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Review - The Celestial

Posted in Book Reviews on Oct 16, 2012

The Celestial

This review originally appeared on Speak Its Name.

As “The Celestial” opens, Todd is working his claim in the mountains near Truckee, about 90 miles northeast of Sacramento. It's about 20 years after the California gold rush started, but there are still a lot of men like Todd staking claims and hoping to strike it rich. Egged on by his irascible uncle, who was invalided in the civil war, Todd has stole away in the night, leaving his mother to care for her brother on their tumble-down farm near Sacramento.

Todd isn't alone on the mountain where he has staked his claim. A group of Irishmen have a camp nearby, where they apparently are working their own claim, among other things. Todd doesn't much care for the rough and tumble men, except for the youngest of them, Breandon. Todd has something of a crush on the other man, who isn't much older than him, but he won't dare admit it. More

Review - Unnatural Selection Collection

Posted in Book Reviews on Oct 08, 2012

Unnatural Selection Collection

“Unnatural Selection Collection” is an omnibus edition collecting three novellas featuring DC Nick Guthrie, his fellow detectives and his friends, especially Dr Anton Marber. I should warn you that there's an inevitable bit of 'spoilers' in recounting all three books in one go like this. I've been careful not to reveal the mysteries of each book, but it's impossible, I think, to discuss what happens in each book without telling you what the state of the relationship between the two main characters is.

Nick Guthrie is a detective with the London Metropolitan Police, and gay, and a vampire. Well, he's not really a vampire, but that's the way many people see him. A few years before the start of “Unnatural Selection” Nick was dying from a cancerous brain tumor. Conventional treatments had been exhausted and so the doctors offered him a new experimental procedure. It seems that a virus called ISH had been discovered, which had an effect that was just the opposite of HIV. Where HIV destroyed the immune system, ISH super-charged it, enabling the body to fight off almost any disease, including cancer and HIV. There was just one potential “side effect” - the virus converted the body's metabolism so that the only nourishment it can get is from drinking human blood, which is synthesized for those that have undergone the treatment. More

Review - The Fights Of Summer

Posted in Book Reviews on Oct 04, 2012

The Fights Of Summer

Note: I received an advanced copy for review. The released story may have had minor changes.

James is a young man studying in university, and in an unusual relationship with two other men, Carl and Dane. The other two men are also students, as well as mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters. James himself is something of a pacifist. He dreads fight nights, when he has to watch one or both of his lovers get beaten in a cage. Of course, if they win, the highly charged celebratory sex afterwards almost makes it worth it.

But then one day James' worst nightmare comes true. Dane is seriously injured in a fight. He spends weeks in a hospital, but despite James' feelings, Dane refuses to see it as the end of his career. For his part, Carl is also determined to fight on. James' fear turns to anger, which threatens to tear the relationship apart. More

Review - Scorpion

Posted in Book Reviews on Sep 22, 2012

Scorpion

As “Scorpion” opens, Kendras is limping into the seedy underbelly of the city where he grew up. He was wounded in battle, his foot almost crushed, and then dumped back in the city that hired him without money or means to live. Kendras is a Scorpion, an elite force of mercenaries. He might be the only one left.

While sitting in a tavern trying to avoid attracting attention, Kendras is spotted by Steel, a mysterious man who needs Kendras for his own plans, but who is also strongly attracted to the Scorpion. Steel rescues Kendras, getting his wound treated and then taking him to a place where he can recover.

Steel's motives for taking Kendras in remain unclear, although his attraction to the dark-skinned soldier is obvious. But Kendras can only think of his comrades and what may have become of them, especially the mysterious commander of the group, a man known only as “the officer.” The officer saved Kendras from the executioner and gave his life a purpose, as well as love. More

Review - The Keeper

Posted in Book Reviews on Sep 11, 2012

The Keeper

Hadi is a young man with a full life in the middle of Milan's fashion world. He's not one of the star designers, but he's one of the people those stars trust to turn their concepts into fabulous reality. But then one day he receives an urgent call from his family back in France. Hadi must drop everything and take on the role of 'keeper'.

For generations, Hadi's family has been the guardians of a secret. It has been the duty of unattached males in the family to act as keeper. Hadi is told little about what is expected of him. He is only told that he is to go to a small city in Algeria to take care of a man.

Hadi is expecting a frail old man, but when he arrives at the country estate he is surprised to find a man who appears to be not much older than himself, and no invalid. Over the course of the first few days, the full extent of the secret Hadi's family has guarded is revealed. Hadi is descended from Jacob, the brother of Jesus, and his charge is none other than Judas. More

Review - I Once Had a Master

Posted in Book Reviews on Sep 07, 2012

I Once Had a Master

“I Once Had a Master” is a collection of nine short stories by one of the masters (if you'll pardon the expression) of gay BDSM erotica. Preston passed away in 1994 and the book, originally published in 1985, is only available in print, so it's taken me a while to get my hands on it.

The collection isn't exactly what I was expecting. While the stories are almost all hard-core in one way or another, there's a lot more to them than just the kinky sex, which often plays a minor role. These tales are much more about relationships, and their ups and downs, rather than sex. Some, like the title piece, are rather melancholy in the end, while another, titled “Authenticity”, is quite sweet. In many of the stories Preston expresses a certain jadedness about the new-found acceptance of the lifestyle. In “Authenticity” he's exasperated by a pair of bottoms who treat leather as just another kind of drag and worse, treat him as just a piece of meat whose only purpose is to fulfill their fantasies. They talk about what they'll do for him, but they're really just giving him a shopping list of what they want. More

Review - Strange Fortune

Posted in Book Reviews on Sep 03, 2012

Strange Fortune

Major Valentine Strange is a soldier of fortune with a rather sizable gambling debt, which is why he accepts a dubious commission from the church to retrieve powerful artifact from a monastery high up in the mountains far from the city of Hidush. To ensure his success, the Holy Order assigns Aleister Grimshaw, a powerful witch, to accompany Strange on his mission. Master Grimshaw has his own questionable past to live down.

The two men face several challenges, from other men, nature and the supernatural, but still manage to find the curiously fortress-like home to the small and ancient religious community that possesses the artifact, a diadem that once belonged to a god, or maybe not. But finding the diadem is only the start of the curious journey of Strange and Grimshaw.

“Strange Fortune” is set in a time and place somewhat reminiscent of India during British colonial times. There is, or was as a background to the time the book is set, a terrible clash of two cultures that resulted in an open rebellion in the lifetimes of our two main characters. While the setting is somewhat familiar, this is a fantasy where magic and witchcraft are very real, and entirely different things, apparently. More

Review - The Mark of an Alpha

Posted in Book Reviews on Aug 27, 2012

The Mark of an Alpha

Bennett enjoys pleasing his master, Marsdon, although he doesn't know that's his name. He doesn't even know what the man looks like. They've been playing together, exclusively, in the BDSM club for months, and the one thing Bennett won't do is reveal his full face. He has always been blindfolded or hooded before meeting Marsdon. He also wears cologne to mask his wolf scent.

“The Mark of an Alpha” opens on their last night together in the club. They both know it's the last time they will be able to play like this. Both men are wolf shifters, and they have responsibilities to their packs. They can't continue to play these 'human' games, despite the powerful feelings they have for each other.

A few days later Bennett is awaiting the arrival of his new mate. Despite his submissive role in the BDSM club, Bennett is an alpha wolf, and it has been arranged for him to mate with the alpha of another pack, to form a new pack of their own. His mind is heavy with the responsibility he will carry as leader, but he also can't get thoughts of Marsdon out of his head. More

Review - Forest of Glass

Posted in Book Reviews on Aug 19, 2012

Forest of Glass

This review originally appeared at BDSM Book Reviews.

In a medieval fantasy world, Leith is the bastard son of the lord of the castle. He is nearing his twentieth year, when he knows he must leave his father's home and find his own place in the world. Then one day the Fair pays a visit to the castle. The Fair are a superhuman race that makes their home in the Blackwood Forest. They once terrorized the human population, stealing and taking slaves, but a treaty between the humans and the Fair have put an end to that. The Fair visits each of the castles from time to time to collect a tithe, but otherwise they leave the humans alone.

The visit from the Fair comes at a bad time for Leith's father. The harvest has not been good and he feels he cannot afford the tithe, so he offers up his bastard son instead. However, the Fair don't take slaves anymore, but the Fair leader Orias seems taken with Leith, so he makes him a bargain: spend a year in Orias' service and he will be rewarded with his own title and land. More

Review - How Are You Going To Get Out Of That One, Alan Ambrose?

Posted in Book Reviews on Aug 15, 2012

How Are You Going To Get Out Of That One, Alan Ambrose?

Alan Ambrose is a very lucky young man. The twenty year-old is enjoying a night out in London with his friend Tabitha when he is picked up by a handsome older man, Archie. Archie takes Alan home to his London townhouse, where it soon becomes clear that the man is very well off. In the morning, Archie invites Alan to stay and even buys him an expensive watch to entice the young man to stick around. Alan settles almost naturally into the life of a kept boy without looking back.

Over the coming months Archie introduces Alan to his circle of friends, which includes the elderly Lord Percy. Percy clearly fancies the young Alan, and he's even more wealthy than Archie, with a mansion in Hollywood as well as an estate in England. Recognizing a bigger better deal when he sees it, Alan decides to dump Archie and become Percy's toy boy. More

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