The Captain and the Prime Minister. Catherine Curzon , Eleanor Harkstead
Genre: Romance, LGBTQIA
I really enjoyed this. I’m not convinced by insta-love stories but in this one, although when they do take that step and go from 0-60, they have known each other a long time, and Tom has been part of the family for years so it wasn’t an issue.
I loved them both, Tom, strong ex soldier, but a softie with the twins, and Alex who’s been through so much while in the public eye, misses his late wife still, but discovers his feelings for Tom are more than just friendly. That part was handled so well, it wasn’t a “turning a straight guy” story, but one where Love was the focus, not the gender of either of them. I always think in those Straight guys stories, that there must have been some leanings, you can’t “turn” a straight guy any more than you can turn a gay person straight.
Publicity – it doesn’t get much more public than being PM, with the press focusing on every move. I’ve written before how I hate the way the media just love to dig out anything they can make sound salacious – the TV interview was so very well done. I could see those questions being asked by someone very like the presenter portrayed in the book. Its all “in the public interest” excuses when in fact unless the PM was heavily against gay rights it wasn’t anyone’s business.
Given how many folk are LBGTQIA its a wonder there aren’t more in the Gov, maybe, as in football and some other celebrity occupations, they just hide what they are. Justin Fashanu, the first openly gay UK footballer, had a really tough time, being adopted, and black also. Brave kid, sadly died too young, but it amazes me that out of over 800 premier league footballers currently not one is openly gay. I suspect the media furore people in the public eye face when they come out is what prevents them. That’s pretty damning in 2020 that some still feel they have to hide who they are 😦 It made the press scenes, the way events and texts were twisted, in this book feel very real, though sadly I think in real life the endings would have gone down differently.
I understood how Alex’ in laws felt, understandable, and was so glad that worked out. I loved the way the twins were told, and that’s how it should be, no big deal, just everyday life. Kids are accepting, its adults who have issues.
Alex and Tom both had some tough decisions to take, a big risk for them both if they got it wrong.
Its a lovely story, touches on reality, but with a happy ending, which I need, not the sadly unhappy one I think reality would bring 😦 we have a long way to go, but at least are going in the right direction.
Stars: Five, a lovely read, one I wish real life was more like.
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Marry Him, Marina Ford
Genre: Romance, Humour
I’ve had a slew of books recently that were perhaps bad choices on my part and I really hate writing low star reviews. I always try to point out though that although I didn’t gel with the story others will, that reading is very subjective. This book illustrates that perfectly. Already I can see a few two star reviews, even a couple of ones and yet I loved it. Absolutely loved it.
It made me snigger with the scatty humour, and for anyone ( a few reviews mention it) who thinks life isn’t like that – it is. I don’t have Joe’s exuberance but do have his problems with everything going t$ts up, with my careful plans descending into chaos, although mostly I just go with the flow and don’t make strict plans. Everything goes wrong when I do so why bother? The nurses were sniggering when I broke my hip falling out of my wheelchair, moving the electric fence for my horses, then recently my scooter suddenly ran out of charge just before home and a big slope. I had to accept a push from a poor man who was using a stick to walk…then there’s the time I super-glued my hand to the kitchen worktop. I was putting it away safely so the grand-kids didn’t get it.
Frank is so like my late husband, that full on persona, always talking to strangers like long lost friends, always full of weird and wonderful ideas.
I enjoyed the very different personalities of Harry and Joe, again my late husband and I were very different, and yet it worked, we were together over 40 years, so there’s no reason why Harry and Joe couldn’t make it work too.
I wasn’t so keen on the timing, the way it was five years past, six months past and then present, it worked to tell the story but I found it frustrating jumping back and forth. That’s a small crit though and as I’m not a writer maybe that’s the only way the story would work?
I did like the different people, the prejudice, the way Joe was casually called “ the Gay “ from folk who’d be astonished at the suggestion that wasn’t really polite. Casual sexism, prejudice, bigotry like this is insidious, people only see the open hatred as being prejudiced whereas actually its far more and something people face daily but shouldn’t have to. Being a wheelchair user I get that kind of thing when folk talk to whoever is pushing the chair, offer them the change even though I’ve paid, ruffle my hair like I’m a pet. One day….
The story itself has some great dram that unfolds to a real climax at the end. I couldn’t believe it would really unravel, and yet the clues Marina set up for it all going wrong were incredibly real and believable.
Looking on goodreads Marina is a new to me author, I’ll certainly look out for her books in future.
Stars: five, a cracking read that had me sniggering at several points at poor Joe, and empathising with him having done the same kind of thing.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher
The Disheveled Duke, (A Little Bit Cupid Collection), Catherine Curzon,
Genre: M/M Romance, Short story
Confession time: I don’t read short stories usually but when I was offered this for review I had in my head the next book in the Captivating Captains series. My bad. I should read emails properly.
Still, it was a fun read, I adored Charlie and the dogs, Delia and Nigel – named for the chefs I assume? Wonder what the pups will be named…I love that Charlie is so laid back, especially when we find out more about him. He had a wonderful way of putting his background into perspective.
Billy’s lovely too, like so many he’s taken a chance on London, which has spat him back out. As an artist I know so many talented painters, photographers, textile artists etc and they produce incredible work, but getting it seen in galleries and thus sold is hard. Its catch 22, galleries need the commission so don’t often take a chance on new artists, and without that exposure artists don’t succeed often.
The internet has leveled that to a degree, but its still very difficult, and I felt for Billy. He’s clearly an amazing talent, but facing the harsh reality of trying to make things work, get a career. Most of us are artists, and like Billy actually marketing, getting work seen isn’t one of our talents.
How they finally get together is a wonderfully romantic and sweet story. Even if I didn’t realise it was a short!
Stars: five, a fun read, sweet and cute story, lovely characters, and of course, dogs. I always wanted an Irish wolfhound. Anyone who loves dogs can’t be bad 😉 and Charlie and Billy adore them.
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Swimming in the Dark, Tomasz Jedrowski
Genre: Literary Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)
I was kind of expecting romance from some of the early reviews and comments, although of course its not classed as romance under the genre headings.
Its not though, there is romance in it but its not a romance per se. Its written as a sort of autobiography style, and I guess for me a clue that it perhaps wouldn’t be the style of writing I enjoy is the Literary Fiction tag. Sometimes I find I enjoy this type of story telling, more often it seems to be more erudite, as if its aiming at style rather than substance and for me its more the story that’s important, not so much the way its told.
This is beautifully written, almost poetic at times and I felt the sheer drudgery of life in Poland in the 80s, the daily grind to just survive that was the lot of most of the population. I can remember well the timing of Solidarność and Lech Wałęsa. I was in my early twenties, had a ringside seat so to speak, seeing nightly on the news here in the UK the progression of the movement.
Its not until reading this novel though that I understand just how tough life was for folk there. How difficult daily life was, the struggle to get enough to eat, to get medicines, to survive, and how oppressing it could all be.
I guess that’s really what the issue is for me in enjoying the story, I read to be entertained and educated but I also feel there’s enough drear in daily life, and I want a HEA, or at least the possibility from my reading. Here though I got a heart breaking story of two lads in love, but its a romance that had no way of ending well without taking a huge risk. I was almost in tears at the end for poor Ludwik, even for Janusz, as they really were living in a time and place where what they shared had little chance of lasting. Such a waste of love and life, and yet still in the world this type of issue is far too widespread.
Stars: Three, its a beautifully written tale, but the content was just too depressing for me to actually enjoy the story. It remineded me a bit of the short story version of brokeback mountain.
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The Captain & the Squire, (The Captivating Captains 5) Catherine Curzon,
Genre: Humour, LGBTQIA
Well, I’m late to this series and have only read the previous book. I struggled with that so was hoping this would suit better – and it did. It was timing in last book that was wrong for me. I don’t really gel with books where everything takes place over a few days, but this one is longer, still short, just a month except for the epilogue, but it worked so much better for me.
I loved the way Tarquin and Chris are at odds from the moment they meet, and yet that magical thread of attractions pulls to them both. That meeting should have clued me to what sort of story this was going to be, but it took me a few more pages to realise that it really was tongue in cheek stuff, perfect schoolgirl humour that somehow I’ve never outgrown!
Chris is new to the area, although his family and Tarquin’s have been in Bough Bottom for generations. Tarquin is a long standing resident, local farmer, with the most horrendous fiancee, Petunia. She was so perfect in the book, adding a nasty edge to the spice and nice 😉 along with her boss, the awful Bryan.
If you’re thinking Romance, sensuality and emotional story – well, the emotion you’ll be feeling is tears, but tears of laughter. At times this feels like a Brian Rix ( now I’m showing my age) farce, it’s slapstick type comedy, so overdone that it works. There’s a fine line between slapstick funny and in your face OTT jokes, and the authors have found it perfectly.
From the countryside squire Tarquin portrays, trilby, tweeds and tractors, very typical stereo-type, Chris’ wide boy city financier, Petunia’s grasping, greedy social climber to the real star, Orry, otherwise know as The Oracle, cleverest pig on the planet its all so silly that it somehow works, and had me sniggering at the unlikely events.
Of course there’s a serious side in that Tarquin is engaged – to a woman, and his other inclinations go unknown, and what will come of that. Then there’s the terms of Chris uncle’s will, Chris has only a short window to act if he’s to keep the house and money, and it not go to his elderly uncle’s latest floozy… And just what did happened between the Hardcastles and the Boughs all that while ago?
The boat race and Orry’s actions – wonderful writing, had me sniggering at the though of super intelligent pig racing with a priceless antique dildo to help…..
Then there’s the semi serious side of the looting of precious historical artifacts in other countries, that’s a reality that sadly happens too much, and was good to see mentioned in the context of dealers and collectors. Some people have no morals, fortunately Chris and Tarquin do, and all ends well. Wish real life was like that.
Stars: Five, Its a wonderful, sniggering farce, with a spicy and sensual romance wrapped up in it. I thoroughly enjoyed it. A fun read to drive away winter blues.
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Wounded Martyr, Courtney Maguire
Genre: Romance, LGBTQIA
I really thought I’d like this book, I love romance, love m/m romance and love the rock star trope. And yet I just feel confused about this story. I got to the end and it wasn’t with the satisfaction of a good read, but with the feeling of What did I just read? Was that really how it would end?
Its very well written, the words convey really clearly the downsides of addiction, of how staying sober seems the hard choice when everyone around you is drinking. How difficult it is to like the person you are now, when all you’ve known for years is the addict, how even though you know how awful you are when high or drunk you don’t really seem to be a better person sober. All that came over so very clearly, along with the difficulties of relationships when touring, when distance separates and opportunities come unasked for.
Yet somehow the sheer grimness of Ice’s life just got me down and coloured what I was reading. He didn’t know what he wanted, and Ricky paid the price, band mate Ash was equally ambiguous, and the band after twenty years together seemed to have no kind of camaraderie or affection left. It was just grim all the way, and for me it was too much.
I kept wondering, if they’d been together twenty years and were playing to thousands why were they sharing rooms when they didn’t want to and ought to have had the money to room alone – heck, have a suite alone. Does coke really only cost $50 a vial? Why did they still continue when the band really didn’t seem close, were they ever close, did any of them actually enjoy the life anymore?
Ash and Ice, friends since childhood, and yet apart from some moments of lust and jealousy I didn’t feel anything much between them. I guess I just needed more detail about the characters, their history, and something light to enliven the atmosphere of doom that seemed to live over the band.
The ending seemed a bit of a cop out, I didn’t really feel as if anything had changed, except for the one major point, and wasn’t convinced of long term happiness for any of them. Where was Sid gong to fit in with the Ricky/Ice/Ash grouping? And wasn’t that going to cause more issues? The root causes of the problems still hadn’t really been resolved I felt, and the way it seemed to finish held more problems in store IMO.
I find it hard to actually class this as romance, it didn’t have any of the love, intensity of emotion, the feel good factor that romance holds for me, and even when it got close to a good emotion it was coloured by jealous thoughts.
Stars: Two and a half. Writing quality is four star for making me feel whats happening, for sheer realism, but content for me was just scraping a two, and unfortunately content is the greater sway when I’m reviewing how I feel about a story.
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The Captain and the Best Man Catherine Curzon, Eleanor Harkstead
Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance
I haven’t read the earlier books in this series, but that’s fine, each are stand alone. Its one of those series connected by character type rather than the characters themselves.
Its was a fun story, very easy to read, with some fun characters.
I liked Guy and Josh, Guy seems universally liked by his flight crew and the islanders. He seems one of those genuinely naive guys who somehow glide through life untroubled. Yet as we learn more about him we find its not been quite that easy for him. Then there’s Josh, one moment he seemed very young, and the next it was like he had an old head on young shoulders. There’s a real attraction between the two that came through the story quickly.
The story itself hinges on Josh’ best friends wedding, a tropical island and of course a storm, and not just with the weather….it was kind of easy to see where the story was going, see what was going to happen from about halfway, but maybe that’s me, maybe I’ve just read too much….
I guess my big issue with the story is that the main thrust takes place over a couple of days with the whole mostly complete in a week, and I just found that insta love too much. That’s my personal issue, I need to be convinced characters are in love, not just lust and when every interaction is so new, so coloured by sex then I’m not persuaded that its actually True Love and worth all the sacrifice. Though this wraps up so well that actually there’s very little sacrifice 😉
Stars: Three, a fun, easy read, but its just too time condensed for me to really get mentally involved with the characters, and invested in what happens.
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Exquisitely Hidden, M. Jay Granberry
I enjoyed this read, liked catching up with the characters and seeing some of book one’s events from a different angle. There’s lots of drama for the band here at times, at others it just kind of plods along. I did find myself skipping a little then which is why its four, not five stars.
I love this kind of read where one person is out and proud and the other…well, not. That’s Seth and Adam, Seth had been out for ages and doesn’t like being kept hidden like a shameful secret, but Adam doesn’t want to be the Poster Boy for Gays.
I can understand that, somehow its typical that we see folk who are different from the average person in terms of what they are, rather than who they are. I’m an amputee, I also paint. I want to be remembered for my art, not my disability, but whenever there’s been any media publicity about art shows I’ve been involved in guess which gets the focus? 😦 yep, the missing leg, and I’m more than that, just as Adam is more too. Gay is a part of him, what he is, but not all he is.
He’s got lots of other issues too from his past, some of which Sin is aware, but even his best friend doesn’t know everything. They’ve an uphill task if ever they’re to find grounds for a relationship.
I enjoyed the will they won’t they, on and off nature of their connection. Its hard, I so understood how Seth felt, and at times I dd get irritated with Adam, but such is the course of love, and I do like the downsides in my reading to cover a decent part. None of this its all off and heart break, then two pages later its all good stuff for me!
I did get confused over how the foster carer he had could be in her eighties? A bit extreme, it would make her in sixties when she had the kids in her care, I can’t see that happening. Likewise the issues over Tori, one moment its all in the air, then next he’s off on tour and we don’t know where she is. There were quite a few typos and grammar errors too that niggled, but I’m hoping that’s because I had an ARC and they’ll have been corrected for final edition.
Stars: Four, a read I enjoyed, and I especially like Adam’s Big Gesture at the end. Seth deserved that, he’d put up with a lot from Adam.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher
Indie authors need readers support, and if youre a lover of dystopian type fiction this may be for you. Its out now at £3.99 and also available on KU.
Horned Winged Blessed
Horned Winged Blessed opens in a post-world war three world,with an all-female, all-wiccan government in charge. They are known as theSilver Party, and have led Broken Britain through the war. Now, they are pavingthe way to a utopia in which hate crime and sexual assault are things of thepast.
The story follows the protagonist Joan Wood’s journey tounderstand the issues within this society and eventually finds her taking itdown. She is the daughter of the founder that started the Silver Party, and shestarts the novel under the illusion that this is indeed a utopia. However,after various attacks on her home from the rebel party the Grounded, as well asvarious friends warning her that life isn’t a rose-tinted as she thinks, she becomes aware that the Silver Party, and her mother, have indeed taken things too far, and many of the non-binary folk in society feel oppressed and labelled.
In the later half of the book, Joan actually finds her way to the rebel faction, and joins them in their aim to take down her mother and bring a true version of gender equality and LGBT liberation – rather than the erroneous attempts at such by her mother.The book ends with a showdown between her and her mother, eventually with her prevailing to crack her way through the Silver Party, with the help of her Grounded comrades.
Lost and Found, Liv Rancourt
Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance
One of the reasons I love LGBTQIA reads is that the romance that always seems to have that extra edge of passion. Maybe it’s because of the barriers, historically it was illegal, punishable by prison, and even now in our supposed enlightened terms its still frowned on. People still carry that bigotry and make life difficult for those who want to love outside what they feel is *right*. Sad isn’t it that we can’t all just live and let live in real life. Still, it makes for some fabulous fiction.
When we meet Ben its clear to see the War ( WW1) has affected him mentally, but of course its an age when such things were not only largely unknown but unspoken too, and he’s kind of floundering along, single mindedly searching for his childhood friend Elias. He can’t explain why he needs to do this for a friend but he just has to.
Its clear to the reader than they had more than just friendship, but in times like those Ben seems to have shut off his mind to the possibility that they were more, that he is attracted to men. Who can blame him when any hint of liking your own sex carried the taint of Unnatural, the threat of prison, the ostracising in society and employment prospects. Awful isn’t it that we could send people off to war, to die for their country but not let them live as they chose.
Louis is also a tenant in the building where Ben has rented a room, and at first he seems so surly, dislikable, rude. Yet their landlady is one of those who gently interferes in folks lives, caring about them as friends, really looks after her tenants, and somehow she engages Louis to help Ben. Together more they start to understand each other, learn about the things that plague them both, and Ben discovers some surprises about himself that he’d locked in his mind.
Its a wonderful story, a beautiful romance, with all the period details that allowed me to feel there with them. Books like that work best for me, where I almost feel part of the story, and am happy or sad along with the characters. Its not just Ben and Elias but a host of others here that made the story so real, they became people I felt I knew as friends.
At the end Liv talks about the story and says a certain part was at the suggestion of her agent. I’m so glad she took that advice, without that section it would be a good read, with that addition it becomes a great read. That part really moved me, let me understand Ben more, made the feelings between Louis and Ben more concrete, made the problems they faced more real.
I love it when a book delivers a love story but makes the characters have real issues, face seemingly immovable barriers to their love, and lets those problems take over a complete section of the story, not just a couple of pages. Ben needed that, I needed it 😉 and it really made the ending more satisfying.
Stars: Five, a perfect historical read, full of tenderness and emotion.
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