Sweet Sixteen, again … and again?
HaPpY BiRtHdAy TO ME!! Sixteen again!! 🙂 I am thrilled to share with you guys a special birthday celebration that Loose Id are hosting. In honour of my 50th birthday they asked me to pick 16 of my favourite books from their site – a Sweet Sixteen, if you will – and boy was I honoured!! And the really cool part is – YOU also get to celebrate!! SEVEN lucky winners will also be getting a birthday gift from my list of favourites.
That’s a Happy Birthday to ALL of us!!
Trying to pick only 16 was hard. Really hard. So I phoned a friend. Or two. In other words I asked the Posse what they would choose – and the amazing thing is – sooo many of “my” books featured on their list too. I also asked the respective authors if they wanted to share a bit about their 16th, or their characters 16th or even just a bit about their book – there were some really interesting and fun responses!! It never fails to amaze me just how generous authors are with their valuable time. So a massive thanks to them!
I read pretty much anything within the m/m genre, and I think my selection reflects that. Variety is indeed the spice of life. 🙂 All 16 are listed alphabetically below along with any comments from the Posse and the author, as well as why I picked that particular book – so pull up a chair, grab a cuppa and limber up that finger for one helluva scroll-a-thon!! Trust me, it is well worth the read! Some of these books I read pre-LYLBTB but those that were reviewed by the site have a hyperlink attached taking you to our review, check them out and be sure to visit Loose Id where all my picks are on sale HERE. The discounted prices will run from March 7th to March 10th. I really hope that some of my favourites will also become yours!
At the very bottom of the post are details of how you can enter the giveaway and win books from my list. Happy Reading!!
ACROSS THE EAST RIVER BRIDGE : Kate McMurray
ATERB is contemporary but with an Historical edge. Kinda. I liked it a lot. The story was great and the Historical angle gave it an added poignancy. I don’t read many Historicals, so this one filled my quota really nicely… even though it is Contemporary. 😛 This was what Faye thought :
This is a fantastic story about the life of academics after college and the realities of the job market given varying levels of education. Being a story about both academics and academia this book had great potential to fall into the trap of talking down to the reader. It didn’t. ~ Faye.
A word from Kate :
Happiest of birthdays to Barb! I thought I’d take the occasion of the Sweet Sixteen theme to, just like a teenager writing a term paper, awkwardly tie in my own experience to a book!
True story: I spent part of my sixteenth birthday doing research in a university library. I was in a summer program for high school kids at the University of Michigan, and one of our tasks was to do a lot of research on topics relating to current events. I also had a brief but intense romance with a guy we’ll call Will. Since he was from California and I was from New Jersey, it was doomed, but we spent almost every minute of that month in Ann Arbor with each other.
But maybe spending long afternoons in the stacks together did something to my brain.
The romance in Across the East River Bridge is between academics. They have to do a lot of research to solve the story’s central mystery. More importantly, Finn and Troy have to work together, something neither particularly wants to do at the story’s outset. The dynamic between these two characters was fun to write; they’re old rivals, and Finn in particular is harboring a lot of resentment toward Troy, but they’re so hot for each other that they just can’t keep their hands off, even when they’re fighting—especially when they’re fighting. And there’s nothing like a mystery to pull people together, so like Mulder and Scully before them, believer Troy and skeptic Finn forge their way through the evidence to figure out exactly why two men died in Troy’s museum and learn a lot about both themselves and each other in the process.
AERB is also my love letter to Brooklyn, my home for going on eight years now. It’s funny to think back on my sixteen-year-old self, a kid from the suburbs for whom New York City was kind of a dangerous novelty. I came of age in the 90s, as the city was turning around but before it really cleaned up. My friends and I would lie about where we were going and catch the bus into Port Authority to shop or rush tickets to Broadway shows or just hang out in the Village. I fell in love with the city then, though I still didn’t think I’d ever be anything more than an occasional visitor until I actually moved here when I was twenty-two. And when I got priced out of my Manhattan apartment, I moved to Brooklyn and fell in love with it, too, enough to send Finn and Troy on an adventure through the borough as they try to solve the mystery in AERB.
As for Will, we kept in touch for a long time after that summer, and even both lived in New York for a while when we were in our early twenties. I lost touch with him maybe eight years ago when he took a job overseas. It’s kind of funny to think about that now, to think about how every experience we have can play into our futures. And my own strange love of Brooklyn and history and, yes, doing research certainly played into AERB. I still love that book, even now three years after I wrote it—it remains one of the projects I’m most proud of—and I hope new readers continue to find and enjoy it as well.
BOUND AND DETERMINED : Jane Davitt & Alexa Snow
You will see Alexa Snow and Jane Davitt feature strongly in my Sweet Sixteen. That’s because they are awesome authors telling wonderful stories. This is the first one we feature, and it was definitely one of the first books I read with a D/s theme. I liked it. A lot. So did Faye ….
I really enjoy a good May December romance. Yes, it may be sappy, but I like the idea that love will overcome age differences and the trappings of different stages of life. Incorporating the power dynamic of a D/s relationship heightened that. ~ Faye.
A word from Alexa :
Bound and Determined was such a great book to write. Writing with Jane is always a joy, but some projects flow more smoothly than others, and Bound and Determined was one of those. Jane and I don’t often spend a lot of time in advance plotting; we generally talk about the basic idea for a story, then come up with some characters and jump right in. Depending on how complicated the plot is and how much research we end up needing to do to make sense of things like the character’s professions or unfamiliar technology, our progress can become slowed down considerably, but Bound and Determined was almost effortless and so fun.
Sterling is one of my favorite characters that Jane and I have written together. I like that he was materially spoiled, coming from a wealthy family, and internally spoiled in a completely different way because of his father’s cold, controlling behavior. I liked the complication of the fact that he was so attracted to Owen, a much older partner in a position of authority, and how mixed his feelings were about that because of his difficult relationship with his father and what it all meant. I loved how even though Owen had no intention of getting involved with him, Sterling was so persistent and appealing that in the end Owen just couldn’t resist.
One of the hardest scenes to write was the one after Sterling storms out of Owen’s house and goes to his friend Alex and Alex’s Dom Kirk. Sterling is so upset in that scene, and knows what he needs to take him out of his head and find a place of calm, but he isn’t experienced enough to know that Kirk is the utterly wrong person to go to. If I hadn’t already loved Owen at that point, when he sets aside his own issues in favor of coming to Sterling’s rescue, that would have cemented it for me.
I really felt for Owen throughout this story. He wanted Sterling, but more than that he wanted to do the right thing, and a lot of the time it was hard for him to be sure what that was. He didn’t want to take advantage of his position as Sterling’s former professor, but at the same time being in that position of authority was exactly what he loved and craved, as well as being what Sterling needed.
I love that this book ends in what I consider a fairly traditional happily-ever-after. While there are times it’s great to deliberately leave an ending somewhat open to allow for the possibility of sequels, there are also times when it’s really satisfying to wrap everything up neatly and be able to walk away from the characters and their lives without further thought. (I’m mostly lying. Doesn’t work. I still think about them. But it’s nice to pretend.)
DUTY & DEVOTION : Tere Michaels
I rate this series right up there with Sam & Mac, Adrien & Jake, Ty & Zane and Vic & Jacob – the worlds may be different in all these series but the characters are just soooooo wonderful that they stay with you forever. Their struggle to live the life they wanted. To admit what, in fact, they wanted and then make it happen was just beautiful. An absolute must read in the m/m genre…. Faye loved it too!
I loved the whole Faith, Love, & Devotion series by Tere Michael. For me, it was in Duty & Devotion where life for Matt and Evan really clicked and began to work. At no point were Evan’s reservations and fears given short shrift. They were real for him and Matt respected that despite his feelings on the subject ~ Faye.
A word from Tere :
I’m delighted to be here to play along with Barb’s Sweet 16 Birthday Book Bonanza! Happy Birthday and many wonderful returns!
Having “Duty & Devotion” selected amongst these wonderful books is a huge honor – thank you. It’s interesting for me mostly because it was the hardest book of the series to write! Evan was at his most stubborn, Matt was getting itchy and annoyed, the kids were dramatic, the in-laws were threatening to make waves – it was a mess and a half of the usual family stuff with this crew.
In many ways, the struggles in “Duty & Devotion” were almost more challenging than “Faith & Fidelity.” Falling in love can be tough – staying in love is hard work, especially when you have someone like Evan dragging his feet in terrified reluctance.
Evan drives a lot of people nuts. I get tons of feedback of people who love him and want to smack him at the same time. And I understand.
You’d think I’d only want to write “easy” characters but no – I seem to have an attraction to the difficult ones, those who struggle with who they are and what they want, who put up their own obstacles, and lie to themselves. My favorite “bad guys” of a story are not people but internal thoughts and fears. Because those? They’re really scary! You can’t kill them and you can’t arrest them – you can only learn to live with them.
Through two books and a novella, I yearned for chapters that were from Matt’s POV. Matt – of good humor and self-introspection, who knew what he wanted and who he was. Matt’s voice is very easy for me to write.
If I wanted to lie to you, I’d say, “oh Matt is more like me, that’s why he’s easier to write” but let me be honest.
Oh, there’s some Matt in my soul. I’m very much self-aware like him, and I think he and I share a sense of humor. But oh! Evan’s stubborn nature and his perfectionist tendencies and his dark spirals, those are mine. I own them. Evan’s demons might have different names but they were born in my brain.
Okay, no I’m not. Because tough characters challenge us – as writers and readers – to take a more complicated road. They’re not easy to love. They don’t always deserve your sympathy. They’re frustrating. You want to shake at them while yelling, “This is good for you! Just accept it and be happy!”
But we all know the hardest thing we do in life is to trust the good stuff. And Evan knows more than most how easy it is to lose something wonderful, and how easy it is to take wonderful things for granted.
I hope readers feel that Evan earns his happiness; that he earns his happy ending, even as he refuses to let down his guard entirely. He is well-aware of how precious life is – and I think by the end of “Duty & Devotion” Evan is a changed man. Still frustrating but having grown and accepted the full weight of who he is, and what that means. It’s not an easy place to reach and oh how Evan struggles.
But that’s half the fun, right?
HELL COP : Ginn Hale, Astrid Amara, Nicole Kimberling
Ginn Hale, Astrid Amara and Nicole Kimberling are three of my absolute favourite authors out there – and to have them all in one book is such a treat! Throw demons and cops into the mix.. and well.. damn!! Faye (our resident Demon expert) agreed ….
Demons and cops! Do I need to say more? Okay, for those who need more I’ll point out these are brilliant stories of finding a soul mate, being attracted to your polar opposite, and coming to realize the love you need has been there all along waiting for you to notice. But really, demons and cops! ~ Faye.
Ginn shared a little bit about her part in Hell Cop :
Thanks so much for making Hell Cop one of the Sweet Sixteen!
It’s lovely to be in such great company. As for my own sixteenth year I vaguely recall a huge commotion going on around all the local caves about this new innovation: The Wheel! 😀
The teen years also play an important part of the backstory for my characters in Hell Cop. In fact my inspiration for James Sparks arose from conversations with friends about those juvenile years when we are first awakening to our adult potentials and desires, but at the same time childish enough to think that bounding up and down on a trampoline for hours on end to spy on the hot guy next door could be considered a “smooth” move. (Oh, James, really?)
Thank goodness James got to grow up—now if only that hot guy would let him live it down! 😀
(I’ve been sworn to secrecy about the teen years of the characters in the other two stories, but let’s just say that bad haircuts, emo rock and sweaty jock-hood might have loomed large!)
and Astrid shared a scene involving her characters :
Jay Yervant glanced up from his calculus textbook. Striding down the hallway between Parmas City High’s gymnasium and cafeteria walked his current crush, a fresh-faced, cheeky transfer student from a school in the northern suburbs named David.
Jay’s body flushed with heat. That happened all the time these days, but this was a different kind. A non-burning kind, an embarrassing, what-if-someone-discovers-your-damned-boner kind. He coughed and stood quickly, holding his book in front of him just in case.
“Hey David,” Jay said, offering a little wave and putting on a nervous smile. They sat next to each other in biology, and David, for a transfer student, was anything but shy. He passed notes and make snide comments during the whole forty-five minutes, and the other day David taught Jay some funky version of Cribbage, and even though Jay was always good at card games, David beat him three to two.
David stopped in front of Jay, frowning. “Quick question for you. I’m hoping you could clear something up for me. I was talking to some of the guys on the basketball team and they were telling me this crazy assed rumor about you.”
Jay felt his smile melt away. He went stock still. How could they have found out about my crush? He thought back frantically over the last month’s interactions with David. Yeah, they’d been friendly, and yeah, he had offered the guy a ride home a few times, sat with him at lunch. But Jay had other friends. He’d never heard rumors about him and those guys.
David cocked his head. “Is it true that you set fire to everyone you touch?”
For a moment Jay blinked, expecting such a different kind of revelation about him, he was taken aback.
And then, with a great gush of relief and air, he laughed. “You just figure that out?”
David looked shy. “Hey, don’t mock me. I’m not from the big city. People with… abilities… are new to me.”
“I’m not mocking you.” Jay smiled, genuinely this time. “It’s refreshing to be around someone who doesn’t just see that part of me.”
“Can you show me?” he asked.
“Not really. Not without hurting you.” Jay held up a gloved hand. “That’s why I wear these.”
David shook his head. “So it’s true. That’s insane!”
“It must get lonely,” David added. “I mean..” he looked out the large windows of the hallway. “It’s got to be strange.”
“It is strange,” Jay conceded. “And yeah. Lonely too.”
David looked back at him. His sly little grin returned, meaning he was up to something. “Want to go for one more round of cards? Best of seven?”
Jay’s heart did a little flutter. Nothing would come of it, of course. David gave off not the slightest hint of being interested in Jay in any way other than fraternal. But considering Jay’s affliction, his orientation, his situation in general – best of seven was good enough.
LONG TALL DRINK : L.C. Chase
Gah!!! This was such a beautiful love story … Ray is the owner of Ford Creek Ranch (the deeply closeted owner!) and he needs a horse trainer. Travis is a horse trainer. A rumoured-to-be-gay trainer. From the minute Travis and Ray meet the chemistry between them was so thick – so deliciously palpable. Despite the instalust – which was, um, instant their actual coming together (no pun intended!) did not happen straight away – it was drawn out – and their frustration was so real to me, the reader, that I wanted to reach in and slap the two of them at times – I truly felt for these guys! The read is definitely a light, easy, feel-good read but it is interlaced with some beautiful angst, and some real thought-provoking depth about how hard it must be for guys just like Ray and Travis. A really well crafted world with wonderful characters, both MC’s and secondary. Highly recommended.
A special prize from LC :
LC has kindly offered up a signed paperback of this book to add to the Birthday Bundle … thanks, LC!!
NOWHERE RANCH : Heidi Cullinan
This book is one of my absolute favourite cowboy books out there (Long Tall Drink being another.) The sexy is scorching! It starts with a bang and keeps you hooked for the entire read! Rough, anonymous sex – lots of arse play and the promise of fisting meant it started off kinky as kinky can be! Yet ultimately – it wasn’t the kink that remained at the forefront of my memory of this book. It was the romance. The author did a bang up job of combining hard-core sex with a warm, fuzzy sweetness – this I attribute to reading it all from Roe’s perspective. I loved him and his voice so much! What’s not to love? He is an intelligent, yet uneducated man who is so full of insecurities, but as he slowly accepts that he does in fact deserve better than what he has gotten out of life thus far, his personality comes through. He and Travis together were just wonderful! Living, learning, loving.
A word from Heidi :
When I was sixteen, I’d just moved for the 8th time in five years. Because we’d been (very briefly) in Wisconsin, I hadn’t taken driver’s ed yet because their laws are different, and the fall classes were full, so I was a 16 year old without a license for almost a full year. We’d moved from an area of 100k people to a town of 5,000. I was lonely and miserable.
My mom arranged for me to go out with some local girls, who said we were going to Dubuque to see a movie. A mile out of town the girl, whose name I couldn’t remember, said we were going to a quarry party instead, did I mind? I was in a car full of chatty girls ready to party–clearly the answer was no, I didn’t mind.
So I ended up in a rock quarry, as in, where they mine limestone, with a keg and a bonfire and a bunch of people I had no idea who they were but kept giving me drinks. I was a pretty good girl at that point, but even if I hadn’t been, the craziness of the situation did not sit well with my Virgoness. I pretended to drink a beer, did my time and basically talked to no one, and eventually they took me home. Everyone in the car but me was drunk, and we had to stop every few feet for one girl to puke.
After that I quickly made a friend more my speed. She was an only child whose parents were liberal with the loaning of the car, and since there was absolutely nothing else to do and gas was $.70 a gallon, we drove. For hours. Around town. I hated it at first, but by the end of two years, I got used to it. I never went to another quarry party, though I did find the bad boys later and routinely went to house parties where I for some reason always ended up getting hypnotized. One guy was ultra sexy and had an eyepatch. I think he birthed a great deal of Randy Jansen, come to think of it.
And that’s my sweet sixteen story. Semi-sweet, mostly wallflower.
I absolutely adore this series. The books are short reads that pack one helluva punch – and the two MC’s are amazing! Peter with his inner dialogue keeps me grinning, and Nick with his… phwoar… well, with his “Nickness” is just purely thudworthy! ❤ He is right up there near the top of my BBL (Book Boyfriend List) and Carli seems to agree :
Primal Red is the first book in the Bellingham Mysteries, which should be read in order to fully appreciate Nick and Peter’s relationship and to get to know Bellingham’s quirky characters as the author continues to breathe life into these wonderful people. I have loved this town and its inhabitants in all of Kimberling’s books. Each mystery is well plotted and kept me guessing to the end. Kimberling’s crisp, detailed writing is a joy to read — again and again. So, if you’re looking for a fun read with intelligent mystery, buy this book. In fact, buy the series: you will want more. (I do.) ~ Carli.
A word from Nicole :
Primal Red will always be a favorite of mine because it’s by writing it that I learned I loved writing mysteries. I wrote it more or less on a whim. Josh Lanyon was hosting a contest to find his next companion in the “Partners in Crime” series. Each of these anthologies had a theme and the theme of the contest was art. My wife is an artist so it was a topic I understood well.
My whole objective in writing Primal Red was to amuse Josh. I didn’t think I’d win and I was right not to. I didn’t even make it into the contest, having failed to meet the deadline. (As it turns out, writing a mystery is not as easy as it sounds.) But I’ve always had great success in writing stories aimed at specific people. For some reason the notion that I’m telling a story to amuse only one listener brings out the best in me. My editor at Loose Id agreed. Five books later, the Bellingham Mysteries is the work I’m best known for and it’s fantasy-prone protagonist, Peter Fontaine, my best-loved creation. So it just goes to show that sometimes moving outside one’s own comfort zone pays off.”
RESISTANCE – L.M. Turner
This book was total awesomesauce!! In some ways it was the starting point for this particular little Posse – I remember Whit pm’ing me and saying “Drop what you are reading! Pick this one up. NOW!!” and I did. And we haven’t looked back since. It therefore seems only right to get Whit’s thoughts on this great read :
Just a few pages into this book and I knew it was going to be amazing. Ryan is a super slutty, commitment phobic guy who meets his match and things get complicated. Jayden wants something with Ryan but when Ryan won’t admit his feelings he loses Jayden to another man. Forcing Ryan to finally realize that maybe he is capable of loving another man. ~ Whit.
STARFISH AND COFFEE : Kele Moon
If you are in the mood for a feel-good book that will leave you all warm and tingly – then THIS is the book for you. There is the perfect amount of angst to make the sweet extra sweet, it really is just a perfect little read.❤ Alex and Matt’s story is intense, it is heartbreaking, and oh man, so very, very hot!! Whit agrees ….
Oh beautiful, sweet, young and passionate love! This book was so so good. Intense and heartbreaking. It was really beautiful. Be prepared to be put through the full gamut of emotions. Love found. Love lost. Love rekindled. The sex was incredibly hot, emphasized by the deep and true love the MCs find together. I can’t recommend this one enough. ~ Whit
Be sure to check out Kele’s other books including : “Packing Heat” – it also looks great!
ST. NACHO’S : PHYSICAL THERAPY – Z.A. Maxfield
I love this kind of thing – a series which deals with different couples but all with one common thread (in this case it is St. Nacho’s) and ZAM does it beautifully. The whole St. Nachos Series is an absolute winner! Whit chose book 2 to chat about ….
I was pleasantly surprised how much I liked this book after loving the first one so much. I love it when an author redeems a character! Jordan wasn’t very likable in the first book of this series. In this book he has his life back together, meets a guy that rocks his world and is able to resolve his history and move on with the rest of his life. If you’ve read the first book you’ll want to read this one. If not, what are you waiting for? St Nacho is a genre favourite! ~ Whit.
Astrid Amara, Holidays, FOOD … 3 perfect ingredients for a wonderful read!! I am not a foodie – but I was salivating in this book. I want a Peikus Pickles in my neighbourhood 🙂
What a great read! Astrid really was able to create such a wonderful set of characters in this relatively short book : Miles – who is now running the store he grew up in (his parents having retired and moved); Itai – his boyfriend (was ex, now current, but possibly soon to be ex again – hopefully!) gotta hate a selfish lover, right? And then Nic – I think I definitely have a Nic-thing going on!! He offers everything to Miles that he could possibly wish for in a partner. A true partner in every facet of his life. I ran through a lot of emotions in this book – I laughed, I hated “someone” (then understood… kinda), and I loved – the story, the guys, the food – ALL OF IT!! And ultimately I was left contemplating – you never can change someone, if something didn’t work once – it probably won’t work at the second attempt; annnnd where the heck can I get bread and butter pickles?
Yay! This book yanked me right out of my book funk. The storyline was different than I initially thought. There is NO threesome. None. No sharing. No cheating. There are multiple love interests but it creates some good tension and not in the “I hate him playing with their emotions type of way” type of angsty tension. It was so good! This is a story about how life can and can’t live up to your wildest dreams. (fantasies?) …. read the full review HERE.
A word from Jane :
Alexa and I usually write stand alone novels, but now and then there’s something about a story that makes us want to look beyond the ending and see what happens next. Generally we decide that some time after writing the first book, but as anyone who’s read ‘The Square Peg’ knows, we finished it on a cliffhanger of epic proportions, not for the main couple, who got their HEA, but for a secondary character, Vin.
We didn’t feel guilty at all, because we knew there was no way we could leave Vin hanging. Vin, celibate, yearning after his high school crush, the Zen, tattooed Goth, was just too interesting to abandon. We wanted to re-use the bar setting because it makes a great focal point for a series; we could tell the story of another employee, maybe a customer, and someday we will – but The Broken Triangle was Vin’s story.
I think the cover, gorgeous though it was, confused some readers, who expected a threesome. That was never our plan. To us, the plot was always going to be, guy gets his HEA and finds out it’s not all it’s cracked up to be and his real HEA is under his nose. It’s Patrick’s story and it’s Vin’s, but it’s not Riley’s (sorry, Riley!).
It was a shame we had to keep Patrick and Vin apart for so long, but once they got together, the story was over, so it couldn’t happen too soon. They had a journey of self-discovery to make and that, really, was the meat of the book. They change, Patrick more than Vin, I think, though Vin certainly matures a lot, and when the time’s right, they’re ready to be each other’s HEA.
Speaking on being in the right place, I think one of my favorite moments was the two of them as inadvertent voyeurs when Ben and Shane get hot and heavy on the pool table. One of the perks of using the same setting is being able to catch up on the characters we loved from book one and we took full advantage of that!
THE ELEGANT CORPSE : AM Riley
This was not the first BDSM book I read. But it was the first BDSM book I truly got. The dynamic between Roger and Sean was just so real and believable, and truly beautiful. I guess in many ways this book was my springboard to read more in this genre. Something I am eternally grateful for. A lot of the Posse have read and loved this book too, these are Dianne’s thoughts :
Ok, admittedly, I’m not a seeker of BDSM stories. But I am a huge fan of author AM Riley, so when I realized one of her books was cop/mystery/BDSM themed, I was game. I was not disappointed, and in fact loved this book.
Roger is a detective, he is openly gay, although not open about his participation as a Dom in an elite BDSM club. When he finds a corpse in his living room – complete with leather flogger – this is something he soon finds increasingly difficult to separate from work. Roger figures there is a personal message for him from the murderer. More murders occur that fit the same profile, and Roger must try to balance solving the crimes with keeping his private life private, and protecting confidentiality of other members of his club when evidence starts pointing that way.
Everything grows more complicated with the appearance of Sean, brother to the corpse from Roger’s living room. Sean is determined to be part of the investigation, literally stomping all over Roger’s meticulous life, apartment and case work. An attraction grows between the two, and Sean indeed grows very curious about D/s relationships. The author describes in detail several scenes between Roger and others at the club, as well as Roger initiating Sean in the art of BDSM. These scenes are not only erotic, they also beautifully illustrate the emotional trust, care and nurturing that is the basis of BDSM relationships. Roger’s thoughts especially gave me a clear understanding into just the type of details he appreciated during his forays: the play of dark leather against pale skin, the redness in skin tone after striking, sensuousness of his partner’s body flexed in different positions. I definitely came away with a renewed respect and understanding of caring BDSM relationships while becoming very enamored with both Roger and Sean.
There is also a lot of detail regarding police procedurals, the murders most definitely did not take a back seat in this story. Roger’s detective partner, Mary Anne, was integral and a refreshingly portrayed female character. I was kept intrigued by the crimes, and guessing as to the guilty party right up to the end.
I strongly urge anyone who enjoys well crafted, vivid characters and story plot to set aside your possible reluctance to read BDSM and indulge in the mastery (hmm, pun intended?) that is AM Riley’s captivating and evocative writing style. ~ Dianne
THE ISLAND : Lisa Henry
The Island was a book that leapt at me on goodreads – it demanded my attention; and when I was brave enough to tackle it, it certainly did not disappoint! The story was dark and brutal and yet it had a sweetness which didn’t dilute the power, merely rounded the story off as a truly wonderful read. I asked BookSmitten what her thoughts were and this is what she said :
The Island is certainly not a light, easy read, but it is a brilliant one. Lisa Henry’s fluid, evocative style effortlessly drew me into the story and kept my attention from beginning to end. Shaw had me constantly second guessing what kind of man he was and just as conflicted about the choices he made. Lee broke my heart with the brutality that he was forced to endure and ultimately survived. As much as his horrible treatment made me cry tears of rage for him, much of what was done to Lee did happen off page, or was alluded to, rather than spelled out in detail. Being saved the actual confrontation of it perhaps made for a little easier read, but then again, sometimes the imagination can be more intense than any words on a page.
The characters were amazing – layered and complex, especially that of Shaw. There were no instant cures from the experiences the characters had on that island. The horror Lee was put through and the choices Shaw was forced to make had ongoing repercussions that did not just magically disappear. There was healing, though. The last third or so of the book dealt with that healing and the developing relationship between Lee and Shaw. And there was a hopeful HFN. There was also a great twist that I did not see coming. And I admit, as an Australian, I enjoyed a little thrill with the familiar Aussie-ness in Shaw. ~ BookSmitten
Be sure to also check out “Mark Cooper versus America” another great read from Lisa Henry, co-written with JA Rock.
And so to the final Jane Davitt and Alexa Snow story we have picked and oh my God!! This book blew me away. I was really late to the party with this book – how it didn’t pop up on my TBR’dar before… well I have no clue. But I am so glad it finally did! I don’t always post goodreads comments with every update on my reading status – but this one had me ooohing! And aaahing!! And Oh. My. God’ing!!! at every page turn it seemed. :-) It simply is that good. That good, in fact, that Jane and Alexa have tag teamed their comments on this one – and what is the obvious point of discussion? Cheating…
Jane Davitt and Alexa Snow talk about “Truthful Change”
Jane: Truthful Change was one of our most controversial books, not for the sex, though Karl definitely liked it rough and Aiden got off on sex with an edge, but because of what some saw as cheating. I think this was the first time I realized romances have rules and one is that the lead characters can’t cheat, even when it’s to get to their HEA. Do you think if we wrote it again, we’d eliminate Aiden’s boyfriend or is he necessary to highlight Aiden’s subconscious dissatisfaction with his life?
Alexa: That’s so funny — when I was imagining what we’d talk about when it came to this book, this was the first topic that sprung to my mind, too. I guess in retrospect I’d probably suggest that we make it more clear in advance that Aiden and Scott’s relationship was already nearing its end when Aiden began to develop feelings for Karl. I subscribe to the belief that an outsider can’t break up a healthy relationship; there has to be something really wrong with it for that to happen, but obviously we should have written that part of the book differently. I’d hate to imagine writing Scott out of the book altogether, because I do think that he was an important part of the narrative. Maybe having them break up officially at the beginning of the book (but still living under the same roof while they figured out how to separate their lives) could have worked. I definitely think we’re very conscious of this as a potential problem now and wouldn’t make this same mistake again!
Jane: Yes, we dropped hints but maybe we should’ve made them stronger. I agree, losing Scott from the book would’ve been a shame because he provided a contrast to Karl that illuminated Aiden’s character.
Karl is unusual for us in that he’s a former mercenary with a violent past. He’s got his scary side. I always loved this bit showcasing his way of dealing with threats:
He’d had one guy track him down and try to blackmail him with some fuzzy photos taken of them fucking in a hotel room, threatening to pass them around his unit if he didn’t pay up. Karl had dragged the asshole to the breakroom, and stuck the photos up on the notice board next to the ancient coffee maker that produced scalding hot rocket fuel year after year with the weirdest series of gurgles and spits, like an enraged cat. They’d covered up holiday snapshots and take-out menus, curling up at the edges, a collage of skin and cocks and bare asses. Then he’d asked his men what they thought the photos were worth as the man beside him squirmed in a grip that Karl didn’t bother to make gentle, his face contorted as he fought for breath.
The suggestions had been obscene and inventive, but finally Gonzales had pointed out dryly that photos like that were a dime a dozen and Karl, with a smile that showed his teeth, had handed the guy a dime, pointed at the door, and said softly, “Run.”
There’s something appealing about the bad boys when they’re not irredeemable and Aiden’s employers, the FBI, are right there in the gray area too, making Aiden and Karl a good match.
Alexa: So true! For the two of them in particular it was vital to partner with someone who understood what it was like to operate in that space between black and white; anyone not used to working and living like that would have an impossible time merging his life with either of them. Even Sophie, who is incredibly loyal to Karl, has to walk a fine line in her employment for him, and she’s very clear with him about how far she’s willing to go. It’s obvious how deep his feelings for her run, which is another point in Karl’s favor for writer and, I suspect, reader. Knowing that he loves her and wants to take care of her even while refusing to hide anything from her is reassuring; it makes him seem more like a real person that he’s capable of that kind of affection. I’ve always imagined Sophie as Judi Dench, a spectacularly bright, strong woman who doesn’t take crap from anyone.
Jane: She would be perfect! And if we’re playing that game, a younger Daniel Craig would make a great Karl 🙂
Another memory of writing this is that Google Maps had recently developed the feature that let you drive along a road and get the street view of the houses as if you were in the car. Old news now, but in 2010 it was a cool new feature and we used it to make the car chase at the end as accurate as possible by describing exactly what was really there, down to the tree the bad guy crashes his car into. Ordinarily, I prefer a made-up setting for a book, though; there’s less chance of irate feedback from a resident telling you a character made a right turn on a one-way street or something! For this book, we got quite specific with Karl’s house in Plato, researching the real estate for mansions in the area to see what kind of place he’d live in. There’s a lot of behind the scenes work for books that can be fun but time-consuming.
Alexa: Karl’s swimming pool was my favorite part of his house, although I’ll admit that’s mostly because it provided such a great setting for sexy times. All that wet, bare skin… what fun! Overall I really think Truthful Change is one of our most intense books plot-wise, and I have to admit that even though in general I’m a bigger fan of character-driven stories, in this case I’m incredibly pleased with the end result. I love Karl and Aiden and the way the things they go through draw them closer together.
Turbulence has remained one of my favorite stories from 2012. Immediately after reading it I was most impacted by the notion everyone had to declare their sexual preferences. I still find that a fascinating piece of world building. Now, as I look back I’m struck by the notion we all feel we really know what the score is. We all feel we have the universe figured out and know all the ins and the outs. The character decried as the simpleton had it right. Jacqs certainly didn’t understand the finer details of his universe but for all intents and purposes they were immaterial to him. He understood what he needed to ….. read the full review HERE.
Be sure to check out Lyn’s other books including : “Claimings, Tails and Other Alien Artifacts” – it also looks great!
- GRAND PRIZE : 1 lucky winner will win FIVE e-books from the 16 I have highlighted – their choice!
- 5 lucky winners will each get to chose ONE e-book from the 16 I have highlighted – their choice!
- 1 lucky winner will get a signed paperback copy of “Long Tall Drink” by L.C. Chase
All you need to do is comment! Good Luck!! A BIG thanks to you for stopping by, and of course the wonderful authors for adding to the fun!