What a wonderful surprise for me to find another Aidan and Liam book out! For some reason, I thought thaReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
What a wonderful surprise for me to find another Aidan and Liam book out! For some reason, I thought that after book four, Olives for the Stranger that the series was finished, so getting a new book and the possibility of even more after this (it sure seems like it) makes me so happy! Liam and Aidan are a couple that I've kept with since I read their first book Three Wrong Turns in the Desert several years ago. Each book is heavy on action/adventure and a serious dose of hot and heavy macho action. How could I not fall in love? Besides, I've always been drawn to Mr. Plakcy's work. I really enjoy his style.
The fifth installment in this series diverges from the rest right at the start. Though we know Liam and Aiden well in Tunisia where they met and have previously worked as bodyguards, they moved at the end of the fourth book to France and are now living in Nice. Both of them think that they moved to primarily make the other happy, but the truth is that having less freedom is somewhat constricting to them both, because Liam doesn't always like being told what to do and because Aidan usually does what he can to defer to his more senior partner and lover and because he generally ends up trying to please him anyway. This results in it's own set of complications and when Liam and Aidan take on a new case in Corsica protecting a mine owner's family from threats by Corsican nationalists to preserve the island from drilling, they both spend much of their time there working through their own issues about their relationship. Aidan wonders if he's doomed to play the doormat when once again Liam takes the active role in their operation and Aidan feels that he's undervalued. Liam is forced to confront his past when they find that the son in the family they're protecting, Michel, is in the closet and secretly in love with his father's biggest adversary's son. It might be a classic star-crossed lovers tale with a bent twist, but the interactions between scared, closeted and teenaged Michel and his blithely criticizing father force him to confront his own feelings about his past and his development into his only real relationship -- with Aidan. Liam has never considered himself as any kind of commodity, until recently mostly avoiding his sexuality except in the basest of situations, but their friend Louis makes a comment that shows him he just might be attractive to other men. That leads him to consider his relationship with Aidan and his feelings about sleeping with other men.
Their main issue in Corsica, nonetheless, is keeping their client's safe, not angsting about the issues in their relationship.
This book (like the last one) was both an enjoyment to read and a bit of a disappointment. The pure adventure and excitement that I'm used to from the earlier plots in this series seem to have gone away. On the other hand, I think that Plakcy, better than most writers in the m/m romance genre anyway, seem to have a real knack for writing about the issues that crop up in long lasting relationships. They're the everyday issues -- communication, self-esteem in relationship to your partner, jealousy -- and they're handled responsibly. Sure they might cause a bit of angst, but I like the format of this series because the external adventure/mystery plot takes some of the focus away. The plot doesn't need to be built on those internal relationship issues to carry the story, so those real-to-life relationship issues seem to carry the modest weight that is natural. Of course they're important but they aren't life or death issues that need to much focus. I'm not saying that I don't enjoy a classic relationship-centric contemporary romance, but Aidan and Liam feel more real to me because while I might have to occasionally suspend disbelief at their gun-toting, crime-solving antics, the relationship at the center is down to earth and totally believable.
I remain a fan of this series. I probably always will be. But, I think I might need to shift my expectation of the future books. From here on, I'm going to look forward more to the relationship than the external plot. It might bring me some enjoyment, but so far the last few just haven't been nearly as satisfying as the first ones. I will say that I found Liam and Aidan's physical relationship in this book somewhat disappointing. I'm not sure why the author didn't include much sex (hardly any!). One of the draws to this series for me has been the hot and heavy sex between these two men. Maybe the author is trying to shift the overall arc in another direction? Or, perhaps, the plot in this book just didn't fit with the two getting hot and heavy. But I sure hope that when these two come back for book six that they'll be getting it on in all kinds of weird places like they used to!...more
I have to admit, I have a bit of an addiction to Barry Lowe erotica stories. I suppose… it's my secretReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I have to admit, I have a bit of an addiction to Barry Lowe erotica stories. I suppose… it's my secret guilty pleasure. Barry Lowe writes the dirtiest, the raunchiest, the sometimes nastiest erotica and very often his stories seem to have a cheating kink. This one doesn't, thankfully, because I swear I'm masochistic about those. I want to read them even though they tend to bother me. I don't know what's wrong with me!
But I recently noticed that the place Barry Lowe used to publish, loveyoudivine alterotica, has seemed to shut it's doors. Normally I hear about these kinds of things (love the gossip!) but I've been out of the loop lately. So I have no idea why they've disappeared, but all of Barry's stories with them (which have to be over 100) have disappeared as well, even from Amazon (except in print format, if you really want them). So I was really happy to see that Barry was now publishing with Wilde City Press. And I knew that I had to read this new short story, especially with a name like Trucker Fucker. That promises to be dirty!
Read the blurb. This author and this story is less about if you want to read what it's about and more about if you like the style of writing or not. So, read the blurb. It's pretty obvious that the story is full of sex and raunchiness and that the writing displays this, although thankfully Barry tends to keep the numerous euphemisms to a bare minimum (no 100 slightly different repeats of fuck rod). Nevertheless, there is a bare-bones plot here. Jez is a trucker that is caught with speed (something all the truckers do to stay awake on long hauls) and the judge offers him a deal instead of jail time -- for six months, Jez has to chaperone and mentor a young guy named Atom who got caught tagging his art all over town and whom the judge says showed an interest in trucking. To his mistake, Atom actually replied to his question of what he was interested in, Truckerrs. Jez finds that out when not an hour into their first drive Atom is trying to suck his cock. He makes no mistake about it and loves being called a slut. But no matter how many times he sneaks away and comes back from other trucks at their stops smelling of cum and looked pleasantly mussed, Jez holds out. He's straight, he reminds himself.
it isn't until they spend more time together that Jez starts to care about Atom, looking out for him when he's being hounded by groups of men looking for action. And no matter how much he tries, no matter how many guys are chasing Atom down like sex zombies, no matter how underhanded they are in trying to get Atom to themselves, Jez can't help but be aroused watching Atom love it all and want some of Atom himself.
If you made it through that, then you might actually like this story! Or you're repulsed ;) Either way, this story is FULL of sex, one on one, blowjobs, gangbangs, spit-roasting, blackmail by cops for a gangbang in the station… you'll be entertained, for sure.
This is the reason that I like reading Barry's stories. I go into them almost laughing at how ridiculous Barry has made this story and then I start to get pulled into it and by the time I'm finished I actually found it pretty hot. I'm not ashamed to admit it.
But, this is for pretty hardcore erotica readers! I had to add some pretty interesting tags for this one, LOL....more
I was surprised that when I got into this story there was maybe a little less sex than I expected and aReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I was surprised that when I got into this story there was maybe a little less sex than I expected and a lot more plot. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of sex! And Gene has sex with a few different guys. But sex is also used as a tool in the book, yet still as the main attraction that I expected from an erotica short. I enjoy that because erotica is all about the sex, but having a coherent plot to string it all together and to manipulate the sex into certain scenes and setting with an actual reason for it spices up the story a bit. It makes it sexier, I think, because your brain is involved a little with the action as well ;)
Gene is a rancher in this Old West type setting, which is reminiscent of sometime in the 19th century, though not explicit. He's been seeing the Deputy in the town for going on two years now. Bud is a good guy, sexy, and known around town as an honest man with a good heart and a strong body always around to help the town and it's people. Gene and Bud first meet when Bud moves to town and quickly grow to be good friends. What Gene first started to feel as only lustful attraction to his friend grew during their first year as friends to be more of a general interest and like in Bud. Yet, it isn't until a year into their friendship that they both finally admit that they've been keeping secret their feelings for one another and turn their friendship into something more.
But they're both men in a small town and while some might look the other way at a little play, it's still expected that two men not take up together permanently. So they, like the several other men in the town that they know like to play around with each other, go about seeing each other and living separate. They allow themselves to see other people, like when Bud is out of town on his Deputy business. That's how Gene gets to know John Bullard. It starts with looks and a subtle cruising and ends with them going at each other several times while Bud is out of town. But John seems overly interested in his relationship with Bud, and it isn't until Gene fucks the information out of him that he learns that John is a lawman himself, on the search for an elusive outlaw named Trace Warren. John seems certain that he's found his man -- Bud Silvey. And no matter how much Gene wants to deny it, certain things add up. He even looks like him. And if it is him, does Gene care? And will he help him out if he finds out that Bud has lied about his past?
I'd definitely recommend this short story if you're looking for an erotica story with cowboys (of the old type!). The sex is really hot and I enjoyed the little mystery and plotting that Gene goes through. Having Gene have real feelings for Bud made this more interesting to me, even though I wouldn't quite consider it a romance, there is a love story in there between the two. It's really hard for me to give erotica stories higher than a So So rating because the only real thing for me to judge on is the sex. It's a different rating system than romance stories, but I sometimes have a hard time judging them differently. Still, I enjoyed this one and I liked the little bit of plot there that moved the story along. It's worth a Pretty Good rating and worth a read if you're looking for something hot with lots of sex :)...more
These two authors have been one of my favorite writing teams for a while now, and I knew that I wantedReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
These two authors have been one of my favorite writing teams for a while now, and I knew that I wanted to review this book before I'd even heard of it or read the blurb. So when I finally did read the blurb I was even more exited, especially for such a long book. And finishing it took me a couple of days, mostly just because I wanted to enjoy it, so I spent my time reading it totally for pleasure and enjoying every twist and turn.
Evan St. John and Will Trask have a tumultuous past. Roommates their Freshman year of college at Columbia, they soon grow to be friends. Evan is openly gay and an art photography student, always carrying around his camera, while Will is a manly jock through and through. For reasons that Evan never understands, Will sticks by him and the bullying he was experiencing dwindles when people start to realize that Will will aways have his back. As they grow closer Evan starts to understand Will better, including Will's White Knight Complex, his need to protect and care for those he loves, to an almost fanatical, save-the-day to-the-rescue level.
Their dynamic changes when Evan's sister is dying of cancer and their relationship grows during the emotional period -- Evan is distraught and barely keeping himself afloat while trying to understand and come to terms with her turn for the worse. And Will picks up the slack, in more ways than expected. But the grief sends Evan running to Paris and three years go by, where Evan becomes a famous fashion photographer taken on by The House of Nadasdy, run by famous and infamous Elizabeth Nadasdy, and Will becomes an agent with the FBI.
We're first introduced to Evan in Like the Night as he escapes Paris during the day to fly to New York City and seek help from Will. He's a newly made vampire under the gruesome and tyrannical rule of Elizabeth Nadasdy, a modern day remnant of her famous human days as Elizabeth of Bathory. Above all (except herself), she loves beauty and hoards a collection of "children" all turned by her for their extraordinary beauty, which she believes deserves to be preserved for eternity. Evan was a prize for her, and his rejection of her extraordinary "gift" is tantamount to the ultimate betrayal, something she relishes punishing him for. But Elizabeth doesn't expect the trouble it will take to find and deal with Evan. With him, someone whose beauty hides his intelligence and cunning, are a group of allies who seek one common goal: the eradication of Elizabeth Nadasdy. And of course Evan has Will, his White Knight, ready to stand in front of any threat to his best friend.
I really just loved this book. I took a while to read it because it is long, but it is also totally packed with plot and, just about everything under the sun, making the book seem even longer than it is. There's an economy to the writing which gives you SO much story for just the first book of a series that it gave me the time and the opportunity to really sink into the story. What came through in this story most strongly for me was the pervasive mood of fear and impending doom. This is all because of the fact that Elizabeth is built up to such supervillain status that she's made to be almost omniscient, with unlimited power. Add to this a connection between vampires and their sire, or maker, and the fact that Elizabeth could peek in on Evan at any moment and even make him do things or spy on his relationship with Will, or their planned resistance of her make the story suffused with tension.
I found the villainous characters in this novel to be quite interesting. We have Elizabeth who is the typical diabolical character. She relishes in the pain of others and not only causes death and despair because it gets her something (money, fame, power, etc.) but also because she enjoys the suffering of others. She firmly believes that she's more worthy than anyone else to have the status that she does because of her beauty and the vision she has for the future. But, sometimes diabolical is boring. No matter how outrageously cruel Elizabeth can be, she's still a character that doesn't take too much effort to understand. My favorite villainous character is her daughter Anna, who I suspect will become a crucial and central character to the future books. Anna is raised in the shadow of her diabolical mother. She's always second best, but raised to revel in the same cruelties as her mother. She's made a vampire both because of her beauty which is similar to her mother's, but also as a gift from her. But hundreds of years of oppression make Anna rather different from her mother. Though I suspect that they both have similar depth of cruel possibility inherently in them, Anna's choices are governed by her hate of her mother and her acceptance that her only meaning to her mother is what she can do for her. That makes her cruel, but much more interesting than her mother. And of course, it's going to be great when the two really turn on one another ;)
Anyway, I'm super excited for the second book. I hope it isn't too far away. But honestly, I can't really be sad because this is the first book in a while (that is the first book of a series) that actually gives us enough story to satisfy us for the first installment. 123k words is pretty long, yes, but it allows the book to give full and adequate world-building while also giving us a real story that will be carried on in the second part. We have a full and self-standing plot with only a few loose ends to pick up in the next book. If this is the case for the next books as well, then I can only imagine where this story will go before it ends!
I’ve been so excited for the release of this book! It’s been a long time since I read something by thisReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I’ve been so excited for the release of this book! It’s been a long time since I read something by this author. In fact, I don’t think I’ve read a novel by this author since I read Finding Zach, a book which remains one of my all-time favorite m/m romances. So I knew going into this book from the blurb and from loving that book that this would most likely be an intense read. In some ways it was, but less so than I think I was expecting. But, it did live up to my expectations and ended up being a good read.
Joshua Chastain is a shade of the man he once was — a strong, confident, healthy and intelligent undercover FBI agent. Those qualities were all taken away from him during his three year undercover mission infiltrating a ruthless and dangerous gang in Chicago that heavily trafficked heroin. And though he did everything he was put there to do — bring down the operation from the inside — he also did other things, made sacrifices to himself and others to get the job done. And now, after leaving the FBI and in rehab for his heroin withdrawal and addiction and the unbelievable depression from his memories of death, Joshua is so far from the man he once was that his family no longer recognizes him.
His mother and his uncle Tucker conspire to bring him out to his uncle’s ranch in New Mexico. It’s a place he frequented and loved as a kid, but it’s also the perfect place for him to start to come back to himself. In an ironic twist, the ranch’s main operation is the rehabilitation of abused horses, a program run by Tucker and the ranch’s foreman, Elian Kelly. Eli is more than a foreman to the ranch, but also Tucker’s good friend. And seeing Tuck’s young nephew is heartbreaking. He sees him as a broken man he can try to put back together just like the horses that he has a gift with helping. The fresh air, good and hearty food, and reliable and loving family are what Joshua needs to put the past behind him and learn confidence in himself again. The connection and eventual relationship between Joshua and Eli wasn’t part of the plan.
Much of this book was what I was expecting from this book and this author. This is a hurt/comfort story of epic proportions, something that was similar to Rowan Speedwell’s other novel, Finding Zach. Joshua is not much a guy who needs a little rehab, but a severely traumatized person, emotionally, physically and chemically, from his forced addiction to heroin. And Eli is the gentle giant, reliant and safe and perfect in a lot of ways. I mean, this makes for a good setup, something that has worked well for this author in the past. And I liked this couple together. I felt like a lot of time went by setting up the story and I would maybe have liked to get to know Eli and Joshua actually together in their relationship for longer than we got, but they have a crazy amount of chemistry that came through for me, and the dynamic works well for them and goes hand in hand with the setting really well.
So the problems that I had with the book didn’t really spoil my enjoyment of the book — it remained something highly enjoyable to read. Maybe it’s that Finding Zach is such a hard book to live up to for me, especially with a character like Joshua who so reminded me of Zach with all of the emotional turmoil he has to work through throughout the book. Still, this wasn’t a perfect read for me. Some of the behavior of the characters seemed a little too… contrived, like the totally happy-go-lucky family atmosphere at the ranch. On the one hand this made the book not overly filled with excess problems but it made Joshua’s problems seem overbalanced in counterpoint, which made their behavior and constant support grating (not their support for Joshua, but just in each other, day to day in the way they act). That probably makes no sense, but I don’t know how to describe it better without making it seem too nitpicky and as if it was a bigger deal than it really was. It just bugged me a bit. The real difficulty I had with the book was the ending.
I was hoping that this book wouldn’t end with (view spoiler)[a resurgence of the gang and the men who would obviously love to come after Joshua if he wasn’t so hidden. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. But, I still would have probably preferred the ending to be a bit more subtle. I liked that Eli and Joshua were getting to know each other and work through their problems and I would have admired the story more if it continued in that direction without needing an outside conflict to come in from seemingly nowhere to act as a catalyst for the couple. And the way it was done made it a little worse than that, with the whole gay basher thing having been written so many times. (hide spoiler)]
So while I wasn’t quite happy with the ending, I still enjoyed the book and I liked the first half in particular. It really held my interest. The fact that the main character is dealing with a shitload of issues is just something that depends on the reader to like or dislike. I mean, on the one hand it does seem a bit much because poor Joshua’s life just kept going from bad to worse over and over again. So much of whether you like this book or not will depend on how you feel about that kind of character and conflict. In general, I don’t so much like that, but as I said before I was interested in seeing how I liked this one since I did like that kind of conflict in the hands of his author previously.
The other early reviews I’ve seen for this book have so far been raving, which is good. I think I’m maybe a little pickier than many other reviewers and that’s fine. Rowan Speedwell remains a great author and I’ll continue to look forward to her books....more
Excellent!! I found the romance a little less exciting this time around, but excitement isn't everything and I thought that overall the relat4.5 stars
Excellent!! I found the romance a little less exciting this time around, but excitement isn't everything and I thought that overall the relationship progressed extremely well after the ending of the first book.
And WOW, a MUCHMUCH better mystery this time around. I really got into this one and I thought that it and the evidence unfolded much more naturally.
It wasn't until I finished this story that I checked and realized I haven't actually ever read anything by Derek Adams before. I have plenty of his stories, but I've never gotten around to reading one of them. Now, I can't say that my feelings about this story have any bearing on the quality of writing in those other stories, but I suspect that had I read anything by this author before last week, when I decided to get this from Amber Allure for review, I might have taken a pass. And honestly, I wish I had.
Tony Bradshaw has had a rough life. Problems at home manifested in his juvenile delinquency at an early age. And once he's in the system, it's almost impossible for Tony to get out of it. Criminal habits and a harsh reality of his place in society result in a vicious circle, of a world that continually admonishes Tony for his lack of worth while at the same time actively helping him to fail. Bad behavior and stupid choices as a teenager lead to his need to rob, steal and sell his body to survive as an adult. Tony is the first to admit that while he may have had few choices at that time, it doesn't negate the fact that with the choices he did have he always chose the worst ones. And Tony knows even more how your image can control who you are and the choices you have.
Tony is on a first name basis with many of Seattle's cops, and the older cops that know him by name and reputation seem to delight in reminding him that while he has his life together now they're just waiting for him to slip up so they can remind him of who they know him to be. Having such a bad reputation with law enforcement makes it even harder for Tony to bear what is happening to him now. What Tony thought was a small altercation on a dark street corner turns out to be the smoking gun that cops need to bring down one of the key components of an organized crime ring. He's in real danger and an obvious target before he can testify in the trial. Now that Tony is an honest citizen, he does his duty and tells the cops what he saw. The cops, on the other hand, only grudgingly give him protection. They send him and a cop by the name of Alec to a cabin in the woods until the trial can be brought together. Tony's reward for his candor is a one way ticket into WITSEC.
What was a somewhat unoriginal plot (which is pretty obvious from the blurb) was made even worse by choppy writing, superficial characters and a plot that never really went anywhere. By that, I mean that several factors came together in an unfortunate way. The writing itself relies heavily on summary instead of in an active scene, and we're given several info dumps. There are also large gaps in time that end up being gaps in plot because of the lack of transition between parts of the story and in character growth. Most frustrating for me, aside from the lack of growth in the characters, was the stilted dialogue that seemed like something the characters would never say. Also, without showing any of the internal process, one of the characters makes a drastic 180 that really kind of baffled me. Also, I was immediately turned off by the first sex scene which is pretty blatantly dubious consent. Not that I have a problem with dub-con itself, but it does really bother me when the character who has dubious feelings is ultimately like eh, what the hell… it's no big deal and then the whole issue is ignored. Call a spade a spade and address the issue. And last, I was curious to see how the author would write the end scene. It's pretty obvious from the blurb what is going to happen. Ultimately, I found the ending completely anticlimactic and the characters actions so apart from their real person that I just really couldn't understand them at all.
To be quite honest, I probably wouldn't recommend this story -- not even if you're a fan of Derek Adams. I'm sure some people will like this story, but with so many flaws, I think that's a small percentage of readers. To me, it felt like PWTVP (Porn With Thinly Veiled Plot)....more
I haven't read anything by this author in quite a while, probably several years. So most of my expeReview posted at Brief Encounters Reviews.
I haven't read anything by this author in quite a while, probably several years. So most of my experience with her writing is from some of her earlier works, though they're similar in style and length (if not subject matter) as this steampunk story. Stories like: Moonlight Sonata for Two, Superheroes in the Suburbs and Hungry?. Likewise, it has been quite a while since I've read anything steampunk. I can't say that I'm overly familiar with the sub-genre, but I do enjoy a steampunk story from time to time, and that's why I chose to review this story when it was released. And, in the main, I enjoyed it.
Brom Donker is from a rather wealthy family of political renown, and in this alternate universe with a steampunk civil war, Brom loses both his legs and his arm to the South when he's captured and used as a model for their scientists cruel experiments. He's not a whole man, even though, after his release and into his career as a Pinkerton agent, he's been outfitted with the best machine limbs that have been invented. Still, his wounds and glaring differences make him an outcast in society.
Brom laments his less than whole nature most when visiting his doctor, Simon Wain. He's grown quite an attachment to the small, beautiful and brilliant physician and wishes that Simon could see past his mechanical limbs, see him for more than an opportunity to create even better machines fit for human/automaton hybrid use. But he does not know that Simon harbors secret feelings for him as well, which is part of the reason he's driven to create such advanced limbs -- like a cannon and flamethrower arm -- to keep Brom safe.
But resistance is growing from the Sasquatches (exactly like you're picturing) who are gathering allies from the south and showing signs of rather advanced automatons. Brom is going to need Simon to help solve the mystery, even though he hates taking the man into danger.
The real reason that I couldn't give this story higher than a C is because both parts of the story -- the romance and the outside conflict with Brom's investigation -- feel unfinished. It's difficult to become interested in two characters who we only get very little time to know because of outside conflict that itself isn't really delved into. Both parts sacrifice the other and in the end I felt like I didn't get to really know the connection between the characters and also that I didn't really understand the issue with the Sasquatches. It seemed like it was there only to cause conflict and provide and impetus to bring the characters together, but also tried to make it a part of the story. I would have preferred that the story commit to one way or the other -- either concentrate solely on the romance or give us more time and information about the world and the war. In fact, I found it strange that the Sasquatches were even part of the story. They bring to mind a pretty firm preconceived notion of what they are but I never quite understood who they were or what they meant to the story, other than they looked like the Sasquatches that we know of in myth as Bigfoot, etc. and that they have a culture and race of their own and band together in small groups.
In the end, the story was just too superficial for me. I didn't really get the outside conflict and while I started to like the romance between Brom and Simon, I still didn't really get to know them well. The only thing that was really interesting to me was to see the steampunk gadgets and things that Simon created. But then, for those who have read more steampunk than I have, it might not be all that exciting....more
I've long been a fan of Cari Z's work, but it wasn't until last year when I read "Opening Worlds" and Changing WoReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I've long been a fan of Cari Z's work, but it wasn't until last year when I read "Opening Worlds" and Changing Worlds that I really fell in love with her work, so you won't even believe how excited I was when I saw that she was going to be writing the other serial started this month at Storm Moon Press. Kris Piet even had to write to tell me to be patient, I was asking about it so vehemently ;) Thankfully, it lived up to my hopes and really made me excited for this season. Writing a serial must be hard, especially a published serial, because the first episode really counts. There's so little room to make an impression and show a fully fleshed character (or two), because that's what really hooks the reader. And I rarely give out more than a Pretty Good rating for the first story in a long series of releases. Usually all we get is a small grasp of what is to come, and a Pretty Good rating is like saying that the author(s) did the best they could with a limited opportunity. But here, I felt like I would have been happy, in most respects, if this were a standalone story. The relationship arc will take a lot longer to develop, but this was sexy enough and the characters have enough chemistry that I felt like it went above and beyond what I was expecting.
Devon is a cambion, a quasi-demon birthed from a human and an incubus. His dual nature affords him special and unique abilities -- the best of both races -- and some detractions from them both as well. He has magical demonic powers, the most powerful of which is his natural ability to inspire lust. Devon is also a supernatural spy of sorts. Working for a private contract group whose secret mission is to police the underworld of demonic summoning, Devon executes his job like a demonic Mata Hari. He and his group have long been searching for a nasty demon summoner, known for his cruelty, intelligence and luck in escaping authorities and they have finally traced him to a … pleasure house of sorts, run by an old Chinese man named Shangdi who delights in rather perverse displays of cruelty to demons. But when Devon is made deep inside his mission, he'll need extraction before he's made an example of for the pleasure of the house. And extraction comes in the way of a rather tall, gun-happy and dog-loving Rio, a man who Devon really likes.
I'm really excited about what is to come this first season of the serial. Devon seems like he can easily get into all kinds of trouble and Rio can always get him out. And the chemistry they have together is explosive. What I really loved was how funny I found this to be, mostly in tone. The point of view comes from both Devon and Rio, so we get a different variation on the scene depending on who is narrating, but what their voices both have in common is a kind of nonchalance for the violence they cause. That detachment struck me as funny for some reason, in a bit of a Tarantino way. And combined with the fact that everything Devon does is tinged with sex, made for a unique and well-written story. I'm just glad that it's only the beginning!
**Just a note! You can buy each of these stories by themselves (and this one, as the first story, is only $.99), but if you buy a season pass at Storm Moon Press you also get lots of goodies over the course of the season, like a DVD box set -- freebies and extra goodies :)...more
Wow, it was really nice reading a story from Ms. Rhodes again! It was such a happy surprise for me to sReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Wow, it was really nice reading a story from Ms. Rhodes again! It was such a happy surprise for me to see this book come out, and not only was I happy to see a new book, no matter which one it was (really!), I was even more excited that it was a witchy one. I don't know what it is, but I can't help but devour every male witch story in m/m that I can find. Maybe it's because I'm such a Potter lover? Not sure, but when I went into a slump last week and couldn't figure out what to read, I opened this book.
Emrys is a witch and lives in Salem, Massachusetts. His family dates back to beginnings of the town and though most of the town is now non-magickal and makes light of their history, Emry's family and a select few others know the truth and hide their secrets well. Emrys loves magick, he just can't do it very well. He's the runt of the family in that way -- all his siblings are rather adept, as well as his parents.
Emrys has to watch himself well, especially when he's drunk, or emotional in any way. He tends to just start tingling all over and then who knows what will happen? He's learned his the hard way over his childhood, but the lessons never seem to stop coming. Drunk at a football game with his friend, Emrys makes a mistake that will set his romantic life in forward motion. When he sees the new kid at the school, who swept in and took the quarterback's spot to lead their team to the first victory in a long time, making him the hero of their school -- he literally swoons. He's never felt such a powerful attraction. So when the gorgeous quarterback passes by him on the shoulders of his teammates, Emrys just wants to touch him (remember, he's drunk). And when the power of his attraction seems to draw the other boy's gaze and brings a smile to his face, his power lets loose, tripping the group and ultimately injuring the boy, David, and taking him out for the rest of the season.
Emry's feelings don't change after that. It doesn't matter how sorry he is, how mortified he is… He ruined everyone's hopes and hurt David in the process. It's his secret how it happened though, known only to his sister Morgan who saw it and thankfully, didn't tell on him to his family. Years later, at their graduation, Emrys notices that David doesn't seem himself. Of course, he doesn't know David at all, not really, but he's watched him from afar their whole high school years and come to know him in a way. David is down, really down and something seems terribly wrong. He's the last person that Emry's expects to run into at a party that night (or down the street from one), while trying to fulfill a dare to enter the town's haunted house. The misuse, or misfiring, of his magic once again makes a scene, but David doesn't react the way Emrys expects, and their night of getting to know each other once and for all surprises him in more ways than he could ever expect.
He doesn't expect that David could ever have feelings for a geek like him, nor that David's life might not be the one of popularity and glory that he sees it as. But the revelations shared between them that night change their lives in unexpected ways.
First off, I'm going to get this out of the way before I even try to have a serious critique of this story -- GODDAMN that was hot! ML Rhodes is one of my top authors for writing the sexiest scenes and this didn't disappoint. Remember that scene in True of Heart in the cave? OMG! Yeah, she can really write the hot stuff. Emrys and David have an immediate connection, on purpose (more on that later), that really comes through sexually.
In many ways, this is just such a feel good read, and that's something that definitely draws readers. It's not fluffy, but it is light without sacrificing darker issues or scenes. Part of that comes from the connection between Emrys and David. Of course, we never expect a story to end in anything less than an HEA and we usually know beforehand if that's the case. So there's always a sense of security there for a happy ending. More than this, the "mating books" and the reason why I think readers find shifter books so popular is that there is an added layer of security there. We know when we're reading a classic shifter book that the characters won't consider hurting the other in any way because they're feelings are almost magical in power. Of course some readers don't like that, but that's what makes that style and type of book more in line with a certain type of fluff, and we often find fluffy books about shifters. This story takes that "mating" type connection and plays with it a little. I won't describe why because much of the realization of their connection comes to Emrys later in the book. Suffice it to say, the relationship is based on a type of security that the characters are meant for one another on a cosmic scale, and that comes across throughout the story and through their emotional and sexual connection.
I was really happy to see that Ms. Rhodes didn't rely on any typical format in structuring the story. It is a second chances type story, but their time apart bisects this book almost cleanly in half with a space of three years. That might throw some readers off as they're rounding the halfway-point, but I didn't mind. And really, besides the fact that this was ultimately just a cute, sweet, easy story to read, it was really nice to see another work published by this author. I know that readers have been waiting patiently (or some impatiently by now!) for more of the Draegon Lords, but I enjoy pretty much everything this author writes, and it was nice to see an addition of her's to the writing released in 2012....more
I read this with a friend over Christmas, and while I enjoyed this book, I think that other readers seem to be liReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I read this with a friend over Christmas, and while I enjoyed this book, I think that other readers seem to be liking it more than me. I've been thinking about it since, and while I've avoided looking at how it's been received since those early few days and from reader and reviewer reviews, at that time it seemed like this was coming off really well. And it deserves it. I'm not really sure what it was about the story that I didn't quite connect with, but I'll try to flesh it out in a minute.
The story starts with a stunner of a prologue (which I'll leave alone, but btw, RF, you are really packing the punches with the prologues and epilogues lately!). As the main story starts, we get to know Miki mostly from Kane's POV as the man who owns the dog that keeps stealing his art supplies. Soon after he gets to know Miki from terse front door words about the exact ownership of the dog, they become embroiled in a murder mystery. Kane finds a dead body in Miki's classic restored GTO, and not just any dead body, but the body of the man who used to torture Miki as a street kid, opening up a past of abuse and cruelty that Miki doesn't want to face.
I suppose it is just personal that parts of this story didn't connect with me. I loved Kane, and I loved Miki to an extent. I had a difficult time going through all of his horrible upturned life with him. He suffer(s/ed) quite a lot at the hands of various people, as well as fate, and as one thing packed onto a another and the dynamic between the two became, at times, very hurt/comfort. The problem for me was in the structure of the story and the pacing, which seemed to relegate most of the action to the first and last 25% and the bulk of the middle to character growth and relationship growth. But that middle part got bogged down for me because the emotions were pretty heavy. And not exactly the emotions but the type of abuse that Miki suffered and his bleak day to day existence was difficult for me to read in one stretch. I kept braking and wishing for some of the investigation to come back and break up some of the tension.
That said, the rest of the story was a treat. Where the white cop/lithe korean man dynamic might seem familiar, the characters are quite different from Cole and Jae, especially in the differences between Kane and Cole (I found Kane much more immediately accessible but not lacking in depth). This book deals with what might seem to be heavier issues (child sexual abuse), I didn't find it any darker in tone than her previous books. I compare the start of this new series to that one because I know that almost every reader who reads this, or plans to buy it, will. And while there are surface similarities, I found them satisfyingly different.
What I can't really figure out from my own feelings is how much my liking of this book is wrapped up in how much I look forward to the next coming book in the series. Because while this book has a lot to recommend it, I didn't ever get excited about it while reading until the surprise epilogue, which immediately made me upset I couldn't read further ;) And while it did feel good to leave on a note that excited me about reading more, I'm not sure I'd be happy if RF ended up relying on this device (not saying she will, just my feelings). Still, I have a feeling that this book is worth reading to get to that second book, and I hope the exploration of that secret will inject some more forward momentum into the story that I wanted here.
So, I'm very much looking forward to the rest of this series, and as always remain an avid fan of this author's work....more
This review is for the whole series (Houseboat on the Nile, Not My Spook!, and Forever).
For weeks, I've had a plan to read the first of this series, Houseboat on the Nile with my awesome friend and reading buddy Laddie, and then just that week, I got so sick. That was last week, by the way. I didn't know if I'd be in the mood to read these at all. I had a fever and a hard time concentrating. But then, it worked out perfectly. I spend several days reading this whole series, back to back. I couldn't put them down, really. I had to know what happened to Quinn and Mark.
I did have some trouble getting into them. My cold medicine soaked brain was not up to deciphering complicated plots and a whole shitload of characters and their names. That's how I thought this was going to be, and indeed the first 30k to 40k of the first book was just like that. But, then it all seemed to click for me, and I really got into them. I was almost glad I had the excuse of being sick and didn't have to do anything more than lay around and read this series to my heart's content. And the good thing, is that combined, they're about 360k words -- a very good chunk that you can spend time getting into!
The basis of the story is the rivalry between the various government agencies in DC. Set in 2002, the story switches point of view between several characters, but mostly between two men -- Mark Vincent and Quinton Mann. Mark is a WBIS senior agent and most think him a loose cannon. Actually, they're all afraid of him. His bureau is known for their unusual tactics, and Mark Vincent is the best of the best. Quinn is a CIA director and just as well known for his family and all around class as his success in his career. He's just one in a long line of government operatives, including his mother Portia, who was a code breaker for NSA during the Cold War. They're both extraordinary men, and by nature of the organizations they work for, hate each other.
When Mann finds out that Vincent has been doing a little snooping into his past, he sets out to up the ante, but the result is that they both find they have an extreme sexual attraction to one another. Is it real? Or is it a game to one up the other? Neither can quite figure it out, but they know they can't stop.
At it's heart, this is a really wonderful story. Mostly, that comes from these two characters their their chemistry, which is incredibly hot. The games they play on each other are hilarious, and I loved seeing them slowly come together and realize that they have actual feelings for each other. Watching them maneuver the minefield if their intelligence careers while trying to carry on a clandestine relationship was the best part of this story. I would read their books forever and wished that they went on and on and on.
But, I also can't deny that these books are riddled with problems. Knowing ahead of time that these were previously one book of original online fiction, helped me to realize where the problem was, or else I might have been really confused. Now, I haven't read that original book which was called Mann of My Dreams, but it seems to me from reading these released by Dreamspinner that they most likely weren't changed very much. And that is a problem -- they still read like online fiction. And while they're good, they could have been great, with a really smart and exacting editor to bring them new life. The biggest problem with the published books is the repetition, which I have heard others complain about as well. And it isn't just the style of the writing, which takes both characters point of view and shows the same events, over and over. While tiring at some points (because this series would have been at least half the length, otherwise), that didn't bother me too much. I embraced the style and ran with it. But, there is a lot of other repetition within that should have been cut -- whole paragraphs reminding us what happened a few chapters ago and whole scenes that are repeated to remind us, but 5 to 6 times over the whole series. It is one thing to remind us in the beginning of a sequel the few key points that happened in the first book, not everyone reads the books back to back like I did, I understand that. But, that is something from the online fiction that should have been cut. We aren't reading this an online serial, so we don't need to be reminded of things that happened, which online, we might have read several months or even years ago.
It was fundamental problems like that that really bothered me. Not just mistakes, but glaring problems. I ended up feeling that I might as well have just read them online for free if they had all that. So while I absolutely loved the story and adored the characters, I found the writing fundamentally flawed, which really affected my enjoyment of the story. I had hoped that some of these things might get better with each subsequent book -- after all, I read these types of comments on each book page at Goodreads and thought they might influence how the later books were edited, but not. I didn't see any difference, which made me a little sad.
I wholeheartedly recommend this series, but, I will warn you to brace yourself to be at least a little annoyed. If I were rating these books based solely on how much I loved the plot and characters, it would easily get a Loved It! rating, but since I'm not, especially since I felt there should have been more changes since this was an online book that the author then published, I had to lower the rating for all three books to just Pretty Good.
Have any of you read these books? What did you think?...more
I think I liked this one better than the first story. A little more relationship interaction and the writing in sex scenes was done very well. It wasI think I liked this one better than the first story. A little more relationship interaction and the writing in sex scenes was done very well. It was nice to see the POV from Jurgen....more