Book Reviews

Review - The Elegant Corpse

Posted in Book Reviews on Nov 08, 2012

The Elegant Corpse

Roger Corso is a detective with the LAPD, and a more tightly wound individual would be hard to imagine. He could make Joe Friday look like a loose cannon and Felix Unger look like a slob (★). Part of that is just who he is, but there's also a defensive wall around the part of him that still grieves for his dead lover. He also has to be on guard about his private life. While his fellow detectives know Roger is gay, they don't know about his long association with the BDSM scene.

Roger's carefully constructed walls separating his worlds start to crumble when he returns home from a week away to find a mummified dead body laid out on his living room couch. The bodies continue to pile up, and they all have something to do with Roger and his past, although many of them are strangers to him. Only, he's at a loss to understand what message the killer is trying to send.

And then there's Sean, the much younger brother of the first victim left on Roger's sofa. He is everything that rubs Roger the wrong way: messy, brash, profane, undisciplined, and yet, Roger can't seem to get rid of the man, or get him out of his head. More

Review - The Flesh Cartel #1: Capture

Posted in Book Reviews on Nov 04, 2012

The Flesh Cartel #1: Capture

This review originally appeared in slightly different form at BDSM Book Reviews.

In this work of speculative fiction, people with enough money and the right connections can buy anything, including their own personal sex slaves. The Flesh Cartel is a super-secret, highly organized group that supplies these human cattle. They take people nobody will really miss and transform them into the perfect slave. “The Flesh Cartel” series follows two brothers as they are taken and processed through the cartel's machinery.

Note that this is a serial publication. Serialization is the latest thing in ebook publishing right now, although it's an idea as old as mass printing. Many of the great classic authors, like Dickens, originally had their works published in serial form a hundred years ago. Back then, printing a small chunk of a book at a time made it more affordable to the mass market. In today's market, where most consumers are loath to pay more than 5.99 for a full length novel in ebook form, publishers are hoping that they'll willingly pay 2.99 each for the same work in eight or a dozen installments. It's great for the authors, hopefully, but it really requires that they make every installment, and especially the first one, engrossing enough to make you want to come back for more. More

Review - Afflicted

Posted in Book Reviews on Oct 28, 2012

Afflicted

Volume 1 of Afflicted

Hunter is blind, but fiercely independent. The quickest and easiest way to piss him off is to treat him with any kind of pity. He has escaped the clutches of an over-protective mother, built a life and a business of his own, and he's not going back. The only thing missing from his life is someone to share it with. In the gay world, which puts such a high emphasis on bodily perfection, Hunter's disability is a major barrier.

Dillon has been on his own since he was 16, tossed out of his home by his fundamentalist parents who disowned him as soon as they found out he was gay. He ended up hustling to live, and is now a high-priced, very successful, escort. The thing is, thanks to an inheritance from one of his old clients, he doesn't really need to continue working, but he doesn't really know anything else. There's an emptiness to his life, and he doesn't know if he can ever find anyone to fill it, who will accept him and his past. More

Review - Mastering the Ride

Posted in Book Reviews on Oct 20, 2012

Mastering the Ride

Josh is a young man with a powerful submissive urge. He yearns to please a master and be loved and cherished in return, but so far he's been unable to find a master that he clicks with. His latest master wanted a robot that would do only exactly what he was told and didn't expect any praise. Josh was never good enough for him and the master has just terminated their trial contract. For someone who lives to please, Josh's self esteem is at an all-time low.

Wade is what you might call a “late bloomer”. He only realized he was gay, and a Dom, in his mid-thirties. He cast aside the false life his parents had planned for him in the city and moved to the big skies of Montana to run a ranch. The only problem is that he, too, has been unable to find a submissive that he clicked with. Most guys seem to be in it for a quick thrill and aren't true submissives that live to please. More

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

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