Title: Werecat: The Rearing (Werecat #1)
Author: Andrew J Peters
Length: 21k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Paranormal
Heat: 2 – Tame (mostly not explicit)
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Series, Short Story, Shifters (Big Cats), Mythology, Homeless, NYC, Montreal, Disappeared/Runaway, Psychological Control, Secrets & Lies, College, Flashbacks, Shifted Sex
Rating: Pretty Good
For Jacks Dowd, a college senior who feels ungrounded from his family and life in general, an alcohol and sex-infused weekend in Montréal sounds like a pretty good escape. His Spring Break binge takes a detour when he meets Benoit, an admiring drifter with startling green eyes. A hook-up turns into a day, two days, and then a full week in Benoit’s hostel, making love and scarfing down take-out food. But at the end of the week, Benoit demands that Jacks make an impossible choice: stay with him forever, or go back to college and never see him again.
There’s something dangerous about Benoit, but Jacks has fallen for him brutally. The night before Jacks is supposed to return to college, he finds Benoit in Mont Royal Park, where they first met, to try to work things out. Benoit springs on Jacks an unfathomable secret: he’s a mythical creature, half man and half jungle panther. He traps Jacks in an abandoned cabin and performs an occult rite so they will be mated forever.
I’ve been sitting on this one a month or two, waiting to read it. I’m glad that I read it, but also more intrigued than satisfied in a good story, though I’ll certainly read the second one, whenever it’s out.
We first meet Jacks on a supply run in the middle of the night in NYC. He stops at a familiar bodega to pick up some protein, saying hello to the familiar (and cute) clerk, then returns to his hiding place with Benoit, an old turned out warehouse. In flashbacks we see how Jack has come to this point, by meeting scruffy and serious Benoit while on spring break in Montreal after a bad night out and their weeklong tryst that never really ends. As we go through each subsequent flashback, introducing us to their relationship, Benoit’s many quirks, and how he came to be in NYC with him, now his boyfriend.
The blurb makes one half of this story quite obvious — Jacks’ time in Montreal with Benoit — but doesn’t go much beyond that point. I’m no real fan of flashbacks and I’m not sure that I could say that they brought anything particularly important to this story, but they’re a stylistic choice that slowly introduces us to the beginning of the relationship between Jacks and Benoit at the same time as everything starts to go wrong with them in NYC. Benoit, because of his age, is much more like a cat in nature than a human, which is definitely part of his growth as a character in the story. He’s possessive to a manic degree, but also seductive and beguiling to Jacks. Jacks is someone, at least to me, who seems to put on a good front of a simple college student but really likes to flirt with the edge. The allure of Benoit in Montreal, of a man in trouble that he can’t help but fall in love with is really about sex and danger than anything else. It didn’t quite endear me to Jacks, to say the least. In fact, I had trouble through a lot of this story about whether I could really feel their relationship. That is because it was moving in a direction that I wasn’t prepared for.
That change in direction is what galvanized my interest, however, and it doesn’t come until quite late the story. It makes reviewing this harder, no matter how much more enjoyment it gave me in the overall story. It makes this somewhat difficult to talk about while still withholding all the information. But it also means I can tell you that I’m even more excited to see what this author has in store for these characters next, and that I have to implore you to keep reading if you find yourself, at first, reading something that you weren’t quite sure you thought you were.
All of this, including the misdirection, makes for an interesting last minute move, but without the next story I’m still not quite sure if I can think of this as a prequel written first or not. Does this story show the direction for the rest? Or, is Andrew Peters waiting to throw us more curveballs?
I know this is a somewhat enigmatic review, so if you’re the type of reader who doesn’t like to be kept waiting, then I think you should probably wait for the next installment in this series to be published before you start reading. What I can tell you is that though I suffered through flashbacks 😉 I liked the writing style and I like that this author is keeping me on my toes. So, for now, this first story gets a Pretty Good, with a curious but tempered excitement about what is next to come.
Posted by Cole in 16-40k, 4 Pretty Good, Authors P-R, Contemporary, Heat 2 - Romantic & Tame, Paranormal, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: Andrew J Peters, Big Cats, Cat Shifters, College, Flashbacks, Homeless, Montreal, Mythology, NYC, Psychological Control, Runaway/Disappeared, Secrets & Lies, Series, Shifter Sex, Short Story, Vagabondage Press, Werecat series
Title: From the Ashes (Fire and Rain #1)
Author: Daisy Harris
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Length: ≈67k words, 216 pages
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Closeted, Family Issues, Firefighters, First Times, OFY, Homeless, Pets, Series
Rating: Pretty Good
Reviewed by Nikyta
He wanted a boyfriend. What he got was a hero.
When an accident burns down Jesse’s apartment, he’s left broke and homeless, with a giant dog and a college schedule he can’t afford to maintain. And no family who’s willing to take him in.
Lucky for him, a sexy fireman offers him a place to stay. The drawback? The fireman’s big Latino family lives next door, and they don’t know their son is gay.
Tomas’s parents made their way in America with hard work and by accepting help when it was offered, so he won’t let Jesse drop out of school just so he can afford a place to live. Besides, Jesse’s the perfect roommate—funny, sweet and breathtakingly cute. He climbs into Tomas’s bed and tugs at his heart. Until Jesse starts pushing for more.
Their passion enflames their bodies but threatens to crush Tomas’s family. Tomas is willing to fight for Jesse, but after losing everything, Jesse isn’t sure he can bear to risk his one remaining possession—his heart.
I really liked this story. It’s a bit predictable but the characters and the overall writing make up for that.
This is about Jesse who has his apartment burned down, leaving him homeless and with his ex-landlords’ dog. Tomas was one of the responding firefighters and helped Jesse through his shock. Unable to leave Jesse homeless, he takes him home and cares for him and his big dog, Chardonnay. What starts there is a sweet but awkward relationship where Tomas is still in the closet, living next door to his family and Jesse is trying to get his life back together while they both fight the feelings they’re starting to develop.
The highlight of this book is probably the characters. Tomas is this big, strong guy with the sweetest heart that can’t seem to let Jesse go even if it means making his life somewhat difficult. I adored the way he tried to help Jesse and his struggle to keep things as friends between them. Jesse, at first, seems like a weak character but he’s actually strong, willing to stand up for himself and put an end to things that make things worse, even if it kills him to do it. Thankfully, while he attempts to do this, Tomas is not willing to let Jesse go and, even if he does say differently, he’s going to fight for what he has with Jesse, which I also loved!
The novel, in my eyes, was about coming out and being true to yourself and your family; to find that home that is yours and no one can take away. It’s not very angsty, even with all the situations Jesse and Tomas go through. Mostly, it is about Jesse and Tomas trying to make things work. Tomas wants a partner but doesn’t want to tell his family he’s gay. Jesse no longer has a family but just wants a partner that isn’t afraid to be with him. They’re completely different but together they’re hot and sweet. They have to go through issues such as Tomas coming out but more importantly dealing with Tomas’ older brother, Diego, who is very vocal of his opinion when it comes to Jesse and being gay.
While I enjoyed the story, I had a few issues with it. Mainly, how much sex there was. I felt like whenever Jesse and Tomas needed to talk, they’d have sex instead and put off talking for later. Also, Tomas’ reasoning for why he won’t have anal or why he won’t let Jesse go down on him were completely baffling, IMO, and didn’t make much sense to me considering what else he would do. Beyond that, I felt like Tomas’ family was a big problem between Tomas and Jesse but we don’t actually get to see them or get a resolution on ALL of their opinions of Tomas being gay and in a relationship. It was such a huge issue but that segment felt unresolved and left me slightly disappointed.
In the end, I really enjoyed the story. While it might have conflicts that felt clichéd, the characters were still likeable and made me want to keep reading. I liked that this story didn’t have much angst but still dealt with both Tomas and Jesse’s problems. I won’t lie that Jesse and Tomas together were very hot and had a good connection so readers will definitely enjoy that part of the story!
Posted by Nikyta in 4 Pretty Good, 41-75k, Authors G-I, Contemporary, Heat 4 - Spicy & Smutty, Romance, Sex Freq 4 - Very Often Tags: Closeted, Daisy Harris, Family Issues, Firefighters, First Times, GFY/OFY, Homeless, Pets, Samhain Publishing, Series
Title: Christmastime at Papa Lee’s
Author: N.J. Nielsen
Publisher: MLR Press
Length: 28,000 words
Genre: m/m, Contemporary, Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Angst, Christmas, Co-Workers, HEA, Homeless, Injured Character, Unrequited
Rating: So So
Reviewed by Nikyta
RSVP by December 20th: You are cordially invited to attend a Christmas celebration at Papa Lee’s.
Casey Chambers isn’t used to kindness; being tossed out onto the street does that to a person. His life takes a turn for the better when he lands a job at Papa Lee’s. Not only does the Lee family give Casey a place to work, they give him a place to call home… And the opportunity to find love with one of their own. But Casey’s burgeoning relationship with Marty Lee is threatened when Marty withdraws after a vicious attack. It’ll take a miracle for Casey to convince Marty they’re meant to be.
Good thing it’s the season for miracles.
Marty Lee lives a rather lonely life. At twenty-eight, he’s still essentially living with his parents, working at the family diner and carries more than a few extra pounds around his waist. According to him, he’s not a catch so who would want him? Casey apparently does, though. At nineteen, Casey’s had a rough life. Thrown out of his home at almost sixteen for being gay, he’s been lucky enough to survive until now. For a year, he’s come into Papa Lee’s to admire Marty until one day when Marty finally gathers the courage to ask Casey out. From there, things become both easier and more complicated for everyone involved.
I really liked that Marty sported some extra dough around his middle. While he thought he wasn’t attractive, he tended to attract a few good looking guys. I liked him as a character because he was nice, sweet and oblivious to certain things. At times I found his actions a bit dramatic and unbelievable, though. Casey was an interesting character. While homeless, he was still able to maintain his goth looks even though he didn’t have a job and only received a small amount of money from his dad. I found this a bit peculiar because knowing how much the goth apparel costs, I didn’t really understand how Casey could maintain it on so little money.
Aside from that, the relationship Casey and Marty have starts off nice but after Casey takes a job at Papa Lee’s, it’s all based off a misunderstanding. I found that slightly annoying only because I firmly believe people should consult all parties before making assumptions on what’s best for someone else. Still, it was entertaining the moment Marty realized how much he’s messed up with trying to keep distance between him and Casey.
The resolution to the conflict felt a bit flat, though. So many different theories were pushed together but the actual reveal of why Marty was beaten up wasn’t as climatic as I was expecting. I felt like there were also multiple little conflicts within the story that made it chaotic and almost too much for this type of story. I struggled at times with this because these additional conflicts didn’t flow smoothly from one problem to the next. I enjoyed the ending but I also felt like it was too convenient and Casey was too forgiving.
Overall, it was an okay read. I wasn’t as invested in it as I was hoping to be. I liked certain parts of it but there were times when the story dragged because of repetitive words or because Marty was over analyzing everything.
Posted by Nikyta in 16-40k, 3 So So, Authors M-O, Contemporary, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Romance, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex Tags: 2012 MLR Holiday Stories, Angst-alicious, Christmas, co-workers, HEA, Homeless, Injured Character, MLR Press, NJ Nielsen, Unrequited Love
Title: Something to Believe In
Author: Sloan Parker
Publisher: MLR Press
Length: 18k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Mild & Sexy
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Rentboy, Homeless, Throwaways, Christmas, Acceptance, Family
Rating: Really Liked It!
Reviewed by Sadonna
Two young, homeless men fall in love and search for a way to stay off the streets and build a life together.
After running away from the hatred and abuse of their teen years, Sean and Gavin have been hustling to survive for too long now. When some extra cash lands them alone in a hotel room until Christmas, they can no longer deny their feelings for each other. Now neither one can imagine watching the other walk off with one more trick. Even with no money and no job prospects, Sean is determined to not just show Gavin what a real home and holiday is like, but to keep them off the streets for good and build a life together.
The opening of this story is unfortunately something that far too many young LGBT youth have to deal with – the rejection of their parents and being on their own. Sean has been on his own for three years at the beginning of this book and he has recently lost his job and become homeless. He’s had to resort to what he never wanted to do – sell himself for money just to be able to eat. It’s Christmas Eve and he ends up at shelter that has no beds for the night, but he at least gets a dinner and eats for the first time in a few days. While there he sees another young guy about his age and while they don’t speak, they definitely have a conversation.
As Sean is about to succumb to numbing himself to both the physical and emotional pain he is in, he is warned off by the guy from the homeless shelter. This young man warns him off another possible disaster and takes him to an abandoned warehouse for the night. The warehouse is full of other homeless and is not by an stretch a safe place, but it’s out of the snow and the other guy, Gavin, suggests that they take turns sleeping and keeping watch. For some reason, Sean trusts him and gets some sleep in a relatively warm place.
The next year at Christmas time, Gavin and Sean are still together protecting each other. Sean realizes that his feelings for Gavin are more than friendship, but he’s very afraid of doing something that will push him away. Gavin has been gone on a trick for a week and Sean is petrified that he won’t come back. He’s also just gotten some very good news and he’s been working with a social worker who is helping him prepare to get off the streets. When Gavin does return with a pocketful of money, they decide to get a hotel room for a few days and just enjoy themselves for a bit. Sean gives in even though he thinks they should save the money so they have something to build on. But he also wants to give Gavin a nice Christmas and Gavin tells Sean he just wants to make a good memory.
Sloan Parker is an amazing writer. Her work is beautiful and touching and emotional. If you haven’t read any of her books, I suggest you run out and do so! This is not an easy story to read. My heart just breaks for the many young people who are rejected by their families and have no safe place to land. The statistics are all too cruel. But while some of this story is harsh and scary, it is ultimately a beautiful story of a couple of these kids who find love. Sean and Gavin risk much to stay together and try to make a real life. They are not willing to give each other up and they just hope that they will be able to make it out of the life they are in someday. I fervently hope that everyone who reads this story will consider making a donation to a worthwhile organization that provides help to these kids in need.
Posted by Sadonna in 16-40k, 5 Really Like It, Authors P-R, Contemporary, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: 2012 MLR Holiday Stories, Christmas, Family, Homeless, MLR Press, Rent Boy, Short Story, Sloan Parker, Teen Throwaways