Tag Archives: published: 2014-06

Nothing But Smoke by Daisy Harris

Nothing But Smoke

Nothing But Smoke by Daisy Harris

Series: Fire and Rain, Book 3
Published by: Samhain Publishing on June 10, 2014
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Michael Larson has decided to steer clear of closeted men. He spent enough time in a relationship with one, and he’s not doing that again. When he spots a hot guy in a leather jacket while he’s on a run in Volunteer Park, Michael cruises him and gets him to follow. Michael senses the man’s unease–a clue that maybe he’s not out–but it’s just a random hookup, so what does it matter?

Nicky O’Brian isn’t gay. Right? He can’t be. He’s a firefighter from an Irish Catholic family who is focused on taking care of his terminally ill mother. But the videos he watches at night and his occasional forays into the park to cruise for guys say otherwise. And when he hooks up with an incredibly hot strawberry-blond guy who keeps showing up again and again, he can’t help wondering if maybe he wants more than just the occasional romp in the woods.

As Michael and Nicky spend more time together, both will need to confront their issues. Can Michael be with a guy who isn’t open about who he is? And can Nicky get past his hangups and accept himself?

I find myself continuing to enjoy this firefighter series set in Seattle by Daisy Harris. And one of the things I always love about her novels set in the city is that it almost becomes a character in the story itself. The descriptions of the places, the people, the streets–they’re all very real and authentic. And it helps the story come to life so much more easily in my head.

The story of these two is a bit different than the previous two books. While the dynamic puts them at odds, it didn’t have quite the same intensity that I was used to seeing. Part of this may because there are a few skips in time where we miss some of the relationship development that struck me as an odd choice. That said, it’s still fun and interesting to watch their journey from where they start to where they finish.

Queer Dirty Laundry by Jason Lloyd

22469377Title: Queer Dirty Laundry
Author: Jason Lloyd
Published: June 12, 2014
Pages: 148
Publisher: Ginge Publishing
Author Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

Jason and Kevin are on a road trip to visit Kevin’s sister and it leads to a bit of a storytelling session as they recount events from their past.  Some are funny, some are serious, and some involve traumatic and defining events. The stories told are compelling and are how the reader gets to know the characters over the course of the book.

Generally, I enjoyed this.  The concept was interesting and the parallels of the journey in the car and the journeys of their lives seemed to work well for me.  That said, it would have been nice to get more depth on the characters and who they are now–how did these events shape them?  There were also times when it didn’t seem like they threaded together as well as they could have.  But it was still enjoyable and I’d recommend it as a quick and interesting read.

Content warning: Discussions of sexual assault.

I Spy Pecan Pie by Anna Birmingham

22568594Title: I Spy Pecan Pie
Author: Amy Birmingham
Published: June 23, 2014
Pages: 42
Publisher: Goodreads M/M Romance Group
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:

Duke is the ranch cook and he’s intrigued by the new guy, Justin. He’s not sure what to make of him, but he suspects there’s something under the surface. And when he finds it, it turns out there’s even more there than he imagined.

I don’t have much more in the way of a spoiler-free synopsis. This is short, but it’s a well-written story and worth the read. Cowboys, pie, and sexy times. What more does a person need? The characters are developed and there is a richness to this world that just seems to flow right off the page. Can’t really go wrong with this one.

Each to Each by Seanan McGuire

Title: Each to Each
Author: Seanan McGuire
Published: June 2014
Pages: ~17
Publisher: Lightspeed Magazine (part of Women Destroy Science Fiction! issue)
Direct Link: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

Seanan McGuire is a master of world-building as demonstrated in this short but incredibly engaging story.  Set in a future where the navy is made up entirely of genetically modified women made to be more like mermaids, no part of it seems out of place or farfetched, and the reader can very easily place oneself into this world.  The character of the narrator has a strong, clear, and unique voice and everything just flows well.  I hesitate to delve too much more into the details at the risk of spoiling too much (always a much higher risk when dealing with shorter fiction).  I definitely recommend this – the only drawback I found is that I got so immersed in this world and this story, I want more…

Somebody Nice! by Raine O’Tierney

22396453Title: Somebody Nice!
Author: Raine O’Tierney
Published: June 3, 2014
Pages: 70
Publisher: Goodreads M/M Romance Group
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Review:

I don’t know that I can provide a better summary than the blurb/prompt here:

NewYorkDating.com Profile
Name: Danny
Age: 35
Location: New York City
Sexuality: Male seeking Male
Looking for: a nice person! Who loves dogs! And children!
About Me

This is Danny, he is a very nice person and he is very funny, but I think he is lonely. He helped me when my mom wanted to sell me to a reality show and now I live with him and I wanted to do something back for him so I want to find someone for him, because he has only me and Bunny, that’s his dog, who is really big. And I’m 7 years old and Danny is 35, which is really old, but that doesn’t matter he looks younger. Miss Portwood, my teacher said I need to say what Danny likes to do and he likes to walk with Bunny and work out and play football with me and Bunny and he works also, I think he is a police officer or something, he has a really cool car! And he has a ring in his nipple, which I think is really ouch, but he says people like it. I don’t understand why but Danny says I need to be older but I’m already 7.

Hugs, Melissa

Do you know how ridiculously cute and wonderful this story is?  Well, you probably don’t if you haven’t read it, but if that’s the case you should totally remedy that as soon as you can.  It made me laugh and smile and I think there were probably a few ‘awwww’s in there, too.  It’s a bit unconventional, to say the least, but it’s a good read with an engaging story and compelling characters.  Pick it up.

Backstrokes by Dylan Madrid

18406501Title: Backstrokes
Author: Dylan Madrid
Published: June 17, 2014
Pages: 264
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:

Crawford Paul is an accomplished pianist and student at a prestigious Chicago conservatory. After a prank goes wrong, his status at the school is called into question and he returns to his family’s California home to await news of his fate. To avoid being bored all summer (and because he’s worried about his scholarship being revoked), Crawford accepts a job escorting seven-year-old Isabella to her swimming lessons. While there, he quickly makes a connect with Nina, despite others telling him he should steer clear of her. Even more fortuitous is his discovery of Armando Leon, Isabella’s swimming instructor. Armando offers Crawford private swimming lessons and the two make a quick but strong connection. What will happen at the end of the summer? If everything turns out, Crawford should be returning to Chicago, but will Armando wait for him? And what if he isn’t allowed to return to the conservatory? Can he be content staying in their small California town forever?

I really liked this one. It is a bit on the fluffy side at points, but it deals with some rather heavy material as well. I can see how some might see this as possibly not taking things seriously, but I think it offered a nice balance. I laughed, I cringed, I cried–it’s one of those books, for sure. An excellent read for young and new adults, but a great one for those of us who aren’t quite so new, too.

Forever Under a Rainbow by Posy Roberts

22432745Title: Forever Under a Rainbow
Author: Posy Roberts
Published: June 6, 2014
Pages: 69
Publisher: Goodreads M/M Romance Group
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

Bridger is new to the concept of dating men. In fact, he’s really only comfortable labeling himself as “not straight” and nothing more. His path of exploration leads him online where he meets Stone, who seems interesting, and convinces him to go on a date. While Bridger enjoys himself and feels a connection, Stone doesn’t seem to feel the same way, telling Bridger the time isn’t right, leaving Bridger feeling a bit blown off–and suspecting it has to do with his inexperience. While Bridger sets out to find someone else, he can’t help thinking that Stone really is the one and wondering if he might somehow get him to come around.

This was a simple and easy to follow story. The characters are interesting (though we don’t get too much of Stone) and everything seems to flow well. Plot-wise, I would have like to see more in the way of relationship development–a bit more of a build–but it wasn’t so stark that it really detracted from the overall story.

Carte Blanche by Nash Summers

PrintTitle: Carte Blanche
Author: Nash Summers
Published: June 1, 2014
Pages: 57
Publisher: Goodreads M/M Romance Group
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:

Jude suffers from extreme OCD and social anxiety. He doesn’t venture out much, oft confined to his apartment. But when a new guy, Devin, moves in across the hall and seems intent on interacting with Jude, he begins to see a reason to venture beyond his apartment walls.

I’m definitely not a fan of those stories where Guy A’s troubles all magically melt away because Guy B steps into his life, and fear not–this is not one of those stories. The interplay between Jude and Devin is interesting and intriguing, genuine and unique. Devin may give Jude both a reason to reach out and support to do so, but Jude offers just as much in the way of challenge to Devin and helping him to grow. A short, sweet read and definitely recommended.

Punch-Drunk Love by Nico Jaye

22459578Title: Punch-Drunk Love
Author: Nico Jaye
Published: June 12, 2014
Pages: 55
Publisher: Goodreads M/M Romance Group
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:
Oliver Reyes is a slightly nerdy kickboxer who is part of an elite team in San Francisco.  Oliver is also more than slightly gay and has a crush on the team’s captain, Derek Vance.  Oliver is not very obvious about his crush, certain that it’s unlikely Derek would reciprocate.  When the team travels to Las Vegas for a competition, Oliver goes out to scope out entertainment options for a future trip with his friends, and what he finds is more than he expected.

I really liked this story.  It’s sweet and fluffy with a dash of racy heat thrown in–something I think is expected from a Nico Jaye story.  The pacing is a bit inconsistent, with a lot of slow build and then very quick resolution that almost leaves some things feeling unresolved.  Though that just increases my desire to read and know more about these characters…if they might possibly resurface somewhere in the future.

Guarded by Kim Fielding

22446836Title: Guarded
Author: Kim Fielding
Published: June 9, 2014
Pages: 111
Publisher: Goodreads M/M Romance Group
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:
The prince has never hidden his disdain for Volos, a former soldier and palace guard whose father emigrated from the country they fought in the last great war, so it is no surprise when he declines Volos as a bodyguard to accompany him on a diplomatic mission. But after the prince is captured, Volos finds himself chasing after him anyway. He is bound not only by a sense of duty to his country and the crown but also feelings that he’s harbored for the prince for some time but never outwardly expressed – and can’t help but wonder how those might impact how his rescue mission might play out.

Even though this is on the shorter side, it felt like an epic story to me. There is a wonderfully rich world here that comes through in ~100 pages and it is so easy to get immersed in Kim Fielding’s writing. I give this one a very high recommendation.