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.