Gerry B's Book Reviews

Wings of Love, by Scotty Cade

A true M/M romance in Harlequin style

Story Blurb: Devastated after losing his partner of fifteen years to cancer, Dr. Bradford Mitchell tries to escape the emptiness and loss by leaving his life in Seattle behind. Traveling to the Alaskan mountains where he and Jeff often vacationed, Brad reconnects with Mac Cleary, the ruggedly handsome and very straight loatplane pilot who had flown them to Hyline Lake many times in the past. Brad and Mac form an unlikely friendship and buy an old log cabin together, and as he and Mac begin to bring the old cabin back to life, Mac watches Brad come back to life as well, stirring emotions in him he’s never felt for a man before. When fear, confusion, and a near tragedy threaten to force the two men apart, they’ll face some tough questions. Can Brad let go of Jeff and the guilt he feels about beginning to care for another man? And can Mac deal with his fears of being gay and accept the fact that he is in love with Brad? It will be a struggle for both men to keep their heads and hearts intact while exploring what life has to offer.

Available in eBook format, 655 KB.

SCOTTY CADE left Corporate America and twenty-five years of marketing and public relations behind to buy an inn & restaurant on the island of Martha’s Vineyard with his partner of fourteen years. He started writing stories as soon as he could read, but only recently for publication. When not at the inn, you can find him on the bow of his boat writing male/male romance novels with his Shetland sheepdog Mavis at his side. Being from the South and a lover of commitment and fidelity, most of his characters find their way to long, healthy relationships, however long it takes them to get there. He believes that in the end, the boy should always get the boy.

Scotty and his partner are avid boaters and live aboard their boat, spending the summers on Martha’s Vineyard and winters in Charleston, SC, and Savannah, GA.

 ***

Review by Gerry Burnie

The above blurb fairly well covers the outline of Wings of Love by Scotty Cade [Dreamspinner Press, 2011], and so I can get right to my views.

I particularly enjoy wilderness settings, especially in and around Alaska and the Yukon Territory. There is something inherently masculine about them, as well as primitive, and so these make an ideal setting for an M/M story. In this regard the author did not disappoint with his choice of Brad and Mac, two fairly hunky guys equal to the wilderness—even if it is with hot water and a microwave. My point is, however, that these guys are definitely not out of place nailing nails and sawing wood, etc.

I also like how the author dealt with the topic of losing a loved one to cancer, which was both sensitive and realistic without being maudlin. Cancer is a tragic subject, and the effect of it has no doubt touched us all in one form or another, but SC wisely chose to have his characters move on with life. After all, we the living have very little choice, and there is life after death (not to be construed as a religious statement).

As well, I liked how he let the relationship between a gay man and straight man evolve at what seemed like a realistic pace. My most cherished love in life was with a straight guy, very much like Mac, and so I know it does happen, and how.

These are all good points, and recommend the story highly. However, what took the edge off it for me was the pace. Scotty Cade is a very thorough writer, and so he has attempted to answer any (and every) question the reader might have regarding this or that, and in so doing has burdened the flow in sometimes superfluous information. i.e.

He stepped up to the radio,  picked up the handset, and pressed the button. “November 4649 Delta, this is  Wing Mansion. Over.”

He waited for a few seconds and heard nothing.

“November 4649 Delta, this is Wing Mansion, do you copy?”

He waited again.

Just when he was about to repeat the call again, he heard, “Wing Mansion, this is November 4649 Delta, I hear you loud and clear. Wing Mansion, switch to channel one eight. Over,” he heard Mac’s voice say.

“Wing mansion switching to channel one eight,” Brad repeated.

Brad turned the dial up two notches to channel one eight and said, “Wing Mansion standing by on channel one eight.”

“Good morning sleepyhead. Over,” Mac said.

“Mac, are you okay? Over.” Brad asked.

“I’m fine. Did you get my note? Over.”

“Mac, thank you for taking the time to write it; it was very thoughtful. Over.”

“That’s me, thoughtful Mac. Over.”

Mac was sounding a little strange. Then Brad remembered Zander and Jake were with him, and he was sure they could hear everything Mac was saying.

“Mac, I know Zander and Jake can hear what you’re saying, but can they hear me? Over.”

“That’s a negative. Over,” Mac responded. WINGS OF LOVE 91

“Oh good, I’m not ready to start explaining all of this to them. Over.”

“That’s affirmative. Over,” Mac said.

“What’s your ETA? Over,” Brad asked.

“About zero eight hundred hours. Over,” Mac said.

Brad remembered military time, and he thought that meant eight am. “Okay, safe flight and give my best to Zander and Jake, and tell them to enjoy their vacation and not to worry about the lodge. I’ll check on it every couple of days. Over.”

“I’ll pass that along. Over,” Mac responded.

“Mac, will you make it back up before the storm? Over.”

“I’ll do my best, but if I don’t, you’ll be fine. I’ll be in touch. Over.”

“I’ll look forward to it. Oh, and Mac, please be careful. I don’t want to lose you. Over.”

“Will do. Over.”

Brad ended the conversation by saying, “You do that.” He added, “Wing Mansion over and out, switching back to channel one six.”

The last thing Brad heard Mac say was, “November 4649 Delta standing by on channel one six.”

Okay, I’ve operated a VHF radio, and I know how the lingo goes (channel changes and all), but this much attention to detail—however admirable—doesn’t advance the story. And that’s the point. If it doesn’t advance the story whittle it down, generalize it, or leave it out.

Otherwise, Wings of Love is a pleasant, feel good story with a romantic, happy ending.  Four stars.

News

Visitor count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews: 12, 323

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The eBook version of Two Irish Lads [Maple Creek Media] will be available at Kindle and Nook outlets this week.

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The final galley proofs have been approved, and so Nor All Thy Tears should be released in both hardcopy and eBook formats in a week or so.

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Progress on Coming of Age on the Trail: 163/180.

This is the story of a teenager’s unique coming of age on an epic, 1,500-mile cattle drive through the rugged wilderness of 19th-century British Columbia

Loosely based on an actual cattle drive to the Yukon during the Klondike gold rush of 1896-1898, this fictional tale pits 17-year-old Cory Twilingate
against an almost insurmountable wilderness in an effort to save his father’s cash-strapped ranch. Supporting him all the way is his father’s recently hired foreman, “Reb” Coltrane, a ruggedly handsome and trail-savvy cowboy from Texas, and as a result a bond is formed between them like two Spartan cohorts fighting shoulder-to-shoulder against the rigors of the trail.

This is a tale that explores the phenomenon of male bonding under extraordinary and sometimes perilous conditions. It is also a romance that includes those most American of institutions, i.e., cowboys and cattle, but as told from a gay perspective. Whether it is a rugged tale of adventure, or a coming of age romance you are seeking, “Coming of Age on the Trail” delivers on all counts.

July 31, 2011 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance | Leave a comment

Men of Honor: Pirates of the Narrow Seas, #2, by M Kei

A swashbuckling adventure and Romance

Peter Thorton and his lover set out on a quest to rescue a captive duke who is the pretender to the throne of Portugal. Thorton is arrested and placed on trial for desertion and sodomy. Men of Honor continues the further adventures of a gay officer during the Age of Sail, replete with perils, excitement, and nautical detail. Alex Beecroft, author of ‘False Colors,’ says it’s “a book which can stand comparison with C. S. Forester’s Hornblower.”

Available in eBook format

Review by Gerry Burnie

Some time ago I reviewed Pirates of the Narrow Seas 1: Sallee Rovers, and gave it a five star rating—even though I had some minor reservations about pace. I also have some reservations about M Kei’s latest in the series, Men of Honor: Pirates of the Narrow Seas, #2, [Lulu.com, 2010] but there are enough good things to say about it that I think I can go five stars as well.

M Kei is a good, solid writer. Therefore all the technical stuff regarding sentence and paragraph structure, as well as syntax, are a given. Likewise his descriptions—especially of things nautical—are vivid and colourful, and therefore the reader has no difficulty being transported back in time. However, since I wouldn’t know a marlin spike from a hat pin, I agree with one reviewer who observed that the tactical side of the sea battles were a bit mind boggling. On the other hand, they certainly were pulse-raising with their violent bombardments, and gratuitous blood shedding.

As regards characterization, in volume #1 I disliked Perry as being too stuffy and ambitious, liked Tangle for being swashbuckling, and sort-of liked Peter Thornton as being idealistically naïve. Shakil, of course, had just been introduced toward the end of #1, and so it was really too early to tell, In Men of Honor, however, I found Perry just as dislikeable (for the same reasons), Tangle an opportunist, and Peter just as naïve, but a little less likeable [e.g. his automaton’s sense loyalty toward the British Navy that had little toward him in the past]. Nevertheless, I believe it was the author’s intent to give Peter these less-than-ideal characteristics, and as such things like “like” and “dislike” are at the discretion of the reader.

As for Shakil, it is difficult to say. I liked him, even admired him for having a core of steel draped in velvet, but I could not quite get excited about his personality.  He just seemed too ‘perfect’ for me. However, once again I suspect the author has introduced him as much for a future reason as his role in this novel. We will see.

Altogether I have no hesitation in highly recommending Men of Honor: Pirates of the Narrow Seas, #2, as being a darned good read, and look forward to reading volume #3—the finale. Five Stars.

News

Visitor count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews: 12,152

Watch for the Kindle and Nook versions of Two Irish Lads coming next week. The publisher this time round is Maple Creek Media. Check them out for good service and good prices.

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I have approved the interior concept for Nor all Thy Tears: Journey to Big Sky, and am awaiting the final cover proof. Once both of those had been approved, it will go to press. The release date has therefore been shoved back to early August.

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Progress on Coming of Age on the Trail: 145/182 – It should be ready for a September/October release.

Have a great summer!

 

July 24, 2011 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period, Military history | Leave a comment

Lorcan’s Desire (Whispering Pines Ranch #1) by SJD Peterson

A credible first novel

Despite the loving support of his family, Lorcan James wants to try life on his own, so at twenty-one, he finds himself walking half way across the country in search of adventure. What he finds is desperation, desperation that leads him straight to the Whispering Pines Ranch and right into the path of its strong, arrogant, gorgeous owner, who awakens something in Lorcan he didn’t even know, existed.

Quinn Taylor is up to his neck in grief and frustration dealing with a neighboring rancher who wants nothing more than to see him go belly-up. He doesn’t need more complications, but from the moment he lays eyes on Lorcan, his world turns upside down. Despite finding in Quinn what his heart craves, Lorcan refuses to be Quinn’s dirty little secret—and Quinn isn’t the only one vying for Lorcan’s attention. Ranch hand Jess will happily declare his love for Lorcan to the world, something Quinn won’t offer—something Lorcan needs above all else.

Cover Art by Anne Cain

SJD PETERSON, better known as Jo, hails from Michigan. Not the best place to live for someone who hates the cold and snow. When not reading or writing, Jo can be found close to the heater checking out NHL stats and watching the Red Wings kick a little butt. Can’t cook, misses the clothes hamper nine out of ten tries, but is handy with power tools.

 

Review by Gerry Burnie

I understand that Lorcan’s Desire (Whispering Pines Ranch #1) [dreamspinner Press, May 30, 2011] is the first effort by a now “published Author”, SJD Peterson, so congratulations are in order. However, now that the ‘first born’ is out there, let’s see how it rates.

There is much to be said for this story as a first effort. The writing is strong, and technically it reads almost effortlessly—a good start. The style is straightforward with just enough description to make it interesting—particularly the sex scenes, which are as creative a sex scenes get. The plot is also interesting, if taken in a linear
fashion without the twists and turns thrown in.

I was particularly taken by the opening in which Lorcon is introduced as a rebel with a cause, and therein the reader is sympathetically drawn to him. On the other hand, Quinn’s character is not as well developed, and to some extent he remains underdeveloped throughout—apart from carrying a lot of baggage from a previous relationship, and a debilitating fear of being outed by a vindictive and covetous neighbour.

After the introductions, however, the story departs from its nice clean narrative style to get bogged down in a complex of “does he, or doesn’t he’s?” on both sides. I do understand that these are intended to convey the mental turmoil being experienced by both characters, but given that each has a hard-on for the other in every scene they appear together, it unfortunately comes across as more indecision than heart-felt anguish.

The introduction of Jess also took me by surprise. Once in, however, the relationship between Lorcan and Jess–a returning to a clean narrative style–was made much more agreeable because of it.

Having said that, there are some very nice highlights–the tense scene when Lorcan is being hit-on by Jess and Quinn sees them, and when Lorcan and Jess arrive back at the ranch after spending the night together. Also, if you like well-written homoerotica, Lorcan’s Desire is sure to pleae. Three and one-half stars.

News

Visitor count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews: 12,020

***

 The block proofs for Nor All Thy Tears: Journey to Big Sky, are done and approved, and I think I am on schedule for an end-of-July release–whether it will be listed in Amazon’s catalogue by then, I don’t know. There will also be an eBook version released shortly after that.

***

I’ve completed 105/182 pages of rewrites to Coming of Age on the Trail, and it should be ready for publication by the end of September.

This is the story of a teenager’s unique coming of age on an epic, 1,500-mile cattle drive through the rugged wilderness of 19th-century British Columbia

Loosely based on an actual cattle drive to the Yukon during the Klondike gold rush of 1896-1898, this fictional tale pits 17-year-old Cory Twilingate
against an almost insurmountable wilderness in an effort to save his father’s cash-strapped ranch. Supporting him all the way is his father’s recently hired foreman, “Reb” Coltrane, a ruggedly handsome and trail-savvy cowboy from Texas, and as a result a bond is formed between them like two Spartan cohorts fighting shoulder-to-shoulder against the rigors of the trail.

This is a tale that explores the phenomenon of male bonding under extraordinary and sometimes perilous conditions. It is also a romance that includes those most American of institutions, i.e., cowboys and cattle, but as told from a gay perspective. Whether it is a rugged tale of adventure, or a coming of age romance you are seeking, “Coming of Age on the Trail” delivers on all counts.

July 17, 2011 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay romance, Homoerotic | 1 Comment

Muffled Drum, by Erastes

A Romantic novel featuring handsome cavalry officers, and Erestian touches

Blurb: They met in a port-side tavern, their lust-filled moments stolen from days of marching and madness. After eighteen months, Captain Rudolph von Ratzlaff and First Lieutenant Mathias Hofmann have decided to run away from everything they hold dear. Resigning their commissions is social suicide, but there’s no other
choice. Someone will eventually see Rudolph’s partiality toward Mathias.

Now their plans have gone horribly awry… When Mathias goes to Rudolph’s tent after their last battle, his lover looks at him without a hint of recognition. Mathias can hardly believe the man he knew is gone. He wants to fill in so many of Rudolph’s missing memories, but the doctor says a shock could result in permanent damage. The pain of seeing Rudolph on a daily basis, when Rudolph doesn’t remember their love, is excruciating. Now Mathias must decide whether he wants to fight for the man he loves or forget him completely…

Available in eBook format.

About the author: Erastes is the pen name of a female author of gay historical fiction. Having circumnavigated the globe in the ’80s with nothing more than a handful of dollars and a backpack, she’s lived and worked both sides of the equator, but other than Venice she’s found nowhere she loves to live as well as the Norfolk
Broads, where she lives now—firmly under the paw of three demanding cats. Author of eight novels and more than twenty short stories, Erastes is a Lambda
award finalist and a keen lover of history. She began writing full-time after leaving the legal profession, finding it stranger than any fiction.

Review by Gerry Burnie

Having written over ten successful novels to date, it seems author Erastes has decided to challenge herself with a devilishly complex theme, i.e. loss of memory, which is what Muffled Drum [Carina Press, July 4, 2011] centres around. And if that wasn’t challenging enough, she has also chosen an obscure but bloody war, The Austro-Prussian War— 14 June – 23 August, 1866.

Although I have in  my possession a sabre/bayonet from this very era, inscribed “Cavalry de La Chat, 1867,” it is a not a war I am familiar with; nor is it a period that has been frequently exploited as a background or setting for novels

In this story, Captain Rudolph von Ratzlaff and First lieutenant Mathias Hoffman, two young, handsome, army officers, have decided to resign their commissions and run away together. However, there is one more battle to fight, and following that Hoffman follows through with his resignation, but von Ratzlaff has sustained an injury that has left him with “selective” amnesia—meaning he can remember everything except the past two years and his lover Hoffman.

As is Eraste’s wont, there are delicate touches of irony sprinkled throughout that remain on the palate until the story is finished, i.e.

The scent of sweat and horse rose up in the heat they generated. Concentrating on the unique taste and feel of Mathias’s mouth, Rudolph swore to
remember this moment throughout the day to come.
When I’m cold from the death around me, or blazing with the thunder of the charge, I will remember this—this moment. It is this that men fight for—Mathias is my reason to fight, my haven. My home.”

Such was not to be, however, and also complicating the scenario is a Frau Ratzloff & family who are waiting at home, and a predatory ex-lover whom von Ratzlaff seems to be remember for all his non-predatory charms.

However, in the end love triumphs over adversity, and so the story ends in a typically romantic fashion.

***

Critically speaking I give full marks for the bold tackling of a complex issue, such as a lover, still very much in love, faced with the dilemma of his partner’s amnesia—especially since the former has gambled his all for a “happy ever after” relationship.

The choice of such an interesting, but little remembered war, was also a bold but typical Erastian venture, and her attention to detail—i.e., “leutnant” for lieutenant,  and “rittmeister” for captain—add greatly to the credibility.

My one quibble (although it does not change the ranking) is that I did not find this story as compelling as some of her other novels. However, since these were five-star stories too, it is merely a matter of degree.

News

As a writer there are a couple of times that are particularly exciting. One of them is getting the block proof back from the publisher, as it begins to take shape, and the other is actually holding the finished product in your hand. Those are the two stages of Nor All Thy Tears: Journey to Big Sky I’m awaiting just now, and so I’m right on schedule for a July release. Like most writers my books are my ‘babies’–gestation period and all–and the characters are the same. The Two Irish Lads, Sean and Partrick, are still ‘my boys’, and although Sheldon and Colin are quite different, they have a special place in my heart, too.

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Meanwhile, I’m working every day on Coming of Age on the Trail–69/185 pages so far–so I predicting a release date of mid-September.

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Vistor count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews: 11,896

July 10, 2011 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period, Military history | Leave a comment

Long Hard Ride, by Keta Diablo

A hard-riding and entertaining adventure

Civil War divides a nation, yet nothing will stop Grayson Drake from breaking Corporal Marx Wellbourne out of a Union prison. Assigned to bring Wellbourne to Richmond, Grayson soon discovers not only is the Corporal courting death, but he’s also the same man he coveted from afar four years ago in a Charleston brothel.

Pursued by the villainous warden of the prison, Major Britton Darkmore, nothing is as it seems when intrigue, danger and passion collide on the Long, Hard Ride back to Richmond.

Available in eBook format.

Review by Gerry Burnie

The title and the Civil War genre first attracted my attention to Long Hard Ride by Keta Diablo [Decadent Publishing, 2010] and as an in-the-saddle story it delivers quite well. However, it is more of a period story, as apposed to historical fiction, for the American Civil War is merely a backdrop.  Nonetheless, I will quickly add there is nothing wrong with this except the tag.

The crux of the story is that Marx Wellbourne is being held in a hellhole of a Union prison, known by its pejorative, “Helmira,” and is in dire straights. But inside his head are battle secrets that the South is desperate to know, and so Grayson Drake is sent to spring him from this maximum security institution.

The warden, Major Britton Darkmore, is a stereotypical villain who psycho-pathetically  guards his ‘no-escape’ record, and so when Wellbourne is sprung the pursuit is on from New York State, to Richmond, Virginia.

Along the way Grayson and Wellbourne have a rather tempestuous relationship, with neither one trusting the other, but they nonetheless manage to get it on both hot and heavy—such, that an uneasy love bond is formed.

***

Critically speaking, the writing is both strong and mature. The sentence and paragraph structures are smooth, such that the reader isn’t stubbing a toe over rough patches, and the dialogue is effective and believable.

As I have also alluded above, the characters are well developed but somewhat stereotypical—villainous warden, macho and omni-capable hero, and a reluctant lover. Nevertheless, they are consistent and made to play their parts well.

The plot is also clever, but being a bit ‘fantastic’ it could have benefited from more development. For instance, the secretive agency for which Drake worked could have done with more expansion to make it credible, and the happenstance surrounding Wellbourne’s escape from Elmia Prison—as well the old boy’s lodge that just happened to be there when it was needed—could have used some further thought.

Nonetheless, overall it was an entertaining read that had some top-rate moments. Recommended. Three and one-half stars.

News

This past week I entered into a deal with Maple Creek Media to format Two Irish Lads in eBook format. This will be a stand-alone publication with a new cover design by Alex Beecroft and a separate ISBN number. Therefore, this old scribe is entering (slowly) into the 21st-century.

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The manuscript for Nor All Thy Tears: Journey to Big Sky is now in the hands of the publisher, and so it is on schedule for a July, 2011, release.

 Visitor count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 11,756

July 3, 2011 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay Literature, Gay romance, Historical period, Homoerotic, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

   

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