I fell hard for the main character of this book. Antyllus is a frustrating but gifted young man with a bitter past and a dazzling future--if only he c...moreI fell hard for the main character of this book. Antyllus is a frustrating but gifted young man with a bitter past and a dazzling future--if only he can bring himself to view the rest of the world with a little more forgiveness and a little less contempt. He has reason for that contempt, of course. Slavery keeps him at the beck and call of a master who offers him the chance to train as a dancer, but for a terrible price. And the one person Antyllus genuinely cares for is a fellow slave with problems of his own . . .
So sometimes I wanted to hug Antyllus and comfort him and sometimes I wanted to shake some sense into him! But his emotional highs and lows kept me captivated, as did his attempts to take his trainer's advice to heart and discipline himself into a great artist. (less)
Enchanting sequel! You don't have to read the first story of the series (Cassie Fogg and the Unwound Knight) to enjoy this one, although I recommend r...moreEnchanting sequel! You don't have to read the first story of the series (Cassie Fogg and the Unwound Knight) to enjoy this one, although I recommend reading both.
Cassie is off on another adventure, with more danger and twists to encounter. David S. Goodwin's world continues to cast its spell, and I'm grateful to see that steampunk is still the heart and soul of it, integral to Cassie and the societies she encounters. The supporting characters shine as well--in fact, we meet one whom I very much hope to see again in the future.
This story seems darker than the first, with more intrigue, though I think Goodwin can go darker still without losing any of Cassie's charm. But either way, I can't wait for the next Cassie tale!(less)
There's so much about this story to love, but it's the setting that won me over. The author knows exactly what details to include to make the Roman wo...moreThere's so much about this story to love, but it's the setting that won me over. The author knows exactly what details to include to make the Roman world, and the characters who inhabit it, spring to life.
Achilles and his lover Hippothous are aristocratic young men from Greece whose ship is attacked by pirates. They're sold into slavery to different Roman masters, with each dreading that he'll never see the other again.
After suffering harrowing abuse, Achilles ends up the property of Gaius, a wealthy, generous poet with high-placed friends and little interest in the political intrigue of his city. Gaius is fleeing his own demons, but he soon finds himself falling for his new slave. Achilles, meanwhile, is trying to figure out how to swallow the bitter pill of slavery--especially when, in upbringing and education, he is every bit the equal of his master.
Nonetheless, Achilles is drawn to Gaius and the consensual spankings and whippings that Gaius introduces him to. It's impossible not to cheer these two on, especially as Gaius tries to master his jealousy of Hippothous (who, even while absent, makes his presence known.)
Hippothous, meanwhile, may be my favorite character here: he's proud, stubborn, top-lofty and yet damnably charismatic. Heck, I wanted a happy ending for all three men--and I stayed glued to my Kindle trying to figure out how that would happen!
This is not a perfect story--I think, for example, the author spends too much time reinforcing the consensual nature of the play between Gaius and Achilles--but my minor complaints don't rob it of a five star rating. Highly recommended.(less)
"Cassie Fogg and the Unwound Knight" takes place in a detailed, enticing world where steampunk is no mere window-dressing, but the heart and soul of D...more"Cassie Fogg and the Unwound Knight" takes place in a detailed, enticing world where steampunk is no mere window-dressing, but the heart and soul of David S. Goodwin's creation. And that creation is a sheer delight: the dreaded Vile with its mysterious, almost fae beauty comes to life even before Cassie enters it, as do Cassie's dreams of becoming a knight mechant. And this world building will draw me back to the series over and over. Meanwhile, I liked and enjoyed Cassie as a character, as well as the tight plotting and intriguing opponents that forced her to rise to the occasion. I look forward to seeing her grow, and to seeing both Cassie and the series lose some of the pervasive innocence of this first story. We've learned of the haunting beauty of the Vile--now I want Goodwin to introduce us to its horrors.(less)
Sebastian Swift has given up both his work as a poet and cocaine in favor of the quiet life of a professor in a small college. He has what seems to be...moreSebastian Swift has given up both his work as a poet and cocaine in favor of the quiet life of a professor in a small college. He has what seems to be a 'safe' boyfriend--one who asks for no commitments--in Max, the local police chief. Swift seems content with that . . . at least sometimes.
But Swift isn't as free from his addiction as he thought--nor is Max as safe he seems. When Swift entangles himself in a murder mystery for the sake of one of his students, he finds out just how quickly the old cravings can return, and just how much is at stake with Max.
This is an engrossing and, at times, painful read as Swift struggles with his addiction--but the story never spirals into melodrama and never quite gives us a reason to despair. (Though at one point it comes close.) I'll be reading this book over and over.(less)
Venetia Lanyon may be resigned to the life of a spinster, but striking up a friendship with Jasper Damarel, the local bad boy, changes her mind. This...moreVenetia Lanyon may be resigned to the life of a spinster, but striking up a friendship with Jasper Damarel, the local bad boy, changes her mind. This friendship is warm and genuine, as is the romance that grows from it--and that accounts for the exceptional charm of this book. The brotherly friendship between Venetia's younger brother and Jasper only adds to that charm.
Venetia herself, meanwhile, is my favorite Heyer heroine. She also seems the most real to me; however much I adore Sophy from The Grand Sophy, she always seemed larger than life--not to mention exhausting! Venetia, by contrast, inhabits a smaller, more down to earth world. More importantly, I love her sense of the ridiculous and her quiet determination to make the best of her lot.
The problems confronting Venetia and Jasper are realistic, even if they are somewhat of their own making. (Or at least of Jasper's making.) Nonetheless, I was confident they would find a way through them. And neither the characters nor their conflicts grow old--I've read this book ten times at least, and it's one I'll keep coming back to.(less)
Oy. I have conflicting opinions about this book. I began it wondering if the author could make the main character, assassin Kael Saunders, sympathetic...moreOy. I have conflicting opinions about this book. I began it wondering if the author could make the main character, assassin Kael Saunders, sympathetic. Overall, I'd say the answer is no. Kael's an intriguing character to be sure--and he does have his redeeming moments. But I still find a ruthless assassin a tough sell; especially as Kael's willing to murder innocent witnesses.
(I find it even more problematic that Kael is a government-sanctioned assassin, and that the 'collateral damage' from his hits are likewise sanctioned; that doesn't say much for the author's opinion on the UK government.)
I had problems with Angel too. He never quite rang true to me. I have no issue with his daddy kink-he's not actually related to Kael, after all, and both men are of age. However I did find Angel's sex and bdsm scenes with Kael excessive and drawn out. (Ditto for the other sex and bdsm scenes in the book.) But more importantly, I found it hard to get a handle on a young man who's sometimes less mature than a five year old, and other times as wise as a Jedi Master.
And yet, I kept reading. That's partly due to another character who has a complicated--not to mention disturbing--relationship with Kael: Kael's boss, Conran. I found the, ah, strained interactions between Kael and Conran a better reason to keep reading than the romance between Kael and Angel, and worth staying the course for.(less)
I'd label this 'yummy porn with a smidgen of plot.' I enjoyed it, but I was hoping for a little more on the plot side; for example, I wanted to see ph...moreI'd label this 'yummy porn with a smidgen of plot.' I enjoyed it, but I was hoping for a little more on the plot side; for example, I wanted to see photographer Julian really live up to his reputation as an ogre, and I was hoping it would take longer for Julian and Jeanette to act on their attraction.
Still, there was a cute subplot between Jeannette and her long-time crush Dallas Martinez; it had me cringing with sympathy and smiling at the same time. And the misunderstanding that threatened Julian and Jeannette's tentative new relationship kept me reading--although I would have preferred to see a real obstacle to their relationship instead. There wasn't enough conflict in this story for my taste!
Final verdict? This book won't linger long in my memory, but it was a fun, sexy ride.(less)
I love The Grand Sophy--this is the book that introduced me to the witty Georgette Heyer, who has remained a favorite author of mine ever since. This...moreI love The Grand Sophy--this is the book that introduced me to the witty Georgette Heyer, who has remained a favorite author of mine ever since. This book also contains my favorite supporting character: Sophy's father, Sir Horace Stanton-Lacy. How does he manage to be so selfish and self-absorbed and yet so engaging?
But Sophy is the heart of the book, and she's almost as much fun as her father. Her aunt, uncle and cousins stand no chance once she decides to rearrange their lives. Only her cousin Charles puts up a real fight, but he can't stop himself from falling for her. Sophy falls hard too; Charles may seem like a prig, but she soon comes to value his sense of humor, intelligence and love for his family.
Unfortunately, Heyer's antisemitism is most obvious in The Grand Sophy, which spoils some of the fun for me. I think it would spoil it even if I weren't a Jew myself. Her portrayal of the Jewish moneylender (Goldhanger) employed just about every nasty stereotype about Jews--and this was published in 1950, just a few years after the Holocaust! (In other books, she referred to "the Jews" derisively as a synonym for moneylenders. Also nasty stuff, but the scene in The Grand Sophy is worse.)
Nonetheless, I still love this book and decided to give it a five-star rating despite the antisemitism. It's still one of my favorites. (Heck, I've lost count of the number of times I've read it.)(less)
The mystery is front and center in this story, but it never overshadows the romance: Matthew Spain’s attraction to Nathan Doyle is immediate and palpa...moreThe mystery is front and center in this story, but it never overshadows the romance: Matthew Spain’s attraction to Nathan Doyle is immediate and palpable—and it doesn’t abate, even when realizes he has to add Nathan to his lists of suspects for the murder of Phil Arlen. Nathan, meanwhile, is dangerously depressed, dangerously contemptuous of his own homosexuality, and dangerously determined to ferret out the real killer.
I am not a fan of noir films, so I wasn’t sure I would enjoy the noir feel of this book. But my doubts vanished in the first few pages. I was hooked! The mystery kept my interest, and my heart bled for Nathan, who can’t bear to live like a monk and yet can’t help despising his sexual appetite. Matthew, meanwhile, seems to be living his life on a more even keel—but Nathan manages to upset his balance!
The setting—WWII California—seems solid and I didn’t notice any anachronisms in the characters’ attitudes or vocabulary. The ending left me satisfied, but curious; fortunately Josh Lanyon is planning a sequel. (See his thread for this book in his Q & A Group here on Goodreads.) All in all an excellent read! (less)
Josh Lanyon has infused our world--or our world as it was some decades ago--with alternate history, fey creatures, old magick, paranormal abilities an...moreJosh Lanyon has infused our world--or our world as it was some decades ago--with alternate history, fey creatures, old magick, paranormal abilities and dangerous legends. It's an enticing world that's easy to fall into, especially as revealed to us by Colin Bliss, the irrepressible narrator. I love Colin: he's engaging, proactive, intelligent and childish all at once. I was rooting for him and cringing for him at the same time.
Septimus Marx is a more problematic character. His attraction to Colin is obvious to the reader long before Colin is aware of it; his condescension and high-handedness mask genuine concern. Those are points in his favor, and part of what makes him impossible to dislike. But his ultimate mission raises some moral issues (to put it mildly.) Colin's reaction to that mission, I think, proves that these two are well suited--if it's not a deal-breaker for them, nothing else will be!(less)
Emily's naiveté, romanticism and bad poetry might make you cringe, until you realize that her escapism masks an understanding of the harsh realities o...moreEmily's naiveté, romanticism and bad poetry might make you cringe, until you realize that her escapism masks an understanding of the harsh realities of life. (Some readers never forgive Emily's flights of fancy--just glance through the other reviews!) But while Emily understands those harsh realities, she doesn't always accept them. She's made her peace with the faults of her father and siblings, but she's determined to see Simon, her revenge-obsessed husband, live up to nobler ideals. Simon gradually begins to do so, and that's what makes this book so much fun.
I fell in love with this book when I first read it, which was--well, let's just say it was a long time ago, and I was young and naive myself. I don't love this book as fiercely anymore, but I still enjoy Simon's gradual and reluctant transformation, as well as Emily's odd combination of unstinting faith and hard core realism. (less)
There--that confession wasn't as hard as I thought it'd be! Now you know that my review might be a bit prejudiced.
As far as feathers go, this book hit all the right buttons for me. J.C. Owen's descriptions of the winged characters are beautiful, as is the intriguing world these two races inhabit. (I wish Owens had fleshed out that world a bit more, but that's tough to do in a novella.)
One of the winged races practices slavery, and most of the book revolves around the master-slave relationship between Vanyae and Anyar. Fortunately, Owens treats the subject seriously and the sense that slavery is wrong is never distant from the narrative.
Anyar, meanwhile, is a likable character, but I had trouble appreciating his relationship with Vanyae. Consent issues aside, I rarely saw these two interacting. The author skipped two months of their lives after Anyar's capture. Worse, the author summed up important scenes. I'm told the two men enjoyed a particular conversation and found that they had many views in common. But why did they enjoy the conversation? Did they laugh and joke during it? Did the they speak almost as equals, or did Anyar force himself to remain deferential? What views did they share? I have no way of knowing.
But problems like that aside, this is an enjoyable, fast-paced read. It's perfect for the beach or a rainy afternoon. And if wings are your thing, you won't want to miss this!(less)
When psycop Vic Bayne isn't popping pills to keep the dead from haunting him, he's using his abilities as a medium to solve homicides, or trying to fi...moreWhen psycop Vic Bayne isn't popping pills to keep the dead from haunting him, he's using his abilities as a medium to solve homicides, or trying to figure out what the hell he did to attract a guy like Jacob Marks. It's not Vic's sense of style--plaid shirts--or his sterling conversation. After all, he spends the first chapter of this book trying not to sound like a creep. But it may be his unusual talents: Jacob has a thing for psychics, no question. But Jacob also appreciates Vic's wry sense of humor and, better yet, seems uniquely equipped to handle Vic's insecurities.
The romance between Vic and Jacob is only half the story. The rest is about Vic, Jake and their respective partners in the psycop division tracking down a killer who leaves no ghosts for Vic to talk to. I almost wish the murder mystery of this first book had been a bit more mundane--but it's tough to complain when we're given an excellent cast of supporting characters and solid world building. If you haven't read this book, grab your Kindle and download it now! Just be prepared to buy each additional installment as soon as you finish the last one. This whole series is as addictive as those pills Vic keeps popping . . .(less)
This book had me on the edge of my seat; it's worth suspending disbelief for. The cat-and-mouse game between Josef Mengele and a Nazi hunter, mixed wi...moreThis book had me on the edge of my seat; it's worth suspending disbelief for. The cat-and-mouse game between Josef Mengele and a Nazi hunter, mixed with a sci-fi plot about nature versus nurture, makes for a fast, absorbing read.
If you're not familiar with Josef Mengele, read up on him before you begin. The book only hints at what a butcher this "Angel of Death" was. (Knowing he was still alive and at large in South America when this book came out gave me pause while reading it.)
My one complaint about this story is that the characters seem like rough sketches. I wanted to grow attached to Liebermann, the Nazi hunter (based loosely on Simon Wiesenthal) and Klaus, a young German who helps him. But they seemed more servants to the plot than characters in their own right. Still, I'll probably revisit this book--if only to study the art of creating suspense. (less)
This is an extreme hurt-comfort story--one that's too over-the-top for my taste. And while Zach, David and their respective families were likable, I n...moreThis is an extreme hurt-comfort story--one that's too over-the-top for my taste. And while Zach, David and their respective families were likable, I never grew attached to them. I cared enough to finish the book, but I don't think I'll pick this one up again.
That said, if you thrive on hurt-comfort and can handle reading about the drastic abuse Zach suffered at the hands of a sadistic kidnapper, this book may work for you--especially the first-person sections that allow us to go deep into Zach's head.(less)