is still getting over the heartache of her fiance’ cheating on her and putting her heart back together, and while Gray definitely sends her libido into overdrive, Suzy is not ready for a relationship or to give her heart out once again. Luckily, Gray is a very insistent man, and whittles away Suzy’s strong layers, getting her to finally agree, not to a date of course, but to a night of some hot and heavy sex to help simmer the temptation that has been wracking both of them. While on their non-date, and prior to the amazing sex that is supposed to occur, Suzy has an accident, breaks an ankle, and finds herself needing to be taken care of for some time. Of course, Gray instantly takes charge, takes over, and refuses that anyone but himself take care of her.
The chemistry between Suzy and Gray jumps off the page from the get-go, and it is clear to see that they are going to set things aflame when they do finally get down to business. Suzy is a very strong, independent woman who knows who she is, what she wants, and what she doesn’t. She is beautiful, full of confidence, and loves to dress in a way to show off her assets and style, topped with six inch stilettos. Gray, the dark, hot and brooding CEO, is equally as gorgeous, all male, and the perfect man in all senses of the word. After he gets Suzy back to his home (that he is able to purchase within a day, and with the mindset of making it their home eventually), his perfection goes into hyperdrive. Not only is he richer than rich and the most perfect male specimen to be found, he has a wonderful relationship with his brother and his parents, his manhood is well above average, AND he cooks from scratch. Believable for the reader? Not.At.All. Nonetheless, he takes care of Suzy, and through their time together, they get to know one another very well, and you can see how they are able to fall in love…not because they are beautiful and the sex (that they haven’t yet had) is amazing, but because they really do click and enjoy each other’s company.
Of course, there is always a problem in perfect-ville. For Gray and Suzy, it’s Gray being stalked by a pesky ex-lover. This comes to haunt them in the worst way imaginable and drives a wedge between our hero and heroine. Are they able to survive it as a couple? You’ll have to read it to find out. ;)
So going back to how Not Planning On You is similar to Fifty and Crossfire, and how that can be good and how that can be bad, I’ll start with the good. It’s good in that it gives the reader the perfection of man to dream about and with which to escape reality. Do we all want that? Hell yes! There are so many elements that I imagine women dream about and are enticed by: tall, dark, sexy CEO who is head over heels in love with the woman of his affections, he’s rich, he does all the right things, he is blessed with his amazing manhood, AND he cooks! Sign me up, please!! Now the bad. Is it achievable? Hell no! NO ONE can be THAT perfect. Additionally, the hero’s name is Gray. Really? Wow! If that doesn’t send up a signal, I’m not sure what would. Also, I think the CEO part has become too cliche’, and the hero should not be as well off and owning his own company. It would be nice to see that changed up a bit. Much like Fifty, too, the conflict was a bit far-fetched and way too easily overcome.
Not withstanding my minor criticisms, though, Not Planning On You was a fairly quick and enjoyable read. While some could say that Suzy and Gray fell in love too quickly, I actually enjoyed watching them fall in love in a way different than most contemporary novels these days. They didn’t fall in love through their lust for one another, but because they actually spent a lot of time together, getting to know one another. And when they did finally get together, watch out! The sheets were set on fire. I also really enjoyed watching Gray fall to pieces when Suzy would say or do something to break down his hard exterior. He is definitely a kitten underneath his Tiger skin, and it was adorable to see. I also enjoyed the peripheral characters, most especially Beth and Nick, who I can only assume might be the main characters in the next Danvers novel. I know I will be reading it to find out.
Ivy Bailey, vampire hunter, works to keep the streets of Chicago safe from unruly vampires. Unbeknownst to her, though, she is being hunted as well. Christopher Bell, a vampire himself, shows up at the right place at the right time, and saves Ivy from an awful fate. This then begins a relationship that is great fun to watch unfold.
Gruesome murders are taking place in the city, and due to various reasons that are discovered much later in the book, Ivy is hand picked to hunt the person, or demon, responsible. Christopher, a vampire made in England a century prior, is in the city to do some investigating himself. After saving Ivy, the two are naturally drawn to each other and begin to dream of the other, something that should not be possible. Ivy tries to fight the attraction, but finds it hard to do. Christopher is not even what most would consider to be an attractive man, as most vampires are known to be. His strength and wit, though, draw in both Ivy and the reader. Christopher and Ivy soon also discover that their dream walking ability also extends to telepathy; again, something that should not be possible. Some of my favorite dialogue actually takes place during their mind reading. Ivy usually thinks of something that she shouldn’t be, and then Christopher is right there to remind her that he can “hear” her. Its often quite comedic.
As Christopher and Ivy start dreaming of and following each other, they finally give into their attraction to each other and get hot and steamy. I felt like their first time together came kind of out of nowhere, but hey, what can you do when the hormones take over? The sex scenes are not overly detailed, drawn out, or too frequent, but Sizemore has a style that works and writes them in such a way that can still get the reader hot under the collar.
In addition to seeing Ivy and Christopher’s point of views, we also get the same of the villain and his accomplices. Without giving too much away about who is the primary bad guy, I will say this: the main baddie does not work alone. He has minions to do his bidding, and what I really liked about this is that Sizemore creatively incorporated the use of well known real life sociopaths from the past century – Jack the Ripper, John Wayne Gacy, and Ted Bundy – to portray these minions. While Ivy is hunting the big baddie and his minions, she in turn, is being hunted by them. It makes for a great game of cat and mouse, and vice versa.
I think my primary drawback of this book relates to the lack of information we are provided about some issues. I felt like I finished the book and still had a lot of questions: Why didn’t we learn more about Christopher’s role as an Enforcer? Can we get more information about Enforcers in general and vampiric law? How will Christopher and Ivy work as a couple when certain “rules” say they shouldn’t? Admittedly, I have not read any other books in this series – yet – so it’s possible that this information is provided in previous books, and maybe we’ll learn more about Ivy and Christopher as a couple in future books. I’m definitely interested in finding out.
Overall, Sizemore writes a great tale about vampire and vampire hunter, and draws the reader quickly into the story. Little is told about either Ivy or Christopher or their lives, and the reader watches their secrets unfold, even until the very end of the book. Well done, Sizemore!!
*This review is for the first five releases in this series. Rumor was that these five releases would complete this series; however, according to Fawkes, there will be more to this series (and thank goodness for that with the way that she ended #5!).
Anything He Wants is contemporary erotica, and likely another book series that falls under the guise of, “If you loved Fifty Shades of Grey, you’ll love this!” And while I am a fan of Fifty, probably because Fifty was the first book of its type that I had read, I unfortunately can’t say that I did love Anything He Wants.
Lucy is a data entry clerk, and she has timed her elevator rides every morning so that she is able to ride with and ogle a drop-dead hunk, who we later find out is Jeremiah. The series begins with such an elevator ride, and after everyone has exited the elevator, with the exception of Lucy and Jeremiah, before these two even exchange hellos or names, they get down and dirty in the elevator. Later that evening, at the end of the work day, Jeremiah tracks Lucy down in the parking garage, and another trust ensues. And they still have yet to exchange names. The next day, Lucy is taken to Jeremiah’s office by her boss, to find out that Jeremiah is the CEO of his own company. Sound familiar? Well, come to find out, Lucy was about to lose her job, but Jeremiah (yes, they finally know each other’s names), offers her a job as his personal assistant. What does the job description entail? You guessed it: Anything he wants. Lucy doesn’t take too long to think about and accept the job: her parents died a couple of years ago, she lost their house due to the debt she inherited, and she is down on her luck financially. So, Jeremiah’s lucrative offer is enticing enough for her to say yes. And so it begins.
As his personal assistant, Lucy goes with Jeremiah to Paris for a function, and while there, she gets caught in the cross hairs, so to speak, of someone out to harm Jeremiah, either directly, or indirectly by harming Lucy. It is from this that we see Jeremiah become super alpha, and basically claims Lucy, vows to protect her, but then also pushes her away from any of her sexual advances. Jeremiah sends more mixed signals than a broken traffic light. Regardless, Lucy is still infatuated, and finds herself sequestered in his house without any hope of leaving any time soon. Meanwhile, someone is still on the loose to hurt Jeremiah and/or Lucy, but does she listen to Jeremiah while trying to keep her safe? Nope – that would be too wise!
There were a lot of elements in this book series that just fell flat for me, sadly. I couldn’t get over the ridiculousness of so many situations in the series. First, when the sex scenes begin the way they do, with no introductions or exchange of names, within the first pages of the book, I just can’t help but roll my eyes. And then, of course, the series was just too formulaic. The corporate hot shot/CEO falls in lust with college drop-out, data entry clerk, who, after hot sex but no meaningful dialogue, agrees to do anything he wants for the right price, and subsequently, listens to and gives in to his demands of “Kneel” and “Bend over and put your elbows on the desk.” Wow! Really???? I think that besides a physical attraction, it would be nice to see some compatibility through dialogue and other exchanges before acquiescing to his every whim. However, dialogue is quite lacking, if there at all, and not just in the beginning, but throughout the entire series.
Nonetheless, within days, Lucy finds herself falling head over heels, and dare I say it – love – for this dominating, domineering, and often cold, billionaire. Is the sex hot? It definitely is! But is that enough to make someone fall in love after a couple days? Nope, not in my book. To make matters worse, Lucy makes decisions that are just mind boggling to me. When Jeremiah tells her to “Kneel,” does she does so at his word? Yes. But when her life is in jeopardy, does she do what Jeremiah tells her to, in order to keep her safe? Nope! *insert another eyeroll here.* And then when information comes out about Jeremiah’s past, and who may be out to harm him, it is basically spelled out directly for them before the head-smacking comprehension hits either Lucy OR Jeremiah. Wow! For an ivy-league student, and a corporate billionaire, it really takes them awhile to be clued in.
All that said, I do admit to the smexy scenes being pretty damn hot. Other than my repulsion to some of the verbiage used (e.g., “weeping folds” – yeah, that just provides me with some abhorrent imagery really), the sex scenes did get my girly bits tingling. And I do have to give Fawkes kudos for the ending of the 5th release….I never saw that coming, and now she has enticed me enough just to continue reading to find out the who’s and why’s behind all the mystery.
I absolutely loved this book! “Battle Buddy” was the story of Tuck and Owen meeting and getting together, told from Tuck’s point-of-view (POV). After reading Tuck’s “diary” of events in “Battle Buddy,” Owen decided he wanted his story to be heard as well; hence, us very lucky readers now have “Tuck & Cover.”
For me, I love reading books written in first person POV. I feel like I become more connected to the main character telling the story, and I feel for him/her so much more than I normally do when written in third person POV. Not always, but a lot. The downfall to first person POV, however, is that while we get to hear what other characters might say, or see what they do, we miss out on their thoughts, their insight, and the inner workings of their actions. Well, Peterson has so graciously provided her readers with both. We were able to closely connect with Tuck in “Battle Buddy,” but now in “Tuck & Cover,” we get to hear Owen’s thoughts about falling for Tuck, and all that he was thinking throughout his time in Basic and Rangers’ training, and the processing of his attraction for Tuck.
What I found interesting is that while Owen loved to do things to drive Tuck mad, he was going through some of the same internal grief that we previously saw Tuck having. Owen has known for a long time that he was gay; however, from the time of early childhood, it was engrained in him that he would grow up to be an Army Ranger, and that is what he sets out to do. But his attraction to Tuck has other plans. So as much as he tries to focus on his training, to fulfill his Ranger dreams, Tuck keeps coming to the forefront of his thoughts, and finally, he gives into that attraction.
The beauty of “Tuck & Cover” is that while we get Owen’s POV for a lot we saw in “Battle Buddy,” Owen takes it a little bit further, so we get new aspects to their story as well, and holy hot tamale, are those some fabulous parts!! We see Owen in a role that he doesn’t often portray, but he sums it up so beautifully: “And hey, I found out that day I had a new kink. Power Bottom!” Oh yeah!!!!
In addition to the very, very hot sexy time, we get to see more wonderful development between these amazing fellows. Their chemistry is off the charts, and their antagonistic, but equally playful, interactions are great fun to watch unfold. They are also so very sweet with each other, especially with their non-Christmas presents to each other.
“Tuck & Cover” doesn’t finish the tale for these Rangers, but it ends with a teaser of where their story takes them next. Once again, Peterson does an amazing job in this fabulously told novella, ramps up the hotness factor, and leaves the reader ecstatic with the growth between Tuck and Owen. I am waiting on pins and needles to see what happens next!(less)
Mmmmmm….I LOVE me some military men. So what do you get when you put together TWO uber-hawt military men??? One VERY happy, happy reader!
Battle Buddy is the story of Shane Tucker – six foot two, built of lithe muscle, brown hair, magnetic blue eyes, in-the-closet gay nineteen year old – who has enlisted in the Army. He is from a small town in Texas where he never had the opportunity to meet another gay man, so he never felt the need to divulge his secret, either. Instead, he decided he could live his lie behind “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” During basic training, though, when the very sexy, six foot four Owen Bradford is assigned as his Battle Buddy, living that lie becomes more and more difficult for Shane, or Tuck, as Owen affectionately refers to him.
Tuck and Owen’s relationship is pretty comical to watch unfold. For all the sexiness that Owen is, he is equally as annoying to Tuck, mostly due to that sexiness! Tuck finds his hormones going off the radar when around Owen, and has a tough time keeping that attraction internalized, especially when his body has other ideas about displaying his attraction. Owen shows Tuck very little personal space, he is constantly ramping up Tuck’s desire, and he is the one person who gets Tuck’s goat. Hence, Tuck refers to his time in basic as “O.B. Hell.”
After O.B. Hell, Tuck and Owen are sent their separate ways, but fate has other plans for them: after a couple of years, they find themselves back together in training for the Army Rangers. Once again, Tuck finds himself as attracted to Owen as he was before, and with Owen’s ways, Tuck finds keeping his desire at bay more and more difficult. Watching Tuck’s reaction to all the things that Owen does to egg him on is much fun. And it is equally exciting to see what unfolds when that desire and passion is finally unleashed.
Not many people are gifted enough to write a novella that is as fulfilling as Battle Buddy, but Peterson does it. She develops the characters and their relationship, she writes so awesomely hot sexy time, and she still provides the reader with a happy-for-now ending is that is most satisfying. For me, there is nothing quite as hot as two alpha males hooking up, especially after fighting it for so long, so when Tuck and Owen do finally get together, they are explosive! As they question and try to answer who the top Ranger is, it’s quite the draw. As Tuck reflects, “You were one tough motherfucker if you could survive Owen Bradford fucking you.” I so can’t wait to see where Peterson takes them next.(less)
Oh, this was such an amazing book – I had a smile on my face practically the whole time I was reading it! Anne Tenino has absolutely outdone herself, and she continues to remain an auto-buy author for me. Her writing incorporates all the elements I love: well developed characters; no insta-love; clever wit and great humor; very sexy smexy time; and an excellent HEA.
Sam is a self-proclaimed “too-tall, too-skinny, not-very-attractive, very-obviously-gay dork,” and he totally, completely endeared himself to me from the get-go. Like so many of us readers, Sam is addicted to romance novels, and a hot highlander in a kilt is his weakness (yes, Sam is VERY smart!). Through a little bit of chance, and probably a lot of fate, Sam meets his “hero,” Ian, while hurrying home with a romance novel featuring a kilted hottie in tow. It doesn’t take long before Sam starts imagining Ian as his very own kilted highlander. And as fate would have it, they end up at a party together, where the sparks and hormones begin to fly. But Ian has had a troubled history with coming out and having relationships, and while he is trying to start afresh with his life, getting into a relationship is not in his plans. In fact, he comes across pretty crass as he makes it clear that Sam is not normally his type. Sam, who too has had a difficult time with relationships in the past, feels just the opposite. He is completely besotted with Ian, but with even that being the case, he does a lot to protect his heart, feeling that there is no way that Ian could ever feel the same way about him.
Throughout this book, Tenino very cleverly tells the tale of Sam and Ian’s story by having Sam think about his own situation with Ian as if it were a romance novel (ha!) and breaking it down for the reader. Doing so, Sam realizes that Ian is his TGH (Tortured, Gothic Hero), but that he himself is TSTL (Too Stupid To Live). Resigned to the fact of the matter, Sam continues to behave in such a way that he might eventually get an HEA with Ian. And this enlightenment and resignation lead to one of THE hottest blowjobs I have read in the genre. *PHEW*!!!
Well, even against Ian’s own plans, there is just something about Sam…so much so that Ian can’t stop thinking about him. And it is so much fun to watch the development of both Sam and Ian each individually, and as a couple as well. At one point when Ian finally admits to Sam that he has feelings for him, Sam’s thoughts about it sum it up perfectly: “Oh my God, how sweet was this shy, nervous guy where that uncaring bastard used to be?” Then to watch their courtship is just wonderful. Yes, of course their sexual chemistry together is off-the-charts hot, but we also get to see them in places other than just the bedroom, like shopping, or Ian picking Sam up from work just because he misses him and wants more time together. And back to the off-the-charts hot, all I gotta say is: Ian. Kilt. Laird. *THUD* Whoa! What a scene, on so many levels – the sex is BEYOND hot; the thought that Ian put into the evening, knowing how Sam loves romance novels, was outstanding; and this scene took their relationship to a whole new level. So well done!
And throughout their relationship, we see Sam who is sweet and kind, but also so very insecure of himself, to the point where he just can’t believe that Ian would ever fall for him. When Ian does start to fall, though, and his brittleness thaws, he really becomes that sweet hero that we all fall in love with. Again, Sam sums it up so perfectly: “But he wasn’t a bad boy, not really. Ian was amazing; loving and careful of Sam’s feelings and his insecurities. He defended [Sam's] honor.” And oh how he did. We see so much growth in Sam, too. Yes, he is super insecure, but we see his strength in pushing for what he wants, and acting in ways to both protect his heart, but putting it out there to take a chance on an HEA love. And Sam is just the cutest MC ever…I absolutely love all his quirks: how he thinks about everything in terms of a romance novel; how he falls asleep immediately post-coital (I absolutely cracked up when Ian wondered to himself how Sam jerks off in the shower); his relationship with and reliance on his BFF, Nik (who, along with Jurgeon (Sam’s cousin), is awesome!); how funny he is when doped up on painkillers; and how incredibly hot he was when the traditional “roles” got reversed.
Following in the steps of the traditional romance novel, Sam and Ian even had their “Big Mis,” or their big misunderstanding. And like all wonderful HEA couples, they fought for it, and they came out on the right side of love.
TSTL was a very cleverly written romance novel, incorporating excellent wit, humor, character and relationship development, and beautiful and uber-hot love scenes. I highly recommend this to anyone who reads m/m romance, and would even recommend it to those who just read hetero romance. It’s definitely a book that can hook one onto the genre. I absolutely loved it!
Lastly, I have a favorite quote. It is from the end of the book, so stop reading now if you don’t want to be spoiled. But being that TSTL follows the structure that makes up a romance novel, you should already know that it ends with an HEA. ;)
“And no more of that Too Stupid to Live stuff,” Ian whispered against his mouth.He felt Sam smile against his lips. “Being TSTL isn’t so bad. I forgot one thing about it.”
Ian kissed him quickly, tired of waiting, but wanting to know, “Yeah? What’s that?”
Sam kissed him back. “The TSTL character always gets their man and their happily ever after.”
This second episode of The Flesh Cartel, Auction, is as tortuous, transfixing, and yet engrossing, as the first. At the outset, we again see Nikolai, a buyer in the human trafficking world, searching for the perfect specimen for his client. Prior to going to an auction, he conducts his research and watches the videos made of Mat and Dougie during their introduction into this disturbing world. While Dougie was actually the prize that Madame had sought, it is Mat with whom Nikolai is interested. We discover that Nikolai’s client seemingly has dark and disturbing proclivities, and Mat, the fighter that he is, would fulfill his client’s needs perfectly. The catch – he is to be sold with his brother only. Not what Nikolai wants, but he watches Dougie’s video next as a result. Coincidentally, while Dougie is not a match for Nikolai’s client, it seems that Nikolai is taken with Dougie for himself.
In the Auction, Mat and Dougie are both degraded, assaulted, beaten, raped, and tortured some more. Just when you don’t think that it can get any worse, Haimowitz and Belleau pull out all the stops, and it does. But like the proverbial train wreck, one can’t look away, or stop reading, as the case may be. While these brothers, who continue to live through everything they endure just for the sake of the other, are separated, they are placed in cells next to each other and are able to hear the torture of their loved one. The strength of both men, however different it may be for each, is astonishing to say the least. There is a love and bond there that precedes all else. And it is with that love and devotion for each other as brothers that they continue to survive. Sadly, Madame, the guards, and all involved in the Flesh Cartel understand that and continue to use it unflaggingly against them.
After days of endless torture, Mat and Dougie are taken and prepared for the auction. Once I got to this part, I *almost* sighed a deep breath of relief. I figured, okay, here’s the auction, they’ve been “cleaned” up as much as they can be, they’ll be put up on a block to be seen, they’ll be bid on, and then they’ll be whisked away onto the next chapter of their so-called life. HA! Boy, was I so wrong. Of course, with the brutality and torture that these men have endured throughout their capture and captivity, I should have known better to think that anything would be so easy. Much like the rest of the episode, it is so very sad to watch the scene unfold. Yet, again, I couldn’t stop. These brothers are put through so very much, and my heart hurts every step of the way, but Haimowitz and Belleau write so well and tell a story so captivating, that I can’t put it down, and I continue to look forward to more in hopes that at the end of it all, there will be a light at the end of the tunnel for Mat and Dougie.
Wow….just wow!! Well I did it – I read and made it through my first Rachel Haimowitz book. I had been told that her characters endure a lot and that her stories are filled with God-awful events (and this story was no exception), but I challenged myself to do it, I did it, and I survived…just barely.
The Flesh Cartel is one amongst the beginning of the newly-revived serial books. Like a television series, the stories can be likened to episodes that are published to the reader in short story form, and with greater frequency than we are used to between regular series book releases. The Flesh Cartel #1: Capture is the first installment in this psychosexual thriller, and the title is exactly what it says it is: the Capture. This series is about black market human trafficking, and we see first-hand the ugly side of the inhumane lengths that people will go to to capture what will be a most lucrative prize for the trade.
Dougie and Mat Carmichael are orphaned brothers, living together but working toward making a living in order to help the other. Dougie is in the process of getting his Ph.D. in psychology, and Mat supports him as an MMA fighter. Before long, they find themselves being beaten, tortured, and violated in the worst possible ways. Dougie apparently is regarded as a highly lucrative prize in the Flesh Cartel, and while he is being captured, Mat comes home and tries to fight off the kidnapping abusers, but he is outnumbered and captured as well.
This story takes the reader through their capture, their delivery, and what appears to be their preparation to be sold. As the warning on the book blurb indicates (see below), these brothers endure the worst of the worst, and really, the unimaginable. This book is NOT for the faint-of-heart, and so far, there is nothing happy-go-lucky about this story. I am a person who loves my romance and my HEA’s, but I have heard so many good things about Belleau and Haimowitz’s books that I knew I had to just try this one. And the fact that this is being released as a serial was intriguing to me as well, so I thought I would give this new format a shot. While this book is not for everyone, I am glad I read it. The writing is excellent, and together, the team of Belleau and Hamimowitz made me feel. I felt sadness, anger, repulsion, shock, shame, and disgust, to name a few. But their writing made me feel that, and I felt those emotions strongly. And even though I know the road ahead for each of these guys will probably be full of more of the same, I look forward to reading future installments, seeing them through, and rooting for them to come out on top at the end (along with getting a good healthy dose of revenge on all of the people who have had a hand in their torture along the way). ;)
(Publisher’s note: This title contains material some may find objectionable or trigger-inducing, including explicit violence, non-consent, and forced incest.)
Vinnie's Ghost is a good and engaging novella. It is one of those stories that is tough to decide on a rating, however. There were some parts that I just loved, and there were some parts that were just okay, but for the most part, I liked and enjoyed the story as a whole.
While this story involves a monogamous relationship, there really are three main characters at play here: Stroker, a surfer and surf board creator in Pleasure Point, California; Lee, a roaming ex-Army vet; and Vinnie, Stroker's boyfriend and Lee's comrade in the Army, who died overseas while serving his country. Vinnie's Ghost begins roughly two years after Vinnie's death. In the event of his death, Vinnie asked his close friend, Lee, to deliver a letter to his boyfriend, Stroker. After leaving the service, Lee suffers from PTSD and roams, but finally finds his way to Stroker in Pleasure Point, intent to do the one thing that his best friend requested of him. It doesn't take long for Stroker and Lee to form both a friendship and quickly thereafter, a sexual relationship. Lee, however, has yet to give Vinnie's letter to Stroker. Why? We eventually are provided with a reasoning of Lee's withholding, but that is one of the things that was aggravating while reading it. I kept saying, "Please, just please give him the letter already!" Well, as expected, when he finally does, things go in the expected direction - south. I don't want to give too much away, but was it frustrating? You betcha! Does Dane remedy the situation, though? She does. She provides insight from both Vinnie and Lee's points of view, and all of the emotions involved make sense once revealed to the reader.
Of course there needs to be some sort of conflict between these two men to help them find their HEA, but as I said before, there is another character also at play here - Vinnie. Vinnie speaks to Lee in his head. At first you don't know if Lee is just suffering from more than just PTSD or if Vinnie is actually doing the speaking, and this is a rather odd part of the book. Ghosts fit in well with the paranormal and urban fantasy genre, but not the contemporary. It's a bit of a stretch. That said, though, at one point when I was so frustrated with Lee, I found that I was thinking to myself, "Wow - I really wish Vinnie was alive...I think he's my favorite character!" Vinnie's voice gave the reader insight as to the man that he was, and why both Stroker and Lee loved and cared for him as much as they did. And I'll just give a small warning, make sure to have the tissues ready when the letter is finally revealed.
Due to the reluctance to give Vinnie's letter over to Stroker, Lee's character is often quite melancholy, and I found myself wishing for at least a joke or witty conversation to make me laugh. It didn't happen however, but it does make sense: Lee suffers from PTSD and is also trying to figure out who he is, who he loves, and just what living is all about. Thankfully, Stroker is a patient guy, and he can see the good man that Lee is. And fortunately, the heat in the bedroom (or ocean, beach or workshop, as the case might be) is not lacking or influenced by that melancholy. These men are sizzling and just beautiful together. Both of them just need time to find each other and to move into a relationship where there is nothing (and no ghost) between them.
So while there were frustrating parts in Vinnie's Ghost, there were also some great ones, and overall, I did enjoy reading it. Beyond the story itself, Dane provides beautiful descriptions and details in her prose, and it is a breath of fresh air for how poetic her writing could be. I look forward to reading more from her.