Too Stupid to Live by Anne Tenino

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Cute and smutty. Really liked it lots.

I think what appealed to me is the stock, standard romance novel feel it had about it. Some of the tropes were identified deliberately as a part of the narrative, which could have been a little annoying but didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the novel. I guess i enjoyed that about it. The basic romance format. I even enjoyed the big misunderstanding. Loved the characters, especially Sam.

The General and the Horse-Lord by Sarah Black.

This was a really enjoyable read. I liked that the guys were a little older and let’s be honest, a bit stuck their military ways. It’s not a terribly smutty book, lots of fade to black. The story telling and conflict were pretty tight and kept me well engaged. I did wonder at the ease of the marriage break up. The kids seemed more well adjusted than I’d anticipated. The ex wife less so. I guess some of the novel felt a little cookie cutter neat. However, this did not detract from my enjoyment in any way. Great secondary characters too. It was a very pleasant read.

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Out of the blue.

It has been so long since I’ve blogged I wasn’t sure I’d remember how. I used to enjoy it so much, but stuff happened and it seemed to suck anything remotely like creativeness and a willingness to share right out of me. Nothing to do with the reading community, more life is a bit sucky stuff.

I also think I stopped blogging so much because writing reviews was too much like hard work and it felt like a lot of pressure for little gain. I think I may be coming out the other end of my creative slump and meh moment. (It’s only taken 2 years!) I’ve been reading Kassa’s blog too and enjoying her return to regular reviewing and blogging. I think too, that perhaps time away is not such a bad thing.

I’ve been reading loads, as always, but more of a balance between urban fantasy  contemporary and m/m. I’m finding I have less patience for rubbish writing. It frustrates me no end when characters are not fully fleshed out, the world building is cursory at best and the author just doesn’t do the job of making me believe in their world. I think maybe I am becoming a little cranky and if it doesn’t grab me in the first chapter I’ll put it down. I also yell at small children to get off my lawn. heh.

So, here’s my first rec for the year… and it’s going to be brief.

I thoroughly enjoyed this. Solid world building and good pacing. I did have a few issues about half way through but not bad enough to spoil my enjoyment. Definitely one to check out if you’re into sic fi.

Buy it here from Loose Id.

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Alive.

Faintly embarrassed that the last time I blogged appears to have been in October in 2010. Basically, I couldn’t be assed. Too much going on elsewhere… Bleh. This is still the case, but today I felt like writing something. It might be short, but it will be something!

I just finished Hot Head by Damon Suede. It’s a kinda/kinda not gay for you fireman romance with muscles and sexy times. I’ve been reading some of the comments on Good Reads and I guess I do agree with some of the thoughts expressed there. The incessant tension was at times hard work and I did have some problems with suspension of disbelief. BUT, for all that I found this book to be hugely entertaining. I loved the characterization of Griff. So at odds with himself and his feelings, but so gentle and likable. I liked his physical characterization even more. I even enjoyed Dante’s apparent turn around from local lothario to smitten lover. I liked it all. This has to be one of my favorite reads so far this year. Cute, hot and totally fiction. Love the cover too! Go buy it.

Reverb by Jet Mykles was very entertaining. I must admit to a bit of a penchant for rockstar romances. I did think the author really made the heroes work for their HEA and at times I was not sure Marlowe was going to pull it off. Loads of angst and forgiveness made for a sexy, engaging and romantic read. Loved it. Check it out here.

If you’re into the whole Rock Star shtick, I highly reccomend you try Backstage Pass by Olivia Cunning. Something a little different from the erotic romance genre and a great read. I was not as fond of the 2nd book, but the first one is definitely worth a nosey.

I LOVE this cover.

Dark Horse by Kate Sherwood

Dan Wheeler thought he’d found lasting love and stability with his life and work partner, Justin Archer. But when Dan finds himself alone again, still working as a horse trainer for Justin’s parents, he has to find a way to accept that his perfect life is gone forever.
Then he meets billionaire Evan Kaminski, who arrives to buy a horse for his younger sister, and Evan’s lover Jeff Stevens, a horse trainer who seems to understand more than just Dan’s job. Struggling to deal with all the upheavals in his life, Dan finds himself drawn to both Evan’s mercurial passion and Jeff’s quiet wisdom. Is Dan strong enough to take a chance on new love, or would it be better—safer—for him to be alone?
Synopsis via Dreamspinner Press.

3somes, horse riding and grief created an ecletic and intriguing mix that kept me reading till the wee small hours.

There’s loads of horse stuff for pony buffs (not in a gross way!), the author is incredibly knowledgeable and the world building is vivid and realistic. It all made me feel totally nostalgic for my own horse riding days. She nailed that early morning routine in a working stable and I enjoyed the depth of knowledge and feeling she has for it.

The book is written in 3rd person present tense, so this does take a little getting used to. It almost felt like watching a movie and at times Dan’s moving on from the death of his lover is incredibly sad, but this perspective allows for great reader intimacy.

The boys are also pretty progressive and work hard at having a meaningful polyamorous relationship. There is loads of introspective soul searching and navel gazing; as one does when you’re leaping into bed with two other chaps and heading for something long term!

This is not to say I didn’t have a few problems. Getting used to the narrative style was different, but it worked. The minutiae of Dan’s life does get a little heavy at times too and I think that some of this could have been a little leaner. I wanted them all to get in the sack quicker too. Impatient pants!

However, there’s loads of sexual tension, some nice teary moments and a really well fleshed out story that will keep you with your nose firmly in the book. I was pretty excited to see that there is a 2nd book coming out and that I’ll get to see how it all turns out. This was defnitely a story that needed another book to round it out.

Great reading. Check it out here.

Shorts.

I have written a whole 3 short book reviews. Success!

Infected: Prey by Andrea Speed has been a great book, so far. I’ve actually just finished the 1st book, there are two that make up the novel. I liked it so much that I’ll give it a gold star just on part one alone. The story telling was excellent with a nice scooby mystery, and the romance between Roan and Paris very much underpinning it rather than being sole focus. What surprised me I guess is the lack of sex in the book. Sex is usually pretty high on my list of must haves and yet the story itself was so compelling that the lack of sexfest became less important than the characters development and the mystery. This is not to say that there is no tension between them, just that the bedroom door is firmly closed to pervs like me. Great paranormal, urban fantasy werecat story . Well worth purchasing. Check it out here.

Stray by Ash Penn was a bit of a hesitant purchase for me. I was not sure I would like it going on the blurb (guy is slutty, likes his roommate and ends up screwing his loves lover) But I brought it anyway, because I liked the cover. God, I am truly hopeless. The book is set in England and I think this is what I found the most charming about the story. It has a certain Bristishness about it. The characters, the way they interact and their speech just totally appealed. The sex was pretty grubby and the characters were just so damn likeable. I think I’ve been watching too many episodes of Skins and have certainly read waaaay to many Jilly Cooper novels over the years to not find this novel utterly charming in a kind of over the top way. There were a few bits that felt less than well paced and maybe the characters did stuff that was a little wanky but over all it was a totally cool read. More please authors from Britain!!!!! Buy here.

I Fell In Love With A Zombie by Sean Kennedy was cool. I think I brought this mainly to see how in gods name he’d make a Zombie into a sexorin fest… without appendages falling off during important, intimate moments. This was a totally cool read and I cannot believe he made a zombie seem sexy. I mean, ewww! The story was nicely paced with loads of great world building and plenty of scope to maybe write more. Zombies, true love and an apocalyptic world. Get it here from DSP.

Second Line by Poppy Z. Brite

Previously published on DIK.

Second Line: Two Short Novels of Love and Cooking in New Orleans by Poppy Z. Brite is a single volume that includes The Value of X and also D*U*C*K, two short stories from the Liquor series about chefs and lovers Ricky and G-Man.

I’m a huge fan of Poppy Z. Brites work. I love this innate ability she seems to have of making me feel like I’ve experienced a part of New Orleans that the average tourist doesn’t see. It’s vivid, rich with authentic detail and her underlying passion for the city is apparent. Makes me was to save some cash and travel.

The Value of X begins with Ricky and G-Man’s friendship as young boys, which eventually develops into a romantic relationship. Growing up together in the Lower Ninth Ward and dealing with their burgeoning feelings, overcoming their families objection to their relationship and then, being apart from each other is a lot to pack in. But the story doesn’t lack for depth or romance and it provides a great backdrop for reading the other stories in the series.

Both books are beautifully written, romantic and kinda sexy without feeling intrusive with the bedroom door wide open. I found their relationship to be complex and incredibly touching, especially in The Value of X. Ricky and G-Mans depth of feeling and love for one another is complex and strong. They complimented each other, without seeming cheesy or plastic and come across as not quite whole when forced apart. They’re very real characters full of foibles and faults and incredibly accessible for a reader. I liked them.

D*U*C*K is set at the end of the series and involves the boys after they’ve had Liquor open for a few years. It was published post Katrina and is terribly poignant as she has not actually written about the storm, so the city stands untouched as you’re dragged into another adventure that’s deliciously good and full of food, ego and drama. It’s defnitely a little shorter, especially after reading the 3 novels the come before this one, but it is still a satisfying read.

I feel in some ways I’ve grown up with Poppy Z. Brites books. I read her horror and vampire series when I was going through my wearing of dark clothing phase and then onto her more visceral works like Exquisite Corpse, but I have to say these later novels are my true favorites. I love reading about Ricky and G-Man, they feel real and everyday, but somehow special at the same time. Excellent reading from an exceptional talent.

Second Line is available in ebook and paper back via Amazon, The Book Depository and her other novels (which I highly recommend) are also available through Fictionwise. The 3 novels that this book bookends, are Liquor, Prime and Soul Kitchen. Magic stuff. Poppy Z. Brite’s work can also be seen here on her website and if you’re into gardening and the like, then do check out her blog and twitter.

Below is Poppy talking about Liquor. (I must confess I had a minor squee moment when I found this. FANGIRL much!!)

Two Man Team by Jet Mykles

Others might be fooled into thinking Davey is just a computer nerd, but Jason knows better. He knows his geeky best friend is wicked to the core. Threesomes with girls lead them to try sex alone. Now Jason wants to make them a two-man team.
Synopsis via Loose Id.

It’s true, Davey has possibly got the most readable ass I’ve read this month. If you buy this gem for any reason, buy it for his ass alone. His behind was so well described and so well loved that even I was contemplating giving it a gold star. heh.

Two Man Team carries on from Jet’s previous book One For The Team, set within a couple of months of a wedding and of Davey, Jason et al. getting it on. Davey makes a few gentle suggestions to Jason that maybe he’d like to get the band back together, with some chicks, and so they do. There is much surreptitious watching of each other and almost touching during their sexorin fest, and until finally they end up in the sack, just the two of them. Nice.

Normally the whole chick as an add on can kinda squick me, as it often feels like she’s just the tag along. Unless the book is a purpose written menage. The way the author handled this was nicely done and even though they’re not a huge focus, how they’re dealt with was nicely written. I guess this was kinda important to me, that it fed and drove the plot rather than adding a random sex scene.

The chemistry between Davey and Jason was unspeakably hot and there are a couple of scenes that need some kind of achievement certificate or well done! Seriously, they were so filled with tension, angst and raw sexual appeal I am quite sure my wee iphone won’t ever be the same.

Jason’s voice was easy to read and at times provided surprising and unexpected turns in character. I liked that I was not really sure what was going to happen next. Sometimes I feel so jaded, I can tell you where a story is going. I think I read too much! But this was just a little different. And, was it just me or was Davey’s ass really that hypnotic? 😀

A wickedly hot read and I liked it lots. Get it from Loose Id.

She’s Got Balls by Mia Watts

When the FBI and local law enforcement team up for a mutually beneficial crime-stopping partnership, Rookie Agent Chris Tarpington and Detective Vin Pilk team up to prototype the new alliance. How better to bust a ring of drug dealing suburban house wives than to go undercover-way undercover, as a married couple?
Though Chris reluctantly gets in touch with his feminine side, he quickly finds ways of making his sexy partner squirm. And Vin is definitely squirming, but will he run away from his faux wife, or right into ‘her’ arms?
One thing is for sure: as the investigation heats up, ‘inter-agency cooperation’ will take on a whole new meaning…
From Resplendence Publishing.

Mia Watts has a hard case turn of phrase and cracked me up. An entertaining and quick read, this was certainly just a little different.

The dialog was probably the most appealing part of the story. It was quick, mouthy and Chris was such a smarty. The characterization was clever and I enjoyed the boys immensely. Her descriptions of men and what men do lacked some of the prudishness that can populate some m/m romance novels. Morning wood much?

I liked some of the physical descriptions, Vin seemed to embody all my nasty Samuel Colt fantasies of rounded porn star ass and bulky calves. Chris drooling over him was so funny, he was a total clown.

It did have a couple of issues, I thought some of the smex prose was a little jarring to read as it did become a little flowery at times and did not seem to fit in with the grubby boys book I was loving. The ending was also pretty abrupt and there was too much true lurve for a book this short. I think I could have been persuaded into a happy for now ending as opposed to the big bow this one was tied up in.

However, I liked this book. It was quick, smart and funny and despite my issues I’d be really keen to see what this author can do with a longer format and tighter editing. Cool beans.

Check t out here at ARe and Fictonwise.

Shades of Grey by Brooke McKinley

Miller Sutton, a by-the-book FBI agent, is starting to see some troubling shades of gray in his black-and-white world. He comes face-to-face with his doubts in the person of Danny Butler, a mid-level drug runner Miller hopes to use to catch a much larger fish: Roberto Hinestroza, a drug lord Miller has pursued for years.

Danny has no interest in being a witness against his boss, both out of a sense of twisted loyalty and because he knows double-crossing Hinestroza is a sure death sentence. But he reluctantly agrees to cooperate, and as he suspects, it doesn’t take long for Hinestroza to figure out the betrayal…. read more via Goodreads.

To be honest, going into Shades of Gray I was not sure how one could make a criminal a sympathetic character and I wasn’t convinced I’d enjoy reading it. But I kept seeing it on ARe and I obviously have no will power when it comes to purchasing books! Twist my arm much?

Danny is the type of flawed character I could really get into. He is ballsy, strong and just deals with what life dishes out. He’s not whiney and does not lay about on his fainting couch doing the whole oh, woe thing. Yay you, Danny! He was cool. Miller however was paddling his canoe up de-nial and had that whole stoic, buttoned up thing going on. Kinda like that type of character too, as he was so in need of someone to ruffle his feathers a little.

The world building was really tight and seamless, it felt realistic and gritty without being over the top. I do have a bit of a penchant for cop and crime drama and I think the author really nailed the scene. The sex was tasteful, but not overly grubby. It fit the tone of the story though and the tension was totally hot.

Without giving too much away, the end did get a little emotional, but not nauseatingly so. I liked how it was wrapped up too and this has to be one of the better HEA I’ve read in a while. Nicely done.

Shades of Grey is definitely deserving of all those stars I keep seeing on goodreads. It was an entertaining, angst filled read with distinctive characters. Please write faster Brooke McKinley.

Check it out at ARe and Fictionwise.