Cole Riann's Reviews > Fraternal Devotion

Fraternal Devotion by K. Piet
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's review
Aug 23, 2012

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bookshelves: armchair-reviews, m-m, m-m-anthology-collections, m-m-short, m-m-twincest-brocest, m-m-contemporary, m-m-pnr
Read from August 22 to 23, 2012

Review posted at The Armchair Reader.

Also, SL Armstrong and K Piet visit here and discuss the incest censorship issue and their thoughts on the anthology!

3.5 stars - Overall

I've been looking forward to this anthology for a while now, since I'm a fan of Brothercest and Twincest. These stories definitely live up to the kink, most a contemporary and realistic look at love between brothers. Individually, the stories ranged from good to better, and while none of them completely captivated me, the anthology as a whole is definitely a success. With the different variety, there's enough here to represent both those readers looking for the kink of brother love and the realistic look at the consequences. None of them directly deal with the family, which surprised me, but then most of them also had to deal with the inherent internal struggle of guilt and shame against social norms and the possibility of forever living a fringe lifestyle.

War and Peace and Brotherhood by DK Jernigan (3.75 stars)
Heat: 3 - Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 - Average Story to Sex Ratio
Keywords/Tags: Paranormal, HEA, Brothercest, Genetic Mutation, Shifters, Superpowers, Enemies to Lovers

Keith is a part of the Corps, a network of vigilantes whose mission is to protect humanity from the Transformed, those who have changed due to a sexually transmitted genetic modification resulting in different powers and changes -- shifters, levitation, and other transmutations. But Keith is growing nervous. He became a leader in the Corps after the brother he fell in love with, Riley, disappeared 3 years ago. But the Corps has fundamental problems of it's own, stemming from a hatred of all the Transformed and therefore a mass paranoia within the ranks that anyone different is a danger. Now, as the two brothers are set to reunite on opposite sides of the conflict, Keith is unsure of who is in the right anymore.

This story is rather imaginative in combining several different themes and genres -- superheroes, the paranormal, and the science fiction elements of enhanced evolution. The setting is fairly dark, with much of the story told by Keith, who is having a crisis of conscience about his role in the conflict and whether his actions might have actually harmed innocents. The brothercest romance is given much of the story as the two come together fairly soon in the short story and proceed to work out their differences. It all happens a little quickly for my taste, however. And while I didn't feel as if anything important to the plot was missing, it did feel rather rushed for such a complex world. The ending conflict moved especially fast. That left me with the feeling of wanting more, both because I did like the story and also because of the imagination of the story combined with the feeling of not getting as much as I could have, made me feel as if the second half of the story was unfinished. I would have especially liked to see Keith and Riley with more personal time together to get to know one another as new, grown adults with now very different lives from their youth together, and to learn more about Riley's side of the conflict and the Underground Railroad organization that the Transformed use.

Analgesia by Alisha Steele (4 stars)
Heat: 5 - Off the Charts
Sex Frequency: 4 - Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Contemporary, Brothercest, Musician

Brandon has been in love with his older brother for years. Now he's almost 20 and is coming home after two years in the UK touring with his band. He's still the infuriating older brother that seems to rub his feelings in his face with constant flirting that goes over the line -- way over the line. And his nose is still crooked from where Ethan punched him before he ran away. Does Ethan have feelings for him as well? Is that why he ran away, or was it to get away from his younger brother's misguided love until Brandon could get over him?

This story is the quintessential brothercest story because it puts the relationship, and a lot of the complications that come with it, front and center. There is a lot of history between them, and now that they're thrown back into a house together while they try to fix it up for sale because of their parent's divorce, it all seems to come back to the forefront of their lives. Brandon has never really gotten over his brother, he's never taken another lover or tried to get over his brother. Ethan has done the opposite. He ran away and slept through as many men and women that he could.

This story is very heavy on sex, but the writing is simply fantastic and times. It showcases the taboo aspect because even while intimate it is still very obvious that they are brothers. They fight and argue constantly, with a little bit of brother fighting and a little bit that seems like two school yard kids with crushes on each other. They're affections are almost a competition, first to show each other that they don't care about each other while taunting the other (with some very public sex displays with other people), and later to show that they do care for each other.

It may be that there simply wasn't time and really confronting the issue of incest head on would have opened a whole extra part to the story, but there is never really a confrontation where they have to "come out" as lovers. It still leaves this story with enough angst of it's own because of their own impossible feelings. I was actually hoping that that wouldn't happen, simply because I didn't want the story to become that much more complicated (I shy away from too much angst!), but I can't call it entirely realistic without them even thinking about their future and that issue not being confronted.

This story is a bit longer and is quite central to Brandon and Ethan with only a little interference from the outside world. I never could quite get a feel for the mother, who at times seemed to be a very loving mother and at times rather partial to Ethan, and at other times quite aloof. But because she is a very little part of the story, that didn't bother me so much as made me curious. This story is still quite well written, even with my few critiques, and this is an author that I'll be watching out for in the future.

Depression, Love, and Swimming Pools by Leigh Wilder (3 stars)
Heat: 3 - Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 - Average Story to Sex Ratio
Keywords/Tags: Contemporary, Brothercest, Mental Health Issues, Suicide

It is Spring Break and Cale is back home for a week from his Master's Program 400 miles away. Returning home is a reminder of everything he fled when he was old enough to go away to college, including his older brother Derrick, who does little but lie around the pool. The family legacy of depression and mental health issues has hit Derrick hard lately -- well, harder than usual -- and his day to day life is only a little more active than catatonic. But is Cale any better? Or are they really just the same, always running from their problems, just in different ways? Cale is forced to confront their issues when Derrick finally starts talking.

This is another story that confronts the issues of incest in a contemporary setting, though here the relationship between Cale and Derrick is shown as a remedy to already present and long insidious issues. Their father was a soap opera writer, and rather famous in his field. Though he dealt with the same issues of severe depression and finally succumbed to suicide by drowning in their family pool after his screenplay manuscript went nowhere. The mental health issues that they both have (though Derrick's are most obvious) stem from the fear they have of their father's downward spiral and the distance in the family. They're rather fond of avoiding issues, including their mother, and the family almost seems like strangers.

Some of this story comes across as melodrama, though it has it's place as a character flaw and shows through the writing. Still, some of the story I found rather poignant. There are several mentions from both brothers about their relationship as they grew up, and they're shown to be two sides of the same coin that have only recently fallen out of their well played characters when Cale ran away to college and left Derrick to stumble about on his own. And Derrick certainly can't take care of himself, he just isn't equipped and has never learned how. Plus, the depression is severe enough to take away all hope that he could ever be better on his own. But their memories of acting out their father's soap opera screenplays nightly, highlight the comparison to the roles that they play and have played throughout childhood. And while I imagine that some readers might find it hard to understand the characters and want to scream at them to get over themselves, I can understand that they're simply playing the roles created for them from their early days -- they seem like they've ever only had each other to rely on. The setting in the story almost seems like a ghost house -- with most of the action taking place in the pool house where they've made a home away from the impersonality of the empty and depressing family home.

I can't say that I have much hope for the brothers in this story, but I can certainly understand them and what the author was creating here. All of the loneliness and melodrama around them only serves to show that they both need each other to survive, even if Cale is trying to make living on his own look easy -- and failing.

On Clouds of Obsession by Azalea Moone (2.5 stars)
Heat: 4 - Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 4 - Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Contemporary, Brothercest, GFY/OFY

Jeremy has been in love with his older brother since the day in high school he happened to catch the sight of his naked brother in the locker room. Before then, and after, Matt made sure he was never naked in front of his brother, especially after their father caught Jeremy trying to spy on Matt changing through the keyhole in his bedroom door. Now, Matt, the brother who used to beat Jeremy up as a child, is getting married to a woman he just met. Not only is Jeremy angry, but well, he's jealous. He tries to talk Matt out of the wedding, but then something fateful happens on the night of Matt's bachelor party.

I'm still not really sure what it is about this story that doesn't work for me. A large part of it is in the characterizations of both Jeremy and Matt. I have a hard time seeing any kind of lasting feelings in Jeremy's affection for the brother who treats him pretty cruelly. And Matt seems to change pretty quickly from that mean older brother into a caring one. For some reason, I couldn't see the change. Some of their behavior is in their own perception of the other and that certainly accounts for some of Matt's behavior because it is seen through Jeremy's eyes. But there was still a disconnect for me that I can't quite define. It isn't a terribly written story, I don't want to lead to that impression. I just couldn't get on board their relationship when I didn't feel the connection.

On the Edge by SL Armstrong & K Piet (4.25 stars)
Heat: 4 - Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 4 - Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Contemporary, Twincest, Drug Use, Musician

Andrew and Ben are twins and have been in love and having sex for 11 years, since they were 14 and starting sneaking around. But Ben has dealt with the fact that he's in love with his twin and Andrew hasn't. After years of falling into temptation then pushing his brother away, Andrew resorts to a coping mechanism of heavy drug use to lull himself into distraction from the guilt and shame he feels. Andrew was always the fuckup brother of the pair, but now he's really showing it. Ben is the one that has a job and pays for their rent and food, even Andrew's drugs, while Andrew plays songwriter during the daytime, but lately creating very little. But Ben doesn't know if he can take any more of Andrew pushing him away in the sober light of day, and Andrew doesn't know if he can get over his issues, even though he knows he can't live without his brother.

This story is another that takes a more realistic look at the issues between brothers, specifically twins, who love each other. It was a more difficult read for me than the other stories, because they're both caught in a cycle of destructive love that showcases just how close they are to each other and how impossible it is to sever that bond, now even more complicated because of their romantic relationship. The POV is Andrew's, and I think that we need it to be otherwise Ben's heartbreak would be too difficult and Andrew would come off in an even more terrible light without his inner turmoil laid bare for us to see that he really does care. Though it delves into the angst, it wasn't too much for me. I thought that this part of the story, most of it, was written incredibly well.

Because of the realistic light their relationship is shown in, I had a hard time accepting a happy ending. While I would personally give this a HFN ending, I think it is leaning towards an HEA. The authors did exactly what they needed to do to give them every chance at happiness, including the difficult catalyst to get Andrew's ass in gear, but I still have a hard time picturing their future and that left the happy promises at the end to fall just a little flat for me. At least Andrew and Ben don't deny that they won't have difficult times ahead.
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message 1: by Em (new) - rated it 3 stars

Em I've read a few books with brothercest storylines recently, and found the link you added here really interesting. It helped me clear up a couple of things in my mind! Thanks Riann:)

Cole Riann Good! I'm glad you liked it, I really enjoyed having those two on the blog :)

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