Friday, August 31, 2012

The Locker Room by Amy Lane


Nobody... I repeat, nobody does angst and heartbreak like Amy Lane does. She does it in such a way that you welcome it! You love it! You want more and more of it. But she always delivers on that HEA - okay, the characters may be bruised, damaged and a wee bit broken, but dammit, they're happy together! 

Amy creates characters that are really gorgeous in their flaws and Xander and Chris are no exceptions. From their first meeting at the tender age of 14, on through the next 15 years of their lives, their flaws and their shining qualities just seem to meet each other perfectly. I think, even more so that Crick and Deacon, (The Promises boys) Xander and Chris are made for each other - they fill each other's empty spaces, both bad and good. I loved them and I wept with them and I laughed with them.

Another thing that Amy does par excellence is create non-standard families. In this family, we find not only our heroes, Xander and Chris, but we find Chris' parents, his kid sister, two stray 'lost girls' that Xander manages to come home with, the crusty lawyer and the quiet and efficient housekeeper. 

So the book is about two basketball players. I hate basketball. Even more than baseball. (Give me soccer, curling and hockey, thank you.) Anyway, the setting for a good portion of the story is the NBA and I imagine that what Amy describes is pretty much what a gay pro ball player would experience. I imagine that sometimes, it might even be much worse. But as the backdrop to Xander and Chris' love story I totally bought it. And I totally wanted to do bodily harm to the coach. I don't know if Amy is a basketball fan, or if she maybe played basketball, but the descriptions of Xander's feelings and thoughts as he played - be it in the games, or practicing or just holding the damned ball - those passages are really almost like poetry and perfectly illustrated the great gift Xander has for the sport. Kudos to Amy for that!

Great book, twisted and squished my heart and left it the better for it. :) LOVED IT!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

ePistols at Dawn by Z.A. Maxfield


Again, I need that damned half star, because I want to rate this at 4.5 stars. *grumble* Anyway, I read this because Heidi Cullinan, whose opinion I respect very much, had this book classified as one of her absolute favourites. 

The characters are lovely. Kelly with all his quirks, phobias and secrets. He's so damaged and flawed, but you can't help but love him when you see him through the eyes of his BFF, Will or his love, Jae. And Jae, Jae-Sun, the 6 foot 5 Korean giant with the thick braid of hair that grows down to his ass. Oh, I loved him to bits! So assured, smart, friendly and loving, but underneath, he hurts like everyone else, he feels guilty about things that aren't really his fault, he feels responsible for everyone in his life. He cares, y'know? Cares.

And the secondary characters, Will, Shannon, Vega and even the bartender near the end of the book, all served to bring something special, something needed, and something different to the story of Jae and Kelly's romance. Not every author is able to pull this off.

I loved this book. The only things keeping it from 5 stars was that sometimes the POV changes, the scene changes were too abrupt and I'd have to go back and reread a time or two to make sure I knew what was going on. (I often wonder if this is because of the way the book is formatted for ereaders, the double spaces etc..., not being evident. I read the e-pub version.) The other thing that niggled at me was that by the end of the book, I wanted to see even more inside both Jae's and Kelly's heads as they struggled to come to terms with their inescapable feelings for each other. 

Go, read this. It's hot, it's funny, it's heart-breaking, thoughtful and sweet. And if you don't fall in love with both Jae and Kelly, I'll be surprised. :)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Master Class by Rachel Haimowitz


Master Class Series - Book 1

Now this, my children, is BDSM, unlike that shady shit. The author certainly knows her stuff. My personal taste would have been to have more insight into the characters of Nicky and Devon outside of their Dom and sub roles, but what the author has done actually works for me in the context of the hard-to-please Dom finding his perfectly-matched sub. 

I found myself reading the book not as a novel, but as a series of short stories, scenes if you will, working their way up to the moments that Nicky actually submits completely. 

The humiliation was a bit much for me and I do have a total squick with faceslapping, but there was enough warning in the summary of the book to not be a problem for me. 

What I loved a lot, were the looks into Devon's thoughts during the last scene; the reasons why he was doing what he was doing to Nicky. This is NOT BDSM-Lite by any means. So yes, I will be picking up the second book of this series and definitely add Rachel Haimowitz to my preferred authors list.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Dark Farewell by Josh Lanyon


My first foray into Josh Lanyon. :) 

I really enjoyed this! Everyone who reads m/m practically worships this author as one of the the genres superstars, so I was actually ready to be disappointed, as one often is. But I wasn't!

The Dark Farewell is a novella set in the mid-1920s. There are murders, there are seances, there are spirits, there is humour, there is sad reflection on loves past and there is some lovely intimacy between the main characters, Flynn, the almost-cynical reporter returned from The Great War, and Julian, the special man who claims to hear spirits. Lanyon is a terrific writer, if I can judge by this. The atmosphere is perfect, the characterisations right on for people of those times, the plot works, and most importantly, it made me want to read and know more - more about the characters and more stuff written by Lanyon. 

In a genre that's so full of crappy writing, it's tough at times to find new authors to add to your list, but I can safely and heartily recommend that you add Josh Lanyon to yours.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Stars & Stripes by Abigail Roux


Cut & Run - Book 6

I really, really wish Goodreads had a 4.5 stars!

Okay, so this installment of the adventures of Grady and Garrett introduces (or reintroduces) us to members of their families. The first half of the book is very romance-centric, delving into the deepening feelings the men have for each other, their relationships with various family members and thoughts about the future. The second half focuses more on the action and the climax - whooeeee! I loved it!

While reading this book, I laughed out loud, I got choked up, I sighed happily and I bawled like a baby. Okay, maybe Ty and Zane were a little TOO mushy at times and maybe I shuddered every time one of them referred to the other as "my boyfriend". It just sounds wrong coming from men past the age of 25 - at least to my ears. Minor, minor problem though. I enjoyed the mystery and didn't have it totally figured out before I was supposed to. That's a big plus! I loved the tiger; seriously loved him. And the 'cameo appearance' of Nick was PERFECT!

In retrospect, I enjoyed the steamy sex scenes, but the parts that meant far more to me were the quietly romantic moments. Zane laying his head on Ty's stomach at the fireworks, Zane watching Ty sleep, Ty loving the Texas swagger in Zane's step. Those small moments, small things - they make the story for me and Abigail is a real pro at writing them. (And boy does she make the image of Ty in his hat and sunglasses HOT!)

This book was really more intimate than most of the previous books in the series. Funny, it felt more intimate while being set in the huge, wide-open spaces of Texas, how odd is that? :) I love Ty and Zane and Stars and Stripes didn't disappoint.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Nowhere Ranch by Heidi Cullinan


Heidi always manages to surprise me. I read in a review that she'd done, that she had 'issues' with first person POV. This book is written in the first person and damned if I can see a problem with it! 

I liked Roe, the POV character. I liked his toughness which, while at times a cover for his vulnerabilities, was also an intrinsic part of him. In other words, even if/when he allowed his vulnerabilities to show, the toughness would still be there. I liked Travis, his boss and the object of his affections. :) I wanted to know more about him, but being as the POV was first person, well, it doesn't allow from that type of introspection. Fair enough. :) Seeing him through Roe's eyes was enough though - I'm just being greedy. 

What I found interesting and refreshing, was the friendship between Roe and Haley. She was as important to his character growth as Travis, and maybe at times, even more important. I'm convinced that even though we don't get to see it, that there's a HEA for her down the road. 

An integral part of this relationship, this love story, is the kink. It allows both Roe and Travis to be free and open early on in their relationship. And some of it is intense, I must say. :) And I'll say that I never thought I'd be reading about pony play - I still don't get it, but hey, whatever floats those men's boats. :) My one disappointment was the putting away of the playroom by the end of the book. It left me wondering if kink really has to be put away while the children are small. It's a small disappointment though. Heidi is a lovely writer and her characters are always real and vivid to me and that's one of the reasons she's one of my favourites!