There are seventeen stories to sixteen paintings in this volume (one of the paintings was chosen twice). I had quite a few favorites of mine that I’ve...moreThere are seventeen stories to sixteen paintings in this volume (one of the paintings was chosen twice). I had quite a few favorites of mine that I’ve found myself revisiting in my daydreams over the past few days. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (based on the painting of the same name), written by Aleksandr Voinov and marquesate, tells the story of a disillusioned, gay officer in a camp in the Middle East. Tired of being on guard 24/7 and wanting to go home even though he’s been re-enlisted because of Stop Loss, he floats through his duties exercising control over his desires, his movements, and even his thoughts. Then, one day, Scott meets a British sergeant named Rich. After a conversation laced with innuendo, they are both satisfied that the other has clued in to their desire and they spend an hour locked in storage where Scott can finally let go of his control — and give it to Rich. I loved how this story showed me how constrictive base camp in a war zone is. The mood from the first paragraph is dim and Scott is broody. This makes the sex some of the hottest in this volume, because it is a release of tension and depression, which ultimately, brightens the story.
“Vows” by Justin Sheperd (based on the painting named Let No Man Put Asunder) is the story of two monastic students: one on a track into the priesthood and another on a track working for the Church as an engineer. The story covers almost ten years as these two become best friends, then drift apart after their vows start taking place. Then, finally, when our narrator realizes that the love he has for God can no longer compete with the love he has for his best friend, he leaves the monastery to make his way in the world. The rest of the story follows the choices his love will make and how they are affected by the Church. It is a beautiful story about the power of love being a force for God and not restricted to man’s law.
“End of the Line” is another favorite of mine written by Clare London and based on the painting that is the cover for this book. Based on the painting named Trainspotting, the whole story is a tale of two men jostled up against each other on a crowded train during a long journey. Their attraction to each other grows exponentially when they are pressed up against each other and the lights go out while going through a long tunnel. This allows them the illusion of privacy but still the thrill of discovery as they have a hurried encounter in the midst of the other travelers. I have to mention how utterly hot this story was. I’ve never found myself really interested in public encounters, but the risk here is worth the payoff. Will he ever see this man again? Or, when the doors open at the next stop, will the crowd usher him away before they had even had a conversation?
Lastly, but definitely not least, “Texas Twilight” by Gabriel Morgan (based on the painting named Carson) follows a writer and researcher named Reuben traveling the west in the 1875. He meets a naked man (Carson) washing in a stream and they make fast friends, traveling for several days in the same direction. Then, just as they are about to become really close, Carson tells Reuben about the woman who he is being forced to marry and that he is headed home to her right now. The rest of the story follows Reuben as he tries to understand his feelings and find his way back to Carson...
I really enjoyed reading this story and I felt like the author did a good job of highlighting the problems in a new relationship, witho...more** 3.5 stars **
I really enjoyed reading this story and I felt like the author did a good job of highlighting the problems in a new relationship, without having them rely on outside sources of conflict. But, there seemed to be something missing in the story, a "hook" if you will, to draw the reader in. Still, this was a valiant effort by a first-time author, and definitely an author that I will look out for, eager to read more from them.(less)
I’d like to say first, that Out of Position is the first anthropomorphic novel that I have ever read. For those of you who are not familiar, the liter...moreI’d like to say first, that Out of Position is the first anthropomorphic novel that I have ever read. For those of you who are not familiar, the literal meaning of anthropomorphism is the attribution of human qualities and characteristics onto animals or any non-living object. In M/M romance, this translates to the animation of animals in a human way — animals that walk, talk, act and have a society like humans, depending on the variance of the story. Many readers of M/M romance often read shapeshifter stories, but this is very different. In essence, these characters are always animals, yet they have human qualities. I think this is a largely unexplored area in M/M romance, and I was intrigued by Out of Position by Kyell Gold and the beautiful illustrations by Blotch within its pages (some of which you can see here, on the Sofawolf website) and I thought I should give this a try. I was elated to find a wonderful story with extremely real characters, and even more surprised to find that this story showed me a new way to understand American Football and its players — a sport, which I must admit, has often baffled me and only ever given me the pleasure of watching hunky men with tight butts ram each other in testosterone overload. In honor of tomorrow’s Superbowl, I have moved this review up a few days, so that those of you who are football fans can make a weekend out of this, and those of you who do not understand football, might just gain some insight about the game from reading this novel, just as I did.
Out of Position tells the story of two males: Dev the tiger, a football player and all-around jock at Forester University, and Lee the fox, a queer activist who has a score to settle with the football team. They are both juniors (though most of their time in college takes place as seniors) and while Dev is skating through school picking up a new vixen every week at the local bar after the game with his buddies and floating on the small amount of fame he gets at their small, liberal college, Lee is still reeling from the gay-bashing and beating of his best friend Brian the previous year. Brian and Lee were almost too much alike, feeding off of each others ideals of queer activism and leading their local chapter of FLAG, the queer activist group on campus. Then, one night, under circumstances that are still not completely known, Brian gets cornered after a verbal altercation with a few member of the football team, then beaten. Now Lee is all alone, Brian having moved away, and his anger at those football players has spread to all of the jocks, who he knows are one and the same. He comes up with a plan: he will dress in drag, as he makes a very convincing vixen, go out and bag a football player. Then, when they get back to his place, he will show one of them how they’d been attracted to another male — that they are at least a little bit queer themselves. What he doesn’t expect when he bags Dev and brings him home, is that after he convinces him to sleep with him that Dev will want to stay and get to know him. This is how their secret affair begins, already leading to an uneasy relationship between a tiger who has never felt this way for another male and cannot come out lest he ruin his reputation and playing career, and a fox who never expected this tryst to become a relationship, much less one that forces him back into the closet and completely turns his life in a new direction. However, those are not the only problems. These problems are compounded by Lee’s insitance that Dev has the talent to make the pros, and if that becomes a reality, if they will ever be able to have an open relationship. Even more, Brian has his own revenge to make, and his activist spirit has become maddeningly fueled by his renewed hatred of football players. No matter the collateral damage, even to his friend Lee, Brian will do anything to show the world that one out player will make it easier for gay sports players everywhere to come out. But can an out player even have a career in football, or will he become lost in the bureaucracy of pro football?
One of the most incredible things about this novel is its portrayal of the sport. We know that Dev is a player, but Lee is a very big fan also. So we get to see the sport from two, often very different, perspectives. The story shows us the art of football, how graceful and intelligent of a sport it can be. It also does this in a way that someone completely ignorant of the sport can understand. I knew only a small bit about how the game is played and though a large portion of the book deals with the sport and the games in which Dev plays, I never felt left behind in the action. Here is how Lee describes the sport in his small chapter “Lee’s Guide to Football”:
Even though I was still at that age where I wanted to be like my dad, I didn’t have much interest in football. But with the championship coming up, he thought it was the perfect time to get me started. Whatever else he’s done in his life—and I’ve run through the list more than once—he got me into football. So if you’re one of those kids who likes chess and books, listen up, because reading this story you’re in the middle of is like growing up in Nicholas Dempsey Middle School. You don’t have to like football to get through it, as my dad told me, but it helps.
See, what I always hated about football was that I was bad at it. I’d only played one football game up to then, at camp. I didn’t understand the rules. To me, it was just a stupid excuse for big kids to beat up little kids. What my dad told me is that football is actually like a chess game.
What Lee said is exactly true about this story: “You don’t have to like football to get through it…but it helps.” Football fans will certainly love this story, but there is so much more here than the sport — especially the navigation through the bureaucracy of the league later in the novel and the evolution of Dev and Lee’s relationship throughout their difficult journey to an HFN — that this story is not only for sports fans.
Isolation Play is the second novel in the chronicle of Dev and Lee, the tiger and the fox. We first read about them in Out of Position, the review of...moreIsolation Play is the second novel in the chronicle of Dev and Lee, the tiger and the fox. We first read about them in Out of Position, the review of which can be seen here. This second installation in the series begins directly after the first ends — with Dev coming out in a press conference. Having been blackmailed by Brian, Lee’s former best friend, Dev felt cornered, and he and Lee both knew that the speculation in the press around his sexuality was only going to get worse. So, in somewhat of a surprise move to Lee, Dev announces to the world that he is indeed gay, all during a press conference set up to dispute the charges of public opinion and fight the demands that Brian had made on him to reveal his sexuality and pave the way for future gay athletes to come out of the closet. The only problem, is that Brian doesn’t understand the world of professional sports in the way that Lee and Dev do. Though they hope it will help others in time, Dev and Lee are extremely skeptical that Brian’s idealism can stand up to the pressures that gay athletes face. And that is only if Dev survives. Will he be traded? Will he be targeted by other athletes on the field, open to physical attack to injure him and force him out of the small window he has gotten as a starting player? Is his career over already?
These are some of the questions that Dev faces as he does everything he can to remain the same, humble person he was — only now he is both hated and loved by many as the world’s first openly gay professional football player. There are new groupies and gay groups offering sponsorship and endorsements. At the same time, there are those on the field, in the stands, and in his own locker room that will do what they can to isolate him from playing the sport he loves. If all of this gets to him and he loses the focus he needs to play well, then his chance as a starting player is gone. More than anytime before, he is starting to understand the sport as a mental game — one that he will have to conquer in order to keep what he has worked so hard for.
On the other hand, Lee has found himself in the last place he ever expected — the one that Dev used to be in. Lee is a scout for another professional team, and having been forced back into the closet for his new job because of his relationship with Dev, he now finds himself stuck there. If the League finds out that Dev was drafted for the Dragons at the same time that Lee was working for the Dragons as a scout, Lee could be fired and Dev could lose the merit he has gained working his way up through the ranks. So they both find themselves in a strange situation — the out activist is back in the closet, and the closeted jock has just been forced out of the door. But, more than anything, what will this do to Dev and Lee’s families? Dev has not told his parents that he is gay, and they are forced to find out on national television. This will lead to an enormous hometown showdown, pitting Dev’s father against his own boyfriend in the battle to win Dev’s affections. And it seems that Dev will have to choose one over the other.
I actually liked Isolation Play better than I did Out of Position. I felt that because the things that Dev and Lee have gone through, they have been given a chance to do one of two things: turn on one another, or come together. And though in many ways they remained loyal to the characters that we got to know previously, they have both undergone a change because of those things they went through. They have started to realize that what they have with each other is special and important and worth dealing with the hate and bigotry of thousands. Because of this, both Dev and Lee mature a great deal between the end of the first book and the end of the second, and in their maturity, they put to rest many of the immature games that they played at the behest of one another. The title of this novel displays this overall progression well. The iso play is employed by the offensive line of another team and is described by Dev thusly:
Their O-line is different from Millenport’s. For one thing, it’s smaller and quicker, designed to push people out of the way rather than stop them cold. So they have a pair of Dall sheep on the line, blockers who’ll go low and use their horns to force our tackles to go a particular direction. Pike and Brick can handle them, I’ve no doubt, but then they have a pretty good fullback, an elk who uses his antlers to clear out running lanes. So they run the iso—isolation play—a lot, sending the elk to block me or Gerrard while Bixon lowers his head and sends his compact, muscled form through the lane.
The isolation play is a metaphor for the new direction that their relationship is taking — hunkering down, waiting for the attack, and when it comes being driven apart, isolated from one another. This theme crops up over and over during the novel, with family and the media, and it forces Dev and Lee to look forward instead of always watching their backs. This brings me to the writing, which I also thought had matured. Because Dev and Lee are now able to look towards their future, they have a direction in which to go. This streamlined the plot and characterizations as well, which ultimately gave me hope that their relationship would continue to grow and nourish, because any more directionless floundering in their lives and their relationship would have turned in upon itself and imploded from the force of two such strong personalities.
I really love stories about awkward and self-conscious characters. Inevitably, I know that I’m going to get to read a story about someone finding the...moreI really love stories about awkward and self-conscious characters. Inevitably, I know that I’m going to get to read a story about someone finding the courage to come out of their shell. They seem to be the best characters, perhaps because they’re more relatable, or because love inspires them to become a better person. Its a bit shmaltzy, but in an “aww, how sweet” kind of way that, if done well, can be genuine and not saccharine. This story hovers right on the line of overly sweet, but doesn’t go all the way. If the dancing hadn’t been the focus of much of the story, I’m sure it would have been too much. But, because on a fundamental level, dancing is primal, it allowed me to see Todd and Nate connect in a way that is difficult to achieve in a short story. I have high standards for shorts, because it requires a lot more skill to pull one off successfully and truthfully. Thankfully, though the dialogue here was a bit too sweet at times, the dancing carried the story enough that I enjoyed it very much. It was a wonderful interlude to my day and I recommend it for those times when you need a bit of a break from a long novel or a particularly melodramatic or melancholy plot. Happily Recommended for a light read.
This was the first time that I'd ever listened to an audiobook. So, I don't have any comparison, but I had been worried initially about a few things. First, the narrators's voice; and second, my ability to pay attention, especially while driving. On the second count, I have a history of zoning out while people are talking. I'm a visual person, and ask any lecture professor I had about me and they'd confirm this while gnashing their teeth. I shouldn't have been worried, though. If you've never heard Jim Bowie speak, the man has a very high, cultured voice with a subtle British lilt that is very smooth. At first, it was a little jarring, but most of that was my getting used to listening to the words in the first place when my own in-my-head narration sound so different. Later, I realized that his accent and particular diction is quite suited to some stories, but maybe not others (more on that in the next review). It worked for me in this story, though some of the voices he did were a little strange, particularly for the women and children.
The story is set just before Christmas in a small Midwestern town, where the narrator Jordan who is an ER nurse, has been dragged to see The Nutcracker, where his little niece is playing a mouse. He's enthralled by a gorgeous man who dances beautifully, even though he knows nothing about ballet. When he sees him later in the ER and the man doesn't have anyone to take care of him, his nurturing nature (as well as his sexual one) comes out to make sure the man has the care he needs.
I'm not new to Diana Copland's writing, but I might have enjoyed this a little more if I had read this before her most recent book, A Reason to Believe, which was better all around. Still, this was the perfect kind of book to listen to on a long drive -- it is sweet with no angst and the Christmas setting and the ballet interest were refreshing and light. The book does have a bit of a middle complex, where the beginning skips to the end and unfortunately that made the romance take a giant leap of faith. I wouldn't call it insta-love, but it's also a matter of opinion. The plot doesn't allow for there to be an ending without read, serious and lasting feelings, so the lack of a middle where those things grow bothered me quite a bit.(less)
Splattered is the story of man who has just emerged from a Fine Arts doctoral program as Dr. Dick Livingston, real name Richard, though that doesn’t s...moreSplattered is the story of man who has just emerged from a Fine Arts doctoral program as Dr. Dick Livingston, real name Richard, though that doesn’t sound as sexy as Dick (well, at least when you’re thinking with one…). Dick works as a buyer for a gallery, scouting talent and meeting artists. On a trip down the California coast, Dick meets Dan, an artist with an unusual medium — not only does he paint with his cock but with his whole body, and he welcomes Dr. Dick to join him on the massive canvas for the first painting of the series that will come to be known as the “Come Series.” With as much messy fun as they have creating art with a performance that is the literal definition of “doing the dirty,” there are sure to become very, very rich.
As soon as I read the blurb for this story, I knew I had to read it. Nothing could be hotter than two sexy guys slathered in paint, rolling around… ahem… you get the picture. This story certainly lived up to what I was expecting — it is funny and sexy. There really isn’t much time to get to know the characters since it is a very quick read, but I still felt like I got a pretty good picture of them in so short a time. There is also very little time for much plot, and most of this story is filled up with the one main sex scene with just enough information to put in in context and round out the characters. For the amount of time allowed in the short length, this was done very well, though I would have loved to get to know Dan better (the POV of the story is Dr. Dick’s).
Probably my favorite feel-good story of the year. This made me smile from the first page and I'm still smiling now, after finishing the book. Even the...moreProbably my favorite feel-good story of the year. This made me smile from the first page and I'm still smiling now, after finishing the book. Even the people around me want to read this now (and they don't read m/m) because I couldn't stop reading hilarious little bits aloud to them.
This is a unique story and Al has a way of seeing the world that is innocent and beautiful and direct. This is probably also one of the best romantic pairings I've read in a long while.
I'll be keeping this book on my Kindle for any time I need a little pick-me-up!(less)
All in all a great anthology. This is a good book to read if you're in the mood for all different genres -- from magic and fantasy to paranormal to co...moreAll in all a great anthology. This is a good book to read if you're in the mood for all different genres -- from magic and fantasy to paranormal to contemporary, from sweet, light and funny to fantasies with fairy tale elements and one that is even a bit darker in tone.
Quality Assurance by Sasha L. Miller (3.5 stars) - A cute story about an office romance between a vampire and a human. The best part of this story was the vampire, Quinn; so different from most self-assured and often exceedingly arrogant vampires in fiction, Quinn is shy and self-depreciating, trying to make his way on his own away from his obnoxious and prying family. Perfect Angel by Rachelle Cochran (4 stars) - Another cute story, this time about a Royal Scribe angel in love with and recently banished from the kingdom for his relationship with the Crown Prince, after said prince denies their relationship. Brokenhearted and betrayed, he is sent by the king to work for a demon -- a blatant insult in it's own right from an angel and also personal, since Kalyana has bitter memories of demons from his past. Yet Viscount Avanindra Dasmaya is different than any demon Kalyana has ever met. The Prince, the Thief, and the Shadow Emperor by M.J. Willow (5 stars) - My favorite story in the collection, about a newly mastered battle mage on his way home to see his family, being accosted and bested by what seems at first to be an ordinary highwayman in the middle of a dark and unnatural forest. But, the highwayman has powers that don't make any sense and he also looks suspiciously like the Crown Prince. Pas Comme Ca by Sophie Hung (4.75 stars) - Very good story about two neighbors in London who slowly fall in love over a year. One is an artist taking a year abroad before going home to France, and the other is studying Macroeconomics and trying to deal with the loss of his entire family and the dreams he had of being a concert pianist. More Than A Hero by May Ridge (3 stars) - Two rival superheroes, one on top of his game and the other trying to edge his way into a territory and make a name for himself. Pretty good story, but I didn't really like Comet very much and the ending didn't feel very resolved. The Simple Method by Remington Ward (3.75 stars) - A genius undergraduate scientist has a crush on an english major jock who he also went to high school with. After a freak explosion from one of his experiments, they're forced to room with one another. A really sweet story and I loved Coney and his naive nature. The Games by Ashley Shaw (4 stars) - A darker tale of magic and politics. Two friends and lovers are traveling the world and decide to visit a famous magical city to hopefully learn more about the magic they possess. Only when they get there they are arrested for their use of magic and ordered by the Queen to participate in "The Games" a barbaric and gladiator-like battle between two mages for the enjoyment of the nobles. Looking for More by Megan Derr (4.25 stars) - Milo has been in love with his next-door neighbor for a long time. Lewis is confident, sexy, successful, and charismatic, all things that Milo thinks he isn't. Yet, in a way they are friends -- although it only seems to be when Lewis needs something from his "geek" neighbor, and this time the favor almost breaks Milo's heart: Lewis needs help trying to seduce his crush, a geek who works in the IT department at his firm. (less)
Though this was Lou Harper's first published book and the first one I ever bought of hers, it...moreReview posted for Lou Harper week at The Armchair Reader.
Though this was Lou Harper's first published book and the first one I ever bought of hers, it lingered in my vast online library for just under two years before I decided to start reading her backlist. You could say I caught the bug to read all of her books after reading and falling in love with Harvey and Gabe (and Denton too) in Spirit Sanguine, and that unexpected review of such a wonderful book is what made me decide to go back and read this one. It didn't hurt, of course, that I'd only heard good things about it.
What I found when I read it (and this was the first one I went back and read), was not only that Lou had started out with some pretty good characterization under her belt but that I really liked her style. I get really upset when I so often read books that end preemptively, just when things are getting good. The best ones are where the couple plods along and you don't just get to see the honeymoon phase but what their lives are like as an actual couple and how they deal with that. That's what makes a real romance in my opinion, and I've found that the more romance I read over the years that I really need that in a contemporary romance where the central plot is the romance. That's what I really liked about this book -- it didn't seem to follow a typical romance plot structure, which meant that it kept me on my toes.
Hanging Loose starts with Nate, a new transplant to LA. He's unfamiliar with the way the city runs, the weather, navigating public transit, which leaves him on Venice Beach and night without a jacket and miserable. He's approached by Jez, and while initially wary, agrees to his invitation to stay at his home. The two get to know each other and eventually come to a roommate agreement. What follows is is a pretty standard GFY, or maybe more accurately OFY story (more on that in a bit). Nate is straight and Jez is openly gay. They become pretty good friends as Nate settles in and they come up with a routine. Nate starts to make friends, one of which is the old man Jez bakes for and spends time watching over. But Jez is mysterious in a few ways. One is the attraction between the two, which Nate takes a while to understand and Jez is of course, wary of, being that Nate has until now apparently not been attracted to men. The rest is Jez's romantic history and his family history and the tales of Old Hollywood passed down from his grandmother Adelle.
Lou mentioned in her interview with me earlier this week about the reason she first wanted to write and publish this story:
I started writing Hanging Loose after reading a GFY story I didn’t find convincing. To me, the core of the story is that sexuality is complex and there are many shades between straight and gay. Following the character’s journey coming to terms with his own nature and desires was what I wanted to explore.
That's always been a problem for me as well, that a GFY story done right needs a depth of character study to keep the realism instead of knocking me out of the story. But I didn't know her feelings yet when I started reading Hanging Loose, so I wasn't sure what to expect. What I found was a really interesting dynamic between Jez and Nate as they first get to know one another. Right away, just in the first few pages when Nate meets Jez, he feels a little tingle of connection between them:
“I’m straight,” I blurted out at last. There was a tiny voice deep down telling me I was full of shit. I gagged it. I felt myself blushing in embarrassment as soon as the words left my lips. I didn’t even know why I just assumed he was gay…
“I won’t hold it against you,” he said, smiling…
That dynamic made it more plausible later for Nate's sexuality to be more fluid than originally expected and I liked how Lou made that issue ultimately intersect with Jez and his history and his own secrets that he's keeping from Nate, who in a way becomes the aggressor the future into the book you read.
This is really a "Loved It" book for me -- I was with it and totally engaged through the whole read -- so I don't have any criticism at all. For a novice writer this book was simply wonderful. There's a lot more that I really loved about this book, but in effort not to spoiler you about some pretty significant pieces of the book, I'll mostly leave those alone to say that I thought the last 35% or so of the book was where the characters really shined… when everything is finally out in the open. One of the relationships I love the most in the book is Nate's friendship with Arthur, which was ultimately what tipped this book up in the 5 star rating for me. I thought it was portrayed beautifully and aligned well with Nate's development.
So, by all means do I recommend this one. Going back and reading this book wasn't just something that I had always wanted to do but really it cemented Lou's talent in my mind and made her forever an author that I'll cheer on and get excited about.(less)
Sarah Black really advances with each book she writes. This just blew me away, and in the end, it leaves a really heavy impression about war and how i...moreSarah Black really advances with each book she writes. This just blew me away, and in the end, it leaves a really heavy impression about war and how it changes us, both individually and as a country. I loved it.
There really isn't much to say other than the giant smile this book put on my face. It may not be for everyone, but...moreWhat an absolute delight of a book!
There really isn't much to say other than the giant smile this book put on my face. It may not be for everyone, but it has naughty toys and starry-eyed love stories, romantic adventures and unapologetic eccentricities!
Sarah Black's books always make me so happy and her writing is some of the most disarmingly romantic prose out there. Her books read like they took no effort to write and are so organic.. That makes no sense but it is as if they have a personality all on their own, that care fuck-all about what anybody thinks. They're just who they are.(less)
I ended up being a bit disappointed by this one. Though I liked Rook, who was funny, I just didn't connect with the charac...more2.75 stars (rounded up to 3)
I ended up being a bit disappointed by this one. Though I liked Rook, who was funny, I just didn't connect with the characters. Which is a bit funny considering I went into the story figuring it would be a steamy m/m/m/m romp and it ended up having much less (and less steamy) sex than I expected. It was also a bit short to get to know the characters well. It feels like the setup to a much longer story so I assume the series will follow these same characters.
I'll check out the next book though, and see if I get to like the characters better.(less)
I have to admit that this was one of the books that I read back in May when I decided...moreReview posted as part of Lou Harper week at The Armchair Reader.
I have to admit that this was one of the books that I read back in May when I decided to review Lou Harper's backlist that I read immediately because I already had it and then promptly forgot to review it. I had an oopsie moment this week when I started to write the review because I've read so many college themed stories in the past few months that I wanted to be sure I completely remembered everything. And that's kindof a big deal when you think back to how well you remember books that you've read because how much you remember the book and how you felt about it says what impact it makes on you. So when I opened the book again for a little refresher read, it immediately came storming back to me.
I wrote a review yesterday for Hanging Loose where I talked quite a bit about my happiness that that book took the plot completely through the romance, instead of stopping early on in their relationship. Of course, there is an exception to every rule -- no author or book is the same. But, I've read quite a few books that just take the story up to the honeymoon phase and then leave things at that, and my disappointment when at that point the book often feels unfinished. Academic Pursuits is the one major exception to that, in that this book is really about self-discovery over the romance and your feelings about this book will most likely depend entirely on how you like Jamie. We first meet him while he's initiating Hollins, another straight frat boy, into the joys of gay sex, something he's grown quite the reputation for. But Jamie isn't really that great at reading situations or people, which shows in his ignorance of how some people at his college view his promiscuity. And the promiscuity really suits Jamie just fine. He loves sex and he's rather charming and good looking, and he certainly makes no mistake about what sex with him entails. In fact, he often makes sure that he's not leading a guy along. He makes no excuses because he's rather happy with his life and the way he lives it. It isn't really until he meets Roger that those perceptions start to change. At first, all he knows about Roger is that the man seems to hate him, which is a shame because the artist is really pretty sexy. It isn't until the two run into each other enough to finally really start getting to know the other, when they can break down the facade they both see in the other.
I really kindof liked Jamie because he's so at home in his skin. He makes no secret of his sexual liaisons nor his intentions. He isn't playing anyone. He just likes sex and has no need to settle down. Nor has he met anyone yet that he feels that way about. I totally got that. But that also means that he has sex with multiple partners, even after he's met Roger. So for those who really like their main characters to stick with each other and to have a pretty pure romance plot, this might not be your book. For most of the book, he and Roger aren't together. The course of their romance on-page is in the barely getting to know you's, and then later in the book Jamie's change in perception about his feelings for Roger, what that means for him, and his understanding about Roger's perception of him. This really is a book of self-discovery. Jamie is spending his college years having casual sex and it is only with serious feelings for someone that he starts to understand how others might have viewed him, and also how he wants to change. Not really because his behavior was bad, but because it just doesn't suit him anymore.
I'll let you discover the details yourself, but there's a lot else in this book to like, like his cousin/roommate Jo who is totally awesome, and his own matchmaking efforts for her and for some of his conquests. And you know, for a guy in college, his sexual portrayal is pretty spot-on, you know? The whole reputation as a seducer of straight frat boys might put a funny spin on the situation, but I liked that this was a pretty accurate portrayal of college life.
So, don't miss out on this one folks. It's pretty short at 29k words and it's a fun read. And I didn't even feel like I needed a sequel!(less)
A miraculous, healing story to hold close to your heart!
I've heard many, many wonderful things about this book over the last month or so. Josephine My...moreA miraculous, healing story to hold close to your heart!
I've heard many, many wonderful things about this book over the last month or so. Josephine Myles wrote a wonderful review that caught my interest after Chris directed me there, and became my personal cheerleader -- saying, "read it now! read it now!". I found myself very lucky then, to be one of the recipients of the GoodReads giveaway and received my paperback copy from Edmond in the mail last week, along with a beautiful note and a yummy, gooey, finger-licking, savorlicious nut roll, that I promply ate on the way back from the mail-box. I mean, hey, I got a free book! But I also got free candy! Well, not candy ;)
So I found myself with a beautiful copy of a book that has probably gotten more 5 star reviews than I've seen before, memory full of sweet and salty goodness, and a personal cheerleader goading me on. How could I refuse?
This is a unique book to review, and I won't re-hash the blurb for you, because there's really no point. There's so much to say about it, yet the beauty of it is in the mystery. I constantly found myself with my pen marking favorite passages to enjoy later (I love marking up books! real books! it's been so long!), but unable to share them, because like an inside joke, no one but fellow Found King and Queen readers would understand them. Point 1 for Edmond Manning -- by reading, I've become complicit in the events of the book.
Because the real story is in the mystery of figuring out the story for yourself and your own personal journey with the characters, the story is a bit hard to describe to those who haven't yet read the book. I was talking to a friend who is also reading this book right now and the only way I could find to describe the story was this: "its... light-hearted on the surface but profound underneath, but it's like a great adventure. It... reminds me, at it's heart... of Max, in Where the Wild Things Are... It's like a great children's adventure for adults." There's a sense of wonder in the adventure, which sounds a bit hokey in summary, but through the character of San Francisco in the novel is laid out in a way that entices the senses.
I do want to talk to potential readers here, because I might not have picked this story up if not for Chris, my personal cheerleader, telling me not to be afraid of the Bittersweet label on this book. The only similarity this book as to Bittersweet books is the fact that there's no HEA. I don't think that's too much of a spoiler to give away as it is pretty well known. However, while this book is wildly romantic, it is also not technically a "romance." I'd rather think of it as gay fiction. It is a beautiful story that left me with a huge smile on my face and warmth in my heart, and no matter how hokey it sounds I'll growl it out like a wild bear :)
All I can say is that I think everyone should read this book, and I'm so happy that I have my very own paperback copy to read whenever I want. I imagine that this book will stay with me for a long time, and having it there to comfort me on a bad day, or remind me of all the good and wonder in the world when I really need it.(less)