Monthly Archives: July 2016

A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood

A Single Man

A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood

Published by: Simon & Schuster in 1964 (original publication)
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

George is a British college professor struggling to cope with the death of his partner, Jim. Times being as they are, most people see Jim as George’s friend and roommate. And he’s not sure he can share the truth with everyone.

As we follow George through a day in his life, we see that he’s not the only one with questions about how he’ll get through. His friends and even his students are searching for answers they’re not sure they will ever find. And even if George might be tempted to help them with their burden, he knows that at the end of the day he needs to focus on himself.

I’d seen the movie before reading the book, which can sometimes be a challenging position for me. What I really enjoyed, though, is that it seems to tell a bit of a different story. In the book, we spend all of our time in George’s head. We get a much deeper understanding of his motivations and fears than I think comes across in the film. And it gives it all a different sort of meaning to a reader.

I’d recommend this for fans of introspective literature, character studies, and books that provide a glimpse of what it was like to be gay just a few short decades ago…

Billionaire with Benefits by Anne Tenino

Billionaire with Benefits

Billionaire with Benefits by Anne Tenino

Series: Romancelandia, Book 2
Published by: Riptide Publishing on October 18, 2014
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Tierney Terrebonne lives by the Terrebonne rules set down by his grandfather. There are things that Terrebonnes just don’t do. And being gay is on that list. So there’s no way he can be gay. Yes, he makes use of the restroom glory hole. And yes, he has a major crush on his best friend, Ian. But it’s just Ian, right? Because Tierney can’t be gay. And Ian’s not gay, so even if Tierney wanted to act on it, he couldn’t. Right?

So when Ian comes out, Tierney’s world comes crashing down. How can Ian be gay? And what does that mean for Tierney? He’s still not gay, right? But maybe he could have been with Ian this whole time. Except…Terrebonnes can’t be gay. But when Grandpa Terrebonne dies suddenly, Tierney wonders if maybe the Terrebonne rules don’t really apply anymore. But a lifetime of repressing one’s self can’t be undone overnight. Especially when years of damage have been done…

But Tierney wonders if it might all be worth it for Dalton. Dalton is Ian’s assistant and one of the only people who has shown Tierney kindness despite his status as a perpetual jackass. Tierney may not deserve someone like Dalton, that’s for sure. But Dalton likes to help people. There’s something about broken men who need him that draws him in. And he knows that there’s something underneath the shell that Tierney presents to the world.

But can they work through the baggage that they both bring to the relationship? Can they both get past their issues and find a way to be exactly what the other needs? It won’t be easy, that’s for sure.

Another angst-filled book from Anne Tenino. Don’t get me wrong–it’s an interesting read. But I always know there will be angst in the things she writes. And there were certainly moments when I did think we were getting really close to the “enough already” point. And when you consider this clocks in at 415 pages, it probably could be shored up and paced just a bit better.

But Dalton makes it worth reading. Even though I think he should have turned and ran at first glance, he’s still a great character. It’s difficult not to feel for him and let you draw him into the book.

So this gets a recommendation from me. But be prepared for a book that drips with more angst than a room full of emo teenagers…

Duke in Hiding by M.J. O’Shea

Duke in Hiding

Duke in Hiding by M.J. O’Shea

Published by: Dreamspinner Press on May 1, 2016
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Theo Brody is a landscaper and bartender who has lived in Maplehurst, New Hampshire, all his life. He doesn’t lead a life of extravagance, but he has what he needs. And his business is reaching the point where he might be able to quick tending bar altogether. But things get interesting when Heath Blackwood walks into his bar. The mysterious, salty Brit rubs Theo the wrong way. But once they get to know each other, Theo learns there’s a lot more beneath the farmer’s gruff exterior.

Heathcliff Blackwood never expected to find himself in some small American town with nothing to do. But death threats against a duke are always taken seriously. (That’s right…he’s not exactly a farmer…) Though he’s stuck in Maplehurst, he finds an opportunity to make the best of it with Theo. Theo represents exactly what Heath wants in a man, though he never really had the opportunity to find it at home. Shedding the noble persona has allowed him to find exactly what he wants and needs.

But Heath will need to go home eventually. And if he even stands a chance of keeping things going with Theo, he still needs to find a way to tell him he’s a duke. And Theo needs to figure out if he can manage such a long distance relationship. So they’ll just live in the here and now and figure out everything else later…until it all catches up with them unexpectedly.

Falling in love with a secret duke and having him love you back? Why not? And I understand that sounds completely cliche. But this story is tastefully written and presented–so it comes together in an engaging and interesting way. And it’s always something special when a writer can take something that seems like a trope or a cliche and make it appear fresh and new. Definitely an enjoyable read.

Unstable Stud by Ariel Tachna

Unstable Stud

Unstable Stud by Ariel Tachna

Series: Lexington Lovers, Book 1
Published by: Dreamspinner Press on April 15, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Luke Davis is a hard worker who takes his job at Bywater Farms seriously. A stable hand from a young age, he knows the ins and outs of the job. He also knows how to treat horses, and he can easily gain their respect. But even Luke can’t help his surprise when he’s appointed as the groom for King of Hearts, the farm’s most prized horse.

King’s a race horse–or at least he was. His racing days ended just a year and a half before when he threw his rider. The rider didn’t make it, and King hasn’t been amenable to a new rider since then. But Luke’s boss, Clay, has faith that Luke might be able to bring King out of his shell and get him back in the game.

Luke also can’t deny his attraction to his boss. He knows it’s not right, but it’s not like he can just turn it off. And when Clay gives Luke some obvious hints the attraction is mutual, Luke thinks he might give in. But there are some complicating factors. Clay is Luke’s boss. And the rider who fell off King? Clay’s lover. There’s not shortage of issues to go around for these two.

Can Luke let his guard down long enough to let Clay in? And is Clay over his past enough to start a new relationship?

These two guys. I’m not even sure where to start. It’s always interesting to see people act on their attraction for the first time. Even when they’re tentative, there is a real passion that comes through.

My only real reservation here is that I feel like Clay’s revelation was a bit sudden. Yes, he’s had time to watch Luke and for the attraction to build. But it all still seemed to escalate quickly.

Despite that, this is a wonderful story about finding love when you’ve given up and when you don’t think you could fall in love again. It’s about moving on but not forgetting your past. It’s about being there for the person you love even when it’s scary to do so. And it’s well worth a read.

Forgive and Forget by Charlie Cochet

Forgive and Forget

Forgive and Forget by Charlie Cochet

Published by: Dreamspinner Press on April 1, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Joe Applin feels good about his life. His cafe, Apple’n Pies, is doing well. He has a great team working for him, and his business is booming. Yes, he doesn’t have a man in his life, but that’s okay. Considering what happened last time and how hard he had to work to get his life back on track, he’s in no rush to find a relationship. Even if one of his staff thinks he’s really overdue…

When the team discovers an injured man in the garden next to the restaurant, things take a turn. Tom–the name he takes since he can’t remember who he is–is running from someone. He doesn’t know who he’s running from, but he knows he needs to find a safe place to hide. Joe offers to let Tom stay with him, despite his obvious attraction for the mysterious man. Joe figures the walls he’s put up will keep things on a friendly level.

But there is a real danger following Tom. And if they find out where he’s hiding, what will that mean for Joe? Or once Tom remembers who he is, will he go back to his old life and leave Joe behind?

Joe is one of those characters that just gets you right away. He’s endearing and funny. As a reader, I couldn’t help but cheering from him from beginning to end. And when Tom shows up, the two just create an even more endearing picture. These two are pretty great, to be honest.

I really enjoyed the pacing of this book. The story moves in the right directions at the right times, and it certainly kept me engaged right through to the end. It also makes it feel like a shorter read than it really is–but in the best way possible.

Trial by Fire by B.A. Tortuga

Trial by Fire

Trial by Fire by B.A. Tortuga

Published by: Dreamspinner Press on March 15, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Lachlan McCoughey has been searching for his sister since she ran away a few years ago. When his private investigator finds her, he’s not too surprised that she ran away to the States. But he’s shocked to learn that she’s just died in a plane crash with her husband. And she’s left a three-month-old daughter behind. Lachlan is on the next plan from his Australia cattle station to bring his niece home.

Holden Sheffield is a bit rattled. His twin brother and his brother’s wife–Holden’s best friend–died suddenly in a plane crash. They left their daughter, Chloe, to him. And he’s determined to always do right by his new ward. Even if he’s still trying to figure out how to balance sudden fatherhood with running his family’s ranch and rodeo business. But when Chloe’s other uncle, a man Holden knows nothing about, shows up with his sights on taking Chloe back to Australia, he knows one thing: no one is taking his daughter away from him. He’s determined to respect her parents’ wishes.

The two men start on nothing resembling friendly footing. But as they get to know each other better, they learn that first impressions aren’t everything. And when they find themselves in the middle of a life-or-death situation, they both begin to wonder if what they have could become more than friendship.

Stubborn cowboys from different countries, cultures, and backgrounds. Family loyalties. And a baby girl with no shortage of people willing to be there for her. Certainly an interesting premise to open up a novel.

This is the first book I’ve read from B.A. Tortuga, and I expect I’ll probably be reading more. The complexity of the characters and development of the story kept me glued to the pages. While billed as a romance–and there’s definitely that here–it also has elements of a crime/caper novel built into it. And it does so without ever losing its overall character.