Tag Archives: featured guest

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….?

19Aug/16

Prisoner 374215 by Angel Martinez

PRISONER

Angel Martinez is one busy bunny, being being a chief collaborator with Mischief Corner Books, a prolific writer of sci-fi novels and having time to visit us on more than one occasion! Find out more about Angel and her work on her latest episode with us. Episode 069 – Now With Bonus Content!

REVIEW

What an unusual gem of a book this is. Set in a bleak future, it is the story of an unnamed prisoner, kept in solitary confinement and treated with nothing but contempt. His only companion is a prison guard he has called Scar, but this man barely speaks. Sometimes he offers a tiny bit of comfort, but the prisoner thinks he is imagining it. He dare not hope otherwise.

As we gradually discover who the the prisoner is and why he is being treated so badly, a chink in the granite armour of Scar seems to be widening. This story is so beautifully told, not flinching away from the brutality of the situation, but crafting a gradual relationship forming between prisoner and guard. I did not dare to hope that this story would end well. I was not disappointed with the ending. It is well worth checking this story out. Amidst the grey cells and hideous cruelty, hope dares to flourish. I cannot say more without ruining the surprise.

A very rewarding and cleverly told tale.

27Jul/16

Glen & Tyler’s Honeymoon Adventure by JB Sanders

glenIt was great to have JB Sanders on our show recently. Listen to our interview with him and get links to his work on Episode 053: Glen & Tyler’s Unexpectedly Quiet Life!

REVIEW

Lots of things going on in this funtabulous fantasy. Glen and Tyler are bisexual loved-up newly-weds, the twist being that Tyler asked Glen to marry him as a business arrangement (he is only able to access his trust fund if he’s married) and it is only on their wedding day that they realise their friendship has been cunningly disguised as love all along. They even buy each other hockey teams as wedding gifts!

So far, so sweet, apart from Tyler’s ghastly family, his corporate mogul father, a beautiful but evil stepmother, a cunning bastard of a grandfather, able to screw things up from beyond the grave, and a brother that tries to seduce all of Tyler’s love interests purely for his little brother’s own well-being. Society eyebrows are raised as Tyler’s marriage to another man was not was expected or hoped for. They constantly come up against homophobia and scepticism that they are in love and their relationship is not just a marriage of convenience. And the serious point is made that they are constantly having to “come out” to people they meet for the first time. There isn’t just one “coming out” if you’re gay, it’s a process that goes on throughout life.

Meanwhile, cunning plans are put in place to separate the two cute lovebirds, and Tyler from his vast quantities of cash. There are moustache-twirling villains, (Tyler’s father and his evil, glamorous trophy wife, who doesn’t have a moustache…,) several nefarious plots to kill and kidnap, corporate intrigue, and some grumpy but very capable security guys, as well as lashings of gorgeous settings and gadgets to satisfy your inner James Bond. The hockey theme runs through out the book, but it is mainly the corporate intrigue, ruthless businessmen, nice suits and eye-watering amounts of cash being spent that I enjoyed so much.

Like I said, it’s a fantasy, a fairytale (excuse the pun), where the main heroes are gay men, married, in love and actually stay that way throughout the book without one of them dying tragically! Their affection for each other is the steel core that runs through the story, however fantastical the plot twists become. Glen is the voice of reason and calm, Tyler is the overly-generous, overly-trusting (at first) stupidly rich man who just wants to spread love around the world. Inevitably, there are people who want to stop him. There were times when I wanted to shake him and say “stop telling people how wealthy you are! They’re going to use you!” And some do, but Glen’s sensible presence strikes a note of reality.

Finally, no sex scenes but quite frankly, the book didn’t need it. There was more than enough going on without breaking off the action for a bit of rumpy pumpy (although they do have sex A LOT off camera, as it were.) And I believe that on Mr. Sander’s website, there are short stories with Glen and Tyler going at it, if you’re interested.

This book is the first in a series, and a very fun series it looks, with the newly-weds getting in all kinds of scrapes. I like Glen and Tyler. This isn’t a book for the cynical, but huge fun for anyone with a sense of fantasy, with oodles of intrigue thrown in.

04Jul/16

Anywhere You Go by Keelan Ellis

anywhere

It was our pleasure to have Keelan on the show on a couple of occasions. Listen to her latest interview and find links to her work here.

REVIEW

The first book was a lot of fun, with the story of the two friendly, mischievous ghosts who haunt the B&B now belonging to Jess and Eli. It was an unusual concept, combining tragedy and serious issues around being gay in different periods of time, with a contemporary love story. If you enjoyed it, then this book will be a huge delight. Ellis is comfortable with her characters and knows them intimately.

Jess and Eli are adjusting to married life, having to deal with jealousy when Eli’s friend Travis turns up, having split with his boyfriend, and Jess’s proprietorial behaviour towards his former fiancee, Cassie.

Ellis also has fun with the naughty ghosts causing sexy mayhem in the room they reside in, as well as giving them a plot thread of their own which is touching, sexy and woven cleverly into the main story, as they take Travis under their wing in order to save his relationship.

She writes her characters with affection and a light touch. Jess and Eli’s early marital troubles are convincing, and she deftly deals with the open questions left by the first book. As for randy ghosts Clay and Silas, their time in Paris (whilst they were alive) is colourfully drawn and you can feel the love between them, even after a threesome that throws a shadow over their loving relationship.

This is less a ghost story than a story about love, loyalty and family, with ghosts added to lighten things up. I love Ellis’s writing because it is easy to get lost in the story. This is a book for those times when only a day under the duvet will do. It’s warm cuddle of a book, with just a hint of edge to keep the reader on their toes, by an assured story-teller. Can’t wait for the next one!

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.

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!