Tag Archives: romance

29Aug/18

A Mage’s Power by Casey Wolfe


Casey Wolfe was a recent guest on our show. To find out more about them, check out Episode 135: Weird Stupid Kid Stuff

This book is a nice work of magical realism, where ancient meets modern, and spells abound in a city seething with magicae, werewolves and humans leading an uneasy co-existence.

I enjoyed this right off the bat. Rowan and Shaw were likeable characters with relatable issues. Shaw is a cop of sorts, working for the sinister-sounding Inquisition which keeps the peace amongst the co-existing races, and Rowan is a master mage who runs his own enchantment shop, together with a feisty stray cat. Rowan’s best friend is Caleb, a werewolf who is consistently bothered by the Inquisition so there is conflict between him and Shaw, whom he doesn’t trust.

The best parts of this story for me are the magical spells, beautifully written and described. There is a real sense of other-worldliness here, and great world-building in general, with the ancient city streets filled with dynamic young people wielding modern devices such as laptops and mobile phones. I liked that sense of familiarity in an unfamiliar environment. In fact, this book has made me want to explore the magical realism genre further.

The author wrote the three leads well, giving them distinct personalities and vibrant dialogue. I instantly sensed the connection between Rowan and Shaw, and Caleb’s incipient jealousy and mistrust. There were some good dynamics between them, and the dialogue was believable and fun at times.

The veering off into the woods for some icky violence was a surprise, but I didn’t mind it at all. Until then the story had begun to pootle along somewhat, so it was good to have a change of pace. As is so often with fantasy books, the ultimate goals do not immediately become clear, and I sometimes have a problem with that. There’s so much emphasis on world-building and character development, the story’s motivation can take third billing at times. I felt a bit like that here, but because the writing was entertaining, the characters engaging and the sections where Rowan casts his spells so gorgeously described, I was entranced. For me, this was a fun and accessible fantasy/magical realism novel that was very enjoyable to read.

BLURB

Built on the bones of an ancient city, modern-day Everstrand is where master mage, Rowan, has set up his enchantment shop. When not hanging out with his werewolf best friend, Caleb, or studying, he dabbles in herbology and the controversial practice of blood magic. A prodigy who has already earned two masters, Rowan’s bound and determined to reach the distinction of grandmaster, a mage who obtains a masters in all five Schools of Magic.

Shaw works for the Inquisition, the organization charged with policing the magical races collectively known as magicae. Recently, it has come under scrutiny as magicae begin to disappear and reports of violence increase. With secrets of his own on the line, Shaw is willing to risk everything to find out just what is going on behind all the locked doors.

When Rowan and Shaw are entangled in each other’s worlds, it becomes evident that their hearts are as much at risk as their lives. They must find the truth and stop a conspiracy before it’s too late.

23Aug/18

Drumbeat by A M Leibowitz

As the blurb suggests, there are some issues here that need delicate handling. Psychological abuse and eating disorders are not plot devices suitable for bandying around in the usual MM romance fare. As one with personal experience, it’s one thing guaranteed to p**s me off faster than a pube on a toilet seat, so I was just waiting, tensing myself for the moment when it all began to slide downhill.

Thank goodness then, for the author’s sensitive and balanced handling of the tough issues, without being all earnest, lurid (or worst, inaccurate) about it. This is a wonderful story of two men, each with complicated lives which don’t conform to what is generally construed as “normal,” who gradually find their way to each other despite several false starts and well-meaning but ultimately clueless friends.

There’s a lot of diverse representation here, with two polyamorous relationships, Jamie is deaf, Trevor is a big man so not your usual heartthrob in an MM romance (unless it’s specifically aimed at bears.) There are people of colour and ex-drag queens, yet it didn’t feel “topic of the month.” The focus was always on the dynamic between Jamie, Cian and the people around them, with all the awkwardness, bickering, love and support complicated families deal with every day. The book felt real, especially with regard to Jamie’s issues. The plot device with Jamie’s ex sounded the only iffy note as it was concluded, but that was easily forgiven because of how the eating disorder was dealt with. Sadly, I know a lot about eating disorders, and everything Jamie suffers from sounds authentic. Kudos to the author for handling it so well.

And it has to be said, the book is also entertaining, a great read with real tension and not an obvious way through for Cian and Jamie to resolve their issues and differences. The secondary characters were warm as well, yet not too perfect. Trevor, the one unwittingly playing havoc with Jamie’s emotions, is so well-drawn. We all know a Trevor, be he straight or gay or anywhere in-between. The delicacies of navigating a poly relationship are interesting as well, for people (like me) who cannot see how it works. I finished the book well-informed and with eyes opened just a little more, which is always a good thing.

BLURB

Jamie Cosgrove is doing his best to recover from a break-up after years with an abusive boyfriend. All his usual coping strategies have failed, and he’s fallen back on things that make him feel safe: drumming, food, and his friend Trevor. The trouble is, two of those are still secrets, even from those closest to him.

Cian Toomey has it all. He has loving relationships with his partners and a fulfilling, creative career. The one thing he’s missing is someone to go home to at night. When sudden changes occur at one of his jobs, he’s faced with a choice to find something new or move in with his partners in a different city.

Well-meaning but pushy friends seem to think Cian and Jamie are the answers to each other’s prayers. They couldn’t disagree more. A series of random events thrusts them into each other’s lives, and they find they have more in common than they thought. But when all of Jamie’s carefully constructed walls crumble at once, both of them will have to depend on the support of their friends and family to strengthen their fragile bond.

23Aug/18

Worth the Wait by Karelia Stetz-Waters

Karelia Stetz-Waters was a recent guest on WROTE! To find out more about her and get links to her work, check out Episode 174: Rest Your Heart For A Little While!

This book was a new experience for me; my very first lesbian romance. I dove in with no expectations, other than hope it would be a good read.

The upshot is this. Avery is a successful TV presenter with a long-running show, working with her on-screen-only romance interest, Alistair, who is asexual. They are friends, and both have a lot to lose if Avery come out as lesbian. She’s harbouring a fifteen-year secret longing for the girl she was very friendly with at high school, so of course she does the sensible thing and goes to a reunion in the hope of seeing her again.

Merritt has also been nursing a broken heart for fifteen years, trying valiantly to forget Avery, and failing. She has a hardware shop in Portland, where the story is based, and her life is fine thank you until Avery turns up and basically throws her for a loop.

Cue clandestine meetings and a lot of angst. I’m not telling you how it turns out. That would spoil it.

This chunky book is so close to being a perfect love story for me, and yet I did struggle in places. It could have been more tightly edited to stop the slight meandering of dialogue and navel-gazing. It took a lot of words to keep the story, which was actually quite straightforward, on the right track. I’m sure it could have been a third shorter, and been an easier read for it.

I think my main problem is I have very little time for reality TV shows (which are anything but) and manipulating TV audiences for ratings, so there were times when I was thinking, “for God’s sake, why is this so difficult for them?” I think making it clearer how much Avery stood to lose would have helped nearer the start. Her work colleagues, including Alistair, weren’t very sympathetic, and she came across as a bit of a flake, so I didn’t empathise with her problem for a while. I was just wondering why she was still working with these arseholes.

Once I cottoned on though, I could see her dilemma, if not totally identify with it. People in the public eye don’t just have their own reputation to think about, but the careers of all the people around them. One false move can spell disaster, especially when the whole programme is built around the chemistry and romance between Avery and Alistair, and people are expecting them to conform to hetero norms. Fall in love, fall out of love, bond over soft furnishings, get engaged, get married, have a baby….

I have to ask this. Would people in real life be more resentful of the fact they had been sold a lie, rather than the fact that Avery is gay and Alistair is asexual? It’s a sticky subject. I would rather people lived their truth and I suppose that’s why I had a problem with the premise in the beginning. I know others wouldn’t.

However, the chemistry between Avery and Merritt was unmistakable, the sex lush and gorgeous, not gratuitous at all. There were some wonderfully-drawn side characters, especially Lei-Ling and Iliana, and love surrounding the two main characters. Portland sounds like a place I’d like to visit, and I’d definitely read more by this author.

Will they, won’t they? Do they, don’t they? Don’t ask me. Read it yourself. Believe me it’s Worth the Wait (sorry, couldn’t resist it!)

BLURB

For fifteen years, Avery Crown tried to forget her best friend Merritt Lessing. The late nights studying, the whispered confidences, and the little touches that never turned into something more. Unfortunately, her efforts have not been as successful as her TV career as the queen of home renovation. So when she runs into Merritt at their high school reunion, Avery asks for one night with the woman she’s always wanted . . .

Merritt spent high school pining after Avery, but never made a move-their friendship meant too much. The one time it seemed things might change, Avery chose her budding career. So Merritt did the same, throwing herself into her remodeling business. Now Avery’s back, and while Merritt still hasn’t forgiven her for walking away the first time, they can’t keep their hands off each other. But when their professional paths cross, and it seems like Avery is choosing her career once again, Merritt will have to decide if she’s willing to let go of the past and give herself a second chance with her first love.

 

27Jul/18

Karelia Stetz-Waters

July 27, 2018

It gives us great pleasure to welcome Karelia Stetz-Waters as the guest on Episode 174 – Rest Your Heart for a Little While!!

Karelia Stetz-Waters joins us to discuss her novel Worth the Wait (Out in Portland), how her activist past fueled her passion to write, and why the LGBTQ crowd needs slightly different Happily Ever Afters!

Follow Karelia and support her work:

Bio:

Karelia Stetz-Waters is a contemporary lesbian writer. She is passionate about providing happy endings and a vision of redemptive love for readers of all orientations. Her novels include For Good, Something True, The Admirer, The Purveyor, and Lambda Literary Award and Golden Crown Literary Society finalist Forgive Me If I’ve Told You This Before. Karelia teaches English and writing at Linn-Benton Community College, where her students include everyone from drag queens, to farm boys, to Sudanese refugees. They all tell stories of passion and perseverance and inspire her to write characters that are real and diverse.

Karelia has a BA in comparative literature from Smith College and an MA in English literature from the University of Oregon. She also teaches writing for the Gold Crown Literary Society Writing Academy, a non-profit organization that seeks to promote and strengthen lesbian fiction.

She is married to her beloved wife of 19 years and lives with her a friendly cat and a breed of dog never-before-seen: the King Pug Spuglette (a cross between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a pug).

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):
Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayiHeartRadioSpotifyStitcherTuneIn

Or right here:

29Mar/18

Closer by F.E. Feeley Jr.

Listen to F.E. Feeley Jr’s latest interview on Episode 155: A Fun Return to the Dark Side!

This book had a lot to live up to. After the sublime When Heaven Strikes, I put a lot of (rather unfair) expectations on this book. The author’s writing skill and storytelling ability isn’t in doubt, but would I feel the same about Closer as I did about Heaven?

The truth is, they cannot be compared, because they are intrinsically different. Yes, there is a new relationship at the heart of the novel, when Hayden moves into his new lakeside house and meets the gorgeous, straight-seeming Tommy, but then the mystery begins. At first, I thought it would be a straight-up ghost story, but the horrors begin to build, and Maplewood, the eponymous small town on a lake, is the centre of some very disturbing activity.

The action and tension builds very nicely. Tommy seems devoid of the angst that straight people can have when faced with unfamiliar feelings for a member of their own sex. It makes a refreshing change and as a result, doesn’t get in the way of the main story. The good people and bad people are established quickly and don’t really change. In the best tradition of horror novels, you kind of know who is going to get offed, yet there definitely some I didn’t expect. I liked the way the characters were drawn, reminiscent of Dean Koontz. (It’s a compliment. I LIKE Dean Koontz’s work. It seems more accessible and human than some of Stephen King’s…) There is a touch of religion without pulpit posturing, some vivid imagery, and an exciting denouement, leading on to another book whilst nicely rounding off this one. The author likes to leave things tidy, and so he does, with very satisfactory results.

The two leads were very personable and believable. Hayden’s grief over losing his partner was raw and handled brilliantly. Tommy’s love for Hayden, being devoid of the gay-for-you angst I mentioned earlier, was very touching without being sugar-sweet. Yes, a leap of believability was needed at the end in regards to both Hayden and Tommy’s incipient powers (no spoilers,) but I was beguiled by the author’s storytelling. If the reader goes with it, they will be well-rewarded.

Finally, there is an alluring ‘To be continued…’ at the end, but this book can easily be read as a standalone. However, this couple are shaping up to be an interesting team, and I’m curious to know what else the author has in store for them!

BLURB

Maplewood, Vermont is a picturesque town filled with unique shops, unique homes, and a quaint familiarity all centered around a lake with an unusual history.

Legends, old as well as Urban, float around like the mist that hovers above the lake at break of dawn.

But they’re just stories, right?

Hayden Moore’s life was destroyed when his husband, Malcolm, was murdered. Giving up his job as an assistant district attorney in Boston, Hayden moved to the little burg of Maplewood to recover.

A new life.

A fresh start.

However, something underneath the water is stirring. Something rotten. A deadly secret wakes underneath the black waters of Lake Veronica so disturbing it haunts the nightmares of the local residents.

It’s coming closer…

27Dec/17

Brobots by Trevor Barton

This is an extremely likeable book, with two engaging leads and a host of affectionately-written, secondary characters. At first, Jared seems a little nondescript, but soon grows in strength after he finds Byron in a dumpster and begins the quest to find a replacement battery to switch him back on.

The book was fairly slow to get going, but there is a lot of corporate intrigue to set up first, plus the familiarisation with Brobots (the company’s) AI technology.

The book gained in purpose as it went along, developing into an interesting story about how the humanoid robots fair when they are unleashed from human bondage to set out on their own. Their first stop is to a “farm” set up by the mysterious Susan, where they begin to learn about what it is to be human. In doing so, the humans teaching them learn more about themselves as well.

It was a clever plot, and one that I can see easily developing over the next two stories. It mainly deals with Jared and Byron, their burgeoning love, and the problems that an AI/human relationship come up against. In the background, Byron’s AI friends are also adjusting to life as free sentient beings, making mistakes along the way.

I guess at first I was slightly uncomfortable at the way the sentients seemed almost too human. It seemed a bit of a cop-out, but the author was at pains to describe the feelings they experienced though the medium of technology and science, and it was well done without being too technical. Also, the author has a style of writing that I haven’t seen since the 80’s, that of varying points of view within the same chapter, sometimes even the same paragraph.

Done badly, this can be catastrophic, but done well, it can really immerse the reader into the minds of the characters, all of which are experiencing new sensations. On the whole, it worked, and after the initial shock, I got over it and wasn’t jolted out of the story.

The love scenes between Byron and Jared were also convincing, although some poetic licence had been taken, especially with regard to … er … dousing electrical components with liquid, for example. Their love was sweet, Byron being a big lunk still learning the niceties (or otherwise) of human behaviour. There was some humour and some tension and not too much sentiment. The romance element was pitched just right, and didn’t get in the way of the other aspects of the plot. The author answered all my questions as they came up, and didn’t leave anything dangling. This is a carefully thought-out book, with a highly creative plot and characters to root for.

Without spoilers, I can say the ending was interesting, satisfying, and led neatly into the next book. If it’s as good as this one, readers will be in for a treat.

BLURB

Brobots is substantial science fiction with gay characters told across three continuous books.

Rod burners. Scaff dawgs. Laggers. Bucket dumpers. Lerps. Duct monkeys. Tin knockers. Lumbergs. Artificial big guys. Product of a troubled firm. Brobots.

They’re easy to treat like trash. But they’re not so easy to ignore; especially the ones experiencing “the wake up.” The idea was that they could work hidden in society’s plain sight, allowing humanity time to get used to the fact of sentient machines.

But it’s all too easy for others to take advantage of those who live on the edge. What they, and their allies, must do is work out who, and why, before it gets too late.

Plug them in. Wish they never end.

Brobots Book 1:
Jared takes home a cute man he finds in a dumpster and then gets drawn into a world of robots, parenting and conspiracy.

Artificial intelligence can’t be programmed. It has to be grown. Some machines are learning who they are, and humans could do with a bit of that, too.

11Dec/17

Resurrected (Alpha’s Warlock Book 2) by Sid Love writing as Kris Sawyer

Resurrected is the second installment of the Alpha’s Warlock series, and I have to say, it’s an improvement on the first one, Cursed, in that the plot is a lot more complex, with a wider range of characters. The plot was fast-paced, never dragging, and not too complicated to follow. The dialogue and descriptions were good and balanced just right. I also loved the world-building, which was convincing and intriguing to read. Despite the alluring front cover, the sex is fade to black, which is kind of refreshing in a book about shifters and werewolves.

It’s almost impossible to argue the plausibility of a plot device in a book about werewolves and warlocks, but there are occasions where events happen that are slightly too convenient; Clyde’s method of enabling Terry to communicate with him via telepathy is one, but these are minor issues in a book which has introduced some fun extra characters to alleviate some of the angst. Sebastian the vampire is a welcome addition. There is no comedy as such, but light relief to contrast with all the death and destruction between the werewolves, headed by Luke, and an enemy who can shape-shift into anyone they choose.

There is a genuine sense of tension and menace. The two at the centre of this story, lovers Clyde and Terry, are appealing and believable, but their love is threatened by the fact that Clyde’s pack no longer trusts Terry, after the events in Cursed. Terry is desperate to clear his name and find out the truth about his past, leading to some surprising twists and turns.

Once again the ending felt a little neat, but it leads smoothly into a third installment, which I believe is due out in April 2018. All in all, it was a great read, and it will be fun to find out how Clyde and Terry’s futures pan out.

BLURB

Terry has returned from the shadows of death to be with Clyde, but he has more questions than he has answers. The pack is suspicious, and even his lover has doubts about his outlandish story. Desperate to clear his name and learn more about his forgotten past, Terry embarks on a journey of discovery. What he finds will change everything.

Deep in the pine forest, a tormented creature seeks revenge on the pack that has held him captive. More powerful than the werewolves, he wants to destroy. The hybrid hides among them and waits for his chance to pounce. The Alpha senses that his pack is once again on the brink of destruction, but without Clyde’s warlock, he fears all hell is about to break loose.

30Oct/17

A Matter Of Courage by J C Long

We recently had the pleasure of J C Long’s company at WROTE! To learn more about them and get links to their work, check out Episode 127: I’m Not Whitewashing Hong Kong

This was a joy to read, a book set in the backstreets of Hong Kong, where two fictional gangs mainly keep out of each other’s way until one is suspected of murdering a member of the other.

There was more than a whiff of The Fast & The Furious about this, with muscle cars, sassy side characters and a young man trying to prove himself in order to be accepted by the people he looks up to. And I loved it for that. The action scenes were well-written and not too long, and didn’t seem gratuitously shoe-horned in, adding sparkle to an already interesting plot. Show me a beefed-up Mustang and you’ve got me at the first rev, TBH. The family scenes provided grounding and balance, and the sex just added extra spice where needed.

I had no idea that besties jerked off together “just for fun.” It seemed that everyone knew about Winston and Steel, other than the two main protagonists, which got a little frustrating by the end when it was teased out to the max. (No spoilers.) Yet it’s so refreshing to read an M/M romance that is a) not set in the US and b) brash and ballsy but at the same time, adorable (and not in a “pass the bucket” type of way,) whilst not playing by the rules. The head of the “good” gang, The Dragons, is tough but fair, happily paired up with Noah, a cultured Englishman. I was kept guessing throughout the book as to whose side Noah was on, and it was clever touches like that, as well as the growing tensions between Winston and Steel, that made it such an enjoyable read.

I loved the way that all the gay characters are positive ones. The real issue Winston had was whether Steel was interested in him as more than a friend. Steel’s sexuality was fluid. He was a mesmerising character, strong yet vulnerable, with a deep sense of loyalty. I didn’t pick up any angst of whether friends and family would accept them being together. The world of the Dragons was an accepting place for a diverse selection of people. And that was a beautiful thing.

Finally, this book held a definite Asian flavour. It is easy to slip into the mindset that city life is the same all over the world, but it’s important to make the distinction between cultures, and I found that it worked here, from names of the characters to the attitudes and family rituals, and that gave the book its soul.

So this book had it all for me; a burgeoning romance between friends who actually like each other, ferocious street racing, the importance of family, tension between rival gangs, set against the colourful backdrop of Hong Kong. A great book.

BLURB

Winston Chang has spent much of his young life admiring the Dragons who have kept his area safe and fought off the gangs that would bring violence to their area. Now that he’s an adult, he wants nothing more than to join the Dragons and live up to those standards.

The opportunity presents itself when his passion and knowledge of cars is just what the Dragons need. One of their own has been killed and his death seems linked to his involvement with the illegal racing scene known as the Dark Streets. Winston is needed to infiltrate the scene and find out who is responsible and why.

Steel has always been Winston’s best friend, and Winston has always been there to get him out of trouble. Just as the stress in Winston’s life reaches its peak, the relationship between Winston and Steel begins to change in ways neither of them expected.

Will Winston and Steel be able to find the courage to face not only the unknown killer stalking the Dark Streets racers but also their growing feelings?

 

 

29Sep/17

The One Thing I Know by Keelan Ellis

WROTE Podcast alumni, Keelan Ellis, has recently been with us to talk about her new novel, and what happens when media events force an author to change their story. To catch up with Keelan and get links to her work, listen to Episode 131: I Have A Playlist For That!

This first book in the B-Sides series is a change of mood for Keelan Ellis, whose paranormal romances I am familiar with. Set in the 1970’s music scene, it concentrates on the relationship between two men, one a studio musician, Henry, who has been offered his dream job, and Terry, the band’s front man, who is still reeling from the death of Dell Miller, the band’s creative life force.

I wasn’t really sure about this book at first. The lightness of touch which makes this author’s previous books so easy to read is absent, and in its place is something much grittier. It is a romance, but there are dark elements; drug use, addiction, inter-band squabbling, soulless sex just because its available, as well as painful stints in rehab speak true of the rock n’ roll lifestyle, which really isn’t as fabulous as people like to think it is.

I had to read back a few times to remind myself that this book was set in the 1970’s. The sense of period was lost in places, with only mentions of Rolling Stone magazine and the Beatles to pull it back. As both are still relevant today, it wasn’t entirely successful. Also, Henry seemed genuinely sweet and honourable, and I found it incomprehensible that he would just drop his knees the first time Terry demanded it. For me, it was a jarring moment that made it difficult for me to believe they would find their HEA, and it took a while for the romance element to find its equilibrium again.

But despite those elements which pulled my focus away from the central story, it was a very enjoyable read, well-written and researched. It’s so refreshing to read a romance novel that doesn’t make paper cut-outs of its characters. The reader actually sees Henry and the Vulgar Details working, doing their thing, practicing their craft, not just looking great in tight jeans and sweaty hair. It definitely isn’t all about limousines and mountains of coke (although there’s plenty) but about cleaning up vomit, paying for trashed hotel rooms, having to get on stage with crashing hangovers and fighting a grief that cannot be expressed.

And it’s important to note the book also attempted to highlight the attitudes towards gay relationships in 1970’s USA. The general assumption is that the era was free love and peace for all, but in reality, that only applied to men and women. Gay men were tolerated, but there was still a massive stigma that meant Terry had to hide his grief for Dell behind outrageous outbursts, eventually ending up in rehab, and Henry lived in constant fear of his sexuality being found out, therefore jeopardising his career.

So yes, this is a rock star romance, but scratch the surface and it is so much more. I read this book a couple of weeks back but it has stayed with me, which is always a good thing. A meaty, satisfying read for those who want their characters with grit and depth, and a realistic romantic premise. A strong start to the B-Sides series.

BLURB

Talented studio musician, Henry Cole, is offered the dream job of touring with popular rock band, the Vulgar Details. Things aren’t all rosy, though, as he is hired to replace Dell Miller, creative force behind the band, who recently flamed-out in a car accident.

Henry is all too aware that he’s no replacement for someone like Dell. He’s not the only one who feels that way, either. Terry Blackwood, band front man, has been giving him a hard time even before the tour start. He seems to resent Henry’s presence beyond all reason. What Henry doesn’t know is that Terry and Dell’s relationship was both intensely close and fraught with conflict.

Terry’s grief over Dell’s death is overwhelming and threatens to destroy not only the band but his life. It doesn’t help that the new member of the band makes him feel things he doesn’t want to. Worse, when he sings, Henry sounds just like the man Terry cared so deeply for.

With so much at stake, everything could come crashing down around them and mean the end for the Vulgar Details. Or, just maybe, Henry and Terry will find the one thing they need most.

Sometimes redemption comes from the last place you expect to find it.

07Sep/17

When Heaven Strikes by F.E. Feeley Jr.

I was scared to read this one at first. The striking image on the front cover hinted at a plot concerning wild weather, but I could have been wrong. It could have been an allegory for the chaos that religious fervour can wreak on innocent lives. What if I was disappointed?

Turns out, it is both, and I wasn’t disappointed. First off, it is books like this one that make me love my job. After an easy-going start, the author draws the reader into the lives of Ted and Anderson, before focussing on the aftermath of a homophobic attack that has totally unexpected results. Both parts of the book are cleverly interwoven, yet easing towards an inevitable and dramatic climax.

As an inveterate storm-watcher, I was waiting for the tornado to hove into view, and it does, but I’m not saying when. Everything I was expecting to happen, didn’t happen. I really hoped the author wouldn’t succumb to the normal romantic tropes, and he doesn’t. I was expecting a book full of rage against the religious machine, but the outcome is more one of forgiveness.

This is such an elegant book. The sex scenes are beautifully choreographed, the progress of Ted and Anderson’s relationship feels totally real. Yes, love does happen at first sight. Then the reader gets sucked in by the secondary characters, the most surprising of which was the fire and brimstone preacher and his son. Again, expectations confounded at every turn.

In fact, this book IS like a tornado, throwing the reader into a spin. I loved that the ending made me cry. That is what books are supposed to do. Entertain you, anger you, make you feel. This book has all the feels, and much, much more. A masterclass in how to craft an MM romance, and support it with a plot that is so much more. A strong contender for my Book Of The Year.

BLURB

Artist Ted Armstrong lives a solitary and eccentric life. The survivor of child abuse disguised as religion, Ted has cut himself off from the world.

Then Ted meets Anderson Taylor, and it’s like being struck by lightning.

Anderson is a cardiac surgeon whose passion for his work has consumed him. He fears he’ll never find a partner—until he sets eyes on Ted. It’s happening fast, but both men know what they feel is right.

Confronted with an angry preacher, a scandal, and an act of God that threatens to destroy everything, their relationship will face its first true test.