Friday, January 23, 2015

Fool's Errand by Chris Quinton

Title: Fool's Errand
Author: Chris Quinton
Purchase through Manifold Press (publisher's online shop ceased for now; all purchase links on the site though)
Purchase at Allromanceebooks
Genre: Mystery/ Fantasy/ futuristic
Length: 40.000 words/ 142 pages
All Formats

First in the Fool’s Odyssey Trilogy - Xavi is a sometime hooker, sometime gigolo, working the rich pickings of wealthy tourists and bored socialites of Barcelona in 2042. His current meal ticket is Sophia Matas, the wife of a prominent politician. Then Sophia is assassinated and he’s the only witness. Within hours, Xavi finds himself in protective custody and in a safe house. His guardian is Andreas, a vampire liaising with the Barcelona police.

Andreas needs to exert control - of himself, his abilities, and his relationships. Now he must keep Xavi safe. If he can keep Xavi in one place long enough. They embark on an affair that will define who and what they are, played out in an deadly dance of kill-or-be-killed danger.


 The Fool’s Odyssey trilogy: Book One


When Xavi becomes an accidental witness to the murder of a wealthy woman he knows exactly what to do – get the hell out of there, fast! Xavi lives on the edge of the law; he and the police don’t exactly mix. Unfortunately the cop who is sent after him turns out to have some rather unusual abilities, so it isn’t long before their paths cross – which is roughly when Xavi begins to realise that getting caught may be the very least of his troubles.

This book was published as early as 2010; I've had it sitting on my TBR forever. Now that I've read this I'm kicking myself why I didn't so sooner...
This book is marked futuristic, but since it's set in a not-so distant future the socio-cultural rules, everyday happenings and character's mindsets still felt familiar to me. Only difference: Vampires aren't a mere legend anymore; about a decade ago, they pleaded successfully before the UN to be recognized as a nation. Now a largely autonomous commune of vampires peacefully farms a stretch of land near Barcelona. This is about the extent of Vampiric worldbuilding we get in this book, aside from the fact that the Vampire society created some kind of police force for themselves, the Wardens; one of which, Andreas Rousakis, serves as a liaison to the Barcelona Police

I often find vampire books off-putting for the elaborate vampiric worlds and societies described; sometimes I feel like I've read similar things over and over with only the slightest varieties ever since I picked up my first Anne Rice book. But nothing of that sort occurs in here. The vampire lore in this book is interesting, but only hinted at; the story is more character-driven, focusing on how Andreas and Xavi find their way together. And yet, Andreas's vampiric nature is an intricate part of both the underlying crime/ thriller plot and the budding relationship between him and Xavi.
 
I really really liked street-smart, no-pushover Xavi. Andreas, on the other hand, remained a bit more inaccessible to me; maybe because he's meant to be a bit of a mystery while yet fulfilling most Vamp clichés in line with expectations (and additionally shows some interesting Werewolf traits...)
 
I loved the writing, it pulled me in from the first sentence onward and never let go. A totally engrossing book that makes me curious about the rest of the series. Five marbles



PS: As of today, 1/23/2015, this book is available for FREE through all purchase links!

 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

An Uncommon Whore by Belinda McBride

Title: An Uncommon Whore
Author: Belinda McBride
Purchase at Loose Id
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: PL Nunn
Genre: Science Fiction
Length: 139 pages est, 43k words
Formats: ePub, MOBI, PDF

"As a general rule, you won't find the love of your life while you're on your knees under a table."
-- Helios Dayspring

Pasha is a slave, whoring for travelers at the most dangerous bar on Warlan. He has no memory, no future of his own, yet deep inside Pasha knows that that he is meant for better things. The day that Pasha spots the dangerous pirate in the bar, he knows that he mustn't let the stranger slip away, regardless of what he must do to attract his attention.

Captain Griffin Hawke spent the greater part of a decade searching for his lost king, only to find Helios Dayspring crouched between his knees, swathed in the robes and shackles of a whore. Though he is appalled by the downfall of his king, the hardened officer finds himself falling for the allure of the sensual creature who has taken his place. Returning Helios to his position on the throne is the only right thing to do, yet Griffin knows that in doing so, he risks losing his lover forever.

"A whore is a whore is a whore, unless he's something else completely. I guess I must be an uncommon whore."
-- Helios Dayspring

~*~*~*~*

I can’t believe I hadn’t read this until now. The vivid first person narration of Helios Dayspring, sometime whore and slave, brings a whole universe to life in an economical way. With his accepting, calm demeanor, he narrates his adventures, beginning with the hours spent under the table between the knees of his rescuer and once and future lover, Captain Griffin Hawke.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A picture is worth...

This statue of Apollo stands in the Tuilleries Gardens in Paris. He's in bronze, and was created by Paul Belmondo in the twentieth century, but he figures in stories and art going back to antiquity. Apollo's the Archer, the musician with a lyre, the mover of the sun. Perhaps there's a story for him now.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Working Elf Blues by Piper Vaughn


Title: The Working Elf Blues
Author: Piper Vaughn
Purchase at All Romance  eBooks                    
Cover Artist: 
Genre:  fantasy, holiday
Length:  
Formats:  Epub, MOBI, PDF

Garnet Evergreen has never heard of an elf abandoning the North Pole for a human, but he yearns to be the first. Ever since he saw Wes, the boy with sorrowful eyes, Garnet felt an undeniable kinship. Over the years, he's watched that boy grow into a man, and now he's determined to give Wes a Christmas he'll never forget. If only Garnet had thought to test his father's sleigh before leaving...

Orphaned as a child, Wes spends every Christmas alone at his cabin. When he's woken by a suspicious boom and finds a wrecked sleigh and an unconscious elf, he doesn't know how to react. Wes isn't fanciful. He doesn't give much credence to the stories about Santa Claus and flying reindeer. But a part of him wants desperately to believe when Garnet promises forever, even if life has taught him that no one ever stays... 
Cute premise: an elf from Santa’s workshop wants to spend his life with a human, and finds a way to accomplish that. However, Garnet’s not the most deft pair of hands in the workshop, and manages to drop himself from heights and get into other predicaments from which he needs rescue. Getting pulled out of snowbanks is meet cute but rather embarrassing for the guy who’s now soaking wet.

Wes, on vacation in the frozen forest, is attracted to the inept elf, but his own history doesn’t include a lot of love, so he’s not good at recognizing what’s going on. Also, other forces are at work, both to help and to hinder, so if he gets left again by this pointy-eared Christmas present, he won’t be entirely surprised.

The whole setup is one of proving oneself, which I liked, but I was rather disturbed by one element. Garnet’s always been attracted to Wes, which fine, except, he first sees Wes as a child, and the story evolution doesn’t really start with something on the order of “this kid needs a friend and I could be that friend” and progress from there; it’s always presented as “we should be together always, even if he's not gay, oh goodie he's gay”. I could have missed something, but I don’t think so, because I was looking for it, so it comes across as creepy stalkerish. Garnet reads young, but he doesn’t read young on the par with child Wes, which... brrr. Only his extreme naiveté keeps the squick factor down. Otherwise, everything that takes place in present day is cute.

I seem to be the only one with this problem, so maybe I’m the Grinch. 3 marbles






Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Favorites of 2014

Please join me for a recap of my favorite reads from 2014. Some are from long time favorite authors, others from new to me writers, and all of them made me very, very happy.

CryselleC's favorites 2014 album on Photobucket

Thanks to everyone who came by this year, and thanks to guest reviewers Feliz Faber and Eden Winters, who might be coaxed into more reviews. Thanks to the publishers and authors who offered books, and thanks to the readers who thought I might have something useful to say.

Here's to a fabulous 2015! And keep reading!


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Blog Tour and Review: Canning the Center by Tara Lain


Welcome, Tara Lain and readers! I've just read Tara's new release, Canning the Center, and want to recommend it to you as well. Tara's stopping by with some goodies, giveaways, and above all, a good story. Check out the review, and sign up for a goodie or two.If you like hunky football players, torch singers, and some crossed motives, this is your book for sure. Let's start off with the review.

Six foot seven inch, 300 pound Jamal Jones loves football, so when he finds out the ultra-conservative owner of his new pro football team fired their current center because he’s gay, bisexual Jamal decides to stay in the closet and hang with the females. Then, at a small drag show, he comes face-to-face with his sexual fantasy in the form of Trixie LaRue, a drag queen so exquisitely convincing she scrambles Jamal’s hormones -- and his resolve to nurse his straight side.

Trevor Landry, aka Trixie LaRue, hides more than his genitals. A mathematician so brilliant he can’t be measured, Trevor disguises his astronomical IQ and his quirk for women’s clothes behind his act as a gay activist undergrad at Southern California University.

To Trevor, Jamal is the answer to a dream -- a man who can love and accept both his personas. When he discovers Jamal’s future is threatened if he’s seen with a guy, Trevor becomes Trixie to let Jamal pass as straight. But Trevor risks his position every time he puts on a dress. Is there a closet big enough to hold a football pro and a drag queen?

~*~*~*~*

I really enjoyed the hours I spent reading these two men’s story. While I didn’t read the first book in the series, that’s my loss and not for long! Both men, while very different, had their strengths and their flaws, and had to work their way to an honest relationship.

Jamal, the soft spoken rookie NFL player, knows going in that being open about his bisexuality is going to create friction. If not from his fellow players, then from management, and he’s not encouraged by the object lesson that puts him in the starting lineup. He’s an honest man and resents the deception, and it only gets harder once he meets the fabulous Trixie Larue.

Jamal’s head over heels for Trevor as Trevor and Trevor as Trixie, who sings torch songs with pointed messages. Trevor has a pretty good idea of what Jamal’s up against in the way of keeping secrets and of opposition and support for being true to himself in public. After all, Trevor is part of the problem--he's behind the heat getting turned on the team about GLBT acceptance.  Still, he’s willing to appear in public as Trixie to keep Jamal in the team’s good graces.

Trevor was a slightly problematic character for me. He was willing to function far below capacity and starve himself intellectually in a field where brilliance shows early and quirks are practically required to fit in. Perhaps that was his point, but the sense of screaming WTF was a little loud. I wasn’t sold on his family situation either: his severely demented mother read like she was 80 years old, though his hateful brother rang unfortunately true. Just—so much was stuffed farther down than I could buy into. It did make his final blossoming that much sweeter. He also demonstrates some of the practical problems of dressing in drag, from the discomfort of tucking to how to camouflage an Adam’s apple.

Football of course permeates the story, not too much for someone who isn’t especially into the game, but enough for a very firm foundation. Jamal’s teammates have some complexity: Boogaloo’s in over his head in a few directions but wants the best for his sister and teammates, and Jet the quarterback wants to focus on the game and leave personal matters outside the stadium. Jamal’s family are good, loving people, with a fair amount of idealism. A few characters are drawn with something less than subtlety: Lavinda becomes Evil Harpy Version 5, but she does force a situation into directions no one would at first believe were positive.

The plot kept me turning pages, because Trevor and Jamal kept bashing into each other's issues, whether it was picketing outside the game, prospects evaporating with the truth, or getting introduced to family. The sex was hot, although two guys with that much to lose were awfully carefree about sex in public parking lots.

The ending had a certain “ripped from the headlines” quality that made me want to dance for the appropriateness of the justice and for the joy that Jamal and Trevor can openly take in one another at last. Whatever was drawn with a slightly heavy hand gets burned away in the final chapters, and the book left me with a smile and a sigh. 4.25 marbles




Now for the goodies! Find your copy at Dreamspinner, Amazon, and all your favorite retailers.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 23. Her best­selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft. She lives with her soul­mate husband and her soul­mate dog in Laguna Beach, California, a pretty seaside town where she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”

Website: http://taralain.com/
Blog: http://www.taralain.com/blog
Twitter: https://twitter.com/taralain
FB Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/taralain
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4541791.Tara_Lain
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/taralain/

Excerpt:

Trevor stuck out a hand. “My name’s Trevor. Pleased to meet you.”

Jamal reached out to take the offered handshake and—whoops! In one gentle pull on Trevor’s arm that clearly required no effort on Jamal’s part, Trevor was up against that huge chest. “I’m Jamal. I don’t mean to be presumptuous. Just tell me to stop. But if I don’t kiss you again soon, I’m a dead man.”

Trevor smiled up into those dark brown eyes. “I would never want to be accused of murder.”

Sunday, December 21, 2014

An Angel in Eyeliner by Hunter Frost


Title: An Angel in Eyeliner
Author: Hunter Frost
Purchase at Amazon 
Purchase at Smashwords 
Cover Artist:  C.M. Walker
Genre:  holiday, contemporary
Length:  10k
Formats:  MOBI, ePub

All Mitch wants for Christmas is a quiet holiday free from grief. Patching up the target of a mugging in the back alley of his bar seems to throw that wish right out into the cold Chicago night. But the tatted, pierced, and skinny-jean wearing Keller Graham is fearless and proves to be more than a pair of icy blue eyes lined in black. Keller may be a thief, but Mitch never expected him to steal his lonely heart.
 Holiday insta-love, both charming and a bit far fetched. Mitch, former military medic turned barkeeper, rescues Keller from some toughs trying to rob him, and they end up spending what would be their lonely and grim Christmases together. Keller’s banter is witty, the kind that keeps the world at bay until he chooses to let someone in. Mitch is more literal. This works to his detriment toward the end of the story, where he doesn’t look past the first and obvious interpretation, and ends up eating his words.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Boyfriend Mandate by River Jaymes

Title: The Boyfriend Mandate
Author: River Jaymes
Publisher: Self published/ Amazon
Cover Artist: n/a
Length: Novel (284 pages)
Formats: Mobi

Guest review from Feliz

Stuntman and two-time cancer survivor Memphis Haines excels at beating the odds. When he’s presented with the opportunity to help his ex-boyfriend with a charity event, he jumps at the chance to make up for the devastating way he left Tyler ten years ago. Memphis might have taken the college geek’s virginity, but the former mathelete is now a hell of a head turner. And Dr. Tyler Hall’s cool reserve is a challenge Memphis can’t resist. A self-confessed rule breaker and line crosser, he keeps turning up the heat with one goal in mind: to melt the man’s composure.

Tyler Hall sticks to one simple mandate: no more dating ex-boyfriends. Ever. He certainly isn't interested in hooking up with Memphis Haines, the ex who jumps off buildings, dodges explosions, and poses for designer underwear ads. Ten years ago, falling for Memphis changed Tyler’s life. The man’s abrupt departure turned his world inside out. But he moved on long ago. Besides, he has a clinic for the homeless to run, patients to take care of, and no time to deal with the trouble his ex brings. Memphis, however, seems determined to rehash the past. And his boxer-dropping grin, hard body, and confident charm are resurrecting ultra-hot memories best not remembered, making Tyler’s rule harder and harder to keep...


I enjoyed the first book in this series, The Backup Boyfriend, so I could barely wait for this one to come out.

And I really liked this book too, although not quite as much as the first in the series. More about this later. First the pros:

The writing was wonderful, catchy and smooth (aside from those annoyingly overused expletives--"Judas Priest" and "Jesus Haploid Christ"--ehm, wait, what?) Tyler, whom I didn't care for all that much during the first book, really grew on my during this one. In the first boo, he was a cold, detached asshole, but the details on his backstory revealed here made me understand him much better, made him appear human, and by the end, I'd come to care for him a lot.

Friday, December 19, 2014

From All of Us to All of You by Ofelia Grand



Title: From All of Us to All of You
Author:  Ofelia Grand
Purchase at Amazon
Purchase at All Romance  eBooks                    
Cover Artist:  N/A
Genre:  Contemporary, holiday
Length:  12k
Formats:  Mobi, epub, PDF

Simon hates the Holidays. It’s the same every year - awaiting the dreaded Christmas Eve, when his father gets drunk, while the family fake Christmas spirit and strain to hear the TV over Dad’s snoring. This year, Simon’s sister is celebrating Christmas elsewhere, leaving him to deal with their parents on his own. But there’s a glimmer of hope. A work colleague introduces Simon to her son Hannes at the Lucia Day celebrations, the trouble being that Simon mistakenly believes it’s a blind date, and as if that isn’t embarrassing enough, Hannes wants them to be friends, and Simon’s starting to see signals that aren’t there. He’s beginning to wonder if he’ll make it through Christmas with his sanity intact.

~*~*~*~*

What a sweet, heart-breaking story. We all know that secrets lurk under holiday cheer, and poor Simon and his family have more than most. With the pall cast by Simon’s alcoholic father over the day, and over his life, Simon has more holiday horror than most. He’s making internal bets about how long his father will remain upright on Christmas Day, and it’s clear Simon’s whole life is colored deeply by being the child of an alcoholic. “Normal” is a myth, not his reality, therapist or no.