Monthly Archives: October 2015

An Unusual Courtship by Katherine Marlowe

 

An Unusual Courtship

Book Info

Title: An Unusual Courtship
Author: Katherine Marlowe
Published: November 4, 2015
Pages: 150
Publisher: Honeywine Publishing
Author’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★★☆

Review

Percival Valentine enjoys his role in overseeing the provincial town of Linston, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t look forward to the promise of something new brought by his new neighbors from London. They are all three rather intriguing, and while Percival makes an attempt at courting the lady of the trio, Miss Bolton, he finds he must come to terms with the distraction that is Mr. Everett. Percival isn’t sure he should give in to his feelings–after all, he barely knows Mr. Everett, does he not?–but the mystery that is the man just might prove too alluring. But what is lingering below the surface? And what of the rumors of Mr. Everett’s bad behavior before he left London? Percival will certainly find out.

What a fun and lighthearted read! I absolutely loved the style in which this was written. I found myself easily imagining seeing this on the stage, just like one of those familiar British comedies, dare I say something right along the lines of Wilde. The language, the social norms of the time, and the people themselves are so well-rounded and clearly well-researched and constructed, that it’s difficult not to get lost in the story right along with them.

One of the things I enjoy about well-written historical m/m stories is that I feel like they present us with a forgotten history. We know that LGBT people existed in history, but their stories were often hidden in the attic and those that were more open weren’t recorded (save a few very tragic stories that we are left with). While we won’t likely know for certain all of the stories that were lost, we can try to imagine what would have and could have been within the lines of what we do know about the people of the times and how they lived. And I think this is definitely one of those stories…

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.]

Where the Grass is Greener by Debbie McGowan & Raine O’Tierney

Where the Grass is Greener

Book Info

Title: Where the Grass is Greener (Seeds of Tyrone, Book 2)
Author: Debbie McGowan & Raine O’Tierney
Published: September 28, 2015
Pages: 310
Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★★☆

Review

Seamus Williams has returned to Ireland after spending several years in the States, leaving his brother, Patrick, behind. But Patrick has Aiden, and he’s an adult, so he can fend for himself. Reconnecting with his homeland is just what Seamus needs–well, that and to get away from the one thing (read: person) who scares him more than anything else. And Seamus isn’t afraid of much. Not even an ocean can keep him safe, though, as he gets a phone call from a U.S. number he doesn’t recognize and answers it. It seems not saying goodbye to Chancey “Chance” Clearwater didn’t mean he wouldn’t find a way to track Seamus down, forcing Seamus to confront the feelings he thought he left back in Kansas. But it turns out Seamus might be eliciting some of the same feelings and fears in Chance, leaving both men to sort out what they want and how to get it despite living thousands of miles apart.

I’m sometimes a bit skeptical of stories where the relationship started and has already faced complications before the book starts. Too often authors use that as a device without having to actually deal with the issues that led to those complications in the first place. Or readers are left without understanding what brought the couple together in the first place, making it difficult to understand why they remain together and work past the problem. But neither of those cases are true here. Even though the relationship started and much happened before the first page of text, that doesn’t mean we miss out at all on knowing Seamus and Chance both individually and together. And by no means are the complications over before the book starts, either. There is a slow but steady plot progression that meanders and builds toward a conclusion that seems real and right. In short, this is a heartwarming and enjoyable story, even if there are moments where one might want to reach through the page and give both men a hearty shake.

Definitely recommended for fans of m/m romance. Although this is the second book in a series, it’s not necessary to read the first book before reading this one. I haven’t read the first book and I had no problems following or understanding this one.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the authors in exchange for an honest review.]

Seeking the Storyteller by Jessica Walsh & Briana Lawrence

Seeking the Storyteller

The Details

Title: Seeking the Storyteller (Hunters, Book 1)
Author: Jessica Walsh & Briana Lawrence
Published: March 16, 2015
Pages: 321
Publisher: Jessica Walsh & Briana Lawrence
Authors’ Website: link
Rating: ★★★★☆

The Review

Alix Andre DeBenit and Randall Fagan are hunters. Yes, hunters–of the demon hunter variety. They track down and rid the world of those forces that don’t belong here, those sinister forces that threaten all of us. But for Alix, the motivation to be a hunter is quite personal. And when a captured demon tells him of a being that might be able to give him exactly what he wants and undo all of his pain, that motivation becomes a singular focus. But Alix and Fagan are called on to help a friend–Fagan’s former hunting partner–and quickly find out there might be more to demons (and the world they come from) than either of them ever could have imagined.

This was a definite page-turner for me–well, in so far as my Kindle has pages. It’s a great little urban fantasy story that does a great job of presenting two worlds–both our world and the world of the demons. The characters are dynamic, including–and sometimes especially–the secondary characters, who really add quite a bit to the story. There’s a hint of realism (because, let’s face it, there is a part of fantasy and science fiction that still needs to seem authentic), and a great balance between the fantastical and the mundane. The story isn’t overly complicated, and that’s a good thing with the number of characters and entities that come popping in and out between the pages.

Definitely worth a read for those interested in fantasy, paranormal stories, and especially urban fantasy.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the authors in exchange for an honest review.]

My Only Sunshine by Rowan McAllister

The Details

My Only Sunshine

 

Title: My Only Sunshine
Author: Rowan McAllister
Published: October 4, 2013
Pages: 226
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★★☆

The Review

Tanner Wallis is in dire straits. Having run away from the hospital after he and his boyfriend were attacked on the street, he has nowhere to turn. After being robbed and dumped by his latest ride, things only get worse when he stumbles onto a brutal attack on a cow and then is discovered at the scene of the crime by the owner of the ranch. But Tanner does his best to convince him–Mason Seidel–that he was only a witness. Seeing Tanner’s condition, Mason offers to let him stay on the ranch for a few days until he’s well enough to continue on his way.

The last thing Mason needs is trouble on the ranch. He’s recently returned to help run things after his father–who kicked him out of the house a decade earlier for being gay–suffered a debilitating stroke. Things are still strained between Mason and his father, but he does his best considering everything that’s happened. And considering his father’s beliefs, Mason knows he should let Tanner heal up and be on his way. But something about the younger man attracts him and that something proves extremely difficult to deny…

With this being such complicated and challenging story, Rowan McAllister’s choice of title–<i>My Only Sunshine</i>–seems incredibly appropriate to me. In so many ways, both Tanner and Mason are living lives that are shadowed by clouds and storms, neither every really knowing when things will let up. But when they find each other, it seems like there might be a ray of light breaking through. The question of whether it will be enough to make the clouds go away is one that lingers there for them both for some time, neither really knowing if they could or should be the redemption and comfort that they both so desperately need. And it’s certainly a well-written story, as well.

[Content warnings: descriptions of violence/hate crime, character with PTSD, violence against animals]

Reasons to Love a Nerd Like Me by Becky Jerams

Reasons to Love a Nerd Like MeThe Details

Title: Reasons to Love a Nerd Like Me
Author: Becky Jerams
Published: October 12, 2015
Pages: 508
Publisher: Becky Jerams
Authorr’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★★☆

The Review

Scotty Williams is far from the most popular guy in the sixth form at Havensdale College. He’s a nerd, a member of the Dungeon Adventure Club, and he’s openly gay. This makes him a prime target for Taylor Raven, the college’s star tennis player and obvious homophobe, whose bullying to Scotty is torturous to say the least. Scotty bears it because he knows the power that Taylor and his family hold in the school…his threats to ruin Scotty’s life and the lives of those around him seem all too real. Though it’s difficult, he think he can make it to the end of college years intact. But when Scotty crosses paths with Vincent Hunter–the biggest badass in the school–things change in ways he never expected, but that doesn’t necessarily mean everything will get easier.

So I’ll start off by saying this is a long one. That’s a higher page count than I normally expect for something in the genre. But don’t let that scare you–it’s definitely worth it. There are a number of layers to this story that reveal and play out on their own time, and I never found myself feeling like this drags at any point. The characters are very interesting, and the secondary characters–I always find they can make or break a story as much as the protagonist–provide for some great entertainment as well as add depth to the overall story. If you’re looking for a complex story that doesn’t skip to a simple resolution, this is it. And refreshingly so at that…

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review…]

An Extra Treat

When searching for some additional information for this book online, I came across a lyric video for a recording of a song the author wrote. This song actually is referenced and appears in the book (so spoiler alert if you plan to listen to it). Listening to it while writing my review was a fun added touch. I share it here in case you want to listen to it during the scene it shows up in the book because I think that sounds like an awesome idea… 😉

Banished Sons of Poseidon by Andrew J. Peters

Banished Sons of PoseidonTitle: Banished Sons of Poseidon
Author: Andrew J. Peters
Published: October 19, 2015
Pages: 240
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★★☆

Dam was part of one of the most powerful houses of Atlantis before a flood caused everyone to take refuge underground. But it’s not like his lineage mattered much before–he had been turned away by his kin and knew little of the benefits of his lineage. But the unfortunate events that have befallen his home have given him a second chance among a new people. One of those people is Hanhau, a warrior who has taken a bit of a shine to Dam. Dam’s people won’t be content to stay underground forever, however, and he knows their leader–his cousin, Aerander–will need to make a move eventually. But when a tragedy befalls their temporary home, leaving Aerander unable to lead, Dam sees this as an opportunity to prove his worth and redeem himself.

There’s such a rich and interesting world here. I found myself so easily pulled in and immersed in the events of this book that it was difficult to put it down. The action and adventure that is here is very engaging and well-paced. And the history and backstory is delivered right along with the story in a way that makes it almost seamless. And several of the secondary characters add quite a bit to the story, as well.

Banished Sons of Poseidon is a sequel to The Seventh Pleiade, but it’s not necessary to read the first book to enjoy this one (I didn’t even know it was a sequel until after I was finished reading). I do intend to go back and read the first one, though, as I’m curious to read even more about the history of Dam, Aerander, and their people.

Definitely a well-written young adult fantasy–which isn’t always easy to find–with a nice sprinkling of gay romance thrown in.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Blog Tour: Duce by Kai Tyler

Title: Duce
Series: Worlds’ End #2
Author: Kai Tyler
Genre: MM Romance, Mafia, Suspense, Dystopian
Published: October 19, 2015
One mafia boss.
One rival’s son.
One deadly setup.
Parties and orgies… those are the only things Carlos Carmichael wants to do. It’s the only way he knows to deal with his life as the son of a notorious cartel boss. He’ll get whatever he wants by any means necessary.

Until he tangles with a man who plays by totally different rules.

Dante Orsino has been raised in the old ways of honor, loyalty and respect of the business. His role as mafia underboss is more than just a job. It also makes him an heir to one of the biggest families in the Southern Territories.

When Carlos meets Dante and plays a silly game, their weekend tryst sparks a deadly cartel war.

For Dante there’s no other life except—the life. And he wants Carlos in his. But in the New World, a gay man is a dead man. Can he find a way to keep everything he loves and stay alive?

In a new world gone mad, even the good guys are bad. Welcome to the World’s End series.

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Review:

Many people think organized crime is a thing of the past. But what might it look like in the future? For Dante Orsino, a mafia underboss, it doesn’t look all that different than one might expect–there are traditions and expectations, and they don’t leave much space for a gay man. And when he finds himself entangled with Carlos Carmichael, the son of the head of a rival family, he learns just how deep those traditions run…

A very interesting and intriguing read. In a world where I often feel like I’m reading some of the same stories over and over again in m/m romance, it was nice to see what I think is a new take and voice in the genre. Definitely an enjoyable read.

The focus here, to me, was on the characters and the relationships. The dystopian elements aren’t very strong, but that’s okay because they’re not incredibly relevant to the overall plot. I feel like the focus here was in the right place, for sure–just wanted to mention that caveat in case someone was picking this up looking for a story a bit heavier on the dystopian elements.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.]
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Vienna in Violet by David W. Frank

Vienna in VioletTitle: Vienna in Violet
Author: David W. Frank
Published: October 20, 2015
Pages: 220
Publisher: Blank Slate Press
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★★☆

Franz Schubert is convinced by his friend, Michael Vogl, to compose a commissioned work setting a poem to music. While Schubert isn’t normally one to take on such a task–especially with the finishing touches on his opera needing his attention–Vogl is able to prevail. The song will be unveiled at an event hosted by Michael’s dear friend, the Countess Eugénie von Neulinger. Schubert’s patron seems to receive the song very well, judging by her initial reaction, though Vogl soon learns there may be more to her reaction. And when dawn finds the countess murdered in her sleep, it may well be that there is far more to this simple song than either of the performers could have ever expected.

This is a work of fiction, but it read to me like it could be an account of something that actually happened. I must confess that I am a Schubert fan–he wrote so many great songs for tenors to sing!–and that’s what initially drew me to this book. I always find myself enjoying speculation of what life may have been like for composers of the time (yes, I know we have some historical records, but it’s those day-to-day glimpses I enjoy), and what sort of intriguing stories could potentially have inspired some of the works that they left behind. I’m also a fan of a good murder mystery, so there were many appealing facets of this book.

And this is definitely a well-written work. The pacing is great, the dialogue seems authentic, and the reveal is great–I hadn’t really pinned down the culprit by the end of the book (something I always think is the mark of a good mystery). Historical fiction can be tough when you include people who actually lived during the time, but I think the author treats those characters with great sensitivity while rounding them out with a dynamic cast of characters.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Secret Funding by S.M. May

Secret Funding by S.M. MayTitle: Secret Funding (Secret Agreements, Book 1)
Author: S.M. May
Published: October 15, 2015 (Originally published April 2, 2015 in Italian)
Pages: 155
Publisher: S.M. May
Author’s Page (Goodreads): link
Rating:★★★☆☆

Noah Kress is an investment broker who is not afraid to make bold choices in his dealings. And he’s not afraid to do the same in his private life, moonlighting as Master Noah at a local BDSM club. When one of his investments ends up on shaky ground, he is approached with an offer he finds very difficult to refuse. But accepting it means he will have to confront the few things he is actually afraid of–and it may mean that nothing will ever be the same again…

I found this to be an interesting concept. I don’t read a great deal of BDSM, but when I do, the doms and masters are always presented as being so tough and hardened. Even when they’re not, the need for an outward appearance is so strong they fight so hard to show any weakness and it gets in the way of an authentic story. Here, we get something different. Noah knows and accepts his limitations, despite those pressures that demand perfection and strength at all times.

There were some scenes that struck me as a bit awkward and/or unnecessary, but the overall story arc kept me reading. The changes that the main characters experience make for an engaging book and it pulls them to the foreground. This was quick read, it was paced well, and it flowed quite nicely. I think I might be curious enough to find out what happens in the next book…

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.]

 

Y Brenin by C.A. Hawksmoor

Title: Y Brenin
Author: C.A. Hawksmoor
Published: February 19, 2015
Pages: 18
Publisher: Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★★★★☆

The knight raised his eyes, tracing line from the quiet of the water to the mountain looming in the cloud. His breath tangled in his throat as an indistinct figure all but crawled over the ridge behind him. Until he saw the colour of the hair and the blackness of the eyes, the knight was certain that it was not the Red King that walked towards him out of the mist but his lord.

Sibling rivalries can be intense, extreme, and even deadly. Sent to kill the Red King and take the spoils of his lands back to the North, Mercher intends to follow his orders to the letter. But after meeting the brother of his master, he veers slightly off course, instead opting to bring the man in for his lord to decide his fate. Traveling makes for conversation and from conversation comes a connection–and from there, Mercher finds that fate may be taking him in a different direction entirely…

This story tells the tale of a journey. And not only does it do so in the literal sense as Mercher and the Red King travel to the North, but it also reflects a journey of both men as they learn more about each other and themselves. The character development is very strong here, and the dynamics that comes across in a short story like this are definitely worth noting.