Tag Archives: Review

18Sep/18

Irresistible by Andrew J Peters

Andrew J Peters has very recently been a guest on our little show! To check out his work and listen to his interview, check out Episode 180: A Very Spoofy Rom-Com

This was a difficult one to review fairly. I decided to go in and start reading without checking the blurb first, liking the element of surprise. The cover is gorgeous and I was expecting a fairly standard romance, if I’m honest.

I liked Brendan, although he clearly has issues with falling in insta-love and not learning his lesson when it all goes horribly wrong. He’s a modest guy, still reeling from the latest romantic disaster, when his head is turned by a gorgeous blond antique seller in New York. It must be love!

From there, the cynics will be gnashing their teeth. Insta-love, a Big Misunderstanding caused by the iffy-est of circumstances. And then it gets really weird. Suddenly I’m reading about lecherous drug dealers and a military coup.

I can’t actually say more about the plot without giving it away. It’s a real mixed bag, with dilemmas that kept me turning the page to find out what on earth was going to happen next. There were also some sweet moments (Faraj!) And some frankly ludicrous ones. (If I was escaping kidnap from gun-wielding terrorists, I wouldn’t stop to give my rescuer a blow job, however cute he was.)

Because I hadn’t read the blurb, I didn’t realise this was a comedy of errors, so there were a few “wait, is he serious?” moments, before I decided to sit back, enjoy the ride and not take it too seriously. The problem with labelling a book “comedy” is that people will expect funnies, and what’s funny for some won’t be for others. I found the balance between serious and comedic a little bit lumpy in places. If a laugh is unexpected, that’s one thing. But when the reader can see the set up a mile off, knowing they’re expected to find the situation funny at the end, it loses something for me. This book shows why comedy is so hard to write.

But comedy is subjective, and what I find funny (the darker the better) isn’t going to be the same as someone else’s. The long-running theme of Cal being “irresistible” was pretty funny, as was some of the dialogue between him and his ardent suitors. I winced a bit at the racial and cultural stereotypes, but having thought about it, I’m wondering if that really was the whole point. No one is safe. And yes, I did pick up on the irony of the line, “You can’t just buy people. At least, not in America.” (Trump, anyone?)

Also, the book mocks the stereotypical MM Romance expectation on so many levels: insta-love, Everyone Is Gay! The bitchy mother-in-law, rich man/poor man dynamic. I could list quite a few of them.

So while the book didn’t quite work for me, I applaud the boldness of it, the big fat one-fingered tribute to those who like their tropes in narrow straight lines with no diversions, and the courage to throw the reader headlong into unexpected WTF situations. If I did a star system, I would award an extra star for the FUCK YOU element, especially one delivered with such a sweet, mischievous grin.

BLURB

Brendan Thackeray-Prentiss is an Ivy League-educated trust-funder who Gotham Magazine named the most eligible gay bachelor in New York City. He lives for finding his soulmate, but after walking in on his boyfriend of three transcendent months soaping up in the shower with an older female publicist, he’s on a steady diet of scotch, benzodiazepines, and compulsive yoga. Men are completely off the menu.

Callisthenes Panagopoulos has a problem most guys dream of. With the body and face of a European soccer heartthrob, the vigorous blond hair of a Mormon missionary, and a smile that makes traffic cops stuff their ticket books back in their utility belts, he’s irresistible to everyone. But being a constant guy-magnet comes with its discontents, like an ex-boyfriend who tried to drive his Smart car through Cal’s front door. It makes him wonder if he’s been cursed when it comes to love.

When Brendan and Cal meet, the attraction is meteoric, and they go from date to mates at the speed of time-lapse photography. But to stay together, they’ll have to overcome Cal’s jealous BFF, Romanian mobsters, hermit widowers, and a dictatorship on the brink of revolution during a dream wedding in the Greek isles that becomes a madcap odyssey.

A gay romantic comedy of errors based on Chariton’s Callirhoe, the world’s oldest extant romance novel.

 

 

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.