The middle of August is the start of the school year for me, so on the one hand I’ve got way too much to do to find time for reading, but on the other, reading is a stress reliever for me, so I seem to be reading more. Or at least, sampling more and reading more shorts. All but two of these stories are m/m romance.
Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers (Avon): I’m researching the 1970s blockbuster historical romances this semester and presenting on it in November, so I should be reading a lot of these. I’m not quite halfway through this classic yet, but they’ve already had sex (not rape!) in which she came (multiple times!). I’m still waiting for the bodice ripping to start, honestly. It’s very well written, but SO much slower than novels nowadays.
Dance With Me by Heidi Cullinan (Loose Id): Brilliant but flawed m/m that I will get around to reviewing at some point because of the brilliance. Cullinan’s books are amazing because her characters are so real. Not a perfect book but utterly worth it, just the same, as are all Cullinan’s books.
Muffled Drum by Erastes (Carina): I’ll be doing a review of this soon(ish). The writing’s brilliant, the characters are wonderful — and so TSTL that I end up yelling at the book every time I open it. The entire plot of the book is dependent on not one but TWO Big Misunderstandings, the characters make stupid-ass decisions, and it’s just incredibly frustrating to read, the more so because of the otherwise amazing writing.
I Just Play One on TV by A.L. Turner (Torquere): I adored this book, so want to write a review of it…and yet I’m not unconvinced it’s not fanfic with the serial numbers filed off and sold as original fic, except I don’t know the fandoms out there well enough to be able to pinpoint which one it is. Which pisses me off. I’m all for fanfic AS fanfic. But I’ve been burned before by “fake” original fic. To my mind, if the books for sale, it should be original. And yes, I know the Shakespeare argument. I know that many many fabulous authors got their start in fanfic of many different types. I know people can and should be “inspired by” all the time. But if I want to read fanfic, I know where to go, dammit.
Two Christmases by Anne Brooke (Dreamspinner): I was intrigued by Sunita’s short review of Brooke’s For One Night Only, so I bought that, but liked the look of this one too. And it was really good, actually. Told from first person, Danny cheated on Jake, his boyfriend of 9 months, when he was drunk at a bar. The guy he cheated with, Marty, is an ex-boyfriend and vindictive over their breakup. Jake breaks up with Danny, Danny spends a year getting his act together, and Jake and Danny get together again at the end. It’s short — 30 pages — but there’s a lot of emotion packed into the pages. So much, though, that the ending feels really rushed. I wish Brooke had spent 2-3 pages more on the end. Grade: B-.
For One Night Only by Anne Brooke (Amber Allure): Short as well, but I didn’t like it nearly as much as Sunita did. Very emotionally powerful, I’ll absolutely admit, but the first sex scene with Andrew was horrible, knowing that he would commit suicide that evening. And then why did Jake get to pull apart Langley’s painful romantic background as his own “penance” for Andrew’s death. Creeped me the fuck out. Grade: C- for me.
Bad Boyfriend by K.A. Mitchell (Samhain): December release. You guys, it’s SO fucking brilliant, I just can’t tell you. Review on release.
Seducing Miss Dunaway by Kate Rothwell (Smashwords): Self-pubbed short. Great writing, some plot holes that made me go WTF, but great sex and fun characters. I’m enjoying this a lot. And NOT a m/m romance! :)
Secret Service by Kim Dare (Total-e-Bound): I’m on a Kim Dare kick and have an epic post planned, but this is a stand alone short about a service sub who just wants to serve anyone because his boyfriend refuses to contemplate any BDSM in their relationship at all. The boyfriend’s refusal comes from a bad BDSM experience, but of course he’s a brilliant dom who is finally convinced to turn their relationship into a power exchange. It was a fun little story, showing who actually has the power in a BDSM relationship. Grade: B
Anchored by Rachel Haimowitz (Noble): I don’t even know where to start with this story. It’s set in an Alternate Universe of contemporary society that has slavery. It’s not racially-based slavery; it’s just that there’s modern society…with slaves. And no one questions that. While the main character Daniel questions some things he’s told to do, he never questions that he should be punished for not doing them. I sometimes enjoy stories set in slave universes, but that’s when they’re obviously fantasies, and I still prefer for there to be some indication that the narrative disapproves of the slavery. This book was, honestly, an excuse for non-consensual torture porn — Daniel is viciously beaten and gang raped as punishment, two scenes which comprise the bulk of the narrative — with the implicit narrative understanding that readers are supposed to see that this is acceptable and can be overcome emotionally by a caring sexual partner (who was stupid enough in the first place to send you to be gang-raped because he didn’t seem to understand how his own damn world worked). I just…gah. The thing about this book, though, is that the writing itself is incredibly compelling. Brilliant author; awful terrible world-building. Grade: F
Master Class by Rachel Haimowitz (Riptide): ARC of one of Riptide Publishing‘s first books. Heavy-SM BDSM romance with deep emotional component. I needed something to wash the foul taste of Anchored away. As I said, Haimowitz’s writing is brilliant and when focused on consensual BDSM, it’s incredibly erotic. Will review upon release in November.