I wasn't sure at first if I liked the way the authors used first person from both perspectives, but by the end, I really cared about the characters. I...moreI wasn't sure at first if I liked the way the authors used first person from both perspectives, but by the end, I really cared about the characters. I'll definitely look for book two!(less)
The biggest advantage this has going for it is the two main characters. Both Cal and Tom are likeable and realistic and the relationship between them...moreThe biggest advantage this has going for it is the two main characters. Both Cal and Tom are likeable and realistic and the relationship between them develops naturally, at least on the part of Tom. (Cal's feelings were a little rushed, but I did understand why they would have struck him so hard.) Some repetition of issues made the middle of the story drag a bit, but nicely spicy sex scenes helped keep things moving. I enjoyed this one enough that I'm sure to look for more by these authors.(less)
Nick and Holly's story will appeal to fans of hurt/comfort and dom/sub, though neither convention is so overt as...more[review copy received from netGalley]
Nick and Holly's story will appeal to fans of hurt/comfort and dom/sub, though neither convention is so overt as to be a turn off to readers who typically partake of more conventional fare. Making Holly's recovery from addiction believable without making his relationship with Nick seem more like therapist/patient rather than old friends is tricky business and Crow and Fox succeed nicely. In the end readers will know that Holly's success was due in large part to his own realization of the need for change. Unfortunately the writers sacrifice some of the pain of Nick's subsequent downfall. Partially that is because it is hard to believe that Nick really loves the life he has been living, so when it is taken away from him, we're not sure why he's so broken up. And partially it is because there are a lot of extra details in the story--what happened to Nick's father, Holly's step-brothers, some of the reminiscences on their college years--which could have been sacrificed to trim it down a bit. But watching Holly swoop in to save the man who previously saved him is touching and creates an appealing roundness to the story.
Readers looking for a lot of smut will have to wait until over halfway through the book before their dreams are realized, but the story moves quickly enough that they probably won't even notice that they're waiting. Nick and Holly are likable guys and reading about them is appealing enough, even before they begin a sexual relationship. Much like in yaoi, there is no discussion of homosexuality or bisexuality, which is in many ways refreshing. Nick and Holly's problems with starting a relationship are not tied up in concerns about how society will view them, which allows them--and the readers--to worry about more important issues. The dominance/submissive aspect of their relationship is as nicely handled as the addiction problem. Crow and Fox make it clear that this is a type of relationship that works for these two men, that they are both comfortable with how they treat each other, and, most importantly, this is what they both want. There is no belittling or abuse, simply a companionship that has its own unique way of operating. (That said, Carina Press still might want to consider adding a note on its site alerting readers to the mild dom/sub qualities of the tale, both to help readers looking for that kind of story and to assist those who would prefer to avoid it.)
Overall, this is a sweet, quick read that will allow readers to dip their toes into a dom/sub story without feeling like they've jumped into the deep end without a life-jacket.(less)
Squire, the first book in Mykles' new Knights series, is as enjoyable as the titles in her companion Heaven Sent series, but in a slightly quieter way...moreSquire, the first book in Mykles' new Knights series, is as enjoyable as the titles in her companion Heaven Sent series, but in a slightly quieter way. Rabin Squire is not touring with his band, the Indigo Knights, because they've broken up, so the glitz and glamour of rock band life isn't the point. Instead Mykles focuses on Rabin's attempts to rebuild his band and bring his dream of stardom to life. Because Mykles is so talented at building likable characters, Rabin's determination comes across as just that--determination--rather than making him seem like someone who wants fame just for the sake of fame. Her talent also makes Rabin's feelings for Izzy, the cousin of Heaven Sent's Brent Rose, believable, even though Rabin has never been in a relationship with a man before. Rabin's determination and his refusal to take the easy path and ignore his bisexuality makes for compelling reading as he must face down laziness and bigotry to succeed in his career and gain the love he longs for. Izzy's sweet/spicy personality is a wonderful companion to Rabin's quieter nature and watching the two of them build a relationship is beautiful. Readers will be more than ready for book two--and more of the Indigo Knights--by the time they finish this volume.(less)
I picked this one up not realizing that it was a spin-off from Mitchell's Diving in Deep (and followed by No Souvenirs). But even without having read...moreI picked this one up not realizing that it was a spin-off from Mitchell's Diving in Deep (and followed by No Souvenirs). But even without having read the first book, I was instantly engaged in Joey and Aaron's struggles. Both men are mature adults who know what they want when it comes to sex. The problem is that neither of them is willing to deal with what they need in terms of a relationship. Joey falls in love faster than blinking, and often falls out just as quickly. He's trying to fix that after his last relationship went sour, but his best friend (and ex-boyfriend) Noah's happiness with his new love Cameron makes that hard to do. Is it wrong that Joey wants what Noah and Cameron have? Meanwhile Aaron doesn't want anything, or rather he wants to not be needed for one. He's finally done raising his siblings and does not need to fall for an accident-prone social worker like Joey. Social workers screwed up Aaron's life enough as a kid; he doesn't need one doing so now. But it's hard to resist when the two of them are like a match to a flame in bed, or the back of an ambulance, or wherever they end up naked.
Watching Joey and Aaron slowly build a relationship--almost without knowing that that is what they're doing--is a beautiful thing, especially when it's done through Mitchell's snappy, snarky prose. She's more than capable of writing men who act like grown men, but who are also each unique and individual. At first Joey seems somewhat flighty and Aaron is a bit of a jerk, but as they begin to see through each other's outer shells, so do the readers, so we fall in love as they do. Mitchell has the needed balance of sex and softness and drama and humor to make her novel work as a romance. And for readers who like their stories a little spicier, Mitchell adds just a touch of eroticism through a bit of spanking. Not so much as to turn off readers who aren't interested in BDSM, but enough to add an extra bit of spark to the embers glowing between Joey and Aaron.
I'm sorry I haven't read more of Mitchell's work before now, but I'll definitely be rectifying that situation as soon as possible!(less)
Darryl and Billy's love story is sweet, but too stiff to really work as a romance novel. The main problem is that we only get to know them via their p...moreDarryl and Billy's love story is sweet, but too stiff to really work as a romance novel. The main problem is that we only get to know them via their problems, so it is hard to think of them as fully formed people. Billy is "the one raising his brothers" and Darryl is "the nice guy who feels guilty about dating a younger man." They don't come across as individuals, which makes it hard to believe in their romance. The side characters surrounding them are equally flat, only given enough detail to give them color, but not enough to move them out of one dimension. Billy's younger brothers are the worse off for it. They seem too young to be five-year-olds and just a little too precious to stomach.
The setting--especially Darryl's restaurant--is well-crafted, though, giving needed life to the story. And Grey's plot, though a little too soap opera-ish, is enjoyable enough to keep the reader following along. Unfortunately, since the main romance is not as engaging, there isn't much that is memorable about the book. Even the sex scenes seem as if the characters were doing them because that's what characters do in romance novels, rather than compelled together by their undying love and desire. Food novel fans will find their taste buds tickled by Grey's luscious descriptions of life as a chef. If only the rest of his story was as savory.(less)
Shotaro Izumi and Makoto Natsuki were best friends as children, but when the girls in school turned on Izumi for teasing the popular Natsuki, their fr...moreShotaro Izumi and Makoto Natsuki were best friends as children, but when the girls in school turned on Izumi for teasing the popular Natsuki, their friendship fell apart. Izumi became a bitter social outcast, while Natsuki was soon the golden boy of their school. Finally, when Izumi has enough, he taunts Natuski, asking the other boy to go out with him. But what started as a joke quickly gets turned back on Izumi. Natsuki is happy to go out with him! Now Izumi isn't sure what is going on or how he really feels about his rival/boyfriend.
I would have read Green Light just because it was illustrated by Taishi Zaou, but it turned out to be a cute story that lived up to Zaou's trademark spicy/sweet art. The plot is a little forgettable, but Izumi and Natsuki are engaging characters. I'm not sure that I completely believed all parts of how they originally broke up or all parts of how they got back together, but if you allow your mind to make the yaoi leap across any holes like that, you'll still enjoy this light read. And Green Light did offer one spectacular surprise--the translation. If any of you have suffered through some of the more awkwardly translated yaoi novels from DMP's June imprint, rest assured that those problems do not exist here. Translator Meredith Anderson does an excellent job of making this read as if it was originally written in English and you can tell that right from the opening sentence: "If someone were to ask me what my proudest accomplishment in life was so far, I'd answer, 'Not developing a school phobia as an elementary school student even though all the girls kept telling me I was a scumbag.'"
Obviously I can't tell how close Anderson stayed to the original Japanese, but frankly, I don't care. It was such a pleasure to read a yaoi novel that read smoothly and cleanly. The characters sounded like they were actually teenage boys. Each young man had a distinct and clear voice. The bonus story at the end, which is told in third-person, rather than from Izumi's sarcastic first-person, isn't as strong, but by that time, I was enjoying their love story so much that I didn't mind. DMP's Doki Doki line has done a nice job with this one and I'll be sure to keep an eye out for more works translated by Anderson.(less)