Gerry B's Book Reviews

My Roommate’s a Jock? Well, Crap! by Wade Kelly

A refreshingly light comedy 

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my roommates a jock - coveerStory blurb: It’s easy to become cynical when life never goes your way.

Cole Reid has been a social recluse since he was fifteen, when he was outed by his high school baseball team. Since then, his obsessive-compulsive behavior and sarcastic nature have driven away most of the population, and everyone else hates him because he’s gay. As he sees it, he’s bound to repulse any prospective friends, let alone boyfriends, so why bother?

By the time Cole enters college, he’s become an anal-retentive loner—but it’s not a problem until his roommate graduates and the housing department assigns Ellis Montgomery to move in with Cole. Ellis is messy, gorgeous, straight, and worst of all, a “jock”!

During a school year filled with frat buddies, camping expeditions, and meddling parents, Cole and Ellis develop a friendship that turns Cole’s glass-half-empty outlook on its head. There must be more to Ellis than a fun-loving jock—and maybe Cole’s reawakening libido has rekindled his hope for more than camaraderie.

About the author: I live and write in conservative, small-town America. Here, it’s not always easy to live free and open in one’s beliefs. Nevertheless, I love to write from my own real-life observations and experiences by expressing them through fictional characters and settings. Basically, I write what I feel, I write what I know, and I write what I think others need to hear. And if you think a character sounds like someone you know, think again… All my characters are ME.

Unlike some authors, I have no huge background in writing. I’m not good at punctuation and spelling, and my thoughts often surpass my ability as an author to express them. However, I can’t NOT write. It’s who I am. I hope you are touched by my stories. By the way…. I love Lynne Truss’ book Eats, Shoots & Leaves.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I have frequently bemoaned the fact that GBLT stories tend to be, for the most part, a gloomy affair, dominated by personal struggle and angst. So when I saw the off-beat title for this one, i.e. My Roommate’s a Jock? Well, Crap!, by Wade Kelly [Dreamspinner Press, December 31, 2012] I had to check it out.

Now, contrary to the seemingly carefree nature of comedy it is difficult genre to write. It takes a combination of wit and cleverly devised circumstances to pull it off successfully, and happily Kelly does a fairly good job of bringing the two together.

The circumstances revolve around a nerdy (and prickly) physics student, Cole Reid, whose last choice for a college roommate would be, and is, a soccer jock. Nevertheless, through a set of perverse circumstances he ends up with just such a one in Ellis Montgomery, and not only him but his two jock-type friends as well.

Cole and Ellis nonetheless come to an understanding, and eventually beyond as time goes by. While this bonding is somewhat based on the principle of ‘opposites attract,’ Ellis has a secret characteristic in common with Cole that comes to the fore: He is in fact latently gay. However, their first attempt at consummating this new found love turns into a bit of a disaster.

I’ll leave it to the readers to discover how and where the story goes from there, but being a light comedy it does have a HEA ending.

Over all, I liked the story and the author’s treatment of it. There were, however, some elements that didn’t work. I’m speaking primarily of spreading the point-of-view around to include 3rd and 4th level characters whose views were not all that relevant—principally the mother’s. There may be stories in which this has worked, but otherwise it is merely a distraction.

Rob and Russell were likeable enough, and complimentary to the two main characters, but I found it just a little incredible that someone so seeped in religion could be so ambivalent regarding homosexuality. Of course Mike is the intended ‘heavy,’ so it wouldn’t do to have too many negative voices.

This is one of those novels for which there will as many opinions as there are readers, so I encourage you to decide for yourself. Three and one-half bees.

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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.

      

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April 29, 2013 Posted by | Coming out, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay romance | Leave a comment

The City War (Warriors of Rome #3) by Sam Starbuck

An erotic tale of intrigue, set in Imperial Rome

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city war - coverSenator Marcus Brutus has spent his life serving Rome, but it’s difficult to be a patriot when the Republic, barely recovered from a civil war, is under threat by its own leader. Brutus’s one retreat is his country home, where he steals a few precious days now and then with Cassius, his brother-in-law and fellow soldier—and the one he loves above all others. But the sickness at the heart of Rome is spreading, and even Brutus’s nights with Cassius can’t erase the knowledge that Gaius Julius Caesar is slowly becoming a tyrant.

Cassius fears both Caesar’s intentions and Brutus’s interest in Tiresias, the villa’s newest servant. Tiresias claims to be the orphaned son of a minor noble, but his secrets run deeper, and only Brutus knows them all. Cassius, intent on protecting the Republic and his claim to Brutus, proposes a dangerous conspiracy to assassinate Caesar. After all, if Brutus—loved and respected by all—supports it, it’s not murder, just politics.

Now Brutus must return to Rome and choose: not only between Cassius and Tiresias, but between preserving the fragile status quo of Rome and killing a man who would be emperor.

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Review by Gerry burnie

It has been said, correctly I think, that ‘history is the tricks the living play on the dead,’ and The City War (Warriors of Rome #3) by Sam Starbuck is no exception.

For example, Julius Caesar has been various portrayed as a capable leader and a tyrant, and his assassins as patriots and ambitious thugs at the same time. So who knows?

Sam Starbuck has chosen to portray Caesar as a tyrant, thus making Marcus Brutus a ‘good guy’ of sorts. Philosophically, he believes Rome would be better off as a republic, free of the fickleness and excesses of dictatorships, and so he is willing to listen when his lover, Cassius, proposes a plot to assassinate Caesar.

Cassius is a complex character. He is less high-minded and idealistic than Brutus, but equally committed to the idea of a republic through his lover. Without Brutus’ universal respect the assassination would be seen as just that.

And then we find Terisias. I’m not certain what function Terisias serves, whether it is the spirit of change, the POV of the servant class, or just a change of pace from the two main characters. Whatever it is, he makes an interesting if unexpected personality.

Holding all of this together is some first class writing, which makes the story very readable from start to finish.

Although personally I am growing somewhat weary of stories set in Imperial Rome, I can recommend this interpretation as having an interesting plot and good solid journalism. Four bees.

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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.

      

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April 22, 2013 Posted by | Fiction, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

By the Creek by Geoff Laughton

A sweet story of juvenile discovery

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by the creekSoon-to-be high school junior David Harper hates his family’s move to the country. There’s nothing to do, and he misses his friends in the city. But he doesn’t have a choice. His mother’s job is in Mason County now, so David and his mom are too, and he has to make the best of it.

At first, the only redeeming feature of David’s new home is the swimming hole across the field from his house. Then David meets Benjamin Killinger, and suddenly life stops being so dull.

Benjamin is Amish, and cooling off in the swimming hole is one of the few liberties he and his brothers enjoy. A friendship with an English bever, troy is not—but that doesn’t stop him and David from getting to know each other, as long as it’s on the neutral ground by the creek. After David risks his life to save Benjamin’s father, the boys’ friendship is tolerated, then accepted. But before long, Benjamin’s feelings for David grow beyond the platonic. Benjamin’s family and the rest of the community will never allow a love like that, and a secret this big can’t stay secret forever…

Gay Contemporary Young Adult/Juvenile

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Note: Illness has forced me to be brief with my remarks this week. However, rather than disappoint my readers altogether, I have risen to the task with a truncated version.

By the Creek, a novel by Geoff Laughton (aka, Andrew Grey of the Love Means… series) [Harmony Ink Press, January 15, 2013], is a sweet story of ‘juvenile discovery’–i.e. it cannot be called a ‘coming out’ story per se because no one actually ‘comes out’ in the technical sense.

David and Benjamin are two lonely boys who meet by chance, and in spite of some powerful forces against it they form a loving relationship. One of these force is Benjamin’s family religion, i.e. Amish, a strictly fundamentalist sect regarding most aspects of life, and especially sex and sexual orientation. Not surprisingly, therefore, the predominant theme is that ‘love can conquer all.’

It is, as one might expect from Mr. Grey’s record and experience, very well written. The pace is appropriate, given the immaturity of the boys as they set out to explore uncharted territory. I’m not generally a fan of YA fiction, but I have no hesitation in giving this one five bees.

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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.

      

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April 15, 2013 Posted by | Coming out, Fiction, Gay romance | Leave a comment

End of the Trail, by Jane Elliot

An enjoyable western novel written in the classical style – 

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end of the trail - coverWill Connors is struggling to hold together a failing farm; his wife has died, his son has gone, he’s not without enemies and he’s dealing with the after-effects of a debilitating accident. It’s a life of toil which doesn’t allow for very much pleasure, and he’s in danger of becoming embittered until a chance acquaintance wanders back into his life and everything begins to change. The problem, however, is that John Anderson has a price on his head – and, very soon, Will and John find themselves desperately concealing more than one dangerous secret.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

A brief overview of the books I’ve reviewed will reveal that I like westerns, especially those written in the classic style, and here’s another one: End of the Trail by Jane Elliot [Manifold Press, February 23, 2013].

I was first attracted to it by Robert Plotz’s cover image—two men riding hard with unfurled lariats in their hands. It is evocative of the old ‘penny westerns,’ with lots of action portrayed; however, the only problem being that it has little to do with the story except the western theme.

The story itself is set in the old west, although no specific time period is mentioned. The main character, Will Connors, is a lonely rancher: hard working; honest; and mildly handicapped (game leg). He is also a widower whose son has gone east, and so he is left to work the ranch on his own.

He first meets John Anderson three years prior when Anderson rides onto his property, wounded. Connors and his wife nurse him back to health, but it is only after he leaves that they learn that Anderson is an outlaw. In the meantime Connors’ wife dies, and John Anderson unexpectedly reappears looking for sanctuary. In need of both the help and company, Connors consents, and the two men form a friendship that ultimately evolves into a sexual relationship as well.

I like the pace the author uses to bring it about. These are mature men, after all, and Will is anything but impetuous, so there is no hopping into the sack at the clank of a belt buckle. Neither are there any moments of high drama: i.e. shootouts, stampedes, or murderous villains. There is one scheming neighbour who is trying to for Will into a sale, but no range war erupts. Which brings me around to the blurb.

Story blurbs are important because these help the shopper decide whether the plot is interesting enough to invest money into it. Consequently, the writer usually gives it their best shot with a handful of colourful adjectives and superlatives. However, one must also be careful not to over do it either unintentionally or intentionally. In this case, while the blurb was well written, I felt the story didn’t quite reach the dramatic level suggested by it.

Mind you, I hasten to add that I was quite satisfied with the story as it was.

All-in-all, I feel justified in recommending End of the Trail for your reading enjoyment. Four bees.

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My Personal Blog: In case your unaware of it, I have a new personal blog. Lately, I have been posting photographs from around St. Augustine, Fl, so drop by if you’re interested. The URL is: http://gerrybbooks.wordpress.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. I’ll be on the lookout for another great book for next week, so drop by again!

 

April 8, 2013 Posted by | Coming out, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Traditional Western | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Men in Eden: William Drummond Stewart and Same-Sex Desire in the Rocky Mountain Fur Trade, by William Benemann

An easily-read, meticulously researched, and fascinating story of the not-so-straight-West.

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Benemann_cover.inddStory blurb: The American West of the nineteenth century was a world of freedom and adventure for men of every stripe—not least also those who admired and desired other men. Among these sojourners was William Drummond Stewart, a flamboyant Scottish nobleman who found in American culture of the 1830s and 1840s a cultural milieu of openness in which men could pursue same-sex relationships. This book traces Stewart’s travels from his arrival in America in 1832 to his return to Murthly Castle in Perthshire, Scotland, with his French Canadian–Cree Indian companion, Antoine Clement, one of the most skilled hunters in the Rockies. Benemann chronicles Stewart’s friendships with such notables as Kit Carson, William Sublette, Marcus Whitman, and Jim Bridger. He describes the wild Renaissance-costume party held by Stewart and Clement upon their return to America—a journey that ended in scandal. Through Stewart’s letters and novels, Benemann shows that Stewart was one of many men drawn to the sexual freedom offered by the West. His book provides a tantalizing new perspective on the Rocky Mountain fur trade and the role of homosexuality in shaping the American West.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

 As a history buff I’m always on the lookout for new and heretofore unknown discoveries, and William Benemann has served up a dilly with his intriguing biography, Men in Eden: William Drummond Stewart and Same-Sex Desire in the Rocky Mountain Fur Trade [Bison Books, October 1, 2012].

 
men in eden - stewartWill
iam Stewart was a Scottish nobleman—19th Laird of Grantully and 7th Baronet of Murthly—with an adventurous spirit, and a larger than life personality. Being gay, and at odds with his older brother John (the 18th Laird), he hied himself off to North America where men were men; women were scarce; and not just a few of the men were open to a bit of manly sex.

 Sir William fit into this testosterone-dominated milieu rather well, being an expert rider and a better-than-average marksman, and as proof of this he was both liked and respected by such people as William Clark (of Lewis & Clark fame), and frontiersmen Kit Carson and Jim Bridger. He was also constantly surrounded by a retinue of young men in eden - clementmen, including a rakishly-handsome French Canadian Métis named Antoine Clement—undoubtedly Stewart’s lover—but if anyone noticed they either didn’t connect the possibility, or simply overlooked it.

 Altogether, Stewart spent approximately seven years in America, returning to Scotland only briefly between 1839 – 1841 (with Antoine Clement in tow) when his brother John died—making William the 19th Laird of Grantully. When he returned (with a trunk full of costumes), he arranged for an elaborate, invitation only, huntin g party. It was a modest affair with only thirty-or-so guests, as well as cooks, servants, doctors, lawyers and such, but whether this was a bit beyond what frontier America was willing to accept, or whether times were changing, a fast-running scandal preceded him back to civilization, and from there he hastily returned to Scotland.

 Obviously, this is merely a thumbnail-precis of the 384 pages of easily-read, meticulously researched, and fascinating story of the not-so-straight-West. My humble thanks to William Benemann for keeping this story alive, and for sharing it with us. Five Bees.

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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!

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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 spend the week searching for another great novel, so drop by next week.

April 1, 2013 Posted by | biography, Gay non-fiction, Non-fiction | 1 Comment

   

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