This is my kind of boy band. Buff men dancing in leather and heels? Mmmmm...
The men are Kazaky, a group (I hesitate to say "band" because really, they barely sing and there isn't a whole lot I can find about their music creation) from the Ukraine. "The group confronts gender norms by fusing masculine and feminine attributes together, most notably by regularly wearing stiletto heels in videos and live performances." (Wikipedia) They are slowly sort of coming out, which is very impressive given the harsh homophobic society they come from. Some interviews talk with them about how hard it is to do what they do, let alone talk about homosexuality. But they were in a Pride parade recently, so I think they're working on it. I was mesmerized watching their music videos. Beautiful filmography, choreography, and men. A couple of the videos has them in just underwear. I think one is even naked in a Madonna video. I think I need to go be by myself for a while...
I was so disappointed with this book. It could have been a five star read but it missed. It was good, even great in parts, but nothing like the first one. This was way too instalovey. Their attraction was solely physical and it took a long time before they got to know each other at all and by then both were smitten. Despite that, though, I definitely felt their love and wanted them to work out.
But first the good: The book was touching, exciting, and funny, too. I did like the characters (with the exception of some behavior I'll describe below). They were real to me. There were secondary characters, too, that I liked a lot, even heterosexual ones! They were all distinct individuals and mostly realistic to me. I loved Cole and hope the next book is about him.
The author did excellent research on what it would be like for man who just got out of prison after a long term. Cam's been in for ten years and at one point he complains about "these damn sippy cup things for coffee everyone had in their hand." That's the kind of detail that would never occur to me but makes total sense on top of being funny.
The first kiss was so effing hot it made my toes curl.
There was a lot more action in this book than the previous one, which I liked a lot.
The plot was reasonable if predictable and unnecessarily convoluted in parts. (The final explanation part of it, though, was silly.)
Hunter's dad was hilarious and completely believable. One of my favorite scenes is when Hunter is talking to his father about wanting to ask Cam out. Here are parts of it. (It happens early on in the book while they're still trying to ask each other out, but I'm putting it in spoiler tags in case you don't want to read it.)
Julian is a jerk in this book. We were told that he was in the last book but I never saw it. It's full blown in this one and sometimes he's out of line.
When Cameron gets to the halfway house, they tell him he's a guest. That's ridiculous. They should want him to feel like it's his home. They do expect him to do his part.
Nobody in these books has brown eyes. In this one, one MC's eyes are silver. Seriously.
Cam's room walls are painted steel gray. Gray. Like prison walls. Sounds comforting.
The older MC keeps going on and on about the age gap like he's an old man, but it's 27 to 40. It's more than I like, but he's far from old and it's perfectly reasonable.
For convenience, the older MC out of the blue decides
Cam frequently acts like a stereotypical weak woman not like someone who's been hardened by ten years in prison. Matt went from a strong guy in the first book, to a wilting flower that needs protecting, too, and he's also an ex-con.
Hunter was constantly, and I mean over and over, holding Cam's face in his hands. They touch each other too much, even in times when it's not really appropriate. It's like Cam's that woman that needs constant reassurance and protection.
In the major action scene about 2/3rds of the way through,
It went on WAY too long after the climax, and then the end there's a scene
A cop believes it immediately when he's told there's
and doesn't even get mad at either those who tell him or the ones they're talking about, just annoyed if anything.
MAJOR MAJOR VERY END RESOLUTION spoiler (don't read if you don't want to know what happens at the very end of the book, how they get their HEA.):
There were other things, but that's enough.
I found this delightful webpage that shows some poorly placed quotation marks can change the meaning of a sign completely. I arrived at the page via a link from a picture of a sleeping security guard behind a sign that read "Security Guard" quotation marks included.
But I also found that some of the pictures had a more sexual connotation, and of course felt that I needed to share. So here you are:
And the most confusing:
I'm a bit flummoxed as to where they're actually demonstrating that thing. From the brochure cover on the table, it looks like it's for females but from my perspective as a very short woman, that just wouldn't hit me in the right spot. That guy in the front scares me but the guy in the back could be my grandpa. Creepy. And is that a crown on the shelf at the back?
According to A.J. Llewellyn, a generous woman named Judie Stewart loaned money to author and Silver Publishing owner Leiland Dale/Lodewyk Deyse. He allegedly never paid her back and she lost her home. Judie has apparently been a long time supporter of the M/M community and A.J. says that she does free promo for anyone who wants. (Please see above link for more details.)
D.J. Manly, frequent co-writer of A.J.'s is holding a fundraiser to help her out but is far short of the funds needed. You can help by donating money.
Each person who donates even a small amount will receive a free ebook from one of the participating authors listed below. Bigger donations earn even more.
Every dollar helps!!! Each donation will receive a free ebook – reader’s choice!!!
And: for a donation of $25, the generous donor will receive TWO free e-books of their choice from one of the participating authors listed here.
For a donation of $50, the generous donor will receive a free paperback book AND a free e-book of their choice from one of the participating authors listed here.
For a donation of $100, the generous donor will receive a free DVD of G.A. Hauser’s Capital Games, a free paperback book, a free e-book of their choice from one of the participating authors listed here AND a $10 ARE gift card.
For a donation of $125, the generous donor will receive a free paperback book, a free e-book of their choice from one of the participating authors listed here AND a $15 iTunes gift card. They will also receive a phone chat/or Skype chat with D.J. Manly, Ethan Stone, Patricia Logan, or A.J. Llewellyn – reader’s choice.
And finally, all donors will qualify to enter a draw to win a Swagadelic Prize of author swag, a paperback book of their choice from participating author AND an ebook set from reader’s choice of:
A.J. Llewellyn ebook set of Mingo McCloud series – 6 books and book 7 upon release
Augusta Li set of ebooks from the Blessed Epoch series–Ash and Echoes, Ice and Embers, Iron and Ether, and Wine and Roses (August release),
Ethan Stone complete ebook set of Uniformity (Compromised, Damaged, Recruited)
Gale Stanley ebooks of the Hybrid series.
Patricia Logan: ebooks of the Westburg Series. Captive Lover, A Very Good Year, and The Cowboy Queen
Serena Yates ebooks of Fighting For series
Trinity Blacio ebook copies of her Masters of the Cats series (3 books)
A.J. Llewellyn: ebook(s) of reader’s choice, ARE $10 gift card, $15 iTunes card, two paperback books – “Mingo McCloud book one and two” 2 copies, complete set of “Mingo McCloud ebooks – 6 in all plus a free copy of book 7, “Hogtied” coming soon to Amber Allure, and A.J. Llewellyn swag for grand donation prize – winner picked through random draw by Judie Stewart
Alison Mann: $10 ARE gift card
Ashlyn Monroe: ebook (M/F title)
Allison Cassata: one of each ebook and one paperback she has and pieces of swag—shirts and bags.
Augusta Li: set of ebooks from the Blessed Epoch series–Ash and Echoes, Ice and Embers, Iron and Ether, and Wine and Roses (August release.)
Casey Holloway: Paperback copy of Get’n Hammered.
D.J. Manly: ebook(s) of reader’s choice and Skype/phone chat with $125 donation
Ethan Stone: a complete ebook set of Uniformity (Compromised, Damaged, Recruited) and two ebook copies each of Subject 13 and Bartender, PI – and Skype chat with $125 donation
G.A. Hauser a DVD of “Capital Games”
Gale Stanley: eBook set of Hybrids. Book 3 is coming out June 7th.
Hurri Cosmo: 2 ebooks – titles being published in June
Iyana Jenna: ebook – reader’s choice of one of her 3 JMS titles
J.D. Walker - ebook, reader’s choice
Kage Alan: One each – paperback copies of “Galias” and “Butt Ninjas From Hell” signed by all the authors in it.
L.M. Brown - ebook – reader’s choice
Lee Brazil: ARE $10 gift card
Michael Mandrake: ebook copy of N’awlins Exotica
N.J. Nielsen: free ebook, reader’s choice of
Lancaster’s Way 1: When Souls Collide… Experimentals 1: Blessed With A Curse… and the two books in my Sons of Evenmore Series: The Crimson Grimoire & Blood To Blood.
Naomi Bellina: free ebook, reader’s choice
Nephylim: free ebook choice of The Runaway. Enigma Special Edition, The Unfairness of Life and Fallen Angel
Pamela Pelaam-One: ebook copies of “Fire and Air” and “As You Like It”
Pat Whitaker: free ebook, reader’s choice
Patricia Logan: wbook copies of Westburg Series. Captive Lover, A Very Good Year, and The Cowboy Queen
Rebecca Royce: 3 ebooks M/F titles, reader’s choice
Remmy Duchene: ebook copies of “Deliver Me” and “Again”, $10 ARE gift card
S.A. Meade: ebook of reader’s choice
Sedonia Guillone: ebook copy of “His Beautiful Samurai”
Serena Yates: e-book copies of Fighting for Love, Fighting for Hope, Fighting for Survival, and Fighting for Freedom (out on 20 June).
Sharita Lira: ebook copies of her Twins stories, four in all – inspired by Judie Stewart!
Trina Lane: 2 ebooks – reader’s choice
Trinity Blacio: ebook copies of her Masters of the Cats series (3 books)
Vivien Dean: free ebook, reader’s choice, and a free paperback of her available print titles
Zane Silver: ebook copy of My Three Dads
See more at: http://www.youcaring.com/other/judie-stewart-family-emergency-fund/179552#sthash.VD2lI9Gq.dpuf
(Have you ever noticed how many books by Lanyon have the word "Stranger" in the title? I own at least four.)
This just wasn't a five star read for me, unlike most Lanyhon novels, for many reasons. The setting was great, and I really liked the plot. There were a lot of overt similarities between the setup here and the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, but not so bad that I felt he was copying, and I really liked that book anyway. The basic situation was obvious from before halfway through the book, but there were still surprises and the final culprit wasn't clear until the very end. Even so, it was anticlimactic.
I enjoyed the characters, although (medium spoiler)
Griff and Pierce obviously have issues--this wouldn't be a Lanyon book without that--and that makes their relationship interesting. I loved the slow burn, the flirting love/hatred. But when it did take off, the relationship was too perfect too fast and it didn't quite click for me. The worst part--and my biggest problem with the book,--is the ending between them. Major spoiler:(show spoiler)
I loved that all of the children of the patriarch had names starting with "M." In a book like this that has so many characters, it really helped keep track of who is who.
One of the characters mentioned having mumps and measles as a child. He's 27; he should have been inoculated against those. Even if one of those failed, both?
A diary Griff is reading has "several blank pages, and then Gemma's narrative picked up on July 4." Those pages separate June 26th, the previous entry from July 4th, six days between entries. But in the same section, he repeatedly mentions that some passages are really short, and others are pages long. If some are pages long, then there can't be just one page per date, or even two or three, because if they were that short, there wouldn't be pages-long entries and still have the dates work out. There also wouldn't be only "several" blank pages for six empty dates. I know this was for drama, but he could have just said, "the next dated entry was July 4th." I know most people don't even notice this kind of thing, but it really bugs me.
There were way too many similes, as if he were channeling Ernest Hemingway. (Notice that there? I put a simile in? That's me trying to be clever.)
The narrative, which is from Griff's perspective, frequently says, "What the heck?" This is a seasoned crime-covering reporter. It was just not the kind of thing I pictured him saying.
Overall, I felt it was a good, entertaining story, and I enjoyed it. The novel was well written and kept me on my toes, but it just wasn't Lanyon's best. I think he was trying to hard to keep the reader on edge about the ending between the MCs, which he is good at since he doesn't always believe in an HEA, but in doing so, he didn't give me the closure I needed.
I received a copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
[Note from Affairs of M/Men: I don't buy books from Amazon if I can help it (some ebooks are only available there), but I spend a lot of money buying from individual companies through their marketplace.]
As an FYI, if you have an Amazon account, Amazon just released a new program called Amazon Smile that costs NOTHING to you. You can pick OPS (Oceanic Preservation Society) or just about any other charity/organization of your choice and Amazon will donate .5% of your purchase cost to the charity every time you buy an eligible product.
I already buy most of my things from Amazon, so yay! Glad to know a small portion of the cost will be going to an organization that I really love.
EDIT: Details of the program can be found by clicking here. This MAY work for all Amazon members, but it's not very clear.
EDIT 2: It seems to work for ALL members, not just those with Amazon Prime.
4.5 stars (when compared to others of this type of story, a shifter romance series)
This book was a typical formulaic shifter romance but surprisingly much higher quality than most. It was funny in parts, dramatic in others. There was a lot of action and suspense and of course near-death and injury, my favorite. (I've never denied that I'm a sick woman.) Although it was predictable, I really liked the characters. The heroes that were key in this story, Keeton, Braxton, and Xander, were all individuals and each had a different voice.
I do love me some hospital scenes and the book delivers right from the beginning. Braxton's injury at the start is simply from fainting and I think the medical issues were a bit extreme for that but it was a refreshing change. The norm in action series is that when someone gets hit by a car, for example, is able to stand up and keep running. Yet later in the book
Braxton doesn't automatically accept the shifter world and fated mates, either, which I really liked. "I mean, I don't even get a choice? Fate just decides that some random person is meant for me, and that's it?"
Another thing I really liked is that the shifters in the house (which I'm sure each book in the series will be about another one of them) are all bi. That stops the whole GFY issues which in books like this annoy me. I can handle it in a long, well plotted and thought out novel where it can be handled with sensitivity but these stories are just too short to make it believable for me at all. Plus, it's SO rare that people are bi. GFY people turn out to be either gay or it's GFY OFY.
I don't like when an adult partner is referred to as "being a handful" or told to behave or referred to as a brat. That's treating them like a child and it's always said by the big guy to the little guy. (Yes, as standard, all the main characters in the house are huge and the love interests are little.) There was some of that here and it bothered me but then came this passage which I really appreciated:
"Okay so he needed to cut Xander some slack, but damnit, he wasn't a child, and he wasn't some damsel in diestress. He didn't need someone to swoop in and save the day, or spirit him away from the caslte undersiege, and he certianly didn't need soeone else to fight his battles for him.
He appreciated that Xander wanted to keep him safe, take care of him even. Braxton knew he was smaller, not as physically strong as most men. He had a tendency to be overly sensitive, and he wore his emotions on his sleeve. Did Xander see him as less of a man because of those things?"
And this one:
"'I told you to stay,' Xander shot at him immediately.
'Actually, you told me to sit, but either way, like I said downstairs, I am not a dog. Nor am I a child.' Braxton crossed his arms. 'So, you can take your commands and go fuck yourself with them.'"
I even liked Xander's response:
"'You are acting like a child, which is why I am treating you like a child.'"
(Braxton really was acting immature.) It showed that Xander didn't think of his mate as a child, he was just frustrated and angry because Braxton was being an idiot (which he was) and was just trying to keep him safe. Usually in these books when the little guy protests, the bigger guy and his friends say the guy is a little spitfire or a handful. This was an adult argument between equals who are pissed off at each other.
Overall, I enjoyed this immensely and couldn't put it down for anything. My bladder was furious with me.
The next relationship is obvious because of course it's going to be the best friend with the one guy that was elsewhere when Keeton met the rest of the shifters in the house. I am looking forward to their story in the next book. This is a nice long series--ten books-- which is nice, but books four and five are both menage stories. I really dislike it when series I love branch off into that and two in a row is really frustrating. I have to read them to know what happens later in the series. Seriously, there are entire series devoted to menage couples. Why do I have to deal with them in my regular stories? It's as weird as if they suddenly put a BDSM story in the middle. (There is very light BDSM in this book done just in the bedroom.)
Compared with other books of this subgenre, this is a 4.5 and I'm rounding up because of the way the book handled the whole treating like a child thing.
A boy came out on Facebook and his mother wrote him this note which she posted on Facebook as well. Sometimes coming out is happy. A link to more information follow the photo.
Vasquez & James: Book Three
Luki Vasquez and Sonny Bly James finally have their Hawaiian wedding, and it's perfect, almost. But their three-phase honeymoon is riddled with strife. Luki's status as a working badass spells discord for the newlyweds. A former informant from Luki’s days with ATFE brings a troubling message (or is it a warning?) from a Mob hit man. When Luki’s sixteen-year-old nephew, Jackie, is lured into capture and torture by a sadistic killer, the honeymoon is well and truly over.
The couple put aside their differences and focus on the grueling hunt, which takes them from leather bars to dusty desert back roads, and calls on Sonny’s deep compassion as well as Luki’s sharpest skills. Their world threatens to fall apart if they fail, but their love may grow stronger than ever if they succeed in finding Jackie—before it’s too late.
I was very disappointed with this story. I love this series, I love this couple, and I was so looking forward to this book. But after the beginning wedding scene, the story became rough with poor writing which set a tone for me that was hard to get out of. The novel improved a lot and the second half was very good, but this was not up to the author's usual standards.
The first part of the story was primarily info dumping, even when it didn't have to be. Instead of taking the reader through a scene, the author would start the next section after the scene had happened and then tell us what happened in that scene we didn't see. In addition, there was way too much description of stuff that didn't need to be described. Showing doesn't mean describing every detail.
Once the story eventually got going, there was plenty of action, drama, danger, thrills and chills. The plot was good and although kind of predictable, aspects were a surprise. The pacing improved but it was never that great. The characters were wonderful and the women were strong and capable (although for once I'd like to actually see a woman in on the action rather than just on the phone).
There's no doubt that these two men loved each other very much. Even when they had to confront a very real issue between them, they were angry and cold for less than a day even though they hadn't resolved the problem. Even when they hadn't officially made up yet, their love for each other resulted in them being there for each other when it was important. As a result of their passionate love, the sex scenes were really hot. For me, sex scenes written about people in love are almost always hotter.
The wedding was incredibly beautiful of course, almost as good as the one in Home Work by Kaje Harper, which is so far my favorite storybook wedding scene.
Luki's vows set the tone:
I don't want to tell you Sonny's vows because it might ruin a beautiful and emotional scene. But if you want to hear something he says here it is:
Here are some more good things:
The dog was wonderful, even if he was a little too smart.
I didn't mark this as BDSM because it isn't BDSM--it's abuse. The book makes this clear and I really like how they handled the subject, how they differentiated between abuse and what BDSM is supposed to be about:
"...He understood immediately what Brian meant by "kink", and why that might make Jackie--who was small, anxious, and used to being accepting abuse, likely not experienced enough to know where decent players drew the line..."
"...[He] never really thought he wanted a shit-ton of pain. What he wanted was the feeling it gave him to give up control to someone who knew how to cultivate his bondage; who cared to take him past the place he was afraid, where he couldn't trust, where he couldn't feel, to a new place where he was safe. But...safe and sane, that's what it was supposed to be."
While I personally don't get how giving up control and doing something that scares you will make you feel safe, I understand that for many people, that's what BDSM is about. It's what my friends who practice it say. This a respectful view of BDSM and clearly distinguishes it from excessive pain, torture, and abuse. Even if I don't completely understand something, I believe that what happens between consenting adults that isn't really harming anyone (temporary bruising, minor burns that are gone quickly, etc., don't count to me), is between them only. When books portray BDSM as being something tortuous and abusive, where people give up any and all control and all rights permanently, is disturbing and disrespectful to those perfectly healthy people who enjoy it. I really like how the book shows that a boy confused about who he is because of past abuse can enjoy kink but not want abuse disguised as BDSM.
It was very cool that Brian knits (although it's weird that he does so the first night he's with his new boss to work on the disappearance. He should be trying to impress Luki, not make it seem like he's just hanging out).
Here are some not so good things:
Why didn't Luki use nicotine gum or patches to stop smoking? It was an extremely tense time.
They never explained why (minor spoiler)
Jackie was often TSTL.
The author has a character acknowledge that a tourniquet is bad but uses one anyway. You can use a belt to hold a pressure bandage in place instead of making it a tourniquet by strapping it up-limb from the wound. What you do is pad the wound heavily then strap the belt across the injury. This lets some of the skin free between the padding and where the belt comes back to the skin which allows arteries inside to shift enough to allow some blood to flow freely. You accomplish the same thing without risking losing the leg due to oxygen starvation.
The improper use of first aid in books leads to ignorance which in real life situations can cause additional, often severe, injury or even death. (Another biggy is that you never pound on the back of someone who's choking. If you can't do the Heimlich Maneuver, do CPR chest compressions which will attempt to expel air, which will hopefully dislodge whatever is blocking the airway.) I seriously wish everyone would take CPR/First Aid for the sake of their loved ones.
It was never explained who was (minor spoiler)
I wanted to see the aftermath of the ordeal. I felt robbed that we didn't see get to see (major spoiler)
I hope that in the future we'll see a book with (major spoiler)(show spoiler)
The timeline was off. (medium spoiler)
Actually there was stuff that the book tried to explain but that never made much sense. It felt like much was inserted in order to make the story more suspenseful instead of figuring out how to really make the things work with the story. (several big spoilers that are revealed by 3/5ths of the way throughout the book)
See? None of that makes sense--much of it is contradictory--nor is the complicated sequence of events necessary to the plot.
I'm left with a potentially five star book being a 3.5 for me.
Matthew Doner is starting over. After a five-year prison term that alters every aspect of his life, he receives a bequest from his aunt with the stipulation that he use the money to make things right. Breaking free of the long-standing role he’s played and inspired by the few who support him, he decides to create a safe place where people like him can find purpose and start a new life.
Julian Capeletti likes challenges. He is confident, brash, stubborn, and just what Matt needs. Desperate for work after a downturn of luck, he accepts the job to renovate Matt’s crumbling building.
Over the course of a year, romance simmers between them as they restore the house. But there’s a bigger renovation that must take place in their hearts. To become better men, they need to learn to trust each other even with secrets and painful memories they fear may rip them apart.
This was one of the sweetest books I've ever read and I highly recommend it. The protagonists are adorable and real and they took a long time to get together. No instalove here. There was so much sexual tension I was chomping at the bit, and I am usually fine with waiting for the sex. One of the hottest scenes was when Julian turns around half dressed. I didn't know whether I wanted to hug these damaged men or jump their bones.
The author really did her research. I was very impressed with the detail about restoring a house, such as what order things have to be done in such as waterproofing a roof in order before anything else, roughing in the electrical in order before the inspector comes so he/she doesn't have to come twice, etc. Overall the house repair was interesting and I really liked what it was going to be and how meaningful it was to the rest of the story.
There wasn't a lot of plot, it was basically working to get the house done and falling in love, with family drama to add a little seasoning. But most people are okay with that and it worked as well as any of the other similar books out there whose only plot is falling in love that are also five star reads for me, like Faith & Fidelity, Glitterland, and Choices & Changes. (I <i>loved</i> all three.)
There wasn't a lot of excitement, no danger or anything, but there was a little drama and a lot of concern and shows of love. The pacing was excellent; I didn't put it down until I'd finished it. Most of the characters were wonderful and complex. I wanted to strangle the mother (who was a little too evil) and I was non to happy with the father, either.
The MCs weren't stereotypical, either. (minor spoiler)
I really liked how they were different in so many ways and yet their relationship really worked.
The couple was very romantic. They had a specific way to express their love:<blockquote>"I love you, Matt," he said then softly pressed his lips to Matt's in a tender kiss.
When they separated, Matt was smiling, his eyes bright with emotion. "I love you more."</blockquote>That was a great element that was beautiful and created a common thread throughout their relationship.
There were some places where I was confused. I had a little trouble picturing the house because their rooms and office were supposed to be upstairs and yet the upstairs hadn't been done yet when they started and the office was on the main floor. The rooms just didn't make sense. I also was confused about the number of brothers Matt had because I felt there were inconsistencies.
I was also frustrated with grammar at one point. A well-educated man like Matt would use adverbs properly. "I'm taking things slow." I see this so often but usually I forgive it in dialog. But not for a highly educated man. This kind of grammatical issue drives me crazy. But other than that, the writing was very good and I didn't notice it which is a high compliment.
Another weird thing is that one character faints and the others just take him home without waking him. That's bizarre since fainting is unusual and dangerous, even from stress. If the person isn't waking up, that's a problem, and either way, waking the person up is necessary.
But these things pale in the shadow of this wonderful book. I just loved it. I cannot wait for the next one in the series.
This is a review of the recently released revised second edition only available on Amazon so far.
Detective Matthew Bennett doesn't believe in ghosts. So when the spirit of a murdered child leads him to her body, he's shaken to the core--and taken off the case. Unable to explain his vision, or to let go of the investigation, Matthew turns to renowned medium Kiernan Fitzpatrick. Though he has doubts about Kiernan's claims to communicate with the dead, Matt is nevertheless drawn to the handsome psychic, who awakens feelings he thought were long-buried.
Haunted by the lingering spirit of the little girl, Kiernan is compelled to aid in the search for her killer. The chance to get closer to the enigmatic Matt is an unexpected bonus. Although Kiernan's been betrayed by people who turned out to be more interested in his fame than in himself, with Matt he's willing to risk his heart. As the two men grow closer, Kiernan helps Matt rediscover that life offers no guarantees--but love offers a reason to believe...
This was a wonderful story, the type that the adrenaline junkie I am just can't get enough of. It had a disconcerting start because the plot is based on an ill-disguised version of the Jon-Benet Ramsey murder down to the fact of it happening late Christmas Eve/early Christmas Day. But the scenes were well done, and it worked for me. The funeral and the scenes leading up to it worked so well, I actually teared up at points.
I also found myself with wet eyes when Matt thought about his partner who died. I really dislike the widower stories. It's not as common as novels would have us believe, nor is the horrible ex who destroyed the main character. I wish authors would pen more stories where there's an ex that's just that, an ex with whom life just didn't work. But this one somehow worked for me. It fit with the theme of the novel.
The novel evolved into a suspense thriller, with action, drama, danger, fear, and all that. The pacing was excellent as was the distribution of thrills and down time. The book was fun and exciting and I desperately wish there were a sequel. The characters were interesting and complex, including the women, something that is often lacking in this genre. I particularly liked Matt's shrewd sister in law, Sheila. Her banter with Matt was very realistic as well as entertaining. Her comments about her husband were quite amusing as well and not to be taken seriously as her love for him was obvious.
It didn't hurt the book at all that there was some hot sex. There was a very hot sex scene which involved dry humping. It was smokin', I swear. Matt and Kiernan also found ways to compliment each other during sex that were slightly different than the standard fare.
There were some minor details that bothered me that perhaps should have been addressed. For example, Matt didn't wear glove or wrap his hand before touching things at the scene of the crime. He also had condoms on hand even though he hadn't been sexually active in a VERY long time. There were also an occasionally physical impossibility like one MC opened his mouth and in the next sentence opened his mouth again. Another was when they were having sex "doggy style" and referred to the top's balls hitting the bottom's ass.
The random t-shirts with funny quotes isn't a unique idea, but it never fails to amuse me. Although I'm sure it's an old joke, one of my favorites in this story was "I'm Not Short, I'm Fun-sized." I need one. My absolute favorite, though, was one with a police car on the front that said, "The Police Never Think It's As Funny As You Do." I know a number of teenagers who would find that hilarious. I guess I'm less mature than I thought I was.
This book was so good, I'm adding it to my M/M favorites shelf. I highly recommend it. Now I'm off to see what else this author wrote.
Twenty-two-year-old Alessandro Silva knows that returning to tiny Perch Creek to help his foster mother was the right thing to do. With no degree and a delinquent's reputation, he's lucky to have landed a job waiting tables. But not everyone is happy he's back, and the only thing keeping his move home from being a total bust is his boss's hot brother.
Jaime Winters spent most of his life watching the world go by, first from a series of hospitals and then from behind big stacks of textbooks. Studying is easier than facing the fact that years of heart failure means he's still a virgin at twenty-three. Until the new waiter in his sister's diner awakens desires he'd long ago given up on.
The last thing Alessandro wants is to fall for someone as fragile as Jaime. And Jaime may have a new heart, but he's scared of what giving it to another person would mean. Their no-strings-attached, instructional approach to sex keeps emotion safely at bay, until a secret from Alessandro's past forces them to confront their feelings in the present...
No Such Thing was a surprise for me. It looked like a general rite of passage kind of novel, you know the kind where the characters have to figure out where they belong and how they relate to each other, a coming of age novel about adults. But this book was so much more.
Everything I look for in a novel was here: complex and unique characters, main characters I can love, a plot other than just the rite of passage thing, a little action, a little drama, a little danger and excitement, and some hot sex. The secondary plot around the secret Alessandro has been keeping was actually pretty exciting and gave the story that extra something that made it really work for me. The pacing was excellent, keeping me enthralled and unable to put the book down.
I really appreciated how foster care was portrayed in this book. Some of the children in the novel had been moved around too much or mistreated in previous placements, but others were moved around because of behavior (which is the most common cause of children being removed from a home). While extreme behavior is understandable considering what most of these children have been through, it's hard for a family to deal with that 24/7. Alessandro explains to one child that the boy's continually worsening illegal behavior will ensure that the child is moved because sometimes the state makes the decisions when they think a foster parent can't handle the situation.
It's true that many foster parents are not good parents and have horrible reasons for taking in these children, and it's also true that many give up difficult children at the slightest provocation. But most are good people. There are foster parents who can and do take in and keep these children and the foster mother in No Such Thing is one of those. She is one of the good ones, and as I said, there are bad ones mentioned, too. As a therapeutic foster parent who does take in the most behaviorally challenged children, I was overwhelmed with appreciation for this honest and realistic depiction. It is so frustrating to see substitute caregivers like foster parents and relatives constantly vilified in the media, particularly in television dramas and books. The compassionate take on foster families made the story more vivid and real to me.
How the foster children were presented was also very knowledgeable.
"Shannon didn't have 'that look' on her face. That look of disappointment and suspicion he often saw from people who immediately distrusted folks who'd grown up in the foster-care system, as though the system bred criminals."
Some foster children in the book would be described as hoodlums, and others were normal kids. Acting out and inappropriate behavior are common to children who have been abused and mistreated so this behavior is perfectly reasonable considering what these children have been through, including being ripped from the only homes they've ever known and forced to live with complete strangers. As a youth, Alessandro got into trouble from possessing a deadly weapon (a knife) and going to juvenile hall, to self-mutilation from his bouts of with anger and depression but he still turned out okay. Unfortunately that doesn't happen as frequently as we would like, but it does happen.
The one problem I had with the book is that the characters treated homosexuality like it's an adult topic. It's not. Being gay isn't about sex, it's about love. Children of straight parents know their parents love each other, kids of gay parents know their parents love each other, so why can't children of straight parents know that men can love other men and women love other women? It would surely help with bigotry and hatred if these kinds of issues were dealt with early on; if people are exposed to these ideas from an early age. t sure would make it easier for a kid to come out knowing that their parents were fine with homosexuality. Yes, I know that supporting rights for gay people doesn't always translate into tolerance in a parent's views for their child being gay (believe me, I know this first hand), but it's a start.
One passage that particularly bothered me came after a ten-year-old boy says, "They said Jaime Winters is queer." A seven-year-old girl asks what that meant and the boy replies that it meant Jaime likes boys instead of girls. When the girl says, "So?", the mother--who does know that Jaime is gay and is fine with it--steps in and says, "This is not an appropriate dinnertime conversation...Please do not repeat idle gossip." They never revisit the topic until after something awful has happened and it is forced into the forefront. They never explain that the word "queer" is usually derogatory when said by a heterosexual, nor that hatred isn't okay, nor what gay means.
How is this not appropriate at that time? When else would they discuss it with the whole family? Any other time would be a family meeting or something like that which generally lends an air of negativity. One of the reasons families that have dinner together are more likely to have children who do well in life is because people talk with each other during dinner. I have to wonder what the reaction would be if the boy said, "They said Jaime Winters is dating a n****r." What parent wouldn't jump on that? Would a good parent just say that wasn't any okay word and move on or would he or she also say that it is okay for people to date people of different colors, etc., and that everyone is equal or something? I'd have an internal conniption fit but externally attempt to educate calmly. I can understand not wanting to out Jaime, but this woman is supposed to be an amazing parent and that response is just unacceptable. At the very least, it should have been discussed as soon as dinner was over.
What was particularly shocking was that this wasn't dinner table conversation but no one protects the children from hearing explicit and rather graphic details of the injury of someone they know and are worried about. I was horrified at what they were allowed to hear. Society in general has this backwards: kids can know about incredible violence but not sex, but in this instance the violence was personal, which is terrifying, and the other issue wasn't sex but love.
Despite these pieces that bothered me, over all the story was wonderfully gay positive and affirming. Alessandro does a great job of initiating Jaime into "the gay world." He makes sure they use condoms even though "Jaime was squeaky clean as a surgeon's table, but if they were doing this, they were doing it right from the start. And that meant getting used to condoms every single time." He takes such good care of Jaime, making sure the man feels safe and comfortable no matter what they're doing. When Jaime says stop, he stops immediately, no pushing, no judgments.
Alessandro is concerned that Jaime not become attached to the first person he has sex with. "Jamie needed to get out and experience other partners before he even thought about settling into a relationship." He takes him to a club to expose him to some gay culture. How the club was depicted fit my own experience at such venues and read very real to me. Seeing it from the point of view of someone new to the gay club scene, would, I think, help a reader unfamiliar with the experience.
There were all kinds of little details like this that were important and added depth to the story without bogging it down. Often these were simple things like not just opening a door but opening the screen door, too, or taking a duffel bag along to spend the night, or a character noticing a couple of corny things on a front stoop to show the place as being quaint and homey.
These details were particularly helpful when trying to describe the men's room at the gay nightclub. This isn't something most of M/M romance readers are familiar with. The description made the scene come alive:
"The bathroom had a long trench urinal, instead of individuals, and about half the length was occupied. Six stalls lined the opposite wall, four doors locked shut. Two of them had more than one pair of feet visible beneath the door."
This was a very simple description that told me that the bathroom was often very busy and that the extra urinal space was needed because people were frequently having sex in the stalls. Showing rather than telling can often be short and succinct and I think the author managed this well.
The sex scene after the club was one of the hottest scenes I've ever read. I wasn't always quite sure that the reactions were realistic for the characters but they were certainly typical of gay men. I liked that it was written this way, with men who don't know each other very well being very sexual with each other and just slipping into a menage a quatre/voyeur/exhibitionist scene. (You just have to read it, it's actually sweet.) It was particularly gratifying that this way of thinking, rather different from that of most women and therefore most heterosexual couples, was included and written as natural, not weird or unusual.
About that scene: (only spoils stuff that happens in the scene)
From the teenage Alessandro's perspective, the issue with Justin felt a lot bigger than it turned out to be. Alessandro feels guilty for what happened but I personally don't see what a messed up teenager was supposed to do differently. I actually said out loud, "That's it?" Granted, I'm not averse to saying things out loud when I'm reading, but still. Later, when more of the story came out, yes it was a huge deal, but that was after Alessandro had felt guilty for years without really knowing anything.
I was a little annoyed that there were some TSTL moments at the climax of the story. However, I understand it was needed for the plot, and I can live with it.
The end left me wanting more and I am extremely excited that there is a sequel coming out later this year. I am eager to read more of Jaime and Alessandro's story.
I received a advance reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Most of you probably already know this by now, but I think it should be shouted from the rooftops.
From the New York Times (link to full article is below)
Michael Sam, a college football standout at the University of Missouri who is expected to be chosen in the early rounds of the National Football League draft, said Sunday that he is gay.
|By coming out, Mr. Sam is positioned to be the first publicly gay player in the N.F.L. As a senior last season, Mr. Sam was a first-team All-American at defensive end, leading Missouri to a 12-2 record and a victory in the Cotton Bowl. He was the defensive player of the year in the prestigious Southeastern Conference.|
|In an interview on Sunday with The New York Times, he recalled how he told his teammates last August, “I looked in their eyes, and they just starting shaking their heads — like, finally, he came out.”|
Book summary: A painful past. A mysterious stranger. Footsteps vanishing in the fog. All Stanley wants is just to hear Tom say, "I love you." All Tom wants is Stanley safe. And the stranger? Ah, there's the rub--what exactly is it that he wants?
Be careful what you wish for, fellows. You may get it. Dreams can be deadly.
This was a really hard book to rate. I loved parts of it and hated others.
The plot was good and much of the mystery as well. Some parts I figured out immediately but not everything.
There was some good action and thrills.
There was near-death and melodrama.
There was trauma, and an emotionally charged beautiful scene where one MC showed his love for the other.
The characters are well-developed for the most part. The two MCs are definitely very different and distinct.
The book was dark and twisted in parts, which I really like.
I was left wanting more which was impressive considering how mad I was throughout it.
A town is divided by tracks with the haves on one side and the have nots on the other. How trite can you get?
A couple of drug users who also deal to support their habits, have a big stash of marijuana and something bad happens. There is no way anyone, not authorities nor family, will realize anything happened for quite a while if ever. They don't want to be caught so they know they need leave town even though they have no money. Yet instead of selling the marijuana and then leaving a couple of days later, they leave immediately and dump the pot off a bridge. Seriously?
The couple never stretch or use lube when they have intercourse. They don't even have foreplay. Ouch. They don't use condoms, either, but they have just moved in together so I assume they're exclusive so I'll let that pass.
The couple can't conceive of someone being bi. One thinks he's straight except for his affection for Stanley. He can't be gay because he still loves women. Stanley pretty much agrees and it bothers him that Chris isn't gay. Hello, can't someone be bi? Can't someone love both men and women? I do. I've been out as bi since I was 12 and I'm in my 40's now. I've had long term relationships with both men and women. I never felt that I was missing something or unfulfilled.
The two men never want the same thing out of the relationship at the same time. When one is flighty, the other is clingy. When one is satisfied, the other is discontented, and the sides change both between and within the books. It gets annoying, like the author is trying to force conflict in there.
Major info dumping. For example, there's a secondary character who is really only important as a way to see how the two MCs would deal with an intense issue and also as a minor plot point. But we get to know pages and pages of her back story, where she grew up, how, why, etc., etc.; stuff that just wasn't necessary at all.
One protagonist thinks love and hate aren't judgmental. Huh? They're the ultimate in judgment.
Sometimes one or the other of the MCs is too stupid to live.
I find it annoying when characters recite bits from books and poems verbatim, especially when they're not wildly known works. It's incredibly unlikely that when two characters meet for the first time that they will know the author of the words and the title they came from, and even the exact same passages. When it happens over and over and over again, I can't suspend my disbelief. It's hard enough when they're two professors in the same field. It's just ridiculous when their jobs aren't ones where they need to know that stuff and there's no indication they spend tons of time memorizing. I have a graduate degree in the liberal arts and I don't remember anything word for word, even stuff I once had to memorize. I know the gist and can recognize some stuff, but very little and rarely do I know which specific book something came from.
Both are complete assholes: Chris in the first half of the book, Stanley in the second half. They deserve each other. It was ugly being in the MCs' heads. Maybe it was realistic but it wasn't likeable. I lacked sympathy because they just didn't come across as nice people. Sometimes each doesn't appear to love the other or even be that attached because they don't have real emotions. I know men don't talk about their feelings, that they repress them even, but this is ridiculous. The people portrayed here aren't capable of true love. They are way too self-absorbed and out of touch with their emotions. The only exception was at the very end where everything had to come together for the inevitable HEA.
This was the ugliest thing to have to witness: (Medium spoiler)
The other MC's, MC 2's, reaction to this was actually even more bothersome.(medium spoiler)(show spoiler)
MC 2's reaction to the climax is even worse. He takes the whole thing fairly mildly even though he should be furious. (Major spoiler)
Also, (major big ass spoiler that will ruin most surprises)(show spoiler)
I've never quite gotten the whole "I love her so I can't let her go to jail even though she is an insane serial murderer. So I'll just help her escape." If I did that, I would be as responsible as she was for every new crime she committed. I might as well put the gun in my own hand. I couldn't live with myself if someone I loved killed someone because I hadn't prevented it when I could have. If you're Christian or Buddhist it's even worse because you're letting your loved one ruin their Karma/go to hell without having an opportunity to repent. (I'm not either but it still appalls me. I'm not going to let someone kill someone else because I'm too selfish to do what needs to be done. Anyway, in this instance where the only link is genetic, it's ridiculous that MC 2 would even consider the possibility of not turning the other in.
But the worst part for me is this which comes at the end of the book but isn't any kind of a spoiler:
"He loved [the other MC] for his bravery as much as for anything. But he knew, too--every gay man did--that gays had something extra, some different kind of courage and strength, to keep them going, but no less real for the difference. How could they endure their lives otherwise?"
There is so much wrong with that sentence. 1. Why is living as a gay person something to endure? That's the kind of thing homophobes think. Being gay is wonderful. It's dealing with homophobia that is hard. But the lives of many gay men don't encounter homophobia every day, especially in San Francisco where these two live. 2. Why are courage and strength necessary to deal with these issues? Patience and having a thick skin might simply be enough depending on what you're talking about. It's not like middle-America everywhere. 3. Gays is not a noun. Or it wasn't until people started abusing it ("The gays are moving into our neighborhood Agnes!") Using it as a noun sounds homophobic. 4. Gays have something extra others don't have? It's that much harder to be gay than African American, severely disabled, extremely poor, Native American, etc.? Being gay can be very hard just like it can for other minorities. Just like it can for those who are constantly abused or those who are harassed regularly for being a woman in a job traditionally male, or being extremely poor and going to school in a middle-class neighborhood, or being illiterate and trying to get a job. I just hate it when people say one form of discrimination is worse than another. I don't think that's what the author means, but that's how it comes across and it makes me angry.
Despite all this, I do want to read the next one. Maybe they'll finally start treating each other right. With what happened in the final scenes, there's going to have to be more emotional content in the next one or it will be just too stupid. I have faith.
2.5 stars but I'm rounding down because I really couldn't stand each of the MCs at different points. For me, that's not preferred.
From the New York Times, 2/8/2014
The federal government will soon treat married same-sex couples the same as heterosexual couples when they file for bankruptcy, testify in court or visit family in prison.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. was preparing to issue policies aimed at eliminating the distinction between same-sex and opposite-sex married couples in the federal criminal justice system, according to excerpts from a speech prepared for a Saturday event organized by a prominent gay-rights group.
“In every courthouse, in every proceeding and in every place where a member of the Department of Justice stands on behalf of the United States, they will strive to ensure that same-sex marriages receive the same privileges, protections and rights as opposite-sex marriages,” Mr. Holder’s prepared remarks said, according to the excerpts circulated by the Justice Department.
The changes were set in motion last year when the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional to refuse federal benefits to married same-sex couples, a ruling that Mr. Holder supported.
Since the ruling in June, the Obama administration has rewritten federal rules to allow same-sex couples to file taxes together and receive Medicare and other benefits reserved for married couples. Mr. Holder has been the public face of those efforts and has made championing gay rights one of the central messages of his tenure.
From the New York Times, 2/8/2014
Erin E. Miller and her wife may have to pay more income tax this year, but they aren’t about to protest. Quite the opposite.
They are delighted.
The change in their tax situation results from the Supreme Court’s landmark June decision, in United States v. Windsor, which declared that the Defense of Marriage Act violated the Constitution. The ruling expands the rights of gay couples, but one consequence is that some couples will pay higher taxes.
“I don’t care,” said Ms. Miller, a software engineer who lives in Beverly, Mass. “I’m thrilled that DOMA was struck down, regardless of my own personal situation.”
This year’s rules are a huge change from those in previous years, when the I.R.S. did not recognize same-sex marriages performed in states that had legalized them. The change followed the Supreme Court ruling, which struck down the part of DOMA that said the federal government would not recognize same-sex marriages that were legal under state laws.
In that case, Edith Windsor, the survivor in a legally married same-sex couple, challenged the I.R.S.’s denial of her marital status after her spouse’s death. If she had been recognized as the spouse, she would have owed no inheritance tax. Because she was not a spouse under DOMA, she owed $363,053. The Supreme Court said that the part of the law requiring the federal government to ignore same-sex marriages was unconstitutional and that Ms. Windsor was thus entitled to rely on her valid same-sex marriage to determine her status. Two months later, the I.R.S. issued its new guidelines.