Saturday, 1 February 2014

Review: Something Like Spring by Jay Bell

Just a warning, there will be spoilers for the first three books in the series in this review.

I've been very much looking forward to this fourth and final book in the Seasons series. The other three books took the same story and looked at it from three different characters' point of view and I wondered how this book was going to be structured since there wasn't a fourth character who could take on another narrative. Instead the author has rather cleverly taken a separate character, Jason, and used him to link with the other three characters, taking us from the time just after Jace's first blood clot and into the future with Ben and Tim. Jason is a 15 year old boy who has been bounced around in foster care since he was 7. He never stays in a family for long because he deliberately sabotages his placement. His social worker is Michelle, Jace's sister, and this time he promises Michelle that he will make a good go of the new family he is placed with. It's tough at first, but Jason tries to get along with the new family for one reason, the eldest son of the family, Caesar, who Jason develops a huge crush on. We follow Jason through the next few years as he falls in love and marks out a future for himself with the help of good friends.

Like the other books in this series, this story contains the themes of growing up, falling in love, making mistakes and learning to become an adult. The main story centres around romance, but it's so much more than that. It's also about making choices about who you want to be with and finding a family who will accept you for who you are. Jason isn't perfect and I have to admit at times he is very immature - just like a 15/16 year old boy should be! He is desperate for affection and confused, hurting from the past but fiercely independent. I liked him very much, liked that he was flawed and did stupid things at times, that he took risks because underneath it all he was a good, kind person who just needed a big hug and some stability. As the story develops, Jason changes until by the end he is more mature and happy. He's still independent and stubborn but he has learned how to compromise instead of running away and hiding, and that makes him a better person.

This isn't just Jason's story. It's also an opportunity to see the future for Ben and Tim. They come into the book part way through and we see their relationship through Jason's eyes. Ben is his usual sweet self and Tim is working through some issues and it was nice to see that their relationship is still evolving. There were a couple of poignant conversations between Ben and Jason about Ben's feelings about Jace which helped to sort out some of my feelings about how the first book in the series ended. Tim also has to face his past, as well as resolve some problems with Jace's family.  I liked that their relationship wasn't this perfect ideal, but just two guys with a mixed history who love each other but still have the occasional difficulty. Just like real life! The book ends on a high note which was a little sappy but had a huge awwwww factor. It was a fitting end to Ben and Tim's journey and I'm happy to leave them to their HEA now.

I haven't said much about the romantic plot mainly because I don't want to give away spoilers. Let me just say that Jason's love life is not all plain sailing but it definitely has its high points. One thing I love about this author is how much he seems to be able to understand the mind of a teenage boy with all the confusion that comes with hormones. I like that he doesn't shy away from the fact that teenagers have sex, although the descriptions are vague and concentrate on emotion rather than mechanics. If 16 year olds having consensual sex on page offends you, then this probably isn't the book for you. I saw it as a necessary part of Jason's journey and it didn't bother me at all. As for the romantic interest in Jason's life, my lips are sealed :). All I'm going to say is that they weren't as well rounded in terms of characterisation as Jason, but that was more to do with the fact that our focus is mainly of Jason and so the other character is seen through slightly idealised eyes at times. Having said that, the flaws of the other character do come through eventually and so this is only a minor criticism.

On the whole, I love this author's books and his fluid written style. This means I was quite forgiving of some of the books' faults, such as the idealisation of characters as I mentioned above, because I was enjoying myself too much. My main niggle was that the book was a little overindulgent at times with some scenes that didn't really further the plot and so could have been cut from the book. One scene in particular where Jason and another character visit an art gallery was a pleasant enough scene but when it had finished I wondered what the point had been. None, apparently, just another opportunity to see the two characters together. The book is a decent length and cutting one or two scenes would have made the plotting a little tighter.

Having said that, this was still a terrific read. I liked that although this was Jason's book, there was still an ensemble theme with a mix of well loved and new characters. It fleshed out the world away from the fairly tight circle of the previous books. I was also pleased to discover that the author intends to continue writing within this community of characters, not Ben, Tim and Jason, but other secondary characters who need some loving in their lives. I shall look forward to those books.  As for this book, if you are following this series then this is a must-read which I would recommend with a grade of 'Excellent'. If you like YA romance and haven't read any of these books then this is probably not the place to start. I would suggest starting with Something Like Summer and working your way through to this book. You're in for a treat!

Buy this book HERE.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Guest Post: Celebrating Diversity in Fiction & Life by Ann Anderson

One of my favourite m/m publishers, Storm Moon Press, is four years old this month and to celebrate they are having a blog tour. I'm pleased to welcome Ann Anderson here as part of that tour. Plus there's an excellent giveaway at the end of the post. Over to you, Ann.




When it comes to diversity, I had to think—a bit too long and a bit too hard, perhaps—on how I celebrate it, especially since there's so much diversity in my life. I've been told that I'm a contradiction, not what I'm supposed to be because of the way I look, because of my sexuality, because of my family, because I listen to just about any music (I've been known to go from listening to opera to rap) and read so much that's so different (I am not hiding the stacks of manga behind the romance and young adult...okay, maybe the yaoi and yuri are hidden back there). I guess, in a sense, I celebrate my own diversity every day by waking up and being me. The videogaming loves to watch competition shows while snuggled with the cats and editing me.

Part of that is showing the world the different characters I create, all of whom carry a part of me in themselves, even the bad guys. As the lovely team at Storm Moon Press knows, I write both M/M and F/F stories, and I love the freedom I'm allowed to create characters that aren't afraid to get dirty in the office, such as can be found in Working Lunch, part of the Gay & Lesbian Coffee Break Quickies anthology, or brothers that share a lover in a world full of magic and betrayal in a story coming soon from SMP. And there are stories I haven't completed yet that I already know I'll be submitting in the future because the acceptance of diversity is allowed and encouraged.

It doesn't matter if it's a light, heartwarming story or something darker or something filled with heat, all of that diversity is encouraged. And for someone like me, who's shy and awkward and sometimes doesn't know which word to use or is stuck on using a particular word, I'm allowed to say I want to keep something in my story a certain way and told it's okay (provided I give solid reasoning). I think that's the one thing every author fears, that a word, phrase, or thought may be seen as too different and stricken from their story, changing it in a way that, while not necessarily fundamental to understand the story, is a hard blow to the author because it means something to them.

At Storm Moon, I'm allowed to be creative, such as writing across genres, an activity I greatly enjoy. Showing the rich field of words that can be found in contemporary when the world is as it is with nothing extra thrown in except the love and trials of two or more people trying to make it work in the current environment where every moment changes in meaning depending on what the rest of the world does. Then there's the world of space, a dark, silent abyss where words can be lost and romance has to stand the trials of worlds in hopes of surviving. And shape shifters... I may not have contributed to any of the shifter anthologies at SMP, but the worlds and characters created are phenomenal and amazing. I'm allowed to participate in the diversity of these worlds, not stuck in a specific genre, though everyone has their niche, and the freedom of allowing such diversity, knowing it's encouraged after having teachers all throughout my school career tell me it will be easier, better to stick to one specific genre... it's freeing. In a nutshell I think that's what diversity means to me. Freedom. And I'm glad I have it in spades, both in my life and in my fiction.

Ann Anderson is a dreamer with too many stories and not enough time. Reading since she finally managed to figure out which direction the book was supposed to face, not upside down according to her second grade teacher, Ann has been reading everything that comes across her path. When not writing, Ann can be found working at a cafe or at her computer working on line editing or content editing for various publishers which she discovered was a viable career option in college when switching majors. She enjoys the Chicago winters that blow into her little area of Crystal Lake and watching the cats decide if they really want to go outside in the snow or if they'd rather knock the laptop out of her lap and curl up.

This post is part of Storm Moon Press' 4th Anniversary Blog Tour! Thank you for joining us, and please take a moment to enter our blog-tour-wide giveaway! The prize is receiving an ebook each month from SMP for 12 months! We hope to see you around the Internet and at RainbowCon in 2014! Happy New Year!

SMP's 4th Anniversary Rafflecopter Giveaway

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Holiday Reading

I've been away in London and Kent visiting friends and family which is why none of the comments have been answered on my last post yet, sorry. Anyway, the short break provided me with an opportunity to get some reading done so here are a few short reviews.


Cricket by Anna Martin
I loved Tattoos and Teacups and have been looking forward to reading this book. It tells of New Yorker Henry who is contacted by his long lost great grandmother and given the task of restoring the family pile in Somerset. Along the way he meets farmer Ryan who helps him acclimatise to British ways. I have to say, I thought this story was utterly charming but did feel a little like I wasn't the intended audience for the book. Some of it read like 'An American Guide to the West Country' with lots of scenes where Henry flounders with the local customs/people and yet wins everyone's heart with his adorable American ways. As a Brit, I didn't need to know half the information in the book but I still enjoyed reading about Henry and Ryan's slow road to love, especially the way that they were mostly very up front with each other and talked through problems. The pacing was slow and measured but that worked well for me because I could only pick this book up in snatched moments between the socialising. Grade: Very Good.


Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding
I'm a bit of a Bridget Jones fan but also wasn't too bothered about the fact that the author has killed off Mark Darcy. This book follows 51 year old Bridget four years from Mark's death over the course of two years as she starts to move on with her life by losing weight and finding a toy boy whilst juggling school runs and writing a film script. If you liked the style of the first two books, then you'll like this as well. It had that same madcap quality where Bridget lurches from one crisis to another but still manages to keep her head above water. There were a couple of laugh out loud moments - I loved the whole twitter thing - and a lot of pathos surrounding her widowhood and starting to re-engage with the world. I also really liked the way that the book showed the ups and downs of motherhood, from sickness bugs, nits and bickering to those precious family moments when she was bursting with love for her kids. I found the end very pleasing indeed and liked that despite being her usual ditzy self, there's a maturity about Bridget that fits her age and experience. Overall a very absorbing read. Grade: Excellent.


The Douglas Fir by Anyta Sunday
I bought this because it had a few good reviews. It follows Jase as he crushes on his neighbour Noah whilst being extremely jealous of Noah's best friend, Dave. It's only short at just over 100 pages but I liked seeing Jase's attempts to do something special for Noah and also Jase's cute relationship with his younger brother. I liked that the book surprised me by going in an unexpected direction. My main niggle was that the romance was very rushed at the end and I would have liked to have seen more development and page space devoted to that. I would still recommend this book though if you are looking for something fairly light and quick with a sympathetic narrator. Grade: Good.

And that's it! Anyone read any good books over Christmas that they wish to share?

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Favourite M/M Books for 2013 Part 2

Yesterday I gave you my first 6 books of the year, along with honourable mentions. It's been interesting to look back and think about some of the great reads I've had and to look at trends in my reading. For example, I've read fewer BDSM books, but more master/slave/captor/captive books, which get lumped into the same category for me. I've read only a few UF books, but I think that's because I'm not a huge fan of shifter books, and vampire books have dropped off the radar, with the exception of one or two. That's a shame because I love a good vampire romance. As I said yesterday, most of my reading has gravitated towards fantasy/paranormal/mystery and although I've enjoyed many of the contemporaries I've read this year, I've read a lot of so-so ones too with tired plots and cut-out characters. Yet people involved in writing and publishing m/m books are always telling me that contemporaries sell far more than any other sub-genre to the extent that some publishers won't take UF or fantasy or science fiction. Another great shame. Thankfully there are publishers out there who are willing to take risks, or authors who are willing to put money into self-publishing, otherwise I would have missed out on some terrific books this year.

Anyway, enough blathering on. Let's get onto the second part of my books of the year.


Urban Fantasy
Dead Man and the Restless Spirits by Lou Harper
Very well written and entertaining book about Denton who can see spirits and Bran who is a witch. I loved the interplay between the characters and Denton's sardonic dry sense of humour. Review here.

Honourable Mention: Spirit Sanguine by Lou Harper (a vampire book, yay!)


Action/Adventure/Suspense
The Hardest Thing by James Lear
Lots of action and swift plotting made this a fast ride of a book but it also contains superb characters who develop along with the story. Great stuff. Review here.

Honourable Mention: Every Move He Makes by Barbara Elsborg


Historical
Brothers of the Wild North Sea by Harper Fox
Beautiful and intelligent story set in the middle ages which has the unlikely pairing of a monk and a viking. Steeped in history with a dose of mysticism, it kept me riveted from the first page. Review here.

Honourable Mention: Provoked by Joanna Chambers


BDSM
Screwing the System by Josephine Myles
The BDSM is quite light in this book but I loved the pairing of the sensible, hardworking older Alisdair with a feckless, irresponsible Cosmo. They're an unlikely couple but the author makes them work. That, along with the author's lighthearted, deft writing, made this a winner for me. Review here.

Honourable Mention: Inherent Gifts by Alicia Cameron


Series
Captive Prince by CS Pacat
I was a little hesitant to include this as the series isn't over yet. The final book is out sometime next year - or it bloody well better be! However, it has been my favourite series started this year so far. It's a fantasy slave fic with complex characters and a story of love and politics which is reaching epic proportions. If you haven't read this yet, I recommend you wait until the third book is out or you'll be left frustrated and impatient!  Review here.

Honourable Mention: The Market Garden Series by Alexandr Voinov and LA Witt


Anthology
Irregulars by Nicole Kimberling, Josh Lanyon, Astrid Amara and Ginn Hale
You can't go wrong with a Blind Eye Book and this anthology proved to be both entertaining and interesting with its interwoven storylines and characters. Each story is unique but also connected to the others through the world building and I liked being able to spot the links between the stories. Review here.

Honourable Mention: Summer Lovin' by Pink Squirrel Press


Short Story
Giving an Inch by Heidi Belleau and Amelia C Gormley
Cheeky story which nevertheless left me feeling hot under the collar and contains hints of a dark past relationship. I loved how this short built up the tension and showed us the two sides of James. Recommended. Review here.

Honourable Mention: Sunshine and Buttercups by Danni Keane




Overall Book of the Year



This is the second book by this author on my lists this year and well deserved it is too. It's hard to believe that two years ago I started this book and stopped reading a third of the way through. This year I picked it up again and couldn't put it down. I loved the characters of Albert and Fletcher and the way their relationship develops in slow increments which mirrors Fletcher's investigation of a series of murders. The plot moves slowly but that was part of its beauty and by the end I felt like I had taken a worthwhile journey. In fact I was rather bereft when it was all over. Luckily the sequel/companion book was on hand to help with my withdrawal :). If you like mysteries/police procedurals and want to read about characters that aren't easy to like but with whom you will fall in love, then I highly recommend this book. Don't be put off by the length, it's worth investing your time in every page.


And that's it! As always I want to thank all the wonderful authors and publishers out there who produce these marvellous books. I also want to thank all the reviewers and bloggers out there who give their time to write reviews. I may never have read some of the books on my list this year had it not been for a review I've read or a recommendation from a fellow reader. I'm now looking forward to many more great books in 2014. Happy reading everyone!

Monday, 30 December 2013

Favourite M/M Books for 2013 Part 1

It's been a funny old reading year for me. I've read fewer books for a start and have been blogging less and less as more of my time is spent on my family and job. Despite that, I've read some cracking good books this year. Once again my tastes have moved more towards fantasy, paranormal and mystery and away from contemporaries. I've also read a lot of historicals as the quality of m/m historicals has risen a great deal in recent months.

I shall do my usual and put books into categories. I've had a shift around with the categories because I didn't read many m/m/m books but did read a few great futuristic books. Also, many of the books fit into more than one category so for example, a historical could also be a mystery and a paranormal. Anyway, I'll let the books speak for themselves and do half my list today and half tomorrow. All the books are ones which I have read this year and were not necessarily published this year.


Contemporary
The Apothecary's Garden by Julie Bozza
This author is a bit of a find for me this year. I love her intelligent writing and the way she manages to make a very large age gap work effectively as a romance in this book. Both characters were charming and the story has stayed with me long after I finished.  Review here.

Honourable Mention: Compulsion by Clare London



Mystery
The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles
A book which fits into several categories but the main plot is centred round an investigation into a family curse. Loved the characters and the way they are drawn to each other. Loved the setting and the build up to the plot. I can't wait for the next book which is due at the end of January. Review here.

Honourable Mention: Boystown 5: Murder Book by Marshall Thornton



Fantasy
The Archer's Heart by Astrid Amara
Wonderful sweeping epic of a fantasy that gripped me from page one. Review here.

Honourable Mention: Bound by Megan Derr



Futuristic
Barbarossa's Bitch by Angelia Sparrow and Naomi Brooks
Not one for the faint hearted but this sometimes chilling, sometimes heartwarming look at a post-apocalyptic society was compelling. The world building was detailed and intense. Highly recommended. Review here.

Honourable Mention: Zero Hour by Jordan Castillo Price



Science Fiction
Bone Rider by J Fally
This book had a cinematic feel to it that I found pleasing and in keeping with the fast paced plot. It was also chock full of humour and great characterisation. Mini review here.

Honourable Mention: Cold Front by Ann Somerville



Paranormal
Widdershins by Jordan L. Hawk
Another book that fits into several categories! I loved both books in this series, especially the two main characters and their opposite personalities. I'm looking forward to the next book. Review here.

Honourable Mention: Winter Wolf by SP Wayne



Horror
Stung by KA Merikan
Disturbing story with a sweet thread of romance running through it. One of the best zombie books I've read in that it turns the genre on its head and does something different. This will not appeal to everyone, but fans of horror will find it a treat. Review here.

Honourable Mention: Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot by Selah March



YA
Something Like Autumn by Jay Bell
A must read for followers of this series. It had me in tears but I loved seeing the events of previous books from Jace's point of view and getting to know him better as a character. Book 4 in this series can't come fast enough for me. Review here.

Honourable Mention: Glitter by Ayla Star



And that's it for today. Come back tomorrow for the last set of books, including my book of the year.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Guest Post: How being part of the UK Meet has helped with my new release by Liam Livings

It's my very great pleasure to introduce the very lovely Liam Livings to Well Read. Liam has been a big part of the organising team for the UK Meet and is now celebrating the release of his first book, Christmas Serendipity. When we talked about this guest post, I asked Liam whether he would do something about the influence that the UK Meet has had on him as an author, and good egg as he is he agreed! Over to you, Liam. 



How being part of the UK Meet has helped with my new release

Without UK Meet I definitely wouldn’t be celebrating the release of my first piece of published writing. Without UK Meet I would still be sitting alone at home not knowing where to send my manuscript. There are so many ways in which UK Meet has helped, I’ve tried to list some of them – because I like a list, that’s just me :).

It’s through UK Meet that I’ve met my writing family: my writing mothers/aunties/brothers/sisters. And it genuinely does feel like another family I’ve got to know through UK Meet.


  1. Since the UK Meet 2012 in Brighton, which I attended on the recommendation of Clare London, I’ve met a group of friendly, helpful authors and readers. The amusing link, which the BF and I explained at a party at Clare’s house a number of times is: Clare London’s hairdresser = Liam Livings’ BF’s auntie. Got it? 
  2. Clare London read my first novel, Best Friends Perfect, not once, but twice, and gave me very helpful, constructive feedback. Without that feedback, I doubt it would have gone much further than my laptop, Gummidge’s hard drive. It’s going to be published as a series of books, the first of which comes out in spring 2014. Clare London was also there with Christmas Serendipity and gave it exactly what it needed, a damn good edit. It came out the other side of Clare’s red pen a much stronger story. 
  3. At UK Meet 2012 I found out how to make a website and blog from some friendly authors. Without them I’d still just have my liamlivings@gmail.com email address. Since UK Meet I somehow found the knowledge and courage to make my own website and blog. All this from me, someone who’s a real technophobe. 
  4. Since UK Meet 2012 I’ve been on the organising UK Meet team, and have got to know Jo Myles,  JL Merrow, Charlie Cochrane and Clare London much better. They’ve all been there when I’ve asked daft questions about publishing/writing/anything to do with writing really. And in return hopefully I’ve helped in my own small way to make UK Meet a bigger better event for all. 
  5. I met a great group of people at UK Meet 2013 who volunteered to be my beta readers from now on. This has been invaluable as previously, I was relying a bit too much on friends & family. I still have some helpful friends who beta for me, but now I think it’s more balanced. 
  6. I found out about Nanowrimo from Anna Martin and Becky Black, both in person at UK Meet and through their blogs. Knowing about Nanowrimo meant Novemember 2013 I wrote a first draft of my next novel, called Guardian Angel. This gave me the kick I needed to get a draft down. 
  7. I’ve had guest blog posts with people I met at UK Meet to help spread my name to more readers. Thanks to Elin Gregory, she had me in her comfy chair, Becky Black, who had me as a guest on her blog, Charlie Cochrane who’s had me twice on her blog, The Romaniacs and RJ Scott for that. Without these people I wouldn’t have known where to talk about Christmas Serendipity on the internet. 
  8. The Romaniacs guest post, which was set up by Charlie Cochrane, as she’s friends with Laura James,  led me to finding out about the RNA, and attending the London Chapter meetings, which led me to attend a local writers group as Jean Fullerton lives near me and attends both. 


As one of my friends said to me, ‘Once it starts it will roll!!’ And it all started from me coming to UK Meet 2012.

Thanks to all these lovely people, I am proud to say my first piece of published writing is now available.


About Liam Livings 

Three things about him – there are five more on the website, one is a lie.

1) He lives, with his partner and cats, where east London ends and becomes nine-carat-gold- highlights-and-fake-tan-west-Essex.
2) He was born in Hampshire with two club feet (look it up, it’s not nice) and problem ears, needing grommets: this meant he was in plaster from toe to groin until he was two, and had to swim with a cap and olive oil soaked lamb’s wool over his ears - olive oil bought from a health food shop, before it was sold by supermarkets.
3) He started writing when he was 14: sat in French lessons during a French exchange trip, for want of anything better to do, he wrote pen portraits about his French exchange’s teachers. He wrote for his school’s creative writing magazine and still writes a diary every day. 

How to get in touch with Liam Livings:
www.liamlivings.com
www.liamlivings.com/blog.html
@LiamLivings on Twitter
https://www.facebook.com/liam.livings
He told me he’s new to facebook, so please be gentle with him.

Christmas Serendipity 

Just before the Christmas holiday, in a snowy small town in England, refugees of Christmas bad luck, handyman, plumber Christian and office worker David find themselves thrown together at miss Organiser, Cathy’s non-family Christmas.

Christian thinks the world has ended as his parents get used to him being gay, and disinvite him to their Christmas. David has just been fired from his waiting job, and is still getting used to the fact that he has dumped him. Although David’s ex was a useless cheating, money grabbing waste of space, he was at least, David’s useless, cheating, money grabbing waste of space. And now David doesn’t even have that. He’s not in the mood for a night out with his best friend, camp Tony, just before Christmas. Instead they retire to Cathy and Tony’s place, to find a quiet Christian.

With Cathy’s organizational skills and enthusiasm, these four spend a non-family Christmas together, making the best of it. Together they drink, eat and play their way through Christmas, surprising each other at how it turns out, and how well they all get to know one another during the short break.

Refugees of serendipity and luck, David and Christian realize that spending the holiday season together may be just what they both needed, when they both needed it. They find that apart from both just escaping from awful relationships, they also have much more in common.

Excerpt

We talked late into the night, moving onto Cathy’s special Christmas spirits.

“Only to be drunk at this time of year,” she explained. She appeared with a tray of snowballs—yellow advocaat and lemonade, foaming with a little red cherry perched on top of each one. “This’ll send us to sleep,” she advised.

We took it in turns to throw more wood onto the fire, until we ran out. Cathy announced she was going to bed. She’d made up the spare room for Christian, and she pointed to the sofa in the corner for me.

I looked at her, feeling slightly light-headed from the alcohol, and started to ask if she’d show me how to make it up. Before I could say anything more, somehow she’d managed with just one hand, to turn it into a bed and cover it with perfect duvet and pillows.

“Thanks, Cathy. Night.” I stood up, a little unsteadily. She kissed my cheek.

“Night boys.” And she made her way up the stairs.

Tony followed, waving goodnight to us both. And then there were two. I’ll admit I did consider, for a brief moment, just following Christian to his room. But I decided he wasn’t that sort of boy, and really, neither was I. So instead, I opted for an awkward goodnight hug/kiss, standing over the remains of the Indian takeaway in the middle of the floor. The gentle glow from the fire and a few candles around the room gave the only light. He kissed my cheek and I his, before lingering for a moment too long on his neck, holding the hug as long as I could manage without seeming creepy. I felt his breath on my neck and I felt myself responding in my boxer shorts. We both pulled back and stared into each other’s eyes, his warm breath mixing with mine as I breathed in and out. He smiled. I stared into his deep blue eyes and kissed him again, this time with our tongues exploring each other’s mouths. He gently bit my bottom lip and a jolt went to my groin. I felt his hand on my bum, trying to pull me towards him, despite our legs being a few feet apart, separated by the takeaway. We fell onto the sofa, his small frame landing gently on my muscly chest. He sat astride me, leaning down and continuing to kiss me. His hands caressed my pectoral muscles under my T-shirt, tweaking my nipples, harder and harder.

Maybe he was that sort of boy, and maybe I was too.

****

Christmas Serendipity is OUT NOW published by JMS.

Buy links:  JMS books Smashwords

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Saturday Shorts

Wow, it's been a long time since I've done one of these. However, now that Brief Encounters is no more, I wanted to post some catch up reviews and this seemed the best way.

Taking a Chance by Anne Brooke
Benjamin meets a sexy man who is standing outside a restaurant waiting for a blind date. On impulse, Benjamin decides to pose as 'Timothy', only to find out that he may have bitten off more than he can chew when David starts talking about dominance, submission and safe words.

I very much enjoyed this cheeky story which managed to be blistering hot whilst retaining a lighthearted tone. I was a bit worried at first that Benjamin was going to be found out and then all would be tense and embarrassing, but I should have known that I'm safe in this author's hands and instead was treated to an emotionally gripping story where we see Benjamin begin to flower as a submissive. My only real complaint was that it was too damn short and I wanted to follow their relationship further on from where the story stopped. It also meant that whilst David was kind and likable, he remains a little under-developed because the focus is on Benjamin and his feelings. Having said that, this is definitely worth reading, especially if you are a fan of BDSM romance books. Grade: Excellent.


Sweet and Sour by Astrid Amara
This isn't a short story, but at 40,000 words fits nicely into the novella bracket. The story tells of Miles who owns a pickle shop and deli in Seattle (the sort of shop you would almost never find in the UK!). He's recently expanded and is supposed to be helped by his lover Itai except Itai is more interested in his ex and the start-up they have created. Miles is becoming suspicious of Itai's fidelity and annoyed that he's been left doing all the work. When undercover cop, Nic, arranges to work in the deli as part of a drugs sting, Miles is happy for the help and pleased when he and Nic seem to have so much in common.

I always love this author's Hanukkah stories and this was another enjoyable one, although maybe not her best. It's tough to make a new romance work over a restricted time period and yet I felt this was done successfully here. Miles is coming to the end of his relationship with Itai and the focus of the story is that sad decline contrasted with the beginnings of a new friendship/relationship with Nic. This means that we see quite a lot of scenes with Miles and Itai and part of me wished there had been less of that and more between Miles and Nic. I loved the way that Miles' job is shown, his love for the deli and the care and consideration he puts into his dishes, pickles and chutneys, made him stand out in the book as rounded, realistic and very sympathetic but also meant that Nic and Itai were less fleshed out. In particular, I wanted to know more about Itai who seems to have had an interesting past and it was good that he wasn't painted as a complete villain but someone with issues that would certainly be good fodder for a sequel/spin off book :). Overall, though this was a very pleasant read which left me feeling good and passed a cold afternoon rather nicely. Grade: Very Good.