I very much enjoyed the first of this series (Promises). The second (A to Z) I also enjoyed but not quite as much. Liked the characters (a lot) but soI very much enjoyed the first of this series (Promises). The second (A to Z) I also enjoyed but not quite as much. Liked the characters (a lot) but somehow the storyline itself didn't seem to have the fire. Then I read the reviews for the third (this one), saw that readers didn't seem to like it as well, and put off reading it.
Dummy me. I really thought this was the best of the bunch (and I've since read Strawberries, the fourth).
In this book, Sexton brings forth a non-traditional idea of what a fulfilling relationship can be, and though I see a lot of skepticism from her readers here, I had no trouble with it at all. In fact, I found the story a refreshing break from the straightjacket ideas that we often bring into romance -- that is, that an HEA perfect romance ultimately requires monogamy (although we in m/m do allow fooling around on the way). Even menage stories barely stretch this, using the same formula, just with the number three.
I found both characters to be entirely believable in how they viewed and approached their relationship, and in what they needed from it and got out of it. Far from being angry with Angelo (or Zach), from the beginning, I shared their frustration over a well-intentioned but ultimately judgmental friend who tries to meddle in a relationship he has no understanding of.
I applaud Sexton for writing this, I enjoyed it immensely....more
Christ. Books written in present tense should come with a warning. Have I mentioned how much I dislike present tense in genre fiction? Especially thirChrist. Books written in present tense should come with a warning. Have I mentioned how much I dislike present tense in genre fiction? Especially third person present ("Tom goes to the store. He is happy.") Augh! Yes, I tried (again) to overcome my antipathy (after all I paid good money for this one), but couldn't. Can't immerse, feels like ants under my skin to read it. Not to mention it feels pretentious, cold, arty and aloof, exactly the opposite of what I want in my escapism.
*ahem* A less-than-tactful friend (:p) has just pointed out that books DO give warnings of things like this... they are called excerpts, apparently. And no, clearly, I don't read them. :) Mea culpa, but honestly, my wording was mostly my chance to rant about present tense. I don't actually hold Kate Sherwood or her publisher responsible, and yes, I'm happy to give authors money, and yes, said tact-free friend has told me in no uncertain terms that it is a wonderful book.
Fine...from now on, I'll give the excerpt a quick once-over. ;)...more
While this was technically better than Bareback 1 (IMO), the sheer emotional wringer of the original made the difference to me -- still, this is a lovWhile this was technically better than Bareback 1 (IMO), the sheer emotional wringer of the original made the difference to me -- still, this is a lovely read, with superb characterization and an interesting world of a working ranch. Not that I'm an expert on ranches, but it felt very realistic -- less romantic than hard work and grit....more
I took a while to get around to reading this, in large part because I've been burned by hugely popular m/m books in the past, finding many of them shaI took a while to get around to reading this, in large part because I've been burned by hugely popular m/m books in the past, finding many of them shallow and silly. I've come to realize that often, when readers rave about what a tear-jerker emotional read a story is, my reaction is often "Oh, brother..." finding it contrived and overemotional.
Not this time. It didn't jerk my tears, but it was damn good -- not the best among them, but up there. Should note that this is always a very personal matter, more about my emotional/mental/social/sexual kinks than objective quality.
Minor spoilers follow, none more than you've probably read from other reviews, but if you are a stickler, just know this: solid writing, realistic men, realistic relationship, moral conundrums and hard decisions.
The author (in my opinion) showed great insight into human behavior. I appreciated that everyone could be a good guy and a bad guy at different times, and that Owen dispensed with such simplistic (in my opinion) judgments about painful human actions (such as, cheaters are evil and should never be forgiven). I remember mulling over Jake's slow move from "I can't trust you ever again" to a recognition that there was more to the breakdown of the relationship than simply sticking one's dick in the wrong hole, and that he played a role in that. A mature way of realizing life, I think.
I like that people's stories and actions weren't painted in black and white. I like that the author treated me as an intelligent reader, who could get that people's choices aren't so much 'right' and 'wrong' as just many shades of grey.
There are detractions -- I generally agree with others about the 'too much sex', though I've seen plenty of books that are much worse. Although I do think that some of the scenes could have faded to black (but NOT the menage, PLEASE! that was *sizzle*!), but I'll give Owen this: she varied well, and kept what was there interesting (for the most part).
Another detraction - yes, because of the sex, the story started to drag.
Also, the editing got worse in the last third of the book - began to be distracting -- then/than, ACK!
And finally, there were some loose ends (none major) that I felt were left dangling. And maybe they were meant for a sequel, but somehow it didn't come across that way so much as like a story line forgotten.
So why DID Del dislike Jake? That's bugging me. I'm thinking because Hound was crushing on Jake, but wish I'd had more hints. What happened with Jake's brother? Did he serve a real purpose in the story? What about the guys beating Jake up? Any resolution to that? What about all the cut fence wires? That just sort of died on the vine. That sort of thing.
But in the end, those were minor. I enjoyed the book, and will hunt down more Chris Owen soon....more
I have a lot of ambivalence about this book -- some aspects are top notch; others aspects really drag those parts down. To end on a positive note, I'lI have a lot of ambivalence about this book -- some aspects are top notch; others aspects really drag those parts down. To end on a positive note, I'll start with the negs.
Minor spoilers follow.
What I didn't like:
- Too long. For what actually happened in this book, it could have been shaved down by at least a third, maybe half.
- The sex got boring. I've seen other reviews that say 'too much sex', and I sort of agree, except that it isn't so much 'how much' as nothing happens during the sex. Besides the sex, I mean. That's not true of all the scenes, but most of them, so by around halfway through the book, I was skimming the sex scenes, only quickly spot checking to see if anything plot/relationship-wise happens, thinking things like, 'yeah yeah, he licks him from sac to spine, yeah, I get it.'
- There was too much repetition. Sometimes conversations were repeated. Internal dialogue was repeated a lot. I wanted to tell the authors to give me some credit for intelligence, that I got it the first time. (not really: I have a lot of trouble with this in my own writing, trying to find that line between too much explanation and too little can be tough). Especially, too many "I love you", "I trust you", and "I'm so lucky", and variations thereof until I thought my eyes were going to roll back into my head and stick there. If you like this kind of thing, maybe that's all right. I hated it.
- Not a whole lot of conflict, either external or internal. The protags were a too perfect for my tastes.
The good (great, actually, made the book worth it):
- I am so tired of jealousy/monogamy being presented as a positive/necessary element in romances. It's not that I hate it, after all, jealousy is human. But I do get weary of what seems to be an implied approval of it. As if jealousy, possessiveness, and/or monogamy is proof of love. While I'd never suggest that authors should stop writing it (who's to say that jealousy as a kink is worse than any other, and clearly, many readers love it), it was refreshing to hear about two guys who were neither monogamous nor jealous about it and I appreciate that the authors were able to show how sexy it can be when people treat the presence of other dick as irrelevant to what the characters have between them.
- I loved the inclusion of cross-dressing elements, as well as a sympathetic transgender character. Not that either of these is a particular kink of mine, but it really rounded out the story, and the authors made it hot. So for this story, it became one of my kinks. :)
Overall, if the story had been tightened up, it would have soared in my personal rating scheme.