I'm always excited to get a new GS Wiley story to review, so I was eager to open this story. HistorReview posted at Brief Encounters Reviews.
I'm always excited to get a new GS Wiley story to review, so I was eager to open this story. Historical Fiction/Romance isn't typically my favorite genre, but every now and then I get a hankering for it. This story was nice in that respect, because it can sometimes be daunting for me to dive into a long historical novel.
The premise of this story is the effect of war on men. Henry forges a special friendship, even a semi-loving relationship with Jack, another soldier in the trenches in France in WWI. No Man's Land is the "over the top", the area of death where no one seems to return. Henry is plagued -- both in the trenches and after the war -- with the images of broken and lifeless men. Near to rotting with trench rot on one foot and infested with fleas, nevertheless, they seem to find a special moment a day before Jack goes "over the top."
Eight years later, Henry is back in London working for the defense of other former soldiers such as himself, dealing with the effects of the war. He's a widower with a little girl named Louise. He deals daily with his broken memory and the secrets he's held to himself, but it isn't until he runs into Jack that the issues -- and the hope for more than lonely fatherhood -- arise once more for him. Only now, there are other difficulties between them, their memories, the illegality of their love for one another and the secret that Jack has held all these years.
I did quite enjoy this story. It's too short to really get into the story but for a 10k word short story, it does really well to convey the world and doesn't offer too much plot for it's size. The downside to that is that I think some will be disappointed not to get more of the romance between the two. Some pretty big issues develop between Henry and Jack, on top of the difficulty of trying to have a relationship in the first place and there really isn't enough time to get into the characters the way that I'd really like to. But, the choice of length aside, the author did well with the length and presented the story as a second chance between the two men and a start to something new. And it's definitely a story that I could see with a couple of sequels. There is quite a lot of story that is left to tell, in my opinion, and I would definitely be interested to read them.
If you're like me and like to read a historical short rather than delving into a longer historical work, then this should definitely be on your list. I liked the feel of the story, there's a pervasive air of tension, fear and depression in the story and Henry engages in his world by comparison to his experiences in the war. That creates a dire mood that is somewhat lifted by the appearance of an older Jack. I've always liked GS Wiley's writing, so this is another story that I connected with....more
Lyall McLannan and his sheltie dog, Fergus, are the most popular every year at the Highland Games. Martin isReview posted at Brief Encounters Reviews.
Lyall McLannan and his sheltie dog, Fergus, are the most popular every year at the Highland Games. Martin is a baker and owner of local bakery and celebration cakes business called Flour Power. Every year he goes to the games to set up a stall and sell his goods, even dressing the part (though quite toned down). And every year, from afar, he admires the gorgeous and outgoing Lyall with a real Scottish brogue. He never expects to meet him. No matter his fantasies, Martin is quite busy at the games baking and working his stall. This year is even worse -- his assistants are busy with their cake orders back at the bakery, so he's working the games all by himself.
When Fergus the dog shows up alone while Martin is baking and whines for a treat, Martin can't help but fall in love with the dog and his antics. Like his sexy master, he's quite charismatic and knows how to charm to get attention. And of course, Martin is surprised when Lyall shows up at his stall looking for his dog. Lyall has admired Martin from afar as well -- no matter how Martin could never believe that he'd be attractive to the man who could have whoever he wants -- and Fergus has given him the perfect opportunity to ask the man on a date.
The two get to know each other a bit that night over a pint in the tavern at the games, but a late night dog walk with a cat-chasing Fergus causes an accident that puts the Flour Power stall in jeopardy and makes Lyall feel incredibly guilty… enough to take the chance to spend the whole games with Martin, trying to learn to bake and getting to know each other at night under the stars and sleeping together in his RV.
The first thing you really need to know about this story is that… well, Lyall is almost perfect. I mean, he's got the Scottish brogue going on, he's incredibly sexy with muscles galore and wears kilts. And the way he cares for Martin is seriously swoon-worthy. He's the perfect guy in a LOT of ways. And that bothers some people. I can't count the number of bad to okay reviews I've seen for this story on Goodreads simply because people just can't get behind the fact that Lyall seems too perfect. I honestly didn't mind. I mean, it's supposed to be a feel-good story, I think. Almost fairytalesque because the whole weekend is about fantasy. Everyone leaves their real personality and identity at home, and then once a year congregate together to be whoever they want to be. It's a fantasy, and part of that fantasy is in having the perfect romance.
Granted, that leads me to the one thing that I didn't quite like. I suppose maybe these authors didn't want to keep the story going too far. That's okay, I still really liked this story. But the story ends with a very shaky foundation for a relationship. The magical weekend is about to end and they've talked about how they're going back to their real lives and who they are in the real world. And, they've talked about how different it will be if they try to have a real relationship in the real world. That's a different story and exploring that would have made this story into a much longer novella. Still, part of me would have liked just a little more. Maybe one date in the real world to see if they could really make it of it all that perfection over the weekend was just a pipe-dream. In the end, they still don't know each other that well, which makes my hopes for their future together really unsure.
So, the real question is if you have a problem with perfect characters. A lot of readers do. If you don't, I think you should definitely read this one. Fergus the dog steals every scene he's in! He's adorable. Sadly, we don't get to see a lot of hot sexiness scenes with Lyall. That's too bad, because he's hotness in perfection!
Before Review Note: I can't bear to see the rating of this stay at 2.75 stars, so even though my review doesn't go up until next week I'm putting up my rating. This was a solid 4 star read for me and I really liked the characters! I'm not saying the other reviewer who thought their chemistry fizzled was wrong, but I had a completely different take from it and I thought they had crazy chemistry, so... yeah! Just wanted to say that :)...more
This story definitely isn't perfect, but the fact that it literally had me laughing, out loud, andReview posted at Brief Encounters Reviews.
This story definitely isn't perfect, but the fact that it literally had me laughing, out loud, and constantly throughout definitely gave it a higher rating!
Jason has a compulsion, he can't help but enter in contests and giveaways. When he wins a day with The MeatGrinder, a popular professional wrestler, he's a bit baffled since he can't even remember entering. Then, when he realizes that the hulk of a man is actually Trent Peterson, the man he spent his whole college years crushing on from a short distance, he can't help but be excited to see him.
Trent has no idea who the man is who shows up at his door as a contest winner. He has no idea that Jason doesn't know The MeatGrinder but knows his real life identity. When Jason doesn't seem all that interested in seeing his championship belt or even understand anything about wrestling, he decides to take his chances in seducing the cute guy.
I had a bit of trouble getting into the rhythm of the story, mostly because Jason's mind is somewhat erratic. So it did take me a while to figure out their history and how exactly Jason knew who Trent was. Still, the story was so delightful to read just because it was so hilarious that I couldn't help but fall in love with it. Jason and Trent immediately have a kind of repartee, always hovering around the fact that Jason isn't really a wrestling fan even though he's trying to pretend he is. And when Trent gets in the game of teasing him back, the story really picked up.
This is definitely one that you'll want to read just for the laughs. While there is a relationship of sorts, it's more the pre-relationship and initial attraction than the thing itself, and the story ends with a HFN ending. This was the first story I picked up because I've reviewed Kyle Adams stories in the past and really liked them. But, I've read several since this one and this still remains one of my favorite just because it's fun :)...more
You know, unfortunately this story started off on a bad foot for me. One of my pet peeves is when the blurbReview posted at Brief Encounters Reviews.
You know, unfortunately this story started off on a bad foot for me. One of my pet peeves is when the blurb gives more information about the story than the story itself. I finished the story feeling like I'd just been caught in a small worldwide, with the pace moving incredibly fast with little to no transition between scenes and knowing hardly anything about the characters but a few superficial facts. Then I read the blurb again, and much more of the story fell into place for me. But, that's not a good thing. The story should be able to stand by itself.
The basis of the story is a love triangle between Jet, a shadow chaser (a supernatural being whose power comes from the darkness), his best friend and jilted lover Roderick (who is a vampire), and the human who rescues and nurses Jet back to health after Roderick and his whole team turn against him and try to kill him. Holton (the human) is perhaps the most perplexing because we know very little about him, only that he's nursing a broken heart. Really, that's pretty much the whole story -- what, with proper explanation, character building and deeper plotting -- would have been a novella or a novel condensed into 20 pages by rushing the scenes (at breakneck speed), jumping large pieces of plot and not really exploring the characters at all but for a few sentences about them.
I'm afraid that I just can't recommend this story at all. I've never read anything by this author before, but I hope that their other stories slow down a little and allow the story time to unfold. To be completely frank, this story seemed much like a storyboard. The five or six major scenes of a larger story written down and then bunched together. I was so confused while I was reading it with the story jumping around all over the place and not giving us many clues about what was going on. And while, at the end, I finally understood what happened in the story, it missed so much that should have been there: getting to know the characters, understanding their motivations.
So, no I'll have to say that you should skip this one. I'll definitely give the author another go though, and hopefully I'll have a better experience with their other stories....more
Jameson Dash is a new author, with one previously published book (also with TQ), but for me, this is definitReview posted at Brief Encounters Reviews.
Jameson Dash is a new author, with one previously published book (also with TQ), but for me, this is definitely a new author. I'm always a little bit hesitant to try out new authors, like many of you. Then again! That's one of my top reasons that I LOVE reviewing shorts, because it's such a great way to find new authors and also a great way for prospective authors to toe the water a bit (although, we'll table the discussion of novel/short skill for now). So, this was really a shot in the dark for me and it ended up being a bit of a mixed bag for me as well.
First off, Country Messes is written in present tense -- something that doesn't usually bother me. Here, though, I had a really hard time getting through the story. I'd connect, then get thrown out of the flow of the prose just because of the tense. I don't usually have problems with tense, I can handle them all so to speak and not really mind, but I had to keep digging back in. Granted, I mention this up front not only for importance to the review but also as a bit of a disclaimer (we probably shouldn't get into um… cognitive efficiency here… I wouldn't win any tests today!). But, it's worth mentioning. I know that the present tense is a stickler for many of you.
Its the end of the summer in Seattle and Matthew's friend Amie shows up to take him away with two other friends to her Opa's beach house on an island in the sound for the weekend. Taking Matthew's dog Summer along for the trip, the four set out for a stay only to stumble upon a squatter once they get there. Amie's cousin Louis is a composer working on his current musical (or… not working) and using the house to get away from the city for a while for some peace and quiet and perspective. When it looks like Matthew and Louis may be hitting it off, the girls make some convenient excuses to give the two boys to time to themselves.
I did particularly enjoy a few things in the story. First, Jameson Dash is definitely an epicurean, foodie, whatever term you want to use. At times, what bothered me about the present tense was that it led to a tendency for the author to get bogged down in details, like someone recounting their day and each little thing they did. Much of that wasn't really needed and most wasn't appreciated. The food though… mmm I wouldn't have minded even more of that. I would have loved to share in their meals, which they took a real delight in making. Part of that leads to another thing I enjoyed, the garden at the house. Matthew is a gardener by trade, working for a community project in the city. So when he sees a garden slightly gone to seed but still bearing plenty of goods they can use for their meals he can't help but dig in and sort out the mess. I assumed that that is really the meaning behind the tittle, probably referring to the most enjoyable garden scene, which was slightly… shall we say, dirty? ;)
While I wouldn't overly praise this story it was enjoyable. I had some difficulties with it, including that I never really felt like I got a handle on who Lou was, but I also saw a solid base for this author to build on and I'll definitely pay attention to any of their new releases.
Also, a note here about covers: Torquere isn't a publisher that I usually praise in regards to covers, but both of the two books that Jameson Dash has written, which were both published by TQ, have the two best covers I've yet seen from them… Maybe Jameson Dash is a cover artist as well? Click here to look at both of them....more
I generally know what I'm getting into when I read a story by one or both of these authors and this fell inReview posted at Brief Encounters Reviews.
I generally know what I'm getting into when I read a story by one or both of these authors and this fell in line with that. It's heavy on sex with a paranormal twist and a happy, wrapped up ending.
Stryker is a vampire and he's on the hunt in Vegas. It's Halloween and he's looking for a trick and a treat (har har) among the sexy boys out partying. When he stops at a burger joint and bar for a drink, he finds the yummiest man he's ever seen waiting tables. And across the back of his shirt is written, "Super Juicy". Of course, Stry wants to find out just how juicy that man is and finds it easy to charm him as he sits in the man's section. After convincing "Juicy" (named Buck) to come out with him after his shift ends, the pair sizzle up the dance floor at a club on the strip until their unbearable chemistry is too much to show in public. But Stry isn't the one in for a surprise when they get home and he goes to drink Buck's blood.
I specifically listed this as Erotica/Romance, because in my opinion, a tacked on romantic ending doesn't really make the rest of the story a romance. This is mostly erotica (and there's nothing wrong with that). The bulk of the story takes place as the two meet and later go back to Stry's hotel room. It's definitely sexy. I figured that the story would be sex heavy and I was right, but I also feared that the sex would be ho-hum and the typical scene without much to interest me. I was a bit surprised to find that though the plot didn't stray too far from the usual scenarios I did really feel the connection between the two, which made the sex enjoyable to read.
So, while this story wasn't spectacular, it was still a pretty good read. And if you're in the mood for some paranormal lovin', then by all means, go ahead and read this story....more
I was excited when I saw this story come up on the new releases at Smashwords; the prequel to this story, thReview posted at Brief Encounters Reviews.
I was excited when I saw this story come up on the new releases at Smashwords; the prequel to this story, the first Junkyard story, was the first ever story I reviewed here at BER, back in 2011. And after all this time, I wondered if Jaye Valentine would ever write a sequel. In the end, I found this story to be good mainly because of my original excitement in it. I chose to read and review it as erotica and not romance, which I'll explain in a bit. But still, it felt somewhat disjointed and unfinished.
Most of my excitement about this story was (besides the twincest, which I'm always in favor of) from my expectation to go back into this setting, the Junkyard Bordello that we started to get to know in the first story. Now, I'm not sure if there will be another two years until the next story, if it will come soon, or maybe even not at all, but the problem is that these stories are too short to work as standalone, but this story didn't feel very connected to the first one either. Whether it was because it wasn't or just that it's been so long since I read it and can't remember it well, I'm not sure. But, this story left me feeling like there wasn't an overall plot developing or even much about the overall setting, which made me a little sad. And that left only the characters in this story to win me over, and while I might have found them interesting if we had more time, they were just rough outlines as they are now.
I was surprised, actually, that this story doesn't just cover one scene (the main scene described in the blurb between the twins and Jaguar), but hops along with a few other scenes that don't really go anywhere to wrap up their story. It made the story feel like there were some pretty big gaps, especially as these happened over months, rather than a short time.
The story is on sale for $1.99, and while that's great in comparison to some gay erotica stories you'll find for sale online, I still felt like this was a pretty mediocre one hand read as compared to what I'd hoped for, and I would probably encourage readers to look at the author's other works rather than this one....more
I didn't know what to expect from this story. F Gorden Scott is a new-to-me author, though his (?)Review posted at Brief Encounters Reviews.
I didn't know what to expect from this story. F Gorden Scott is a new-to-me author, though his (?) stories have been reviewed before here at Brief Encounters. And the blurb really intrigued me. First, magic and the fantasy element in the modern world, plus strippers? I totally got it and ended up really liking the story.
Thomas is 500 years old and runs a magic shop in Durham, when a lurking visitor "the adonis" finally comes to him to ask for help. The beautiful young man's name is Jimmie and he's in dire straits. He's flat broke, about to lose his apartment, and the only way he can save it is to get the job he's interviewing for in the next week -- as a stripper. The only problem with that (besides the owner of the bar having some different "ideas" about what an interview means) is his total lack of confidence. Thomas is tempted, of course, and helps the young man out with a boost of confidence that will hopefully ensure Jimmie a successful trial run dancing on top of the bar at the Golden Slipper.
There's a lot to like about this story. The best part is that it doesn't try to make itself something it isn't. The story is proud to be erotica, yet at the same time offers a bit of romantic sub-plot with the addition of Thomas' lover, Kevin. Kevin knows all about Thomas' power. He's the first man that has really captured Thomas' heart in his long life and he understands that sometimes Thomas needs a little extracurricular activity. They maintain a loving, committed relationship, which we get to see when the two show up to witness Jimmie's big night.
The story is also rather funny. Thomas is world-weary in many ways and for all his young looks shows his age in his comments about the futility of 'kids these days'. Thomas is a larger than life character, whose charm draws the reader in along with the characters.
I had a bit of confusion both in the beginning and the end of the story. As the story starts we get a bit of background on Thomas, coming from his own voice. He tells us a bit about his childhood and growing up through the ages. He mentions learning he liked men and not women as a young boy surrounded by lusty ancient greek soldiers -- at which time I thought… isn't he only 500 years old? Then, in the end Thomas mentions that he first met Kev "the first night he had conjured me up from the lamp," leading me to think he's a djinn. It left me wondering what the actual truth is, a problem that could have been avoided by omission, as the whole question of it doesn't really add to the story anyway.
Otherwise, I liked this story and it was rather enjoyable....more
I haven't read anything by this author in quite a while, probably several years. So most of my expeReview posted at Brief Encounters Reviews.
I haven't read anything by this author in quite a while, probably several years. So most of my experience with her writing is from some of her earlier works, though they're similar in style and length (if not subject matter) as this steampunk story. Stories like: Moonlight Sonata for Two, Superheroes in the Suburbs and Hungry?. Likewise, it has been quite a while since I've read anything steampunk. I can't say that I'm overly familiar with the sub-genre, but I do enjoy a steampunk story from time to time, and that's why I chose to review this story when it was released. And, in the main, I enjoyed it.
Brom Donker is from a rather wealthy family of political renown, and in this alternate universe with a steampunk civil war, Brom loses both his legs and his arm to the South when he's captured and used as a model for their scientists cruel experiments. He's not a whole man, even though, after his release and into his career as a Pinkerton agent, he's been outfitted with the best machine limbs that have been invented. Still, his wounds and glaring differences make him an outcast in society.
Brom laments his less than whole nature most when visiting his doctor, Simon Wain. He's grown quite an attachment to the small, beautiful and brilliant physician and wishes that Simon could see past his mechanical limbs, see him for more than an opportunity to create even better machines fit for human/automaton hybrid use. But he does not know that Simon harbors secret feelings for him as well, which is part of the reason he's driven to create such advanced limbs -- like a cannon and flamethrower arm -- to keep Brom safe.
But resistance is growing from the Sasquatches (exactly like you're picturing) who are gathering allies from the south and showing signs of rather advanced automatons. Brom is going to need Simon to help solve the mystery, even though he hates taking the man into danger.
The real reason that I couldn't give this story higher than a C is because both parts of the story -- the romance and the outside conflict with Brom's investigation -- feel unfinished. It's difficult to become interested in two characters who we only get very little time to know because of outside conflict that itself isn't really delved into. Both parts sacrifice the other and in the end I felt like I didn't get to really know the connection between the characters and also that I didn't really understand the issue with the Sasquatches. It seemed like it was there only to cause conflict and provide and impetus to bring the characters together, but also tried to make it a part of the story. I would have preferred that the story commit to one way or the other -- either concentrate solely on the romance or give us more time and information about the world and the war. In fact, I found it strange that the Sasquatches were even part of the story. They bring to mind a pretty firm preconceived notion of what they are but I never quite understood who they were or what they meant to the story, other than they looked like the Sasquatches that we know of in myth as Bigfoot, etc. and that they have a culture and race of their own and band together in small groups.
In the end, the story was just too superficial for me. I didn't really get the outside conflict and while I started to like the romance between Brom and Simon, I still didn't really get to know them well. The only thing that was really interesting to me was to see the steampunk gadgets and things that Simon created. But then, for those who have read more steampunk than I have, it might not be all that exciting....more
I decided to review this story on a whim, just because when I saw it and got it, it intrigued me. It might nReview posted at Brief Encounters Reviews.
I decided to review this story on a whim, just because when I saw it and got it, it intrigued me. It might not have if I had not read anything by this author in the past, but after Jen reviewed this author's story, Unseen Touch, and I read it, I really wanted to see what else this author had to offer.
In a few ways this story is a bit of a disappointment compared to that story. It is much shorter and doesn't begin to plumb the depths of the world within that that story did. But, I also suspected, from the blurb and story length, that this wouldn't be much more than an erotica story, and that was fine with me.
The story follows Kit, who is turning nineteen and determined to seduce his boss and savior. Just over a year ago, while still a minor at 17, Kit was a throwaway and picked up by Leon on the steps of the older man's restaurant. For reasons that the man won't completely divulge, other than pure philanthropy, Kit is given a place to stay and a job at the restaurant. The place and Leon soon become his new family, but Kit can't help but still want Leon, just as he did from that first meeting. But Leon won't make the final leap, even though Kit suspects the man has feelings for him too. With determination, Kit's surprise for Leon is derailed by a mysterious tattoo appears on his back and he starts drawing all kinds of strange attention from weird strangers.
Though this does has one rather steamy scene, just rounding out the short story, even rated as an erotical story this was only so so for me. Most of the reason is the length. If the focus of the story was only sex, then I might not have been bothered, but a rather complex world is just barely hinted at, and it only made me want to understand all the questions that went unanswered. Sadly, the one scene that didn't seem to further the story that had already been set up made me a bit frustrated. And though it was hot, it wasn't enough for me to be satisfied.
I'm looking forward to reading more of Arvel Amaya's work, perhaps the sequel to Unseen Touch. But, sadly, at $2.99 for only 8k words, it just isn't worth it, in my opinion. If I were you, I'd skip this one and read the other story....more
The blurb pretty much tells the story here and there is little for me to add to the overall summaryReview posted at Brief Encounters Reviews.
The blurb pretty much tells the story here and there is little for me to add to the overall summary of the plot. Still, what seems like a somewhat unoriginal story from the blurb is made unique out by fresh prose and lots of attention to detail. When the story first starts, set in 1992 at Shady Ladies bar filled with drunk 18 year old graduates, the setting is clinched immediately by firmly grasping the time and place of the scene. Music, the style of clothing and hair, and most of all the attitude of Will, an early-nineties goth punk who thinks he different from everyone else in the world -- the world being Cumbria, Northern England -- grasped me and sucked me into the story.
It's true, The One That Got Away plot line isn't exactly original. This story is structured in three parts, each 9 years apart (1992, 2001, 2010) which is usually very difficult to transition between. There is so much time that passes and pieces of life between those times that are so very important in a romance, where the emotional maturity/growth of the characters needs to be seen. I was happy and surprised to see that this wasn't a problem at all for this author. Part of that is the immediate setting and place that I mentioned before. Another part is that each time we see Will and Rob in a new time and place, so very far from where we saw them before, they've changed quite a bit. There is a wealth of detail and the writing is very tight, without any excess that would water down the story needlessly, so it doesn't take much time for the Clancy to set a scene and fill it with sensory detail.
I wavered directly after finishing the story if I should give it a B+ or an A-, and though it came close there is one reason this story isn't an A read for me. I felt like I knew and understood the characters and I was really happy that my original assessment of this author (who I reviewed a christmas story by at my own blog last month) is that she's a great new addition to our genre with a knack for good writing. But this story didn't reach beyond the relationship and the characters to stick with me. What is there is wonderful, something that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. But I needed to feel just a little more affected.
This is an author that I encourage readers to get to know. I'll be looking forward to what she writes and publishes in the future!...more
Sam is an artist and a beach bum with very loose morals. He lives for the next man in his bed, soonReview posted at Brief Encounters Reviews.
Sam is an artist and a beach bum with very loose morals. He lives for the next man in his bed, soon discarded and looking for another, easily sleeping through the men at the beach and always looking for more. He's fine with his life, in fact he revels in it and is frankly honest about his life. He admits that he's really an asshole that doesn't care more than the casual fuck with a hot man. And he isn't modest about his insatiable bedroom talents.
That all changes when he meets a beautiful blind man holding a sign for a taxi on the side of the road. Thinking to pick him up and hit on him, he ends up giving him a ride, unable to admit once the man assumes he's a taxi driver that he isn't, and declines the payment. In suspicion, the man calls the cops on him and reports it as a kidnapping. The misunderstanding (well, sort of) leads to future meetings between the two as Sam can't get Blind Blondie out of his head.
This is really quite a cute story that started off with just enough animosity and a strange circumstance that it really drew me in. I wanted to find out what happened between these two, one man blind and dealing with his vulnerability in a world where he inhabits such a beautiful body that means very little to him, and another that is obsessed with that body and unwilling to look deeper until it actually smacks him in the face. The transition between that animosity and the other extreme, a loving relationship, is done well and uses the length of the story to draw it out. This made the pacing of the story work well for me, and though I thought it moved rather quickly (scenes transitioned sometimes very quickly with some almost imperceptible bits of narration), it worked best for the plot and what needed to happen for a successful resolution.
My only problem with the story was the ending, and it's purely subjective. It's a bit of an easy device to bring change in the characters and an HEA, but I would have liked to see less. For me, less in a short story is almost always more, and a more realistic look at how Sam was changing without this type of quasi-deus ex machine to show it would have been more satisfying for me.
This is a good story for readers who like to see the enemies to lovers trope and it is satisfying to watch Sam and Kieran's abrasive interactions. The POV is consistently Sam's, and I would have liked to have gotten to know Kieran better, but there really wasn't much time. What is there is satisfying enough for me.
I've been meaning to read and review this little short for a while now, but I was in the mood for horror thiReview posted at Brief Encounters Reviews.
I've been meaning to read and review this little short for a while now, but I was in the mood for horror this week, so it was perfect timing. And this is definitely horror, without romance and complete with a horrifying, non-HEA ending.
James is a bit full of himself, but he doesn't mince words and he knows what he wants. He's a fit guy who likes to have a lot of sex and doesn't care much who they are. He befriends a co-worker, Vic, who seems to have a bit of a crush on him. As they become friends, Vic's feelings seem to grow. Soon, James finds himself without a partner for the night, and though Vic is probably the last person he'd choose to have sex with, well, he isn't very picky. But the newfound intimacy seems to give Vic the wrong message, and after James is forced to tell him that he's only looking for a good time, Vic disappears.
It is now several months later, and Vic has shown up again. Only, things are different -- he carries himself differently, he looks different -- he's changed.
This is really a great story, and one of the best Halloween tales I've read because it really is spooky. It isn't blood and gore that are really scary, but sociopathic and obsessive characters that can really make you squirm, and what I think Clare does so well in this story is show the reader the changes in Vic through James' point of view. James is quite egocentric, and because of that he only really sees their "relationship" (whatever it is) from anyone's point of view but his own, nor does he really seem to care for others' feelings. At the same time, it makes us less caring of James' ultimate downfall, and it creates a natural suspense, where the reader can see the slow progression into madness and James cannot.
So, if you're looking for a short read of something a little different, make sure to check this one out!...more
I believe that this is the first I have read by Ms. Beaumont, and it was a short, cute story. The setting isReview posted at Brief Encounters Reviews.
I believe that this is the first I have read by Ms. Beaumont, and it was a short, cute story. The setting is near Salem and in the time directly after the witch trials of Salem, directly in the wake of the lingering hysteria of the time. People are quick to accuse others of witchcraft based on any number of shaky facts (curdled milk, scars) and for any reason, whether earnest belief or thinly veiled revenge for other slights.
Both of these are the case for Jacob, the town's only doctor and a man who has lost all of his family. His mother came from Wales and passed down her homeland's herb lore within the family, something in which Jacob frequently uses along with the scientific medical knowledge he learned from his father. He's used these to great avail -- he singlehandedly saved most of the town from death in the previous year's outbreak. But, he also sees ghosts and has an ability himself, which along with his familial knowledge he uses to cast protections on the town, his family and friends.
But he does have enemies. Hiding his homosexual nature is difficult when fathers are urging their daughters to gain his hand, and his solitary, unwed nature leads many to consider the rumors of his past relationship with another man in town, his best friend who he lost to the past year's outbreak. All come to the notice of a man traveling through town on his way back from Salem, Inquisitor Marcus Swan. Jacob finds him beautiful and enthralling despite the danger he poses, but the message his dead sister brings to him from his mother beyond the grave suggests that the fate of the two men are intertwined.
For a storyline such as this, which had a healthy amount of detail and world-building, the story is pretty short. I didn't feel the overwhelming crush of a story with too much plot smashed into a really short word count, but I did feel as if there could have been a little more time for the two men to get to know each other. I probably would have been happier had this ended without a firm promise of a relationship, simply because it would have been more real to life. But then, the story does take shortcuts. Obviously, you can't expect here for the story to be historically accurate. So, some suspension of disbelief is required, though how much is up to you.
Otherwise, the story was quite cute. There are no explicit scenes -- there is one that fades to black. I had a bit of a problem with this because it happens at the time of the climax of the story and I never really understood what happened, paranormal-wise because so little was explained. Of course, the main focus of the story is on the relationship, rather than the paranormal world, but I explained above why some of that didn't work for me.
Considering the story on the level of my own enjoyment though -- I liked it. The lighter side of the story is presented, instead of something that seems as if it would be inherently dark. It is a nice little read for Halloween and something I'd recommend if you're looking for short and sweet....more
This was really one of the most adorable stories! I've really enjoyed CB Conwy's writing in the paReview posted at Brief Encounters Reviews.
This was really one of the most adorable stories! I've really enjoyed CB Conwy's writing in the past, and A Russian Bear is one of my favorite BDSM novels. This story is autonomous to that series, but has a clever connection to it that only made me like this story even more.
On the day that Cliff takes home a giant brown Newfoundland puppy, he meets Gerard, a somewhat stuffy and proper interior designer who mistakes the bundle of fur for a bear. The two hit it off trying to name the puppy and finally settle on Mischa. Over the next several months, their relationship grows -- and so does Mischa. Things come to a head when Gerard can't seem to take the disorder Mischa and, by proxy, Cliff bring to his life, resulting in a few secrets coming to light.
I absolutely love puppy stories :) I thought that this story worked so well because Mischa, the puppy, not only has such a great personality (a flying furball and wreaks havoc on everything!) but also because he is used as a catalyst in the relationship between Cliff and Gerard. Their relationship is a bit of a runaway train like the puppy and like Gerard's nerves. Seen through Cliff's POV, Gerard is wonderful but also seems so often frazzled, and Cliff can't help but see that it is because of him and Mischa's place in his life. Where Gerard is a creature of order, Cliff is not (I think we know where MIscha stands in that scale). Cliff himself is a great character because he's the best of all of animal owners and I think that is something most readers can easily connect with.
The story is short, as all of the Charity Sips are, but I thought that the narrative style suited the story best. It jumps around, but in a very coherent way that never made me feel pulled out of the story (as I often feel, for example, with flashbacks). Though the pair have been together for several months, they're at that stage where the real person starts to show through, and I thought it was rather endearingly shown in this story.
I loved how the story connected to A Russian Bear. This is the first story I've read that references another of the author's works that hasn't felt like blatant self-promotion in a masturbatory way. I normally hate when authors reference their own work, as a rule, and I got nervous when I first saw that here, but I ended up finding it charming and cute.
This story is prime for expansion. I'd love to see more of this relationship and this is really only a taste of these characters, who were really brought to life in such a short time. Definitely Recommended!...more
Of the new authors I've read in the past year, Charlie Cochet has quickly become one of my favoritReview posted at Brief Encounters Reviews.
Of the new authors I've read in the past year, Charlie Cochet has quickly become one of my favorites. I try to read whatever she publishes as soon as I can, because for a genre that I'm not typically a fan of, historicals, I've learned by now that in this author's hands I'll always be pleased.
This story is no exception, set in a time period she often writes, the 1920s. It tells the story of Jessie Dalton, or "The Demon", a boxer that is pushing retirement in the wake of defeat and scandal. Eli is the boy who grew up around him, idolizing him and then falling in love with him, only to leave for college brokenhearted thinking that Jessie would never what him.
It is now five years later and Jessie needs a new cornerman. Eli jumps at the chance to be near the man he loved, only to find that his feelings still remain and he needs answers for everything that happened five years ago. Now, however, he's grown up and can stand up to the man who makes other quiver in fear.
The real strength of this story are the characters. It's short enough that they really need to carry the story, and their personalities do. Even without seeing the past, five years prior, you can see that Eli has matured. Jessie is a character all to himself, rugged and yet tender. Jasper, Eli's uncle and Jasper friend and manager (?) offers a lot of color, yet not two dimensional, whose voice consistently reminds us of the time period.
The reminder of the time period is consistent through lots of little details as well as voice, such as Jasper and Jessie. Eli's years away from the two men at school are subtly shown by his change in speech. Much of the time, he speaks properly, but in frustration, anger, or intimacy with Jessie retreats back into the slang of the time period and shows his roots.
The story is short, so there is little time for more than a few scenes, yet I was impressed with the way the author used those scenes to the benefit of imparting as much information as possible without sacrificing the atmosphere of the story. I would have loved to have more, of course, but the story works well as it is. The story ends without any sex, but that was fine with me as well.
With this story, I remain a fan of the author and continue to eagerly look forward to what she has to publish! Recommended :)...more
I meant to read this story at the end of this summer, when it came out with the other Torquere Charity storiReview posted at Brief Encounters Reviews.
I meant to read this story at the end of this summer, when it came out with the other Torquere Charity stories, but I ended up missing it. I remember being a little puzzled by the blurb, and curious about it. I tend to like stories about mages, wizards, magic, etc., but I really wasn't sure what this story was about. And while the blurb is pretty accurate to the story, it doesn't impart a whole lot of information.
Ian is running away from a series of demons of some kind chasing him, with skulls for faces and fires in their eyes. He thinks he's hallucinating as he runs through the forest, but he's desperate to get away from the party which took a bad turn and from Frank, the man who became his patron for the summer but changed the rules of what sexual duties he would perform at the last minute. Ian is a rent boy, but everything he saw at the party has him seriously freaked out. Is he hallucinating from some drug from the party? He isn't sure until a group of bikers rescues him and he learns all the things about Frank that the man kept hidden.
I liked the premise of this story -- that Ian is being controlled by magic that he knows nothing about -- but found it a bit lacking in execution. It suffers mostly from the problem that a lot of these stories suffered from with such a short word limit, there's more story than space for it. While we get the bare bones of the plot in the story there is no time for any kind of romance to develop, and any real connection between Ian and Dee (the mage who rescues him) past sex is tacked on at the end to give the story at least an HFN ending. So while I didn't find this a romance, I'm considering it as an erotica story. The solution to their problems in the end seemed a little contrived towards getting everyone naked and raunchy with little inhibition but, well I can let that go :)
This definitely isn't one of the best TQ charity stories I've read this year, but it was enjoyable, if a little frustrating that there were parts of the story seemingly missing (Ian's magical abilities -- for one). Purely a middle of the road story for me....more
Barnaby Sloan is called into his boss' office after giving a tour to a group of children at the Natural HistReview posted at Brief Encounters Reviews.
Barnaby Sloan is called into his boss' office after giving a tour to a group of children at the Natural History museum, only to find a surprise. It is Barnaby's birthday and when he celebrates with his friends later that night, he's delighted to see his present from his world-traveling aunt -- a prayer book. For some reason, the wishes he wrote down seem to be coming true…
This is a cute story that does well within the time constraints, though still felt a little rushed to me. The basis of the story comes through, that is the validation Barnaby needs for his self-esteem. He's rather put together for his age, but still unsure of himself and in the process of transition into an adult, especially in his career and academia, both of which are on the cusp of something bigger. I liked that the story approaches this in a rather light hearted manner.
Unfortunately, I never really felt like I knew anything at all about Liam, Barnaby's crush and love interest. On the one hand, I understand that this story is supposed to be a prelude to a relationship; there isn't time to develop more than that. On the other hand, I didn't really feel like Liam was a three dimensional character. With so much of the focus on Barnaby himself, Liam seemed more of an older male caricature to me and their relationship brought up a lot of problems that while briefly recognized (at least one of them) were never explored at all.
I've liked this author in the past, but I've also had some difficulty getting into her longer work, so I was a little unsure about reading this story, though I liked the blurb. I was fairly happy with it, though, and it did a commendable job of consolidating a story to the required length (which some of the others have really failed at). So, in the end I was pleased, and I definitely enjoyed the story -- it was something short, cute and uncomplicated when I needed it....more
As a rather simple short story, Devin tells the tale of his breakup from his controlling and ch**spoiler alert** Review posted at The Armchair Reader.
As a rather simple short story, Devin tells the tale of his breakup from his controlling and cheating ex, while showing his life cut adrift among the surreal setting of the small town traveling fair. Though he should be glad the man is gone from his life, Devin's ex still has a hold on him that won't let go. Just the act of going out instead of wallowing at home is a step forward, but Devin feels cut off from humanity. That changes when he meets Ricky, a psychic who offers to read his palm. The two end up getting along swimmingly, and get to know each other as Ricky shows Devin around the fair the pair get to know each other.
There is a thematic message within these pages that brings the story together -- the removal of Devin from life and community. The fair and Ricky's influence negate this and show him, along with a spark of attraction between the two -- that there is more for Devin out there. But, for me, that is where my understanding of this story ended. First, it seems as if Ricky has some true psychic ability (though one line suggests that maybe he recognizes Devin's past because he's had the same happen to him), but we never hear anything about his abilities again or get to know anything about Ricky himself. Second, not much really happens. Devin walks around the fair lamenting his breakup and pain, he meets Ricky and through a reading and walking around the fair, they talk about the fair and the people who travel with it.
I suppose I just didn't understand if the author was trying to subtly bring more to the story, and it just sailed over my head. But, as I saw it, there really wasn't much more than what I've said. That, however, made this story frequently stall for me and only the rather short length helped me to read straight through without wanting to take a break.
I don't think I'd recommend this story, even for a reader who might be looking for a low-key story. It seemed more like a snippet of a larger story that was therefore removed from becoming something more meaningful, like it could have been....more
**Sorry! I forgot to post this one in almost a year, geez louise!**
This author is new to me and on top of the fact that I really enjoy a good college story, I really like the whole student/professor dynamic. I was excited to read this story, because it seemed like a short, sweet and uncomplicated read. I suppose you get what you ask for -- I ended up feeling like this story was just a bit too generic.
Aidan has had a crush on his professor of 19th Century Literature all semester. Now that finals and graduation are near, he's gearing himself up to ask the sexy young professor out. The only problem is working up his nerve. When he finally does go to see him, he realizes that he's going to have to do all the work. Simon is overworked to exhaustion and seems quite reluctant to start any sort of relationship. Is the man even gay? Aidan isn't sure when a fellow, female student seems to be doing the same thing as him.
The best part of this story, for me, was the first half when Aidan is forced to gather his courage and woo his professor. There was a dancing sort of banter that was fun to watch. Aidan was quite shy, awkwardly dropping blatant hints then clamoring back into his shell in mortification. It was cute knowing that somehow these two would end up together. Once they started dating, I found that they were much less interesting and seemed to be following a pretty bland and typical course.
On a personal level, I couldn't connect with the story. I didn't really ever see any chemistry between the two. The problem with writing a relationship with either an age difference or a question of authority is that at some point the dynamic has to change. For that to happen, we have to really get to know the characters. This was just to short to do that to my satisfaction, though we get to know Aidan (and his history) more than Simon. That left me reading the end feeling like they were still student and professor, and that was just awkward because they weren't playing off of that dynamic. Simon seemed as if he needed to move very slowly, and then he seems to change without cause just for the story's convenient ending.
In the end I was a little disappointed, though I still enjoyed the story as a sweet uncomplicated read. I only wish it could have gone past the typical story or surprised me in some way. This would be perfect as a stress free read with just a little bit of sexual tension and actual sex -- for a day needing brain candy....more