Category Archives: Historical

Books taking place at any point of the past fifty or plus years back.

Out of the Blue by Josh Lanyon

Out of the BlueOut of the Blue by Josh Lanyon
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Just Joshin
Short Story:  25,713 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  2
 

France, 1916. The Great War. High above the carnage in the trenches, British and German aces joust like knights of old for control of the skies. The strain and tension of living every day on the edge of death leads to dangerous choices and wild risks. When British ace Bat Bryant’s past catches up with him, he strikes out in panic and kills the man threatening him with exposure. But there’s a witness: the big, handsome American pilot Cowboy Cooper.

Cowboy, it seems, has his own ideas of rough justice.

Excerpt

I am going to start this out stating that I do not traditionally like historical because of the secrecy that must exist. There can usually not be a HEA.

The writing is wonderfully done. I do wish that there had been a bit more detail. Most of the book is fairly frank and short. Still you catch a glimpse of what these men lived through in WWI as pilots. Most didn’t live. The statistic given of 11 days being a pilots life span is one I have heard before and it is startling. You feel for them.

The characters are interesting and you care some for them but they aren’t as fully “fleshed” out as one would hope. You get nothing on Cowboy’s background and little more on Bat’s. You don’t get a good enough grip on what drives these men beyond the war. It leads to a lack of attachment to them and so makes it harder to approach Cowboy’s actions in the beginning of the story with any hope of understanding. Most readers aren’t going to like Cowboy because of his actions. To me it really didn’t feel like non-con but I know others will feel differently.

The plot was fairly simple and not involved. To be honest the blurb wraps up most of it. This isn’t a long read so there really isn’t much to tell with it. I could guess where the story was heading from the beginning so it was more about how the author choose to get there.

Overall it was a decent read but nothing really great. I enjoyed it but didn’t think it anything to wonderful.

rose-2

Advertisements

Offside by Ryan Loveless

OffsideOffside by Ryan Loveless
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press
Novel:  51,506 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  3
 

Adam Dumas is Major League Soccer’s only openly gay player. When he is transferred to St. Louis, his new teammates don’t exactly roll out the welcome mat. It doesn’t help that Adam sees “the Gateway to the West” as a step down from his high-profile position in LA—an attitude Adam has no problem sharing with his new housemate and fellow center forward, Colin Evets.

Colin is Adam’s only friend on the team, but when Adam misinterprets Colin’s Midwestern charm for something more, he could end up ruining both their friendship and their careers. As Adam struggles to make a better impression, Colin tries to decide if the person he’s been showing the world is who he wants to be with Adam. The pressure to win influences decisions both on the field and off as Adam and Colin discover how making the wrong move can be very right.

Excerpt

Adam is a highly skilled soccer player.  He is also the only MLS player that is openly gay.  It has caused problems and he has landed numerous times in the headlines and tabloids.  His team nabs an opening to get rid of him and get a world class player in return.  Adam heads for St. Louis and his new team.  At the airport he meets one of his new teammates Colin and is immediately attracted to him.  Unfortunately Adam is spoiled and cranky, he tells Colin outright that this is only a short term deal and that he plans to go to a bigger and better team and city.  This puts him on the outs with Colin.  Adam wants Colin though and begins the task to find out if it is possible for him to have Colin.  What Adam doesn’t expect is for Colin and his new team to change him and his outlook on his life.

I didn’t like Adam.  Adam starts off as such a spoiled brat about everything.  He seems to think the world revolves around him.  I thought it was funny when he talked about not becoming conceited about his looks because of how he wasn’t a looker when he was younger, then proceeds to jabber on about getting sex whenever he wants it and etc like the brat he is again.  Colin is way too sweet.  For a guy that has been to college and is playing where he is, he really seems naïve and too innocent.  The characters were really my main drawback on this read.  Adam starts like this jerk and never seems to care and then BAM!  He is in love and changing everything about him because he suddenly met Colin.  It was too abrupt.  Colin doesn’t feel real to me.  I can’t believe that he would be like he is with the world he has lived in.

The writing was well done.  The author doesn’t overwhelm you with meaningless info on a sport that some may not be familiar with but does give you enough to make the story and all that goes with it understandable.  I did enjoy the fact that the author does tell the readers at the end that the story, meant to be contemporary, became a historical because of changes that occurred within the sport at the time of writing.  It adds a special detail for the readers that were interested or confused about some of the details of the writing.

I enjoyed the story and the plot and found it a different and refreshing read for me.  I didn’t connect with the story like I would have normally because of my issues with the characters but the plot and the writing are worth the read.

rose-3

Caregiver by Rick R. Reed

CaregiverCaregiver by Rick R. Reed
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press
Novel:  63,866 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  Bouquet
 

It’s 1991, and Dan Calzolaio has just moved to Florida with his lover, Mark, having fled Chicago and Mark’s addictions to begin a new life on the Gulf Coast. Volunteering for the Tampa AIDS Alliance is just one part of that new beginning, and that’s how Dan meets his new buddy, Adam.

Adam Schmidt is not at all what Dan expected. The guy is an original—witty, wry, and sarcastic with a fondness for a smart black dress, Barbra Streisand, and a good mai tai. Adam doesn’t let his imminent death get him down, even through a downward spiral that sees him thrown in jail.

Each step of Adam’s journey teaches Dan new lessons about strength and resilience, but it’s Adam’s lover, Sullivan, to whom Dan feels an almost irresistible pull. Dan knows the attraction isn’t right, even after he dumps his cheating, drug-abusing boyfriend. But then Adam passes away, and it leaves Sullivan and Dan both alone to see if they can turn their love for Adam into something whole and real for each other.

Excerpt

Dan has moved to Florida to escape his boyfriend’s temptations.  Mark is an addict but Dan hasn’t got to the point yet where he realizes Mark is the only one who can help Mark.  Shortly after his arrival Dan signs up to be a “buddy” to someone suffering from AIDS.  This was the early 90’s when AIDS was a death sentence and still a bit of an unknown for a lot of people.  Adam is Dan’s assigned man.  Adam isn’t what Dan expects.  Adam is a lively man that shows little outside sign of the illness that is slowly killing him.  Dan also meets Sullivan, Adam boyfriend, and is blown away.  The man strikes his interest right away but both men are involved so Dan suppresses it.  What Dan doesn’t expect is how much a difference Adam will make in his life in such a short period of time.

This was a very gripping book.  The characters draw you in.  You don’t get to know Mark much but he is only a bit of the story.  The story revolves around Dan and what happens with him.  It really shows how AIDS effected the time and people, especially the gay community but also how they all pulled together to support those with it.  I thought this story did an excellent job showing how one man even if not known long can make a much greater impact on a person.  The love and devotion that was shown by both Dan and Sullivan was beautiful.

The writing was superb.  The author wrote in such a way that you could feel the love, hope, fear, and heartbreak of the characters.  The only fault I thought in the book was not really getting to know Sullivan’s character.  We really don’t get much of him in the story.  We know he loves Adam deeply and some of what goes between them but not enough to really get me attached to his character.  It was a lovely story!

rose-b-1

Widdershins by Jordan L. Hawk

WiddershinsWiddershins by Jordan L. Hawk
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Jordan L. Hawk
Novel:  85, 578 Words
Purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords
Roses:  4
 

Some things should stay buried.

Repressed scholar Percival Endicott Whyborne has two skills: reading dead languages and hiding in his office at the Ladysmith Museum. After the tragic death of the friend he secretly loved, he’s ruthlessly suppressed any desire for another man.
So when handsome ex-Pinkerton Griffin Flaherty approaches him to translate a mysterious book, Whyborne wants to finish the job and get rid of the detective as quickly as possible. Griffin left the Pinkertons following the death of his partner, hoping to start a new life. But the powerful cult which murdered Glenn has taken root in Widdershins, and only the spells in the book can stop them. Spells the intellectual Whyborne doesn’t believe are real.
As the investigation draws the two men closer, Griffin’s rakish charm threatens to shatter Whyborne’s iron control. When the cult resurrects an evil sorcerer who commands terrifying monsters, can Whyborne overcome his fear and learn to trust? Will Griffin let go of his past and risk falling in love? Or will Griffin’s secrets cost Whyborne both his heart and his life?

Excerpt

Normally I don’t care for historical reads.  Knowing that a gay couple won’t be accepted so they have to sneak around just doesn’t appeal to me.  This book does refer to that fact.  Whyborne is afraid he will be arrested for sodomy if he goes through with his attraction to other men.   I don’t know why but for this book it didn’t bother me too much.

Whyborne has a hard time with people.  He grew up not accepted as he was and it affects him still.  Whyborne managed to stand up to his father and go on to a career he wanted instead of that picked for him.  Griffin is a detective.  He seems to be everything Whyborne isn’t.

The writing is creative and descriptive.  You get the spooky feel when they are in the woods or going into unknown situations.  The characters stand out.  The whole of the story is told from Whyborne’s perspective so you can only get the feel of other characters through him.  I really enjoyed his character.  He is introverted and scholarly but he loosens up around Griffin and starts to really find his feet during the case.  The mystery was interesting.  It wasn’t surprising to find out some of the “bad guys”.  I enjoyed the spooky feel to it and the eventual reveal.  The author actually did a wonderful job with the crisis of the book.  The drama of the moment is quite well written.

In the overall the story was enjoyable and fun.  The adventure in the story was quite well done and makes the book flow quickly.  I will definitely look into reading the next in the series.

rose-4

Crack the Darkest Skies Wide Open an Anthology

Crack the Darkest Skies Wide Open by VariousCrack the Darkest Skies Wide Open by Eric Arvin, Abigail Roux, S.J.D. Peterson, Jason Huffman-Black, S.A. McAuley, and T.J. Klune
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  S.A. McAuley
Novel:  84,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords
Roses:  4
 

Of humanity there are darker tales. Stories that take some squinting to see through. Unconventional stories. Tales that threaten to break the heart by cruel twists of fate, the dogs of war, or demons that are all too real; whether they be of unrequited love or a karmic slap in the face. Happy endings take a time in coming, and some never arrive. But through all the darkness there is light, a glimmer of hope and wonder…if one has the will to see it.

Warning, for the most part these aren’t “happy” stories.  Not all are romantic or love stories and some are just down right rough, so be forewarned.

“The Demon of Jericho” by Eric Arvin

This wasn’t really a “romance” as such.  There is a couple in it but the relationship between the two since what I’d call a romance.  The story involves angels, a demon, a bad sheriff, a hunter, and a cursed city called Jericho.  The writing is interesting in style.  The story has an almost fairly tale flavor to it.  The story is extremely shallow though.  I think the author was going for mysterious, which just made me a little confused.  I never really got into the story itself, it never hooked me in.  I think it just wasn’t my type of writing.

Roses:  3

“A Cruel Thing” by Abigail Roux

Ah, man!  I do try and avoid unhappy stories.  I admit it…I’m a sap:(  I cried even though you know people are going to die.  This is set in WWII, on the doomed Wake Island.  It revolves around two couples and what happens there.  Abigail Roux is a wonderful author.  This is a short story but it pulls you into it quickly.  The characters grab you and make you know them.  This is one excellent read!

Roses:  5

“Wrong” b S.J.D. Peterson

Okaaay, well, I admit the writing is good but I just couldn’t get past the story itself.  The characters aren’t likable at all.  I didn’t like the feel of the story.  I couldn’t connect with any of the characters or storyline.  I was just happy to finish it.  Definitely didn’t like this one.

Roses:  1

“Anguish” by Jason Huffman-Black

This is a very short story.  The name of the character is never given.  I have to admit though the title fits it well.  I think the author did an excellent job with it.

Roses:  4

“Hotel Luz” by S.A. McAuley

This is a story about lost love.  I wasn’t sure about this one.  I don’t believe in cheating, it is one thing to have an open relationship or be in a multiple partnership but another to cheat.  I don’t find it romantic or sexy.  As the story goes along and you find out about these men it becomes fascinating.  This is very well written and pulls you in gradually.  You don’t know what to hope for with these men, should they get back together, stay with their partners or what.  I connected well with them and the story was very satisfying.

Roses:  3

“John & Jackie” by T.J. Klune

Oh, sad but not.  The descriptions and details are wonderful.  The characters are easy to care about.  This is a love story.  It grabs your heart.  It’s not something that is new or different but it is so well written you just have to read it.

Roses:  5

So the hard part how to rate this overall…

rose-4

500 Miles by Parker Williams

500 Miles Parker500 Miles by Parker Williams
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  MLR Press
Short Story:  12,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  5
 

Mark loves Jase, but will that be enough to bring Jase back from the brink after a devastating tragedy?

Since he was fourteen, Mark knew he loved Jase, his brother Eric’s best friend. As Jase and Eric leave for the Army, Jase leaves Mark something to hold onto, but when the two men are shipped to Kuwait, things change when Jase tells Mark he’s met someone. Confused and hurt, Mark is left to wonder what happened. Eric returns, but with devastating news – and needing Mark’s help. Can Mark help the man who broke his heart? Or will he let Jase push him away – for the second time?

Excerpt

Wow, for a short this was quite amazing.  I really was blown away.  It was so sweet and yet so moving.  Since it is so short it is hard to say much without giving away everything.  The whole of the story is told from the point of view of Mark.  The story starts out with a very young Mark saying goodbye to his brother Eric and his secret love, Jase, as they head for basic.  It is the 80’s and Mark is only 14.  The blurb really left me expecting something very different in the story than what I got.

 

It’s rare to have an author pull off a truly good short story.  There is so little time to set up the story, setting, and characters and then have readers able to make a connection to it all.  I look forward to see if this author can also manage the same with the longer stories.

rose-5