I read and enjoyed The Good Boy, which is the first book in this short series (and also really liked Dark Space by this author), so I figured I'd foll...moreI read and enjoyed The Good Boy, which is the first book in this short series (and also really liked Dark Space by this author), so I figured I'd follow up with TBWB. Unfortunately, this book felt like an extended epilogue to the first. Lane (finally!) confronts his mother, which was my favorite part of this story, though I wish he'd been a bit more forceful about it.
While TBWB has many of the same strengths as the first book (Lane's sweetness, Derek's care for him, and good writing), it also had a scene of a new-to-me kink called (view spoiler)['sounding,' which involves inserting a metal medical probe (a urethral 'sound') into the penis. I felt like the book should have come with a big giant "Do not try this at home" warning, although the scene is described with safety in mind (i.e., sterilizing of the instruments, use of a kind of lube unlikely to cause infections). (hide spoiler)]
I could have lived the rest of my life happily and in ignorance without knowing about this particular fetish. My expectation with this book was M/M BDSM, which is clearly conveyed by the cover and which was what I got in The Good Boy. I wasn't prepared for this brand of kink, and really wish that the marketing verbiage had been clearer about the content. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Totally original premise, with good writing and a strong narrative voice. First person really works here--young conscript Garrett, a medic-in-training...moreTotally original premise, with good writing and a strong narrative voice. First person really works here--young conscript Garrett, a medic-in-training, is forced by circumstance to be physically near a pilot who has returned from 4 years as an alien captive. Sexual identity confusion ensues (along with possibility of destruction of civilization).
Compulsively readable, with a sweet M/M romance with erotic elements. What's not to like? While there is graphic M/M sex, characterization takes priority. This is more SF romantica, and the sexual tension builds slowly. If you're looking for an M/M f**kfest, this ain't it. If you want a good story with a good guy in a tough situation who does the best he can (whilst discovering a new dimension to his sexuality), then give Dark Space a try. Recommended if you've enjoyed Dark Edge of Honor by Voinov and Etzweiler.(less)
Good writing, great characters, and some hilarious scenes with an over-the-top 'brat' (a secondary character). While there's a lot of D/s M/M sex, the...moreGood writing, great characters, and some hilarious scenes with an over-the-top 'brat' (a secondary character). While there's a lot of D/s M/M sex, the focus is on character development, especially of Lane, who's a total sweetie. If you enjoyed Heidi Cullinan's Special Delivery, then I can pretty much guarantee you'll like The Good Boy. Like Sam in SD, Lane finds himself homeless and in seriously bad shape after a 'friend' uses him to play out some sick fantasies. That's when he meets Derek, a dom who's going through a rough patch personally and financially.
While this is primarily a book about learning to trust--and I actually teared up a few times--there are some truly horrific scenes of abuse before Lane finds Derek. These are really effective in differentiating the safe D/s relationship that develops between Lane and Derek and the abuse that Lane suffered with someone else. While the book isn't as graphic as it could have been, Lane's pain isn't glossed over. It's part of what makes the story so affecting--seeing how Derek cares for Lane.
Secondary characters are fabulous, especially Brin, the brat who's all about glitter bombs, and Derek's sister Christy, who takes in stray animals. A parallel story about Andy, a dog that Lane helps to socialize, adds another layer to the characters.
I'll definitely be reading more from this author. (less)
I really enjoyed this character-driven featuring a widower and an ex-cop. This is an OMG-I-might-be-gay novel with two straight guys who discover a co...moreI really enjoyed this character-driven featuring a widower and an ex-cop. This is an OMG-I-might-be-gay novel with two straight guys who discover a common attraction. I don't know how realistic that is, but I didn't really care, either. This is Romancelandia after all.
Anyway, if you liked Hot Head by Damon Suede (and I certainly did), then it's a good bet that you'll like F&F, too. The sex is pretty vanilla, as far as m/m sex in books goes (i.e., no anal), so if you're looking for something hot and heavy, this ain't it.
Focus here is on the emotional connection that develops between two guys who are in the midst of crises. Evan's wife has just died, and he's a mess. A real mess. Matt is a single guy who finds himself stuck in his early 40s with no idea where to go next. His loneliness is palpable.
Evan has four--count 'em--four kids. While usually that would be a turn-off for me, I enjoyed the way that Matt becomes part of their family.
This book had dozens of typos, which kept a very good book from being a keeper. At a price point of $7.99, I definitely expect better copy editing. Hope the problem gets fixed in future books, because I'll be reading them, despite the price.(less)
Carol Berg is a favorite of mine, and she delivers a complex, character-driven story in Soul Mirror. I strongly recommend tha...more3.5 stars rounded up to 5
Carol Berg is a favorite of mine, and she delivers a complex, character-driven story in Soul Mirror. I strongly recommend that you read Spirit Lens, the first book in the Collegia Magica series, before SM, otherwise you're going to be a little lost. This is not a standalone.
This book seems to be marketed as YA/NA, but it's a perfectly readable "adult" fantasy as well, so don't let the cover put you off. As with other Berg novels, characterization is fabulous. Pacing in SM, however, is slow. The book is a bit too long, IMHO. That didn't stop me from finishing it, but that's part of the reason for the 3.5 stars instead of 4.
The suspense plot depends upon the villains enacting their evil plan. And I just didn't buy it. The fate of the universe is at stake, but instead of just killing the guy involved (or destroying the book of spells), the main characters allow the plot to play out. Why is not clear. Just burn the damn book! Or imprison the sorcerer! Or, if you must, wait until the mastermind reveals himself and kill him. None of this happens. Instead, the fabric of the universe is ripped open (at great cost to one of the heroes) and it's only at the very last moment that the world is saved. I get that it makes for a good story arc, what with the run up to the dramatic end, but a well-placed crossbow bolt would have done the trick with a lot less grief.
This is not a romance, but there are romantic elements. Part of the suspense is not knowing who Anne's secret contact in the 'mindstorm' is, and when this is revealed, it is both incredibly obvious and a bit of a shock. I realize that's contradictory, but you'll understand when you read the book.
Recommended if you enjoy strong characterization and a strong first-person voice. Despite my irritation with the suspense plot, this is a well-written and engaging story. I'll probably read the sequel, The Daemon Prism.(less)
I have mixed feelings about this book, thus the noncommittal three stars. Good characterization, and complex political/religious machinations--but it'...moreI have mixed feelings about this book, thus the noncommittal three stars. Good characterization, and complex political/religious machinations--but it's the start of a multi-part series, and so suffers from some of the problems inherent in that format, i.e., lengthy introduction of the cast and their back story. I just wasn't in the mood for it, but if you're looking to start a new series, Scholes is a good writer and the religious world-building, in particular, is detailed and extensive.
For some reason, I've never read any of Aleksander Voinov's work before now. And let me tell you, that is about to change in a big way. Dark Edge was...moreFor some reason, I've never read any of Aleksander Voinov's work before now. And let me tell you, that is about to change in a big way. Dark Edge was a real page turner for me, character-driven between soldiers on opposing sides of a planetary invasion. Although this novel is billed as SF M/M, the setting might as well be modern Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation. (If you've read Special Forces, you'll definitely recognize the setting. Dark Edge could be considered a much shorter, less raunchy and less gritty version of Soldiers, which is the first book of the Special Forces trilogy.)
This book has a ton of strengths: fabulous writing, excellent pacing, and a compelling military plot. But the lead characters are what sets it apart--both leads are nuanced and well-developed, and I loved them both. While there is plenty of hot sex in the book--and it's well-written sex--you'll have to look elsewhere if you're looking for nasty. This is not Amelia Gormley's Strain or Heidi Cullinan's Special Delivery. While sex is what brings the characters together in the beginning, the care and gentleness that develops between Sergei and 'Mike' are what sustains the relationship.
If you like Josh Lanyon, then definitely give Voinov a try. The settings are completely different, but the attention to relationship dynamics is somewhat similar. I'm planning to read Scorpion next. Can't wait!(less)
I have mixed feelings about this book. I really enjoyed the first third, which is a slow buildup full of tension and anticipation. Cameron, head waite...moreI have mixed feelings about this book. I really enjoyed the first third, which is a slow buildup full of tension and anticipation. Cameron, head waiter at an exclusive restaurant, is enthralled by one of his regular tables, the cryptic Julian. This scenario seems pretty mundane, but Urban manages to infuse it with drama and excitement from Cameron's perspective. But once Julian and Cameron get together, the pace and tension dissolve. An external threat is introduced (part of Julian's mysterious past) that is neither believable nor compelling. The same deliberate pacing that worked so well at the beginning of the book now becomes plodding.
Julian, as the reader figures out immediately, is an assassin. And he's got super secret stuff going on with Cameron's boss. It's not clear who Julian works for, or whether he's a good guy or a bad guy. Okay. No problem there--ethical gray area of assassination, I guess. But Julian is portrayed as the world's best at what he does. Except he is consistently hurt doing his job (including getting bitten by dogs). I don't know how he's trying to kill people--maybe kick them to death?--but I found it hard to believe he's a pro.
At one point, Cameron's boss has to go into hiding. This is supposed to be secret. So the boss asks the entire restaurant staff to help him pack up his house. Another example--Julian is the target of assassination himself. So what does he do? He meets the assassin for dinner.
Finally--and this might seem a bit picky--Cameron has four ankle-biter dogs which are a major part of his life. These dogs never need to go out, apparently. I know--that seems to be a pretty minor problem to mention--but I suspect the unreality of a city apartment with four dogs without any potty breaks, noise, messes, or vet visits will rankle any reader who's ever had a dog or cat.
I just couldn't suspend belief enough to enjoy the story after the first third of the book. Even though Warrior's Cross ended up a DNF for me, I'm giving it three stars for the promising beginning and the fact that some judicious editing could have solved most of the major issues.(less)
Enjoyed this atmospheric historical mystery set at the foot of the Himalayas on a Victorian-era tea plantation. Although reading the previous three bo...moreEnjoyed this atmospheric historical mystery set at the foot of the Himalayas on a Victorian-era tea plantation. Although reading the previous three books will definitely give you some context, they're not absolutely necessary for understanding Dark Road. (less)
If the cover isn't enough to get you interested, then think about a six-foot-plus brawny fireman who wears a uti...moreThanks to Julie for the fabulous rec!
If the cover isn't enough to get you interested, then think about a six-foot-plus brawny fireman who wears a utility kilt. Me-ow!
Griff's character is a big part of what makes this such a great book. He's been BFFs with Dante since forever, but has slowly realized that he's also more than a little in love with his friend. Griff is steady, reliable and--literally--the kind of guy who runs into burning buildings to save kittens. But Griff sees himself as a big dumb ox and his self-consciousness was both painful to read and endearing.
This book is full of locker-room banter. I was a little surprised by the number of metaphors for, uh, "turning your crank." If colorful crudities aren't your cup of tea, then you probably want to skip Hot Head. But to me the language seemed like an accurate portrayal of how a lot of guys talk. Not having spent any time in the showers at a firehouse (unfortunately), I can't say for sure.
While the dialogue seemed spot-on, the plot itself was a bit far-fetched, but that didn't prevent me from totally enjoying the book. I didn't have any trouble imagining Dante thinking that soft porn was an easy way to make money fast. But what kept this from being a five-star book for me was the fantasy-like acceptance by both Dante and Griff of their newly discovered gay identities. Overnight they both go from "maybe I'm gay" to kissing in public and displays of jealousy (by Dante).
I wish it could be that easy--that coming out is just a matter of realizing it's your truth. But Hot Head also deals with the physical and emotional costs of being openly gay. And both Dante and Griff work in an environment not known for its liberal attitudes toward sexuality. Still, I was happy to get on board with the fantasy.
Hot Head was really close to a five-star read for me. The sex is both hot and tender and, as lots of readers have noted, Griff is a wonderful character. I'll be checking out Damon Suede's backlist ASAP.(less)
Like other readers, I'm desperate for the third and final volume. I read somewhere on-line that Francis Lymond, Dorothy Dunnett's Scottish anti-hero,...moreLike other readers, I'm desperate for the third and final volume. I read somewhere on-line that Francis Lymond, Dorothy Dunnett's Scottish anti-hero, was part of the inspiration behind the character of Laurent. I totally see it. And as a fan of The Game of Kings, it's not much of a surprise that I love Captive Prince.
There is a M/M love scene late in the book, and it's incredibly well done--sensual but not explicit. (less)
Pretty much perfect. The writing is exquisite--not a single word out of place. Writing like that is incredibly time-consuming and painstaking and I'm...morePretty much perfect. The writing is exquisite--not a single word out of place. Writing like that is incredibly time-consuming and painstaking and I'm thrilled to see that it's appreciated and celebrated by readers.
Although I've seen this book listed as erotic, volume 1 doesn't contain any explicit sex. The descriptions are sensual, but not sexual in the conventional sense of the term. Although if you read closely, you can detect the slightest undercurrent of desire, it's very subtle. Basically, if you're looking for a wall-to-wall fuckfest, this ain't it.
Instead, you get an intensely character-driven story that explores trust and power and builds with deftness and deliberation the development of a relationship.
Incredible book, and a definite keeper for me.(less)