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REVIEW: Dangerous Ground by Josh Lanyon

Dear Mr. Lanyon,

When we posted Sarah’s guest review of Anah Crow’s book , we got numerous posts lauding the fact that we had put up an m/m themed book and (seemingly) wanting more. I’m not a math wiz but I can put two and two together and began hunting through the m/m offerings of various epubs. Jane’s review of your Adrien English mystery series had brought your name to my attention earlier this year. So, being the m/m newbie that I am, I decided to try one of your books since Jane knows good writing when she reads it.

Another reason I picked your book to begin with is the fact that as a Gay man (Edited to add: At least I’ll continue to assume you’re a man until it’s proven otherwise), you certainly know of what you write. I wouldn’t have to worry about writing a review of how realistic the sexual attraction between Will and Taylor is only to have readers post that no Gay man would act/react that way, etc, etc. It would be kind of a safety net for my tottering steps out on the high wire. I also looked for a book that featured two men already secure in their sexual orientation. Discussions with TeddyPig had made me aware that books featuring a man coming out to himself have to be handled well for the character to be believable. So again, with “Dangerous Ground,” this was another hurdle already cleared.

So, how did I like the book? Very well, thank you. It amused me that Will and Taylor aren’t both outdoor He-Men. Taylor is quite happy to spend his vacations lounging on a boat deck, drowsing away in the tropical sun and only reluctantly agrees to accompany Will on this great wilderness trek through the backwoods of the High Sierras. I’m with Taylor; give me comfort and a 5 star hotel any day. Will is the one who grew up hiking, camping and communing with God’s fanged and clawed creatures.

Still Taylor has held up his own despite the fact that he’s still recuperating from a gunshot wound in the line of duty. He’s dealing with his psychological worry that he’ll never regain the strength, speed and most importantly the confidence he had before the shooting. The two engage in not so subtle testosterone battles of will over not needing a helping hand here or keeping up during an all day hike there. With thoughts of rather dying than acknowledging weakness. Their silences can go on for hours at a time during the day and they’re comfortable sitting by a campfire at night without filling the air with useless chatter. Their language is earthily “guy.” I also laughed that someone else remembers Tang.

It’s when they come across the plane wreck that their Bureau of Diplomatic Security ears perk up. Sigh….at least it’s not some supersecret, “uber Black Ops” type ‘made up’ governmental department. They quickly slip into the shorthand style of investigation that’s made their three year partnership such a success as they process the crime scene. The next piece of the puzzle snaps into place when they discover the second scene complete with the missing money from the casino heist gone bad. But it’s when the remaining robbers make their move and catch them out of place to defend themselves that things get nasty.

For a novella this story has a lot of conflicts going on. Taylor and Will’s sexual and working histories, Taylor’s lack of experience in the outdoors setting and of course the robbers who are dead set, literally, on getting the over 2 million dollars they feel they’ve worked hard for.

Will and Taylor are BFFs but it’s Taylor who wants more while Will seems to be worried that any sexual relationship could end what they already have. He doesn’t want to risk their working partnership and currently has a man he’s been seeing for a while. They have Issues hanging over their heads from a drunken pass Taylor made the night before he got shot that Will turned down. Now Taylor wants a chance to prove to Will that sex between them could not only be good but might lead to something more while Will sees it as an opportunity to get this out of their systems, to “clear the air” so to speak.

"What am I supposed to think?" Will asked, and it took effort to keep his voice as level as Taylor’s. "That you’re in love? We both know what this is about, and it ain’t love, buddy boy. You just can’t handle the fact that anyone could turn you down."

"Fuck you," Taylor said, abandoning the cool and reasonable thing.

"My point exactly," Will shot back. "And you know what? Fine. If that’s what I have to do to hold this team together, fine. Let’s fuck. Let’s get it out of the way once and for all. If that’s your price, then okay. I’m more than willing to take one for the team — or am I supposed to do you? Whichever is fine by me because unlike you, MacAllister, I –"

With an inarticulate sound, Taylor launched himself at Will, and Will, unprepared, fell back over the log he’d been sitting on, head ringing from Taylor’s fist connecting with his jaw. This was rage, not passion, although for one bewildered instant Will’s body processed the feel of Taylor’s hard, thin, muscular length landing on top of his own body as a good thing — a very good thing.

When the sex does happen, both scenes are hawt though one suffers from what I call inappropriately timed sexual encounters. There they are, in a falling down cabin after a night in the cold, knowing two people are tracking them down to kill them and only having three cartridges in the one rifle they have so let’s have some hawt sex. Hmmmmm, I guess this is a “we’re glad to be alive” encounter. But at least I wasn’t left feeling that either man was wondering if he’d paid the electrical bill.

Will and Taylor are supposed to be good at their jobs and better when they work together. This shows by how quickly they assess the crime scenes, how they work out possible scenarios and make decisions about how to handle the evidence and the robbers. But as well as most of this was done, I was still left wondering about the earlier incident that lead to Taylor being shot. Is the ease with which Will and Taylor manage this crime supposed to mean they’ve worked out the issues left over from before?

Since poor Taylor hates camping and where he is, of course it makes sense that he has to save the day and keep Will from being killed. And bless his heart he does a good job crawling back from the edge of death, keeping alive through the night of tracking the killers and, well, “saving the day.” Again we see how well Will and Taylor work together. And though a woman would probably think being saved by the California Dept. of Fish and Game was cute, Taylor views it as something they’re going to have to live down. So guy.

Overall, the novella worked well for me though I am tired of bullets leading to open declarations of love everlasting. It’s a tired, old cliched plot device
I’ve seen it used too often. However, since the length of the story doesn’t allow for much in depth psychoanalysis, okay. The suspense conflict is also fairly basic but I liked this since, again, there isn’t enough space for an entire kingpin organization to be invented, explained and taken down.

Finally, this isn’t a perfect world where openly Gay men are happily accepted. Though Will and Taylor are comfortable in their own skins, they still have to maintain some situational awareness in social areas. So, there it is and I’m glad I chose one of your stories for my increasing forays into the world of m/m romance. B

~Jayne

This book can be purchased in ebook format.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

42 Comments

  1. Emmy
    Oct 14, 2008 @ 15:10:33

    I’m one of the rabid Fanyons who devour anything Josh writes. He is wonderfully talented and witty, and is one of the very few authors I’ve read lately who make me *laugh*. Pair that with some hawt man smexing, and I’m irrevocably hooked.

    Like others, I’m incredibly happy to see more m/m reviewed here.

    ReplyReply

  2. Jayne
    Oct 14, 2008 @ 15:20:04

    Well, hate to say but this is the last of the m/m reviews I’ve got ready and due to books I’ve already got lined up to read next, it’ll be a while before I can get to any more.

    ReplyReply

  3. Teddypig
    Oct 14, 2008 @ 15:24:22

    Teddypig commenting on Josh Lanyon… His writing was so tight it was bouncing off the walls.

    He keeps doing it too.

    ReplyReply

  4. lisabea
    Oct 14, 2008 @ 16:06:50

    So true,TP.

    And he’s only getting better.

    ReplyReply

  5. Sayuri
    Oct 14, 2008 @ 16:11:36

    Love Josh Lanyon..LOVE HIM.

    I prefer ‘I spy something bloody’ over ‘Dangerous Ground’, but only by a hair.

    ReplyReply

  6. Val Kovalin
    Oct 14, 2008 @ 16:25:01

    … we got numerous posts lauding the fact that we had put up an m/m themed book and (seemingly) wanting more. I'm not a math wiz but I can put two and two together and began hunting through the m/m offerings of various epubs.

    Yay, Jayne! Give the people what they want. :)

    Seriously, well-done review. I read a lot of m/m, but have yet to get to the Lanyon books myself. This gives me a good idea of what they’re like. Thanks.

    ReplyReply

  7. Jayne
    Oct 14, 2008 @ 16:56:25

    LOL, Val. I’m still astounded at the outpouring of support for the m/m reviews we’ve done. And by the huzzahs for the BDSM review Sarah did. For me, this truly was an example of ‘tell the people what you want.’

    And now that I’ve tried a Lanyon book, I can stand with the other long time fans and say, “what are you waiting for?” I know I say this about a lot of authors but I do plan on trying more of his books.

    ReplyReply

  8. Jayne
    Oct 14, 2008 @ 16:58:16

    Sayuri, thanks for the heads up about the other Lanyon title. Specific title recs help a lot when I’m venturing into new reading territory.

    ReplyReply

  9. Jayne
    Oct 14, 2008 @ 17:04:45

    TP, the ‘electrical bill’ link is to a rewriting session that Josh Lanyon did to help another author make an m/m sex scene better. It’s hilarious and helped me see why his scenes are so good.

    ReplyReply

  10. Jorrie Spencer
    Oct 14, 2008 @ 17:38:23

    I’m another one who enjoys m/m reviews, and I’m also a Lanyon fan. I’d highly recommend Snowball in Hell (a historical) and I Spy Something Bloody.

    ReplyReply

  11. Keishon
    Oct 14, 2008 @ 17:38:59

    I plan to give him a try and having read a few m/m in the past, I’m interested in reading more well written m/m fiction as well. Thanks for the review, J.

    *Looking over Jorrie Spencer’s recs and will go find*

    ReplyReply

  12. Laura Vivanco
    Oct 14, 2008 @ 18:51:50

    Another reason I picked your book to begin with is the fact that as a Gay man, you certainly know of what you write. I wouldn't have to worry about writing a review of how realistic the sexual attraction between Will and Taylor is only to have readers post that no Gay man would act/react that way, etc, etc.

    I’m going to be nit-picky here and go off at a bit of a tangent. It seems to me that female romance authors can sometimes write sex scenes which demonstrate quite clearly that they either don’t “know of what they write” or that they’re going for fantasy/embellishment of the reality. The romance-heroine tendency to have a hymen situated somewhere inside her vagina is one of the most obvious examples of unrealistic writing about sex. So just because this author is gay doesn’t mean he’d automatically write realistic gay sex scenes. I’d therefore suspect that if he does, it’s because of his writing choices and abilities, not because of his gender and sexual orientation.

    ReplyReply

  13. K. Z. Snow
    Oct 14, 2008 @ 19:05:04

    Go, Jayne! Yes, that whole “electrical bill” prose dissection was hilarious as well as insightful. Everybody should read it.

    ReplyReply

  14. Jayne
    Oct 14, 2008 @ 19:11:14

    Well, when I’m reading a book set in England, I know my chances of getting a book that sounds like it’s set in England, that uses place names that sound realistic, proper names that could pass for English ones, etc, etc are better if the author is English. Not to say an American can’t manage it but s/he would have to expend a hell of a lot more effort.

    And please notice I didn’t limit myself to Lanyon being able to write effective and realistic sex scenes. I said sexual attraction and the characters reacting realistically. Sure female authors can probably do just fine dealing with similar scenes in their m/m fiction. But since I’ve not read much m/m fiction and have no first hand experience as a Gay man, in my beginning stages of reading, I think I’m safe choosing as one of my initial authors someone who has.

    ReplyReply

  15. Val Kovalin
    Oct 14, 2008 @ 19:46:35

    LOL, Val. I'm still astounded at the outpouring of support for the m/m reviews we've done.

    I’m actually surprised as well, and pleased and gratified.

    ReplyReply

  16. MD
    Oct 14, 2008 @ 20:26:43

    Are you sure the author is a guy? I remember reading somewhere that Lanyon is a female author, but it may have been some blog gossip. I can’t recall. Too easy to pretend either way, online.:)

    ReplyReply

  17. Teddypig
    Oct 14, 2008 @ 20:49:28

    So just because this author is gay doesn't mean he'd automatically write realistic gay sex scenes.

    When I recommend Josh Lanyon I do so because he is a good writer and his books contain lots of juicy Gay romantic plot elements.

    I think the actual experience of being Gay does count for something in this case.

    I think most people know I am a very nitpicky hardass reviewer who not only reads but likes Gay Romance which is written mostly by women but I also have some experience in the area of Gay Sex and being Gay and I must admit I am far harder in my reading of Gay male writers because I for one expect a Gay writer to have the total experience of being Gay and I guess I expect he probably should be able to riff on all that in unique but realistic ways even in a fictional story.

    I for one would never say women cannot not write Gay men or even Gay sex well. They probably have to make more of an effort in framing the story and characters to get that authenticity and maybe they should get a little more respect for that when they do it well.

    I think Annie Proulx and her Pulitzer and Mary Renault and Patricia Nell Warren all prove that women authors have not only notably written but still go on writing Gay men as well if not better than many Gay authors can.

    ReplyReply

  18. Teddypig
    Oct 14, 2008 @ 21:08:02

    Jayne if you like Regency try Samantha Kane’s The Courage To Love from Ellora’s Cave

    ReplyReply

  19. Jenre
    Oct 15, 2008 @ 03:51:37

    “I also looked for a book that featured two men already secure in their sexual orientation.”

    This was an interesting point. Apart from the “Adrien English Mysteries” and possibly “A Snowball in Hell”, Lanyon often has his main characters comfortable with their sexuality. This then means that the internal conflict of the characters has to come from elsewhere, often from external sources forced onto the character, such as alcoholism, epilepsy or, in this case, being shot. This actually makes for a more dramatic story as we see the characters struggle with this forced conflict, rather than the somewhat overused ‘oh no, I’m straight and I think I might be gay’ internal plot device.

    ReplyReply

  20. Jayne
    Oct 15, 2008 @ 06:09:09

    TP, thanks for the Kane recs but menage books don’t float my boat.

    ReplyReply

  21. Teddypig
    Oct 15, 2008 @ 06:27:20

    Oh dang, no menage huh? Kane writes good menage. OK, J.L. Langley’s My Fair Captain the first chapter alone is gorgeous and quirky. Sucked me into that craziness she does so well.

    ReplyReply

  22. cs
    Oct 15, 2008 @ 17:26:28

    I must be in the minority here but this novella didn’t work for me. To be honest none of his short stories have. He’s a good author, but I found this to be a tad boring. Hopefully when you guys have more time in the future, you’ll be able to review more m/m authors. I’ve really enjoyed reading the ones you have so far :)

    ReplyReply

  23. Lleeo
    Oct 15, 2008 @ 18:47:07

    Sorry that this is a little off-topic but have the Janes ever considered reviewing a lesbian romance?

    As much as I love gay romance and think there needs to be more of it, lesbian romance seems to be largely invisible within the romance genre. There’s probably some available in e-book format but as of yet, I haven’t started reading or buying e-books.

    A good review of one might entice me, though. :D

    P.S. Teddy: After I saw a couple reviews of My Fair Captain, I ordered it from my bookstore and bought it for $16.50. I just couldn’t resist! And now I’m kind of addicted to Langley’s whole gay regency thing and might have to start reading e-books. I still can’t believe I spent over $16 on a book by a new author, lol.

    ReplyReply

  24. Jayne
    Oct 15, 2008 @ 18:50:30

    cs, I’ll take your comment to mean that I have some good reading ahead of me when I try some of his longer books.

    ReplyReply

  25. Jayne
    Oct 15, 2008 @ 18:53:39

    Lleeo, no I haven’t thought of reviewing lesbian fiction. But then up until I started reading m/m books, I would never have thought I’d enjoy those.

    When I began searching epubs for Gay/Lesbian fiction, all I saw is m/m. Ruth Sims has recommended one book I mean to read some reviews of and there is one author who I saw had a f/f book listed at Fictionwise but from what little I’ve seen so far, the pickings seem to be very slim for lesbian works.

    ReplyReply

  26. Jayne
    Oct 15, 2008 @ 18:54:45

    Oh, I plan to eventually try “My Fair Captain” (thanks everyone for the rec) but it might be awhile.

    ReplyReply

  27. RfP
    Oct 15, 2008 @ 21:30:21

    I haven't thought of reviewing lesbian fiction.

    Jayne, you could try Emma Donoghue’s Landing. I found it thoughtful, and you might feel differently than I did about the ending. Both women are “already secure in their sexual orientation” and have supportive communities, which I like because there’s no undertone of them being abnormal. (It also decreases the angst; there’s no self-loathing or fear of prejudice in the book.) It’s partly epistolary; I’m not sure whether you like that form. My review wasn’t a rave, but I’m glad to have read it.

    ReplyReply

  28. Sarah
    Oct 16, 2008 @ 04:37:28

    So cool to see some more thoughtful and interesting reviews on m/m romantic fiction. I throughly enjoy reading anything by Josh Lanyon, he always manages to suck me in and keep me reading till the small hours.

    ReplyReply

  29. Julia Sullivan
    Oct 17, 2008 @ 10:54:14

    On one hand, I think that, yes, gay men have more experience of being gay men than women or straight men, so they may well have a deeper reservoir of personal experience and perspective upon which to draw.

    On the other hand, that doesn’t necessarily mean that every gay male writer is good at creating realistic gay romance heroes, any more than it means that every straight female writer is good at creating realistic straight romance heroines.

    But on the third hand, I think that starting with a gay male writer who’s adept at both the conventions of mainstream gay fiction and m/m romance is a smart choice for someone new to reviewing this genre. Also, Josh Lanyon is just a really good writer, full stop.

    ReplyReply

  30. Shrutster
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 20:12:13

    Hello all

    Just wanted to let you know that there is a populous world of lesbian romance, erotica and erotic romance out there. Try Bold Strokes Books–it’s an indie outfit that publishes lGBTQ popular fiction, specialising in romances with handsome, tortured, law enforcement/armed forces butch romantic heroes (http://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/). Also try Bella Books–an online store that sells lesbian erotic and romantic lit. They bought Naiad which was once the premier American lesbian feminist publishing house (http://www.bellabooks.com/mm5/merchant.mvc). Lastly, there’s Cleis Press that publishes academic gay and lesbian studies stuff, and pop fiction (http://www.cleispress.com/index.php). Lesbian romance author Radclyffe is a huge favourite at the local lesbian/feminist bookstore and she’s a member of the RWA–check out her stuff at Bold Strokes Books.

    Happy reading/reviewing.

    ReplyReply

  31. Josh Lanyon
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 14:31:00

    Thank you very much for the review, Jayne. I can’t tell you how pleased I am to see gay or M/M reviews included in a mainstream romance review site. Very kind — and very much appreciated.

    ReplyReply

  32. Lleeo
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 20:02:58

    Lleeo, no I haven't thought of reviewing lesbian fiction. But then up until I started reading m/m books, I would never have thought I'd enjoy those.

    Thanks for your response, Jayne. Sorry it took me so long to respond back! I just wanted to mention it for the very reason you stated; many people don’t start off thinking they could really get into GLBT romance or other genre books featuring them but then are pleasantly surprised when they find great authors/characters/plots.

    The whole concept of two men being affectionate and intimate with each other really fascinates me because men in our society are often brought up to be less overtly affectionate and whenever I read gay romance, I feel like I’m getting the chance to peep into a window and see something really tender, private and intimate.

    Although someday, I hope this kind of novelty wears off. ;)

    This is why I’m curious about lesbian romance because I really wonder what this sub-genre and its authors have to offer. ^_^

    ReplyReply

  33. Lleeo
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 20:04:59

    Just wanted to let you know that there is a populous world of lesbian romance, erotica and erotic romance out there. Try Bold Strokes Books-it's an indie outfit that publishes lGBTQ popular fiction, specialising in romances with handsome, tortured, law enforcement/armed forces butch romantic heroes (http://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/). Also try Bella Books-an online store that sells lesbian erotic and romantic lit. They bought Naiad which was once the premier American lesbian feminist publishing house (http://www.bellabooks.com/mm5/merchant.mvc). Lastly, there's Cleis Press that publishes academic gay and lesbian studies stuff, and pop fiction (http://www.cleispress.com/index.php). Lesbian romance author Radclyffe is a huge favourite at the local lesbian/feminist bookstore and she's a member of the RWA-check out her stuff at Bold Strokes Books.

    Wow, thanks, Shrutster! This is exactly what I was looking for! :) I don’t know if you’ll see this, but are there any other popular authors you could recommend?

    ReplyReply

  34. Jayne
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 05:55:48

    Shrutster, thanks for the websites you listed. I just checked out some of the books on offer and many look interesting but – Holy Sh*t! – the prices, even as ebooks, are ridiculous. $15.95 for a 300 page book? Whoa and damn, as the Smart Bitches say. That’s a little pricey for a leap into the unknown with new to me authors and genre.

    ReplyReply

  35. Lleeo
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 16:06:16

    the prices, even as ebooks, are ridiculous. $15.95 for a 300 page book?

    Ouch! I didn’t look at the websites themselves yet and this really sucks. I can’t afford to spend this much on books, especially on a new kind of genre with authors I haven’t tried yet.

    I think these authors should take the tactic of being prolific in their writing and advertising and start off with lower prices. Then once they get a wider or loyal reader base, they could up the prices a bit.

    ReplyReply

  36. DS
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 17:59:39

    I checked a couple of titles and found them on Amazon for $10.85. Wish they were available as an Amazon ebook. I’m wishlisting a couple and will check back later to see if anything has changed.

    ReplyReply

  37. Jayne
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 18:11:31

    DS, the $10.85 Amazon price isn’t much lower than the ebook prices (mainly $12.95) from the site. Then there’s S/H…Anyway you look at it, them’s some awfully pricey books. I wonder if they ever have sales?

    ReplyReply

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