Saturday, February 27, 2010

Angels, What You Must Hear on High by John H. Roush

A happily ever after...

I wouldn't be anywhere else except with Tom. He keeps me grounded. He's the silent type, and you know what they say about the silent type: They're animals in bed! This man could make me praise Jesus in twenty-one different languages. Oh, sorry about that, Angel. Page 258

Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction edited by Timothy J. Lambert and R.D. Cochrane

About the Author:
John H. Roush lives in a quiet New England town in Connecticut with his partner. He belongs to a nonprofit organization that goes throughout the United States and Canada raising money for other nonprofit groups. He is one of New England's leading female impersonators. Mr. Roush doesn't have a website (at least not that I could find).

Everyone Says I'll Forget in Time by Greg Herren

Closure and new beginnings.
I got through it all; I survived; I went on. I went through the closet and the dresser and took his clothes to Goodwill. I did all the things you're supposed to do, and I got through it all.

But the bed still seems empty every morning when I wake up. The house seems quieter, no matter how loudly I play the stereo. The world seems different, somehow -- the sun a little less bright, the sky a little less blue, the grass a little less green.

Everyone says I'll forget in time.
Page 240

Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction edited by Timothy J. Lambert and R.D. Cochrane

See a list of books by Greg Herren here.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Review: Glory in Death (In-Death Book 2) by J.D. Robb

In a time when technology can reveal the darkest of secrets, there's only one place to hide a crime of passion - in the heart. . .

The first victim was found lying on a sidewalk in the rain. The second was murdered in her own apartment building. Police lieutenant Eve Dallas had no problem finding connections between the two crimes. Both victims were beautiful and highly successful women. Their glamorous lives and loves were the talk of the city. And their intimate relations with men of great power and wealth provided Eve with a long list of suspects - including her own lover, Roarke. As a woman, Eve was compelled to trust the man who shared her bed. But as a cop, it was her job to follow every lead . . .to investigate every scandalous rumor . . .to explore every secret passion, no matter how dark. Or how dangerous.

"The dead were her business. She lived with them, worked with them, studied them. And because that didn't seem to be enough, in some deep, secret chamber of her heart, she mourned for them." 

That is how Glory in Death begins and a theme that is carried out throughout the book -- justice and Eve as the avenger for the dead. Eve is plunged into the murder investigation of Prosecuting Attorney Towers, a successful woman who stands for justice. She finds herself in the middle of a delicate investigation that turns personal in more ways than one -- both Roarke and her own Captain are involved. When two other women are murdered and an acquaintance becomes snared by the murderer, Eve's race to solve the case becomes a race against time.

In Glory in Death, Robb further develops Eve's character both as a woman and as a cop. She explores her personal insecurities as a woman through her relationship with Roarke. As a cop, we get to experience how Eve's mind works, what procedures she uses to solve crimes, and how she reacts to both crime and victim. In her reaction to the victims, we see more of caring Eve, the woman who feels so much for them she'll go balls to the wall to get them justice, but if/or when unable to do so, takes it all onto herself. As a character, there is a lot of growth for Eve in this one book. You can see it in her rigid black and white mind-set at the beginning of the story, changing into a slightly softer gray "Roarke-like" mind-set by the end.

Eve's relationship with Roarke hits a glitch when she's unable to commit and he's unwilling to settle for less. Their passion is steamy and their pain is evident throughout their conflict. I loved the way Eve worked through her reluctance and the fact that Roarke understood her, but would not settle for less than what he wanted and she deserved. Roarke's ruthlessness, tenderness and willingness to commit to Eve were a winning combination in this installment. Robb weaved their romantic bliss and upheaval with the suspense quite well.

There were some favorite recurring secondary characters and relationships in this book. My favorite so far is Eve's prickly relationship with Roarke's butler Summerset. I can't believe she elbowed the old man to get into Roarke's house... I just can't -- that was a joy! I'm loving the way those two go out of their way to annoy each other. Eve's friendship with Mavis seems to be a steady one and one she needs to unwind. I like Mavis' irreverent qualities.

I found the suspense to be predictable in Glory in Death, just as it was in the first book, although the way the crime was solved was certainly enjoyable. So far, my favorite part of this series is the characterization, and of course Eve and Roarke's ongoing romance. Going on to read Immortal in Death.

Genre: Futuristic Suspense/Romance
Series: In-Death Series, Book 2
MMP Released: September 7, 2004
Grade: B

Visit J.D. Robb here

Christine's 'In-Death' Reading Challenge - February Review

Two Kinds of Rapture by Andrew Holleran


...I found rapture in a street of yellow leaves, and the super from Guatemala, or his wife and daughter, have located it in a miniature Christmas tree. But better than all these is love, he thought as he went into the building. Oh, how I wish I were in love. Page 238

Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction edited by Timothy J. Lambert and R.D. Cochrane

See list of books by Andrew Holleran here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Review: Devil in Winter (Wallflowers Series #3) by Lisa Kleypas

A devil's bargain

Easily the shyest Wallflower, Evangeline Jenner stands to become the wealthiest, once her inheritance comes due. Because she must first escape the clutches of her unscrupulous relatives, Evie has approached the rake Viscount St. Vincent with a most outrageous proposition: marriage!

Sebastian's reputation is so dangerous that thirty seconds alone with him will ruin any maiden's good name. Still, this bewitching chit appeared, unchaperoned, on his doorstep to offer her hand. Certainly an aristocrat with a fine eye for beauty could do far worse.

But Evie's proposal comes with a condition: no lovemaking after their wedding night. She will never become just another of the dashing libertine's callously discarded broken hearts -- which means Sebastian will simply have to work harder at his seductions...or perhaps surrender his own heart for the very first time in the name of true love.
Devil in Winter was easily my favorite book in the Wallflower series by Lisa Kleypas, and the reason I chose to re-read it. The story of the unlikely pairing between shy Evie and the unscrupulous rake Sebastian St. Vincent.

While re-reading this book, I slowly began to remember why I loved it so much the first time and no, it's not because St. Vincent is one of the best reformed rakes around -- and one of the hottest. Evie has a lot to do with it.

Evie is a desperate woman who takes desperate measures, but although her actions seem impulsive, they are calculated for maximum results. Evie has the upper hand with St. Vincent from the moment she enters his home, and the arrogant, heartless fool doesn't stand a chance.

I was curious to read again how she does it -- how she tames this heartless rake. And, Sebastian is heartless and definitely a rake who has already proven he cares little for friendship and for others. In Evie, Kleypas gives us a heroine who does it all with kindness, love, passion and determination. There is nothing loud or overly self-confident about her. Yet, she is relentless once she makes up her mind and achieves the seemingly unachievable.

Sebastian's change from heartless rake to passionate hero is a bit of a roller coaster. His physical passion for Evie takes him on an emotional journey he's never experienced and one he's not prepared to handle. In St. Vincent, Kleypas gives us a hero who in the end not only finds love and redemption, in the process he also finds who and what he was meant to be all along.

One of the reasons Devil in Winter is such a big draw for me is the chemistry between Sebastian and Evie. Kleypas uses both sexual tension and intense, sizzling scenes to weave their story and it works. From beginning to end,even through the heaviest scenes in the book that chemistry is present.

"...You're my wife." A smile chased across his lips. "My better half, to be certain." Leaning over her, he nuzzled into the fine trendrils that strayed over her forehead. His breath was hot and soft on her skin. "My prize... my pleasure and endless desire. I've never known anyone like you, Evie." His lips touched gently at the bridge of her nose and slid down to the top. "You dare to make demands of me that no other woman would think of asking. And for now I'll pay your price, love. But later you'll pay mine...over and over..." He caught her trembling lips with his, his hands cupping the back of her head.
Evie's past is explored in detail in this book. On the other hand, Sebastian's past is touched on lightly in what I feel is a superficial and a rather off-hand manner. Interestingly enough, I was so taken by Sebastian St. Vincent's sexiness the first time I read this book, I didn't notice. During this re-read, I found myself wishing for a few more details about this man.

When it comes to secondary characters, Cam Rohan is the most prominent. He is introduced in Devil in Winter, as the bulk of the story takes place at Jenner's, the gambling club originally owned by Evie's father and now owned and managed by St. Vincent. Lillian, Annabel and Daisy, the other wallflowers, make appearances although they don't overwhelm the storyline.

Devil in Winter is one of my favorite Lisa Keyplas books and on my keeper shelf.

Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Wallflowers Series, Book 3
Released: February 28, 2006
Grade: A-

Visit Lisa Kleypas here.

KMont's Year of the Historical 2010 Challenge - February Review
Nath's 2010 Re-Read Challenge- February Review

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Party Planning by Rob Williams

Free to love.
Inside the house, I could hear my mother's voice introducing Linda to the partygoers. She spoke slowly, no longer yelling, but now high and light, like a wind chime. I wondered if Kurt would keep walking or would he wait for me at the end of the block. Or would there be someone, someone else. Soon. Waiting for me. Page 224
Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction edited by Timothy J. Lambert and R.D. Cochrane

Visit Rob Williams here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Upcoming Releases: Contemporary Romances

I'm in a contemporary romance kind of mood lately. It seems that no matter what genre I switch to, contemporaries are what I'm craving at the moment, so it's a good thing there are plenty of them languishing on the old "to be read pile." But, you know how it is, there's always room for more!

I have a huge list of books in this category that I want to read -- books that have been recommended by other bloggers, or books that caught my attention. I've been putting this list together for a while and of course these books will be added to my pile at some point. As a matter of fact, Double Play by Jill Shalvis is my latest purchase and finally made it from my list to my "to be read" pile.

However, there are always those new releases that I can't wait to read and that never make it to the "to be read pile." Those are the ones that get read as soon as they hit my mail box. The following three contemporary romances fall under that category, I'm truly looking forward to reading them.

NAKED EDGE by Pamela Clare
What do you do when desire drives you to the very brink?

Someone wants the Native Americans off their sacred land. And when Navajo journalist Katherine James and park ranger Gabriel Rossiter team up to investigate why, their passion for the truth-and each other-makes them targets for those desperate enough to kill.

Releasing March 2, 2010

Staying overnight in a luxury hotel, Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Lynde overhears a high-profile murder involving a U.S. Senator. Special Agent Jack Pallas is assigned to the investigation-the same Jack Pallas who still blames her for nearly ruining his career three years ago. Now the pair will have to put their rocky past behind them, focus on the case at hand-and smother the flame of their sizzling-hot sexual tension.

Releasing March 2, 2010.

SAVOR THE MOMENT by Nora Roberts
Laurel McBane has always relied on her friends for support, especially when her dream of attending culinary school was almost ruined by her parents’ financial problems. Now Laurel is repaying the kindness of her friends by creating extravagantly luscious tiers of cakes and other confectionary delights that add the perfect touch to their clients’ weddings.

As for romance, Laurel believes in it — in theory. But she’s too low-key to appreciate all the luxuries that other women seem to long for. What she does appreciate is a strong, intelligent man, a man just like Parker’s older brother, Delaney Brown, on whom Laurel has had a mega crush since childhood.

But some infatuations last longer than others, and Laurel is convinced that the Ivy League lawyer is still out of her reach. Plus, Del is too protective of Laurel to ever cross the line with her, or so she thinks. When Laurel’s quick- silver moods get the better of her — leading to an angry, hot, altogether mind-blowing kiss with Del — she’ll have to quiet the doubts in her mind to turn a moment of passion into forever…

Releasing April 27, 2010.  

Read excerpt here.
What about you? What upcoming contemporary romances will be read as soon as they hit your hot little hands?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A thought on nostalgia vs. reality... and Pasado Perfecto by Leonardo Padura

As I began reading Pasado Perfecto by Leonardo Padura, almost immediately I came across a passage that caught my attention:

Se puso los espejuelos oscuros y caminó hacia la parada de la guagua pensando que el aspecto del barrio debía de ser como el suyo: una especie de paisaje después de una batalla casi devastadora, y sintió que algo se resentía en su memoria más afectiva. La realidad visible de la Calzada contrastaba con la imagen almibarada del recuerdo de aquella misma calle, una imagen que había llegado a preguntarse si en verdad era real, si la heredaba de la nostalgia histórica de los cuentos de su abuelo o simplemente la habia inventado para tranquilizar al pasado.

Translation: (done by me: any errors found are mine)
He put on his sunglasses and walked to the bus stop, thinking that the neighborhood looked a lot like him: like a landscape after a devastating battle, and something became offended in his most affective memory. The visible reality of the Calzada contrasted with the sweet, syrupy images he remembered of that same street, and he asked himself if that image was a real one, if he had inherited it from his grandfather's historical and nostalgic tales, or if he had simply invented them to calm the past.

Yes, I thought when I read el Conde's reflection about his neighborhood and the street where he grew up, that's exactly right. How often do we change the past to suit our needs? How often do our memories deceive us when nostalgia takes over to make places, things, or events, beautiful, right, or acceptable when in reality they were not?

Such a shocking thing, to deal with stark reality and see that street for what it really is... for what it probably always was -- except maybe in fantasy-filled memories or those glorious moments of self-deception that often come with nostalgia.  Pasado Perfecto... "a perfect past."

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Heart by 'Nathan Burgoine

The gift of love. I enjoyed the beat.

"Can we dance?" Miah asks, voice nearly a whisper now. I can see through him again.

We dance in the parking lot, and I close my eyes. He presses against my chest, and I spin him. We step and turn and rock back and forth gently, without music. He grows lighter in my arms, and for a while, my tears gather in his hair. I can even smell his soap.

My heart.

Page 207
Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction edited by Timothy J. Lambert and R.D. Cochrane

Visit 'Nathan Burgoine here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Review: Something Borrowed by Emily Griffin

Meet Rachel White, a young attorney living and working in Manhattan. Rachel has always been the consummate good girl -- until her thirtieth birthday, when her best friend Darcy throws her a party. That night, after too many drinks, Rachel ends up in bed with Darcy's fiance. Although she wakes up determined to put the one-night fling behind her, Rachel is horrified to discover that she has genuine feelings for the one guy should run from. In her wildest dreams (or worst nightmare?) this is the last thing on earth Rachel could ever have imagined happening.

As the September wedding date nears, Rachel knows she has to make a choice. In doing so, she discovers that the lines between right and wrong can be blurry, endings aren't always neat, and sometimes you have to risk all to win true happiness.
I don't usually read contemporary women's fiction or 'chick-lit', but this book was a loan from my daughter. We don't exchange books very often, so I couldn't pass up the opportunity when she recommended it. Thank you Big V!

Something Borrowed by Emily Griffin was her debut novel. She tackles some pretty controversial subjects in her first book: infidelity being the obvious one, but with that comes the question, what constitutes betrayal? Is there such a thing as justification for betrayal? Who exactly betrays whom in this novel? It turned out to be both interesting and fun to find out.

Written in first person through Rachel's point of view, Ms. Griffin weaves a complex story about relationships, a damaging, toxic friendship and its consequences. Consequences that affect not only the two people involved, in this case Rachel and Darcy who have been best friends since childhood, but all those caught in the middle.

Rachel's thirtieth birthday serves as the catalyst. Darcy throws Rachel a "surprise" birthday party where everyone drinks too much. At the end of the night, the last ones left at the bar are Rachel and Dexter. Dex is Darcy's fiancé and Rachel's old friend from law school. The two friends decide to go to another bar for more conversation and drinks. Before they know it, Rachel and Dex end up in each other's arms -- a mistake that interestingly enough neither seem to regret too deeply.

Rachel realizes her feelings for Dex are deeper than she first thought as she attempts to forget the "Incident." The fact that her feelings seem to be reciprocated by Dexter makes it tougher to move on. Slowly, but surely, the two embark on a sober affair that turns out to be both physical and of the heart. As a couple, you can feel their connection and chemistry, but their situation turns out to be both difficult and complex.

At this point Dex and Rachel are cheating, but the fact that Darcy is written as a manipulative, superficial, immature, and self-centered character makes it easier to actually root for them. It was an interesting dilemma. Darcy is an unsympathetic victim. Or, is she a victim? Rachel, on the other hand, is down to earth and a likable person -- it's easy to connect with her and to sympathize with her ongoing insecurities and conflicts.

There are no black and white answers here; instead you'll find plenty of gray areas. Through Rachel, Ms. Griffin explores some pretty uncomfortable questions about the limits of friendship and how far a person can or will go to maintain that friendship. The breaking point is what she highlights in this book. Her characters are flawed and none are innocent or spared.

Ms. Griffin does an excellent job of character development while telling the story from Rachel's perspective. Her characters' personalities come through crystal clear. Rachel, Dexter, Darcy, Marcus, Hillary and Ethan are a great cast of characters that kept my attention even while I either disliked them or disagreed with their decisions.

A combination Sex in the City / 'chick lit' book, Something Borrowed felt like a fast paced soap opera, with some great twists, wonderful characterization and dialogue and I couldn't stop reading until the end. I have the follow up book, Something Blue, Darcy's story, and will definitely read it.

Genre: Contemporary Women's Fiction
Series: Followed by "Something Blue"
Released: March 10, 2005
Grade: Solid B

Visit Emily Griffin here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Review: Ecstasy Unveiled by Larissa Ione

Lore is a Seminus half-breed demon who has been forced to act as his dark master's assassin. Now to earn his freedom and save his sister's life, he must complete one last kill. Powerful and ruthless, he'll stop at nothing to carry out this deadly mission. 

Idess is an earthbound angel with a wild side, sworn to protect the human Lore is targeting. She's determined to thwart her wickedly handsome adversary by any means necessary-even if that means risking her vow of eternal chastity. But what begins as a simple seduction soon turns into a passion that leaves both angel and demon craving complete surrender.

Torn between duty and desire, Lore and Idess must join forces as they battle their attraction for each other. Because an enemy from the past is rising again-one hellbent on vengeance and unthinkable destruction.
If you've been following the Demonica series by Larissa Ione, then you know that Ecstasy Unveiled is Lore's story. Lore is the unknown half-breed brother introduced in Passion Unleashed, the last installment of this paranormal series about the Seminus demon brothers, Eidolon, Shade and Wraith. Lore and his brothers found out they were related while he was attempting to fulfill a contract to assassinate them -- not exactly the best way to endear yourself to your long-lost family.

I wasn't too sure I was going to like Lore, but his character was a wonderful surprise and I fell for him. He is half-demon, half-human, so the sex-demon qualities that made Eidolon and Shade so over-the-top sexual are not there. His sexuality, although present and definitely on the high end of the hot scale, is toned down enough that there's room for more. Lore's special gift is quite gruesome. It makes him the perfect assassin, but as we go along we find that it also makes him an isolated soul. His touch can kill, and although he needs to have sexual contact to survive just like his brothers, his release kills his sexual partners too. Up to this point Lore's isolation has been both physical and emotional, giving him a vulnerability not found in any of his brothers.

Lore is not an assassin by choice. He is enslaved to Master Assassin Detharu who has a hold on both him and his twin sister, Sin. They must kill their marks for Detharu or face punishment and torture. However, at the end of Lore's 100th kill, both Lore and Sin are due their freedom. In Ecstasy Unveiled, Lore is given that chance. His mark is Kynan, his brothers' best friend and now family through marriage. He has two weeks to fulfill the contract and if he succeeds, he and Sin will gain their freedom. If he fails, his sister Sin dies. Lore has no choice.

His pairing with an earthbound angel is perfect. Tough and vulnerable, Idess makes for a lovely heroine. A Memitim, she must protect the Primori, or human/demon she's assigned to in order to earn her wings and go to Heaven. Kynan is her Primori and that brings her in direct conflict with Lore. In an unexpected twist, Lore and Idess end together and as their attraction grows so does their dilemma.

I enjoyed both the sexual tension and hot erotic scenes in Ecstasy Unveiled. However, Ione also incorporated plenty of tender and emotional moments between Lore and Idess providing a nice balance to this book. The fact that both Lore and Idess are emotionally and sexually vulnerable was a nice touch.

Ione's world is still chaotic, just as they were in the rest of the books in this series but it still works. There are lots of crazy demons, Guardians, angels, vampires and wargs. The brothers and their families all make appearances in this book and family relationships seems to be the core of the story. Their crazy, humorous and, at times, dysfunctional relationship adds to the chaotic feel. There are new characters introduced, Sin and Con, who add to this book but don't take the focus away from the main characters. They're slotted for the next book and it looks to be a good one.

This is a paranormal series I'm still enjoying and I'm definitely looking forward to the next installment, Sin Undone. Grade B+

Visit Larissa Ione here.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Two Tales by Paul Lisicky

Ties and recognition.

Tale 1. Bear Week
Tale 2. Friends  
Quote from Friends:
He sat the character down in a chair, dropped a teabag into a teacup. Quietly, he walked across the room. He lifted his violin from the lid of his piano, drew his bow, and began to play the most spontaneous notes that had ever been played. The character closed his eyes; if it wasn't music as he knew it, it was something richer, stranger. Song sparrows? Marsh wrens?

"Friend," said the man from the novel.

"Friend," said the hermit, swallowing back tears. Page 194

Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction edited by Timothy J. Lambert and R.D. Cochrane

Visit Paul Lisicky here.

Valentine's Day & a favorite: The Secret Pearl by Mary Balogh

Happy Valentine's Day everyone.

We love our romance, don't we? It's a year-round give and take for most of us, but for the rest of the world this week in February, love, romance, wine and roses seem to be the words of the day. I have many favorite books and could sit here all day recommending them to you, but today, I thought I would share just one of my favorite historical romance novels.

This is a book that was released over a decade ago in the 1990's, but that I only read a few years back. I gave up reading historical romances during the 90's and am still in the process of catching up. Once I read this book, it became an instant favorite.

The Secret Pearl by Mary Balogh

A 1991 release by Mary Balogh, this book has Fleur, a lady turned prostitute by circumstances, as the heroine. Apparently this was controversial at the time. The hero Adam, a Duke, is her one and only client and married, making The Secret Pearl even more controversial.

You are probably thinking, what's so special or even romantic about this couple or this plot? It might have something to do with the way Balogh wrote this book. She begins with two desperate, wounded people and carries the reader away through characterization and writing. And for me, the excellent characterization and beautiful writing allows this book to stand the test of time.

The Secret Pearl has one of my favorite romantic heroes. Adam was gorgeous inside and out. This Duke was willing to move heaven and earth for his heroine. Adam himself was a wounded man, an honorable man and just about irresistible.

Fleur is a Balogh heroine. Definitely. She is a lady who through no fault of her own finds herself in dire circumstances. Her character, however, never comes into question -- even though she falls in love with a married man. A true Balogh heroine, Fleur is all about character love and sacrifice.

There's some beautiful writing in this book and quite a few scenes that I could share. The scene where Adam declares his love for Fleur is romantic, heartbreaking and unforgettable -- after all they share a forbidden love. Instead, I've chosen another scene for you -- a scene I love for its simplicity and impact.

A carriage ride:
They stared at each other for a long while before she looked down at her hand, which was lying palm-down on the seat between them. No, she would probe no further. She did not want to know the truth. It was too strange, the fate that had brought them together, and too cruel.

She could feel his eyes on her hand too. And he set his own beside it, that beautiful long-fingered hand that had once terrified her and that still disturbed her and made her feel breathless. Their little fingers almost touched.

They sat like that, still and silent, for a long while before he moved his little finger to stroke lightly over hers. And she spread hers and bent it so that their two fingers twined together.

Their eyes watched their hands. They touched at only the one point. They said nothing. Page 323
What comes to your mind today when you think romance? Which book pops up first?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

At the End of the Leash by Jeffrey Ricker

Man's best friend knows best. :)

"Dinner" Brian said, while thinking, You are reading my mind and know exactly what I want you to do and are willing to do it.

Carl turned a bright crimson that started at his ears and spread like wildfire across his cheeks, "I have this theory that people who own dogs are automatically in a different category. You can't hide things from dogs, you know? They follow their hunch when it comes to people because it's all they've got. So if someone has a dog or if my dog likes someone, I figure they're good people."

Your dog liked me...
Pages 170-171.

Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction edited by Timothy J. Lambert and R.D. Cochrane

Visit Jeffrey Ricker here.

Like No One's Watching by Josh Helmin

First love.
In a development that Mark found somewhat unnerving, his eyes were glued to the actor playing Jack every time he appeared on stage. Just the sight of Jack, played by Seth Stratton, a fellow senior with a mop of brown hair and a tall, lean frame, caused Mark to hold his breath and his palms to sweat. Mark sometimes stared at Seth even when he was supposed to be watching somebody else. In the first act, when Seth sang a song about his adventures up the beanstalk, Mark felt himself growing lightheaded.  Pages 150-151
Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction edited by Timothy J. Lambert and R.D. Cochrane

Visit Josh Helmin at the Josh & Josh are Rich and Famous blog.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

M/M Upcoming Release: The Boy Can't Help It: Sensual Stories of Young Bottoms by Gavin Atlas

Well, it's GLTB week at Impressions... at least it seems so to me. :) Here's one upcoming release I'm looking forward to reading. The Boy Can't Help It: Sensual Stories of Young Bottoms by Gavin Atlas is releasing on Valentine's Day, February 14th. I loved his erotic short story "La Playita" and the hot, hot short "Wet Pass."  This one's going on my list of books to be read for the M/M Romance Challenge... yes!

At some point, hasn't every bottom yearned to be ravished by a powerful, inescapable top? What dominant hasn't fantasized about a gorgeous young sub with an incredible ass, so horny he could never say no? The Boy Can't Help It offers over a dozen such stories of beautiful young men: a gymnast, a diver, a surfer, a marine and many college boys submitting to construction workers, horny professors, butch jocks, corporate titans, insatiable miners, and even one's own psychiatrist. Whether you long to be the helpless bottom or the top nailing him...whether your wet dream is a bit of bondage, a gang bang, sex on the sand, or naughty Gavin Atlas has the stories to satisfy your every need.
Available here or here (2/14/10).

ETA: See my review here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

De Anima by Joel Derfner

Love and the knitted soul.

It was the morning after my boyfriend told me he wanted to seek freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ that I decided to knit the brain.  Page 133
...I looked through my yarn stash (I hate that term but that's what they call it), and after briefly considering a gorgeous soft green alpaca, went with a cheap purple polyester, as I suspected it was more appropriate for an ex-gay. I started knitting according to the diagram I had drawn up, yanking the yarn hard as I went... Page 139

Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction edited by Timothy J. Lambert and R.D. Cochrane

Visit Joel Derfner here.

Trunk by Trebor Healey

Finding love on the edge.

They muttered and wept as they communed together and didn't really stop crying completely until they'd betrayed the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, as well as Paul's letter to the Corinthians and Romans --and arguably Timothy.   Page 130

Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction edited by Timothy J. Lambert and R.D. Cochrane

Visit Trebor Healey here.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Review: The Outback Stars by Sandra McDonald

The Outback Stars is the first book in a military science fiction series by Sandra McDonald and her debut novel.

In The Outback Stars, McDonald introduces Team Space, a military organization in charge of inter-planetary space travel. Team Space travels through alien-built space passageways called the "Alcheringa." The route allows space ships to travel between worlds -- think wormholes.

McDonald's world is based on native Australian mythology. Everything from planets, objects, to the alien race have Australian names and are based on tribal Australian culture. I'm not familiar with this mythology or culture and cannot attest as to its authenticity in this book or lack thereof. I can tell you that her world is definitely an interesting one.

Lieutenant Jodenny Scott is our principal character in what turned out to be a large ensemble of characters. Jodenny is still recovering from the traumatic loss of her last ship, the Yangtze -- a disaster being blamed on colonial separatist terrorists. Although physically recovered, and despite her heroic actions during the tragedy, Jodenny still suffers from both the trauma of having seen her loved ones die and survivor's guilt.

Jodenny procures a berth on the Aral Sea where she's placed in charge of Underway Stores or supplies. She finds a dysfunctional ship and a troubled department full of inadequate, unprofessional and inefficient staff. There are problems with thefts, rape accusations, beatings, fights, accidents, gangs, missing inventory and everyone seems to have a secret. Jodenny is expected to straighten it all out. On top of that, she also has to deal with shipboard politics -- intrigue abounds.

This is where I think McDonald excels. She weaves the shipboard politics and the nitty gritty detail about military life on a ship beautifully. She takes her time outlining protocol and other details that would otherwise seem unimportant and makes them part of the plot. The author herself was in the military and this is made obvious by how well these details are incorporated into the book.

However, the whole story doesn't take place on the ship. While on leave at Mary River, Jodenny and Sargeant Terry Myell stumble on a discovery that could change the way everything works in their world. The plot thickens as Jodenny and Terry are catapulted into an intriguing, dangerous and often mystifying situation. In the process, they fall in love creating a career-ending situation for themselves, as their relationship is forbidden by military rules.

I thought The Outback Stars was quite the ambitious undertaking and wasn't too sure about it for a while. McDonald introduces the reader to her worldbuilding quite slowly, but certain aspects of it kept my attention and I got into it. Her world was interesting, it bordered on fantasy and that part was a surprise. Although creative, I wasn't entirely satisfied with McDonald's worldbuilding. Too often I felt as though I were left in the dark for far too long about certain details, and that made for a frustrating read. Also by the end, there were either unanswered questions that should be answered in the next book, or confusing answers -- few conflicts seemed resolved or clear.

What I really enjoyed was McDonald's attention to detail when it came to the military side of the book and the humanity of her characters. She doesn't portray the secondary or central characters as super-heroes. Instead, they display the joys, fears, pride and jealousies you might expect of everyday people. That was a nice touch.

As you can see The Outback Stars was a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed the characters and am thinking of getting the next book in this series, The Stars Down Under, to see where Sandra McDonald takes them. Grade B-

The Outback Stars
The Stars Down Under
The Stars Blue Yonder

Visit Sandra McDonald here.

New Release: Heart and Soul by Evangeline Anderson

The Assignment by Evangeline Anderson seems to be the first M/M Erotica story for a lot of readers out there. Although there are two very short sequels to that story, I'll be Hot for Christmas and Fireworks, now there's a new novella by Ms. Anderson featuring Detectives Valenti and O'Brian, Heart and Soul.  Here's the blurb. Enjoy!

The Boys are Back…

It’s been two years since tall, dark, and stoic Detective Valenti, and his partner, blond, intense O’Brian came to terms with their true feelings for each other. Going undercover at the RamJack, the most notorious gay resort in the country, tested their friendship to the limit and forged a new love between them that has grown immeasurably since.

But now O’Brian has accepted a new, dangerous undercover assignment where Valenti cannot follow. Working for James Talbert, the man who is single-handedly responsible for more illegal pornography than anyone else in the country, is bad enough. But the porn kingpin is also suspected of making gay snuff films—and his last five stars have ended up six feet under.

Valenti begs his partner not to go, but O’Brian is determined to take the assignment—and then fails to check in at the appointed time. Fearing the worst, Valenti goes undercover to rescue his partner, only to find himself caught in Talbert’s sadistic web. Now he and O’Brian will be forced to act out a madman’s darkest desires on film and hope they both survive. The ordeal will test their love and force them to bare themselves to each other in a way they never have before, both Heart and Soul.
Available here.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Happy Hour at Café Jones by Rob Byrnes

Looking back, love was always there.
...if you can't be silly standing in a cold misty rain on the cracked asphalt of a municipal parking lot with the man you've just realized you never stopped loving, when can you? Page 99
Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction edited by Timothy J. Lambert and R.D. Cochrane

Visit Rob Byrnes here.

Gratitude by Felice Picano

Love at any age. Happiness found the hard way!
He was hardly a child, closer to sixty than fifty. No friend to the reflections of window panes and looking glasses that had a startling way of creeping up and suddenly presenting him to his nowadays always unsuspecting and usually horrified self. Page 70

Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction edited by Timothy J. Lambert and R.D. Cochrane

Find out about Felice Picano's work here.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Mini-Impressions: Don't Tell by Karen Rose

It was a desperate plan. But Mary Grace Winters knew the only way to save herself and her child from her abusive cop husband was to stage their own death. Now all that remains of their former life is at the bottom of a lake. Armed with a new identity in a new town, she and her son have found refuge hundreds of miles away. As Caroline Stewart, she has almost forgotten the nightmare she left behind nine years ago. She is even taking a chance on love with Max Hunter, a man with wounds of his own. But her past is about to collide with the present when her husband uncovers her trail and threatens her hard-won peace. Step by step, he's closing in on her- and everything and everyone she loves.
Don't Tell by Karen Rose was definitely a solid read for me. It was pretty heavy though -- the villain of the piece is a cop and a wife beater. Rose is very descriptive when writing the violent scenes in the book, specifically the scenes where Mary Grace/Caroline is abused. Rose certainly doesn't pull her punches when it comes to describing the damage done by this man to his wife and child. She addresses both the physical and psychological damage done to families by abusive husbands, as well as the "blue wall of silence" that is often found when it comes to cops who beat their wives. She doesn't paint a pretty picture nor does she gloss over the consequences.

I'm not going to beat around the bush, at times this was a tough book to read for me personally. However, I was quite impressed with how well Ms. Rose researched battered wives and the long-term psychological impact abuse has on their lives, as well the lives of children who witness the abuse.

The romance was very well done in this book also. Yes, there is a romance that takes place after all the violence takes place and in the midst of the suspense, and it fits... it really does. As the hero, Ms. Rose chooses Max, a man who needs Caroline as much as she needs him. In each other, they find love, healing and a much-needed family.

Personally, I wish the climax with the villain had been less melodramatic. I was hoping Caroline would find closure in a different way -- that part of the book was a personal disappointment. After a while, I'm afraid the villain-husband-cop became a bit too much of a monster and diminished some of the initial, real impact he had on me. On the other hand, there are some great secondary characters in this book I hope to see in future books.

I'll definitely be reading more by Karen Rose in the future. I've already chosen Have You Seen Her? as my next read. Grade: Solid B

See Nath's review of Don't Tell at Books, Books and more Books. Nath's relentless love for Rose's books made me look at her work twice. Tabitha's (Tabz Book Blog) reviews of other books by Rose finished the job. Thank you both for the recommendations. :)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The View by Brandon M. Long

The Fates. Recognizing love.
The view was spectacular, city lights reflecting off the Sound in myriad dancing shimmers. I walked to the window and stared. I could feel Will standing next to me, but he didn't say anything. He just let me take it in. After a while, I turned to him.

  "I don't really know what to say," I stammered. "There aren't words to do it justice."

For once, Will wasn't smiling. He stepped closer and gently kissed me....

Page 60

Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction edited by Timothy J. Lambert and R.D. Cochrane

Brandon M. Long lives with his partner, two dogs, several fish, a bunch of birds, and a tortoise in Salt Lake City. He is not a Mormon. Mr. Long has no website.

Matchmaker by Shawn Anniston

Anything but romance.
....The swans intrigued me, so I consented to a second date. It ended badly when he wanted to give me a full body massage with scented oils.

  "What the hell is wrong with these men?" I demanded of Mick. "Have they no pride? Can't they just scratch their balls and offer me a can of Budweiser? Why must I always be tormented with moonlight and roses?"

  "You poor lamb," Mick said. Page 37

Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction edited by Timothy J. Lambert and R.D. Cochrane

Visit Shawn Anniston here.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Thai Angel by David Puterbaugh

Looking for love.

Kama looked at the note. "Well, I don't know what this word is," he said, picking up a pen. "But this is how you say hello. Sawasdee Khrap."

"Sawasdee Khrap," Sean repeated. He smiled at Kama. "Cool."

"Why the sudden interest in learning Thai? Kama asked.

Sean shrugged. "Just figured I come in here enough. Thought it'd be polite if I learned how to say hi." Page 2

Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction edited by Timothy J. Lambert and R.D. Cochrane

Visit David Puterbaugh here.

Love Taps by Mark G. Harris

Fighting for love.

Memory bathed him at the right temperature. He remembered why he'd written so passionately in his journal the night he and Chuck had met. He remembered Chuck teaching him how to bowl. He remembered how, when he and Chuck went to protests, Chuck would always, between shouted slogans, mutter under his breath asides to him. Things like I love you more than my snooze button, or I could eat you with a spork. Page 23

Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction edited by Timothy J. Lambert and R.D. Cochrane

You can visit Mark G. Harris here.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Review: Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction edited by Timothy J. Lambert and R. D. Cochrane

A very dear friend sent me the Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction anthology as a Christmas present, and what a wonderful present it was. I chose it as my first read of 2010 and as the first book to read and review for Anezthezea's M/M Romance Challenge.

In an age of hookups and cybersex, who has time for a little romance? For all those who think love’s gone the way of the 8-track tape comes a collection of new gay fiction designed to reignite their belief in love and romance. Follow the travails of a dog walker enchanted with his new client, a restaurant owner who catches the eye of his most loyal customer, a blind date fix-up, and other seekers of the lost flame as they stumble upon romance and a possible chance at love.
Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction is comprised of seventeen short stories by some of today's best-known gay writers, as well as some writers whose work was published for the first time in this anthology. I was really looking forward to reading works by both the well known and the newly published writers. However, I knew this book was going to be special after reading the Prologue written by Timothy J. Lambert.

Mr. Lambert's introduction is indeed beautifully honest and thought provoking. I remember writing and telling the friend who gave me this book that the introduction should have a title: "Romance and I." After I finished reading it, I felt as if I'd just finished reading the first short story and couldn't wait to read the rest of the book.
We've had some good times, Romance and I. We first met on a rocky beach in New England and held hands as we walked, not caring that the salty surf soaked our sneakers as the sun set on another summer. Later, we warmed our feet on a hearth made of granite and held each other close as we looked at photographs Romance had taken earlier of majestic pine trees and pairs of seagulls blithely crapping on weathered driftwood.
The introduction certainly reflected the beauty, quality and honesty and in some cases edginess I found when I read the book. Every. single. one. of the writers and the stories contributed are praise worthy and I refuse to choose a favorite among the seventeen included in this book.

As I began writing this review, I decided to do something different. I would like to give you a glimpse of the different stories and writing styles you'll find in this beautiful Gay Fiction anthology. Instead of writing one long review reprising each story, in coming days I'll be doing a series of short posts featuring each writer. I'll be posting a one-line summary and will highlight a short quote from each one. The quotes will either reflect the plot, or they'll be the ones I couldn't resist -- that's all. After all of them have been posted, they will be linked to the bottom of this review.

Beautifully written and edited, Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction is an anthology full of stories some of which I found to be sweet, some edgy, some heart wrenching, some funny and some just downright romantic. Above all this anthology is about love. I recommend this excellent book be read slowly for greater enjoyment.

Gay Fiction/Romance: Grade A

Thai Angel by David Puterbaugh
Love Taps by Mark G. Harris
Matchmaker by Shawn Anniston
The View by Brandon M. Long
Gratitude by Felice Picano
Happy Hour at Café Jones by Rob Byrnes
Trunk by Trebor Healey
De Anima by Joel Derfner
Like No One's Watching by Josh Helmin
At the End of the Leash by Jeffrey Ricker
Two Tales by Paul Lisicky
Heart by 'Nathan Burgoine
Party Planning by Rob Williams
Two Kinds of Rapture by Andrew Holleran
Everyone Says I'll Forget in Time by Greg Herren
Angels, What You Must Hear on High by John H. Roush

Other Reviews:
Indigene - The Three Dollar Bill Reviews

Find anthology here or here

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

January 2010 Reads & Mini: Every Night I'm Yours by Christie Kelley

January is over! This was a tough month for me. I started the month with readers block, broke through that and then this last week I couldn't pick up a book due to a week-long migraine that would not quit. Ugh! But, thank goodness that seems to be over too. So, on to February!

Looking at it from the positive side, my month was not a total waste. I did read some good books after all. I read two new beautiful and excellent books this month, plus I chose to re-read an old favorite that was a sure thing. There were two solid reads in there, one new-to-me author that although not great, I'll be checking out in the future, and only one real disappointment in the whole lot.


1) Fool for Love Anthology edited by Timothy J. Lambert and R.D. Cochrane (M/M) - A Upcoming Review

2) Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger - A

3) Duncan's Bride by Linda Howard (Re-Read) - A

4) Naked in Death by J.D. Robb - B

5) At Home in Stone Creek by Linda Lael Miller - C-

6) Don't Tell by Karen Rose - B
Upcoming Mini

7) Every Night I'm Yours by Christie Kelley - C+

This book sounds like an erotica book when you read the blurb, but it's actually a historical romance from a new-to-me author. I was a bit surprised I finished this book in one sitting.

When I began reading, I thought the writing was kind of awkward and the storyline was a bit far fetched. The heroine is a spinster who is an unpublished author and lives on her own -- she's also a lady. She finds an erotica book that sparks her curiosity about passion and decides to take a lover (not very original). She chooses a friend; someone who's not quite right. The hero finds out about it and blackmails her into having an affair with him instead.

The thing is that even though I found quite a few problems with the book, I liked the main characters -- both the hero and heroine -- and really got caught up in their story. There's a lot of sex at one point in the story and it's really good, but the author doesn't throw it in right away or at every turn. There's also sexual tension and Ms. Kelley uses this tension very well throughout the story. The hero and heroine have known each other for a long time -- he's her best friend's brother -- and have an antagonistic relationship, so it works.

The book had some editing problems that kept jolting me out of the story. Kelley is a new writer and the story could have used further secondary character development and the plot could have been tighter and a bit less predictable. I know by the grade and some of my comments it sounds as if this was not a great read for me, but well... the chemistry between the hero and heroine was wonderful, and even with all the above problems, I couldn't stop reading the book. Ms. Kelley kept me reading and I'll check out her next release. Not bad.