Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Books To Look For: Chulito by Charles Rice-Gonzalez

Chulito is a hoodrat. Born and raised in the South Bronx. A beautiful 16 year old boy who grew up in the streets of his neighborhood and lives by the rules of that small world.

Carlos, was Chulito's best friend while they were boys, and later when they got a little older Chulito realized that he maybe felt more than just friendly towards Carlos.

But Carlos is an outsider now. He has left the Hood, and gone to Long Island for college. He is also openly gay. Those two things put Chulito and Carlos in two worlds so distant they might as well be in different planets.

Chulito's life revolves around hanging out on the corner with the Fellas, running drugs for his best friend Kamikaze, the local TOP DOG, and being the hardest thug he can be. He dropped out of high school, and all his ambitions pretty much lie within whatever is confined to his block and the people in it.

The only thing that Chulito can't do is not be friends with Carlos, he misses him. Wants to reconnect with his boy, so he makes a move to get in touch with Carlos, and ends up being surprised by his friend coming back to the Hood for the whole summer.

This book was SET SO PERFECTLY. The author captured the sub-culture so well, and not just of the ghetto in NYC, but of the Latin communities, especially Neuyoricans and Dominican Yorks. It's such an insular world. Comes from immigrant generations that preferred staying up there in Washington Heights, Harlem or The Bronx where everyone spoke their language, ate their foods, listened to their music, knew their history, their culture, and most importantly UNDERSTOOD why it was preferable to come to the United States to the ghetto than remain in a homeland that had nothing to offer. Even if the memory of that homeland is something so large and painful that it's present in everything the do.

He captured, The Hood and its cycles of poverty, and outdated views on gender roles, who men and women should be or act like. These attitudes can entrap many kids, wanting MORE or wanting DIFFERENT, whether it is ambition to move elsewhere, being open about your sexuality, daring to demand respect as a woman, or show vulnerabilities as a man, cannot only make you an outcast it can make you a target. But he also showed the love and support that exists in those neighborhoods, strong loyalty and such a deep understanding of each other.

We understood all the contradictions of that world. Who Chulito was, and his yearning for something more that the Hood, but also his loyalty to the neighborhood that has been his whole world. Carlos' need to leave it, but also feeling pulled back by those he loves that are still there. The women in the neighborhood and how they cope with hard lives, the lack of aspirations and ambitions and posturing of the men. The trials that those who dare to be different have to endure. All SPOT ON.

I know that for some readers Chulito and Carlos will be strange characters, they seem so much more mature than their age. It is strange it's true, but kids like Chulito and Carlos grow up fast and hard. It is rough living with no daddies, hustling to make a living, mothers that care but have to work hard to provide for their kids. There are too many harsh realities at every corner in places like Chulito's world.

THE VERY BEST thing about this book are Chulito and Carlos. What a JOY is was to watch them fall in love. To see Chulito discover a whole world outside of the Bronx. I just loved them. They were so open, so hopeful and brave to be who they were, despite a more than hostile environment.

There were too many things I loved about this book, it's worth reading if only to get a glimpse at a slice of American life that people rarely get to read about, especially from the perspective of young gay men.

Chulito and Carlos were TRAILBLAZERS, I wish that every boy like them could find a way to love and be loved openly like they did.

RECOMMEND. RECOMMEND. RECOMMEND. RECOMMEND. RECOMMEND. RECOMMEND. RECOMMEND. RECOMMEND.

Chulito can be purchased at Amazon.com

Crack Attack: Why I'm Going To Have Jan Irving's Book Babies

Yesterday I saw that Jan Irving has answered my prayers and rewarded me for the way I sacrifice of my sanity while I'm reading one of her books.

What was so special about yesterday? Oh, I found out that she's coming out with the first book in a new series. The Viking In My Bed (Lightning Strikes #1).

While I was going *SQUEEE* I realized that I hadn't written a Crack Attack post about Jan Irving's books. That's damn near sacrilege. Jan Irving is the Queen of Crack Attacklandia. Yes, there were some who came before her but there is no one who's better. No one.

I'd read some Crack Attack before Jan Irving came along. Authors like Joyee Flynn, Stormy Glenn and Amber Kell. Then one day when I was wandering through the virtual stacks of small press e-publishers I found Jan and the first book in her Uncommon Cowboys series.

My e-life was forever changed.

It's like the universe created Jan Irving's work just for me. Seriously crazy, crazy WTF moments happen in Irving's books.

One thing Jan loves is the whole Domination vibe. She does it in the most insane ways though. Dudes' faces getting pushed into the dirt, getting fucked with claws and boot tips and fire, sucking swollen tree branch sized cocks while being called a slut, and my favorite is the fantasy of being milked like a cow while chained up in a cellar.

Is this the way most D/s works? I have no idea but I doubt it. In Irving's world, though, it's exactly how it works.

The other thing that I love is the way the main characters meet or find out about each other's secrets. You get stuff like "Oops, I'm not a woman!", a dude shifting while getting a blow job, one man finding the other naked in the snowy woods. In another book, one guy seeing the other naked, scratched up and unconcious in the middle of a deserted road in the middle of the night.

With every book that Irving releases things get more insane. A 20 foot shifter with dinosaur teeth? Oh man, Jan Irving, your mind works in mysterious ways.

Whether or not I'm supposed to laugh at the absudilicious things that happen in these books, I find myself laughing so hard and loud that my neighbor probably wonders if I'm right in the head.

So, yeah, I want to have Irving's book babies because her stuff is just mind blowing in all of its deliciously bad glory. I'm already counting down to April 2nd when the new book comes out. When midnight hits on April 1st I will sitting at my computer hitting the refresh button every 30 seconds and bouncing with anticipatory glee.


Monday, February 27, 2012

R-E-S-P-E-C-T...Find out what it means to ME: Has Mutual Respect died in the M/M Romance Community?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the word RESPECT in the last couple of weeks.

Am I being disrespectful to others by expressing my opinions?...Do I disrespect an author when I go on in detail about the things that I did not like from a book they wrote?...Is it respectful for a person to personally attack me for disagreeing with them?..Am I being disrespectful when I respond to someone that has not addressed me, but has hurt or offended my friend?

Am I entitled to feel disrespected as a reader when I purchase a book and find it poorly written, edited, and researched?...Are authors obligated to show us respect by being honest and open about their work, and their sources?...Is a publisher anything more than a business, and are they actually disrespecting me when they sell me a book at full price when they do not live up to their end of the deal by making sure that I get a product of the quality I expected to receive?...Are authors disrespecting readers when they encourage fans or friends to give them favorable reviews?

These are all questions that have been floating in my head these last few weeks. I’ve thought hard about this, and I’ve come to the conclusion that mutual respect in this community of readers is becoming a rare commodity.

The environment in this genre is an interesting one. Readers are pundits, pundits are writers, writers are readers, readers are fans, fans are writers, half of us are bloggers, and those who aren’t are making their thoughts know on Goodreads and elsewhere. That is A LOT of opinions for things not get out of hand occasionally. Opinions are good, they keep things vibrant and diverse, as long as we all understand that differences in taste or views are not personal attacks.

Tj Klune a new author to this genre wrote a great book last year. Bear Otter and the Kid, I loved it. I still do. I thought it was funny, charming and clever. I loved the characters, and it has just the right combination of angsty and romantic that really works for me. I wrote a review for it on Goodreads that a lot of people have read, talking about how much I enjoyed that book. Only a few weeks ago I included BOATK in my picks for favorite couples in our Valentine’s Day post.

Also a couple of weeks ago a friend mentioned she had seen the 2007 LGBT film Shelter and that she noticed there were many similarities to BOATK. I was curious, I watched it, and I agreed that there were too many things that were similar for it to be just coincidence. Since then a few readers on GR have come out with reviews focusing on the similarities between BOATK and Shelter, others have changed their original reviews and ratings, and the word "plagiarism" has been floating around non-stop. I chose to leave my review just as it was when I wrote it in August, I have no intention of changing it.

So what is Plagiarism? According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, to "plagiarize" means to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own; to use (another's production) without crediting the source; to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.

Do I think some of these meanings apply to what happened with BOATK and Shelter? Yes, I do.

Do I think that Tj Klune should be burnt at the stake for it, and the book he wrote be completely discredited? NO, I DO NOT. I stand by my opinion that BOATK is a very good book. There were a lot of things that were obviously borrowed from Shelter, but the great comedic timing, the character of the Kid (who was outstanding), the fantastic and dynamic cast of characters in the story. Those are ALL Tj’s, he made them, and he should be proud of the work he did.

Now, that does not mean I was not disappointed when I realized he used ideas from another story, and did not credit the original creator. Why? Because “I” think that is the right thing to do. You use someone’s work to improve yours, to inspire yours, they deserve to be acknowledged. Especially when the person is also a writer in the LGBT genre, where there are no big budgets, where it is still more a labor of love than for profit, where there is little recognition. Acknowledging the works of colleagues in this genre is that more important to do.

This was not a story line borrowed from Titanic that made a gamillion dollars. No, this was from a tiny film that made very little money, an author who probably made less, and got little to no recognition for it. So, not giving that person his or her due credit, does not sit well with me. Period.

I know some will say…

But Shakespeare did it!! Yeah, well when Shakespeare was allegedly borrowing verbatim from Plutarch to write Julius Caesar or handing over Kit Marlowe’s homework as his own, there were NO COPYRIGHT LAWS. Copyright exists, so that people who create are protected from having what they made being appropriated by someone else and claiming it as their own. And even with no copyright, Shakespeare should have still cited his sources. So that argument does not count for me.

But West Side Story is the same as Romeo and Juliet!! Why are we not accusing them?! Well, Romeo and Juliet is public domain, ANYONE can use that story. They can copy it, publish it, sell it, make a movie with it, or change the name to Romeo and Julio and write a sweet little gay romance. Even then West Side Story is only INSPIRED on Romeo and Juliet. Again not the same thing.

Dreamspinner Press didn’t know! They thought it was an autobiography. NO. Just…NO! Not only is this not true, but it’s beyond condescending to expect the readers to believe that. I’m not even going to go into DSP’s bad behavior, because there are writers from that publisher that I dearly love, and will continue to purchase their books. I can only say that bush-league does not even begin to describe the way that they have been doing business lately.

But people are being SO MEAN!!! Yeah well, they are being mean on both sides. I have seen in the last few days things that have seriously made my skin crawl. Authors belittling other authors work, readers going on blogs and calling people harpies and lemmings for expressing their opinions, publishers deleting comments from readers because they were pointing out their worse than bad behavior, people promoting “peace” by calling others bitches and bullies, authors that I respect and love suggesting that those of us who express our unhappiness with the lack of quality in the books coming out of DSP have become a pitchfork wielding mob…All very nice, very very nice.

To be honest, the only restrain I’ve seen so far has come from Tj. I don’t know his reasons. He might just be waiting for all of this to blow over, he might be afraid to get in the fray, or he might just be biding his time. I wouldn’t know, but I do respect his self-control. It cannot be easy to see your name and your work exposed like it has been, and not say anything to defend yourself. Especially with a publisher that makes things worse instead of better every time they make a statement.

So…I’m not sure where any of this will end up. People probably need to walk away, cool their heels, and come back later. The books will be there, and so will the drama. I just hope we stop before we kill the enthusiasm that made us love this genre to begin with.



Note: A portion of the title for this post was borrowed from the song "Respect" written by Ottis Redding and made famous by Aretha Franklin.

Dark Soul Vol. 4 by Aleksandr Voinov

Is it just me, or do we agree that Puccinni would have been ALL OVER Silvio and Stefano? Because HOLY Italian HIGH DRAMA this a fucking OPERA!

This fourth 'aria' of Dark Soul was a bit less all consuming for me than the first three. Not that it was any less awesome, not at all. Just the turn in the story put me in a space where only knowing IT ALL can make it okay at this point. Which only just reaffirms that this arc rocks.

Dark Rival I
In this scene Stefano is back at the table with the capos. Things have come to a head with the Russians and Stefano's strike must show once and for all just how much force he can unleash when his "Family" is fucked with. These little bits of Cosa Nostra machinations are so satisfying for me. They make the story bigger, almost so that it grows around Stefano and Silvio, and we can see the men they have to be. It makes what is happening between them that much better, it's so primal and we can understand where it comes from. These men live like they love, all instinct.

Silvio is out with Franco delivering the strike to the Russians, and it is all to clear to Stefano that once the deed is done there will be no reason for Silvio to stay with him any longer. Not sitting well with Stefano that. Stefano knows too well that he is reaching a point in his need for Silvio that will begin to tear down the walls that he has built around his life. Not the least of which is Donata his wife who he really loves.

Dark Rival II
Silvio delivers for Stefano with the Russians, he's ruthless and dramatic, and put a hurt on the Russians the likes of which they could not forget.

So there it is the end of their arrangement and Stefano is on the edge of desperate, he does not know how to get closer to Silvio, without busting up his life. But he does not care. Franco is set to leave, he cannot give Silvio what he wants, but he clearly tells Stefano how he can be what Silvio needs.

At the same time Donata, she knows and confronts him. He is reluctant to agree there is someone else, and as much as he hates hurting her, the only thing he can do is keep throwing himself into whatever it is that he has going with Silvio. Silvio still won't show him what he wants. Stefano knows though. Silvio needs to be OWNED completely, unconditionally and PERMANENTLY too many people have walked away.

Dark Temptation
Here is where Stefano finally faces head on where he is with Silvio. Silvio is out cruising looking for that hurt and sex that makes him just fly away, and Stefano comes looking for him. It's enough now.

Stefano has decided. Whatever happens next, it is what it is. Stefano will have Silvio. The rest of the world can burn.

Aaaaaand here is where we are left waiting for No.5....I felt at the end of this installment like I was at the dip before the big dramatic aria soars and where everything comes to a head.

We shall see...I truly hope there are no dramatic plunges off bridges in this story, but I do want some fantastic badass mayhem....Oh and a HAPPY FUCKING ENDING!

Absolutely recommend this series.

You can purchase Dark Soul Volumes 1-4, and also pre-order Volume 5 at Riptide Publishing.

Note: Monday's Most Wanted will be posted later today, sorry for delay everyone :O)





Sunday, February 26, 2012

Where I Spend My Money And Differences of Opinion

There has been alot of unrest in the M/M Romance community over the last week or so. Accusations have been made, disagreements have been had, and one publisher has been boycotted by more than a few readers.

I read alot of books published by Dreamspinner Press. I have been reading books published by them since they started. Have I noticed in the last few months a distinct lack of good content editing? Yes, I have, and I noted that in my reviews for both of Mr. Klune's books.

The most disturbing thing about this situation, for me, is the fact that the people who have expressed their displeasure with Mr. Klune's books, as well as other books from Dreamspinner Press, have been labeled as a pitchfork carrying mob ready to burn authors and Dreamspinner at the stake.

On average I spend about $6.99 for a book at Dreamspinner. That's a good amount of money and I work hard for my money. So, do I get upset when the writing in the book that I just paid for is repetitive, verbose, and desperately in need of a content editor? Yes, I do, and I have every right to express my opinion. It annoys me to no end when I'm called a "hater" or when it's implied that I dislike a book simply because I want to crucify the author in some way.

The fact that so many people in the M/M Romance community seem to be disrespecting readers who don't agree with them is discouraging. Almost all people who read M/M Romance want the genre to gain more respect in the romance community. I'm one of those people but the way to gain that respect is not to bully, name call, or demean readers who do not agree with you.

Also, loving every book you read simply because it is a M/M book is not the way to get the word out there about this genre. It does more harm than good. If you genuinely like a book then, by all means, say so. In my opinion though, the rating of a book should be based on how much you enjoyed the book not how great the author is as a person, whether your friends with the author, or the fact that the book is in the M/M genre.

On the subject of readers boycotting Dreamspinner Press, I have not done so but I can understand why some people have chosen to. If someone is consistently finding that the product being put out by a publisher is below par then they have every right to cease forking their money over. It has nothing to do with "punishing" authors. People don't have thousands of dollars to spend on books. Many people have book budgets and they see buying books from a publisher they've had a bad experience with as a waste of money. They have the right to spend their money however they wish.

I don't know when the M/M Romance community became a place where everyone has to love everything but I really hope the atmosphere changes soon.
I have met some wonderful people through my love of the genre but some of the attitudes lately have dimmed my enthusiasm just a bit. It's sad.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Chase in Shadow by Amy Lane

I had three thoughts when I finished this book:

1. I LOVED this book too much, and damn I'm a glutton for angst, because I'm actually giddy.
2. Amy Lane may not be for everyone, but her books ROCK MY WORLD.
3. I wonder when the next one is coming out?

Now the story...

The Broken Boy...Self-Destructive Fuckery, thy name is Chase "Chance" Summers

Chase Summers is a young man who has been tampering with the reality of what and who he is his whole life. A horrible childhood, a mother who took her own life, an abusive, bigot father who probably drove her to it. Not nice things to remember. So he stores the bad stuff in a place in his mind, where he can keep it from touching anyone else in his life. It's killing him sure, every day he's closer to just coming apart, but he sticks to his plan. He has it all worked out, and he has a lot of duct tape.

Chase has "a life", a beautiful fiancee he loves, best friends who are loyal, he's a good athlete, makes a lot of money, and he's in school to be an engineer. From the outside it all looks shiny and perfect. It's all built on lies though. Doesn't matter, he has plan for the future, all worked out in his head. All with the appropriate figures, girl, boy, babies. It's all a charade. He is not happy. He is not straight.

What he actually is, is a man in the closet, working as a gay porn actor, lying to his fiancee, his friends, and being incredibly unfair to his lover. HE IS MISERABLE. We meet Chase at his lowest, when the stitching of all the webs he has woven have begun to come apart. He has come undone.

The Warrior...Tommy "MOTHERFUCKING PERFECTION" Halloran

Tommy "Tango" Halloran, is an actor for Johnnies the same porn studio that Chase works for. From the first moment Chase sees Tommy, he wants him, to know him, talk to him, to touch him. He just WANTS. They meet, and they fall in love. In the midst of the clusterfuck that is Chase's life, Tommy and Chase fall in love, and make a home. Chase is selfish with Tommy, demands from him things that he can't give in return. But Tommy gives them anyways because he may not be broken, but he has cracks, and the only thing that has ever felt like it can fix them is Chase.

And they hurt each other, but they fix each other too, and those really fucking great moments they have of outrageous love are just amazing. They manage to build something strong, even while Chase is living what sometimes seems like a dozen lives. Tommy doesn't give up on Chase, he knows what Chase needs to do, he has to let the walls down and that poison that is inside him needs to come out. Tommy doesn't stop pushing and fighting. He knows, HE KNOWS that Chase can be the man he wants to be, he can have that future he has planned, he just needs to adjust it a little.

The Cavalry...Who said the good guys can't be porn stars?

In true Amy Lane fashion there were plenty more characters to fall in love with in this book than I could manage. In this story she gave us a look in to the porn industry that was very benevolent. Healthy work environment, with good guys that were good friends. There was drama of course, but their role was to be Tommy and Chase's support system. It worked well, I think adding more to the crazy stew that was Chase would have been too much. I loved these guys. Dex the responsible one, the leader, Kane the crazy hyper bunny, Ethan the guy that just wants to be loved, John the porn mogul that was a really great guy. They were awesome and added a whole hell of a lot to this story. They are all a bit frayed, but they were also good people.

There were also Chase's childhood friends Donnie and Kevin who were strong and THERE. The therapist, and even the fiancee Mercy, who was a strange character for me, but ended up being someone really important.

I know this book may not work for everyone. Chase is difficult to figure out. I just didn't understand what he was doing. He was a living contradiction. He didn't even know what he was hiding from. He just wanted to be loved and he WAS, just not by the right person. It's hard to like a guy who is blatantly duplicitous and hypocritical.

But Chase is so broken, and so exposed it's hard not to care for him. I just wanted him to get better. He couldn't do it on his own though. Tommy, he had to help him. It'll be hard for some readers to stomach the way Tommy just let Chase get away with EVERYTHING. He hurts him bad. But hey, who the fuck am I to judge how a guy that lived with what Chase had to live with dealt with his shit? Chase's story is not pretty, but in all its lying, it is honest. He figures it out, he does. It's ugly though, no way a shit storm like the one Chase had been brewing could happen without taking a few towns out in the process.

Apart from that in terms of format, this story is jumpy, we get a lot of glimpses from different times, that kind of go back and forth. Worked for me, but it is different. The opening for every chapter was really different and for me a cool fucking trick... Felt like an opening scene of a film and we're kind of zoomed into the moment. That was BADASS.

There was an unexpected surprise, which threw me off for like a second, but Tommy and Chase got me back on track almost immediately. There were also some strong similarities in the way things evolved in some parts to another book by Ms. Lane.

It's a big story this one. Like an onion. Layers and layers of drama, angst, lies, half truths, deception, grief, frustration, joy, sexyness, outrageously strong love, endurance, bad shit, good outcomes, happiness, redemption, resilience. It's got it all baby.

HAPPY ENDING YOU ASK? Get your hankies ready, because this boys will have you singing HALLELUJAH by the time it's all said and done. I was anyways.

Do I recommend? Three words: It's. AMY.LANE.

For sale on Dreamspinner Press

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Crack Attack!! I've Gone On A Siren Publishing Book Bender

Every once in a while, when I just don't feel like having deep literary thoughts, I go on a book bender. When I'm on a book bender there is no better place to get my fix than Siren Publishing. In the last two days I have read four Siren books and I think that my standards may have run off and gone into hiding.

Book #1:
Robert's VP by Lynn Hagen

I said that I was never going to read another Lynn Hagen book. Apparently I lied to myself. That's not even the worst part. The worst part is that I kind of...ummmnnn...liked this book.

Dammit. Stop laughing at me.

Robert's the young guy who gave up his college dreams when his parent's died suddenly because he had to take care of his 12 year old sister and six month old brother. Ethan's the new VP at the plant where Robert works.

Robert's all straight and shit but wait a minute!! Why is he suddenly getting hard for a man?! Specifically getting hard for Ethan??! I think you can guess rest. Typical gay-for-you.



Book #2:
Sage's Mystery by Lynn Hagen

Apparently Lynn Hagen is my drug of choice or something. Sad, so sad, I know. Anyway, this one is about Sage the big, bad werewolf of Romanian descent and William the homeless twink who's afraid of his own shadow.

When I say William is a twink I am talking TWINK. He weighs 91 pounds. I dont't remember ever weighing 91 pounds. I was 91 pounds at birth. I think one of my boobs alone weighs 91 pounds.

Still, this book amused me. Sage buys a ghost town on the internet. How fucking schweet is that??! Laura and I decided that we need our own town. It'll be the coolest place around. Come live in it, bitches!

Books #3 & 4:

Lisptick And Handguns and Strip: Tease And Search by Gabrielle Evans

More super tiny twinks who are gorgeous and guess what? They're strippers too! These two books are connected by the overarching "We gotta find the serial killer/person who's selling BDSM sex slaves" plot.

You would think I would get sick of the alphas and cutie patootie men but so far I'm enjoying giving my brain a break. Plus, who can get sick of growly men. Whicy, by the way, I've never heard a man growl. If I did then I would be concerned that he might have rabies. Rabies is so not sexy.

So, Siren Publishing, for as long as I am taking leave of my senses I will continue to fork over my money. I'm getting some damn good laughs out of it...though I don't think I'm supposed to be laughing.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday's Most Wanted Feb 22-28

Excuse me while I SQUEEEEEEEEEE for a moment because two of my ABSOLUTE ALL TIME FAVORITE AUTHORS have new books coming out. Both Amy Lane and Aleks Voinov have stuff for us this week, and all I can say is GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME!!!!

This week we only have two selections, but frankly they are both such awesome ones, I am a happy gal. If you have something else on your sights though, please let us know.

For the week of February 22-28 here are our Most Wanted!


Chase in Shadow by Amy Lane
Release Date: February 24th
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Priority Rating: I wish I had a time machine, so I could make it be Friday. Enough said.















Dark Soul Vol. 4 by Aleksandr Voinov
Release Date: February 27th
Publisher: Riptide
Priority Rating: Pre-Ordered, and again time machine would be REALLY awesome this week...













The reviews for both these books will be up as soon as possible, which if I can manage it, will be only a few hours after the release.

Happy Reading Everyone!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Reviews for Today: New Books by Heidi Cullinan and TA Chase

A Private Gentleman by Heidi Cullinan

This is a second chances, healing love, beat the odds kind of story.

Lord George Albert Westin has a stammer that hampers his ability to communicate, it is so bad his family considered putting him in an asylum, thinking that it was a mental illness. He also has a social phobia. These conditions have made him an introverted and reclusive man. The only way that he will even venture out is when he takes large doses of opiates.
Michael Vallant is a professional sodomite (and damn that's an awful thing to call a person, but it's a historical, soooo let's roll with) he likes his work. He is independent and establishes his own rules. He only takes the clients he wants. and has protection at the bordello he works for. Which is important to him since he was brutalized as a young boy, and since then has fought to be someone that uses says for HIS benefit, and no one else's.

One night at a society party these two men run into each other. While Wes is trying to sneak around to find a rare orchid (rare plants being his only passion) he is pleasantly assaulted by Michael. Despite Wes communication issues, they manage to GET IT ON.

From that night, Michael's trauma comes back with a vengeance. He can't work, he goes into hysterics when any man gets close to him sexually. He thinks Wes might the man to cure him, since he cannot stop thinking about him since their encounter.

Wes and Michael are tragically connected. Michael is scared of telling Wes exactly how. But they start a relationship, and the more it progresses the worse things get with Michael's trauma and with Wes' dependence on opium.

There were a lot of things that were nice about this book, some however just did not work for me. I liked Michael's character, his love of books was cute. Wes was alright, but he could be annoying. I'm usually very sympathetic to people struggling with substance abuse, but he just IRRITATED me. The secondary characters were also a bit weird for me, to damn meddlesome.

One thing that happened a lot with this story, was that it alternated progressing very slowly, to chaotic, five things happening at once. From out of nowhere Wes's addiction kind of took over the book and Michael's PTSD which was BIG part of the story kind of fixed itself. I think even Michael was surprised that he was cured, and the deus ex machina at the end was SO confusing I had to read it three times. Wes and Michael were cute together, but I never was that invested in them. I felt like had so much drama going on, even they were having trouble focusing on falling in love.

So, yeah this was just okay for me, overall it's a good historical, not the best, but alright. Not my favorite book by this author.

Books by Heidi Cullinan that I love are ...Dance with Me and Nowhere Ranch

Bring him Gold by T.A. Chase

This was a very sweet Valentine's Day short following the couple from Embrace My Reflection, Ronnie and Lucius.

They have been together for a year, and Lucius decides he wants to let Ronnie and the world know that he is with Ronnie for good. Very very sweet.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Destiny Calling by Fabian Black


The Most Difficult And Heartbreaking Book I Have Ever Read

The first thing I will say is this: This book is not for everyone. I'm going to try and explain why while explaining why I think that this book was so spot on.

Destiny Calling thoroughly defies any rating that I could give it, so I'm not going to rate it at all. For me, the most important thing about this book is not whether it is a good or a bad book. The most important thing about Destiny Calling is that it's a difficult and honest book.

This book proves the fact that love is not about who deserves who or the reasoning behind things. In my opinion that is the best, most realistic and most honest kind of romance there is.

This story is about Sam and Colin. Sam is bipolar, unmedicated and his moods are all over the place. Colin is a man who's had alot of experience dealing with mental illness. His sister was bipolar and schizophrenic. Eighteen months ago she committed suicide by locking herself in her car, dousing herself in gasoline and setting herself on fire.

The fact that Colin has lived with mental illness for most of his life is a huge reason why he understands Sam, sticks by Sam and can see the Sam that most people don't take the time to see.

When Colin first spots Sam in a music store, Sam is completely manic, making a scene and in danger of being roughed up by two security guards. Colin saves him, drives him home and then tries to forget the young man who reminds Colin so much of his sister. Colin is attracted to Sam but Sam is very clearly unbalanced. A few weeks later Sam shows back up in Colin's life, roughed up and homeless. Colin takes him in and gives him a place to stay.

Here is the first reason why this story will not sit well with alot of people; Sam is unbalanced, point blank. His illness, his history and his lack of medication have made him volatile, rude and EXTREMELY difficult to deal with. This is made clear from the start. Most readers are not going to like Sam. Sometimes I didn't like Sam but even when I didn't like him I felt like he was ripping my heart out. Sam is a character who has very little control over his actions. At one point he confesses that he can't figure out what's wrong with him and that once he starts acting out he can't figure out how to stop himself. He doesn't know how.

Most people want a romance novel where the character would overcome that and be a sympathetic victim that you want to take care of. Sam is not that kind of character because in real life things rarely go that way. Most people will say that there is no excuse, Sam is an adult, he's immature and needs to grow up. All of those things are true. There is no excuse but there is a REASON (there is a difference) and, like it or not, the truth of it is that mental illness is the reason. Fabian Black does not shy away from that even though most people won't be able to make the distinction.

My second point; Colin's love for Sam. Most readers probably will not get why Colin loves Sam. For me, this book was not about WHY Colin loves Sam. It's all about HOW Colin loves Sam. Colin and Sam live together for about two months before entering into a relationship. Colin has seen Sam at his worst and Sam's worst is pretty bad. Colin, though, loves Sam anyway and sees the man that Sam is in those moments when he's somewhat balanced. Colin reads up on how to bring Sam some measure of happiness and peace through D/s. He reads up on how a good diet will help Sam's moods be more balanced and help Sam be a more content person. Colin is not trying to make himself happier by changing Sam. Colin wants SAM to be happier.

And Colin is no Saint with endless patience. He gets angry, he gets annoyed, he gets frustrated and with good reason. He knows that Sam manipulates but he also knows that Sam loves him, needs him and wants him. And no it is not some twisted kind of unhealthy love. It's just...love that expressed in ways that not alot of people understand but Colin and Sam are the only ones who need to understand it.

Colin is the definition of a person that truly knows what love is about. Loving someone with a mental illness is a struggle. It is probably one of the hardest romantic relationships to be in. This book was so realistic in that Colin and Sam's relationship was hard to read about.

I think that mostly this book is not for alot of people because they will spend the whole book questioning why Colin loves Sam, why he stays with Sam. I don't think that's what this love story is about though. It's about how strong love can be, how strong Colin's love is. It's about how love can definitely be enough if you want it to be, if you fight for it.

So, I'm on the fence about recommending this book because many people would hate it. I loved it because it's not a story that tries to justify Sam and Colin's relationship. Like I said before, it's not about WHY they love or WHY they try to make the make the relationship work. It's about the HOW...it's all about the HOW.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Books To Look For: Shattered Glass by Dani Alexander

I read this book over the weekend, just finished it Monday night, and I am still at a loss, because if this book can only have five stars, then I need to reevaluate every other book I've given five stars to. This book was just BRILLIANT.

I'm going to go on a tangent for a minute, and just say that discovering this genre has changed my habits as a reader. I've always
been a ravenous reader, but this genre, it's made me a glutton. I gobble up books frantically, some I like, some I don't like, some I hate, some I love, some I really love. But there is one thing that doesn't happen very often anymore...I am seldom SURPRISED.

This book quite simply BLEW ME AWAY. I mean I love books all the time, I do, and I share my thoughts and all that, but you know what I rarely do? I rarely start writing love poems in my head about feeling cared about as a reader in the middle of reading them...I did with this book.

Ok, so the story...Austin Glass is a detective for the Denver Police Department, he is engaged to be married to his fiancee Angelica, he's also a trust fund baby. Austin is a complicated man. He is callous, immature, superficial, self-deprecating, cynical, and can just be a big asshole sometimes. As messed up as he is, he's a nice guy, his life for the most part is pretty uncomplicated, he has one goal, to join the FBI. He has been working towards that since he joined the force, and he has taken careful steps to get there. He is a good cop and there is no reason why he can't get in...That is until the gets a peek at a pair of bunny slipers walking towards his table at Colorado's Finest Diner. The bunny slippers belong to Peter, the most beautiful man Austin has ever seen (and What the fuck? He's gay now?!).

After Peter comes into the picture Austin's life as he knew it dissolves before his eyes, by his own doing. Everything is different now. Because there is finally something Austin wants so bad that he is willing to do anything to get it.

The plot for the most part, is pretty straightforward. Straight cop falls for a guy that is involved in a case he is working on, things get out of hand. Love interest has a past, LOTS OF BAGGAGE, things come out, there are lies, corruption, there are twists, there are turns. Entertaining, solid crime novel.

The thing that makes this book brilliant though is how this story was told. First of all, Austin Glass, his voice, it's the reason why God invented First Person POV. I knew Austin, everything about him. I understood him because he told me everything. Even the things he didn't want to know about himself. Austin's humor barrels right through cynical, and goes straight into the absurd, the shit he says, pure goodness. I was laughing the whole way through. He didn't just make me laugh though, he made me think hard too, more than once I was yanked out of a laugh with a sobering thought, or a hard truth that seriously, just left me speechless. His voice was so open, so guileless, so PRESENT...I felt like he was MINE. Peter and his Brothers Cai and Darryl, Austin's police partner Luis, his best friend Dave, his fiancee Angelica, they were all mine too because they were Austin's.

With Austin it was all about realizations, he discovers who he really is, he understands the importance of feeling what he does for Peter. It takes him some time, he is a stubborn little fucker, but he gets there. At the same time, Peter is a difficult character too, he doesn't know how to trust, his whole life has been about protecting others. He is paying penance for things he did, even if the sins were never really his to begin with. All he knows how to do, is to sacrifice himself to atone for things that were put on his lap, so unfairly and too early in his life. All these things have made him broken. He's a whore, a hustler, a liar. Austin is not the guy to fix a broken boy, but they manage.

I can go on for another ten pages about how much I loved this book, it is without a shadow of a doubt one of the best I've read in a long time. Amazing characters, great story, carefully and respectfully written. It has been a long time since I've read a book, and felt this cared for by a writer. I hope there is lots more coming from this author, because I want more.

Do I recommend it? If I could MAKE people read this I would. All I can say is I STRONGLY encourage people to take a chance on it.

Shattered Glass is available for purchase on Amazon.com for $2.99 which frankly is insane, because this book is too damn good to be selling for that amount. So count yourself lucky and go buy it! You won't regret it!


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Harm Reduction by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane

Two weeks ago Laura and I got an email from two authors wanting to know if we would review an ARC of their short story. We were torn about what we wanted to do but in the end we decided to give the story a go.

I was all "Agghhhh! I hope I like it!"
Laura was all "Aggghhh! Me too!"

I read the story last night, as did Laura. It clocked in at 17 pages and let me just say right now that it was 17 pages of AWESOME.

Harm Reduction is told from Julio's POV, and starts off with him preventing his foster son from getting into a fight over a game of basketball in Sara D. Roosevelt Park in New York City. The story is told in scenes alternating between the past and the present. It's the story of Julio and a young prostitute he once knew while doing Outreach work in the city in the early nineties.

First let me say how much I respect the fact that Julio was an Outreach worker. He brought clean needles, cookers and cotton to heroin addicts as well as condoms to prostitutes. This is done by Outreach workers to lower the risk that people put themselves at for contracting HIV, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. It's a job that not alot of people understand, that some people don't agree with even, but it's a job that is SO important.

Violetta Vane and Heidi Belleau did something very different and unique with Julio's character and they did it well.

Another thing that was very strong in this little story was its sense of place. I grew up in public housing in The Bronx and the NYC in this story is the NYC that I know. In 17 pages we get the rougher, tougher NYC that's not so safe at night. It's the NY where you might spend your lunch hour on a park bench but there's a good chance that a homeless drug addict is at the other end of that bench. I loved that these two authors featured a side of the city that not alot of romance authors write about.

The romance in Harm Reduction made me smile because it showed that even in a hard place there can be love. The characters in this story are characters that I would love to read a full-length novel about.

So, I strongly recommend this story and it's out today at Storm Moon Press, ARe and Smashwords. An amazing little tale that will make you smile on this Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday's Most Wanted

Here we are, another Monday another Most Wanted. This week has, yours truly (LA), squealing like a  schoolgirl because Carole Cummings who ROCKS OUR WORLD has the first installment of her new series Wolf's-Own coming out, and we cannot, I repeat, CANNOT wait to read it. There is also a new novel by Ariel Tachna which looks great, both coming out from Dreamspinner Press.

There are a few other books that looked interesting for the next week from DSP, but I (LA), have put up a personal embargo on DSP, and will not be buying anymore books from them unless I know the author. Getting burned 10 times buying books that were so bad I could barely get throgh the first chapter, is not my idea of a good time. So, no more DSP until they get their act together....But I digress....Our next book is from Miss L.A. Witt who has a new novel with a GORGEOUS cover coming out on Loose Id. Riptide Publishing and Sahmain also have new releases that are on our radar.

So, without further ado, the Most Wanted for the week of Feb. 15- Feb. 21:

1. Wolf's-Own (Wolf's-Own #1) by Carole Cummings
Release Date: February 17th
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Priority Rating: Can't Hardly Wait!!! (This book will be read IMMEDIATELY)
Book's Goodreads page




2. Inherit the Sky by Ariel Tachna
Release Date: February 20th
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Priority Rating: To read ASAP
Book's Goodreads Page







3. Where There's Smoke by L.A. Witt
Release Date: February 21st
Publisher: Loose Id
Priority Waiting: To read ASAP
Book's Goodreads page






4. Midnight in Berlin by J.L. Merrow
Release Date: February 21st
Publisher: Sahmain
Priority Rating: Curious
Book's Goodreads page






5. Few Are Chosen by Storm Grant
Release Date: February 20th
Publisher: Riptide Publisher
Priority Rating: Curious
Book's Goodreads page







That's all the books we are waiting for this next week...But before we go, we have a little extra treat for all the Tarin and Beakface fans. The lovely Syd McGinley was kind enough to write a little story for us featuring one of our most favorite boys. So here it is folks exlclusive Tarin's World short! I hope you all like it!

For those of you who have not read this series yet, please check it out! It's wonderful!

LA's Review for Out of the Woods (Tarin's World #1)





















That's all for us today folks! Tomorrow Laddie will be posting a review for a free Valentine's Day story coming out on Storm Moon Press, which we were asked to review by the authors and we ABSOLUTELY LOVED! We love reading new authors and new stories that make us smile.  

Happy Monday Everyone!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Our BIG, Favorite Couples Valentine's Post

So since we're off to a GREAT start this year with lovely books and already have some favorites on our evergrowing shelves...We thought it would be fun to list the couples we've ABSOLUTELY LOVED, give you a couple of updates, and give you the skinny on why we love these guys.

Laura's picks are from books released in 2011 and Laddie's picks...well, Laddie just had to be a rebel, so her picks are kind of all over the place.

Wil and Dallin from Aisling, Book One: Guardian by Carole Cummings (Laddie's pick)
I hold my ground that the Aisling series is the best collection of M/M books I've read to date. Wil and Dallin captured my heart and my attention and their relationship is the definition of "slow burn".






Xander and Chris from The Locker Room by Amy Lane (Laura's pick)
Xander and Chris are the kings of my Gay Boy Kingdom. I love them desperately, and if you haven't read this book. Please! Please do. Xan and Chris are my soul mates, beat the odds couple. I have still to read about two men more perfect for each other.
Click Here to download an exclusive update on Xander and Chris







Daniel Hart and Phoenix Love from The Slayer's Apprentice by Zathyn Priest (Laddie's pick)
I have yet to see a more twisted situation and relationship in a M/M romance book. These men, this story, was unsettling but I wanted these guys to get their HEA.





Mac and Tony from Life Lessons Series by Kaje Harper (Laura's pick)
What can I possibly say about Mac and Tony? They are amazing...AMAZING! Mac is the most noble man and Tony is so strong. They are so in love, it's just fabulous to read about these men. This is a coming out of the close story,  they have to be brave in the face of many trials, but that love wins out.
The third novel for this series will be released later this year from MLR Press.
Click here to download an exclusive Mac and Tony Valentine's Day Short (Story is set between Life Lessons and Breaking Cover)




Alex and Everett from A Wealth Of Unsaid Words by R. Cooper (Laddie's pick)
These men's story had a depth of emotion that you rarely see in a short story. The author tackled a really serious issue in Alex and Everett's story and their love brought a tear to my eye.





Ben and Laurie from Dance With Me by Heidi Cullinan (Laura's pick)
Adorable dancer and his funny football player, who loves Britney Spears. Ben and Laurie were wonderful. This story was about second chances in love and in life. Touching and very sweet.








Derek O'Reilly and Nicolai Lund From Split by Mel Bossa (Laddie's pick)
This is a book that should be a lot more well known than it is. Derek and Nicolai had a love that started young and endured. This book broke my heart with its poignancy.







Austin, Jay and Liam from Room at the Top by Jane Davit and Alexa Snow (Laura's pick)
This story was probably my favorite BDSM read of last year, and for sure my favorite book with a menage. It was erotic, emotional, gritty and just approached the D/s subject beautifully. This trio was FAB.








Joey and Jimmy from Always Joey by Adelhardt (Laddie's pick)
This one free online fiction that I would have gladly paid for. High school romances are hard to pull off but this little gem was beautifully done. I especially love the way the HEA was done and the honesty of the characters.




Dustin and Stuart from Paper Planes by M. Jules Aiden (Laura's pick)
Stuart and Dustin were men that had lost the men they thought they would be with forever. One to a terrorist attack one to AIDS. They found each other and they got a second chance at love. This book is deeply emotional without being angsty, and it is beautifully written.







Jesse Clayton and Lorenzo Maryboy from Marathon Cowboys by Sarah Black (Laddie's pick)
These are my favorite two Sarah Black characters to date. Jesse and Lorenzo balanced each other out excellently and, as an artist, I enjoyed reading about the creative process that the men went through.





Kyler and Robbie from Black Heart Down by SJ Frost (Laura's pick)
Kyler and Robbie were my favorite rocker boys from last year. We know these boys from the Conquest series and know all the trouble they are. Kyler is a pain in the ass and has bee given poor Robbie grief for years. But we finally get their happy ending. It's a good one.







Jesse Richards and Rafael Ochoa from It's Not Shakespeare by Amy Lane (Laddie's pick)
Amy Lane really hit the nail on the head with this tale of an interracial relationship.






Tristan and Charles from Kindred Hearts by Rowan Speedwell  (Laura's pick)
My favorite historical from last year. It is set so well. Tristan is an amazing character so conflicted and so alone. Charles is his knight in shining armor. Another great love story.








Otis and Garret from A Lie I Can Live With by Eden Winters (Laddie's pick)
These guys were simply adorable. This was a great story about how everyone has things about themselves that they are unhappy with and finding someone who loves everything about you from the inside out.







Bernie and Tomas from Sparks by Talia Carmichael (Laddie's pick)

This is one of those books that I love even if it's only a three star read. It had a hot geek, a sexy Latino and a whole bunch of sweetness.







 Jack and Riley from Heart of Texas by RJ Scott (Laura's pick)
My cowboys! This novel is a crazy soap opera. Over the top drama like you would not believe, but I just loved this couple. So very sweet and HOT.








Kevin and Dani/Danny from The Girl For Me by Failte (Laddie's pick)
This was a unique story and another free online fic about high school romance. You don't find a lot of stories out there about crossdressers and this story handled the topic awesomely.






Tarin and Beakface from Out of the Woods by Syd McGynley (Laura's pick)
Tarin is my most favorite thing. LOVE HIM. I can't even begin to describe just how wonderful his character is. His Beakface is pretty great too. This story has a dystopia theme. Very intriguing and creative.








Bear and Otter from Bear, Otter and the Kid by Tj Klune (Laura's pick)
This story was all charm and most of it had to do with The KID. So witty and sharp. I loved his character. Bear and Otter had me at the end of my wits, and I loved every minute of it. It was funny, emotional and has one of the best cast of characters I read last year.
There is a sequel for  this book coming out later this year from Dreamspinner press.

Click here for an exclusive update on Bear and Otter




There they are folks our most favorite boys for this Valentine's Day. We hope some of these are as lovely to read for you as they were for us, that you enjoyed the little treats, and most importantly that you all have a lovely Valentine full of tons of love!

XOXOXO

LA and Lad