Category Archives: Review

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.