No matter how much I've wanted to read Jacob Flores' prior books, this is the first one that I really had the timReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
No matter how much I've wanted to read Jacob Flores' prior books, this is the first one that I really had the time to read. And I'm so glad that I did. More than anything, more than the fact that I found some parts of this book less to my liking than others and I didn't think it was perfect, it intrigued me. I immediately put back all of the books I have of Jacob's back onto my Kindle and I only hope that I have the time to read them soon.
Prepare for a LONG summary. Sorry about that, but I think it's worth reading ;)
Zach has always done what everyone told him too. Submissive to almost an extreme in his life (though not in the bedroom), he first allowed his father to dictate his life and self-understanding and later his partner of three years, Ben. The start of When Love Takes Over sees Ben unceremoniously dumped by Ben -- with no reason or explanation -- simply a get out. Zach is tired of being shuffled around and taking it, doing everything he can to change himself into the man that Ben wants. So he does the most impulsive thing he's done in his life. He takes the small bag he left with from Houston and jumps a plane to P-Town.
Zach has never been to Provincetown and the place dazzles him. There are men everywhere, half naked in the streets, holding hands and kissing. The place seems like freedom personified and there's no better introduction to the wonders of P-Town than the owner of the condo he's renting for the week, Gary. Gary and his partner Quinn convince Zach to take advantage of all P-Town has to offer, not to stay in his room and try to work on his novel. Zach still doesn't understand how his life took such a strange turn, but his writing seems to have suffered in relative fashion. Perhaps a change will be good for him.
Van is also at a crossroads. He's had a bad time in relationships and it seems like every time he gives away his heart, which always seems to easy for him to do, it gets pummeled and thrown back at him, damaged more and more every time. After his last relationship with a man named Jason who drove him into a terrible dehumanizing spiral of sex and pain, Van took it upon himself to never face that kind of damage again. That is how Hart Throb was born. Being Hart Throb on screen for thousands of horny gay men gives Van a rush and a self-esteem boost that he needs. He can do porn and still enjoy sex, even being pounded by multiple men, without the emotions that ended up crushing him before. As a power bottom that has quickly amassed a huge fan following, he has the power to call more shots and he's the one in control, not the men on top of him.
It's almost enough to convince him that he doesn't need an emotional connection at all. The pain of the past and his creation of his more powerful alter-ego have slowly started to shift his two identities and Hart Throb looks to be taking over. When Van runs into a geeky, shy and pale ginger beauty named Zach in a leather store, his previous conviction falls to pieces. Something about Zach -- perhaps his bumbling and sweet nature with mismatched clothes and messed up hair, or his personality which seems to be completely free of artifice in a town where looks and sex are all that matters -- appeals to Van. Even though their meeting is short, he can't get Zach out of his head and his feelings about someone that he doesn't even know only highlight that Hart Throb can't fully sustain him.
A makeover on the outside from an excited Gary and female friend Tara prove to Zach that he does have worth. He believe that it just might be possible to break out of his shell, leave the old, boring doormat he was behind and embrace P-Town. That's what everyone keeps telling him to do, after all. Embrace P-Town, because it will change you. And now that he's seeing other men, hot men checking him out and finding him very worthy of their attention, the sexually adventurous nature he always repressed starts to peek out. But no matter how much he embraces the sex in the air (with some very public and exciting naughtiness!) what he really wants is to find Van again. But will Van even recognize him? Or did P-Town get to Zach before Van could, changing him in ways that ultimately aren't good for him?
Whew! First of all, if you made it through that -- thank you! You deserve a chocolate or something :) Second, you saw just how long that summary was. I'd say that even though I did a bit of a character introduction to you as well, that summary probably only covers the first 1/4 of the book. The pace in this story moves rather quickly. I like that this author makes decisive choices for his characters. They don't dawdle, but the story moves along without pause. I appreciate that because no matter how you feel about those decisions, there's nothing worse than an author refusing to make them and then the characters stall. Van and Zach go through quite a lot to get their HEA, and it's hard-won, that's for damn sure! You can see just from the summary I wrote that the angst is already building. Wherever both Van and Zach go in this story they always seem to be looking for one another but at the same time moving in opposite directions, like passing ships in the night ;) When Van looks for the geeky guy he had a moment with in the leather store he finds just another shallow guy tricking. When Zach continues to look for Van, he finds what he thinks is a guy with a boyfriend. And no matter how annoying that was at the time, because I wanted to smack them both and tell them to actually communicate with each other, this author ultimately brings the story around so that their actions and thoughts make sense to the character.
I really liked both Van and Zach. Zach is someone who I felt like I could understand on a personal level:
He found it almost impossible to simply be who he was. He always felt the need to apologize for himself and change whatever people didn't like about him until he'd become whatever they might need.
The thought that he devoted three years of his life trying to conform to an impossible ideal for Ben haunts him, especially considering that Ben seems to have no appreciation of that fact. P-Town is important to him. His outside makeover soon starts to make him over inside and having men look at him as if they'd be lucky to have him is something that he's never really felt. This is why this book worked for me on this level. We have a tendency in the romance genre to equate the characters and their choices with the quality of the book. But, it's important for a character to grow and Zach needs to embrace his slutty and hedonistic side, no matter how shallow it makes him or that he becomes a bit of an asshole for a while, and he needs to fuck things up so that he can learn to be an active participant in a relationship. By definition, the end goal in romance is the HEA. The direction is important, but honestly, the journey there is the real point. This book is a good example for characters that you might not like at certain points in the book, but which (to me, at least) should have no bearing on the rating of it.
I think the real reason that I was intrigued about this author's writing from reading this book is the tone and mood of the story. The mood is festive and reflective of the setting, but the tone of the writing often seemed just a little bit campy. The tone seemed campy, mind you, not the plot or characters (except for Gary! and Penny :D). This gives the story a lift. Right away it draws you in. No matter the subject matter there's always a glass half-full feeling that carries through the story. It's a hopeful tone. I felt like that little bit of campiness was so right on to how I've felt before in settings with lots of gay men and a party atmosphere. Sadly, I've yet to visit P-Town, but the setting and tone gave off a sense of inclusion and freedom and that thread ran throughout the story, the tone affecting all of the book in subtle ways.
Originally, I gave this book a Pretty Good rating. I had some trouble with the ending, specifically the part from the ending of Zach's novel to the upstairs of the porn set setting. That conversation between the two was the culmination of the previous chapter or two where Zach starts to think in a kind of writer affectation. Everything became a bit melodramatic and I wasn't quite sure how to take it. Seriously? Or, as a subtle importation of his writer's mind? With an added day or two of reflection, I found those parts less important in my memory than the whole. I don't think this book is perfect by any means, but I cared less about those trouble spots for me and more about the overall story. And that is of two characters that I felt were explored rather well and of writing by this author that I grew increasingly fond of while reading. I can't wait until he writes something new. Or until I can get off my ass and read something off of his backlist. Recommended....more
I can't help myself -- whenever there is a new book released about porn stars, I can't resist! I have to read it.Review posted at The Armchair Reader.
I can't help myself -- whenever there is a new book released about porn stars, I can't resist! I have to read it. I don't know why I'm so obsessed with these characters, it certainly doesn't come from a real-life porn star obsession. I don't need to analyze it, however, to know that it's a hot button trope for me. So, naturally, I was excited to read this book, though this author is new to me.
Told in third person close point of view and alternating between the two main characters, Evan and "Bran" (Brandon), Keeping Sweets takes a somewhat more realistic and less idolized view of porn behind the scenes. Bran is a gay porn veteran at 28, having gotten into the business by an ex boyfriend and a shady producer as a minor, and has grown jaded with the business. Though he has money to show for his work, sex for pay has taken over his life, both personally and emotionally. Even more than that, he's coming upon a turning point. At 28, he's almost ready to retire (if he wants) and find some other avenue to pursue in his life, but leaving what is comfortable is hard, especially when he doesn't really have anything to fall back on. The first step in separating himself from on screen sex, however, is stepping back from the camera. The project he's putting together with Les, his mentor, father-figure and partner in business, will bring together seven porn actors for a month long stay on the Oregon coast, with Bran as first-time director.
It is in casting that Bran and Evan first meet one another. Evan is newly 18 and being shoved out into the world. Evan's mother died several years ago and he's lucky that his step-father even let him stay until he came of age. But with high school graduation and his passage into adulthood, he has no more reasons to stay and bear the emotional abuse he's had to grow up with. Such a difficult childhood has made Evan both mature for his age and emotionally fragile. But knowing that he wouldn't have a place after graduation lit a fire under him, so that by the time he's kicked out of his childhood home, he's got a scholarship and a basic plan for the next few years. The major problem is not knowing where he'll go or survive the summer before college starts, and jobs are thin on the ground. It is with reluctance that Evan attends at audition looking for "adult models". It doesn't matter that Evan doesn't have any sexual experience -- not even has he been kissed -- he'll be starving and living on the streets if he doesn't get some kind of job, something he's close to already.
There's no choice. Evan will have to see if he can actually do gay porn. But Bran, recognizing a true innocent in a beautiful body and with keen intelligence, wants to look out for him. Bran knows, more than anyone else at the house on the beach, how this job can suck the innocence away from someone.
Ultimately, this was only a So So read for me. Part of that comes down to the plot, which offered few surprises and relied very heavily on the "I know what's best for you better than you do" plot device for romantic tension. Readers who have a hard time with characters who don't like to talk to each other and continually miscommunicate will be frustrated. Their behavior isn't arbitrary, however. It makes sense for the characters to act the way they do, annoying though it is. The rest of my reaction to the book is personal taste. The story itself is isolated and insular, with the whole group shut up in a house for the purpose of making the porn film. I was originally excited about the other guys in the film and the house, who are introduced with distinct personalities and particular quirks. Too soon though, they became relegated to background noise and the scenes reverted to only showing our two main characters.
If I'm right in thinking that this is a debut novel for this author, then there is definitely some praise to be awarded. Though I felt as if character growth and representation as overbalanced toward the main guys, those two were rather fully fleshed and well written (though Bran admittedly less so). Whether you personally like either one of them is up to you, of course, and I wavered at times in how I felt about Evan in particular. I expected the sex in the book to take center stage, as a porn flick novel, which was ultimately true to an extent. In regards to Evan, who has his very first sexual experience in front of a camera, everything is definitely center stage, and very steamy. There was less sex, though, than I expected. And there were certain scenes, some of which were the only times we ever really saw any of the other guys in the house, in which we were shown a scene being filmed that didn't include either Evan or Bran (except as directing) that seemed to add little to the story, and I wondered why exactly those were needed. Personally, I would have preferred to see Evan branch out sexually a bit more, though he didn't. That is actually a pretty important part of the story and a definite decision by the author, but it didn't really make sense to me. I couldn't really understand why Evan would feel the way he did, even as an inexperienced person. I suppose I just wanted to understand him and his decisions better.
In all, I'm intrigued by this author. While this wasn't a favorite book of mine, it was still an enjoyable read. I'm hoping that this author will continue to write and publish. And if she wants to write a sequel, I would be more than happy to read about Colt, the southern heartthrob and protector of Evan "the innocent" :) He's the secondary character we get to know best, which may be why he came across as the most interesting of the lot. I'd love to see him have his happily ever after....more
I was excited when I saw this story come up on the new releases at Smashwords; the prequel to this story, thReview posted at Brief Encounters Reviews.
I was excited when I saw this story come up on the new releases at Smashwords; the prequel to this story, the first Junkyard story, was the first ever story I reviewed here at BER, back in 2011. And after all this time, I wondered if Jaye Valentine would ever write a sequel. In the end, I found this story to be good mainly because of my original excitement in it. I chose to read and review it as erotica and not romance, which I'll explain in a bit. But still, it felt somewhat disjointed and unfinished.
Most of my excitement about this story was (besides the twincest, which I'm always in favor of) from my expectation to go back into this setting, the Junkyard Bordello that we started to get to know in the first story. Now, I'm not sure if there will be another two years until the next story, if it will come soon, or maybe even not at all, but the problem is that these stories are too short to work as standalone, but this story didn't feel very connected to the first one either. Whether it was because it wasn't or just that it's been so long since I read it and can't remember it well, I'm not sure. But, this story left me feeling like there wasn't an overall plot developing or even much about the overall setting, which made me a little sad. And that left only the characters in this story to win me over, and while I might have found them interesting if we had more time, they were just rough outlines as they are now.
I was surprised, actually, that this story doesn't just cover one scene (the main scene described in the blurb between the twins and Jaguar), but hops along with a few other scenes that don't really go anywhere to wrap up their story. It made the story feel like there were some pretty big gaps, especially as these happened over months, rather than a short time.
The story is on sale for $1.99, and while that's great in comparison to some gay erotica stories you'll find for sale online, I still felt like this was a pretty mediocre one hand read as compared to what I'd hoped for, and I would probably encourage readers to look at the author's other works rather than this one....more
I didn't know what to expect from this story. F Gorden Scott is a new-to-me author, though his (?)Review posted at Brief Encounters Reviews.
I didn't know what to expect from this story. F Gorden Scott is a new-to-me author, though his (?) stories have been reviewed before here at Brief Encounters. And the blurb really intrigued me. First, magic and the fantasy element in the modern world, plus strippers? I totally got it and ended up really liking the story.
Thomas is 500 years old and runs a magic shop in Durham, when a lurking visitor "the adonis" finally comes to him to ask for help. The beautiful young man's name is Jimmie and he's in dire straits. He's flat broke, about to lose his apartment, and the only way he can save it is to get the job he's interviewing for in the next week -- as a stripper. The only problem with that (besides the owner of the bar having some different "ideas" about what an interview means) is his total lack of confidence. Thomas is tempted, of course, and helps the young man out with a boost of confidence that will hopefully ensure Jimmie a successful trial run dancing on top of the bar at the Golden Slipper.
There's a lot to like about this story. The best part is that it doesn't try to make itself something it isn't. The story is proud to be erotica, yet at the same time offers a bit of romantic sub-plot with the addition of Thomas' lover, Kevin. Kevin knows all about Thomas' power. He's the first man that has really captured Thomas' heart in his long life and he understands that sometimes Thomas needs a little extracurricular activity. They maintain a loving, committed relationship, which we get to see when the two show up to witness Jimmie's big night.
The story is also rather funny. Thomas is world-weary in many ways and for all his young looks shows his age in his comments about the futility of 'kids these days'. Thomas is a larger than life character, whose charm draws the reader in along with the characters.
I had a bit of confusion both in the beginning and the end of the story. As the story starts we get a bit of background on Thomas, coming from his own voice. He tells us a bit about his childhood and growing up through the ages. He mentions learning he liked men and not women as a young boy surrounded by lusty ancient greek soldiers -- at which time I thought… isn't he only 500 years old? Then, in the end Thomas mentions that he first met Kev "the first night he had conjured me up from the lamp," leading me to think he's a djinn. It left me wondering what the actual truth is, a problem that could have been avoided by omission, as the whole question of it doesn't really add to the story anyway.
Otherwise, I liked this story and it was rather enjoyable....more
Jeez, I don't know if I can write a proper review. Honestly, I'll try. But mostly I juReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
HOLY FRIGGIN HELL.
Jeez, I don't know if I can write a proper review. Honestly, I'll try. But mostly I just want to sit, my fingers still on the keys and my mouth hanging open like…. guhhh. That was the hottest little scene I've read in a quite a while.
Reading this first foray into the new series (serialized chapter releases?), I have to say that I am very excited about what is to come in this series. The blurb definitely intrigued me and it's got pretty much everything I love. Rent Boys. Check! Threesomes and maybe more in the future? Check. Love among the dirty deeds? Oh yeah, I think it's coming because these two authors singed my Kindle with the chemistry between Tristan and Jared.
So, here's the summary: Jared works at the Market Garden, an exclusive club where he is available for rent. He's sort of half in love/lust/true-fucking-admiration with Tristan, a favorite among the men. Tristan is gorgeous and unattainable to Jared, at least he thinks. They're in a bit of a lull at the club as the story opens. It's just before Christmas and johns are maxxed out on other things. Jared isn't making the kind of money that he's used to and this will be his first holiday season working at the club. Tristan reassures him that it's all part of the season and business will pick up. In the meantime, Jared is surprised to find that Tristan seems to have an interest in him… and well, they're not getting any business at the moment. When a john asks if they work together, Jared wants to scream yes just to get the chance to be with Tristan, in whatever fashion. But the john has demands of his own, which include wanting to watch the two together, and he's willing to negotiate with Tristan, who is quite forward with manipulating Jared and showing him off to get more money. But, the real question that Jared has is how much is for show and how much is real? Because for him, it's all real.
I think that for such a short foray into what is obviously a much larger story to come, this first installment into the Market Garden series was very well done. These two authors work very well together, and I'm not surprised, being a fan of both. In a way, this works as a teaser, because we don't learn much about the characters, but I was immediately pulled into their connection anyway. I could see that they had forged something special, unique in their line of business, and that they had much to build upon. That came through in the writing very strongly. Still, it's little into the real story. I suppose it is really up to you if you'd rather read it now or wait until more has come. This story acted like a hook for me, and I really wished that I could immediately read more about these two characters. So, I'm a fan already and looking forward to where these two authors will take the story.
However, I will say this. This is some hot shit. Sorry, my brain is totally zoned out and I can't even make coherent sentences anymore. So, if you really want the relationship business, you might have to wait for more installments into the series. But, if you just want a really hot short and don't mind waiting for the rest, then definitely pick this up. I don't think you'll regret it. Like I said -- HOT shit. Yep. ;)
I think that was the most inelegant review I've ever written, I love it!...more
I felt like this could have been a solid story, a solid erotica story, if the plot had just slowed down just a bit. As it was it moved too fast and thI felt like this could have been a solid story, a solid erotica story, if the plot had just slowed down just a bit. As it was it moved too fast and those who aren't fans of cheating will probably take issue with David's actions....more
Misha has had a tough life. Sold by his family in Russia as a "bride" to an American man who then used hReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Misha has had a tough life. Sold by his family in Russia as a "bride" to an American man who then used him and pass him around to his friends, Misha was thrown to the streets when he wore out his welcome. He's now a hustler, very accustomed to working the streets and the seedier part of the sex industry. His one good thing is his friend Peter, another hustler, and the man he comes home to at night to share his day on a dirty bare mattress, squatting in a hollowed out building along with the bears who live below and frequently make them pay "toll" for things such as a shower or the bathroom.
It is his birthday, Halloween, and his work at the diner is backbreaking. No one really does anything around the place but him, and he's run off his feet by the customers and the freaks dressed up for the holiday that like to "handle the goods" and harass him as he tries to do his job. Things start to look up, however, when a handsome and polite man whose face is roughly scarred stays at the diner to help him with his work bussing tables. But, Misha can't find anything about the man who shows up again to help the next day, other than a few random strangers (who are dressed very strangely), stopping him in the street to tell him that the man will be bad for him and to avoid him. Life continues as normal until Peter starts acting strangely and Misha starts getting ready to meet the trick that Peter set up for him, only to find strange gifts awaiting him at home which make no sense at all. Could some weird kind of role-play fantasy be required for this evening? Or is something even stranger going on?
I had some difficulty with this story and I never really felt like I got into it. The way the story is told is by Misha's point of view, and since he knows nothing about what is really happening, we don't either. Of course, some things are obvious, like the paranormal aspect of the story, but the how and why isn't revealed until the very end of the story. In that case, it was hard for me to see this as a romance, especially since we don't get to know the scarred man very well. Secondly, much of my confusion lasted after I had finished the story. I didn't really understand the paranormal world that they inhabited. Parallel worlds? I'm still not sure. And even at the end, I still wasn't sure what had happened that precipitated the story and set it in motion, as well as who some of the charters were. For me to believe in the HEA, I felt like I needed to understand those things.
So, unfortunately, I couldn't really get behind this story. While I liked the idea, I felt like a lot of time was devoted to showing Misha in his life before the fated events occur, leaving me a little confused and wishing things were explained a little better, or at least organized differently. Of course, that's my opinion and others might feel differently. For the most part, I really like this author's work, so I'll continue to keep reading what she writes :)...more
I've come to expect cute, short and easy to read stories from Mell Eight, and this was no exception. In many waysReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I've come to expect cute, short and easy to read stories from Mell Eight, and this was no exception. In many ways it is a prelude to a story, because at only 8k words we really only get some background, the "meeting" between the romantic pair, and the mating between the two.
Neero's older brother Lex is the alpha of their little pack of misfits, and the power has gone a bit to his head. They've become somewhat disreputable after the death of their former Alpha, who was loved and revered, but with Lex's ascension to the role as their currently strongest wolf, the pack has fallen on hard times. They're broke and live in squalor and have very little protection. In the past, Neero has had to take numerous jobs to earn money to feed the pack, but lately he's been having to do it to earn money to feed Lex's obsession with showering the woman he's courting with the jewels and finery that she requests.
Lex approaches Neero and compels him to sell himself for $10,000 -- enough money to keep Lex's girlfriend happy and buy her the diamonds she wants for her Halloween costume. Yet, the man that Lex ends up staying with is a complete surprise.
Okay, obviously Lex is an asshole, right? Yeah, that's what I thought too. I felt like we got to know him enough that we could understand his motivations for what he did, but I also didn't quite feel like we got to know him any further, or enough for me to forgive him for being an utter asshole, a TERRIBLE brother, and an extremely poor leader of the pack. It isn't a huge deal, because he isn't the main character in this story, but he does relate directly to the actions of Leero and the man he goes to meet that night and then comes to mate with, simply because of the way they treat him. This was basically the whole story and while I liked it… it just wasn't enough for me.
I'm still having some trouble with this author's work because while I always like what is presented to me, with this story I again feel like I was waiting for more of the story. We don't really see any romance between the main couple and we get to know only the bare bones of their lives. Sure, this works well as a Halloween snippet (though it isn't scary in any way, that's okay though), but as a standalone story and even more as a romance, I didn't get what I needed for the story to feel complete.
So I'd say to go into this story without expecting a full story and you might enjoy it if that is what you want. Sometimes that is nice to read and I certainly liked the story, but again I felt like this was a Mell Eight story that ended before much really happened or was explained....more
Ryan and Jason each have a crush on the other -- though for separate reasons they've kept it secret. Their friendReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Ryan and Jason each have a crush on the other -- though for separate reasons they've kept it secret. Their friendship was forged in their common identity as witches and they both belong to the same coven. Jason is a bit of a rule-breaker, and also a secret rent boy. Ryan, because of his feelings for Jason, will do anything Jason wants. So, on Halloween, they both find themselves going against the rules of the coven and practicing magic on the night of the thinnest veil. The rules were there for good reason, because the ghost that comes to their call has enough power to take over their lives, their bodies and their decisions until he gets exactly what he came for.
Coming in at a rather short 6,400 words, this story still manages to cover quite a bit of ground, split between three different character's POV. And while I did find it a good way to maximize space in the plot, the quick transitions between characters (who most of the time were not in the same scene, but switching between different ones, back and forth) drove me a little nuts. It was like whiplash -- such quick turnarounds that I couldn't quite keep up with what was going on the pace became so quick.
It works in the form that it is in, but I still would have liked the story better if we'd had more time between Ryan and Jason. As it is, we don't get to know them very well, especially Ryan, and all we really get to know about Jason is his profession. So, I had a hard time really seeing a connection between the two, other than a simple crush and maybe more. Without knowing more about them and getting to see some more time with them together, I didn't see any chemistry.
So, while I found the story cute, and it definitely has a lesson to teach about seizing love where you can, it wasn't more than a So So read for me....more
I think just about everyone knows how much I love Megan Derr by now. I finally got to meet her at GRL and she wasReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I think just about everyone knows how much I love Megan Derr by now. I finally got to meet her at GRL and she was so sweet. This story is similar in a lot of ways to her other stories and enough of a divergence from the shorts I'm accustomed to reading from her (mostly in tone) that it was a surprise and delight to read.
Chanda is quite an old incubus, but nowhere near in age to the unusual demon that visits his brothel, the Honey Flower House. The demon intrigues Chanda from the start -- even though he has good reason to avoid their kind forever. He must have been summoned by an incredibly powerful man, because even if he doesn't look it, the demon is the most powerful that Chanda has come across in all his centuries. And that makes Chanda nervous, even though the demon tries to woo him, however forcefully.
Aside from his games, the demon has been summoned to find a young noble who has fled before his arranged marriage. Yet, if Chanda understands who exactly the demon and his summoner is searching for, then something else must be going on other than simply running away from a charmed life. To get to the bottom of the mystery, the demon will need Chanda and his particular brand of lustful magic. Unfortunately for the demon, Chanda has no desire to fall for him. And it is a key phrase -- "fall for" -- because unlike most other beings of lust, Chanda wants to fall in love more than anything.
Megan Derr really has the short story down well. She has a certain style in the short format and this story does all those things again, quite well. There is enough plot, characterizations, and world building to take this story much further, but the quick pace and the lack of backtracking to give a lot of the history that we often see in fantasy shorts means that the story really seems well planned and plotted beforehand. It makes for a smooth read where the format and length work perfectly with the story. And if you can end a story and think that pretty much the only thing you would have wanted differently was more time with the characters, then the author can really work within the limitations of a short. It is difficult and errors and problems are much easier to spot in the short form, we all know this, so that's why I appreciate this author and the fairly large amount of short stories she produces.
The real meat of this story is the sexual tension and emotional and physical chemistry between Chanda and the demon. Even though we get the story from Chanda's point of view, he holds everything close to the vest, even away from the reader. So the release of information about him is selective. In many ways the demon acts in a classic way, or at least to my expectations of the behavior of a demon -- he is aggressive, wily and deceiving, and has a unique moral compass. Together, though, I felt as if they tempered one another and there is a bit of a power struggle that comes into play between them. The demon's acts of dominance (yet earnestness) and Chanda's obstinacy (yet willing submission) betrays the roles they play in seduction. It was nice, seeing them strip those away as they get to know each other through their search. It adds a bit of enemies to lovers style flair to the story.
This story probably doesn't stand up there among my favorite Megan Derr short stories, but it is still memorable and well written. I particularly liked the evolution in tone from quite dark in the beginning to almost fairy tale happiness in the end. The best Halloween Rent Boys story that I've read yet. Recommended :)...more
Part of the beauty of this story, for me, was that the blurb reveals very little about the world. In keReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Part of the beauty of this story, for me, was that the blurb reveals very little about the world. In keeping with that, I'll forgo a summary here as well. The world is truly what made this story special. Though definitely a romance, and quite sweet as well, the world is what captured my interest and which allows the romance to develop. When we start the story, all we know is that there is a mysterious "candidate" that Eneko is looking for, and that his success in eluding capture is what is causing the terrible drenching rains that has made their city ground to a halt. Rain plays a major role here, thought the control of the elements is seen as a magic above any other, and the reason finding the candidate is so important.
The rather atmospheric setting immediately sets the mood during the early part of the story. What I found intriguing, though, was that it also sets a mysterious tone. Their city is literally falling apart at the seams, because of so much rain, something usually seen as a symbolic renewal, but which in this story shows a pervasive sadness over the city. That juxtaposition is carried forward in the story as we meet the characters and learn a bit more about the world. I always felt just a little off balance and didn't really know where the story was going. That's why I loved not having much information about the world before starting the story. Without knowing that, we don't really know what is going on, what a "candidate" is and why it is important. This is also shown in the rent boys, as we get to know them. They know more than anyone that you have to be careful who you can trust, and it led me to wonder what type of government or hierarchical system the city had and whether it could be trusted. I appreciated that we're pulled into the story that way not only through the rent boys' distrust of Eneko and who he represents, but that the world around them literally reflects that.
Of course, the focus of the story was separated from the romance in some respects, because the romance develops bit by bit between the rest of the story. That meant that we ended the story with a little less romance than I had hoped for. It really depends on what you like to get out of a romance short story whether this will satisfy you or not (in the romance department, anyway). The world and story itself was pretty well done and definitely satisfying for me. Also, I don't have a problem with characters taking it slow and ending the story with only a promise of more, without the romance quite yet off the ground. So, while I would have liked to see more between Eneko and Lain, I still thoroughly enjoyed this story. It ended up being one of my favorite of the Halloween Rentboy stories from Less Than Three Press. Of course, I've long been a fan of this author and will continue to be. In many ways, this story is right up her alley and something that fans of the author and her past work (especially other shorts) will like. Recommended!...more
Claud is in love (or in thrall may be a better word) with his sire and creator Silas. Over half a century ago SilReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Claud is in love (or in thrall may be a better word) with his sire and creator Silas. Over half a century ago Silas approached Claud on a train as he left the city to return to his home, depressed after being spurned by his society girlfriend and the loss of their perfectly arranged marriage. But, Silas offers a different opportunity and a new path in a life that to Claud seemed highly restrictive for a gay man. Now, they've formed a relationship of sorts. It isn't quite love -- well, it is from Claud -- but the opportunity to serve Silas in his needs and act as a nightly companion is more than Claud could ever ask for. They have a routine of sorts: wake, fuck, feed and find their prey for the night. This is where Claud can offer Silas the most. His talents lie in his predatory instincts and the thrill of hunting a human for the night. Blood isn't just sustenance, but also an aphrodisiac and vampires such s themselves need sex as much as feeding. And Claud has been following a new tasty morsel for over a week now, perfectly poised to make a connection on this night.
I read this story in particular because it seemed like rather sexy erotica, and for the most part I was right. Readers who are looking for romance should probably look elsewhere. While it isn't much of a time commitment, it might be disappointing to find mostly just a sexual encounter and little lasting connection. While there is a relationship between Claud and Silas and the author makes an effort to show some evolution of that relationship within the story, it isn't enough to classify this as a romance. The large amount of sex only makes this more like erotica. That didn't bother me, but it does change my standards for review and rating. I will forgive more in terms of style, plot, and character in erotica than I will in romance. If I were rating this as a romance, it would probably rate lower on my scale.
That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. The encounter between Claud, Silas, and the hustler they pick up, Jimmie, is incredibly sexy and takes up the majority of the story, minus some backstory and a bit with Claud and Silas alone in present time. Kink comes into in through some power play (2 dominant vampires looking for a plaything) and a bit of bondage and blood play. I wouldn't classify this as BDSM because I didn't feel as if it were a primary aspect of the story, but some might.
I was a bit disappointed with some of the sex scenes. The encounter lasts through the night, but is broken up into segments and the story seemed to skip pretty quickly between them. I liked the beginning quite a lot, the suspense, the "hunt" from Claud's point of view. But I found most of that tension to be gone once the sex started, so the scenes sort of blurred together for me with little separation, without much buildup and release, or ebb and flow within them. I suppose I was hoping for a little more impact.
I think this short story works well for the Halloween time. Though the holiday doesn't come into the story at all, it is seen through the eyes of a vampire as he hunts among the human population and the game of cat and mouse that both of the vampires enjoy was pretty creepy and nicely written.
In all, this was a So So story for me. I found it pretty sexy, but nothing incredibly special to remember it by....more
I have to tell you… I did not expect the story I got when I started reading this. I'm not even sure whatReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I have to tell you… I did not expect the story I got when I started reading this. I'm not even sure what I expected really -- something funny/facetious?. To be honest, I tend to not expect much when I read a first time author, or at least an author I haven't heard of and I took a chance to review this when the author contacted me for review. Well, I'm really glad I did, because this turned out to be another book I loved that I hadn't heard anything about before reading that I've gotten this fall for review (the first was JC Lillis' awesome YA novel, How to Repair a Mechanical Heart).
Though the cover and title don't suggest much in the way of good plot and writing, the reference to the much argued about "mommy porn" book actually has a place in the story. Andrew has always been straight, and he's always been afraid of gay men. Of course, that all stems from finding his father in bed with his favorite teacher in school, and the subsequent trauma of the breakup of his family and his school life turning upside down. Bitten by the acting bug at a young age, Andrew doesn't find many opportunities in small town Kansas, but finds himself looking for work in New York City when his sister, who moved to the city for an adventure a few years prior, is diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. Now Andrew finds himself a primary caregiver and looking for difficult to find work in a difficult economy. When the bills start to pile up, Andrew admits that he needs to find work, now -- and waiting for a well paying acting job just isn't smart when he has to consider his sister's care.
Andrew's neighbor is the proprietor of a stable of escorts and offers him a job. Sure, he's straight, but he's also an actor, and what better role than this could there be to test his chops? It might even help him get over his aversion to gay men. But he doesn't really know what he's getting into, and even though he's memorized the laws and isn't being pressured into sex for pay, he knows that that's where the extra (and big) money is. Could he do something like that? He's forced to face up to all his preconceived notions, his fears, his family history, and the possibility that his sexuality might be a lot more fluid than he ever allowed himself to consider as he goes out on job after job. And the worst, or maybe best, is a repeat customer: Cormac Donovan, a republican congressman from California who is nothing like he ever suspected.
Don't be mistaken, what might seem from the blurb a lighthearted tale is really quite a serious book that deals with several heavy issues. First and foremost is the extremely frank, honest and real look at what cancer does to a patient and the people around them, supporting them. I know firsthand what that is like from my mother, who cared for my grandmother as she died from cancer in our home. This book shows all sides of that, in a very frank and honest way. Very little of the details are spared, just as the bond grows stronger between the siblings and love and laughter are shown as well. But, take this as a warning for some who might be sensitive to the issue. I was very impressed with the level of dedication and emotion written about this, and it was the undercurrent that brought the rest of the story together.
Two parts of Andrew's life as an escort are shown in this book, that rarely, if ever, meet. First, are the few men that Andrew meets first at a pool party put on by a wealthy Indian man along with several of the other escorts. Paresh takes a particular "shine", shall we say, to Andrew who can't help but show his green colors. No matter how good of an actor Andrew thinks he is, it is obvious to most that he's new to his job and straight. But for Paresh, that is a turn on, and his repeat business (along with the other people and intense situations that come along with him), awaken Andrew to the sort of self-reflection that he needs the most. On the other hand is Cormac, the republican congressman who takes Andrew on dates, starts to fall in love with him and at the same time touts his party's line views of "Family Values." I liked that you could measure Andrew's real feelings, maybe even subconscious feelings, by how reactions to seeing Cormac on television, going along with the republican values that he uses to stay elected and as he says, do some good from the inside. But his feelings for Cormac are confusing, and they definitely have a real and possibly lasting relationship, if you take away the impossibility the outside world represents to them and their vast differences.
But really, what brought this story to a higher level for me was Andrew. He's a great character. He really considers himself and works through his feelings, which allows him to change. Part of that is done through writing his memoir, Fifteen Shades of Gay (for Pay). Though he finds it difficult to put certain things into word (like his sister's illness and his sexual experiences, he's still working through it in his head. So, along with the different aspects of his life that are woven into his narrative, we really get to his his reaction and thoughts with it, and they go quite deep. I felt like I got to know him really well, and even more than that, I liked him.
I definitely recommend this one. Don't let the title fool you! But be sure check out this book and give it a chance -- it is worth it....more
This is a cute little story that is pretty well described by the blurb. Jordan is lonely, pushing into his mid-thReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
This is a cute little story that is pretty well described by the blurb. Jordan is lonely, pushing into his mid-thirties and devoted to his career. But the real reason he doesn't have a lasting relationship is because no man can stand up to the memory of his first love, no matter how unrequited it was. When he was a teenager, Jordan was in love with Gabe, his best friend Elijah's older brother. The sad thing is that maybe, just maybe Gabe felt the same way about Jordan as he did him, but then again maybe not. When Jordan's friends pester him to develop a social and romantic life and take some time off work, he decides to buy a prostitute. When he shows up for the appointment at the man's house, who should answer the door but Gabe?
For the most part this story is pretty well self-described. It doesn't deviate from the blurb at all and it is rather short, so the blurb suffices to tell most of the story. I liked Jordan and Gabe well enough, thought I didn't ever really feel that connected to them. It might be because of the length, or it could be because in that small amount of time neither really stood out that much and the story was pretty generic. It was still solidly well written, it just didn't offer much from the norm.
The best parts of this story and the parts that really stood out and had some personality were the flashbacks. It is so surprising for me to admit this, I usually hate flashbacks, but they really worked for me. There are only a few, and they don't take up much of the story, but they have a lot of personality, showing the time Jordan spent with Elijah and Gabe during his teen years, going to a Foo Fighters concert and the way he felt connected to Gabe for the first time. I would have liked to know more about the friendship between Jordan and Elijah, however, and how Elijah feels about their relationship in the present. Somehow that seemed overlooked since they talk about him and telling him and the brothers' parents, but not how he felt about it.
This works well as a short. It is cute and sweet and definitely good for when you want a quick, painless read. I like this author and I always know when I pick up one of her books what I can expect (at least so far)....more
This is the first historical that I've read in a while. I find that they aren't usually my favorites andReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
This is the first historical that I've read in a while. I find that they aren't usually my favorites and no matter how, looking back, I may have enjoyed them I always find it an uphill battle to become interested in one. I usually quit not too far into the story simply from lack of interest. That didn't happen here, and it was for one reason only. The usual reason is heat -- if the story is excessively smutty I can usually get into it, lol. This story has very little sex and then that is rarely explicit. Instead the mysterious secrets kept by Benedict Wilmot and his search into the life of Preston Meacham was what kept me interested. It might stand to reason that if I read more historical fiction that I might find this story unoriginal, I don't know. However, because I don't often read it, I found this story to be a new one to me and completely engaging and exceedingly well written. How I have several books by this author but had yet to read one I have no idea. I will be rectifying that mistake very, very soon.
After mistaking his employers actions as advances, Preston is thrown out in fear of his life and left only to retreat with his earlier heartbreak and scars from the war and battle at Salamanca at a molly house. There, he escapes into his desires and memories of his fallen lover and comrade in the daily sale of his body. Benedict Wilmot has secrets of his own, ones that have broken him down into a scarred man with only his pride and conscience to drive him. That absolution lies in with Preston Meacham, who is unaware that his knowledge of his own history is incomplete. Seeking to protect and care for the man he inadvertently wronged, Ben finds his way to the molly house to make Preston's acquaintance, only to start a relationship with him that quickly moves past client and whore and towards lovers. Ben's obsession, however, with the appeasement of the guilt he's shouldered can lead only to the destruction of everything Preston has ever known about himself and their newfound relationship.
The strength of this story lies with the deliverance of information to the reader along with the pace. The story is perfectly timed in doing both and in it's resolution. I most often find that authors might not give timing and pace the same concern as plot, but then the latter cannot be successful without the former. I was happy to see that this author, who I had formerly not read, worked with this. I think part of it comes from the plot, yes, but also the inherent structure of a historical novella. While I would not call this a exploration of the Victorian novel, it does retain some reminiscent form, through the rigid and well placed structure of plot, timing and pacing.
I mistakenly went into this story expecting a BDSM relationship. While there is some level of kink, it isn't fundamental to the relationship in the way that most would expect. Without explaining why, as that is an inherent part of the secrets Ben holds, I think that readers who are looking for historical BDSM should be cautioned that they won't find it here. Not only in how it relates to the story and characters, but also in the fact that there's very little of it and what is part of the story is extremely small and unexplored.
This is definitely a story that I would recommend and I'm excited to read more of this author's work. I was pleasantly surprised with the level of writing and I thoroughly enjoyed the story....more