Gerry B's Book Reviews

The Auspicious Troubles of Chance, by Charlie Cochet

An interesting, well written and well-developed plot 

Story blurb: Chance Irving is a young man with a gift for getting into trouble-not surprising, as trouble is all he’s ever known. After losing everything he held dear one fateful night, he decides to leave New York and his past behind, and joins the French Foreign Legion. But even in Algiers, Chance can’t seem to shake his old ways, and he ends up being transferred to a unit made up of misfits and rabble-rousers like him-a unit he finds just in time to be captured and thrown into a cell with his new commandant, Jacky Valentine. A highly respected commandant with a soft spot for hard luck cases, Jacky is the kind of guy who would go to war for you, and the three equally troubled youths from his unit he’s more or less adopted feel the same way about him. Suddenly Chance starts to think that his life doesn’t have to be as desolate and barren as the wastelands around him. But even after their escape, with the promise of a future with Jacky to buoy his spirits, or maybe because of it, Chance can’t stop making mistakes. He disobeys orders, lashes out at the boys in Jacky’s care, and blazes a trail of self-destruction across the desert-until someone makes him realize he’s hurting more than just himself. A Timeless Dreams title: While reaction to same-sex relationships throughout time and across cultures has not always been positive, these stories celebrate M/M love in a manner that may address, minimize, or ignore historical stigma.

Available in e-book format, only: 586 KB

About the author: Charlie Cochet is a passionate author of M/M Historical Romance who loves to get lost in eras long gone, especially the Roaring Twenties and Dirty Thirties. From bootleggers to hardboiled detectives, speakeasies to swanky nightclubs, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too! Learn more about Charlie and her writing at her website or visit her blog. 

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Upon seeing that The Auspicious Troubles of Chance, by Charlie Cochet [Dreamspinner Press, 2012] was a story involving the French Foreign Legion—that romanticized bastion of rugged masculinity set in the middle of a desert—it peaked my curiosity. Although it is the type of setting just begging to be used in an M/M story, it has somehow been overlooked. Equally puzzling is that it didn’t figure into the front cover design. That said, it is a charming story populated with interesting, colourful characters.

Chance Irving is an orphan dropped off at a New York orphanage when he was seven years old. Subsequently he escapes to a life on the streets, and is thereby rescued by a young actress, who, along with her fellow thespians, give Chance a substitute family and home. Tragedy strikes, however, when the theatre is torched by a mobster, and Chance’s closest and dearest friends die in the fire.

Alone once again, he then descends into a life of debauchery until he turns his back on it and New York, and ‘runs off’ to join the French Foreign Legion. Now, in the 1920s and until fairly recently, the Legion was where the down-and-out went to hide from life—unhappy love affairs, scandal and even petty crimes—but it was also reputed to be the toughest outfit in the world; a place where ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ was the unwritten rule.

Nonetheless, Chance is a rebel in the ranks until he encounters the commandant of an unusual company,
Jacky Valentine. Valentine is a people person, gifted with insight and a disarming wit and charm. He also has a special relationship with three charming characters, whom he refers to as his “brats.” These are a trio of salvaged bad boys, similar in background to Chance, and who play a seminal role is Chance’s redemption.

It is a good story. The outstanding features are the effortless prose and the recreation of the period (1920s). A nice bit of research has gone into describing the Foreign Legion as well, but here I would have liked to see more. The character development is also excellent: Chance’s background and motivation are both credible and interesting, Jacky Valentine is the perfect foil, and the “brats” are funny and charming.

What took the top off for me was the beginning and end. The first person narrative got me off to a rocky start, mainly (I think) because it couldn’t go deep enough without sounding self-pitying or boastful. However, the middle redeemed itself quite admirably, and held my interest until the end.

The pluses outweigh the quibbles, though, so for an interesting, well developed plot I give it four bees.

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Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 33,622

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If you would like to learn more about any of my 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.

       

Thanks for dropping by. My apologies for being late this week, but modem problems got in the way. Hopefully it won’t happen again, and so drop back next Sunday for a new review.

September 24, 2012 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay military, Gay romance, Homoerotic | Leave a comment

The Secret Catamite 1: The Book of Daniel, by Patrick C. Notchtree

This is a breakthrough novel for its sensitive and realistic portrayal of adolescent sexuality –

Story blurb: A trilogy telling a story of love and loyalty, passion and perversion, betrothal and betrayal, triumph and tragedy; biographical novels that chart one man’s attempts to rise above the legacy of a traumatic childhood, going to the very brink of suicide and the efforts to understand and come to terms with himself and his actions.

The first book follows the protagonist Simon through childhood, growing up with a distant father and his developing friendship and eventual love affair with an older boy.

This account is not suitable for those under 18 years of age or those who find explicit sexual narrative offensive.

Available in digital format only – 418 KB

About the author: Patrick Notchtree now lives in the north of England with his wife and has his son and granddaughters nearby. Much of his life is reflected in the biographical trilogy “The Secret Catamite”, so to repeat too many biographical details here would be something of a ‘spoiler’!

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Definition of a “catamite”: A boy kept for homosexual practices. Oxford Dictionaries

While this story doesn’t deal with a “kept” boy, (i.e. harboured or enslaved), it does deal with young boys—one older—and homosexuality. Therefore, when I first saw the title (and the evocative cover) of The Secret Catamite 1: The Book of Daniel by Patrick C. Notchtree [Limebury Books, March 19, 2012], I was intrigued to see how the author would deal with the subject matter.

You see, most writers shun the topic of adolescent and teen sexuality, even though they know it exists from having lived through it. I did, and I certainly don’t consider myself unusual in any way. Therefore, to pretend otherwise is like ignoring the proverbial elephant in the room—the one with pink wings and yellow polka dots.

Fortunately, Patrick Notchtree chooses not to demure from it in characterizing the sexual relationship between Simon and Daniel as being both natural and wholesome. To them, it is the evolution of a friendship that includes both the emotional and the physical; no secrets withheld, and no holds barred.

But The Secret Catamite is so much more than just a story of physical love. It is the story of a boy who is adjudged “different,” and because of this is made to feel different by many who are barely adjusted, themselves. The father who is emotionally maladjusted, wavering between indifference and disciplinarian; the schoolyard bullies who call him “bastard” and “simple Simon;” the teacher who tells him he should never have been born; and the Draconian headmistress who is quick with the hickory stick.

Given these two bookends, it is not at all surprising that Simon finds solace, comfort and a measure of security in Daniel.

There are also other positive moments as Simon struggles to overcome his afflictions; his small academic achievements; the excitement of being able to watch the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on the family’s very own television set, family vacations, and learning to swim. These may not seem like notable occasions now, but in the late 1940s, early 50s, these were as good as it got for simple folk.

Altogether, for me this is a breakthrough book for its sensitive portrayal of adolescent sexuality, and its ability to relate to most people’s childhood experiences. There are some flaws, but I’m going to give it five bees, anyway.

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For a real-life horror story involving adolescent sexuality read the following. For the full story click on the title link.

Gossip destroys a family

 BY CHRISTINA BLIZZARD ,QMI AGENCY

This is a bizarre and scary story, about how one family has been destroyed – ripped apart by a snickered conversation between two children on a school bus.

Based on that unfounded hearsay, the school bus driver spoke to the school principal, the school called Family and Child Services who called the cops.

A worker from FACS Niagara talked to the two boys. Little brother Mike recalled a time when they’d been wrestling on the ground and touched each other’s privates – outside their clothing. Their father had intervened and given them a time-out and told them to stop rolling on the floor.

The FACS worker decided to call in police.

The police officer spent another 45 minutes interviewing Mike, who steadfastly maintained that his brother hadn’t molested him, but that another boy had.

Shortly after, late one afternoon, the Smiths got a call from the Niagara Region police officer saying they were going to arrest Bobby at school the next day.

His parents asked why they’d do that in front of his peers – and said they’d bring him to the police station the next morning.

The officer balked, until John insisted that if they were going to arrest Bobby at school, he’d keep the child at home.

He is, after all, just a 12-year-old.

Bobby was forced to move out of the family home – away from Mike. Bobby and his dad moved in with the children’s grandparents in Hamilton, thinking it would be a temporary measure.

FACS told them if they didn’t do that, Bobby would be put in a detention centre.

He hasn’t been home since.

When they could no longer stay in their grandparents’ basement, and when they failed to have his bail conditions lessened, the only option was for the family to sign a temporary care agreement, which put Bobby in a group home for six months. The visiting hours when Mary and John can see their son have been limited, and Bobby has limited access to other children.

Suffer the little children? They certainly do in Niagara.

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Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 33,037

Notice to all those who have requested a book review

Thank you for your interest, and my apologies for not responding to your request individually. I’m getting there, but the numbers have been overwhelming. Please extend your patience just a bit longer.

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Patrick Latter’s Photography

I am always excited when I come across an extraordinary talent in any field, so do have a look at the remarkable work of Canadian photographer, Patrick Latter. It is absolutely breathtaking in its technique and creativity. To visit his web site, go to: http://patricklatterphoto.com

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If you would like to learn more about any of my 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.

       

Thanks for dropping by. Your participation is appreciated by all the fine authors who are featured on this blog. I’ll have another novel ready for you next Sunday, so please drop back.

September 16, 2012 Posted by | Coming out, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay romance, Twentieth century historical | Leave a comment

A Foreign Range, by Andrew Grey

A pithy plot, well-written and engaging – 

Story Blurb: Stories from the Range: Book Four Country singer Willie Meadows is a fake. He’s never ridden a horse, and his “Western” gear comes from a boutique shop in LA. No wonder Wilson Edwards, the real man in those fake boots, is suffering creative block. Determined to connect with the music, Wilson buys a ranch in Wyoming to learn the country way of life, even if he has no intention of running the business. Then Steve Peterson shows up desperate, destitute, and hungry, having just escaped a gay deprogramming hospital run by his father’s cult. Steve was supposed to train horses for the ranch’s former owner, but the job is gone along with his would-be employer. Luckily Wilson has a temporary solution: Steve can ranch-sit while Wilson does business in LA. But when he comes back, Wilson barely recognizes the place. There are trained horses in the paddock, and the ranch is in great shape. Suddenly he finds himself inspired not by the cowboy lifestyle but by Steve himself. But the cult is still after Steve, and Wilson’s fear of scandal means he’s still in the closet. Coming out could kill Willie’s career-but denying his feelings for Steve could kill the only part of him that’s real.

Available in ebook format – 1264 KB

About the author: Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation. Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing) He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Visit Andrew’s web site at: www.andrewgreybooks.com.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

To begin, I like the cover. It is evocative and sexy without being erotic; which to me suggests a plot-driven story. A must in my books.

I also know Andrew Grey from his “Love Means…” series [see  my review of Love Means Courage – Andrew Grey], so when I saw A Foreign Range [Dreamspinner Press, 2012] I went for it.

The story blurb summarizes the story fairly well. Wilson Edwards (a.k.a. “Willie Meadows”) is a country and western singer who has no country or western in him—which is credible enough since very few of them do. He also has a ‘hands-on’ manager, Howard, who is a friend/retainer to whom Wilson feels an obligation for his years of service.

Nevertheless, Wilson isn’t happy with the glitz and glamour of La-La Land, and yearns for some wide open spaces. He therefore buys a ranch, tells Howard bye-bye, and heads for Wyoming.

Meanwhile, Steve Peterson, an escapee from a cure-a-queer quackery outfit run by his fanatical father, arrives expecting to find a job with the former owner of Edwards’ ranch. Nonetheless, Edwards hires Peterson as a caretaker while he’s on the road, and when he returns he find an functioning ranch. Moreover, his appreciation extends to his hired on a personal basis, and things begin to heat up between them.

A level of angst hangs over them, however, in that Wilson is fretful for his public image and career, and Peterson is still being pursued by his father’s cult. It is a resolution of these that constitutes the ending.

My views:

The writing is excellent of course, so there’s no issue there. The plot is certainly pithy enough, and the main characters are both interesting and likable. In other words, it is easy to become invested in their welfares and want them to succeed. Nonetheless, there was something slightly over the top about the father’s fanaticism, a bit stereotypical I think, and Steve’s somewhat rapid recovery from the ‘brainwashing’. I hasten to add these are personal impressions, and may not be shared by others.

Overall, it’s an interesting plot, well written and engaging. Four and one-half bees.

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Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 32,662

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Notice to all those who have requested a book review

Thank you for your interest, and my apologies for not responding to your request individually. I’m getting there, but the numbers have been overwhelming. Please extend your patience just a bit longer.

Thanks again!

♠♠♠

If you would like to learn more about any of my 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.

 

       

Thanks for dropping by. I’ll have another great novel ready for next Sunday. Hope to see you then.

September 9, 2012 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay romance | Leave a comment

The Station, by Keira Andrews

An outstanding plot, likeable characters, and a first-rate adventure – 

Story Blurb: Ever since Cambridge-bound Colin Lancaster secretly watched stable master Patrick Callahan mastering the groundskeeper, he’s longed for Patrick to do the same to him. When Patrick is caught with his pants down and threatened with death, Colin speaks up in his defense, announcing that he, too, is guilty of “the love that dare not speak its name.” Soon they’re both condemned as convicts and shipped off to the faraway prison colony of Australia. Patrick learned long ago that love is a fairy tale and is determined that no one will scale the wall he’s built around his heart. Yet he’s inexorably drawn to the charismatic Colin despite his best efforts to keep him at bay. As their journey extends from the cramped and miserable depths of a prison ship to the vast, untamed Australian outback, Colin and Patrick must build new lives for themselves. They’ll have to tame each other to find happiness in this wild new land.

Available in electronic format – 325 KB

About the author: After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes both contemporary and historical fiction and — although she loves delicious angst along the way — Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said:

The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I’ve had my eye on The Station by Keira Andrews [Loose Id LLC, 2010] for quite some time. In addition to the Canadian and American frontiers, the Australian outback is an equal favourite. Similar ingredients apply, of course: strong, independent characters; rugged settings; and an overall sense of adventure. This story is slightly different inasmuch as it commences in England, but most of the other ingredients are there.

Colin Lancaster is the privileged son of English gentry, and is thereby accustomed to the pampered lifestyle that goes along with it. On the other hand Patrick Callahan is an Irish stable hand, and under ordinary circumstances the two should never have found common ground apart from being master and servant.

However, at sixteen Colin witnesses a tryst between Callahan and another male servant, and the impact of it throws Colin into a turmoil. He’s fascinated by what he sees, but conflicted by his upper-class beliefs and morals values. Nonetheless, Colin frequently dreams of being taken advantage of by the earthy Patrick Callahan.

As fate would have it Callahan has the misfortune of being caught in the act of sodomizing another male, and is in immanent danger of being lynched. That is when Colin rather gallantly steps in to save Patrick’s life by declaring that he too is a sodomite. He therefore manages to save Patrick’s life, but the two of them are sentenced to be transported to the penal colony of Australia.

The real adventure starts the moment they board the prison ship—generally anchored offshore until a full load was achieved—and although Ms Andrews has done a good job of describing the harsh conditions aboard ship, the reality is they were frequently much worse. During this voyage Colin is nearly raped and Patrick almost dies, but through it all Colin maintains a stoic optimism of starting a new life with Patrick.

Patrick, on the other hand, is more of an enigma. We know he has been emotionally scarred in the past, and that he has steeled his heart on account of it; nevertheless, there is nothing that binds two males together like the sharing of adversity, i.e. ‘equals’ even if they do come from opposite ends of the social spectrum.

The Australian adventure is equally rugged, but I’ll leave that for other readers to discover.

My view

Ms Andrews does a very nice job of wilderness adventures, and also of character development  [see my review of Voyageurs, by Keira Andrews]. In the aforementioned, the characters are social opposites with the baser character taking the lead. In this story, however, it is Colin who possesses the inner strength. The juxtaposition works, but the result is that Patrick is not as well developed as he could be.

Nevertheless the description is first rate, and it is this that keeps the rating well up there. An outstanding plot, likeable characters, and a first-rate adventure. Four and one-half bees.

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Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 32,338

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Notice to all those who have requested a book review

Thank you for your interest, and my apologies for not responding to your request individually. I’m getting there, but the numbers have been overwhelming. Please extend your patience just a bit longer.

Thanks again!

♥♥♥

Altered – Revelations of the Evolved,  by Shawnda Falls Currie is now available as a paperback https://www.createspace.com/3882371
To get your copy: click on link, create an account using your email address and use coupon code F7UA8S7H for a $2.00 discount.
There will also be 3 copies available for giveaway on Goodreadshttp://www.goodreads.com/. I will post direct link once it is active (approx 2 days). Giveaway will last until 3 Oct 2012. Good luck!

 

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If you would like to learn more about any of my 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.

       

Thanks for dropping by. I’ll have another great novel read for you next Sunday, so do drop back … Oh, and leave a comment as well. T.T.F.N

September 2, 2012 Posted by | Coming out, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period, M/M love and adventure | Leave a comment

   

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