Before I even read Lonely as God, by Dale Chase [Wilde City Press, 2013], I was taken by the cover design. Outstanding!...moreGerry B's Book Reviews
Before I even read Lonely as God, by Dale Chase [Wilde City Press, 2013], I was taken by the cover design. Outstanding! In fact, I’m jealous I didn’t find such an image for my forthcoming western novel.
Right from the beginning one is struck by the unapologetic earthiness of this tale. Told in first person by the main character, Tom Seeley, there is no doubt what it is all about. It is erotica, plain and simple, and yet it is not pornographic in the sense that the author does not dwell on every nuance of the act. Indeed, the sex scenes are perfunctory, almost utilitarian in nature, and for the most part are over in a few paragraphs (as apposed to pages), i.e.,
I’ve come up hard knowing he’ll take me, and I spit in my palm and smear it down my cock while Matt reaches back to part his buttocks. “Give me some dick,” he says, and I get behind him and shove in. He lets out a moan, and I hear a low whistle from Drew but I don’t look over.
Get a man’s dick up a butt hole and nothing else matters. Troubles, thoughts, concerns, fears, none have a chance amid a fuck and I start to pump into Matt while knowing this, my dick setting me free. Doesn’t matter I came before. My balls have filled back up and feel ready to burst so I give it to Matt good, ramming in and out, grunting like some pig in his wallow.
I can feel Matt working his cock. He moans in time to my thrusting and soon says he’s coming. When he squeals, it drives me to fuck harder. Then my juice sets to boiling which makes my mouth fall open, my tongue come out like it will taste the come. I allow whatever sounds my body requires while gaining release, grunts and groans and all manner of things except for words. I cannot speak at such a time. Then I hit the rise, and I dig my fingers into Matt as the pulse begins. I cry out as I let go into him, filling his chute with my stuff as I pound his bottom. His horse snorts approval.
I keep at Matt even after I empty because I don’t want to stop. Not ever. But nature will have her way and I go soft and slip out. I slap Matt’s bottom and he straightens up and turns. “Some good fuck,” he says as he pulls up his drawers.
I like that. Sex is part of life, and of GLBT literature, but having said this it shouldn’t be the be-all or even the ‘most-of-all’ of a plot. So, even though this tale is highly erotic, it doesn’t run away with the story.
I’m also willing into buy the notion that 18, rough-neck men, are into mano-a-mano sex at the drop of a pair of Levis, but realistically it is quite a stretch. It is, perhaps, the closest the plot comes to being pornographic.
I also like the non-poetic prose. The main character is not an educated man, and cattle drives were not a genteel affair. They were long, hot, dusty and dangerous undertakings, and the men were as tough as the trail or the cattle they drove. So the King’s English would have been out of place here.
There were a couple of places where I thought the story went over the top, especially with the loose sex issue, but generally-speaking it is as true to the conditions, interactions, and language of a cattle drive as I have read.Four and on-half bees.(less)
Although I have come across the name Josh Lanyon many times while searching through online bookstores, I had not read an...moreGerry B's Book Reviews
Although I have come across the name Josh Lanyon many times while searching through online bookstores, I had not read any of his books until I picked up Cards On The Table [Just Joshin, January 24, 2012], a short story but, oh, so satisfying.
Timothy North is a former reporter who has turned his hand to writing about an unsolved murder that is well and truly cold. However, as in all such cases, there is something intriguing about it; and sinister as well.
The next plot step up is that the case involved a beautiful Hollywood starlet and a bloodied Tarot card. However, as Tim digs further it becomes very evident that someone wants him off the case by pinning a sinister threat to his door—a Tarot card.
Wisely, Tim looks for support in the one person he knows can help—his ex-lover, Detective Jack Brady. The difficulty is that they parted under somewhat strained circumstances, so the question is: Can they warm up to before the parting?
With this twist we now have a second mystery running parallel to the first (in beautiful fashion), which only doubles the the reader’s already piqued interest.
It is subtle contrivances like these that separate the master mystery writer from the pack; this, and a list of eccentric suspects, mob connections, assorted dangers, and a cute cop with dimples thrown into the mix.
Altogether this story is a jewel; not too long, not too short, but just right. Five bees.(less)
If you are a regular follower, you might have noticed that I have an affinity for gay/historical/military/genres. It is a natural outcome of my passion for history, and my self-identification with those who have faced the harsh brutalities of war. Courage like this should not be forgotten lest we make the same mistake again.
In Skybound by Aleksandr Voinov [Riptide Publishing, 2012] we find yet another reason to care. Two individuals caught up in the confict, Germans, seeing the evil regime of which they are part crumbling around them, and yet fighting on through a stalwart—but misplaced—sense of duty.
Well … One of them is, anyway. Baldur Vogt, a Luftwaffe ace, bold, handsome and dashing, flies his missions because it is what he does. On the other hand, Felix, a ground-crew mechanic does what he does to keep the man he loves (Baldur) as safe as he can make him, and with that simple revelation the whole perspective of war changes.
But that is only one thread in this complex tapestry, for Felix despairs that Baldur will ever respond in the way he (Felix) has dreamed. For one thing, Baldur comes from money, compared to Felix’s humble background, and even if this could be brushed aside, man-to-man love was an anathema in Hitler’s Arian scheme of things—a veritable death sentence.
Nonetheless, fate will have its way, and when Baldur somewhat miraculously escapes a bullet that otherwise had his name on it, he celebrates by taking Felix away for a few days of relaxation.
Once away from the harrowing events of the day, love blooms—a quiet, tender affection that emerges as naturally as a breeze on a warm summer’s day. Indeed, when it happens one cannot imagine it being any other way.
However, once the point is made, and given that the only world they know is crumbling around them, how does one go about getting a ‘happy ever after ending’ out of that?
That remains for readers to discover, but it is almost a textbook example of the short story art; i.e. get in, make the point, and get out, which Voinov does very well. In addition the various ‘flavours’ are as concentrated as a brandy that lingers, agreeably, on the palate. Five bees.(less)
As far as I can determine, Alike as Two Bees by Elin Gregory [Etopia Press, 2012] is the debut novella for this author, and as such it is a worthy effort.
Set in ancient Greece the story focuses on Philon, a sculptor’s apprentice, who is characterized as a somewhat shy but talented boy. His character is rounded out be his fellow apprentice, Anatolios, a precocious thirteen-year-old.
Playing opposite them are Aristion, the bratish son of a wealthy patron, and his older cousin Hilarion. Due to Aristion’s bullying of Anatolios, Hilarion and Philon meet and are immediately attracted to one another. However, Aristion remains resentful and even vengeful, and when he threatens Philon, Hilarion comes to his lover’s defence and all is agreeably resolved.
This is a sweet, uncomplicated story that focuses on romance in a romantic setting. It is well written, and the characters are appealing rather than complex. In fact they are rather standard fare. Philon is the struggling good boy, Aristion is the spoiled rich kid, Anatolios is the impish-catalyst, and Hilarion is the mature kid who is attracted to the good boy.
There is nothing wrong with this type of character development, and it makes for a good solid read, but it doesn’t break any new ground, either.
Altogether, Alike as Two Bees is a happy-ever-after story that will pleasantly fill an afternoon at the beach, or an evening curled up in your easy chair. Three and one-half bees. (less)
I have often lamented the fact that GLBT stories (the ones I’ve read, anyhow) tend to dwell on the serious side of life: bigotry, discrimination, complicated romances and such, so Deefur Dog by R.J. Scott [Silver Publishing, 2011] was a pleasant departure. I mean, who couldn’t like a story about a dog, a kid, a single father and light-hearted mayhem?
The basic story revolves around a young single father, Cameron Jackson, his two year old daughter, and a Great Dane named Deefur. Deefur reminds me of the comic strip, canine character, “Marmaduke”—a well-meaning giant who is forever running afoul of human logic (which ain’t so hard to do in some cases).
Jackson is a modern dad, inasmuch as he’s trying to run a household, be a father, and manage a growing business all at the same time. A live-in nanny seems to be the answer to the domestic side of it, but not to Deefur. For one thing the house is his den, and protecting the “pup” is his responsibility, so strangers must pass inspection before they enter his territory . Besides, some strangers simply don’t smell right.
In this human-dominated world, however, canine logic is not always understood, and so it is Deefur who must make way.
Enter Jason Everson, young, hardworking animal lover, who just happens to be looking for a job as a nanny and needs a place to live. Moreover, he even passes Deefur’s inspection. Voilà! Now, the only question remaining is whether the recently-bereft Cameron will find love again.
This is a heartwarming story, and as I said above, “who couldn’t like a story about a dog, a kid, a single father?” It’s basically well written, too, and I love the cover, but there are some slight drawbacks between it and five bees.
By his own admission R.J. Scott is a romantic, and I think this tends toward a “happy ever after” scenario before the wrap-up even comes along. For example, I thought the serendipitous meeting with Jason was a bit too opportune, and his acceptance by Deefur somewhat tidy. I hasten to add these are not serious flaws because the story is supposed to be light, but even toffee requires a little salt to enhance the flavour.
That said, I liked it as a feel-good summer read that would go nicely with gin and tonic. Four bees.(less)
This is a look at the aftermath of the fall of Troy from a young Trojan’s point of view. Antenor is saved from a cruel fate by a high-ranking Greek officer, Calchas, and thereby becomes his slave. However, in a twist that I thought was somewhat contrived, Calchas treats Antenor more like a son (or an eromenos) than a slave.
Antenor gets a chance to repay this kindness when the two are shipwrecked on a deserted island, and Antenor saves Chalchas’ life with a suddenly revealed knowledge of healing herbs.
I found the ending equally implausible as well, so I will reserve my recommendation.
“Troy Cycle” by Dar Mavison
There have been many versions of the fall of Troy–an event shrouded in myth–as well as the exploits of Achilles, Hector, Paris and the legendary Helen of Troy. However, this version takes it well over the top with its dark interpretation of all these characters, plus Odysseus, King of Ithaca.
An ‘over the top’ interpretation is fair enough when dealing with a myth, but when revisiting the fall of Troy anything less than heroic is just too much of a departure to be credible—even in a ‘let’s pretend’ sort of way.
“Undefeated Love” by John Simpson
Alexandros and Agapitos are two noble-born youths who decide to dedicate themselves to each other, and are therefore invited to join the Sacred Band of Thebes–150 couples dedicated to one another to the death.
There are some good things to say about this story, including references to known historical facts. However, the two protagonists didn’t put me in mind of warriors of the period. Rather, they are lovers who fight as aposed to fighters who love. That, I think, is the essence of King Philip’s famous comment.
“Hadrian” by Remmy Duchene
For those who are looking for a one-handed read, Hadrian should do the trick for you. To its credit, however, it makes no pretence about being anything else.
“After the Games” by Connie Bailey
This is by far my favourite. Here is plot and character development that has some depth and sophistication even though it is essentially erotic. Alaric, a gladiator, has taken a vow of celibacy following the death of his lover, but is finally seduced by a young “pleasure slave’s” cleverly spun tales; somewhat reminiscent of Scheherazade.
“The Vow” by Ariel Tachna
This is a well developed story that pits a grief-burdened older man against a younger man’s determined desire to be his lover. Both characters are credible in their roles, and there is enough tension to make it more than just a romp to the sack. It’s a good read.
Over all I found most of the stories disappointing. Mind you I judge a book by its plot, and erotica just doesn’t compensate for the lack thereof. However, not everyone feels this way, and so I will leave it up to the readers to decide. Two and one-half bees.
“No Apologies” by J.M. Snyder, [JMS Books LLC, 2011], is a gem of a short story that captures the heart and attention right from the start. I would even go so far as to suggest that almost every gay male will be able to identify with this story from personal experience; i.e. that one buddy you fell in love with early, but didn’t know if he ‘swung that way.’ To make matters worse, he didn’t know either, and so each touch was like a prayer leading to disappointment. And then came that inevitable occasion when you crossed the line, in Donnie and Jack’s case with a furtive, liquor induced kiss, and so began the panic of losing a cherished friend on account of it.
We’ve all been there, and it is made even worse if the next morning your friend and soul mate—your hoped-for ‘lover’, even—isn’t talking or seems distant. Then the heart rending really begins, along with the guilt and the desperate attempts to make it right.
J.M. Snyder has not only captured this bittersweet situation, but he has also maintained it throughout the story until the very last paragraph. Along the way this reader was on tenterhooks wondering if young love would prevail, or if they would even survive the infamous bombing of Pearl Harbour—which was going on at the same time.
“No Apologies” requires no apologies. It is a tender love story set against the obscenity of war in a paradise. Five stars (less)