Thursday, December 3, 2009
M/M Review: Rough Cut: Vincent Diamond Collected by Vincent Diamond
In Rough Cut, Vincent Diamond gives us a beautiful collection of short stories -- 17 in total -- some of them connected with the same characters, some of them single short stories that give us more than just what I've come to expect from M/M Erotica. Some of these short stories make us think and ponder -- there are just so many scenarios, so many "what ifs," so many "gray areas." Diamond manages to gift us with all of these things AND romance AND eroticism in these short stories. Her love of animals and nature is evident throughout all of them and it's lovely to see her passion for it; as well as her love of the characters in the writing.
The book begins with an impressive Foreword by Richard Labonte, one that I have to agree with. The characters in these stories, weather you are reading the single short story, or the connected ones, are well developed as are the relationships. I was impressed with how invested I became in the relationships while reading this book.
Lions and Tigers and Snares & Cold Hands, Warm Heart are linked stories with the same characters. In these two shorts, you'll find Kendall Knight, a Licensed Handler of large animals working at a "big cat" refuge, and Byron an undercover detective investigating Kendall and his partner. I loved these stories, not just the sizzling chemistry between these two men, but their love and commitment for their work and what I could only imagine their future holds.
A Cold Night’s Sleep & Fire are linked stories with the same characters. Sandy is an ex-cop who now works as a Ranger in a State Park and Tanner is an ex-con just out of prison. This is a story of how one person can make a difference in another's life. A day, a moment, can help the healing process and sometimes it can come from the most unexpected places or person. Beautiful.
Haunted, Slide into Desire, Walking the Blue Line, Deep Trouble Undercover, A Question of Taste, Dangerous Days, Tropical Daze. The story of Conrad and Steven, an undercover cop and a Rave Master and ex-con. Seven short stories that are really one complete story in the end. It's just beautiful. We go through Steven's journey of self-discovery, guilt, passion and love and Conrad's right there with him. I fell in love with these characters, their Romance with a capital R (because that's exactly what it was), and the sizzling passion they shared. I couldn't stop reading these shorts until I finished. Can you tell these were my very favorite stories and characters? The best recommendation I can give is... I'll be re-reading these. I'll definitely want to read Conrad and Steven's journey again.
Shepherd -- What a thought provoking piece! A single short that left me thinking, thinking... I'll have to quote here: "It's not who we are, it's where we are." A quote that made me think about the choices made in this story, but also about how it particularly applied to me personally under other circumstances and situations having nothing to do with M/M. Specifically applied to the immigrant's experience. This is the story of Felipe, who has been imprisoned for criminal assault and his experiences in prison during his first months of incarceration. I found this short gripping. I wanted more and at the same time, I thought it was perfect the way it was because of the way it made me think. Not the usual look at M/M; definitely not romance. Loved this piece.
Bruised, Back in the Saddle, Horsing Around -- These three stories are also linked. The story of Marcus and David. Marcus owns a Stud Farm where horses are also trained for competition. Not horse races, but dressage. David is a young veterinarian doing part of his internship at Marcus' farm. Gorgeous story(stories) of self-discovery and of learning to love again. This is one where I was left hanging. I really wanted to know what happened next and hope Diamond writes that next short.
Irish Cream -- Ohhhhh, Irish Cream! What a finish to this book! It broke my heart and it soothed it. This is a beautiful single short told by an old man who is remembering Liam, an Irish young man he met in the 1950's. We get glimpses of what it was like to be gay during that time, of stolen moments and beauty shared and lost. I loved this piece.
A few things I would like to add that includes all the stories. These are great to read one at a time if you don't have the time to read a whole book, or in between reads. Although I found myself so fascinated by some of the stories that I had to go on and finish those. The love stories are just gorgeous, all of them. The passion in these books felt real to me -- Diamond has a way of writing a bedroom scene (or a barn scene, as may be the case) that's for sure. However, it is undeniable that together with the passion, Diamond also gave us the romance without taking the easy way out.
NOTE: I read this book back in February of this year before I began blogging. However, I did not want this year to end without posting my review for what became one of my favorite M/M Anthologies/Collections of short stories this year. The original review was posted at The Manhole @ The Phade on February 8, 2009.
You can visit Vincent Diamond here.