What a wonderful surprise for me to find another Aidan and Liam book out! For some reason, I thought thaReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
What a wonderful surprise for me to find another Aidan and Liam book out! For some reason, I thought that after book four, Olives for the Stranger that the series was finished, so getting a new book and the possibility of even more after this (it sure seems like it) makes me so happy! Liam and Aidan are a couple that I've kept with since I read their first book Three Wrong Turns in the Desert several years ago. Each book is heavy on action/adventure and a serious dose of hot and heavy macho action. How could I not fall in love? Besides, I've always been drawn to Mr. Plakcy's work. I really enjoy his style.
The fifth installment in this series diverges from the rest right at the start. Though we know Liam and Aiden well in Tunisia where they met and have previously worked as bodyguards, they moved at the end of the fourth book to France and are now living in Nice. Both of them think that they moved to primarily make the other happy, but the truth is that having less freedom is somewhat constricting to them both, because Liam doesn't always like being told what to do and because Aidan usually does what he can to defer to his more senior partner and lover and because he generally ends up trying to please him anyway. This results in it's own set of complications and when Liam and Aidan take on a new case in Corsica protecting a mine owner's family from threats by Corsican nationalists to preserve the island from drilling, they both spend much of their time there working through their own issues about their relationship. Aidan wonders if he's doomed to play the doormat when once again Liam takes the active role in their operation and Aidan feels that he's undervalued. Liam is forced to confront his past when they find that the son in the family they're protecting, Michel, is in the closet and secretly in love with his father's biggest adversary's son. It might be a classic star-crossed lovers tale with a bent twist, but the interactions between scared, closeted and teenaged Michel and his blithely criticizing father force him to confront his own feelings about his past and his development into his only real relationship -- with Aidan. Liam has never considered himself as any kind of commodity, until recently mostly avoiding his sexuality except in the basest of situations, but their friend Louis makes a comment that shows him he just might be attractive to other men. That leads him to consider his relationship with Aidan and his feelings about sleeping with other men.
Their main issue in Corsica, nonetheless, is keeping their client's safe, not angsting about the issues in their relationship.
This book (like the last one) was both an enjoyment to read and a bit of a disappointment. The pure adventure and excitement that I'm used to from the earlier plots in this series seem to have gone away. On the other hand, I think that Plakcy, better than most writers in the m/m romance genre anyway, seem to have a real knack for writing about the issues that crop up in long lasting relationships. They're the everyday issues -- communication, self-esteem in relationship to your partner, jealousy -- and they're handled responsibly. Sure they might cause a bit of angst, but I like the format of this series because the external adventure/mystery plot takes some of the focus away. The plot doesn't need to be built on those internal relationship issues to carry the story, so those real-to-life relationship issues seem to carry the modest weight that is natural. Of course they're important but they aren't life or death issues that need to much focus. I'm not saying that I don't enjoy a classic relationship-centric contemporary romance, but Aidan and Liam feel more real to me because while I might have to occasionally suspend disbelief at their gun-toting, crime-solving antics, the relationship at the center is down to earth and totally believable.
I remain a fan of this series. I probably always will be. But, I think I might need to shift my expectation of the future books. From here on, I'm going to look forward more to the relationship than the external plot. It might bring me some enjoyment, but so far the last few just haven't been nearly as satisfying as the first ones. I will say that I found Liam and Aidan's physical relationship in this book somewhat disappointing. I'm not sure why the author didn't include much sex (hardly any!). One of the draws to this series for me has been the hot and heavy sex between these two men. Maybe the author is trying to shift the overall arc in another direction? Or, perhaps, the plot in this book just didn't fit with the two getting hot and heavy. But I sure hope that when these two come back for book six that they'll be getting it on in all kinds of weird places like they used to!...more
The first of a three part serialized novella called Conflict, Contact sets up this science fiction and space explReview posted at The Armchair Reader!
The first of a three part serialized novella called Conflict, Contact sets up this science fiction and space exploration erotic story about a colony Lieutenant named Colton who is in lust and moving toward love with his Colonel. Before setting out on a dangerous mission to overpower the Earth Emperor's forces, Colton shares a mind-blowing moment with Vance, his Colonel, on the balcony during the party to celebrate their new venture. The problem is that no matter how much Vance shows interest in him as well, the fact remains that Vance is married.
Colton leaves with mixed feelings of lust, guilt and a little bit of love only to find that the Colonist's offensive is in serious trouble. Before long, Colton finds himself all alone in a battle where most of his men have died and his ship is alone fighting the Emperor's forces. In a bid to recover possible success in their mission, Colton heads to land and infiltrate the enemy base. What he finds there both horrifies him and confirms that the Emperor has been up to what they expected.
Shizu is a genetically modified human that was abducted as a child and has been through a horrible hell of testing and modification along with several others. Now, he thinks he's the only one left, at least in this base and the sight of a man who takes him out of the base and tries to get him to freedom bonds them together. But Shizu still harbors feelings for the man who was with him, who tried to escape with him before they were caught and separated forever. Hiding in a cave with Colton while they await rescue with a downed ship, the two get to know one another and forge a friendship of mutual respect and goals that might just be a bridge between the Colony forces and Earth's grassroots rebellion that could help them overthrow the planet's tyrannical rule.
I'm always excited to get a new Jack Greene story for review, but lately his work has been turning from more erotica to romance. He still writes highly erotic stories, such as this, but there's definitely more plot to work with and to keep me interested and I like the fusion of styles and his growth as an author. It certainly makes me look forward to the next two stories in this "serialized" story. As the first of such a series, a large part of this story serves to set up the world. We're presented with a world split into three factions: Earth, where a tyrant has united the world under one rule; the colonies, artificial worlds in space that use artificial gravity and other futuristic technological advances to create a sort of mirror earth in a controlled atmosphere; and lastly, the grassroots resistance on Earth, living hardscrabble lives with little food or supplies and actively defying the Empire while remaining under the radar. Conflict gives us the initial outlook in this conflict while paving the way for the next couple of stories through the connection made between Colton, Shizu and Shizu's lover.
The relationship between Colton and his Colonel, Vance, is a different matter. Vance appears quickly in the beginning and then later in the story, but is largely removed (so far) from the actual conflict. His motivations seemed hazy to me for much of the story before he seemed to do an about face and admit deep feelings of love for Colton, despite his marriage, which he claims is unhappy and more of convenience. There's one brief bout of cheating in the beginning of the novel, but it seems that there won't be anymore, going by what we learn later in the story. So if you find cheating a huge turnoff, you might be initially disappointed in the story. Otherwise, I found their interactions together to be really steamy and satisfying on an erotic level, but at the end of the story I remained unconvinced in any true feelings between them. Perhaps, hopefully, that will change in the next two stories. I'd rather have an all or nothing approach, all romance and development of those feelings, or pure erotica. But a mishmash of the two where I'm not shown any of that progression cheapens the story a bit for me.
I'm definitely excited to see what's in store for these characters. Of course, even though I had problems with some of the story, for the most part I'm pretty forgiving (always, of course, lol), but especially because this is the first story in a three part arc and there's room for the characters to grow into the feelings presented here....more
I've been looking forward to this Skybound series finale ever since the first book when I knew I wanted to read JReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I've been looking forward to this Skybound series finale ever since the first book when I knew I wanted to read Jeret's story most. I think that a lot of other readers have felt that way too, at least from what I've seen. Of all the crew of the Annie, Jeret is the one who seems to have the most secrets. He's secretive himself, but enigmatic and funny at times, always with a smart quip in response to the others and always wanting to prove himself since he's the youngest and in many ways considered the baby on board by Torrin. Whether it was intended by the author for Jeret to become such a favorite, I'm not sure. But it does mean that a lot of people who read this series were eagerly awaiting his story, which gives this third book in the series a lot of pressure to stand up to.
Of all the secrets that Jeret could have had… I never expected that he's a runaway prince! That in itself was a surprise, that I wish that I had found out in the book and not the blurb. But, it's a good hook to bring people to the story, even if they haven't been reading the series up till now. The runaway prince is a solid character that always seems to draw in readers. Torrin, Rain and Jeret are the only ones left on the Annie after Cookie left in Sky Runners to live with his new love Neith, who the crew rescued from an intergalactic brothel where Neith had been sold and kept against his will as a whore. Now, with the crew reduced to three and two of those -- Torrin and Rain -- in a relationship themselves, Jeret feels a bit like the third wheel. Add in the fact that he was always seen as the baby of the crew anyway, and it had Jeret thinking about his past.
When Torrin announces that they're headed to a planet near the one that Jeret escaped from, he does everything he can to convince Torrin and Rain that heading for a job there is a bad idea, especially when he learns that Torrin has agreed to ferry a shipment that must have come from his home planet. Jeret knows that something is wrong if those on his planet are smuggling off the expensive ore, underneath the nose of the COP, but his caution is ignored by the others.
When they land on the nearby planet, Jeret has no idea that Dagan -- once the man who was his guard, his best friend, and the man who held his unrequited love as a 15 year old crown prince -- has resumed the search for the heir to the empire under the name of his king. When Jadakira (Jeret's real name) escaped as he always wanted to do at 15, Dagan lost everything. His failure to protect the prince led to the loss of his whole world and his ultimate banishment from the planet. But Dagan knows Jadi well and it only takes him six months to track his whereabouts and learn about his tenure as part of the Crux Ansata's crew.
But Jeret, no matter his remaining feelings for the man he once loved as a kid, will not allow anyone to return him to his home planet. He has never had a desire to be king and what he loves most is the mechanics of the Annie, his crew and their adventures in space. His birthright is a cage he escaped years ago. But when he learns that his father, the King, is dying and a traitor planetside is angling to steal the throne, Jeret knows that he has to find the culprit. But he'll fight Dagan and his "duty" to the King the whole way, and hopefully in the end be able to return to the life he wants to lead.
There are parts of this book that I really enjoyed. There is quite a bit of history between Jeret and Dagan and I thought that their relationship played out beautifully. Both are stubborn and refuse to budge from their ultimate goal: Jeret to return his home planet to the way it should be and then return to the crew of the Annie; and Dagan wants to help Jadi, still not quite understanding his true desires. The fact that Dagan failed in his duty all those years ago is a mark against his pride and he will do everything to return Jadi to his father before his death. The reconciliation of their desires takes most of the book and we really get to see their stubbornness play out against each other over and over, though not too far as to be frustrating. The push and pull between them gave the story the most enjoyment for me, because as the story evolves and they learn to work together for a common goal their true feelings come to matter more than their pride.
On the other hand, I was pretty disappointed in the external plot. The plot to overthrow the king and Jeret and Dagan's plan to ferret out the traitor. For most of the book the tension mounted and they moved closer and closer but the ending really fizzled for me. First, the traitor was not who I expected, but that was because I never felt as if they were introduced into the plot to even become a suspect. I'm not a big fan of when authors do that. The culprit should have been introduced much earlier. And second because the final confrontation, while a bit satisfying for the characters, seemed a bit… anticlimactic.
So the real interest for me in this story was Jeret, and his love interest Dagan. I enjoyed their back and forth courtship, and I will admit that the tension created by the external plot was more of a device to play into their feelings for one another than the other way around. I think that if you read this story alone, without reading the first two then you might not have the prior interest in the characters to make this a very satisfactory read. I read this because I'd read the first two, and I had an interest in learning more about Jeret. And while I did find what I wanted, this book as a complete story was a little bit disappointing.
So, I recommend this for those of you who, like me, have read both Sky Riders and Sky Runners. For all the books, I found the romances in them the best part of the books. Looking back at this as a series, I would have probably enjoyed more of a central story arc over the whole series that drew them together. But, they are the way they are ;) And I did find enjoyment from them....more
In many ways this was just the kind of book that I love. A solid fantasy (not high fantasy) that plays wReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
In many ways this was just the kind of book that I love. A solid fantasy (not high fantasy) that plays with alternate worlds, gods/demigods, demon-like creatures, a magical war, and a quest between worlds and back. Though I had a few problems with the book as a whole, for the most part I really enjoyed it.
Words of Divinity is told from the opposing viewpoints of Daniel and Liam, a mage and a hunter. We first meet Liam on the streets of the capitol. He's been living on the streets since the age of fourteen, a runaway from an abusive alcoholic father. While wandering the streets at night, Liam is attacked by a giant rat that nearly kills him. But in his fight for his life, Liam is able to kill the rat barehanded, an almost impossible feat that is witnessed by another man who takes Liam to the local regiment's barracks. Liam is extremely distrustful of authority, but he soon learns that he's there to recount his impressive tale and immediately offered into the ranks of a new group of warriors, a special subset of the country's military that has been organized to fight a new menace -- the demon spawn called up from the Underworld by the dark mages of a neighboring country.
Liam finds a place among the hunters. Completing training faster than any of the others, he finds that he's exceptional at something and the center of a group of warriors that look up to him. Maybe it's this new respect that inflates his ego, or more likely just part and parcel of how his experiences so far have molded him -- his abusive father, his early sexual experiences and his casual disregard of how he's been used by both people and authority. Whatever it is, this new and cocky Liam is the epitome of a bad boy -- sleeping his way across the regiment, and then into the group of mages traveling with them and the local boys at every village they pass as they march from battle to battle.
Liam soon finds that not everyone is susceptible to his charms. Daniel is a mage that the other mages avoid. He's held in high esteem by the Crown Prince Erik who accompanies their ragtag company, and they soon grow a friendship, though Daniel shuns any other company. He's secretive, and for good reason. Daniel is their biggest asset because of his ability to hear the thoughts of the demons they hunt. He has more secret abilities, however, that seem to have a mind of their own, constantly wanting to be used. While he's fighting the demon spawn with the other mages and hunters, he's also waging a war among his own powers and his own history, which he keeps locked away among his deepest secrets. When Daniel first meets Liam, he's taken by his charisma, confidence and sexy swagger. Their friendship, though, is brief when Daniel sees some of his worst qualities -- his endless meaningless conquests and his loose tongue. Liam likes to brag about his conquests and getting prudish Daniel to give it up for him is his goal, including spreading the tales afterward to anyone that wants to listen.
Now pitted against one another, they spend quite a long time at odds, only growing in animosity. They're soon thrust into a quest where they have to open up to one another and rely on each other to survive. And even more than that, they are forced to reevaluate their preconceived notions about the other.
What Kayla V-B did best in this novella is in these two characters. At times I wasn't quite sure how I felt about them. In fact, for probably the first half of the book I really hated Liam. We don't quite get a lot of his history until much later in the book so even though we know about his asshole father, we don't quite understand his vulnerability, which just makes him seem like an asshole. I think that Daniel (at least for me) is a bit easier to get close to. It's easier to understand him and to really pull for him because his vulnerability is on the surface… he's extremely tormented. The format of the book (the quest is like an obstacle course they have to maneuver, with tests that manipulate them and their feelings) makes the two come together because, honestly, I doubt they would if they weren't forced to. They're so opposed to one another. In fact, I don't know that I've read an m/m romance in recent history that deals with the enemies to lovers trope where the characters hated and misunderstood the other more. And with the world around them manipulating their actions, they constantly seem to come together to be torn apart. It makes for some nice angst that I didn't feel was too overdone. And I really liked the fact that the characters are who they are with a real fierceness, if that makes sense at all. They're both passionate, and that makes them alternately rub each other the wrong way, while at other times they can co-exist.
I had a bit of a difficult time getting into the story, though. The first few chapters traverse several years in order to set up the story, introduce both characters and a bit of their history, and then show the few years they travel together and how Liam and Daniel grow to hate one another. I think that it all comes down to pacing. At the start of the story the pace is extremely fast. We're given a lot of information while time speeds forward every few paragraphs to chapters and then when the characters are forced on their journey together the pace changes. Also, while this part of the story is interspersed with skirmishes and battles that we're shown in present time, there's a lot of narration to fill us in on the world and the characters. It wasn't until I finished the book that I could see the jog in the pace and I started to think about the beginning. Rather than telling us about their past, I would have rather been shown those scenes. It would have meant adding quite a bit more pages, but I think there would have been more balance.
But, in all, this was quite the enjoyable read and I'd definitely recommend it to fantasy fans. I'm not sure whether the author plans to extend the story at all, but I'd definitely be there, in line to read it if she wanted to. The story definitely ends with a pretty solid HFN, on the line to an HEA. I only doubt the HEA because of their past history and we don't see where their adventures are headed. It's nicely done to either let the story rest or open it again at a future point....more
This has the most eclectic mix of tags I've ever given a book. Surprisingly, they all went together! And even more, it kinda represents this book, whiThis has the most eclectic mix of tags I've ever given a book. Surprisingly, they all went together! And even more, it kinda represents this book, which is a bit of a hodge-podge of different quirks and ideas, even plotting and pacing which I found rather refreshing. Definitely not typical vampire fare!
I hadn't planned on giving this book a proper review, but when Sunday rolled around and I was still thinking about this book, so I decided that it really needed one. For some reason, and I sincerely hope that this is just my 2D, rather limited view of the m/m romance reading community, this book hasn't seemed to have had a real splash yet. And that's a damn shame. Here's what I said on Goodreads immediately after I finished the book Satuday:
This has the most eclectic mix of tags I've ever given a book. Surprisingly, they all went together! And even more, it kinda represents this book, which is a bit of a hodge-podge of different quirks and ideas, even plotting and pacing which I found rather refreshing. Definitely not typical vampire fare!
Now, the tags here are pretty much similar to the ones on Goodreads, but since I can more easily edit and add tags here at the blog, they of course have a bit more flair ;) I have to admit that I've fallen into a bit of a pattern in my mismanagement of my m/m reading, where many of the most exciting releases seem to slip through the net (there are many factors, though it still makes me a dolt) mostly because of reviewing duties, but Lou Harper is perhaps one on the top of the list of those stellar authors that I haven't given their due. Perhaps I should do a backlist read. Anyway, this book wasn't just well written, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable read, for many reasons I'll talk about later. But that brings me to another point. Another byproduct of my reviewing duties is that I tend to analyze first rather than enjoy the book first, and having not originally slated Spirit Sanguine as a review book and (imagine this!) actually making myself sit down and read a book for pleasure instead of work on reviews I should be getting up to date, meant that this one just slipped right through and knocked me flat. I didn't really have to think about an analysis of the book, of styles and pacing and plot and characterizations, but… I just enjoyed it. It was a refreshing read, and not something I was expecting from the vampire angle.
Bloodsuckers are everywhere; you can't walk down a dark alley without a couple of them jumping out and accosting you with their dark and broody eyes. They do that a lot--mope and sulk. That's what got to me, all the melodrama. I mean, they are practically immortal, don't get sick, grow old, don't need to watch their weight or work out. What the hell do they have to bellyache about?
(That's the truth.)
And that's the point. In a sub-genre where melodrama rules and/or kinky vampire sex clubs are the forte, humor takes precedent here, brought forth by the vivacious and quirky Harvey (I love the name, and not just the Feng/Fang part, the fact that her vampire is named Harvey), who isn't really like any other of his kind. In actuality, I'd rather not go into characterization here, because I'd rather not cut him into pieces to analyze him. He's best enjoyed as it's written… plus, you'll find plenty in other reviews, I'm sure. The same goes for Gabe, who is perhaps the undervalued of the pair, though it's important that he's the lens we see the world through, and even more in which we see Harvey through. His understanding of and feelings for Harvey are how we understand him best, in reflection.
What was really refreshing about this book for me was also in a second part -- the style, which is reflected in pacing but also the plot. Both were atypical in that they don't follow the usual structure. Broken into three parts, each concentrates on a different aspect of the story while they, in succession, follow a continual arc. Some readers might find this off-putting. I'm not really sure. I quite enjoyed it. Because while the first is a typical setup to the story and introduces the relationship between Gabe and Harvey, the second and third both have a somewhat separate plot, though they're tied together. But you do get the feeling, between the transition between Parts 2 and 3, that there's a bit of a jog. And consequently, you'll find two climaxes (one at the end of each part) around the 55% mark and the end of the book.
Nikyta noticed this as well and made a remark to me about it (in our many back and forth book gabbing emails) and probably described it better than I did, asking if I had noticed authors using this style more lately, the (in her words) "multiple mini stories in one book of the same couple" style. We both automatically thought of Megan Derr, who sometimes writes in a similar though pretty different style from what I'm describing in Spirit Sanguine. Perhaps it's that Gabe and Harvey really only have two distinct adventures and Megan Derr often writes books that are split between the many adventures one couple has, a sort of extended vignette style. Nik thought that maybe it was a style that was becoming more popular. I'm not sure, but suffice to say that it is something that we've both enjoyed. And definitely something that I found made Lou Harper's book infinitely more original -- though, of course, anything with a vampire named Harvey Feng could hardly be called conventional.
I've long been a fan of Cari Z's work, but it wasn't until last year when I read "Opening Worlds" and Changing WoReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I've long been a fan of Cari Z's work, but it wasn't until last year when I read "Opening Worlds" and Changing Worlds that I really fell in love with her work, so you won't even believe how excited I was when I saw that she was going to be writing the other serial started this month at Storm Moon Press. Kris Piet even had to write to tell me to be patient, I was asking about it so vehemently ;) Thankfully, it lived up to my hopes and really made me excited for this season. Writing a serial must be hard, especially a published serial, because the first episode really counts. There's so little room to make an impression and show a fully fleshed character (or two), because that's what really hooks the reader. And I rarely give out more than a Pretty Good rating for the first story in a long series of releases. Usually all we get is a small grasp of what is to come, and a Pretty Good rating is like saying that the author(s) did the best they could with a limited opportunity. But here, I felt like I would have been happy, in most respects, if this were a standalone story. The relationship arc will take a lot longer to develop, but this was sexy enough and the characters have enough chemistry that I felt like it went above and beyond what I was expecting.
Devon is a cambion, a quasi-demon birthed from a human and an incubus. His dual nature affords him special and unique abilities -- the best of both races -- and some detractions from them both as well. He has magical demonic powers, the most powerful of which is his natural ability to inspire lust. Devon is also a supernatural spy of sorts. Working for a private contract group whose secret mission is to police the underworld of demonic summoning, Devon executes his job like a demonic Mata Hari. He and his group have long been searching for a nasty demon summoner, known for his cruelty, intelligence and luck in escaping authorities and they have finally traced him to a … pleasure house of sorts, run by an old Chinese man named Shangdi who delights in rather perverse displays of cruelty to demons. But when Devon is made deep inside his mission, he'll need extraction before he's made an example of for the pleasure of the house. And extraction comes in the way of a rather tall, gun-happy and dog-loving Rio, a man who Devon really likes.
I'm really excited about what is to come this first season of the serial. Devon seems like he can easily get into all kinds of trouble and Rio can always get him out. And the chemistry they have together is explosive. What I really loved was how funny I found this to be, mostly in tone. The point of view comes from both Devon and Rio, so we get a different variation on the scene depending on who is narrating, but what their voices both have in common is a kind of nonchalance for the violence they cause. That detachment struck me as funny for some reason, in a bit of a Tarantino way. And combined with the fact that everything Devon does is tinged with sex, made for a unique and well-written story. I'm just glad that it's only the beginning!
**Just a note! You can buy each of these stories by themselves (and this one, as the first story, is only $.99), but if you buy a season pass at Storm Moon Press you also get lots of goodies over the course of the season, like a DVD box set -- freebies and extra goodies :)...more
Captive is the first book I've read by Remy Jensen and despite my forced reservations about reading captReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Captive is the first book I've read by Remy Jensen and despite my forced reservations about reading capture books (because I never seem to learn my lesson and I always do and they usually bother me), I couldn't deny this one. I mean, it's got a pretty boy rocker! I couldn't say no. And I'm glad I didn't, because I found this story to be a fun romp across the Caribbean seas with action, and more action (if you know what I mean) with a dashing, well… contemporary pirate.
It took Nico time to wear down his manager and get him to agree to Nico taking a solo vacation without his bodyguard. He needs some time away and after all, he's just going to be sipping mai tai's on the beach in Belize. There's no danger. But when he finds himself tied to the masthead when the water taxi turned out to be a trap, full of pirates bent on revenge, he knows he made a mistake. What can he do? The men are lecherous and he looks very much like a pretty woman to a bunch of roughneck sailors. His savior (and jailor) comes in the form of the captain of the boat and leader of their plot to smuggle illegal jade, a man who seems to be American (with yummy dreads) and no older than him. Patrick is an enigma, and Nico can't decide whether to hate him or lust after him. Sure, maybe he didn't want to be ravaged at first, but when Patrick firmly enforces his chastity, well… things have changed.
As you can see from my summary of the story, the best part of this story is that it doesn't take itself seriously, however it isn't over the top. It isn't really making fun of itself, but Nico is such a subtly flamboyant man that "stockholm syndrome" suddenly sounds like an adventure. Of course, subtly flamboyant is difficult to describe, but what I mean is that Nico has a natural vivacity that draws people to him, probably part of the reason he's so engaging on the stage. But it shows itself more naturally on the boat, because no matter what Nico is doing, snarling at the men around him or dressed in drag, he's engaging and likable without even trying.
So that made this story quite a bit of fun to read. They have adventures, of course, which I won't really get into, but the real story is in the growing romance between Nico and Patrick. I would have liked a little more detail about Patrick's past and the reason he's a "pirate" as Nico calls him but which he adamantly denies. He is, however, on the run and unable to return to America, and I would have liked more detail about what exactly he was running from. While we get a little bit of the picture, we don't get much more than that. I do appreciate, however, that the ending takes a somewhat more realistic turn than I expected. It ends with a firm HFN and maybe an HEA, depending on your opinion, but not without time and difficulty. There isn't a quick and easy ride off into the sunset (or, I should say sail), but rather at least an attempt to not demand the reader suspend too much disbelief.
Really, though, this was just a fun read. I enjoyed Nico the most of course, but Patrick as well and liked that their relationship takes central stage but with a backdrop of their adventures, instead of more emphasis in other directions. The sex is incredibly steamy. So I'd recommend this story for a light hearted tale when you get the winter blues. The sunshine and azure seas of Belize will entice you to take a 30 minute vacation with sexy men with dreads and small, lithe rockers with too much attitude....more
Italian Ice has been out for a while now, but I had always intended to review it, sadly it just took meReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Italian Ice has been out for a while now, but I had always intended to review it, sadly it just took me a lot longer than I had hoped to get to it with all of my other reviews last year. I reviewed the first book in this series back when I was reviewing at Jessewave, and I really liked that first book. At that time, it was called Thief of Hearts: Tempted in Thailand before it was pulled from Ravenous Romance, re-edited and released from Dreamspinner as Rarer Than Rubies. Still, I remembered it fondly, especially whenever I got in the mood for a classic action/adventure romance. This sequel carries on in that vein in some very similar ways, with only a different setting and a different mystery and adventure, this time in Italy.
Italian Ice begins six months after the end of Rarer Than Rubies. Reed has quit his job with the FBI and moved home with Trent into domestic bliss. Except, things aren't entirely blissful. Though Trent seems to think things are going well, he doesn't know how much Reed has kept from him -- not only his feelings, but also his involvement with various government agencies. On a trip to Italy, where Trent hopes they'll spend weeks looking at art and making love, Reed is called in to search for an agent who has gone missing while dealing with a case of mysterious counterfeit artifacts passing through Rome's auction houses. Reed hastens to do his duty to find his missing comrade, but is he too quick to step back into the life of an undercover agent? Trent isn't sure, and when he finds out that the missing agent is Peter, Reed's former partner and lover, his insecurities are multiplied as he's left alone to tour the country on a lonely vacation he had meant to spend with the man he loves.
But Reed should know that Trent isn't one to follow orders. He's headstrong and has a dramatic flair for adventure, and just like in their first adventure in Thailand Trent soon becomes embroiled in the case to an extent that Reed can't pull him out without causing attention. No matter how much Reed tries to limit Trent's involvement in the case, as soon as he turns his back he finds Trent surging forward into the breach. But Trent has good reason to become involved -- not only does the adventure excite him, but he needs to find out what Reed's feelings are for Peter once and for all.
Much of the focus of this story is on the mystery, which definitely kept my attention. A few times I wanted to slap Trent for racing into a situation without thinking it through, or any backup or plan, but then that's sort of the basis of the story and definitely something about Trent that is fundamental to his character and the story, so I can let that slide :) The romance here is really in line with the position of this book (as the second) in the series, even though I'm not sure how long this series will end up being. In the first book, of course, the two get together and fall in love over their adventure. But, the second book is where the relationship is really tested, so quite a bit of this story had Trent and Reed at odds and often separated and working on the mystery with their own devices. Much of that comes from the very beginning of the story when their relationship blows up in an epic fight when Trent learns that Reed is basically choosing his job (and Peter) over him. A lot of that hurt that Trent feels drives him throughout this book. Conversely, Reed is on his own solo mission in this book, trying to figure out what he really wants from life, professionally and romantically, putting much of his old demons to rest. To do that, he'll have to learn to communicate, which is like learning a whole new language for him. He's made his life into a web of secrets and lies for so long that it takes him some serious soul searching to figure out what he really wants. All of this could have been rather angsty, but it really wasn't because any tension that comes from their relationship is offset by the mystery and their need to work together for common purpose.
In all, I found this to be a good read and a very successful sequel. It certainly made me interested to see what will come next for Trent and Reed and I've grown fond of them by now. Hopefully, with this uncertain part of their relationship now behind them (this ends with a solid HEA), we can expect somewhat happier stories in the future. And I hope there are several :)...more
This series was the series that introduced me to Neil Plakcy. I read them two years ago with the releaseReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
This series was the series that introduced me to Neil Plakcy. I read them two years ago with the release of the third book, Dance with Me Tonight. I was really excited about having another book in this series to read, but I somehow missed it and only remembered it recently.
Liam and Aidan have been together for a while now. After they met in the first book, when Liam mistook Aidan for a client and they set off on an adventure through the Libyan desert, they fell in love and Aidan became Liam's partner. Since, they've guarded many people where they live in Tunis. Olives for the Stranger picks up where those left off, the two living and loving in Tunis and looking for more jobs. The political climate is changing with the protests sweeping across the Middle East, and they've come to Tunis. Aidan is nervous that they might have to leave, but Liam never believes that the Tunisian government could fall and them put in a dangerous place.
Things change when the two are asked to investigate a mystery. It isn't what they do, but providing protection to an olive grove outside the city is what the couple who hires them really wants. They're a gay couple who are revolutionizing the olive oil exporting from Tunisia, and someone seems to be sabotaging their grove of trees and their whole operation. Liam and Aidan set off to investigate and find that the men have a family connection to a group that is currently protesting the government in Tunis. When a woman in a prominent leadership position in the Muslim organization is killed in Tunis, it all becomes wrapped up into what they're doing in the grove. They're taking care of the woman's daughter, and dealing with their clients at the same time. All the time, the pressure rises as the political climate drastically changes, plunging their safe new life into danger.
I'm not sure if this is the last book in the series or not. By the ending, it could be. There's more finality in the end of this book than in the previous ones. Of course, I wouldn't object to another book with Liam and Aidan, this one just wasn't nearly as exciting as the previous ones. In fact, they've sortof felt watered down as each subsequent one came out. That doesn't mean that I didn't like them, or that they weren't good, but it's just a classic sequel syndrome. It's possible that if Neil Plakcy decided to inject some life into this series he could with another book. It would be a big change, taking into consideration the ending of this book, but I'd like that. If they carried on as they were, it's just a little tired.
I think the main reason I felt this way is because there wasn't much forward growth in their relationship in this book. In previous books I felt as if they were making their way to normal, working on their relationship and making it something long-term and stable. But by this point, they've mostly done that. Of course, there are a lot of little bits and pieces they need to work on, every day problems, like hurt feelings, different ideas for the course of their future together, and injecting some new romance into what sometimes has become a too stable relationship.
I needed a bit more romance in this one because I just couldn't get as excited about the mystery in this book. It's engaging. I can't quite pin anything I found wrong with it. But I just wasn't as excited about it. So I think that fans of these characters will want to read this book, if you haven't already, simply because you want to know what happens with them. But, it's probably time, as sad as I am about it, to put this series to rest. Because of my feelings about this book, I went back and re-read (again!) the first book, Three Wrong Turns in the Desert. I still love that one ;)...more
A miraculous, healing story to hold close to your heart!
I've heard many, many wonderful things about this book over the last month or so. Josephine MyA miraculous, healing story to hold close to your heart!
I've heard many, many wonderful things about this book over the last month or so. Josephine Myles wrote a wonderful review that caught my interest after Chris directed me there, and became my personal cheerleader -- saying, "read it now! read it now!". I found myself very lucky then, to be one of the recipients of the GoodReads giveaway and received my paperback copy from Edmond in the mail last week, along with a beautiful note and a yummy, gooey, finger-licking, savorlicious nut roll, that I promply ate on the way back from the mail-box. I mean, hey, I got a free book! But I also got free candy! Well, not candy ;)
So I found myself with a beautiful copy of a book that has probably gotten more 5 star reviews than I've seen before, memory full of sweet and salty goodness, and a personal cheerleader goading me on. How could I refuse?
This is a unique book to review, and I won't re-hash the blurb for you, because there's really no point. There's so much to say about it, yet the beauty of it is in the mystery. I constantly found myself with my pen marking favorite passages to enjoy later (I love marking up books! real books! it's been so long!), but unable to share them, because like an inside joke, no one but fellow Found King and Queen readers would understand them. Point 1 for Edmond Manning -- by reading, I've become complicit in the events of the book.
Because the real story is in the mystery of figuring out the story for yourself and your own personal journey with the characters, the story is a bit hard to describe to those who haven't yet read the book. I was talking to a friend who is also reading this book right now and the only way I could find to describe the story was this: "its... light-hearted on the surface but profound underneath, but it's like a great adventure. It... reminds me, at it's heart... of Max, in Where the Wild Things Are... It's like a great children's adventure for adults." There's a sense of wonder in the adventure, which sounds a bit hokey in summary, but through the character of San Francisco in the novel is laid out in a way that entices the senses.
I do want to talk to potential readers here, because I might not have picked this story up if not for Chris, my personal cheerleader, telling me not to be afraid of the Bittersweet label on this book. The only similarity this book as to Bittersweet books is the fact that there's no HEA. I don't think that's too much of a spoiler to give away as it is pretty well known. However, while this book is wildly romantic, it is also not technically a "romance." I'd rather think of it as gay fiction. It is a beautiful story that left me with a huge smile on my face and warmth in my heart, and no matter how hokey it sounds I'll growl it out like a wild bear :)
All I can say is that I think everyone should read this book, and I'm so happy that I have my very own paperback copy to read whenever I want. I imagine that this book will stay with me for a long time, and having it there to comfort me on a bad day, or remind me of all the good and wonder in the world when I really need it....more
A wonderfully written 1930's historical that made me laugh and smile. There isn't much mystery as to the real identity of the Gentleman Thief4.5 stars
A wonderfully written 1930's historical that made me laugh and smile. There isn't much mystery as to the real identity of the Gentleman Thief, but as I understood it the intent is for the reader to know and witness the characters trying to unravel the mystery, which worked rather well. A great couple of characters, I'm excited to see more of them in the future!...more
I'm still sticking with this series, but I gotta admit -- I'm getting frustrated...
The relationships from book to book are good, pretty much the sameI'm still sticking with this series, but I gotta admit -- I'm getting frustrated...
The relationships from book to book are good, pretty much the same as they all are, which is great because I love the bit of fluff that offers. Sometimes that hits the spot.
What interested me at first was The Colony and The Den and we haven't seen as much of that lately, or much progression in the overall plot. It just feels like the arc of the series is stalling a bit and that disappoints me because that's what (mostly) has me coming back to read more....more