Tuesday, 30 April 2013

I Can See For Miles, Lisa Worrall

A very nice story about two men who are each battling hurts of their pasts, as well as disabilities, who come together and find their happily-ever-after.

- Review by Cindi

** A comment or two may contain slight spoilers. Keep that in mind before reading. **

I Can See For Miles

Josh Donald lost his sight in a kayaking accident.  Not only his sight, but his boyfriend as well. Alec, the boyfriend, could not handle the responsibilities that came with being with a blind man. While Josh was dealing with the loss of his sight he was also forced to deal with losing the man he loved.  His friends, Mario and Greg, feel helpless knowing they can't help their friend.  They sign him up for a week at a camp for the blind.  Mario and Greg will be there with him every step of the way.  On the first day, Josh is introduced to the camp's owner and director, Charlie Cooper.  Charlie has his own vision problems though they are not as severe as Josh's.  He also has his own ex who left him at a time when he needed him most.  This, on top of being abusive while the two were together.  Josh and Charlie, for their own separate reasons, are not looking for another relationship.  Josh because he knows that it would take a very special person to live with him and his special needs.  Charlie because his abusive past makes it hard for him to trust.  Unfortunately or fortunately, fate has other plans.  From the moment they meet sparks fly though Charlie fights them every step of the way.

Over a period of a few days, Josh and Charlie get to know each other and during one very emotional moment Charlie turns to Josh and for the next few days they are inseparable.  During this time Charlie's own vision is quickly failing.  The doctors have done all they can so it's only a matter of time before he is as blind as Josh. He keeps this to himself instead of sharing it with the man he is growing to love.  The secret is kept because Charlie is terrified of not being who Josh wants... needs... his protector.   Charlie's reluctance to share his medical problems with Josh bothered me.  I can understand it but I felt that if anyone would understand it would be Josh.  It takes a life or death situation for Charlie to make a decision in regards to the relationship.  That is where I had a problem with this book and why I cannot give it a full 5 stars.  As much as I would love to point out what my issues are, I will refrain as I do not want to give spoilers in this review.  Those who have read it will know what I'm talking about.  Everything comes together nicely at the end and Josh and Charlie have their happily-ever-after.  There is an epilogue that shows the two men a little farther down the road.  I was very pleased with that as well as the final chapter before it.

Overall, a very good book.  The disabilities of Josh, Charlie and others at the camp are written very well.  There are quite a few secondary characters who the reader can not help but fall in love with, namely Mario and Greg and Charlie's parents.  There is also humor scattered throughout that kept the story from becoming too serious.  Josh is absolutely adorable.  The title is very fitting.

My rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars

This book was provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Monday, 29 April 2013

The Hiding Place, Wayne Mansfield

- Review by Kazza K

****Please note that this review is totally full of spoilers****

The Hiding Place by Wayne MansfieldI'm in two minds about The Hiding Place. From an adult LGBT fiction piece's perspective it tells an interesting story. It is well written, albeit too short to do the book the justice it fully deserves. Strong topics are covered - bullying, family apathy, teenage suicide, mental health, LGBT issues. All important and all right up my reading alley.

It is an incredibly sad story. It is very well intentioned and it certainly brings home a point - bullying with no assistance for the victim, with no safe place to escape, has extreme effects on the human psyche. When you are young and you do not have peers who support you, your own family doesn't seem to care what happens to you, there seems no way out from the physical and emotional torment you live day-to-day it can appear that's all there is to life. And as catchy as the slogan "it gets better" is, it does little to help when the world seems to hate you. There is also going to be impact on behaviour, mood, and an individuals ability to cope and handle life, which can have far reaching/long term effects if not supported correctly.

Just a brief look at the book. Bryan is bullied at his school. Occasionally a couple of the girls lend him a hand but nothing overly helpful. His father drinks, although this wasn't explored, his mother has never asked him how his day is and seems more angry with her son than the perpetrator when someone steals his bike and slashes the tyres and seat. The best quote came at this stage in the book where Bryan has had enough - a caricature of him sucking cock is in his bag, he has been deliberately branded by a tennis ball, and he has also been knocked over. Then he goes into a newer teacher's class, one where she has trouble being authoritative and, once again, he is on the receiving end of bullying -

...Bryan would watch in silence, trying to look as small and insignificant as possible because when Miss Stanovich began losing control she would pick on him. Why don't you know the answer? How many times do I have to explain it? Were you paying attention at all when we went through this yesterday? And the boys would laugh because at that moment she was one of them, doing their job for them

My primary conundrum is that The Hiding Place sits in no-man's-land. The cover looks YA, the premise sounds YA, it starts out YA, but it veers out of YA territory with Bryan's dreams, not his initial ones, the latter ones, and his condom-less experiences when he leaves his small town in WA and attends university in Perth. To me it's a shame, as this could have been a good YA resource.

Having said this, are the actual experiences in the book real? Sadly, yes. A naïve, troubled eighteen year old trying to fit in, equating sex acts to love, with no family or peer support to ground or guide them is going to, more often than not, find difficulties/trouble - which the MC, Bryan, did. So it is a strong piece of fictional writing. There is more to this book. The dreams that Bryan has are the escape from his life, where he dreams of his fantasy lover. Yet, paradoxically, these dreams are a catalyst for a later attraction and events. There is also mention of someone sitting on Bryan's bed of a night. From the beginning of the book Bryan feels there is something there. This is an interesting part of the story for me.

Bryan makes friends when he is at university but they quickly turn on him when they discover he hasn't been with a girl, like he said he was, but rather he was seen out the back of a local gay bar with a guy. Rumours spread and his friends make him feel like he's back at school in his home town all over again. He has one friend, Francesca, who is nice to him but he is unable to really bond with anyone, particularly when they question him or try to make him see things differently to the way he perceives them to be. Bryan decides to move off campus into a place with a guy he has met at the local gay bar, Ben. Bryan finds himself attracted to Ben, he likes older hirsute men and Ben fits the bill. They have sex and Bryan reads more into it, however Ben crosses a line I could not forgive him for. Bryan is not stable throughout The Hiding Place and it descends into a dark place for him. Bryan finding himself in the Swan river coating himself in mud after feeling rejected again, having a full meltdown -

Again he reached down, his fingers digging in until his palms were full of mud, and again he smeared his chest and belly with it. The next time he rubbed it on his face and neck. He thrust his hands back into the water and collected more and more mud, finding new places to smear it. 

"I'm mud," he said, more forcefully this time. "I'm mud. Nothing but mud. Always have been. Always will be."

"I'm mud," he screamed at the top of his voice. "Mud."

"Muuuuuuud ."

This was an extremely sad part of the book. Years of emotions and rejections combining and rising to the surface in a troubled young man. One blow too many delivered to his fragile mind.

I find I must have my say on something that I took exception to. After Ben asks Bryan to leave and Bryan 'loses it' in the Swan river, the word "friend" is used to describe Ben.

...."who told your friend Ben where to find you earlier this evening?"

I didn't like it. I found it a poor word-choice here. Someone who fucks you when they think you are sleeping., when you haven't given consent, without condoms, who is thirty nine to your eighteen is not a friend....Ever. I understand this is dark fiction, I still didn't like it. It detracted from a poignant part of the story for me and made it seem rather....flippant.

Apart from that the book is a decent piece of LGBT fiction and I read quickly to find out what would happen on several fronts. If you are looking for a happy book with a happy ending you won't find it in The Hiding Place. Although the ending is quirky and open to interpretation. If you are interested in the effects of bullying in a fictional setting with some erotic notes then it is here.

Overall this is a very interesting piece of writing and the author-note at the end about bullying is a very important one. This is my first book by Wayne Mansfield and I'm inclined to want to read more.  I recommend this book to those who like a darker LGBT piece of fiction rooted in reality.

4 dark stars


Sunday, 28 April 2013

Stubborn Heart, Ken Murphy

A sweet story about learning to trust again.

- Review by Cindi

Stubborn Heart

Mark Smith is a thirty-three-year-old nurse at an Atlanta hospital.  He works his many hours and goes home to an empty condo at the end of each shift.  He is content in his life and has no desire to take a chance of sharing it with another man.  He's tried that a couple of times only to have his heart broken because his partners refused to be faithful.  After a particular hurtful break-up with his last boyfriend David he makes a decision to not allow himself to be put in that position again.  If he doesn't get involved he can't get hurt.  Simple as that.  So he avoids all temptation when it comes to relationships and does his job and goes home.

Trevor Hayes is a new cardio surgeon at Mark's hospital.  His time at the hospital is limited to a few months and then he will move on to a permanent position in another part of the country.  

On Trevor's first day at the Atlanta hospital he meets Mark and sparks fly for both.  He begins to pursue Mark with Mark resisting every step of the way.  No way will he allow himself to get involved again.  Trevor is persistent and eventually a friendship develops between the two men and Mark gets worn down and allows himself to go on a real date.  What follows is Mark trying desperately to not open his heart to the other man who is bound and determined to make him part of his life... permanently.  Mark knows that Trevor's time in Georgia is limited so he holds back a part of his heart knowing that it will be broken when the other man goes on to wherever he will go when his time in Atlanta is over.  He is also terrified of falling in love and taking a chance of once again getting cheated on.

This is a nice story.  The reader is allowed to see Mark's last break-up in all its glory in a prologue so you are able to see exactly where he is coming from by holding back his heart.  The title is fitting as he is very stubborn and refuses to think that maybe Trevor is different from David and the others who have hurt him in his past.  

I liked Trevor a lot though there are a couple of times when I couldn't quite see where he was coming from.  He fell in love with Mark quickly and this showed but when it came to make a decision in regards to his future, he was not as forthcoming as I felt that he should be nor did I understand his choices.  Without giving a spoiler, I can't say more in regards to that but suffice it to say that I personally did not get it.  I felt that once he declared himself to Mark that all decisions should have been decided mutually.

Then there are the secondary characters.  Some were entertaining, some not.  There's Carla, a fellow nurse at the hospital and a close friend to Mark.  I found her to be entertaining at times and annoying at others.  Then there's Derrick, Trevor's former lover and current best friend and roommate.  I liked Derrick fine... eventually... but it took a little bit of reading to understand the dynamics of his and Trevor's relationship.  One thing happens in regards to Derrick that I felt Trevor did not handle well but that's just me.  He's a good guy and added a bit more to the story.

Overall, this is a very nice book from what I understand is a first-time author.  There were a couple of things that were a bit much (excessive use of exclamation points, over-descriptive) but nothing that took away from the story as a whole.  There is a bit of drama and danger added to mix things up a little but nothing too angsty or severe. Everything comes together nicely at the end and Mark and Trevor finally get their much needed happily-ever-after.  I will read more from this author.

My rating:  4 out of 5 stars

This book was provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Dreams of the Forgotten (Sumeria's Sons #3). Lexi Ander

-Review by Kazza K

Dreams of the Forgotten (Sumeria's Sons #3)This is a hard book to review on a few levels. 1) I don't wish to give away spoilers and I'll state this now - unless you have read the other two books don't read this review because it gives things away 2) there are a lot of names in this book and their relationship to one another can be complex.

Tristan and Ushna are still on their ranch in Oklahoma, Clearwater. Tristan's pregnancy is progressing. The first chapter (there is a prologue) sees Tristan nine weeks pregnant and counting down to the birth of his twins, or as it is headed up throughout the book's chapters -  (number of days) until the birth of the heirs to the Seat of Zeev, the Wolf Throne. Tristan is having dreams that disturb him they seem so vivid at the time of having them. What makes the dreams more disconcerting is  Tristan's broken Twin Flame bond with Theo Sullivan, the death of Ushna's Twin Flame, Brian, and Tristan's predator gradually getting louder in wanting to mark Ushna. In his dreams Tristan identifies as a man, Seth, who has strong feelings for two men - Nikita and Angelo - but has a Bashert in another male - Arsenios. The dreams continue throughout Tristan's pregnancy and the words -

"You know what I want to hear."

"Tell me. Say it."

-  are important. Tristan doesn't share his dreams with anyone, including Ushna, for fear of what they might mean. In their world past lives and future lives are incredibly important. Your TF will always find you again and again. So why is Tristan having these dreams which tug at his heart and soul? Adding to this, he can see other faces transposed onto Ushna's and it is creating some internal and physical havoc on Tristan.

In the mean time, two friends from childhood, Stan and Jory, arrive at the ranch to see Tristan. Or is that really the case? Is there another agenda? Given the threat to Tristan and his position all newcomers are suspect until proven otherwise, even those who have been in Tristan's life previously. Tristan is glad to have part of his original pack back with him, Ushna and Gregori are protective and unsure.

Also throw into the equation that Daniel Sullivan, the last lover of Theo Sullivan, Tristan's ex (Twin Flame), and now guardian of Theo's three children, is causing problems. Daniel irks Tristan and his predator. They do not like Daniel one iota. But others have previously thought this was a jealousy over Theo. But Tristan, and his predator's, dislike of Daniel is given just cause when they find Justus, Neoma and Dawn in a bad situation - dishevelled, underfed and facing down older children with no sign of Daniel. It turns out Daniel has been out of town for weeks leaving three young children to fend for themselves. I LOVED the way Tristan went into full parent mode with these children/pups - they're not his, they were conceived and born through affairs Theo had when he should have been with Tristan, and yet he protects these children with everything he has. I suspect Tristan and Ushna will be remarkably good parents to their own pups.

A lot of the book introduces new characters, none without some purpose, but there are a few - old friends, Stan and Jory, Neesie's fiancée, Lonnie 'Fucking'-Fowler, Bixx Decimus and his Warriors, supposedly members of the Order of Ophidians, the Magi Circle of Three, Jynx, Devlin and Nacht,  Ki is now replaced by Ashur, guiding Tristan in his Earth connection, The Simurgh, Theo's children Justus, Neoma and Dawn, Ira Weatherby, Marek Gillander, and their parent's -  Kent and Joyce, and Stephen and Denise. I may have left some out but I think you get my drift. The book also looks at the factions that have formed and a clearer picture is painted of the factions. There is a LOT of world building here on the back of prior building and introducing new angles. Two sides are becoming apparent in their belief of who should rule the Tribe of Enkidu. Who they believe is the rightful alpha and Xenres to king. The Magi Council has disbanded but they have already shown their hand in the last book and are still lurking.

Tristan and Ushna use the ring of illusion to hide the fact that Tristan is pregnant with heirs to the throne. Only those loyal and in his inner sanctum know. Of course, on occasion, events occur that can't hide his pregnancy but for the most part they have done a god job keeping things from those they don't want to know.

I enjoyed Dreams of the Forgotten, I love both Tristan and Ushna. Lexi Ander writes both characters consistently throughout, and with much love. If anything they have grown and that is the way it should be. Ushna was so protective, so grounding and caring. Tristan was assertive when he had to be and forgiving when he needed to be. He is a fair Xenres. He cares about his tribe. He's pregnant and things were getting more and more difficult for him and his cravings, his appetite, and adjusting to being a pregnant alpha and warrior were easy to either relate to and/or laugh at at times - 'warriors don't waddle.'  There is not much sex in this book and at the risk of sounding like the perv I am, I missed that. It was nice when it happened -

The door had hardly closed behind Gregori before Ushna had one of his hands under my shirt, another hand down my boxers . He gave me open-mouthed kisses on the back of my neck and shoulders, his tongue came out to tease my skin here and there.
"Am I going to have to make you relax?" Ushna asked between kisses.
"Ahm..." Hell yes if this was his relaxation technique! I'd have said no if my mouth hadn't disconnected from my brain at the same moment Ushna wrapped his fingers firmly around my shaft, squeezing slightly before he stroked. 

But I want to add some concerns now. This book finishes like the other two, with more to come. I'm okay with that. What I'm not okay with is a series that concentrates on one couple for more than a few books. I don't last very long in these types of series and as much as I love Tristan and Ushna, and I really do love them, I also want closure for their relationship. I'm hoping for that closure in the next book, and for the love of any god or goddess you choose to name, that there are NO NEW BLOODY CHARACTERS introduced in the next book. I have a very good memory but I would stop, on more than one occasion, and think "who was that character again? Oh, yes." And as well written as the book is that is a big problem for any reader. The other problem is that with all the new characters, all the world building, and angles there is little time for secondary character development. I like Gregori but not enough to want a book about him. I really do like Randy because he has been an enigmatic and interesting character from the start of their ranching, and quite a bit more came out about him in this book, but still not enough. His relationship with .......(no, no spoilers) is going to be....interesting if it is done right, if not it will be weird. As much as I like action and respect a well built paranormal I would like things to settle a bit and get back to some basics with Tristan, Ushna, their life on the ranch, closing up the bad guys plot, dealing more with the children in their charge, including their new pups when they arrive, which should be soon, and creating an opportunity for some secondary characters to take centre stage. I never want Tristan and Ushna not to be in it, if the series continues on, but I would like to see some others get a chance to shine.

Overall, this is a very good series. It is why I come back to it. If you like supernatural/paranormal shifter books, good world building, mythology, a truly beautiful pair of protagonists, and writing that draws you in, then I recommend the well named Dreams of the Forgotten.

4 m-preg stars.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

The Poodle Apocalypse, John Inman

The Poodle Apocalypse

Another hilarious tale by one of my new favorite authors.

- Review by Cindi

The world has been taken over by zombies.  They remain hidden in places unknown until they decide to come out and play with our two main characters, Charlie and Bobby.  The zombies are slow and not very bright so it doesn't take much for the men to dispose of them one by one. Then there is a matter with the weather.  It may be snowing hard one minute or hot and steamy the next.  There is also a huge hail storm that destroys everything in its path.  As far as Charlie and Bobby know they are the only humans still in existence. When what is now known as Dead Tuesday happened (the day the world ended as far as Charlie and Bobby are concerned) it all started with the blaring of a car alarm outside their window.  Suddenly there were empty cars, empty streets and no sign of life outside of Charlie and Bobby.  Then the power goes out and the real problems start.  What will Bobby do without his blow dryer?  And Charlie without his cappuccino?

Not long after Dead Tuesday, the zombies start making an appearance.  Not little ones either.  All are big and ugly.
"I don't know why we couldn't have our lives threatened by a nice midget now and then.  Or a third-grader.  Or maybe some feeble ninety-two-year-old grandmother with a walker.  But no.  All our homicidal visitors looked like lumberjacks.  Even the girly visitors were brawny and mean.  Back before the world went to shit, those girly visitors must have been cranky motorcycle chicks with leather boots and spiky hairdos, who never got laid because they were just too damned ugly, which I suppose would go a long way toward explaining their nasty attitudes now that they were, for all intents and purposes, as dead as mackerels."
Then we meet the zombie poodle, Mimi, who makes an appearance at a most inopportune time. The French poodle still has remnants of pink about its haunches where the mistress (or gay-as-hell master) had had the unfortunate animal dipped in whatever the hell it is rich people use to humiliate their poor beasts and turn them various colors of the rainbow.  The poodle is evil but Bobby takes a liking to it so they end up with a zombie poodle pet. 

On stolen mopeds (Bobby's is hot pink with a scarf to match) the two men make their way around town stealing food from the empty stores and basically trying to survive.  Then Bobby goes missing and Charlie's world falls completely apart.  With Mimi the pet poodle, he jumps on Bobby's pink moped, dons the pink scarf and embarks on a search to find his man, encountering every kind of zombie animal one could imagine in the process.

Anything I say beyond that will give it away so I'm stopping there.

This book has the classic John Inman humor that I have grown to love with each book of his I've read.  There are laugh out loud moments as well as a few serious ones.  The way everything comes together at the end is perfect for this little story.  Another entertaining read by John Inman.

My rating:  4 out of 5 stars

 This book was provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Fugue, Rick R. Reed


Another Rick R. Reed story that will leave you thinking long after you've gotten to the end.

- Review by Cindi

Two men meet on the el late one night.  One is dressed in leather chaps, a leather cap, engineer boots and a tight white tee.  He's older with black curly hair with a bit of gray.  He's a big man with a hardened, muscular body that has obviously been made that way by hard work.  Fugue is tattoo'd on one of his biceps.The other man is at the oldest eighteen or nineteen with sandy blonde hair and pale blue eyes.  His body is lean and he is dressed in jeans,  a faded green tee and clean Reeboks.  Their eyes meet when they are left alone on the train and there is no doubt of what the other wants.  This begins the game of master versus sub.  Only who will be the master?  The big burly man or the innocent looking young boy?

Then the reader is taken into a basement where one of the men is tied up waiting on his master. It's the kind of damp and filthy basement you read about in novels written by the Marquis de Sade or authors who sign their books with only the initial "O."  It's the type of cellar you'd discover in a true crime book by Ann Rule or Greg Olsen, a shocking chiller about twisted men who keep their victims shackled, naked, and desperate for long periods of time.  Men who enjoy seeing their victims suffer, who enjoy playing long, drawn-out, and elaborate versions of cat and mouse.

The reader is taken back and forth from the train to the damp basement with each setting being the complete opposite of the other in regards to the actions of the players involved.  In the train, the young man is the master and the large, older man submits eagerly and willingly.  In the basement the opposite is true.  Each setting is very sexual and it shows submission at its highest level.  But the reader is left wondering.... which is a dream and which is true?  The blurb states that one part is a dream and it gives you an idea of whose dream but the reader is still left thinking perhaps the other could be true.   Once again Rick R. Reed has written a tale that leaves the reader guessing and wondering long after the end.  The story is short, roughly 40-something pages, but a lot is said in those few pages.  You are left guessing... is the rough older man the master?  Or is the young, innocent looking one?   Another player is brought into one of the scenes but he leaves almost as quickly as he appears though not before getting in on the action as well.

I am aware that this is one of Mr. Reed's older stories.  I am slowly making my way through his work so in the upcoming weeks there are apt to be many more reviews of his books and short stories on this blog.  My apologies in advance if in the near future there are several reviews of his work posted back-to-back.  And my thanks to my blog partner for allowing me to feed my obsession. :)

My rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Friday, 26 April 2013

Closet Capers (Anthology), Various Authors

A fun collection of humorous short stories.

- Review by Cindi

                                            A Kiss in the Dark, Eli Easton
Closet Capers

It all starts with a kiss in the dark when the lights go out during a party.  Lane Lester is grabbed from behind and is given the most intense kiss he has ever experienced in his life.  The room is pitch black and he has no idea who is kissing him and whose erection is pressing against him in the dark.  All he knows is that it feels right.  The stranger disappears before the lights come on and Lane is left aroused and confused.  Who had kissed him?  This takes Lane on a journey to find out who the mystery man was even resorting to hypnosis when his straight roommate wants to experiment. Little does Lane know but his 'admirer' is much closer than he could have imagined.

This is a great start to the anthology.  The reader gets an idea relatively early on who the mystery man is but nothing is confirmed until much later.  A great story and I will definitely be seeking out more from this author. - 5 stars

Calbert's House Specialty Blend, Skylar Jaye

A nice story about two men who come together over a special blend of coffee.  For a non coffee drinker this might come across as a bit out there.  As a person who can't function without her coffee every day, I totally get it. :)  Nice story. - 3.75 stars

The Whole Kit and Kaboodle,  Ari McKay

Grey is an associate professor of history at Hartwell University.  He has been attracted to the librarian at the university, Henry Adams, since the first time he met him two years earlier.  Henry  obviously shares the attraction but he rebuffs Grey at every turn.  It takes some time... and a bit of light stalking... for Grey to uncover Henry's secrets.  Nice story but it bordered on sappy when it came to the dialogue.  
"I've brought a couple of trinkets for you, although the chocolate could never hope to compare with your sweetness, nor the champagne with the intoxication of simply being in your presence."
That's only one example.  This is the entire story.  I'm not saying it's a bad thing necessarily but it came across as a bit unrealistic as I know no men who speak to each other like that during every conversation. - 3 stars

Le Beau Soleil, Christopher Hawthorne Moss

Set in New Orleans in 1855, a professional gambler must find out who is spreading rumors saying he is cheating during his poker games.  He enlists the help of his manservant, prostitutes and M. Murphy, Confidential Agent to help him get to the bottom of the rumors so he can clear his name.  There are some interesting characters and the setting was nice.  - 3 stars

Leveling Up, Jude Dunn

Two men are about to celebrate their anniversary and one thing after another goes wrong for one as he tries to make his way to the meeting place.  There is deception, anger and confusion that is quickly resolved though I ended the story feeling a little lost.  - 3 stars

Kitsch Me, Mari Donne

What a cute story!  Brian and Craig are an established couple.  Brian has always been the one who has been the most over enthusiastic and over the top with his feelings and emotions.  He feels that he strong-armed Craig into the relationship and this leaves Brian feeling as if maybe his feelings are a little more than Craig's.  Craig proves himself later in a big way by surprising Brian with something major.  It takes a lot of secrecy to do it but he does.  The resolution is perfect.  - 4.5 stars

Made Good Under Pressure, Maja Rose

Set in New York City in 1926, two men who are from the complete opposite ends of the spectrum come together in a very sweet way.  Billy is poor and has been poor all his life.  He entertains himself by hanging out outside of a local dance hall where the uber rich go in the evenings.  While being bullied by a rich and snobby man, Billy is rescued by Eric and Julia Hamilton, a brother and sister.  Eric talks Billy into going inside and they spend the evening dancing.  Eric wants more but Billy knows it will never work because of their different financial statuses.  Julia on the other hand has other plans.

Normally I avoid books that are not set in current time.  I don't like going back so I tend to stay away from those types of stories.  I would have really missed out had I skipped over Made Good Under Pressure as it is a very good story.  I will definitely be searching for more from this author.  - 5 stars

Tempest for a Teacup, Andrea Speed

A private detective is hired by a spoiled rich kid to find his Morkie who disappeared earlier in the day.  Princess is the dog and was taken from the kid's doggie purse bag while at a park.  The detective enlists the help of his boyfriend who just happens to be the only honest police officer in the city. Enlisted may not be the correct word as the boyfriend knew that if he didn't help that the couple would have no time together until the 'case' is solved.

This story is very entertaining.  There is a lot of humor and I loved all of the characters, both main and secondary.  - 4.5 stars

Small Change, Danni Keane

Dom is the caretaker of Little Lexington's, a village of miniatures.  He is also an artist who paints each miniature by hand.  There's a wedding chapel, a carousel, a woman hanging clothes on the line, a train, as well as various other buildings and groups of people.  During his nightly run-through at the end of a work day, he discovers some of the scenes have been changed and this happens often over time.  In one instance, a train has been overturned and there are bodies scattered about.  In another, Mrs. Baxter who is supposed to be hanging clothes on the line is now being taken from behind by a local villager.  Then there is the marriage scene where the bride is changed to a second groom.  Dom has no idea who is changing up his scenes and neither does his boss George or another coworker, Riley.  

Dom has been attracted to Riley since the first time they met but he knows that Riley is out of his league.  But George has plans that involves both men.  They are to do a stakeout to find out who is messing with the miniatures.  Of course there is more to George's plan but Dom and Riley don't know this at the time.  A very good story.  - 4.5 stars

Lawrence Frightengale Investigates, Aidee Ladnier & Debussy Ladnier

Follow along as Lawrence Frightengale (aka Larry French) and his lover Myrna Boy (aka Nicholas Benson) embark on a search to find a black El Dorado that has been carnapped a couple of hours before it is to be driven in a parade.  Lawrence is the host of Terror Time, a popular television show at an independent television station.  The car is on loan from the owner of the station to be used in the Out & About parade.  Knowing that Lawrence will be out of a job if the theft is discovered, he, Myrna and Myrna's dog Bootsy go on a quick journey to try to get the car back before anyone finds out.  There are surprises and a humorous cast of secondary characters.  A very entertaining read.  - 4.5 stars

Joie de Vivre, Pinkie Rae Parker

When Jules inherits his aunt's large farmhouse, he is faced with more repairs than he can afford and seeing the bully who made his life a living hell as he was growing up.  The former bully, Henri, is all grown up now and no longer the child terror.  Slowly arrangements are made for the  house and a relationship between Jules and Henri is born. Nice story though I would have liked to have seen a little bit more added to the ending.  - 4 stars

Philip Collyer vs the Cola Thief, Amy Rae Durreson

Phil Collyer is a manager at a pharmaceutical company.  His job is busy, at times stressful, but he is determined to be a good boss.  There is one thing that he must have in order to keep up his good attitude:  caffeine.  He starts each day with tea and then drinks coffee throughout the day.  But lunchtime is for his one can of cola.  He looks forward to that can every day.  When his colas start to disappear from the company refrigerator, Phil gets cranky and he takes it out on his employees.  Every day he puts in a new can and every day the can disappears.  Then notes start to appear in place of the soft drink.  Notes that I thought were hilarious.  As time goes by, he gets help from a hot IT guy Kester.  They start trying to discover who is stealing the drinks and in the meantime they get close.  The man who Phil thought was out of his league is now right there wanting Phil as much as he does Kester.  

I really loved this story.  The only issue I have with it is that I feel that once the cola thief was exposed that Phil overreacted in a big way.  Otherwise, a very humorous love story.  I love all of the characters.  - 4.5 stars


Overall, a great anthology.  I may have enjoyed some more than others but each one was very entertaining.  My overall rating for the anthology is 4.25 out of 5 stars.

This anthology was provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Organic Chemistry, Andrew Grey

Organic Chemistry

A beautifully written opposites-attract story.

- Review by Cindi

Brendon Marcus is a genius.  At twenty-three he has already gotten his master's degree and his doctorate and is a new professor at Dickinson College.  His genius mind doesn't work like most folks.  He doesn't get humor or sarcasm and he tends to take everything literally.  This is who he is and what he knows.  An only child, he had been doted on by his late parents and not allowed to be a normal child.  Formulas and science... that's what he knows.  As a result, his social life is nonexistent and he has no friends.  People don't know how to take him and his lack of understanding in regards to basic emotions makes him come across as different, odd.  Until he meets Josh Horton.

Josh is the new assistant football coach at the college.  He is openly gay and after literally bumping into Brendon he pursues him.  The two men are as different as night and day.  Josh is outgoing and personable where Brendon is shy and awkward having never been taught how to interact with people on a basic level.  Brendon has never been with anyone nor has he even been kissed.  He understands the mechanics of sex but he's never experienced it or even come close.

"No one's ever kissed me except my mother, and that was, well, my mother."
"You're the first person to really kiss me," he answered, turning a bit red, and then he smiled.  "So, no, I've never done the dance with no pants."  Brendon began to giggle.  "I saw that on television once.  Did I use that right?" 

For some reason the head of Brendon's department despises him and makes it his mission to make Brendon look bad even if it hurts the university as a whole.  He wants Brendon gone and Brendon doesn't understand why.  This man goes out of his way to destroy him and his reputation even going so far as not giving him correct dates for critical deadlines.  The man is a jerk in every sense of the word.  Luckily,  Brendon and Josh are slowly getting closer and Josh is there to protect Brendon.  It takes the two men working together to do what needs to be done.

I fell in love with Brendon right off.  He's such a nerd genius and the reader can't help but to feel sympathy as he tries his damndest to understand his feelings in regards to Josh.  Josh is the epitome of patience.  He has fallen for Brendon and will do anything in his power to let him know what they feel for each other is real.  Slowly Brendon develops a personality that does not focus strictly on science.  Watching Brendon and Josh as their relationship developed was a true pleasure to read.  The way everything comes together is perfect.  Another great read by Andrew Grey.

This book was provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Snow On The Roof (Anthology), Various Authors

A nice anthology of fifteen short stories with each having at least one character over the age of forty.

- Review by Cindi

Snow on the Roof

Nachos on Saturday, J. Leigh Bailey

It is Duncan Skinner's forty-third birthday.  He has never been in any type of long-term relationship.  He considers himself to be bland, boring.  He doesn't stand out in any way.  All of his friends and family members are all settled in their own lives leaving Duncan as the only one without a partner or family.  When his birthday rolls around, he has no one to share it with. He decides to go out for a drink alone.  As he's leaving his apartment building he sees Felix, the only other openly gay man in the building.  Felix refuses to allow Duncan to spend his birthday alone and after a bit of discussion they decide to stay in for nachos and a Firefly marathon in Felix's apartment.  Felix is full of color and self-confidence.  The complete opposite of Duncan.  Duncan knows that Felix is far out of his league so he doesn't expect anything except some company over shared television time and homemade nachos.   Little does Duncan know but Felix has plans that include much more than Firefly and nachos.  

A nice opposites-attract story with a few food cliches.


Full Circle, Rhidian Renig Jones

Twenty-nine years after graduating high school a man goes back for a reunion in hopes of reuniting with a former teacher who had rejected him.

The story was okay but the writing was (to borrow a friend's word for the same story) complicated.  Also, I don't know if I should laugh or be offended over the author describing a woman's internal organs as lady giblets.  


Hunting Season, AC Valentine

Carson Hall, 42 and a romance writer, inherits an old home in Vermont from a distant aunt.  He arrives to see that the house is literally falling apart.  With the help of the local attorney Carson finds a contractor (who just happens to be the lawyer's son) Travis to come in and make the necessary repairs.  Carson guesses Travis to be straight and in his early twenties.  Little does Carson know but Travis is not as young as he appears nor is he straight.

I love books when the characters have a substantial age difference and there are quite a few years between Carson and Travis.  Nice story though it would have been nice to see a little more at the end.


Ivory Black, Flecked with White, Layla Hunter

A period piece about a painter and his patron who have a secret affair.  The reader can tell the two men love each other but are unable to be public due to the time period as well as obligations and expectations.  Nice story but much too short for what it tries to convey in my opinion.


Loving Again, John Inman

An emotional story about finding love again after the loss of a long-term partner.  Charlie has just buried his partner of over 40 years, Ben.  To celebrate their fortieth anniversary the two men were planning an Alaskan cruise.  Unfortunately Ben got sick and passed away a few weeks before the scheduled cruise.  Of course Charlie will cancel.  He can't possible go on a nine day cruise now that Ben is no longer with him.  Apparently Ben had other plans.  Not only would Charlie go on the cruise but Ben had picked out the perfect person to go with him.

This is a nice story and the main reason I wanted to read this anthology.  I'm a huge fan of John Inman and when I saw he was a contributor I was eager to jump into it.  I wasn't disappointed.


Curtain Calls, Pinkie Rae Parker

Kitt Holbrook is at the end of a run on stage of A Christmas Carol.  A younger actor, Bascomb Willows, apparently made mistakes during the final performance and Kitt made this known... loudly.  At the cast party later, Kitt is informed that Bascomb has been given the lead part in The Tempest, the play that made Kitt's career.  Kitt causes a very public scene and only later decides to help the younger actor in his role of Ferdinand... the part that Kitt has played since he was in his twenties (he is now 56).  This does not always go well.

I did not enjoy this story I'm afraid.  Kitt acted (throughout the entire story) like a spoiled diva and Bascomb acted like a scared child.  There is really no relationship between the two men with the exception of a couple of kisses and a lot of animosity so this can't really be called any type of love story.


Straight Shooting, Maggie Lee

An FBI agent-in-training falls for his much older shooting instructor.  They begin a hook-up only type relationship with zero contact outside of the bedroom or during training.  The younger man wants more but feels as if his instructor wants to keep things as they are.  The story was okay though I was not a fan of either main character from the get-go.


Picture This, Dottie Stratton & Linda James

Two young lovers who are separated by hateful parents are reunited years later and are finally given the chance to have their happily-ever-after.  My favorite of the anthology.


Hero Worship, San C. Leonhard

Wizards and fantasy.  Not my normal genre by any means but still a fun story.  An old, grumpy and set-in-his-ways wizard is seduced by an obnoxious much younger man.


The Way to a Fisherman's Heart, Tray Ellis

Jim has been fishing at the same spot for awhile just to get a glimpse of a much older Franklin. Over time they become fishing buddies though Jim really wants more.  After another day of fishing together it becomes obvious that Franklin wants more as well.  

A nice story though I felt that the fishing lingo/descriptions during the sex scene was a little much.  It did not, however, detract from the sweetness of the story and it is a very sweet story.  


The Bodyguard's Dilemma, Chris Scully

Logan is a 45-year-old security specialist.  He has been an on again, off again bodyguard to 25-year-old former porn star Tyler for three years.  The relationship is not sexual.  It's mainly a friendship with Logan wanting more but knowing it could never happen.  There's the twenty year age gap for one and the fact that Tyler is still dealing with issues from his past.  After Tyler 'forgets' Logan's birthday he knows it's time to move on and stop dreaming about the much younger man.  Little does Logan know but Tyler has plans of his own.  A nice story.


Queening Out, Mari Donne

The title is perfect for this little story.  It is about a man literally queening out instead of sticking around to find out the real story when faced with something he is unsure of.  Kevin is invited to his lover Jeff's home for the first time since the relationship started.  Later, he sees and overhears something that is not quite as it appears.  Instead of sticking around for an explanation, he runs... to a Dairy Queen.  The rest of the story takes place inside the small restaurant.  Nice story but I kind of felt that Kevin was justified in his behavior. He and Jeff have been together for a few months and are starting to get pretty serious but Jeff has told him absolutely nothing about his life or his past.  Had Jeff been even a little bit open about his life there would have been no cause for Kevin to queen out.


No Place Like Home, Kim Fielding

A nice story about two older men who find each other as a result of a note placed in a library book.  There is one particular funny part toward the end that totally makes the story.


Waiting For the Light, Layla M. Weir

Two men, each mourning a spouse, meet during a survivors meeting.  Over a period of months of weekly meetings and spending time in a coffee shop afterward they develop a friendship that turns into more but only after another member of the group inadvertently pushes them in the right direction.  I enjoyed this but felt that the back story of one of the characters, Don, could have probably been left out.  That particular bit of information changed my opinion of Don pretty late in the game and not necessarily in a good way.


Granddad's Cup of Tea, Amy Rae Durreson

A nice story about two men who come out of the closet in their sixties.  One is mourning the loss of his male partner and the other lost his wife two years prior.  This is an entertaining read but like other reviewers I felt that there were a few too many characters thrown in.  This took away from the two main characters.  There is a slow build up which would have been nice had it not been such a short story.  Otherwise, a good read.


Overall, this is a good anthology.  I am a big fan of books with older characters so this collection of shorts was right up my alley.  However, there are quite a few editing issues throughout, in one case an author's name is spelled incorrectly.  This, of course, could have just been my copy.  An entertaining read.

This anthology was provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Friday, 19 April 2013

IM, Rick R. Reed

A thriller that will have you anticipating, yet fearing, what will happen next.  I couldn't put it down.  An outstanding book.

- Review by Cindi

In the days of the internet, an entire new world has opened up to gay men.  No more relying on bathhouses or gay bars for random hook ups.  Find the right site, add a quick profile and maybe a few photos and an instant message later two total strangers can meet for anonymous sex.  Men4HookUpNow.com is one such site.  This is the perfect playground for horny guys looking for a quick fuck. Unfortunately it is also the perfect playground for a serial killer.  A serial killer who is picking men one-by-one and luring them in to a violent end.  Rick Reed pulls no punches on the violence.  The reader is along for the ride as this sadistic murderer kills his victims.

Openly gay Chicago Police detective Ed Comparetto is called in to investigate the murder of another gay man.  The man's body is in such a horrific state that the detective is unable to stay in the presence of it for too long.  Minutes later Ed interviews a man who claims to have found the body of his friend.  This man identifies himself as Timothy Bright.  Timothy is in such an emotional state that it takes awhile for his story to come out but it eventually does.  Over time there are more murders, each more violent than the other.  Ed has no leads and no witnesses.  Timothy Bright has disappeared but yet he makes his presence known in other ways.  It does not take the reader long to see that the emotional Timothy is in fact the murderer that Ed is searching for.  The only problem?  Timothy Bright no longer exists.  Timothy Bright has been dead for over two years having been murdered himself.  This starts a downward spiral for Ed in his professional life.  How could he have interviewed a dead man?

Ed embarks on a journey to find the truth about the killings before others occur though not in an official capacity.  He knows who the murderer is.  He now must find a way to prove that a dead man is responsible.  Along the way he meets Peter, a librarian he meets while doing research in regards to Timothy's death.  They begin a tentative relationship that becomes strained because of Ed's obsession with the murders and Timothy.  Ed refuses to give up.  He knows who he spoke with the night of the first murder.  He has seen photos from before Timothy died and he knows it's the same person.  The question is how?

The reader is taken inside the head of a serial killer.  The story is told in different points of view from Timothy's to Ed's to the aunt who raised Timothy from the time he was a baby.  The aunt's point of view is mostly told via old journal entries.  With each entry you see more and more of why little Timothy became who he was before his brutal murder.  You feel sympathy for this child who lost his parents at a young age.  You also feel anger for what he was forced to endure from the time he was a 13-year-old boy.  But about the time you start to really feel sorry for the young boy you are given the information of things that a younger Timothy had done long before any abuse was forced on him.  He had the classic signs of being a disturbed individual from a young age.

Had this been a movie, it would have been an edge-of-the-seat type where you know you should look away but you can't.  You have to see what will happen next even if it is something so horrific that the images will stick with you long after the scene is over.  The author does not shy away from brutality of the violence.  It is all written with all the gory details.  Had it not been the book may not have been as realistic.  There are also moments that will break your heart.  Secondary characters are introduced who slowly bring out the motives for the killings.  Some will break your heart.  Some will make you sympathize for what the killer was forced to endure years earlier.  You will find yourself questioning everything about Timothy Bright.  His body was found in his apartment two years earlier.  His body was identified by the aunt who raised him.  How can a dead man be killing people two years after his own burial?  Who else could the killer be?  All questions are answered little by little as the story plays out.

This is a fantastic book and one that I highly recommend for anyone who is not squeamish or scared of graphically described murder scenes.  I suggest trying to read it all in as close to one sitting as you can because if you are forced to walk away from it for even a little while you will be anxious to jump back into it.  It will also make you stop to think.  The internet is so full of danger but there are many who are willing to take chances that could ultimately cost them their lives.  IM = Instant Murder in the case of this book.  It starts with an Instant Message but that changes quickly.

I have read quite a few books by Rick Reed.  I have made him my personal reading goal for 2013. My hope is to read as many of his books as I can before the end of the year.  This is my 7th so far and I have to say that it ranks up there as my 2nd favorite behind Caregiver.  The story sucked me in from the very first page and kept me interested until I got to the end.  My only complaint (and it's minor) is that I wish there would have been an extra page or two thrown in at the end. Otherwise an outstanding read.

Racing for the Sun, Amy Lane

My name is Jasper Anderson Atchison. People call me Ace.
I am a murderer and a thief, but if Sonny still wants me, I will call myself a good man.

-Review by Kazza K

This book opens with impact and never lets go. Not once. The characters were beautifully nuanced and intricately drawn by a very skilled writer. Ms Lane is very good at taking characters who are incredibly flawed. Who do things that you really should not like but, interestingly, you like them because of it, as well as in in spite of it. This review could have taken several directions, there is so much to concentrate on. This is just my interpretation.

My folks were all right people - not warm, but not rough. Fed us, clothed us...But I was the youngest of six, and that makes things crowded, and it makes you damn near invisible. By the time I graduated, invisible was the only thing I was good at. I decided I might as well be invisible someplace else.

Ace Atchison has come from a blue collar family, was never going to be able to afford college so he enlists and works his way through to Staff Sergeant on his second re-up in the army. He's in charge of new recruitments when Private Sonny Daye turns up looking like a kicked dog. The name is bad enough, Sonny Daye? Really? And Staff Sergeant Atchison calls him on it. Private Daye doesn't seem legit to Ace. He can tell from his body language alone that his enlistment papers are BS. The only thing he knows for certain is that Sonny is eighteen. And that Sony is desperate to stay...in a war zone -

"I'll do anything," he said, and no man in the world could misinterpret what he meant by that.
I swallowed.
There was a temptation there, a growing knowledge I wasn't ready to face.

Twenty one year old Ace Atchison takes Sonny under his wing and looks out for him in general, more so when he is assigned to a sadistic Master Sergeant, Carver. Sonny needs, craves guidance and Ace, as a Staff Sergeant, does that automatically. Ace and Sonny also bond over Sonny's ability to fix a car and make it fly. Sonny soups up a Hummer that Ace takes for a joy ride in the desert which further fuels Sonny's dream of saving enough money to have a garage, a street racer, and a driver. He's going to stay in the army long enough to -

....."Start my own garage," he said, his voice dreamy, and I knew this was something he thought about.
I smiled a little, thought to give him his pipe dream.
"Yeah sure, Sonny,. We'll do that. Take the pay we save, buy ourselves a car, a little garage. Make us some money. Get a bigger garage and live someplace nice. Why not?"
"That's a promise," he said, his voice guttural. "You can't go back."

I blinked. I hadn't realized I'd married the guy just by feeding his dream. But then...."Why not?" I shrugged. "Got nothin' better to do when I get back."

And 'get back' Ace does after some mayhem and death bonds them a bit more during the two years they are in a unit together. Before Ace leaves he asks a colleague and friend, Burton, to look out for Sonny for the month he's on his own, because he knows he needs all the looking out for he can get. When Ace is back stateside he secures two jobs, working security and flipping burgers, to make Sonny's dream a reality in a small desert town outside San Diego. Buying a garage with a cottage out back, and creatively buying a Ford Taurus SHO for Sonny to trick out. Ace works hard thinking more and more about Sonny, about how he wouldn't shake his hand when he was leaving Pakistan, those words -"I'll do anything,"  hoping they were meant for him and not just for anybody who would help him stay in the army.

Sonny comes to San Diego to meet up with Ace. Sonny is not an easy person to live with. He complains, he is childish, he is needy, he has less than ordinary people skills, and doesn't much like others. He constantly pushes Ace on to women. Telling him to 'lay the prettiest girl' when he wins races. This pisses Ace off no end. He doesn't like women in that way, but Ace is not out and he doesn't know that Sonny wants him. Neither discusses their sexual orientation with the other. But Sonny flips Ace's switch. Ace, who has never been with another man, although he likes men, he knows that, finds himself wanting Sonny with an intensity that he only saw once before...that ended in tragedy. It takes a while for the pair to get together and when they do initially it is angry and rough after Sonny, yet again, pushes Ace towards a female, a female he didn't want. Then Sonny gets possessive -

"I ain't got no girl on my cock," I said keeping my voice even, and then it couldn't be even, it had to be loud and it had to be mad."I ain't got no girl on my cock! I got girl on my hand, but I scrubbed it as much as I can, and you're gonna have to be happy with that, Sonny....cause I want you, I want you, and I'm gonna mark you and I'm gonna..."
"You'd better fuck me," Sonny demanded, fierce and unrepentant...
"I'm so..."
"I don't care if there's pain," he snarled, I don't care if there's pain, I don't care if it hurts. You'd better take me and fuck me and mark me...all of it, Ace. I need it all. I ain't going around in this world unclaimed, you hear me? You can kiss me and I can suck you off and you can say it warn't nothin',
but not if you fuck me. You fuck me and..."
I kissed him, a hard angry kiss, all teeth and tongue and clash....
I grabbed at his shoulders 'cause he said to fuck him and I wasn't going back on that....
..I got him by the armpits this time, hauled him up, kissed him hard, and whirled him around against the wall shoving his shorts down with one hand while I pinned him there with the other, raw one. He thrust his ass out, and I bent my knees, found his asshole with my cock, and thrust forward, hard and without mercy.
"Yes!" he cried. "Yes!" All of it! Fucking all!"
I slammed forward, all violence and hurt, and then pulled back and slammed again....

Now Ace and Sonny are finally together. The town they have settled in is not a bad place to be, albeit dusty and in the middle of nowhere-in-particular. But it's home and it's a place they can be together and do all the things they have to to get their street car in the shape they need to win races, and make them some money. They're also domestic together and Sonny likes to cook inventions such as beanie weenie. The garage is moving ahead and is coming together. And they hire a young girl, Alba, to help out. 'Hire' is an interesting word. Ace rescues her from some 'charming' boys, and a not-so-savoury teenage life, when he is at the local shop. Ace is a major rescuer and he adds to his little family here and there along the way.

I seem to be the one who will fix what is broken

I really liked Ace. He has (understated) empathy and a big heart. And does what he can to make things right. He's a strong man. In spite of being broken or rough around the edges pretty much everyone is strong here. I think if Race for the Sun says nothing else it says that the human spirit can be incredibly resilient. Just has to be sometimes, life can suck for some people in this world more than others. And sometimes, in amongst all that, you can find love.

Ace's issues come out pretty quickly and because it's his POV the reader is inside his head from the get-go. Sonny's 'ghosts' are there but they take their time to surface. Little things come up throughout that makes Ace wonder (as well as the reader) what the hell kind of life Sonny had as a child. What happened to him to want to be claimed, marked so drastically? There is one scene that is breathtakingly sad and desperate regarding Sonny's absolute need to be marked -

The water was cold this time, but that was okay. The cold was needed, and it washed away the blood and the sweat and that strange, acidic tint of despair that had sunk into the tiny room while I'd marked us both, forever.

 But nothing really makes Sonny feel secure. That he won't be abandoned by Ace. Ace has to constantly promise Sonny he's not leaving, that he will come back. He clearly states on a number of occasions what he can and can't promise. But he promises he will never leave Sonny on purpose. He may 'fuck up' but he will never deliberately hurt Sonny.

This is a complex book to review properly. It is best read, not explained. If you like Amy Lane it will deliver for you. I have not often gravitated towards her books but I liked the premise of Race for the Sun. It didn't let me down. I like psychological fiction. I expect it to be done well and realistic. I was more than satisfied with what was delivered here - two MC's who had had hard knocks, one with extreme abandonment issues and an attachment disorder. One who saw things happen to his hero too young in his life, and has to take care of business in an unsavoury fashion, whilst looking after a very high maintenance and, at times, unstable partner. Who also had personal standards of decency and self respect - no using derogatory terms like faggot or retard is allowed. The characters are believable and they fit together for multiple reasons, including the fact that Sonny pleased Ace's inner rescuer, (with Sonny he can never feel invisible), his inner adrenaline junkie, and his sexual desires. Ace grounds Sonny and can centre him when he loses his shit, when he loses his direction, he helps him actualise a dream. He protects him and makes him feel as safe as he's ever going to feel. Bottom line, Sonny needs to be claimed and Ace is happy to claim him.

I loved this book. It was dark in places, it was violent in places. It was sexy in all the right, and wrong, places, and it didn't miss a beat in terms of the characterisations and dialogue. All the characters were layered, and there are a few of them - from family, to friends, to associates, to an antagonist who lives down to the word scumbag. 5 mark-me-forever stars.

This book was supplied to me by the publisher, Dreamspinner Press, in return for an honest review.