Title: Divisions (Out of Position #3)
Author: Kyell Gold
Length: approx. 158k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Anthropomorphic, Series, Illustrations, Sports, Football, Athletes, Established Relationships, Family Issues, Homophobia, Youth Gay Suicide, Gay Activism
Rating: Really Liked It!
**This review contains spoilers for those who haven’t read Out of Position and Isolation Play**
It’s been over a month since Devlin Miski came out publicly, and no other professional athlete has followed suit. Dev just wants to put it all behind him and play football, helping his Chevali Firebirds win their first-ever division title. If only his teammates—and everyone else—could just let it go, he’d be fine. But there’s one teammate in particular who seems determined to make his life difficult…
And for his boyfriend Lee, the past is never laid to rest. If it isn’t his parents’ troubled marriage, it’s an old friend pulling him back into gay rights activism. Lee could make a splash by getting Dev to promote gay rights, but he knows it would distract Dev from football. So he has to balance the pressures of the outside world against the needs of his relationship, and even for a clever fox, that’s a tall order.
In this third volume of Dev and Lee’s story, the tiger and fox continue to explore their relationship. Personalities clash and dreams are on the line as Dev and Lee navigate their very public lives and try to stay true to themselves.
Back when I was reviewing at Jessewave’s in early 2011, this is the series that brought Kyell Gold and anthropomorphic fiction to my attention. I fell in love with Lee, the fox who dressed up as a vixen to seduce a straight jock and Dev, the tiger who ended up falling for him. Their lives and relationship continued on in tumultuous fashion after graduation when Dev was drafted into professional football and Lee sacrificed his gay activism for his love of football and became a professional scout. The visibility in the sport forced him back into the closet and their relationship suffered. They endured, however, only to be publicly outed by Lee’s ex best friend and have since tried to make the best of their relationship and Dev’s career as a professional gay athlete. Dealing with homophobic teammates, homophobic fans, and family troubles have made their relationship stronger as Divisions opens, and we reconnect with the two in a much more stable relationship than in the past.
Though their relationship is stronger in this third installment to the series, they still have problems going on in their own lives and just like in the past much of the story is seen from their different perspectives while apart. Lee is dealing with a crisis of career. Now that their relationship is public, he has to be careful working in the same sport that his boyfriend plays in. And should he even still be working towards a career as a scout? What happened to his days of activism, when he wanted to make a difference? At the same time, his family has fallen apart around him. He’s close to his father once again and they’re working to make their relationship stronger, but it has really only happened because of his parent’s new separation. And the direction his mother has taken is even more upsetting when he learns that the organization that spreads hate he’s been considering taking up activism to work against has their own hooks in her, turning her into an even more intolerant mother than she previously was.
Dev has his own problems. Now out of the closet and past his problems with his own team, their newfound camaraderie has made them a winning team that is headed towards the Division Championships. All of that is jeopardized by a new member brought to the Firebirds who seems determined to make his life difficult. Dev just wants to play football and he doesn’t want to be made into a gay role model, something that his teammate and Lee with his reemerging activism can’t seem to let go.
I’ve been excited to read this book for two years now, ever since I read the first two and I wasn’t disappointed. The difficulty with an ongoing series is how so many different strands of a story become interwoven and then are left dangling when each book ends, and Kyell Gold did an excellent job taking up those strands and weaving them into the continuation of the complex relationship that I love. What I love so much about Lee and Devlin is that they have their own lives. It’s so much more of a real life relationship that what we’re usually given with romance plots, where a couple disappears into one another. They’re given their own lives that at times perfectly mesh with one another and are at times completely at odds. Lee and Dev have to reconcile those things and always work on their relationship, or at least actively work so that it isn’t destroyed among all the people that are trying to drive a wedge between them. Many of those people are back, some malicious (like Lee’s past activism friend Brian) and some whose intentions are unknown, like Dev’s new teammate.
The influences that surround them, especially in the wake of Dev’s coming out press conference, serve to make Lee realize what an opportunity they have to help gay youth, especially other young athletes. The modern day epidemic of gay suicide and bullying take stage in this book as Lee learns that one of the young men who wrote to thank Dev after coming out on national television is reported to have committed suicide. This affects Lee deeply, having corresponded with the youth and now understanding the full impact of their actions, or in Lee’s fears, their inaction. This is further compounded by the knowledge that the “family values” community his mother has apparently taken up with may have had a direct impact on the young football player and his reasons for taking his own life. Though only one part of the whole story, this subplot took front and center stage of this novel. It is indicative of the one central issue that stands between Lee and Dev and that is how they react differently to such issues. Dev, of course, just wants to play football. And with good reason, he’s naturally one that almost tries not to be affected by such issues, on top of which if he does consent to putting more time into his public image and philanthropy, it could kill his career. This, of course, drives Lee insane. He’s naturally a crusader and feels some guilt for letting his relationship and his love of football to dictate his life and career away from activism. Could he have been helping all along? What could he do now? Could he dismantle this organization meant to spread hate and lies and manipulation with the power his lover now has in the spotlight? Is it worth it to possibly sacrifice his relationship with Dev to save young lives? Their fundamental differences are continually pitting them against one another. In a sense, they deal with it well, but in many ways they’re prolonging the issues — I assume until the next (final?) book, which is only one of the reasons that I’m even more eager to read it.
When I find a book I love, I feel like a salesman. That’s really not my personality, but when you love something you want to share it. I want to get all of you to read a certain book. In many ways, I felt that way with the first two books I reviewed in 2011. I hadn’t heard of Kyell Gold at that time and I wasn’t really sure that many people in the m/m romance community had at that point, though I know Kyell had popularity in other communities. I feel like Kyell Gold is a widespread name now in our genre, something I’m very happy about, and I no longer really need to sell this series to all of you reading my reviews. If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve already heard of Out of Position and may have even read it. If you have, I know you’ll want to read this new book, because I can’t imagine anyone reading about Dev and Lee and not getting as hooked as I am.
Divisions is available to purchase at Sofawolf (follow the link on the title, then click to make Adult visible in upper right corner) in both Softcover ($20) and Hardcover ($40). It isn’t available as an ebook at this time. It is available to buy in Softcover at Amazon today.
Posted by Cole in 126k+, 5 Really Like It, Authors G-I, Contemporary, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: Anthropomorphic, Athletes, Blotch, Existing Relationship, Family Issues, Football, Gay Activism, Homophobia, Illustrations, Kyell Gold, Out of Position, Series, Sofawolf, Sports, Youth Gay Suicide
Title: Science Friction
Author: Kyell Gold
Publisher: 24 Carat Words (Ebook Version), FurPlanet
Length: approx. 32,500 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Anthropomorphic, Love Triangle, College, May/December, Friends to Lovers, Fuck Buddies, Multiple Partners, Cheating
Rating: Pretty Good
**Note: The format I read, the ebook version, is available through Kindle. The Title Link takes you to FurPlanet, where you can buy the paperback version.
Meet Vaxy the pine marten. He’s a graduate student at sunny Hoffridge U., where he helps Dr. Forrest with teaching, lab work, and getting his pants off whenever things are slow. Meet Mike the rabbit. He’s Vaxy’s roommate and not-boyfriend, and he certainly wouldn’t have any reason to be jealous of Vaxy sleeping with someone else. If he found out. Meet Grace the fennec. He’s a student, a friend of Vaxy and Mike who holds the firm belief that sex is just sex and shouldn’t be mistaken for a relationship. Yes, it’s just another semester at “Hot Fudge U.,” where the sex is as hot and easy as a day at the beach. Vaxy and his friends have most of another year to go before they have to worry about that “real world” thing they’ve heard about. Now meet Mrs. Forrest. She’s Dr. Forrest’s wife.
I’m mostly familiar with Kyell Gold’s work from his series, Out of Position, and reading a few shorter works of his this week as nice, mostly for the small commitment in time and getting to read a wider variety of his work. Because I don’t really read anthropomorphic fiction outside of Kyell Gold’s work (who introduced me to it), reading about even a few characters different than Lee and Dev and different from the contemporary football plot of that series was nice, and gave me a wider scope of what Kyell Gold can do.
This is definitely the sexiest of his work that I’ve read. The story centers on a group of friends at Hoffridge U. and their lives. At the center of that group and this story is Vaxy, a pine marten, and his sexual (mis)adventures — namely the love triangle that forms between the sexy professor he works for in the lab (and their daily appointments in the closet between lab work) and the casual sex relationship with his roommate and friend Mike.
The trouble starts when Vaxy is interrupted by a knock on the lab door as he’s sitting in Dr. Forrest’s lap. He’s actually surprised when it turns out to be Mrs. Forrest. It isn’t as if Vaxy has loose morals or anything like that, he just likes to have a good time. And he is rather tight-lipped about secrets, others and his own. His surprise that Dr. Forrest was cheating with him makes him question their relationship, even though it was just all in good fun. The wife, however, is like a dog with a bone. She won’t let the possibility of finding the person who her husband is cheating with, and somehow, Vaxy finds himself playing the wife off the husband and the husband off the wife, in a deep quagmire of kept secrets.
So why does it bother him if he’s not the only one getting down with the sexy doctor? And why is Mike constantly getting upset lately about his “extracurricular activities”. They don’t have a relationship and Mike has never made him think that he wanted more. Add in the extra complications of one-off with their mutual friend Grace, and Vaxy finds that he’s dug himself deeper into a mess that only just now realized was a problem in the first place.
Science Friction, isn’t the sort of story you might expect from the title, but a more literal description of the business Vaxy the science student gets down to around the college. The issues dealt with could be heavy, but are written in a humorous light as Vaxy digs himself deeper into the mess. He’s only really concerned with having fun and keeping things light, only to realize that it isn’t the same for everyone else and he needs to evaluate his life and his real feelings. The love triangle isn’t used to maximum effect. The focus of the story is really the misadventures of Vaxy. We get to know Dr. Forrest pretty well, but Mike much less so. This was a bit of an imbalance for me as a reader, though in retrospect works for the the story and was obviously done for a reason. And because the story is so short (at around 30k words), there really isn’t time for the story to create a world around them, but focuses on paring down the story to the main plotline without a lot of interference from the outside world or extra scenes.
The story is capped off by a short story called “Armadillo Peccadillo”, about Grace and his roommate Wally (briefly in the main story). I enjoyed this little extra so much! It really made me want more of the group of friends and their adventures, especially with Wally, Grace and Mike, who we got to know much less well than Vaxy.
This definitely isn’t my favorite of Kyell Gold’s stories, but it really couldn’t be compared on the same level as the deeply involved stories such as Out of Position and it’s sequels. It was, however, a whole lot of fun to read and very satisfactory indeed.
Posted by Cole in 16-40k, 4 Pretty Good, Authors G-I, Contemporary, Heat 4 - Spicy & Smutty, Romance, Sex Freq 4 - Very Often Tags: 24 Carat Words, Anthropomorphic, Cheating, Cirrus, College, Friends to Lovers, Fuck Buddies, FurPlanet, Illustrations, Kyell Gold, Love Triangle, May/December, Multiple/Other Partners
Title: Winter Games
Author: Kyell Gold
Illustrator: Sabretoothed Ermine
Length: approx. 52,500 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Anthropomorphic, Second Chances, Con Artist, Friends to Lovers, Bisexual, Coming Out, Flashbacks, Skiing, Boarding School
Rating: Love It!
**As far as I can find, this is only available in Paperback at this time. It’s $9.95 at the link above at FurPlanet.
Sierra Snowpaw is just at the Lonnegan Ski Resort looking for a good time. You can trust him. If he doesn’t talk a lot about his past, well, a lot of guys have done things they’d rather forget. A lot of guys have been through things they’d rather forget, too.
He’s so nice that it isn’t that weird when he asks about some of the other guests. Not like a cop, though, or a Fed—well, okay. Maybe a little like that one guy from that movie. Maybe he’s off-duty, settling a score on his own time.
Or maybe he’s the guy on the run. Come to think of it, he looks around corners like someone’s after him, too. But you know, some guys are chased by nothing more than the ghosts of their past…
Sierra Snowpaw was sent to boarding school in the late 90’s where he met a badboy coyote by the name of Carmel. Sierra is on the straight and narrow after getting into some trouble with his friend at his last school and he fears the retribution from his father, a career military officer. But something about Carmel attracts him.
In the present day, Sierra is at the Lonnegan Ski Resort, and he’s looking for Carmel. A tip has led him there, something that Carmel might have left for him himself. It has been 15 years, and despite their shared past and all the secrets they have about their time together in school, they haven’t seen each other. But Sierra has some things that need to be said, and it isn’t that he’s still in love with Carmel. He is, but their past is a constant obstacle in his way, a way to remind him that loving Carmel isn’t worth the trouble it will bring him.
Though I loved Science Friction, this story is in a very different vein. It is beautifully crafted and some of the best writing I’ve seen from Kyell Gold. It also remains one of the few on my personal list of books that make appropriate and judicious use of the flashback, something I normally detest and have very high standards for. This story is told in two parts — 1997 and the beginning of the two boys’ friendship, and 2012 and the present day mystery. I purposely made the summary more vague than I usually do, not only because the blurb itself is vague but because it is the whole point of the flashbacks in the first place, to carefully disseminate information. The present day story line acts as a mystery, with clues dropped purposefully like breadcrumbs to slowly build the story of the secret Carmel and Sierra share. You will get some idea of them from the tags in this review, but very little in the scheme of things and nothing that isn’t given away earlier in the story, or that you can at least guess about their relationship or partnership.
Though this is the first story of this author’s I’ve read which is written in this way (not a mystery but written like one for the reader to discover the story bit by bit and through intrigue), I’d say that this is a good taste of this author’s writing. It’s shorter, if you don’t want to commit to something longer (and more expensive) and shows what this author can accomplish. As of now (at least from what I can tell), this isn’t yet available as a Kindle book, or an ebook anywhere I can find. It is available for $9.95 at FurPlanet (see the title link above), but it might become available soon — many of Kyell Gold’s other stories of this length are, like Science Friction. I received a reviewer edition in ebook, but I loved this one so much I might just buy the soft cover from FurPlanet, also for the beautiful artwork by Sabretoothed Ermine.
Very well done and Hightly Recommended!
Posted by Cole in 41-75k, 6 LOVE IT!, Authors G-I, Contemporary, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: Anthropomorphic, Bisexual, Boarding School, Coming Out, Con Men, Flashbacks, Friends to Lovers, FurPlanet, Illustrations, Kyell Gold, Sabretoothed Ermine, Second Chances, Skiing
Title: Making Ends Meet
Author: SL Armstrong & K Piet
Illustrator: Diana Callinger
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Length: 65k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Illustrated, Kids, Single Father, First Times/Loves, Coming Out
Rating: Pretty Good
Includes 12 black-and-white illustrations by Diana Callinger!
Zach is just seventeen years old, but despite his youth, he has more than his fair share of responsibility. An experimental fling in high school has led him down the path of single fatherhood. Now, he holds down a job, takes his college classes online, and pays his own bills as best he can—all while juggling daycare and chores and play-dates for his four-month-old, Mae. It’s a rough, 24/7 life, but to Zach, Mae is worth every penny spent and every minute of his day. With no free time to speak of, it feels like a miracle when Zach meets Wil in the check-out line at his work. Handsome, grounded, from the proverbial “right side of the tracks”, and—even better—good with kids, Wil is everything he could want in a boyfriend. But as interested as Wil is in Zach, he has his own life, his own family, his own job and college career to think about. All the various draws on their time means that it’s hard just to find chances to be together. But Zach’s no stranger to hard tasks, and believes he owes it to himself to try.
It took me a while to read this. Just under a month actually — I kept putting it down and picking it up later. So, I don’t think that it is without faults, but just after the halfway point, I picked it up again and finally started getting into it. And after finishing, well — I respect this book a lot. It is a divergence from most of the writing these two have done in the past, and from typical romance in several ways. First — Zach is seventeen when this story starts, and even though they follow the rules, so to speak, and don’t show any sex until he’s legal, it still pushes the boundaries to think of an underage dad for some people. Second, and SL Armstrong talked about this a couple weeks ago when she stopped by TAR for our spot on the blog tour for this book, the main plot is rather straight forward and simple: two men fall in love, one has a child, and they start a family. There is little other plot besides that, although there are obstacles in their path. That makes this a rather sedate romance and definitely slow to start.
I think that is why I had trouble in the beginning. No matter how much I respected the writing for the purity of plot and the rather realistic look at underage and single parents, I kept thinking… so, this is it? I thought maybe it just wasn’t to my taste, because there’s nothing wrong with that. But after I spent some more time getting to know Zach and Wil, and when their relationship moved from their internal world of three and out into the world, I started to get it. And then I really liked it. I had a difficult time with Zach and points. He’s incredibly insecure about some things, but that is because he’s vulnerable, so objectively I understand it and my response to his need of constant reassurance.
I also appreciated that the socioeconomic disparity between the two was made a subject of tension. It’s something that is incredibly important in many real life relationships. And I think that’s why I respect this story the most, even though it is the very reason it made it difficult for me to get into. This story is much more true to life than most in our genre, most especially in the way it portrays Zach and his need to support his daughter Mae. So I would definitely recommend this story, but I also don’t think that it is for everyone. First, this is definitely for those who like reading stories about kids and gay fathers. Much of this book is taken up by Mae, and the issues Zach has to deal with directly relating to parenting. Also, like I mentioned before the plot is entirely involved with the relationship and the parenting, with little else from the outside world except some in the latter half. And finally, with Zach being underage for the first part of the book and his issues with sex after fathering Mae, the romance gets off to a very slow start.
And on a last note, the relationship, for most of the story, is very sweet. Wil is almost too good to be true, and while it bothered me for a lot of the story, that everything just seemed to fall into place and be super easy and cheesy at times, it did work out to my satisfaction in the end and made sense to me.
Now, on the the giveaway!
Please leave a comment below to win an ebook copy of Making Ends Meet. The giveaway will last until Midnight CST on December 3. I will choose the winner using Random.org and email the winner who will then have 48 hours from the time of the drawing to reply to my email. I will then forward the winner’s information to SL Armstrong and K Piet so you can receive their book.
Please enter the email you’d wish me to contact you at in the comment form, or if you prefer, leave it in the message.
Thank you and good luck!
Posted by Cole in 4 Pretty Good, 41-75k, Authors A-C, Authors P-R, Contemporary, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Romance, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex Tags: Coming Out, First Times, Illustrations, K Piet, Kids, Single Father, SL Armstrong, Storm Moon Press
Title: The Fifth Son (Illustrated Edition)
Author: Blaine D Arden (Illustrations by Yana Goya)
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Length: 24k words
Genre: m/m BDSM Fantasy Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few & Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Illustrations, Shibari/Rope Binding, Gun Kink, Magic, HEA, Soldier, Prince
Rating: Pretty Good
Llyskel is the fifth son of a King, but, unlike his brothers, he doesn’t have a career in politics or the military to look forward to. In a world where everyone possesses magic to some degree or other, Llyskel is powerless, unable to perform even the smallest magic-based tasks. All his life, he’s been under constant guard for his own protection from the magical world around him, much to his annoyance. The only time Llyskel feels free is when he paints, where the only spells he needs are the ones he weaves with brush and paint, capturing moments of beauty and giving them immortality on canvas. Llyskel harbors a secret wish, though, a dark desire that haunts his nights. Only Ariv, a captain in the King’s army, seems to sense the truth of Llyskel’s needs. The pull he feels to Llyskel is unavoidable, and the passion between them undeniable. But Ariv isn’t the only one interested in Llyskel. The Queen of a neighboring country expresses her interest in the boy’s talents, but her true intent goes far beyond a love of art. And what she asks may be too high a price for any of them.
This is the second work I’ve read by this author and I’m really liking what she has offered. This was a sweet fantasy that touched on a few different subjects without fully committing in any direction. It was like a tapas lunch, light with variety 😉 There was a nicely delectable bit of shibari, which was the slow heat in the sex between Llyskel and Ariv, capped with the sharp taste of danger (even though that is technically a relative term to Llyskel) in the addition of the stunners. The setting and detail is classic fantasy, yet the themes and tone and mood were classic fairy tale. It was really perfect for me.
Llyskel can do one thing better than anything else — paint. Though he’s coveted for this gift, constantly commissioned by his family and other royal families alike, to him the gift pales in comparison to what he can’t do — wield magic. He’s the only one who can’t in a world where magic controls everything, doors, lights, and the everyday minutiae the rest of the population takes for granted. In light of this difference, he feels his family sees him as a weakling. He is swaddled in their protection day after day, with a permanent guard who follows his every move and in a constant struggle with his parents (the King and Queen) to battle for the right to prove himself. He wants to train for battle, something that they absolutely don’t allow. But what Llyskel really wants to is simply feel as strong and needed as his brothers, all who have some occupation for the betterment of their people. Yet, Llyskel withdraws into this painting, expressing his emotions through art and hiding those secrets in his private gallery. One of those is very secret indeed. He can’t stop painting the fluid motions of Captain Ariv on the practice field, always wielding a stunner.
The romance and attraction between Llyskel and Ariv works well because Ariv is really the only one who sees Llyskel and his true feelings. It is purposeful that it happens before they really know one another, because Llyskel covets the captain from afar and that puts them on the same level when Ariv finally approaches him, having done the same and recognizing the part of Llyskel that seeks submission. There is little made of the connection between Llyskel’s submission and his life and relation to magic, except for in their play with the stunners (a type of stunning gun that uses a person’s magic to shoot). The psychology in the characters and their desires isn’t examined, but that was fine with me. It made this story less about their connection in that respect, and the gun kink and rope play exactly that, about the play. Their connection came across stronger for me in the training room, when Ariv starts teaching Llyskel before he’s really supposed to learn — recognizing that he has a need to learn what all his older brothers did and to feel that he has something to offer other than art. Of course, Ariv is shown as a rather sexy and broad, gentle yet fierce warrior, but this was the sexiest thing about him. He recognized Llyskel before anyone else saw him — thus, the fairy tale.
At times this story felt rushed to me, in the middle getting-to-know-you sections between Llyskel and Ariv and then at the end. This might be due to the fact that I believe this was originally intended for the Weight of a Gun anthology released by this publisher, but instead merited it’s own release, and as such might have originally been worked through certain parameters like length. I never quiet understood the easy resolution. After Llyskel is rescued from the neighboring kingdom (queendom?), it is said that the Queen stepped down and her son Nik took her place on the throne, which seemed out of character for someone who subjugated her “consort” so completely and didn’t hesitate to kidnap a suitor for her daughter. To me, she seemed megalomaniacal and not quite sane, since it was obvious that she couldn’t hide what she had done to Llyskel, so the easy resolution didn’t seem to fit and the overall lack of detail about that situation bothered me.
This story is perfect for continuation, if the author were so inclined 🙂 I’d love to read it if she does write it. The illustrations were beautiful. I always have trouble with books in illustration because I start seeing the story by the artists renderings and there are only a few here and there. I always want more.
I’m excited to read more from this author. I definitely recommend this one, the illustrated version if you can get it. I’t is available through all of the links above, but you can definitely buy both the illustrated version and the non-illustrated version at the publisher. Recommended!
Posted by Cole in 16-40k, 4 Pretty Good, Authors A-C, BDSM / Kink, Fantasy, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: Blaine D Arden, Gun Play, HEA, Illustrations, Magic, Military, Princes, Shibari/Rope Binding, Storm Moon Press