Overall: Anthologies are always tricky because you can get such a mix of authors writing such a mix of stories, but I think in this case, it paid off....moreOverall: Anthologies are always tricky because you can get such a mix of authors writing such a mix of stories, but I think in this case, it paid off. Not every story is a shining star, but none of them are folding in on themselves either, plus they cover a range of tastes so there should be one story sure to satisfy everyone.
Overall While I overall enjoyed the novel, I felt it had the potential to be so much better. The writing is okay, and while I don't mind th...moreStars: 3.5/5
Overall While I overall enjoyed the novel, I felt it had the potential to be so much better. The writing is okay, and while I don't mind the long exploration of Mischa and Tom's relationship, the end is rushed; I wanted more and I wanted it explored. It almost felt as if the relationship was written, then someone commented that there wasn't much plot, so an action and resolution were tacked on. I enjoyed the relationship, I enjoyed the action and resolution; I wanted them more balanced. However, that said, this is still a good book, especially if you want an exploration of BDSM (pain-centered) and a very interesting Dom/Sub relationship.
Strengths Characters. Tom and Mischa were both interesting, deep characters. I enjoyed exploring their relationship as they found what they needed in each other and if they wanted a relationship and how that relationship would work. The very few side characters were also good, although I think having more people would helped develop some of the weaker points.
Plot. I can't say much because it's spoiler, but the attack on Tom created an interesting situation between the characters, as well as introducing an additional character. Conwy handled the events well and gave a refreshing angle to an often-used trope.
Scenes. The BDSM scenes covered a wide range of kinks, most pain-centric, and progressed from basic to beyond. Although I found the use of "the Dom" and "the boy" to be awkward considering the narrations were in third person limited, it wasn't enough to be completely distracting. There was a good balance on who narrated each scene, so it wasn't (pun intended) top heavy.
Weaknesses Unbalanced plot. The two parts of the story (relationship development and after the attack) are both good, but the latter seemed tagged on and wasn't developed to its fullest potential. The slow progression of their relationship matched their personalities, especially Mischa, but knowing that an attack was coming (since it's in the teaser blurb), made the book drag a little. Heading into the final 10%, I wasn't sure how the author was going to be able to fit everything in--and honestly, Conwy didn't. The story was cramped and involved large time jumps only highlighting the big changes.
Writing. While not terrible, the writing was a little stilted, lacking sentence length/structure variation and depending too heavily on using names or other signifiers when pronouns would have functioned similarly without confusion. The general public may not have any issue with this, but people who are particular about writing style should be forewarned, although I don't think it should necessarily keep you from reading it.
A side story from Winters' The Wish, we are shown what happened with the one-night stand Alex had that night before he went home.
It's a touching stor...moreA side story from Winters' The Wish, we are shown what happened with the one-night stand Alex had that night before he went home.
It's a touching story, if brief, and the sex in it feels more dirty than sexy as our narrator (James) recalls the events after the fact.
Having already read The Wish, I skimmed some of the flashback scenes, but they are a necessary element, especially for readers who aren't familiar with the larger work. James and Travis are a cute couple, very human and realistic, who both are at fault for the evening's events (even if one is more at fault than the other).
I appreciated the guilt they both felt and the explanations for specific actions (aka, the ending). (less)
Overall Welcome to BDSM 101. Care for a drink? Something to eat? Something to whip?
In all seriousness, this volume does read like BDSM 101, introducing...moreOverall Welcome to BDSM 101. Care for a drink? Something to eat? Something to whip?
In all seriousness, this volume does read like BDSM 101, introducing the club, the world and the concepts though the stories of two men who are new to the whole thing and have no idea what they're getting into. Compared to some later stories in the volumes (and some additional stories), these will seem tame, but it doesn't make their coming together any less sweet. I think this would be a great start for someone curious about BDSM romance but who doesn't think they'd be able to handle hardcore activities.
Strengths Romantic happy endings. Michael always gives us our happy ending and does so here. He creates a world which seems to work off the concept of everyone has their true love (um, loves), and while his stories could be repetitive if read in succession (as in, reading volumes 1, 2, and 4 in one weekend), they give what the reader wants.
Writing. While the writing didn't feel as strong as in Velvet Need, I was never disappointed. In fact, I started rereading the book the next day to try to stave off starting the next volume. It didn't work, but I tried.
Weaknesses Name abuse. This is really the only thing I can think of calling it. I understand when writing actions sometimes names are necessary to differentiate since the pronouns are the same, but that I can deal with. He tends to write dialogue with a lot of name dropping ("Simon, I trust you." "Thank you, Jack." "You're welcome, Simon." Though maybe nothing quite so bad). I think a fair number could be cut, especially those outside of scenes (they seem fitting in a scene). It is never disruptive enough to rip me from my reading rhythm, but it was noticeable. (less)
Overall An enjoyable story that continues the romance between Cavan and Biton as Cavan progresses from quivering slave to gentle submissive and Biton s...moreOverall An enjoyable story that continues the romance between Cavan and Biton as Cavan progresses from quivering slave to gentle submissive and Biton struggles to do what's best for his new lover. While a perfectly good story, it did nothing to amaze me into a higher score.
Strengths Overall Story. Although I question why the Big Bad waited to strike until now, overall the plot was good. It could come across as slightly cheesy, but it wasn't enough to make me put the book down, mostly because the characters were enjoyable and I really do love Cavan. It was a good and necessary series of events that allowed Cavan to face his demons.
Character development. I really appreciated the amount of growth we see Cavan go through, especially compared to the first book where he's already beginning to make advances. This story gives us more content from Cavan's perspective and is several months later. He's re-learning to read and write and to be an individual person while still struggling with wanting to please Biton, both because of his former "training" and as a lover. The plot of this story really gives Cavan opportunity to show his strengths and how much progress he's made under Biton's loving care. I definitely felt more connected to Cavan in this story.
Weaknesses The end plot was a little flimsy/Hollywood, but not bad enough to disturb me. It did make me roll my eyes, but I saw the need for it, so didn't complain.
Dr. Marten. Some people question how a psychiatrist could behave as she does, but it seemed believable to me. If you don't mind her being a bad example of her profession, then there shouldn't be a problem.
Minor peeve. In the first book Biton lives in a house and in this one he lives in an apartment with no discussion of moving. Did I miss something? Misread something? Not a big deal, but seems like a rather large inconsistency, even though it's not really plot-relevant. ETA: I was wrong, he did live in an apartment in the first book. I misunderstood.
Overall I wanted to enjoy this book more than I did, not that I didn't enjoy it. The characters, the plot, the situation, and their relationship all en...moreOverall I wanted to enjoy this book more than I did, not that I didn't enjoy it. The characters, the plot, the situation, and their relationship all engaged me, but nothing drew me into the characters enough that I fell in love with them. I felt for Biton and the difficult situation he was in, and I definitely felt the pain he did when thinking of Erik, but I never felt his connection with Cavan (even while cheering for them to be together). (Side note, I was humdrum when reading this book [and several others], so take that into account with this review.)
Strengths I liked the characters, especially Cavan. I wanted to wrap him up and take him home and nurse him back to health just like Biton was doing. He was beautiful, scarred, and broken, and it warmed my heart to see so many people care about him. I liked Biton and his earnest attempt to do what was best for Cavan. Four of the side characters (not the therapist) were understanding, considerate and I liked them and how they represented their part of their world. I didn't like the therapist, but I don't think I'm supposed to.
The writing was fairly good and kept me in the story. I'd be willing to give other stories by this author a chance, even if this one didn't win my heart completely.
Weaknesses Oddly enough, although the seemingly random and inconsistent change in perspective normally bothers me, in this case I didn't mind. I felt Antonio was used just enough to show things from alternative perspectives, although I didn't feel the switch was completely necessary: What did the reader gain by seeing those flashes into his life?
Spoilers to follow, although nothing earth shattering * * * Also, I would have liked to have seen more of Cavan's perspective, which probably added up to a page and a half total for the whole story. Our limited view inside his mind and the time jump left me unconvinced about Cavan's actual interest in Biton. (Not that I doubt that he is interested, but I didn't feel a connection. I didn't get excited about it. I said, "Aww, yay!" but was otherwise unmoved.)
I'm torn about whether to read the second story in the series. But if I come across it at a reasonable price, I'll definitely pick it up, as the premise interests me and I hope it explores the emotional/angsty conflict more.
This is a very strange story. I'm not exactly sure how I feel about the story as a whole, or even in part. The writing is pretty middle of the road, d...moreThis is a very strange story. I'm not exactly sure how I feel about the story as a whole, or even in part. The writing is pretty middle of the road, done in a simple and straightforward style that is fitting for the narrator. The content did nothing to move me emotionally and parts creeped me out a little, but logically I can appreciate what McGinley did in the story. This isn't a romance, it isn't a slave/master story and while sex is described (in detail), most people won't consider this a "hot" read as the sex happens between a human and an alien and mostly sounds painful. I think this story would be more disturbing if not for the ending, which provides an amount of comfort for the reader.
Oddly enough, if you don't go into this story expecting a romance, it's actually a very interesting (and slightly disturbing) study of the lead character and humanity. While I wouldn't recommend this to everyone, or even most people, if you aren't easily disgusted and read Borges and Vonnegut, then you may find this an interesting story.
If you like aliens with large dicks training their pet human to be a good pet, then you may enjoy this as well.
Overall An enjoyable piece of holiday story telling, although the holidays are not the focus of the story.
Strengths Realism. Aside from the...moreStars: 4.5/5
Overall An enjoyable piece of holiday story telling, although the holidays are not the focus of the story.
Strengths Realism. Aside from the weakness I mention below, I felt the story was very realistic, touching upon things like the crap economy. The climax and resolution also fitted into this, as this simple story didn't need to have aliens attack, just humans doing human things and causing conflict (another point which I enjoyed, but I won't ruin you on the details).
Writing. Another example of good writing. The characters are varied and well portrayed. The plot is simple and strong.
Weaknesses Bed to Love. While I understand the characters have history together, that history is limited and their transition of sleeping together to "I think I love you" seemed a bit quick, especially for the character types. While I understand the characters themselves were surprised by the immediacy of the emotion, it still made me go, "Really?" (less)
Overall Having heard nothing but good things about Truth in the Dark, I was excited--and hesitant--to read. Surely it couldn't live up to my expectatio...moreOverall Having heard nothing but good things about Truth in the Dark, I was excited--and hesitant--to read. Surely it couldn't live up to my expectations?
I was wrong. So wonderfully wrong. I was so moved by this book that I went on twitter and told everyone to read it, whether you enjoy reading two men having sex or not. You can skim those parts. This is a touching story of acceptance, love, and guilt. Of being ugly and being beautiful.
Read it, I don't think you'll be let down.
Strengths Writing was probably the strongest part of this novel, because if it weren't for Lane's style and grace, so many things would have fallen apart. It would have come across cheesy, emo, or bland. But her descriptions bring the island and the characters to life, so that even if it is written in first person (which is not my preference for reading), we are not trapped inside Knife's head or heart.
All the rest. I'm exaggerating (a little) but just a run down of what I loved: Imagery, plot, characters, side characters, humor, twists that weren't really twists, and names.
Weaknesses If there is one, it's the ending, but I can't even mark it as a weakness because it fit so very nicely. Yes, it dragged a little after the Big Drama, but it was very appropriate how the rest of the story unfolded, so it was worth reading.
PS. Some people may have more difficulty with the flowery, descriptive language. If that's not your cuppa tea, just be aware that you will face it going in. It's not too heavy with it, like JRR Tolkien, but it does weight considerably in some chapters.
Overall: A continuation of the Slave Breakers series, we are introduced to strong-willed, quick thinking Jesse. He joins the household temporarily, but...moreOverall: A continuation of the Slave Breakers series, we are introduced to strong-willed, quick thinking Jesse. He joins the household temporarily, but leaves a lasting impression. He's smart enough to challenge Holden and he watches everyone, trying to understand them with his extremely curious, and nosy, nature.
Overall: If you're like me, you see "Independently published" and your nose wrinkles. But you also can't deny a free read, so you click and start readi...moreOverall: If you're like me, you see "Independently published" and your nose wrinkles. But you also can't deny a free read, so you click and start reading. And you're amazed. I was amazed. The copy is clean, the story is superb, the writing is excellent and the emotional pull is strong. The overall story involves a Master-Slave relationship, but doesn't really do too much BDSM except for the "obey me" bit. The basic concept (slave falling for his master) isn't unique, but the way in which the author approaches it is. VERY enjoyable. (Warning: Sexual partners are not hard and fast in this story, but the characters aren't "slutty," they just have a different concept of loyalty.)
Overall: A cute, funny story about a guy whose grandparents visit him and his partner. Even though Frank doesn't want them to visit, his pa...moreStars: 2.5/5
Overall: A cute, funny story about a guy whose grandparents visit him and his partner. Even though Frank doesn't want them to visit, his partner tries to be excited, until they actually arrive and we see how overwhelming they are! A touching, amusing (and free) story. (less)
Overall I have some difficulty rating these books, because on the one hand the stories do exactly what they accomplish, but they do nothing to WOW me....moreOverall I have some difficulty rating these books, because on the one hand the stories do exactly what they accomplish, but they do nothing to WOW me. I don't think "wowing" is really what they are set out to do though, so I'm not sure I can hold it against them too much. Instead, this story is a warm blanket wrapped around you while you're sitting on the back porch on an Autumn day. It cuts off the chill, but it won't make you hot, hot, hot.
This, like the others in the series, is a sweet tale of understanding and love, of overcoming obstacles and finding where you belong.
Strengths Robbie and Joey as characters are great--considerate, kind, and sweet, plus they care for each other. They work well as individuals and as a pair. Joey has some self-esteem issues because of an accident and Robbie is blind, which leaves him dependent on everyone around him.
Moral of the Story. While some books can't get away with having a moral or theme, I think this series (and this one in particular) can get away with it, after all, it's practically in the title! It's well handled and doesn't come off too strong and just adds to the novel's sweetness.
Weaknesses Predictability. This isn't so much a mark of this book in particular, but of the series. I've figured it out. Boy meets boy. They fall in love. They are forced to split (or feel forced to split). They come back together and live happily ever after. This doesn't make the books unenjoyable, you just know what's coming. (Except, maybe Love Means ... Courage.)
Overall The second in the Love Means series, this novel takes place a good 20 years before any of the other events. Having been introduced to Geoff in...moreOverall The second in the Love Means series, this novel takes place a good 20 years before any of the other events. Having been introduced to Geoff in Love Means No Shame, we are transported back in time to when his father and Len met. I read this last, since obviously order didn't matter too much, but I think it'd be interesting to see how everything played out if read first (instead of second as intended). As a romance novel, we can be pretty certain that we'll get a happy ending, but when we know how things will be 20 years later, it takes out all the potential for a twist.
Strengths Even knowing how the story would have to eventually end, I was never bored while reading. What we're reading the Farm series for is the journey, not the destination. Watching the progression of the farm and their relationship is enjoyable, as are the characters. Ruby, Cliff's wife and Len's best friend from high school, plays a great role, little though it is. Normally women are either helpers or haters (both of which show up elsewhere in the story), but Ruby is just Ruby. Yes, she supports Len, but I found her role to be rather unique as the woman married to one half of what will end up a gay couple.
The writing felt stronger in this one than in did in some of the later of the series and the set up for the pairing felt well constructed and reasonable.
Weaknesses The sex descriptions. They didn't completely throw me out of the story, but they didn't submerge me in the scene either. It's possible that this is personal preference, because I'm not sure any of Grey's scenes have ever called to me. Part of this may be Grey's attempt to stay more "realistic" and keep the scenes sweet and sexy rather than hot and passionate. They work well within the story, but aren't a draw if you're going in for some PWP (though if you were going for PWP, you wouldn't be picking this up anyway!).