Business and the Beat, Kellum Jeffries
Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance
I hadn’t realised this was a novella, usually I avoid them, preferring long reads. Sucked in by the rock band romance tag, my sneaky weakness, I didn’t look further. Thank goodness, as it proved a great read. And one I will reread.
This may be short but its intense, packed with the drama and emotion I love. There’s no filler, no bits that lag, every page adds to the story and that was perfect. I could swap some longer reads for that! Those with pages of stuff that feels added just to provide words. This one was all story.
Ford, what a wonderful guy. He’s kind, but very introverted, with the most horrible, overbearing, old fashioned parents. You can see just why he is the way is is, bullied out of all his own opinions. His drawing talents was incredible, I really enjoyed reading about his creations. Thank goodness for his boss and work colleague who see behind stuffy Rutherford and are determined to bring out the man they know he is.
Then Mak, that first meeting – just wonderful. It shows him just how he is, light, full of fun, loves his family, the band. Then we see he too had a sad history, one that’s made him devote his love to his band, and relegate romance to be kept to short spans and move on periods.
When Mak meets Ford this is made clear, but as the expiry date grows closer neither are feeling like the end is right, but of course…..and that leads to some fantastic drama, stuff that was drawn out beautifully, really let emotions reign. Not just over in two pages even though the novel was brief.
Peach, Peach, I thought that was going to be something I wouldn’t like but….Kellum handles it perfectly, it shows just how Mak really feels, makes him start looking closer at himself. Peach himself, I’d love to read a book about him when he’s a bit older. He feels a real character, one worth exploring.
Stars: Five. Fantastic read, brief but with everything I want in a good romance.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers
Harrowed (Haunts and Hoaxes Book 2), Irene Preston, Liv Rancourt
Genre: LGBTQIA, Mystery & Suspense, Paranormal
I’d read Irene and Liv’s other series, Hours of the Night, but apart from learning the background to the fire in the first book of this series you don’t need to know those characters to enjoy this series. I’m sure there may be more brief overlaps. Hours of the night was a pretty complex, intense series, this one has a much lighter feel and I found events less confusing, though I really enjoyed Hours.
Noel and Adam are both holding things close, its a newish relationship – I’m not sure how long but that’s how it feels – where you’re both wary of saying or doing the wrong thing. Noel, I do like his rich tastes and the humour surrounding it, isn’t sure of he’s really seeing and feeling past events or just going mad. A natural reaction for most folk who suddenly experience what he is going through. Adam, being “in the trade” so to speak, has noticed him acting oddly, but Noel won’t talk about it, shuts him down and its back to that new relationship where no-one wants to put the other person off.
Adam thinks maybe if they go to where odd things have been turned up, though he’s actually a little sceptical about the supernatural, preferring to rely on historical facts, Noel may be forced to confront whatever is playing on him. Noel isn’t keen, back to that supernatural visions or crazy worry, but agrees and things happen that neither envisaged.
I like Noel and Adam together, but at times I could shake the pair of them. Noel is master of avoidance, of doing something, anything, to avoid facing up to whats wrong ( hands up, that’s me too…), and at times he’s a real jerk to Adam, especially early in the novel. Adam too, I like him but at first I couldn’t help feeling he saw Noel’s issues as something to investigate, as an aside to his supernatural/historian investigations rather than something that’s actually hurting Noel.
Events move forward, and we reach a point where Adam wants to leave it for Noel’s sake, where he can see that whats going on is actually hurting Noel, and Noel is determined to stay, and face up to events whatever the personal cost. It brings the two closer, they move forward into a more secure relationship. The things that are happening are believable, as is the opposition from those making money from the local small town legend. Truth, or a good money making legend, which is more important. As always there are two very definite sides.
This was a fun read, not the scary spooky I feared. I’m a wimp, Stephen King et al are books that scare the c -rap out of me and give me nightmares, not what I want form my reading! I loved the relationship development, that “are we boyfriends or what?” issues, where neither want to voice it for fear of scaring the other off and yet we can feel both actually want more than the current undefined monogamous hookup style thing they have going on.
Stars: Five, a fun read. I wouldn’t reread as a stand alone but when a series I like is finished I love to binge read my way through and totally immerse myself in the characters and I can feel this is going to be one of those series.
ARC supplied for review purposes by authors
Stable Hand, The Braided Crop Ranch Book One, AE Lister
Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance
Well, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but TBH whats in the description is pretty much the whole plot. Its fun kink erotica, not deep, sensual romance.
Jensen, that interview. That made the whole book worth it, somehow I could just see this slightly naive cowboy expecting some fancy horses, “ Arabians? No? Maybe you have Lusitanos?”…or something like that while poor Adam and Connor are barely able to hold back sniggers…..
The rest is really Jensen’s journey into kink, and real “hands on” education. I’m not sure six weeks holiday is as realistic as the author makes it sound but hey, its fiction. Consent was the order of the day, all the time, not just in training, and that’s very important IMO. If both parties consent and its harming no one then that’s fine, if there’s no fully informed consent at all times then its a No Go for me. I was bothered that it was gloves and lube all the while, but a real lack of condoms for oral work, especially as Jensen can’t have been tested yet? A big hole there I think. Hopefully to be filled in later books. ( and her I am sniggering about holes and fillings. One day I’ll grow up!)
What I did like, though at times it was repeated a little too much, was the psychology of kink, that Adam was actually a qualified therapist, and oversaw all training plans. Playing, even just through kinky sex, with peoples different issues and backgrounds, can cause real harm, and needs careful thought.
I like that there wasn’t the typical stereotyping that often happens in erotic fiction, where the dominant folk always are obvious, always dominant, never have their own issues, and always have the answers. Luke was a complex personality, in that he was naturally dominant, yet also had the submissive need but that he seemed to fight. Noah was one of these folk who are happiest when able to let go and someone else make all the decisions. The others were somewhere in between these two. We’re all complex people, some like Noah, have more simple needs, while others take more work to see what they really want, what issues they have that may be causing problems.
I really like human and animal psychology, and that part of this book resonated with me, the explanations how animals are just into “now” unlike us who mull over the past constantly, and worry about tomorrow. If you don’t know animals well, and how they work you may not understand why some things are so freeing to people.
It covers a short space of time and the romance, such as it was, was more HFN rather than HEA and I felt that’s more realistic. It wasn’t heavy on romantic emotion and connection, more the physical side, where I’d like more emotion and romance. But I hate when there’s insta-love and all is well, even though they’ve only known each other a few days or weeks so given the time constraints this works better for me. Ideally I’d like more romance but for everything to cover a longer time-span, which simply isn’t possible given the immersion therapy type of set up here.
Stars: Three, it made me laugh so much at Jensen’s interview, but as I said its kind of light on the romance side even though I understand why. I thought there would be more romance though. Its a good book, hot smut and fun, some real issues but not wholly what I was expecting, that’s why its three.
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He Owns My Heart, (Owned Heart, Body, & Soul 1), Evie Drae
Genre: M/M romance |M/M romance.
I enjoy a good M/M romance sometimes, I like variety in my reading. I was offered the chance to read this, and as the story extends into a trilogy I thought that hopefully we’d get a romance with some solid dramas. I do love lots of drama in romance 😉
Landon’s a sweet guy, you can just feel how he wants to be loved, for himself, not for his fame, not for what he can do for the other person, just for someone that wants him. Maybe that stems from his background, his family made it clear a gay son was not what they wanted. His dad’s in politics, and I’m thinking maybe in book two, or even three, we might learn more about him, and the conflict he perceives Landon’s sexuality to be.
Then there’s Toby, poor kid, has been brought into prostitution to help his family, and he lives an awful life. Then when they meet its clear that both can offer something to the other. But – sadly – I didn’t really feel the attraction somehow, I felt desperation almost, and of course some hot lust, but I wanted them to get to know each other apart from all the sex.
I think that’s my issue with the story, I like sex in a romance, but there was so much here it almost became all the story, and I found myself skipping yet another sex scene to get to what would happen. There’s so many potential plots, Landon’s family, Toby’s family, Toby’s awful situation and how Landon can get him out. Steffan, Landon’s friend, a sharp guy who feels like if he’s in your corner he takes no prisoners when it comes to defence. And of course Garret and the reality show saga ( why does anyone ever think its a good idea to do one of those?).
Garret had so much potential but he didn’t really get up to much til near the end, and even that bit of drama was over quickly. Its a personal thing, but I want to wallow a bit in the sad parts, and when the drama ends so quickly I don’t get that. I did feel too, after all the PI stuff and questions about how to help Toby, that resolution of that came way to quick. If it was that simple why not do it before? It kind of makes me feel maybe Landon wasn’t as certain of what he wanted do do as he appeared.
It reads well as a stand alone with a HFN, and I’m in two minds about whether I want to read more. There’s the potential of several problems and dramatics that naturally attracts me, but I was put off by the eternal sex scenes. I wasn’t bothered by the content, by the light BDSM, just that it seemed the story couldn’t progress more that a short while without yet more sex…..
Stars: Three, well written and for many readers its perfect. Its just my quirks that make me want a bit more story, a bit less sex.
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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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