Title: Venetian Masks
Author: Kim Fielding
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 216 pages
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Betrayal, HEA, Italy, Mobsters, Vacation
Rating: Really Liked It
Guest Review by Heather C
Jeff Dawkins’s last partner left him with a mortgage he can’t afford and nonrefundable tickets for a month’s vacation in Europe. Despite a reluctance to travel, Jeff decides to go on the trip anyway. After all, he’s already paid for it. He packs a Kindle loaded with gay romance novels and arrives in Venice full of trepidation. There he meets the handsome and charming expat Cleve Prieto, who offers to serve as his tour guide. Jeff has serious misgivings—he wasn’t born yesterday, and something about Cleve doesn’t sit right—but anything is better than wandering the canals alone. With Cleve’s help, Jeff falls in love with Venice and begins to reconcile with his past. For the first time, Jeff finds himself developing strong feelings for someone else. But he can’t be sure who that person is because Cleve’s background remains a mystery embroidered with lies.
Then a dark figure from Cleve’s past appears, and Jeff must choose whether to let Cleve flee alone or to join him on a desperate run through central Europe. Maybe Jeff will finally be able to see behind Cleve’s masks—if he survives the journey.
Nikyta totally tricked me into reading this!
I went into this book completely blind and had no idea what it was about, although I did gather from the title that it might be set in Venice…
Poor plain ol’, boring Jeff. He’s been cheated on and dumped by his boyfriend, forced to sell his house, and now he’s on a plane traveling to Venice to begin his 4 week European vacation…alone. Shortly after arriving in Venice, he catches the eye of “Cleve”, a gorgeous, tattooed, American drifter who offers to play Jeff’s tour guide…for payment. Hmm, that doesn’t sound like a trusty, safe plan to me!
I immediately connected with Jeff. He is pretty much me (if I were a gay man), as we share many of the same neuroses. Plus, we both:
Work in IT
Live an unexciting existence
Have to plan for everything
Have never traveled anywhere alone
Carry our Kindles everywhere we go, although I haven’t maimed anyone with mine…yet
Then Jeff throws his brain out the window and agrees to give Cleve’s offer a try, while I’m screaming “NOOOOOOOOO, he can’t be trusted!!!!!” But Jeff sees Cleve’s sad eyes and decides to overlook all of his lies and half-truths, and squeezes Cleve into his travel budget…there’s just something about the gorgeous man… It truly was about the companionship, although it wasn’t long before it led to some sexy time…Cleve was never paid for sex!
Cleve…no way did I trust him in the beginning! And I don’t think I even liked him at first because of how much I didn’t trust him. Ooooh, but it wasn’t long before he stole my heart…I think I loved him before Jeff even loved him. And even though it was a bit insta-love-ish, I still loved Jeff and Cleve together and was cheering for them the entire time.
Sooooooo, I’m not going to tell anymore about Cleve or give away any spoilers about what happens next, but the lazy vacation romance suddenly turns into a twisted thriller. Huh? Didn’t see that coming. It did get a little outrageous…but who cares? It was fun and sweet and I couldn’t put it down…and that’s all that matters.
Posted by Nikyta in 41-75k, 5 Really Like It, Authors D-F, Contemporary, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: betrayal, Dreamspinner Press, HEA, Italy, Kim Fielding, mobsters, vacation
Author: Kim Fielding
Length: 90,806 words
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic and Tame
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: All Time Favorites!, Fairy Tale, Magic, Royalty, Prisoners
Rating: LOVED IT!!!!!!
Brute leads a lonely life in a world where magic is commonplace. He is seven and a half feet of ugly, and of disreputable descent. No one, including Brute, expects him to be more than a laborer. But heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and when he is maimed while rescuing a prince, Brute’s life changes abruptly. He is summoned to serve at the palace in Tellomer as a guard for a single prisoner. It sounds easy but turns out to be the challenge of his life. Rumors say the prisoner, Gray Leynham, is a witch and a traitor. What is certain is that he has spent years in misery: blind, chained, and rendered nearly mute by an extreme stutter. And he dreams of people’s deaths—dreams that come true. As Brute becomes accustomed to palace life and gets to know Gray, he discovers his own worth, first as a friend and a man and then as a lover. But Brute also learns heroes sometimes face difficult choices and that doing what is right can bring danger of its own.
I have to admit, I somehow had this idea that I wasn’t very impressed with this author. I’m not sure why, but when I decided to read and review this book, I decided to disregard that and read it anyway, purely by the outstanding blurb, only to realize now that I’ve only ever read one short story by this author in the past. And, while that story didn’t stick with me, I have no idea why I had the idea that this was a so so author for me. This book blew me away in so many ways, that no matter what, I’ll always give this author the benefit of the doubt from now on. I loved it so much, I could barely put it down and had to stop myself from starting it again as soon as I’d finished — and I rarely re-read a book. I have to have really loved it.
The story is set around the life of Brute, a hulking man whose life is an amalgamation of all the hurt and shame a society can accumulate and put upon one person. Set in a fairy tale world, Brute faces the misery of society every day, just by doing his job as a laborer and bearing the brunt of his town’s misery. Yet faced with a past full of abuse and abandonment, and living in a world where he’s continually degraded, Brute remains mostly unaffected. Though he understands how the town feels about him, he’s faced with it every day, he has a pure moral compass that far surpasses any sort of negativity or revenge. When a visiting prince of the realm has an accident, Brute is the one who rushes to save him.
The prince’s accident has many ramifications, not only to Brute himself, but to his life and future in the town. As a reward, the prince offers Brute a job and pay at the palace, if ever he decides to visit. And now, with his situation in the town changed and his prospects few, Brute has no choice but to venture to the capital. The choice is fortuitous, because when Brute takes up the job the prince finds for him as a jailor, he finds that the man he guards has a past of his own. And while they may seem to have many differences, they’re both on the outside of society.
This book, and Brute himself, is so absolutely charming that I almost can’t get through this review. Rarely do I end up writing a review, even for a book I love, where I keep thinking about moments in the book and wanting to talk to you about them, to share them. It has only happened a few times this year, in fact. It’s such a great thing to find a book like that, that affects you and you love so much. It reaffirms why we read and what we get from it. Why it’s important. Brute is a character that is bigger than life, and will always remain close to my heart. Like Gray says, “Y-you’re a giant because an ordinary man’s body is t- too small for what you are.”
Underneath all of that, Brute, his charm and the charm of this book, there is actually a lot about this book that is superbly well done. The world created casts a perfect balance to show the good and bad in their society and uses Brute as a catalyst, for good or bad, however each person reacts to him. In a similar way, the tone of this book is perfect because it doesn’t lose the magical quality a fairy tale gives but it also shows a harsh reality for a story set in such a world. The setting is very evocative of this in the disparity between rich and poor and the people and the choices they make and which of those factions they belong to — all seen through Brute’s eyes, which are startlingly unbiased. And finally, the ending casts a very fine balance between feeling perfectly wrapped up, but not trite. The characters seem to choose their own direction, without being forced to take part in any sort of catharsis — some in ignorance and others evolving.
So, I haven’t really raved about many books lately, but I can’t help it with this one. I think everyone should read this book. And when you do, please let me know!. I want to be able to talk about it with all of you!
Posted by Cole in 6 LOVE IT!, 76-100k, Authors D-F, Fantasy, Heat 2 - Romantic & Tame, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: All Time Favorites!, Dreamspinner Press, Fairy Tale, Kim Fielding, Magic, Prisoner, Royalty