One-Quote Review: Complete Faith by Sue Brown

  • Complete Faith by Sue BrownTitle: Complete Faith
  • Author: Sue Brown
  • Series: Morning Report, Book 2
  • Genre(s): Contemporary, M/M
  • Publisher: Dreamspinner Press, April 2012
  • Source: Digital ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley ($5.38 ebook)
  • Length: 240 pages
  • Trope(s): Coming Out, Cowboys, Virgin
  • Quick blurb: Preacher inspires young ranch hand to come out of the closet.
  • Quick review: Not a lot of emotional depth considering the race and religion themes.
  • Grade: C

The pastor of St. Mark’s was a walking wet dream as far as Tommy was concerned: smooth chocolate skin that fascinated him, and huge dark eyes that seemed to know everything there was to know about him.

I LOVED that one of the heroes was a gay black preacher, but the characters and storytelling seemed really simplistic and superficial, and even the sex was perfunctory. I was expecting a lot more emotion, both romantically and spiritually – Marie Sexton’s Between Sinners and Saints set my expectations, and Complete Faith just felt completely lackluster in comparison.

Series Review: Brook Street Trilogy by Ava March

  • Brook Street trilogy by Ava MarchTitle(s): Thief; Fortune Hunter; Rogues
  • Author: Ava March
  • Series: Brook Street, Books 1-3
  • Genre(s): Historical, M/M
  • Publisher: Carina Press, March-May 2012
  • Source: Thief: Free from publisher via NetGalley; Fortune Hunter: Amazon, $3.03; Rogues: Amazon, $3.03
  • Trope(s): In the Closet. Regency England
  • Quick blurb: Mayfair men and the men they love.
  • Quick review: Despite a sanitized setting, the focus on passionate relationships makes this series work.
  • Grade: B (Thief: B, Fortune Hunter: A-, Rogues: C+)

Regency London – where polite manners and spotless reputations reign supreme. Yet behind the closed doors of three elegant town houses along Brook Street, passion and lust reign as gentlemen dare to risk scandal by falling in love…

During my first reading of Ava March’s Brook Street novellas, I found her Regency Mayfair world to be sanitized and idealistic – especially compared to the claustrophobic atmosphere of secrecy and urgency and impending doom that characterizes many other M/M historicals.

All six main characters in this trilogy accept being gay without hesitation.* In Thief, the first novella in the series, youngest son Benjamin simply makes up his mind and never falters with his decision:

Before the not-so-subtle nudges from his brothers and sisters started anew to find a wife among the bevies of young ladies, he would know the truth about himself. And either way, he would accept it.

None of the Brook Street heroes are asked to deal with the pressure for an heir, nor do they confront threats of being disinherited or shunned. All are estranged, or nearly so, from their families for reasons other than their homosexuality, which feels like an easy cop-out avoid external conflicts. For these heroes, there’s no emotional trauma – or even angst – about the risks of loving another man in 19th-century England:

“Discretion is a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things.”

However, as I was reading more closely a second time for reviewing, I realized that by focusing on relationships rather than societal pressures, March gives her historical gay characters not only the happy endings they deserve, but the dignity they deserve as well. In the Brook Street world, we’re allowed a more intimate view of the heroes’ day-to-day lives, especially the importance of friendship in establishing and sustaining the “confirmed bachelor” façade.

Grading the stories individually….. Continue reading

One-Quote Review: Hard Tail by JL Merrow

  • Hard Tail by JL MerrowTitle: Hard Tail
  • Authors: JL Merrow
  • Series: N/A
  • Genre(s): Contemporary, M/M
  • Publisher: Samhain Publishing, May2012
  • Purchase:Amazon, $4.24
  • Quick blurb: Unexpected stint managing a village bike shop changes the life of a London “posh tosser.”
  • Grade: A-

As we stood there staring into each other’s eyes, I had the strongest, almost painful urge to kiss him. He’d had me at buggery.

Good lord, I barely recover from the last one, and now another A grade? You real writers are ruining my bitch cred. RUINING.

Bitches.

Into Deep Waters by Kaje Harper

  • Into Deep Water by Kaje HarperTitle: Into Deep Waters
  • Author: Kaje Harper
  • Series: N/A
  • Genre(s): Historical, M/M
  • Publisher: Goodreads M/M/ Romance Group, Love Is Always Write anthology, May 2012
  • Purchase: Goodreads, free
  • Trope(s): Coming out, angst
  • Quick blurb:  A WW2 love story that survives 70 years.
  • Quick review: Brilliant, tension-filled first half makes up for episodic second half.
  • Grade: A-

This is going to contain a lot of quotes and excerpts, because I highlighted half the damn book with notes like “lovely” and “*sigh*” and “brilliant” and “now THAT’S romantic.”

Kaje Harper’s free short story was written for a yet-to-be-released anthology called Love Is Always Write, commissioned and published by the M/M Romance Group on Goodreads.

I’m a big fan of Harper’s – her Life Lessons and Breaking Cover are both on my DIK list, and her Like the Taste of Summer should be required reading for all short story writers – so my expectations were pretty high.

I wasn’t disappointed. I was wowed. Again.

The plot….

Two young sailors – one a working-class artist from California, the other an upper-middle-class pharmacist from the East Coast – meet onboard the Japan-bound U.S.S. Gageway in April 1942.

This was dumb. It was stupid to get involved with someone, to care about anyone in this soul-numbing war. That was like opening yourself up to be flayed. And yet how could you help it? They were all closer than brothers, these men he fought beside.  And that one man, well, there was nothing brotherly going on there.

*~*~*~*

“…Given the choice, don’t you think they would have rather had this, what we have in this room, than died without it?”

Characterization, setting, atmosphere, tension and romance….

“I was waiting for you.”

Daniel’s voice was low and warm and surely didn’t mean what it sounded like.  In any case, there were men close by, sleeping in the hangars and out on the decks to escape the closed-in heat of the berthing areas.

Jacob said, “I’m glad you’re okay.  You are okay, right?”

“Yeah.  Not a scratch.  You?”

“I’m well enough.  That is, I’m not hurt.”

For few minutes they stood there, watching as the new day dawned.  The sun rose above the water, trailing ripples of gold that faded into the greys and blues of the waves.  The air was warming.

Daniel said, “Come on.”

It was some kind of choice that Jacob didn’t bother to ask why or where.  He just trailed after Daniel silently, down the hatch and deeper into the ship, until they fetched up against a door.  Daniel stopped with his hand on it and raised one eyebrow.  Jacob allowed himself one breath.  Just one moment to think all the things that were going unsaid.  Then he reached past Daniel and opened the linen storage locker door wide.

The storeroom was airless and hot and the space was tight.  But it was enough for what they needed. 

Damn. Damn, that’s good. See what I mean?

Continue reading

Tripleheader: Mercy Celeste – A, A-, B+

About the author….

Personal blog | Goodreads | Amazon | All Romance eBooks

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Wicked Game

Wicked Game by Mercy CelesteLiquid Silver Publishing, September 2011, $5.95 (now $4.19)

Blurb:

Cass Pendleton and Jaime Dalton have been mortal enemies since the first day of kindergarten when Jaime pulled her hair and Cass knocked him flat on his ass.

Jaime is on the verge of superstardom in the NFL; all that’s missing is a Super Bowl ring and a personal assistant who can handle his business without handling his business.

Cass seems to be the best person for the job. She’s smart, mouthy, dependable, pig-headed, loyal, and completely not his type. So why can’t Jaime think of anything except Cass?

He knows one thing for dead certain. If the game doesn’t kill him, sex with Cass Pendleton most definitely will.

Favorite quote:

“You aren’t man enough to try that, Mr. Dalton.” Wrong move. Oh Jesus Christ, she knew to the very millisecond when Jaime Dalton decided to accept her challenge. All she could hope for now was to make it up the stairs and into her room before he could…. “Oh, fuck.”

Fangirl squee:

Frenemies-to-lovers plot, a bit of angst, a bit of suspense, some pain (wanted and unwanted), a lot of smartassitude, a lot of hot sex and an HEA. Just go ahead and push all my buttons, why don’t you?

Grade: A

Find it: Goodreads | Liquid Silver Books | Amazon | All Romance ebooks

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Behind Iron Lace

Behind Iron Lace by Mercy CelesteSilver Publishing, October 2011, $4.99

Blurb:

Darcy Butler is a fish out of water and is suffocating in the humid New Orleans heat. Dissatisfied with his career, his life, he is homesick and heartbroken. Above all Darcy is straight. Or so he believes until he meets the drop-dead gorgeous photographer he wants to revamp the art department of his e-magazine.

Caleb Mitchell, bad boy extraordinaire, lives life on the edge. He’s been around the world covering murder and mayhem. Back in New Orleans to tend his dying mother, Caleb is worn down by grief. He seeks the diversion of working at a local e-magazine to help keep him sane. He doesn’t expect the instant attraction to the bright-eyed editor/owner. That Darcy is probably straight doesn’t matter to Caleb. Because when Caleb wants something, nothing will stand in his way.

Not even Darcy.

Favorite quote:

Shit, he didn’t want to feel this way. As if he were floating on air and drowning at the same time. As if he didn’t take everything Darcy had to give and take it now, he’d somehow never get the chance. This need for the man scared him. His body screamed for him, all of him, now. He wasn’t prepared.

Fangirl squee:

Unforgettable story and characters, in a steamy New Orleans setting that plays a big role in the heroes’ relationship. I’ve read this at least five times.

Grade: A-

Find it: Goodreads | Silver Publishing | Amazon | All Romance eBooks

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The 51st Thursday

The 51st Thursday by Mercy CelesteSelf-published, January 2012, $2.99

The blurb:

Shelby Bainbridge, former championship winning quarterback and son of an Alabama Senator with presidential aspirations, lost everything one Thursday night fifty-two weeks ago. Lost, alone, battered, and broken Shelby finds comfort in the local bar called Deacon’s Place. Week after week, he finds himself drawn to Deacon’s for the beer, for the atmosphere, for the solace and for Deacon himself.

Deacon can no longer deny the desire he feels for the man he calls Thursday. When Deacon wants something Deacon is a hard man to resist. The problem is, Deacon never planned to lose his heart. Especially to a man who could be destroyed by an unexpected night of forbidden passion.

Favorite quote:

“…I just came to a complete fucking halt. Except for here. I came here every Thursday because I craved this place. I craved your company even if you never knew it. Then I caught you watching me. Something curled inside me, sort of liquidy warm and scary as hell.”

Fangirl squee:

Another steamy Gulf Coast setting, this time during a hurricane that forces our heroes together. I’d love to see this short story get a full-length novel treatment, because I really want to learn more about their backstories and the impact of Shelby’s coming out.

Grade: B+

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | All Romance eBooks