Tag Archives: published: 2012-09

Mourning Heaven by Amy Lane

Mourning Heaven by Amy LaneTitle: Mourning Heaven
Author: Amy Lane
Published: September 7, 2012
Pages: 200
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Author Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Peter’s childhood was really a mixed bag. After ten years of traveling from town to town with his mother as she struggled to provide for them, she left him with his aunt and cousin in Daisy, California. While Daisy is a small town with “small town values”, Peter took some solace in his cousin, Michael, who he knew would always take care of him. And then there was Michael’s friend, Bodi, who treated Peter like a brother of his own. Although Michael’s relationship with Bodi (which turned out to be more than friendship) left Peter feeling a bit jealous, he was happy that the two of them had each other. But when a tragedy struck that left Bodi running from Daisy and Michael broken, Peter’s world changed. And then it changed again when Michael enlisted and left Peter with his distant and homophobic aunt. But now Michael is gone, and it’s time for Peter to take charge of his life. He needs to deliver the news to Bodi, and maybe, somewhere he can find a way to move on and move past a town that nearly destroyed the lives to three young men, the future of two families, and the memory of a young girl…

Amy Lane knows how to write those books that just hit you right in the gut. The raw emotion that she can invoke with words is one of the reasons I find myself coming back to her stories again and again. There’s a reality that one just cannot shake in the worlds that she creates–and this is no exception. The characters here are very well-developed and consistent, the world they live in is well-designed, and the plot itself is both interesting and well-paced. I read this in one sitting as I found it difficult to put it down.

That said, I did find the arguments that Bodi and Peter have to be rather tiresome. It’s basically the same thing over and over again in different words. While I understand, based on their personalities and circumstances, that is going to happen to an extent, there did come a point when I realized “well, they’re going to have this same argument in about 8 more pages…” The arguments between Peter and his aunt are similar in that they rehash the same things, but there is a progression and escalation that I didn’t really see between Bodi and Peter. But it works for the story overall, and I found it less bothersome as I finished the story and looked back at it as a whole than I did in the moment.

Definitely worth checking out if you like strong stories that pull at your heartstrings and make you ache for everyone involved…

Saving Sean by Con Riley

15832099Title: Saving Sean (Seattle Stories, Book 2)
Author: Con Riley
Published: September 24, 2012
Pages: 280
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

When Peter Morse is asked by his friend Theo to track down Theo’s assistant’s brother, Sean, he is hesitant at first. He’s been on the road and just wants to get home and enjoy some downtime. But he ultimately finds himself agreeing, having no idea what’s in store for him when he finally tracks down Sean. While things get off to a rocky start, Peter is quickly smitten with this new man and finds himself going to great lengths to help him get his life back together.

The story here is an interesting one. The layers of issues that Sean has to work through in the aftermath of his father’s death are many and makes for a very fascinating set of circumstances. And it was great to see all of the major players from After Ben return in this installment.

One thing that really bothered me is the narration in relation to Peter. It’s stated at the beginning that he often says what he’s thinking out loud and doesn’t realize he’s doing it. This isn’t clear in the text – his thoughts are presented as thoughts and sometimes the other characters respond as though they were said out loud and sometimes they don’t. I found it very confusing and a bit distracting. But it’s still a great story overall.

Genius and the Jock by Daisy Harris

15989967Title: Genius and the Jock (Men of Holsum College, Book 7)
Author: Daisy Harris
Published: September 15, 2012
Pages: 131
Publisher: Siren-Bookstrand
Publisher Link: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

During freshman year, football jock Griff Parker did something completely unexpected–he had a sexual encounter with another guy. Although it was a momentary thing, he’s never been able to shake that experience in the locker room with Raj Mehir, even though he never really saw him again. Now that he’s working in the lab building and seeing Raj on a daily basis, it’s even more present in his mind (and elsewhere). But Raj wants absolutely nothing to do with him, still angry about what happened and not entirely willing to go down that road. Will proximity wear down his resolve?

I love the way in which Daisy Harris has seamlessly assembled this series. They can all be read as stand-alone books, but there is a wonderful added layer if you read them in order and start to recognize the various characters that make cameos–it definitely gives the sense of this all taking place at the same school. This one was frustrating, but mostly because of the characters, not the writing. But it was very interesting to see their development over the course of the book and to see where they ended up at the conclusion.

Dirty Secret by Rhys Ford

15853341Title: Dirty Secret (Cole McGinnis, Book 2)
Author: Rhys Ford
Published: September 28, 2012
Pages: 234
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:
Cole McGinnis finds himself thick into another case involving a gay Korean man–although this one simply disappeared many years ago. While it seems as innocent as a typical missing persons case that’s gone cold could be, he quickly learns there’s much more to it than he suspected including blackmail, other prominent Korean businessmen, and possible police misconduct. And after the missing man’s family appears to be targeted, Cole finds himself in danger, too.

Another well-crafted murder mystery from Rhys Ford. While I enjoyed Dirty Kiss which kicked off this series, I have to say I liked this installment even more. The case is more involved and engaging and I found it much easier to connect with the characters. Seeing Jae and Cole interact more helped to establish their relationship and the interactions between Cole and his family helped me as a reader to understand him and where he comes from on a new level. It’s a page-turner with a few surprise twists and definitely worth a read.

Measure of Strength by Caethes Faron

16047510Title: Measure of Strength (Measure of Devotion, Book 2)
Author: Caethes Faron
Published: September 25, 2012
Pages: 344
Publisher: Branwen Press
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:
When Jason and Kale parted ways – well, when Jason sold Kale at Kale’s insistence, to be more accurate – neither of them ever expected to see each other again. Kale expected Jason to move on and find happiness and Jason was so guilty over what he thought he did to Kale, he would never think about trying to ever find him again. But when Jason, who has been anything but happy, finds Kale working as a labor slave in a mill owned by his wife’s family’s company, he thinks he might have an opportunity to try to make things right. He certainly doesn’t expect the two of them could go back to where they were before, but he never intended for Kale to end up as a labor slave and he can at least set that right. But when the two of them are under the same roof again, will they really be able to deny the feelings they had for each other that never truly went away?

I absolutely adore these characters even if I found myself frustrated by them at times (both in the first book and in this one). Caethes Faron has created a world that, while very different from our own in many ways, is one that readers will certainly appreciate getting lost in again and again.

Pressure Head by J.L. Merrow

15705835

Title: Pressure Head (The Plumber’s Mate, Book 1)
Author: J.L. Merrow
Published: September 18, 2012
Pages: 279
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:
Tom Paretski isn’t just an ordinary plumber.  He has a special talent–one for finding things that people are trying to hid–that gives him unique insights into people and places.  He’s sometimes called on by the local police to help with their investigations, so it’s not entirely out of the ordinary when it’s asked to help with a case of a missing woman.  But what makes this case unique is the involvement of private investigator Phil Morrison, Tom’s childhood crush and a man partly responsible for an injury that left Tom with a messed up hip that still bothers him to this day.  But has Phil changed or is he still the same macho bully Tom remembers?  Can the two of them really work together on the case?  And what is it that Phil really wants from Tom?

As interesting as the description might be, I found this to be an enjoyable light mystery.  Obviously there is heavy content here between the disappearing people, murder, possible suicides, and much unresolved childhood angst, but I really enjoyed Tom as a character and the story is an easy and engaging read.  I definitely look forward to continuing with this series and seeing what’s in store for this interesting pair…