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REVIEW:  Drawn together by Z.A.Maxfield

REVIEW: Drawn together by Z.A.Maxfield

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Genre: LGBT Multicultural Erotic Contemporary

Rory might just be a simple southern boy from St. Antoine’s Parish Louisiana, but he knows what he wants. He’s been in love with the girl of his dreams, reclusive and mysterious artist Ran Yamane, since junior high school. And now he has the chance to meet her. He’s going to chuck everything and travel 1,500 miles to Anime Expo in Long Beach to tell her, and no one and nothing is going to stand in his way.
Ran Yamane is not a girl, but he gets that a lot. People come to him with teddy bears and chocolates and disappointment by the truckload. He’s trusted fans in the past and been tragically wrong. So when he meets Rory he’s understandably wary, but resigned. What he’s not prepared for is his magnetic attraction to the young man, Rory’s apparent willingness to overlook his gender, and the fact that their lives are both thrown into chaos when his number one fan (and psycho stalker) shows up to get revenge.

Review:

Dear Z.A.Maxfield,

I read this book of yours shortly after it was released in 2009 after almost losing faith that I would be able to find a m/m book which had some semblance of a story in it. When I started reading m/m year or so before, I first read three very good books and then a lot of very bad books. Your book helped a lot to convince me not to abandon m/m, but I have not reread it in years and wanted to see if the good memories I had would stand up to a reread. Well, they did and they did not.

As the blurb states, Rory and Yamane meet because Rory decides to temporarily forget everything else and go on a crazy adventure to meet the famous comic artist whose works he loves. He also thinks he has a crush on this woman.

“Why did you really come here?” Yamane asked. “I want the unvarnished truth.”
“To find someone I thought…” Rory remained silent for a minute. “Someone I thought I loved.”
“Give me your arm, please.” Yamane uncapped his marker.
“Why?” Rory did as he was told.
“Blind faith should be rewarded and outright stupidity should be eradicated. I haven’t decided which we have here, yet” He wrote something on the interior of Rory’s forearm”

Rory is due for a surprise – Yamane is not a woman, and Rory is due for a double surprise because he is attracted to Yamane. After a hilarious meeting and briefly getting to know each other, Rory is due for a triple surprise – a psycho stalker is after Yamane and they end up running across the country to get away from her.

First and foremost I think that if you want to increase your chances of enjoying this book, you need to keep in mind that it plays with a lot of things from yaoi/manga. I think the cover by P.L. Nunn puts you in the right mood. No, Yamane and Rory are not the exact representation of uke/seme because the writer made them more complicated characters with at least some real world characteristics, but there was *a lot* of uke and seme in each of them in my opinion. Rory may initially start out as a devoted, starry- eyed fan, but we see very clear that he is a “compulsive hero”, a “knight in shining armor” who would do anything to protect Yamane. Rory is also big and strong. Rory has been on rescue missions, does volunteering, helps kids in need, etc. I still loved him, his perfections notwithstanding. Rory is the one who is supposedly straight -but gets to discover his inner Gay For You in this story. It was not the worst variation of GFY (again, remember how often it happens in yaoi), at least Rory struggled for a few days, and he mentions that he had some repressed memories of having feelings for other men. For the purposes of this story I was able to swallow it.

Yamane often needs to be rescued during the story, he is much smaller than Rory, he wears his hair in a long braid (but gets upset when he is being compared to a woman), and he is half Japanese. And of course him being a manga/comic artist himself signifies an extra connection with yaoi storytelling. I liked ,though, that Yamane does not *always* need rescuing and when he is in real danger he is calm, cool, and collected, “but when he is imagining that something may scare him, he overreacts big time.” (This is a close paraphrase I believe, but it could be a quote which I could not find so I put quotes just in case). I appreciated the author tried to make Yamane more than your typical uke, but as I said before, there was enough of uke in him for me to keep saying to myself – remember this is heavily yaoi influenced and try not to roll eyes too often.

I partially succeeded – I found their developing relationship to be a nice fairy tale and was able to suspend disbelief and buy it. However on this reread I could not stop wanting to smack something with this book repeatedly when I was reading the suspense parts of the story. The men are running from a crazy stalker of Yamane (of course she is a woman) who hurt him in the past, and the actions of this stalker just made very little sense to me. Amelia is crazy; there is no other word for her. When I read the book for the first time I was not bothered by it because at that point I had not read so many other m/m books with over the top female villains, so I had not yet developed strong allergy to them. I kept saying magic word “yaoi” when I was doing a reread and I was happy that Amelia’s portrayal did not make me angry. There were also normal women in the story; no matter how small their parts were, so I don’t have a reason to complain that Amelia could be viewed as the representation of all women in the story.

What really made no sense to me was Amelia’s diabolical cleverness in finding Rory and Yamane several times, because, well, it just was not well explained. I was also trying to understand why her minions paid any attention to her considering how over the top she behaved in the first place.

As an aside – the detective in the story would give our heroes advice to run, which made me want to shake this detective repeatedly and ask him whether he had any other reasons to suggest that they should run besides author needing that in order for the plot to play out. I realize that I am not being very consistent, but there is nothing I can do with it – in some instances I could suspend my disbelief and in some instances absolutely not. The final showdown should be put in the “Absolutely not” column.

Grade: C-

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Dear Author

Publishing House Alert: Yaoi House LLC

Update. Kira Takenochi has alerted people to new changes in her Yaoi publishing role.

Hello Everyone,

For most of you, this is going to come as no surprise, as I’ve been discussing this situation for a few weeks now in my journal at the site.

As of tonight I will be shutting down the Yaoi House site and putting up a new site for my writing.

What may be surprising to some is that I am going to be removing all the yaoi from the site. I will not be continuing those stories at this time. It’s possible I may revisit them and and rework them to be non-yaoi stories, but for now they are going to sleep, until I decide what to do with them. I will only be working on new fiction from this point on.

Tonight I will be putting all future recurring billing on hold. You will continue to have access to the new site and the new fiction through the end of your billing period. I will be putting up a new sign-on page and changing the price to $4.99. This price cut makes sense as there will be less fiction, since I will be building a new fiction archive.

I will not be publishing any of my yaoi books. For those of you who are new to the site and have no idea what is going on, you may email me for a refund, if you like, as I know you purchased access to the site for the yaoi.

For those of you who are going to continue on with me in my new direction, I will see you on the “other side”. To the rest of you, I thank you for your years of support and wish you all the best.

Kira Takenouchi is a Yaoi author who made a name for herself with Ai no Kusabi fanfiction, including a long and popular saga called ‘Taming Riki’. She formed a publishing house called Yaoi House or Yaoi Underground, LLC.

She signed a number of authors including Becca Abbott and took money in form of subscription fee payments by readers anxious to read her Taming Riki work. In March of 2008, Kira found Jesus and decided to stop publishing and declared all contracts null and void. She promised to refund money paid for the Taming Riki work which was never delivered.

On April 8, 2008, other investors in the Yaoi House stepped forward (the first comment), claiming that they would be honoring contracts and resolving the issue of outstanding orders that seemed not be filled.

On May 1, 2008, Kira reappears and claims that she did not find God but was instead suffering hallucinations as a result of bi-polarity.

I know now that God wasn’t acutally talking to me with Divine imperatives..that was in my head. It just seemed so real. And…some things happened to me, that I gues I won’t tell you about, but they go along the lines of hallucinations.

I think that we know, having seen the signs before of bad publisher behavior what happens next. Yep, people voicing their upsets with Kira bailing on them speak out and Kira responds with

Have fun with your rant. Anyone who participates will of course be banned from my site.

On May 4, 2008, in response to what is happening with the contracts and the money that was taken from readers, Kira denies that there has been any transfer of power:

Let me be clear about one thing. Legally I am still the manager of both Yaoi House and Yaoi Underground so what I say goes, with regard to my fiction. I have the power not to sign the final contract that would transfer those rights to Harial, which would mean nothing would change with either company and both would remain in my control.

A number of advisors and business partners leave Yaoi House because of, well, the instability. And Kira responds with accusations toward the people who want their refunds and contracts honored. I mean, the nerve of those people.

I admit I’m very angry about this because it’s clear from the posts in this group that people KNEW or at least SUSPECTED I was not in my right mind and yet everyone was proceeding to take away everything I’d worked on for the past few years, in a matter of DAYS. Almost no one here stood up for me and gave me the benefit of the doubt! No one except Esther! You all FUCKING KNOW ME and you KNOW I would never desert you or my stories or these companies! You KNEW that this “Kira Morningstar” was not the same person as “Kira Takenouchi”. And you didn’t even care that I was mad, that I was all alone in the horror of my mind with no one to help me–my shareholders knew I was sick and yet they deserted me, everyone deserted me and just chose to believe the worst, that I’d actually just thrown everything away and walked away. You didn’t stop to think…Okay wait…she’s bipolar…maybe she’s just ill. Let’s give her a chance to come out of this. And then all you cared about was getting your refunds or getting A BOOK with one of my titles on it, written by anyone else under the sun apparently.

On May 8, 2008, Kira seems to have calmed down and wishes her former business partners the best of luck and actually offers up an apology.

I’ll be dismantling the YH subscription site because I suspect all the writers have gone with Harial to her new domain. I hope so. They got the raw end of the shaft, too. I’ll be too busy with my own writing to try and maintain such a subscription site–and I don’t even want to, because it’s Harial’s baby. To be honest I’ll mostly be focusing on my own books now, unless we’ve signed new contracts with authors I’m not aware of. Or if we have, perhaps they can follow Harial. Maybe she’ll
publish print books too.

Harial…I just want to say publicly that I am so sorry for what I put you through

This olive branch is thrown down and trod upon three days later:

In case some of you are unclear about what has happened, Harial has started her own company.

Apparently some of my investors who joined her thought they could secretly keep shares in my companies while they invested in a competing company! They would be privy to my plans which they could then use to their advantage at their company. They apparently also thought they could take my authors, not realizing that the contracts between Yaoi House and its authors are still legal and have not been legally voided by new signed documents. So, for instance, posting Learning to Serve on their site is completely illegal, because a signed contract with Yaoi House is still in effect.

(Um, what about the post that all contracts were voided?)

Other authors are getting threats of legal action if they try to move their works to another subscription service.

Apparently, our contracts are still valid and will be so for two years after we hand in the manuscript. Which goes against what my contract says, but let’s not get into details here. Apparently, what Kira is trying to do is prevent any of the authors to sell the manuscripts or post the stories in question on the new publishing house’s subscription site

It sounds like some Yaoi authors are getting some raw treatment and that Kira Takenouchi is still trying to remain in business. Wonder what ever happened to those unfilled subscription payments?

Update: We’ve opened the comments at this time.