Category Archives: Review

04Jul/16

Paulyanna – International Rent-boy by Paul Douglas Lovell

paulyanna

This review was written in 2014, but I still stand by it. Find out more about Paul’s work at powerpuffgeezer.wordpress.com

REVIEW

try to avoid overused adjectives like poignant, heart-warming, life-affirming or compelling, but this book is all four. I have barely been able to put it down.

Put simply, it is the biography of a young gay man scraping a living on his back, finding punters on the streets of London in the 80’s and 90’s and partying hard in between. He is an alternative working class hero who makes no apology for his profession or his sexuality, who is painfully aware of his own vulnerability and foibles. This isn’t an erotic novel, but one that is an excruciatingly honest account of a life lived on a knife edge. Drugs, sex, AIDS and poverty are all recounted with a refreshingly perky style, punctuated by moving passages of great beauty.

At the same time as reading this, I have also been reading John Rechy’s City of Night, and whilst Paulyanna lacks the artistic tics of Rechy’s seminal novel, I would stick my neck out and say he gives the great man a run for his money. In fact, Lovell’s style is more engaging and readable, less intimidating. This is Rechy-lite, English style, and an important read for those who are gay and struggling with their identity or straight and curious.

For a self-published novel, this is one of the best I’ve read. Yes, the editing could have been crisper and some descriptive passages earlier on in the book could have been lost without detriment, but as a piece of social history, as well as a very personal story, it is one of the best I have read this year.

04Jul/16

Then The Stars Fall by Brandon Witt

ThenTheStarsFall-sm

Brandon Witt was one of our guests in the early days of the podcast. Hear his interview and find links to his work here.

REVIEW

Beautiful cover. Beautiful book. I could just leave it there, but I want all my friends to read this stunning love story, based around one man’s family, his grief for his wife, and the unexpected love he finds, which causes rippled throughout the small American town where he lives.

Travis is still in mourning for his wife. Four years after her death, he looks after his three children with the help of his strong-willed sister and the unconditional love of his two adorable corgis.

Wesley hasn’t been home to El Dorado for many years, but now he is the town vet, trying to put a painful break-up behind him. When Travis brings in one of his dogs to his surgery, there is an instant attraction, but both men have too much emotional baggage to know what is truly happening. Besides, Travis is straight. Isn’t he?

This is an incredibly well-written, delicately balanced M/M book. There is romance, but the main focus is about family, and the dynamics within. We are allowed into the lives of the children, their thoughts and fears, and Travis’s sister is the sort of wonderfully warm, forthright woman that everyone should have in their life.

All the characters are brilliantly drawn. Travis is the loving father, aware of his short-comings yet seemingly unwilling to move on from his grief. Wesley is the flamboyant gay man who struggles between being happy in his own skin and being nervous about how others perceive him.

The children are adorable, but not in a “I want to puke” kind of way. Oldest son Caleb is the serious man-child, trying to hold the family together, and the twins are like chalk and cheese, tricksy and defiant, solemn and withdrawn. And the dogs are cute and a bit stupid, just like dogs are in real life. I didn’t want the story to end because I was so entranced by the people and the place. Witt has the ability to enmesh the reader into the world he has created.

It’s a pity I’m not still running a book group. If I was, then this elegant, literary book would be top of my list.

04Jul/16

Confessions Of A Gay Rugby Player by Patrick Darcy

Confessions-Gay-Rugby-complete-Series-210x330

The first M/M erotic novel I picked up! This review was first posted in 2014. Find out more about Patrick Darcy’s work at wildecity.com

REVIEW

Here’s a tip. If you haven’t tried reading gay erotica before, you don’t know where to start, and you are of a delicate disposition when it comes to bodily fluids, my advice is not to make this book your first foray into the genre. If on the other hand, you don’t mind dirty, sweaty, grunty men going at it like the clappers, then this is for you.T

The really great surprise for me was how well it was written. Witty, and at times hilarious, the whole series (1-4) is hugely entertaining. Somewhere halfway along it becomes a romance, but if you prefer your gay men like Stanford Blatch from Sex And The City, you might be disappointed. This is a love story with added fisting. Darcy avoids the slushy stuff with a deft touch, leaving the reader eager to move onto the next book in the series (I’ve read all four so I know how it ends, but no spoilers here.)

The dialogue is sharp, crude and funny, and I’ve learned a whole new vocabulary (nut stubble, bossy bottom, butt slut, etc.) Despite the sometimes brutal sexual encounters, I just wanted to give Mr. Darcy a hug because he was so strangely endearing. If you like sex and you like rugby, whether you’re male or female, there is something for everyone to enjoy here!

04Jul/16

All That You Can’t Leave Behind by Kirby Quinlan

kirby

This is the debut novel from Kirby Quinlan. To find out more about Kirby’s work, visit kirbyquinlan.com

REVIEW

From the moment Brayzen Mapleridge is belayed down from his private helicoptor to his first day of community service, I was hooked.

Briefly, Tailor Sway is the host of a TV programme that declutters peoples’ houses and (hopefully) changes their lives. He is struggling to cope with his husband, Grant, a veteran of the Iraq War who is suffering from PTSD. Brayzen Mapleridge is the ultra-famous pop star who is avoiding jail by doing hard labour in front of the cameras. A publicity stunt went wrong and he is paying the price. There is an instant attraction between him and Tailor, but of course, Tailor is married, and does not want to hurt his husband, even though he knows their marriage is on borrowed time.

So there is quite a lot in that paragraph alone for me to say, “hang on, how is this going to work?” But it does. In turn funny, if not downright hysterical, and moving, the serious subjects are dealt with deftly and with great sensitivity, whilst not compromising on the humour. THis book has to be read to be believed. Quinlan has thrown a lot at this but it works. Against the odds, it really does.

I loved Tailor’s humility, and the way he deals with Grant. I can’t say too much for fear of giving a spoiler, but I can tell you the ending is worth while.

Brayzen is created brilliantly as well. At first you think “what an asshole” but he grows on you. He really does. I wanted to give him a hug by the end and I’m not easily swayed by glamour, money and good looks. He has everything that could make him a really unsympathetic character. The fact that I was rooting for him is testiment to the skillful way he was drawn.

And Grant was a real surprise. I wasn’t expecting what happened in the end. Did he deserve it? Vote is still out on that one. Again, no spoilers.

I loved the unpredictability of this book. It wasn’t like any other I have read recently. And the sex is HOT. There’s a lot of it, and it scorches the page. I thought I would have a problem with some of the moral dilemmas, but no. This is massively entertaining and I would recommend it to anyone who doesn’t insist on romance following the same old tired tropes. Nice work for a debut novel!

03Jul/16

Return To Cooter Crossing by Stephen del Mar

Return-to-Cooter-Crossing

Stephen has visited us a couple of times on the show. To hear his latest interview and get links to his work, Click here!

REVIEW

Another lush Floridian saga from Stephen del Mar. I love this writer’s stories because they are so varied. In Dark Love, there was paranormal activity aplenty, and in this book, the main theme is family.

Aiden Quinn returns home to the arms of his loving American-Irish family after ten years away. Nursing a broken heart, he feels at odds with everyone there but gradually, the town of Bennett Bay and his loving relatives wrap their arms around him and he becomes enmeshed in love, complicated friendships, drama and murder, as well as suddenly becoming the protector of two orphaned boys.

Del Mar writes his characters incredibly well. The book is mostly about family dynamics, rather than the gruesome murders and accidents that occur at points throughout the book. They are dealt with as an aside, yet everyone is inextricably linked. He explores what it is like to be gay in a tight-knit community. There is a dash of intrigue, like pepper sauce, and a lot of affection between the two main characters, Aiden and JJ as they fumble their way though a minefield of expectation and ghosts from the past, whilst dealing with Aiden’s close and disfunctional family.

All the Bennett Bay books are woven together by the characters, and some are longer than others. This is a lot of book, with a lot of characters with their own stories to tell. Their stories are told in other books, tantalisingly giving clues to lure one into another of del Mar’s cunningly woven tales.

I’ve always said these are great stories to read on the beach, but this one is like a warm duvet on a cold day. Wrap yourself up in it and enjoy!

30Jun/16

Heart Of The Liliko’i by Dena Hankins

heart-of-the-lilikoi

To listen to our interview with Dena, and get links to her work, click here!

REVIEW

This book was a revelation. At once a murder mystery and an intensely erotic romance, Hankin’s writing is as rich and fragrant as the Hawaiin setting in which the book is based. Sometimes there can be too much earnestness or preaching in books that have an eco message, but not this one. She gets her point across without self-righteousness, and without compromising on the likeability of her characters.

Kerala is described in the synopsis as a butch dyke, which might scare some people off, but she is a strong woman with a tender side that hasn’t quite been able to bury. Ravi is the genderqueer CEO who takes the handsome millionaire businessman trope and turns it upside down. Every character is colourful and complex, yet despite the dramatic subject, there is no showboating or unrealistic plot twists.

It’s clear that Hankins loves Hawaii and knows it well. Her writing perfectly captures the vivid colours and culture of the indigenous people. I want to go there. It reads far better than any tourist brochure, without the trite or manipulative descriptions.

At it’s heart is a romance, pure and simple, yet the two protagonists, Kerala and Ravi, are anything but. Cultures clash, gender issues have to be dealt with and are done so convincingly, woven so seemlessly into the story that it barely seems an “issue” at all. I totally bought into these two people falling in love despite the difficulties they face, both in their professional and personal lives. Oh, and the sex is HOT. There is a lot of it, yet it doesn’t feel gratuitous. It’s handled with an assured and confident touch.

No spoilers here, but I found the ending to be incredibly satisfying. Not too neat or schmaltzy. This book is a big chunk, and expensive for a Kindle book (down to the publishers, I think, not the writer) but it is worth every penny. There is not one wasted word. A stunningly written and riveting read.