I have to admit that this was one of the books that I read back in May when I decidedReview posted as part of Lou Harper week at The Armchair Reader.
I have to admit that this was one of the books that I read back in May when I decided to review Lou Harper's backlist that I read immediately because I already had it and then promptly forgot to review it. I had an oopsie moment this week when I started to write the review because I've read so many college themed stories in the past few months that I wanted to be sure I completely remembered everything. And that's kindof a big deal when you think back to how well you remember books that you've read because how much you remember the book and how you felt about it says what impact it makes on you. So when I opened the book again for a little refresher read, it immediately came storming back to me.
I wrote a review yesterday for Hanging Loose where I talked quite a bit about my happiness that that book took the plot completely through the romance, instead of stopping early on in their relationship. Of course, there is an exception to every rule -- no author or book is the same. But, I've read quite a few books that just take the story up to the honeymoon phase and then leave things at that, and my disappointment when at that point the book often feels unfinished. Academic Pursuits is the one major exception to that, in that this book is really about self-discovery over the romance and your feelings about this book will most likely depend entirely on how you like Jamie. We first meet him while he's initiating Hollins, another straight frat boy, into the joys of gay sex, something he's grown quite the reputation for. But Jamie isn't really that great at reading situations or people, which shows in his ignorance of how some people at his college view his promiscuity. And the promiscuity really suits Jamie just fine. He loves sex and he's rather charming and good looking, and he certainly makes no mistake about what sex with him entails. In fact, he often makes sure that he's not leading a guy along. He makes no excuses because he's rather happy with his life and the way he lives it. It isn't really until he meets Roger that those perceptions start to change. At first, all he knows about Roger is that the man seems to hate him, which is a shame because the artist is really pretty sexy. It isn't until the two run into each other enough to finally really start getting to know the other, when they can break down the facade they both see in the other.
I really kindof liked Jamie because he's so at home in his skin. He makes no secret of his sexual liaisons nor his intentions. He isn't playing anyone. He just likes sex and has no need to settle down. Nor has he met anyone yet that he feels that way about. I totally got that. But that also means that he has sex with multiple partners, even after he's met Roger. So for those who really like their main characters to stick with each other and to have a pretty pure romance plot, this might not be your book. For most of the book, he and Roger aren't together. The course of their romance on-page is in the barely getting to know you's, and then later in the book Jamie's change in perception about his feelings for Roger, what that means for him, and his understanding about Roger's perception of him. This really is a book of self-discovery. Jamie is spending his college years having casual sex and it is only with serious feelings for someone that he starts to understand how others might have viewed him, and also how he wants to change. Not really because his behavior was bad, but because it just doesn't suit him anymore.
I'll let you discover the details yourself, but there's a lot else in this book to like, like his cousin/roommate Jo who is totally awesome, and his own matchmaking efforts for her and for some of his conquests. And you know, for a guy in college, his sexual portrayal is pretty spot-on, you know? The whole reputation as a seducer of straight frat boys might put a funny spin on the situation, but I liked that this was a pretty accurate portrayal of college life.
So, don't miss out on this one folks. It's pretty short at 29k words and it's a fun read. And I didn't even feel like I needed a sequel!...more
I don't know why I haven't read this until now! I absolutely loved it -- I really did. It was all of what Mary CaReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I don't know why I haven't read this until now! I absolutely loved it -- I really did. It was all of what Mary Calmes writes that is my favorite and the epitome of her contemporary romances that I've grown to love. It is definitely my favorite book of her's that I've read so far, and I've liked many of them.
Nate, or Dr. Qells, is a English Lit professor who everyone loves. He's close to his ex-wife and her husband and they've got a kid together. He's got one closeted ex on the Chicago police force that always seems to show up at inopportune times, and another man named Sean, an ex-student and now a surgeon, who he's gone out on a few dates with. Then, there is Michael and Dreo, his neighbors and the little family he has created around himself now that his own son has fled the nest. Nate doesn't speak to Dreo much, but they seem to be raising Michael together. Michael is a 16 year old kid and Dreo is his 27 year old uncle, so they need a little help -- especially since Dreo is doesn't talk about who he works for, but he's some kind of muscle for an Italian man and he always carries a gun. It isn't difficult to put two and two together. But Michael is like his own son, and when life takes a turn for the absurd (in several different ways), Dreo and Nate start getting to know each other better -- only to find that there's a fire there Nate has never felt for another person.
Acrobat has a distinct style that is all Mary Calmes. It reminded me of a somewhat subdued A Matter of Time in some respects, in that the situation sometimes takes a turn towards truth being stranger than fiction. Also, some readers have trouble with this author's characters, who often are very physically perfect and perfect in other ways too. That is certainly the case here. With the exception of some people who might want to kill him, Nate is universally loved -- I mean LOVED. He's held as an ideal among many. Sometime I feel like if this were the case written from any other author I would hate it, but Mary's writing is often so tongue in cheek and at times absolutely hilarious that I can totally buy it. It gives the story a kind of bounce that is helped along by her trademark banter dialogue that can sometimes go on for pages and pages between characters. That happens several times here between Nate and Michelle, his ex-wife who is still his best friend. In fact, the book opens with one of these scenes full of funny dialogue and it gives the characters a certain charm that you either click with or don't. I'm glad that I do.
Dreo is such a great character. I honestly don't know if I've read anything that just…. HOT in a long, long time. Dreo just about burned up my Kindle, with his Alpha Dominance and Italian sweet nothings, he was totally drool-worthy. The cast of secondary characters in this book is really wonderful and they each have a charm of their own, but also charm as a group and family that surrounds Nate. I would have loved if Nate's son had gotten some page time (at least, in person). I try not to say this very often, but I sure would love to read more of this one. If only it were just the first book of a series, then i could get even more of Dreo in the future!
This was a perfect book to start my Author Backlist Project. It has everything I adore about Mary Calmes' books. I'm getting a little bit sad that the majority of her books I've read have been her contemporaries, and while I also enjoy her paranormals, I certainly enjoy the contemporaries more :) I was going to finish the Warder series after this, starting next Saturday, but since I loved this book so much I decided to read Mine. Hopefully I'll love it too!...more
You know, more than any other story from last year's Hot Summer Days event put on by the GoodReads M/M Romance Group, I've heard amazing things about this one. I've always wanted to read it, but you know how things go, certain stories, no matter how wonderful they may be, end up getting pushed back to read shiny, newer books or stories. I was so happy that Kaje Harper was taking part in our Canadian Authors event, because the chance to finally read this story ended up being one of the best things that could have happened. Who knows how long it might have been before I had time to read this story? A lot of you have probably read this by now as well -- it certainly has an amazing overall rating at GoodReads and was probably one of the most well known stories to come out of that event last summer. If you haven't though, I'm here to tell you that it is up there with the best shorts I've read in this genre, and for me, not only did Kaje seem to make all the right choices in telling this story, but those choices together transcended the sum of it's parts, having a really solid and touching message of love overcoming obstacles.
The story is told as one long memory, bracketed in the beginning and end by the couple, Jack and Sean, as a committed partnership in the present. One look in Sean's eyes over a morning bowl of cereal brings back the memory of how they met and how their floundering, socially challenged relationship came to be during the 80's. It is peppered throughout with liberal references to music and pop culture, grounding the story in the time and told through the lens of a star-crossed, college and townie, West Side Story pairing. Jack is a scholarship kid to a liberal arts college in the middle of nowhere, corn maze Iowa, and Sean is a local mechanic, running with the townies and secretly gay. They first meet during a clash of the two groups involving paint, vandalism and almost bruised knuckles and proceed to form a unique and private relationship away from the town's judgmental eyes. But the fear is always there, that their secret will come out and they'll have nowhere to go, trapped in a situation that seems to have no salvation, the only choice to fight or flee.
I think what is so successful about this story is the balance that Kaje Harper uses to bring the pieces of this story together. There are the cultural references that automatically stand out to anyone who lived through the 80's, which is going to be most readers. There is also the balance of choosing which scenes are most important when writing a story that has enough there to fill a novel. Then, there is the balance of scene to narration. Narration is such a great vehicle to bring forward a character's voice, but it can be so often overly used, in which case we feel cheated out of experiencing the story along with the characters. Of course, showing vs. telling is a basic lesson for authors to learn, but it can also be difficult to balance properly when you are employing narration with the use of memory or flashbacks, especially when the story covers years. I think that it is a difficult thing to pull off well, but Kaje Harper seems to really have a handle on that -- I've read several works of hers that she's done this very well. Still, I think this story showcases the talents of her writing the best.
This really is a powerful story. If I didn't have to worry about spoiling anyone's enjoyment, there is a lot more I would talk about, especially the character's decisions in the end of the story, which surprised me with their bravery and was a bit humbling to read. I respected the hell out of these characters and I thought they were genuine in the way they came across to me.
I think that this is also a story that we can all really enjoy because it is about a time that everyone (hopefully) has in their lives. A memory of a summer, or any time in your youth where the world opened up and there were choices before you and your life seemed full of endless possibility and joy. Through that, we connect with the story and characters and understand what it is then like when that idealism is tempered with reality and we inevitably become a bit jaded. Those memories never go away, and pulling them out, dusting them off, and revisiting them gives us a little hope. To read a story like this, for me, was a different way of connecting with that endless spirit of adventure....more
Whew! Okay, am I done reading? I can't tell, I'm still stuck in the book. Actually, my body is. My blood pressureReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Whew! Okay, am I done reading? I can't tell, I'm still stuck in the book. Actually, my body is. My blood pressure is up, I feel feverish, my hands are shaking. Because of the smut? No, no smut, it was because I was white-knuckling through the angst. I had to cheer myself through this book. Just read another 10% and then you can have a soda! Now, I've read angstier books than this one, way more. It is just that I'm not a big fan of it and avoid angst at all costs. This is what happens when you haven't read any reviews! Still, I really enjoyed the book and not all of it was so intense, just portions. In all, I think this is a really wonderfully written novel with so many things done right.
Spanning almost 3 years, Fair Catch tells the story of Blake and Alex and their relationship amid high school football and later life pulling them in opposite directions. Told in a dual point of view with brief scenes told by other secondary characters, both Blake and Alex have to balance their present and future possible football careers while keeping a solid grip on their relationship. Drawn together like wildfire while Blake is a Sophomore and backup quarterback for the Mustangs and Alex is a Junior and starting kicker for the town's rival high school, the Patriots, they somehow bridge the teams rivalries easily, starting a sweet and intense relationship right off. As time progresses, though, different factions lean heavily on them and their relationship seems doomed to fail. College recruiters are vying for Alex, who has placed state records while Blake is still languishing as backup and not getting attention. Also, the machismo of college football means that they have to be very careful about being out, and may have to go back in the closet altogether.
Perfect setup for a failure of their relationship, right? While I can't deny that I might have not read this book if I knew how emotional it might be, I'm really glad that I did. I think I have a hard time with angst because it often seems needless. To me, I don't always need to see men in their 20s, 30s and above wallowing like teenagers, even though it might be more reasonable in real life. Here though, Alex and Blake are teenagers, so I gave them a lot more leeway. They never wallowed in their emotions more than I expected of them, and in fact, both tended to ignore their emotions -- thus, the nature of the conflict.
The same stands for older characters. I usually can't quite connect with older characters who make simple mistakes like miscommunication, simply because those are things you learn from when you're younger. If the author makes me believe that they have a particular reason for acting the way they do, then I'll allow it, but here it is almost their nature as such young men to make these mistakes, and I simply couldn't fault them for that. In the end, it's all about the fact that at least they learn and try to make themselves and their relationship better.
That leads me to what I found most engaging about the writing of Del Darcy. The characters are young, and they act young. Still, however, they have that invincibility and freedom from the fear of mortality that comes from such a young age. Things hurt more, there are more possibilities, every experience seems heightened because it is new. These characters don't act like an adult pandering to children -- they smoke, drink, have sex (mostly fade to black). Both Alex and Blake have varying real interactions with their families, staying out all night and getting grounded, driving drunk. I appreciated that the author seemed to understand that honesty is really the best policy. This made the book all the more real to me, and was the main reason that I felt so immersed in the story from the first page, making it more difficult to remove myself later when things get tough.
There are lots of little details here that I loved. The cultural references left me in doubt as to what time this story actually occurs. I went from thinking late 90s to mid 00s, but I couldn't ever be totally sure. The high volume of detail about football was remarkable and as only a minor fan I was happy that I could follow along. It isn't distracting to someone who might not know football (only a few scenes are actually about plays and games), but the wealth of detail about college sports was wonderful and kept me right in there with the story. There's a part about NYC later in the novel that was really wonderful and written well to show Blake's maturity that I just loved -- the city was written so well.
In the end, I'd classify this story has an HFN, simply because while I feel like this couple could make it forever, they have such a tough road ahead of them. I was pleased with all the choices this author made to stay in the story and tell the real bits, no matter how hard they were to read for me. I'm sure there must be pressure from all different sides to make different ones, but I was happy that the characters stayed true to themselves.
Very well done! I'll be looking out for this author in the future....more
I never read the original story that was then expanded into this book. It was part of last year's Goodreads M/M RReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I never read the original story that was then expanded into this book. It was part of last year's Goodreads M/M Romance Group's Hot Summer Days, and like many of those stories I missed this one. I'm glad now, because I really loved reading this novella and I can't imagine having read this story and not gotten all I did here, in this expanded edition. There's quite a bit of angst (well, for me -- not really for others probably), but it is very necessary to the relationship.
Kurt is a freshman at NYU and has made the swim team. In actuality, he's very good, with tons of potential, but he can't see it because of his terrible self-confidence and he's also been lagging in his times lately because he came out to his parents and friends only to have everyone reject him. Now, he's convinced they are kicking him off the team. James Theard, the team's captain is his saving grace. He's given the task of helping Kurt by the coach, and sure, he can help him get his times up with work on technique. It isn't long though, that he sees that isn't the real problem. Kurt is down on himself constantly, and combined with the blushes on his face in the locker room, he thinks he might know why that is. After all, he went through something similar and thinks that might be why the coach told him to work with Kurt.
The problem is that Kurt has dealt with some other issues, deeper issues. Those things are what first obliterated his confidence and self-worth and being abandoned by his parents and friends was just the final straw that told him he was really worthless. When James starts to fall for Kurt, and vice versa, it isn't just about swimming anymore, but James wanting Kurt to be the best man that he can be, and for them to have the possibility of a real relationship.
This is the first book that I've read in quite a while that I felt really hit the college mark. It isn't just about getting in college parties and classes and details right, but it is really about getting the characters right. College, for most people, is such a pivotal part of growing up that is all about emotional growth, especially for a freshman. Kurt was written really, really well, I thought, and I liked that as he progressed under James' tutelage that those details were covered as well, friends, roommates. It isn't easy going for these guys either. The author gives both characters' points of view in a way that works to show their different levels of maturity. Even though James is constantly in the shadow of Kurt's problems, it also shows that he's subtly facing problems himself. First off, how to control his raging libido and not hurt Kurt. How to deal with the real possibility that he could so easily manipulate him, and how hard it can be not the let the first overshadow the second.
It has got to be difficult to write a story like this and make James a supportive boyfriend without coming across as too perfect, and while I worried about that while I was reading, I never really felt like he was too perfect. He did just what he needed to do for Kurt while also looking out for himself, and I appreciated that. It helped keep the balance in a relationship that is often outlined by their imbalance in power and emotional maturity. I don't really want to go into the issues he faces, because the details themselves aren't really important, other than as an obstacle in their growing relationship. Still, no one should fear having any problems with them, they're off page.
Having spend so much time around NYU, I really would have loved more little details, even more of the little NYC details that I picked up in the story, but I did find some and I appreciated that. This story, while it isn't something that I would usually pick up was written very well with a lot of care for real issues. It walked a very fine edge for me. It could have spectacularly failed in several ways, but I think this author really pulled it off and I ended up really liking it. It definitely captured parts of the college experience that I haven't read in this genre with authenticity to a city school, and NYC is different than any city :)...more
I was very eager to read this follow up to Frat Boy and Toppy when I saw that the author was carrying on into a sReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I was very eager to read this follow up to Frat Boy and Toppy when I saw that the author was carrying on into a series. Not simply because I liked that book so much, because I really did, but also because I was really eager to see how Anne Tenino would redeem Paul. In Frat Boy, Paul was the bastard friend of Sebastian, who was livid that his friend was falling for a brainless jock and frat boy. No matter where their relationship led, every time Paul found himself around Brad (the frat boy jock Sebastian was falling in love with), he couldn't keep his mouth shut. It was obvious that there was more to Paul, other than being stuck up, snobbish, elitist. You could tell that there was a real aversion to jocks, just that he's too proud to say why. Love, Hypothetically gives us that story, plunked straight into the middle of Paul's neuroses, and showing the way he looks at the world around him.
Paul uses dark humor, elitism, and arrogance to cover the depth of the hurt that his one real relationship caused him. His first love, Trevor, chose his promising baseball career over their relationship in the most humiliating and sacrificial way -- a pain he never dealt with, and consequently altered him into the jaded and untrusting graduate student he currently is. Now, Trevor is back and Paul doesn't know what to do about it. He can't face his own feelings honestly, and the friends he once had who could have done it for him he has pushed away. Trevor is asking for forgiveness and a chance to see if they can rekindle their old relationship, but Paul doesn't know if he can trust him again.
Though shorter, this story definitely lived up to my hopes, having really enjoyed the first book about Brad and Sebastian. Paul is an interesting character himself, and I think that the reason he's compelling is that we get to know him first through Brad's POV, in the first book. Paul doesn't treat him well, and for most of the book comes off as a bitter bastard. Now, sinking into Paul's own point of view gives us a chance to understand him better. I expected a different character, honestly. I thought Paul would be a little more lost, but what we see here is a character who, while he might have a skewed perception about some things, is very frankly real about his own shortcomings. He knows that he's bitter, that he keeps his friends at an arm's length. The real problem is that he doesn't know if he can change that, or even if he wants to. Getting close to people is what got him in trouble in the first place.
For the most part, I'm not a fan of flashbacks, and I was worried when Chapter 2 went back to Paul's high school days with Trevor. That doesn't last, for those of you who, like me, aren't fans of going back and forth in time. It's a personal choice that, unless done supremely well, seems to aggravate me endlessly, so I was happy to see that that wasn't the case here. I liked Trevor. He comes off as a stock romance character at first. He's almost perfect (well, at least in in the present time). He's making up for misdeeds and comes in to try to sweep Paul off his feet. In fact, this plot line isn't that original. But still, it becomes it's own story. Paul and Trevor push past the usual plot of relationship failing in the past, to meeting again, to getting to know each other, to having a small problem to work out, to HEA. When they actually get down to talking about how they feel, the author allows Paul to be Paul. In doing so, Paul uses those old defense mechanisms like he really means them. Allowing the character not to hold their punches, to be realistic and not always perfectly understanding gave the story what it needed to come to a successful resolution.
I've been excited and intrigued by this book ever since I got it for review. I had an idea that**spoiler alert** Review posted at The Armchair Reader.
I've been excited and intrigued by this book ever since I got it for review. I had an idea that it was probably based on the popular "bet" plot, and I was right in a way. While there are certainly things to recommend about this book, and I will say that I see so much promise in this author's writing, I was ultimately unsatisfied, for a few reasons.
In short summary (because there so many secrets in this book writing a review is going to be very difficult), Nik shows up at a very rich and pretentious university. He's immediately an outcast, first because he's a scholarship student, and second because he's a transfer with a dubious past at his previous school. He's known for violence, though we don't know for sure just how violent he is, but he's also an iconoclast, whether it is thrust upon him because of his socioeconomic status or his history as an unwanted kid who was bounced around foster homes. He immediately catches the eye of the trio of princes at the school, who in Cruel Intentions/Dangerous Liaisons fashion are filthy rich, entitled, intelligent and bored into cruelty. He's fallen into the trap of their favored game -- a bet to see who can bed him first. They all have their own reasons for winning and are as duplicitous with one another as they are to the students they snare and then toss away.
I think, first, I just didn't expect this to be so tedious. Right off I had a hard time getting into this (even though I will admit to a sick sort of fascination about what would happen) because I couldn't stand any of the characters or the endless lies and games they play. Even Nik, who seems to be the saving grace of the story turned out to disappoint me over and over because he never really stands up for himself, not in any lasting way (and they are cruel to him). Most of this is personal, I assure you, but my feelings do have basis in the story and how it is written.
The problem stems from the fact that we never really know much about any of the characters. When they are cruel to one another, and then seem to change (as they all do at some point), I couldn't believe it because I first needed to understand why they were so cruel. I couldn't allow myself to accept that the melodrama was purely a result of their status. I needed to see who they were before, for some history to be shown about them as to how they came to be the way they are. I couldn't accept that they could change because I felt like I didn't know any of them really. They just felt too 2-dimensional for me to buy into any of their behavior at any time.
The second thing ties into the first -- without the knowledge of who the characters were and how they came to be these… pale imitations of people with feelings, I felt as if I'd been dropped into a setup. Why are they the "kings" and "princes" of the school? There are reasons stated but I never felt like I got the whole picture. We're told that they are the three most intelligent people in the college, academic rivals who are all vying for the valedictorian position. Somehow, the winner of the bet is to take that position, but I never understood what their social lives had to do with their academic scores. Also, Dante makes a statement that the valedictorian position was so coveted because anyone who took it could write their future, but… that's not remotely true in the real world. I suppose I just didn't see it. None of it made sense to me and I consistently felt as if I were supposed to suspend disbelief once again, and finally suspend disbelief in the whole setting. I couldn't do that in the end.
There were a few other things that bothered me, but I allowed myself to overlook them for the most part because I felt like there were bigger concerns, like I've just stated. The biggest, however, was that they were constantly referred to as teens and with the exception of the explicit sex they seemed like they were in high school. Perhaps this doesn't take place in the US, though we never hear about where it does take place, but this school seemed to be much more of a private prep school to me than a university. Other than living off campus, they seemed to have little freedom. For the most part it was just a feeling, but there were little clues there that just made this all seem like high school, rather than college.
The only real thing that I liked about this story was the middle section. It went quite a while where I felt like I was no longer being disappointed by the characters actions and the story was looking to turn around for me. The sex was really, really steamy. Sadly, though, I just felt disappointed again by the ending.
Now, I know that this book wasn't for me and I've said all the reasons why above, extensively. The writing, other than the choices and things I said above, was great. I'll be keeping my eye on this author and looking to see if any future books intrigue me. I've read some reviews of this book by other readers, and my reaction seems to be an anomaly. So I, as always, offer this only as one opinion and if you do read this I hope you really enjoy it. It just wasn't for me and ultimately, I had to rate it and review it that way....more
**Sorry! I forgot to post this one in almost a year, geez louise!**
This author is new to me and on top of the fact that I really enjoy a good college story, I really like the whole student/professor dynamic. I was excited to read this story, because it seemed like a short, sweet and uncomplicated read. I suppose you get what you ask for -- I ended up feeling like this story was just a bit too generic.
Aidan has had a crush on his professor of 19th Century Literature all semester. Now that finals and graduation are near, he's gearing himself up to ask the sexy young professor out. The only problem is working up his nerve. When he finally does go to see him, he realizes that he's going to have to do all the work. Simon is overworked to exhaustion and seems quite reluctant to start any sort of relationship. Is the man even gay? Aidan isn't sure when a fellow, female student seems to be doing the same thing as him.
The best part of this story, for me, was the first half when Aidan is forced to gather his courage and woo his professor. There was a dancing sort of banter that was fun to watch. Aidan was quite shy, awkwardly dropping blatant hints then clamoring back into his shell in mortification. It was cute knowing that somehow these two would end up together. Once they started dating, I found that they were much less interesting and seemed to be following a pretty bland and typical course.
On a personal level, I couldn't connect with the story. I didn't really ever see any chemistry between the two. The problem with writing a relationship with either an age difference or a question of authority is that at some point the dynamic has to change. For that to happen, we have to really get to know the characters. This was just to short to do that to my satisfaction, though we get to know Aidan (and his history) more than Simon. That left me reading the end feeling like they were still student and professor, and that was just awkward because they weren't playing off of that dynamic. Simon seemed as if he needed to move very slowly, and then he seems to change without cause just for the story's convenient ending.
In the end I was a little disappointed, though I still enjoyed the story as a sweet uncomplicated read. I only wish it could have gone past the typical story or surprised me in some way. This would be perfect as a stress free read with just a little bit of sexual tension and actual sex -- for a day needing brain candy....more
I've learned that reading Mary Calmes' books are the ultimate in guilty pleasures. Not because you shoulReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I've learned that reading Mary Calmes' books are the ultimate in guilty pleasures. Not because you should be ashamed to read them, oh no, simply that they're decadent in romance in a way that not many other books are. There's something about them that really hits the spot when you're in the mood for a sweet, adorable, whirlwind romance (most of them, anyway), and Steamroller definitely fits the mold. Lately, this author has been releasing a lot of novellas similar to this and I've really come to enjoy them. While this one wasn't my favorite, it was definitely a nice way to spend an afternoon.
Wade, who seems to go by several names with different people, is different from most of the other students at his college. He was kicked out during senior year of high school when he came out to his parents, and was taken in by his friend's family. Now, he's one of the kids and like brothers with Mike, even though they're on the rocks since for the past year Mike has pretty much dumped him for his trashy girlfriend Barbara and left him to pay the steep rent of a shoebox apartment alone. Now he has to work twice as much on top of school to keep up both halves of the rent. He meets Carson one night just as the copy store is about to close. As manager (and a self-admitted prickly asshole at time), he can't help but get pissed off at Carson and his friend who want special favors to get their copies made before closing. The interaction with Carson, whom he doesn't know the real identity of yet, leads to a friendship and a secret romance that seems to him to have no future. But, Carson is determined…
Fans of Mary Calmes will definitely like this one. Of course, Mary has a distinct style that sometimes shows more than at other times. This story came a little close to insta-love for my tastes, perhaps because there isn't much time for them to really get to know each other for an HEA. It was held off from becoming insta-love completely by the feelings that Carson has had for Vin for some time, so while it didn't bother me much in the end, I still wished that there had been more (but that's every reader's dream!).
The dialogue in this novella is really snappy and quick witted. This is a style that some will like and others won't. I'm not honestly sure how I felt about it. At first, it bothered me. I felt like the characters were talking a lot and not saying much, which the majority of the words on the page in dialogue. As the story progressed, however, that changed a bit. Whether I started to get into the flow of the characters' words or the dialogue changed as they moved forward in their relationship, I'm not sure. In the end I seemed to find it more charming and funny.
This one will probably come down the lines that this author's book usually fall under -- the readers that will like this are the ones who usually like this author. I usually do, so I was really excited to read this. I love a sports book and even though there was little about football here other than some college jocks, I enjoyed this one and thought it was really cute....more
Review posted at The Armchair Reader. The author has offered to give away a copy of the story to a commenter, so go to the blog and leave a comment toReview posted at The Armchair Reader. The author has offered to give away a copy of the story to a commenter, so go to the blog and leave a comment to win! Closes at Midnight CDT, Sunday October 14th!
I always enjoy Jack Greene's stories -- they're sexy, short (usually), and I feel like the detail is usually placed on the erotic content, which leaves me free to take the story with a dose of light-hearted humor and not to get too wrapped up in critique. I find myself just enjoying them, like a little decadent bite. Even though I've read a few that were a little more serious in nature, this is probably the best way to read this story. That is why, even though I've tagged it as Insta-Love, that didn't really bother me as it usually would.
Lucas and his straight best friend Trevor find an ancient book of spells. They're students at UC Irvine and enjoying the college life, though Lucas seems to have a bit steadier head on his shoulders and a little more maturity -- he tempers his friend's casual and sometimes thoughtless behavior by waiting to try out the spells until he's though it over a bit more. Finally however, he gives into his friend and in Lucas' dorm room, they summon a demon from the book, hardly expecting anything to happen. But, of course they're worng and Lucas finds that the spell was made to fit him specifically...
The reason I started the review with a disclaimer is because this story really should be taken lightly, as it is meant. Of course, a demon who is also a bit like a magic genie with unlimited wishes that is bound to Lucas' every desire and made for him… well you get the idea. It was a fun and sexy read, just in the nature of this author's other stories that I've liked in the past. The ending moved a bit fast for me, including the insta-love bit. I, personally, wouldn't have minded if the story acted like the beginning of a relationship, or whatever you want to qualify it, without any declarations, but then that is my personal taste and there is a reason for the way it is written....more
I have meant to read this story since its release in the summer of 2011. In fact, I had told Barry in New OrleansReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I have meant to read this story since its release in the summer of 2011. In fact, I had told Barry in New Orleans that I'd read it and review it for it and I just never got around to it. Well, it must have been the universe telling me to get on with it, because I won the book in paperback along with some other books and prizes at the Comedy Hour event at GRL. And I knew that now that I had it in paperback, I really wanted to read it as soon as possible. So as I went through my massive bag of paperbacks I brought home, I picked it out first and started to read it. I was enthralled, immediately, into the story and voice of Micah, who things just never seem to go right for.
This is a difficult story to summarize. At it's heart, it is the story of Micah Malone -- in many ways typical gay young man, but also with a (somewhat/at times) atypical storyline. Micah tends to be quite melodramatic and campy, but that's what you gotta love about him. He has a very original voice and his film and TV obsession is shown through obscure references throughout the story. The book is very voice and narrative focused, which in Micah's life is all screenplay based, so we're first introduced to him and his circle of friends with a Dramatis Personae. The story follows Micah has he trudges through life at a young age -- college, friendships, sex and relationships. The focus isn't romance, though some does come into the story in the last half, but instead Micah himself, that that is what made the novel so successful for me. Not only does the format of the writing echo his personality so perfectly (untraditional, and often like a screenplay), but it isn't tied to the typical romance "rules". It threw me a curveball or two, and I loved that.
This book made me a fan of Barry Brennessel for life, even though I've read a few of this other things. No matter if the next three things I read of his I don't like, I'll always take a chance and read something he's written, because he proved to me with Tinseltown that he is a phenomenal author. Also, quite a funny one. This book had me doubled over laughing. I'd recommend this to anyone, as long as you know not to expect romance right away....more
It took me a while to read this. Just under a month actually -- I kept putting it down and picking it upReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
It took me a while to read this. Just under a month actually -- I kept putting it down and picking it up later. So, I don't think that it is without faults, but just after the halfway point, I picked it up again and finally started getting into it. And after finishing, well -- I respect this book a lot. It is a divergence from most of the writing these two have done in the past, and from typical romance in several ways. First -- Zach is seventeen when this story starts, and even though they follow the rules, so to speak, and don't show any sex until he's legal, it still pushes the boundaries to think of an underage dad for some people. Second, and SL Armstrong talked about this a couple weeks ago when she stopped by TAR for our spot on the blog tour for this book, the main plot is rather straight forward and simple: two men fall in love, one has a child, and they start a family. There is little other plot besides that, although there are obstacles in their path. That makes this a rather sedate romance and definitely slow to start.
I think that is why I had trouble in the beginning. No matter how much I respected the writing for the purity of plot and the rather realistic look at underage and single parents, I kept thinking… so, this is it? I thought maybe it just wasn't to my taste, because there's nothing wrong with that. But after I spent some more time getting to know Zach and Wil, and when their relationship moved from their internal world of three and out into the world, I started to get it. And then I really liked it. I had a difficult time with Zach and points. He's incredibly insecure about some things, but that is because he's vulnerable, so objectively I understand it and my response to his need of constant reassurance.
I also appreciated that the socioeconomic disparity between the two was made a subject of tension. It's something that is incredibly important in many real life relationships. And I think that's why I respect this story the most, even though it is the very reason it made it difficult for me to get into. This story is much more true to life than most in our genre, most especially in the way it portrays Zach and his need to support his daughter Mae. So I would definitely recommend this story, but I also don't think that it is for everyone. First, this is definitely for those who like reading stories about kids and gay fathers. Much of this book is taken up by Mae, and the issues Zach has to deal with directly relating to parenting. Also, like I mentioned before the plot is entirely involved with the relationship and the parenting, with little else from the outside world except some in the latter half. And finally, with Zach being underage for the first part of the book and his issues with sex after fathering Mae, the romance gets off to a very slow start.
And on a last note, the relationship, for most of the story, is very sweet. Wil is almost too good to be true, and while it bothered me for a lot of the story, that everything just seemed to fall into place and be super easy and cheesy at times, it did work out to my satisfaction in the end and made sense to me....more
I'm a bit fan of Mr. Plakcy, though I really only know his most recent romance work instead of his earlReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I'm a bit fan of Mr. Plakcy, though I really only know his most recent romance work instead of his earlier gay mystery series. His Have Body, Will Guard series is one of my all time favorites and I love to re-read it -- it's a classic gay adventure story. And thought I've not read all the shorts, I've liked quite a few of his South Beach novels. This novel diverges in some ways from those recent works, but in many ways remains similar. Fans of those books might find this somewhat not to their taste simply because of the romance within, but I found that what I most liked about the novel was Jeff's own story, which takes the forefront in the plot.
While antiquing with his best friend and co-professor Naomi, 19th Century History professor Jeff Berman stumbles upon a forgotten and secret piece of history -- a long lost box of correspondence between President James Buchanan and his aide, Roland Petitjohn. At first, the letters seem benign and frankly boring, concerning matters of state, but with further observation reveal a startling relationship that lasted over twenty years. Though there's no proof of a homosexual affair, the extremely personal correspondence leads Jeff to make that connection, especially with corroborating evidence that the aide's Quaker beliefs might have affected Buchanan's outlook on slavery.
Finding the letters is a historian's dream, though not only for the historical importance. Jeff hasn't yet made tenure and is over halfway there until he's up for review, and his University leans heavily on faculty to research and publish. The long-lost love affair could be his ticket to cushy professorship and the life he's always wanted to lead. But, researching, writing, and publishing the book don't mean much -- he needs some kind of publicity.
That's where Pascal Montrouge comes in. Jeff doesn't know Pascal's history or disgraced reputation when he first interviews him for the Times-Courier, he only knows that Pascal is sexy, confident and he hasn't had sex in a very long time. Could Pascal be the man to sweep him off his feet? Pascal is like a thunderstorm that comes in and carries him away into publicity stardom, but is it all glitz and glamour with nothing underneath? And is Jeff just a meal-ticket for Pascal to resurrect his dying career?
If I hadn't really liked Jeff and his own solitary plotline of research into Buchanan, the politicking of the History department, and his own progression in life, then I would have rated this book even lower. Sadly, the romance in this novel felt lackluster to me. It's a much more real-to-life romance (in tone and plot) than most, and it isn't the center of the story, though neither is it shunted to the side very much. Still, I have a very hard time forgiving characters who I've felt have made grievous errors and I never really warmed up again to Pascal after he [early on in the story] wrongs Jeff in a bad way. The way the story was handled in response to that choice the author made for Pascal was done in all the right ways. It would have been out of character for Pascal to really grovel as much as would have secretly pleased me, and Plakcy didn't try to push an overly sweet HEA on us in the end. I have nothing to really criticize about the romantic plot here, with the exception that I just couldn't see happiness for these guys. The real work on their relationship is left for after the story ends, when they'll have to slog through and work on Pascal's problems that made him a dick in the first place, and it's just one of those things that I won't believe until I see.
While those problems made this a book that won't ever be a favorite from Mr. Plakcy's catalogue for me, I still enjoyed much of the rest of the story. There is actually quite a bit of detail about the story between Buchanan and his aide, even the "original" letters written and interspersed throughout the story. I quite liked seeing Jeff's historical research and the writing of his book, and even some of the politicking in his department later in the book. Once Jeff's book takes hold in the media he starts to see the life he's planned for himself in a new light. His co-workers are somewhat different, the teaching is different. He's being made into a "gay historian" and he wavers about how he really feels about being pigeonholed that way. I really like character growth stories and though they're more rare among romance, where the partnership instead tends to be the focus of the growth, I found Jeff's life quest satisfying. Pascal's place in his life goes in and out as the story progresses. There are times where he's not present for large chunks of time, and because of how I never warmed up to them as a couple, I admit I enjoyed those times a bit more. Whenever Jeff would be with Pascal, I could never quite decide that he wasn't lowering his standards because he wanted to fall in love more than he wanted Pascal.
So, while I enjoyed it, I can't quite recommend it to all contemporary romance fans. I think most of you would probably dislike Pascal as much as I did and it depends upon you as a reader if you really mind this type of romance, that is less perfect and more suited to real-life relationships. My feelings, however, did nothing to dissuade me from liking this author and I look forward to all of his future work....more
This is the first book I've read by Wade Kelly, even though I've been shamefully putting off reading hisReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
This is the first book I've read by Wade Kelly, even though I've been shamefully putting off reading his earlier book that scares me, When Love is Not Enough (a Bittersweet book). So I'm not quite familiar with Wade's writing. I will say though, that I think this is one of those books that gets wildly different reactions from reader to individual reader, and whether that's indicative of his whole body of work, I'm not quite sure. So this review is more subjective than most. I do think, or at least guess anyway, that if you were going to try out this author's style (and other readers can tell me if I'm wrong and they're incredibly different) that you should go with this book simply because it is lighter in tone and I assume because of that has/will find a much wider reader base.
Playing on the ever popular trope of jocks and nerds, MRJWC introduces us to two characters with quite a few neuroses. On the outside, Cole fits the stereotype and his are blatant. He's OCD, can barely socialize and has made very few friends, and is well, prickly. After Cole's best friend and roommate graduates college and moves to live with his girlfriend, Cole is forced to accept a new roommate in the apartment he rents in college. He knows there's almost no chance of finding someone he got along with as well as his last roommate, which is why he fights the housing Dean's decision as much as possible. He does what he can, however, which is plead with the man not to assign him a jock. That's the one thing he won't be able to take.
He knows he's doomed from the moment his new roommate (who is HOT) shows up with a pack of straight men who roll around on the floor like puppies. They're on the soccer team, and it looks like the dean has ignored Cole's wishes. But, was it for his own good? Ellis isn't the dumb jock that Cole had assumed and is even harboring a few choice secrets of his own that might make them compatible in ways Cole has never found before.
My Roommate is a Jock? Well, Crap! is certainly a less than conventional title ;) but I think that it gives a clue to the reader right off about the author and the book. It's a quirky title that suits Cole and I think also suits the author. I could be totally wrong about this, and I apologize in advance if I am, but by reading this book alone it seemed to me that Wade Kelly is an author who makes choices in a different way than is conventional. Of course, how readers respond to that is always different, but there are many authors who I could think of that have a stylized voice (Mary Calmes is one of those), whether it changes from book to book or not. I've noticed that many reviews and readers have also commented that they didn't understand certain aspects of the story, or choices in the story. I could see that a few times. The POV changes are a stickler for some people, but without any hard and fast rules myself, I did find the addition of minor character's POV somewhat disengaging. The writing seemed edgy to me at times. That might not be the right adjective, I'm not sure. It reminded me of reading fanfiction or self published works where there wasn't a point for an editor to get in there and dull the sharp edges. To someone like me who reads so much m/m published by a handful of select e-publishers, that's refreshing and often why I like to read online fiction. All of this came together for me as a book written by an author who seemed to make choices based less on the overall big picture and more on specific issues -- the characters, the style, personal preferences, etc etc etc.
Take from that what you will. I'm not sure I got across what I was trying to say, but it was an elusive feeling I was trying to capture.
I suppose that overall and after finishing I had a few problems with the book, but as I was reading it I enjoyed it. Whether you will or not depends on whether you can get behind the characters and the style. I think most readers will, and from what I can see they are so far. I didn't love it, but I did like it and I enjoyed the chance to sample Wade's writing without reading his Bittersweet novel first :)...more
I've been excited to read this one for a while now ;) Okay, not only because I love Anne and her books,Review posted at The Armchair Reader.
I've been excited to read this one for a while now ;) Okay, not only because I love Anne and her books, or because I really liked Whitetail Rock and The Fix, but mostly because I loved Sam so much in those stories and couldn't wait to see him get his own HEA. And come on, a character who is admittedly secretly in love with romance novels having his own book called "Too Stupid to Live"? That's gotta be awesome!
We first met Sam in Whitetail Rock with his best friend Nik. Compared to Nik, Sam is always seen as the tall, gangly, awkward one. Too skinny. Too underweight. When Nik finds Jurgen, Sam despairs of ever finding someone for himself, and adamantly refuses to believe that anyone as hot or as in demand as Jurgen would give him the time of day. He's enamored of Ian when he meets him playing rugby with a bunch of other hot shirtless men. He thinks he looks like his very own Highlander and for the first time risks the chance and asks him out -- only to be thoroughly shot down. Ian wonders about Sam too, and not only feels kinda bad about how he shot him down but also can't stop thinking about him, wondering if he made a mistake. Ian has been trying to change recently, after a horrible accident while fighting a fire and then later getting out from under the thumb of the chief, his conservative father. He's a renowned rake of the modern sort, and even though Sam might swoon at the thought of reforming him, the real-life possibility of a rather sensitive and vulnerable Sam not getting thoroughly heartbroken looks impossible.
When the two realize just what a small world it is (Ian is Jurgen's cousin, FYI) and are thrown together at a party thrown by Nik, Sam decides to take his chances under Ian's forceful seduction. He just promises himself he'll try to remember that Ian isn't anyone's idea of a perfect husband.
In many ways this is a classic contemporary romance, albeit approached from a unique angle. While we often seem to have a romance writer as a main character, here we're presented with a story that at least half of the time is told by Sam, an admitted romance reader and a writer himself. He's in a unique position to critique "The Romance Novel", and that experience in how a story is put together comes across in his critique of his own life.
And that's when it hit Sam. If Ian was a TGH [Tortured, Gothic Hero], that made Sam…
Too Stupid to Live.
Sam closed his eyes in resignation. He was TSTL. Stupid enough to investigate the locked fourth story of the manor house, where the human screams originated; stupid enough to run out onto the moors at night to find the howling wolves. Stupid enough to want to suck Ian's cock again. And the whole time, he'd be thinking he could somehow further the plot via his stupidity.
The thing was, whatever had happened between him and Ian was certainly fraught with internal conflict, because all romances -- okay, romance novels -- had some kind of conflict, and if it wasn't external it had to be internal. Since Ian wasn't saving Sam from international drug-smuggling terrorists, and he wasn't the captain of an enemy starship that had captured Sam in battle (ugh, revenge sex), their plotting -- his and Ian's -- had to center on internal conflict.
AKA emotional conflict.
Obviously, if an outside observer had to guess which of them had the more serious emotional conflict, they'd pick Ian. Sam wasn't the one who didn't even know what constituted a relationship. By default, that made Ian the screwed-up one, right?
Aside from his own charm, that connection to the reader makes the story immediately engaging. We can understand and empathize with Sam with his life because of the language he uses to explore it. He's the first person to admit that he's become TSTL and his fantasies are ones that we have as well, or at least know of -- "Reformed rakes make the best husbands." (I love that one).
While it might be unfair for me to compare this (as a novel) to the first two stories because of the length and time to explore this relationship, I did like it more than those. Nik and Jurgen make an appropriate presence in the story without relying on them to carry the story. And Too Stupid to Live carries on in a similar vein as those stories in similar plot, characters, style and tone. The first two stories were incredibly hot, and this novel was as well. Much of the relationship between Sam and Ian is physical (at least up front, and for the first half of the novel). They've created a carefully constructed fabrication over their true relationship to continue the lie that it isn't a real relationship at all, and to do that they rely heavily on sex. For me, it carried the story and I didn't feel the need for more, because it is actually there. The sex scenes are constructed with a careful eye to move the plot forward and subsequently, the relationship.
Fans of Anne Tenino will definitely like this story. Ian is every bit the roguish character he's made out to be and is sometimes difficult to warm to (so are Sam's decisions regarding him). But, those choices are balanced well with real feeling and the lens through which the story is structured (The Romance Novel) bridges the gap between them.
Definitely recommended! And I look forward to the next :)...more
Take a cue authors! I have been super excited about this book for months now. Why? All because of that teaser story a year ago. The originally titled story "Dirty Laundry" was a free story about a rather nerdy and frightened young man who is rescued by a giant musclebound cowboy of a man when he's being bullied by a group of frat guys in a laundromat. The kid's gratefulness and awe of the cowboy drive him to thank the man, and that encounter leads to a very steamy public sex scene over the table and pile of unfolded laundry right in the middle of the laundromat. That's all the story was about. It was free and posted on the author's co-blog, Cup of Porn, for their first birthday bash.
I didn't know at that point, that this was part of the Tucker Springs universe. Actually, at that point I think that the first book, Where Nerves End was just being promoted by LA Witt. I'd really like the know the timeline and how that cowboy, Denver, came to be included in the story. That's why I'll be eagerly reading all the tour stops for Heidi Cullinan this week, to see if she details how that came to fruition. A bit of the story is on my blog today, so be sure to check out Heidi's guest post "For the Love of Series".
It must be because of those readers like me, who raved about the short "Dirty Laundry" that this became an expanded novel, and I can't tell you how excited I was when I first learned what the author was doing to this story. I so wanted to know what happened after that laundromat rendezvous. What I can tell you is this: The novel starts with the short story and carries forward with what happens afterward. Denver, who we got to know in the first two novels as a secondary character, is a bouncer at the local gay club run by Jase, from the first book. Adam is an entomology graduate student at the local college and currently getting over a breakup from his one and only boyfriend Brad. The scene at the laundromat affects both men and how they view their own lives and their own neuroses, and while it seems like Adam takes the award for the one with the most problems, Denver carries a secret weight filled with his own shortcomings, and it takes both of them working together to forge a better version of themselves.
I consider this to be the best book in the series so far. In her guest post today, Heidi Cullinan describes the Tucker Springs series as "a set of stories between several authors where each “episode” is unique, but the setting is familiar." That rather simple theme connecting the stories is really reflective of the books individually and as a series. It's true that each subsequent book, so far, seems to get a little better in my opinion, but they are all quite relaxed in theme. What I mean to say is that I found this book like the prior ones, focused solely on the relationship and less on outside connections. All that connects them is geography and limited personal connections. That means, however, that the relationship much carry each novel on it's own, and while I wasn't quite sure the first two books accomplished that, Dirty Laundry definitely did.
What really makes this story work is the consideration given to mental illness. I know very little about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or severe anxiety issues, so I can't weigh in on the accuracy of the details. But what I did love is how the issues that Adam has (and to a small extent Denver's issues as well) are firmly entrenched in the relationship. Adam tries to hide them at first, but they're so much a part of who he is, it is almost impossible to keep the information from Denver. And I really felt for Adam. It's a tribute to the author's skill that his self-doubt didn't come across to me as annoying, but instead I felt like I had a good grasp on just how difficult his life is on a day to day basis. He has trouble with many things, but most of all is one of his major tics -- that people have their own space. He can't allow anyone inside his house without severe anxiety and he has a really hard time visiting other people's houses, or spaces of any kind. And besides the fact that this allowed Denver and Adam to show their creativity in getting to know one another in public places, I can't deny that the fact that most of the extremely hot sex in this book is in public places completely ramps up the heat factor. That laundromat scene was just the tip of the iceberg.
The BDSM element is more present here that I was expecting. It slowly becomes more central to the story and the relationship as the book moves forward, but it has little to do with sex and everything to do with creating a power structure helpful to Adam's OCD. Denver's commanding will was what drew the two together in that first encounter and is ultimately what Adam needs to cling to to categorize and then compartmentalize his brain to function at it's highest levels.
There is so much to recommend about this book and I could go on and on with more things that I loved -- both characters, the dichotomy between the two that makes them perfect for one another (their looks, their issues, their education, but not intelligence). Heidi Cullinan is a popular and well known author because of her talent and Dirty Laundry is just another example of her success....more
I'm mostly familiar with Kyell Gold's work from his series, Out of Position, and reading a few shorter wReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I'm mostly familiar with Kyell Gold's work from his series, Out of Position, and reading a few shorter works of his this week as nice, mostly for the small commitment in time and getting to read a wider variety of his work. Because I don't really read anthropomorphic fiction outside of Kyell Gold's work (who introduced me to it), reading about even a few characters different than Lee and Dev and different from the contemporary football plot of that series was nice, and gave me a wider scope of what Kyell Gold can do.
This is definitely the sexiest of his work that I've read. The story centers on a group of friends at Hoffridge U. and their lives. At the center of that group and this story is Vaxy, a pine marten, and his sexual (mis)adventures -- namely the love triangle that forms between the sexy professor he works for in the lab (and their daily appointments in the closet between lab work) and the casual sex relationship with his roommate and friend Mike.
The trouble starts when Vaxy is interrupted by a knock on the lab door as he's sitting in Dr. Forrest's lap. He's actually surprised when it turns out to be Mrs. Forrest. It isn't as if Vaxy has loose morals or anything like that, he just likes to have a good time. And he is rather tight-lipped about secrets, others and his own. His surprise that Dr. Forrest was cheating with him makes him question their relationship, even though it was just all in good fun. The wife, however, is like a dog with a bone. She won't let the possibility of finding the person who her husband is cheating with, and somehow, Vaxy finds himself playing the wife off the husband and the husband off the wife, in a deep quagmire of kept secrets.
So why does it bother him if he's not the only one getting down with the sexy doctor? And why is Mike constantly getting upset lately about his "extracurricular activities". They don't have a relationship and Mike has never made him think that he wanted more. Add in the extra complications of one-off with their mutual friend Grace, and Vaxy finds that he's dug himself deeper into a mess that only just now realized was a problem in the first place.
Science Friction, isn't the sort of story you might expect from the title, but a more literal description of the business Vaxy the science student gets down to around the college. The issues dealt with could be heavy, but are written in a humorous light as Vaxy digs himself deeper into the mess. He's only really concerned with having fun and keeping things light, only to realize that it isn't the same for everyone else and he needs to evaluate his life and his real feelings. The love triangle isn't used to maximum effect. The focus of the story is really the misadventures of Vaxy. We get to know Dr. Forrest pretty well, but Mike much less so. This was a bit of an imbalance for me as a reader, though in retrospect works for the the story and was obviously done for a reason. And because the story is so short (at around 30k words), there really isn't time for the story to create a world around them, but focuses on paring down the story to the main plotline without a lot of interference from the outside world or extra scenes.
The story is capped off by a short story called "Armadillo Peccadillo", about Grace and his roommate Wally (briefly in the main story). I enjoyed this little extra so much! It really made me want more of the group of friends and their adventures, especially with Wally, Grace and Mike, who we got to know much less well than Vaxy.
This definitely isn't my favorite of Kyell Gold's stories, but it really couldn't be compared on the same level as the deeply involved stories such as Out of Position and it's sequels. It was, however, a whole lot of fun to read and very satisfactory indeed....more
Your feelings about this story will hinge upon how you feel about the I Know What's Best For You plot dReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Your feelings about this story will hinge upon how you feel about the I Know What's Best For You plot device, also known as I'll Be Miserable so You Can Be Happy Without Your Choice in the Matter, or I Don't Want to Take a Chance and Ruin Our Friendship. That pretty much sums up this story where Henning, a gay man in love with his straight best friend Roar, can't believe what he's hearing from his friend as they talk over breakfast. Roar has just had his heart crushed in by another woman, and is thinking about giving them up all together. But, not as Henning thinks, for celibacy, but maybe to try out being with a man instead. It smacks of a ruse immediately, but Henning doesn't seem to catch on, no doubt under the impression that despite his feelings of secret love for his best friend, Roar could never want him in the same way. He's further surprised then, when Roar admits that if he is going to do this, have sex with a man and see what he thinks, he wants it to be someone he's comfortable with -- of course, Henning.
Overall, I doubt this story will be a big winner with many readers, for a few reasons. First, the GFY angle is a bit of a stretch, like a gay adolescent fantasy. It isn't the story itself, but the way it's approached from the beginning with the sudden revelation. Of course, it's incredibly sexy. Much of this story is centered around their sex scene and another m/m/m scene later where Roar really works through his feelings about Henning. I think that a lot of readers also have a bit of a problem (or, if not a problem it makes them roll their eyes a bit) when a character decides to not talk and ignore an issue for the good of another character, not allowing them to make their own choices. And while I can handle that in some instances (it isn't a problem for me outright), the fact that this is such a short story does mean that we don't get to know the characters or their situation well enough to pull off a good reason why Henning shouldn't confess his feelings for his best friend. It leaves the story in the midst of friendship where they're not talking about real issues or being honest, and that miscommunication takes up the whole story.
So, my positive feelings about this story really were only how sexy it was. Other than that, I didn't know the characters well enough to get past the whole "setup" feel of the story. Also, I just can't believe their names. Roar? Henning? Maybe… I don't know. This might not be the place to state how annoying I find the names recently in m/m, but I just can't stand that we're having such crazy names now. These were a little too out there for me. It made me wonder if this was set in a fantasy world or something!
So, I have to give this story a So So. The reason that it didn't get a Not Feeling It rating, which it almost did, was that while I was reading the story, I did enjoy it. It just made me roll my eyes a bit and made me frustrated trying to dig deeper into it for a review when I felt like what is there is really just what is on the surface....more
Just a Note: The content advisory in the blurb says that this book contains m/f romantic situations, theReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Just a Note: The content advisory in the blurb says that this book contains m/f romantic situations, they're not sexual situations. You should take that line literally; I was waiting for an m/f sexual scene, but all it really alludes to is Steven's best friend Becca and her relationship with the drummer of Thorne's band, Dillon.
It's been a while since I've read anything by this author, and by that I mean Allison Cassatta. This is the first book I've read by her pseudonym Zoe Lynne, but I really enjoyed it. All I really knew going into it (because I'm terrible about actually reading blurbs, and if I do it's as if I didn't even pay attention) was that it was an m/m young adult romance about a rocker type character and had to do with coming out. And really, that's the gist of it. It sounds like any old book you have read before, and in many ways it is -- that made it a comfortable read for me. Still, I liked the characters and that made it stand out more to me as I was reading. Comfortable, but not boring.
The gist of it is about two relationships and their intersection: Steven and his bestie for forever Becca, and Steven and his super-crush Thorne. A secondary relationship, between Becca and Dillon is what brings the two guys together. Becca meets Dillon and has a major crush and drags Steven out of his solitude (which Steven thinks of as being a good student) to see his band play. Steven is a bit uncomfortable to be honest. In a very real-life move for a twenty year old, Steven has very firm ideas about who he is and what he likes. He's a bit of a kid playing adult -- he's studios, relishes being a preppy pretty boy and doesn't consider taking himself out of the box he's placed himself in and considering anything slightly dirty or different. But, that has worked for him. That self-imposed solitude has helped him get over and alternately hang onto his last boyfriend, high school sweetheart Jason.
The club the band is playing at, however, is dirty and seedy and definitely not a place that Steven feels like he fits at. When he sees Thorne, however, just before the band goes on, he's mesmerized by the man's dark beauty. Steven's feelings surprise himself. Thorne is covered in tattoos and piercings, and definitely has a bad boy vibe going on. They're complete opposites, but Steven doesn't care and the man's voice and stage presence simply serve to make him even more smitten. When both Steven and Thorne are dragged along by the new pair Becca and Dillon to a diner after the show, they're forced together so the other two can be by themselves. Steven is nervous and excited, but Thorne just seems awkward and endearingly shy. But common circumstance bring the two together, and Steven hopes that he can help Thorne become more honest and comfortable with himself. And if that happens to bring them together more often, more the better for Steven!
I thought that the length of this story served the plot, character growth and romance rather well. That means that, at 30k words it isn't an overly involved plot. The story mainly revolves around the direct romance between Steven and Thorne, the friendship between Steven and Becca, and the resolution of Steven's past relationship with Jason. Out of the more realistic aspects of these relationships, I thought the portrayal of the friendship between Steven and Becca to be really well done. They're at the age when they're really exploring having a new relationship at the same time, both with different situations and they find it hard to reconcile bringing new people into the shared relationship they have. Jealousy abounds and feelings are hurt, but more isn't made of it than should be and the way they resolve their differences showed just how good friends they are and how much they care about each other.
If I had any complaints, I'd say that the style of narration wasn't my favorite. Steven examines his feelings rather thoroughly, dissecting and analyzing. It suits the story and the character very well, it's just something that tends to be a little tedious for me personally. I think the best compliment to the author from this story, though, is that I felt the ages of the characters quite keenly. For a young adult story that's paramount and the first thing I look for. Readers looking for a sweet, no sex story should give this one a try!...more