At Attention by Annabeth Albert

This was the second book in the Out of Uniform series. I am a huge fan of military romance, so this is totally my catnip.

I did enjoy this, but perhaps not as much as the first book in the series. I felt like the character of Apollo seemed to be a little more uptight in the 2nd book. He’d seemed less so in his cameos in the first book, so I was a little surprised and disappointed. He’s had some pretty hard knocks and a great deal of the book is him coming to terms with the loss of his husband and how he begins to move on.

Dylan is a great character, but in an a familiar theme, I felt his treatment by Apollo at times was a little shabby. Don’t get me wrong, Apollo is trying hard to deal with his grief, but there was a cost to this. Dylan is super young too, and while I kinda liked the May/December trope, I wondered if being so young and just starting out if this was always a realistic relationship.

I enjoyed this and it definitely left me with food for thought. Lots of hot stuff and angst.

3 Stars
Goodreads
Amazon

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

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Pretty Face by Lucy Parker

I must admit to a bit of a squee moment when I saw this was coming out. I absolutely loved the first book in this series and this second novel is an absolute treat. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and story, an couldn’t put it down. London is described vividly and the theater setting feels very real with a feisty and romantic tale woven in. If you’ve not picked up the author already, then do. One of my favorites of 2017 already.

5 Stars.

Goodreads
Amazon

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.IMG_4694.jpg

The Catch Trap by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

A magnificent, colorful novel of the circus world of the 1940s and 1950s, rich in detail, bursting with power and emotion.
Mario Santelli, a member of the famous flying Santelli family, is a great trapeze artist. Tommy Zane is his protege.
As naturally and gracefully as they soar through the air, the two flyers find themselves falling in love. Mario and Tommy share sweet stolen moments of passion, but the real intensity of their relationship comes from their total devotion to one another and to their art.
As public figures in a conservative era, they cannot reveal their love. But they will never renounce it.
A tremendously moving tale, a rich family saga, a wise and compassionate portrait of a special love in a special world.
Synopsis via Fantastic Fiction.

The Catch Trap was an incredibly moving story and I really liked it much. Below are a few of my random thoughts. For a far more insightful analysis I suggest you check out Teddy Pig’s review, he’s the reason I spent considerable time ringing 2nd hand book shops around the country trying to get hold of it! Which is what good reviews do, they should illustrate that the novel has touched someone in some way and give you, the reader, some impetus to whip out your much abused credit card.

So, in short, 2 guys meet while working in the circus. Tommy is younger, considerably so at the beginning, and Mario is older, in years anyway (his emotional maturity left something to be desired at times!) They meet, they eventually become lovers and so on. But the story doesn’t just hook you in with longing looks and the faint hint of manlove moments, it’s also an authentic accounts of circus life that makes your remember why, at age 10 and spandex was still an option, you were ready to jump out the window in the night and join a troupe of acrobats.

In other reviews I’ve read there are some issues about the age gap when Mario and Tommy start fooling around. I didn’t find it objectionable, mainly because it was consensual and there was a authentic ring to it. I’m sure you could be all hurumph about it, but to be honest aren’t most teens that age fooling around doing something? I dunno. I think we as adults often see sex as an action loaded with power, connotations, consequences blah blah. I seem to remember that kind of thing not really being at the forefront of my mind at that age, nor were they guiding my actions either. So yeah, I thought it was pretty hot and heavy, with a realistic and accessible note that struck a chord.

Thematically there is a lot going on in this big ass book. It is lengthy and at times long winded. There are lovely bits of teen angst, Mario periodically throws himself on the cross and Tommy has these little pockets of youthful insight that are just delicious. There’s the sweet ache of a teenager leaving home, becoming autonomous and loads of courage too. I thought Tommy’s obvious emotional attachment not only to Mario, but to the Santelli family was nicely done. The theme of  feeling disconnected and without community is also explored. The author even managed to have a bit of a go at inter generation family dynamics. You name it, this book’s got it. It works for the most part, despite it being a bit of a tome and that the occasional WTF moment —> see Tommy’s parents.

There were defnitely issues in the book and it’s not always perfect, but liked it anyway. Beautiful, erotic, sad, long, romantic and just really damn cool. If you can get a copy, give it a crack and read TP’s review, just cause its great.

Bound and Determined by Jane Davitt and Alexa Snow

When Sterling Baker discovers the wonderful world of BDSM, he’s ready to literally throw himself at the feet of the spectacular Owen Sawyer, but Owen is unwilling to take on someone so new to the scene—or so he says. Determined to get what he wants, Sterling sets out to convince the doubting Owen that he can be the best sub in the world, the fastest learning, the most obedient…
Synopsis from Loose Id.

Beautifully written, Bound and Determined is a book that does not disappoint. I’ve got books by both authors and their styles compliment each other hugely and make for very cool reading.

Sterling is such a brat and I loved his spark and innate cheekiness. It is such a perfect foil for Owen’s more reserved nature and theirs is a relationship that doesn’t always go smoothly as a result. The conflict was well written with the focus centered on the characters internal struggles. It was easy to read and didn’t devolve into any silly BDSM tropes and Nancy Drew and the gang did not make an appearance I was pleased to note. heh.

The relationship between Sterling and Owen is what carries this book. The slow development of trust between both men and the exploration of their boundaries, desires, and the chemistry that has drawn them together, was what made this a cut above other BDSM novels I’ve read recently. Nothing was rushed and the authors seemed to allow Sterling and Owen to stick to their own timetable. The slow building of sexual tension as a result was off the charts and appealed to me immensely. The sex is incredibly good and they nailed that sense of trust implicit within a D/s relationship. Rawr. It was totally hot and made for magic reading.

A lush, intense and engaging read I got totally wrapped up in. If you’ve not read, then I highly recommend you get your backside over to Loose Id and buy it. One of my favourite reads this year. 🙂

Interview – Rowan McBride

os_frontpage2After reading several books by this very cool author and following Rowan’s blog and twitter rather slavishly, I thought it would be interesting to ask a few questions about writing, reading and Pocky!

Would you care to share a few things about yourself? Favorite place, shoes, music, t-shirt..?

Favorite place: Any room with good friends, good drinks, and good anime.

fave shirtFavorite music: It varies according to mood. When I lived in Hawaii, I really liked the Ka’au Crater Boys, but someone recently told me they broke up. Also liked Bright Red Boots (sadly, no longer together), ClosetHuman (on hiatus). For a while I was thinking my tastes were cursed. Nowadays I listen to Death Cab For Cutie, Vince Gill, Ludo, Ella Fitzgerald, Seether, artists like that. But my favorite band is probably still the Electric Mayhem. 🙂

fave shoesI’ve attached pictures of my favorite shoes and shirt. The shoes *used* to be blue suede, but I’ve had them so long and they’ve seen so much of the Texas sun that they’ve faded into a color I can’t even name at this point. I’m not actually sure where I picked up the aloha shirt (the safe bet’s Hawaii, but you never know with me), but I wear it all the time. I’m surprised it hasn’t fallen apart yet.

When did you start writing?

Second grade, I think. In third I had to read a story I wrote (about an elf who grew to be eight feet tall, heh) to the entire grade, and the experience scarred me so badly that afterward I kept everything I wrote (except for an independent study I didn’t know anyone had paid attention to until the year after) secret until well into high school.

lone_coverWhat types of characters and situations are you drawn to write about?

I like to write about characters who find themselves, who discover their own worth. I’m also a big fan of MGS (Muscle Growth Stories), because I like to play with ideas of strength and power. That, and the shallow side of me just adores a muscular form. 😀

I really liked one of your blog posts back in May about writing as therapy. How much of yourself do you see in your books?

Wow, yeah. Writing that post was a good day for me. I’d just learned my mother was cancer-free after five years, and it was quite a milestone. That sense of relief led to some introspection on my part.

While I’m writing, I don’t see myself in my stories at all. The characters always seem like shiny new strangers, the situations entirely unique. It’s often months, or even years, later when I look at those books and go “Ohhh. That was *my* trust issue.” or “That was *me* trying to patch himself together after being broken.” I suppose that’s a good thing– putting yourself into your stories. Even when you don’t realize you’re doing it, if you’re willing to put yourself out there from the beginning it adds an element of honesty.

oghsmallWhat’s your writing process like? Outline or seat of your pants?

I start with a spark of an idea. It could be one line of dialogue that makes me curious about why it was said, or a character whose story I want to know more about, or a bizarre event that I can’t resist dropping unsuspecting characters into. From there it’s usually seat of my pants until I discover I have too many scenes jumbled together in my head. Then I crack open a pack of index cards and storyboard the rest to make sure it makes sense.

How important are your beta readers and what part do they play in your writing process?

Good, honest beta readers are worth their weight in gold. I’m the writer, so naturally I think each of my stories is a jewel. Sometimes I don’t see plot holes, continuity issues, characters taking leaps they really shouldn’t take. Some beta readers are great at telling me whether the overall concept works, and whether the characters resonate with them. Others will tear apart my grammar until I dream about misused semicolons. Having different perspectives is important because if a story is fresh in my mind, I tend to fill in blanks without realizing it.

Is there a piece of work you feel especially proud of?

“Want Me.” I got to go crazy with several themes I enjoy. Love it when my stories come full circle, and in that one each turn of the spiral allowed me to explore that concept again and again. I also like playing with the idea of true power– where it really comes from, what a person does when they believe their strength has been stripped from them, etc. And Joel, starting in a life he was content with and painfully moving to one that holds more depth… that was my favorite part.

And the muscle growth. Always love that.

paulsdreamthumbYou not only write, but draw, what is your favorite piece?

I have a long way to go, but it’s been hella fun learning how to draw in a manga/anime style. Eventually I’d like to get to a place where I don’t always need a reference picture, and I’ve been starting to inch toward that direction lately.

The only picture of mine I ever framed and hung on my wall is “Lelouch 1“. He’s one of my favorite characters of all time, and this was the first image that came out exactly the way I wanted– from hair to eyes to the little smirk on his mouth. It must have taken me over a week to draw.

Another favorite of mine is “Colors“. I think I’d colored it at three in the morning, and I was impressed he came out looking how I felt at the time.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to read? Any particular reads you’d recommend?

Reading for fun? What is this concept? 😉

I enjoy quirky science fiction like “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” I also like to read books about writing, and Stephen King’s “On Writing” is a favorite of mine. Jennifer Crusie’s “Bet Me” is excellent– It was recommended to me by someone via twitter, and I don’t remember the last time I laughed out loud with a book. I enjoy poetry, especially anything by Langston Hughes. I’ve learned it’s hard to go wrong with anything by Jet Mykles or Katrina Strauss.

I’m getting ready to dive into a lot of new books, so hoping to find more autobuy authors.

pocky 1Please explain Pocky? O-o

lol! Pocky is this glorious cracker cookie stick thing usually dipped in chocolate (but also comes in strawberry and a variety of other flavors). It’s imported from Japan and is the food of the gods. 🙂

My favorite flavor actually comes from its Korean counterpart– Pepero. It’s called Nude because (I think) the cookie is on the outside and the chocolate is on the inside.

So, now that I have drooled all over your shelves of books, what are your favourite manga?

One of my favorites out of the mainstream manga pool would be “Saiyuki,” by Kazuya Minekura. It’s loosely based on the Chinese novel “Journey to the West” and features a half-demon, a demon who used to be human, an amnesiac monkey king, and a monk who drinks and smokes and carries a Smith and Wesson revolver. The dynamic between the four men is funny and intense, and the art contains some of the most gorgeous fight scenes I’ve ever seen.

pocky 2

With yaoi, my favorite to date is “Totally Captivated,” by Yoo Ha-jin. It’s actually a manhwa (the Korean counterpart to manga), but I don’t know what the Korean word for yaoi would be. I tried to ask my mother, but that entailed explaining exactly what yaoi was and, well, she’s still processing that information. “Totally Captivated” features violence, angst, some pretty intense sex. It also has an unexpected humor to it, as well as moments of tenderness. I don’t know how the creator managed to balance all that, but they did, and it was fab.

Oh! And “Tokyo Babylon” by CLAMP. One of the best of ALL TIME.

{ahem} Pardon my fanboi moment there…

wmsmallFinally (I promise there are no more questions!) what have you got coming out soon?

At the moment I don’t have anything planned. Been writing almost non-stop for three years, and it’s time to take a break. Once I’ve recharged I think I’d like to complete “Broken Thread,” this bizarre royal alien rock star yaoi thing I’ve been working on for a while now. I’d also like to get a few sequels finished and maybe complete a serial or two.

Should be a lot of fun once my muse starts talking to me again.

This has been such a cool interview to do and I’ve really enjoyed the emailing back and forth and having a chance to yak. Thanks Rowan!
I had a lot of fun too! It was great chatting with you, and I’m glad that the time difference + my insomnia worked out so well. 😉

Rowan has kindly consented to put up an ebook to be won. Just leave a comment below and go into the draw for one ebook of your choice from Rowan’s back catalog. 🙂

Check out Rowan’s website, twitter, art and most important  – books!

SubSurdity: Vignettes from Jasper Lane by Eric Arvin

subIn suburbia, the residents of Jasper Lane  seem to live rather idillic lives with immaculate gardens, barbecues, chats over the fence and jogging. But, beneath the shiny neighborly halos lurk much more delicious goings on and some less than sterling behavior.

The initial chapters unfold around the image of a young man jogging down the street, with each residents experience of this leading the reader through the intricate, entwined lives of the people who live on Jasper Lane. The author has a smart, astute and engaging style. Even the obnoxious Melinda Gold and her dreadful mother had a certain charm! The sly wit and humor definitely had me sniggering and banned from reading it in bed. hehe.

The romance between Rick and James, while not the novels sole focus, was sweet. I loved Ricks kindness. He was so appealing and had me quietly cheering him on as he learned to take a few risks in life with James, who is not out to his friends and family. Even though Rick could have given it all away at times, he doesn’t and I kinda liked his courage. He’s had such an incredibly raw deal that his ability to let himself be open to that kind of pain was beautiful and subtly written.

The cast of secondary characters are myriad, but the other one who stood out was Melinda strangely enough. She’s so uptight and a total prig. The book leaves you just dying to know what will happen if she finally looses it. I feel so wrong about the glee in that statement, but it was so true. hehe.

From pool parties to porn parties, hot bodies to dead bodies and weird old ladies sneaking looks through the neighbors window; this is a wonderfully vivid, romantic and entertaining read, with much heart and a rather perceptive eye.

Get it here from Dreamspinner Press.
Check out Eric’s blog and the new book in the series Suburbilicious.

Shorts.

TonyBuffsQuickArmBind
Ganked from I am Fivestar

I’ve been on a bit of a BDSM binge over the past few weeks and can honestly say that a good BDSM novel that doesn’t devolve into the ridiculous and have me rolling my eyes is hard to find. It is possible that I am being picky, but a lot of them lack the power, intensity and feeling of well written kink. It is not enough to just use the words of the scene and hope for the best, there needs to be a connection between the characters. There should be trust, words, tone, tension and knowing someone with incredible intimacy.

Here are a few I’ve read recently and do let me know if you’ve any suggestions, because Mr Benson is still in the damn post. Hurmph.

JustFriends anne thomasJust Friends by Anne Thomas. The pacing was very quick and I felt that the dynamic between the two men could have been a little more fleshed out. It did have some nice moments, but seemed to miss the point a bit with regards the kink. Grant is heavily into the scene, as evidenced by his harness O-o and Eli wants Grant, but is not sure about the BDSM. Fair enough! I think if it was a little longer the switch at the end might have sat better. As it was this was an ok wee read and an author I’d like to check out again, but this one just missed the mark a bit for me. ebook available here.

my-fair-captain-jl-langleyMy Fair Captain by JL Langley. I re read all the good bits. One of the only books to fog my glasses EVERY DAMN TIME! …Dear Nate, please to be saving me from bad, bad books. Kisses, Sarah… For goodness sake, if you’ve not got it, get it. NOW.

deviations submissionDeviations: Submission by Chris Owen and Jodi Payne. This was an ok read. It meandered at times and about 1/2 way through I lost interest a little. But, persevered and finished it eventually! Loads of angst and trust issues and the whole letting yourself love again made for a reasonably satisfying read. While I’ll pick up the rest of the series, as I am interested in where they go next, I am a little unsure how much more there is to tell. You can get it in paperback and ebooks here.

natural lawNatural Law by Joey Hill. Did a re read of this gem. Total five star read and I can forgive some of the silliness at the end because she totally nails it in the rest of the book. Loved it, even if it does have girl cooties! Check out a more betterer review here.

geographyofmurderpabrownGeography of Murder by PA Brown. While I really enjoyed her LA Heat book, this one felt like it lacked focus and was a difficult read at times. A little choppy and am hoping this is a bit of a blip as I did so like her previous work. Get it here.

chains of love katrina straussChains of Love by Katrina Strauss. I like Blue. A lot! So forgive my total bias when it comes to this series. Even though I at times wanted to stuff his best friend out the door and get down to it with Blue and Derek! This is such a charming, sexy and cool series that never fails to push all the right buttons. Plus, those covers. omnomnom. Check it out here.

safterbdsmBDSM: Safer kinky sex. Best read of the week and FREE! When on the internets one does find the most fascinating stuff. I read this cover to cover and at no charge I reckon that’s a wicked good deal. Quick reading and loads of interesting advice and I’ve been seeing it promoted by some rather smart cookies. Check it out here and download the pdf at the bottom of the page.

Don’t Look Back by Josh Lanyon.

Museum curator Peter Killian wakes in the hospital, accused of ripping off his own museum. He doesn’t remember stealing an artifact or tough, sexy police Lt. Mike Griffin. But Mike remembers him and is determined to see Peter behind bars.
From Loose Id.

don't look back josh lanyonPeter was defnitely a character I grew to like. His initial amnesia seemed more of a defensive mechanism, a shield if you like, to keep a barrier between himself and having to deal with the painful reality that his life has become. Mike is very still waters run deep kind of guy and doesn’t let a lot go initially. He’s a cop, stoic but with warmth and a protective streak that runs a mile wide.

The mystery was nicely written and segued in well with Peters dawning realization that not everyone is as they seem. I enjoyed the secondary characters a great deal and they really made parts of the book.

While my focus was mainly on the romance of the story, I often find myself noting stylistic features. Although far from being an expert on the subject I know what I like. I enjoy Josh Lanyons writing because there is a certain sensibility about it. Sparse, well paced , with a leanness that makes you feel like no word is wasted. An absolute breath of fresh air.

Don’t Look Back was a pleasure to read, another wonderful story from one of my favorite authors. Get the book and it’s boobalicious cover here at Loose Id.

On Art – Yayoi Neko

Yayoi Neko has a very cool Deviant Art gallery and has kindly allowed me to share some of her beautiful work. She has several publications, which you can check out here. One of these is a dōjinshi featuring Sherlock and Watson, which I WANT NOW!!! 😀 The sneak peaks I’ve seen at DA look absolutely divine…

Check out her DA page here, website here and her blog is a must.

Posted with permission. ©2009 – Yayoi Neko.

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