Only belatedly, when I saw a post from the author saying that this delightful novella had won first place in the Prism Awards by the RWA Fantasy, FutuOnly belatedly, when I saw a post from the author saying that this delightful novella had won first place in the Prism Awards by the RWA Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal chapter, did I realize I neglected to leave a review for this story. In short, I loved it.
I'm a big sci-fi fan from way back, though I'll be the first to admit, 'tentacle porn' is not my thing. Despite having heard nothing but glowing reviews for this story, it sat on my TBR list for a long time before I cracked it. Well, let me tell you, that was my loss. First of all, this is *not* your typical tentacle story! Bartender Teo is the tentacled hero from a loving family who chose a business on the outer edge of space in order to get away from their sometimes overwhelming embrace. When former slave Jiminez walks through his door, there's instant attraction on Teo's part--but Jiminez has secrets he's not ready to share, which makes him seem unwilling to consider a lover with tentacles. When tragedy strikes and Jiminez is the prime suspect, their bond will be put to the test in more ways than one.
The characters are so well-drawn and the relationship between them so well-developed that this story supersedes your average alien/human hook-up tale. Klockwerk Kraken's award is well-deserved. Even if you aren't a hard-core sci-fi fan like myself, you'll love this one!...more
I just finished reading Storm Grant’s steampunk M/M romance, Re-Inventing Love. What a delightful story! The leads had delicious chemistry in their muI just finished reading Storm Grant’s steampunk M/M romance, Re-Inventing Love. What a delightful story! The leads had delicious chemistry in their mutual bonding over science and were adorable in their geekiness. I especially appreciated the real difficulties they had in pursuing a relationship due to the laws of the time and the censure of society. So frequently in romances, the conflict keeping the lovers apart seems manufactured, but in this case, there were multiple, layered reasons for why Jasper and Max tried to ignore the attraction between them.
I also enjoyed the fact that the women characters in supporting roles were, each in their own way, remarkable for their strength and intelligence. The world-building was sublime, with a subtle combination of many of the interests of the day, including spiritualism and scientific invention. The historical detail was cleverly woven into the story as well. I’m a fan of the television show, the Murdoch Mysteries and thought Re-Inventing Love had that sort of vibe to it, so I was tickled when the author mentioned in the end notes that the show had been an inspiration for the novel.
Just when I thought I was reading a charming story about two men finding love after being betrayed and disappointed in their lives, the story took a dramatic turn that had me glued to the pages to find out what happened next. I wasn’t disappointed! This is my first Storm Grant story, but it won’t be my last. ...more
I have to say, this book wasn't what I expected from the title. I was gifted it by the author, and it was kind of low on my TBR list, so it has takenI have to say, this book wasn't what I expected from the title. I was gifted it by the author, and it was kind of low on my TBR list, so it has taken me a while to get to it.
Well, I've just shoved everything else aside to read the rest of Esker's works. I thought it would be a light romantic read but it was far more than that. Esker took a delightful trope--waking up naked in a unknown location handcuffed to a strange (but handsome and also naked)man--and turned it into so much more. I don't want to give too many spoilers, but suffice to say I thoroughly enjoyed the world-building, and I was completely drawn into the story from the get-go. This was action-adventure-romance at its best. I can't wait for more!...more
**spoiler alert** This has been one of the most difficult reviews I’ve ever written.
Before I get started, I’d like to mention something about the fact**spoiler alert** This has been one of the most difficult reviews I’ve ever written.
Before I get started, I’d like to mention something about the fact that I experienced this story as an audiobook. My initial reaction to the narrator’s voice was that he struck me as flat and harsh on the ear—but I was very quickly proved wrong. The narrator was extremely adept at the different character voices, giving them life and animation, and I believe now his narrative voice was meant to be as different as possible in contrast. I came away from the audiobook deeply impressed with the narrator’s skill and delivery.
The reason this review is so hard for me to write is because I detested the main character, Cary. Not just disliked him; I loathed him with the heat of a thousand burning suns. Yes, we’d been shown that his home life and parental expectations were tough. But darn it, he had tremendous, rare talent, and his lifestyle choices were not only disgusting, but destructive and stupid, placing everything he’d worked for in jeopardy.
I honestly think had this not been an audiobook, and I was on a long road trip with nothing to distract me, I wouldn’t have finished the story. That would have been a big mistake. I would have missed out on a fabulous story had I given up on Cary too soon.
It took me a while to realize why I was so furious with Cary. Then it struck me. I grew up in Cary’s house. Oh sure, with a few minor differences, but essentially the same. Only it wasn’t me who was the child prodigy, but a sibling. I still grew up in the same environment of unobtainable goals and unreal expectations however. Where a “C” was considered a failing grade and if I got straight A’s, well, anyone could get straight A’s in such a mediocre school. Where nothing was ever good enough, and patterns of thought were so ingrained that parental influence lasted a lifetime, well beyond the point where you stopped trying to please them.
And yet, I fumed, I hadn’t embarked on a suicidally detrimental course of self-destruction. I’d grown up in a very similar house and hadn’t hamstrung myself, putting my talent at risk, had I? I was a reasonably well-adjusted adult, right? Only the more I thought about it, the more I realized I was guilty of as much self-sabotage as Cary—only in more socially acceptable means. It was a sobering realization, and it kept me glued into the story.
The author’s own musical background was put to good use in this tale, not only for the authenticity of the world in which Cary lived and worked, but in the construction of the story too. There was a prelude, where we learned what Cary’s home life was like as a child, and how music both saved him and made him feel like an impostor. There is the bulk of the symphony, where Cary’s story unfolds, how he meets Antonio and his life begins to change. There are underlying themes, melodies that intertwine with each other, that bring the story full circle back to the beginning again. We watch as Cary remakes his life, ironically becoming the person he never thought he’d be, and being the better for it both as a person and a musician. It’s masterfully done. Every time I found myself thinking, “Well, THAT was too easy…”, we’d soon find out it wasn’t going to be as easy as it had seemed.
Some people might have trouble with the fact that Cary finds love and redemption before the end of the story. What they fail to realize is that a lifetime of thought patterns do not change overnight, and while love gives you the strength to start believing in yourself, there is still a lot of work to be done to fully accept that. Cary made such a complete turn-around in character and lifestyle that anything less would have been unbelievable. The story is perfectly balanced, as Cary not only finds love—but the ability to love himself as well, and forgive those who loved him imperfectly in his past.
And while Antonio, perfectly delicious and patient to the point of sainthood, was the ideal man to be Cary’s rock—I appreciated that he had his own faults, and that Cary wasn’t always the one that needed saving. In a word, brava, Ms. Antony! Brava! ...more