I am a huge fan of angels but before I started Rearranging Stars it had been some time since I had read a story about the heavenly beings. Drake only eI am a huge fan of angels but before I started Rearranging Stars it had been some time since I had read a story about the heavenly beings. Drake only ever protects gay males, though is in the unfortunate position of having the last ten young men in his care commit suicide (this is an interesting observation by Diane Adams which I would like to have seen followed-up). Unlike his fellow angels Drake refuses to forget those he has protected. Drake appears to take his duty as a guardian more seriously than his comrades, "Guarding is why I am. Everyone has a destiny written in the stars, the thing about their life that cannot be changed. I am a guardian. We watch over humans, keep you safe to fulfill your purpose." This is until he replaces an angel who has chosen to go corporeal in Hawaii, as Grey's protector. We immediately recognise that Drake's relationship with Grey is different, mainly because Grey can actually talk to and even touch Drake, but also there is a strange sexual chemistry between them. The more time the angel spends with Grey, he grows to understand the concepts of choice - and love. The first part of Rearranging Stars, in which the two protagonists establish the foundations of their relationship, is well thought-out by Diane Adams. I particularly enjoyed the way both angel and man learn from each other and alter their attitudes accordingly. However, following the lightning-bolt moment in their lives, I felt there was a shift in the story. I became frustrated at the constant 'I love yous', as well as the fact that now Drake has an unattractive vulnerability. Diane Adams' story touches upon some interesting concepts though frustratingly the pace of her writing slows as the story develops. Rearranging Stars is worth a read although in my opinion it only receives an average rating....more
Sam, one of Double Indemnity's protagonists is a multi-faceted character. Whilst he enjoys one-night stands, he is also a hard-worker; he is a bloggerSam, one of Double Indemnity's protagonists is a multi-faceted character. Whilst he enjoys one-night stands, he is also a hard-worker; he is a blogger, gardener and part-time journalist; definitely nosey and intent on justice; a drinker in unrequited love with his employer's husband and a frequent visitor to the care facility where his brother lies in a vegetative state. So, despite Sam's flaws, Maggie Kavanagh ensures that he is a character we enjoy spending time with and whose story we want to follow. Double Indemnity is less a romance and more of a mystery. Following the trauma of losing his wife, we remain unsure whether Nathan's friendship with Sam will develop and this uncertainty only grows after Nathan reveals his double life. Maggie Kavanagh's writing style fits perfectly with the plot of Double Indemnity. The pace builds at moments of suspense and this is interspersed with romantic or humorous relief. Admittedly I was a little puzzled by the later events in the story but I still enjoyed Double Indemnity and now anticipate reading its sequel....more
Inner Sanctum continues Nathan and Sam's story which began in Double Indemnity and opens up a new inThis review originally appeared at Divine Magazine
Inner Sanctum continues Nathan and Sam's story which began in Double Indemnity and opens up a new investigation after a series of arson attacks in Stonebridge. Though I think Double Indemnity has a slight edge on this sequel, I still enjoyed Maggie Kavanagh's writing, the strong personalities she creates, and particularly her new characters like Damon Blake. In writing this as a sequential series, it means that Maggie Kavanagh is able to evolve Nathan and Sam's relationship, developing some of the seeds that were planted during Double Indemnity. Sam and Nathan have now been together for six months. Sam is committed, but still reconciling himself with Nathan's past sexual experiences. Whilst the fact that Sam is unable to talk to Nathan about his desires is an indication of the trust issues between them, I do not think this conforms with the idea of Sam that we have - the confident journalist who confronts murderers. I think Sam and Nathan's gentle experimentation with different sexual roles is interesting, though not necessary to the plot, and I prefer the vanilla moments between them. Around the couple's relationship obstacles and reluctance to trust one another, Maggie Kavanagh writes an intriguing mystery. We spend most of the story confident of the perpetrator's identity, only for Maggie Kavanagh to laugh in our faces at Inner Sanctum's explosive conclusion. Although I had a few small issues with the book I am really excited to see what is next for Nathan, Sam and Stonebridge in Blind Spot....more
As her alter-ego M Jet, Amanda Gatton writes stories which take her reader on a tense ride, totally absorbing us into her often frightening fictionalAs her alter-ego M Jet, Amanda Gatton writes stories which take her reader on a tense ride, totally absorbing us into her often frightening fictional world. No Happily Ever After is a clever fusion of the young adult genre and horror, making it accessible to all ages. The novel is comprised of 12 parts, all set in Faraway, Washington with overlapping characters and events. In these short fragments, Amanda Gatton rewrites 12 traditional tales including The Ugly Duckling, Briar Rose, Snow White and one of my personal favourites, The Pied Piper of Hamelin. On paper it would be easy to look at this amalgamation and wonder how it works - but it does. Though these are fractured fairytales they do not conform to any rules of the genre; the prince does not rescue the damsel, there are no happy endings and the stories could not be read to children at bedtime. We go from each short story to the next knowing the danger that this group of friends is in and how the situation can possibly end well. One of my favourite aspects of No Happily Ever After is the way that Amanda Gatton not only rewrites the fairytales but seamlessly combines them, "Unable to sleep, her bedside lamp cast sim light across her as she read a dark and chilling book of Grimm fairytales. She'd had no idea the original versions of fairy tales she'd known and loved all her life had originally been so frightening." No Happily Ever After is a book which will make the reader gasp, reach for a cushion and grab for the nearest stable object. Amanda Gatton cleverly creates tension and fear through surprise which continues right up to the very last page. I am lucky to have been a fan of the author for a long time, but this book is by far my favourite of anything she has written and adults and older teens alike, will find something they can connect to. Total awesomeness!!!
This review originally appeared at Divine Magazine Trust is an interesting story although Sarah Masters' style of writing is unconventional. The novellThis review originally appeared at Divine Magazine Trust is an interesting story although Sarah Masters' style of writing is unconventional. The novella is written in first-person narrative, much of which is inner dialogue as Trev struggles with 'coming-out' and the homophobic attitudes towards him. Trev's fledgling relationship with James is crucial to the plot and Trev's self-acceptance, however, Trust is not a typical contemporary romance. Instead, Sarah Masters confronts issues of bullying, victimisation, friendship and learning to "stick two fingers up" at the world. Trust is a great book for anyone who feels the fear of not being able to be their true self or readers who enjoy honest but warm-humoured stories....more
I think it is natural to compare the second book in a series to its prequel. This is morA 3.5 star review which originally appeared on Divine Magazine
I think it is natural to compare the second book in a series to its prequel. This is more true when the first book was a 5-star read, like Helping Hand was for me. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy the story. I really liked Josh and thought Jay Northcote expertly conveyed his struggle between being an escort, a good student and wanting to be a boyfriend. Really though, Josh is quite an isolated character and though Jez, Mac, and Dani make brief appearances they have little influence on the story. I think because Josh is such a strong character we also feel quite disconnected from Rupert. Yes, we know the details of his life - but not really about HIM. One place Rupert does assert himself is in the bedroom - and Like A Lover has a lot of sex. I understand that much of this is because of Josh's job, which is the reason why the two men originally meet. Some of the scenes are also sizzling hot, but to me they became a little repetitive. I really liked the way that Jay Northcote builds the emotional intensity between Josh and Rupert, but leaving us wondering whether they will have their happy ending and I think the wedding is a nice twist to the story. Like a Lover is an ideal book for existing Jay Northcote fans and also those who enjoy their romance mixed with an abundance of passionate gay sex!...more
Bent Arrow by Posy Roberts is one of those short stories which would have worked really well as an extenReview originally published at Divine Magazine
Bent Arrow by Posy Roberts is one of those short stories which would have worked really well as an extended novel, however as it stands it is a charming and satisfying read. The title refers to Erik's tattoos - one he has chosen and the other forced upon him in an attack. This has determined how Erik acts; presuming he fits neither into the gay or straight community and hiding his sexuality whilst working in a male-dominated environment. Despite his flirty exterior Luther is just as intense and cagey, escaping his family by moving from job to job. Luther and Erik meet as Luther discovers he has inherited his grandmother's house. This is a chance for him to stop hiding and settle down, but we wonder how open both men are to commitment, despite the fact that their relationship naturally evolves from sex, into something more. Posy Roberts is an author who has been on my radar for some time now though this is the first story I have read by her. Clearly she is talented and able to create characters we want to take into our hearts and love forever!
Review originally published at Divine Magazine Taxes and Tardis by N R Walker is only just over 100 pages long, making it possible to read the story frReview originally published at Divine Magazine Taxes and Tardis by N R Walker is only just over 100 pages long, making it possible to read the story from cover to cover, as we fall totally in love with Brent and Logan. Brent Kelly is disorganised, rugged, charming and known for spending his Friday night in a bar. Yet when he meets British accountant and sci-fi fan Logan, he is willing to change. Whilst Taxes and Tardis is not a love at first sight story, N R Walker ensures that we recognise an instant connection between the two men, which is affirmed when Brent ditches his friends to watch Doctor Who! Their relationship is fast-moving and intense, with some steamy sex scenes! As the story develops N R Walker allows her characters to open up emotionally, though this is often due to outside influences. Taxes and Tardis is the first story I have read by N R Walker but I enjoyed the pace of her writing and how easy it was to read. This is short, sweet, fun and totally worth a read!...more
Review originally published at Divine Magazine A Hard Day's Night by Mia Kerick is an adorable story about Lennon and Fin; social opposites but best frReview originally published at Divine Magazine A Hard Day's Night by Mia Kerick is an adorable story about Lennon and Fin; social opposites but best friends nonetheless. These two young men have given themselves 24 hours in each others company to explore their sexuality once and for all and determine their feelings for one another. Our narrator, nicknamed after his idol John Lennon, reminds me of a rambunctious puppy! He is aware of his own emotional sensitivity and admits that over the two years he has known Fin "it's the real thing I've fallen into". The fun thing about this story is that the activities Lennon has planned - like make-overs, hair-styling and shopping for Disney t-shirts - are stereotypically "gay" but Mia Kerick has her characters recognise this so that we too are swept along with the events, especially Fin and Lennon's first kiss. We share that breath-taking moment when Fin describes the moment as "magical" and are ready to invest our time and emotions into this story. Fin is a more complicated character than Lennon, perhaps because we know how heavily influenced he his by his wealthy family or because throughout the story we only see him through Lennon's eyes. Yet we empathise with the fact that so many of Fin's choices have been assumed by his parents, even though we cannot see this pair without each other. A Hard Day's Night is an honest and beautifully told young adult gay romance which I would definitely recommend....more
Review originally published at Divine Magazine This fun short story is a must read for any fans of Jay Northcote's recent addition to The Secrets ColleReview originally published at Divine Magazine This fun short story is a must read for any fans of Jay Northcote's recent addition to The Secrets Collection. In Top Me Maybe Jules is Tyler's workmate and friend, but was just one of those characters who screamed "I need a story of my own" - luckily Jay Northcote heard him! I am not a huge fan of stereotypical words like "Bear" and "Twink" but by using these, Jay Northcote helps us visualise Jules and Gareth and proves the old saying that opposites attract! All Man stays clear of popular literary tropes like love-triangles, insta-love, gay-for-you and friends to lovers. Jay Northcote explores Gareth and Tyler's relationship more in the context of an old-fashioned romance. However, the sex scenes, which are not erotica, would still have Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte turning in their graves! Like any of the Jay Northcote novels I have read so far, All Man gets a big thumbs from me!...more