Falling Hard features nine of Dale Cameron Lowry’s best short romance stories, available for the first time in one book. Meet a sign language interpreter who finds unexpected love at middle-age, college students in their first relationships, a vampire who would rather be a vegan, and a proudly gay ex-Mormon atheist who sells Bibles for a living. From sweet to erotic, this collection exhibits the quirkiness, fun, and diversity Dale’s writing is known for.
Falling Hard – The Anthology:
Reading and doing a review of Falling Hard was an easy yes for me as, fortunately, I had previously sampled some of Dale Cameron Lowry’s work and had really enjoyed it, so… being that there were new, as yet unread, stories in this anthology it was an easy, logical decision.
The stories are all excellent in their own right, each fully developed and highly enjoyable in their short story format. The stories ramp up in from mild to scorching hot as they go on in the book which makes for a really nice progression. The emotional and romantic quotient is there and the heat factor is definitely there.
Of course, I have my favorites as I’m sure you will too. Let me know which ones you favor.
Sit back and enjoy!
• Mi Alma — Ex-Mormon Alma Larsen doesn’t know the first thing about alcohol, so he hires bartender Damian Banks to help out at his winter holiday party. They build a friendship that simmers with sexual tension—and possibly something much deeper. • Loggerhead – Soon after they fall in love, Jake makes Eric a promise inspired by an old track uniform. But demanding work schedules at Jake’s four-star restaurant and Eric’s newspaper keep them from following through. Six years later, they take the honeymoon they never had, heading to the Florida coast in search of sea turtles—and rekindling their passion for each other in the process. • Reading the Signs — The only thing twenty-three-year-old Theo De Jong expects when he enrolls in a summer school for linguists in New Mexico is to get more ideas for his master’s thesis in Dutch Sign Language. But then he meets the American sign language expert Alfonso Grossman, and sparks fly. • Born of Fire — The fairies on Ireland’s north coast are notorious for kidnapping, and Aodhán of County Donegal has the scars to prove it. When the fairies abduct the handsome youth Cainnech, Aodhán seeks to free him—but risks losing his health and Cainnech in the process. • Ghost of a Chance — When shy Jeremy Anderson meets mysterious and dapper Frank at his spooky old university library, their connection is instant. Their romance waxes with the full moon—but just as quickly, Frank’s interest seems to wane. He insists that he loves spending time with Jeremy, but then why does he keep Jeremy at arm’s length? • Far From Home — Rajiv met and fell in love with his husband, Mateo, when they were both members of the scientific team responsible for transforming Mars into a home suitable for humans. But years into their shared mission, Rajiv is ordered back to Earth to restore the barren lands of the American Midwest. With a little help from technology, the two men find innovative ways to nurture their long-distance relationship while they wait to reunite. • Sweeter Than Blood — Keith was a vegan before a hot encounter with a stranger turned him into a vampire. In the year since, his sire, John, has tried to make up for the mistake by teaching Keith everything he knows about being a non-murderous bloodsucker. But temptation is strong in the form of Andres, a regular customer at the barbershop where Keith works. When Andres finally asks Keith on a date, the real danger begins. • Rough Love — Blake thinks new boyfriend Michael doesn’t like French kissing. Michael thinks Blake doesn’t like rough sex. Neither are virgins, except in the art of conversation. Can they set things straight before the honeymoon’s over? • Pacific Rimming — On Mike’s fortieth birthday, his husband, Ken, takes him on vacation to Vancouver Island in Western Canada to celebrate. While Mike mourns his loss of youth, Ken encourages him to recapture it by bedding a gorgeous twenty-something man they encounter while hiking in Pacific Rim National Park. A night of no-holds-barred passion among the three men reveals a sizzling chemistry, and when Mike and Ken return home they find themselves longing to reconnect with the young Jason. Can what started as a one-night stand transform into a threesome that lasts?
Dale Cameron Lowry lives in the Upper Midwest with a partner and three cats, one of whom enjoys eating dish towels, quilts, and wool socks. It’s up to you to guess whether the fabric eater is one of the cats or the partner. When not busy mending items destroyed by the aforementioned fabric eater, Dale is a writer and editor who enjoys wasting time on Tumblr, listening to podcasts, studying anatomy, getting annoyed at Duolingo, and reading fairy tales. Previous careers include sign language linguist, grocery store clerk, journalist, gardener, and camp counselor.
Dale began writing for fun at the age of eight and has been making up stories ever since, from overly workshopped literary fiction to off-the-cuff fanfic. Queer Mormons have a way of popping up in Dale’s work, whether it’s romance or erotica, sci fi or fairy tales, slice-of-life contemporary fiction or spine-tingling horror. So do immigrants and emigrants, people with disabilities, multilingual folks, and others who live their lives navigating multiple cultures.
Maybe Charlie should have waited until he graduated high school before coming out, because since that revelation there’s been a growing distance between him and his friends. Charlie’s tough, though. He doesn’t mind eating lunch alone or watching his former gang interact with their new best buddy. What he does mind is seeing Drew Lavoitt suffer the same fate.
Drew didn’t come out. As far as he, or anyone else knows, he’s straight. What Drew did is accidentally hit and kill a little girl. Now the boy who was voted Most Popular, and who Charlie has maybe had a crush on since eighth grade, faces financial ruin, expulsion, and the fear that if he’s not everything, he’s not enough.
Popularity, wealth, acclaim—these things are easily lost. In each other’s arms, Drew and Charlie find something that can’t be taken from them. Together the two build a foundation on which they can re-create their lives.
WHEN IT ALL FALLS DOWN
So… you’re thinking a YA book, right? Well yes, and it’s so, so much more. In reality this is a coming of age story more than a YA book, and in that it excels brilliantly! I didn’t know I needed a good, well written, gay coming of age story until I read When It All Falls Down. I was absorbed into the story and I could not put it down. What a sweet/bittersweet/enlightening story this is. Trust me, this is a great read, told well.
Andrew ‘Drew’ Lavoitt:
Andrew Lavoitt was never meant to be an island. He was the most popular boy in our graduating class after all. Literally. In our yearbook, fresh off the presses last week, there was a photo labelled Most Popular Boy, and the photo was of Andrew Lavoitt—lacquered dark brown hair and wide, dark brown eyes, dressed in a lime green polo and over-dyed skinny jeans, sporting a grin so sincere it didn’t make you want to smack it off his face, not even with the label “Most Popular” hanging over his head.
Charlie ‘Chaz’ Steger:
“Hair wants to be free,” I joked. I pushed back my own hair which hung straight, falling down to my shoulders. Most days I tied it up because the fine blond strands got everywhere… My dad didn’t bug me about my hair, but he bugged me about plenty. I’d never gone full Emo or Goth but I preferred the dark look—studded belt, heavy boots, a little black nail polish for special occasions. My dad’s objection was that I was stereotyping myself, that I was too cliché, but you gotta find a place to fit in somewhere. I might be smart and into computers and math, but I wasn’t doing the button-up geek thing full-on any more than I was the Emo/Goth thing. A healthy mix, right?
When It All Falls Down is a wonderful, enjoyable MM coming of age story, brought up to 21st Century standards and it excels in its delivery and execution.
The story of Drew, voted most popular boy in his class and now a social pariah due to a horrible accident that cost a little girl her life, and Chaz, geek extraordinaire that comes out to his close circle of friends only to be shunned by them, is completely riveting as an updated, gay version of The Breakfast Club.
As Chaz and Drew draw each other out of their somewhat self-imposed shells, we witness what we’ve all gone through as they come into their own selves along with their friends and school mates. The sense of wonderment and discovery, uncertainties and apprehensions, joys and fears in this book is simply, wonderfully brilliant in their honesty and delivery.
Ms. Chris’ writing is uncomplicated, unhurried and extremely enjoyable. The story flows smoothly and grabbed me and hugged me so I couldn’t let go, couldn’t put this book down. I must give a nod to the editing in this book. Fantastic editing, well done.
One personal note: The book cover is so spot on that it’s freaky! I rarely comment on the covers, however this one couldn’t be more of a snapshot if it tried. It rocks!
Tanya writes in a variety of romantic and erotic genres, being an avid follower of many of these genres herself. Some of her favorites are M/M romance, MFM threesomes, and BDSM with male submissives.
Tanya lives in New England with her boyfriend and her cat and has participated in many of the activities about which she writes, but not all of them. It’s left to the reader to decide which are which.
Don’t forget to check out the giveaway package JLT has put together for a very lucky winner at the end of this down and dirty interview.
The Debauched Denial Interview – Part 2
Thanks so much for the privilege of this interview. I’ve been dying to ask you some questions about Wes’ Denial.
OK, here goes: As a Dom, I’ve focused more on Wes than Grif, even though I love Grif for reasons we’ll get into…
OJ – How did you get into a Dom’s head space so well. It was pretty darn much on point. You pretty much got it. How?
JLT – Wow! No, I’m serious, WOW! Thank you so much for that compliment, OJ. As I was saying to Lisa, one of the most challenging things about writing Wes’ Denial was trying to ensure I got the ‘feeling’ of being a Dom down. I’m a sub – something I find great fulfillment in – and I have no desire to dominate another person sexually, so this particular aspect of the book was concerning for me. To be honest, it took me a little bit to find an angle I felt comfortable writing from. What I came up with was this: What do I, as a submissive, ‘hope’ a Dom is feeling when he’s with a sub – when he’s with me? I found that if I wrote that, that if I tapped into what I truly hoped a Dom was experiencing on an emotional level – the exhilaration of hurting, or humiliating, or controlling his sub – I could give voice to that. The following passage from Grif’s Toy finds Wes and Grif deep in a sexual scene and picks up with Wes asking Grif a question:
“And if it’s pain I decide I’d like to offer your meager prick? If it’s seeing you hurt that makes me hard, that gives me pleasure?”
And there it was, the key combination. Sure, I enjoyed the submission, the pain, and the denigration. But it was the combination—the indubitable knowledge—that he enjoyed my submission, inflicting the pain, and delivering the denigration, as much as I enjoyed receiving it. That’s where the complete bliss lay.
The above succinctly conveys my personal feelings about being a sub. Sure, I enjoy much of what trips Grif’s trigger but, like Grif, I wouldn’t enjoy having any of it done if I weren’t absolutely certain my Dom were deriving just as much pleasure and fulfillment out of doing those things to me. Knowing, without question, that he is enjoying hurting me, degrading me, using me for his desires… I have known no greater pleasure! With those basic truths and tenets in mind, I set about writing Wes’ character.
OJ – Grif is phenomenal. Again, how did you get into that headspace. He’s a complete person, tell me about that – getting into that subspace.
JLT – *blushes* Again, thank you. I admit, writing Grif – both his character, and from his perspective – was relatively easy. As I mentioned, we share very similar sexual tastes. So, once I overcame my initial hesitation of putting into writing some of the most private aspects of my life (Grif and I share not only congruent sexual kinks, but also certain anatomy characteristics) I found writing him – and his story – both easy and surprisingly liberating.
OJ – Henrik and Paul. Wow. OK. The two scenes with them. How did you develop those? I’m really curious here. They’re off the scale. Really?
JLT – Those two characters not only profoundly impact how Wes sees himself, but they are also pivotal to the overall arc of Wes’ Denial. Without delving too deeply into the scenes themselves, I will say they had to be hard-hitting. Indeed, each were defining moments in Wes’ life and colored many of his future decisions. Thus, the challenge in writing them was twofold: one, their significance would need to be unquestionable, and two, they had to be written in a way that was truthful to Wes’ character. I believe within each of us lies the ability to do something heinous, something tragic, something unforgivable, if the right circumstances present themselves. The key, I believe, when writing a story is finding the exact circumstances that both fit the character and, when presented with them, will subsequently push that character over the edge…cause him to (justifiably?) do something he’d never otherwise do. And, not coincidentally, both of the future-shaping events/scenes you mentioned, OJ, are motivated by love and compassion. Wes feels deeply and with his entire being.
OJ – Grif’s Toy and Wes’ Denial was not a quick project. How did you plot these two out, or did one come naturally out of the other?
JLT – LOL! I laugh because these books were a VERY lengthy process. The first draft of Grif’s Toy was written in just under 4 weeks. That’s about six chapters a week, or slightly under a chapter a day. Needless to say, when I started writing, things just…flowed. But, that was just the first draft – countless others would follow. Wes’ Denial was written directly after that. In fact, some rather small parts were penned while I was writing Grif’s Toy. Both books were written in the spring/summer of 2013. Grif’s Toy wouldn’t be published until the fall of 2014, and Wes’ Denial was just released last week. To describe the process of shaping Grif’s Toy from ‘first draft’ to ‘publication ready’ as a learning experience would be a huge understatement. I wrote both books without any prior writing experience at all. (I don’t consider the mandatory writing I did while in college worthy of the designation ‘experience’.)
It’s generally accepted that there are two types of writing: 1) Plotting – meaning the entire book is plotted out prior to writing the first word, and 2) Pantsing – meaning nothing is plotted out and one simply sits down and starts writing. With the exception of the beginning and the ending of both books, I Pantsed the entire thing. I knew where each would start, and where each would end, but nothing more. Aside from that, what’s on the page is the result of placing my fingers on a keyboard and letting the story take me where it would. As you might imagine, there can be some significant drawbacks to this method of writing. Pictured below are the chapters in Wes’ Denial. One night, rather than rip my hair out yet again, I took the rather drastic step of ripping the book apart, spreading it on the table, and rearranging the entire thing. Once that was done, I went about rewriting the affected parts. I now consider myself a reformed Pantser and a firm Plotter.
OJ – Thomas. I love Thomas. Might we see more of Thomas’ life in the future?
JLT – Thanks so much! I’m so glad you like him, because I simply adore him. Thomas is a much harsher Dom than Wes will ever be, but I found it nice to explore a less outwardly jovial character. Where Wes mostly derives pleasure from the psychological Thomas’ kink is much more physical. His love, his rush, his euphoria is causing physical pain. Thomas asks the question below of his sub and Wes, who were having a whispered conversation while Thomas was preparing his next implement of pain inflection:
“Are we about done with the chit-chat, ladies?” He rolled his shoulders and stretched his neck side-to-side before snipping, “My dick is hard and I want to hit someone.”
One of the things I find most attractive about Thomas, and Wes, is how they own their kinks. Neither apologizes for what turns them on – they embrace who they are, and what they like, wholly.
OJ – Quinn and Gage. What an amazing, and complimentary to Wes and Grif, couple they are. That beach scene, as a Dom, was one of the single most erotic things I’ve ever read. Creating a reward for your sub and kicking back with your fellow Dom to enjoy the results, like a fine glass of Scotch served neat. Yeah! That so works. Care to tell us more about that and perhaps there’s more to Quinn and Gage? A rich story there.
JLT – As an erotica author, I can’t easily convey how much that means to me, OJ. I write about sex, sure. And, without a doubt, I sincerely hope it titillates. However, I honestly believe their appeal is directly related to how much the reader has become invested in the story and with the characters. In fact, in addition to titillation, and of equal importance with these scenes, is conveying feelings, motivations, and forwarding the arc of the story. That difference – using sex as a vehicle – is what I feel defines and sets erotica authors aside from our non-erotica counterparts. It’s funny, I was talking about this very thing the other day with my friend Katie. Well, more specifically, we were discussing how much dialogue my sex scenes tend to contain. Again, the primary reason for that IS to further the story through sex. And why do I choose sex? Well, for one, it’s just downright fun to write about. But beyond that, it’s been my personal experience that people are either very emotionally closed, or very emotionally accessible during sex. Often times people are most real when they’re flayed open and vulnerable. And what better way to illustrate that vulnerability than to toss a submissive into an unfamiliar, perhaps even uncomfortable situation? Again, I’m so glad you found that scene enjoyable.
I also can’t easily put into words the joy writing about another D/s couple gave me. Quinn and Gage intrigue me tremendously! Of course I know most of their story; how they arrived where they are when we meet them in Wes’ Denial, what challenges they faced in the past, and some of the hurdles that face them in the future. Will their stories ever make it onto the page? I honestly have no plans to do so. But, again, never say never, right?
Thanks for stopping by and getting down and dirty with us. We sincerely cannot wait to see what other phenomenal stories you have up your sleeve, or caged up waiting for release.
Wes has spent his life looking for that one special guy who will understand and love him—all of him. From his tender vanilla side, to his darker debauched side.
Throughout high school, his successful career in the Marines, and as a BDSM Dom, he’s remained confident his partner is out there waiting to be found.
However, several events shake his normally unflappable self–assurance.
And, even after he finds Grif, will his past catch up with him and possibly drive his soul mate away?
Check out JLT’s Rafflecopter Giveaway! You won’t regret it:
JOSEPH LANCE TONLET is a born and raised Southern Californian—with a twenty-year stint of living in the Midwest. He loves the laid-back lifestyle of San Diego and considers himself lucky to live where people dream of vacationing. A lifelong reader of m/m fiction, he began his writing career one night sitting at his MacBook and has never looked back. He writes to bring the characters he dreams about to life. #PleasureThroughDenial
Jake Chivis is the descendant of Fire Elementals with a gift for psychometry, the ability to see memories from touching objects. After a bad breakup and trouble at work, Jake gave up his career as a detective in Detroit and moved to England to join a research program studying Elemental gifts at University College London. It seemed like the perfect way to escape his past and start over, and this time he’s vowed not to fall into the trap of dating a coworker. At least that’s the plan, until he meets Doctor Ilmarinen Gale.
Mari Gale is blond, sexy, relentlessly academic and comfortable in his own skin in a way Jake envies. After a handful of embarrassing encounters, Jake is ready to resign himself to staying under the radar, but when a colleague’s brother goes missing, he and Mari must work together to find him. As they dig into the inexplicable disappearance, Jake is impressed with Mari’s competence and unique skills, and even more impressed by his ability to wrap Jake around his finger. Together the unlikely pair discover murder, betrayal, secrets and just how high Mari can fan Jake’s flames.
When my evil mastermind partner in crime and book hoarding enabler, Lisa Arbitrary, approached me about doing a Gay Guy/Straight Girl co-review for Breathing Betrayal I must admit I was somewhat hesitant about it. My TBR list is kilometers long and I’m trying to get with the deadlines… and then I read the blurb. Drats, foiled again because PNR !!! I am such a sucker for a good PNR story and the blurb read really good, so off I went. Man, am I glad I went! I am now hooked in for the remainder of this series as I want to see where it goes from here and also because good sex! Need I say more?
I think I’ve found a new series to follow. A character driven murder mystery that captivated me more with relationship development than plot, but it all fit well together.
Lester in the print room said he was American, though Mari thought there was a slightly Hispanic look to his rough-cut, thick black hair and darkly handsome features. Maybe Romani, even? He couldn’t be sure. He was well built without looking chunky, except when he was bundled up in several layers of damp running gear, and almost as tall as Mari’s six-foot-two-inch frame, which was a plus. It got embarrassing trying to flirt with men who were forced to look up at him all the time. Not that he had any idea if Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome was even that way inclined.
Ilmarinen (Mari) Gale:
Now during his morning runs, he was distracted by looking around to see if he’d catch sight of a particular slender figure whose long legs ate up the distance like the wind. Jake told himself that he was only looking so that he could avoid him, and thereby avoid having to make polite conversation. It definitely wasn’t because of the way the ridiculously tight Lycra leggings he wore outlined every muscle in his lean thighs or the way his perfect ass looked so tasty in them. No, not at all.
Both of these guys are surprisingly fresh. They are believable, unique and flawed. The romantic relationship surprised me over and over. It isn’t perfect and that made it special.
“We keep finding the most inappropriate places to make out, you know.”
Dr. Ilmarinen Gale (Mari)
What a name, right? And right from the start I liked him. He’s flamboyant, flirtatious, continental, mouthy, brilliant and secretly reserved. Fabulous contrasts in his character. His gift: Human-cyber Interface
And I just love Mari’s mom!
Sometimes it was a pain in the ass to be both a psychic and a skeptic.
Sturdy, solid, steady, stable, SEXY and quite un-confident. American. Not Mari’s typical pick. His gift: Psychometry, clairvoyance.
Ilmarinen (Mari) Gale and Jake Chivis find themselves at crossroads in their respective lives, both of them wanting to move on from previous, ill fitted, and ill fated, relationships and looking for new starts in their lives. Mari, one of the precious few pure human-cyber Interfaces—men and women able to engage their minds directly with telecommunications networks and the worldwide web and Jake, whose Elemental prowess is the psychic ability to relive past scenes by touching objects – experiencing the scenes through the eyes of the person who had held the object at the time in question, end up working at University College London as part of the Six Elements Worldwide Network (SEWN) universities program under Dr. Anthony Weston, whose brother, Phil, has mysteriously disappeared.
As Mari and Jake get drawn into finding the missing Phil Weston with their paranormal Elemental abilities, they are inexorably drawn together and caught in a web of deceit, mystery and espionage.
I must say, as story plots go, this is one of the better ones I have experience for a good PNR.
Dr. Ilmarinen Gale and former detective, Jake Chivas, are pressured to collaborate on a work related mystery. The two men have previously “noticed” each other running in the park and after a brief but flirty encounter they are both uncomfortable being put on such a task. But when the big boss makes the request it’s hard to say no. They’re just going to be professional, do the minimum, and get back to their normal routines. Yeah. Right.
As they delve deeper into a mysterious disappearance, they also delve deeper into each other’s pants. The mystery pales in the background for a good portion of the book while we get to explore these men and they explore each other. But it picks up eventually and it winds along with a couple of twists and turns. I can’t say it was this aspect of the book that riveted me, but that’s okay, because the relationship development held my interest. To be clear, the mystery was fine, fully fleshed,just not earth-shattering. The characters though, they rocked my world.
The writing caught me totally flat footed. I truly did not expect such good storytelling craftsmanship as I found here. Right away, right from the Prologue into the story, it just flows smoothly making for a pleasant, well edited book. One gets to know the characters and what makes them tick, their desires and fears and hurdles they’ve experienced in the past. The writing is imbued with a good sense of humor and I could feel Mari’s pathos from his previous relationships and the performance hurdle he can’t seem to overcome. The sex scenes are smoking good and the role reversal between the two MC’s is delicious. All of the characters have a sufficient development to not leave us hanging and the exquisitely detailed descriptions of each character is so refreshing! The ending is perfect for a continuing series. I highly recommend this for a good, PNR read.
One suggestion, if I may be so bold, to these two talented authors: perhaps in future books the paranormal abilities can be involved in the MC’s sex scenes? I found myself craving this. It was kind of like a missing, tantalizing piece.
A straightforward and uncomplicated writing style made this a readable read. It wasn’t heady by any stretch. I particularly like the believable complexity the authors added to the sex scenes. I wasn’t expecting to find something surprising there. Well done.
No doubt about it, I’ll be looking for the next book in the series.
THE THREE QUESTIONS
1) Team Ilmari or Team Jake?
2) Talk to me about the sex scenes – whatcha think? Plusses/minuses?
3) Do you think Mari’s future will be interwoven in upcoming episodes?
1) Did Mari’s “different” sexual needs work?
2) Cordiline? More of him? Yes? No? (Really, that’s one question.)
3) Believable PNR or hogwash?
Originally hailing from Detroit Michigan, Bellora now resides on the sunny Gulf Coast of Florida where a herd of Dachshunds keeps her entertained. She got her start in writing at the dawn of the internet when she discovered PbEMs (Play by email) and found a passion for collaborative writing and steamy hot erotica. Soap Opera like blogs soon followed and eventually full novels. The majority of her stories are in the M/M genre with urban fantasy or paranormal settings and many with a strong BDSM flavour.
Sadie Rose Bermingham
A storyteller since before she started school, Sadie also enjoys reading, photography,
live music and long walks on the beach. Sadie has worked as a bookseller, a pedigree editor for the racing industry and a local and family history researcher. Originally from the north of England, she has been working her way across the UK ever since. She currently resides on the south east coast with her long term partner, where she hopes to buy a mobile home and establish a whippet farm.
I would like to thank Bellora Quinn and Sadie Rose Bermingham and Pride Publishing for providing OJ He Say with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Being a Hero in Panopolis means living the high life: parties, money, influence, even reality television. And I’m one of the most powerful Heroes in the city. I have plenty of fans, a manager who looks out for me (after himself), and a job that pays the bills. I should be enjoying myself.
Unfortunately, the downside of my superpower means I can’t touch anyone, which tends to put a damper on things. I probably don’t deserve all those perks anyway, since I’m working in secret with two of Panopolis’s biggest Villains to undermine GenCorp— my main sponsor and the company that controls what gets through my force field.
I obviously don’t trust my corporate overseers, but they’ve hired a new scientist who actually seems interested in helping me. Dr. Mansourian might have the answers to all my questions— not to mention a starring role in most of my dreams— but he’s hiding something big. If I let him have what he wants, I might not live to regret it.
Then again, the way things are going in Panopolis these days, I might not live either way.
Where There’s A Will
I had already read the two previous Panopolis universe books by Cari Z and, truth be told, it’s such a wonderful universe. Creating this universe populated with Heroes and Villains was, I felt, one of those strokes of literary lightning that hit every once in a while, and the way she carries it out? Yeah, good stuff!
We finally get some good answers. Lots of good answers to the questions started in the two previous books: GenCorp, Freight Train, Mr. Fabulous, Morpho Girl, the City of Panopolis, and most interestingly of all SuperTruther!
Craig Haney, A.K.A. Freight Train:
Craig Haney wasn’t an exciting guy. I’d been a fairly average kid, raised by my grandmother after my parents were killed during a battle between Earthquake and Sky King. I’d grown into a fairly average man who wasn’t smart enough to make it through college, so I’d gone into the police academy instead. I’d been a decent cop, but that was all I’d been. Then came the accident, and shortly after that, Freight Train was born.
I almost did a double take. I hadn’t even noticed the man standing there, and I definitely had reason to. …his suit had reasserted itself, as had the gray shirt he wore, and a tie that just barely kept him from being completely monochrome thanks to a faint white pinstripe running through the fabric. His blue eyes seemed bigger when I stood a few feet from him, accentuated by those thick black frames. I couldn’t make myself look away.
This is a phenomenal universe that Cari Z created. If you like the whole super hero story line, and a lot of us seem to considering movie box office proceeds, then this is fantastic! She’s created a complete universe where the Heroes and Villains co-exist with the rest of us in modern day, 21st Century America, complete with product placements, sponsorship, marketing collaterals, agents, and action figures. If you haven’t read the first two Panopolis books, I urge you to read them first as they all flow in sequence. This is the third, and hopefully not the final, episode in the series and all of the secondary characters come back, along with the previous main characters now in supporting roles.
In Where There’s a Will we get answers to the questions from the first two books and get the story of Craig Haney, Freight Train, and the guy he falls head over heels for, Dr. Ari Mansourian. We get to see how The Mad Bombardier, Raul, and Mastermind, Edward Dinges (Freight Train’s previous love interest) are getting along and what they’re up to. Sorry, no spoilers as Bombardier and Mastermind play an important part of this story. We get to re-visit the infamous Abattoir prison and the evil Dr. Steuben, and we finally get a glimpse into just who SuperTruther is!
Groovy stuff here, boys and girls. This is super hero story-telling at its finest, with the traditional super hero story arc and surprising plot twists. The story flows smoothly, no hiccups or rough sentence structures. Solid, good editing and beta/proof reading, no typos. You can just sit back and immerse yourself in a great story, buckle up and enjoy the ride. One of the hallmarks I’ve found with publishing houses such as Riptide and a few others. If you want to escape and enjoy a good book, this is it.
I would like to thank Cari Z and Riptide Publishing with providing OJ He Say! with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Cari Z is a Colorado girl who loves snow and sunshine. She likes edged weapons, prefers books to television shows, and goes weak at the knees for interesting men and exciting explosions (but not at exactly the same time— that would be so messy).
Daniel Mulligan is tough, snarky, and tattooed, hiding his self-consciousness behind sarcasm. Daniel has never fit in―not at home in Philadelphia with his auto mechanic father and brothers, and not at school where his Ivy League classmates looked down on him. Now, Daniel’s relieved to have a job at a small college in Holiday, Northern Michigan, but he’s a city boy through and through, and it’s clear that this small town is one more place he won’t fit in.
Rex Vale clings to routine to keep loneliness at bay: honing his muscular body, perfecting his recipes, and making custom furniture. Rex has lived in Holiday for years, but his shyness and imposing size have kept him from connecting with people.
When the two men meet, their chemistry is explosive, but Rex fears Daniel will be another in a long line of people to leave him, and Daniel has learned that letting anyone in can be a fatal weakness. Just as they begin to break down the walls keeping them apart, Daniel is called home to Philadelphia, where he discovers a secret that changes the way he understands everything.
In The Middle of Somewhere
I kept hearing about this book on line, on Facebook, on Twitter and everyone kept saying the same thing – how great it is, so I decided to check it out and bought a copy. What a smart move that was! Turns out all the chatter about In The Middle of Somewhere doesn’t even begin to give it justice. This is one of those you can’t put down, you stay up late into the night reading and when it’s over? One heck of a book hangover! I want more! This is storytelling at its finest, characters so well developed you feel as if you know them, unexpected developments, one hell of a story twist (sorry, no spoilers!) and toe curling, shiver inducing, steamy, romantic, full of feels hot sex. Yowza!
Handsome, fit, dark, tattooed, snarky Daniel. Son of an Irish Philadelphia family, brought up in the world of car mechanics and garages, youngest of four brothers and the only one to go to college and want a life beyond his blue collar background. Tormented by his brothers as the youngest, and even more tormented when they find out he’s gay, he wants to move on. Add a crushing experience with his first steady boyfriend in college and you get the final varnish on the emotional wall he’s built for himself and his inability to let himself be vulnerable enough to show love.
“You know,” he says, and he sounds a little shy. “You kind of look like you could be one of those old-time Hollywood leading men.” I look up at him, startled. He’s looking at me intently, leaning forward, but his eyes are sad, dark. “You’d be wasted on black and white, though. Your eyes.” He makes a vague gesture toward my face, then turns away.
Gentle, intelligent Rex. A towering man shaped and molded by growing up with his mother, a woman unlucky in love, moving from town to town, man to man in order to care for and give her son a decent life. Always shy, Rex is even further molded by a horrible incident in his youth with his first love (no spoilers!) and a deep secret about himself that he’s ashamed to share with anyone. Learning early on that life is cruel and that one way, or another, people will leave him he lives the life or a loner in the pristine forests of Michigan.
He has dark hair and eyes, and a sharp nose. That’s all I can see in the dark. But he is definitely much younger than I assumed. His low voice sounded older, but he looks like he’s in his midthirties. And up close, he is massive, with hugely broad shoulders, powerful arms, and broad hips—how much of that is flesh and how much is flannel remains to be seen. He’s nearly a head taller than me, and I’m not short.
What a great story this turns out to be. Daniel and Rex, such two different men yet so much alike in the walls they’ve built around themselves, unable to trust and love someone for fear of emotional and physical pain. Daniel scarred by his family, his ex-boyfriend and his rough and tumble upbringing in Philadelphia, and Rex. Rex terrified of losing anyone close to him, scarred by his loss of everyone close to him in his youth, he becomes determined to protect anyone the he can even remotely get close to, thus becoming a towering fortress of a man. It’s the interplay between these two characters, and those closest to them, that makes for this absolutely riveting read.
Holy Cow, Batman! What writing! Such descriptive, smooth flowing, delectable prose is a beautiful thing to find, a true joy. Ms. Parrish weaves this story flawlessly, no hiccups, no having to go back because huh?! All of the characters, every single one of them, even the smallest characters, are so well developed you feel you know them – no nagging questions. Daniel and Rex come alive through Ms. Parrish as does an excellent supporting cast: Ginger, Daniel’s best friend and tattoo artist extraordinaire with her own story line; Will, Rex’s ex-boyfriend and current best friend; Leo, the young gay man that reminds Daniel of himself at a younger age; and a whole host of other characters that make this such a rich, satisfying read. Add in Rex’s deep secret, incredibly, impossibly hot sex and a grand story twist at the end and you have yourself a classic!
I purchased my copy of In The Middle of Somewhere because the many positive comments made me curious so I thought it’d be a good personal read, instead I found I absolutely had to review it.
ROAN PARRISH grew up in Michigan and lives in Philadelphia, but is always a few minutes away from deciding to move. A former academic, she’s used to writing things that no one reads. She still loves to geek out about books, movies, TV, and music—now, though, she’s excited to be writing the kind of romantic, angsty stories that she loves to escape into. When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, wandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. One time she might or might not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and cheese. But mostly cheese. You can find her on her website or on twitter. Have questions/comments/ pictures of octopi? Want to recommend a strong cheese or express a strong opinion? Drop her a line on e-mail. She’d love to hear from you.
After his father’s sudden death, Dominik has to take over as CEO of Under Construction LLC. His personal life is hardly better. Having caught his long-time lover Léon with another man, Dom’s heart is frozen and he has firmly put all men out of his life.
When the need arises to hire a new construction worker, handsome Ian Colbee joins the team. Dom finds Ian way too distracting and tries to distance himself, but Ian is persistent. In the meantime, Léon’s attempts to gain back Dom’s affection begin to escalate.
Can Ian teach Dominik to lighten up and trust again? Will Léon get the message and go his way quietly?
Man Under Construction
So, here I was minding my own business (yeah, right) and I bump into Man Under Construction. Wow, what a great plot! Especially for me, the son of a civil engineer. I mean, I grew up with construction workers and construction sites. Yeah, I know, rough for a young gayling! So, anyway, here was a story ready made for me, right? I lucked out and got a review copy, here’s what I found: not bad, a good first M/M start and yet not an ‘erotic’ romance.
Ian put an invisible check mark next to his Imaginary Man Requirements List. Handsome check, dark check, good job quadruple check. …Dominik Alrizzo appeared to be between thirty-five and forty years old. A good age. …Stocky, swarthy, Italian stallion. His boss-to-be’s sex appeal had made him glad to be alive. …His gorgeous face, eyes kind of cold and steely, …
Ian Colbee stood around six-foot-one and two-hundred pounds. Steel tipped boots covered his feet. Startling blue eyes, the color of a glacier, peered out underneath a military-style buzz cut. Climbing ladders, laying bricks, and digging had made a god of a man. And his abs! Dom could go on for days, just staring at this motherfucker.
The story is a great premise. Hot scion of a construction company owner inherits the company upon his father’s sudden, unexpected death. The heir of the company, who has worked hand in hand with his father, comes face to face with his abusive ex-partner, unexpectedly, at his father’s funeral.
As he inherits the construction company, and his father’s extremely capable assistant, Gracie, he realizes that he’s short staffed in order to finish an important construction job they’re in the midst of. In comes the new love interest, the strapping, hot, sexy, younger construction worker.
Hence the fireworks between the new and old boyfriends and the angst the construction company scion must undergo in order to complete his journey.
Here’s where I experienced the hiccup with the story. The very first thing I noticed was the spelling of the name of Dominik’s (Dom) evil ex. Léon. Léon is a Cuban-Puerto Rican hot mess, so one would expect his name would be spelled in Spanish, as in León. Instead throughout the book the French spelling, Léon, is used. As a Cuban-American who has lived and studied in Spain and Venezuela I just couldn’t get past this. Sorry.
At first reading the writing seemed hop-sketchy and to not flow smoothly. Upon a second reading I did get the thread of the writing, vis-à-vis the story. The point is I shouldn’t have had to re-read it in order to get the flow of the writing. Upon second reading it’s not bad. I wish the characters were more developed, especially Ian. There’s so much potential that I was waiting for from Ian and it never materialized.
The erotic romance quotient didn’t seem to materialize. I waited for a hot, steamy, toe-curling sex scene. Alas, it never came about *sigh*. The potential was so there, especially with a ready-made character like Ian. The possibilities with the evil, ex-boyfriend are limitless for some reminiscing scenes or even, if you want to get really twisted, kinky between the evil ex-boyfriend and the new love interest. Just sayin’.
I would like to thank R.M. Olivia and JMS Books, LLC, for supplying me with a copy of Man Under Construction in exchange for my honest review.
R.M. Olivia writes sexy romance. She believes love is for all and doesn’t discriminate in her choice of characters or stories. She is never without a pen and paper in case one of her random characters decides to speak to her. If you dig through her handbag you will find scraps of paper with ideas that may make their way into future stories.
R.M. Olivia is a member of Rainbow Romance Writers’ of the Romance Writers of America. She has been scribbling for a long time and if you look in her many notebooks stuffed inside her drawer, you will find other hidden stories screaming to get out. R.M. Olivia credits Spanish telenovelas and an active imagination for getting her started. When not typing away at the computer, she enjoys snuggling with her cats, shopping on Amazon, or catching up on some reading.
Man Under Construction, by R.M. Olivia
Published by JMS Books, LLC
Visit jms-books.com for more information.
Copyright 2016 R.M. Olivia
Cover Design: Written Ink Designs | written-ink.com
Thomas Escott has always wanted to be a toymaker, yet just as he achieves his dream, an accident claims his right hand. He’s certain his life is over – until he hears about groundbreaking prosthetics being made by a reclusive inventor.
Jethro Hastings is perfectly content to live alone up in the mountains working on a secret masterpiece: a humanoid automaton that will change the scientific community forever. He’s behind schedule, and the date of the unveiling is fast approaching, so when Thomas shows up on his doorstep offering help in exchange for a mechanical hand, Jethro agrees. Time, after all, is running out on another deal he’s made: one with the devil.
The devil gives Jethro’s inventions life, but he can just as quickly take life away – Jethro’s, to be exact. As the sand in the devil’s hourglass falls, marking the time until the end of the deal, inventions go haywire, people get hurt, and Thomas realizes he needs Jethro just as much as his prosthetic. Now he must find a way to save Jethro’s soul, but negotiating with a devil is just as difficult as it sounds.
THE EMPTY HOURGLASS
When I first read the blurb for The Empty Hourglass I just knew I had to read this and review it.
The whole deal with the devil thing is highly fascinating to me and pulled me in, the steampunk genre and the automaton certainly didn’t hurt and I thought I deserved a nice change of pace. Boy, did this book deliver it! A thoroughly pleasant read all told.
He was painfully aware of his too-light, too-modern clothes that moderately smelled like smoke, despite his best attempts to get the stench out of them, and of the blond hair that he kept long, as was popular in the capital at the moment. But mostly, he could fell their gazes almost piercing the right side of his head, where the hair had been scorched off in the fire and was now replaced by tender, gnarled skin, thin scars running from his mangled ear to his cheek and spreading down his neck before disappearing under his collar.
At least they couldn’t see his arm…
He was young, probably just a few years older than Thomas. For all his ragged appearance, with those untidy clothes and messy black hair, he was a handsome man, tall and slender with olive skin and green eyes shimmering behind his glasses. If that was Hastings… well, he was a far cry from the old man Thomas had been expecting.
What a great story, pure steampunk fantastical storytelling at its best.
Thomas, the handsome young man from the capital, searching for salvation from his unfortunate, unexpected and unexplainable calamity and a fortuitous, anonymous tip off as to where he may find his salvation.
The scientist, wanting to atone and help others, pining for his lost first love, creating a living testament to him and a legacy that wouldn’t be duplicated – true immortality, whilst fulfilling his pact with the devil.
A love story of a little girl and a devil who sees a way out of an intractable difficulty – if only he can nudge things his way, and then the culminating, cataclysmic grand finale. Sort of.
Funny how you can tell when a good writer comes together with good editor and wonderful beta/proof reading. This makes the world of difference in a smooth, enjoyable read such as this one. Ms. Grey does a phenomenal job of intertwining the fantastic steampunk experience with a smooth developing story, bringing in vibrant ancillary characters that add a vibrancy and depth to the story that I wish some others had. Yes, storytelling at its finest, and this book delivers it.
I was mesmerized by the story: Thomas, Jethro, the devil, the other inventor, Dragana, and Mina. Mina, what a great character that ties it all in together. Yes, the writing is truly magical.
I won’t give you any spoilers, just suffice it to say that you need to set some quality time for a great read. You’ll need time for it because you won’t want to put this one down.
I would like to thank Cornelia Grey and Anglerfish Press, an imprint of Riptide Publishing, for supplying me with a copy of The Empty Hourglass in exchange for my honest review.
Cornelia Grey is a creative writing PhD student, with a penchant for steampunk and classic rock. Born and raised in the hills of Northern Italy, where she collected her share of poetry and narrative prizes, Cornelia has since lived and worked in London, Japan, Spain, and Germany. She also works as a freelance translator.
She likes cars, knitting, performing in theater, going to museums, collecting mugs, and hanging out with her grandma. When writing, she favors curious, surreal stories, steampunk, and mixed-genre fiction. Her heroes are always underdogs, and she loves them for it.
The Empty Hourglass, Copyright 2016 by Cornelia Grey
Cover Art: Jay Aheer
Editor: Danielle Polesz
Layout: L.C. Chase
New York City, 1896. As the temperatures rise, so does the crime rate. At the peak of this sizzling heat wave, police inspector Hank Brandt is called to investigate the scandalous murder of a male prostitute. His colleagues think he should drop the case, but Hank’s interest is piqued, especially when he meets the intriguing key witness: a beautiful female impersonator named Nicholas Sharp.
As a nightclub performer living on the fringes of society, Nicky is reluctant to place his trust in a cop—even one as handsome as Hank. With Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt cracking down on vice in the city, Nicky’s afraid that getting involved could end his career. But when he realizes his life is in danger—and Hank is his strongest ally—the two men hit the streets together to solve the crime. From the tawdry tenements of the Lower East Side to the moneyed mansions of Fifth Avenue, Nicky and Hank are determined to uncover the truth. But when things start heating up between them, it’s not just their lives on the line. It’s their love…
Ten Days in August
I couldn’t help it. When I read the blurb on this book it called out to me immediately. I’ve always had a fascination for this time period, the late 19th century/turn of the 20th century. So many events were happening: cities had gotten to the point where science needed to step in to make them livable; things like air conditioning and a reliable source of potable water and dependable plumbing, refrigeration for foods, more efficient modes of individual transportation besides horse drawn carriages, things we take for granted these days.
The cities had drawn in huge numbers of people from all walks of life and all places on Earth, so for the first time people realized they weren’t alone, including gay people – thus begins the evolution that would lead to the modern gay rights movement, further propelled by the two World Wars.
Nicholas Sharp – Stage name Paulina Clodhopper:
…he found Nicholas – Nicky – beautiful. Nicky had stood there on the street with a soulful pout as Hank and Stephens had approached the scene, and there was something about Nicky’s sass and indifference – insouciance, perhaps – Hank found compelling. His blond hair had shone on his hatless head, his clothes were well tailored and fashionable, and Hank got the feeling this was a man who had seen a lot in his short life, though he still had something delicate about him.
Henry “Hank” Brandt – Acting Inspector NYPD:
This man was really quite attractive, in a sweaty, disheveled way, although Nicky supposed there was no way around that in this weather. The man pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and then pulled the dusty bowler hat off his head, revealing dark brown hair, cut short. He wiped his whole face from his damp forehead to his thick mustache before he dropped the hat back on his head. There seemed to be a strong body under the wrinkled clothing, but it was hard to tell. Still, this man intrigued Nicky. His companion in the uniform was blond and bearded and looked considerably more polished, but in a bland way. This disheveled man was far more interesting.
This is a fascinating story of a serial killer on the loose, taking advantage of the rent boys that flourished in The Bowery section of Manhattan at the end of the 19th century. Set against the backdrop of the summer of 1896, with a 10-day heat wave that killed nearly 1,500 people, many of them tenement-dwellers, across New York City. Enter Theodore Roosevelt, Police Commissioner. It was Roosevelt that spurred the administration of Mayor Strong to open up the parks so people could sleep at night and escape the suffocating, murderous heat, and it was he who initiated the delivery of free ice to the suffering inhabitants. Add in the tumultuous election of 1896 between William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan and the elaborate tapestry that binds this story together is all set.
One can tell right away that this book was well researched. From the manner of speech to the affectations of the characters, from the historical backdrop of the heat wave to the tumultuous election of 1896 that would change American politics for the next 40 years, from the clothing fashions to the lifestyle of a bustling, dirty, smelly megalopolis that New York City was on the verge of becoming, this book seems to have been meticulously researched. What a joy this is when it is coupled with the smooth storytelling that Kate McMurray carries out in this book.
I could absolutely see the time period, smell the fetid, pungent smells of a city in the throes of a massive heat wave. A city that did not yet have the modern efficiencies of air conditioning to escape the heat and refrigeration to maintain the food from spoiling. I could feel and taste the dust of a horse drawn cab and the smells of sweat from our MC’s. This was really good, descriptive prose.
The story was well drawn and the story arc progressed at a good pace, not too fast and not too slow, just about right. Although I could feel the romance and attraction of our two MC’s, and our two SC’s, I do wish there had been more intense, descriptive sex between them as I could feel their desire and angst for each other. Delving a bit more into this aspect of their relationship would have propelled and made the story so much more. As it is, it is good, solid writing, well enjoyed.
I would like to thank Kate McMurray and Lyrical Press, Kensington Publishing Corp., for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Kate McMurray is an award-winning author of gay romance and an unabashed romance fan. When she’s not writing, she works as a nonfiction editor, dabbles in various crafts, and is maybe a tiny bit obsessed with baseball. She has served as President of Rainbow Romance Writers, the LGBT romance chapter of Romance Writers of America. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 29th 2016 by Kensington Publishing Corporation