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Ally Blue

REVIEW: The Happy Onion by Ally Blue

REVIEW: The Happy Onion by Ally Blue

Dear Ms. Blue:

Cover of The Happy Onion by Ally BlueI was so excited to see a m/m author at the RWA Literacy signing (yes, July last year in DC) that I bought two of your books — your lightest and your darkest, at your suggestion. The Happy Onion was your light book and a lot of fun. It was a sweet, cute read and I closed the book with a happy sigh, despite a couple of issues.

Thom arrives in Ashville, NC to find that the job he’s been promised as a nightclub owner is on hold because the resort company opening it is in legal limbo. He has to find a job and a place to stay right away, which he does when he goes into a bar/restaurant and is hired as the bartender and rents the upstairs apartment. He celebrates by going out to the local gay bar and finding a guy to fuck. The encounter is one of the best he’s ever had…and of course, he’s shocked and stunned to find out ten days later — when the restaurant’s owner finally shows up at the restaurant after 2 weeks off — that his amazing fuck is, indeed, his boss, Phil. His earthy-crunchy, vegan, far-left liberal, hot as anything, best lay he’s ever had, boss.

I love these two men. Thom is small and blond and everyone assumes that he’d the twinky bottom, but he’s an assertive dominant top with a really bad temper that Phil finds especially hot. Phil, on the other hand, is above six feet, and a big, nelly, hungry bottom who is perfectly comfortable with who and what he is. They’re amazing together as a couple and wonderfully distinct as characters. I very much enjoyed watching them get to know each other.

“It’s fine,” Phil spoke before the silence could become seriously uncomfortable. “I’m the one who should be apologizing to you. For real this time.”

That made Thom look at him. “Are you saying you pissed me off on purpose?”

Those big eyes seemed to see right through Phil’s skull and into his innermost thoughts. Phil hunched his shoulders and forced himself to hold Thom’s gaze. “Um. Yeah.”

“Because I’m sexy when I’m mad.”

“Oh yeah.”

“You’ve been doing that all along, haven’t you?”

Phil swallowed. “Maybe.”

Sighing, Thom ran a hand through his heair. “What the hell’s wrong with you?”

He’s not yelling. That’s a good sign. Phil ignored the rebellious parts of him which disagreed and risked a cautious smile. “There’s just something about a hot little blond with a temper that turns my crank like nothing else.”

Thom eyes him with a calculating look. “Hm. Isn’t that interesting?”

The predatory way Thom was looking at him sent goose bumps racing up Phil’s arms. “So. Are you mad?” He sounded hopeful. Dammit.

Thom gave him an evil grin. “Do you want me to be?”

The EW factor: Jayne noticed something similar in her last review of one of your books. My “ew” wasn’t a body odor issue, it was a sexual practice issue: I’m really not that interested in reading about felching. I mean, really. Thanks but no thanks. Other than that one unfortunate incident, however, I also very much enjoyed the sex scenes. They were hot, interesting, distinct, and…oh yeah, very hot!

I also think there would have been more character growth and relationship conflict if the owners of Thom’s nightclub, which finally got off the ground, weren’t so irredeemably crooked. If Thom and Phil actually had to work out their political differences, to the same end, of course, I think it would have been a more interesting book. Of course, it’s not my story to write, but it seemed to me to be a cop-out to have a common enemy appear so obligingly just when Thom and Phil were figuring out how they fit together. And whatever Thom might think when he goes to a lawyer with his discrimination suit, yes, throughout most of the country, you CAN be fired for being gay. Sorry. And boy, he was pretty stupid when his boss called him into her office: hmm, I wonder what she wants me for? That seemed a little disingenuous to me, one instance of TSTL in an otherwise beautifully constructed character.

Overall, however, I really enjoyed this book. It was a strong romance between two great characters. Nothing brilliant, but a lot of fun, and a feel-good happy at the end when I closed the book (yes, OMG, a REAL book with pages and everything). Thanks for those happy hours I spent with Thom and Phil.

Grade: B

Best regards,
-Joan/Sarah F.

This book can be purchased at Samhain (non affiliate link) in ebook format.

REVIEW: Where the Heart Is by Ally Blue

REVIEW: Where the Heart Is by Ally Blue

Dear Ms. Blue,

where-the-heart-isWhen I began looking into various prolific m/m authors, your name seemed to be very prominent. When Samhain offered us a chance to review this novel, and I noticed it’s set in North Carolina, it seemed fate. Kismet. Meant to be. After I finished it, I’m not so sure.

Falling in love is easy. Holding on to it can tear your life apart.

A Bay City Paranormal Investigations story.

When Dean Delapore takes a break from Bay City Paranormal Investigations, he doesn’t expect his work to follow him to the eclectic town of Carrboro, North Carolina. The chance to investigate a haunting at the Blue Skye Inn and Winery is more than he can resist, mainly because of the inn’s owner. Deceptively shy and gorgeous, Sommer Skye is not only fantastic company, he’s the best lay Dean’s had in ages.

As Dean probes the misty secrets of the haunted inn, he unexpectedly peels away the layers hiding Sommer’s private pain. Pain Sommer’s not sure he can withstand. By the time Dean realizes just how deep his feelings for the innkeeper run, it’s far too late to turn back.

Now if only he can convince Sommer that falling in love changes everything, maybe for the better. If the bones of the past can be laid to rest-

“Where the Heart Is” is part of a series but I never felt I was missing anything for not having read the previous entries. There are a few references to an obviously previously featured couple but their appearance is for this story and serves to show readers of the past books how well they are doing.

I can’t help but see these characters in manga form. The long hair of so many of the characters, complete with descriptions of the varying colors. The popular places they shop in and frequent. This is a very visual book.

Dean and his college friends obviously share a long history. As such, I expect them to have “in-jokes,” short hand references and be able to convey thoughts and feelings with glances and looks. I would also think they would know at least a little about each other’s sexual history and preferences given that two of them are married to each other.

However, while reading the book the main impression I got was of latte slurping yuppies who snort-laugh, snicker and smirk a lot. I would guess this is supposed to convey how “in tune” and comfortable they are with each other but my notes stated this: “These people are starting to seriously annoy me.” Not, perhaps, what you were aiming for. Kerry yo-yo’s from urging Dean to go for Sommer to being furious when Dean doesn’t ‘call home’ and back again. Pregnancy hormones kicking in much?

Dean is a paranormal investigator? Oh, dear. How much demand is there for this? Just curious. I’m not sure about the whole paranormal aspect of the plot. At first Dean – and his coworkers in Mobile – are excited about an actual manifestation. But later on, Dean seems to shrug off the whole thing despite it being – at least from my POV – something that he should be jumping up and down about. His company should be turning cartwheels as here seems to be actual proof of ghosts and hauntings. But oh no, he’s too emo to be bothered right now. He’ll deal with it later, maybe. And how often do men feel “hollow and strangely tarnished” by the knowledge that their coworkers and friends know they get laid by at least one or two new people a month?

At first I thought Sommer and Dean were going to flounce at each other to see who was forced to be the top in their sexual relationship but my, didn’t Sommer take command in the bedroom? Dean was looking for a man to f*ck him through the mattress and he certainly found one. And the occasional feeling they have that the apparition is following and watching them certainly doesn’t inhibit their fun.

Wild sex toys – okay. Certain sexual practices – well, I hate to seem like a prude but there are certain things people will do to get their rocks off that I just don’t find exciting nor do I want to hear or read about them. Enemas are one such thing.

I don’t mind hawt, sweaty, man-goo sex but please for the love of G-d, have them take showers afterwards! A simple quick wipe with a wet washcloth before starting their day just will not cut it.

At one point, Dean tells Kerry that he dates a lot but later he says his dating skills are rusty. Which is it?

If Dean likes something, it’s “adorable.” He also wants to cuddle Sommer like a kitten. o-0

The final resolution of Sommer’s family mystery was flat. And it wasn’t really a resolution for me. I agree with Dean. What family member will do that and then not tell someone, especially their own son? And then what happened? Hippy or no, the person has to be somewhere.

I did like that Dean doesn’t equate lust and shared experiences as love. He’s wary of falling in love and doesn’t go off in girlish glee at the thought that he’s found his twue lurve. He’s aware that it takes time to truly know someone even if you do have an intimate acquaintance with that person’s favorite sex toys. But I did wonder if he remembered to remove the cock plug before going through security for his flight back to Mobile.

The sex is hawt and these two do seem to have a lot of sexual chemistry. I’ve given up trying to decide if this is at all a realistic portrayal of homosexual sexual practices or just a wishful fantasy for the mainly female audience the book probably commands.

I graduated from UNC. I’ve driven through Carrboro many a time. I know it’s spiffing itself up but the images of it as the left armpit of North Carolina still linger in my mind. I guess it’s time for a drive through the next time I’m near there to check out all these neat sounding places. C

~Jayne

This book can be purchased in ebook format from Samhain Publishing.