Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

B Reviews

REVIEW:  The Gentleman’s Madness by Bonnie Dee,Summer Devon

REVIEW: The Gentleman’s Madness by Bonnie Dee,Summer Devon

madnessDear Ms. Dee and Ms. Devon:

An m/m romance between an attendant and an inmate in a Victorian insane asylum… I think I know why this was published after Christmas. It was actually less dark and considerably less dense than I feared it would be, which made it a more accessible read, but also let me down a bit in the end.

He’s been through electric shock therapy, water dunks, an attempted rape for which he was blamed, and the loss of his clothes and writing implements, but fate still holds something worse in store for former professor John Gilliam. When an old friend turns up as part of a visiting group to observe the deviant “Mr. G,” and refuses to acknowledge him, John loses his last remaining shreds of personal dignity. “If he hadn’t been mad before, he had become so; he had nothing left. They had taken his pens, and now they stripped him of his past.” The distraught John is carefully subdued by a hugely strong yet gentle attendant, who promises to try and get his clothes and writing materials back.

Sam Tully is generally kind and sympathetic to the inmates he cares for, but he’s especially sorry for John. “A single glance could tell you the man had tumbled a great distance, down, down, down. All that learning, all that money, and yet here he lay on the floor of of the asylum in one of the padded rooms where they put the most dangerous and damaged patients.” Although he’s wary of being around the homosexual patients — “too close to home” — pity leads Tully to offer to supervise John on his own time, while he uses the oh so dangerous paper and pencil, and John’s gratitude touches him deeply. He knows that getting close to a patient is wrong and dangerous, but he can’t bear to let John down.

As John and Tully become friends, and a powerful attraction grows between them, Tully begins to lose faith in the asylum’s treatment methods. And when their burgeoning sexual relationships puts them in peril, he may be John’s only chance for freedom.

The asylum setting is central to this romance. Gay men in most historical contexts have a huge strike against them to begin with, and John and Sam are also separated by vast class differences. The asylum weirdly equalizes them in a sense, giving them a chance to get to know one another and explore the special gifts each can offer their relationship. The fact that the working class Tully has a lot of power over John in this situation is turned around very neatly, because he’s so worried about taking advantage that he actually helps John recover: “I am not often able to say yes or no in this place and you have given me back that ability. You have given me choice again, Sam Tully.” Their shared experiences also contribute to an unexpectedly strong and believable happy ending.

The setting is also disturbing as hell. What happens to John demonstrates how difficult it is to prove your sanity in a place designed to completely disrupt your sense of self; John can’t even masturbate in peace, because the attendants will check. And this isn’t even one of the worst of the asylums — its head doctor is more misguided and greedy than outright evil. Initially I appreciated that narrative restraint, but I wound up feeling that the book might have been stronger if it had just gone straight for the Gothic jugular. The suspenseful elements in the later part of the story, which should have been utterly terrifying considering John’s captivity, never built up as much tension as I wanted.

I think this will have the most appeal for readers who enjoy seeing opposites attract; the distinct character voices are well drawn, and of course there are strong contrasts between the slender, intellectual John and the huge, calloused laborer Sam. The sex scenes are on the milder side, which feels very appropriate for a shorter novel — the focus stays on the characters and the setting — and the romance comes to full bloom very gently and sweetly at the end. B

Sincerely,

Willaful

AmazonBNSonyKoboAREBook DepositoryGoogle

REVIEW:  Until Series: Until November (Until #1) and Until Trevor (Until #2) by Aurora Rose Reynolds

REVIEW: Until Series: Until November (Until #1) and Until Trevor...

asher new coverDear Ms. Reynolds:

Yesterday, while browsing at Amazon I came across book one in your Until series, called Until November. I sent myself a sample and really enjoyed it. I found your voice to be deeply reminiscent of Kristen Ashley, whose voice generally works very well for me. While I do think that the books had some editing issues, they worked quite well for me and I found myself reading both in one day.

In Until November, November has fled New York to Tennessee after a brutal attack that left her with significant injuries. Her father, who she’s never really known, is in Tennessee and he’s willing to have her work as the office manager at his strip club. She’ll get him organized and then work from home. While there on the first day, she leaves the club and is confronted by a brawny, good looking guy, who assumes she is a stripper. This is Asher Mayson. He’s irritated that this new, hot young stripper doesn’t know that as a stripper, she’s always to have an escort to her car. Of course, he’s embarrassed when her Dad comes out and introduces him to his daughter, November.  Asher immediately begins wooing November.  Wooing seems to involve a lot of bossing her around, interspersed with some very sweet moments. One night, while out with Asher, November comes home to find her apartment trashed and a threat on her wall. Perhaps her mugging in New York wasn’t random. Asher immediately insists that she come home with him. As they spend more time together, the further they fall in love. But the threat to November might be more real than expected. Will Asher be able to protect this woman he’s come to love so deeply?

I really enjoyed this book, despite a number of issues. I loved how deeply Asher felt for November. He’s all about caring for her, and making sure she has what she needs. That being said, he’s also an overbearing pain in the butt sometimes. But, as a fan of Kristen Ashley books, I’m used to alphaholes, so it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book at all. The book is in need of some serious editing, so readers who find that badly copy edited books irritate them will most likely find the errors enough to turn them off reading the books. But overall, this book was spicy hot, had a heroine with a spine and a hero who was dominant, but had a deep core of caring for the heroine. Final grade: BUntil_Trevor_ebook_amazon_smashwords_goodreads

After finishing Until November, I immediately went back to Amazon and bought Until Trevor. Trevor is Asher’s brother. He’s known Liz, November’s closest friend in town, for years.After one hot night together when Trevor stopped just before having sex with Liz, he’s put her off. Hurt and angry, Liz has decided to date another man. Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t sit well with Trevor, who immediately puts all of his resources into running the guy off and reinstating himself as the only one for Liz. She’s confused and furious with him. He doesn’t want her, but he also wants no one else to have her? That’s crap. She gets right in his face and confronts him about it. He tells her that he’s always cared for her, and that he was scared because she’s so innocent. Then he sets about making her as experienced as possible.

While this book wasn’t as well written as the first, I also enjoyed it. Liz is relatively namby-pamby, which detracted from my enjoyment. She wants Trevor and cares for him, but spends alot of time fighting what seemed like needlessly to me. Trevor is a good guy. He’s a stud in the sack, and while he does occasionally go into “alpha-overdrive”, as a reader, I never doubted that he cared for her. The sex scenes are smokin’ hot, which I really liked. The series definitely has apparent series bait in each of the Mayson brothers, but I found myself excited for the next book. Again, the book is not perfect. There are a number of editing issues, and I found this one a little harder to read. But overall, I think that readers who enjoy uber-alpha heroes will find something to like in Until Trevor. Final grade: B-

Kind regards,

Kati

AmazonBNSonyKoboAREBook DepositoryGoogle