Lisa Henry and I wrote what we think is a psychological thriller. We're not sure. We just know that it's not a traditional romance novel. You've been...moreLisa Henry and I wrote what we think is a psychological thriller. We're not sure. We just know that it's not a traditional romance novel. You've been warned.(less)
This was the second book I read by these two authors, and I continue to be so impressed by their work. Room at the Top is one of only a few ménage boo...moreThis was the second book I read by these two authors, and I continue to be so impressed by their work. Room at the Top is one of only a few ménage books I’ve read, and I was very pleased by how well the ménage is handled. No jealous partners or conflicts related to sharing. The book went much deeper than that, into the hearts and minds of three characters who enter an agreement with a certain set of expectations and end up in a situation they haven’t planned for. The characters are so well drawn, especially the submissive couple, Austin and Jay. I was particularly fond of Austin, whose quiet protectiveness was beautiful to witness. It was easy to see why the relationship between these two subs thrived and also easy to see why they sought outside help to get their needs met—yet there’s never a moment where one partner makes the other one feel like he’s not enough. I can’t wait for the sequel!(less)
I'm gonna give it five stars, because the first two thirds are splendid. I haven't felt that compelled to get through a book in a long time. It lost m...moreI'm gonna give it five stars, because the first two thirds are splendid. I haven't felt that compelled to get through a book in a long time. It lost me a little bit toward the end. And it wasn't me vicariously experiencing Henry's downward spiral (a spiral that I thought was well-handled). Things just seemed to get a bit unwieldy.
But yes, the whole first most of it is wonderful. Funny, engaging, honest, and surprising. I love a good baseball book, and I really rooted for Henry.(less)
I am a Jim-Grims fan to the core, but I'll agree with other fans who put this at the bottom of the list. There's still plenty of good stuff going on -...moreI am a Jim-Grims fan to the core, but I'll agree with other fans who put this at the bottom of the list. There's still plenty of good stuff going on -- Grimsley has a way with language, and there were several sentences I read over and over again to memorize, or jotted down in my notebook. I loved the hint of SM (really want to see the Grims try an all-out BDSM novel. It would punch 50 Shades in the face. Or somewhere else.) But ultimately it was hard to connect with the main character, and I got a little tired of the porn shop scenes (I know, me?) I would never dissuade anyone from reading it. But if you're new to Grimsley, start with Dream Boy or Winter Birds or My Drowning. And then treat yourself to Comfort & Joy and Kirith Kirin. And then someday read Boulevard and be like, "Huh."(less)
What makes Riot Boy so much fun to read is the opportunity to be in Etienne’s head as he navigates a relationship with the troubled, unreliable Br...more4.5
What makes Riot Boy so much fun to read is the opportunity to be in Etienne’s head as he navigates a relationship with the troubled, unreliable Brady. Brady’s so incredibly bad-boy sexy (LOVE his handcuff kink) that I initially got caught up in his pick-pocketing sexiness and almost missed what Etienne almost misses—that Brady’s got some serious issues.
It’s exciting to watch Brady work through those issues, and to see Etienne—hardly a hulking alpha hero—come through and be a source of strength for Brady. He doesn’t “fix” Brady, but he gives Brady a reason to stand up and face his troubles. Et is also able to take the place of the handcuffs in terms of getting Brady not to cut and run (though it couldn’t hurt for Etienne to handcuff Brady regularly. Just to be safe. In fact, a sequel involving just Brady, Et, and a pair of handcuffs would be totally welcome. Or just a short story. Please?)
Secondary characters in the Superpowered Love series are always a joy, and Riot Boy is no exception. Love Et’s sister, and oh my god, Malory.
One of my favorite aspects of Superpowered Love books is seeing superpowers in the hands of otherwise ordinary people—in some cases people you’d really feel safer if they didn’t have superpowers—and watching these characters learn to own, not even the powers themselves, but the identity that comes with having powers.
That’s exactly what happens in riot Boy, and it makes for another highly enjoyable Superpowered read, where humor abounds but never overshadows the story’s genuine emotional punch. (less)
This is quite possibly my favorite BDSM book I’ve ever read. Because it’s a book that really gets it. Not just the “what” of BDSM, and not just the ge...moreThis is quite possibly my favorite BDSM book I’ve ever read. Because it’s a book that really gets it. Not just the “what” of BDSM, and not just the general “why”—but the nuances of what a D/s relationship is about. And particularly the nuances of how it feels to enter a D/s relationship for the first time. There’s a fantastic moment when Sterling and Owen are embarking on their relationship and are having a discussion in Owen’s living room. Owen walks a few feet away to sit in a chair leaving Sterling “stranded in what felt like a lot of space.” When Owen tells Sterling to come kneel beside him, it’s described as a “lifeline”—the direct order is a relief to Sterling, though he doesn’t know exactly why. It’s such a perfect moment to capture, how confusing and distressing sudden physical distance from a Dom can feel to a sub.
Sterling is a wonderful character—cheeky, a bit cocky, a bit naïve, but thoroughly sweet under it all. And prickly Owen is a fun Dom—I found myself as eager as Sterling for the moments of tenderness Owen sometimes allows himself. The BDSM scenes are incredibly hot and cover a good range—spanking, wax play, speech restriction, nipple clamps, and more. Absolutely a must read. (less)
I’ve wanted to write a review of this book for a while, but it’s hard to find something to say that hasn’t been said already. The Island really is as...moreI’ve wanted to write a review of this book for a while, but it’s hard to find something to say that hasn’t been said already. The Island really is as good as people say it is. It’s intense, dark, beautiful, suspenseful, and very moving.
Like many other readers, I had to read it all in one sitting. I didn’t plan for it to happen that way, but once I started, I couldn’t stop. Perhaps what impressed me most about the book was the way Shaw was written. Having Shaw as a hero reminded me a bit of watching the show Dexter—I love Dexter as a character, I root for him, but when other characters start putting their trust and hope in him, I get all kinds of nervous. He may not be a killer of innocent people, but he is a killer. And his number one rule is to protect himself first.
Shaw may not be a rapist, but he’s a man who will stand by while rape happens to avoid compromising his own agenda. And to have Shaw be the best thing Lee has on the island, to see Lee develop this trust and hope in a man who can’t afford to protect him, is terrifying. But because Shaw is so brilliantly drawn, so complex, so real, and able to allow himself the occasional show of tenderness, he somehow became the person in whom I placed my hope and trust, too.
And it’s thanks to Lee that I wanted to shake Shaw and order him to be a hero. Because it’s easy to sit here and say that, hypothetically, yes, in some cases it might be worth sacrificing one life for the greater good. But because Lisa Henry puts us inside Lee’s head just enough that we get to know that one life that’s going to be sacrificed, the idea of that sacrifice becomes devastating. Lee evokes a great deal of sympathy, but he is so much more than a broken victim. He is brave, strong, and loyal. Two of The Island’s most poignant moments take place in Lee’s POV—one at the end of the very first section we get in Lee’s POV, and another when Lee prepares to face the most horrifying night of his life.
I have to mention the ending as well. In a genre that usually requires a happy ending, it can be difficult to navigate a HEA for a relationship like the one portrayed in The Island, where the participants are not equals when the relationship starts. Lisa Henry chooses to devote quite a bit of time to Lee’s recovery and reestablishment of himself as a free person, and it’s because she takes the time to do this that the ending works so well for me.
Lee’s therapist, discussing the connection Lee forges with Shaw on the island and Lee’s lingering attraction to Shaw, asks him: “Do you think that it could in any way be an even relationship?” I can’t say enough about how much I appreciated the acknowledgment of this question—a question that never quite gets answered. I do believe that Shaw and Lee are the only ones who will be able to see each other for who they truly are—who can truly understand what happened on the island—and I absolutely rooted for them to end up together. But I don’t know that it ever really can be an even relationship.
It’s the book’s complexities, from start to finish, that make The Island such a fantastic read. So let me throw my two cents in and say, if you haven’t read it yet—do it. (less)
I wanted to love this book, and there is a lot to enjoy. The descriptions of the Night Circus are splendid. I would attend this circus in a heartbeat....moreI wanted to love this book, and there is a lot to enjoy. The descriptions of the Night Circus are splendid. I would attend this circus in a heartbeat. But I never really connected with the characters, nor fully felt the weight of what was at stake. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what was missing. I think for me this book is a case of the concept and the setting being richer than the people. (less)
I love starting a book and being able to tell right away that the author has hit this one out of the park. There’s no worry that I’m going to get bore...moreI love starting a book and being able to tell right away that the author has hit this one out of the park. There’s no worry that I’m going to get bored with the characters. I don’t have to spend time deciding whether it’s worth it to invest myself in the story. I’m just hooked. That’s Nobody’s Hero.
I adored Jamie instantly, and, if possible, loved Kellan even more. I’m a big fan of prickly characters, but I think the challenge for authors writing them into a love story lies in making readers understand why a non-cranky character would sacrifice it all to be with someone so perpetually withering.
I totally understood why Jamie falls for Kellan, because I fell for Kellan too. Jamie’s far from a golden boy jock stereotype, and Kellan’s far from a socially inept computer geek stereotype. They’re both funny, complex, and utterly engaging characters, and it’s easy to see how they balance each other.
Jamie’s first person narrative is hilarious and charming, and I enjoyed charting Jamie’s development from—literally—nobody’s hero to an actual hero. It’s an arc similar to those in other books in the Superpowered Love series, where a character has superpowers but would rather party like a non-superhero, then gradually morphs into a for-real hero. Except, not necessarily a leap-tall-buildings-in-a-single-bound hero. But into someone heroically capable of being there for someone else.
Really, what Katey Hawthorne’s characters do over the course of her novels is grow up—in really funny, touching ways. And sometimes their maturing processes happen to involve fire, ice, or electricity.
Secondary characters are well drawn. I particularly loved Kellan’s giant, boozy, banjo-playing, raucously-singing family. My own family is sadly lacking in banjos.
One other thing I have to comment on is the truly brilliant way Jamie and Kellan’s conversation about Kellan’s religion and sexual orientation is handled. What could have been an uncomfortable scene or a source of conflict is written with humor, maturity, and empathy for both parties. In fact, what’s so awesome about it is that it’s really not a big deal. Jamie is curious and asks Kellan how he reconciles being gay with being Catholic, and Kellan tells him how. Get it, Kelly!
I adore this book. The characters are instantly engaging and likeable, the premise is fun, and the writing is sharp. The story clips along, and my onl...moreI adore this book. The characters are instantly engaging and likeable, the premise is fun, and the writing is sharp. The story clips along, and my only regret is it isn’t longer – I would gladly have spent more time in this superpowered world!
It’s also great to see a strong bi character who’s not presented as struggling with whether he’s het or homo.
And these guys are HOT!
Well done, Katey. I can’t wait to read Riot Boy! (less)