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
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 admit, I was a bit worried to read this book. I loved Stanley in the past books (or at least, I knew I would onReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I admit, I was a bit worried to read this book. I loved Stanley in the past books (or at least, I knew I would once we got to know him better), but I loved How to Raise an Honest Rabbit so, so, so much, along with Jeremy, that I wasn't sure if this book could live up to my feelings about that one. In a way it did, but in some ways it didn't.
Stanley is an old party boy -- or at least, that's how he feels. Never has he had a real relationship, just quick fucks in clubs and one night stands. His "relationship" with Craw is a perfect example of this. Just sex, no strings. But when Stanley is shoved aside when Craw meets the love of his life, Ben, something changes in Stanley. He's sad, and suddenly his life doesn't seem so fabulous anymore. Could it be that he really wants something more?
In a style reminiscent of a How To Guide, Stanley decides to make over his life. First, he has to get rid of the men and focus on himself. And what better way to do that than by learning to knit? He knows, technically, how to knit, but not do anything more than garter stitch. And he's worked for years at a knitting store! Plus, knitting is permanent, and as the rhythm and care that goes into his projects starts to translate into his own life, he realizes just what hand-knitted items mean. They're personal, and so by knitting, Stanley finds that he's not quite as settled in his life as he thought. Knitting brings about new friends, a new life, and a new man -- who seems to go against all the rules of his old life.
This story sees the return of Stanley, Craw's past monthly arrangement in town whom we first met in the first Knitting book, The Winter Mating Rituals of Fur-Bearing Critters. He's flamboyant and seems carefree, he's outrageously funny and a self-proclaimed slut who will bend over for just about anyone. He likes sex, it's just that until now, in his mid-thirties, he hasn't even considered what life might be like trying to get to know someone before he lets them screw him. It's a novel idea, and one that takes hold in his brief bout of manless depression just when he meets Johnny, the new deliveryman. It is important to read these stories in order, because of the way the characters are intertwined and how events happen in time. Because of that, we (the reader) know Johnny from the past book as Gianni, the man who saved Jeremy's life and allowed him to escape the mob. We also know his backstory, and the events that led to him turning state's evidence and now living in the area under the protection of WITSEC. Stanley, however, is not only blind to "Johnny's" past, but the whole relationship thing is new to him anyway.
I like Stanley in this book, he has real gumption and we get to see him really surprise himself. The change in his life and then his subsequent new relationship with Johnny teaches him a lot about himself, his past, and what is important to him. Watching him stumble through a series of revelations most go through in their twenties (he's a late bloomer!), paired with his humor and lack of filter, makes for an almost slapstick like prose. Stanley is almost always inserting his foot into his mouth, either by words or actions. He's flailing, trying to find solid ground since he jumped in feet first. Not only is that fun to watch, but it is also good because he learns how strong he is, and that was satisfying to read.
The problems I had stemmed mostly from the fact that this book had to be absolutely spectacular to live up to my feelings of the previous book. But, I did find the mob/mafia sub-plot to be somewhat strange. While it all made sense, and didn't bother me by itself, I found it left a lot less room for Stanley and Johnny to really get to know each other on page, and I missed that.
One thing that I love about this series, and this book carried on with this from the previous ones, was all the detail of knitting, yarn and production. I love reading about that, as a knitter, and reading these stories, this one especially, made me itch to pick up the needles. It is all about the joy of knitting, and what knitting really means. And I'm not sure that a non-knitter really understands, or might even find that sentiment hokey in these books. Watching Stanley in particular learn to knit was fun and carefree and I was always looking forward to what he was knitting next :)
Fans of this author and this series will definitely want to read this book, and I found it a really worthy addition to the others in the series. It might just make you want to learn to knit! Plus, if you haven't read any of Amy Lane's knitting novellas, you should check them out and remember that I said you should read them in the correct order.
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
From all that I can find, JC Lillis is a brand new author, and if this book is any idea of the quality of work thReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
From all that I can find, JC Lillis is a brand new author, and if this book is any idea of the quality of work that she'll produce in the future, I'm a fan for life. Rarely have I ever picked up a book I knew nothing about and loved it quite so much, even waiting almost two whole weeks to write a review of it. I first heard about this book when I saw it on JC Lillis' twitter page and enjoyed the artwork on the cover -- that's what drew me in. The blurb only made me more intrigued.
And you should be -- this young adult novel follows Brandon (along with his friends Abel and Bec during the whole summer after high school) across the US as they visit the series of five Castie-Cons for their favorite show, Starship Planet. Bran and Abel are super-fans (like SUPER.FANS) who first met online and bonded over their obsession, and later became co-vloggers, devoted to the show. Abel loves Captain Cadmus and Bran loves Sim, something which they argue about endlessly! But the one thing they can agree on is their mutual hatred of the "Cadsim" shippers and their rival blog that is devoted to the fanfiction written about the relationship between the show's two stars, Cadmus and Sim. Why, WHY? does everyone assume that they're secretly gay and together -- Bran and Abel are convinced that some people just can't accept that not everyone is really gay and they're fed up with the shippers who think they are.
So, as their road trip summer approaches, they make a bet. At each con they'll ask the question: Do you think Cadmus and Sim are secretly getting it on? to each visiting star of the cast during Q&A, and if any of them answer in the affirmative, Bran and Abel will act out one of their fanfic scenes and post it online. If they're right, and the cast obviously thinks nothing happens between the characters, then the creators of the rival blog will have to sign a document bowing to the awesomeness of Bran and Abel and admit that the two characters would never work together. It's a fool's bet, or so they think. But surprises on the road change the game for both of them.
Okay, so, that sounds super awesome, right? First of all, they're total geeks, which I love. Also, the blurb is written so well and it is so witty, that I was hoping it would bode well for the novel itself. And I honestly had no complains -- none -- about the story at all. In fact, I'm making myself wait a whole month before reading it again. The beauty of the story is the relationship between Bran and Able. Able is the gregarious and sometimes flamboyant of the pair, with lots of sexual misadventures and a style all his own (I loved seeing what he wore from each truck stop they made!). Bran is different, in many ways because of the internet (I'm getting there…). Raised in a devout family, Bran's recent years have been difficult in a family built on secrets and repression. His family loves him, but they also believe he's made a bad choice, not by coming out, but by being gay in the first place. He's continually harassed by their pastor, who always seems to want to have a chat with him. The internet and his heavy presence there, is like a shining beacon for him to represent the best of himself. And.. you can see where this is going… that is how lies are started. At the start of this trip, Bran has found himself in a place where everyone who knows him (save Bec, who he knows from childhood) thinks he's someone completely different than he really is. And of all these people, the ones he's afraid of finding out the truth the most is Abel. Keeping the secrets and using convenient lies like a horrible ex to say why he isn't dating, are easy online and seeing Abel once or twice a month, but together 24/7? It's going to be hard.
Add in a new, ultra-secret group intent on exposing their lives online makes Bran even more paranoid as they stop in each city, putting Bran and Abel at odds and their friendship is put to a severe test when almost nothing turns out to be what they expected.
That might be the LONGEST summary I've ever written! But, there's just so much about this book, and so many different threads weaved throughout. It is really masterfully written with a real flare for voice and style and a huge dose of vulnerability and appropriate teenaged angst. There's nothing I hate more than a whiny teenager, and I was so happy that this author didn't fall into that trap. Bran's issues are extremely real and sometimes quite heavy. The writing is so centered in who he is that it's like a part of him with no separation, like his real feelings come across without filter. So, it affected me, quite a lot. He's really pretty messed up, and in an identifiable way to most people who will probably read this.
Another thing that made this novel a pure pleasure to read was the humor. It is so freaking hilarious that I almost couldn't take it at times. I had so many different quotes and notes on this book in my Kindle, probably more than any book previously, because some of the lines are so funny that I couldn't bear not to mark them and then chat with my reading buddies (Laura and Tina, also in love with this book!). I wish I could share some of them, but I lost them all with my brand new Kindle a few days ago. Anyway, I'll just have to read this again and make another post with quotes or something, because the amount of one-liners you could take from this book astounds me :)
I left this book till last in my reviews because it is the best. And that is saying a lot up against a book like Tinseltown. But, even though I loved both and they both were similar in some ways, like the TV trivia-spouting characters and the unique voice and style, for me this book won out simply because it was such a pure pleasure to read. At times it was emotionally wrenching, something I have a particularly hard time reading if I'm expecting it, but I've still thought about this book at least once a day even so long after finishing it.
And it is only $2.99. Seriously! I kid you not. It's a steal -- and I would have paid three times the price for it and still felt it was worth every penny. I have a feeling that this will be my #1 most pimped out book this year, something I might have been comfortable with if I had read it in March instead of October. So please, do yourself a favor and go buy it. Then, spend this weekend getting to know the two cutest, funniest, and most lovable geeks in print. You'll be happy you did -- I promise!...more
I've gotten a bit behind on my reviews lately (partly due to GRL) and several of the ones that have backReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I've gotten a bit behind on my reviews lately (partly due to GRL) and several of the ones that have backed up have been anthologies. I have to tell you that reviewing an anthology, for me, is quite daunting. I just can't seem to do a review without reviewing each story -- even if I don't set out to. But the great thing is that the anthologies released by Storm Moon Press recently seem tailor-made for me. And when you add in one of my favorite sub-genres of paranormal, demons (and sundry), I knew that I had to accept this one for review no matter how far behind I was. Surprise, surprise -- I pulled it out first, completely neglecting the others.
I want to apologize to all those authors because I just couldn't resist. And while none of these stories were my favorites (none were my least favorites either) I've found in SMP's past anthologies, the diversity between them was really wonderful. These four stories work really well together simply because they're all incredibly original in different ways. Don't expect your typical demon/angel trope here. They do however take the atmosphere of this time of the year into the tone of each story without it becoming … Halloween-y.
They each have something to praise about them, so in the end my review format for anthologies works for this one.
The Devil's Midway by SL Armstrong & K Piet (3.75 stars) Genre: m/m Historical Paranormal
Though he should be an old man by now, Thaddeus finds himself managing the traveling Le Carnaval du Diable, the demon Belial's pet project. But, though he generally can keep the carnival and all it's traveling act and crew under wraps, he's frustrated that the badass demon still has his sights set on him. Owing to the catalyst that brought him to sell his soul to the Devil and how that intersects with his faith, Thaddeus has always remained autonomous. Though the big man below owns his soul and therefore his long, unending future, he doesn't own his mind or actions, which makes him the only one who can deny Belial. But the chase seems to turn the demon on and he uses every advantage he has to break Thaddeus down and get him into his bed, some of which are devious enough to be worthy of the demon he is.
The place this story succeeds the most is in the sexual tension created between Thaddeus and Belial. They're both incredibly stubborn, and Belial has enough arrogance for both of them, that their sexual come and go turn into a game of wills. Thaddeus is afraid that if he did give into his carnal desires and sleep with the demon he would lose his independent thought he cherishes. It is all he has left that hasn't been laid claim to and he doesn't want to chance it. Belial, though, is very difficult to say no to, especially as he continues to find ways to try to torment Thaddeus into submission. While there were some other small bits of plot that help to expand the world, this is the essence of the story.
The problem then for me, was that I didn't really understand the ending. I have no doubt with these two authors that the choices they made were deliberate, but they either didn't work for me or I didn't understand the story as I thought while I was reading. It was certainly enjoyable, and I really liked the world (I'd love to see more!), but the ending didn't seem to add anything in particular to the story other than follow through on what is probably Thaddeus' true characterization. So, I ended up feeling like this story wasn't much more than a snippet of a larger world. No real romance, per se -- or at least the story didn't progress enough for me to consider it a romance. And, like I said, that's probably what the authors were going for, but this time it didn't work as well for me.
All of what I expect from these authors is in this story, the quality of writing is undiminished. I simply had a bit of a snag with the direction of the end of the story and my hope that there would have been more before it ended. A good, strong start to the anthology!
Hell Bound by Alina Ray (2.75 stars) Genre: m/m Contemporary Paranormal Romance
Craig wakes to find himself in darkness -- a shifting void that slowly reveals a dreamland resembling Hell. He learns quickly, though, that he is indeed dead and has traveled to the underworld for punishment and redemption for his actions in life. Too bad Craig can't remember anything about his life except random details like pop trivia. He's ushered through punishments and recollections by the demon Karawan, a sexy young red-skinned hunk that gives Craig "Ideas", even during his rather harsh punishments that are intended to cause pain. A human who derives pleasure from pain is something that Karawan has never heard of before, but something that he admits intrigues him, along with the human himself. When Craig starts to regain his memories, they're both in a for a surprise. Is Craig in the right place? or, did he do something terrible in life that he hasn't remembered yet? Either way, they both find themselves finding pleasure in a place where happiness is supposed to be impossible to feel…
I am of two minds about this story. I originally gave this story a Not Feelin' It rating simply because it ended on a low note for me, after starting quite strong. But after a little reflection, there is actually a smart and original hook to this story. The first half of the story, where Craig arrives in Hell and Karawan introduces him to the various tortures meant as punishment, is quite strong. There's an atmospheric quality to the writing that portrays Hell as a void which is incredibly eerie. The addition of Craig's amnesia means that his point of view is rather distorted. Karawan is shown to have a more trustworthy point of view, and interestingly enough, a rather naive and sheltered one. I could never quite tell if it is his lack of experience, his own personal quality, or a representation of the whole race of demons, but Karawan isn't the cruel master one expects by allowing us to see his reasoning behind torturing humans.
The problem I had was the very quick transition from "getting to know each other" to the ending and a quick change in tone (from suspenseful and mysterious to almost sappy). There is a very quick series of events that revs up the pace and it really didn't work for me. It left me feeling like the two wouldn't have as strong of feelings as they did at the end because we don't get to see the point where they actually get to know one another, just hear about a bit of it. It goes hand in hand with the ending, and I could see that the author had an endgame in plan from the very beginning. I had actually wondered if that was the way the author was going to go right at the beginning, and for the most part I was right. It's an interesting little trick of reasoning which made the story stand out a bit more for me, hence the raised rating. Unfortunately, the execution left some things to be desired and because of that, this was probably my least favorite story of the anthology.
When the Hounds Come Out to Play by Azalea Moone (3.75 stars) Genre: m/m Paranormal
I also had a difficult time with this story, but only for a bit. The beginning is almost funny, and certainly cute as we're introduced to the Hounds of Hell, dog shifters coming to the surface for Halloween night to reclaim lost souls. I liked Ryu immediately, who is like a fish out of water but attracted to the sunlight that burns him. He reminded me a bit about Ariel, from The Little Mermaid, who is obsessed with humanity but gets burned by them in her naivete. The story later got difficult for me and left me with a bit of an uneasy feeling. Trying to understand and feel empathy for Grant is a tall order, and I had to reconcile my own feelings with Ryu's, all while watching him become a little bit more jaded as the story progressed. I think, though, that this story might have left the most impression on me, even though it wasn't my "favorite".
I was initially a bit confused about the direction the story took, when we learn who Grant and Jalen really are, and upset that the story wasn't a romance, but it made sense after a while. Ultimately, I'm glad that the story didn't turn romantic, because that would have confused me even more. Of course, part of my uneasiness also comes from knowing so little about Ryu, but then I think that was deliberate. And it makes sense why the author would choose to keep so much detail from the reader, unless she wanted to sacrifice the mood of the story, which is built on the suspense and threat of danger from several different directions. This story had the most Halloween atmosphere for me, and that's not because the holiday makes an appearance in this story but because to Ryu, who doesn't really understand humanity before his night away from the graveyard, Halloween only makes everything more confusing, and therefore it is disorienting to him and the reader.
I definitely liked this story and I loved that it was something different. I'd love to hear what other readers think about this one!
The Seventh Sacrifice by Tali Spencer (4.5 stars) Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Finally, I think this story was my favorite of the anthology. I was waiting for that sizzling chemistry and for a story to take it a little further than some of the previous ones in the anthology. Beltrane, a Spanish descendant of conquistadores, is visiting his cousin in Bolivia, a female TV journalist who was recently horribly abused by her boyfriend. Beltrane follows his friend's directions to visit a sorcerer in the ancient city to buy a charm or talisman to get revenge on the man who betrayed his cousin, the woman who is like a sister to him. Only, the sorcerer isn't what Beltrane expected at all. Not only is he surprised that some of this seems to be real, but the man himself intrigues him -- not to mention Kitara is one of the most beautiful men he's ever seen.
Kitara is much more than a sorcerer. Descended from the ancients and shackled to the area around the church for centuries only makes the past betrayal and anger at what the Conquistadores did to the Incan culture. It turns out that he needs Beltane as much as the man needs him, or even more. Strangely enough, the man who he was immediately attracted to when he walked in his store is Spanish, and could be the key to unlocking the imprisonment placed on his people all those years ago. Only, he'll have to sacrifice him first!
I really liked the dark edge to this story. I think, in the end, I consider this a romance. I'm glad that Kitara doesn't act human. If he did, this would easily be a romance, but I'd rather him be as he is in this story -- larger than life, still retaining his god-like abilities and way of thinking. In many ways, Beltrane is a pawn to Kitara, but by the end of the story I wasn't so sure of that, even though it seems that way, outwardly. But the dark edge to their relationship and sex in the form of betrayal and sacrifice and slavery.
If I had to choose one story from this anthology to expand into something larger, or a sequel, it would be this story. Not only did I like it enough to want to read more, but there's the growth of the relationship between Beltrane and Kitara, as well as the plethora of detail and possibility about the world....more
I have to tell you… I did not expect the story I got when I started reading this. I'm not even sure whatReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I have to tell you… I did not expect the story I got when I started reading this. I'm not even sure what I expected really -- something funny/facetious?. To be honest, I tend to not expect much when I read a first time author, or at least an author I haven't heard of and I took a chance to review this when the author contacted me for review. Well, I'm really glad I did, because this turned out to be another book I loved that I hadn't heard anything about before reading that I've gotten this fall for review (the first was JC Lillis' awesome YA novel, How to Repair a Mechanical Heart).
Though the cover and title don't suggest much in the way of good plot and writing, the reference to the much argued about "mommy porn" book actually has a place in the story. Andrew has always been straight, and he's always been afraid of gay men. Of course, that all stems from finding his father in bed with his favorite teacher in school, and the subsequent trauma of the breakup of his family and his school life turning upside down. Bitten by the acting bug at a young age, Andrew doesn't find many opportunities in small town Kansas, but finds himself looking for work in New York City when his sister, who moved to the city for an adventure a few years prior, is diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. Now Andrew finds himself a primary caregiver and looking for difficult to find work in a difficult economy. When the bills start to pile up, Andrew admits that he needs to find work, now -- and waiting for a well paying acting job just isn't smart when he has to consider his sister's care.
Andrew's neighbor is the proprietor of a stable of escorts and offers him a job. Sure, he's straight, but he's also an actor, and what better role than this could there be to test his chops? It might even help him get over his aversion to gay men. But he doesn't really know what he's getting into, and even though he's memorized the laws and isn't being pressured into sex for pay, he knows that that's where the extra (and big) money is. Could he do something like that? He's forced to face up to all his preconceived notions, his fears, his family history, and the possibility that his sexuality might be a lot more fluid than he ever allowed himself to consider as he goes out on job after job. And the worst, or maybe best, is a repeat customer: Cormac Donovan, a republican congressman from California who is nothing like he ever suspected.
Don't be mistaken, what might seem from the blurb a lighthearted tale is really quite a serious book that deals with several heavy issues. First and foremost is the extremely frank, honest and real look at what cancer does to a patient and the people around them, supporting them. I know firsthand what that is like from my mother, who cared for my grandmother as she died from cancer in our home. This book shows all sides of that, in a very frank and honest way. Very little of the details are spared, just as the bond grows stronger between the siblings and love and laughter are shown as well. But, take this as a warning for some who might be sensitive to the issue. I was very impressed with the level of dedication and emotion written about this, and it was the undercurrent that brought the rest of the story together.
Two parts of Andrew's life as an escort are shown in this book, that rarely, if ever, meet. First, are the few men that Andrew meets first at a pool party put on by a wealthy Indian man along with several of the other escorts. Paresh takes a particular "shine", shall we say, to Andrew who can't help but show his green colors. No matter how good of an actor Andrew thinks he is, it is obvious to most that he's new to his job and straight. But for Paresh, that is a turn on, and his repeat business (along with the other people and intense situations that come along with him), awaken Andrew to the sort of self-reflection that he needs the most. On the other hand is Cormac, the republican congressman who takes Andrew on dates, starts to fall in love with him and at the same time touts his party's line views of "Family Values." I liked that you could measure Andrew's real feelings, maybe even subconscious feelings, by how reactions to seeing Cormac on television, going along with the republican values that he uses to stay elected and as he says, do some good from the inside. But his feelings for Cormac are confusing, and they definitely have a real and possibly lasting relationship, if you take away the impossibility the outside world represents to them and their vast differences.
But really, what brought this story to a higher level for me was Andrew. He's a great character. He really considers himself and works through his feelings, which allows him to change. Part of that is done through writing his memoir, Fifteen Shades of Gay (for Pay). Though he finds it difficult to put certain things into word (like his sister's illness and his sexual experiences, he's still working through it in his head. So, along with the different aspects of his life that are woven into his narrative, we really get to his his reaction and thoughts with it, and they go quite deep. I felt like I got to know him really well, and even more than that, I liked him.
I definitely recommend this one. Don't let the title fool you! But be sure check out this book and give it a chance -- it is worth it....more
This refreshing short romance is from an author that I've liked for years now, but deviates from a certReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
This refreshing short romance is from an author that I've liked for years now, but deviates from a certain style I've grown to associate with his work. In the past, the books I've read by Geoff Knight have always had a tendency for campy flair, and while I enjoy that style, this appealed to me as well. It is somewhat more serious in tone overall, yet vacillates between light and poignant, all conveyed by how the characters choose to view the world.
Joe Jordan travels extensively, drifting from hotel to hotel all around the world for his job. He once had a home, and a man there, but all of that drifted away as well. The setting was in New York City, a home city if he could ever call it that. He hasn't wanted to return until now, when he's given the assignment to write an article on 5 Ways to Rediscover New York City. His one claim to existence is to compulsively gather pens from every place he visits, which are usually hotels. He has a massive collection of them, like a timestamp on every move in his life to tie him to some sort of permanence. He doesn't see it as anything special, really, until he sees a beautiful french man named Claude in the lobby of The Beacon also stealing a pen…
The story of Hotel Pens is cinematic and certainly not entirely original, but poignant by it's characters ties to the real world and especially New York City. I enjoyed it all the same. I think that the style of writing here might not appeal to some, as it still holds a great deal of flare for melodrama, but that is all in the readers' taste and didn't bother me in any way. In fact, I found it muted compared to some things I've read by this author and enjoyed in the past.
In particular, I found quite a bit to like about the characters, which came through for me quite well in such a short time. The style of the story is a travelogue (like the articles Joe writes) as Claude spirits Joe through a city he knows well to do exactly what he needs to write about -- rediscover the city and through that himself and his connection to his romantic life. It is inherently romantic, from the setting (everything good about the city), to Claude himself (sexy french man? check), to the teasingly erotic writing on bare flesh with stolen pens.
Joe has a host of insecurities that manifest in his life quite symbolically; the vignette style of writing reflects this well, skipping between memories and present in dis-jointed time. It is still orderly, that isn't quite the point. The point really is to emulate the way that Joe tells a story, which like his life refuses to settle down. This was portrayed very well, yet was also one of the reasons I couldn't quite settle into the story myself. Oh, it was very enjoyable, I guarantee you. And while there were one or two points in the story where I felt things start to come together, it never quite did in the end. I needed Joe to expose himself a bit more and then to really look at himself, otherwise there doesn't seem much of a future for him and Claude, only another relationship doomed to fail by his past behaviors. Of course, much of this is in the author's intent and that may not have been it, but that is what would have taken this story to the next level for me to become really wonderful.
This is one I definitely recommend, and I'm always excited when Geoff releases a new story. It is especially a nice little story to read to cheer up your mood. It is cute and totally devoted to romance, and I loved that about it....more
It's been a while since I read anything by Abigail Roux, not having read any of her Cut & Run seriesReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
It's been a while since I read anything by Abigail Roux, not having read any of her Cut & Run series yet (I know, I know!), so I was really excited to read The Gravedigger's Brawl, especially since I heard it was rather scary. While I didn't really find it that scary, there were a few moments, which made me quite happy. I decided a while ago that I'd rather not read anymore really sweet ghost stories. I don't know why, but they just don't do anything for me. If I read a story about ghosts, I want something scary. So, while I didn't find myself wanting to turn on the lights while reading in bed at night, I did find it pleasantly spooky enough to be an exciting and engaging read. Much of that comes from the mystery portion, which I found rather interesting with the real tidbits of unique American history thrown in. But most of all, Abigail showed just how good of a suspense author she is.
Dr. Wyatt Case is the Director at the local History Museum and his job is on tenuous footing. The board is trying to push him out, using low ticket sales and interest as the reason, no matter their own choices to move forward with a renovation plan that only exacerbates the issues. After all, Wyatt is an easy scapegoat. More than just the possibility of losing his job though, Wyatt loves the museum. He's a history geek through and through and not much is as important, until his best friend and co-worker brings him to Gravedigger's, a local bar famous for their flair bartenders and spooky history. Ash Lucroix is great at spinning a bottle and he and Wyatt immediately hit it off, their eccentric personalities meshing well. But when Wyatt's lack of confidence leads him to make a major faux pas, their relationship gets off to a shaky start, and might be finished entirely.
Meanwhile, they have some major problems on their hands. The workers at the bar are hearing and seeing strange things, but most of them are eager to dismiss them. When the forces at work start to target Ash, however, Wyatt's disability to take anything on faith and his need for concrete evidence throws another wrench into their relationship, serving to drive them apart and drive Ash further down a depressing spiral and right into the hands of the malicious force.
I'm sure this isn't news to most of you, but Abby Roux really is a fantastic author. Here, all the elements of the story are interwoven harmoniously, so that while I can pick out and pinpoint certain things that were really good (like the suspense, the history, and the characters), they don't really stand out much because the whole story was wonderful. That's the way it should be. Nothing really stood out to me as disruptive to the flow of the rest of the story and I don't really have many criticism. The only thing that I could really say, is that I thought the final confrontation a little … well, cheesy. Maybe I'm alone in this. I purposefully haven't read any reviews for this novel in months so that I'm not biased by anyone else's feelings. But… I felt like this really great story that had me on the edge of my seat went a little … Halloween-y. Still, it was a minor thing and it didn't take away from my enjoyment of the story. And I could see where it might have been supposed to be a bit funny. The problem was that it made me bust out laughing and I'm not sure that's the reaction I was supposed to have!
So if you haven't read this yet, be assured that it's another good book from Ms. Roux, and that it definitely isn't a historical. I know I'm not the only one that thought it was at first :) You'll enjoy it, and you'll probably find it scary. Okay, I admit that there was one part that really got to me (do the words alley and keys make sense to anyone?). If you aren't me, you might have a lower tolerance for scares and thrills, so I'll just go right ahead and say it's definitely got a scary element. Definitely recommended!...more
Diana Copland is a new author for me. At the time of reading this a couple of weeks ago, I hadn't read anything bReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Diana Copland is a new author for me. At the time of reading this a couple of weeks ago, I hadn't read anything by her. After reading this, I decided to read her earlier Christmas ballet themed book, Grand Jete, and even though I liked it, I can see that she's improving as an author. A Reason to Believe was much better in my opinion. Maybe it is because the addition of another plotline (the mystery) give the story staying power. As often happens with mystery, as the main plot it gives time for the romance to unfold on its own. Maybe it is something like misdirection, but I like that the author allowed that to happen. The relationship between Matt and Kiernan grew organically in a way it might not have otherwise.
I doubt I'm the only one to notice this, so I think it is safe to say that the murder of the young girl in this story reminded me very much of a very public past popular unsolved mystery -- that of JonBenét Ramsey. Many of the original details are there in the story of a similarly murdered young girl. It is around Christmas in the Denver area. A girl is killed in her own house, dragged from her bed to the basement. The parents are originally targeted as suspects and the immediate police investigation and crime scene is severely bungled. At first, this scared me just a little, and I wasn't sure how much the author would borrow from the case in her story. What I appreciated, was that even though the first details are very much similar, the differences soon emerge. Of course, there is the paranormal aspect of this story as the little girl shows herself to Detective Matthew Bennett. Then there is the entrance of Kiernan Fitzpatrick, who along with an interest in the good detective becomes embroiled in the story by his talents as a medium.
Centered around this mystery the two men are brought together by their shared psychic experiences. Matt brings quite a bit of past emotional trauma, as he's still dealing with the death of his former partner, also a cop and the subsequent outing of his orientation within the force because of that. His Captain already has him one foot out of the door and is just looking for another excuse to boot him out entirely, and the "visions" provide an ample opportunity to do so. The ghost of the little girl is persistent though, and Matt finds that he just can't step away when he and the little girl see how corrupt the police department is. But, he has two problems with continuing his own investigation: the persistent presence of Kiernan Fitzpatrick and their growing feelings for one another and the real possibility that his interference will cost him his job.
The pacing of the story is set up beautifully, part of what I mentioned before, the miracle of juggling the different plot lines. The story unfolds naturally and even though I didn't find the mystery particularly engrossing, it was still interesting and kept me on my toes with a fair amount of red herrings and different suspects. I have nothing much to say about the romance in particular, except that I couldn't find much wrong with it and really enjoyed the guys and their connections to one another. In some says I suppose this felt a bit like the beginning of a series, but maybe only in the sense that the paranormal detective setup is often a series and also that I would enjoy seeing the progression of their relationship, especially down the road when they're really used to working together on cases. I think future stories with this could would work out really well and if the author were inclined to write them, I'll be there to read them :)...more
It is such a pleasure to step back into this series. It has been a while since the release of a book asReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
It is such a pleasure to step back into this series. It has been a while since the release of a book as part of a series has gotten me so excited and eager to read right away. I can say that this third book in the series definitely didn't let me down, and more importantly gave me a little more of what I was hoping for as the series progresses.
Mac and Tony have been through a lot from the start of their clandestine relationship to the moment when Mac had to step out to protect him and the growing family they made. Mac still has to put up with some shit from the other guys on the force and his relationship with his partner Oliver is still shaky at best. The recognition of their relationship is a swift commitment into the light of day, a quick permanence to their family -- but they're making it work as best as they can. Mac is still Mac though, working a lot when a case picks up and rarely home in time for dinner. Tony finds himself relegated to the "home work" -- taking care of the kids, cooking, cleaning, reading bed time stories and soothing the nightmares, and reassuring the kids that their family is permanent and that Mac isn't just Anna's father and Tony's not just Ben's new dad, but vice versa. There's a little bit of resentment on Tony's part that Mac doesn't have the time for them, but that isn't really anything new -- what's new is that Mac is better at admitting his faults. They've each tempered the other in some ways now that they have the semi-permanence that was so hard-won, though there are vast areas of improvement to be made.
A new case picks up with the discovery of a body frozen near the Mississippi in the November chill. It looks like a meth head who was murdered, but some of the clues don't add up, including the fact that the young man seems to have rather severe whip marks that allude to the underbelly of the Minneapolis BDSM scene and that he wasn't always a street kid, but an incredibly smart young man working his way up in his career, running in the circles of the wealthy and powerful of the city.
I can't really recommend this series more. There are a lot of you already out there that love these guys and will undoubtedly be reading (or already have read) this book. I think that the best part of this story though, is that so much of it is really the payout from the first two books. Mac and Tony went through so much while Mac was in the closet. Their relationship was such a rollercoaster, from the secret relationship, to the frequent trips to the hospital after another case gone wrong in some way, to dealing with the curveballs that life has thrown at them and having to absorb the impact and keep running. Now that they're a couple in the light of day and even though Mac in particular still has to deal with that in some ways, they're solid in their relationship and we get to celebrate their relationship without worrying so much that the next hurdle might break them for good. In particular, this book shows that in a really specific way that was wonderful to see.
The mystery here is done very nicely as well. It has been a while since I read the first two books, but much of it seemed to follow a different pattern than those, at least with how it affects the principle characters. Some of the outcome was very difficult to read, but it is in keeping with the series and also showed the progression of the series and the relationship in the way that it was handled, so there seemed a be a notable lack of angst, at least in my estimation.
Mostly, though I really felt good when I finished the story. I found myself looking forward to the next book in a way that I didn't after finishing the second book. Sure, I wanted to read more after that one, but I was wary and probably wouldn't have read them back to back if this book had been available then. I would now because of that progression I talked about the way that they have matured. This is a great time, if you haven't read the series, to start. I definitely recommend them!...more
This is a cute little story that is pretty well described by the blurb. Jordan is lonely, pushing into his mid-thReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
This is a cute little story that is pretty well described by the blurb. Jordan is lonely, pushing into his mid-thirties and devoted to his career. But the real reason he doesn't have a lasting relationship is because no man can stand up to the memory of his first love, no matter how unrequited it was. When he was a teenager, Jordan was in love with Gabe, his best friend Elijah's older brother. The sad thing is that maybe, just maybe Gabe felt the same way about Jordan as he did him, but then again maybe not. When Jordan's friends pester him to develop a social and romantic life and take some time off work, he decides to buy a prostitute. When he shows up for the appointment at the man's house, who should answer the door but Gabe?
For the most part this story is pretty well self-described. It doesn't deviate from the blurb at all and it is rather short, so the blurb suffices to tell most of the story. I liked Jordan and Gabe well enough, thought I didn't ever really feel that connected to them. It might be because of the length, or it could be because in that small amount of time neither really stood out that much and the story was pretty generic. It was still solidly well written, it just didn't offer much from the norm.
The best parts of this story and the parts that really stood out and had some personality were the flashbacks. It is so surprising for me to admit this, I usually hate flashbacks, but they really worked for me. There are only a few, and they don't take up much of the story, but they have a lot of personality, showing the time Jordan spent with Elijah and Gabe during his teen years, going to a Foo Fighters concert and the way he felt connected to Gabe for the first time. I would have liked to know more about the friendship between Jordan and Elijah, however, and how Elijah feels about their relationship in the present. Somehow that seemed overlooked since they talk about him and telling him and the brothers' parents, but not how he felt about it.
This works well as a short. It is cute and sweet and definitely good for when you want a quick, painless read. I like this author and I always know when I pick up one of her books what I can expect (at least so far)....more
I really love each of these authors separately, so I've been waiting forever to see what their combined writing iReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I really love each of these authors separately, so I've been waiting forever to see what their combined writing is like. We finally get that with this first book of a new mystery series, and more than any other author pair, each author has his distinct stamp on the book. It may be because I'm so familiar with their individual writing, but it is clear in the characters that remind me so much of Ethan's past romantic comedies, and in the campy tone and incredibly twisted plot reminiscent of the Fathom boys' own stories, always going just a couple steps further than you expect, just shy of the hilariously absurd. The combination of those forces was bound to be a sight to behold; before I even knew what the book was about, I could picture the hilarity the two had writing together. The outcome is almost exactly what I expected and described above, the most dominant traits of each carrying forward and marrying into a story that is at same time serious and off the wall.
Jon Fox is a playboy private investigator whose contacts around the quarter are synonymous with fuck buddies -- easy payment for their services rendered on the lookout -- because everyone wants a piece of Fox and they always beg for more. His reputation makes him well known, but not just for his prowess in bed (or you know… anywhere). An incredibly difficult childhood of lies, neglect and death left an enduring mark on the young Fox, who tore through New Orleans for years leaving destruction in his angry, alcoholic wake. His money and connections through the Fox name keep him out of serious trouble, but even now as he has settled into the straight and narrow he has a buried, finely honed edge of rage just waiting for relapse.
Fox is stuck in the middle of a rather unorthodox case, when a sweet older woman visits him with a very odd request. That case brings him to shadow a man seen being friendly with the woman at a local diner. Fox admits that he loves surveilling the beautiful Tucker a little more than he should, unsure if the man has any idea what he's involved in. Luckily the borderline stalking works to his favor when Tucker ends up needing his help after the man witnessed something he shouldn't while walking through the city at night. The two will have to find a way to work together to piece together the mystery of the men after Tucker, Fox's strange client, and some old and very buried family secrets.
This story is really quite a vast mystery and only the very first part of a much longer story. Though I assume the mysteries will change from book to book, the relationship arc covers them all. In that sense, this book is the setup for the rest of the story yet to come, though it is long and detailed enough, with enough focus on the relationship to make this a satisfying beginning to the relationship between Fox and Tucker. There is often a very fine line drawn between camp and serious character and plot development. it worked well for me. This is a story that benefits from campy humor and tone but isn't reliant on it, and the mystery behind it was pretty solid.
At times that mystery became a bit much for me. The second half is really when it picked up. I had a difficult time with the first half. Everything was written well in the beginning, especially the character and relationship development, but it felt a little slow to get off the ground and I wasn't quite sure how focused the story was. In retrospect (knowing how the mystery is resolved), I can see where most of the ground work in the beginning of the story had a place, but for most of the book I had a hard time reconciling the focus of the mystery in the beginning with the outcome. There are three major parts of the overall investigations that don't really seem to fit together into a whole, and there were some unanswered questions for me in the end about how one of them ultimately fit in (the mob). Perhaps I'm missing the connection, but a lot of that part of the investigation seemed arbitrary to me.
The characters are smartly written -- Tucker, a screenwriter, sees the world through a lens and I loved his overt movie references that always seemed to come out at the worst times. Fox has a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde thing going on that works really well when we finally find out more about him and the family secrets start to unravel. The mystery is pretty convoluted, with a large cast, a long history and a lot of different factions to consider. Like I said before, some of this didn't quite piece together for me, but this is also the first book of a series and it seems to me that there will be a continuation of much of this story, though perhaps not the particulars. The ending sets the direction of the next story, but doesn't end on a cliffhanger either. All in all, I think this duo has nowhere to go but up and I'll be excited to read the sequel. Hopefully it isn't too far away!...more
I believe that this is the first m/m romance this author has written. At the very least, she is new to me and theReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I believe that this is the first m/m romance this author has written. At the very least, she is new to me and the blurb and cover were both quite tempting. I haven't read a cowboy book in a while, and thought I didn't expect it from the blurb, I liked the dynamic between the two characters, the whole two alphas going head to head in a battle of wills can be intriguing. That's just how I saw it, as both men were quite stubborn and had a prior competition that bled over into their relationship, but I also wouldn't say that that dynamic was the focus of the story.
The story is quite short for the length and I did have some trouble with how the story was split into two different halves. We get to know the two men on the dude ranch in Colorado. Clay is spending his summer there, as he has done for several years as a ranch hand. It is the only time of the year he can be himself, but he's lonely this year without the other two men who usually spend the summer with him. They've both come out and are now in committed relationships. The loneliness of being at the ranch alone only echo his decision to toe to his powerful father's expectations. James is another high powered litigator based across the US in San Francisco. Unlike Clay, James is out and proud and refuses to date another man in the closet. The ranch gives them anonymity to get to know each other away from the world in which they are rivals on opposite sides of the bench during the many cases they've gone up against one another.
The second half really switched things up. Right around the 50% mark, there is a huge shift in time, where Clay gets fed up (like we knew he would) and makes some changes in his life. We see very little of this, most of which is summarized. I'm not a big fan of this style, in fact is really frustrates me. I would have loved to see Clay's transition at this point, it's the most powerful part of the story. But, we don't get to see the most of it, and the story starts 6 months later when he tries to win James back.
For the most part, the giant plot hole made this story disappointing for me. Also, it made it nothing special. I've read countless stories exactly like this one, and while somewhat enjoyable at the moment, it isn't memorable. Maybe it would be different if I hadn't felt cheated out of the mid-story development. This is a good read if you're really into cowboys and/or are looking for a short, little stress read that doesn't offer much complication or time out of your schedule. There are a few sexy explicit scenes, but nothing totally scorching, at least to me. I did like the dynamic between the characters though -- they had a stubborn (but not too stubborn) head to head competitive thing going that worked well in the bedroom. The story is too short to really see the development of that as well....more
This book once again fell prey to my misread of blurbs tendency. Why do I do that? If**spoiler alert** Review posted at The Armchair Reader.
This book once again fell prey to my misread of blurbs tendency. Why do I do that? If you read the blurb, you'll see that this book definitely is about a love triangle and not an m/m/m romance, though the majority of the sex is m/m/m. So, read the blurb carefully people! Why do I never learn my own lessons? For the sake of my own sanity, I'll not write up a summary for this one, and let the author's blurb suffice!
Despite my misread of the blurb, I still enjoyed this story, I was just waiting for all three men to get together. I don't think that it is a spoiler, since the blurb makes mention of it, that the focus is rather on two men who have their sights set on Tate, and not three men together. That said, I liked this story even though I usually hate love triangles. It did what it needed to do in making one character more known to the reader and one more removed, otherwise I would have ended this story being upset one way or the other. The author didn't use the convenient trick of making one of the possible suitors unlikeable, which is handy but overused, and I appreciated that. Still, I did end the story wanting the man who wasn't chosen to get his own HEA, and hoping that the author will write his book.
The sex and BDSM play in this story deserves it's own paragraph, maybe more than one! Though the development of the relationships do get a lot of page time (and I had no criticism of them, which is why I'm not talking much about them), the focus of the BDSM is play rather than lifestyle, or even psychology. Very little is said about that, and the BDSM is focused to scenes. I must admit that I prefer a little psychology in my BDSM books even if the characters aren't looking for a BDSM lifestyle, because I like how it develops the characters. So I did miss that. It made much of this book about sex rather than relationships, even though that does slowly evolve as the book progresses, just not as part of the BDSM. That means that the characters aren't really subs or Doms. Actually, I'm still a little unsure of this. For most of the book, Tate and Sebastian are both subs, but since we never really learn what it brings them, why they need it or want it, etc., I just didn't know what to think when they both change it up. Then, it seems as if the whole time they were working with James to become Doms someday. I think it would have helped to have some clear direction from the beginning, because I got rather confused once all the roles started changing. Perhaps it was my preconceived notions coming into this book that I didn't expect the BDSM to be play only, but then I don't think it was only play. It seemed as if it was just never quite explored.
The murky and less defined rolls bothered me quite a bit, which is the main reason I didn't rate this book higher than Pretty Good. Even if that was the point, however, I still think that the framework of those changing roles should have been outlined in the beginning. There's also some puppy play. I didn't let my feelings about this to affect the rating, because my feelings about it are personal and not a reflection of the book, but it is something that readers might like or not like, and should be mentioned.
In all, I really liked the book and enjoyed it, but I didn't love it. I liked that it was heavy on sex, but I would have preferred some exploration of the BDSM aspect and some reflection on their desires to sub, Dominate or switch. The lack of that discussion made the BDSM in the book more of a tutorial and about play, and while that is fine it wasn't what I was expecting. Also, it took up the majority of the book, with the exploration and development of the relationship to take place apart from the scenes, and there wasn't a lot of time for that to happen, although it wasn't done terribly. I would just have liked to see those two parts of their lives married together a little more.
Thanks for sticking through this jumbled review -- I needed to work through my thoughts about the book. I think the previous paragraph sums up my feelings the best....more
If I had my way, Amy would keep writing this series FOREVER. I'm not kidding, sexy men who knit + Amy LReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
If I had my way, Amy would keep writing this series FOREVER. I'm not kidding, sexy men who knit + Amy Lane's writing sans angst = the best thing ever and totally meant just for me. That's how I feel. I love this series because if you ask me, not nearly enough people knit, especially men. Reading about them, therefore, is like a fantasy come true. And I love these men. The first story, The Winter Courtship Rituals of Fur-Bearing Critters has always been one of my favorites of Amy's shorts, but this sequel, where we get to know a lot more about Jeremy and Aiden though we met them in that first story, far surpasses it, In my opinion. I think because there's a real history at play here and Jeremy is such a compelling character. I love him and seeing him really work for the life he wants to live and the relationship that he finally decides he deserves and can handle is really rewarding. Of course, Aiden is special in his own way as well.
All we knew about Jeremy from the first story was that Crawford had found him on the streets and offered him a job, and that he used to be a con man. There are two things in particular that make this story special, and they go hand in hand. First, Jeremy's voice is (as I talked to Laura the other day) very Steinbeck-ian in diction and phrasing. He has a unique voice that shows his rather colorful past, yet neglected childhood and it really just made me want to cuddle him. Second, he spends the first third of the story, roughly, taking us back in time and giving his life story. It gives us quite a bit of time to see the backstory, not only of Jeremy's childhood, but also of the history of the wool mill and the other characters. In a way it feels like a prequel, and that allows us to see much of what we witnessed in the first story (the relationship between Craw and Ben) through other, fresh eyes.
The heart of the story is really about Jeremy and his evolution into a productive member of society. Raised as a chameleon by his father with the only reputable goal money and winning, he has an ingrained and slightly skewed perception of the world around him. Getting put in jail after a rather close and terrible incident when he was younger sorted him out some, but the real work comes once he has a chance to prove himself. He has to hold a job, make money, and learn to be responsible to others. But, shedding his past is very difficult, no matter how much support he has in terms of his new family and Aidan, who represents everything good and pure in the world that Jer is afraid to touch in case he sullies it. Yet, like the yarn they cultivate, spin, dye and knit, each member of the motley family offers security and a slow-paced reassurance to Jeremy that allows him to take baby steps. This character progression is really what makes this book so wonderful. The story is full of little details that represent the big issues, showing Jeremy in a very clear light that in itself is poignant.
Everyone (it seems) knows about my aversion to angst, no matter how much I try to get through some books. And I admit freely that many of Amy's books scare the fuckin daylights out of me, just because I hate putting myself through some of the shit she inflicts on her characters. But when he writes a sweet story, I am so there. The addition of knitting and yarn production (which I actually know a lot about, strangely) only made this book in particular totally wonderful to me. I absolutely cannot wait for the next story, Knitter in His Natural Habitat....more
I agree with Tina's Review on this one. Though I really liked the book, and I really got into it, the last 40% just killed me. I couldn't exa3.5 stars
I agree with Tina's Review on this one. Though I really liked the book, and I really got into it, the last 40% just killed me. I couldn't exactly understand Gavin making THAT many mistakes, no matter how much it's dealt with after the fact with how he feels he messed up (in Safeword). It was pretty obvious to me the first time I saw the killer in the book. Surprisingly I even had the motive figured out and I never can guess that or the identity of the killer in mysteries. So I was a bit surprised that it seemed so obvious to me, even though by the 65-70% mark is REALLY is obvious.
Otherwise, the rest of this book seriously rocked and I was really eager to read the sequel! I hate even having to rate this 3.5 stars, but the second half of this was just really frustrating for me....more