Gerry B's Book Reviews

Wrestling With Love, by D. H. Starr

Enthusiastically recommended.

 

 

 

Story blurb: Derek Thompson and Scott Thayer met in high school. Facing challenges and overcoming obstacles that would make lesser young men fold, they now have the chance to forge a life together. As they enter college, they finally have the time and space to discover each other sexually and give their virginity to each other. However, in spite of the erotic thrill of exploration, there are still challenges ahead, challenges that will test their love and devotion…
While Derek wants to live as an openly gay man, Scott wishes to maintain a degree of privacy. Not only that, but another freshman, Tyrell Jackson, becomes infatuated with Derek and wants Derek for his own. In the face of these threats to their burgeoning relationship, Derek and Scott are forced to look within themselves and make difficult decisions which will change both of their lives forever.
Is their relationship strong enough to bear the strain of balancing their needs as individuals and as a couple? The only way Derek and Scott will attain their ultimate reward is by finding the courage to face their fears. Will they rise to the challenge?
Publisher’s note: This book was previously published under the title Reward of Courage.

Available in Kindle and Nook formats – 510KB

Review by Gerry Burnie

This is the second of a series by D. H. Starr, the first I’ve read, but Wresting With Love [Ai Press, 2011] is a stand-alone story and a good place to start.

The basic story, written in third-person narrative style, explores the relationship between two gay young men, Derek and Scott, as it matures from high school into college. Although they both love each other very much, they have quite different attitudes. Derek wants to express his love and sexuality freely, while Scott is more reticent—preferring to keep his expressions private.

Enter the mischief-maker in the person of Tyrell Jackson, a gay-activist, who has designs on Derek and not willing to take “no” for an answer.

Altogether it’s an interesting, complex story that the author weaves very well. In fact, D. H. Starr is a superb craftsman when it comes to the written word. His journalism is top notch, his ideas flow consistently, and his understanding of the characters comes across as real. However, for my taste the pace was frustratingly slow in places, sometimes devoting one or more pages to a point I found only passsingly relevant.

Having said that, the pluses far outnumber the quibbles and I have no problem in enthusiastically recommending this story. Four stars.

 Be an alpha reader: Read an excerpt from my in-progress novel, The Brit, Kid Cupid, and Petunia, an M/M light comedy and adventure tale, and add your comments at the bottom of this page, or email them to me at: gerryb@gerryburniebooks.com.

News: Two Irish Lads will soon be available in Kindle format. It is currently available in e-book format from iUniverse.

 

March 27, 2011 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay romance | Leave a comment

Mere Mortals, by Erastes

This is perhaps Erastes best effort yet

 

 

 

Orphaned Crispin Thorne has been taken as ward by Philip Smallwood, a man he’s never met, and is transplanted from his private school to Smallwood s house on an island on the beautiful but coldly remote, Horsey Mere in Norfolk. Upon his arrival, he finds that he’s not the only young man given a fresh start. Myles Graham, and Jude Middleton are there before him, and as their benefactor is away, they soon form alliances and friendships, as they speculate on why they ve been given this new life. Who is Philip Smallwood? Why has he given them such a fabulous new life? What secrets does the house hold and what is it that the Doctor seems to know? Trust acclaimed author Erastes to tell a moving story in the field of gay historical romance.

About the author: Erastes is the penname of a female author who lives in the area where this book is based. Author of seven books and twenty short stories, this is her third full-length novel. A Lambda award finalist and keen lover of history, she began writing full-time after leaving the legal profession finding it stranger than any fiction. 

 

Review by Gerry Burnie

When it comes to man-on-man, historical romance and adventure, the name Erastes invariably comes to the fore, and her latest creation, Mere Mortals [Lethe Press, March 23, 2011] is perhaps her best effort yet. It is in my mind, anyhow, and I’ve read and reviewed many of her novels and short stories in the past.

The first thing one notices about this novel is the subtlety with which the story unfolds, and the leisurely, measured pace that is so in keeping with a nineteenth-century theme. For example, the story opens with a coach ride through the countryside setting, and with this clever device the reader is invited aboard to see it for him/herself, i.e:

“There was nothing here to write about, or so it seemed. After so many years spent at school in the well manicured quadrangle and playing fields of Barton Hall, this new landscape seemed empty, untidy and bleak. A light mist covered the land as far as the horizon, little more than a thin vapour, but it was enough to drain all colour from the scene passing by the carriage window. I gave a wry smile. Colour that mainly consists of bleached dead reeds, brown ditches and brown muddy pools

“Since leaving Yarmouth the coach had travelled slowly north, following the coast road, such as it was. The coachman had warned us passengers that the roads were bad at this time of the year and he wasn’t wrong; more than once the three of us – for that’s all there was, travelling in the filthy weather – had to alight, braving the vicious biting wind to assist the coach out of one of the larger ruts we encountered. Even inside the coach with the curtains drawn, the wind sliced its way through any small gaps in the woodwork.”

Ergo, in one deft stroke the author sets the tone, the pace, the theme, as well as introducing the narrator and some of the characters. This is writing at a very high level of the craft—almost a textbook example—and it is why Erastes has earned the respect she enjoys.

Mere Mortals is very much a Gothic story with the requisite manor located on a bleak mere, secret passageways, sphinx like servants, and a handsome but mysterious master. All of them playing their parts delightfully, as do the three boys. There is tension, too; plenty of it. Tension that is velvet-wrapped in mystery. It permeates the atmosphere but never becomes blatant or oppressive until it surfaces near the end; when the secret of Bittern’s Reach is revealed.

If you are a fan of M/M romance, historical fiction or Gothic tales, all superbly written, then Mere Mortals is bound to please on all counts.

Be an alpha reader: Read an excerpt from my in-progress novel, The Brit, Kid Cupid, and Petunia, an M/M light comedy and adventure tale, and add your comments at the bottom of this page, or email them to me at: gerryb@gerryburniebooks.com.

March 18, 2011 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay Literature, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period | 1 Comment

Two Irish Lads , by Gerry Burnie

Note: A tribute to St. Patrick’s Day. This review by Mark Probst originally appeared in Speak its Name, April 15, 2009.

 

 

two irish lads - final - medStory blurb: Two Irish Lads is a pioneer story with a difference. It is at once a carefully-researched depiction of pioneer life in the early part of the nineteenth century, and also a love story of two men who might have lived during such a challenging time.

Sean and Patrick McConaghy are two young cousins who set sail from Ireland one St. Patrick’s Day in 1820, and after a long and eventful crossing of the Atlantic, they tackle the mighty St. Lawrence River with a band of rugged voyageurs to eventually settle in the wilderness of Upper Canada.

Here they are not only confronted by the daunting task of carving a homestead out of the vast primeval forest, but also the ever-present danger of living as a devoted couple in a world where the possibilities of humiliation and death stalked them at every turn if their secret should ever be discovered.

It is a tale that also encompasses mystery, tragedy, brawling, humour and pathos, and altogether it will have you turning pages to discover what is about to happen next.

About the author: Gerry Burnie is a dedicated Canadian author, best known for his historical fictions, Two Irish Ladsand Nor All Thy Tears: Journey to Big SkyNow retired, he has had a long and varied career. For twenty-five years prior to his retirement, he lectured on the topics of political science and law, and then turned his interest to history for a further five years. In addition, he has been an actor, singer, dancer, artist and a municipal politician at various times in his life.

♣♣♣

Review by Mark Probst – Author of “The Filly

Gerry Burnie’s Two Irish Lads is a quaint tale of second cousins Sean and Patrick McConaghy who migrate to Canada from their homeland of Ireland in the year 1820. With their life’s savings they intended to buy some land in “upper Canada” (the area now known as Ontario) and make a good life as farmers with the hope of prosperity.

Once they arrive they visit the land office and select a choice piece of property. With a few supplies and a tent, they take on the task of clearing the land, hoping to build a shelter before winter. The two lads eventually realize they are in love. One of the settlement’s wealthy leaders, Nealon, takes them under his wing, giving them advice, arranging a cabin-raising for them, and even getting Sean a job as a schoolmaster. It is soon revealed that he has an ulterior motive in that he hopes they might marry his two daughters.

There are a few harsh realities through which they must persevere, before all the dust settles, but I won’t spoil it by revealing any more.

The story is written in the style of Sean’s daily journal. While the first few chapters do indeed read like an authentic journal, thankfully Burnie then shifts to more of a first-person narrative than how a real journal would read, but that is simply to accommodate the storytelling process.

Burnie’s knowledge and research shine through in that the story beautifully describes 19th century Irish customs and decorum. He even uses a few Gaelic phrases, always with translation, and the dialog sounds so right you can practically hear the Irish brogue.

I thought the characters were well-developed and exuded a great deal of charm. Sean was the leader and sensible one, whereas the younger Patrick was more carefree and daring. While he yearned to be able to be open and proclaim his “secret love” to the world, he deferred to Sean’s wisdom and together they balanced each other out. The details of frontier life were also well researched, and the descriptions were vivid enough to give us a good picture of the landscapes and the settlements.

My quibbles are minor – I’d have liked to see more of Sean actually teaching the children, and I felt there were a few times some of the characters were just a little too perky for my taste.

I really enjoyed Two Irish Lads. It suits my personal taste of an upbeat depiction of frontier life, and I especially like stories where people come together to help each other and fight against the evils that threaten them. I look forward to reading more from this gifted author.

♣♣♣

If you would like to learn more about my other books, or to order copies, click on the specific cover below. Two Irish Lads and Nor All Thy Tears are available in both Kindle and Nook formats. Publisher’s price, $4.95.

                

 

March 12, 2011 Posted by | Canadian author, Canadian content, Canadian frontier stories, Canadian historical content, Canadian Irish tradition, Coming out, Fiction, gay cousins, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay Literature, gay pioneer christmas, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period, Homesteading in Canada, Irish, Irish pioneers in Canada, Irish romance, M/M love and adventure, Sea voyage from Ireland | 1 Comment

Pioneers, by Lynn Lorenz

An insightful and altogether touching story

 

 

 

Story Blurb: When Matt films a documentary of gay men living in New Orleans over the last fifty years, his first subject is none other than Sebastian LaGrange, his very own landlord. The elderly gentleman has lived through good times and bad, has seen and done it all, and Matt thinks he’s perfect for the project. Although Sebastian is initially reluctant, he comes to believe in the project, and opens up his life like never before, telling his story from the first time he kissed a boy, to the present.

What Matt uncovers is not only a history of being gay in their beloved city, but he unravels the mysterious past of one of New Orleans’ most desired gay men. Sebastian has been a friend and mentor to Matt and his partner Lane, and even in his old age, Sebastian has even more to teach them about love…

Available in Kindle format, 136KB

 

Review by Gerry Burnie

There are a whole bunch of good things that can be said about “Pioneers” by Lynn Lorenz [Amber Quill Press, 2010]. To begin, it is superbly written. The syntax flows flawlessly, the characters are well developed, and the pace keeps the story moving along at a comfortable pace. All important pluses in my opinion.

I also found the era in which the story is set—i.e. the 1940s & 50s—a wonderfully nostalgic bonus. As the chief supporting character, Sebastian, says: “It was the fifties, lamb chop. One didn’t come out of the closet, one tiptoed out.” And, later, Matt observes: “That’s what I want to show with this film, baby. I want the young gay men of today to understand what the older gays lived through, how they survived. Or didn’t.” Having come out during the same era, I can readily identify with both of these sentiments.

Another appealing aspect is that the story deals with romance between older men; a somewhat unique topic for most writers of male-on-male fiction. In fact, the only other series that comes to mind is Ronald L. Donaghe’s Common Threads in the Life Series.

I do have a few minor quibbles, though. Although I understand the author’s intention to add dimensional depth to the characters, I found the switching of voices and times to be a little distracting. I also found the flashback scenes between Sebastian and his dead lover Frank, although a relevant to discuss the onset of AIDS in the 1970s, just a bit too lengthy and even saccharin at times.

I hasten to add, however, that these few, minor quibbles do not substantially detract from an insightful and altogether touching story.

Enthusiastically recommended. Four and on-half stars.

 

Be an alpha reader: Read an excerpt from my in-progress novel, The Brit, Kid Cupid, and Petunia, an M/M light comedy and adventure tale, and add your comments at the bottom of this page, or email them to me at: gerryb@gerryburniebooks.com.

We’re growing! Gerry B’s Book Reviews has reached another threshold of readership. As of this week we passed the 8,000 mark from a year ago, and nearly 1,200 more than last month. Thanks folks!

March 5, 2011 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period | Leave a comment

   

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