Gerry B's Book Reviews

Maurice, by E.M. Forster

A timeless classic.

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Click on cover to order.

Click on cover to order.

Set in the elegant Edwardian world of Cambridge undergraduate life, this story by a master novelist introduces us to Maurice Hall when he is fourteen. We follow him through public school and Cambridge, and on into his father’s firm, Hill and Hall, Stock Brokers. In a highly structured society, Maurice is a conventional young man in almost every way, “stepping into the niche that England had prepared for him”: except that his is homosexual.

Written during 1913 and 1914, after an interlude of writer’s block following the publication of Howards End, and not published until 1971, Maurice was ahead of its time in its theme and in its affirmation that love between men can be happy. “Happiness,” Forster wrote, “is its keynote….In Maurice I tried to create a character who was completely unlike myself or what I supposed myself to be: someone handsome, healthy, bodily attractive, mentally torpid, not a bad businessman and rather a snob. Into this mixture I dropped an ingredient that puzzles him, wakes him up, torments him and finally saves him.”

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I chose this timeless classic to emphasize that a story does not lose its enjoyment factor with old age. Moreover, it does not lose its genuine respect or literary value because it deals with adolescent youth; at least to start.

Maurice, by E.M. Forster [W. W. Norton & Company, 2005 (first published 1971)] has been reviewed from every angle imaginable, and yet one can still find interesting things to say about it: The adherence to time and place (Edwardian England), the depth of the characters, the subtle genius of the plot, and the smoothness of line and phrase. It is all there like a textbook for the young –or old- author to follow.

Regarding the time and place, it is very Edwardian: Stolid, staid, regimented, and a bit pompous – A place for everyone, and everyone in their place.

This describes Maurice as well. He’s conservative, a bit of a snob, not very interested in the muses and rather dull. Indeed, he’s ‘every man’ except that he’s living with a secret that affects his entire life. And the story is how he deals with it in his secretive relationship with his Cambridge friend Clive Durham.

That relationship stalls at intimacy – a wall that says “no further.” Instead, Clive chooses a ‘respectable’ marriage – albeit, somewhat loveless – leaving Maurice even more confused regarding the secret he harbours inside him.

It is perhaps for this reason that he finds himself in the arms of Scudder, the gamekeeper. A crossing of social class lines, for certain, but Scudder’s simple acceptance of his homosexuality is a revelation to Maurice – one he needs to experience – but before he can reach that point he goes through a personal hell, looking at his sexual orientation as an abomination, a disease that has no cure. This would be all quite normal for the day and age, including the angst of class difference, but Forester ingeniously works the plot around to achieve a happy ending.

This was a book written well before its time. The style of English is so refreshing: A style and mastery that has been long since forgotten. It flows and melts coming from an era where every word was carefully picked and every sentence construction built with precision.

There are, of course, no explicit sex scenes, but the artistry of words more than makes up for it. Highly recommended: Five bees.

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June 8, 2015 Posted by | a love story, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay Literature | Leave a comment

The Ghost Slept Over, by Marshall Thornton

 Brilliantly written, and a barrel of laughs!

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click  on cover to order.

click on cover to order.

Story blurb: When failed actor Cal Parsons travels to rural New York to claim the estate of his famous and estranged ex-partner he discovers something he wasn’t expecting…the ghost of his ex! And, worse, his ex invites Cal to join him for all eternity. Now. As Cal attempts to rid himself of the ghost by any means he begins to fall for the attractive attorney representing the estate. Will Cal be able to begin a new relationship or will he be seduced into the ever after?

About the author: Marshall Thornton is an award-winning novelist, playwright and screenwriter living in Long Beach, California. He is best known for the Boystown detective series, which has been short listed for a Rainbow Award three times and has been a finalist for the Lambda Award for gay mystery twice. Other novels include the erotic comedy The Perils of Praline, or the Amorous Adventures of a Southern Gentleman in Hollywood, The Ghost Slept Over and Full Release. Marshall has an MFA in screenwriting from UCLA, where he received the Carl David Memorial Fellowship and was recognized in the Samuel Goldwyn Writing awards. He has also had plays produced in both Chicago and Los Angeles and stories published in The James White Review and Frontier Magazine.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Those of you who follow this blog will know that I have been ruminating (ad nauseam) about the general lack of humour in GBLT literature, and then, lo-and-behold, along comes The Ghost Slept Over a romantic comedy by Marshall Thornton [Createspace, January 8, 2015]

Indeed, there is hardly any angst in it, whatsoever, but what there is n abundance is slightly farcical humour; loads of witty dialogue; and a zany cast of characters – including a B-rated actor, a self-centred ghost, and a small town lawyer.

The storyline revolves around Cal Parsons, the actor, but it is also shared with the other characters by giving them each a chapter.

Cal’s relationship with his ex, successful playwright McCormack Williams, broke up years ago when McCormack dumped him for a career in New York, so it is somewhat of a surprise when Cal learns that he in the sole beneficiary of MCormack’s estate.

The catch is that McCormack hasn’t quite moved out – not in the ordinary sense – and is still sort of hanging around, so-to-speak. Moreover, he wants Cal to join him in the hereafter.

Handling the estate is a small town lawyer, Dewey, who at first comes across as a bit staid; however, as the story progresses he gets with the programme – especially where Cal is concerned.

There is nothing particularly new about this plot line: The deceased lover who comes back to watch over their ex has been used several times before, but what makes this story fresh is the brilliantly written, witty dialogue. Not to mention the madcap mayhem that prevails throughout.

On the quibble side, the pace is somewhat uneven: Especially in the opening chapters; however, as the story progresses it picks up to a rollicking tempo.

I am also not a great fan of changing points of view or flashbacks, although I must say that in this case they almost work.

A great story, though, brilliantly written and a barrel of laughs. Four bees.

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April 27, 2015 Posted by | a love story, Fiction, Gay fiction, Romantic comedy | Leave a comment

Harry’s Great Trek (The Empire Series #3) by Roger Kean

A history lesson in novel form … And a great read…

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To order, click on the above cover.

To order, click on the above cover.

What do you do when the person you have loved in secret since your schooldays finds happiness with another, leaving your heart bereft and your future a bleak, lonely prospect?

For Harry Smythe-Vane, junior officer serving in the British army at the end of the failed campaign to rescue Gordon of Khartoum from the Mahdist siege of 1885, finding childhood friends Richard and Edward united in love spells the end of a dream he knows was doomed from the start—more so, a dream condemned by society at large: the love of two men for each other.

Harry must now pluck up the courage to pursue an uncertain quest for an elusive new soulmate—his great trek to attain fulfillment.

From dangerous missions on India’s wild North-West Frontier to the deserts of Sudan, Harry forges a career and experiences fleeting friendships, but when a spell of leave takes him to London his heart is struck. He meets his almost-forgotten godson Jolyon Langrish-Smith, a troubled teenager in Oscar Wilde’s louche circle. It’s an encounter that pitches Harry headlong on a turbulent journey of emotional involvement, of hurt and joy.

Painting a vivid panorama of the British Empire at its height, with its multi-faceted but rigid society hovering on the brink of change, Harry’s Great Trek is an epic saga of love and war—alive with an engaging cast of the humble and the famous, the honorable and the scoundrels—which climaxes in 1900 amid the carnage of the Boer War. There Harry’s future is decided as one quest ends and a new journey begins…

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Review by Gerry Burnie

One of the most grievously overlooked genres in GBLT fiction is ‘the gay adventure story’. That is not to say there are none. There are – and good ones, too – but they are few and far between.

One of the best writers in this genre is Roger Kean, and his latest offering Harry’s Great Trek (The Empire Series #3) [Reckless Books, February 1st 2015] is proof positive of this estimation.

His Empire Series has taken us through the hot spots of Imperial Britain’s golden age of domination and plunder (always for ‘their’ own good, of course.) Nevertheless, it remains one of my favourite eras for an overall commitment to ‘God and Empire’. It is probably the last example of a people willingly committed to a state that was ‘politely’ corrupt and exploitive, through-and through.

The blurb provides as good a synopsis of the story as I could write; therefore, I will contain my comments to some of the highlights as I see them.

First of all, I like the cover art and design by Oliver Frey. It has a rugged, masculine look about it that suits this type of novel. With a few notable eceptions, adventure novels tend to be written by male authors, and so anything less rugged wouldn’t have met my expectations.

I also love Kean’s choice of names, i.e. Harry Smythe-Vane, and Jolyon Langrish-Smith. How delicious zany! I have often observed that authors don’t give enough attention to names – especially historical names – but these certainly do add a ‘stuffiness’ to the era that fits.

The introduction of certain celebrities of the day – especially young Winston Churchill – added a whole new dimension to the already interesting historical events. There are also some who also say that Baden-Powell had an interest in boys beyond scouting, and so these characters can add wonderful fodder to a story.

The writing is, of course, top notch (if, perhaps, a bit over-expansive), and so I am going to award this novel with a five-bee rating.

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Interested in Canadian history?

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March 23, 2015 Posted by | a love story, Afghanistan, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay military, Historical period | Leave a comment

Spadework, by Timothy Findley

A rare bargain…

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This is a bargain book on Amazon, with prices ranging from .01¢ to $1.00. Bargain books are new but could include a small mark from the publisher and an Amazon.com price sticker identifying them as such. Details

 

click on the above cover to order.

click on the above cover to order.

Story blurb: Lust. Infidelity. Betrayal. Murder. On a summer evening in Stratford, Ontario, the errant thrust of a gardener’s spade slices a telephone cable into instant silence. The resulting disconnection is devastating. With the failure of one call to reach a house, an ambitious young actor becomes the victim of sexual blackmail. The blocking of a second call leads tragically to murder. And when a Bell Canada repairman arrives to mend the broken line, his innocent yet irresistible male beauty has explosive consequences.

In Spadework, Timothy Findley, master storyteller and playwright, has created an electric wordplay of infidelity and morality set on the stage of Canada’s preeminent theater town. In this fictional portrait, intrigue, passion, and ambition are always waiting in the wings. Findley peoples the town with theater folk, artists, writers, and visitors (both welcome and unwelcome), and with lives that are immediately recognizable as “Findley-esque” – the lonely, the dispossessed, and the sexually troubled.

A story that ripples with ever-widening repercussions, a sensual, witty, and completely absorbing novel, Spadework is another Timothy Findley winner.

About the author: Timothy Irving Frederick Findley (October 30, 1930 – June 21, 2002) was a Canadian novelist and playwright. He was also informally known by the nickname “Tiff” or “Tiffy,” an acronym of his initials.

He was raised in the upper class Rosedale district of Toronto, attending boarding school at St. Andrew’s College (although leaving during grade 10 for health reasons). He pursued a career in the arts, studying dance and acting, and had significant success as an actor before turning to writing. He was part of the original Stratford Festival Company in the 1950s, acting alongside Alec Guinness, and appeared in the first production of Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker at the Edinburgh Festival. He also played Peter Pupkin in Sunshine Sketches, the CBC Television adaptation of Stephen Leacock’s Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town.

Findley’s first two novels, The Last of the Crazy People (1967) and The Butterfly Plague (1969), were originally published in Britain and the United States after having been rejected by Canadian publishers. Findley’s third novel, The Wars, was published to great acclaim in 1977 and went on to win the Governor General’s Award for English-language fiction. It was adapted for film in 1981.

Timothy Findley received a Governor General’s Award, the Canadian Authors Association Award, an ACTRA Award, the Order of Ontario, the Ontario Trillium Award, and in 1985 he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada. He was a founding member and chair of the Writers’ Union of Canada, and a president of the Canadian chapter of PEN International.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

As you can readily see, I went looking for Canadian content this week, and it doesn’t get any more Canadian than the late and lamented Timothy Findley.

Originally published by Harper Collins in 2001 (a year before Findley’s death), Spadework by Timothy Findley is set in the otherwise quaint little  town of Stratford, Ontario [home of the Stratford Shakespearean Festival], and is primarily told from the point of view of Jane Kincaid, a southerner from Louisiana. She left the south to escape her conservative-minded family, and also adopted an new persona when she met her husband, Griffin Kincaid.

Griffin is a hunk, and also a rising young Shakespearean actor. Otherwise, they lead quite an ordinary, suburban life, with an ordinary house, a kid, a live-in housekeeper/nanny, and a dog named “Rudyard.”

Nevertheless, Griffin’s ‘hunkyness’ is the catalyst that gives rise to a number strange (bizarre) events. Jane begins to suspect other women might be coveting him as well: principally Zoë Walker, his on-stage partner.

Meanwhile, one of Jane’s former boyfriends shows up to jerk off all over her face and dress, and then goes out to be killed in a car accident. In addition, the town is stunned by the shocking rape and murder of two women by an addict, Jesse Quinlan, who (because he cannot reach his support in life, his nephew Luke – the gardener who severed the telephone line) he goes on a drug-fuelled rampage until he takes his own life. And, if all this wasn’t enough, Jane receives a cryptic letter from her mother to say her sister has recently committed suicide.

In some way lack of communication figures into all these events, but the crucial stroke comes when the gardener Luke inadvertently plunges a spade through the main communication line. Thus, his uncle Jesse has his meltdown, but, in addition Griffin cannot reach his director, Johnathon Crawford, with his answer to an ultimatum – the ultimatum being that he either enter into a sexual relationship with Crawford or lose out on a coveted, leading role.

The result is that he loses out, but he agrees when he is offered a second meeting with Crawford.

Meanwhile, a veritable Adonis of a telephone repairman has arrived on Jane’s scene, and in no time has agreed to pose for a nude portrait.

Lack of communication and sexual desires figure prominently in this novel, but in spite of the resulting chaos things do settle down with a return to a happy ever after ending.

My thoughts

Findley’s prestigious awards speak for themselves. He was a brilliant writer, and there are flashes of this in Spadework, but considering that it was published so close to his death I cannot help speculating there might have been other things on his mind.

It’s only a hunch, but this, his last novel, seems rushed to me: As though finishing it was the overriding priority.

Mind you, it is still a good read with all of Findley’s intricate plot twists present, and for the embarrassingly low price of .01¢ you can hardly go wrong. Three bees.

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Interested in Canadian history?

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Introducing…

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Theatre Orillia is a community based theatre company located in Orillia, Ontario – the setting of Stephen Leacock’s Sunshine Sketches of a Small Town. As is not usual for community theatres, it could use a helping hand, financially. If you would care to be a theatre ‘angel’, just navigate to the following URL: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/886814721/theatre-orillia-summer-season-2015?ref=email.

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March 9, 2015 Posted by | Canadian author, Canadian content, Fiction, Gay fiction | Leave a comment

Behind Locked Doors, by Nicholas Kinsley

A BDSM novel that leaves that ‘other’ one in the dust.

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click on the above cover to purchase.

click on the above cover to purchase.

Story blurb: Edward Taylor is a man torn between his honourable façade and his forbidden carnal desires. Outwardly a proper Victorian family man, Edward secretly craves pain and lusts after men. Isaac Sinclair is a struggling writer forced by poverty to supplement his income with less savory pursuits, including discreetly inflicting “professional punishments” upon wealthy gentlemen. When Edward catches Isaac in an act of petty theft, the chance meeting seems to offer an ideal opportunity for both men. Neither man, however, is prepared for the escalation of social and personal risk occasioned by falling in love.

About the author: Nick Kinsley has been writing since a very young age. After going through school focused on computer science, he discovered that he would rather be a professional author. He grew up with few friends and a love of books, and hopes to create worlds in which others can find enjoyment. Kinsley currently attends community college in Maryland and plans to study abroad and major in Literature. He also plays guitar, and loves music.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Bondage, Domination, Submission and Masochism (BDSM), seems to be quite popular these days – due to the release of a movie based on that other BDSM book (which I read, but chose not to review), so I decided to offer one that is a superior story in many ways.

Behind Locked Doors by Nicholas Kinsley [Fantastic Fiction Publishing, February 17, 2015] is Kinsley’s debut novel, and a worthy effort it is, too. I would also add that I classify it as “sexy” as apposed to “hard-core” S&M.

Edward Taylor is a respected Edwardian, upper-middle class gentlemen, although he was born a bastard. However, because his biological father did the right thing, he is now a prosperous factory owner with money enough for dalliances – like Isaac Sinclair, a struggling writer who supports his ‘addiction’ by servicing gentlemen with special, exotic pleasures – i.e. BDSM.

His chance encounter with Sinclair comes about when he witnesses the latter stealing bread, and in a rather mutually agreed arrangement he coerces Sinclair into partaking of his services.

This continues, commercially at first, but as time goes by it becomes deeper – emotionally – until they are both inextricably in love.

Complicating matters is the fact that Taylor is married with a son. It is a rather odd arrangement whereby he married a French girl on a fling in Paris, thinking he would have to marry eventually – for appearances sake as much as anything else – and out of it came a somewhat estranged son.

The son is a sub-plot, for in loving Sinclair he also learns to love his son.

Overall, it is an engrossing story with strong main characters. Both Taylor and Sinclair are credible, and the story is plot-driven as apposed to sliding along on a stream of sperm. Likewise, the S&M is judiciously used as a piquant, rather than a gratuitous kink.

The insights into 19th-century mores are also well created, which suggests some research.

On the quibble side, flashbacks (retro-views) are tricky. I’ve read dozens of books that have used them, but only a few have done it well. I can’t say don’t use them, because it depends on how necessary the past is to explain the present, but otherwise use some other device, like a prologue.

Another quibble is the ‘fee’ Sinclair apparently charged for his services. Fifty pounds in the 19th century was a significant amount of money. For example, a skilled engineer might earn £110 per year if fully employed.

Which, I suppose is the other lesson this review might bring: Write about flying monsters and horned aliens with impunity, but miss a fact by a day or an inch and someone is bound to catch you up on it.

A solid read. Four bees.

♠♠♠

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Interested in Canadian history?

Want to learn more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.  It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post: Jay Silverheels – a.k.a. “Tonto”

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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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March 2, 2015 Posted by | a love story, BDSM novel, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay romance | Leave a comment

The Butcher’s Son (A Dick Hardesty Mystery #1) by Dorien Grey

In the style of Mickey Spillane –

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Click on  the above cover to purchse.

Click on the above cover to purchse.

Story blurb: Dick Hardesty is pressed into service when someone starts burning down gay bars all over town and the police chief (nicknamed ‘the butcher’) shrugs the whole thing off. Then drag queens and female impersonators get into the act and Dick is required to sleuth out who is hot and who is not.

Also available in audio-book format.

About the author: If it is possible to have a split personality without being schizophrenic, Dorien Grey qualifies. When long-time book and magazine editor Roger Margason chose the pseudonym “Dorien Grey” for his first book, it set off a chain of circumstances which has led to the comfortable division of labor and responsibility. Roger has charge of day-to-day existence, freeing Dorien—with the help of Roger’s fingers—to write. It has reached the point where Roger merely sits back and reads the stories Dorien brings forth on the computer screen.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I’m feeling lazy this week, so it’s time to dip into my reserve pile of authors and books that ‘go without saying.’

Dorien Grey is one such author, and the introduction to his Dick Hardesty series, The Butcher’s Son [Untreed Reads, January 20, 2015], is the novel I have chosen.

As I have implied above, you really can’t go wrong with a Dorien Grey novel. The plot is generally clever, with well-conceived twists and turns, and his insightful witticisms are scattered like pearls along the way, i.e. “The voice was warm, sincere, and confident – the kind of voice that makes me want to check and see if my wallet’s still there.” For those of you who share my vintage, this line could be right out of the style of Mickey Spillane.

High praise indeed, for in my opinion the really good, popular mystery-writer’s craft, ended with him.

In this story, Hardesty is hired by a rather pretentious PR firm to ‘package’ a homophobic cop seeking election to the governor’s mansion. Quite a package, since this cop’s background includes a gay son who was murdered for his gayness, and another son who is a hell-fire-and-brimstone preacher dead set against homosexuals.

The ‘hell fire’ in this case starts seeping out to burn some of the most popular gay bars in town, and so Hardesty is drawn in to investigating these occurrences as well.

Not surprisingly, the cop and his son are prima facie suspects, and so the juxtaposition of Hardesty the PR person, and Hardesty the sleuth, forms an interesting twist to the story.

Masterfully written, as one might expect, I rate it as four and one-half bees.

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Interested in Canadian history?

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February 23, 2015 Posted by | Dick Hardesty Series, Dorien Grey, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay mystery | 3 Comments

The Academician (Southern Swallow #1) by Edward C. Patterson

A credible plunge backward in time to an intriguing realm –

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Click on the above cover to purchase.

Click on the above cover to purchase.

“A bigger fool the world has never known than I – a coarse fellow with no business to clutch a brush and scribble. I only know the scrawl, because my master took pleasure in teaching me between my chores. Not many men are so cursed . . .” Thus begins the tale of Li K’ai-men as told by his faithful, but mischievous servant, K’u Ko-ling – a tale of 12th Century China, where state service meant a life long journey across a landscape of turmoil and bliss. A tale of sacrifice, love, war and duty – a fragile balance between rituals and passions. Here begins the legacy of the Jade Owl and its custodian as he holds true to his warrants. The Academician is the first of four books in the Southern Swallow series, capturing the turbulence of the Sung Dynasty in transition. Spanning the silvery days under the Emperor Hui to the disasters that followed, The Academician is a slice of world events that should never have been forgotten.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I am always in the search of a unique story, that is a story or setting that is off the beaten path, and The Academician (Southern Swallow #1) by Edward C. Patterson has both.

Set in 12th century China, which in itself is unique enough, The Academician is also chock full of unique characters who, in their variety, resemble a Chinois tapestry of the same period.

The story of Li K’ai-men begins as a brilliant student, top of his class, who is challenged by his renowned master, Han Lin, to fulfill a number of missions. This he does successfully, and as a result he is elevated to the position of superintendent of Su Chou. Again, he proves his metal by restoring this neglected province to its former prosperity, which in turn catches the attention of the emperor himself. Li then finds himself tutor to the emperor’s son and prince of the realm.

Of course, the history of Imperial China is fraught with wars and political unrest, and in the midst of this Li K’ai-men must protect his young protégé, the prince, and also the secrets surround the legendary Jade Owl relics.

Told from the point of view of K’u Ko-ling, Li’s faithful servant, this is a credible plunge backward in time to encompass 12th-century China with remarkable detail.

The writing is first rate, of course, but what really stands out for me is the strong character development that captures the essence of the time.

Highly recommended. Five bees.

♠♠♠

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Interested in Canadian history?

Want to learn more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.  It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post: Black History settlement in Canada – A commemoration of Black History Month.

 

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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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February 16, 2015 Posted by | China, Fiction, fiction/autobiographical, Gay fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical period | Leave a comment

Wounded, by Percival Everett

A story of ‘fight or flight,’ and how one man chose to deal with it.

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click on the above cover to purchase.

click on the above cover to purchase.

Training horses is dangerous–a head-to-head confrontation with a 1,000 pounds of muscle and little sense takes courage, but more importantly patience and smarts. It is these same qualities that allow John and his uncle Gus to live in the beautiful high desert of Wyoming. A black horse trainer is a curiosity, at the very least, but a familiar curiosity in these parts. It is the brutal murder of a young gay man, however, that pushes this small community to the teetering edge of fear and tolerance.

As the first blizzard of the season gains momentum, John is forced to reckon not only with the daily burden of unruly horses, a three-legged coyote pup, an escape-artist mule, and too many people, but also a father-son war over homosexuality, random hate-crimes, and—perhaps most frightening of all–a chance for love.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

What is our responsibility toward those around us? That is the thought provoking question asked by Wounded, by Percival Everett [Graywolf Press; 2 edition, September 13, 2011].

Set in the ‘high desert’ region of Wyoming, and narrated by the principal character, John Hunt, this is a book of many colours: Western genre, racial and sexual intolerance, inner reflection, and social injustice.

Hunt is a Black, Berkley graduate, with an appreciation for modern art, and subsequent to the accidental death of his wife, six years previous, he has taken up the training of horses with his acerbic Uncle Gus. As such, the colour of his skin is of little consequence until other issues arise alongside of it.

A young man he has hired becomes accused of a Mathew-Sheppard-like murder of a gay man, and at first Hunt withdraws in fear of a prejudicial backlash. Nevertheless, when the accused man eventually hangs himself inside the jail cell, Hunt has reason to question his conscience.

Matters become more complex when the gay son of an old friend arrives on the scene with his lover – a gay activist intent on protesting the senseless murder.

Caught somewhat in the middle, Hunt can no longer step aside, and is therefore forced to confront some difficult questions regarding himself and the rising question his sexuality.

Returning to the opening question, this is a story of ‘fight or flight,’ and how one man chose to deal with it. The racial element was a refreshing perspective, but I am gratified that Everett did not dwell on it as the main theme. Like the angst in homosexuality, it is an aspect that has been work to the limit.

Altogether, an interesting read with strong characters and some unique plot elements. Four bees.

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Interested in Canadian history?

Want to learn more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.  It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post: Black History settlement in CanadaA commemoration of Black History Month.

 

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Click on the logo to learn about my books to datre

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!

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February 9, 2015 Posted by | Contemporary western, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay western | Leave a comment

The Pretty Gentleman by Max Fincher

Love, betrayal, deception and vengeance in Regency London.

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pretty gentleman - coverErotic sketches, a blackmail letter, a closeted aristocrat, his ambitious lover, and a sacrificial murder. Love, betrayal, deception and vengeance in Regency London. George Rowlands, an aspiring young painter meets the charismatic Sir Henry Wallace who invites him to draw his sculpture collection and his handsome valet Gregorio Franchese. Patronised by Wallace to study at the Royal Academy, George is befriended by the aloof John McCarther, assistant to the eccentric Gothic painter, Henry Fuseli. Meanwhile, Lady Arabella Wallace becomes increasingly suspicious of her husband’s enthusiasm for his new protégé. When a male brothel, the White Swan, is exposed, Henry Wallace receives a letter of extortion in George’s handwriting. After Gregorio Franchese is found murdered, George is suspected when erotic drawings of Gregorio are discovered in his possession. Will he face the gallows? Or will self-sacrifice and truth save his fate?

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Review by Gerry Burnie

The era is Regency England, 1810, and a young painter awaits his fate for the alleged murder of Gregorio Franchese, valet to aristocrat Sir Henry Wallace. Yes, The Pretty Gentleman by Max Fincher [Max Fincher, March 8, 2013], is chalk full of intrigue; the way a good Regency novel should be.

While he prepares for his demise, he reflects back on how it began: when, as a youth, he had been indulging in his favourite pastime of sketching, when he happened to capture the attention of the charismatic Sir Henry Wallace. How proud he had been when the nobleman invited him to sketch his sculptures, as well as his handsome valet, Franchese.

From there, Rowland is sent off to study at the Royal Academy about the same time as the relationship between him and Sir Henry bursts into a full and furtive affair – beyond the eyes of Lady Wallace, who, in spite of this, is becoming increasingly suspicious of its nature.

Things are brought to a head when Franchese is found dead, and a number of erotic drawings of him are found in Rowland’s possession. Rowland professes his innocence, of course, and quite legitimately, but to go beyond this would irrevocably compromise his lover’s reputation.

The resolution of this dilemma brings about the climax of the story in quite a satisfactory manner.

It is a captivating plot, and reasonably well written – if you overlook the editing issues. It doesn’t bode well for a story when there is a spelling error within the first three or four pages. However, these are to an extent offset by some beautifully descriptive passages of the grotty and quaint sides of Regency England, as well as the manners and mannerisms that prevailed. Three and one-half bees.

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Interested in Canadian history?

Want to learn more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.  It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post: “Camp X” – the unofficial name of a Second World War paramilitary and commando training installation, on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario between Whitby and Oshawa in Ontario, Canada. 

 

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Click on the logo to learn about my books to datre

 

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!

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January 26, 2015 Posted by | a love story, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Historical period | Leave a comment

Certainty by Victor Bevine

A superbly written fiction wrapped around an historical event.

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Click on the cover to purchase.

Click on the cover to purchase.

When you’re fighting an injustice, can it be wrong to do what’s right?

Inspired by the scandalous true story that shocked a nation at the close of WWI.

With America’s entry into World War I, the population of Newport, Rhode Island, seems to double overnight as twenty-five thousand rowdy recruits descend on the Naval Training Station. Drinking, prostitution, and other depravities follow the sailors, transforming the upscale town into what many residents—including young lawyer William Bartlett, whose genteel family has lived in Newport for generations—consider to be a moral cesspool.

When sailors accuse a beloved local clergyman of sexual impropriety, William feels compelled to fight back. He agrees to defend the minister against the shocking allegations, in the face of dire personal and professional consequences. But when the trial grows increasingly sensational, and when outrageous revelations echo all the way from Newport to the federal government, William must confront more than just the truth—he must confront the very nature of good and evil.

Certainty recalls a war-torn era when the line between right and wrong became dangerously blurred.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Certainty, by Victor Bevine [Lake Union Publishing, October 21, 2014] is at once a war story, a discourse on morals and morality, and a courtroom drama rolled into one beautifully written novel.

It is based on the “Newport Navy Vice Scandal of 1919,” a 20th-century witch hunt that made headlines for its use of ‘sexual moles’ to identify and root out practicing homosexuals: i.e. Sailors would either be recruited or coerced into participating informants to entrap friends, colleagues, and civilians in homosexual activity.

Personally, I love this type of fiction that is wrapped around an actual event. Well done, it can add flesh and blood to the characters, as well as speculative dimensions not allowed in formal biographies.

In this regard, Bevine has done a masterful job of character development, from the Reverent Samuel Neal Kent to attorney William Bartlett, so that the mindset of both are readily understandable. Likewise, the mindset of the times has, I think, been properly represented.

Another note to his credit is that Bevine never attempts to moralize. Rather, he is content to tell the story as it is, and let the reader add his/her moral adjudication.

Having found nothing but plusses on the side of Certainty, I award it a full five bees on the bee’s scale. A superb read.

♠♠♠

Viewers to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 75,187

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Interested in Canadian history?

Want to learn more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.  It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post: The Great Snow Fight!: Toronto 1881

 

Click on the logo to learn about my books to datre

Click on the logo to learn about my books to datre

 

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!

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January 12, 2015 Posted by | Fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay military, M/M love and adventure, Semi-biographical | Leave a comment

Third You Die (Kevin Connor Mysteries #3) by Scott Sherman

A good read: currently on sale at one of the major online retailers.

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three you die - coverFinally settling down with his hunky cop boyfriend, former callboy Kevin Connor is giving up the “oldest profession” for a new career: producing his mom’s TV talk show, “Sophie’s Voice.” But when their latest guest–gay porn sensation Brent Havens–ends up floating in the East River after vowing to blow the lid off the adult film industry, Kevin returns to the world of high-stakes sex to find out: Who killed the twink who had everything?

Was it the X-rated director who exploited his star–for his own desires? The bartender boyfriend who hustled more than just cocktails? Or the eye-candy co-star who left the sweet actor for a sugar daddy?

Either way, Kevin is zooming in on one twisted plot with no shortage of drama queens. But is he ready for his close-up. . .with a killer?

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Unbeknownst to myself, I settled on the 3rd in the three-part series, Third You Die (Kevin Connor Mysteries #3) by Scott Sherman. It stands alone quite well, however, but in reading the reviews of others I think it would be best if you read the series in sequence.

The blurb pretty well synopsizes the story, and not having reads books 1 and 2 of the series, I will focus on what I like and didn’t like about the story.

The plot line is good, nicely set up, and – except for the ending – it is quite well paced. It starts out as a domestic scene; Keven, the main character, has retired from his call-boy profession, and is now producing his mother’s television show. In turn, this sets up a murder connection when one of the guests is found murdered, and the rest is a who-done-it with Kevin trying to track done the killer.

The character are well drawn, both main and supporting characters, but in the relationship with Tony (Keven’s cop boyfriend) Kevin comes off as a bit of a wimp – which is not good for the main character.

The mystery I thought was quite well done, but it could have been tightened in places to make it more fast-paced.

On the other hand, the ending could have used some build up. It, as others have observed, came out of the blue.

Altogether a fairly good read. Presently on sale at amazon. Four bees.

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Viewers to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 74,903

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Interested in Canadian history?

Want to learn more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.  It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post: Pioneer Christmases… Before commercialism spoiled them.

Click on the logo to view my books to datre

Click on the logo to view my books to datre

 

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!

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December 29, 2014 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay mystery, M/M adventure | Leave a comment

Favorite Son by Will Freshwater

Well written, unique plot, and an entertaining read

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click on the cover to purchase.

click on the cover to purchase.

Born into a blue-collar family, John Wells beat the odds and came out a winner. As chief of staff to Patrick Donovan, a US senator and aspiring presidential candidate, he enjoys all the power and privilege of a DC insider. But while riding high on a wave of success, he’s blindsided by a series of betrayals from the people he trusts the most. In the space of a single day, John’s perfect life unexpectedly unravels when his career falters and his marriage implodes. Following a final, devastating blow, John assumes a new identity as “Peter” and flees to Provincetown, where a tight-knit community of eclectic characters slowly transforms him.

Peter finds himself drawn to Danny Cavanaugh, an enigmatic carpenter who is struggling to come to terms with his own troubled past. As they work together to renovate a local landmark, the two men forge an unlikely friendship that blossoms into love and becomes the foundation for a new life they hope to build together. But when a reversal of fortune pulls John back to DC, the treacherous world of politics he thought he’d left behind threatens to destroy his chance at true happiness.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Favorite Son [Dreamspinner, June 2014] is Will Freshwater’s debut novel, and a sterling effort it is. It reminds me of my second novel (Nor All Thy Tears: Journey to Big Sky) which features a young politician at the zenith of his career, only to be brought down by scandal.

As in my novel, Freshwater’s John Wells rises from humble beginnings to ascend the towers of Washington’s Babylonic society as the assistant to a long-standing senator. Then, in a thrice, the bottom falls out of his glamourous career, his lifestyle and his personal life.

On a whim (some might say divine guidance) he sees a ferry leaving for Provincetown, and with only an overnight bag-full of belongings, he boards it.

Moreover, he assumes a new identity as “Peter”, a transient living in a cheap accommodation. Eventually, he forms friendships with several of the locals – a colourful lot of characters with colourful characteristics – and one Danny Cavanagh, an enigmatic carpenter who is currently restoring a country chapel in the area. To occupy his time, and to get to know Danny a little further, John – now Peter – volunteers to help with the restoration.

Inevitably, they fall in love; however, this is a credibly drawn out process that suits both the characters and reality.

Having said that, Freshwater makes a comment in the book about the lack of a male point of view in GBLT novels, and I tend to agree. By a ‘male point of view’ I mean that men do things in a certain male-exclusive way, and a tentative approach to M/M relationships – not connections – is one of them. Therefore, he gets full marks from me on that point.

This novel plays out on several levels. It is at once a commentary on ‘be-careful-what-you-wish-for…’ by juxtaposing John’s chaotic life in Washington with Peter’s more idyllic life in Provincetown, and it is also a morality play on choosing the important and meaningful things in life.

The angst comes when the Washington life tries to suck him back to his former lifestyle, and so John has to make ‘la choice’.

Well written, unique plot, and an entertaining read: Five bees.

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Interested in Canadian history?

Want to learn more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.  It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post: Oak Island, Nova Scotia … Island of Mystery

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Click on the logo to view my books to datre

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Save the Bala Falls!

Save Bala Falls! Click on the cover to sign the petition.

Save Bala Falls! Click on the cover to sign the petition.

The Bala falls is the one and only iconic heritage of the charming, historic town of Bala, Ontario. It has been used as a portage by Native voyagers on their way to Lake Couchiching and back, as well as fur traders, and explorers. Its significance lies in its connection to both the past and present, and once gone it cannot be replicated or replaced.

However, now the province of Ontario, together with a ‘for-profit’ outfit, is pushing through a plan to destroy Bala Falls as we know it. Why? For the purpose of making more money.

So how much is heritage worth? To a cynical, uncaring, avaricious government, apparently not much. But to the people of Bala it is priceless.

Please sign this petition and pass it on. Thank You.

Click here to sign the petition to save Bala Falls

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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 15, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay romance | Leave a comment

Taboo For You by Anyta Sunday

As lighthearted twist on ‘love thy neighbour.’

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Click on the cover to purchase.

Click on the cover to purchase.

Sam’s freaking out. He’s 30 in three weeks. And what has he done in his twenties? It’s pretty simple math: nothing exciting at all. But hey, he has three weeks right? Maybe that’s just enough time to tick his way through a 20s Must Do List . . . 

Luke’s freaking screwed. He’s come out to his family, and his friends. Except there’s a certain someone who doesn’t know yet: his neighbor of 7 years. Who also happens to be his best friend. Who Luke needs to tell the truth, but he just . . . can’t . . . seem to . . .

Jeremy’s freaking over-the-moon. It’s the countdown to his 15th birthday, and his goal is simple. No matter what, he’s going to spend heaps of time with saucy Suzy. But first he needs to get his over-protective, no-girlfriend-’cause-you’ll-get-her-pregnant parents off his back. And what better way than pretending he’s gay?

Sam, Luke, and Jeremy. Three guys who have a lot of history together, and a lot of future too—

—well, if they can sort out their issues, that is.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I have often ruminated on the fact that GBLT stories, by and large tend to be depressingly angst-driven, and a little levity would be a pleasant change. Well, Anyta Sunday must have heard my words, for Taboo For You [Smashwords, June 2013] is as lighthearted as a walk in the park on a sunny day. In fact, the only thing remotely dark about this novel is the title. Indeed, there is no ‘taboo’ that I could see.

Sam, the main character, became a teenage father to his son Jeremy before his age of reason. Nonetheless, he has taken his responsibility of single parenthood seriously, and so now is fifteen years later.

However, as Sam approaches ‘the big three-o’ he is beginning to feel his age; that is to say the good times he has missed, and so he creates a list of things to be experienced before the clock strikes twelve.

One of these is to experience ‘kinky’ sex, and it just so happens that his best friend and neighbour – also secret admirer, Luke – is gay. Therefore, the ‘angsty’ part is how to get them from friends and neighbours to lovers?

‘Cleverly,’ that’s the answer, and the author is up to the challenge. Along the way, however, are some very wholesome ‘family’ scenes among the three of them that are bound to give you a case of the warm-fuzzies.

It’s a great story, not perfect mind you, but a great read. Four and one-half bees.

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Interested in Canadian history?

Want to learn more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.  It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post: Thalidomide! Canada’ tragedy.

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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 8, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Coming out, Fiction, Gay fiction | Leave a comment

A Royal Affair by John Wiltshire

Interesting Story line, colourful characters, and intriguing setting.

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Click on the cover to purchase. Also available in Kindle format.

Click on the cover to purchase. Also available in Kindle format.

Doctor Nikolai Hartmann represents himself as a learned man of science who believes wholly in the rational and scientific above all else. In reality, he is a man haunted by an unusual past and running from his own nature. While the Reformation transforms much of Europe, it has yet to touch Hesse-Davia; this is a land mired in superstition with cruel punishments for crimes such as witchcraft and sodomy.

While traveling to the dying king’s bedside to offer his medical expertise, Nikolai is set upon by a bandit. Reaching the king’s ancient stronghold, he discovers his mysterious brigand is the beautiful, arrogant Prince Aleksey. Aleksey is everything Nikolai is not: unguarded, passionate and willful. Despite their differences, Nikolai feels an irresistible desire for the young royal that keeps him in Aleksey’s thrall.

But Hesse-Davia is a dangerous world for a newly crowned king who wants to reform his country—and for the man who loves him.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I had difficulty deciding on what book to read this week. All the titles seemed remarkably the same, and so I finally decided on one with a hum-drum title but an interesting time and setting. A Royal Affair by John Wiltshire [Dreamspinner Press, September 2014] is set in a remote kingdom during the Reformation, with all the mix of intrigue and enlightenment that involved.

The main character, Nikolai Hartmann, is a man of science. In addition he has travelled extensively, adding to his reputation as a doctor, and so he is summoned to tend the monarch of a tiny kingdom in Mediaeval.

It is here he meets the precocious twenty-three-year-old crown prince, Aleksey. At this point Nikolai is 37, and so there is the usual conflict of ages and outlooks between them.

The banter that arises from this is quite delightful, as they thrust and parry their way into each other’s hearts – love arises out of conflict in a most natural and masculine way.

The real angst arises when the old king dies and Aleksey assumes the throne. Not surprisingly he is a young turk intent on reform, but Hesse-Davia has be isolated for centuries, with deep-rooted superstitions, phobias (particularly against sodomy), and intrigue. Therefore, the task for Aleksey, and now Nikolai, promises to be a difficult one.

This is a well-written book, with colourful characters and an interesting story line that holds the attention with clever bits of business. However, for me, the language was a bit modern, and the continuity of thought wavered from one part to another. Nevertheless, it is an enjoyable read, and well worth the money. Four bees.

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Viewers to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 74,410

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Interested in Canadian history?

Want to learn more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.  It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post: Thalidomide! Canada’ tragedy.

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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 1, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay western | Leave a comment

Lover’s Knot by Donald Hardy

A masterfully crafted and delivered story.

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Click on the cover to purchase.  Also available in Kindle format.

Click on the cover to purchase. Also available in Kindle format.

Story blurb: Jonathan Williams has inherited Trevaglan Farm from a distant relative. With his best friend, Alayne, in tow, Jonathan returns to the estate to take possession, meet the current staff, and generally learn what it’s like to live as the landed gentry now. He’d only been there once before, fourteen years earlier. But that was a different time, he’s a different person now, determined to put that experience out of his mind and his heart….The locals agree that Jonathan is indeed different from the lost young man he was that long ago summer, when he arrived at the farm for a stay after his mother died. Back then the hot summer days were filled with sunshine, the nearby ocean, and a new friend, Nat. Jonathan and the farmhand had quickly grown close, Jonathan needing comfort in the wake of his grief, and Nat basking in the peace and love he didn’t have at home.

But that was also a summer of rumors and strange happenings in the surrounding countryside, romantic triangles and wronged lovers. Tempers would flare like a summer lightning storm, and ebb just as quickly. By the summer’s end, one young man was dead, and another haunted for life.

Now Jonathan is determined to start anew. Until he starts seeing the ghost of his former friend everywhere he looks. Until mementos of that summer idyll reappear. Until Alayne’s life is in danger. Until the town’s resident witch tells Jonathan that ghosts are real. And this one is tied to Jonathan unto death.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I have a special place in my reader’s heart for an English country novel set in a small, rural town, with history dripping from every greensward. Somehow they are made for one another. So, when I read the lead-up to Lover’s Knot by Donald Hardy [Running Press, December 22nd 2009], I was hooked.

Donald Hardy’s bio (… no relation to the ‘Hardy Boys’) says he lives in California, but his writing style (particularly in his description of Cornwall’s ancient countryside) is British to a ‘T’.

The characters are well developed and credible, as well, from the reasonably well-adjusted Jonathon to the troubled Nat, his shrewish girlfriend, Rose, and Jonathon’s faithful (and ever-so-patient) friend, Langsford-Knight.

Briefly, Jonathon is sent to spend a summer at a cousin’s farm where he encounters Nat, a young farmhand. Being of more-or-less similar ages, a friendship if struck that grows more intimate until it culminates in sex. However, Nat is already involved with a harpy girlfriend who is a study in shrewishness, and as things deteriorate Nat is written out of the story by falling off a cliff.

Fourteen years later, Jonathon returns to Trevaglan Farm as owner, with Langsford-Knight for company. During the interim, Jonathon and Langsford have maintained a friendship that all but verges on romance. Albeit, neither have had the nerve to say so, or take it to the next step.

Once at the farm, however, strange things begin happening to Langsford until it appears his life might be in danger. This leads to the ferreting out the sinister mystery that ultimately resolves the story.

From personal experience, I can say that juggling a supernatural element with more conventional aspects of a story is no mean fete, and so I give Mr. Hardy for a job well done. Four and on-half bees.

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Interested in Canadian history?

Want to learn more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.  It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post:  Sir Isaac Brock – Canada’s Hero

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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.

 

November 17, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period | Leave a comment

Bad Boy: Naughty at Night (Bad Boy: Naughty at Night #1) by Jamie Lake

Well worth a read.

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bad boy - coverKindergarten teacher by day, sensual masseuse by night, Peter Davidson never thought things would get so tough that he’d need to give out sensual massages in secret in order to make ends meet. But when the school slashes his hours in half and with no other jobs available in town, he stumbles across the opportunity when fiddling around on an online dating site and a rather handsome older gentleman offers him money.

What he thinks will be a onetime thing turns into a booming business at night, and Peter promises himself he’ll only do it long enough just until he gets caught up. He has nothing else going on in his life, after all.

Handsome, classy and educated as he is, Peter still hasn’t met The One. Until, that is, he meets Chip – the parent of a new student, who turns out to be more man than he’s ever dreamed of.

What will Chip say if he finds out what Peter is doing on the side? And, what’s worse, what will the school say when they find out this teacher has been a very bad boy?

Length: Approximately 65 pages.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I started with #1 of this series, Bad Boy: Naughty at Night (Bad Boy: Naughty at Night [ Jamie Lake, June 25, 2014] by Jamie Lake, because the caveat said the series ended in cliff-hangers. It does, so be advised.

Jamie Lake is a prolific writer, with more than a dozen books to his credit, but this is the first read for me. The plot is good, but not a barn-burner when it comes to originality. Peter Davidson is a kindergarten teacher by day and a masseuse/callboy by night. He is handsome, well-educated and entertaining, but in spite of these attributes he still hasn’t found ‘Mr. Right.’

Then, along comes Chip, a detective, single father, and all-round nice guy, and inevitably Peter falls for Chip and vice versa.

Now, the problem arises as to how to hide the extracurricular activity from Chip and the school: A sort of man-out-but-job-in-closet scenario.

There is also a good deal of sex, but it never takes over the story – A big plus for me.

Although there are a few editing issues, the story-line flowed with enough interest and momentum to keep most readers engaged. In addition, there are quite a few laughs along the way – the banter between Peter and Chip is clever and crisp – so, altogether, it has something for everyone. Well worth the money. Four bees.

♠♠♠

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***

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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!

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November 3, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Fiction, Gay fiction | Leave a comment

Captive, by David Ellis

If you’re into BDSM, or if you like a book that strays off the beaten path, then you’ll like Captive by David Ellis. 

 

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Click on the cover to order. Also available in Kindle format.

Click on the cover to order. Also available in Kindle format.

Story Blurb: Just a few days away from their civil ceremony, Hugo and Ben’s lives couldn’t be more perfect. Hugo is a talented assistant curator at a local art museum, while Ben is a successful advertising executive. Everyone views them as the ‘dream couple’ – with the exception of Ben’s snooty, disapproving mother.

Their long awaited honeymoon vacation to South Africa had finally arrived and it had become everything they’d hoped for. Then on their last day, the two handsome men find themselves lured by adventurous sexual fantasies – surrendering to the temptation of extramarital affairs. Unfortunately for Ben, it costs him his freedom.

Torn apart by a kidnapping, an abductor that wants payment beyond the usual monetary ransom, Hugo’s world is turned upside down as he tries all he can to locate his man.

Slowly, he becomes exposed to a world of crime and BDSM tucked beneath the murky shadows of beautiful Cape Town. But with the help of new friends, Hugo has the strength to remain hopeful and optimistic that he’ll soon see Ben again.

The story of Hugo and Ben will have you continuously guessing as it takes you down the most unexpected paths. This book is a journey of love and heartbreak, with a twist that will literally take your breath away. Be prepared to become ensnared in a mysterious web of intrigue as one man’s search for his husband leads to self-discovery and tragedy.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I have always maintained to anyone who cares to ask that Gerry B’s Book Reviews is an eclectic assortment with something for every taste, and I think Captive, by David Ellis [Tenth Street Press, December 6, 2013] bears this out.

To begin, it is a BDSM story (fairly extreme, I think from my limited perspective), and not my favorite genre; however, that is immaterial to the merits of the book.

The story begins in the sunshine with the ‘Gentlemen’s Quarterly’ couple of Ben and Hugo heading to South Africa for their long awaited honeymoon. Ah, bliss.

However, once there the clouds start rolling in as the story takes a twist to the dark (also somewhat surrealistic) side. In an extra-marital experiment, Ben becomes involved with a cult-like group deeply into hard-core BDSM, and is kidnapped by one of them.

The story then dwells on the erotica that follows while keeping Hugo in the picture as he tries to rescue Ben. Nonetheless, while doing so he finds solace in someone else’s bed.

As I have previously mentioned, BDSM is not my best genre, and so I concentrated on the technical aspects of the story – character development, plot development and delivery, and author’s intent.

Starting with the latter, it appears the author set out to write a ‘shocker’ by taking a very respectable ad exec and throwing him to the ‘wolves’ of a BDSM parlour. In addition, it also appears he set out to please an audience who like homo-erotica generous and raw.

No problem with either.

However, in doing so the BDSM tended to be a bit clinical, and the homo-erotica was a bit overdone. Moreover, I am still wondering what his motive was to create an extra-marital situation so soon after their nuptials. Was this another ‘shock’ element?

The way I read it was as two stories: One intended as shock and awe, and the other to challenge convention. I like stories that are out of the box, but I didn’t think either reached their full potential.

That said, the plot twists are interesting enough to hold your interest.

If you’re into BDSM, or if you like a book that strays off the beaten path, then you’ll like Captive by David Ellis. Three bees.

♠♠♠

Viewers to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 73,554

♠♠♠

Interested in Canadian history?

Want to know more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.  It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post:  John Campbell, 9th Duke of Argyll … Canada’s gay governor general?

Interview With Award Winning Gay Romance Author And Blogger Gerry Burnie

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Recently, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Jamie Lake, author and blogger, on the Jamie Lake Books Blog. Drop around to see what Jamie and I had to discuss, and learn about his books. Click on the above photo to move.

       

 

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!

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October 27, 2014 Posted by | BDSM novel, Extra marital relationship, Fiction, Gay fiction | Leave a comment

Dominus, by JP Kenwood

A lusty romp through Ancient Rome.

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dominus -coverIn AD 107, after a grueling campaign against Rome’s fierce enemy, the kingdom of Dacia, Gaius Fabius returns home in triumph. With the bloody battles over, the commander of the Lucky IV Legion now craves life’s simple pleasures: leisurely soaks in fragrant baths, over-flowing cups of wine, and a long holiday at his seaside villa to savor his pleasure slaves. On a whim, he purchases a spirited young Dacian captive and unwittingly sparks a fresh outbreak of the Dacian war; an intimate struggle between two sworn enemies with love and honor at stake.

Allerix survived the wars against Rome, but now he is a slave rather than a victor. Worse, the handsome general who led the destruction of his people now commands his body. When escape appears impossible, Alle struggles to find a way to preserve his dignity and exact vengeance upon the savage Romans. Revenge will be his, that is, if he doesn’t lose his heart to his lusty Roman master.

Dominus is a plot-packed erotic fantasy that transports readers back to ancient Rome during the reign of the Emperor Trajan. This is the first book in an alternate history series—a tumultuous journey filled with forbidden love, humor, sex, friendship, political intrigue, deception and murder.

Front cover design: Fiona Fu

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Review by Gerry Burnie

One of the genres I enjoy now and then is a well-written recounting of Ancient Roman society. By all reports they were lusty, hedonistic society, and over-the-top in just about everything they did. That’s one thing that drew me to Dominus by JP Kenwood [JPK Publishing , April 21, 2014] – That and the beautifully illustrated cover.

There is some quite clever writing here, and some not.

I like the opening business, whereby a group of modern archaeologists discover an anomaly during an Italian dig, and pursuing it they then find a full mystery – two undisturbed skeletons and a dagger.

Now, to me a modern-day find is only half the story. The larger part of it is the ‘who,’ ‘when,’ and ‘why?’ So an opening of this kind is bound to grab people’s interest.

Dacia map cf. Ptolemy (2nd century AD)

Dacia map cf. Ptolemy (2nd century AD)

The story then flashes back to 107 AD with an introduction to Dominus (keeper of the pleasure slaves of Gaius Fabius Rufus) and Maximus (a former pleasure slave, but now a freedman), and of course, Gaius himself (celebrated conqueror of Dracia – a branch of Thracians north of the Haemus range, later Romania.)

The next nice bit of business is the purchase by Gaius Fabius of Allerix, a Dracian slave. One could almost see where this was going, but the tension created by pitting enemies together in one bed is well worth it. Moreover, it is a builder that works right up to the climax (…of the story).

I also admired how she worked the settings and juggled a large cast of characters without losing their identities. All very nicely done.

On the other hand, the gratuitous use of expletives – particular since they were mostly of modern derivation – detracted from the credibility of time and setting. Likewise, there were several other examples of modern terminology that just didn’t belong in the 1st century AD.

I got lost a couple of times as well, where I had to turn back and find out who was speaking. Now granted, I speed read. I must to get all the novels in that I choose to review, but since others have mentioned this same point, I am not alone in pointed it out.

A good effort, and shortcomings aside this has a good story line and interesting characters. Three and one-half bees.

♠♠♠

Viewers to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 73,220

♠♠♠

Interested in Canadian history?

Want to know more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.  It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post:  The McMichael Art Collection, Kleinberg, OntarioThe collection that love put together.

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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!

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October 13, 2014 Posted by | Ancient Rome, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Historical period, M/M adventure, Male bisexual | Leave a comment

Collide, by J.R. Lenk

A young writer scores with a mature story of high school love.

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Click on the cover to purchase. Also available in Kindle format.

Click on the cover to purchase. Also available in Kindle format.

Story blurb: Being bisexual is cool now—unless you’re a boy. Or so it seems to invisible fifteen-year-old Hazard James. But when he falls in with bad apple Jesse Wesley, Hazard is suddenly shoved into the spotlight. Jesse and his friends introduce him to the underworld of teenage life: house parties, hangovers, the advantages of empty homes, and reputation by association. So what if his old friends don’t get it? So what if some people love to hate him? Screw gossip and high school’s secret rules. There’s just something about walking into a room and having all eyes on him when just last year nobody noticed him at all.

For a while Hazard basks in the attention, and before he realizes the depth of the waters he’s wading, he and Jesse strike up a “friends with benefits” routine. It could be something more, but what self-respecting teenage boy would admit it? Not Jesse—and so not Hazard, either. Not until it’s too late. Hazard and Jesse have collided, and Hazard’s life will never be the same.

About the author:If E. L. Doctorow was on point when he said, “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia,” at just nineteen J. R. Lenk is a self-confessed pretty boy severely in need of a psychological once-over. He’s a sucker for overcast skies and the smell of books, and enjoys a lot of things from movies about castrati to classy sweaters and wayward glances, to successful sex hair and hobo chic.

J. R. Lenk has been writing as a passion since a very young age, with a love for horror, ghost stories, and dark edgy contemporaries. He currently lives in the Pacific Northwest.

you are the master of your own genius.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

High school genres are not my favourite. However, when Collide by J. R. Lenk [Harmony Ink Press, April 15, 2012] was recommended to me with high praise, I decided to give it a read.

One of the things said about this book was the amazing fact that the writer is still in his teens. Remarkable. Oh, there is the odd misstep – like a long, disconcerting flashback in the middle of the story – but otherwise the plot and character development, as well as the writing in general, are all at an advanced level.

The story is primarily told from the perspective of Hazard Oscar James, a Cinderella-like character at first, until he ‘collides’ – literally –with Jesse Logan Wesley: a rich-kid-BMC (‘ Big Man on Campus’ ) who is Hazard’s flawed Prince Charming.

Theirs is set against a backdrop of high school, juvenile intensity (likes, dislikes, jealousies, wild parties and booze, etc.), somewhat reminiscent of the high school flicks of the 60s. Nonetheless, it is all presented very convincingly – at least I think it is. Mind you, I haven’t been inside a high school for 62 years, so I’m a bit outdated.

Where the novel really shines, however, is in the rocky road to romance experienced by Hazard and Jesse. It is one of the best work-ups I have read. No ‘insta-love’ here. Their romance is like climbing a staircase, one step forward and two steps back, but inevitably it blossoms into a mature bonding. It is beautifully developed and written, with all of the nuances of boy-meets-boy love intact.

This is a really good story for any age, and well worth the money. Four Bees.

♠♠♠

Viewers of Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 72,975

♠♠♠

Interested in Canadian history?

Want to know more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.  It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post:  Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna of Russia: Toronto’s Imperial Russian Connection.

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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.

 

 

 

September 29, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Coming out, Fiction, Gay fiction, MM high school romance | Leave a comment

The Trouble With Tony (Sex in Seattle #1), by Eli Easton

Playing doctor can be fun…

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Click on the above cover to purchase. Also available in Kindle formet.

Click on the above cover to purchase. Also available in Kindle format.

As part of the investigation into the murder of a young woman, Seattle P.I. Tony DeMarco poses as a patient of Dr. Jack Halloran, the therapist who treated the victim at a Seattle sex clinic. This isn’t the first time Tony has gone undercover, but it’s the first time he’s wanted to go under cover with one of his suspects. He can’t help it—Jack Halloran is just the kind of steely-eyed hero Tony goes for. But he’ll have to prove Halloran’s innocence and keep the doctor from finding out about his ruse before he can play Romeo.

Dr. Halloran has his own issues, including a damaged right arm sustained in the line of duty as a combat surgeon in Iraq and the PTSD that followed. He’s confused to find himself attracted to a new patient, the big, funny Italian with the puppy-dog eyes, and Tony’s humor slips right past Jack’s defenses, making him feel things he thought long buried. But can the doctor and the P.I. find a path to romance despite the secrets between them?

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Review by Gerry Burnie

As I have said many times, I enjoy a light, well-written, witty comedy, and The Trouble With Tony (Sex in Seattle #1) by Eli Easton comes close on most categories. It is light, well-written and a comedy, but to my taste it doesn’t quite have witty edge that I prefer.

During the course of a murder investigation, in which Doctor Jack Halloran – Intern at a sex clinic – is a suspect, Tony DeMarco P.I. decides to go underground by becoming Halloran’s patient. The guise is quickly recognized, and so Toni takes the opportunity to consult the doctor regarding his uncertain sexuality.

Thereafter, one thing leads to another. It quickly becomes evident that Jack is not involved in the murder, but in the meantime a mutual attraction has developed between the two of them. However, it is complicated by the rule governing doctor-client-relationship, i.e. ‘no playing doctor outside of office hours’—a stupid rule which I have never been able to quite understand.

A good deal of the story deals with Jack’s war wounds and resulting PTSD, which is a fresh touch, but it is never allowed to draw the story down or interfere with the humour.

Altogether it was a refreshing, light read, which I can recommend. However, as I have said, the humour lacked the sparkle that would have put it over the top for me. Three and one-half bees.

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Viewers of Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 72,798

♠♠♠

Interested in Canadian history?

olga - russian coat of armsWant to know more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.  It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post:  Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna of Russia: Toronto’s Imperial Russian Connection.

 

 

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Notice to all those who have requested a book reviewThank 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.

September 22, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay romance | 1 Comment

Lovers in Arms, by Osiris Brackhaus

The Nuremburg Trials from an GBLT perspective –

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Click on the cover to purchase. Also available in Kindle format.

Click on the cover to purchase. Also available in Kindle format.

The year is 1946, World War II is over, and the Nuremberg trials are underway. US Army Captain Frank Hawthorne is returning to Germany to testify in the military tribunal of former Nazi Officer Johann von Biehn. Despite explicit orders to the contrary, Frank is trying to save Johann’s life.

Three years ago, at the height of the war, Frank had been sent to kill the very man he is now defending. Much to his surprise, instead of the Nazi monster he was sent to kill, Frank found a compassionate dissenter. Johann considered the handsome young American officer the answer to his desperate prayers to save his beloved Germany from the cancerous infection of Nazi rule. What really happened between the two men during those long summer days in von Biehn’s Spreewald mansion must be kept secret at any cost.

With his own government forbidding Frank to reveal anything political that happened during the war, and society forcing him to conceal their personal relationship, Frank will have to find something truly unexpected to prevent Johann’s all-but-certain death sentence.

 

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Lovers in Arms by Osiris Brackhaus [Fantastic Fiction Publishing, November 10, 2013] (despite its rather Victor Herbertian title) struck me as a rather interesting take on the so-called ‘Nuremburg Trials.’ Certainly not one that I had yet to come across, and the GBLT angle clinched it.

I was particularly struck by one of the lines that summarized the story quite dramatically. i.e. “Maybe one day you’ll learn that not all Germans are monsters and not all Americans are heroes.” For me it meant that people are people, and would probably live their lives quite a differently – and happily – if it weren’t for the interference of governments and society.

To begin, in 1943 US Army Captain Frank Hawthorne is sent on a top secret mission to assassinate high-ranking Nazi officers, of which Johann von Biehn is one. Through a twist of fate, however, the two men meet and fall in love. There is little ‘instalove’ here, but it is a choice between slowing the plot unnecessarily or getting on with it, and so I think the author made the right decision.

In this regard, there is a very poignant scene when Frank and Johann must part, and Frank is smuggled out of country with his lover’s help.

A view of the courtroom (International Military Tribunal), the so-called 'Nuremburg Trail'

A view of the courtroom (International Military Tribunal), the so-called ‘Nuremburg Trail’

Moving along to the destruction of Naziism in 1945, and the convening of the International Military Tribunal between November 1945 and October 1946, and as a former Nazi officer Johann is somehow part of it. I say ‘somehow’ because the first trial (the so-called ‘Nuremburg Trails’, 1945 -1946) were for the most notorious of Hitler’s henchmen — Martin Bormann. Karl Doenitz. Hermann Goering, Rudolf Hess, Albert Speer, etc. The others were tried between 1946 and 1949 by Control Council Law No. 10.

Nonetheless, there is a nice bit of courtroom drama here, including a Jewish lawyer who escaped the prison camps before being asked to defend von Biehn.

Altogether it is a very good story with a somewhat unique setting. The writing is top grade, and the characters are interesting and credible. Four bees.

♠♠♠

Viewers of Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 72,616

♠♠♠

olga - russian coat of armsInterested in Canadian history?

Want to know more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.  It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post:  Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna of Russia: Toronto’s Imperial Russian Connection.

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Notice to all those who have requested a book reviewThank 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.

September 15, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay military | Leave a comment

Everything I Have Is Blue: Short Fiction by Working-Class Men About More-or-Less Gay Life, by Wendell Ricketts

Blue on blue

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click on the above cover to purchase.

click on the above cover to purchase.

Story Blub: In this age of Will & Grace and gentrification, the “dream market” and gay investment advisors, you don’t hear much about working-class queers. In fact, some would even consider the idea a contradiction in terms. But the contributors to Everything I Have Is Blue: Short Fiction by Working-Class Men About More-or-Less Gay Life would beg to differ. The first collection of short stories by working-class queer, gay, and bisexual men, Everything I Have Is Blue is a rich and long-overdue contribution both to the burgeoning field of working-class studies and to LGBTIQ fiction. The international writers include a professional trucker, a Texas prisoner, a librarian, a poet, an activist, a retired English professor, and a street mime, to name a few, but what makes their voices powerful and unique isn’t their professions, it’s their ability to straddle ideological and cultural divides that would give Paul Bunyan pause. In Everything I Have Is Blue are love stories and stories of lives gone wrong; narratives of hope and songs of despair; tales of revenge and chronicles of redemption. In short, Everything I Have Is Blue showcases a literature of depth and complexity that brings much-needed color to the palate of queer cultural and literary identity. Contributors include Timothy Anderson, Rane Arroyo, Keith Banner, James Barr, C. Bard Cole, CAConrad, Marcel Devon, Dean Durber, Rick Laurent Feely, John Gilgun, Rigoberto González, Jim Grimsley, Ryan Kamstra, Christopher Lord, Alfredo Ronci, Jan-Mitchell Sherrill, and Royston Tester.

About the author: Wendell Ricketts holds a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of New Mexico. He is senior editor of the anthology Intimate Relationships: Some Social Work Perspectives on Love and the author of Lesbians and Gay Men as Foster Parents.

everything is blue - const worker

Review by Gerry Burnie

Being Labour Day, I set about finding a GBLT book thst dealt predominantly with labour and/or work, and happily I came up with Wendell Ricketts’ collection of short stories, called Everything I Have Is Blue: Short Fiction by Working-Class Men About More-or-Less Gay Life [Suspect Thoughts Press, July 29, 2005].

Unfortunately, it’s not available in Nook or Kindle formats, but there are copies available through both the Barnes and Noble and Amazon’s open market place.

The stories are set in a variety of locales, Portland, Baltimore, Toronto, New Orleans, Boston, New York and Philadelphia, and from a number of perspectives: urban migrants, college students, newly employed, or, like Timothy Anderson’s trucker in Hooters, Tooters and the Big Dog, someplace in between.

As a long ago migrant, myself, I could readily identify with the majority of protagonists, i.e. anxiously trying to shed our rural roots and blend in to a more ‘sophisticated’ urban society. However, being a physical outsider is one thing, while being a social (psychological) outsider is quite another, and it is this latter theme that adds an interesting edge to most of the stories, e.g. Ricketts’ Raspberry Pie, John Gilgun’s Cream, Rick Laurent Feely’s Skins, and Christopher Lord’s  My Special Friend. It is one of envy mixed with contempt, and frustration coupled with admiration.

While ‘more-or-less’ gay, these men each make an effort to avoid the stereotypes that have been assigned to them by the media – the fashion plates, the literary effete, and so on. They are ‘blue through and through, and proud of it.

This is the image and message that makes this anthology of working-class gay stories such a worthwhile read.

Nice to hear from a side of gay society that doesn’t often get heard from. Four and one-half bees.

An update: 

Click on the above cover to purchase.

Click on the above cover to purchase.

Blue, Too: More Writing by (for or about) Working-Class Queers includes work by twenty writers (Rigoberto González, Timothy Anderson, Tara Hardy, Judy Grahn, Keith Banner, Carter Sickels, and Renny Christopher, to name a few) who speak meaningfully—in short fiction, memoir, performance pieces, and prose poems—about queers in and from the working class.

Intended for discerning readers and ideal for both reading groups and college-level classes, Blue, Tooexplores some of the realities of the group that makes up the majority of the LGBTQ “community.”
As a sourcebook for working-class and queer studies, Blue, Too also contains these special features: “A Blue Study: The Reader’s, Writer’s, and Scholar’s Guide” to using Blue, Too to examine the interlocking issues of queerness and social class, including discussion questions and prompts for writing and mini-research projects that connect the reader with working-class and LGBT scholarship; “Reading Blue,” an extensive annotated bibliography that represents the first-ever attempt to create an exhaustive listing of materials related to queers and class; and “Class/Mates: Further Outings in the Literatures and Cultures of the Ga(y)ted Community,” an expanded theoretical and critical essay that reviews the history and present of working-class queers in literature, media, and pop culture.

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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 people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post:  Gordon Sinclair – Journalist, Author, TV personality, and Curmudgeon Extraordinaire!

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Notice to all those who have requested a book reviewThank 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.

September 1, 2014 Posted by | Canadian content, Fiction, gay Blue collar workers, Gay fiction, Wendell Ricketts | Leave a comment

Vamp, by Rob Rosen

It is spritely, it is zany, and it is even over-the-top at times, but most of all it is fun.

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Click on the above cover to purchase.

Click on the above cover to purchase.

Story blurb: Fine, the coffin in the basement was a little unusual. Certainly no more so than the mansion itself, though, or, for that matter, the humpbacked manservant that came with it, or the mysterious death of its former owner. In fact, so starts a long list of all things unusual for our unlikely hero, Jack, and his newfound and strange family, his werewolf boyfriend, the pack eager to help him, and the ancient clan that wants him dead at all costs. Know this, however, in the end, this misfit group of characters will leave you howling in the crypt aisles!

About the author: Rob Rosen is the author of the critically acclaimed novels, “Sparkle: The Queerest Book You’ll Ever Love”, the Lambda Literary Award Nominated “Divas Las Vegas”, which was the winner of the 2010 TLA Gaybies for Best Gay Fiction, “Hot Lava”, “Southern Fried”, the Lambda Literary Award Nominated “Queerwolf”, “Vamp”, and “Queens of the Apocalypse”. His short stories have appeared in more than 200 anthologies. You can find 20 of them in his erotic romance anthology, “Good & Hot”. He is also the editor of “Lust in Time: Erotic Romance Through the Ages” and “Men of the Manor: Erotic Encounters between Upstairs Lords and Downstairs Lads”.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I have frequently ruminated about the general lack of humour in GBLT novels; well, Vamp by Rob Rosen certainly turned that around – in spades!

I don’t generally read vampire stories, nor do I understand the populist love affair with them, but Rob Rosen’s take on the genre is not only appropriate (… they are fictional, after all), but hilariously funny, almost slapstick, at the same time.

Jack Jackowski is just an ordinary bloke until he receives word that he has somehow inherited a fabulous fortune from an erstwhile unknown cousin, Boris Jackowski – You just have to love these corn-ball names!

If that wasn’t odd enough for Jack, things really start to get bizarre when he goes to inspect his new inheritance. It seems he has also inherited a man servant by the name of ‘Igor’, (yes, hunchbacked too), and in the basement of the Gothic mansion are two coffins with a note from Cousin Boris informing him that he is really a vampire.

Jack accepts and after he undergoes the transition he heads outside to test his powers. It is then he detects an intriguing odour, and following it up he meets Steven; the alpha-male in a pack of werewolves. Not surprisingly, having other-worldly powers in common, they have a mating of spirts and flesh, until some spoilsport starts heaving spears at them.

No, it’s not Pat Robertson or a member if the Westboro goons, but just who it is I’ll leave to you to find out. J

About the book

This is the first of Rob Rosen’s stories I have read. He writes with an almost tongue-in-cheek style that invites the reader to come along on a fantastical journey, almost like a Hallowe’en adventure. Everyone knows it is make-believe, but at the same time it is so much fun that nobody cares. It is spritely, it is zany, and it is even over-the-top at times, but most of all it is fun. Five bees for entertainment.

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August 25, 2014 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction | , | Leave a comment

Stanley Park: A Novel, by Timothy Taylor

A fun, slightly tongue in cheek, read that scores more times than misses.

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Click on the above cover to purchase.

Click on the above cover to purchase.

Story blurb: Jeremy Papier is a Vancouver chef and restaurateur who owns a bistro called The Monkey’s Paw. The novel uses a “Bloods vs. Crips” metaphor for the philosophical conflict between chefs such as Papier, who favour local ingredients and menus, and those such as his nemesis Dante Beale, who favour a hip, globalized, “post-national” fusion cuisine.

Papier also endures conflict with his father, an anthropologist studying homelessness in Vancouver’s Stanley Park, who draws him into investigating the death of two children in the park.

About the author: Timothy Taylor is a Canadian novelist and short story writer. Born in Venezuela, he was raised in West Vancouver, British Columbia and Edmonton, Alberta. Taylor attended the University of Alberta and Queen’s University, and lived for some years in Toronto, Ontario. In 1987 he returned to British Columbia. Taylor currently resides in Vancouver.

Taylor’s short story “Doves of Townsend” won the Journey Prize in 2000. He had two other stories on the competition’s final shortlist that year, and is to date the only writer ever to have three short stories compete for the prize in the same year. He subsequently served as a judge for the 2003 award.

His debut novel, Stanley Park, nominated for the Giller Prize and chosen to be the 2004 One Book, One Vancouver, was followed by Silent Cruise, a collection of eight stories and one novella.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia. Ranked among the worlds most  outstanding parks

Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia. Ranked among the worlds most outstanding parks

Two things attracted me to Stanley Park: A Novel by Timothy Taylor [Counterpoint; Reprint edition, September 25, 2003]: It’s Canadian through and through, and it’s about food.

I’m a self-confessed—and self-described, ‘foodie.’ Not the faddy fusion foods, or the trendy I-eat-it-because-it’s-the-thing-to-do dishes, but good, well-prepared standard fare. I think I may be a ‘Blood’ too (as apposed to a ‘Crip’), but I must confess I have no idea what these two terms mean, let alone their derivation.

Taylor’s novel has three lines of focus: Food, Stanley Park, and corporate domination. Regarding food, his attention to, and reverence for, the preparation of imaginative dishes may be a bit slow reading for non-foodies, but otherwise it’s entirely in keeping with the theme. It is also, in some ways, a metaphor for dedication and loyalty to a conviction in spite of forces to the contrary.

'Gastown'. Vancouver, British Columbia. One of the best known downtown neighbourhoods.

‘Gastown’. Vancouver, British Columbia. One of the best known downtown neighbourhoods.

Regarding Stanley Park, one can hardly discuss Vancouver without including ‘Gastown’ or Stanley Park. To Vancouver it is what High Park is to New York, so it is quite natural that the author would lavish it with detail—to put it on the map, so-to-speak. And what other way is more appropriate, or imaginative, than to have the main character Jeremy Papier’s father live there studying the homeless.

The imaginative choice of names is clever, too—i.e. Jeremy Papier (“Jeremy Paper”) and Dante Beale (owner of “Dante’s Inferno”). I have long maintained that authors don’t give quite enough consideration to names. In my opinion, they are as important as choosing just the right descriptor for anything else. In any event, Beale is corporate-lowest-common-denominator-mentality personified, and Taylor has a great deal of fun tweaking this concept (while take a well-deserved pop-shot at Starbucks.)

Whether these three somewhat disparate themes stitch together effectively is a matter of opinion. They worked reasonably well for me, although I must admit some disorientation at times. Nonetheless, there have been comments expressed on both sides of the discussion.

What I found didn’t work—although I understand the author’s wish to include it as a bit of local lore—is the unsolved discovery of the two skeletons in the park. It is a sub-plot that just didn’t fit, and left this reader looking for a resolution that didn’t come.

Altogether, it’s a fun, slightly tongue in cheek, read that scores more times than misses. Four bees.

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July 28, 2014 Posted by | Canadian content, Fiction, non-GLBT | , , , | Leave a comment

Native: A Novel, by William Haywood Henderson

A coming out and coming of age in a ruggedly contemporary, Western setting, with ancient berdache undertones.

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Click pn the above cover to purchase.

Click pn the above cover to purchase.

Story Blurb: Four years before Annie Proulx’s story “Brokeback Mountain” appeared in the New Yorker, William Haywood Henderson published Native, the tale of three gay men ensnared in the politics and prejudices of an isolated ranching town in Wyoming’s Wind River Valley. Blue Parker, a careful twenty-three-year-old ranch foreman, in love with the West and his home in the mountains, finds himself drawn to his new ranch hand, Sam. For the first time in his life, Blue feels the possibility of a romantic connection, and he makes tentative plans to secret himself and Sam away in an idyllic camp high in the mountains. But the arrival in town of Gilbert, a Native American from the Wind River Indian Reservation, a man who fancies himself a modern-day berdache (or Two-Spirit), pushes Blue and Sam in unexpected, dangerous directions. Gilbert attempts to recreate the ancient traditions of his people, but the world has changed. Ultimately, Gilbert must try to find a new place for himself in society, and Blue must choose between his home and protecting the man he loves.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

When you read as many GBLT books as I do, you begin to notice a similarity that runs from one book to another. It is almost as though there was some sort of ‘Harlequin Romance’ formula being followed. So, when a slightly different story pops up, even though some of the elements have been explored before, I generally go for it. Such is the case with Native: A Novel, by William Haywood Henderso [Bison Books; First Paperback Printing edition, May 1, 2010]

Blue Parker is the surprisingly young foreman of a Wyoming ranch, and gay, and as such he is infatuated with Sam—a boyishly handsome hired hand. Blue has plans to assign Sam to a line-camp high up in the mountains; a veritable Eden where they will be able to meet in seclusion and relative safety.

Enter Gilbert, a two-spirit ‘berdache’ who possesses special powers, and who goads Sam into a raunchy Apache-type dance at the small town’s honky-tonk bar.

Blue is embarrassed and confused, and so he stomps out, leaving Sam to the mercy of the red neck cowhands. Consequently, Sam is severely beaten for his naïveté, but now, moved by love and compassion, Blue moves him into his own Cabin. This has its own falling-dominos-effect as the story winds down to an uncertain climax.

As I mentioned, previously, this story has an interesting and somewhat unique theme to it—a coming out and coming of age in a ruggedly contemporary, Western setting, with ancient berdache overtones. That’s good.

It is also written in a lyrical style, with much time given to painting a word picture of the breathtaking Wyoming landscape. That’s good, too.

However, it presents its own challenges as well. In many way it reads like a stage coach ride as it lurches along, often with the driver meandering on and off the trail. Indeed, it boldly goes where every novelist is cautioned not to tread. In other words, it changes points of view from one character to another, not only flashes backward, but also forward and to the present as well. Still, there are twists and passages that are brilliant in both concept and delivery.

I’m going to give it three bees, and beyond that you can decide for yourself.

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July 21, 2014 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay Native American, Gay romance, Gay western, M/M love and adventure | Leave a comment

Canadian Hook-Up: Gay Erotica, by Dick Parker

HAPPY CANADA DAY!

FROM

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Well, it’s sort of Canadian…

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Click on cover to purchase. Also available in Kindle edition.

Click on cover to purchase. Also available in Kindle edition.

Story blub: I don’t want to hurt Gramps. I don’t want him to find out I’m not exactly an ‘All-American’ boy… Caleb is a gay virgin whose only experience is jacking off with his buddies. But all that changes during a fishing trip to Canada. His Grandpa Fred and Fred’s buddies, Herb and Lenny, are doing their annual fly-in fishing trip and Caleb is invited to take the place of one of their late friends, Charlie. If Caleb had any choice, he’d have gone somewhere else with his own group of friends. But the trip turns out to be a wonderful journey, especially with three old farts who liven up each second on the road with their dirty jokes. Besides, Caleb quickly stops regretting the trip when he meets their young pilot, Aidan. Aside from flying them to the lodge, Aidan is also the dock-boy preparing their boats for fishing. Caleb and Aiden see each other frequently and they check each other out, neither of them ashamed to do so. Things come to a head when they surrender to one kiss, which soon leads to more. Aidan is irresistible, but Caleb is also afraid of anyone finding out about their relationship, especially his Grandpa, who will be hurt if he knew he had a gay grandson… *A gay romance for mature audiences. SAMPLE: I stepped up to Aidan and we wrapped our arms around each other and began making out. His cock was pressing into mine and they both felt wet. I leaned down and sucked on his left nipple and he moaned. “Oh yeah,” he said. I worked my way down his belly, licking his flat belly and then I took his cock into my mouth and began sucking him. He held my head and I took his cock deeply into my mouth and throat. I had gotten over the gag reflex and could take nearly the whole damn thing now. “I want to suck you,” he said. I stood up and he sucked my nipple and then he bit it. I gasped when he did it but it was so sexual all it did was make me hornier. He took my cock in his mouth and did a hell of a job getting most of it into his throat. He licked my balls and then went back on my cock. “Caleb, I want you to fuck me,” he said.

About the author: Dick Parker is an outdoorsman and has lived in the mid-west all of his life. His favorite activities are fishing, hunting and sex with other guys. He found out at a young age that he was gay and has had many outdoor adventures with friends that turned into more than just a fishing trip.

He began writing outdoor stories for sporting magazines and then delved into erotic stories. A lot of the situations in the stories are from personal experiences. He writes full time and is always willing to do research for a new story idea.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Tomorrow being Canada Day, I went looking for a gay Canadian story—not an easy quest considering that Amazon lists The Best American Short Stories at the top of the list. I shall have to write Jeffy Bezos and tell him all about the War of 1812. Moreover, the whole ‘Canadian gay story section covers only 5 pages. [P.S. You can find more than that by searching this blog.]

Nonetheless, I eventually spied Canadian Hook-Up: Gay Erotica by Dick Parker [4Fun Publishing, February 20, 2014]. I don’t usually read or review erotica per se, but being somewhat desperate for anything Canadian, I ordered a copy from Barnes and Noble. It was only then that I discovered that Canadian Hook-up is Canadian in content only, and that Dick Parker is an American living in the Mid-West.

Nonetheless, it is sort of Canadian.

The blurb (one of the most extensive I’ve come across) pretty well synopsizes the story, so there is nothing I can add that would make any difference. I suppose I should have added a disclaimer regarding ‘mature language’ at the top, but I don’t believe in disclaimers of that nature. We are our own censors when it comes to language, so far be it from me to tell you what you should or should not read. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. Simple as that.

Now, regarding Dick Parker’s writing. The story is really a novella. The advertising states 120± pages, but this includes double spacing both before and after dialogue and paragraphs’; therefore, there are probably far fewer.

The writing style is passable, although I would have liked to have seen more detail regarding Canada—i.e. is it set in Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, etc.—and a wilderness fishing camp could certainly benefitted from more description of placid lakes and misty mornings.

Albeit, if you take the “gay erotica” caveat (in the title) at face value, sylvan descriptions are not intended to be the long suit. Indeed, I have seldom found an erotic novel that balanced style and substance with tips to the sack.

What I liked about this story.

I thought the author did quite a nice job of balancing age types—i.e. seniors versus young adults. Indeed, looking at it from Caleb’s point of view, I felt comfortable with the way he fit in to the older circle while maintaining his own place.

In addition, I thought he captured the banter of a ‘boy’s trip out’ quite well.

Beyond this, it was erotica as usual, with some quite noticeable grammar problems—i.e. commas that are sprinkled throughout like random dewdrops.

Canadian Hook-up isn’t Canadian, but for those who enjoy erotica it is a passable read. Three bees.

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June 30, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Canadian content, Coming out, Fiction, Gay fiction | Leave a comment

One Man Guy, by Michael Barakiva

A charming young adult, boy-meets-boy story.

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Click on cover to purchase from Barnes abd Noble. Also available in Kindle.

Click on cover to purchase from Barnes abd Noble. Also available in Kindle.

Alek Khederian should have guessed something was wrong when his parents took him to a restaurant. Everyone knows that Armenians never eat out. Between bouts of interrogating the waitress and criticizing the menu, Alek’s parents announce that he’ll be attending summer school in order to bring up his grades. Alek is sure this experience will be the perfect hellish end to his hellish freshman year of high school. He never could’ve predicted that he’d meet someone like Ethan.
Ethan is everything Alek wishes he were: confident, free-spirited, and irreverent. He can’t believe a guy this cool wants to be his friend. And before long, it seems like Ethan wants to be more than friends. Alek has never thought about having a boyfriend—he’s barely ever had a girlfriend—but maybe it’s time to think again.

About the author: Michael Barakiva is an Armenian/Israeli theater director and writer who lives in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan with his husband, Rafael. He was born in Haifa, Israel and grew up in the suburbs of Central New Jersey, which were much scarier. He attended Vassar College, where he double majored in Drama and English, after which he attended the Juilliard School’s Drama Division as an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Directing. He has been living in New York City since.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

A few things made me choose One Man Guy, by Michael Barakiva [Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), May 27, 2014]: The ‘folksy’ cover; the light-hearted presentation, and the Armenian sub-plot.

For those who might not know much about Armenia (including me), it is a former Soviet Russian satellite, located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, and is bordered by Turkey to the west, Georgia to the north, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and Azerbaijan to the east, and Iran and Nakhchivan to the south.

Culturally it is known for a number of things; particularly music and dance which are both demonstrated by Aram Khatchaturian’s  spirited Sabre Dance from his ballet “Gayane.”

Central to this story, United States has a large Armenian diaspora of approximately 9 million people.

The Armenian theme plays quite a prominent role in this story, and effectively so. It adds an element of uniqueness I have not encountered before. I think a good story, whether fiction of not, should have an educational component to it. Moreover, the author worked this in seamlessly, which is the other part of it.

Alek is a 14 year old boy of Armenian descent, and like most Eastern Europeans, his parents have high expectations for their oldest son. Moreover, unlike North American parents, they know that hard work and effort is the only way to achieve it. There is, as they have said for centuries, no royal road to learning.

Therefore, Alek is sent off to summer school to improve his marks. Alek is not thrilled by this idea, but to his credit he sees his parent’s logic and agrees.

Not surprisingly—otherwise there wouldn’t be much of a story—boy-meets-boy in the person of Ethan; a more typical North American adolescent—precocious, cocky, and not just a little self-centred. Nonetheless, the two hit it off famously, and eventually take the second step.

A tertiary character is also along for the ride; Alek’s friend Becky. I suspect she is there for a number of reasons. As a literary device she provides a change of voice that both Alek and Ethan can play off (it would be slightly tedious if only the viewpoint of the two boys was presented.) Secondly, as a young adult story, the unsuccessful attempt at heterosexual sex on Alek’s part says it’s no big deal. Nature has other ideas.

To that extent, it’s a thoughtful, well-constructed, and enjoyable read.

My reservations are somewhat subjective, and the subject of a debate among writers of GBLT fiction. How much acceptance should there be in the coming out process, and how much angst. All I can suggest is that is a delicate balance, for too much of one or the other can shade the novel from gleam to gloom.

In this novel I thought there was a disconnect between Alek’s highly traditional parents and their unquestioning acceptance of his homosexuality. Not disagreeably, I hasten to add, but slightly incredibly. For this reason I’m going to give it four bees, meaning it’s almost there but not quite.

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Interested in Canadian history?

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If you would like to learn more about 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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June 23, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Coming out, Fiction, Gay fiction | Leave a comment

Justice in an Age of Metal and Men, by Anthony W. Eichenlaub

A futuristic story with its roots in the “Old” West…

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To purchase, click on the cover above.

To purchase, click on the cover above.

Story blurb: Small town sheriff Jasper Davis Crow has an arm forged of Texas Army-issued black metal, chews snuff manufactured from real tobacco extract, and wields a six shooter made before neural implants were even a thing. In an age when Texan independence, neglect, and technology have ushered in a new age of lawlessness, J.D. holds strong the line of justice in the town of Dead Oak.

Longhorns trample a rancher in what appears to be a brutal accident. The new deputy from Austin is convinced that it’s murder and J.D. is inclined to agree when their investigation uncovers a bizarre conspiracy. With a megastorm brewing and a mysterious stranger tracking their every move, they need to work fast before time runs out and the storm wipes everything clean.

Can J.D. unravel the conspiracy? Will he be able to bring a sense of closure to the rancher’s wife and kids? Will there be Justice in an Age of Metal and Men?

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Recently, the State of Texas has been in the news for, among other things, its open-carrying gun policy—a bunch of contemporary, pseudo-patriots walking about with AK-47s strapped to their backs. Nonetheless, Texas has always marched to its own drummer, and Anthony W. Eichenlaub has taken full advantage of this in his second novel, Justice in an Age of Metal and Men [CreateSpace, March 5, 2014].

In this futuristic tale, sheriff Jasper Davis Crow is a man of his times as well as an anachronism in his cowboy garb and anti-social addiction to chewing tobacco. He also sports a machismo prosthesis made of “Texas Army-issued black metal.” (Very butch!)

In other words, he’s a futuristic guy right out of “Gunsmoke” or “The Rifleman.”

I liked that.

Within these parameters, the author has created a character that is at once traditional and slightly quirky at the same time. This is a masterful touch on Eichenlaub’s part, for either one on their own would not have reached the level of interest Jasper Crow achieved. He is principled, old-fashioned, at home in the future, and coincidentally gay.

I say ‘coincidentally’ because sex doesn’t play a large role in this story. This may be a disappointment for those who prefer erotica, but it didn’t find it at all discomfiting. My preference is for plot-driven or character-driven stories that offer more depth and variety, and this story proves my point.

It is difficult to decide on one strong point in this novel, but I think I would have to say character development. In this regard, I was grateful the author resisted making Crow too perfect. Indeed, his flaws only contribute to his credibility.

My only reservation is probably my own from not reading fantasy novels enough to develop a taste for them; however, I can genuinely say I enjoyed this one for all the other dimensions. Four and one-half bees.

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(Did you happen to notice that Gerry B’s Book Reviews reached a new milestone this past week – i.e. its 70,000th viewer! Thank you for your interest. It makes it all worthwhile.

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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 people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post: Francis Pegahmagabow, MM-two bar. The most highly decorated Canadian Native in the First World War.

♠♠♠

If you would like to learn more about 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.

       

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.

June 16, 2014 Posted by | Fantasy, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay western | Leave a comment

Rangers, by Nate Tanner

An imaginative adventure reminiscent of Lord of the Rings meets Harry Potter…

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 rangers - coverStory blurb: When the notorious ranger Kjartan Torncloak turns up wounded on the doorstep, Skinker betrays his hated master and helps him escape. Before the ex-slave knows it, he and the ranger are on the run together. Now, Skinker’s only hope of survival lies in a man with a thousand dark secrets — and a thousand kinds of bad luck.
Skinker soon finds himself desperately attracted to the older man. But how can a shy, useless ex-slave impress a cold, stern hero who only respects strength? And what about the mysterious, undead evil that hounds Kjartan’s footsteps, plotting its cruel revenge…?

A grim, haunted wanderer. An ex-slave struggling to believe in himself. To win their desperate battle against darkness, these two men — one proud, one humble — must learn to fall in love as equals.

About the Author: Nate Tanner was born in Iowa in 1980. His Zodiac sign is Gemini. He realized he was gay on the day he turned 18.

After living a freewheeling lifestyle in his 20s, Nate decided to share his experiences with the world by becoming an erotic fiction author. He writes in spare moments at his day job, while by night he can be found prowling the Midwest for cute boys.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I was in the mood for a gay adventure story this week (not an easy genre to find) when I came across Rangers, by Nate Tanner [Nate Turner, 2013]. Now, to begin, I don’t generally read fantasy novels, but there was something about this novel that caught my eye. Perhaps it was the zany names, like “Kjartan Torncloak” or “Skinker,”—I find authors don’t tend to give enough attention to the names of their characters; or maybe it was the adventure element of being on the run through a mystical land with a handsome, rakish outlaw, but once I read the story blurb I was in.

I mean, who wouldn’t be?

I am also happy to say that I was not disappointed. Once the character of Skinker was established—that of a defeated slave in the hands of a villainous master—his unexpected meeting with the roguish Norse ranger seems almost heaven sent. It is likewise where the novel is concerned, too, for it is this their meeting that begins an adventure reminiscent of Lord of the Rings meets Harry Potter.

In this regard the authors certainly doesn’t lack imagination, for along the way they encounter all manner of elves, dwarves, talking squirrels, ghosts, etc.—haute fantasy with a touch of dark side.

The romance between Skinker and Torncloak is charming enough, though, for it is this that helps Skinker emerge from his shell to become a mature and independent individual.

Altogether, this is a well crafted novel with loads of imagination, albeit bizarre at times, but to the author’s credit he holds it to pieces together remarkably well.

On the minus side, there is some ambiguity regarding whether it is intended to be a young adult or adult novel. Certainly, there are elements that would make it a superb young adult tale, apart from the sexual content; however, if is the latter that places it well within the adult classification.

Otherwise it is a great read, and just the right length to keep the pace crisp. Four solid bees.

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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 people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post: Francis Pegahmagabow, MM-two bar. The most highly decorated Canadian Native in the First World War.

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If you would like to learn more about 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.

       

Notice to all those who have requested a book reviewThank 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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June 9, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Fantasy, Fiction, Gay fiction | Leave a comment

River of the Brokenhearted, by David Adams Richards

A dynastic novel as Canadian as maple syrup…

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Click to purchase at Barnes and Noble. Also available in Kindle format.

Click to purchase at Barnes and Noble. Also available in Kindle format.

(Non-GBLT)

Publisher’s Story blurb: In the 1920s, Janie McLeary and George King run one of the first movie theatres in the Maritimes. The marriage of the young Irish Catholic woman to an older English man is thought scandalous, but they work happily together, playing music to accompany the films. When George succumbs to illness and dies, leaving Janie with one young child and another on the way, the unscrupulous Joey Elias tries to take over the business. But Janie guards the theatre with a shotgun, and still in mourning, re-opens it herself. “If there was no real bliss in Janie’s life,” recounts her grandson, “there were moments of triumph.”

One night, deceived by the bank manager and Elias into believing she will lose her mortgage, Janie resolves to go and ask for money from the Catholic houses. Elias has sent out men to stop her, so she leaps out the back window and with a broken rib she swims in the dark across the icy Miramichi River, doubting her own sanity. Yet, seeing these people swayed into immoral actions because of their desire to please others and their fear of being outcast, she thinks to herself that “…all her life she had been forced to act in a way uncommon with others… Was sanity doing what they did? And if it was, was it moral or justified to be sane?”

Astonishingly, she finds herself face to face that night with influential Lord Beaverbrook, who sees in her tremendous character and saves her business. Not only does she survive, she prospers; she becomes wealthy, but ostracized. Even her own father helps Elias plot against her. Yet Janie McLeary King thwarts them and brings first-run talking pictures to the town.

Meanwhile, she employs Rebecca from the rival Druken family to look after her children. Jealous, and a protégé of Elias, Rebecca mistreats her young charges. The boy Miles longs to be a performer, but Rebecca convinces him he is hated, and he inherits his mother’s enemies. The only person who truly loves her, he is kept under his mother’s influence until, eventually, he takes a job as the theatre’s projectionist. He drinks heavily all his life, tends his flowers, and talks of things no-one believes, until the mystery at the heart of the novel finally unravels.

“At six I began to realize that my father was somewhat different,” says Miles King’s son Wendell, who narrates the saga in an attempt to find answers in the past and understand “how I was damned.” It is a many-layered epic of rivalries, misunderstandings, rumours; the abuse of power, what weak people will do for love, and the true power of doing right; of a pioneer and her legacy in the lives of her son and grandchildren.

About the author: David Adams Richards (born 17 October 1950) is a Canadian novelist, essayist, screenwriter and poet.

Born in Newcastle, New Brunswick, Richards left St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick, one course shy of completing a B.A. Richards has been a writer-in-residence at various universities and colleges across Canada, including the University of New Brunswick.

Richards has received numerous awards including 2 Gemini Awards for scriptwriting for Small Gifts and “For Those Who Hunt The Wounded Down”, the Alden Nowlan Award for Excellence in the Arts, and the Canadian Authors Association Award for his novel Evening Snow Will Bring Such Peace. Richards is one of only three writers to have won in both the fiction and non-fiction categories of the Governor General’s Award. He won the 1988 fiction award for Nights Below Station Street and the 1998 non-fiction award for Lines on the Water: A Fisherman’s Life on the Miramichi. He was also a co-winner of the 2000 Giller Prize for Mercy Among the Children.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

The present day City of Miramichi, on the river from which it derives its name.

The present day City of Miramichi, on the river from which it derives its name.

I must admit that I have been working on this novel, River of the Brokenhearted by David Adams Richards [Arcade Publishing, January 12, 2012] (450 pags.) for a while, but like a glass of mellow wine it never suffered from age.

The people of Canada’s maritime region are great story tellers, as witness Alistair MacLeod, Linden MacIntyre, and now David Adams Richards, the latter two being both Giller Prize winters. Part of this remarkable ability may come the maritime provinces themselves, which, like most seafaring cultures, seem to have an uncommonly large population of characters just waiting to be written about.

This, coupled with David Richards’ keen ability to capitalize on every nuance of a character’s personality, makes this pithy read from that point of view, alone.

Plot wise it covers four generation, and so the pace is understandably slow in places, but never tedious. The topic of generational feuds on Canadian soil could, I think, only ring true in the Maritimes with its large population of Scots and Irish, as could the iron-willed resilience of Janie McLeary, but both are rich fodder and credible in every way.

One of the interesting touches was the inclusion of Nova Scotian, Max Aitkin (“Lord Beaverbrook”), for no story about Nova Scotia for the time would be complete without him.

I am unimpressed by the both the Giller and the GG awards, but in this case I believe they are well placed. Five bees.

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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 people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post: Frank Augustyn, OC, Canada’s ‘Principal’ Principal Dancer…

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If you would like to learn more about 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.

       

Notice to all those who have requested a book reviewThank 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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June 2, 2014 Posted by | Canadian content, Fiction, Historical period, non GBLT, Nova Scotia Setting, Twentieth century historical | Leave a comment

Real Good Man (Canadian Heroes #2) by Elise Whyles

You can’t win ‘em all…

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Click on the cover to purchase from Barnes & Noble

Click on the cover to purchase from Barnes & Noble

Story blurb: In Book 2 of the Canadian Heroes series you’ll discover love can grow in the most unlikely places. Set in the rugged beauty of Banff, two men will find romance. But will love be reason enough to let go of the past and their fears, or like winter snow on blades of grass, will self-doubt and suspicion destroy their passion?

Sean Tisman lives in fear of his father’s prejudice. When he’s stationed in Banff he’s determined to live life on his terms. When he meets his counterpart, Sean’s world is thrown into further upheaval.

Luke Marshall is a man licking his wounds. After a bad break with his ex, he’s relieved to be given his old post; that is until he meets the man of his dreams in the young game warden assigned to Banff. Can their love survive the secrets and danger that lie in wait for them?

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I’m always ready to pick up anything with ‘Canadian’ in the title, and Real Good Man (Canadian Heroes #2)by Elise Whyles [Liquid Silver Books, February 17, 2013] had all the right words.

Set in the breathtakingly beautiful Banff region of northern Alberta, the story involves Luke, a jilted lover of a heartless cad who had the gall to bring his cuckold home to his lover’s house and bed.

Traumatized by this unexpected turn of events, Luke immerses himself in work with a determined not to make the same mistake again; to which we can all identify. However, as we all know equally well, fate has a way of challenging our resolve.

Enter Sean — of the perfect body and green eyes. He is escaping an abusive father who is just a little right of Attila the Hun, and for this purpose the wilderness of northern Alberta seems like the perfect solution.

However, here is where fate turns up the heat as well, for these two ‘wounded’ individuals are thrown together in a combination of need and lust.

The difficulty is that neither knows where the other stand—sexually speaking—and so they circle on another waiting for the other to make the first move. Needless to say, this creates a certain amount of frustration until in a minor explosion they both discover the other is gay, and that each is attracted to the other.

Nonetheless, things are ‘not happy ever after’ just yet. There are spectres from the past that must be dealt with, both literally and figuratively, before this can happen.

Review:-

Although she has several novels to her credit, this is the first work from this author I have read, and the impression I got is that it may have been rushed into publication. There is an ‘unfinished’ quality about it, not to mention some continuity issues. As one reviewer has already pointed out, in one sex scene the characters starts off by donning a condom, but results in sperm being smeared over the other character’s body. So what happened in between?

Then there is my old complaint about angst-driven gay stories. Yes, persecution has been very much part of the GBLT story, but it isn’t the whole story. Nonetheless, a good 80 – 90 percent of GBLT stories I read and review are angst-driven: ‘The great blight of sameness.’

Three bees.

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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 people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post:  Molly Lamb-Bobak, CM, ONB: Canada’s first Official Woman War Artist.

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If you would like to learn more about 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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May 26, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Canadian content, Coming out, Fiction, Gay fiction | Leave a comment

The Reluctant Berserker, by Alex Beecroft

Altogether, a masterful piece of fiction.

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reluctant berserker - coverStory blurb: Manhood is about more than who’s on top.

Wulfstan, a noble and fearsome Saxon warrior, has spent most of his life hiding the fact that he would love to be cherished by someone stronger than himself. Not some slight, beautiful nobody of a harper who pushes him up against a wall and kisses him.

In the aftermath, Wulfstan isn’t sure what he regrets most—that he only punched the churl in the face, or that he really wanted to give in.

Leofgar is determined to prove he’s as much of a man as any Saxon. But now he’s got a bigger problem than a bloody nose. The lord who’s given him shelter from the killing cold is eyeing him like a wolf eyes a wounded hare.

When Wulfstan accidentally kills a friend who is about to blurt his secret, he flees in panic and meets Leofgar, who is on the run from his lord’s lust. Together, pursued by a mother’s curse, they battle guilt, outlaws, and the powers of the underworld, armed only with music…and love that must overcome murderous shame to survive.

Warning: Contains accurate depictions of Vikings, Dark Ages magic, kickass musicians, trope subversions and men who don’t know their place.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I like the late Saxon era for the pivotal role it played between the old and new beliefs, both socially and religiously, and for the strong masculine values it harboured. However, I must say the title The Reluctant Berserker [Samhain Publishing, Ltd., February 25, 2014] threw me off at first. Nevertheless, the well-acclaimed reputation of Alex Beecroft as an historical fiction writer held my interest.

If there is one word that sums up both the writing and the plot, it is ‘balance.’ The writing is a balance between lean narrative and poetic description, and the plot is a balance between romance and adventure, as well as love and adversity. Even the language is a balance between modern and old English. i.e. ‘Scop’ meaning musician, and ‘Wycce’ meaning witch or witchcraft, etc.

Wufstan is a Anglo-Saxon soldier in the service of Lord Ecgbert, and as such he is expected to be the epitome of masculinity. However, Wufstan has a covert desire that he dare not reveal, and this is brought into conflict when Leofgar corners him for a passionate kiss. Uncertain how to react, he rebuffs Leofgar somewhat violently; nonetheless, the spark has been ignited.

Leofgar and his maser, Anna, are then exiled from the village to wander, and as winter approaches the beseech a rather lecherous lord to be allowed to occupy a place in his forest. It is here that the aging Anna dies, and when the lord comes to collect his ‘favour’ Leofgar flees.

Meanwhile, Wufstan unintentionally kills his best friend Cenred (who is about to reveal Wufstan’s secret), and consumed by guilt he leaves the village as well. Before he leaves, however, Cenred’s mother—a Wycce—curses him with one of her spells and then follows him to see it work.

Now that Wufstan and Leofgar are both outcasts, fate arranges a chance meeting of the two, and from that point on they give in to their feelings to fight the forces that would destroy them; both physically and as a couple.

“Better to accept fate joyfully than to fight it, for it will win no matter what we do.”

There is little that one could criticise about this story, for every minor shortcoming—like an overly convenient plot twist—was balanced by flawless writing and evocative settings. Altogether a masterful depiction of time and place. Four and one-half bees.

 

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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 people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post:  Farley McGill MowatA consummate Canadian.

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If you would like to learn more about 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.

       

 

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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May 12, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Fantasy, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay romance | Leave a comment

Island: The Complete Stories, by Alistair MacLeod

This review is in commemoration of Alistair MacLeod (July 20, 1936 – April 20, 2014), the “bard of Cape Breton,” whose voice has been silenced in life, but his meticulously crafted stories will live on as long as people enjoy outstanding literature.

 

Island - allistair mcleod

“The genius of his stories is to render his fictional world as timeless.” —Colm Tóibín

 

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island - coverA thumbnail synopsis:  The sixteen exquisitely crafted stories in Island prove Alistair MacLeod to be a master. Quietly, precisely, he has created a body of work that is among the greatest to appear in English in the last fifty years.

A book-besotted patriarch releases his only son from the obligations of the sea. A father provokes his young son to violence when he reluctantly sells the family horse. A passionate girl who grows up on a nearly deserted island turns into an ever-wistful woman when her one true love is felled by a logging accident. A dying young man listens to his grandmother play the old Gaelic songs on her ancient violin as they both fend off the inevitable. The events that propel MacLeod’s stories convince us of the importance of tradition, the beauty of the landscape, and the necessity of memory.

 

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Alistair MacLeod reciving the Order of Canada from Her Excellency Michaëlle Jean, 27th Governor General of Canada.

Alistair MacLeod reciving the Order of Canada from Her Excellency Michaëlle Jean, 27th Governor General of Canada.

About the author: When MacLeod was ten his family moved to a farm in Dunvegan, Inverness County on Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island. After completing high school, MacLeod attended teacher’s college in Truro and then taught school. He studied at St. Francis Xavier University between 1957 and 1960 and graduated with a BA and B.Ed. He then went on to receive his MA in 1961 from the University of New Brunswick and his PhD in 1968 from the University of Notre Dame. A specialist in British literature of the nineteenth century, MacLeod taught English for three years at Indiana University before accepting a post in 1969 at the University of Windsor as professor of English and creative writing. During the summer, his family resided in Cape Breton, where he spent part of his time “writing in a cliff-top cabin looking west towards Prince Edward Island.” ~ Wikipedia

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Review by Gerry Burnie

There are only two ways one can go with a review of Alistair MacLeod’s works, i.e. short or long. While not a prolific writer—his one novel, “No Great Mischief” is his only lengthy work—his sixteen short stories, ranging from 1968 to 1999, are nuggets of the writer’s craft. Brought together in a single collection with a simple, but oh-so-appropriate-name of Island: The Complete Stories [Emblem Editions, December 3, 2010] they represent his evolution from an academic style of writing—i.e. tight, and word-perfect—to a more open form without loosing any of the precision.

I think what stands out about Macleod’s stories is the indisputable fact that he understood his characters. The same thing applies to his beloved Cape Breton setting, which is a continuing theme in all his stories, and which both challenges and shapes the people who cling to it.

Nonetheless, set against this rugged background is a quiet sort of love (of both people and loyal animals) that prevails in spite of the challenges. Like the wife who keeps an anxious vigil for her overdue husband until the trees seem to take on human forms to move in her direction.

There are also tales of family, like the miner who laments that his sons will probably leave the island to pursue an easier life ‘down the road’, and of the pull of ancestry versus fading memories and evolving attitudes.

There is something for everyone in the collected works of Alistair MacLeod, but most of all it is a celebration of excellence in short story genre. Five bees.

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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 people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post:  The Family Compact of Upper Canada: Democracy has never come easily …

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If you would like to learn more about 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 28, 2014 Posted by | Canadian content, Canadian Irish tradition, Fiction, non GBLT, Nova Scotia Setting | Leave a comment

Vivaldi in the Dark (Vivaldi in the Dark #1) by Matthew J. Metzger

A story that goes beyond its entertainment value as a young adult romance and coming out tale…

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vivaldi in the dark - coverStory blurb: Out-and-regretting-it comprehensive attendee Jayden Phillips turns his cast-iron plans for life upside-down by falling in love with private-school violinist Darren Peace, a sardonic boy with the craziest hair Jayden’s ever seen.

But all is not what it seems, and Jayden’s bullying problem becomes meaningless when he is confronted with what the music does to Darren. How do you stop a dangerous depression rooted in the same thing that makes someone what they are? Dark moods, blank apathy, and the undertow of self-loathing all simmer beneath Darren’s dry and beautiful veneer, and Jayden feels powerless to stop them.

Then a mugging gone wrong takes the music forcibly away, and Jayden is finally given the chance to change Darren’s life — and, quite literally, his mind.

About the aurthar: Matthew J. Metzger is an author of primarily gay romance novels, both adult and young adult. He is looking to branch out into mainstream fiction, other non-traditional sexualities, and fantasy.

Matthew had two novels published in 2013, and so far has three contracted for 2014 release. He doesn’t even want to think about 2015.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Although it has been longer than forever since I was a teenager, Vivaldi in the Dark (Vivaldi in the Dark #1) by Matthew J. Metzger [Queerteen Press, December 8, 2013] resurrected many memories of days gone by: the naïveté, the wonder, the uncertainty and the vulnerability, are all there, and the author has done a remarkably fine job of portraying them.

Jayden Phillips is a quiet sixteen-year-old, sort or out [I rather disagree with the story blurb that suggests he’s “Out-and-regretting-it,” because he’s only truly out to his girl friend “Charley], and although bullied at the school he attends, he has a fairly realistic grasp on life. Darren Pearce is roughly the same age, living the life his middle-class parents have set for him—including becoming a virtuoso violinist—but to cover his unhappiness he has developed an outer shell of cavalier artificiality.

However, along the lines of ‘opposites attract,’ each having negative and positive polarities, they meet and are immediately attracted to one another. Jayden is drawn to Darren’s swagger, and Darren is drawn to Jayden’s simple devotion. It is then that we start to see below the surface to discover that Darren is suffering from an undiagnosed form of depression. Nonetheless, Jayden’s devotion never waivers, and even though it is sometimes challenged by the ups-and-downs of depression and the ordinary vicissitudes of life and a relationships, together they persevere to a happy-for-now resolution.

The basic structure of the plot is somewhat formulaic—boy meets boy in a coming-out scenario with complications—but what raises this particular story above the ordinary is the author’s apparent insight and sensitive exploration of youth-oriented depression that frequently goes undiagnosed and untreated. Since this story is also oriented toward young adult readers, it should serve as a positive resource beyond its entertainment value. Four bees.

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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 people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post:  The Winnipeg General Strike – 1919 : The beginning of organized labour in Canada

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If you would like to learn more about 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.

               

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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April 14, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay romance, Young adult | Leave a comment

One Boy’s Shadow, by Ross A. McCoubrey

A charming, feel-good story, from a first-time Canadian novelist…

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one boys shadow - coverStory blurb: Fifteen-year-old Caleb Mackenzie doesn’t put up a fight when his father announces the family is moving to Stapeton, Nova Scotia. In fact, Caleb looks forward to a fresh start in the scenic little area. Their new home, Wakefield House, sports large rooms, a big barn where Caleb can work on cars, and acres of forested land for privacy. But it also has a troubling past. In 1943, a boy who lived in the home vanished.

Caleb hears the stories about what may have occurred so many years ago, but he passes them off as folklore until one day he’s alone in the woods and hears the faintest whisper. Did someone in the distance just call his name? And what about his discovery in the hayloft? Could there be something to those old stories after all?

The initial need to dismiss everything as coincidence becomes a soul-searching journey into the past where Caleb is determined to uncover the truth about what really happened to the missing boy. And in the process, he learns even more about himself and what’s really important.

About the author: Ross A. McCoubrey was born and raised in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. After finishing college, and beginning his full time job, he bought a home on the Bay of Fundy shore where he continues to reside. When not working he enjoys writing, camping, hiking, target shooting, and working on his truck. One Boy’s Shadow is his first novel.

Ross is using the profits from sales of One Boy’s Shadow to support LGBTQ youth organizations such as The Youth Projectwww.youthproject.ns.ca in his home province of Nova Scotia.

Please visit Ross’ Facebook page for great links and information about his work.www.facebook.com/rossmccoubrey

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Ever on the lookout for Canadian GBLT authors and stories, I pounced on this one the moment I saw ‘Nova Scotia.’ Ross A. Mcoubrey is a native Nova Scotian whose first novel A Boy’s Shadow  [iUniverse, May 24, 2012] is directed toward young adults, and yet it is both mature and charming enough to be enjoyed by adults as well.

The operative word is “charming.” I have often asked the question of why GBLT novels tend to be so dark and angst-driven, so to find one that is universally sweet and charming—even if it is a bit overly so—is somewhat of a treat.

The basic story revolves around the adventures of four teenage boys: 15-y.o Caleb, his brother Blake, and their best friends Shane and Ryley—oh, and a ghost named Toby. Although the plots are different, I couldn’t help equating them to The Hardy boys of yesteryear—that sort of comradeship that arises when boys set out to solve a mystery.

Caleb and Blake are resettled by their parents to a new (small) town and rambling old house with a name: “Wakefield House.” [All slightly scary houses should have a name!] One of the first people Caleb meets in town is a fellow teenager, Shane, who tells him the dark history of Wakefield House, and in particular the mystery surrounding Toby’s disappearance—apparently lost in the deep woods that surround Wakefield. Nonetheless, Toby has made his presence known to several inhabitants in the past, and he does so again with Caleb and the boys.

Love blossoms as well, when Caleb and Shane discover one another, but there is no hand wringing about it. Nor is there any turmoil when Caleb comes out to his brother and parents. Okay, you might ask, could it happen this way even in 2010? Probably not, but this is a story of inspiration and love, so bearing this in mind the reader will likely be inclined to believe it—‘rooting for the boys,’ so-to-speak.

Thereupon, the boys set about solving the mystery with clues being communicated from Toby until the mystery is solved in a happy-ever-after-ending.

I should mention that, while there is intimacy, it is mostly of the sentimental kind, and anything physical is generally left to the imagination.

Having said that, I observe that there is little to identify it as a ‘down-east’ novel unless you know the Nova Scotia people. I’m not all that well acquainted, but I have visited the east coast enough times to pick up on the subtle nuances that show up now and then. It is only an observation, but I would have liked to see more—as in the unique and charming dialect.

My main quibble, however, has to do with the inconsistency of voices. At the beginning we learn that Caleb is fifteen (almost), and so I set my expectations on how a fifteen-year-old might think and speak. Sometimes these were indeed consistent, but at other times it could have been a PhD in English. Nevertheless, this being the author’s first novel, it is a damned fine effort with considerable promise. Four bees for a charming, feel-good story.

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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 people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post:  Bill C-150 – Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1968-69: “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation” ~ Pierre Elliot Trudeau.

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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 reviewThank 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.

March 31, 2014 Posted by | Canadian author, Canadian content, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay mystery, gay young adult, Nova Scotia gay story | Leave a comment

Brothers of the Wild North Sea, by Harper Fox

A good solid read that most fans of historical fiction will enjoy.

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brothers of the wild north sea - coverStory blurb: His deadliest enemy will become his heart’s desire.

Caius doesn’t feel like much of a Christian. He loves his life of learning as a monk in the far-flung stronghold of Fara, but the hot warrior blood of his chieftain father flows in his veins. Heat soothed only in the arms of his sweet-natured friend and lover, Leof.

When Leof is killed during a Viking raid, Cai’s grieving heart thirsts for vengeance—and he has his chance with Fenrir, a wounded young Viking warrior left for dead. But instead of reaching for a weapon, Cai finds himself defying his abbot’s orders and using his healing skills to save Fen’s life.

At first, Fen repays Cai’s kindness by attacking every Christian within reach. But as time passes, Cai’s persistent goodness touches his heart. And Cai, who had thought he would never love again, feels the stirring of a profound new attraction.

Yet old loyalties call Fen back to his tribe and a relentless quest to find the ancient secret of Fara—a powerful talisman that could render the Vikings indestructible, and tear the two lovers’ bonds beyond healing.

Warning: contains battles, bloodshed, explicit M/M sex, and the proper Latin term for what lies beneath those cassocks.

About the author: Harper Fox is an M/M author with a mission. She’s produced six critically acclaimed novels in a year and is trying to dispel rumours that she has a clone/twin sister locked away in a study in her basement. In fact she simply continues working on what she loves best– creating worlds and stories for the huge cast of lovely gay men queuing up inside her head. She lives in rural Northumberland in northern England and does most of her writing at a pensioned-off kitchen table in her back garden, often with blanket and hot water bottle.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Although the author’s bio states that Harper Fox has produced six books in one year, my only experience with her writing has been Scrap Metal [https://gerrycan.wordpress.com/?s=scrap+metal], which I enjoyed; however, Brothers of the Wild North Sea [Samhain Publishing, Ltd., June 11, 2013] is quite a different story in many respects.

For one thing, it is set in the 7th century, a time of emerging beliefs; it has a strong religious bent—although not a religious story; and it includes some violence in connection with Viking raids and wars. Therefore, it is well removed from pastoral settings and sheep herding.

The basic story revolves around Caius, an enlightened son of a warrior chieftain, who has been converted to Christianity and joins an order of monks in order to continue his enlightenment. He is quite content with this life and his lover Leof, but when Leof is killed during a Viking raid, Caius thirsts for revenge.

Enter Fenrir, a wounded Viking raider, but rather than take his life Caius nurses him back to health. However, taming Fenrir’s fierce side takes time and patience, and in the meantime Caius falls for this erstwhile enemy who is drawn back to his own in search of a talisman with invincible powers.

In the end, however, all works out and true love prevails.

It’s a good story, competently written with some really interesting elements. As in Scrap Metal Harper Fox demonstrates an ability to draw the reader into her sometimes austere settings, and in this case a unique time period. Certainly it is one that I have not encountered before.

Having said that, however, it reads a bit slow until all the elements are put together, but then it moves along at a more agreeable pace. Also—and this is something I have to guard against in my own writing—Fenrir’s change of allegiance seems just a bit too ‘convenient’ for the short time allowed.  Yes, we’re all rooting for them, but to logically go from enemies to lovers takes a couple of transitions that seemed to be passed over.

Overall, however, this is a good solid read that most fans of historical fiction will enjoy. Four bees.

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Viewers of Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 65,679

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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 people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post: Today’s history curriculum is “bound for boredom” ~ Bill Bigelow

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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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March 24, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Fiction, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period, M/M love and adventure | Leave a comment

The Serpent’s Tongue, by Dorien Grey

 An entertaining tale, written by a seasoned author, and bound to give you several hours of enjoyment.

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the serpent's tongue - coverStory blurb: When Dick Hardesty is hired to look into threats against former priest Dan Stabile, possibly from someone whose confession Dan heard while still in the priesthood, it’s just another case. Then, on a stormy Sunday, on a rain-slick road, Dan is killed, Dick’s partner Jonathan is severely injured, and suddenly, it’s personal. Was the accident really an accident…or murder? Dick learns Dan’s secret could involve a child murderer, and now it seems the man is stalking Joshua and tormenting Jonathan. The objectivity so vital to Dick’s role as a private investigator goes out the window as he pursues one lead after another, and it begins to look like Dan wasn’t the target after all.

About the author: If it is possible to have a split personality without being schizophrenic, Dorien Grey qualifies. When long-time book and magazine editor Roger Margason chose the pseudonym “Dorien Grey” for his first book, it set off a chain of circumstances which has led to the comfortable division of labor and responsibility. Roger has charge of day-to-day existence, freeing Dorien—with the help of Roger’s fingers—to write. It has reached the point where Roger merely sits back and reads the stories Dorien brings forth on the computer screen.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Reviewing a mystery novel is always a tricky business, especially one that has been so intricately constructed with plot and plot twists, etc. One is always afraid of giving out more than one should.

That is the case with Dorien Grey’s latest addition (#14, I believe) to the Dick Hardesty series, i.e., The Serpent’s Tongue [Zumaya Boundless, February 1, 2014]. Therefore, I will say in a general way that this is a good, solid mystery, superbly written (as are all of Grey’s stories), and clever enough to satisfy most mystery aficionados.

For those who are discovering the Dick Hardesty stories for the first time, this is a stand alone story that can be enjoyed on its own merits, and for those returning readers to the series, there are some character progressions that enhance what is previously known.

Bottom line: I found very little I could criticize about this story. It is an entertaining tale, written by a seasoned author, and bound to give you several hours of enjoyment. Five bees.

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Viewers of Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 64,537

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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 people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post: Foster Hewitt, Hockey Night in Canada: “He shoots, he Scores.

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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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March 3, 2014 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay mystery | Leave a comment

Thoreau in Love, by John Schuyler Bishop

A fictional tale of youthful love and misgivings, evolving into a 19th-century literary giant

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thoreau in love - coverStory blurb: Two years before he goes to Walden Pond, Henry David Thoreau, 25, leaves Concord, Massachusetts, to live in New York, where the new America is bursting into life. But before he even gets there he falls in love—with a young man.

It’s 1843, a repressive puritanism still hangs over Concord, Massachusetts, and Henry Thoreau wants out. When his mentor, Ralph Waldo Emerson, gives him an opportunity to move to New York City, Henry leaves Concord with no thought of ever returning.

In his journals, 250-some pages about his trip to New York have been ripped out, the only substantial number of pages missing from the forty-seven journal volumes. What was so scandalous that Thoreau—or, more likely, his literary executor—decided no one should see it?

And why did Thoreau stay only six months in New York?

Thoreau’s biographers go out of their way to convince us that the writer was heterosexual, although he never married and wrote freely in his journal about the beauty of men. His poem “Sympathy,” one of the few published in his lifetime, is a love poem to a boy who was his student. (About that poem, one celebrated biographer went so far as to say, “When he wrote ‘he’ Thoreau really meant ‘she,’ and when he wrote ‘him,’ he really meant ‘her.’”) By denying Thoreau’s real sexuality, scholars have reduced him to a wooden icon.

Thoreau in Love imagines the time of the missing pages, when Thoreau emerged from his shell and explored the wider world and himself before he returned to Concord, where he would fearlessly live the rest of his life and become the great naturalist and literary giant.

About the author: Schuyler moved into the city as soon as he could, wrote plays at home and worked in the Letters Department at Newsweek until his total output for three months work was two letters; he decided he was possibly burned out…. His boss did too, but she then hired him as a proofreader at Sports Illustrated, where Schuyler enjoyed the great benefits and moved up rapidly to copyreader and then, because of a story he wrote for the magazine, to the exalted position of Late Reader, possibly the greatest job that ever existed: when the editors and reporters went to Schuyler to go over their stories it meant they were finished their week’s work, and more often than not, because of S.I.’s deadline, Schuyler worked one 35-hour day and made lots of money. All the while he was writing and mostly not sending things out…. but a couple of years ago he resolved to change that….

Two of Bishop plays were produced many years ago off-off Broadway, and he’s had stories published in Sports Illustrated, The New York Times and in Alyson’s Best Gay Love Stories 2005. After a couple of years at sea and in Florida, he’s happily back in New York City.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

thoreau in love - portaitI don’t suppose there is anything more intriguing to a historian, or writer thereof, than to find 250 pages missing (ripped out) from a famous person’s personal journals. Why the possibilities are endless, and John Schuyler Bishop takes full advantage of this in Thoreau in Love [BookBaby; 1st edition, May 14, 2013].

Henry David Thoreau, an enigmatic and intriguing character in his own right, takes a trip to New York to tutor the children of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s relative William Emerson, in their Staten Island home. On the way he meets a breathtakingly handsome sailor, Ben Wickham, and despite Thoreau’s Puritan background and his (till-then) repressed sexual inclinations, he falls madly in love with this beguiling lad.

As the ‘captain’s boy’ Ben is experienced in the manly art of making love, and by the time they reach Staten Island a most touching and memorable love affair has evolved.

However, once separated, Thoreau begins to have second thoughts. He fervently wants to be ‘normal’ in order to avoid the recriminations of a mostly homophobic society, but  at the same time he carries on a romantic correspondence with Ben. Finally the two spend a couple of weeks together, and afterward they separate with Ben urging him to find his true self.

Thoreau then returns to Concord, and Walden emerges.

All of this is Schuyler Bishop’s invention, of course, but it is wonderfully credible and in keeping with Thoreau’s complex nature. It also explores the misgivings that most gay men experience somewhere along the line in their careers; even in today’s more liberal society. Arizona and Uganda are proof positive that to be gay, or GBLT, is still far from mainstream in 2014.

There are some graphic sex scenes, but it is the story that predominates throughout—as it should be.

Altogether, I think this is a story that will appeal to most everyone who enjoys a well-written historical fiction. Five bees.

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Viewers of Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 64,229

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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 people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post: Don Messer’s Jubilee: The premier name in C&W folk music in the 1960s.

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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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February 24, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Fiction, Gay romance, Henry David Thoreau, Historical Fiction, Historical period | Leave a comment

I Am John I Am Paul: A Story of Two Soldiers in Ancient Rome, by Mark Tedesco

A well-written historical novel with an emphasis on history –

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i am joh i am paul - coverStory blurb: “Adventure, intrigue, faith, commitment, love and hate and everything between! Mark Tedesco has done it again, fashioning what is arguably his best work yet! He entices you on a phenomenal journey into the fascinating lives of two 4th century Roman soldiers, John and Paul, in a tale of loyalty and love that grabs you by the throat from the very first sentence and holds you spellbound, gasping for air as you’re swept from chapter to chapter with barely a moment to breathe. An unbelievable marriage of fact and fiction that will leave you applauding or appalled but never bored or indifferent. A must read!” Fox news.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I can’t say that I am well versed in Roman history, about average I suppose, so the extensive research conducted by Mark Tedesco in his writing of I Am John I am Paul [Academia Publishing; Second edition, November 9, 2012] was a help.

The basic story follows the adventures of two Roman Soldiers, Ioannes Fulvius Marcus Romanus, and his brother-in-arms, Paulus. The time is during the reign of Constantine  (306 – 337 A.D), and is typically full of political intrigue.

John and Paul meet during the Germanic wars, and form a loving bond that is put to the test when John is sent off to Alexandria by a tyrannical centurion. While in Alexandria, he becomes involved in Mithraism—a nice touch by the authorin order to explore this mystic religion—but, eventually, he is returned to Rome to rejoin Paul once again.

Another nice touch, and also a nice bit of drama, takes place when John and Paul undertake to successfully rescue the kidnapped daughter of the emperor, and in gratitude the emperor grants them both land and a house in Rome.

Not to be forgotten, either, is their experience with Christianity—i.e. “The Way.” After all, it was Constantine who converted Rome to Christianity (…and had “Great” added to his name), so historically it was an intriguing time that the author didn’t miss.

Technically speaking, this is not a gay story in the erotic sense—which doesn’t disturb me at all. It is romantic, given the love the two boys have for one another, but mostly it is a well-written historical novel with an emphasis on history. My kind of meat. Therefore, for people like myself, I’m going to go the full five bees.

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Views at Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 62,987

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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:  Mary Grannan – “Just Mary”: Canadian pioneer in children’s programming.

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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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February 3, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical period | Leave a comment

A Place to Call Their Own, by L. Dean Pace-Frech

A gay pioneer story: Two against the prairie.

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a place of their own - coverStory blurb: Is it possible for two Civil War veterans to find their place in the world on the Kansas Prairie?

When the War Between the States ended in 1865 many Americans emerged from the turmoil energized by their possibilities for the future. Frank Greerson and Gregory Young were no different. After battling southern rebels and preserving the Union, the two men set out to battle the Kansas Prairie and build a life together. Frank yearned for his own farm, away from his family—even at the risk of alienating them. Gregory, an only child, returned home to claim his inheritance to help finance their adventure out west.

Between the difficult work of establishing a farm on the unforgiving Kansas prairie, and the additional obstacles provided by the weather, Native Americans and wild animals, will their love and loyalty be enough to sustain them through the hardships?

About the author: With inspiration from some historical tourism sites, the love of reading, and a desire to write a novel, L. Dean Pace-Frech started crafting his debut novel, A Place to Call Their Own, in 2008. After four years of writing and polishing the manuscript, he submitted it for publication and Musa Publishing offered him a contract in early 2013.

Dean lives in Kansas City, Missouri with his partner, Thomas, and their two cats. They are involved in their church and enjoy watching movies, outdoor activities in the warmer weather and spending time together with friends and family. In addition to writing, Dean enjoys
reading and patio gardening.

Prior to novels, Dean did some technical writing in his career. He has written another complete fiction manuscript and has a third manuscript outlined.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

To me, the American Civil War was a period of great upheaval, but it was also a time of great promise: the conviction that when the war was over, things would be better. That is the sentiment L. Dean Pace-Frech has captured in his debut novel A Place to Call Their Own [Musa Publishing, July 4, 2013].

Frank Greeerson and Gregory Young meet and fall in love in the midst of the conflict, and when the fighting is over they each stake a claim to free land (presumably under the Homestead Act of 1862) in the State of Kansas—the beginning of the American frontier.

vintage CW soldiersThe story begins with Frank Greerson’s father, Paul, trying to talk him out of this adventure, but failing that, Frank and Gregory set out on their journey like two wide-eyed innocents—a little scared, and a whole lot excited.

The author takes us along with them, and that is the charming part of the story as we follow these two neophytes through their first years of homesteading on the vast, unspoiled prairie. He has also given them moments of bliss, and moments of hardship and challenge, but always shared between them.

The supporting cast is quite charming as well, refreshingly supportive as I think most pioneer communities were. They truly were communal in the sense that everyone pitched in to help their neighbours for the good of the community and of themselves.

In this regard it is a story that will appeal to most people: a romance set in an expansive setting, with likable characters and just enough tension to keep it interesting.

My minor quibble is with the vocabulary at times. Without going into chapter and verse on what I mean, here is an example. In the opening pages Frank says to his father, “I’ve considered all the scenarios, pa,” etc. Now, the difficulty I have with this choice of words is that they don’t fit the character of a farm boy, i.e. “scenarios” (formal) doesn’t fit with “pa” (informal). Perhaps a better fit might have been, “I’ve looked at it from all directions, pa,” etc.

However, this is my personal opinion.

Otherwise, there is nothing about this story not to like. Four and one-half stars.

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Views at Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 62, 574

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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:  Nancy Greene – Canada’s skiing sensation.

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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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January 27, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay pioneers, Gay romance, Historical period | 1 Comment

A Shiny Tin Star, by Jon Wilson

No shoot-em-up, but a darned good story.

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shiny tin star - coverStory blurb: On a scorching summer’s day in 1903 the sheriff of Creek County, Eugene Grey, unexpectedly finds himself partnered with feisty young Federal Marshal Forest O’Rourke. The marshal is hell-bent on capturing a wanted man—a man Eugene knows as nothing but an amiable old geezer living quietly in the hills.

But, of course, all is not as it seems. As the manhunt progresses, Eugene slowly works out the true nature of the marshal’s relationship to the old man. And something Eugene has long kept hidden begins to stir inside him. He finds it impossible to deny the desire he feels toward the determined young marshal.

Death and fiery destruction follow, but also passion and stolen moments of joy. Eugene’s journey takes him from his small town of Canyon Creek, Colorado, to the stately homes of Atlanta and Philadelphia. But it also pits him against the very laws he has sworn to uphold. He finds himself risking prison or even death—all in the name of love.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

As most people who visit this page know, I have a fondness for westerns. I think this is because they recreate a life and times that were basic. Not ‘basic’ in the sense of being crude, as they are often portrayed today, but a simpler life in terms of common sense and the ‘golden rule.’ For the most part, I think that Jon Wilson has captured this simplicity in his novel A Shiny Tin Star, [Cheyenne Publishing, November 19, 2012]. Certainly he has captured the laid-back cadence of the narrator, Eugene Grey.

Eugene Grey is a down-home country sheriff, confidant in what he knows from having lived it, seen it, or done it, and sceptical of anyone who hasn’t—especially those who think they know better. That includes Marshall Forrest O’Rourke.

O’Rourke is a cocky Federal Marshall, and worse still, an Easterner. That pretty well sets the tone of the first eight or ten chapters. [I particularly liked the knock-down-drag-em-out fight between O’Rourke and Rawley Scoggins.]

In a somewhat surprising turn, the story shifts east to the cultured life of Atlanta and Philadelphia, taking Eugene out of his rustic element and into Forrest’s element. It also takes them into a climate of artifice and bigotry, which threatens to destroy their simple relationship.

In the end, however, love prevails.

The story is cleverly written, with a keen grasp (however gotten) of the laid-back, country vernacular of the narrator. That was a strong point for me.

The eastern segment was well done, and I can understand why a shift in setting was introduced to add tension, but for me it was a disconnect from the western roots. Having said that, however, I don’t know how else it could have been written.

Altogether, though, I thought it was a good story, well written, and with enough unexpected twists to make it unique. Four and one-half stars.

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Views at Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 62,129

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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:  Jacques Cartier, Explorer: The “Discoverer of Canada” (…Not that it was ever lost.)

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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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January 20, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Gay western, Historical Fiction, Historical period, M/M love and adventure | Leave a comment

A Handful of Blossoms, by Lara Biyuts

A unique story in time and place, and superbly written –

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handful of blossoms - coverBook blurb: Written in the form of a diary, which genre was so popular in the 18th century and which sounds so comprehensible in our time of blogging/webdiaries/webjournals, the novella may be called a love story. A story of a sixteen-year-old damsel and her weird marriage. Time: 1764, a year after the Seven Years War. Europe.

[A novella – 134 pages, 818 KB]

About the author (in her own words): A middle-aged translator and an agent seeking writer, author of 7 books of fiction, essays, notes, and poems. Un poete maudit. Gay-admirer. Straight fetishist. Author of her own photies. Her given name has several derivatives and diminutives that she uses as a part of her pen-names. A big fan of history, English language and linguistic in general, who is always in online search, placing reliance on Facebook, the busy place like no other. “I believe in yesterday, loving the steep turns & junctions of times, besides, your own past is the only thing that nobody can take away.”

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Larisa Biyuts is a Facebook ‘friend,’ and as I was reading her novella A Handful of Blossoms, [Lara Biyuts; 2 edition, January 2, 2014] I could vision many of the interests that Larisa holds dear—history, fine art, classic times, etc—and which are reflected in her writing.

A Handful of Blossoms is set at the height of the Empire Period (1764), just a couple of decades before the French Revolution. Constance Otilia Alexandrine is a minor princess (which is to say, she is a ‘pawn’ in the imperial scheme of things), arranged in marriage to Constantine Leopold, Prince of Askanier-Hortz. Prince Constantine is himself a pawn of sorts, for tradition decrees that he marry and produce an heir, when, in fact, he prefers men—and makes no bones about it to his newly acquired wife.

This perplexes her, but it also gives her time to explore the lush countryside, and the rich folklore of Transylvania, while fulfilling (…at the prince’s suggestion) her ‘womanly needs’ with the prince’s steward.

This is where the story really takes off in a tapestry of colourful folktales and fantasies, masterfully presented in a vivid, and at times, poetic prose reminiscent of the times. It will be a delight to those who enjoy a period novel written in a period style.

My one small quibble is that, here and there, there are minor idiomatic differences in the translation, i.e. “Milord might talk to me.” might have been better stated as “Might m’lord speak to me?” However, when you remember that English is not the author’s first language, these are easily passed over.

Overall it is unique, both in time and location; different, inasmuch as it is a woman-character’s point of view of a gay situation; and, with the exception of the above, it is masterfully written. Four and one-half bees.

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Viewers to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 61,221

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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:  Bedaux Canadian Sub-arctic Epedition: A truly fantastic adventure by an equally larger-than-life character

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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!

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January 6, 2014 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay Literature | 2 Comments

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.

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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.

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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: 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.

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


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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

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

Make Do and Mend, by Adam Fitzroy

A charming time capsule set in rural Wales

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make do and mend - coverStory blurb: The Second World War. It’s not all fighting and glory; there are battles on the Home Front, too, and some are not exactly heroic. That’s what injured naval officer Harry discovers when he befriends conscientious objector Jim – a friendship frowned upon in their small Welsh valley even before they begin to fall in love. But they both have secrets to conceal, and it takes a bizarre sequence of events before the full truth can be uncovered.

A novel about healing, compromise, making the best of it and just plain managing to survive.

About the author: Imaginist and purveyor of tall tales Adam Fitzroy is a UK resident who has been successfully spinning male-male romances either part-time or full-time since the 1980s, and has a particular interest in examining the conflicting demands of love and duty.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Coming so close after Remembrance Day, I’ll admit that another wartime story may not be ideal timing, but Make Do and Mend by Adam Fitzroy [Manifold Press, May 4, 2013] is more of a gentle love story than a war tale per se. In fact, given that it deals (in part) with the topic of a conscientious objection, one could say it is ‘anti-war’ in nature.

As the story opens, the Second World War is already underway, and Navy Commander Harry Lyons has been sent home on medical leave. Home is a family farm in rural Wales, where enigmatic farmhand, Jim Byrnawell, a conscientious objector, is making himself handy. This is the simple beginning to a story that, happily, stays simple, even though there is much happening at the same time.

Through Harry and Jim, we are invited behind the war scene to a quiet corner of Wales where the inhabitants are ‘making do’. Rationing and sacrifice are the accepted norms, and yet it is this communal sacrifice that brings people together; our two protagonists included.

To add a bit of angst to the mix, the author has introduced a hypothetical debate around the topic of conscientious objection; as discussed from the point of view of various characters. It is a somewhat unique perspective—certainly one I have not encountered before—and Fitzroy has done a fine job of keeping the discussion balanced.

The other elements of the story have a balance to them, as well. Harry and Jim’s relationship comes together with a naturalness that sits well with the reader, and the physical aspects are in keeping with the novel’s understated style.

Mention should also be made of the charming setting, and of the quaintness of the Welsh villagers. It reads with all the credibility of opening a time capsule. Five bees.

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Viewers to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 58,571

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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: Johnny Fauquier – DSO (Double bar): Probably Canada’s greatest bomber pilot.

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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!

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November 18, 2013 Posted by | a love story, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period | 2 Comments

The Second Ring, by Anthony Kobal

A great adaptation of an historical event, skilfully told.

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the second line - coverStory blurb: Set in war-torn Norway during the German Occupation, Klaus, a young national, finds that he has caught the attention of Axel, a rising Nazi officer in the élite Fallschirmjäger paratroopers. While the battle for territory is rife with bloodshed, the battle for heavy water – crucial for making an atomic bomb – is just as intense. An almost impregnable factory is the target, nestled in the side of a mountain, beneath a plateau. The Enigma machine has been decoding signals that the Norwegians plan on sabotaging it in the deepest winter. As Axel and Klaus’ mutual attraction turns to near obsession, old rivalries threaten to expose the impossible seduction between the two, and the inevitable clash in the fierce ice and snow of battle rises to a harrowing confrontation.

Cover design by Fiona Jayde

Editing by Mary Harris

About the Author: Poet and novelist, Anthony Kobal is the author of many articles in LGBT publications internationally. This is his first novel.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

The Vemork electrolysis building appears here in a photo taken during the plant's inauguration. After descending from the plateau, the attackers crossed the gorge behind where this photographer stood and approached the plant from alongside the turbine hall (upper left).

The Vemork electrolysis building appears here in a photo taken during the plant’s inauguration. After descending from the plateau, the attackers crossed the gorge behind where this photographer stood and approached the plant from alongside the turbine hall (upper left).

Given that next Monday is “Armistice Day,” or “Remembrance Day” as we now call it, The Second Ring, a first novel by Anthony Kobal, [Solferino Press; 1 edition, October 28, 2013] is topical indeed. The story is based in part on the Nazi regime’s failed attempt to build a nuclear bomb during WWII, and the sabotaging of the Vemork heavy water plant near Rjuken, Norway, February 28, 1943.

As a good historical novel should, I think, the author has stuck quite closely to historical facts. For example, he brings to the fore the bitterness felt by the German people with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles (1919), which imposed heavy penalties on them in retribution for WWI. This, and the burden of rebuilding the country, were two of the factors that led to Hitler’s successful takeover with a promise of an Aryan Nation.

The protagonist in this story is a young German, Axel, who shortly after his introduction becomes the sex slave of a kinky baron. It seems the baron is into BDSM and likes to have a naked lapdog on a leash. Enter a second slave (Bruno, for the purposes of later on), who happens to be Axel’s nemesis from their school days.

Axel seems content being a slave, for, although he is not held hostage, he tolerates the baron’s depraved proclivities until he is literally thrown out. Nonetheless, he picks himself up to become one of the young lions in the Nazi’s crack paratrooper outfit.

The story really begins when Axel’s company is assigned to assist and protect the Vemork Electrolysis Plant, located among the formidable peaks and cliffs of the Hardanger Plateau, from the fierce Norwegian Resistance Movement. Needless to say, given the Nazi’s persecution of homosexuals, Axel is very guarded regarding his true sexual orientation, but fate is fickle, and before long he finds himself in love with Klaus, a Norwegian freedom fighter.

Then, in another fatalistic twist, Bruno show up in a senior command position, and promptly abducts Klaus for himself.

Being a historical fact, the fate of the Vemork heavy water is known—a fascinating story in its own right:

Surrounding their boss Leif Tronstad (front row, center) are most of the Vemork saboteurs, including (front row left to right) Jens Anton Poulsson and Joachim Ronneberg, and (back row left to right) Hans Storhaug, Fredrik Kayser, Kasper Idland, Claus Helberg, and Birger Stromsheim.

Surrounding their boss Leif Tronstad (front row, center) are most of the Vemork saboteurs, including (front row left to right) Jens Anton Poulsson and Joachim Ronneberg, and (back row left to right) Hans Storhaug, Fredrik Kayser, Kasper Idland, Claus Helberg, and Birger Stromsheim.

Conscious that every minute was now crucial, Ronneberg and Kayser climbed a short ladder and crawled as silently as possible down the shaft on their hands and knees over a mass of wires and pipes, pushing their sacks of explosives ahead of them as they went. Through an opening in the ceiling they could see the target beneath them. At the end of the tunnel the pair quickly slid down a ladder into an outer room before rushing the night watchman inside the high-concentration area.

“They immediately locked the doors and Kayser held his gun to the night watchman, who was quivering uncontrollably. Ronneberg had laid about half of the 18 charges when he heard a shattering of glass, and he spun around to see Sergeant Birger Stromsheim climbing in through a window from the back of the plant. Kayser also swung around and prepared to load his gun before he realized they were in good company.

Just before they lit the fuses, the guard said, “Please, I need my glasses. They are impossible to get in Norway these days.” It was a surreal moment and the request stopped the three raiders in their tracks, bewildered by this change to the script, this brief snapshot of civilian anxiety at the critical point of a crucial military operation. There followed a few curious moments as the saboteurs politely rummaged around his desk for his glasses. “Takk” (thank you) said the smiling guard as he put the spectacles on his nose. As he spoke, the four of them heard the sound of footsteps approaching. Was this one of the German guards making his rounds? To their relief, a Norwegian civilian walked into the room and almost fell backwards as he saw what appeared to be three British commandos and his colleague with his hands above his head.

The Vemork heavy water plant after the allies' sabotage.

The Vemork heavy water plant after the allies’ sabotage.

The four members of the demolition party immediately took cover, waiting for a reaction from the German barracks hut. They lay or stood stock-still as the door of the hut swung open and a soldier appeared, only half dressed, flashing a torch around the factory yard. He walked slowly in the direction of Haukelid, who was hiding behind some empty drum caskets.

When he was five yards away he stopped and swept the beam of the torch no more than a few inches above the Norwegian’s head. Had it been a windless night, he might have been able to hear his heavy breathing, if not the rapid hammering of his heart. At that exact moment, three tommy guns and four pistols were pointing straight at the back of the unsuspecting German. A couple of inches lower with his torch and he would have been riddled with several dozen bursts of Allied firepower. But he turned on his heel and walked slowly back to the hut, and as the door shut the order for withdrawal was given. ~ Nova – http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/hydro/resistance.html

Regarding the fictional characters, I will leave the ending for the readers to discover for themselves. I will say this, however; it is somewhat unexpected (although not entirely), but fortunately not self-indulgent.

A good read. Congratulations, Anthony Kobal, on your first novel. Four bees.

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Viewers to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 57-737

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Authors in Depth

Coming soon – I will be launching a new blog shortly, Authors in Depth, dedicated to introducing new and established authors. This will be a free forum to talk about themselves, their books, and any personal interests and anecdotes they may wish to share. It is open to anyone (and all) with one or more published books to their credit. Authors who are interested can contact me at: gerrybbooks@yahoo.ca 

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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:  Barbara Ann Scott: “Canada’s Sweetheart”.

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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.

            

Now you can get a free, signed inscription, to go along with my e-books,

Two Irish Lads and Nor All Thy Tears 
Simply by clicking on the logo below

signed copy logo_edited-1

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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.

November 4, 2013 Posted by | a love story, Fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay military, Gay romance, Historical period | 1 Comment

Sandel, by Angus Stewart

A Masterpiece of the writer’s art – tender, evocative and sensitive

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sandel - coverStory blurb: The story of two young lovers whose passion for one another is exclusive, lyrical, tender and subject to the tensions that any intense romantic relationship is liable to.

A love affair between a thirteen-year-old schoolboy (Tony Sandel) and a nineteen-year-old undergraduate (David), written and published at time before moral panic set in and the false dogma was established that all such relationships damaged the younger partner for life. Sandel is an evocative portrait of boarding-school and Oxbridge life and the intense, often romantic friendships that flourish there. It is also a novel of sexual awakening, whose light touch disguises the profound emotions that such friendships generate; the relationship portrayed is partly of equals and partly, as often happens, one where it is the younger partner who decides whether and how it should persist.

About the author: Angus Stewart’s [1936 – 1998] first published work was ‘The Stile’, which appeared in the 1964 Faber anthology Stories by New Writers. He won the Richard Hillary Memorial Prize in 1965. His breakthrough to public and critical attention came in 1968 with his first novel, Sandel. Set in the pseudonymous St Cecilia’s College, Oxford, the book revolves around the unorthodox love between a 19-year-old undergraduate, David Rogers, and a 13-year-old chorister, Antony Sandel. The novel appears to have been based on real events, recounted by Stewart in an article under the pseudonym ‘John Davis’ in the 1961 anthology Underdogs, edited for Weidenfeld and Nicolson by Philip Toynbee. The story is treated with delicacy and sensitivity, and has a place in English literature comparable in importance to Roger Peyrefitte’s treatment of the same subject in his 1943 novel Les amitiés particulières. Over the past forty years Sandel has become a cult gay novel.

After Sandel Stewart moved to Tangier in Morocco, partly as a project in self-discovery and partly to experiment with drugs in a sympathetic environment. His Moroccan experiences resulted in two further books, a novel entitled Snow in Harvest (1969) and a travel diary entitled Tangier: A Writer’s Notebook (1977). He also wrote poetry, some of which was published as Sense and Inconsequence (1972), with an introduction by his father’s longstanding friend W. H. Auden.

After his mother’s death in 1979 Stewart returned to England, living for the final twenty years of his life in an annex to his father’s home at Fawler outside Oxford. He was an accomplished portrait photographer. For much of his life he suffered from clinical depression.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Scen from Les amitiés particulières.There is currently a controversy raging over Amazon.com’s decision to arbitrarily exclude certain types of erotic novels from its catalogue. However, to the best of my knowledge it has yet to define in specific terms which novels are unacceptable, beyond some broad-stroke classifications—i.e., underage sex, depictions of rape and incest, or bestiality, etc.

To say the least, this is an ambitious undertaking given the millions of indie books alone (for these seem to be the ones targeted the most), so I expect there are many ‘babies’ thrown out with the bath water—certainly some of my friends have complained of this already.

My reaction is that it is a backdoor approach to censorship by a monopoly that has little regard for its authors anyway. This has been my personal experience, and if asked I will gladly provide chapter and verse regarding the details.

Part of this purge can also be attributed to a hypocritically-prudish North America that prohibits an author from writing about sexual activity  with a minor under the age of eighteen, but sets the bar for consensual sex at sixteen, and adolescent-to adolescent sex at thirteen, i.e.

163.1 (1) In this section, “child pornography” means

(b) any written material, visual representation or audio recording that advocates or counsels sexual activity with a person under the age of eighteen years that would be an offence under this Act;

(c) any written material whose dominant characteristic is the description, for a sexual purpose, of sexual activity with a person under the age of eighteen years that would be an offence under this Act; or

Age of consent:

From 1890 until recently, the age at which a youth could consent to nonexploitative sexual activity was 14 years. With the recent change to the criminal code of Canada, the age of consent for nonexploitative sexual activity is now 16 years.

Nonexploitative activity is defined as sexual activity that does not involve prostitution or pornography, and where there is no relationship of trust, authority or dependency between the persons involved (1). A coach, spiritual leader, teacher, school principal, guidance counsellor or family member are all examples of persons in a position of trust or authority with youth.

For exploitative sexual activity (prostitution or pornography, or where there is a relationship of trust, authority or dependency), the age of consent is 18 years.

The spirit of the new legislation is not to regulate consensual teenage sexual activity. To this effect, there are a few notable exceptions to the law:

  1. Youth 12 or 13 years of age can consent to nonexploitative sexual activity with peers when the age difference is no more than two years. For example, a 12-year-old child is deemed capable of consenting to sexual activity with a 14-year-old, but not a 15-year-old.
  2. Youth 14 or 15 years of age can consent to nonexploitative sexual activity when the age difference is no more than five years. For example, a 15-year-old can consent to having sexual intercourse with a 20-year-old, but not with a 21-year-old.

Children younger than 12 years of age can never consent to sexual activity with anyone, of any age, regardless of whether they say they do. (Canadian Paediatric Society – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2532909/)

With all this in mind I immediately ordered a copy (from Amazon) of the late Angus Stewart’s much acclaimed novel, Sandel, [Pilot Productions, August 10, 2013]. Like it’s equally acclaimed predecessor, Les amitiés particulières, by Roger Peyrefitte (1943), it deals with younger/older love in a tender, evocative and sensitive way. In fact, they are both masterpieces of the writer’s art.

Scene from Les amitiés particulièresSandel tells the story of Anthony Sandel, a choir boy at St Cecilia’s College, Oxford, and an undergraduate organist (David Rogers). At first their relationship focuses on their mutual love of religious music, but over time it progresses logically and with great credibility into an erastes and eronomous type of love. However, remembering that it was first written and published in the 1960s, this aspect is more implied than explicit; to the extent that the Daily Telegraph wrote of it: “A love not despicable.”

However, as one reviewer has pointed out, the 60s may have been quite ‘liberal’ compared to today, and I quote:

“It is merely difficult to imagine today an aunt who would think or dare to rescue from their outraged school her 13-year-old nephew caught in his master’s bed, and dispatch the lovers on a ten-week honeymoon in Italy. It is impossible though to imagine anything but imminent catastrophe if today a choirboy being interviewed by newsmen were to tell them about his love for his teacher and the latter punched one of them to the floor for making snide remarks about it. The threat “You shouldn’t have done that,” couldn’t possibly sound “unconvincing.” The newsmen would know only too well that a visit to the police would ensure an investigation almost bound to wreck the lives of both man and boy.”

Or,

“One wonders how long it will be before the child abuse lobby succeeds in imposing on productions of Romeo and Juliet the interruption of the most romantic scenes with sour warnings that despite the strongest contrary indications love involving a pubescent is always really no more than false cover for a satanic plot to satisfy selfish lust. ~ – Edmund Marlowe, author of Alexander’s Choice, an Eton boy’s love story.

I agree wholeheartedly. To Sandel – Five Bees for a true masterpiece.

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Viewers of Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 57,278

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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:  Springhill Nova Scotia Mine Disaster – Oct. 23, 1958“The Springhill Bump”

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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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Get an autographed copy of my e-books, Two Irish Lads and Nor All Thy Tears through Authorgraph. Click on the link below to learn how.

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October 28, 2013 Posted by | a love story, Angus Stewart, Coming out, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay Literature, Older/younger relationships | 9 Comments

Hadrian’s Lover, by Patricia Marie Budd

An interesting and thought-provoking story.

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hadrian's lover - coverStory blurb:Hadrian’s Lover is a stunning novel about a dystopian society disguised as a utopian one…it raises difficult questions about right and wrong, government control, and an individual’s right to express himself freely and be accepted for his sexual preference, regardless of what it is.” – Tyler R. Tichelaar, PH.D. and author of the award-winning Narrow Lives What if you lived in a world where homosexuality was the norm and all forms of heterosexual behavior were illegal? In the near future the human population has grown to such excess that the earth is no longer able to sustain humanity’s astronomical numbers. Poverty, starvation, and disease are rampant. Only the country of Hadrian seems able to defend itself against the ravages of overpopulation by restricting its growth and encasing its country behind a defensive wall. Procreation does not happen by chance in Hadrian. There are no unwanted pregnancies. No accidents. All pregnancies occur through in vitro fertilization, and every citizen is responsible for rearing one of Hadrian’s children. Heterosexuality is deemed the ill that has led humanity to the brink. In Hadrian, no one dares to express interest in the opposite sex; to do so would result in exile or re-education. Hadrian’s Lover tells the story of Todd Middleton, a teenage boy struggling to keep the secret of his heterosexuality. Read on, and feel with him as he suffers the indignities of a society determined to “cure” him of his plight.

About the author: Patricia Marie Budd is a high school English teacher living in northern Alberta, Canada. She has been a safe zone for her LGBT students throughout her twenty year career. Hadrian’s Lover is her third novel.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I must admit that sci-fi, fantasy stories are not my first choice, but occasionally one comes along that peaks my interest, and Hadrian’s Lover by Patricia Marie Budd [New Generation Publishing, September 10, 2013] is one of them.

This is a ‘what if’ story set sometime in the twenty-second century, and supposes a world in which GBLT individuals rule, and heterosexuals have been declared both deviant and illegal in an independent nation, called, ‘Hadrian.’

In the surrounding world the heterosexual population has screwed itself into a crisis with overcrowding, disease, starvation and chaos, but emerging out of this morass is a sort of Shangri La of balance and proportion—albeit micro managed to the nth degree. However, to belong to it one must be homosexual. Reproduction is allowed, but only selectively and by in vitro fertilization.

The main character of the story is Todd Middleton, a young man who has the misfortune to be born *shock* heterosexual. It is with him that the ‘point’ of the story comes to the fore; for Todd at first tries to conceal his sexuality, and then suffers the same sort of bullying harassment that some homosexual men and women continue to experience today. The difference being, of course, that now the majority has become the minority.

Fantasy stories of this nature are fun to write because the sky’s the limit for imagination; however, it seems the publisher’s and editor’s respective ‘skies’ were a lot lower regarding this story. This raises some issues with me, not to mention the hackles on the back of my neck.

Under the Canadian Criminal Code, the definition of child pornography regarding written material is as follows:

163.1 (1) In this section, “child pornography” means

  •  (b) any written material, visual representation or audio recording that advocates or counsels sexual activity with a person under the age of eighteen years that would be an offence under this Act;

  • (c) any written material whose dominant characteristic is the description, for a sexual purpose,* of sexual activity with a person under the age of eighteen years that would be an offence under this Act; [Emphasis mine.] *Note the qualification.

It is probably best, therefore, to play it safe by aging your characters 18 years or older, but any publisher or editor (or vendor) who gets squeamish after that, I would personally tell to go pee in their hat. After all, who is writing this novel, you or the publisher, etc.?!

Over all, however, I thought the story was interesting, a bit pedagogical in places (…a occupational habit for teachers), but certainly thought provoking. Three and one-half bees.

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Viewers to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 56,871

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Coming of Age on the TrailI am very happy to announce that I am within ten pages of completing the above manuscript. It has been a long ‘gestation period,’ four and one-half years, but I can say with confidence that it is a unique western genre novel, set in British Columbia, and with a mythological twist. Anticipated release date, March 2013.

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Coming soon – I will be launching a new blog shortly, Authors in Depth, dedicated to introducing new and established authors. This will be a free forum to talk about themselves, their books, and any personal interests and anecdotes they may wish to share. It is open to anyone (and all) with one or more published books to their credit. Authors who are interested can contact me at: gerrybbooks@yahoo.ca 

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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:  Hurricane Hazel – Oct. 15 – 16, 1954. Canada’s perfect storm.

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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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October 21, 2013 Posted by | Canadian author, Fantasy, Fiction, Gay fiction, Homoerotic, Male bisexual | Leave a comment

The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men

An unique and fully refreshing story that I think can be enjoyed by anyone who reads it.

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the mingled destinies - coverStory blurb: Minerva True is a River Dweller and mystic who lives deep in the forested hills of a river valley on the fringes of the world. She is the only person who sees the ancient danger that resides on a nearby chapel grounds. Most pay little heed to her warnings, and in the end only a small band of friends stand beside her. A tale of love and duty ensues, challenging the destinies of Minerva, the young hero Leith, his lover Aubrey, and the mute boy, Deverell. Leith’s half-crazed mother Calpurnia has her own aspirations, however, that prove detrimental not only to Minerva, but to everyone she comes in contact with.

About the author: Eric Arvin resides in the same sleepy Indiana river town where he grew up. He graduated from Hanover College with a Bachelors in History. He has lived, for brief periods, in Italy and Australia. He has survived brain surgery and his own loud-mouthed personal demons. Eric is the author of WOKE UP IN A STRANGE PLACE, THE MINGLED DESTINIES OF CROCODILES & MEN, SUBSURDITY, SIMPLE MEN, and various other sundry and not-so-sundry writings. He intends to live the rest of his days with tongue in cheek and eyes set to roam.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Lately I have been ruminating on a trend that has GBLT novels reading like variations on a single, repetitive theme: That is until I came across Eric Arvin’s (…get ready for it) The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men [Wilde City Press, LLC, April 24, 2013].

Now, with a title like that you just know it’s going to be unique, even if it has to dip into the world of fantasy to do it, and so it is with a wonderful romp through mystic times, good v. evil, insidious dark forces (including religion, science and progress), and a prophetess by the name of Minerva.

Then we have a witch-like eccentric—appropriately named ‘Calpernia’—and a loyal vanguard of yeomen: Leith, his lover Aubrey Avonmore, and Deverell.

As you can probably tell, one of the particularly strong points of this novel is the character development, and that includes the names given to each one. It is surprising how a character’s personality can be enhanced by an unique and colourful name, or burdened by the alternative. I mean, “Helen True” just wouldn’t cut it.

The author has also done a superb job of portraying the mystic setting so that it becomes an integral part of the story.  After all, a lost valley in a land far, far away, dripping with ancient mystery and forgotten lore, deserves not to be passed over lightly.

And what fantasy would be complete without an evil villain to hiss at (in your mind, anyway), and in this case it is “Dark Eyes:” a sort of allegory for religion (the destroyer of legend and myth), science, the nemesis of imagination, and progress which has its own agenda. Therefore, every time people turn away from the fantasies of old (youth), Dark Eyes becomes stronger.

There have been some aspects left in abeyance, like the further development of Azrael, in anticipation of the sequel, Azrael and the Light Bringer.

This is an unique and fully refreshing story that I think can be enjoyed by anyone who reads it. Five bees.

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In spite of worldwide condemnation, GBLT individuals are still suffering mental and physical abuse in Russia. Please do whatever you can to protest the Sochi 2014 Olympics by boycotting the sponsors: Coca Cola, Samsung, MacDonald’s, Visa, etc. Yours may only be one voice, but if you speak out others will join you.

boycott sponsors

Thank you!

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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 books as well. Latest post:  Benedict Arnold – A Canadian Connection.

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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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September 23, 2013 Posted by | Fantasy, Fiction, Gay romance, M/M love and adventure | Leave a comment

The Crimson Outlaw, by Alex Beecroft

 Shades of “The Prince and The Pauper,” with a gay twist. Delightful!

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The crimson outlaw - coverStory blurb: Vali Florescu, heir to a powerful local boyar, flees his father’s cruelty to seek his fortune in the untamed Carpathian forests. There he expects to fight ferocious bandits and woo fair maidens to prove himself worthy of returning to depose his tyrannical father. But when he is ambushed by Mihai Roscat, the fearsome Crimson Outlaw, he discovers that he’s surprisingly happy to be captured and debauched instead.

Mihai, once an honoured knight, has long sought revenge against Vali’s father, Wadim, who killed his lord and forced him into a life of banditry. Expecting his hostage to be a resentful, spoiled brat, Mihai is unprepared for the boy to switch loyalties, saving the lives of villagers and of Mihai himself during one of Wadim’s raids. Mihai is equally unprepared for the attraction between them to deepen into love.

Vali soon learns that life outside the castle is not the fairy tale he thought, and happy endings must be earned. To free themselves and their people from Wadim’s oppression, Vali and Mihai must forge their love into the spear-point of a revolution and fight for a better world for all.

Cover art by Simoné

Layout by L.C. Chase

File length: 524 KB

Print Length: 95 pages

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Although I was already familiar with Alex Beecroft’s outstanding writing (having reviewed  several of her books before), I must admit that when I first saw The Crimson Outlaw [Riptide Publishing, August 10, 2013], it was the luscious cover by Simoné that caught first my eye. Happily, the writing matched the cover, so it made it a delightful package indeed.

The story blurb capsulizes the plot quite well, and so I will focus on the other aspects of the story that made it such a delightful read for me.

The first, of course, has to be the unique setting. Off hand, I can’t think of another GBLT novel set in Romania; certainly none that I have ever come across. In a way this is surprising because it has so many romantic aspects going for it—the rich and colourful Magyar traditions, and the fierce gentry for example.

Second, the castle intrigue. I mean, a castle just isn’t a castle unless it has some intrigue surrounding it. So, in this case we have Vali trying to save Stela (his sister) from an arranged marriage with a much older and homely man; Vali against Wadim (his cruel and tyrannical father); and finally Vali and Mihai, the handsome outlaw, both of them against Wadim.

Finally there  is the character develop that kept me convinced right down to the minor supporting cast. It made them both real and understandable.

Altogether this novel answered my quest for a somewhat unique story that didn’t involve vampires and werewolves, and that wasn’t preoccupied with the perils of coming out and/or self-introspection. So bravo … or in Ms Beecroft’s case, Brava! Five bees.

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Viewers to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 55,122

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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.

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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 books as well. Latest post: Piper James Richardson:  Recipient of the Victoria Cross for valour

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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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September 16, 2013 Posted by | Fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance | | Leave a comment

Pickup Men, by L.C. Chase

A pleasant read.

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pickup men - cover

Story blurb: It takes a pissed-off Brahma bull named Shockwave to show rodeo pickup man Marty Fairgrave the cold hard truth about champion bull rider Tripp Colby: Tripp will never leave the safety of his closet or acknowledge Marty in public. Sometimes loving someone just isn’t enough, and after a year of hiding what they are, Marty finally sees the light—and it’s no longer shining on Tripp.

Tripp Colby would do anything for Marty. Well . . . almost. He’s never loved anyone before, and isn’t quite sure how to handle it now. But he knows Marty is his everything, and in order to win him back, Tripp will have to overcome his darkest fears and step into the light.

But no matter Tripp’s intentions, the cost might be too high and the effort too late for these two cowboys to ride off into the sunset.

Cover design: L.C. Chase

Review by Gerry Burnie

Who said a cover can’t sell a book? In my search for this week’s featured novel, which I do a week-or-so in advance of my review, my eye fell upon L.C. Chase’s luscious design for Pickup Men (Volume 1) [Riptide Publishing; 1 edition, July 8, 2013]. The rodeo scene, the hunky model, and the elaborate font, all fit together to make a most evocative whole.

I liked the story too, although it stuck pretty much to the ‘road-well-travelled-genre’ of gay novels. Marty Fairgrave is a likeable, straightforward guy, out of the closet, and respected for it. He is also blessed with a pair of loving, supportive parents, and a couple of equally supportive, male friends.

On the other hand, his erstwhile lover (…of sorts), Tripp Colby, is locked in the closet from the inside, and is loathe to come out of it. As it turns out he has some justification on account of a homophobic and domineering father, but this isn’t doing a thing for Marty’s devotion.

Things finally come to a head when Marty risks serious injury to save Tripp from a rampant bull, but Tripp doesn’t have the courtesy to visit him in the hospital. Even so, after Marty has pulled the plug on their relationship, Tripp decides to make an effort to win him back.

In spite of all this, Tripp isn’t a complete heel—as we discover when he makes a trip to San Francisco, but whether he can redeem himself to the point where he regains Marty’s love is the crux of the story.

I try not to be too critical of a story simply because it sticks to the middle road, but, by the same token, there is very little to get excited about, either. Jane Jacobs once described modern, urban  subdivisions as suffering from “The great blight of sameness,” and I am beginning to think the same applies to gay fiction.

More specifically I found that the writing style in this one tended to jump topics rather abruptly, making for a bumpy read, and that some of the sex scenes were just a bit loquacious for my taste. Mind you, I scan sex scenes anyway, so that is a minor quibble.

Bottom line: Would I recommend it? Yes, definitely. These are merely my opinions, and they may not reflect the tastes and opinions of others. Three bees.

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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 books as well. Latest post: Sir Mathew Ballie Begbie (Judge): The so-called ‘hanging judge.’

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boycott sochi

Boycott Russia’s attack on human rights. October 5, 6 & & 7 boycott Coca Cola and MacDonald s.

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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.

            

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

 

September 9, 2013 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay romance, Gay western | Leave a comment

The Cost of Loving (Unconditional Love #2) by Wade Kelly

A well-written, insightful story that I think you will enjoy on a sunny day.

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the cost of loving - coverStory blub: Matt Dixon, a young firefighter, is the golden child of his family, and he never dreamed that coming out would challenge more than the way his church sees him.

For years, Matt has led a double life hoping to avoid ridicule. When a self-righteous pastor’s statements provoke him to defend his recently deceased best friend’s honor and subsequently out himself, he suffers the brutal aftermath of his revelation. Everyone in his life, including his family and his new lover, Darian, must deal with the ramifications as Matt struggles to come to terms with guilt, shame, and his very belief in God.

Darian Weston lost his fiancé when Jamie took his life, and his feelings for Matt added guilt to his burden of grief. Confused and lonely, Darian clings to Matt despite his inner strife. But small-town realities keep intruding, and if Matt and Darian hope to make a life together, they must first take a stand for what they believe in, even if they fear the cost.

Cover art: Enny Kraft

About the author (in his own words): Hi. I’m Wade. 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.

When not writing, I am THINKING about writing and probably scribbling notes on old napkins in the car while I play “taxi-driver” for my three kids. I love snakes, and I have a turtle in my bathtub!

Review by Gerry Burnie

As good as The Cost of Loving (Unconditional Love #2) by Wade Kelly [Dreamspinner Press; 1 edition, August 15, 2013] is, I don’t recommend it if you’re already in a funk! Wait for another day. But otherwise it’s a thought-provoking, insightful story, that deals with a range of complex issues, such as deep-seated depression and self-laceration.

When Jamie Miller commits suicide it is like a pebble in a stream; the catalyst for a whole range of unforeseen ramifications. Most affected are his best friend, Matt Dixon, and his fiancé Darian Weston. Matt is a blonde-haired, ‘Fire Jock’ (and closeted gay), but when a holy roller-type preacher maligns Jamie’s character it brings Matt (honourably) out of the closet in his defence.

Darian is somewhat the opposite. He is none too self-confident to begin with, and with Jamie’s death it really knocks the blocks out from beneath him. He then returns to drugs (somewhat old hat) and self-laceration—now there’s something I haven’t encountered before. He also turns to sex, almost as a drug, and Matt is his unwitting supplier.

The good news is that things do come together in the end for a ‘not overly happy ending’ but one that will leave at least some Kleenex in the box.

I really do admire the author for tackling such a dark range of issues, and characters, without much compromising. Writing depressing scenes is not generally relished by most authors, but even toffee requires salt, so the deeper the depression the higher the redemption.

I am also of two minds when it comes to the topic of conservative religions, and holy-roller-type clergy. Religions have never been a friend of the GBLT person, and have, more than any other institution, been responsible for untold their death and humiliation in the past, but I am beginning to wonder if it is becoming a trite issue. Yes, religions are retrogressive, and ‘yes’ most of them are out-dated and hypocritical, but this is not breaking new ground to say so.

BTW, this is not a criticism of this story, just a reader’s observation.

Then, there is my usual plea to ‘lighten up authors.’ For the most part GBLT stories are becoming indistinguishable by their dark composure, so a little humour would be greatly appreciated.

Bottom line, The Cost of Loving (Unconditional Love #2) is a well-written, insightful story that I think you will enjoy on a sunny day. Four and one-half bees.

PS – I couldn’t complete this review without a mention of the Gorgeous cover by Enny Kraft. One of the most evocative I’ve seen.

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Notice to all those requesting a book review

For every review I am able to write, I get approximately 10 requests. Therefore, to give everyone an equal opportunity, I have decided to put all the names in a box and pick four every month. This will go on until the end of the current year. Then a new set of names will be collected next year.

Thank you for your interest and participation.

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Tomorrow is ‘Speak out for Russia’ in Canada. Here is the All Out.Org message:

Here’s the plan: tomorrow, we’re all coming together at Global Speak Out events across the world. Join an event near you to grow the pressure on world leaders to help stop the anti-gay crackdown in Russia.

How to join in:

Click here to find the event closest to you: https://www.allout.org/russiaevents
Wear RED to the event to show your support. All Out members will be wearing red to symbolise that we’re all standing up for love in Russia.
If you can’t make it, you can still chip in to power the movement fighting for love and equality in Russia and around the world.
Click here to donate: https://www.allout.org/russia-speakout
It’s amazing – there’s more than 20 events in cities all over the world, from Asunción to Manchester to Vancouver. It’s time to go ALL OUT for Russia!

Join the Movement: Go All Out

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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.

            

      

Thanks for dropping by. I’ll be spending the week reading another novel for next week’s review, so please come back.

September 2, 2013 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Homoerotic | 2 Comments

The Absolutist, by John Boyne

A poignant story of love and sacrifice.

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the absolutist - coverStory blurb: It is September 1919: twenty-one-year-old Tristan Sadler takes a train from London to Norwich to deliver a package of letters to the sister of Will Bancroft, the man he fought alongside during the Great War.

But the letters are not the real reason for Tristan’s visit. He can no longer keep a secret and has finally found the courage to unburden himself of it. As Tristan recounts the horrific details of what to him became a senseless war, he also speaks of his friendship with Will–from their first meeting on the training grounds at Aldershot to their farewell in the trenches of northern France. The intensity of their bond brought Tristan happiness and self-discovery as well as confusion and unbearable pain.

The Absolutist is a masterful tale of passion, jealousy, heroism, and betrayal set in one of the most gruesome trenches of France during World War I. This novel will keep readers on the edge of their seats until its most extraordinary and unexpected conclusion, and will stay with them long after they’ve turned the last page.

About the author: John Boyne (born 30 April 1971 in Dublin) is an Irish novelist.

He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and studied Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, where he was awarded the Curtis Brown prize. But it was during his time at Trinity that he began to get published. To pay his way at that stage of his career, he worked at Waterstone’s, typing up his drafts by night.

John Boyne is the author of six novels, as well as a number of short stories which have been published in various anthologies and broadcast on radio and television. His novels are published in 39 languages. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, which to date has sold more than 4 million copies worldwide, is a #1 New York Times Bestseller and a film adaptation was released in September 2008.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

It was only after I read The Absolutist by John Boyne [Other Press, July 10, 2012] that I came to realize how many reviews had been written about this book—by some pretty heavy-hitters, as well. It made me pause to wonder if there was anything new to say about it, or, indeed, if there was anyone in the world who hadn’t read it.

Nevertheless, I decided that my own opinion is all I can ever offer, anyway, and like me, there might be a few out there who have taken a while to find it.

The story is written around Tristan Sadler at various stages of his life, from his expulsion from home, to his enlisting in the army in 1919, and then afterward until he is a reclusive old man. Interspersed among these is his relationship with a boy named Will Bancroft, his war years, and his withdrawal from society to live with his memories.

In spite of the complexities of this story the author kept a fairly steady hand on the reins. Tristan, as the protagonist, is a likeable kid who is somewhat adrift on the fickle currents of life, and as such he is frequently knocked about. His drill sergeant is a sadist, His friend (lover) Will is a cad, and Will’s family are an insensitive lot. Nonetheless, he endures all of this with a kind of innocence that is allotted to fools and children.

As I alluded above, all of this is well written, and for the most part quite credible. We can feel for Tristan’s disappointment that Will won’t commit himself (even though we’d like to slap him); the mud, discomfort and hell of WWI trenches are vividly portrayed; and the poignant moments of Will’s death are all quite real.

However, the shortcoming (in my mind) is that it follows in the wake of so many other GBLT novels, inasmuch as it is well-written but dark. Is there no joy in ‘gayville’’? There were a few anomalies, too. For example, Tristan seemed remarkably literate from his stated background, and I found the ending—particularly with the gratuitous visit Will’s sister—somewhat unusual.

Altogether, however, it is a story that will hold your interest. Three and one-half 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!

♠♠♠

Interested in Canadian history? Want to see 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 books as well. Latest post: (Sir) Ernest Thompson Seton, Author, artist and naturalist extraordinaire.

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persecution of gays in russia

Protest staging the Olympic Games in Russia — There is an alternative

This is the face of state-sanctioned persecution of gays and lesbians in Russia, To date vicious beatings, arrests and even murder have been spawned under Vladimir Putin’s so-called ban on “homosexual propaganda.” It is a cruel, political ploy to prop up his sagging popularity. He is playing St. George, and homosexuals are his made-up dragon. At the bottom of it, however, is a unwarranted attack on human right for which Putin has no regard.

Protest the staging of the Olympic Games in Russia. There is an alternative in Vancouver that won’t penalize the athletes. Do it for the GBLT community, do it for human rights, and do it for humanity.

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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.

      

      

Thanks for dropping by. I’ll be spending the week reading another novel for next week’s review, so please come back.

 

August 19, 2013 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay military, Historical Fiction, Historical period | Leave a comment

Between Brothers, by J.M. Snyder

Bold subject matter, and top-notch writing…

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between brothers - coverStory blurb: Brian Thompson is living a lie. A successful businessman, Brian can’t stay focused in a real relationship and cheats on Timothy, his longtime lover. A phone call from his younger brother Joey, whom Brian hasn’t spoken to in years, makes him recognize the uncanny resemblance between the two men.

Joey is, in a word, perfect. In Brian’s eyes, he always has been. When their mother is hospitalized, Joey asks his older brother to come home. He tells Brian he needs him, which is just what Brian wants to hear. But the long trip north gives Brian plenty of time to think about his brother, and he comes to realize an unsettling truth — he is in love with Joey.

Suddenly Brian admits that he wants Joey in ways he knows he shouldn’t. Can he come to terms with the way he feels before his unrequited love threatens to tear him — and his relationships with both Timothy and Joey — apart?

About the author: An author of gay erotic/romantic fiction, J.M. Snyder began in self-publishing and worked with Amber Allure, Aspen Mountain, eXcessica, and Torquere Presses.

Snyder’s highly erotic short gay fiction has been published online at Amazon Shorts, Eros Monthly, Ruthie’s Club, and Tit-Elation, as well as in anthologies by Alyson Books, Aspen Mountain, Cleis Press, eXcessica Publishing, Lethe Press, and Ravenous Romance.

In 2010, Snyder founded JMS Books LLC, a royalty-paying queer small press that publishes in both electronic and print format.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Quite often readers come to my blog searching for stories dealing with “brother-to-brother-love,” and so this week I offer a novella on that very topic. I do have to say from the start, however,  that Brotherly Love, by J.M. Snyder, [JMS Books LLC 2010], is not incestuous in a physical way. Rather, it is a visceral love story in a contemplative way.

The story is written in the first person from Brian’s point of view, and using him as her canvas Snyder paints all the various hues of a rake: self absorbed, selfish, lascivious and a cheat. However, what absolves him to some extent is that he readily admits his shortcomings, and even chastises himself for them.

He is nonetheless devoted to his younger brother, Joey—perhaps ‘obsessed’ would be a more accurate description—with whom he is both emotionally and romantically inclined. It is an unrequited romance, however, and the novel is primarily about how the two deal with this dilemma.

Appearing opposite his older brother, Joey is perhaps more mature inasmuch as he is neither judgemental nor recriminating in dealing with his brother’s feelings. Indeed, his love for Brian never waivers throughout the entire story, and in the end it is this devotion that helps Brian find his path again.

Because of the bold subject matter, along with some superb insights and top-notch writing, I have no hesitation in recommending this novella to anyone. Five bees.

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Russian Interior Ministry confirms that gay right activists will face arrest during the Winter Olympic games

The Russian Interior Ministry, which is responsible for the police, has confirmed that those who break Russia’s ban on the promotion of gay lifestyles to minors will face arrest at the Sochi Winter Olympics Games next year.

We must now proceed with an outright boycott of the Winter Olympics.  Our efforts must be stepped up to full force. We must now band together and make our voices so loud they are deafening. The world must know how loud our voices are and how strong our will is. The time has come for us and our allies to wage all out bombardment, via social media, email, phone, anything and everything. We cannot sit back and watch this dire situation unfold without taking any action. ACT UP – FIGHT BACK!!*
*Reprinted from another source.

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Interested in Canadian history? Want to see 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 books as well. Latest post: Roncarelli v. Duplessis, 1959, Supreme Court of Canada. Probably the most important decision in pre-constitution law.

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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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August 12, 2013 Posted by | Brotherly love, Brothers in love, Fiction, Gay fiction | Leave a comment

Adagio, by Chris Owen

A heart warming romance in the classic style …

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adagio - coverStory blurb: Love Is What Happens When You’re Making Other Plans…

Five years after arriving in Australia, Jason Stuart is finally embarking on the dream that brought him Down Under: going on “walkabout” in the Australian Outback. But Jason is not that fresh-faced and untried boy from Canada anymore. Jason is a man with half a decade of bad memories and worse nightmares. His friends think he’s crazy, or possibly just plain stupid, but Jason needs to make his dream real in order to face his past.

Everything changes when Jason picks up an unexpected travel companion. Suddenly, it’s not his past that Jason needs to confront, it’s his future.

Part coming-of-age tale, part romance, part travel yarn, Adagio paints a heart warming picture of a fledgling relationship between two very different men against the lush backdrop of Australia’s natural wonders.

About the author: I live and write in eastern Canada, where the winds blow cool and calm on the good days, wicked and fast on the bad. There’s rain and sun, and in the winter there’s snow… a lot of snow. A nice fire to keep warm, a nice pen with good flow, and a decent notebook are all that I really require. Which is not to say that the MacBook Air isn’t the best thing eve.. I went to a bunch of schools, learned a lot of things, and now make stuff up because not to do so is unthinkable.

I’m inspired by the day to day minutia of life, and find beauty in the way words go together. I like texture and richness of experience. I’m not shy. I’m happy, I’m learning, I’m living.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

In my choice of Adagio by Chris Owen [Casperian Books LLC, September 21, 2012] as my featured novel this week, three things caught my notice. First, it is about two Canadian boys, written by a Canadian author, and set in Australia.

I don’t know why I like Australia as I do (I love the accents), but for whatever reason it has a certain romance to it. Therefore, it is the perfect setting for a romance of this nature.

There is very little about Canada, or even Canadian content in this story, but that’s alright. The Australian outback makes up for it, and I think that the author has done a credible job of making it part of the story. Certainly I felt it’s vastness, and what better way to cleanse the soul than by a ‘walkabout.’

I liked the two main characters, the scarred but compassionate Jason, and the wide-eyed Ryan. They both compliment and contrast one another to produce a nice balance. I think one is more drawn to Ryan as the ingénue, but Jason is also travelling a road of discovery.

I also like the unhurried pace that allowed the two boys to get to know one another before their first sexual experience. The sex scenes were also well handled—which is ironic for me to say because  I once criticized Ms Owen’s work for being a bit too ‘generous’ with her couplings. Therefore, I am happy to take that criticism back with this novel.

The quibbles I have are few. A few loose threads (meaning plot lines that either disappear or aren’t fully exploited later on). I, for one, like to see unexpected references to previous events, even if they are minor, because they are like grace notes that add a touch of brilliance to a story. It is the little touches like this that can make a good story outstanding.

Altogether, it is a heart warming romance in the classic style, nicely written, and set in a equally romantic locale. Four  bees.

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Interested in Canadian history? Want to see 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 books as well. Latest post: Pontiac’s War. Read about the great chief of the Ottawas who very nearly changed the coarse of history.

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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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July 29, 2013 Posted by | Canadian author, Canadian content, Coming out, Fiction, Gay fiction, M/M love and adventure | 1 Comment

The Boys and the Bees, by Mari Donne

A truly gentle and romantic romance

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The boys and the bees - coverThe only interesting thing about Why Yell, Iowa, is its name, so when Mark Johansen left for college, he didn’t plan to return. But his family has other ideas: his father manipulates him into a job he hates and his mother uses him as a patch for coping with his siblings’ problems.

When Mark runs into Jamie Novotny after a particularly bad day at work, he’s surprised to find the quirky kid he knew in high school has grown into a driven eco warrior. But the shock of finding Jamie working in the local co-op pales compared to his astonishment when Jamie confesses he’s had a crush on Mark for years.

Their first night together leaves Mark happy but disoriented, but their second leaves him bereft. He’s unable to find Jamie because he refuses to use cell phones, fearing their environmental impact. Mark’s usual stoicism splinters, and he can’t stop himself from tracking Jamie down. When their lives collide, Mark makes room in his heart and his house for Jamie—but what Jamie really wants is for Mark to man up.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I must admit that it was the cutesie title, i.e. The Boys and the Bees, by Mari Donne [Dreamspinner Press, November 28, 2012] that first caught my attention. I also must admit that I expected it to be more erotic than it is—but that’s a good thing. Between plot and sex, plot wins with me every time. In fact, The Boys and the Bees is a very gentle love story devoid—for the most part—of angst, archenemies, and anxious soul-searching.

However, editorially speaking, Mark frustrated me. It wasn’t for lack of development, because he is quite vivid; rather, it was because he was such a ‘milk toast—everyone’s patsy—especially his usurious parents and siblings. Of course, I understand why the author chose to characterize him this way. She needed some room for him to grow when he meets Jamie, and that’s fair enough.

I liked Jamie, even though I generally dislike over-zealous ‘causers’ of any kind, but I thought he exhibited a nice balance. After all, he did work at the local co-op. The pace was appropriate, too, which suited both the story and the small town setting.

So, I guess my only quibble is the lack of an original plot. As well-written as this story is, and it is, it seems the last three books I’ve read have all had a similar theme: Small town boy returns to find his high school friend, BFF, crush, etc., still there, and after some business (ranching, etc.) they settle down happily ever after.

Now these are books I selected at random, and from different sources, so it is not as though I went looking for a particular genre. Nonetheless, individually, they are all good reads.

That said, I recommend The Boys and the Bees as a truly gentle and romantic romance. Three and one-half bees.

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June 17, 2013 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay romance | Leave a comment

Lonely as God, by Dale Chase

Short, raw & sweet!

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lonely as god - coverFor young drover Tom Seeley, the Chisholm Trail is a lonely damn place, which hardly seems possible among eighteen men and two thousand head of cattle. It’s while guarding the stock at night that second man Jack Dawe quotes a snip of poetry to reveal himself a like-minded man. Suddenly, under that big empty night sky, the loneliness starts to disappear.

When you’re out on the trail, sometimes you ain’t got no choice but to find love in the arms of another man just to stop yourself being lonely as God.

A short story – 688KB (46 pages)

Front cover design – Wilde City Press.

Note: This novel is not yet available on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, but it can be purchased from the publisher’s website, Wilde City Press.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Before I even read Lonely as God, by Dale Chase [Wilde City Press, 2013], I was taken by the cover design. Outstanding! In fact, I’m jealous I didn’t find such an image for my forthcoming western novel.

Right from the beginning one is struck by the unapologetic earthiness of this tale. Told in first person by the main character, Tom Seeley, there is no doubt what it is all about. It is erotica, plain and simple, and yet it is not pornographic in the sense that the author does not dwell on every nuance of the act. Indeed, the sex scenes are perfunctory, almost utilitarian in nature, and for the most part are over in a few paragraphs (as apposed to pages), i.e.,

I’ve come up hard knowing he’ll take me, and I spit in my palm and smear it down my cock while Matt reaches back to part his buttocks. “Give me some dick,” he says, and get behind him and shove in. He lets out moan, and I hear a low whistle from Drew but I don’t look over.

Get a man’s dick up a butt hole and nothing else matters. Troubles, thoughts, concerns, fears, none have a chance amid a fuck and I start to pump into Matt while knowing this, my dick setting me free. Doesn’t matter I came before. My balls have filled back up and feel ready to burst so I give it to Matt good, ramming in and out, grunting like some pig in his wallow.

I can feel Matt working his cock. He moans in time to my thrusting and soon says he’s coming. When he squeals, it drives me to fuck harder. Then my juice sets to boiling which makes my mouth fall open, my tongue come out like it will taste the come. I allow whatever sounds my body requires while gaining release, grunts and groans and all manner of things except for words. I cannot speak at such a time. Then I hit the rise, and I dig my fingers into Matt as the pulse begins. I cry out as I let go into him, filling his chute with my stuff as I pound his bottom. His horse snorts approval.

I keep at Matt even after I empty because I don’t want to stop. Not ever. But nature will have her way and I go soft and slip out. I slap Matt’s bottom and he straightens up and turns. “Some good fuck,” he says as he pulls up his drawers.

I like that. Sex is part of life, and of GLBT literature, but having said this it shouldn’t be the be-all or even the ‘most-of-all’ of a plot. So, even though this tale is highly erotic, it doesn’t run away with the story.

I’m also willing into buy the notion that 18, rough-neck men, are into mano-a-mano sex at the drop of a pair of Levis, but realistically it is quite a stretch. It is, perhaps, the closest the plot comes to being pornographic.

I also like the non-poetic prose. The main character is not an educated man, and cattle drives were not a genteel affair. They were long, hot, dusty and dangerous undertakings, and the men were as tough as the trail or the cattle they drove. So the King’s English would have been out of place here.

There were a couple of places where I thought the story went over the top, especially with the loose sex issue, but generally-speaking it is as true to the conditions, interactions, and language of a cattle drive as I have read.Four and on-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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June 10, 2013 Posted by | Fiction, Gay military, Gay western, Homoerotic | Leave a comment

Cards On The Table, by Josh Lanyon

Not too long, not too short, but just right!

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cards on the table - coverStory blurb: Fifty years ago a glamorous Hollywood party ended in murder — the only clue a bloody Tarot card. Timothy North is trying to find out what happened that long ago summer’s night, but when a Tarot card turns up pinned to his front door, the only person Tim can turn to for help is his ex-lover, Detective Jack Brady.

About the author: A distinct voice in gay fiction, multi-award-winning author JOSH LANYON has been writing gay mystery, adventure and romance for over a decade. In addition to numerous short stories, novellas, and novels, Josh is the author of the critically acclaimed Adrien English series, including The Hell You Say, winner of the 2006 USA Book News awards for GLBT Fiction. Josh is an Eppie Award winner and a three-time Lambda Literary Award finalist.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Although I have come across the name Josh Lanyon many times while searching through online bookstores, I had not read any of his books until I picked up Cards On The Table [Just Joshin, January 24, 2012], a short story but, oh, so satisfying.

Timothy North is a former reporter who has turned his hand to writing about an unsolved murder that is well and truly cold. However, as in all such cases, there is something intriguing about it; and sinister as well.

The next plot step up is that the case involved a beautiful Hollywood starlet and a bloodied Tarot card. However, as Tim digs further it becomes very evident that someone wants him off the case by pinning a sinister threat to his door—a Tarot card.

Wisely, Tim looks for support in the one person he knows can help—his ex-lover, Detective Jack Brady. The difficulty is that they parted under somewhat strained circumstances, so the question is: Can they warm up to before the parting?

With this twist we now have a second mystery running parallel to the first (in beautiful fashion), which only doubles the the reader’s already piqued interest.

It is subtle contrivances like these that separate the master mystery writer from the pack; this, and a list of eccentric suspects, mob connections, assorted dangers, and a cute cop with dimples thrown into the mix.

Altogether this story is a jewel; not too long, not too short, but just right. Five bees.

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In Praise of Canadian History.

fenian raidsAfter much difficulty convincing WordPress that it wasn’t a “get rich quick program”—most of my fellow authors will get a hoot out of that one—I am happy to announce a new blog. In Praise of Canadian History is dedicated to proving that Canada Does have an interesting history equal to any, and to commemorating little known events that prove it. Please help me make it a success. Thanks.

Fenian Raids (Battle or Ridgeway, Ontario) – June 2, 1866

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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 continuing interest is greatly appreciated.

June 3, 2013 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay mystery, Homoerotic | Leave a comment

Tigers and Devils (Tigers and Devils #1) by Sean Kennedy

Love scores a goal!

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Tigers and devils - coverStory blurb: The most important things in Simon Murray’s life are football, friends, and film—in that order. His friends despair of him ever meeting someone, but despite his loneliness, Simon is cautious about looking for more. Then his best friends drag him to a party, where he barges into a football conversation and ends up defending the honour of star forward Declan Tyler—unaware that the athlete is present. In that first awkward meeting, neither man has any idea they will change each other’s lives forever.

Like his entire family, Simon revels in living in Melbourne, the home of Australian Rules football and mecca for serious fans. There, players are treated like gods—until they do something to fall out of public favour. This year, the public is taking Declan to task for suffering injuries outside his control, so Simon’s support is a bright spot.

But as Simon and Declan fumble toward a relationship, keeping Declan’s homosexuality a secret from well-meaning friends and an increasingly suspicious media becomes difficult. Nothing can stay hidden forever. Soon Declan will have to choose between the career he loves and the man he wants, and Simon has never been known to make things easy—for himself or for others.

Cover art by Catt Ford

About the author: Sean Kennedy was born in 1975 in Melbourne, Australia, but currently lives in the second most isolated city in the world (although there still seems to be conjecture over whether it is actually number one). Living in such deprived circumstances can only affect his writing, which is published by Dreamspinner Press.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Seeing all the five-star reviews for Tigers and Devils (Tigers and Devils #1) by Sean Kennedy [Dreamspinner Press; 2 edition, August 30, 2012] is very impressive. I liked it too (deservedly so), but I couldn’t quite go five bees.

The blurb synopsizes the plot quite well, and so I will concentrate more on what I liked and was reserved by in this book.

I thought the plot—although not particularly unique—was captivating with some nice romantic scenes, and enough angst to keep it interesting. I also liked how the author brought the two somewhat disparate characters together: with Simon defending Declan while he was present, but unbeknownst to the other. Nice touch.

The character development is well done, over all. I had a good visual sense of Declan, but not so much his thinking. Of course, this is largely due to Simon’s first-person point of view, so it is a minor drawback. The secondary character were interesting as well—particularly Simon’s married friends who added different dimension to the story. It also goes without saying the the writing is first rate.

I did have some issues with pace. It seemed to drag in places—particularly in the first half of the story—and, as has been mentioned by others, this is partially due to the length. However, I do sympathize with the author on this point. I also hate to part with prose after I have laboured over it. It’s sort of like cutting off an ear lobe.

That said, I really did like the story and I think you will too. Four bees.

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Thanks for dropping by. I’ll have another great find next week, so be sure to drop by then.

May 27, 2013 Posted by | Fiction, gay athletes, Gay fiction, Gay romance | Leave a comment

A Younger Man (Cabin Fever #3) by Cameron Dane

A true romance with a happy ending.

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a younger man - coverStory blurb: Recently divorced and out of the closet, Noah Maitland is a regular-Joe, salt-of-the-earth guy who is newly navigating the world of dating other men. So far he hasn’t had a lot of luck. Noah is a father first — he has two teenage sons. As the owner of a handyman business in a small community, Noah wants someone to love who is also appropriate for where he is in his life.

Zane Halliday is a young man — much too young for Noah — who is struggling to take care of his brother and sister and meet his bills every month. Recently thrown out of his apartment, Zane stumbles on Noah, literally. Noah offers Zane a place where he and his siblings can temporarily live, and later gives him a part time job.

Each man is dealing with his own set of problems, and both crave someone to talk to and trust. Soon a friendship between Noah and Zane blossoms. But Noah could never fall for someone so much younger than he is — not to mention Zane is not gay. But what if sexually innocent Zane isn’t as straight as he assumed he was? How will Noah be able to resist this much younger man once Zane figures out the only person he wants is Noah?

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Review by Gerry Burnie

A Younger Man (Cabin Fever #3) by Cameron Dane [Liquid Silver Books, July 30, 2012] is the third in a series, but it is the first for me. I was drawn to it by the notion of a recently divorced, older man and a younger, straight man, finding common ground in a loving relationship. That juxtaposition made me curious as to how the author would handle it, and indeed Ms Dane made quite a good story out these disparate elements.

Since his divorce, Noah Maitland has had little luck finding a male mate until fate crosses his path with a much younger man’s (Zane Halliday) who, with two younger siblings has recently been evicted from their apartment. Noah is moved to help by giving them a place to stay and Zane a part-time job, but otherwise he keeps his distance.

Zane, an impoverished but responsible young man, is secretly awestruck by the older man’s compassion, but is shocked when he learns Noah is gay. Nonetheless, on second thought, he realizes he has genuine feelings for his benefactor that go beyond the latter’s benevolence.

Beyond this, the story focuses on Noah’s and Zane’s developing relationship. There are some baddies, but these are mostly relegated to sub-plot status, and there is a HEA ending.

On the good side I thought the character development was very good, especially regarding Noah and Zane, and the kids and siblings were delightful too. The plot was innovative, and the balance between emotional highs and angst seemed quite natural. However, there were some drawbacks.

As has been mentioned by others, the sex scenes were profusely detailed (going on for pages), which only emphasized some anomalies that were questionable; i.e. Do men really do that much deep thinking when they are engaged (and engrossed) in sex? From my experience, I think not.

There was also a fair degree of word repetition, and some rather odd similes—i.e. “tresses” to describe a man’s hair.

Nonetheless the stronger points outweigh the weaker ones, so for a truly feel-good romance I can heartily recommend this one. Three bees.

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Visitor’s views at Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 49,273

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Thank you for dropping by. Be sure to come back next week when I will have another interesting novel for your consideration.

May 6, 2013 Posted by | Coming out, Fiction, Gay romance | Leave a comment

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

A Life Apart, by Roger Kean

Superb writing, refreshing break-though plot, and bang-on history –

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a life apart - coverStory blurb: 1884—Deep in the Sudanese deserts a crazed religious fanatic spawns violent bloodshed.

In Victorian England Edward and Richard enjoy a blessed life at home and at their elite private school for boys, and with prospects of army commissions ahead.

But then a dreadful secret and a woman’s greed tears them apart and destroys their comfortable world. Even though their love is forbidden, for Edward there is no other in his life but Richard, and for Richard a life without Edward is unbearable.

Has fate determined that they must lead their lives apart?

As members of the British force engaged in a doomed bid to save heroic Gordon of Khartoum, besieged by the frenzied armies of the Mahdi, Edward and Richard, cruelly separated by events, and ignorant of the other’s presence, are thrown into their own desperate adventures as the conflict rages on around them… 

One an officer, the other a lowly cavalry trumpeter, both find Muslim allies willing to risk all to see them through… Two lovers far from each other in a hostile world of enervating heat, unforgiving sand, rocky wastes, but also burning passions—will the young men overcome the ordeal of a life apart to achieve their dream of a destiny together?

Front cover art and design by Oliver Frey.

About the author: Film-maker, journalist, publisher, Roger Kean (also writing under the names Roger Michael Kean and Roger M. Kean) has written about subjects as varied as the utilization of electronic publishing techniques for pre-press, video games, and gay life in London. His published books include histories of the Roman Emperors, Byzantium, Ancient Egypt, and pirates. Fiction includes five boys’ adventure stories available from Smashwords, and two for Kindle on Amazon, Storm Over Khartoum and Avenging Khartoum.


He now divides his time between website design and writing gay-themed novels with illustrations by his lifelong partner, the artist Oliver Frey (a.k.a. Zack). Their first collaboration, published by Bruno Gmünder, Boys of Vice City and its sequels, Boys of Disco City and Boys of Two Cities are available as ebooks in various formats and in print from Amazon. The fourth in the series, Boys of the Fast Lane will publish in the summer of 2013.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

A Life Apart, by Roger Kean [CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, January 11, 2013] can be categorized by several genres: historical fiction, historical, gay romance, and even young adult. It is also a refreshingly different story set in an exotic and somewhat uncommon setting.

The story opens on Edward and Richard Rainbow, purportedly twin brothers, and also students at the prestigious Benthenham College in England. Their relationship can be described as ‘loving,’ both in the ethereal and physical sense, but such “dirties” as transpired between them are always couched in euphemistic language—i.e. “hardness,” “bitties,” or “stiffness,” etc.

Indeed, Richard and Edward are utterly charming adolescents, and Kean has done quite a good job of portraying them as normal, mischievous and inquisitive schoolboys, who indulge in the “dirties” as naturally as they play soccer or go swimming.

However, an unexpected and devastating revelation emerges from the past, and because of it Edward is ripped from Richard’s arms and his family.

a life apart - mahdistsSkipping forward, Richard has received his commission to the army, and England has become caught up in Egyptian affairs to protect its financial interests and the Suez Canal.  Consequently, it is also drawn into a vicious guerilla war instigated by the Islamic cleric, Muhammad Ahmad, who has declared himself ‘Mahdi’ (a messianic redeemer of the Islamic faith).

After considerable bloodshed, the English decide to withdraw from the southern regions, including the Sudan, and Major-General Sir Charles Gordon is sent to oversee the evacuation of Khartoum. In the process, however, he becomes isolated and trapped by the Arab and Mahdist forces. A relief expedition led by Sir Garnet Wolseley is sent to rescue him, but due to several delays they arrive too late to save Gordon. At the same time, however, it is the perfect opportunity for fate to reunite Richard and Edward, and Kean takes full advantage of it.

The writing is superb, the plot is refreshing, the description is vivid, and the history is bang-on. Five bees.

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I’ve been censored:

I’ve been censored by Huffington Post! The article dealt with “Female Board Directors Better At Decision Making: Study…” [see:http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/03/25/female-board-directors-decision-making-study_n_2951084.html“]

My comment was “I am so damned weary of the press perpetuating this myth of male/female differentiation. The right person will always make the best decision regardless of gender. To appoint either on the basis of gender is not only contrary to common sense, it is also utterly stupid.

I realize this crap sells papers to the non-thinking, but it is also an unmitigated bore to anyone who has moved past this manufactured debate. Please do move on!”

This is what Huffington post had to say: “This comment has been removed. Most comments are removed because of an attack or insult on another user or public figure. Please see the guidelines here if you’re not sure why this comment was removed.”

I guess I shouldn’t have criticized the press!”

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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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March 25, 2013 Posted by | Coming out, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period, Military history | 2 Comments

Allegiance: A Dublin Novella, by Heather Domin

A skillful mixture of intrigue, action and romance, set in the charm of Ireland –

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allegiance - coverStory blurb: 1922. William Young is an MI5 informant, using his working-class background to gain the trust of those deemed a threat to the Crown. Tiring of his double life, William travels to Dublin for one last assignment: infiltrating a circle of IRA supporters. But these “rebels” are not what he expected — and one of them, a firebrand named Adam with a past as painful as his own, shakes William’s uncertain footing to its foundation. As the crisis in Dublin escalates, William treads a dangerous path between the violence in the streets, the vengeance of the Crown, and the costliest risk of all — falling in love with the man he was sent to betray.

Available as a free download at: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view

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Review by Gerry Burnie

This being the “Irish month” of March, and although I’m a day late for the 17th, Allegiance: A Dublin Novella by Heather Domin [smashwords, 2013] is is my St. Patrick’s Day contribution.

allegiance - IRA informantsThe story is set in the period just after the so-called “Irish War of Independence” (1919 – 1921), and the signing of the Anglo-Irish treaty. William Young is a MI5 (Military Intelligence, Section 5) Agent, sent to Dublin to infiltrate the IRA (Irish Republican Army.) He does this successfully, posing as a barkeeper at the Flag and Three Pub. There—quite in pace with the story—he meets his intended target—Adam Elliot—who is described as:

[A] bright-eyed young man, several years younger than himself, with his cap cocked too far in one direction and his grin cocked too far in the other. He was cleanfaced and well-dressed, pale brown hair curling out beneath his cap and clear skin glowing in the smoky light. Hands clapped him on the back as he approached the bar, and he smiled at each face in turn and dipped his head in greeting.

The two gravitate toward one another, partly due to William’s prompting, but there is also a genuine attraction between them. I will also mention right here, I found it quite refreshing that neither spends much time worrying about being attracted to another man. Indeed, the only real soul searching is William’s who questions the wisdom (and well he might) of falling in love with a potential enemy.

Nonetheless it happened, and I thought it was quite in keeping with the characters. Being both Irish and Catholic, I don’t ever recall going through a great deal of soul searching because I was attracted to boys. I was too busy trying to get them to notice me, or getting them off alone, so I thought the author handled this part very well.

The ending, although not overly dramatic, was quite satisfactory, and I was left satisfied. I can’t provide any details for fear of spoiling it for others, but it also had a moral to it.

As a relative novice (with only two novels to her credit) Heather Domin is a writer with a maturity well ahead of her experience. Her style is well nigh flawless, and her plot and structure are a delight to read. However, it is her understanding of the characters—both primary and secondary—that adds the charm that should be part and parcel of any Irish novel. Four and one-half bees.

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Irish hat st pat's ad

A great Irish-themed gift. Available in both Nook and Kindle formats for only $4.95

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