Category Archives: Review

05Dec/16

Review of Forbidden by Jason Collins

forbidden

REVIEW

For months, Matt has been daydreaming about Tyler, who works in the office opposite him. He doesn’t know if he’s gay or straight. He just knows that Tyler is the one for him. If only he could pluck up the courage and start talking to him….

This is the story of sweet, innocent Matt, and wealthy, married Tyler, heading for a nasty divorce and needing to find some kind of release to alleviate his (ahem) tension. So he and Matt start talking, then fumbling, then experimenting and possibly falling in love.

But then, duh-duh-duuuuh! Tyler’s almost-ex wife is determined to screw things up, claiming most of Tyler’s fortune if she can prove he has been unfaithful to her. Apparently, she has the world media on her side, though I had already instantly filed her under Nut Job.  As the central plot device to add tension, it’s tenuous at best. Sooo close, but not close enough for me.

But what the hell. This is a wish-fulfilment fantasy. The handsome businessman, fabulously wealthy, is curious about his good-looking, cute neighbour, who is willing to drop to his knees and satisfy his forbidden desires…

See where I’m going with this? Well, you’re wrong because this is actually pretty unpredictable. I loved the way the plot zigged and zagged, throwing in a murder and a hot steam room scene and a dash around New York. Yes, there are a few issues with it, namely in the editing. It feels a bit rushed as well. Collins could have made this a novel, rather than a novella, and I don’t say that very often. I would have liked to have seen more in the way of character development, because I liked Tyler and Matt but felt they had a lot more to give. The sex was sexy and real. I did feel Tyler’s curiosity and indecision, but felt he was WAY too trusting with someone he had just met, however cute Matt was.

Having said all that, the plot thickened in surprising ways. Again, more could have been made of it, but there are no corny romance tropes here apart from (yawn) the bitchy ex. I’ve written three reviews today and all the villains are women and they all look the goddamned same. The neighbour tops the lot though, a truly nasty piece of work. I really hope this isn’t based on reality but I have a sad feeling it might be. The boys (Matt and Tyler) dealt with her with class and grace, which was very satisfying.

So not perfect and a little unpolished, but a fun, quick read with engaging characters that deserve another story.

05Dec/16

Review – Grind (The Riley Brothers Vo 6) by E. Davies

grindREVIEW

A sweet, sexy tale from E. Davies, and sixth book in the Riley Brothers series although this can be read on a standalone basis. Don’t be put off by the title, which suggests Grindr-related shenanigans (or at least, it did to me…) Nothing is further from the truth.

Ryan is the carpenter wanting to set up his own business. He is good with his hands but the accountancy and marketing side leaves him floundering. Enter trans man James, in debt due to putting his top surgery on his credit card, and in desperate need of a job. Fortunately, he has all the knowledge Ryan needs in order to make the business a success. Sparks fly between them, but both are wary of mixing business with pleasure.

A sugar-sweet love story, with enough spice and angst to save it from giving the reader tooth-ache. I had to check to see whether this was written by a man or a woman. Not that it should matter, but for such a lush romance, I was intrigued. This is written by a male author (something I only found out after reading it) who pours his heart and romantic soul into this book.

Shy and cute Ryan doesn’t have any misgivings about his attraction to James. He is eager not to screw up when talking to him, ensuring he does just that, and makes sure he does his homework, using the right terminology and pronouns, etc. A cynic would say he was too good to be true but what the hell, the world needs genuinely nice people. The the awkwardness when he gets it wrong made me squirm with embarrassment for him.

And slender, twinky James is totally bowled over by Ryan’s musculature. (That chest! Those thighs!) I would have liked to have known a little more about him. It felt as if an opportunity to explore his new-found masculinity was lost. After all, being on T isn’t just about growing more hair. Emotions are on a rollercoaster and that didn’t really come across. He is described as flamboyant but I wasn’t feeling it. Possibly, these issues have been addressed in the previous books.

So there was lots of insta-love going on, if not insta-action. When the action does happen, it delivers. I liked that they didn’t go at it straight away, but engaged in a great deal of teasing and what we English quaintly call “heavy petting,” the first few times they got it on. Cute and far more realistic.

And kudos to the author for not throwing in a boy meets boy/boy loses boy/boy makes up with boy trope. Ryan has great friends. Both characters have complicated family situations. James’ mother is … I’m not sure but I wanted to slap her. I’ve seen her type before in a lot of M/M fiction, so there was an element of “here we go again.” But maybe that’s the point. It is a depressingly common problem. Ryan’s nemesis was a work colleague, Roger, a would-be rival to his fledgling home crafts business, but in the end, the worst thing he did was stomp away. The people who weren’t bigoted and disgusting were terribly nice and very supportive, providing a warm, happy glow. And why not?

Look, I’m straight, so I can’t say for sure whether the conversations and situations for trans people are true to life in this book or not. For me, it was a cosy read with characters that were slightly different from other M/M romance books. The homophobia rang depressingly true and the author wasn’t afraid to tackle it, which was another plus point.  Grind is well-written, as enjoyable as a slice of chocolate cake on a cold winter’s day. It was such a feel-good read, I am tempted to check out the other books in the series, and I don’t say that very often.

05Dec/16

Review – Unexpected Circumstances (Isthmus Alliance Vol. 3) by Sloan Johnson

sloan

Earlier in the Fall we had the pleasure of talking to Sloan Johnson, a prolific author who is not afraid to tackle challenging themes in her books. To find out more about Sloan and her work, listen to her fascinating episode, and hear her giving our hosts a run for their money! Episode 075: Sloan Johnson – How Far Can We Deviate?

REVIEW

Zeke, Jeff and Mary have enjoyed a casual three-way relationship until fate steps in and makes them evaluate whether what they are doing is just a bit of fun, or whether they are ready to settle down into a more serious relationship. Whilst they are trying to figure that out, the outside world seems determined to pull apart their unusual arrangement.

The plot is fairly straightforward. After Mary is attacked by the ex-boyfriend of her best friend, her dreadful mother arrives to look after her, and finds her daughter embroiled in what she sees as a very unsavoury situation. Meanwhile, Zeke is torn between wanting to settle with Mary and Jeff and doing his own thing. And Jeff, the steadying influence, is busy trying to keep everything together.

Recently I read a comment that most books concerning polyamorous relationships, especially those that are M/M/F,  are basically erotica and have no story-line, but this is not the case at all for Unexpected Circumstances. Yes, the sex is hot, but it isn’t over-stated. Each main character is fully realised, with their own personalities and foibles, so they don’t merge into one being. The secondary characters are also convincingly drawn, apart from Mary’s mother, an obvious boo-hiss character so horrendous she verged on caricature. Somewhat oddly, she was dismissed in an off-hand fashion half-way through the book. I say oddly because after such a strong start, she was tucked away in Florida, conveniently out of the way. One of my favourite minor characters was Holly, a complex girl with an abusive ex and a supportive boyfriend. The author nailed her character with pin-point accuracy and for me, she was the most memorable in a large cast of satellite characters, all with their own problems.

In the end, what seems to be a huge drama is a misunderstanding. There’s a lot of angst, redeemed by the serious look at the relationship of the three protagonists, and the issues and prejudices that their situation throws out. And there are a lot of issues. The two men have the same love for each other as they do for the woman in their life. One of them isn’t fully out yet, and there are implications to their careers, their friendships and family members. I would have liked to have known more about how Mary felt, what her insecurities were. We learned Zeke’s and Jeff’s, but felt a little short-changed by Mary’s experiences, other than learning that she was incredibly satisfied in bed.

This is a long book, and it could have been tightened up a bit without losing any of its impact. I found I was skimming in places, then going back to see if I had missed anything. I hate doing this as it takes me out of the story. The dialogue could have been sharper as well, and the emotions less over-wrought in places, but the characters were likeable and I enjoyed reading about their dilemma and how they were going to deal with it.

This is part of a series, and I haven’t read the other books, but fans of Sloan’s writing will lap up this chunky read. For newbies, it might be a little hard to digest in places, but there is no denying the love that the author has for her characters, even as she’s throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at them.

19Nov/16

Review of At Danceteria And Other Stories by Philip Dean Walker

philipdeanwalker

Listen to Philip Dean Walker’s show and find out more about his work here!

REVIEW

This is an audacious collection, set in the 1970’s and 80’s, featuring the rich and famous, dead or still alive. Audacious because the events are (probably) fiction, featuring real life celebrities (Freddie Mercury, Princess Diana, Halston, Liza Minnelli, to name just a few.) These affectionate and mischievous tales are moving, visceral and funny all at once, leaving the reader feeling as if they’ve been sand-blasted with fabulousness. Sparkly, yet sore as hell.

There is a distinct cool 1970’s/hot 1980’s vibe shimmering through this book, flamboyant characters coming to vibrant life, the drugs, the partying, the sex, the smart talk. Yet the whole thing is overshadowed by the spectre of AIDS. Death, dawning realisation, partying before someone turns the lights out, it is all here, in an incredible group of stories, the like of which I will never forget.

To find out more about each story, read below. Or don’t, and just read the book instead. It’s wonderful. And four weeks after reading it, still as clear as crystal. Damn you, Philip Dean Walker for getting inside my head!

By Halston is one night in the life of the fashion designer and his muse Liza Minnelli as they Hoover cocaine like Tony Montana before the launch of a new fashion collection (for JC Penney…) and party the night away at Studio 54. The crisp dialogue and insights into an outwardly glamorous world are pin sharp. Walker has studied these people and loves them, for all their faults and insecurities. Halston’s ultimate destiny is hinted at in one chillingly mundane observation, that he has “always preferred black rough trade.” He draws Halston as generous, egotistical, colourful, insecure, talented. Simply, he is Halston. By Halston.

Don’t Stop Me Now. Four besties, Freddie (Mercury,) Kenny (Everett,) Cleo (Rocos,) and Diana (Spencer,) a fantasy foursome if ever there was one, enjoy ribald humour and a night at a drag show.  This was hugely enjoyable yet so poignant, considering that all but one are now dead. I grew up with Freddie and Kenny. I watched Lady Di turn into Princess Diana. When they fell, one by one, it was as if a piece of my own history had died with them. So reading this gleeful tale of “what ifs” with the four of them having good times, going to a drag club, was wonderful. Diana dressing as a drag king might be implausible, but the way it was written, you could easily imagine it happening. As she strips herself of her “Princess” persona, a drag queen dresses up in her image, reminding her that the world needed Princess Diana. Nothing could stop her now.

In Charlie Movie Star, Rock Hudson is at the White House, a guest of Nancy and Ronald Reagan. Although he’s aware of the new virus circulating around the gay community, he feels remote from it, first inviting a younger staffer back to his room. Fast forward to Tracks nightclub, and he meets another man called Gus. In 2016, we know he’s playing with fire. Every fibre in me wanted to call out across the decades, “beware!” But he doesn’t, and we know what happened next.

The Boy Who Lived Next To The Boy Next Door deals with AIDS head-on, as the narrator (we never learn his name) observes people in his community dropping like flies with what he calls HGF (Hot Guy Flu.) For a while, it seems as if people actually want to get this new virus, because it is seen as a badge of their desirability. That is, until the first not-so-hot guy falls ill. From then on, no-one is safe. This is meant to hit hard, and it does. The beautiful ballet dancer cutting his own face to make himself ugly and protect himself against HGF is especially shocking; a sobering reminder of those terrible dark years.

Sequins At Midnight is one night in the life of Sylvester, disco king at the height of his fame. One fabulous night, with his adoring fans before him, among them is Jason, waiting for him to sing his favourite song. As Sylvester toys with him from the stage, he thinks about his life so far, and we are given glimpses into his private persona, from when he is growing up to what brings him to this night. AIDS hasn’t yet struck, but it is waiting in the wings. We know this, yet Sylvester doesn’t. He is thinking about his life, from the brutal realisation that he is gay, to his famous friends who adore him. Yet he also knows full well, no-one gets a show for free. There are no refunds at the door….

Jackie and Jerry and The Anvil A somewhat sombre tale. Jerry Torre (The Marble Faun) takes Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis to The Anvil, a notorious leather bar, after she insists he escort her for a night out. The idea of the fragrant Ms. Onassis in such a sweaty place, smelling of ass and leather, is a mischievous one, yet it turns slightly melancholy as Jackie O recalls a lost love, and it seems that life can be lonely living with so many riches, yet so little excitement. Meanwhile, Little Edie Beale seethes with resentment on the sidelines, thinking her cousin is so lucky to be in the position she’s gained….

At Danceteria, Keith Haring is celebrating his 26th birthday. Madonna is on stage, singing just for him. Life looks good, but talking to friends, he sees the undercurrents threatening the stability of his life. “Something is fucking happening here.” Five words that spread a chill throughout the sweaty club. Keith escapes the noise and craziness and goes up into the roof of the club. With a couple of Sharpies he begins to draw. He’s drawing his future, and what he thinks is the future of his community. He leaves an indelible mark, to show that once, he was there.

This is a brilliant, acid-tipped spear of a collection. Not to be missed.

 

 

02Nov/16

Review of Of Paradise & Purgatory by Stephen del Mar

Stephen del Mar has visited us a couple of times on WROTE. To listen to his interview and find out more about his latest work, follow this link. Episode 048: Digital Disruption, Baby!

REVIEW

para It’s no secret that I love Stephen del Mar’s work. He captures the whole Floridian landscape and way of life incredibly well, and it feels almost like I’m there when I read one of his books, sipping sangria and sunbathing on the Gulf Of Mexico.

Of Paradise & Purgatory moves the action to Arizona, another of my favourite US destinations. It’s all here; the heat and dust, and big skies and hot cowboys in leather chaps. The creak of saddles and the smell of sweat… Victor Cruz returns to Paradise, the town where he grew up, to bury his estranged father. The tagline reads “going home can be hell, even when it’s Paradise” and it’s a good description. Victor is gradually sucked into all the friends and family dynamics and politics, and is soon regretting his return.

As ever, there is a large cast of characters, all expertly and lovingly-drawn. There are references to Bennett Bay and its own characters, and everything is woven together with a bit of political intrigue, some magical realism, and a large dose of angst.

Victor is unapologetic, not very likeable at first, but he grew on me. I liked his honesty, the fact that he did not want the complications of a romance, that he had the courage to miss his father’s funeral even under the weight of expectation, that he snared a much younger man and was upfront with him. He was prickly about the subject of his dad, and the fact that everyone else thought the man was so wonderful when all Victor could remember was the beatings. The way he learned more about himself as time went on, and stuck to his guns with forcing others to see the truth, made me respect him even more. Yes, he came over as self-pitying at times, but that only made him more human.

The book was a colourful mix, with a café bomb and Day Of The Dead celebrations off-setting the apple-pie family imagery. There was a hint of corporate intrigue, possibly explored further on in the series, that could have been clarified more. And the magical realism was the only bit of the book that I felt uneasy with. Until then, I had not picked up any markers that it was on the cards (other than the synopsis.) The seasoning, as the author describes it, was added a little heavily towards the end, and felt slightly uneven.

But it’s a small quibble, as this is a book about Victor Cruz, and how he learns to accept both himself and the kindness of those around him. The feel is different to Stephen del Mar’s other books, in that it takes on a more serious, literary tone, but don’t let that put you off. This is great fun, a book about family, love, sex and friendship dynamics that punches way above its weight.

 

 

 

21Oct/16

Review of A Faithful Son by Michael Scott Garvin

faith

Michael Scott Garvin joined us very recently for a chat about his debut novel and writing without the intention of publishing. Hear his episode and find out more about his work here! Episode 080: Michael Scott Garvin – Be Brave

REVIEW

When I begin a book, it sometimes takes a while to figure out whether or not the author is trustworthy. There may be wobbles before they have found their stride, and sometimes you can leap straight into a novel and immediately feel safe.

Michael Scott Garvin belongs firmly in the latter group, a natural writer who has imbued his debut novel with bittersweet small-town American charm. It is a literary, articulate and hugely entertaining time-piece, telling of what it was like to be a gay small-town boy in the 1970’s, with an engaging, sometimes tortured main character.

So we have the story of Zach, a young gay man living in a God-fearing community, with an increasingly drunk father and a stoic, very traditional mother. All their lives are marred by the death of his little sister, and the subsequent disintegration of the family unit.

So far, so bleak, if it were not for the perfectly drawn characters surrounding the family. Erstwhile church ladies and their barely-tolerated husbands provide a balance of humour to offset the tragedy, whilst cleverly showing that religious fervour can have an adverse affect on those who believe.

A small quibble would be that the satellite characters were listed rather than woven subtly into the plot, and at first this makes the book seem a little disjointed, but when Zach becomes the main focus again, the book regains it’s footing. As he realises he is gay, and what he does with that dawning knowledge, rings so true it almost feels like a biography. In fact, it feels as if Zach could speak for many gay men in rural communities, going through the same struggles he did. I found myself cringing for him when he was discovered, and glowing when he found genuine piece of mind.

This doesn’t seem like a wish-fulfilment novel, but one that is being played out all over the world every day. For that reason, it deserves to have as much exposure as possible, and anyone who honestly believes that being gay is all about being fabulous, needs to read this and learn from it.

The next great American gay novel? Or just the next great American human novel? Whichever way you look at it, this is a beautiful, literary and very moving book, one that I will be buying in paperback so it can sit on my bookshelf, on display. I must just mention the cover as well. That image of the sun struggling to shine through the windows of a silhouetted, isolated house is just perfect.

 

17Oct/16

Review of The Role by Richard Taylor Pearson

role

We were lucky enough to have Richard Taylor Pearson on the show earlier this year. Listen to his interview and find out more about his work right here! 059: Moments of Otherworldly Treasures

REVIEW

Mason Burroughs is the ambitious actor about to give up on his dream after repeated setbacks, when luck and a chance meeting lands him the role of a lifetime. Soon he is working opposite an old flame who can still make his heart race, and taking instruction from a border-line psychotic director who forces him to get deeper into the role than he is comfortable with. When he begins to enjoy his new-found responsibilities, his relationship with Eric, the love of his life, begins to crumble.

Don’t be fooled by other reviews saying this book is “steamy.” It isn’t particularly, but what you do get is a detailed look at what it takes to be an actor on Broadway, told through the story of Mason Burroughs, a nondescript-looking guy with an okay talent who probably wouldn’t have made it big, if it wasn’t for a lucky break. He meets Kevin, a crush from way back, now successful, devastatingly handsome, and keen to mould Mason into a worthy foil for his brilliance.

Ambition begins to cloud Mason’s judgement as he is moulded into shape by a variety of expertly-drawn characters, some who veer dangerously towards caricature but as this is the stage, dahling, they are probably bang-on accurate. There’s a director who does everything but twirl his cloak and go “mwah ha ha!” The bitchy understudy with his eyes firmly on Mason’s role (shades of All About Eve) and a distinctly strange personal trainer, who shapes Mason’s cuddly bod into that of a Greek god.

Mason’s love interest, Eric, was conveniently out of the way for most of it, being a computer game designer working on a major new project. I was torn between wanting to shout at Mason for abandoning him, and reasoning that he needs to follow his dream. Kevin, the hunk of lurve copping a feel or slipping Mason the tongue at every opportunity during their love scenes, adds to Mason’s torment. Mason loves Eric, but Kevin (Kevin? Really?) is just so H-O-T! I didn’t think he was, to be honest. He came over as a manipulative, entitled brat, who I wanted to slap every time he had page space. I think the author wanted to make him sympathetic at the end, but he didn’t succeed. I did like the way he made Alex (the understudy) a nice person under all the sass, but it came a bit too little, too late for me.

Although I felt the plot could have been tightened up a little, I really enjoyed this book. The author knows his subject and loves it, and has created a keyhole look at a world that people on the outside think is so glamorous, but is in fact full of egos, back-stabbers and sheer hard graft. He didn’t try to dress it up, or make it something it wasn’t. It was a convincing piece of fiction, about people that, sometimes, it was hard to like. I particularly didn’t like the three main characters, but that didn’t stop me from wanting to read about them. That takes skill.

14Sep/16

Review of Misinformation by Keelan Ellis

Misinformation

Keelan came back to chat to us earlier this year, to talk about her latest book. Find out more about Keelan and her work on Episode 061: Keep Your Word Count Up!

REVIEW

Keelan has veered away from ghost stories with this city romance between Ethan, bisexual, closeted presenter for a conservative cable news programme, and Charlie, who is Ethan’s daughter’s first grade teacher. Ethan has been obliged to take the job at the programme so he can be near his daughter, who has been taken to New York to live by his ex-wife. Charlie is commitment-phobic and fiercely independent. Brief hook-ups with closeted celebrities suit him just fine, but neither of them expected to fall in love.

So that’s the setup. Firstly, a couple of niggles, nothing to do with the writing, which is consistently great. I trust Ellis to be technically spot on and she is here as well. First niggle is with Ethan, who has left a successful job in Philly to take a position with a cable company that has totally different ideals to his own, and is regularly disparaging to the LGBT community. He is their star performer, regularly spouting things he doesn’t agree with. He says he does it purely to be with his daughter, but I can’t help wondering if any LGBT person would do this.

Number two is Charlie, the first grade teacher who very rapidly hooks up with Ethan, despite being the teacher in charge of Ethan’s child. That’s unprofessional at best, yet the school don’t seem to have an issue with it when it all comes out. I’m English, so I know what would happen here. It’s not an LGBT issue. It’s a professional issue. Maybe in the States it’s different.

Like I said, these are niggles that wouldn’t go away for me, but in the end, they didn’t spoil my enjoyment of this book. If, like me, you can push through them, you will be rewarded with a sexy, emotional love story, with some unpredictable twists and turns.

And this is what Ellis does best; throwing a curve ball into the mix just as you think this is going to go the way of many romances. It doesn’t. Ethan does come across as a bit of an ass at times, but he’s a wonderful father and his daughter is cute as a teddy bear. His ex is also a great character, flawed as well so you can see why the marriage didn’t make it, but decent, and a decent ex in a romantic novel is a rare thing indeed. In a way, her main flaw is interfering with the best of reasons. She was cleverly drawn and I liked her. So often, the ex is someone to boo and hiss at, but not here. The villain of the piece is the Fox-alike cable company Ethan works for, with a boss so vile I wanted to punch him.

Charlie is also an interesting character. First school teachers, especially male ones, can be exotic creatures. No-one really knows why they choose to spend their time with loathsome oiks, when they could be doing important things like being captains of industry, or firefighters, or heart surgeons. I thought he was totally convincing, very likeable despite his phenomenal ability to make poor life choices. The chemistry between him and Ethan, from the first fumbling, drunken encounter to the realisation that they both care for each other, is genuinely touching and well-balanced.

And finally, Ellis has really upped her game in the sex scenes. The others were good. These are great, tender and hot as prime beefsteak. That’s all I’m saying…

 

13Sep/16

Lysistrata Cove by Dena Hankins

lysistrata-coveIn January 2016, we caught up with Dena Hankins as she sailed into port, and talked about her sensual books and motivations for writing. Listen to her wonderful episode, 040: Navigating Gender Waters, to find out more about Dena and get links to her work.

REVIEW

Transmasculine Jack Azevedo runs charter trips on his sailing boat around the Caribbean. His peaceful existence is disturbed after he finds an uncharted island with a beautiful sandy cove. It seems to be too good to be true, and ultimately is, as the cove is jealously guarded by a sultry, fiery inhabitant, Eve la Sirena.

Eve is in hiding from the world. A former diva and singing superstar, she is in the midst of plans to restore creative freedom to her fellow musician. But what she is doing is illegal, and if found out, could see her being sent to jail and her work lost. Jack’s arrival on the island puts all her efforts in jeopardy, but her initial hostility turns to intrigue, as Jack cautiously gets under her skin.

This is a beautiful, complicated love story, with rip-roaring sex and lashings of sparky dialogue. As with Dena’s other work, The Heart Of The Lilikoi, her writing is vivid, effortlessly luring the reader into whichever location she is describing. Jack is a pirate at heart, a sexual explorer and BDSM bottom who isn’t afraid to push his sensual boundaries. When he sees Eve for the first time, he instantly knows who she is. He has had her music in his heart for years. Yet whilst he is smitten and cannot keep away, Eve does not want him anywhere near her.

The project she is working on is illegal, yet driven by the suicide of a former lover who saw all his work destroyed by a legal battle. She wants musicians to get the credit they deserve, and has set up a complicated control room of technical capabilities to enable that to happen. If anyone gets wind of what she is doing, her work will be destroyed.

It’s a complicated scenario. Eve has a live-in lover, Harmonie, who keeps her on the straight and narrow. Harmonie is a slightly sinister figure, and I was never sure of her motives. Their relationship is on the wane, but the way it was done was very clever. I cannot say more without adding spoilers.

Dena Hankins injects excitement in what could have been a lush, sleepy tale of sun and sex. Her experience as a sailor is obvious in Jack, the maverick hero, and he is supported by a raft of strong characters, including Marie, his right-hand woman, who I suspected was in love with him.

And the sex, sometimes brutal, always honest. The most sensual scene had no sex at all, just eating. It wasn’t very long, but enough that it was obvious these two people would be sharing more than coconut juice in the very near future.

Just a couple of niggles; the club scene seemed a little out of place. It was necessary to establish Jack’s status as a BDSM bottom, and Eve’s force of character as a top, but for me it didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the story. That being said, it was brilliantly written and very sexy. And the Eve/Evrim thing might confuse some people. I did have to read through a couple of times to figure out why the change of name was relevant. It is, but it might be missed by some.

Maybe towards the end, the story felt a little rushed. A lot happened at once, after most of the story was spent concentrating on building of the relationship and the dynamic between Jack and Eve. (Love that a waterspout was included in the storm scene, and that it didn’t end as I expected it to.) The suspense could have been drawn out even more than it was. Again, I can’t say any more without revealing spoilers. There are a few romance tropes, but Dena has cleverly couched them in her own unique style. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I wanted the book to continue for longer than it did. And that has to be the sign of a great, satisfying read.

Finally, kudos for writing a book set in the Carribbean that doesn’t mention the green flash….

19Aug/16

The Biggest Lover (Big-Boned Mens’ Erotica) edited by R. Jackson

TheBiggestLover

It was a privilege to talk to Ron Suresha earlier this year. To hear our frank conversation with him and find out more about his work, listen to Episode 045 – The Deliciousness

REVIEW

A confession: I had this book on my Kindle for a while before I gathered up the balls to read it. Why? Because I knew it wasn’t aimed at middle-class English ladies, and quite frankly, I was a bit nervous. Not sure what to expect. I didn’t want any previously undiscovered, deeply-buried prejudices to mar my enjoyment of the book. Thank goodness I found out two things. I don’t have deeply-buried prejudices concerning larger than life people, and this book is a glorious celebration of a culture I knew nothing about, and which I now have a great respect for.

This is a  wonderful, quality anthology by several authors, packed full of erotic, tender, funny stories, thoughtfully and skilfully chosen by R. Jackson. A couple are downright disturbing, involving food and eating (though I’m not the target readership, so maybe they are not.) It would be hard to pick a favourite. It is a big, meaty read on all levels. The reader is not pandered to, but embraced and welcomed into a great big bear hug. “This is our world. Welcome, friend, but do not judge.”

People come in all shapes and sizes, but the fact that Chubs, Chasers and Bears are marginalised by literature, as well as overall society, gives this anthology an edge.  It is rare to have a collection that is so evenly paced in quality, but it is clear each story has been carefully chosen to give sub-genres of the Bear community a voice. I’m glad that I was able to read it, because it gave me a privileged glimpse into a private world of men who feel left on the side-lines because of their size. In these stories, the overall feeling is acceptance and love for who they are, rather than being obliged to squeeze into the roles that society feels able to cope with.

These stories celebrate big men, and show that their size doesn’t have to be a barrier to having the same needs and aspirations as anyone of a “normal” size. One of the cancers of our society is to judge others simply for the way they look, whether they are too slim or of size, ugly or beautiful, forgetting that people have souls. To not appreciate people for who they are is to rob oneself.

So this book is a celebration, a humorous, beautiful, melancholy and ultimately uplifting collection from some fine authors, including Suresha himself. If I had to choose a standout, it would be …. no, I can’t choose. This is a book to be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys buying in bulk. Anyone who reads it will get something out of it. A beautiful and inspirational read.

And did I say the sex was hot too….?