Sunday, 30 June 2013

City of Soldiers, Sam Burke

Strange that so many people could rally against banks and greed but not blood and bullets. That their passion covered job cuts but not paralysis, prosthetics, and PTSD.

-Review by Kazza K

City of Soldiers by Sam BurkeSean Gordon is a twenty three year old medically discharged army vet who has a bung knee, a head full of dead friends and pent-up frustrations. He lives in Philadelphia with his sister, Marjorie, brother-in-law, Abe, and (baby) nephew, Nicky.  Sean is struggling living with his family, he is encouraged daily to look for work by Marjorie, to help around the house, and to occasionally look after Nicky. He doesn't cope well with any of it. They also don't discuss his sexual orientation - he is gay, but if it isn't mentioned maybe he'll come home with a girl one day. Sean is a negative, disillusioned young man. He calls his BIL Cranky Abe, he feels his sister always has a constipated face and he isn't particularly attached to his nephew. Sean now needs the aid of a walking stick courtesy of injuries sustained during a tour of Afghanistan. A walking stick he's named Bastard. Basically, Sean struggles settling back into everyday life. Having a severely injured knee does not add to his joy, neither does being twenty three and permanently injured, his living arrangements, and the paltry 10% disability he receives.

Sean is walking home after closing time from a bar one night, drinking to his memories of fallen mates, when he falls through a manhole. When he wakes up the next morning, with a few aches and pains and a fair sized hangover, there is another man there who has a sweet manner and offers him a sip of water from his flask -

One last sip of water. Sean wiped his lips on his sleeve. "What are you, the sewer fairy godmother? You wait for drunks to fall in and then tell them everything's going to be okay?"
A considered look, and then a smile came back. "You're about half right."
Sean's sarcasm drifted away. He'd only been in three gay bars his entire life, but if this were one of them, that smile would lure Sean into buying this guy a beer or two, and do his best to get him into the bathroom or alley, anywhere they could rub and grope, hot breath and slick skin. Maybe the guy would pin Sean's hands to the wall. Maybe he'd silence Sean's words with his hands over Sean's mouth. His dirty fantasies must have shown on his face, because the man blushed and focused back down on his puzzle.  

Sean feels pulled towards Roman. He gives him a piece of paper with his phone number and name when Roman gets spooked -

You should go, Roman had said. What had he been afraid of, there at the end?

He worries that Roman is homeless, living with vagrants, the mentally ill, and sex offenders. He can't seem to shake a feeling of attraction and worry all at once for Roman -

Sean stared at his phone, Roman would call. They'd meet up, and Sean would find out that he wasn't homeless at all, just someone who liked exploring underground.
Roman's smile could make someone believe almost anything.

Roman Mahoney is a medically discharged Marine. He has suffered brain trauma and has severe memory impairment, along with jumbled but worrying memories of things he would rather forget. Including a family who disowned him -

The purchase of a large coffee and an everything bagel took the last of his money, but it also bought him a half hour of internet access. He checked his mail - nothing but spam - and his Facebook. His half brother had posted pictures of himself and his new black Ford truck, a college graduation gift from Mom and Dad. Roman tried not to be jealous.
Scott in his graduation gown at the University of Florida. Laura, Roman's half sister, holding her baby. Pregnant at sixteen, a mom at seventeen. But their parent's hadn't kicked her out of the house, no sir. There was more forgiveness in their hearts for teen pregnancy than for Roman's fumbling foray into gay teen sex,  

Roman does live in the underground tunnels, as well as a shelter that is on offer from time to time. He receives a higher disability, due to the extent of his injuries, but he chooses to stay with men he identifies with and cares for. These men include Kristian, Hoss, Doc, and a number of other vets from various wars who live in a homeless commune of local tunnels and subway stations. They look out for each other and for those who are older or more infirm. They help out at the Race Street Shelter, run by the Colonel, and St Jerome's soup kitchen, run by Rev Kate.

Long story short, Sean is smitten with Roman, wants to be with him and hopes that maybe Roman feels the same. But when he does eventually kiss Roman nothing happens, Roman doesn't put anything into the kiss at all, leaving Sean confused and frustrated. Meanwhile, through his connection to Roman and incidents that occur, Sean finds himself drawn into Roman's world, and Roman's world very much includes the stern, large alpha of the group, Kristian. And Kristian cares a great deal for Roman, doesn't take kindly to Prettyboy (Sean) or anyone else who wants to sniff around. Also aiding in Kristian's protection of Roman is Doc and Hoss.  Hoss was in the same unit as Roman  pre brain trauma and they came back to Philadelphia together. 

At the beginning of a book the reader is privy to the murder of an older returned vet and the thoughts and actions of the killer. So there is a murderer on the lose killing homeless men. The last one, the one at the books' beginning, was a friend and one of the men Krsiatian's group watch over, Dave Farr. There are now three dead men and Roman decides he needs to call on the help of a detective that is known to the group, Michael Brackett - another major protector of Roman. Everyone cares deeply for Roman and each man would like to get Roman into their life in more than just a hand-holding way. They each want him in their bed no matter how much they say they can handle a relationship on Roman's terms. But Roman's terms are different to the way each of these men want him. Roman is asexual and all he wants is to cuddle, kiss, hang out, hold hands, date - no sex. Sex does not enter into the equation for Roman which people, even those who have known him for a while, struggle getting past. Once Sean finds out he tries to walk a line, and as much as he cares for Roman, he needs to be tied down and likes the kinky images of bondage and rough play he sees on the internet. He likes the images as much as it paradoxically makes him feel dirty. Sean and Roman grow closer and appear to strike a deal where Sean may be able to see Roman but get his need for kink elsewhere. But it really isn't that easy. Roman pushes Sean towards Michael Brackett, who likes to do the things that Sean is drawn to, but Sean is torn. So is Roman, only he attempts to hide it. It isn't easy being with an asexual man when you like sex, no matter how much you care - Roman understands this but it still hurts.

But Roman is also sick of having to explain himself all the time, the looks, the attitude, the disbelief that a man cannot want to have a sexual relationship -

"You probably still got that celibate thing, right?"
The coffee tasted terrible. Roman pushed away his cup and enjoyed being able to breathe.

"Asexual. That's the word for it."
Brackett grimaced.
Roman had only told the truth to a hand full of people in his life, but he learned to expect grimaces, frowns, questions: "Are you sure?" or, "You haven't found the right person yet," or, worse, "You should take hormones." As if he was broken and needed fixing.

He'd known about it long before he could put the right word to it. Celibacy was a choice, asexual was just who he was.

Despite the fact that Roman has more problems than the others - his long term memory is impaired, he has migraines, he scrambles words, wanders off and gets disoriented - it is Roman who brings detective Michael Brackett onto the case. Going behind Kristian's back to get some help. Krsitian and Brackett have history and they are also both alpha-males in one territory with different ideas of the law. Roman knows they need assistance. That they can't do this on their own - even with their nightly patrols - in spite of what Krisitan thinks. He's seen enough death and suffering to last a lifetime in another country, he doesn't want to see it in his own backyard. He wants justice and to stop whoever is killing these men.

On top of the murder/suspense there is a lot going on. There are four men - Sean, Roman, Kristian, Brackett -  who have a loose yet complex relationship that transcends the war, transcends friendship, transcends the murders, but is not something that can be defined. There is a statement on the treatment of vets at the hands of successive governments that don't seem to care. There is the home life that Sean has but can't handle, life in the tunnels that some choose over an apartment, and those who have no choice but to live on the streets. There is a sense of these men trying to do something that helps an ignored, threatened community when others don't seem to care-

These guys still thought they had a mission, Sean realized. Still thought they could be useful. No one had told them, or they just hadn't learned, that their country didn't need them anymore.

The storytelling is good. The narrative is primarily downbeat. Sean does not look at life in a positive way and he is the main MC along with Roman. I understand it but it doesn't make for easy reading, and I was never drawn to Sean. Roman is a sweet, sweet man with problems and he constantly fights people looking out for him, treating him like a child, which is understandably frustrating for all concerned. Detective Brackett is not an easy man to warm to either and neither is Kristian, but they all have good qualities. The character I liked in this book was a side character, Jason, who was always decent. He liked Sean but Sean could not reciprocate, didn't try. Used Jason. Despite my thoughts on the characters I felt the sombre overtones and characterisations were warranted.

What didn't work so well -

This book could have been titled - Everyone loves Roman. I get that he was a lovely character but  it was too much for me. If City of Soldiers was more along the lines of a romance, even an atypical one, this would have worked better.

There were some questions that didn't get answered. Some I can't mention because they are major plot spoilers, but others are about Kristian and also Michael Brackett. They're  strong characters but not quite fleshed out as well as I would have liked.

Jason felt like a clunky plot device in the latter stages, and that was disappointing. Once again, I have to be careful what I say.

Whilst I appreciated one of the leads being asexual, and I thought it was refreshing, I would have liked to have seen more of an exploration of Roman's asexuality. More development of the complex relationship dynamic and the full extent of what that meant for those involved. Roman is one of the main POV and I felt like it was an opportunity lost because there were so many other things that were concentrated on.

I needed more from the BDSM components. Once again I felt it was something that wasn't explored enough because there was focus elsewhere.

The last two comments I feel could have been solved without the murderer's and Doc's POV. Also the time spent on some details that didn't value-add to the story as a whole.

 What worked well -

I liked getting both Sean and Roman's perspective. Seeing Roman's mind, at times, was an interesting study in lucidity then disorientation. Sean's was a negative outlook except about Roman. Never Roman.

The genuine knowledge the author displayed of the plight of injured and troubled war vets without being overtly political was well done.

Some of the frustrations of asexuality were very nicely handled in a way that gives readers food for thought.

The understated yet well portrayed effects of PTSD, injury, and trauma. The well written experiences of trying to settle back into civilian life after seeing/experiencing things that humans are better off never having to see and experience.

The parallels of someone living at home versus someone living on the streets and the interesting psychology and outcomes of that.

The power of being around like-minded people after severe life events.

For anyone worrying about BDSM, it is light-on with Shibari primarily being used - clothes on.

There is also a mythological and mystical element to do with the lake whiskey, but I can't say any more than that

Overall -

This is by and large a well written book. But I have to say this, if you are looking for a romance - and the blurb does tend to lead you to the conclusion that there may be true love, combined with a somewhat sexy cover - then you could well be disappointed. This book is more about the effects war has on people. What happens when ex-service personnel return home to little assistance and in various states of emotional and physical damage. How much easier it is to be with others, no matter how complex the relationship, who understand what you have been through, what you still endure. There is also a brief look at different sexual identities. And there is the murder/suspense component, which did make the pages turn easier. Who is the murderer? Is it someone they know? What are the reasons vets are being targeted? It you like any of the above themes then I recommend City of Soldiers, with an understanding that it has an atypical relationship at the centre as opposed to a typical M/M romance book.

4 Placebo or Not Stars.

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

Family Obligations, Vivien Dean, Rick R. Reed

Family Obligations

A short story about what could have been.  Short, but it pulls one hell of a punch.

- Review by Cindi

4 out of 5 stars

This is the story of two lovers who are forced to go their separate ways due to societal and family expectations. This is Mark and Randy's story but it never would have been told without Tate, Mark's grown son.

Mark D'Angelo has just passed away after an illness, leaving behind his wife Sharon, his son Tate, and Tate's small family.  At the end of the viewing at the funeral home, Tate sneaks outside to get some air.  Moments later he is approached by a stranger who he had seen inside moments earlier but had not spoken with. Introducing himself as Randy Frank, an old friend of Tate's father, Tate is handed a thumb drive and told that it contains correspondence between Randy and Mark spanning the past thirty years. Tate had never heard his father mention a friend named Randy so the meeting is unexpected.

"I just thought Mark's son might like to know his dad fully," Randy managed to get out.

Randy then disappears as quickly as he appeared.  

Family Obligations is told via letters sent back and forth between Mark and Randy, starting from shortly after their first goodbyes thirty some odd years earlier.  The thumb drive shows both sides of correspondence as Mark had made a point to send the letters to Randy that he had saved over the years.  When he discovered he was ill, he sent them to his former lover in order to prevent the wrong person from finding them after his death.  Mark and Randy's story is told via old letters scanned and saved to a thumb drive but it also helps a son come to terms with secrets of his fathers... secrets of a long lost love who he was unable to share his life with. It also shares the story of a father's love and the lengths he would go to in order to ensure the closeness of a father and son bond.

There are so many things I could say about this story in this review but you must read it in order to get the full effect.  My emotions were all over the place and I am still feeling them now, awhile after finishing it.  I found myself close to tears from the onset as I knew in my heart how the story would play out.  Reading the letters between Mark and Randy confirmed it.  I fell in love with both men as they tried to remain distant over the years, each moving on and having lives with others.  My heart broke knowing that the decade in which they met and fell in love (the seventies) was nowhere near as open and accepting of gay couples as it is now.  One of them knows he must marry a woman in order to have the family and career that he longs for.  The other chooses another path.  Reading the letters helps Tate to not only see his father for who he really was on the inside but they help to open his eyes to other things as well.

All who read my reviews know that I am a huge Rick R. Reed fan.  If a book or short has his name on it, I will be reading it.  His collaboration with Vivien Dean in Family Obligations not only once again showed his talent as an author but Ms. Dean's as well.  I was able to see both writing styles and they came together seamlessly.  While this may not have the traditional happily-ever-after that I normally long for, one is there.  You see Tate and his little family and in a sense, things come full circle though not in the way one would expect.  Saying anymore than that would be too telling.

The letters, he thought, had helped him see his father as more than a dad, or a husband, or even a healer, but as a man, a human being.  The facade he projected was one of almost infinite kindness and patience, yet inside he must have been unsettled by desires he could never consummate.

If there was one thing he got from the letters it was the fact that his father may have made compromises, but he had no regrets.  He had loved his family, Tate didn't doubt that.  And that, he supposed, was enough.

I highly recommend this for those who are looking for a heartwarming yet sad story that can be read in a very short time.  It made me cry like a little girl but it also made me see how much things have changed in the past thirty-plus years.  As much as my heart broke for Mark and Randy, I ended this story with the utmost respect for both.  Love, no matter how strong, does not always win out in the end.  Sometimes one must give it up in order to reach their dreams.  A very good story.

Reviewer note:  I won this book from  Rick R. Reed for posting a comment on his blog about the new release.  Thank you, Rick!  Much appreciated.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Touching Evil, Rob Knight

- Review by Cindi

My apologies for the length of this review.

Touching Evil
Greg Pearsall was once an up and coming professor.  PhD at twenty, tenure at twenty-four, a hot boyfriend.  He had everything in the world going for him.  That is, until one misstep. One misstep that changed his life forever.  

Ten years.  Ten years since the accident--one misstep, one head meeting concrete stairs, and three days in a coma and nothing ever went back to normal.  Not a thing.

Waking up from his coma, Greg discovered that not only had he been seriously injured but that life as he had known it would never be the same. Suddenly everything Greg touches now tells a story.  A mere brush against someone or some thing tells him much more than he ever wanted to know about that person or object.  His curse ability forced him to give up the job he loved,  a boyfriend he thought he loved and every other sense of normalcy in his life.  He is forced to completely shy away from intimacy as one touch and his head is filled with that person's thoughts and history. Touching an object tells him of all those who held it before him, both good and bad.  For ten years he has lived with this.  For ten years he has tried to avoid people and things.  He purchased a large building in order to open a New Age store, Candle's End, with his close friend Alice and her husband Mitch.  Alice is very protective of her business partner and the claws come out if anyone dares to threaten him.  He keeps his home (the third floor of the building) untouched by the outside world.  He rarely leaves the building as crowds and just touching or being touched causes him to have a severe reaction that puts him in a weakened and sickly state.  Only one person is allowed in with Greg, Detective Arthur (Artie) McAdams.

Artie was a skeptic four years prior and thought Greg was a quack when he called the police station with information on a case.  It didn't take long before not only was Artie a believer but he also became Greg's biggest protector and closest friend.  When Greg begins receiving packages that tell stories of horrific crimes that are being committed somewhere in the area he discovers that he is part of a very sick game being played by a serial killer dubbed later as The Collector.  A sick game in which Greg may be the killer's next victim. The story begins after one such package is delivered and Greg has a meltdown, having just witnessed violence through the eyes of the killer and/or victim.

The book started out brilliantly with Greg opening that first package.  The reader is unaware if what is being described is Greg in the here and now or Greg being taken back to where the item came from.  The images in his mind are horrific and involve the kidnapping and brutal murders of women. With each package the danger for the women and for Greg increases.  Somehow the killer sees everything Greg does in his home and in his business.  The only way Greg ever feels safe is when Artie is around and Artie is around a lot.  He has his own chair in Greg's apartment, untouched by anyone except the two of them.  A close friendship has developed between the two men over time. A friendship that never, ever involves touching.  Artie knows Greg's abilities too well and one touch would tell the other man how he feels about him and what he is feeling is not just friendship.  Throw in the thoughts of Artie in regards to cases he works on and it's safer for both men to stay distant physically.  

The killer has upped the ante and more and more women are being kidnapped and killed in a horrific way.  A lot of this is described rather graphically so if you are squeamish at all I would suggest staying away from this one.  With each new victim, Greg is brought more into the killer's sick plan.  Oh, how my heart broke for Greg so many times.  Thankfully, Artie is there and as the case plays out Artie allows him to touch him, to feel him... to show Greg what is inside his mind and how he wishes desperately for them to move on to more than friends.  An accidental bump in the kitchen does just that.  Until this point, there was a lot of tiptoeing around each other ....... wanting but not acting.  It got to be humorous and I found myself smiling quite a bit as they went back and forth.

Sometimes he wondered what Greg would pick up from his head if they had sex.  Not that he thought about it.  Late at night with his hand on his dick and Duke locked in the bathroom. The best way to deflate a stiffie was a Siamese cat letting you know he'd seen better.

It did him no good to let his thoughts linger on Greg's mouth, though.  Especially if they were going to be touching the same things.  That was a thought for late at night, sprawled in his bed, when even Duke couldn't see. 

It had been so long since he'd been able to just touch and not be scared.  So long.
Like the three thousand five hundred and seventy three days long.
Artie's eyes popped open, searching him.  "You're touching me."

I fell in love with these two guys.  Artie was the alpha who would not hesitate to kill someone if they threatened his man.  Greg just wanted his ability to disappear so that he could live a normal life.  He wanted the killer caught, the women found and to make a life with the man who he has been falling in love with for years.  With a lot of help from Artie's amazing partner Leah, the case does eventually get solved and they are able to finally head toward that hard won happily-ever-after.

The absolute star of the show, however, is not Greg or Artie or the killer or any of the other characters.  It is Duke.  Duke is Artie's Siamese cat.  Duke is nuts.  Seriously.  He hates everyone and everything with the exception of Greg who he loves dearly.  

The fucking beast adored Greg with a passion.  It was ... obscene.  Duke hadn't sat on anyone else's lap but Leah's husband's in five years.  Maybe Duke was gay.

Duke was Not Pleased.
Why was it that the damned cat spoke in capital letters when he was pissed, Artie had no idea. But he did.

"Whassa matter, Duke?  I didn't leave you enough credit on pay-per-view?"
Duke ruffled and hissed, Greg hushing him and stroking Duke's ears.  Man, that would get him torn to ribbons.  "What kind of movies does Duke order?  Porn?"
"He likes swashbucklers.  The ones with the pretty boys.  And girls."  Artie tilted his head.  "I think he's bi."

"The last time I tried to brush him for any longer than it took to get him smooth?  He tried to eat my left nut."
"Oh, no eating those, now, sweet boy.  Those are too pretty to ruin."

"He's not really a cat.  He's a demon in kitty clothes.  I bet he has stomach acid like brimstone."

As much as I enjoyed this book and I really did enjoy it, I did have some issues with it.  The dialogue and sentence structure to start.  I kept going back in my mind to another author's work who was very similar.  The other book was a DNF for me because of these two things.  While it was pretty bad in Touching Evil, I was able to overlook it for the most part because it wasn't almost every single line like the previous book. Only after finishing this book did I find out that both books are possibly (though not confirmed) written by the same author under different pen names.  Had I known this going in, I never would have read this book.  Thankfully I didn't know because Touching Evil ended up being a very entertaining read even if I was continuously taken back to one of my most hated books ever. While I understand an author's need to use different pen names for different genres or styles of books, my rating was almost dropped as a result in this case.  I am leaving it 4 stars but had the sentence structure and dialogue been written differently it would have probably gotten an easy 5.  I am aware of the need for authors to use different pen names and some are able to switch back and forth seamlessly (I could give examples but I won't) but some can't as the entire time I was reading this I was taken back to the similarities in the other book, similarities that bugged me greatly.  Will I read another Rob Knight book?  I will say probably because I did, in fact, enjoy this regardless of the problems I just mentioned.  Also note that I may be incorrect in my "pen name" assumption in regards to this author, though I am willing to bet anything that I am not as the writing styles are just too similar.  If I am wrong in my assumptions, my sincere apologies to the author.

Damn.  Hey.  Hi.  Sorry.
God.  Greg. That.  Damn.
I know.  I just. Damn.
Greg.  Damn.
I.  Babe.
These.  Off.
That was just--Yeah.
Uh-huh.  Greg.  Babe.
Oh, yeah.  Just.  That was.  God.
Want.  Hot.  Good.  Love.  He could hear it.  Love

.... to list a few.  

There are also minor editing issues with this book, something I've noticed in others published by this publisher.  I could understand one or two misspelled words being missed in the editing process but not as many as are listed in Touching Evil

Overall, and those issues aside, Touching Evil is a good story.  I enjoyed the back and forth between Greg and Artie and the mystery was written well.  I am sure that most folks would not have the same problems that I did, so I recommend this to those who enjoy a good mystery with engaging characters and a nice love story thrown in.

My rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

His Roommate's Pleasure, Lana McGregor

- Review by Cindi

4 out of 5 stars

His Roommate's Pleasure
College student Adam is having computer problems at the worst possible time.  Twenty minutes until a assignment due has to be sent and he has no internet connection on his computer.  Knowing he has to meet the deadline, he takes a chance by logging into his roommate's computer and sending it from there. Josh, Adam's roommate, is out of the dorm room and hopefully Adam can do what he needs to do and get away from the borrowed computer before Josh returns.  He is just about to do just that when something pops on the screen and Adam is in for a shock.  Porn. Not just any porn but lots and lots of gay BDSM porn.  Unable to stop himself, Adam clicks one picture after another getting more and more aroused with each click of the mouse. 

The pictures were of guys.  They were of guys, and they were of guys in collars, and on their knees, and in handcuffs, and all of a sudden he was hard.

His fear of getting caught forgotten, Adam keeps looking at the photos even going so far as taking his cock out to relieve some pressure.  It's that moment, with Adam's cock out of his pants and being slowly stroked, that Josh walks into the room.  Panicking, Adam shoves himself back inside his pants and rushes out of the room.

Josh is a jock and has never given any indication that he might like guys.  But then again, Adam had a preconceived notion (thanks to bullying by jocks in high school) of how Josh would be if Adam's sexuality was revealed so he never bothered to try to get to know him though Adam feels that his own sexuality should be glaringly obvious.  

He had a Fast and the Furious coaster on his desk, with Vin Diesel in a wifebeater on it.  He'd assumed he hadn't needed to come out, because it was probably obvious from outer space that he liked dick.

Six months the two men have shared a dorm room but they know next to nothing about each other.  Never in his wildest dreams would Adam have guessed that Josh is gay.  

It wasn't like he and Josh didn't get along. They did, kind of, getting along meant not fighting all the time.  They didn't fight over the bathroom, and Josh didn't bring anyone back to the room for sex.  Josh was just everything Adam wasn't: he'd had a letter jacket in high school, he rowed, he ran, he played baseball, and he went swimming every week.

Having rushed out without his wallet, Adam eventually has to go back to the dorm room of doom. How will Josh act about Adam snooping on his computer?  About what he found on his computer? Adam is terrified of what is awaiting him when he gets back. What he is not expecting is for Josh to offer to look at the pictures with Adam and to maybe explore and experiment by doing the same things depicted in the photos on Josh's computer... with Adam.  Adam is definitely up for that plan... in more ways than one.  So from there a business-type relationship is born between the roommates.  Adam will be the sub while Josh will explore being a Dom.  Neither has any gay sexual experience with the exception of a fumbling kiss or two with a guy so the entire experience will be new for both.  Josh is deeply in the closet so everything will be confined to the dorm room behind a locked door. Before long, there are restraints, a whip, a paddle and even a collar and leash.  Adam is loving it. He has never dreamed he would wish to be dominated but it only takes one experience with Josh and he knows that he is a natural sub.  

He liked what they were doing right now, his ass red and stinging.  He liked being on his knees like this for Josh.  He liked being dirty and being called good boy.

The leash held taut.  The collar around his neck.  The steady pulse of his erection as he crawled around their floor, Josh leading him by the leash.  He wasn't sure he'd ever been this turned on, or been made to feel this dirty or this good.  Josh's come was streaked across his face.

The more Josh dominates him the harder he gets.  Before long Adam's feelings start to go beyond just sexual and he is wanting more from Josh.  The problem is keeping that tidbit of information to himself.  They have an arrangement and that's that. No feelings. Just sex.  Apparently Josh has other plans. 

But this was simply two like-minded guys finally getting to know each other, and also choosing to get it on.

No feelings to see here.
This is a sexy little story.  Josh's jock friends come into play and not all in a good way. There is a slow build with the relationship between Adam and Josh so nothing seems rushed even considering the length of the story.  There is a happy-for-now ending for these guys so I would be eager to see where they go from here.

Overall, a very enjoyable read.  The sex is hot and the interactions are typical of the ages of the main characters.  I enjoyed the slow build up and the fumbling as each "virgin" was learning what to do and what not to do when it came to sex and BDSM. The fact that these two virgins go from just wanting each other, both with no prior experience, to jumping into a BDSM relationship was interesting. Nothing came across as rushed and the author did not make it look like Adam and Josh went from shy virgins to BDSM experts.  Everything was written well.  

I will definitely be reading more by this author.  I love the cover.

A big thanks to my husband for finding the perfect picture for Adam after a lot of frustration on my part.

This book was provided by Net Galley and Carina Press in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Quiver: A Book of Erotic Tales, Tobsha Learner

Taken from the official blurb:  "In twelve interconnected stories as naked and primal as passion itself, Quiver explores the full spectrum of human sexuality in all its variety and complexity."  

These short stories vary from M/F, F/F, M/M and M/M/F and group sex.

*** This review contains spoilers.  Keep that in mind before reading. ***

- Review by Cindi

3 out of 5 stars



Sandra and Brian are a middle-aged couple.  Brian is in orthodontics and Sandra is an architect. Their sex life is relatively dull with Sandra always taking the lead.  A night at the opera changes that.  When Sandra is commissioned by the Sydney City Council to design a museum and is kept too busy for the normal, boring sex, Brian decides to change things up and tries to take charge. Unfortunately for Brian, things don't go quite the way he plans.  When Sandra decides to take over the lead again, an angry Brian leaves her in a vulnerable position.  Luckily for her, a stranger comes to her rescue, in more ways than one.  This story contains a bit of bondage and voyeurism.


A woman bent on revenge against a former lover gets more than she bargains for.   The main female character has a stalker-vibe.  This story also has one long F/F sex scene.


This is told in alternating points of view.  First, there are Quin and Mack's.  Later, Felicity's.  Quin and Mack work for the recording industry. Quin's entire world, literally his entire world, centers around sound; music, outdoor sounds and the voices of women if they are the right pitch.  The entire story details Quin's love, no, his need, for sound.  When he hears the sound of Felicity's voice he is so taken with her that he's willing to change his entire life just to hear her speak, sing, or moan during an orgasm.  Much older than Quin and not his normal type of woman, Felicity somehow works her magic and the man Quin has always been suddenly disappears.

This story was unexpected.  It shows what happens when the most important thing to a person is harshly taken away because of a horrible misunderstanding.  


Jodie is desperately trying to get pregnant.  Her husband is distant and does not go out of his way to help with her quest.  He works a lot and in the rare moments when the two have sex it is rush, rush with very little variation or excitement.  Over time odd things start happening with Jodie. She starts having dreams, visions, of an Italian couple who lived in the house before she and her husband.  Someone, or some thing, is having sex with her at odd times and leaving evidence of his presence in the home.  Someone who is not her husband.

Pomegranate has a paranormal twist.  I found the story to be engaging but yet the ending left me with a little confusion.  I understand where the author was going but yet I still find myself wanting to go back and reread a few passages in order to understand what I just read.  Adrian, mentioned in passing in The Man Who Loved Sound is Jodie's husband.


Three women from different walks of life.  An old ice cream truck complete with ice cream and a horny ice cream vendor.  Throw in a cock ring and various various uses of frozen treats and the reader gets one odd foursome.  Quin from The Man Who Loved Sound is in this one briefly.


A sweet love story about an Australian businesswoman who meets and falls in love with a much younger flower vendor who has only recently moved to Australia from Russia.  There is a little bit of back story about each character but the story is not overwhelmed by too many details.  A nice story that ends on a happy, hopeful note.


A conductor.  The conductor's much younger wife.  A silent stranger met on a bus.  The listening room during a performance.  A hot sexual encounter between the conductor's wife and a complete stranger. Voyeurism by members of the orchestra.  A satisfying (yet embarrassing for most) conclusion.
This is told from various points of view.  From the conductor, the silent stranger, the conductor's wife and two people in the orchestra during the performance.  Nice concept for a story but I felt that the sexual part of it was overrun by too many descriptive words.  For a short story, I feel that if there is going to be a sexual experience between two strangers that perhaps the descriptive wording should have been more about the act of sex itself than what the woman is wearing or what the silent stranger is thinking in regards to the conductor... among other things.


The title for this one is fitting in a way.  Like some of the others it is told in alternating points of view.  There is the lover, the boyfriend, the girlfriend and the looking for strange which involves another character.  Each is centered around one person, Dee.  Dee has a girlfriend but there is a different side of him that he keeps from her.  He likes getting fucked by men.  He randomly picks up Simon and an affair of sorts begins between the two men.  With Simon there is always the chance of being caught which makes it more exciting for both men.  They have sex in random places, places where anyone could walk in and catch them at any moment.  One such place, chosen completely at random by Simon, is not random in any way to Dee.

This is my favorite story so far.  My main genre is M/M so the relationship between Dee and Simon is right up my alley.  However, M/M/F is not and there is a situation where this occurs.  This is the culmination of the entire story (the reveal so to speak) so it was necessary in order for the resolution to unfold.  Thankfully that part of the story did not last long.  It was just long enough for certain things to be brought to light and I actually found parts of it sexy as hell.

(I have read enough books with gay sex to cringe when one "pushes inside with one hard thrust" with zero prep or lube.  This is not realistic in any way.)


Stacey is a big woman.  She stands 6 feet, five inches in bare feet.  She comes from a tiny family so she is considered an anomaly.  Growing up Stacey never had a lot of friends or dates. No one wanted to date someone who was so much taller than them.  She lost her virginity one night in a drunken stupor and that is the extent of her sexual experience. While working the betting counter during the Adelaide Cup, a short man who she has secretly crushed on makes a large bet and announces that if he wins that he would be taking Stacey.  He ends up winning $20,000 and the Jock and Stacey story begins.

Jock is short, 5'2".  He is the owner of a large butcher/meat company and has amassed large wealth as a result.  Jock has what I refer to as the "little man complex," meaning that instead of his small stature causing problems for him, he becomes arrogant with the "I can take on the world" attitude.  His arrogance is only appealing to Stacey.

Stacey and Jock begin a quick sexual relationship inside a freezer full of dead animal carcasses.  I kid you not.  (My thanks to the author for not going where it looked like she was going with that.) The quick sexual romp surrounded by dead animals turns into Stacey moving in with Jock and working for his company.  All, however, is not happy and roses and this is made pretty clear toward the end of the story.  

I have to say that this one was just okay for me and definitely my least favorite of the collection.  I didn't like Jock from his introduction and my lack of love grew as the story played out.  I like the ending for the most part but it left me wanting to know what happened next.  I also felt that she should have aimed a little lower and thrown a lot harder. :)


Karl Pope has been embarrassed and humiliated as a result of his wife's very public sexual display during one of Karl's performances.  A conductor and concert pianist, he was wrapping up the set when all attention was given to a woman and much younger man who were hanging out the window of the listening room over the audience.  Not just hanging out of the window, but in the midst of mind-blowing sex and one hell of a loud orgasm by the woman.  Forced to leave the country immediately after for a special performance, Karl is riddled with doubt over his attractiveness and his sexual prowess.  His wife is fifteen years his junior and suddenly she's publicly having sex with a much younger man.  How is Karl supposed to feel after witnessing that up close and personal? Karl is no king of fidelity.  He has had hundreds of affairs since the beginning of his marriage and he suspects that Katherine has done the same but he has never been witness to it as he was during his public humiliation.  Karl's doubt eats at him. He questions his appearance, his penis size, everything.  The loud sex going on in the hotel room next door adds to these feelings.  What kind of man does it take to make a woman come over and over and over again like the man in the next room is doing with his partner?

Once you get beyond Karl's internal whining, the story is pretty good.  The ending was unexpected and I really liked having a little surprise thrown in.


Candy is a porn star who is married to Doug.  Candy is bored with doing porn and wants more out of her life than faking it onscreen.  Doug, on the other hand, is obsessed with watching her perform again and again.  He has seen all of his wife's videos at least ten times each and gets more out of his wife having sex with total strangers than with her own husband.  He spends a lot of time in front of the TV screen jacking off as his wife, the porn star, goes to bed alone each night.

This story is much shorter than the others up to now.  Where I could see where the author could be going, it ended before it was realized.


The Promiscuity of Bats brings together several of the key players from the previous eleven stories.  Not all but several.  Trapped in an elevator during Christmas shopping season, this group of men and women, along with four bottles of expensive champagne and some Ecstasy pills make use of the time stuck in such a small place.  What starts with a conversation about the promiscuity of bats quickly turns into one huge orgy.  Once again, there is anal sex without lube or prep (and no condom this time) and there are penises and vaginas all over the place.

Not a bad story and I can say that parts are actually pretty hot but when I got to the end of this collection of shorts, I expected some of the unresolved issues in the earlier stories to be resolved. This did not happen.  So I end this anthology feeling as if I read a dozen stories with completely unsatisfying endings.  Had a full-length stand-alone novel ended the way almost everyone of these shorts did I would be angry with myself for wasting my time.  As for this collection, I will say that parts were sexy and there is a little bit of resolution in one or two but I am still left completely unsatisfied.  The last story only had a few of the key players from the previous stories so add that to the fact that some characters and stories were not revisited again after their quickie ending.

Overall, the stories were pretty good for the most part.  It is listed as a tale of erotic shorts but yet most are quite mild in my opinion.  Maybe what I normally read is more hardcore but I did not see these stories as pure erotica.  The word cunt (that is used often and that I did not find sexy or erotic in any way) does not erotica make. 

Also, the blurb states that the twelve stories are interlinked so I was expecting more.  The only common thread that I found (other than a mention or two of characters from one story to another with no on-page time, and one where a husband gets his own story a few stories after his wife did) was the actual setting.  Each story is set in Australia.  That is the only real common thread that I found unfortunately.  I do wish the author would have explored the Australian angle a bit more as well.  My blog partner is in Australia so I am always eager to read more about her homeland.

So at the end of the day (so to speak) I have to say that this was a decent enough collection of stories but also a missed opportunity.  I want resolution, always, even when I'm reading stories of this length.  I got none with any of the stories listed in Quiver.  The author is an outstanding writer and this is evident in each story.  However, I prefer to read stories that have some type of real ending, good or bad.  I did not get that with this anthology.

This book was provided by Net Galley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Email From an Ex, Richard Natale

-Review by Kazza K

Email From an ExThis twenty two page short from Richard Natale is absolute gold. I'll be honest, I bought it to go with some other purchases to make up the numbers. It sounded interesting and like a quick, easy piece of fluff that I could cruise through and rate but not review - don't judge this reviewer, I'm not well. To not review, though, would be such an injustice to this terrific short.

Theo has been in a relationship with Jack for two years but for the last six weeks they've been having a break, well, Jack decided that they would have a break. They work in the same field - Theo writes and Jack is the west coast editor of Hot Digs, a magazine Theo writes pieces for -

That novel Theo was committed to finishing was sitting faithfully in a rarely-visited folder on his computer while he cheated on the side with an ever-growing number of redundant and highly stylized periodicals. If enough editors liked you, you worked consistently, since they all flitted from one rag to another....
...however you were obliged to do exactly as you were told  or, as Jack put it, "please stifle your inner Puck."

Theo is not sure whether he and Jack will get back together again, or if he is going to be faced with the wonderful world of dating in the twenty-first century -

...the idea of jumping back into the availability pool was enough to make his teeth chatter. It didn't help that, in his absence, all the hook-up rules had changed. Vetting candidates in person was so 20th century. Meeting "Mr Right Now" had moved inexorably to the internet, and as Jack astutely
pointed out, the mating game had been transformed into as joyless a task as hunting for a job. Both required the posting of a résumé including age, weight, prominent physical characteristics (isn't it curious how everyone online is well endowed by his Creator and blessed with a humble bubble butt?), and preferences (remember when versatile meant being able to sing, dance, and play a musical instrument?)
If you still insisted on going that route, the next big decision was selecting the appropriate site on which to display your evasions, distortions, and fabrications, which included that one great picture of you taken eons ago that you've been saving for your obituary.

OR, the fetishists -.

"Looking for masculine, in-shape pig bottom with butt hair who's into oral, anal and cuddling."

Anyway, after Theo submits his latest piece of writing to Jack, he receives a call from him asking Theo about someone he hasn't heard of/from in a long time -

"Hey Jack-o, that was fast," Theo said.
"Oh, I haven't had time to read your piece yet. I'm really backed up. I'm calling about something else."
Theo hoped  his next words would be "my life sucks without you" or, at the very least "I miss your smell."
"Do you know anyone maned Elgin Taylor?"

Theo does. He was his first love and the first person to do a hatchet job on his heart. Elgin has seen Theo's writing and contacted Hot Digs. Theo doesn't want Elgin to have his email address so he asks Jack to allow any correspondence to come via him. Jack agrees and says he'll get back to Theo when he has read the email -

Without so much as an "adios, amigo," he was gone, and Theo began to wonder if Jack-o had given up on them and started dating someone else.

The book looks at a number of things - the internet dating scene, as outlined above, Theo's  relationship with Jack, and some thoughts about how compatible they were - after a sea of meaningless hook-ups and one other serious relationship on Theo's side. But Jack means a lot to Theo and he liked the companionship and closeness they shared prior to the split. He misses it  -

Other times Jack could also be surprisingly romantic. Nothing obvious or corny, just the admiring stares he cast at Theo when he didn't think Theo was looking or the way he clutched Theo's forearm in the middle of a movie for no particular reason. Or how, unprompted, he'd say things like "Gee, you're swell." (Okay, maybe that was a little corny. No matter, Theo fell for it every time.) But since the separation, not a single tenderness had passed his lips.

It also looks at the email Elgin has sent and the effect that has on not one but two men. It's nice to be vindicated in some form, sometimes. It's nice to know where you may be going and who you want to go there with. It's good to have some belief in who you are as a person as well. I've already put loads into this review of a short story and I don't want to spoil what is an enjoyable, current, at times romantic, at times pragmatic, at times acerbic and well constructed look at things 'relationship.'

Overall -

The writing in Email From an Ex is mature - perfect, as these guys are in their forties - clever, humorous, flows perfectly, and is an utter joy to read. I adore Cary Grant and the references were apt and appreciated. I suspect the author knows a thing or two about journalism, or writing for the masses, amongst other issues touched on. And while there are references to sex, there is not one sex scene in sight and wasn't I glad...and, no, I'm not a pod-person, it really is still pervy old me writing this review :)

I can't recommend Email From an Ex highly enough to anyone who likes intelligent, observational  writing that's relatable and all within a short yet satisfying read.

5 Short But Says So Much Stars. 

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Whipped Cream, Andrew Grey

Whipped Cream

- Review by Cindi

4 out of 5 stars

Former model Brent Phillips is now a photographer having been forced behind the camera after a violent gay bashing incident almost two years prior.  He makes a decent living doing portraits and various other kinds of photography but his dream is to be an artistic photographer. If all goes well, he may be given his chance very soon.  Brent has been asked to submit his photography for an exhibition that he will be sharing with popular photographer, Xavier.  
What he hadn't realized was that in addition to being a talented artist, Xavier Collins was also the biggest asshole on the face of the earth.
Three weeks until the exhibit and Brent is still missing that one thing to make his work stand out.  With no inspiration he turns to his two best friends, Gene and Dan. After a visit to an old record store (vinyl of course) inspiration strikes. Seeing the old cover of Herb Alpert's Whipped Cream & Other Delights album gives Brent an idea. Why not do something similar for his exhibit, only use a man instead of a woman? 
"Haven't you seen that before?  Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Whipped Cream. The music is good, but that is the sexiest album cover of all time," Brent said and stopped dead, staring at the image. "That's it.  That's what I want to do."
Now all he has to do is find the perfect model for the photos.  Gene and Dan once again come to his rescue and with a little help from his friends Brent meets Tristan Greer, someone they know from the gym.  Tristan is perfect.  After a little convincing the other man agrees and they set up a meeting at Brent's studio to take some practice shots.  One thing leads to another and those practice shots end up with the two men rolling around on the rug together. 
If fellatio were an Olympic sport, Tristan would have won the gold medal and set a world record in a matter of seconds.
Brent, however, feels that it's just a roll in the hay for the gorgeous Tristan. Brent is scarred from his attack and feels that a man like Tristan would never want someone who is physically damaged. Little does he know but Tristan only cares about what's on the inside, not the out.  
"I do not do what we did together with every guy I meet.  I'm not some slut.  I was with you because I wanted to be with you.  Because I felt a connection with you."
The closer it gets to the exhibit the closer the two men get.  There is a great cast of secondary characters.  Correen is Brent's assistant and she really runs the show.  There are Gene and Dan who are the best friends a man could ask for.  Gene literally saved Brent's life during the bashing and he and his partner have remained closed to him since.  There's Xavier, the arrogant jerk who will be sharing space during the art show.  Xavier is the perfect bastard and my only wish is that the author would have dedicated a little bit more time to him.  Off page there is Tristan's sister who has recently delivered a new baby.  I understood the sister to an extent but I also found her to be much too needy when she felt that Tristan should drop everything because new motherhood was freaking her out a bit.  However, I do believe that she was written well even if much time was not given to her or her husband.

Brent's inspiration.
The exhibition goes off without a hitch even with Xavier trying to hone in on Brent's man. Tristan and Brent are perfect together and watching Brent realize that was a pleasure to read. The ending is sweet.  

Overall I found this to be another really good story by Andrew Grey.  I do wish it would have been a little longer and I wish that a few more words would have been added to the end but neither of these things took away from the story as a whole. 

 A very entertaining read.

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

Giving an Inch (The Professor's Rule #1), Heidi Belleau and Amelia C Gormley

-Review by Kazza K

The 45 page short is given a fairly decent description in the official blurb. James is looking for clothing to wear for an interview as part of his PhD. He's kind of a nerdy history major, and his sister was going with him to help make fashion decisions, until she fell ill. Now it's up to James and his sister, via text and photos, to kit him out for the interview. The thing is, it isn't James' sister that he texts, it's his old Professor, and Dominant, Professor Carson. Professor Carson is all seeing and all knowing and he reads James like a well known book, anticipating what it is James likes. What James likes is the menswear worker, Satish, who James thinks might just be flirting with him  - occasionally leaving his hand on him a bit longer, touching the small of his back - nothing he could say for sure, but he's fairly certain. Even though it's via texts they are communicating through, Professor Carson just knows James after their time in a BDSM relationship two years prior. James still likes Professor Carson, he still has his number in his phone. He still takes orders. No one since has rattled James' kink-cage like the Professor.

The good Professor knows that James likes exhibitionism and he likes the pressure being taken off him,  being guided into situations that he feels somewhat wanton in. He knows how to push the right buttons and convince James to pluck up courage, to take pictures of himself in the dressing room on all fours spread out with fingers up his own arse and facing a mirror. He convinces him to seduce Satish into the dressing room and to blow him there -

He let Satish know how much he loved it, how hungry he was for it. Staring up in pure cock-sucking adoration, James drove himself all the way down, until his lips were wrapped around the base of Satish's cock, until his breath warmed the dark thatch of hair there. Satish made another strangled sound and his eyes clenched shut. Something surged  underneath the skin pressed against James's stretched-taut lower lip, and he drew back just in time to let that initial burst erupt across his tongue. Totally shameless, James jerked himself and watched Satish's face as jet after jet of warm, salty cum coated his extended tongue.

Given that this book is short, it was incredibly well put together, I felt like I knew quite a bit about James, which you would expect, but also Satish, who isn't on page with huge amounts of dialogue,  yet his personality came through just fine. I want to know whether he will be in the next book and if so, in what capacity? A third? Will Professor Carson want to watch? Join in? - Lawd, I hope so to both!. And speaking of which, Professor Carson is the right mix of sure-of-himself, flexible, threatening, sexually powerful and coercive, in all the right or wrong ways. James also has a bratty epiphany by the end of this short. Sooo........I would like more please. Highly recommended for those who like a sexy read, the concept of power exchanges, BDSM., with the desire for bigger and better to come.....meant in oh so many ways.

4  Bratty BJ Stars. 

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Out On The Net, Rick R. Reed

- Review by Cindi

4.5 out of 5 stars

Ray Tolliver has picked the absolute worst moment to be struck with the revelation that he is gay. Granted, he's always been attracted to other men but he felt that the right thing was to marry a female, leaving those attractions to himself and he hasn't quite accepted the gay thing before now. It is literally twenty minutes before he is to walk down the aisle to marry Alice. The church is full of guests.  The bride-to-be is somewhere in the church getting primped.  The best man is admiring himself in the mirror and Ray is dressed to the nines in his tux and shiny shoes.  But once the revelation hits, he knows that no way can he walk down that aisle and marry a woman. The service is called off (in a way that I found to be extremely cowardly on Ray's part) and the former bride-to-be is left devastated.  So what does Ray do now?  He lives in small-town America where being openly gay is not exactly the norm.  He has angered or hurt all who are close to him.  Alice, rightfully so, refuses to speak with him though he still loves her dearly just not in that way.  
Out On The Net

Ray starts a blog that details his life and trials as a newly discovered gay man.  The entire story is made up of blog entries starting with him calling off the wedding and continuing until he finally finds true love with a man.   Some of the blog entries are a little sad, some are downright hilarious and some are very sweet.

Ray's search for true love is an interesting one.  From getting creeped out at the local rest area ("there's a reason people snicker about it and call it 'Lollipop Park'") to checking out Craigslist and various hook-up sites ("Back to the subject, ahem, at hand.  I would be lying if I didn't admit that sometimes my exposure to gay Internet porn left me, oh my, with soiled Fruit of the Looms") to even going on his one and only blind date.  I laughed so hard during Ray's blind date.  You immediately feel embarrassed for the poor guy but you can't help but laugh out loud.

My mind became a vast, blank canvass and here I was an artist with no paints or brushes. What does one talk about on a gay date?  How do you make conversation?  Do you talk about gay things, like Glee, Lady GaGa, or, turning back time, Cher?

Having a bean burrito for lunch a few hours before your first ever gay date is probably not a good idea as Ray learns the hard way unfortunately.

Oh now, Ray, you're being ridiculous.  A little gas is a perfectly natural thing; it happens to everyone.  Even Jake.  Now even though you might think Jake would be relieved if you cut out on him and headed home, you're wrong.  Hopefully the gas leak has been stopped and you can get out there and turn this night around.

Yeah, about that.  The date turned out okay in the end but Jake apparently was not the great love of Ray's life.

A coworker who is a Sam Elliott look alike (my blog partner had only last week been informed of my absolute love for Sam Elliott) who helps Ray to, uh, experience a few things as long as Ray doesn't acknowledge the man in public.  

Ah, Sam Elliott. :)
He reminded me of the Greek version of actor, Sam Elliott.  Yes, boys and girls, he was dreamy.

Finding out that a man who has played a huge part in Ray's nightly fantasies is gay is shocking to say the least.

You could have knocked me over with a feather.  I know, Alice, you'd rather use a brick.

The Sam-Elliott-look-alike-hottie doesn't work out as Blog Entry #11 states:


Yes, it's true.  I hate them all.  If you're a woman, you may understand why when you read what's below.  If you're a gay man, same goes for you.  If you're a straight man, well, I never believed any of you truly like each other anyway. of one!

One bad connection after another forces Ray to conclude that he will never find his true love. Maybe he should have gone ahead and married Alice.  At least she would be someone to come home to every night.  About the time Ray has had enough, he meets the man of his dreams in the most unlikely of places:  Home Depot (or better known by Ray as Homo Depot).

This is a fun story.  Alice eventually forgives Ray for dumping her at the alter.  Ray discovers the joys of gay sex and true love with his sweetie.  The way the story is told, via blog entries, is an interesting and different way of telling a story.  I found it refreshing and much different from the books I normally read.  

Another great story by one of my faves.