I won't be the first to rave about how I love Amy Lane (and her books too), but I really, really love when she co...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I won't be the first to rave about how I love Amy Lane (and her books too), but I really, really love when she comes out with a lighter story between all those angsty ones. I'm trying to work my way back into reading all of those (the Johnnies booksscare me), but I think that the fluffy and sweet ones will always be my favorites -- at the moment that crowning achievement goes to the Knitting series books, which I gleefully reviewed last year.
This novella is a bit along those lines. While not really fluffy, they're definitely light and sweet compared to some of her other work. Carson fucked up. He hasn't had sex in months and his boss' nephew Stassy has been giving him all kinds of come-ons at the restaurant. So when Stassy follows Carson into a pantry closet in the kitchen and then promptly flees, a look of upset confusion on his face after a full body kiss from Carson, Carson feels like a douche. Obviously the kid is gay, but it seems like he isn't quite sure about it. And Carson thought he was finally going to get some action in his dry spell, even if the small and cute Stassy isn't quite his type. He might have been able to put the whole incident out of his head if Stassy hadn't run away to Florida the next day. It's been two weeks and the boss wants Carson to drive down to Florida and bring the kid back home. He doesn't have much of a choice -- the boss is worried about Stassy -- but it isn't just that the boss of his restaurant is another kind of Boss in Chicago, but that of all things, Carson feels guilty that kid ran away right after he kissed him. Doesn't seem like a coincidence.
The biggest surprise of all awaits Carson when he reaches the small beach town in Florida where Stassy is holed up. The Bates Parrot Motel turns out to be just like it sounds, which isn't much comfort. The place is so run down it looks like it's growing it's own species of serial killer. Parrots in crusty, shit-lined cages squawk over his hearing of the undead looking lady at the reception desk. Though his boss is paying for the room, not even the prospect of getting to Stassy quickly can quell his fear of staying in this place for the night. A tour of the place shows everything from mold to insects to dried jizz, or whatever that mystery stain is. The Motel 8 across the street looks much comfier.
It isn't until the next morning that Carson prepares to visit Stassy and load him up to drive back home. A breakfast at the diner across the road turns up a killer plate of fried heart attack and a heaping dose of too-cute waiter. Flip-flops, cutoffs, and a charming smile continually come back to his table to chat him up. An equal opportunity Carson wouldn't have a problem taking Dale the waiter back to his room for the afternoon, it's only the women he seems to want to settle down with, but the disarming smile and quick wit soon have Carson spilling way more info than he intended. Before he realizes it, Carson has company on his trek across the road to the Bates Parrot Motel to find their runaway. Unfortunately, what they find in the room isn't Dimpled Blondie, but dead body covered in lye.
It looks like some major trouble for Stassy. Carson knows his task has changed -- now he has to take care of the kid too, and by extension the kid's new boyfriend -- and it looks like it won't be difficult to surpass the small town police in the intelligence and sleuthing departments. Dale is along for the ride, wanting to help his friend (Stassy's new boyfriend) and using the time to get to know Carson better. It doesn't take a whole lot of time to see how good they are together. They're both men who have small town dreams and are more content to enjoy today than plan tomorrow's.
Every now and then Amy Lane pulls a page out of Mary Calmes' book and really gives the language and rhythm of her book a makeover. The beauty of this one is all in the words, thick in Carson's voice and then shared by Dale in their rapid-fire dialogue. That, and Carson's humor (though he often fails in comparison to Dale's), are what originally bring these two characters together. Yes, they're working together to solve a mystery, but it's largely on the back burner for most of the book. The time they spend together is mostly them driving around, eating and talking and getting to know each other. And I found their conversations completely charming.
Speaking of the mystery, I thought that it wasn't really the focus of the book. For the largest part of the book they aren't actively working on it. Instead, it's used as a device to bring them together and keep them together while they find out enough about each other to want to stay together. So, in some ways, the mystery failed for me. Or, perhaps I shouldn't use the word fail, since that would imply that the mystery was the focus of the book. Rather, I found the mystery a bit anticlimactic. It was really funny, in it's own way ;) but it wasn't what held my attention about this book.
Amy Lane fans will want to snatch this one up, of course, if they haven't already. It's short and funny and charming, so you can't really go wrong. Carson's voice might be somewhat difficult for some readers to get into, but that probably depends on how you usually feel about strong voices. As for me, I love them. And I continue to love Amy Lane :)(less)
I have been really excited to read this novella ever since I saw it last month at Wilde City Press. I me...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I have been really excited to read this novella ever since I saw it last month at Wilde City Press. I mean, erotica, not just a short story but an actual novella. That's great itself, because it means we're going to get at least an ongoing plot. Then… superheroes! Superhero sex!
Ewan Creed visited The Armchair Reader on Monday and had a really interesting comment about this book. He said, "that whole genre is oftentimes so homoerotic - the sexually charged cockfighting that always seems to be going on with superheroes and their enemies and the closeness superheroes often have with their sidekicks and the secret identities and bondage and domination and all the other kinky stuff is all but inherent in the genre.. That's what made me want to read the book. The cover drew me to first look at it, because it really delivered this message. Plus, knowing it was erotica helped. I knew that it was going to be somewhat absurd, having a bit of fun and poking the whole comic idea a bit. That sounded really appealing.
And I ended up really enjoying it. The sex in the story is really heavy. There's hardly a scene where they aren't having sex of some kind, though the sexless scenes are mostly early in the book. I admit that so much sex for so long was at times taxing, but I actually felt like Ewan delivered the message he talked about while making the book really funny and really sexy. So I enjoyed it quite a bit.
The story is based on the idea that the perfect superhero is totally constricted. He must be perfect and meet everyone's expectations. In a way, the public owns him. So having his own identity is hard for him. The superhero in this story is The Masked Raider, or "Raider". He gets his power through sex and in living that constricted life the only way he's found to expand his power (or "recharge his batteries" heh) is through denying himself orgasm. And because of that, he's developed an inhuman power of restraint. The public putting Raider on a pedestal for so long has him believing it himself. He is better than everyone else.
That makes the villains in this story more human and more likable. We get to know them quite well and their diabolical plans, while they might have a more selfish endgame, are all about knocking Raider off that pedestal and showing him that sex is good and that he wants it just as much as everyone else. And if they can get his sperm and make him a bottom who begs for it, then it's all the better. And to do this, Tumescent Edison has the greatest idea! He'll have his other villain friend, Snake Charmer, who is the sexiest and most charming villain ever, to seduce Raider's boyfriend to find out all about how to get to Raider.
I'm really looking forward to the sequel to this story. I liked that the story was kindof fun but still was really hot. And I'm actually really interested in seeing where the plot will go. I definitely recommend this one. If you've read and liked other longer erotica books, like The Perils of Praline by Marshall Thornton, for example, then you might like this. The subject is entirely different, but the over the top sexual humor and longer erotica format makes them similar in ways, and the best way for me to describe to you if you might like this book. I definitely did :)(less)
I’ve been so excited for the release of this book! It’s been a long time since I read something by this...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I’ve been so excited for the release of this book! It’s been a long time since I read something by this author. In fact, I don’t think I’ve read a novel by this author since I read Finding Zach, a book which remains one of my all-time favorite m/m romances. So I knew going into this book from the blurb and from loving that book that this would most likely be an intense read. In some ways it was, but less so than I think I was expecting. But, it did live up to my expectations and ended up being a good read.
Joshua Chastain is a shade of the man he once was — a strong, confident, healthy and intelligent undercover FBI agent. Those qualities were all taken away from him during his three year undercover mission infiltrating a ruthless and dangerous gang in Chicago that heavily trafficked heroin. And though he did everything he was put there to do — bring down the operation from the inside — he also did other things, made sacrifices to himself and others to get the job done. And now, after leaving the FBI and in rehab for his heroin withdrawal and addiction and the unbelievable depression from his memories of death, Joshua is so far from the man he once was that his family no longer recognizes him.
His mother and his uncle Tucker conspire to bring him out to his uncle’s ranch in New Mexico. It’s a place he frequented and loved as a kid, but it’s also the perfect place for him to start to come back to himself. In an ironic twist, the ranch’s main operation is the rehabilitation of abused horses, a program run by Tucker and the ranch’s foreman, Elian Kelly. Eli is more than a foreman to the ranch, but also Tucker’s good friend. And seeing Tuck’s young nephew is heartbreaking. He sees him as a broken man he can try to put back together just like the horses that he has a gift with helping. The fresh air, good and hearty food, and reliable and loving family are what Joshua needs to put the past behind him and learn confidence in himself again. The connection and eventual relationship between Joshua and Eli wasn’t part of the plan.
Much of this book was what I was expecting from this book and this author. This is a hurt/comfort story of epic proportions, something that was similar to Rowan Speedwell’s other novel, Finding Zach. Joshua is not much a guy who needs a little rehab, but a severely traumatized person, emotionally, physically and chemically, from his forced addiction to heroin. And Eli is the gentle giant, reliant and safe and perfect in a lot of ways. I mean, this makes for a good setup, something that has worked well for this author in the past. And I liked this couple together. I felt like a lot of time went by setting up the story and I would maybe have liked to get to know Eli and Joshua actually together in their relationship for longer than we got, but they have a crazy amount of chemistry that came through for me, and the dynamic works well for them and goes hand in hand with the setting really well.
So the problems that I had with the book didn’t really spoil my enjoyment of the book — it remained something highly enjoyable to read. Maybe it’s that Finding Zach is such a hard book to live up to for me, especially with a character like Joshua who so reminded me of Zach with all of the emotional turmoil he has to work through throughout the book. Still, this wasn’t a perfect read for me. Some of the behavior of the characters seemed a little too… contrived, like the totally happy-go-lucky family atmosphere at the ranch. On the one hand this made the book not overly filled with excess problems but it made Joshua’s problems seem overbalanced in counterpoint, which made their behavior and constant support grating (not their support for Joshua, but just in each other, day to day in the way they act). That probably makes no sense, but I don’t know how to describe it better without making it seem too nitpicky and as if it was a bigger deal than it really was. It just bugged me a bit. The real difficulty I had with the book was the ending.
I was hoping that this book wouldn’t end with (view spoiler)[a resurgence of the gang and the men who would obviously love to come after Joshua if he wasn’t so hidden. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. But, I still would have probably preferred the ending to be a bit more subtle. I liked that Eli and Joshua were getting to know each other and work through their problems and I would have admired the story more if it continued in that direction without needing an outside conflict to come in from seemingly nowhere to act as a catalyst for the couple. And the way it was done made it a little worse than that, with the whole gay basher thing having been written so many times. (hide spoiler)]
So while I wasn’t quite happy with the ending, I still enjoyed the book and I liked the first half in particular. It really held my interest. The fact that the main character is dealing with a shitload of issues is just something that depends on the reader to like or dislike. I mean, on the one hand it does seem a bit much because poor Joshua’s life just kept going from bad to worse over and over again. So much of whether you like this book or not will depend on how you feel about that kind of character and conflict. In general, I don’t so much like that, but as I said before I was interested in seeing how I liked this one since I did like that kind of conflict in the hands of his author previously.
The other early reviews I’ve seen for this book have so far been raving, which is good. I think I’m maybe a little pickier than many other reviewers and that’s fine. Rowan Speedwell remains a great author and I’ll continue to look forward to her books.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I've been looking forward to this Skybound series finale ever since the first book when I knew I wanted to read J...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I've been looking forward to this Skybound series finale ever since the first book when I knew I wanted to read Jeret's story most. I think that a lot of other readers have felt that way too, at least from what I've seen. Of all the crew of the Annie, Jeret is the one who seems to have the most secrets. He's secretive himself, but enigmatic and funny at times, always with a smart quip in response to the others and always wanting to prove himself since he's the youngest and in many ways considered the baby on board by Torrin. Whether it was intended by the author for Jeret to become such a favorite, I'm not sure. But it does mean that a lot of people who read this series were eagerly awaiting his story, which gives this third book in the series a lot of pressure to stand up to.
Of all the secrets that Jeret could have had… I never expected that he's a runaway prince! That in itself was a surprise, that I wish that I had found out in the book and not the blurb. But, it's a good hook to bring people to the story, even if they haven't been reading the series up till now. The runaway prince is a solid character that always seems to draw in readers. Torrin, Rain and Jeret are the only ones left on the Annie after Cookie left in Sky Runners to live with his new love Neith, who the crew rescued from an intergalactic brothel where Neith had been sold and kept against his will as a whore. Now, with the crew reduced to three and two of those -- Torrin and Rain -- in a relationship themselves, Jeret feels a bit like the third wheel. Add in the fact that he was always seen as the baby of the crew anyway, and it had Jeret thinking about his past.
When Torrin announces that they're headed to a planet near the one that Jeret escaped from, he does everything he can to convince Torrin and Rain that heading for a job there is a bad idea, especially when he learns that Torrin has agreed to ferry a shipment that must have come from his home planet. Jeret knows that something is wrong if those on his planet are smuggling off the expensive ore, underneath the nose of the COP, but his caution is ignored by the others.
When they land on the nearby planet, Jeret has no idea that Dagan -- once the man who was his guard, his best friend, and the man who held his unrequited love as a 15 year old crown prince -- has resumed the search for the heir to the empire under the name of his king. When Jadakira (Jeret's real name) escaped as he always wanted to do at 15, Dagan lost everything. His failure to protect the prince led to the loss of his whole world and his ultimate banishment from the planet. But Dagan knows Jadi well and it only takes him six months to track his whereabouts and learn about his tenure as part of the Crux Ansata's crew.
But Jeret, no matter his remaining feelings for the man he once loved as a kid, will not allow anyone to return him to his home planet. He has never had a desire to be king and what he loves most is the mechanics of the Annie, his crew and their adventures in space. His birthright is a cage he escaped years ago. But when he learns that his father, the King, is dying and a traitor planetside is angling to steal the throne, Jeret knows that he has to find the culprit. But he'll fight Dagan and his "duty" to the King the whole way, and hopefully in the end be able to return to the life he wants to lead.
There are parts of this book that I really enjoyed. There is quite a bit of history between Jeret and Dagan and I thought that their relationship played out beautifully. Both are stubborn and refuse to budge from their ultimate goal: Jeret to return his home planet to the way it should be and then return to the crew of the Annie; and Dagan wants to help Jadi, still not quite understanding his true desires. The fact that Dagan failed in his duty all those years ago is a mark against his pride and he will do everything to return Jadi to his father before his death. The reconciliation of their desires takes most of the book and we really get to see their stubbornness play out against each other over and over, though not too far as to be frustrating. The push and pull between them gave the story the most enjoyment for me, because as the story evolves and they learn to work together for a common goal their true feelings come to matter more than their pride.
On the other hand, I was pretty disappointed in the external plot. The plot to overthrow the king and Jeret and Dagan's plan to ferret out the traitor. For most of the book the tension mounted and they moved closer and closer but the ending really fizzled for me. First, the traitor was not who I expected, but that was because I never felt as if they were introduced into the plot to even become a suspect. I'm not a big fan of when authors do that. The culprit should have been introduced much earlier. And second because the final confrontation, while a bit satisfying for the characters, seemed a bit… anticlimactic.
So the real interest for me in this story was Jeret, and his love interest Dagan. I enjoyed their back and forth courtship, and I will admit that the tension created by the external plot was more of a device to play into their feelings for one another than the other way around. I think that if you read this story alone, without reading the first two then you might not have the prior interest in the characters to make this a very satisfactory read. I read this because I'd read the first two, and I had an interest in learning more about Jeret. And while I did find what I wanted, this book as a complete story was a little bit disappointing.
So, I recommend this for those of you who, like me, have read both Sky Riders and Sky Runners. For all the books, I found the romances in them the best part of the books. Looking back at this as a series, I would have probably enjoyed more of a central story arc over the whole series that drew them together. But, they are the way they are ;) And I did find enjoyment from them.(less)
It wasn't until I finished this story that I checked and realized I haven't actually ever read anything by Derek Adams before. I have plenty of his stories, but I've never gotten around to reading one of them. Now, I can't say that my feelings about this story have any bearing on the quality of writing in those other stories, but I suspect that had I read anything by this author before last week, when I decided to get this from Amber Allure for review, I might have taken a pass. And honestly, I wish I had.
Tony Bradshaw has had a rough life. Problems at home manifested in his juvenile delinquency at an early age. And once he's in the system, it's almost impossible for Tony to get out of it. Criminal habits and a harsh reality of his place in society result in a vicious circle, of a world that continually admonishes Tony for his lack of worth while at the same time actively helping him to fail. Bad behavior and stupid choices as a teenager lead to his need to rob, steal and sell his body to survive as an adult. Tony is the first to admit that while he may have had few choices at that time, it doesn't negate the fact that with the choices he did have he always chose the worst ones. And Tony knows even more how your image can control who you are and the choices you have.
Tony is on a first name basis with many of Seattle's cops, and the older cops that know him by name and reputation seem to delight in reminding him that while he has his life together now they're just waiting for him to slip up so they can remind him of who they know him to be. Having such a bad reputation with law enforcement makes it even harder for Tony to bear what is happening to him now. What Tony thought was a small altercation on a dark street corner turns out to be the smoking gun that cops need to bring down one of the key components of an organized crime ring. He's in real danger and an obvious target before he can testify in the trial. Now that Tony is an honest citizen, he does his duty and tells the cops what he saw. The cops, on the other hand, only grudgingly give him protection. They send him and a cop by the name of Alec to a cabin in the woods until the trial can be brought together. Tony's reward for his candor is a one way ticket into WITSEC.
What was a somewhat unoriginal plot (which is pretty obvious from the blurb) was made even worse by choppy writing, superficial characters and a plot that never really went anywhere. By that, I mean that several factors came together in an unfortunate way. The writing itself relies heavily on summary instead of in an active scene, and we're given several info dumps. There are also large gaps in time that end up being gaps in plot because of the lack of transition between parts of the story and in character growth. Most frustrating for me, aside from the lack of growth in the characters, was the stilted dialogue that seemed like something the characters would never say. Also, without showing any of the internal process, one of the characters makes a drastic 180 that really kind of baffled me. Also, I was immediately turned off by the first sex scene which is pretty blatantly dubious consent. Not that I have a problem with dub-con itself, but it does really bother me when the character who has dubious feelings is ultimately like eh, what the hell… it's no big deal and then the whole issue is ignored. Call a spade a spade and address the issue. And last, I was curious to see how the author would write the end scene. It's pretty obvious from the blurb what is going to happen. Ultimately, I found the ending completely anticlimactic and the characters actions so apart from their real person that I just really couldn't understand them at all.
To be quite honest, I probably wouldn't recommend this story -- not even if you're a fan of Derek Adams. I'm sure some people will like this story, but with so many flaws, I think that's a small percentage of readers. To me, it felt like PWTVP (Porn With Thinly Veiled Plot).(less)
This has the most eclectic mix of tags I've ever given a book. Surprisingly, they all went together! And even more, it kinda represents this book, whi...moreThis has the most eclectic mix of tags I've ever given a book. Surprisingly, they all went together! And even more, it kinda represents this book, which is a bit of a hodge-podge of different quirks and ideas, even plotting and pacing which I found rather refreshing. Definitely not typical vampire fare!
I hadn't planned on giving this book a proper review, but when Sunday rolled around and I was still thinking about this book, so I decided that it really needed one. For some reason, and I sincerely hope that this is just my 2D, rather limited view of the m/m romance reading community, this book hasn't seemed to have had a real splash yet. And that's a damn shame. Here's what I said on Goodreads immediately after I finished the book Satuday:
This has the most eclectic mix of tags I've ever given a book. Surprisingly, they all went together! And even more, it kinda represents this book, which is a bit of a hodge-podge of different quirks and ideas, even plotting and pacing which I found rather refreshing. Definitely not typical vampire fare!
Now, the tags here are pretty much similar to the ones on Goodreads, but since I can more easily edit and add tags here at the blog, they of course have a bit more flair ;) I have to admit that I've fallen into a bit of a pattern in my mismanagement of my m/m reading, where many of the most exciting releases seem to slip through the net (there are many factors, though it still makes me a dolt) mostly because of reviewing duties, but Lou Harper is perhaps one on the top of the list of those stellar authors that I haven't given their due. Perhaps I should do a backlist read. Anyway, this book wasn't just well written, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable read, for many reasons I'll talk about later. But that brings me to another point. Another byproduct of my reviewing duties is that I tend to analyze first rather than enjoy the book first, and having not originally slated Spirit Sanguine as a review book and (imagine this!) actually making myself sit down and read a book for pleasure instead of work on reviews I should be getting up to date, meant that this one just slipped right through and knocked me flat. I didn't really have to think about an analysis of the book, of styles and pacing and plot and characterizations, but… I just enjoyed it. It was a refreshing read, and not something I was expecting from the vampire angle.
Bloodsuckers are everywhere; you can't walk down a dark alley without a couple of them jumping out and accosting you with their dark and broody eyes. They do that a lot--mope and sulk. That's what got to me, all the melodrama. I mean, they are practically immortal, don't get sick, grow old, don't need to watch their weight or work out. What the hell do they have to bellyache about?
(That's the truth.)
And that's the point. In a sub-genre where melodrama rules and/or kinky vampire sex clubs are the forte, humor takes precedent here, brought forth by the vivacious and quirky Harvey (I love the name, and not just the Feng/Fang part, the fact that her vampire is named Harvey), who isn't really like any other of his kind. In actuality, I'd rather not go into characterization here, because I'd rather not cut him into pieces to analyze him. He's best enjoyed as it's written… plus, you'll find plenty in other reviews, I'm sure. The same goes for Gabe, who is perhaps the undervalued of the pair, though it's important that he's the lens we see the world through, and even more in which we see Harvey through. His understanding of and feelings for Harvey are how we understand him best, in reflection.
What was really refreshing about this book for me was also in a second part -- the style, which is reflected in pacing but also the plot. Both were atypical in that they don't follow the usual structure. Broken into three parts, each concentrates on a different aspect of the story while they, in succession, follow a continual arc. Some readers might find this off-putting. I'm not really sure. I quite enjoyed it. Because while the first is a typical setup to the story and introduces the relationship between Gabe and Harvey, the second and third both have a somewhat separate plot, though they're tied together. But you do get the feeling, between the transition between Parts 2 and 3, that there's a bit of a jog. And consequently, you'll find two climaxes (one at the end of each part) around the 55% mark and the end of the book.
Nikyta noticed this as well and made a remark to me about it (in our many back and forth book gabbing emails) and probably described it better than I did, asking if I had noticed authors using this style more lately, the (in her words) "multiple mini stories in one book of the same couple" style. We both automatically thought of Megan Derr, who sometimes writes in a similar though pretty different style from what I'm describing in Spirit Sanguine. Perhaps it's that Gabe and Harvey really only have two distinct adventures and Megan Derr often writes books that are split between the many adventures one couple has, a sort of extended vignette style. Nik thought that maybe it was a style that was becoming more popular. I'm not sure, but suffice to say that it is something that we've both enjoyed. And definitely something that I found made Lou Harper's book infinitely more original -- though, of course, anything with a vampire named Harvey Feng could hardly be called conventional.
Wow, it was really nice reading a story from Ms. Rhodes again! It was such a happy surprise for me to s...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Wow, it was really nice reading a story from Ms. Rhodes again! It was such a happy surprise for me to see this book come out, and not only was I happy to see a new book, no matter which one it was (really!), I was even more excited that it was a witchy one. I don't know what it is, but I can't help but devour every male witch story in m/m that I can find. Maybe it's because I'm such a Potter lover? Not sure, but when I went into a slump last week and couldn't figure out what to read, I opened this book.
Emrys is a witch and lives in Salem, Massachusetts. His family dates back to beginnings of the town and though most of the town is now non-magickal and makes light of their history, Emry's family and a select few others know the truth and hide their secrets well. Emrys loves magick, he just can't do it very well. He's the runt of the family in that way -- all his siblings are rather adept, as well as his parents.
Emrys has to watch himself well, especially when he's drunk, or emotional in any way. He tends to just start tingling all over and then who knows what will happen? He's learned his the hard way over his childhood, but the lessons never seem to stop coming. Drunk at a football game with his friend, Emrys makes a mistake that will set his romantic life in forward motion. When he sees the new kid at the school, who swept in and took the quarterback's spot to lead their team to the first victory in a long time, making him the hero of their school -- he literally swoons. He's never felt such a powerful attraction. So when the gorgeous quarterback passes by him on the shoulders of his teammates, Emrys just wants to touch him (remember, he's drunk). And when the power of his attraction seems to draw the other boy's gaze and brings a smile to his face, his power lets loose, tripping the group and ultimately injuring the boy, David, and taking him out for the rest of the season.
Emry's feelings don't change after that. It doesn't matter how sorry he is, how mortified he is… He ruined everyone's hopes and hurt David in the process. It's his secret how it happened though, known only to his sister Morgan who saw it and thankfully, didn't tell on him to his family. Years later, at their graduation, Emrys notices that David doesn't seem himself. Of course, he doesn't know David at all, not really, but he's watched him from afar their whole high school years and come to know him in a way. David is down, really down and something seems terribly wrong. He's the last person that Emry's expects to run into at a party that night (or down the street from one), while trying to fulfill a dare to enter the town's haunted house. The misuse, or misfiring, of his magic once again makes a scene, but David doesn't react the way Emrys expects, and their night of getting to know each other once and for all surprises him in more ways than he could ever expect.
He doesn't expect that David could ever have feelings for a geek like him, nor that David's life might not be the one of popularity and glory that he sees it as. But the revelations shared between them that night change their lives in unexpected ways.
First off, I'm going to get this out of the way before I even try to have a serious critique of this story -- GODDAMN that was hot! ML Rhodes is one of my top authors for writing the sexiest scenes and this didn't disappoint. Remember that scene in True of Heart in the cave? OMG! Yeah, she can really write the hot stuff. Emrys and David have an immediate connection, on purpose (more on that later), that really comes through sexually.
In many ways, this is just such a feel good read, and that's something that definitely draws readers. It's not fluffy, but it is light without sacrificing darker issues or scenes. Part of that comes from the connection between Emrys and David. Of course, we never expect a story to end in anything less than an HEA and we usually know beforehand if that's the case. So there's always a sense of security there for a happy ending. More than this, the "mating books" and the reason why I think readers find shifter books so popular is that there is an added layer of security there. We know when we're reading a classic shifter book that the characters won't consider hurting the other in any way because they're feelings are almost magical in power. Of course some readers don't like that, but that's what makes that style and type of book more in line with a certain type of fluff, and we often find fluffy books about shifters. This story takes that "mating" type connection and plays with it a little. I won't describe why because much of the realization of their connection comes to Emrys later in the book. Suffice it to say, the relationship is based on a type of security that the characters are meant for one another on a cosmic scale, and that comes across throughout the story and through their emotional and sexual connection.
I was really happy to see that Ms. Rhodes didn't rely on any typical format in structuring the story. It is a second chances type story, but their time apart bisects this book almost cleanly in half with a space of three years. That might throw some readers off as they're rounding the halfway-point, but I didn't mind. And really, besides the fact that this was ultimately just a cute, sweet, easy story to read, it was really nice to see another work published by this author. I know that readers have been waiting patiently (or some impatiently by now!) for more of the Draegon Lords, but I enjoy pretty much everything this author writes, and it was nice to see an addition of her's to the writing released in 2012.(less)
I admit, I was a bit worried to read this book. I loved Stanley in the past books (or at least, I knew I would on...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I admit, I was a bit worried to read this book. I loved Stanley in the past books (or at least, I knew I would once we got to know him better), but I loved How to Raise an Honest Rabbit so, so, so much, along with Jeremy, that I wasn't sure if this book could live up to my feelings about that one. In a way it did, but in some ways it didn't.
Stanley is an old party boy -- or at least, that's how he feels. Never has he had a real relationship, just quick fucks in clubs and one night stands. His "relationship" with Craw is a perfect example of this. Just sex, no strings. But when Stanley is shoved aside when Craw meets the love of his life, Ben, something changes in Stanley. He's sad, and suddenly his life doesn't seem so fabulous anymore. Could it be that he really wants something more?
In a style reminiscent of a How To Guide, Stanley decides to make over his life. First, he has to get rid of the men and focus on himself. And what better way to do that than by learning to knit? He knows, technically, how to knit, but not do anything more than garter stitch. And he's worked for years at a knitting store! Plus, knitting is permanent, and as the rhythm and care that goes into his projects starts to translate into his own life, he realizes just what hand-knitted items mean. They're personal, and so by knitting, Stanley finds that he's not quite as settled in his life as he thought. Knitting brings about new friends, a new life, and a new man -- who seems to go against all the rules of his old life.
This story sees the return of Stanley, Craw's past monthly arrangement in town whom we first met in the first Knitting book, The Winter Mating Rituals of Fur-Bearing Critters. He's flamboyant and seems carefree, he's outrageously funny and a self-proclaimed slut who will bend over for just about anyone. He likes sex, it's just that until now, in his mid-thirties, he hasn't even considered what life might be like trying to get to know someone before he lets them screw him. It's a novel idea, and one that takes hold in his brief bout of manless depression just when he meets Johnny, the new deliveryman. It is important to read these stories in order, because of the way the characters are intertwined and how events happen in time. Because of that, we (the reader) know Johnny from the past book as Gianni, the man who saved Jeremy's life and allowed him to escape the mob. We also know his backstory, and the events that led to him turning state's evidence and now living in the area under the protection of WITSEC. Stanley, however, is not only blind to "Johnny's" past, but the whole relationship thing is new to him anyway.
I like Stanley in this book, he has real gumption and we get to see him really surprise himself. The change in his life and then his subsequent new relationship with Johnny teaches him a lot about himself, his past, and what is important to him. Watching him stumble through a series of revelations most go through in their twenties (he's a late bloomer!), paired with his humor and lack of filter, makes for an almost slapstick like prose. Stanley is almost always inserting his foot into his mouth, either by words or actions. He's flailing, trying to find solid ground since he jumped in feet first. Not only is that fun to watch, but it is also good because he learns how strong he is, and that was satisfying to read.
The problems I had stemmed mostly from the fact that this book had to be absolutely spectacular to live up to my feelings of the previous book. But, I did find the mob/mafia sub-plot to be somewhat strange. While it all made sense, and didn't bother me by itself, I found it left a lot less room for Stanley and Johnny to really get to know each other on page, and I missed that.
One thing that I love about this series, and this book carried on with this from the previous ones, was all the detail of knitting, yarn and production. I love reading about that, as a knitter, and reading these stories, this one especially, made me itch to pick up the needles. It is all about the joy of knitting, and what knitting really means. And I'm not sure that a non-knitter really understands, or might even find that sentiment hokey in these books. Watching Stanley in particular learn to knit was fun and carefree and I was always looking forward to what he was knitting next :)
Fans of this author and this series will definitely want to read this book, and I found it a really worthy addition to the others in the series. It might just make you want to learn to knit! Plus, if you haven't read any of Amy Lane's knitting novellas, you should check them out and remember that I said you should read them in the correct order.
I really love each of these authors separately, so I've been waiting forever to see what their combined writing i...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I really love each of these authors separately, so I've been waiting forever to see what their combined writing is like. We finally get that with this first book of a new mystery series, and more than any other author pair, each author has his distinct stamp on the book. It may be because I'm so familiar with their individual writing, but it is clear in the characters that remind me so much of Ethan's past romantic comedies, and in the campy tone and incredibly twisted plot reminiscent of the Fathom boys' own stories, always going just a couple steps further than you expect, just shy of the hilariously absurd. The combination of those forces was bound to be a sight to behold; before I even knew what the book was about, I could picture the hilarity the two had writing together. The outcome is almost exactly what I expected and described above, the most dominant traits of each carrying forward and marrying into a story that is at same time serious and off the wall.
Jon Fox is a playboy private investigator whose contacts around the quarter are synonymous with fuck buddies -- easy payment for their services rendered on the lookout -- because everyone wants a piece of Fox and they always beg for more. His reputation makes him well known, but not just for his prowess in bed (or you know… anywhere). An incredibly difficult childhood of lies, neglect and death left an enduring mark on the young Fox, who tore through New Orleans for years leaving destruction in his angry, alcoholic wake. His money and connections through the Fox name keep him out of serious trouble, but even now as he has settled into the straight and narrow he has a buried, finely honed edge of rage just waiting for relapse.
Fox is stuck in the middle of a rather unorthodox case, when a sweet older woman visits him with a very odd request. That case brings him to shadow a man seen being friendly with the woman at a local diner. Fox admits that he loves surveilling the beautiful Tucker a little more than he should, unsure if the man has any idea what he's involved in. Luckily the borderline stalking works to his favor when Tucker ends up needing his help after the man witnessed something he shouldn't while walking through the city at night. The two will have to find a way to work together to piece together the mystery of the men after Tucker, Fox's strange client, and some old and very buried family secrets.
This story is really quite a vast mystery and only the very first part of a much longer story. Though I assume the mysteries will change from book to book, the relationship arc covers them all. In that sense, this book is the setup for the rest of the story yet to come, though it is long and detailed enough, with enough focus on the relationship to make this a satisfying beginning to the relationship between Fox and Tucker. There is often a very fine line drawn between camp and serious character and plot development. it worked well for me. This is a story that benefits from campy humor and tone but isn't reliant on it, and the mystery behind it was pretty solid.
At times that mystery became a bit much for me. The second half is really when it picked up. I had a difficult time with the first half. Everything was written well in the beginning, especially the character and relationship development, but it felt a little slow to get off the ground and I wasn't quite sure how focused the story was. In retrospect (knowing how the mystery is resolved), I can see where most of the ground work in the beginning of the story had a place, but for most of the book I had a hard time reconciling the focus of the mystery in the beginning with the outcome. There are three major parts of the overall investigations that don't really seem to fit together into a whole, and there were some unanswered questions for me in the end about how one of them ultimately fit in (the mob). Perhaps I'm missing the connection, but a lot of that part of the investigation seemed arbitrary to me.
The characters are smartly written -- Tucker, a screenwriter, sees the world through a lens and I loved his overt movie references that always seemed to come out at the worst times. Fox has a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde thing going on that works really well when we finally find out more about him and the family secrets start to unravel. The mystery is pretty convoluted, with a large cast, a long history and a lot of different factions to consider. Like I said before, some of this didn't quite piece together for me, but this is also the first book of a series and it seems to me that there will be a continuation of much of this story, though perhaps not the particulars. The ending sets the direction of the next story, but doesn't end on a cliffhanger either. All in all, I think this duo has nowhere to go but up and I'll be excited to read the sequel. Hopefully it isn't too far away!(less)
If I had my way, Amy would keep writing this series FOREVER. I'm not kidding, sexy men who knit + Amy L...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
If I had my way, Amy would keep writing this series FOREVER. I'm not kidding, sexy men who knit + Amy Lane's writing sans angst = the best thing ever and totally meant just for me. That's how I feel. I love this series because if you ask me, not nearly enough people knit, especially men. Reading about them, therefore, is like a fantasy come true. And I love these men. The first story, The Winter Courtship Rituals of Fur-Bearing Critters has always been one of my favorites of Amy's shorts, but this sequel, where we get to know a lot more about Jeremy and Aiden though we met them in that first story, far surpasses it, In my opinion. I think because there's a real history at play here and Jeremy is such a compelling character. I love him and seeing him really work for the life he wants to live and the relationship that he finally decides he deserves and can handle is really rewarding. Of course, Aiden is special in his own way as well.
All we knew about Jeremy from the first story was that Crawford had found him on the streets and offered him a job, and that he used to be a con man. There are two things in particular that make this story special, and they go hand in hand. First, Jeremy's voice is (as I talked to Laura the other day) very Steinbeck-ian in diction and phrasing. He has a unique voice that shows his rather colorful past, yet neglected childhood and it really just made me want to cuddle him. Second, he spends the first third of the story, roughly, taking us back in time and giving his life story. It gives us quite a bit of time to see the backstory, not only of Jeremy's childhood, but also of the history of the wool mill and the other characters. In a way it feels like a prequel, and that allows us to see much of what we witnessed in the first story (the relationship between Craw and Ben) through other, fresh eyes.
The heart of the story is really about Jeremy and his evolution into a productive member of society. Raised as a chameleon by his father with the only reputable goal money and winning, he has an ingrained and slightly skewed perception of the world around him. Getting put in jail after a rather close and terrible incident when he was younger sorted him out some, but the real work comes once he has a chance to prove himself. He has to hold a job, make money, and learn to be responsible to others. But, shedding his past is very difficult, no matter how much support he has in terms of his new family and Aidan, who represents everything good and pure in the world that Jer is afraid to touch in case he sullies it. Yet, like the yarn they cultivate, spin, dye and knit, each member of the motley family offers security and a slow-paced reassurance to Jeremy that allows him to take baby steps. This character progression is really what makes this book so wonderful. The story is full of little details that represent the big issues, showing Jeremy in a very clear light that in itself is poignant.
Everyone (it seems) knows about my aversion to angst, no matter how much I try to get through some books. And I admit freely that many of Amy's books scare the fuckin daylights out of me, just because I hate putting myself through some of the shit she inflicts on her characters. But when he writes a sweet story, I am so there. The addition of knitting and yarn production (which I actually know a lot about, strangely) only made this book in particular totally wonderful to me. I absolutely cannot wait for the next story, Knitter in His Natural Habitat.(less)
Sierra Snowpaw was sent to boarding school in the late 90's where he met a badboy coyote by the name of...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Sierra Snowpaw was sent to boarding school in the late 90's where he met a badboy coyote by the name of Carmel. Sierra is on the straight and narrow after getting into some trouble with his friend at his last school and he fears the retribution from his father, a career military officer. But something about Carmel attracts him.
In the present day, Sierra is at the Lonnegan Ski Resort, and he's looking for Carmel. A tip has led him there, something that Carmel might have left for him himself. It has been 15 years, and despite their shared past and all the secrets they have about their time together in school, they haven't seen each other. But Sierra has some things that need to be said, and it isn't that he's still in love with Carmel. He is, but their past is a constant obstacle in his way, a way to remind him that loving Carmel isn't worth the trouble it will bring him.
Though I loved Science Friction, this story is in a very different vein. It is beautifully crafted and some of the best writing I've seen from Kyell Gold. It also remains one of the few on my personal list of books that make appropriate and judicious use of the flashback, something I normally detest and have very high standards for. This story is told in two parts -- 1997 and the beginning of the two boys' friendship, and 2012 and the present day mystery. I purposely made the summary more vague than I usually do, not only because the blurb itself is vague but because it is the whole point of the flashbacks in the first place, to carefully disseminate information. The present day story line acts as a mystery, with clues dropped purposefully like breadcrumbs to slowly build the story of the secret Carmel and Sierra share. You will get some idea of them from the tags in this review, but very little in the scheme of things and nothing that isn't given away earlier in the story, or that you can at least guess about their relationship or partnership.
Though this is the first story of this author's I've read which is written in this way (not a mystery but written like one for the reader to discover the story bit by bit and through intrigue), I'd say that this is a good taste of this author's writing. It's shorter, if you don't want to commit to something longer (and more expensive) and shows what this author can accomplish. As of now (at least from what I can tell), this isn't yet available as a Kindle book, or an ebook anywhere I can find. It is available for $9.95 at FurPlanet (see the title link above), but it might become available soon -- many of Kyell Gold's other stories of this length are, like Science Friction. I received a reviewer edition in ebook, but I loved this one so much I might just buy the soft cover from FurPlanet, also for the beautiful artwork by Sabretoothed Ermine.
I was interested in this quasi-anthology (?? -- collection?) from the get-go and bought it mos...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Overall - 3.5 stars
I was interested in this quasi-anthology (?? -- collection?) from the get-go and bought it mostly because of two of my favorite authors -- Mary Calmes and Amy Lane -- were in it. But, now that I'm reading a book by both of these authors a week, or at least trying, for my Author Backlist Project, I knew it was time to get this one out and see what to make of it. While I mostly liked it, the three stories within are all very different, so I'll refrain from talking too much in this general part of the review and save it all for the individual stories.
However, all three stories do deal with the mythology of the Three Fates/Sisters/Morai. Known in Greek mythology as Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos, there are many things you might associate or remember about them from different sources -- the one eye they share, how one allots the yarn or string, one weaves them and the other cuts them. These three different authors dealt with this mythology in different and interesting ways. Andrew Grey didn't associate them with any of our known mythologies, but made them rather independent and changed their tools from fiber to wheels (though this might be from another cultural myth, I'm not sure). Mary Calmes gives us a the classical Greek definition with a bit of ancient Egyptian flair. Amy Lane, however, took the cake with her representation of the sisters, I think. Much more heavily involved in the lives of the characters of her story than the other author's stories, her sisters were firmly entrenched in Norse mythology along with some other famous gods you might recognize, Loki and Thor. I found the interludes where they watched and discussed the lives of Leif and Hacon to be some of the best parts of the story and I loved that she inserted a bit of her own fiber knowledge (spit-slicing!) in there for comic relief. Of all the representations of the gods throughout these three stories, I have to say that not only were they the most enjoyable to watch, but they acted the most like the gods from mythology, at turns flighty and careless of their human charges, while at the same time playing favorites and taking a very firm hand in the mortal realm.
Fate Delivers a Prince by Andrew Grey (3 stars) Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance Heat: 3 - Sexy & Mild Sex Frequency: 2 - Few and Far Between Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Wolf Shifters, Germany, Royalty, Mate Bonding
Coming in at around 20% of the overall length of the book, Andrew Grey's story is the paranormal tale of a wolf shifter named Cheyenne, an American in Bavaria with his family. Chay is the youngest of three boys in their diplomat family, his father a powerful Alpha. Cheyenne is a rather weak wolf himself and not at all like his brothers, the oldest just like their father in strength and personality and the middle cruel and callous. What Chay wants more than anything is so find a mate he can love, but he knows that won't ever happen. He's afflicted with a mysterious skin condition, but when he's a wolf and a human that covers his skin in large and red flaky patches that drive him crazy with discomfort and pain. He's a bit of an embarrassment to his family really -- who wants to sit next to the boy constantly starching himself at a state dinner?
So Chay might be the most surprised of all of them when he finally gets a whiff of his mate at a ball. And not only is it a man like he expected (and his father feared), but it's Arthur, a prince. Chay is doomed. Not only is his mate entirely out of his league, but he's human. The intervention of a mysterious and divine woman will change all of that.
I suppose that I was just a little bit disappointed by this story. I mean, it isn't bad, but it really isn't great either. It's cute, but we never really get to know Arthur that well. It was frustrating to see the climax of the story hinge on the stupidity of the characters rather than a more original plot twist and the behavior of all of the characters was a little annoying. It doesn't quite read "Big Mis" standards, because the miscommunication doesn't last all that long, but I was hoping for a more interesting turn of events. In many respects it's a werewolf Cinderfella (Cindercubba?) story, with the rich prince falling in love with the skin-afflicted commoner (no matter how rich he is), but I found the tone of the story to be more in line with a typical paranormal story rather than a fairy tale.
In all, this was my least favorite story in the collection. However, it takes a really ingenious, original and interesting shifter story to really get my attention and I know that many readers will like this story. It's cute, a bit fluffy and an easy read. It just wasn't what I was looking for.
Jump by Mary Calmes (3.75 stars) Genre: m/m Contemporary Paranormal/Fantasy Romance Heat: 4 - Spicy & Smutty Sex Frequency: 3 - Average Story to Sex Keywords/Tags: Cops/Agents, Crime, The Mafia, Psychics, Mythology, Reincarnation
Taking up about a third of the overall length of the book, Jump is the story of Cassidy, a short-term psychic matchmaker who is urged by his gift to interrupt the pattern of Raza's life, in order to safe him from death. Raza is a mysterious figure, surrounded by guards, but Cassidy can immediately see that for as dangerous as he looks he has a big heart and a sweet disposition. Cassidy, who is rather self-effacing and seems desperate to remain lonely and guarded from his lovers, and the two immediately take to one another.
What they don't know is how their lives are fated to continually cross after their death in a past life in ancient Egypt. It isn't just Cass' gift that shows they have an extra-strong connection to one another, but also interference from the gods. Because this divine intervention from the gods is set up in the prologue, I didn't really mind too much that Raza and Cass fall immediately in love. If they were fated and felt like they knew each other upon meeting because of their past-life history, then I can suspend disbelief for that. I actually found Cass to be an interesting Calmes character, because though he has the token magnetism that she always seems to give her characters, where everyone is drawn to them as if they're sent down from Heaven, Cass was actually rather nerdy and had quite a strong streak of low self-esteem.
This was definitely an enjoyable read, something that I'm used to getting with Mary Calmes' stories. I still had a few problems with it, though. I felt it was rather short for the plot. I'm used to quite a fast pace from this author, where the scenes bleed into one another and seem to go directions I hadn't expected, but I felt like since the mystery behind the men who want to kill Raza isn't the primary focus of the story then we could maybe have gotten some more time for the romance to develop. I'm not even saying to make it not insta-love, but they only know one another for one day before their jumping into an HEA (and they really jump into it!), but a couple extra days together wouldn't have hurt anything and I would have liked to have a little more time to settle into the relationship and see the characters getting to know each other better.
Believed You Were Lucky by Amy Lane (4.25 stars) Genre: m/m Contemporary Fantasy Romance Heat: 3 - Mild & Sexy Sex Frequency: 3 - Average Story to Sex Keywords/Tags: Norse Mythology, Fiber Arts, Family Issues, Mystery
The last story in this collection takes the remaining half of the book, coming in at a much longer story than the others and around 50k. It's certainly a much larger story, with more characters and more time for the characters to develop a relationship. I already talked about one of my favorite aspects of this story, the heavy intervention on the part of the gods at just about every turn. The thing that made this story so absolutely charming, though, is Leif, who is lucky. Leif's luck is a tangible thing, a little piece of string he sees in his mind which makes his decisions for him and keeps him out of trouble. It's hardly scientific and sometimes it leads him into trouble only for him to learn that with that trouble is an even luckier payoff at the end. It also doesn't mean that Leif has lived a charmed life. The luck/string goes hand in hand with his personality, however. It has shown Leif to look on the bright side of every situation, which leads him to have the sunniest disposition of any person or character I've ever seen. Some might even think him naive, but he's a completely unique and utterly enthralling character, and so absolutely charming that you'll be cheering for him to have his happily ever after.
There is quite a bit more that I could talk about with this story, there are (funnily enough) multiple strands running throughout that all give greater meaning in reflection of one another. But, I'll let you find out all about this one on your own. Sure, I liked the other stories -- I liked Mary Calmes' story a lot -- but this story is worth buying the whole book for. Even if you don't read the others, get this book to read this story. Leif charmed me so much that I want to say he's one of my all time favorite Amy Lane characters, which is saying something considering I finish every book of her's and think, 'WOW… those are my new favorite characters!'(less)
Italian Ice has been out for a while now, but I had always intended to review it, sadly it just took me...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Italian Ice has been out for a while now, but I had always intended to review it, sadly it just took me a lot longer than I had hoped to get to it with all of my other reviews last year. I reviewed the first book in this series back when I was reviewing at Jessewave, and I really liked that first book. At that time, it was called Thief of Hearts: Tempted in Thailand before it was pulled from Ravenous Romance, re-edited and released from Dreamspinner as Rarer Than Rubies. Still, I remembered it fondly, especially whenever I got in the mood for a classic action/adventure romance. This sequel carries on in that vein in some very similar ways, with only a different setting and a different mystery and adventure, this time in Italy.
Italian Ice begins six months after the end of Rarer Than Rubies. Reed has quit his job with the FBI and moved home with Trent into domestic bliss. Except, things aren't entirely blissful. Though Trent seems to think things are going well, he doesn't know how much Reed has kept from him -- not only his feelings, but also his involvement with various government agencies. On a trip to Italy, where Trent hopes they'll spend weeks looking at art and making love, Reed is called in to search for an agent who has gone missing while dealing with a case of mysterious counterfeit artifacts passing through Rome's auction houses. Reed hastens to do his duty to find his missing comrade, but is he too quick to step back into the life of an undercover agent? Trent isn't sure, and when he finds out that the missing agent is Peter, Reed's former partner and lover, his insecurities are multiplied as he's left alone to tour the country on a lonely vacation he had meant to spend with the man he loves.
But Reed should know that Trent isn't one to follow orders. He's headstrong and has a dramatic flair for adventure, and just like in their first adventure in Thailand Trent soon becomes embroiled in the case to an extent that Reed can't pull him out without causing attention. No matter how much Reed tries to limit Trent's involvement in the case, as soon as he turns his back he finds Trent surging forward into the breach. But Trent has good reason to become involved -- not only does the adventure excite him, but he needs to find out what Reed's feelings are for Peter once and for all.
Much of the focus of this story is on the mystery, which definitely kept my attention. A few times I wanted to slap Trent for racing into a situation without thinking it through, or any backup or plan, but then that's sort of the basis of the story and definitely something about Trent that is fundamental to his character and the story, so I can let that slide :) The romance here is really in line with the position of this book (as the second) in the series, even though I'm not sure how long this series will end up being. In the first book, of course, the two get together and fall in love over their adventure. But, the second book is where the relationship is really tested, so quite a bit of this story had Trent and Reed at odds and often separated and working on the mystery with their own devices. Much of that comes from the very beginning of the story when their relationship blows up in an epic fight when Trent learns that Reed is basically choosing his job (and Peter) over him. A lot of that hurt that Trent feels drives him throughout this book. Conversely, Reed is on his own solo mission in this book, trying to figure out what he really wants from life, professionally and romantically, putting much of his old demons to rest. To do that, he'll have to learn to communicate, which is like learning a whole new language for him. He's made his life into a web of secrets and lies for so long that it takes him some serious soul searching to figure out what he really wants. All of this could have been rather angsty, but it really wasn't because any tension that comes from their relationship is offset by the mystery and their need to work together for common purpose.
In all, I found this to be a good read and a very successful sequel. It certainly made me interested to see what will come next for Trent and Reed and I've grown fond of them by now. Hopefully, with this uncertain part of their relationship now behind them (this ends with a solid HEA), we can expect somewhat happier stories in the future. And I hope there are several :)(less)
A couple weeks ago Charlie Cochet became my most recent favorite author when I read h...moreOne of the LiAW stories reviewed at The Armchair Reader.
A couple weeks ago Charlie Cochet became my most recent favorite author when I read her short story When Love Walked In and her novella The Amethyst Cat Caper. So I was so happy to see that she’d written a story for the LiAW event! I’ve never been a big fan of historicals, but I now snatch up anything she writes. The magic of her stories is the time period she writes in — I don’t know how she’d do with another period, but she really seems to have the 1930′s Depression era down. In this story, she steps back just a few years to Prohibition NYC in 1925 and the magic is just the same. Like the others, this story is saturated with period language that lends authenticity to the voice. Apparently these guys are coming back for more in the future and I can’t wait!(less)
I don't know why I haven't read this until now! I absolutely loved it -- I really did. It was all of what Mary Ca...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I don't know why I haven't read this until now! I absolutely loved it -- I really did. It was all of what Mary Calmes writes that is my favorite and the epitome of her contemporary romances that I've grown to love. It is definitely my favorite book of her's that I've read so far, and I've liked many of them.
Nate, or Dr. Qells, is a English Lit professor who everyone loves. He's close to his ex-wife and her husband and they've got a kid together. He's got one closeted ex on the Chicago police force that always seems to show up at inopportune times, and another man named Sean, an ex-student and now a surgeon, who he's gone out on a few dates with. Then, there is Michael and Dreo, his neighbors and the little family he has created around himself now that his own son has fled the nest. Nate doesn't speak to Dreo much, but they seem to be raising Michael together. Michael is a 16 year old kid and Dreo is his 27 year old uncle, so they need a little help -- especially since Dreo is doesn't talk about who he works for, but he's some kind of muscle for an Italian man and he always carries a gun. It isn't difficult to put two and two together. But Michael is like his own son, and when life takes a turn for the absurd (in several different ways), Dreo and Nate start getting to know each other better -- only to find that there's a fire there Nate has never felt for another person.
Acrobat has a distinct style that is all Mary Calmes. It reminded me of a somewhat subdued A Matter of Time in some respects, in that the situation sometimes takes a turn towards truth being stranger than fiction. Also, some readers have trouble with this author's characters, who often are very physically perfect and perfect in other ways too. That is certainly the case here. With the exception of some people who might want to kill him, Nate is universally loved -- I mean LOVED. He's held as an ideal among many. Sometime I feel like if this were the case written from any other author I would hate it, but Mary's writing is often so tongue in cheek and at times absolutely hilarious that I can totally buy it. It gives the story a kind of bounce that is helped along by her trademark banter dialogue that can sometimes go on for pages and pages between characters. That happens several times here between Nate and Michelle, his ex-wife who is still his best friend. In fact, the book opens with one of these scenes full of funny dialogue and it gives the characters a certain charm that you either click with or don't. I'm glad that I do.
Dreo is such a great character. I honestly don't know if I've read anything that just…. HOT in a long, long time. Dreo just about burned up my Kindle, with his Alpha Dominance and Italian sweet nothings, he was totally drool-worthy. The cast of secondary characters in this book is really wonderful and they each have a charm of their own, but also charm as a group and family that surrounds Nate. I would have loved if Nate's son had gotten some page time (at least, in person). I try not to say this very often, but I sure would love to read more of this one. If only it were just the first book of a series, then i could get even more of Dreo in the future!
This was a perfect book to start my Author Backlist Project. It has everything I adore about Mary Calmes' books. I'm getting a little bit sad that the majority of her books I've read have been her contemporaries, and while I also enjoy her paranormals, I certainly enjoy the contemporaries more :) I was going to finish the Warder series after this, starting next Saturday, but since I loved this book so much I decided to read Mine. Hopefully I'll love it too!(less)
This is the second book of my Author Backlist Project for Mary Calmes and I'm so glad I chose this author first....moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
This is the second book of my Author Backlist Project for Mary Calmes and I'm so glad I chose this author first. I've always really liked her books in a past, but I've missed a few of them here and there, this one included. I actually had a few problems with this book, but one thing was done so absolutely well (the character development) that I just couldn't give it less than a Really Liked It rating.
That, ultimately, is really what makes this story so incredibly special. Landry is most often seen as the fucked up guy in their relationship but Trevan has a lot of issues as well. But somehow, this author made these characters that so so messed up and also who sometimes aren't exactly likable, accessible and understanding to us through their love for each other and in Trevan's case a very strong moral compass (skewed according to convention, yes, but still unyielding). Trevan refers to them early in the story has completely codependent, but that it is okay because it works. That's the truth. Landry is barely capable of making it through the day on his own, but Trevan needs to take care of him, needs the control in a way that is unique to him. I almost don't even know how Mary Calmes pulled this off. Their relationship is so unusual, but so utterly charming at the same time and almost the whole story is devoted to the psychology of it all, but completely under the radar. So much so that by the end of the story I felt like the story had been about something totally different (the external plot) but that I knew these characters way better than I know most when I finish a book. That is to be commended.
I found it a little unfortunate that we don't know Landry's family better since the end of the book really has a lot to do with them, but then I understood it as well. The last 60% or so reminded me quite a bit of A Matter of Time and this whole story had a lot of Mary's trademark zinging dialogue that I've grown to love. Ultimately, how you feel about this book depends on how you will feel about the relationship. I can't say that I loved the characters, but I liked them a lot and respected the hell out of them. I felt a bit like there wasn't a driving focus in the plot, and that's why I say that how you feel about the relationship will affect how you feel about the book. There are two real sub-plots, Landry and his family and Trevan and his "job." Maybe it is that I'm used to a traditional narrative that I'm finding this hazy, but ultimately it didn't overly affect my enjoyment of the story and you have to give Mary Calmes props for this book.
These two books I've read, this one and last week's book, Acrobat, are two of the best books this author has written in my opinion. Still, Acrobat takes the cake for my favorite. I liked this one a lot, but I didn't love it.(less)
A wonderfully written 1930's historical that made me laugh and smile. There isn't much mystery as to the real identity of the Gentleman Thief...more4.5 stars
A wonderfully written 1930's historical that made me laugh and smile. There isn't much mystery as to the real identity of the Gentleman Thief, but as I understood it the intent is for the reader to know and witness the characters trying to unravel the mystery, which worked rather well. A great couple of characters, I'm excited to see more of them in the future!(less)