Monthly Archives: July 2014

Title: The Raven King
Author: Nora Sakavic
Publication Date: July 10, 2013

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
The second installment in this series, I found The Raven King to be just as gripping as the first. While the first book gave us some insight into the life and background of Neil Josten and his new teammates, this one takes us even deeper – and we learn the truth about the past of the rest of the Foxes (including a few secrets that some of them hoped would never be known). And after Neil embarrassed Riko on television, he knew Riko wouldn’t let it slide, but is he truly prepared for what Riko may do in response?

Honestly, this one was just as difficult to put down as the first book. There were more twists in this one than the first, and it really went in some unexpected directions that really surprised me, but kept me hanging on for more. I can’t wait for the third and final book in this series.

Content Warnings: [Violence, Sexual Assault, Murder, Torture references]

Title: The Price of Temptation
Author: M.J. Pearson
Publication Date: September 1, 2005

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
This is one that I was not at all expecting to like as much as I did. I think part of that is the historical fiction aspect (I’m finding that historical m/m romance – when well-written – has a way of pulling me in), but the story itself and the characters are definitely worth a read.

The slow build-up of the main relationship is one of those things that left me frustrated but also on the edge of my seat. The complexity of the characters and their personalities (including the supporting and side characters) really helps bring this world and story to life. The only reason this one didn’t pull 4 stars from me is because I felt like maybe it was just a bit long for the story being told – some parts were drawn out that could have been dealt with more swiftly. But it’s still a good story, regardless.

Content warning: [Sexual assault/torture references]

Title: Love Comes Home
Author: Andrew Grey
Publication Date: March 7, 2014

Rating: ★ ★ ★  
Review: 
When single father Gregory Hampton learns that his 10-year-old son, Davey, has a degenerative condition that will leave him blind, it’s a blow to his world. Not only does he know that the dreams that he had for Davey may not happen, he also knows that many of the things Davey wants might end up out of his reach. And when Greg meets Tom Spangler at a party thrown by mutual friends, he finds himself wondering if he will be able to pursue some of his own dreams, as well.

As Davey’s condition worsens and Greg and Tom try to get to know each other better, what are the chances that things might work out? And how much more complicated with things become when Greg’s ex-wife shows up to throw her own opinions on Davey’s care into the mix?

This is an incredibly sweet story about love of all kinds. Even though the story has an m/m romance theme, I think it truly transcends that motif to include the love of family and friends – and the notion that sometimes a family is made up of those who are there for you and support you, not necessarily just those who are related to you. Greg’s selfless love for his son is endearing, as is Tom’s support of both Greg and Davey. And all of the friends that surround them provide this wonderful sense of a community of support. I found this to be a story that pulls at the heart (and not always just for the moments between the central couple) but left me feeling great about the people in my own life who are always there to support others and truly care – and it inspires me to remember to show the people I care about that same type of support.

I started this review giving this book four stars, but I find now that I’m thinking about it more, it’s definitely a five star – one of the best books I’ve read so far this year…

(eGalley provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Title: The Desert Temple
Author: Vivan Caethe
Publication Date: March 2014

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
The Desert Temple is a quick dystopian science fiction/fantasy read with a tiny dash of m/m romance that hangs in the background. Vernon and Harold have set out on a quest to fulfill a promise Vernon made to eradicate the Ancient technology that destroyed a city. They know it could be dangerous, but are they truly prepared for all of the challenges that might lie before them.

Overall, I enjoyed this one. (I haven’t read the first book in the series; I think having done so might have helped me jump into this one a bit more quickly, but there were only a couple of things I had to wrap my head around, so I don’t think reading the first one is necessary. As with any series, though, I’d recommend reading in order.) Even though it’s short, I got a great sense of the world and the characters and their connection doesn’t seem forced or rushed in any way. I do wish it was longer – I guess that means I need to track down book one and keep my eyes open for any future books from this author.

(eGalley provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Title: Into Deep Waters
Author: Kaje Harper
Publication Date: May 8, 2012

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
From the moment Daniel first saw Jacob on the deck of the Gageway, he was drawn to him. There was something about the young man that caught his attention and when the two of them finally connected, it’s not surprising that the attraction is mutual. But in the U.S. Navy during World Ware II, being gay is misunderstood and certainly not tolerated. In a world that isn’t going to make it easy, can Daniel and Jacob build a relationship that will survive – not to mention surviving the enemy planes and the bombs and the guns?

Overall, I liked this one. Daniel and Jacob’s interactions are great, and I really feel like the reader can get a good sense of what life would have been like for a couple like them during the span of time portrayed in the story. (The only real detractor for me were a few occasional bathroom-related thoughts by Daniel that left me making a face – they just didn’t seem to be necessary in the story. Nothing overly inappropriate, though.)

Title: Insignificant Others
Author: Stephen McCauley
Publication Date: June 8, 2010

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
Richard Rossi, an HR professional at a software company in Boston, seems to be doing well in life. His job is stable – and he’s being considered for a promotion – and things are going well with him and his partner, Conrad. But when Richard discovers a text message on Conrad’s phone just prior to another of Conrad’s business trips to Ohio, he finds himself wondering if things are quite as ‘together’ as they appear. But does Conrad have what Richard refers to as an ‘Insignificant Other’? And, as Richard examines the choices he’s made and the truth of his own life, what does it mean to him if his suspicions are true.

McCauley’s first-person narrative is definitely an interesting read. There’s a definite reality to Richard that I found easy to relate to (even his distaste for President George W. Bush, which comes up more than once) and an interesting development in Richard’s character over the course of the book that seems natural and not forced at all. The writing is broken down into small sections (I wouldn’t say chapters because some are as short as a page or less and others are a few pages long) which make it easier to follow the shifts in Richard’s thoughts and feelings. This format did throw me just a bit at first as I was unclear on timelines, but after I was few pages in, I had little trouble following along.

It’s definitely an interesting commentary on doing what’s expected versus what we want and finding a way, no matter where you are in life, to be true to yourself. A recommended read.

Title: After Ben
Author: Con Riley
Publication Date: July 15, 2012

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
Cut to Theo Anderson, still working on finding his way after the death of his long-time partner, Ben, just a year ago. Try as he might, Theo hasn’t been able to find a way to move on or even to reconnect to the world. A glimmer of hope shines through when he meets Peter at the gym, but it may not be enough to help him find a way to cope. But when he forms an unexpected friendship with Morgan on an internet discussion forum, he wonders if maybe he has finally found exactly what he needs. But will Morgan live up to his expectations in person? What if they don’t connect the same way offline? Can Theo really move past Ben, the love of his life? And who is Morgan, really?

I did not expect to like this book as much as I did. When it started, I thought it was a bit slow and that it was going to be page after page of reliving Theo’s grief. (Don’t get me wrong, there is a fair share of that – but I think it’s necessary for the reader to truly understand the intensity of his connection, which is something we can’t get from Theo’s present, as Ben is no longer around.) But it turned out to be a story of love and loss, finding your way in the world when you don’t think you can, recognizing that things don’t always go as planned but they still go on, and that as long as we stay hung up on our preconceptions about what we deserve and what life should be – we can never expect more from ourselves. There’s some definite emotional moments in this one (and a few steamy moments, too), but it’s a touching tale and one I certainly recommend. I’m looking forward to the next book and learning more about this group of guys…

Title: Training Season
Author: Leta Blake
Publication Date: November 11, 2013

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
Matty Marcus was at the height of his figure skating career when he suffered an injury that took him off the ice and out of competition. Now, as he’s completing his recovery, it’s time to start thinking about how to get back into the game. Though he never expected that he’d be taking a house-sitting job on a Montana ranch to raise the funds to hire a new coach and start seriously training again. And he certainly didn’t expect to spend that time next to an incredibly handsome neighbor who somehow seems to know exactly what Matty needs. But as the two of them grow closer, Matty knows he will need to make a choice – even though he’s certain there’s no choice to make at all.

I really enjoyed this one. It’s an M/M romance with a well-developed and believable story (while still having its moments of heat along the way). Even though Matty seems a bit over-the-top at first, it’s to quickly connect with him and the other characters and be cheering and yelling at him as the story progresses. There’s so much about this story and its characters that is unexpected, too, that it really kept my interest and, in many ways, I really would like to know what happens next for everyone involved. (This is also one of those books that I would give a great deal to see as a film, if only more people were optioning and adapting LGBT-themed literature.)

Content Warning: A few brief BDSM scenes.

(eGalley provided by the author via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Publication Date: April 25, 2011

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
I’ve had this on my list of books to read for some time, but the release of the movie pushed it to the top of the pile. I’d heard enough about it to have a basic understanding of what to expect – and also enough to guess that I’d be likely to enjoy it (I do have a soft spot for female-driven dystopian stories).

And even though hype before I read something has a tendency for me to be skeptical and more critical, I didn’t really find much I didn’t like about this book. I think the only real issue I had was the way the plot suddenly shifts near the end of the book, but that was more necessitated by the the story itself, and isn’t something I’d actually give as a complaint about the book.

The characters are well-developed – especially Tris, since we’re getting everything from her perspective – but Four, Christina, Will, Eric, Peter, and all of the secondary characters have a personality with dimensions and we even get to see come character development beyond just the protagonist – always a plus. And I enjoyed the few minor references to it being set in a futuristic Chicago – I lived there for a year, so those few landmarks mentioned are all too familiar to me.

So definitely recommend this if you like dystopia and young adult.

Title: A Master’s Love
Author: Marty Rayne
Publication Date: April 1, 2007

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
Kyle Turner feels like something is missing from his life, so he reluctantly agrees to see a Dominant as his friend’s suggestion. Nate Jacobs is the specific Dominant to whom he’s assigned, a consummate professional who never allows himself to get too involved with his clients and always respects the boundaries that need to exist in order for his work to be effective. But there’s something different about Kyle and soon Nate is wondering if he can keep to his code.

The story is cute and enjoyable – there are a few explicit scenes – and there wasn’t anything I particularly disliked. The reason for 3 stars, though, is that – even though I recognize it’s a shorter story – I couldn’t help feeling like the level of romance from the time the book started to where it suddenly was at the end (especially considering the amount of time that had passed) was a bit unrealistic. I understand the need to get to some resolution, but I always find it just a bit difficult if the characters fall a bit too fast with no real explanation for it – it just ends up reading as a bit too convenient for me and lacks complexity. But otherwise, I’d recommend this for a quick, fun, happy read.