Now or Never is short, but what a fantastic short it is! I've previously enjoyed Logan Belle's works, but this is different, it's more a combination of contemporary fiction with erotica than straight up erotica. There is depth in Claire's story, a 40 year woman who has been a "mother" for so long she has forgotten what it is to be a woman. She comes off as a woman with real fears, doubts and lacking in confidence -- all of this resonated with me, like part of a normal stage that women go through at some point in their lives. Justin is the mystery here. The male who you want to throttle one moment, but really makes you think the next. I cannot wait to see what happens next in Now and Forever (A Last Chance Romance, Part 2) coming out January 2014. Thanks to Wendy for the heads up on this one!
Crack Shot by Dale Chase (Bold Strokes Books, 2013) Grade: A-
When it comes to writing gay western erotica and Dale Chase the expression "she ain't no daisy, she ain't no daisy at all" doesn't apply. In her hands, the American West comes alive as she mixes fine details and gritty characters with raw and downright dirty erotica. Crack Shot is one of Chase's latest releases (she has released a few new books lately), and in this collection I enjoyed all five stories: Brazen, Thyself a Man, Gandy Dancer, Crack Shot, and Picture Show. Favorites: "Gandy Dancer," and "Crack Shot."
Out of Dale's new releases, I'm in the process of reading Takedown (Bold Strokes Books, 2013) an erotic prison tale filled with outlaws and violence. So far it's an interesting read due mostly to Dale's exquisite research which makes the prison and men come alive for the reader. In October, I also read Lonely as God (self-published, 2013), a short story about two men who click on the trail through poetry, but don't get "at each other" until they reach the end of the trail at which time they ride off together. This story is hot, Chase style, a bit less raw than her usual pieces, but just as solid. (Grade B)
The Silent Hustler by Sean Meriwether (Lethe Press,2009) Grade: A-
There is nothing conventional or pedestrian about Meriwether's writing skills or the edgy, erotic, and emotional stories in this collection. Meriwether hooked me with the first two stories, but he kept me reading to the end by way of his talents, and by challenging comfort zones while making it all seem easy and fresh. A fantastic read (and a gorgeous, gorgeous cover)!
The Lavender Menace: Tales of Queer Villainy! ed. by Tom Cardamone (Northwest Press, 2013) Grade: B+
"Queer kids identify with the monsters in the movies, empowered outcasts, bogeymen bursting out off the closet; villains are cool. They wear their shadows well and if you're going to be expelled into the darkness, you might as well flaunt it."So yes, as an editor, Cardamone reached his goal in choosing writers with just the right tales of "queer villainy" for this collection.
"We can't just be heroes and victims -- that would create a fictitious reality, one where we are more vigilant in our denials than in our quest for equality."
The Tilted World by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly (William Morrow, 2013) Grade: B
What I loved and remember the most are the historical fiction details in this book. There were also times when I enjoyed the suspense and different characters, plus the joint writing by Franklin and Fennelly is quite good. However, there was a lack of plausibility to the story as a whole that kept it from becoming more than a solid read for me. On the other hand, the romance, for some reason, worked for me. It is one of those warm love stories that seem to fit with time and place. I recommend it if you're looking for something different that will keep you reading. I read it in one sitting. :)
Still Life With Murder by P.B. Ryan (Berkley, 2003) Grade: B
I love the setting and time period for this mystery. Nell is a wonderful main character and Will and Detective Cook both serve as great foils for her. Ryan takes a chance with this series, I think, as she begins to build a series with a woman who has a bit of a mysterious, but checkered past, and includes the beginning of a romance (?) with someone who is a long way from perfect. There is less of the "upstairs/downstairs" atmosphere to this first novel than I expected, but there is a marked difference between the clean, wealthy life that Nell leads with the Hewitts, and the life of those she encounters while investigating the murder. Ryan's descriptions of life in the impoverished sides of Boston are riveting. I can't wait for more. The end to the mystery was a total surprise for me and I really loved how it turned out. And yes, I bought the second book to the series, Murder in a Mill Town, as soon as I finished this one. :) Thanks to Li for the recommendation.