Tag Archives: publisher: bold strokes books

Wicked Frat Boy Ways by Todd Gregory

Wicked Frat Boy Ways

Wicked Frat Boy Ways by Todd Gregory

Published by: Bold Strokes Books on May 16, 2017
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Phil Connor and Brandon Benson live to challenge each other to a dare. But they do not always think about how their actions affect the people around them. With Phil being president of their fraternity for their senior year, the two know that a wild ride is in store. New pledges, transfers, and straight brothers who have no problem getting a little help from the willing gay guy next store provide so many opportunities for Phil and Brandon to play. But love, sex, and life–these are not games. And if they’re not careful, they just might be faced with unintended consequences they can never take back…

I must say these two guys did very little to make me want to root for them. They are not upstanding young men, but that also seems to be very much the point of the story. And at least some of the people around them see them for who they really are, even if they are quite good at hiding themselves from those who are closest.

There were two things that bothered me a bit as I was reading. First, there are references to how hard it would be to be out and gay in the fraternity. Yet there’s at least a handful of gay men who are brothers, and their sexuality isn’t really a secret from anyone else. And second, the ending was a bit more abrupt than I was expecting. As I take more time to reflect on it, I think it does have an interesting effect in terms of how the story flows. But I would have liked to see at least something about what came after…

But it’s still an interesting read with some very steamy moments.

[Disclaimer: This review is based on an advance reading copy obtained from the publisher via NetGalley.]

The Photographer’s Truth by Ralph Josiah Bardsley

The Photographer's Truth

The Photographer’s Truth by Ralph Josiah Bardsley

Published by: Bold Strokes Books on July 12, 2016
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Ian’s life seems to be on track. He has a wife and two intelligent, well-adjusted sons. He’s a key part of a software startup that looks to be going nowhere but up. There’s nothing he feels is missing. This is what he’s worked for all his life.

But when a long-term assignment in Paris takes Ian away from his family and his life, his perspective begins to shift. Especially after he meets Luca, a former fashion photographer with a skill that leaves Ian in awe. As the two become closer friends, Ian’s memory of a brief one-night encounter with another young man in college brings him to a “what if” moment. Yes, Ian has what many would call a perfect life waiting for him back at home. But is that really the life he wants, or is it just the life he expects? While he knows he can go back and continue in his role as husband and father, would he then be true to himself?

This is the second Ralph Josiah Bardsley book I’ve read, and I’m always impressed by this author’s ability to capture characters who are on the brink. A character like Ian is dealing with a lot in this story. He’s confronting truths about himself–some of which he’s buried and some of which he’s never seen before. He’s trying to reconcile the responsibilities of his life and how they might fit into a possible new truth. But it’s all done in a way that feels very real and authentic without simply piling on the angst as so many authors would do.

The only reason this doesn’t pull a higher rating from me is that I would have liked to see a bit more in the resolution. But this is still a great read, and I give it a strong recommendation.

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

In Shining Armor by E.L. Phillips

In Shining Armor

In Shining Armor by E.L. Phillips

Published by: Bold Strokes Books on June 1, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Krish Nayar is not one who is into roughing it. Which is why he wasn’t keen on the suggestion of camping near Cardiff to end out his vacation in the United Kingdom. But his friends thought it was a good idea, and he went along with it. Though it doesn’t seem like a good idea after he trips in the woods, lost in fog, with no one around to help him.

Krish is surprised when a knight in shining armor–literally–rides up on a horse to come to his aid. Although he’s in pain, Krish finds the man’s commitment to being in character amusing. He assumes this knight, Bleddyn, is an actor in a local renaissance faire. But when Bleddyn brings Krish back to the castle where he lives for medical attention, Krish begins to wonder just how much of this is an act. He might have actually somehow stumbled into the seventeenth century.

Despite his surroundings, Krish can’t deny his attraction to his savior. And he’s more than a little surprised when he gets a hint that Bleddyn might feel the same way. But if Krish acts on it, it could spell trouble. His kind of love wasn’t exactly accepted in the 1600s. And he’ll only be there until he finds his way back home, right?

Faced with circumstances beyond his imagination, Krish must decide to follow his head or his heart.

This book has a few things going for it that always tend to interest me. I’m a sucker for some good historical romance. And when you throw in a time travel twist, you’ve certainly got me interested. When an author can put them together into a compelling story–then we’re talking a must read. And this fits that bill.

There’s a powerful magic influencing the events in this story. And it’s a magic that comes off the page and into the reader’s imagination. I recommend this for anyone who is a fan of any of this story’s subgenres.

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

Brothers by Ralph Josiah Bardsley

Brothers

Book Info

Title: Brothers
Author: Ralph Josiah Bardsley
Published: December 14, 2015
Pages: 254
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Review

Jamus Cork’s life has not gone in the direction he’d planned. When his parents died while he was in his early twenties, he became the guardian for his younger brother. Though he’s experienced some success as a writer, everything he’s done since then has been for Nick. Friendships, relationships, love: those are all things he’s denied himself out of obligation and an intense guilt he’s carried for years. Sean Malloy is the youngest in a traditional, South Boston Irish family. He’s stood out as different from the rest of his family all his life, through his academic pursuits, his love of books, and his resistance to pressures to date and marry. He’s just moved back home after taking a teaching job at a prep school. His focus on school has allowed him to ignore some of the things about himself that he’s not just ready to face. But when Sean and Jamus meet in church, there’s an instant connection and all of their secrets threaten to spill out at once.

In the realm of understated family drama, this book rushes to the front of the pack. There’s the dynamic between Jamus and Nick, which has all kinds of complications, and then there’s the Malloys, who all take things a little bit differently as they come. There are also some glimpses of a completely different family dynamic through Nick’s friend, Matt. The things we do for family, those ties that bind us together–those are the things that really matter, even if they might mean something different to each person or manifest in different ways. But it’s important that we notice and recognize the ways people show they care, even if it might not always be the way we would show it or the way we would prefer.

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

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.]

Breaking Up Point by Brian McNamara

Breaking Up Point by Brian McNamaraTitle: Breaking Up Point
Author: Brian McNamara
Published: September 14, 2015
Pages: 288
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Brendan Madden is starting his first year at college away from home and is looking forward to the possibilities. He feels like the fresh start will provide him the opportunity to be open about who he is–and his sexuality–without needing to worry as much about what his family or his friends from home might think. Here, he won’t need to hide his relationship with Mark, his closeted boyfriend from back home, either. But college also provides many opportunities to see what one’s life could be like, to interact with and learn from other people, and to pursue one’s passions. And Brendan finds himself wondering if hiding himself–any part of his life–is holding him back from truly living. What if Mark decides to never come out? What if Brendan can’t tell his sisters that he’s gay? What if they react poorly? And what if he meets a guy on campus, there’s a mutual interest, and he wants to know what it’s like to be in a relationship that doesn’t need to be kept a secret? Perhaps, in his first year of college, Brendan will be forced to answer all of those questions and more.

I really enjoyed reading this. Brendan’s narration is a unique and authentic voice, one that I found really helped me get into the mindset of someone in his situation. There is so much that I think is relatable for anyone who has been through that similar life transition of getting to college and immediately feeling like they can be more open about various aspects of their lives. And the way Brendan approaches the situations he faces came across as very true to someone with his life experiences.

This is a sequel, though I didn’t really catch onto that until later in the book when I found myself wondering if some of the references being made might have more to them. That said, I don’t feel like not reading the previous book stood in the way of my enjoyment of this one (though, as with all sequels, it probably helps to have read it). This is also definitely a new adult text, both characterized by the age of the main character and also the fact that some more adult themes do come up in a couple of places.

This is definitely worth a read. It’s quick and entertaining, while also having some real depth and emotion to it at the same time.

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

One Hot Summer Month by Donald Webb

25493933Title: One Hot Summer Month
Author: Donald Webb
Published: June 15, 2015
Pages: 240
Publisher: Bold Stroke Books
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

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

Damien lives to cruise. Many people would probably have words for him that some might consider unsavory. Persuaded to write about his live for a month, he documents his many exploits and eventually begins to wonder if this really is the life that he wants for himself.

Well, most of this book is just sexual encounter after sexual encounter. That’s just who Damien is, but there isn’t much substance beyond that. I have to admit it was a bit off-putting, especially since some of it really just seemed gratuitous. As it continues on, there’s meant to be a change in Damien, which was slightly refreshing, but I just wasn’t sure if it came across as very authentic, considering the way Damien carried himself through the rest of the book.

It’s an interesting read, and if you know what you’re getting when you go in, it’s not bad.

Fifty Yards and Holding by David-Matthew Barnes

18406625Title: Fifty Yards and Holding
Author: David-Matthew Barnes
Published: March 17, 2015
Pages: 264
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Author Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

[Disclaimer: I received an egalley from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Victor “Toro” Alvarez has suddenly found himself as the leader of a street gang. It’s not that he’s necessarily reluctant to take on the position, it’s just that he has a few issues of his own to deal with–one major one being that he’s pretty sure he’s gay and that would not go over well with the rest of the gang. It also means he will probably never get out of his neighborhood unless it’s in a body bag. But when he comes across Riley Brewer as he’s running from a rival gang, he wonders if maybe he has more options than he first thought. Riley is new to Toro’s school, since his father stopped paying his private school tuition after his parents divorced. And there’s definitely an air between the two of them in those few moments that makes them both wonder if their chance meeting was part of something greater for them both.

I’ll start off by saying that I did enjoy the overall message of this story very much. The idea that you’re never truly stuck and that even if you make choices based on circumstances, you always have options to change your path is an important and powerful one. And that comes across as a real strength of this book.

That said, it’s the way this book worked through that message that holds me back from a four- or five-star review. The opening set up an interesting tone that was not reflected in the rest of the book, which sort of threw me off. The Toro we see right away doesn’t really seem to exist elsewhere in the story–and while I can see how that might have been the point to an extent, since it never really comes back around, it seems almost out of place. Add to that the fact that we rather suddenly skip over almost five months–the five months during which it appears the bulk of the character and relationship development occurred–and it made it a bit more difficult to connect to these characters as meaningfully as I would have liked.

This is definitely worth a read, especially for those who are looking for a broader message/story and maybe not specifically looking for something that focuses on individual characters and the how and why they get to their destination.

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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.

Play It Forward by Frederick Smith

21413953Title: Play It Forward
Author: Frederick Smith
Published: January 19, 2015
Pages: 264
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:

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

Malcolm Campbell is content to quietly make a difference in the world. The organization he founded in Los Angeles, LADS, allows him to provide opportunities and positive examples to gay youth, himself being a role model to many. But when less than flattering videos of him and an ex-boyfriend show up on the internet, all of that may be in jeopardy. And even after the videos are taken down, Malcolm knows once something is on the internet, it can never truly go away.

There’s also the matter of his nephew, Blake, coming to visit for the summer. And then there’s Tyrell Kincaid, the professional basketball player that Malcolm met at a LADS event and the hint of a spark between them. Though it’s widely rumored that Tyrell is in a secret relationship with R&B singer Tommie Jordan. But all things can only be hidden for so long before they bubble to the surface and come out in the open…

This is the first book I’ve read by Frederick Smith, but it certainly has me interested in reading more. There are a lot of players here and it’s not an easy story to tell, but he does it well. The focus is on how Malcolm deals with all of the fallout of the situations and less on the endgame relationship, but it gets there.

The book is an interesting commentary, I think, on the closet, the nature of celebrity, community identity, and what it means to be an upstanding role model. There’s a recognition that even those in the spotlight are entitled to make their mistakes as long as they’re honest about them–especially with themselves.