on m/m romance, baking, knitting, and occasional smut

Tag Archives: X-Dress

skyhuntersutherlandTitle: Sky Hunter (Skybound #3)
Author: Fae Sutherland
Publisher: Carina
Length: 53k words
Genre: m/m Sci Fi Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Sex to Story
Keywords/Tags: Series, Series Finale, Netgalley, Space Opera, Royalty, Second Chances, Secrets & Lies, Unrequited Love, Bounty Hunter, Coup d’état, X-Dress
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

Jeret hasn’t looked back since running away from life as a crown prince and joining the Crux Ansata’s crew, but when the Ansata returns to his home system, he finds his father ill and a traitor maneuvering for control. Now that he’s a full-grown man, he can’t just walk away again.

Letting Jeret escape was the biggest black mark on bounty hunter Dagan Nu’aim’s otherwise distinguished years as a royal guard. When he catches Jeret back in-system, Dagan seizes the chance to regain his lost honor and bring the wayward prince home.

Jeret’s not so sure he wants to go, but the reignition of his old crush on Dagan complicates the issue. As the two unravel a tangled plot against the crown, their old friendship lights up with a fiery new desire. And when the traitor strikes and the two men must choose between duty and freedom, neither is certain which to pick.

REVIEW

I’ve been looking forward to this Skybound series finale ever since the first book when I knew I wanted to read Jeret’s story most. I think that a lot of other readers have felt that way too, at least from what I’ve seen. Of all the crew of the Annie, Jeret is the one who seems to have the most secrets. He’s secretive himself, but enigmatic and funny at times, always with a smart quip in response to the others and always wanting to prove himself since he’s the youngest and in many ways considered the baby on board by Torrin. Whether it was intended by the author for Jeret to become such a favorite, I’m not sure. But it does mean that a lot of people who read this series were eagerly awaiting his story, which gives this third book in the series a lot of pressure to stand up to.

Of all the secrets that Jeret could have had… I never expected that he’s a runaway prince! That in itself was a surprise, that I wish that I had found out in the book and not the blurb. But, it’s a good hook to bring people to the story, even if they haven’t been reading the series up till now. The runaway prince is a solid character that always seems to draw in readers. Torrin, Rain and Jeret are the only ones left on the Annie after Cookie left in Sky Runners to live with his new love Neith, who the crew rescued from an intergalactic brothel where Neith had been sold and kept against his will as a whore. Now, with the crew reduced to three and two of those — Torrin and Rain — in a relationship themselves, Jeret feels a bit like the third wheel. Add in the fact that he was always seen as the baby of the crew anyway, and it had Jeret thinking about his past.

When Torrin announces that they’re headed to a planet near the one that Jeret escaped from, he does everything he can to convince Torrin and Rain that heading for a job there is a bad idea, especially when he learns that Torrin has agreed to ferry a shipment that must have come from his home planet. Jeret knows that something is wrong if those on his planet are smuggling off the expensive ore, underneath the nose of the COP, but his caution is ignored by the others.

When they land on the nearby planet, Jeret has no idea that Dagan — once the man who was his guard, his best friend, and the man who held his unrequited love as a 15 year old crown prince — has resumed the search for the heir to the empire under the name of his king. When Jadakira (Jeret’s real name) escaped as he always wanted to do at 15, Dagan lost everything. His failure to protect the prince led to the loss of his whole world and his ultimate banishment from the planet. But Dagan knows Jadi well and it only takes him six months to track his whereabouts and learn about his tenure as part of the Crux Ansata’s crew.

But Jeret, no matter his remaining feelings for the man he once loved as a kid, will not allow anyone to return him to his home planet. He has never had a desire to be king and what he loves most is the mechanics of the Annie, his crew and their adventures in space. His birthright is a cage he escaped years ago. But when he learns that his father, the King, is dying and a traitor planetside is angling to steal the throne, Jeret knows that he has to find the culprit. But he’ll fight Dagan and his “duty” to the King the whole way, and hopefully in the end be able to return to the life he wants to lead.

There are parts of this book that I really enjoyed. There is quite a bit of history between Jeret and Dagan and I thought that their relationship played out beautifully. Both are stubborn and refuse to budge from their ultimate goal: Jeret to return his home planet to the way it should be and then return to the crew of the Annie; and Dagan wants to help Jadi, still not quite understanding his true desires. The fact that Dagan failed in his duty all those years ago is a mark against his pride and he will do everything to return Jadi to his father before his death. The reconciliation of their desires takes most of the book and we really get to see their stubbornness play out against each other over and over, though not too far as to be frustrating. The push and pull between them gave the story the most enjoyment for me, because as the story evolves and they learn to work together for a common goal their true feelings come to matter more than their pride.

On the other hand, I was pretty disappointed in the external plot. The plot to overthrow the king and Jeret and Dagan’s plan to ferret out the traitor. For most of the book the tension mounted and they moved closer and closer but the ending really fizzled for me. First, the traitor was not who I expected, but that was because I never felt as if they were introduced into the plot to even become a suspect. I’m not a big fan of when authors do that. The culprit should have been introduced much earlier. And second because the final confrontation, while a bit satisfying for the characters, seemed a bit… anticlimactic.

So the real interest for me in this story was Jeret, and his love interest Dagan. I enjoyed their back and forth courtship, and I will admit that the tension created by the external plot was more of a device to play into their feelings for one another than the other way around. I think that if you read this story alone, without reading the first two then you might not have the prior interest in the characters to make this a very satisfactory read. I read this because I’d read the first two, and I had an interest in learning more about Jeret. And while I did find what I wanted, this book as a complete story was a little bit disappointing.

So, I recommend this for those of you who, like me, have read both Sky Riders and Sky Runners. For all the books, I found the romances in them the best part of the books. Looking back at this as a series, I would have probably enjoyed more of a central story arc over the whole series that drew them together. But, they are the way they are 😉 And I did find enjoyment from them.


DR_Its_Raining_MenTitle: It’s Raining Men
Author: Diana DeRicci
Publisher: MLR
Length: 32,000 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: MLR Mix Tapes, X-Dress, Personal Trainer, Drag Queen, Good Friends, HEA, Insta-Love
Rating: So So

Reviewed by Sadonna

**Review contains some spoilers**

BLURB

Dallas, along with a few friends, is attending a singing contest to cheer on a friend who is a drag performer. Except he falls in utter lust with the hostess of the club, Peter, AKA Pepper Prince. Finagling a date, they spend hours talking into the night and Dallas gets a second date. Even though they’re hitting it off, Peter is skeptical of Dallas’ honesty and acceptance of Pepper’s inclusion in his private and professional life. Can romance win the heart of a man who’s been hurt in the past for simply being the person he is? History says no, but Dallas isn’t like anyone Peter knows, and is determined to prove it.

REVIEW

This story in the Mix Tape series begins with a competition in a drag club. A bunch of guys are out for an evening of fun at Paper Dolls to support the boyfriend of one of their group. Chance, aka Chantilly is one of the drag show contestants vying for the crown and a trip to Las Vegas for a big national competition. There are 5 of them in the group – a couple, Javy and Carson, two single guys, Dallas, a personal trainer, and Brady, a cop, and Liam, Chance’s boyfriend. As the competition opens, we are introduced to Pepper Prince, the MC of the club and Dallas is mesmerized. He hopes that Pepper really is a man, but he’s not sure because he appears as a beautiful woman. We also meet Miguel, their very cute waiter that seems to draw Brady’s attention.

At the end of the competition, Dallas and Liam go backstage to get Chance and of course Dallas wants to meet Pepper. The other contestants tell him that it’s a lost cause – he’ll never get Pepper to go out with him. But Dallas keeps trying. There is a twist with Miguel and Brady back in the front of the club that ends with Pepper (who by now we know is Peter) giving them all a ride since he’s the only one sober enough to drive. Brady is very protective of Miguel and Dallas welcomes the chance to get to talk to Peter. He amazingly convinces Peter to give him a chance for one more date.

We get a little bit of background on Peter and why he’s not interesting in dating but Dallas is persistent and they have a really good time together. Just as Peter and Dallas are growing closer though, a job offer comes along that takes Peter away to what could be his dream job. Dallas cares too much about Peter’s happiness to be selfish and tells Peter he needs to see where this takes him. Of course he’s miserable and it takes one of his training clients to get him to see what he really needs to do about this situation.

I wanted to like this story so much more. The premise was really great and I liked Dallas and Peter. But things started to go a little wrong for me in the story after their first real date and it got a little insta-lovey. My main issues with the story had to do with Peter seeming to rush into a relationship with Dallas after we see him saying no to getting involved with someone he’s met at the club and hear from others as well that Peter doesn’t date. I would really have liked to see more interaction between Dallas and Peter before they seemed to be so attached. There were also a couple of continuity problems that threw me off a little.

I think that this story would have benefitted from having another 30,000 words so that the relationship could have developed a bit more naturally. There were so many secondary characters that I really would have liked to know more about as well. This would really be a good starting point for a series about some of these characters and maybe that’s what Diana will do. I’d love to see what happens between Miguel and Brady and I also liked Dallas’s client Mikala.


Here’s a Repost of my review of Spirit Sanguine
Orignally posted on May 6, 2013

All New Review for Late Night Snack below!

SpiritSanguine72lgTitle: Spirit Sanguine
Author: Lou Harper
Publisher: Samhain
Length: 74,562 words
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Vampires, Vampire Hunters, Veg/Vegan Vamps, Mystery, Action/Adventure, X-Dressing!, Chicago, Diverse Couple, Funny Guys, Las Vegas, Private Investigators, Roleplay
Rating: LOVED It!

BLURB

Is that a wooden stake in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

After five years in eastern Europe using his unique, inborn skills to slay bloodsuckers, Gabe is back in his hometown Chicago and feeling adrift. Until he’s kidnapped by a young, sexy vampire who seems more interested in getting into his pants than biting into his neck.

Harvey Feng is one-half Chinese, one-hundred-percent vampire. He warns Gabe to stay out of the Windy City, but somehow he isn’t surprised when the young slayer winds up on his doorstep. And why shouldn’t Gabe be curious? A vegetarian vampire isn’t something one sees every day.

Against their better judgment, slayer and vampire succumb to temptation. But their affair attracts unexpected attention.

When Chicago’s Vampire Boss makes Gabe an offer he can’t refuse, the unlikely lovers are thrust into peril and mystery in the dark heart of the Windy City. Together they hunt for kidnappers, a killer preying on young humans, and vicious vampire junkies.

However, dealing with murderous humans and vampires alike is easy compared to figuring out if there’s more to their relationship than hot, kinky sex.

Product Warnings
Fangalicious man-on-man action, a troublesome twink, cross-dressing vampiress, and role-playing involving a fedora.

REVIEW

I hadn’t planned on giving this book a proper review, but when Sunday rolled around and I was still thinking about this book, so I decided that it really needed one. For some reason, and I sincerely hope that this is just my 2D, rather limited view of the m/m romance reading community, this book hasn’t seemed to have had a real splash yet. And that’s a damn shame. Here’s what I said on Goodreads immediately after I finished the book Satuday:

This has the most eclectic mix of tags I’ve ever given a book. Surprisingly, they all went together! And even more, it kinda represents this book, which is a bit of a hodge-podge of different quirks and ideas, even plotting and pacing which I found rather refreshing. Definitely not typical vampire fare!

Now, the tags here are pretty much similar to the ones on Goodreads, but since I can more easily edit and add tags here at the blog, they of course have a bit more flair 😉 I have to admit that I’ve fallen into a bit of a pattern in my mismanagement of my m/m reading, where many of the most exciting releases seem to slip through the net (there are many factors, though it still makes me a dolt) mostly because of reviewing duties, but Lou Harper is perhaps one on the top of the list of those stellar authors that I haven’t given their due. Perhaps I should do a backlist read. Anyway, this book wasn’t just well written, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable read, for many reasons I’ll talk about later. But that brings me to another point. Another byproduct of my reviewing duties is that I tend to analyze first rather than enjoy the book first, and having not originally slated Spirit Sanguine as a review book and (imagine this!) actually making myself sit down and read a book for pleasure instead of work on reviews I should be getting up to date, meant that this one just slipped right through and knocked me flat. I didn’t really have to think about an analysis of the book, of styles and pacing and plot and characterizations, but… I just enjoyed it. It was a refreshing read, and not something I was expecting from the vampire angle.

Lou has an interesting take on her book up on her review on Goodreads, which you can read here. In it, she says:

Bloodsuckers are everywhere; you can’t walk down a dark alley without a couple of them jumping out and accosting you with their dark and broody eyes. They do that a lot–mope and sulk. That’s what got to me, all the melodrama. I mean, they are practically immortal, don’t get sick, grow old, don’t need to watch their weight or work out. What the hell do they have to bellyache about?

(That’s the truth.)

And that’s the point. In a sub-genre where melodrama rules and/or kinky vampire sex clubs are the forte, humor takes precedent here, brought forth by the vivacious and quirky Harvey (I love the name, and not just the Feng/Fang part, the fact that her vampire is named Harvey), who isn’t really like any other of his kind. In actuality, I’d rather not go into characterization here, because I’d rather not cut him into pieces to analyze him. He’s best enjoyed as it’s written… plus, you’ll find plenty in other reviews, I’m sure. The same goes for Gabe, who is perhaps the undervalued of the pair, though it’s important that he’s the lens we see the world through, and even more in which we see Harvey through. His understanding of and feelings for Harvey are how we understand him best, in reflection.

What was really refreshing about this book for me was also in a second part — the style, which is reflected in pacing but also the plot. Both were atypical in that they don’t follow the usual structure. Broken into three parts, each concentrates on a different aspect of the story while they, in succession, follow a continual arc. Some readers might find this off-putting. I’m not really sure. I quite enjoyed it. Because while the first is a typical setup to the story and introduces the relationship between Gabe and Harvey, the second and third both have a somewhat separate plot, though they’re tied together. But you do get the feeling, between the transition between Parts 2 and 3, that there’s a bit of a jog. And consequently, you’ll find two climaxes (one at the end of each part) around the 55% mark and the end of the book.

Nikyta noticed this as well and made a remark to me about it (in our many back and forth book gabbing emails) and probably described it better than I did, asking if I had noticed authors using this style more lately, the (in her words) “multiple mini stories in one book of the same couple” style. We both automatically thought of Megan Derr, who sometimes writes in a similar though pretty different style from what I’m describing in Spirit Sanguine. Perhaps it’s that Gabe and Harvey really only have two distinct adventures and Megan Derr often writes books that are split between the many adventures one couple has, a sort of extended vignette style. Nik thought that maybe it was a style that was becoming more popular. I’m not sure, but suffice to say that it is something that we’ve both enjoyed. And definitely something that I found made Lou Harper’s book infinitely more original — though, of course, anything with a vampire named Harvey Feng could hardly be called conventional.

Read the book. And please enjoy it!

latenightsnackcoverTitle: Late Night Snack (Sanguine #1.5)
Author: Lou Harper
Publisher: Self Published (Harper Books)
Length: 5k words
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Lou Harper Week!, Sequel, Short Story, Free Reads, Vampires, Vampire Hunters, Vegan/Vegetarian Vamps, Chicago, Mystery, X-Dressing, Roleplay, Playful Sex, Funny Men, Established Couple, Private Detective
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

Sometimes life takes strange turns. Gabe is a slayer but his lover is a vampire. And so is his boss. When Gabe is tasked with capturing a delinquent blood sucker, he’s determined to succeed, even if it means posing as bait. There is only one problem: Harvey, his possessive boyfriend, might ruin everything.

Warning: hot fang-on-man action, role-playing, and one pissed off vampire.

REVIEW

This is really a good story to read either before or after reading Spirit Sanguine. For the most part things are explained about their relationship and the story stands alone enough for this to be a good intro for those interested in reading that book and about Gabe and Harvey. Of course, I think it’s great to read after reading Spirit Sanguine, especially as I have — a few months later. It’s a really nice reminder of the couple and the fun I had reading that book and getting to know Harvey and Gabe. There is a short little mystery case that Gabe takes on from his boss, but mostly this works well as a reunion-type story, where you just want to spend a little more time with the main couple. Nothing really progresses in their story, but you get to re-familiarize yourself with the two.

The story is centered around a rogue vampire and Gabe’s job (down from on high, Augustine the head vampire of Chicago and Gabe’s boss) to find the guy, or girl of course. Two humans have turned up as newly-minted vampires, turned against their will. And conveniently for Gabe, or mostly Augustine, both were vegetarians. As Harvey always says, ‘Vegetarians really do taste better,’ and Gabe, who has recently stopped eating meat because of Harvey’s vegan vampire propensities, is neatly lined up as bait.

Of course, Harvey doesn’t want to go along with this. And no matter what Harvey tells Gabe and how much Gabe tries to pretend that Harvey will actually do what anyone else tells him, Harvey shows up to the club in full regalia to assist as only he can, so the two can take the rogue down together. They do work better as a couple, after all.

As I said before, anyone who really liked Spirit Sanguine will naturally want to read this. It’s free, so why not? But, I think that it would be fine for those who might not be sure if they want to read the novel to read this first and see if they like the couple. I don’t see how you couldn’t, they’re one of my favorites!


SpiritSanguine72lgTitle: Spirit Sanguine
Author: Lou Harper
Publisher: Samhain
Length: 74,562 words
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Vampires, Vampire Hunters, Veg/Vegan Vamps, Mystery, Action/Adventure, X-Dressing!, Chicago, Diverse Couple, Funny Guys, Las Vegas, Private Investigators, Roleplay
Rating: LOVED It!

BLURB

Is that a wooden stake in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

After five years in eastern Europe using his unique, inborn skills to slay bloodsuckers, Gabe is back in his hometown Chicago and feeling adrift. Until he’s kidnapped by a young, sexy vampire who seems more interested in getting into his pants than biting into his neck.

Harvey Feng is one-half Chinese, one-hundred-percent vampire. He warns Gabe to stay out of the Windy City, but somehow he isn’t surprised when the young slayer winds up on his doorstep. And why shouldn’t Gabe be curious? A vegetarian vampire isn’t something one sees every day.

Against their better judgment, slayer and vampire succumb to temptation. But their affair attracts unexpected attention.

When Chicago’s Vampire Boss makes Gabe an offer he can’t refuse, the unlikely lovers are thrust into peril and mystery in the dark heart of the Windy City. Together they hunt for kidnappers, a killer preying on young humans, and vicious vampire junkies.

However, dealing with murderous humans and vampires alike is easy compared to figuring out if there’s more to their relationship than hot, kinky sex.

Product Warnings
Fangalicious man-on-man action, a troublesome twink, cross-dressing vampiress, and role-playing involving a fedora.

REVIEW

I hadn’t planned on giving this book a proper review, but when Sunday rolled around and I was still thinking about this book, so I decided that it really needed one. For some reason, and I sincerely hope that this is just my 2D, rather limited view of the m/m romance reading community, this book hasn’t seemed to have had a real splash yet. And that’s a damn shame. Here’s what I said on Goodreads immediately after I finished the book Satuday:

This has the most eclectic mix of tags I’ve ever given a book. Surprisingly, they all went together! And even more, it kinda represents this book, which is a bit of a hodge-podge of different quirks and ideas, even plotting and pacing which I found rather refreshing. Definitely not typical vampire fare!

Now, the tags here are pretty much similar to the ones on Goodreads, but since I can more easily edit and add tags here at the blog, they of course have a bit more flair 😉 I have to admit that I’ve fallen into a bit of a pattern in my mismanagement of my m/m reading, where many of the most exciting releases seem to slip through the net (there are many factors, though it still makes me a dolt) mostly because of reviewing duties, but Lou Harper is perhaps one on the top of the list of those stellar authors that I haven’t given their due. Perhaps I should do a backlist read. Anyway, this book wasn’t just well written, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable read, for many reasons I’ll talk about later. But that brings me to another point. Another byproduct of my reviewing duties is that I tend to analyze first rather than enjoy the book first, and having not originally slated Spirit Sanguine as a review book and (imagine this!) actually making myself sit down and read a book for pleasure instead of work on reviews I should be getting up to date, meant that this one just slipped right through and knocked me flat. I didn’t really have to think about an analysis of the book, of styles and pacing and plot and characterizations, but… I just enjoyed it. It was a refreshing read, and not something I was expecting from the vampire angle.

Lou has an interesting take on her book up on her review on Goodreads, which you can read here. In it, she says:

Bloodsuckers are everywhere; you can’t walk down a dark alley without a couple of them jumping out and accosting you with their dark and broody eyes. They do that a lot–mope and sulk. That’s what got to me, all the melodrama. I mean, they are practically immortal, don’t get sick, grow old, don’t need to watch their weight or work out. What the hell do they have to bellyache about?

(That’s the truth.)

And that’s the point. In a sub-genre where melodrama rules and/or kinky vampire sex clubs are the forte, humor takes precedent here, brought forth by the vivacious and quirky Harvey (I love the name, and not just the Feng/Fang part, the fact that her vampire is named Harvey), who isn’t really like any other of his kind. In actuality, I’d rather not go into characterization here, because I’d rather not cut him into pieces to analyze him. He’s best enjoyed as it’s written… plus, you’ll find plenty in other reviews, I’m sure. The same goes for Gabe, who is perhaps the undervalued of the pair, though it’s important that he’s the lens we see the world through, and even more in which we see Harvey through. His understanding of and feelings for Harvey are how we understand him best, in reflection.

What was really refreshing about this book for me was also in a second part — the style, which is reflected in pacing but also the plot. Both were atypical in that they don’t follow the usual structure. Broken into three parts, each concentrates on a different aspect of the story while they, in succession, follow a continual arc. Some readers might find this off-putting. I’m not really sure. I quite enjoyed it. Because while the first is a typical setup to the story and introduces the relationship between Gabe and Harvey, the second and third both have a somewhat separate plot, though they’re tied together. But you do get the feeling, between the transition between Parts 2 and 3, that there’s a bit of a jog. And consequently, you’ll find two climaxes (one at the end of each part) around the 55% mark and the end of the book.

Nikyta noticed this as well and made a remark to me about it (in our many back and forth book gabbing emails) and probably described it better than I did, asking if I had noticed authors using this style more lately, the (in her words) “multiple mini stories in one book of the same couple” style. We both automatically thought of Megan Derr, who sometimes writes in a similar though pretty different style from what I’m describing in Spirit Sanguine. Perhaps it’s that Gabe and Harvey really only have two distinct adventures and Megan Derr often writes books that are split between the many adventures one couple has, a sort of extended vignette style. Nik thought that maybe it was a style that was becoming more popular. I’m not sure, but suffice to say that it is something that we’ve both enjoyed. And definitely something that I found made Lou Harper’s book infinitely more original — though, of course, anything with a vampire named Harvey Feng could hardly be called conventional.

Read the book. And please enjoy it!


montmartre400x600Title: Montmartre
Author: Emily Gould
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 7,500 words
Genre: m/m Historical Romance
Heat: 3 – Mild & Sexy
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Kiss Me at Midnight collection, X-Dress, New Year’s, Rent Boys, France, 1890s, HFN
Rating: So So

Reviewed by Sadonna

BLURB

Thomas meant to stay in Montmartre for three months. Somehow three months turned into three long years in a city of sin and vice, a city that has begun to feel more like a trap from which there is no escape—until a man arrives who reminds Thomas of home and the things he meant to do before Montmartre.

REVIEW

Thomas is an Englishman who was on his tour of the continent at the end of the 19th century and got as far as Montmartre. And there he has stayed for three years. His father keeps sending people to try to lure him home periodically, but he is now afraid to leave the place he has become comfortable. He has a Swedish dancing boy who performs at one of the cabarets where Thomas does janitorial work. Most of that money goes to pay for necessities and it seems the rest goes to pay for Eric, the dancing boy. In his rooming house, there also resides Giselle, born John Bailey, who is his connection with being English. She still feels like home to Thomas and he tries in his own way to look out for her.

It’s New Year’s Eve 1899, on the cusp of the new century and Thomas is feeling a bit out of sorts. He visits Eric and asks him to come to a party that evening – well… pays him to come really. Then he runs into an English friend and decides he really needs to clear his head and think about what he wants for the future. When he returns – late – to the party, he meets Rawley, the younger cousin of an acquaintance who has been one of the many messengers from Thomas’s father over the years trying to lure him home. But this time, the messenger doesn’t suggest going back to England and Thomas latches onto this new possibility – a way to move forward and away from Montmartre without sacrificing himself to his father’s wishes.

There were parts of this story I enjoyed – the scene in Montmartre, Giselle and Rawley come to mind. There were also parts I didn’t enjoy – mostly Thomas and his paralysis and Eric, the rentboy. I really think the biggest issue with this story is length. I just needed more to be able to connect with the characters and get a sense of their lives. I would really like to read a story about Rawley and Thomas’s adventures.


StillLifeLGTitle: Still Life
Author: Jaime Samms
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 26,292 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Mild & Sexy
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Friends to Lovers, Artist, Model, Bisexual, X-Dress, Family Issues, Christmas, HIV, Second Chances, HFN(?)
Rating: Really Liked It!

Reviewed by Sadonna

BLURB

When Allan Song’s ex, Mac, shows up to model for the life drawing class Allan teaches, he turns everything upside-down. Mac is still as infuriatingly attractive as when Allan first met him—and still trying to figure out where he fits on the gender spectrum. He’s more than a little out of control, and he’s taken some stupid risks that have come back to haunt him. If they’re going to get back together, Allan wants a real relationship—but for that, he and Mac will need to look below the surface.

REVIEW

When I read the blurb for this book, I really didn’t know what to expect from the story, but I knew it would be good. I’ve read a number of books by this author and I’ve liked them all. Even when I didn’t love the story, I liked the writing if that makes sense. The blurb was intriguing, so I signed on.

The prologue to the story sets the stage by showing us how Mac and Allan got together in the first place. They are roommates and Allan has assumed for a couple of years that Mac is straight. He’s dated girls and not once has Allan seen him show interest in another man. Until one night when Allan is studying for an exam and writing a paper and Mac is doing everything in his power to distract him. And boy does he!

In chapter one, Allan is now an art teacher and the model he has been sent by the agency for his life study class is none other than Mac. It is apparent that they are no longer a couple – haven’t been for some time. Allan doesn’t let on to anyone that he knows Mac other than as the model he’s been sent. On this particular night, just before the Christmas break, Mac stays after the class leaves and tries to talk to Allan. It isn’t comfortable and we discover that they have been apart for a couple of years. Allan stays to paint for a while and Mac comes back to retrieve his phone that he’s left behind and they get into a serious discussion about their past. Mac doesn’t have a car and Allan agrees to give him a ride since it’s cold and snowy, but they get into a huge fight about why they broke up in on the way. There is an accident and whether out of guilt or regret or intrigue, Allan ends up taking Mac back to his apartment. While it looks like they might be on the way to reconciling – at least as friends – there are a lot of obstacles to overcome and a lot of past issues that will have to be overcome.

As the story progresses, we find out the reason they broke up and the consequences to both of them as result of the breakup. There are family estrangements as a result of the breakup as well and both Allan and Mac have suffered while they are apart. Mac is worried that Allan has lost so much weight and Allan is worried that Mac is living in a dump in a dangerous part of town. They say and do things in the heat of anger that continue to cause pain and pull them apart. While we understand that both men are hurting, it’s hard to watch them make things worse by being stubborn and unforgiving and intractable in their positions. But all hope is not lost. Sometimes the impetus for change comes from the unlikeliest sources and that is what happens in this story.

This is definitely not an “easy” or “feel good” story. It is a story that makes the reader think and feel the pain of the characters. There are serious issues that have to be dealt with in this story and these guys almost miss their opportunity. The author does not gloss over the severity of the consequences that these guys are dealing with as a result of the mistakes and risks they have taken. These men are really going to have to work to make a real relationship possible – which frankly is how real life is for most of us. The writing is realistic and gritty as befits the story. I also really liked the way the story ended – with a number of questions unanswered. If you are looking for everything to be wrapped up in a nice bow, then you will be disappointed. But if you’re looking for an engaging and realistic story about two people who are lucky enough to get a second chance and all that entails, then I think you will be pleasantly surprised with this story.