GOD… what to say about this book? I've been sitting at the keyboard for almost thirty minutes now tryingReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
GOD… what to say about this book? I've been sitting at the keyboard for almost thirty minutes now trying to start. It was really just so wonderful. I started this book knowing only that it was about two men, one with Tourette's and one with a Traumatic Brain Injury. I liked discovering the story on my own, so the blurb suffices as a summary in this case.
The beauty of this story is that Ethan takes everyone around him on a journey, on that includes Carter and the reader by proxy, to see the world around them in a different way. The music he sees is a metaphor for the different way he relates to the world, even though to him it is real. He sees the world in absolutes, which cuts through the muck and shades of grey that inhabit everyone else's life. He's so perceptive that way -- he likes Carter because he makes music (his tics) and because he's cute and he makes Ethan's penis hard. For someone like Carter, who is continually drawn into the mire of his own mind, the self-deprecation and embarrassment of his own condition, Ethan's perceptive mind and stark personality continually help to bring him out of his shell and into the world he tries to hide away from. They are two of the most special characters and they really came across the page in a very strong way. This story almost seemed private, and I felt like reading it was a gift.
The other part of the beauty of this story is that it really forced me to consider how I feel about the differences and level of perception among those with injuries and disabilities. It forced me to be 100% honest of my own feelings about Ethan and I felt like I was rather protective of him in my own mind. I didn't want to hear that he has casual sex with men at first. It took some real thinking and consideration on my part to understand why that was. Part of it is because until I was probably halfway through the book I wasn't sure that I considered Ethan capable of making those decisions, until I realized that that way of thinking was wrong. Part of that reason is personal. I have an autistic cousin with a host of other brain conditions, who about 10 years ago was abducted from a local mall, taken to the woods, and raped before being brought back and dropped off as if nothing had happened. It was hard for me not to lump Ethan's character with her, because they both had some kind of disability that any type of sexual relation was rape. It actually helped me realize that I still had a lot of pent up feelings about that incident that I hadn't dealt with, and that there is a real difference -- not only in the fact that one was a rape and in this case most definitely not, but that their conditions had very little in common.
That is what I think Ryan Loveless did so incredibly well in this book, and I really hope that other readers feel the same. We get to know Ethan from his own POV, and to see that not only does he have more cognitive ability than most give him credit for, but also that he has something important to teach the people around him. That really touched me. I cried a lot while reading. A lot of it was me working through my own issues and the finding that I was looking at Ethan completely wrong. The rest was that this was the kind of book that I cried and then felt so much better afterwards -- the story was beautiful and cleansing for me because of the loving community that surrounds him.
I think… I think that's all I'm going to say about it, except for this. I think everyone should read this. No matter what you think of the writing, of craft -- I dare you not to fall in love with Ethan and Carter and think that this story is incredibly special....more
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 theProbably 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!...more
Josh is completely smitten with his downstair neighbors Rai and Evan. It doesn't help that every time he spends tReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Josh is completely smitten with his downstair neighbors Rai and Evan. It doesn't help that every time he spends time with his best friend Denise (who lives one floor below the men) he can hear them having kinky, noisy sex that pounds the walls. He longs for a piece of what they have -- a great relationship, unspoken communication -- and the daily reminder of the two hot men becomes the focal point of his fantasies after a disappointing relationship history. To his surprise, when he befriends the two and gets to know them better, he can relate to both on difference levels. They become good friends until a rather hilarious accident forces Josh to temporarily live with the two men.
They quickly move on from friendship and find that they have an insanely strong sexual connection and spend the next few weeks exploring each other and the new way they relate to one another. Along the way, Josh finds he has growing feelings for the men, and waiting for them to kick him out of their bed and go back to their regular lives, all the while knowing that he'll be changed person when the other shoe finally drops, leaving him hopelessly in love with two men who already have a future without him.
I think that Josephine Myles made a very important choice with this story, whether it was purposeful or not. There is a lot of supply in the m/m market now, which means that what is different stands out. That leads to a lot of genre mashing and while that can work well for a story and certainly stands out, there is something to be said for character driven stories that really look at and develop one particular issue. In the case of m/m/m menage in particular, most of the ones I read these days aren't really about the relationship between the three men, at least not front and center. But The Hot Floor does focus on those issues in such a relationship that would crop up in the real world -- jealousy, prior history, and the different dynamics of trust among more than a two-person couple -- and that is why it worked so well for me.
Josh is an endearing character and though he doubts it at every turn, I could see why both Evan and Rai were attracted to him and could easily fall for him, even when it goes against their rules. He's completely unaware of what he offers in a relationship or friendship, consistently afraid to trust when anything but a definitive proposal keeps him feeling like the outsider in an already existing relationship. Past relationships as well as family history make it difficult for him to trust, especially to show others his true self. His blush becomes a bit of a trademark he does it so often, when just a thought of talking dirty makes him stammer over his words. The fact that everything he experiences with Evan and Rai is so new makes the experiences more meaningful, and I got the sense that it wasn't simply what he could offer their relationship that made him such a great third (and then more than that) but that they both offer something very special for Josh as well. The added security of being welcomed into an already existing relationship helped him focus on other things (like his trust issues).
The focus of the story is really on Josh's neuroses, in particular those issues of trust and his fear of opening up to another man. The great thing about him falling for Evan and Rai is that the arrangement starts out as friendship and then solely as fun sex. The "rules" the two have in place of not sleeping with a friend or neighbor give Josh structure and boundaries, even though they're eventually broken. I loved that we really get to see the lighter side of their lives, especially with Rai around, who constantly had me cracking up in laughter. It is important for there to be something that the "third" can bring to the relationship and I found that I rather liked the fact that even though Josh had things to bring to the table that made a menage relationship work, the original relationship between Rai and Evan was great and had no need of being "fixed". It wasn't a case of him "saving" their relationship, which when I thought about it, seems to be more often the case in menage.
I was surprised and delighted to see that the story didn't devolve into typical romance plot faults. I kept growing nervous about their faulty building, but was happy to see how the situation resolved. For the most part, however, I simply liked that the story spent time with the three of them, often happy and showing the lighter side of a beginning relationship without getting bogged down in what doesn't work and then fixing it. They simply work well together, and the difficulties involved in their relationship were internal and organic to the characters.
I can't wait to read this again. So far it is my favorite of this author's books, and it was a real delight to read. I can't wait to read what she publishes next!...more
Yay for another novel by JL Merrow!!! She's one of my favorite authors, and as I told a friend recentlyReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Yay for another novel by JL Merrow!!! She's one of my favorite authors, and as I told a friend recently, I'm almost nervous when I start reading each successively published novel because I've loved them all so much there's bound to be one that disappoints me. Thankfully, that wasn't the case here and I ended really really thoroughly enjoying this latest offering by a really wonderful author.
Tom Paretski is a plumber with a secret -- he's got a knack for finding things. It's a bit like dowsing, he can hone in on hidden things, things that have deep emotion attached to them like guilt or shame. Sadly, lost and hidden things include people, and we meet him as his friend on the force Dave, calls him in to look for a local missing woman. Tom's in for more shock than seeing another dead body, however, when a ghost from his past shows up at the scene as a private investigator hired by the family of the murdered victim.
The last time Tom saw Phil Morrison was when he and his cronies stepped up their high school bullying a bit too far. Tom still lives with the scars of that physical and emotional trauma and seeing the man ten years later dredges all those feelings back up. It doesn't help that he's just as attracted to the man as he was back then and it certainly pisses him off that the man is apparently as big of a homo as he is, and completely out of the closet. Phil has an attitude as well, one that might rival Tom's perpetual snark and their verbal blows start almost immediately. Phil doesn't believe in his gift, but he needs Tom's help anyway. They both have vested interest in making sure the current suspect gets treated fairly and together, they might be able to get the answers they need to find the real killer.
Merrow has a knack for slyly mixing genres that really works for me. This story is for all intents and purposes a contemporary mystery romance, with the exception of Tom's gift. That is perhaps the reason Tom's gift isn't given center stage. Though we first get to know him through his gift, it's often presented as rather unglamorous and second rate to pounding pavement detective work. We get to know Tom as if the gift is just a quirky peccadillo that comes in handy during his plumbing work. Though it does get used, and is central to the plot, the different focus and misdirection worked well to show Tom as an ordinary guy who is rather in over his head in this whole mess.
I really liked Tom. He's a strong character that has a real moral compass amid the corrupt characters that stock the story. In a way, he's retained his innocence beneath his jaded veneer, which contrasts nicely with Phil, who harbors rather a lot of guilt and shame over his past. I appreciated that they both came across as assholes every once and a while, trying to work through their shared history (or at times ignore it).
The mystery worked well for me, though hardcore mystery fans might find the story lighter than they're used to. Much of the story is focused on detective work, but a lot of the focus is on the relationship between Tom and Phil in the midst of it. I was a little disappointed that we didn't hear what happens to a character that showed up early in the story that I felt rather sorry for, and of course, I could have really done with more of the smexxin from these two because they are sizzling together!
So, once again, I loved this offering from one of my favorite authors and as always look forward to whatever she publishes. This one is definitely recommended....more
A smartly written story about a pair of seeming misfits that quickly get to know one another during a weekend in London. Owen is "Yank", a 23 year oldA smartly written story about a pair of seeming misfits that quickly get to know one another during a weekend in London. Owen is "Yank", a 23 year old bisexual son of a hippie on a trip with his friend and ex-girlfriend Jenny, who meets Malcolm, a near thirty British trader and arrogant Dom in a seedy pub on Owen's first day in town. A self-described "country mouse", Owen is immediately intrigued by the man in a dirty pub drinking top shelf vodka, and when he's immediately hit on, ready to show that just because this man is rich and bossy and frankly incredibly hot doesn't mean he will just spread his legs and whimper for a flogging. Malcolm has been stood up by his regular appointment with his latest submissive and can't take his eyes off the cute Yank. But he's in for a surprise that not only surprises and delights him, but also comforts him in a strange way. Owen, if he admits to himself that he'll remember this one's name, is not going to take his shit. He might even lose control all together and find himself ass up and Owen taking all the power in their night together.
I honestly wasn't sure what to expect of these authors teaming up together, but I knew that it would be smart. The best thing about this story is that it is playful and intelligent. Not only is the dialogue witty but abundant and intelligent. Owen sees quite a bit for his young age. He's a wise soul and open for new experiences. So much that bothers Malcolm rolls right off of Owen's back. Malcolm is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. His job required a certain type of personality and drive, which ended up making him over into the man he is today -- a bit of a crisis. Owen's soulful nature and easy companionship and their surprising sexual chemistry allow Malcolm to be vulnerable and admit that he isn't the man he wants everyone to think he is, that he isn't his job.
This is well worth a read and a re-read just because the characters are great and fun. As a romance, this rocks. The connection between Owen and Malcolm was off the charts with loads of chemistry. In the bedroom, out of the bedroom, I could see that each of these guys had something (or more than) to teach the other, and that they would compliment each other, so I really rooted for their happy ending.
Now, if these two would only see what a great pair they make and get back to writing together!...more
I can't help it -- this is still my favorite book from Kate McMurray!
Matt Blanco is a Brooklyn boy, born into a crazy Italian family and famous as a top professional baseball player, nearing the end of his long career with the Brooklyn Eagles. He is also gay. There's never even been a rumor of his sexuality, though he's a perennial bachelor, because of his complete dedication towards discretion. If baseball wasn't the true first love of his life, then he might be miserable. But things start to change when a rookie joins the Eagles out of the farm system.
Iggy Rodriguez is a magnificent player, the kind of player who will probably eclipse Matt's own fame and talent. And he's incredibly beautiful. Matt, normally the welcoming unofficial captain, is nervous around him because of his attraction to Iggy, no matter that he's thirteen years younger than him and his presence on the team shows that the Eagles are most likely slowly pushing out the older guys to make way for new, young talent.
Iggy has his own problems concerning Matt. The Great Matt Blanco is his all-time idol and crush -- a man who he fantasized about as a teenager as he looked down from the walls of Iggy's bedroom. Meeting his idol is one thing, but to find out that he's also gay and in the closet and that they have a mutual attraction? That blows his mind.
The two find a way to make it work, always putting discretion above all else. They manage to go years in love and playing together until the magic just can't last. Matt's having problems with his knee and it looks like it won't hold out much longer. Looking at retirement is like the end of his life. Navigating the world of professional baseball with such a secret is hard, but as their lives change around them and pressure mounts, both Matt and Iggy have to find a way to put their relationship above the sport they both love.
First, Kate's love of baseball really comes through in this book. I mean, the sport is shown from both positive and negative angles, but the love of the game is central in the book. It's what initially bring both Matt and Iggy together, and it is at times what keep them together as their common language. Second, Iggy and Matt are amazing characters. It is only in the first few pages of the book that we're shown the dichotomy between the young and old on the team, pitting both Matt and Iggy at different ends of their career. But it is a central theme. It's a bit obstacle, mostly to Matt who has a problem facing the end of his baseball career, but also in the sense that Matt, who already has a problem with change, doesn't want to rock the boat to sacrifice Iggy's career. But the dichotomy between the old and new as they're presented also works well for their relationship. Even though it means that they often clash, they're two sides of a coin also. Where Matt represents a more classic vision of the sport and the culture, Iggy is the idealist who breaks through his stagnancy, to show him that there is hope that there could be a real active out gay athlete.
And third is the main reason that I think this book is so successful. We already have a great setup story and background of professional sports. And we have two really wonderful characters with a great shifting dynamic. What makes them come together to work so well in this book is the pace of the story. The whole story covers roughly three to four years. We're given several major sections of the story in real time with transitions of quick narration to bring us forward. It moves at a quick pace which keeps the story in momentum, but which also allows the characters to grow farther than you might expect. I remember when I first read this, I kept feeling like I was probably getting toward the end, only to realize that I still had half the book left to read. The forward momentum brings the story into new times and into new shifting dynamics between Iggy and Matt, showing how they work around them, how they adapt to new times and how they, eventually, use that time to grow closer and carve a life for themselves.
The story really is beautiful. There's no needless angst, only what is appropriate for the situation and isn't long-lasting. And, after all that, the story ends beautifully. Every time, every damn time I cry when I read the last 7 to 8% of the book, from the 12 year old fan that comes up to Matt in the stands to the purple hats to Iggy playing in the game. The story ends on a high, very optimistically but not unrealistically, and with Iggy and Matt in a really good place. I couldn't be happier.
I think I appreciated this book more the second time around. And I know that I appreciated it more after reading all of Kate's books back to back. I can see where there are some sylistic differences between this book and some of the others. None of the others are formulaic, but something about this book just really works for me. It will always be a book that I'll come back to and read over again. And it's one that you should read as well!
First Read - 4/25/12 to 4/26/12
4.5 stars (rounded up to 5 because this book just had that... indefinable something that made it a truly wonderful read).
I honestly haven't read a book in a while that drew me in so well as this. It took me a while to get into the story, probably because I was going up against all my preconceived notions about m/m closeted athlete books, but around the quarter mark everything clicked, the setting, the narration, Ig and Matt together and the perfect amount and use of angst all rolled into one.
As far as the technical aspect, I thought it was played perfectly, not overhanded but enough to immerse the reader into the characters who speak baseball in a technical way and live it that way. That particular aspect of the book reminded me quite a bit of the Kyell Gold Out of Position books (though not football and not anthropomorphic characters, obviously).
The sense of change over time is a big part of this story, which is what really facilitated the talk of changing views of gay athletes in a successful way here. That also gave the story a more epic quality, as the time, experiences, and relationships grow and change, which added more layers to Ig and Matt, as well as their surrounding characters, though mostly the atmosphere of baseball. From the first paragraph about the OCD of baseball players and their longstanding rituals and traditions, to the ending where (view spoiler)[a 12 year old gay kid can come out to an openly gay player in the stands at a game (hide spoiler)] outline in a broader spectrum the changes that are being singled out here, within the relationships and personal lives of the characters, specifically the challenges that Iggy and Matt both face.
I ended this book just thinking that Kate McMurray must have been writing in the sweet spot, because I could definitely feel it when I was reading. There's a lot of love put in to this book and I felt like somehow, in a way that I can't describe, Kate McMurray wrote the first m/m book about closeted gay athletes that I felt really hit the mark, at least with me.
So bravo! I laughed, and cried.. yada yada. It was good :D["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
From all that I can find, JC Lillis is a brand new author, and if this book is any idea of the quality of work thReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
From all that I can find, JC Lillis is a brand new author, and if this book is any idea of the quality of work that she'll produce in the future, I'm a fan for life. Rarely have I ever picked up a book I knew nothing about and loved it quite so much, even waiting almost two whole weeks to write a review of it. I first heard about this book when I saw it on JC Lillis' twitter page and enjoyed the artwork on the cover -- that's what drew me in. The blurb only made me more intrigued.
And you should be -- this young adult novel follows Brandon (along with his friends Abel and Bec during the whole summer after high school) across the US as they visit the series of five Castie-Cons for their favorite show, Starship Planet. Bran and Abel are super-fans (like SUPER.FANS) who first met online and bonded over their obsession, and later became co-vloggers, devoted to the show. Abel loves Captain Cadmus and Bran loves Sim, something which they argue about endlessly! But the one thing they can agree on is their mutual hatred of the "Cadsim" shippers and their rival blog that is devoted to the fanfiction written about the relationship between the show's two stars, Cadmus and Sim. Why, WHY? does everyone assume that they're secretly gay and together -- Bran and Abel are convinced that some people just can't accept that not everyone is really gay and they're fed up with the shippers who think they are.
So, as their road trip summer approaches, they make a bet. At each con they'll ask the question: Do you think Cadmus and Sim are secretly getting it on? to each visiting star of the cast during Q&A, and if any of them answer in the affirmative, Bran and Abel will act out one of their fanfic scenes and post it online. If they're right, and the cast obviously thinks nothing happens between the characters, then the creators of the rival blog will have to sign a document bowing to the awesomeness of Bran and Abel and admit that the two characters would never work together. It's a fool's bet, or so they think. But surprises on the road change the game for both of them.
Okay, so, that sounds super awesome, right? First of all, they're total geeks, which I love. Also, the blurb is written so well and it is so witty, that I was hoping it would bode well for the novel itself. And I honestly had no complains -- none -- about the story at all. In fact, I'm making myself wait a whole month before reading it again. The beauty of the story is the relationship between Bran and Able. Able is the gregarious and sometimes flamboyant of the pair, with lots of sexual misadventures and a style all his own (I loved seeing what he wore from each truck stop they made!). Bran is different, in many ways because of the internet (I'm getting there…). Raised in a devout family, Bran's recent years have been difficult in a family built on secrets and repression. His family loves him, but they also believe he's made a bad choice, not by coming out, but by being gay in the first place. He's continually harassed by their pastor, who always seems to want to have a chat with him. The internet and his heavy presence there, is like a shining beacon for him to represent the best of himself. And.. you can see where this is going… that is how lies are started. At the start of this trip, Bran has found himself in a place where everyone who knows him (save Bec, who he knows from childhood) thinks he's someone completely different than he really is. And of all these people, the ones he's afraid of finding out the truth the most is Abel. Keeping the secrets and using convenient lies like a horrible ex to say why he isn't dating, are easy online and seeing Abel once or twice a month, but together 24/7? It's going to be hard.
Add in a new, ultra-secret group intent on exposing their lives online makes Bran even more paranoid as they stop in each city, putting Bran and Abel at odds and their friendship is put to a severe test when almost nothing turns out to be what they expected.
That might be the LONGEST summary I've ever written! But, there's just so much about this book, and so many different threads weaved throughout. It is really masterfully written with a real flare for voice and style and a huge dose of vulnerability and appropriate teenaged angst. There's nothing I hate more than a whiny teenager, and I was so happy that this author didn't fall into that trap. Bran's issues are extremely real and sometimes quite heavy. The writing is so centered in who he is that it's like a part of him with no separation, like his real feelings come across without filter. So, it affected me, quite a lot. He's really pretty messed up, and in an identifiable way to most people who will probably read this.
Another thing that made this novel a pure pleasure to read was the humor. It is so freaking hilarious that I almost couldn't take it at times. I had so many different quotes and notes on this book in my Kindle, probably more than any book previously, because some of the lines are so funny that I couldn't bear not to mark them and then chat with my reading buddies (Laura and Tina, also in love with this book!). I wish I could share some of them, but I lost them all with my brand new Kindle a few days ago. Anyway, I'll just have to read this again and make another post with quotes or something, because the amount of one-liners you could take from this book astounds me :)
I left this book till last in my reviews because it is the best. And that is saying a lot up against a book like Tinseltown. But, even though I loved both and they both were similar in some ways, like the TV trivia-spouting characters and the unique voice and style, for me this book won out simply because it was such a pure pleasure to read. At times it was emotionally wrenching, something I have a particularly hard time reading if I'm expecting it, but I've still thought about this book at least once a day even so long after finishing it.
And it is only $2.99. Seriously! I kid you not. It's a steal -- and I would have paid three times the price for it and still felt it was worth every penny. I have a feeling that this will be my #1 most pimped out book this year, something I might have been comfortable with if I had read it in March instead of October. So please, do yourself a favor and go buy it. Then, spend this weekend getting to know the two cutest, funniest, and most lovable geeks in print. You'll be happy you did -- I promise!...more
I have to say, this might be the cutest story I've read all year!
Ryan is just admitting to himself that he likes guys, but it is difficult and scary keeping such a secret in high school, especially when his only friend has a lot to say about "fags." He's scared to get close, in any way, to Jamie, the queer kid. It is social suicide. When he draws his name for Secret Santa in their study hall, Ryan has to figure out a way to make three gifts for Jamie without them knowing it came from him. The problem, is that now Ryan has started noticing Jamie, he can't get him out of his head -- and he starts to see just how hard a time Jamie has in school. Maybe he can make a few gifts to cheer Jamie up.
Not only is this well written, plotted, paced, and pretty much everything I could think of, this is such a feel good story, a perfect young adult story… it is just completely heartwarming. I knew I wanted to read and review this immediately when Madison contacted me. I mean, knitting…young adult boys… secret santa. It just sounded cute. But then I heard from a friend that they loved this story and I just couldn't wait to read it -- I barely made it through finishing the novel I was reading before jumping in. And it completely lived up to my expectations. Sometimes the best thing about a story is the way it makes you feel, and this will give you the warm fuzzies. You'll fall in love with Ryan and Jamie -- the latter because he needs a good cuddle, and Ryan because he's so honorable, yet still a confused kid. He's the kind of guy you want to champion, yet still give him a gentle kick the in ass to get him back on track, simply because Jamie needs a champion of his own. I loved them both.
And it made me want to knit a sock monkey!
So, I definitely recommend this story and I'll be looking out for this author's work in the future :) It's a perfect story for the stressed out holidays! So for those of you eating Turkey today (or tofurkey, or yams and potatoes and stuffing), take this story with you to your family dinner and sneak out when the bickering starts! It will make you feel warm and happy again :)...more
I really enjoyed this book. I like reading slow and sweet love stories, and this definitely fit the bill, due to Jaime's history. Even more (4.5 stars
I really enjoyed this book. I like reading slow and sweet love stories, and this definitely fit the bill, due to Jaime's history. Even more (though they often infuriated me), I enjoyed Levi's family. I think it was very smart of Marie Sexton to let this story run the course it did. Now that I think back on it, there isn't one book I remember reading right now in this genre that doesn't offer a complete resolution for coming out (even though Levi is already out) that isn't either complete and ultimate acceptance or estrangement. It is so often black and white, or the climax of the novel is the point in which the family accepts the MCs completely and without reservation. This is so often not the case in real life, especially in situations like this. Yet, I never doubted the love the whole family had for Levi, and I believe that they truly loved him. And not only did I find Levi much more mature than the family gave him credit for, but I thought it was incredibly mature of him to persist having to bear their disapproval instead of writing his family off and cutting himself off from them, even before he realizes that Jaime needs them as much as he needs Levi.
The only other thing I can say is that they should have chosen Coda!...more
I've been excited to read this one for a while now ;) Okay, not only because I love Anne and her books,Review posted at The Armchair Reader.
I've been excited to read this one for a while now ;) Okay, not only because I love Anne and her books, or because I really liked Whitetail Rock and The Fix, but mostly because I loved Sam so much in those stories and couldn't wait to see him get his own HEA. And come on, a character who is admittedly secretly in love with romance novels having his own book called "Too Stupid to Live"? That's gotta be awesome!
We first met Sam in Whitetail Rock with his best friend Nik. Compared to Nik, Sam is always seen as the tall, gangly, awkward one. Too skinny. Too underweight. When Nik finds Jurgen, Sam despairs of ever finding someone for himself, and adamantly refuses to believe that anyone as hot or as in demand as Jurgen would give him the time of day. He's enamored of Ian when he meets him playing rugby with a bunch of other hot shirtless men. He thinks he looks like his very own Highlander and for the first time risks the chance and asks him out -- only to be thoroughly shot down. Ian wonders about Sam too, and not only feels kinda bad about how he shot him down but also can't stop thinking about him, wondering if he made a mistake. Ian has been trying to change recently, after a horrible accident while fighting a fire and then later getting out from under the thumb of the chief, his conservative father. He's a renowned rake of the modern sort, and even though Sam might swoon at the thought of reforming him, the real-life possibility of a rather sensitive and vulnerable Sam not getting thoroughly heartbroken looks impossible.
When the two realize just what a small world it is (Ian is Jurgen's cousin, FYI) and are thrown together at a party thrown by Nik, Sam decides to take his chances under Ian's forceful seduction. He just promises himself he'll try to remember that Ian isn't anyone's idea of a perfect husband.
In many ways this is a classic contemporary romance, albeit approached from a unique angle. While we often seem to have a romance writer as a main character, here we're presented with a story that at least half of the time is told by Sam, an admitted romance reader and a writer himself. He's in a unique position to critique "The Romance Novel", and that experience in how a story is put together comes across in his critique of his own life.
And that's when it hit Sam. If Ian was a TGH [Tortured, Gothic Hero], that made Sam…
Too Stupid to Live.
Sam closed his eyes in resignation. He was TSTL. Stupid enough to investigate the locked fourth story of the manor house, where the human screams originated; stupid enough to run out onto the moors at night to find the howling wolves. Stupid enough to want to suck Ian's cock again. And the whole time, he'd be thinking he could somehow further the plot via his stupidity.
The thing was, whatever had happened between him and Ian was certainly fraught with internal conflict, because all romances -- okay, romance novels -- had some kind of conflict, and if it wasn't external it had to be internal. Since Ian wasn't saving Sam from international drug-smuggling terrorists, and he wasn't the captain of an enemy starship that had captured Sam in battle (ugh, revenge sex), their plotting -- his and Ian's -- had to center on internal conflict.
AKA emotional conflict.
Obviously, if an outside observer had to guess which of them had the more serious emotional conflict, they'd pick Ian. Sam wasn't the one who didn't even know what constituted a relationship. By default, that made Ian the screwed-up one, right?
Aside from his own charm, that connection to the reader makes the story immediately engaging. We can understand and empathize with Sam with his life because of the language he uses to explore it. He's the first person to admit that he's become TSTL and his fantasies are ones that we have as well, or at least know of -- "Reformed rakes make the best husbands." (I love that one).
While it might be unfair for me to compare this (as a novel) to the first two stories because of the length and time to explore this relationship, I did like it more than those. Nik and Jurgen make an appropriate presence in the story without relying on them to carry the story. And Too Stupid to Live carries on in a similar vein as those stories in similar plot, characters, style and tone. The first two stories were incredibly hot, and this novel was as well. Much of the relationship between Sam and Ian is physical (at least up front, and for the first half of the novel). They've created a carefully constructed fabrication over their true relationship to continue the lie that it isn't a real relationship at all, and to do that they rely heavily on sex. For me, it carried the story and I didn't feel the need for more, because it is actually there. The sex scenes are constructed with a careful eye to move the plot forward and subsequently, the relationship.
Fans of Anne Tenino will definitely like this story. Ian is every bit the roguish character he's made out to be and is sometimes difficult to warm to (so are Sam's decisions regarding him). But, those choices are balanced well with real feeling and the lens through which the story is structured (The Romance Novel) bridges the gap between them.
Definitely recommended! And I look forward to the next :)...more
A miraculous, healing story to hold close to your heart!
I've heard many, many wonderful things about this book over the last month or so. Josephine MyA miraculous, healing story to hold close to your heart!
I've heard many, many wonderful things about this book over the last month or so. Josephine Myles wrote a wonderful review that caught my interest after Chris directed me there, and became my personal cheerleader -- saying, "read it now! read it now!". I found myself very lucky then, to be one of the recipients of the GoodReads giveaway and received my paperback copy from Edmond in the mail last week, along with a beautiful note and a yummy, gooey, finger-licking, savorlicious nut roll, that I promply ate on the way back from the mail-box. I mean, hey, I got a free book! But I also got free candy! Well, not candy ;)
So I found myself with a beautiful copy of a book that has probably gotten more 5 star reviews than I've seen before, memory full of sweet and salty goodness, and a personal cheerleader goading me on. How could I refuse?
This is a unique book to review, and I won't re-hash the blurb for you, because there's really no point. There's so much to say about it, yet the beauty of it is in the mystery. I constantly found myself with my pen marking favorite passages to enjoy later (I love marking up books! real books! it's been so long!), but unable to share them, because like an inside joke, no one but fellow Found King and Queen readers would understand them. Point 1 for Edmond Manning -- by reading, I've become complicit in the events of the book.
Because the real story is in the mystery of figuring out the story for yourself and your own personal journey with the characters, the story is a bit hard to describe to those who haven't yet read the book. I was talking to a friend who is also reading this book right now and the only way I could find to describe the story was this: "its... light-hearted on the surface but profound underneath, but it's like a great adventure. It... reminds me, at it's heart... of Max, in Where the Wild Things Are... It's like a great children's adventure for adults." There's a sense of wonder in the adventure, which sounds a bit hokey in summary, but through the character of San Francisco in the novel is laid out in a way that entices the senses.
I do want to talk to potential readers here, because I might not have picked this story up if not for Chris, my personal cheerleader, telling me not to be afraid of the Bittersweet label on this book. The only similarity this book as to Bittersweet books is the fact that there's no HEA. I don't think that's too much of a spoiler to give away as it is pretty well known. However, while this book is wildly romantic, it is also not technically a "romance." I'd rather think of it as gay fiction. It is a beautiful story that left me with a huge smile on my face and warmth in my heart, and no matter how hokey it sounds I'll growl it out like a wild bear :)
All I can say is that I think everyone should read this book, and I'm so happy that I have my very own paperback copy to read whenever I want. I imagine that this book will stay with me for a long time, and having it there to comfort me on a bad day, or remind me of all the good and wonder in the world when I really need it....more
I love it just as much as the first time. Even though I told myself I'd just read a bit here and there, because on WedSecond Read - 5/15/13 - 5/18/13
I love it just as much as the first time. Even though I told myself I'd just read a bit here and there, because on Wednesday when I started this I really needed a comfort read, I couldn't help but putting everything else aside and reading this first book straight through. I have another full week of reviews coming up that I still need to finish some of them and finalize and format the rest of them, but I don't think I'll be able to stop myself from opening now and reading it as well! Hopefully I can take it slower though :) Maybe...
First of all, I really want to thank Jen for pointing this online serial out to me (don't worry, this book is complete), and by proxy Orannia. It is a pretty long book, especially when you realize that the rest of the series is just about as long, but it really is worth reading.
The basis of the story is a working ranch in Wyoming that runs an exclusive program designed to help overworked and overstressed executives and CEOs rejuvenate. It may seem like rehab, and it is -- without the negative white-washed wall and formica tabletop and stale coffee associations. It is a place where people can come and help work the ranch (one at a time) and get some perspective and help with their problems.
Dale is sent to Falls Chance Ranch by his company after he has a breakdown at the office. A lifetime of bad habits and obsessive behavior have gotten him the reputation as somewhat of a whiz kid in financial circles, but at the failing of his health. Not eating and not sleeping and working around the clock simply will not work for him anymore. He's not given much of a choice, something he really despises, but the ranch and the people who live there quickly get under his skin. He starts to feel a part of something he never even knew could exist and starts to understand himself for the first time in his life.
I swear at least one of the authors of this MUST be a psychologist. I just don't know if I could believe that such a character intensive story could be written, especially in the setting of mental heath issues, without that knowledge and background. Because it doesn't just sound like Dale has an internet diagnosis and the plot flows from a breakdown of Wikipedia neurotic disorders, but the story is deeply ingrained in how people see the world and react to one another, both from a social perspective, and from a deeply internalized one. The slow pace and long length allow the authors to really dig deep in the characters, take their time, and let the plot unfold.
I think that a very strong case could be made for shortening some of this. And if this were published and professionally edited (it is remarkably free of mistakes and errors, to me anyway :D), it would no doubt lose quite a lot of length. But a lot of the charm and reason that the characters sunk so deep in my bones and I could feel them like best friends, was because of the time spent with them. Enough time that the pace is much more akin to real life, more than most written works.
Perhaps what is strongest here though, besides how wonderful the characters are and the relationships between them, is the place of Falls Chance Ranch. The whole premise of the rehabilitation of clients, even though it is never called that, is the return to idyllic nature. The meaning of working land and passing it on. Of a place as character, seen through the constant stories of David and Phillip, now long since died in the story, but present characters because of interchangeability of them and the land they became. Seen from the perspective of a man who has become battered by everything artificial in the world, the land, the story and characters, and therefore the book become a similar experience for the reader as the situation is for Dale. It seems like so many of the reviews I've seen of this story have mentioned how people felt so connected to Dale, and that's because when his problems are laid bare, really bare, we can each find a way to connect to them.
I'm completely addicted to this story, and it probably isn't for everyone. There's no sex, which definitely upset me sometimes because the connections are so strong I wanted to see that. In her post, Jen talked about seeing a group of 5 guys work together, and that was simply wonderful. I've never seen such a polyamorous family work in fiction this way. It is very long and has a slow pace. So it might be tedious for some to read. But if you really like digging into stories that won't leave you for a long time and will take you a while to enjoy, then this is definitely for you. I simply cannot wait to read the rest of this series, no matter how much further it will destroy my very detailed reading schedule I had laid out. Who cares? I'll read all those books next week! This week, I want to finish Falls Chance Ranch.
**Note: While technically this is BDSM, the lack of sex and therefore BDSM sexual play really breaks down to the core of dominance and submission and the transference of power.Three Traders...more
I'm not up to a full review right now, but I really enjoyed this story that was smooth reading. The characters were great, th4.5 stars
I'm not up to a full review right now, but I really enjoyed this story that was smooth reading. The characters were great, the antagonist in all his glory didn't spin over the top into incredulity (unlike many books I've read lately, where somehow a skirmish always becomes a war and a feminine man is always the flamiest flaming queen ever seen). It's really a simple story about coming to terms with your sexuality and domestic abuse, but what makes it special are the characters, and an at-heart simple story made special by soaring characters wins any day in my book. And there are loads of great characters in this one, from Wolverine the mutinous mystery cat to long-armed Adam, who lives with his mom, consistently sounds as if his vocabulary was found at the bottom of a bottle, but has his own special brand of charm. Tim's family dynamics were at times hilarious and at others quite frustrating. The brotherly dynamic was very interesting and quite true to life. Yes, the interconnecting relationships are what makes this book shine....more
I wish I had an award to give out to this book! The Sweetest, Most Heartfelt, Make Me Go Gooey award. For those rReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I wish I had an award to give out to this book! The Sweetest, Most Heartfelt, Make Me Go Gooey award. For those readers that take a chance on this book (and I'll go ahead and say I bet it'll probably be less than should), you're going to find a book that is both a classic love story and at the same time unique in the romance world. The focus of this story is on love itself, in it's most pure form, without sexuality (well, there's a little bit of it, but it's not the point) and while doing that, it whittles down the relationship to it's purest form. It just hits a note early on that really harmonized with me. I felt like -- as soon as I started the book -- I got it and I was there with it right to the very end.
Imaginary starts with the line Aaron is five the first time he sees James. Aaron is a lonely orphan, raised in the foster system and bounced from home to home until he lands with Tiffany and Shaw, a travesty of a pair of parents that make Aaron know very well that they only want him for the paycheck he gets them. His dirty clothes and lack of toys mean that he's set apart from the other kids. So when Aaron sees a boy sitting on the fence around the field near his house, he introduces himself and finds a friend that seems interested in all the same thing he is -- running through the field and exploring the forest and the rabbit warrens, making up their own games. The gig is up, though, when the gossip-happy Tiffany tells Aaron that no boy named James lives in their neighborhood. And James is silent on answers. He doesn't have any. He doesn't know who his parents are or where his house is. He doesn't remember anything before meeting Aaron except wandering around and being lonely.
Aaron is frustrated and angry that no one seems to believe him that James is real. Like all kids with imaginary friends, he's told he'll grow out of it, though Aaron talking to James around Tiffany or Shaw is a recipe for punishment and the threat of sending him away. Aaron learns to stop talking about James, but James doesn't go away. As Aaron grows up over a series of ten years, James seems to grow with him, through puberty, making new friends and the confusing feelings about girls and Aaron's feelings about them in relation to his best friend James.
Aaron doesn't know if anyone will ever be able to see James besides him. But James means too much to him to ignore.
No matter the fact that the story is similar to a few that I've read/seen before in books and movies, I still couldn't see the direction that this story was headed. I'm glad that I didn't, I got to enjoy the story as it was intended, growing up with both boys and like them, not knowing the possibilities of their future, apart and hopefully together. It's a story that produces natural angst, but despite tween and teenager years the story never delves into it. It remains a sense of purity, the same sort of purity and innocence that James brings to Aaron.
It's truly a beautiful story and for most of it, I read it wearing a smile. It's definitely a recommended read. I liked that the story was heavier on their earlier years as quite young boys and then more quickly moved through the 12-15 years, though I would have liked more story at the end.
For those looking for a sweet read, definitely check this one out. I feel lucky that I got to read it ahead of time and I wholeheartedly want to support it and make sure that more people are aware it. If you like sweet stories that aren't fluff but have little to no sex then this is a good fit for you. And no matter how you might feel about the story's execution, I challenge all of you who read it to not find it beautiful, heartfelt and touching :)
Note: This is by far, The BEST cover that I've seen from LT3, made by HM Burns and London Burden. It drew me to the story in the first place and it is perfect for the story....more
Jeez, I don't know if I can write a proper review. Honestly, I'll try. But mostly I juReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
HOLY FRIGGIN HELL.
Jeez, I don't know if I can write a proper review. Honestly, I'll try. But mostly I just want to sit, my fingers still on the keys and my mouth hanging open like…. guhhh. That was the hottest little scene I've read in a quite a while.
Reading this first foray into the new series (serialized chapter releases?), I have to say that I am very excited about what is to come in this series. The blurb definitely intrigued me and it's got pretty much everything I love. Rent Boys. Check! Threesomes and maybe more in the future? Check. Love among the dirty deeds? Oh yeah, I think it's coming because these two authors singed my Kindle with the chemistry between Tristan and Jared.
So, here's the summary: Jared works at the Market Garden, an exclusive club where he is available for rent. He's sort of half in love/lust/true-fucking-admiration with Tristan, a favorite among the men. Tristan is gorgeous and unattainable to Jared, at least he thinks. They're in a bit of a lull at the club as the story opens. It's just before Christmas and johns are maxxed out on other things. Jared isn't making the kind of money that he's used to and this will be his first holiday season working at the club. Tristan reassures him that it's all part of the season and business will pick up. In the meantime, Jared is surprised to find that Tristan seems to have an interest in him… and well, they're not getting any business at the moment. When a john asks if they work together, Jared wants to scream yes just to get the chance to be with Tristan, in whatever fashion. But the john has demands of his own, which include wanting to watch the two together, and he's willing to negotiate with Tristan, who is quite forward with manipulating Jared and showing him off to get more money. But, the real question that Jared has is how much is for show and how much is real? Because for him, it's all real.
I think that for such a short foray into what is obviously a much larger story to come, this first installment into the Market Garden series was very well done. These two authors work very well together, and I'm not surprised, being a fan of both. In a way, this works as a teaser, because we don't learn much about the characters, but I was immediately pulled into their connection anyway. I could see that they had forged something special, unique in their line of business, and that they had much to build upon. That came through in the writing very strongly. Still, it's little into the real story. I suppose it is really up to you if you'd rather read it now or wait until more has come. This story acted like a hook for me, and I really wished that I could immediately read more about these two characters. So, I'm a fan already and looking forward to where these two authors will take the story.
However, I will say this. This is some hot shit. Sorry, my brain is totally zoned out and I can't even make coherent sentences anymore. So, if you really want the relationship business, you might have to wait for more installments into the series. But, if you just want a really hot short and don't mind waiting for the rest, then definitely pick this up. I don't think you'll regret it. Like I said -- HOT shit. Yep. ;)
I think that was the most inelegant review I've ever written, I love it!...more
I was very eager to read this follow up to Frat Boy and Toppy when I saw that the author was carrying on into a sReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I was very eager to read this follow up to Frat Boy and Toppy when I saw that the author was carrying on into a series. Not simply because I liked that book so much, because I really did, but also because I was really eager to see how Anne Tenino would redeem Paul. In Frat Boy, Paul was the bastard friend of Sebastian, who was livid that his friend was falling for a brainless jock and frat boy. No matter where their relationship led, every time Paul found himself around Brad (the frat boy jock Sebastian was falling in love with), he couldn't keep his mouth shut. It was obvious that there was more to Paul, other than being stuck up, snobbish, elitist. You could tell that there was a real aversion to jocks, just that he's too proud to say why. Love, Hypothetically gives us that story, plunked straight into the middle of Paul's neuroses, and showing the way he looks at the world around him.
Paul uses dark humor, elitism, and arrogance to cover the depth of the hurt that his one real relationship caused him. His first love, Trevor, chose his promising baseball career over their relationship in the most humiliating and sacrificial way -- a pain he never dealt with, and consequently altered him into the jaded and untrusting graduate student he currently is. Now, Trevor is back and Paul doesn't know what to do about it. He can't face his own feelings honestly, and the friends he once had who could have done it for him he has pushed away. Trevor is asking for forgiveness and a chance to see if they can rekindle their old relationship, but Paul doesn't know if he can trust him again.
Though shorter, this story definitely lived up to my hopes, having really enjoyed the first book about Brad and Sebastian. Paul is an interesting character himself, and I think that the reason he's compelling is that we get to know him first through Brad's POV, in the first book. Paul doesn't treat him well, and for most of the book comes off as a bitter bastard. Now, sinking into Paul's own point of view gives us a chance to understand him better. I expected a different character, honestly. I thought Paul would be a little more lost, but what we see here is a character who, while he might have a skewed perception about some things, is very frankly real about his own shortcomings. He knows that he's bitter, that he keeps his friends at an arm's length. The real problem is that he doesn't know if he can change that, or even if he wants to. Getting close to people is what got him in trouble in the first place.
For the most part, I'm not a fan of flashbacks, and I was worried when Chapter 2 went back to Paul's high school days with Trevor. That doesn't last, for those of you who, like me, aren't fans of going back and forth in time. It's a personal choice that, unless done supremely well, seems to aggravate me endlessly, so I was happy to see that that wasn't the case here. I liked Trevor. He comes off as a stock romance character at first. He's almost perfect (well, at least in in the present time). He's making up for misdeeds and comes in to try to sweep Paul off his feet. In fact, this plot line isn't that original. But still, it becomes it's own story. Paul and Trevor push past the usual plot of relationship failing in the past, to meeting again, to getting to know each other, to having a small problem to work out, to HEA. When they actually get down to talking about how they feel, the author allows Paul to be Paul. In doing so, Paul uses those old defense mechanisms like he really means them. Allowing the character not to hold their punches, to be realistic and not always perfectly understanding gave the story what it needed to come to a successful resolution.
I really quite enjoyed this story. This story ended up having a lot of heart for a story that I was expecting from the outset to be mostly sex (even tI really quite enjoyed this story. This story ended up having a lot of heart for a story that I was expecting from the outset to be mostly sex (even though I enjoy those too!). In the end, it had both. I really loved "Frat Boy" and wanted to smack "Toppy" a few times, but hey, they got there. Sweet, cute, and really hot. A nice combo. I ended up staying up to read it....more
Ratings-wise, this is an interesting book for me to rate. Now, I don't know about all of you, but I can't silenceWell, now I know what I was missing!
Ratings-wise, this is an interesting book for me to rate. Now, I don't know about all of you, but I can't silence that terrible rating voice as I'm reading. It's constantly saying things like, hmmm, that's -1 star, but +.25 for that crazy outfit! This bizarre and completely arbitrary tally starts in my head. It doesn't even matter because I usually throw it out in the end anyway (unless there are real problems with the book, in which case it comes in handy). In this case I actually hadn't warmed up to the book until a bit past the halfway point. Perhaps this is due to what I like to call the Sixth Sense Effect (in which highly lauded things completely disappoint me). I have, after all, heard endless things about this book, mostly disbelief that I've still yet to read it! Sweet baby Jesus, where have I been?
That first half was still pretty above average though, all things considered (and vastly different from the second half). But, that pesky Sixth Sense Effect reared it's ugly head and I kept waiting for it to get really, really good. I did happen, eventually, which I think is at the point where Roe relaxes a bit and the originality in his voice starts to shine through. In retrospect, it was always here. He's endearing because you can see his insecurity through the way he speaks -- that he's a smart, yet mostly uneducated man. So when a bit of happiness started to shine through... Or, perhaps when a bit of feeling started to shine through and he allowed himself his own emotions, I could finally see the personality there as well. Ultimately, this is what made the book for me. Because the story told without Roe's understanding of it would have been pretty unremarkable, or at least much more average.
I suppose then, since it all comes down to voice, that you probably either love this book or hate it on your enjoyment of Roe's voice alone. For me, this is one in a short list of m/m romances that have won me over purely on that factor, which is definitely a feat to have accomplished.
And how about that AWESOME friend Haley??? Best friend ever!...more
This is the second book in the Tucker Springs series, all set in the same town but with different, barelReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
This is the second book in the Tucker Springs series, all set in the same town but with different, barely related, characters and written with different authors. The first book, Where Nerves End by LA Witt, was only okay for me. This one really excels and a lot of you will really love it, I know that without a doubt.
Paul is a mess. His girlfriend of seven years and fiancee has left him for another man and he'll do anything to get her back. He's looking for a gift for her in the only place he can afford one (a pawnshop) when he meets El, the owner and all around cool guy with his feet propped up and smoking a cigarette. When Paul is forced to return Stacey's gift the next day, El takes him out for drinks.
Their connection is immediate. While El is certain to deny the possibility of happiness, both in the world and his own life, Paul is finding old feelings for men returning. What was the real reason he was with Stacey? Because it was right, or easy?
Paul and El are the absolute winners with this story. It wouldn't be a story at all without them -- there isn't really anything more here than their friendship and later relationship. Their personalities are so different, yet harmonious right from their first meeting. They each have a lot of issues to work through and though some of them are quiet heavy I never felt as if they were overwhelming. Paul, of course, has never really had to face his own fundamental character head on. He's clueless about everything in his life, and he's clueless that he's clueless. Meeting Stacey so young and breezing through life comfortably meant that he never had to consider whether he was truly happy or only content. Never having to make choices combined with a deep seated self esteem issue (because no one could really want him) makes it safer to leave his curiosity smothered. When Stacey takes away the comfort, Paul flounders, unable to see any other way of living if it isn't to constantly curry Stacey's favor.
El is a different puzzle. He's convinced that there's no such thing as real happiness for anyone, so why try to look for it himself. He isn't maudlin about it, he simply accepts it as a fact of life, telling himself that he's a realist and is happier for never searching for an elusive prize that only ends in heartbreak. This is highlighted very well by his family troubles. He's portrayed as having a typical loud and obnoxious Latin family, but the focus is shifted to his mother's hoarding problem. This allowed his family to be real instead of stereotypical, and by showing the role that El plays (stern mediator) that while he loves his family he's constantly seeking to separate himself from them. After all, his sister is constantly dating a new man who screws her over and his mother seems to care for her possessions as living things. They are attachments to disappointment and superficiality, and even while El rants against them, his lonely life and his later actions to court Paul's favor (a straight man), betray those feelings as falsehoods -- a smokescreen for fear of disappointment. I wondered where this came from. We never hear of a failed relationship in his past that might have made El so jaded, so I could only assume that his feelings have grown in response to his family.
There is so much to recommend about this story and like I said earlier, this short novel is going to be a hit with most readers. I sometimes have a hard time getting into contemporary unless I'm not in the mood for any other genre. I didn't have that problem here because the writing was so superb and kept me interested from the beginning. I can only hope that Heidi and Marie continue to write together. Both of these authors are wonderful, to which their numerous fans will attest, but together their strengths compensated for the other's weaknesses.
I'm still not entirely sure what draws this series together. Obviously, the town of Tucker Springs which is the name of the series. Aside from that, I haven't noticed any overall thematic connections -- though perhaps I will have to wait for further installments. Definitely Recommended!...more
Oh Kaje… you did it again! I was thrilled (to say the least) when I saw that Kaje had a new novel (a very LONG noReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Oh Kaje… you did it again! I was thrilled (to say the least) when I saw that Kaje had a new novel (a very LONG novel) coming at the Samhain site and even more excited when I was able to procure a review copy early. It's been a couple months since I first read this, but I didn't really fall into the trap of reading a book and not writing the review right away. Well, I did, but it didn't matter because I really liked this book so much that I had no trouble reading it again.
Mike lives with his sister and her husband. It's a nice arrangement. Mike is able to be a part of a nuclear family and it helps stave off the loneliness, but there are some difficulties. Like most siblings, his sister doesn't have a problem inserting herself into his life. And she brings up some valid points, which is probably why it grates on his nerves so much. Mike is a pathologist by day but a real book lover by night. And his only real social interaction apart from his family comes from his long time internet friend. They talk almost every day, discussing books and Mike has grown to really care for his friend.
Without realizing it, Mike and his internet friend fall into the awkward category of being rather intimate friends but not really knowing each other at all. When Kellen asks to meet up for coffee, Mike's neuroses come out to play. Somehow, though Mike can't understand why, Kellen seems to really like him. What Mike doesn't like about himself, Kellen finds charming… like his nerves and clumsiness. And Kellen turns out to be even better in person. To Mike, he seems cool, collected, and incredibly handsome.
Over time, Mike and Kellan grow closer in person, but having to deal with significant real life roadblocks that interrupt their new relationship. It seems like when one of them is smooth sailing the other is dealing with a crisis. It doesn't really help that Mike feels incredibly vulnerable in new, choppy waters. He might be incredibly intelligent and (though he chooses to live with his sister and brother in law) rather successful, but romantically, Mike is just a teenager. At the same time, Kellen refuses to share his burdens which grow over time to be almost unbearable. No matter how naturally they might seem to work together, their choices and fears lead them to build an unstable relationship. And it will take real work to turn it all around into something healthy and stable.
When I first started writing this review, I almost said that I was excited about this book because it's so solid. I realize that's not a great descriptor, but what I mean by that is that I feel like when I get a book from Kaje Harper to read, I know that I'll get a story that is really explored, detailed and have a fulfilling read. This was definitely the case with Sole Support. Like her other characters from past books I've also loved, Kellen and Mike came across so honestly and so fleshed out. And though it helps to have a particularly long novel to read when you really like the story, as it was here, that isn't the reason why I felt this way. This is a story about real life, real relationships and real issues, which make it both heartening to read and also at times heartbreaking. It's rare for me to find a book where the characters have to deal with such issues, yet don't delve into their own angst needlessly.
Part of the beauty of this story is how Kaje wrote Kellen's mother, who suffers from advanced dementia. We witness her slow decline, which is utterly heartbreaking, but more upsetting to watch is the correlating decline of the caregiver, Kellen, and the issues he has to deal with. The issue is handled with care and with intense empathy, and it's no surprise that Kaje dedicates this book to all caregivers.
I love slow romances, and I really fell in love with Kellen and in particular, Mike. I can't help but recommend this book to everyone. It's a perfect example of the writing talent of Kaje Harper and also an incredibly touching story. And though the characters go through some real turmoil, they come out in the end better people for it. I was carried along for the ride and in the end, it felt cathartic. I have no complaints. I forgot I was even reading this for review most of the time. I just enjoyed the story....more
Damn. This book was just as difficult to read as it was wonderful. I think I'm still too close to read about that period of my life that was eerily siDamn. This book was just as difficult to read as it was wonderful. I think I'm still too close to read about that period of my life that was eerily similar to Vince's and be able to really look back on it in retrospect. Plus, for anyone who has ever felt the empty heaviness of unrequited love -- this book really hits that sore spot. Well done, Ben Monopoli. I look forward to your second novel....more
I hate to say this, but I keep marking this down every time I think about it. The biggest problems for me, besides what a few other people (mostly EllI hate to say this, but I keep marking this down every time I think about it. The biggest problems for me, besides what a few other people (mostly Ella Jane and Teddy Pig) have found problems with (like the porn sub-plot, the too-long internal melodrama, and the unreality of the NYC firefighers doing gay for pay and risking their jobs) is really that this needed a more thorough editing (a lot of the narration could be cut -- Dante's J/O scene, so much of Griff's rambling thoughts). I think that the writing in places in beautiful, were real gems (like the 9/11 background) but were then pretty much left out of the story. What really worked here was not what was focused on, which made me a little sad. I would have loved to read more about the story with more focus centered around 9/11. As it stands, it makes me wonder why it was even there in the first place?
Damon is a promising writer, and this being his first m/m romance, I think he can only improve on what is already a great writing career. I just hope that he can find some trusted readers/editors that will, like with any author, show him what he's doing well and what could be left aside....more
To be honest, I was a bit daunted when I started thinking of writing this review. Not because of the booReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
To be honest, I was a bit daunted when I started thinking of writing this review. Not because of the book itself, but because I read this book about two months ago and then didn't write the review promptly (not a surprise, honestly!). But, in a twist I didn't expect, but should have, I find that this book comes back to me in detail that books I read two months previously usually never do. And that just shows how much of this book stuck with me. I remember thinking about it for a couple of weeks afterward, and when I consider that I usually hold books that stay with me for a few days in high esteem, then this was a really special read for me. And without doubt, the best book in the Tucker Springs series by far. Admittedly, my feelings about the books in this series so far have been so so; while I liked them all, none of them really stuck with me (a statement I've made in past reviews of those books). Enter Never a Hero to make me eat my words…
We first meet Owen sequestered in his dark apartment, the main floor of a split level home in Tucker Springs. He rarely leaves, working at home on his computer and getting his groceries delivered. His life is a pretty depressing one. Raised to be ashamed of his missing arm, the result of a congenital amputation (that's where the blood supply to a limb is cut off by the amniotic cord in the womb and the fetus is born without a limb or with a partial limb), Owen was further humiliated by his mother's negativity and verbal abuse as a child to the point where he has extreme social anxiety that goes even beyond his embarrassment over his missing arm and his stutter. Even worse, his mother's campaign of abuse frequently centered on his obvious homosexuality and her relative displeasure at such a prospect of a gay son. Naturally, as an adult Owen's life is rather tormented and lonely, and even though his courage stretched far enough to move away from her influence, his mother's work was done. Owen takes hardly any pleasures in life, and the one he cherishes is soon to end. Owen has fallen in love with his downstair neighbor's daily piano playing and by proxy, Owen fancies himself in love with the woman himself.
Even worse than the prospect of the absence of his unrequited hetero love, Owen's new neighbor is a beautiful gay man. Owen could easily resent Nick's presence -- he's confident, sexy and doesn't deal with the same sort of social anxieties as Owen (proved by the loads of gay male friends who come to help him move in) -- but Nick's charm and easy going nature seem to deflate Owen's bubble of derision and longing. As the two get to know each other, Owen starts to find it difficult to pretend that he still wants his old neighbor, the woman, especially when Nick cooks for him (nasty healthy food) and little by little starts to draw Owen out of his shell and out of his apartment. But the best thing about Nick is his reaction to Owen's missing arm. He doesn't stare, but he doesn't ignore it either. He's comfortable talking about it.
Of course, Nick isn't perfect. As his self-confidence grows with Nick's patient encouragement, Owen finds that as much as he needs a hero (and found one), Nick needs one too. He's full of secrets that he's extremely persistent to keep and each subsequent intimate step forward in their relationship leads to Nick taking two steps away.
Take one look at the tags for this book, even without knowing what the book is about or having read the blurb, and you'll be able to tell that the characters in this story deal with a shitload of adversity. It's enough to pound on the angst button and send me clamoring for the hills! But, once again, Marie Sexton won me over by the charm of her writing. Some writers just have a way of connecting to the reader through their words. Sometimes I like to think of it as if I'm reading the book out loud. Would it sound and feel like I'm telling a story? It doesn't necessarily require a strong or unique character voice, but the narration immediately takes a spark in you and you're hooked. I shouldn't have been surprised… Marie's words have done this to me before in other books of hers. Nevertheless, I felt as if the charm and honesty in the writing cut through whatever natural angst exists from dealing with characters who have such enormous difficulties.
While the growing relationship between Owen and Nick is central to the story, the real star of the story is Owen and the ongoing catalyst to keep the story moving is really Owen's personal growth. Like the blurb says, Owen soon realizes that instead of waiting for a hero, it’s time to be one—for himself…. It is important that Owen take the steps to take control of his life himself. I think it's also important that Owen has a goal other than his own self-worth. I think that having both characters dealing with really heavy issues isn't only to show that the two much rely on one another in any kind of relationship, but it's important to motivate Owen, to show that he can help not only himself but Nick as well.
There's something I found unique to this book in the series that I was really happy to see. You can see in the book that Marie made a decision to incorporate all of the past characters from the books into the story, and not just the ones that are affiliated with her books. I really appreciated this, because the opposite has been true for some of the other books and showing the other characters really helped build a feeling of community in the story. It refreshed all of the connections between the men in a way that wasn't as apparent before. When I first heard that there was going to be a multi-author series based on interconnected stories set in the same town, I think I got a (perhaps) misconstrued notion of a series that was going to be much more interconnected that it has been thus far, which has been somewhat disappointing to me. This book went quite a way appease that disappointment and I hope that in the future the characters from other books start to pop up here and there, or even better that characters would have a more important part to play in books that aren't their own. Maybe authors have an unspoken rule not to fuck up other authors pet characters ;) Maybe not. Maybe this isn't even in the cards for this series, but I would love to see these authors having a more hands on approach to the other authors' characters, perhaps even working together to plan character trajectories over each other's books so that the stories are more integrated. Just my own wish :)
The fact that the stories are by and large separate means that though this is a series, you can feel free to enter at any stage and read whichever books take your particular fancy. If that's the case with you and you haven't read any of the Tucker Springs books, or even if you've read the others, this remains my favorite and as good of a place as any to start reading. You can always go back and read the others if you find yourself interested in the secondary characters in Never a Hero. Definitely Recommended!...more
I think this just might be the best Jet Mykles that I've read so far. I like the fact that she's taken something that she's done well and is4.75 stars
I think this just might be the best Jet Mykles that I've read so far. I like the fact that she's taken something that she's done well and is successful at and really tried to make it better (gfy rockers). The subject matter, emotions, and the events in this new book are certainly taken to a new level from the popular Heaven Sent books. The world is grittier, the emotions are deeper, and she's given the story a lot more room to grow at almost double the pages of those other books.
I was certainly impressed that JM was able to take a world that she's written quite a bit in and show us a new side of it. I was also surprised and very impressed with how realistically the California music world is shown, in all its light and dark shades. The glimmering veil of success measured by partners and pockets full of pills and powder is ripped away quite early in the story and is like a harsh slap in the face to Marlowe, who has become somewhat of a bloated fish in a tiny pond, feeding off of the admiration until he's lost in it, until it disappears and he's cut adrift. I appreciated his growth throughout the story and I really believed in him.
I do get frustrated sometimes in JM's stories because a lot of the times the characters never really seem to talk to each other until they've built completely separate sides to the world their relationship encompasses, always presupposing what the other side looks and thinks like. I suppose I could say this is stereotypical of men, gay or straight, to not talk about their feelings, but I also feel like it runs deeper than that. I would have definitely rated this book as 5 stars if I felt like I understood more about Marlowe's past. It has quite a bit to do with his substance abuse and it is only ever briefly alluded to. I am, of course, but one person, and I don't always believe that more information is good for a story. However, in this case, where a lot of the second half of the book deals exclusively with the central relationship, I would have appreciated more background information.
All together, I enjoyed this book immensely. I certainly hope that JM decides to make this a series, as she often does. There were quite a few references to Female Unspeakable Parts and Dirty Acts with Women, but I suppose with a bi guy and a reformed straight man, this is to be expected. Its just too much for these gay eyes to read about :)...more
This book is about the journey of a man into BDSM with the right teachers. Ethan is an m/m erotica writer. He does everythiUpdated Review: *4.5 stars*
This book is about the journey of a man into BDSM with the right teachers. Ethan is an m/m erotica writer. He does everything he can to find a subject that totally enthralls him. Then, he digs deep into research and come out on the other side with a story, hopefully about real men in that situation. On the flight home from his day-job as a freelance photographer on a safari in Africa, Ethan sees a BDSM magazine in the hands of the passenger next ot him, and after striking a conversation with the man about the publication he is reading, Ethan decides that the BDSM community is going to be part of his next project. He records the name of the Dom in the magazine that has caught his eye, and after finding out that he and his sub will be attending a conference near him, he arranges to meet them both at the conference to start his research.
David and Kiyoshi are quite a famous couple in the BDSM circuit. David is a skilled Dom who teaches classes, theory and practical, at different conferences during the year. Kiyoshi, his sub, is also equally famous, both for being David’s long-time sub, and for his own grace, beauty, and submission. They love each other very much, but they have a somewhat tenuous connection. Ethan is completely taken by them, and within only a few hours, decides that if he really wants to learn from them, he will enter into the community for the weekend. He soon learns that almost all of his thoughts about BDSM are completely wrong, though there are many within the community as well who are unable to grasp the finer points. David does not rule with an iron fist, just as Kiyoshi does not relinquish power when he submits to David. The power dynamic is fluid and constantly changing, just as a relationship does. Soon, however, David starts to love the place he has come to settle within the couple’s dynamic. Will they feel the same? Or will they let him go at the end of the weekend as he originally wanted?
The beauty of this particular story is the lens through which the story is told. We are told the story from Ethan’s POV as he learns about the community himself. He is an objective audience to David and Kiyoshi’s relationship (though he soon becomes part of it). Yet, with the possibility of their weekend menage lasting no longer than the convention, Ethan is able to retain the mask of partiality. Therefore, while we are able to see the BDSM community from the inside out at the same time as Ethan is able to understand the true meaning of the community — of power, and the dynamics of giving and receiving it, in a fresh and new way. The dynamic between David and Kiyoshi, and later as Ethan seems to take pleasure in pushing the boundaries of their relationship, helped me to understand the benefits that David and Kiyoshi, and Ethan as well, receive from a relationship in the context of BDSM. Likewise, the way that they viewed the community helped. Though they may seem the perfect Dom and sub in public, it is only that — a display. In private, the one who ultimately holds the power is Kiyoshi. It was fascinating to watch Ethan learn this, and then see the community through their eyes.
Original Review: I loved this book so much. Even though I don't read very much BDSM, this is by far my favorite m/m BDSM book, not to mention my favorite so far of Jaye and Reno's books. I admit that there have been times where a book has helped me to understand the BDSM culture, which isn't something that I'm naturally drawn to, but I've always still remained confused. This book changed that for me, and helped me understand the love and trust that is implicit in a BDSM partnership. I appreciate that and value it as someone who doesn't really enjoy the shock and awe factor that many m/m BDSM books employ. A favorite for sure :)...more
I had high hopes for this book, but ultimately I didn't like it for a variety of reasons, mostly becauseReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I had high hopes for this book, but ultimately I didn't like it for a variety of reasons, mostly because it needed a lot more work before it was ready to be presented to readers. If it weren't for the fact that I accepted this for review, I probably would have stopped reading it.
Mark is decidedly in the closet. He doesn't really have any friends and is a self-proclaimed math nerd. He meets Bill for the first time when they're forced to unload a truck full of candy bars at the high school over a Saturday. He's known of Bill forever -- they live in a tiny town and Bill is a hottest and most popular guy in school. Bill has never talked to him though, as casually and like friends as on that day. Afterwards, they meet again as the last people leaving the school just as a snow storm hits, leaving Bill stranded with Mark's family for several days. There, Mark starts to question if Bill is really what he assumed he was and if he's gay like himself. The two grow into lovers, but outward best friends, as they and Mark's family take up several public causes against bullying and abuse.
What I first noticed that gave me pause was the rather strained dialogue. The way Mark (as well as the other young people) speak doesn't sound like a high school student. The words were off and while I noticed that the syntax and cadence of Mark's speech and narration was at times made to seem quite young, the words and phrases he uses are at odds with how I remember and expect teenagers to sound (like "my peers", for one example of many).
Perhaps what bothered me the most was that the book is really preachy. Mark and his family continually take up cause after cause, which is fine and they mean well. In fact, the message of the book, the golden rule, is fine and well. I found it difficult to read the same pithy sentiments over and over though, often the exact same quotes. Issues are often explained down to every detail (what is wrong with bullying, etc.) and with melodramatic flair that made it all over the top. A crucial point in the story is a scene where Bill confronts others about bullying and what followed was a quite unrealistic, shame on you speech. It mostly made me feel like rolling my eyes because it seemed a bit callous to treat such really serious issues as if the world just needed a talking to and everyone would go on their merry way, a whole culture changed. Despite the fact that I couldn't reconcile the realism brought to the story by the real bullying and abuse and then the unrealistic treatment of it, iI was sad that a nugget of a great story was presented and then not explored.
The characters fell flat to me for a few reasons. Mark didn't act like a consistent teenager. Bill faces some extremely terrible issues that are dropped halfway through the story without any real lasting affect on his character. The way Mark's parents go about their crusade fundamentally bothered me. Both Bill and Mark often say to jocks who make comments about "faggots" seeing them in the shower that they should be proud they're "hot enough to get attention from women and men". I just kept thinking… what?
I kept wondering if I was taking this book completely different than how it was intended because I just didn't get it. I couldn't decide if all these were deliberate choices by the author. On the one hand, I could perhaps see where some of it is satirical, but that didn't completely jibe. Either way, the book needed more work and more editing in my opinion -- not only for content but also to deal with some sentence problems. Some of the information that is presented over and over (several times an event or scene is told from beginning to end in the retelling to other characters, and without altering or adding new information which would give the retelling purpose) should have been taken out.
Like I said earlier, there's a nugget of a good story in here, it just needed a lot more coaxing out before this was really ready for publishing. I probably won't be carrying on with the series, and I can't recommend this book to readers. I can see where other readers will like this, so please, by all means read other reviews and decide for yourself. This is solely my opinion and my reaction to the book....more
Take a cue authors! I have been super excited about this book for months now. Why? All because of that teaser story a year ago. The originally titled story "Dirty Laundry" was a free story about a rather nerdy and frightened young man who is rescued by a giant musclebound cowboy of a man when he's being bullied by a group of frat guys in a laundromat. The kid's gratefulness and awe of the cowboy drive him to thank the man, and that encounter leads to a very steamy public sex scene over the table and pile of unfolded laundry right in the middle of the laundromat. That's all the story was about. It was free and posted on the author's co-blog, Cup of Porn, for their first birthday bash.
I didn't know at that point, that this was part of the Tucker Springs universe. Actually, at that point I think that the first book, Where Nerves End was just being promoted by LA Witt. I'd really like the know the timeline and how that cowboy, Denver, came to be included in the story. That's why I'll be eagerly reading all the tour stops for Heidi Cullinan this week, to see if she details how that came to fruition. A bit of the story is on my blog today, so be sure to check out Heidi's guest post "For the Love of Series".
It must be because of those readers like me, who raved about the short "Dirty Laundry" that this became an expanded novel, and I can't tell you how excited I was when I first learned what the author was doing to this story. I so wanted to know what happened after that laundromat rendezvous. What I can tell you is this: The novel starts with the short story and carries forward with what happens afterward. Denver, who we got to know in the first two novels as a secondary character, is a bouncer at the local gay club run by Jase, from the first book. Adam is an entomology graduate student at the local college and currently getting over a breakup from his one and only boyfriend Brad. The scene at the laundromat affects both men and how they view their own lives and their own neuroses, and while it seems like Adam takes the award for the one with the most problems, Denver carries a secret weight filled with his own shortcomings, and it takes both of them working together to forge a better version of themselves.
I consider this to be the best book in the series so far. In her guest post today, Heidi Cullinan describes the Tucker Springs series as "a set of stories between several authors where each “episode” is unique, but the setting is familiar." That rather simple theme connecting the stories is really reflective of the books individually and as a series. It's true that each subsequent book, so far, seems to get a little better in my opinion, but they are all quite relaxed in theme. What I mean to say is that I found this book like the prior ones, focused solely on the relationship and less on outside connections. All that connects them is geography and limited personal connections. That means, however, that the relationship much carry each novel on it's own, and while I wasn't quite sure the first two books accomplished that, Dirty Laundry definitely did.
What really makes this story work is the consideration given to mental illness. I know very little about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or severe anxiety issues, so I can't weigh in on the accuracy of the details. But what I did love is how the issues that Adam has (and to a small extent Denver's issues as well) are firmly entrenched in the relationship. Adam tries to hide them at first, but they're so much a part of who he is, it is almost impossible to keep the information from Denver. And I really felt for Adam. It's a tribute to the author's skill that his self-doubt didn't come across to me as annoying, but instead I felt like I had a good grasp on just how difficult his life is on a day to day basis. He has trouble with many things, but most of all is one of his major tics -- that people have their own space. He can't allow anyone inside his house without severe anxiety and he has a really hard time visiting other people's houses, or spaces of any kind. And besides the fact that this allowed Denver and Adam to show their creativity in getting to know one another in public places, I can't deny that the fact that most of the extremely hot sex in this book is in public places completely ramps up the heat factor. That laundromat scene was just the tip of the iceberg.
The BDSM element is more present here that I was expecting. It slowly becomes more central to the story and the relationship as the book moves forward, but it has little to do with sex and everything to do with creating a power structure helpful to Adam's OCD. Denver's commanding will was what drew the two together in that first encounter and is ultimately what Adam needs to cling to to categorize and then compartmentalize his brain to function at it's highest levels.
There is so much to recommend about this book and I could go on and on with more things that I loved -- both characters, the dichotomy between the two that makes them perfect for one another (their looks, their issues, their education, but not intelligence). Heidi Cullinan is a popular and well known author because of her talent and Dirty Laundry is just another example of her success....more
Diana Copland is a new author for me. At the time of reading this a couple of weeks ago, I hadn't read anything bReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Diana Copland is a new author for me. At the time of reading this a couple of weeks ago, I hadn't read anything by her. After reading this, I decided to read her earlier Christmas ballet themed book, Grand Jete, and even though I liked it, I can see that she's improving as an author. A Reason to Believe was much better in my opinion. Maybe it is because the addition of another plotline (the mystery) give the story staying power. As often happens with mystery, as the main plot it gives time for the romance to unfold on its own. Maybe it is something like misdirection, but I like that the author allowed that to happen. The relationship between Matt and Kiernan grew organically in a way it might not have otherwise.
I doubt I'm the only one to notice this, so I think it is safe to say that the murder of the young girl in this story reminded me very much of a very public past popular unsolved mystery -- that of JonBenét Ramsey. Many of the original details are there in the story of a similarly murdered young girl. It is around Christmas in the Denver area. A girl is killed in her own house, dragged from her bed to the basement. The parents are originally targeted as suspects and the immediate police investigation and crime scene is severely bungled. At first, this scared me just a little, and I wasn't sure how much the author would borrow from the case in her story. What I appreciated, was that even though the first details are very much similar, the differences soon emerge. Of course, there is the paranormal aspect of this story as the little girl shows herself to Detective Matthew Bennett. Then there is the entrance of Kiernan Fitzpatrick, who along with an interest in the good detective becomes embroiled in the story by his talents as a medium.
Centered around this mystery the two men are brought together by their shared psychic experiences. Matt brings quite a bit of past emotional trauma, as he's still dealing with the death of his former partner, also a cop and the subsequent outing of his orientation within the force because of that. His Captain already has him one foot out of the door and is just looking for another excuse to boot him out entirely, and the "visions" provide an ample opportunity to do so. The ghost of the little girl is persistent though, and Matt finds that he just can't step away when he and the little girl see how corrupt the police department is. But, he has two problems with continuing his own investigation: the persistent presence of Kiernan Fitzpatrick and their growing feelings for one another and the real possibility that his interference will cost him his job.
The pacing of the story is set up beautifully, part of what I mentioned before, the miracle of juggling the different plot lines. The story unfolds naturally and even though I didn't find the mystery particularly engrossing, it was still interesting and kept me on my toes with a fair amount of red herrings and different suspects. I have nothing much to say about the romance in particular, except that I couldn't find much wrong with it and really enjoyed the guys and their connections to one another. In some says I suppose this felt a bit like the beginning of a series, but maybe only in the sense that the paranormal detective setup is often a series and also that I would enjoy seeing the progression of their relationship, especially down the road when they're really used to working together on cases. I think future stories with this could would work out really well and if the author were inclined to write them, I'll be there to read them :)...more
I have to tell you… I did not expect the story I got when I started reading this. I'm not even sure whatReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I have to tell you… I did not expect the story I got when I started reading this. I'm not even sure what I expected really -- something funny/facetious?. To be honest, I tend to not expect much when I read a first time author, or at least an author I haven't heard of and I took a chance to review this when the author contacted me for review. Well, I'm really glad I did, because this turned out to be another book I loved that I hadn't heard anything about before reading that I've gotten this fall for review (the first was JC Lillis' awesome YA novel, How to Repair a Mechanical Heart).
Though the cover and title don't suggest much in the way of good plot and writing, the reference to the much argued about "mommy porn" book actually has a place in the story. Andrew has always been straight, and he's always been afraid of gay men. Of course, that all stems from finding his father in bed with his favorite teacher in school, and the subsequent trauma of the breakup of his family and his school life turning upside down. Bitten by the acting bug at a young age, Andrew doesn't find many opportunities in small town Kansas, but finds himself looking for work in New York City when his sister, who moved to the city for an adventure a few years prior, is diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. Now Andrew finds himself a primary caregiver and looking for difficult to find work in a difficult economy. When the bills start to pile up, Andrew admits that he needs to find work, now -- and waiting for a well paying acting job just isn't smart when he has to consider his sister's care.
Andrew's neighbor is the proprietor of a stable of escorts and offers him a job. Sure, he's straight, but he's also an actor, and what better role than this could there be to test his chops? It might even help him get over his aversion to gay men. But he doesn't really know what he's getting into, and even though he's memorized the laws and isn't being pressured into sex for pay, he knows that that's where the extra (and big) money is. Could he do something like that? He's forced to face up to all his preconceived notions, his fears, his family history, and the possibility that his sexuality might be a lot more fluid than he ever allowed himself to consider as he goes out on job after job. And the worst, or maybe best, is a repeat customer: Cormac Donovan, a republican congressman from California who is nothing like he ever suspected.
Don't be mistaken, what might seem from the blurb a lighthearted tale is really quite a serious book that deals with several heavy issues. First and foremost is the extremely frank, honest and real look at what cancer does to a patient and the people around them, supporting them. I know firsthand what that is like from my mother, who cared for my grandmother as she died from cancer in our home. This book shows all sides of that, in a very frank and honest way. Very little of the details are spared, just as the bond grows stronger between the siblings and love and laughter are shown as well. But, take this as a warning for some who might be sensitive to the issue. I was very impressed with the level of dedication and emotion written about this, and it was the undercurrent that brought the rest of the story together.
Two parts of Andrew's life as an escort are shown in this book, that rarely, if ever, meet. First, are the few men that Andrew meets first at a pool party put on by a wealthy Indian man along with several of the other escorts. Paresh takes a particular "shine", shall we say, to Andrew who can't help but show his green colors. No matter how good of an actor Andrew thinks he is, it is obvious to most that he's new to his job and straight. But for Paresh, that is a turn on, and his repeat business (along with the other people and intense situations that come along with him), awaken Andrew to the sort of self-reflection that he needs the most. On the other hand is Cormac, the republican congressman who takes Andrew on dates, starts to fall in love with him and at the same time touts his party's line views of "Family Values." I liked that you could measure Andrew's real feelings, maybe even subconscious feelings, by how reactions to seeing Cormac on television, going along with the republican values that he uses to stay elected and as he says, do some good from the inside. But his feelings for Cormac are confusing, and they definitely have a real and possibly lasting relationship, if you take away the impossibility the outside world represents to them and their vast differences.
But really, what brought this story to a higher level for me was Andrew. He's a great character. He really considers himself and works through his feelings, which allows him to change. Part of that is done through writing his memoir, Fifteen Shades of Gay (for Pay). Though he finds it difficult to put certain things into word (like his sister's illness and his sexual experiences, he's still working through it in his head. So, along with the different aspects of his life that are woven into his narrative, we really get to his his reaction and thoughts with it, and they go quite deep. I felt like I got to know him really well, and even more than that, I liked him.
I definitely recommend this one. Don't let the title fool you! But be sure check out this book and give it a chance -- it is worth it....more