Gerry B's Book Reviews

2013 in review

Thank you everyone!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 19,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

December 31, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Cartographer of No Man’s Land: A Novel by P.S. Duffy

happy new year

A well-balanced blend of story-telling and historical fact.

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cartographer - coverPublisher’s blurb: From a hardscrabble fishing village in Nova Scotia to the collapsing trenches of France, a richly atmospheric debut novel about a family divided by World War I.

When adventurous Ebbin goes missing at the front in 1916, Angus defies his pacifist upbringing to join the war and search for his beloved brother-in-law. With his navigation experience, Angus is assured a position as a cartographer in London. But upon arriving overseas he is instead sent directly into the trenches, where he experiences the visceral shock of battle. Meanwhile, at home, his perceptive son Simon Peter must navigate escalating hostility in a fishing village torn by grief and a rising suspicion of anyone expressing less than patriotic enthusiasm for the war.

With the intimacy of The Song of Achilles and the epic scope of The Invisible BridgeThe Cartographer of No Man’s Land offers a lyrical and lasting portrayal of World War I and the lives that were forever changed by it, both on the battlefield and at home.

About the author: P.S. Duffy grew up in Baltimore, MD and spent summers sailing in Nova Scotia. She has a degree in History from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec and a Ph.D. in Communication Disorders from the University of Minnesota. Currently, she is a science writer for the Mayo Clinic Rochester, MN where she lives with her husband. The Cartographer of No Man’s Land is her first novel.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

While this is not a GBLT novel, it could be with just a few minor twists. Set in Nova Scotia during WWI, The Cartographer of No Man’s Land: A Novel, by P.S, Duffy [Liveright, October 28, 2013], is an evocative story of human nature that also includes a stint in the hell-hole-trenches of France.

Angus MacGrath is a man caught in the centre of competing forces. He is a fisherman with artistic aspirations–contrary to his father’s idea of what a man should do–and a husband to a wife who’s affections have grown cold. To make matters worse, his brother-in-law, Ebbin, a headstrong youth, has gone missing somewhere in France.

With nothing compelling him to remain at home, Angus enlists as a cartographer with the idea of searching for Ebbin, but when he gets to England he is quickly transferred to the front lines. Needless to say, life in the trenches is a far cry from Snag Harbour, or cartography, and so Angus is transformed by the experience in many ways.

Meanwhile, back home, Angus’ son Simon is learning about the vagaries of life, as well. He, too, is caught-up in the midst of divergent forces: His grandfather’s pacifist sentiments, held by many of the older generation, versus the virulent form of patriotism that gripped nearly everyone at the beginning of WWI. Many eagerly answered the call, and many reluctantly died.

As I say, with a few simple twists this could have been a GBLT story, but even so it is a engrossing study of human nature, set in a turbulent time, and in a colourful and picturesque setting. Five bees.

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Viewers to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 60,846

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Interested in Canadian history? Want to know more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.

It is a collection of little-known people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post:  “Stonehenge Ontario”… Another of Canada’s hidden secrets.

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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.

                  

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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!

Thanks for dropping by! I’ll have another novel ready for next week, same URL, so drop back soon.

December 30, 2013 Posted by | Canadian content, Canadian historical content, Fiction, Historical period, Nova Scotia Setting | Leave a comment

Rocky Mountain Christmas, by Michael Barnette

give a book for christmas

What could be more romantic than to be caught in a blizzard with a hunky ranger at Christmas time?

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rocky mountain christmas - coverRanger Cooper Heywood is on duty at the Rocky Mountain National Park during Christmas. It’s not a busy time of year, but there are some people he has to watch over including a photographer. In his experience photographers are a problem, but Cooper finds himself attracted to the handsome Latino who sets his blood on fire.

Alejandro Velez is an accomplished photographer with several coffee table books to his credit. He’s there to photograph the wintry landscape for his newest book. What he didn’t plan on is the instant desire he feels for Cooper who he always sees surrounded by an odd, golden shimmer. Alejandro doesn’t know what it means, but something tells him he’s going to find out.

Available in e-book format – 311 KB.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Well, the Christmas book I ordered for this slot never did arrive, and so I scrambled around to find Rocky Mountain Christmas (formerly “Let it Snow”) by Michael Barnette [Silver Publishing, November 24, 2012].

It is a straightforward story with a bit of paranormal thrown in for a twist. Ranger Cooper Heywood is doing Christmas duty, looking after Rocky Mountain National Park, and Alejandro Velez is a Miami-based photographer come to capture some winter scenes for an upcoming book.

Not surprisingly, Cooper is a bit sceptical of Alejandro’s winter-survival skills, but once this is set aside, they begin to develop an attraction for one another; aided by their paranormal abilities. Winter plays a role in this as well, for they are trapped for a spell by a mountain blizzard.

This is a feel good story of romance in a romantic setting, and what could be more romantic than to be caught in a blizzard with a hunky ranger?

My only quibbles are that it is not overly original, and the paranormal sub-plot seemed a bit contrived, but otherwise it was a gentle love story for the season. Four bees.

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Viewers at Gerry B’s Book Review – 60,517

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Don’t just give a book this year. Now, you can give one with a personal dedication from the author.

… That is, if you choose one of mine and let me know the details—i.e. Who it is going to (name); your name; and any personal message you wish to include (15 words or less). I’ll create a PDF file that can be printed and placed between the pages, -or- if the book is in PDF format already, I can insert it as a title page. Please allow a week to ten days for processing, and this latter service is not available to Kindle formatted books.

Here’s a sample of what a finished dedication will look like:

christmas dedication.

♣♣♣

Interested in Canadian history? Want to know more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.

It is a collection of little-known people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post: Alexander “Molly” Wood: “One of Toronto’s most distinguished founding citizens.” ~ The Canadian Colonist, 1844.

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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.

christmas promo - TIL - green    christmas promo - NATTchristmas promo - TIL paperback

    

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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!

Thanks for dropping by! I’ll have another novel ready for next week, same URL, so drop back soon.

 

December 23, 2013 Posted by | a love story, Fiction, Gay romance | Leave a comment

Some Canadian Christmas Selections

This book is on order but hasn’t arrived as yet. However, I do want to include some Canadian Christmas books while there is still time to order. I will add a review as soon as it arrives.

canadian christmas traditionsa - cover

Canadian Christmas Traditions (Amazing Stories) by DeeAnn Mandryk

Included in this book are 28 traditional recipes by Chef Jeff O’Neill, showcasing Canada’s multicultural heritage, plus a special section of 18 Christmas recipes from across the country, highlighting Canada’s regional diversity. The origin of a Canadian Christmas is a fascinating blend of different traditions and festivities. The stories behind the celebration originate from around the world, and paint a wonderful picture of a season of joy, faith, superstition, and celebration stretching back over thousands of years.

Note: Amazon only carries a hardcover edition of this book for a very expensive price. However it is available in e-book format for $7.95 CAD from the publisher, James Lorimer & Co.

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Here is another Canadian Christmas selection:

christmas in canada - cover

Christmas in Canada: A Collection of Heartwarming Legends, Tales and Traditions (Amazing Stories) by Megan Dumford

“But even as the darkness and chill settle in, there is a glimmer of hope, a feeling of growing excitement. For the start of winter also means the beginning of the Christmas season, a time of celebration that goes back to the earliest days of Canadian settlement and far beyond.” This book contains selections from the following Amazing Stories: Christmas in Atlantic Canada, Christmas in Quebec, Christmas in Ontario, Christmas in the Prairies, and Christmas in British Columbia Christmas is a time for celebrating with friends and family and for sharing stories, memories, and good cheer. This compilation brings to life the very best holiday stories from across Canada. From the early days of exploration to the modern day, and from heartwarming inspirational tales to dangerous escapades, this is a collection to treasure for many years to come.

 

It is only available as a hardcover edition from James Lorimer & Co. as well.

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christmas in Ontario - coverAlso, see my review of Christmas in Ontario: Heartwarming Legends, Tales and Traditions (Amazing Stories) by Cheryl MacDonald

“Every year, he put on the red Santa suit. Every year, there were more sick and needy children to attend to. And every year, as word of his activity spread, Jimmy collected more money and gifts to distribute.” This book will be especially fascinating for all readers interested in: history and human interest stories. Christmas is a time for celebrating with friends and family and for sharing stories, memories, and good cheer. This compilation brings to life the very best holiday stories from across Ontario. From the early days of exploration to the modern day, and from heartwarming inspirational tales to dangerous escapades, this is a collection to treasure for many years to come.

Available in e-pub format, James Lorimer & Co.

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Also see my review of To Every Thing There Is a Season: A Cape Breton Christmas Story

to everything - coverThe story is simple, seen through the eyes of an 11-year-old boy. As an adult he remembers the way things were back home on the farm on the west coast of Cape Breton. The time was the 1940s, but the hens and the cows and the pigs and the sheep and the horse made it seem ancient. The family of six children excitedly waits for Christmas and two-year-old Kenneth, who liked Halloween a lot, asks, “Who are you going to dress up as at Christmas? I think I’ll be a snowman.” They wait especially for their oldest brother, Neil, working on “the Lake boats” in Ontario, who sends intriguing packages of “clothes” back for Christmas. On Christmas Eve he arrives, to the delight of his young siblings, and shoes the horse before taking them by sleigh through the woods to the nearby church. The adults, including the narrator for the first time, sit up late to play the gift-wrapping role of Santa Claus.

The story is simple, short and sweet, but with a foretaste of sorrow. Not a word is out of place. Matching and enhancing the text are black and white illustrations by Peter Rankin, making this book a perfect little gift.

Available in ebook format from McClelland and Steward

Do have a very Merry Christmas!

December 17, 2013 Posted by | Canadian Christmas Stories, non GBLT, Non-fiction | Leave a comment

Love Stories: Sex between Men before Homosexuality, by Jonathan Ned Katz

Another milestone from the dean of gay history in North America.

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love stories - coverStory blurb: In Love Stories, Jonathan Ned Katz presents stories of men’s intimacies with men during the nineteenth century—including those of Abraham Lincoln—drawing flesh-and-blood portraits of intimate friendships and the ways in which men struggled to name, define, and defend their sexual feelings for one another. In a world before “gay” and “straight” referred to sexuality, men like Walt Whitman and John Addington Symonds created new ways to name and conceive of their erotic relationships with other men. Katz, diving into history through diaries, letters, newspapers, and poems, offers us a clearer picture than ever before of how men navigated the uncharted territory of male-male desire.

Available in print format, only – 440 pgs.

love stories - katzAbout the author: Jonathan Ned Katz (born 1938) is an American historian of human sexuality who has focused on same-sex attraction and changes in the social organization of sexuality over time. His works focus on the idea, rooted in social constructionism, that the categories with which we describe and define human sexuality are historically and culturally specific, along with the social organization of sexual activity, desire, relationships, and sexual identities.

Katz received the Magnus Hirschfeld Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Sex Research from the German Society for Social-Scientific Sexuality Research in 1997. In 2003, he was given Yale University’s Brudner Prize, an annual honor recognizing scholarly contributions in the field of lesbian and gay studies. His papers are collected by the manuscript division of The Research Libraries of The New York Public Library. He received the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement from Publishing Triangle in 1995.

[See also my review of Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. by Johathan Katz.]

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Over the centuries, Erotic love between men has had its ups and downs (no pun intended): From the socially-acceptable, Greco-Roman periods, to the reviled years under the predominantly Catholic-dominated-states of Europe; and from the relatively tolerated years following the Stonewall Raids in New York, and the Bathhouse Raids in Toronto, to the same-sex-marriage debates of today. We’ve come a long way, baby, but we’re not there yet.

In his superbly researched thesis, Love Stories: Sex between Men before Homosexuality, [University Of Chicago Press, June 15, 2003], Jonathan Ned Katz takes a look at one of these eras—the ultra-conservative, tradition-bound, 19th century.

The one constant throughout, of course, is that certain men are romantically drawn to one another in spite of all. Today, we call it being “gay” or “homosexual,” but having been around for less than a century these are relatively modern terms; therefore, what did the men of the 1800s call it, and how did this affect their attitudes towards themselves and others?

Katz attempts to answer these questions by delving into the letters, diaries, writings, etc. some 19th-century men left behind, and extracting such kernels of evidence as may be found.

Portrait of Joshua Fry Steed as a young man

Portrait of Joshua Fry Steed as a young man

He begins with the now famous (infamous?) friendship, and sleeping arrangements, of Abraham Lincoln and Joshua Fry Speed.  The story goes that Lincoln rode into town with two saddlebags, and inquired at Speed’s store where he might purchase a “single beadstead.” Speed replied that he had a large room and bed, and that Lincoln was quite welcome to share it with him. Thus, began a twenty-eight-year friendship that Speed later described as, “No two men were ever more intimate.”

The term he used was “intimate,” which was quite acceptable because love was considered separate from sex. Platonic love between men was seen as idyllic (and still is by many) while erotic sex was labelled “sodomy,” “mutual masturbation,” and/or “a crime against nature.” In fact, it wasn’t until Freud (1856 – 1939) that the a-sexual relationships and erotic sex were thought to be connected. Having been reconstructed, therefore, even Platonic love became suspect.

Not surprisingly, however, men went on loving one another regardless of what society thought, so how did they choose to call themselves? Walt Whitman and others tried to transform an illicit sex story into a romantic sex-love story, and adopted terms like “associate” and “partner” to describe the players.

The point being that labels do matter, both to the individual and to society.

Besides Lincoln and Walt Whitman, other personalities are: John Stafford Fiske, the U.S. consul to Scotland in 1870; famous British cross-dresser Ernest Boulton; noted Harvard mathematician James Millis Peirce, writer Charles Warren Stoddard, and English philosopher Edward Carpeter Katz. All of these men have one thing in common: they all indulged in a deeply loving and erotic relationship during the 19th century.

This is such a fascinating and educational book on many levels, and Katz is the undisputed dean of gay, historical studies in North America; therefore, it comes with my highest recommendation. Five bees.

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Viewers to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 60,145 (A new milestone!)

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Don’t just give a book this year. Now, you can give one with a personal dedication from the author.

… That is, if you choose one of mine and let me know the details—i.e. Who it is going to (name); your name; and any personal message you wish to include (15 words or less). I’ll create a PDF file that can be printed and placed between the pages, -or- if the book is in PDF format already, I can insert it as a title page. Please allow a week to ten days for processing, and this latter service is not available to Kindle formatted books.

Here’s a sample of what a finished dedication will look like:

♣♣♣

Interested in Canadian history? Want to know more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.

It is a collection of little-known people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest postCharles William “C.W.” JefferysCanada’s chronicler of the pioneer past.

 


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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.

christmas promo - TIL - green    christmas promo - NATTchristmas promo - TIL paperback

♠♠♠

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!

Thanks for dropping by! I’ll have another novel ready for next week, same URL, so drop back soon.

December 16, 2013 Posted by | a love story, Gay American History, Historical period, Johathan Ned Katz, Non-fiction | 1 Comment

The Boy I Love, by Marion Husband

Words to describe The Boy I Love: Intense, complex, starkly realistic, and superb.

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the boy I love - coverStory blurb: A compelling debut novel [at the time] set in the aftermath of World War I, exploring the complex relationships of Paul. On his return he finds himself torn between desire and duty; his lover Adam awaits, but so too does Margot, the pregnant fiancée of his dead brother. Paul has to decide where his loyalty and his heart lie.

About this author (…from her blog): December 6, 2013 – “I was asked to give a talk to a group of Creative Writing MA students last night. ‘Talk about how to find an agent or publisher,’ I was told. Well, you’d think I would know how to do this, wouldn’t you? I’ve had four agents (it’s a long story) and I’ve been published – short stories, poems and novels. I’ve even self-published. I called myself Ragged Blackbird Books, after a ragged blackbird that used to hop around our garden until one day it didn’t. So there you are: I am experienced.”

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Review by Gerry Burnie

There are several words that could be used in describing The Boy I Love by Marion Husband [Accent Press Ltd., April 11, 2012]. Among these are intense, complex, starkly realistic, and superb.

The story line is set in a period just after WWI, and revolves around Paul Harris. He is a returning soldier who has spent several months in a psychiatric ward, recovering from “shell shock”—PTSD, as it is called today. He is also “queer” (in the terminology of the time), and so he picks up where he left off with Adam, his lover from before the war.

In the meantime, he has a chance encounter with Margot—the pregnant fiancée of his recently deceased, much-cherished older brother—and in a remarkably chivalrous act, he proposes to her. This doesn’t displace Adam, however, for Paul continues to see him, too.

Also in a supporting role is Paul’s army sergeant, Patrick, who has a crush on Paul as well, and at one point Paul is having individual sex with all three of them.

This in no way detracts from Paul’s character, or cheapens the story. Indeed, I think it is the flaws in all four characters that make them especially appealing, in a vulnerable way, and the story all the more believable. Ms Husband has a remarkable ability to give her characters depth, be it psychological or physical, and this carries the reader’s interest throughout.

Given the melancholy tenor of the story and setting, like a rainy day, I thought the ending was appropriate. In fact, I couldn’t see it resolve in any other way. However, for those who prefer a ‘happy ever after’ ending, it isn’t. Highly recommended. Five bees.

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Viewers of Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 59,781

♣♣♣

Don’t just give a book this year. Now, you can give one with a personal dedication from the author.

… That is, if you choose one of mine and let me know the details—i.e. Who it is going to (name); your name; and any personal message you wish to include (15 words or less). I’ll create a PDF file that can be printed and placed between the pages, -or- if the book is in PDF format already, I can insert it as a title page. Please allow a week to ten days for processing, and this latter service is not available to Kindle formatted books.

Here’s a sample of what a finished dedication will look like:

christmas dedication.

♣♣♣

Interested in Canadian history? Want to know more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.

It is a collection of little-known people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest postDionne QuintupletsFive children and a media circus.


♣♣♣

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.

christmas promo - TIL - green    christmas promo - NATTchristmas promo - TIL paperback

Thanks for dropping by! I’ll have another novel ready for next week, same URL, so drop back soon.

 

December 9, 2013 Posted by | a love story, Fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Historical period | Leave a comment

Homesteads and Horseradish, by Kiernan Kelly

A light-hearted romance in a western setting

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Short Story notification –  34 pages (201 KB)

homesteads and horseradish - cover

Story blurb: Brace is none too happy to find a greenhorn building a sod house at the base of his mountain. In fact, he’s determined to run the little fellow right off his land. Unfortunately for Brace, Gaylord Quinn has nowhere else to go, and he has a patent from the US Land Office saying he has full rights to the land. Quinn is scared to death of Brace, but he’s even more scared of having to return to a life he managed to escape. He needs the security of a new home. His dire circumstances might convince Brace to help him, but it will be the friendship that springs up between the men that endures. Will the friendship turn into something more?

About this author: Kiernan’s stories of gay romance envelop diverse themes, varying from paranormal, to fantasy, and science fiction to contemporary romance, with thirteen novels currently in print and ebook, and over sixty shorter works available in both mediums. She has published with a variety of houses, including Torquere Press, Dreamspinner Press, MLR Press, Loose-Id, Starbooks Press, Cleis Press,and Circlet. Her horror short story release, “Cletus,” appears in the Coscom Publishing’s book “Bits of the Dead.”

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Review by Gerry Burnie

With thirteen novels to her name, including Homesteads and Horseradish (Spice it up) [Torquere Press, Inc., March 19, 2009], it is obvious that Kiernan Kelly likes to write. And it shows. There is a sort of ‘ease’ to her writing that catches the reader up in the mood, as well.

In this tale she pits a tenderfoot from New York City, Gaylord Quinn, against a seasoned leatherneck of the Old West, Brace Andrews, in a storyline that is solid but not overly unique. For the purposes of the plot, Quinn leaves New York to find a new life where ‘men are men’ and the boys are glad of it. He has a land patent in hand, and a destination in mind, but the first man he encounters is an unwelcoming Brace Andrews with ‘squatter’s rights’ on his side. Nonetheless, Quinn is sort of cute (in a nerdy way), and, well … Brace has sequestered himself away on account of his hankerin’ for cute nerds.

As you can tell from just this wee bit of plot, it has a tongue-in-cheek, wink-wink, aspect to it, but to her credit Kiernan never lets is get away from her. To the two main characters this is serious business, and at one level it is, but on another it is smile-provoking  as well.

It’s a quick read for those who: a) have a medium commute, b) like a western flavour, c) like western-style man-sex, and d) quite a few smiles. However, the mix had just a bit too much ‘sarsaparilla’ in it to make an A-1 story. It was fun, though, and so it gets my strong recommendation. Four bees.

♠♠♠

Viewers to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 59,374

♠♠♠

Don’t just give a book this year. Now, you can give one with a personal dedication from the author.

… That is, if you choose one of mine and let me know the details—i.e. Who it is going to (name); your name; and any personal message you wish to include (15 words or less). I’ll create a PDF file that can be printed and placed between the pages, -or- if the book is in PDF format already, I can insert it as a title page. Please allow a week to ten days for processing, and this latter service is not available to Kindle formatted books.

Here’s a sample of what a finished dedication will look like:

christmas dedication.

♠♠♠

Interested in Canadian history? Want to know more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.

It is a collection of little-known people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest postKate Aitkin, Pioneer Woman Broadcaster

♠♠♠

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.

 

christmas promo - TIL - green    christmas promo - NATTchristmas promo - TIL paperback

 ♠♠♠

Thanks for dropping by! I’ll have another novel ready for next week, same URL, so drop back soon.

December 2, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

   

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