Gerry B's Book Reviews

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

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December 15, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay romance | 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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November 17, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period | 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.

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Interested in Canadian history?

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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

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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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!

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

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.

       

 

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

While England Sleeps, by David Leavitt

A historical novel that lives up to its name.

 

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while england sleeps - coverSet against the rise of fascism in 1930s Europe, While England Sleeps tells the story of a love affair between Brian Botsford, an upper-class young English writer, and Edward Phelan, an idealistic employee of the London Underground and member of the Communist Party. Though far better educated than Edward, Brian is also far more callow, convinced that his homosexuality is something he will outgrow. Edward, on the other hand, possesses “an unproblematic capacity to accept” both Brian and the unorthodox nature of their love for each other—until one day, at the urging of his wealthy aunt Constance, Brian agrees to be set up with a “suitable” young woman named Philippa Archibald . . . Pushed to the point of crisis, Edward flees, volunteering to fight Franco in Spain, where he ends up in prison. And Brian, feeling responsible for Edward’s plight, must pursue him across Europe, and into the chaos of war.

About the author: David Leavitt is a graduate of Yale University and a professor at the University of Florida, where he is the co-director of the creative writing program. He is also the editor of Subtropics magazine, The University of Florida’s literary review. 

Leavitt, who is openly gay, has frequently explored gay issues in his work. He divides his time between Florida and Tuscany, Italy.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I was looking for a good adventure story this week, and with luck While England Sleeps, by  David Leavitt [Bloomsbury USA; 1 edition, June 3, 2014] came into view.

The story is set in 1930s England, the years leading up to WWII, and features a young aristocrat (dilettante) named Brian Botsford, an amateur playwrite and narrator, and his opposite, Edward Phelan, an idealist and Marxist-labourer.

From this perspective, one might assume that this is a story about class—and it is to a certain extent, but it is also a story about different ideals and approaches to life.

Brian is in a word “spoiled,” with little ambition beyond floating on the surface with the largesse of an aunt. Edward, on the other hand, is self-educated and ambitious to ‘work his way up’ to a better life.

In fact, Brian is not a very likable person, an ‘anti-hero’ and purposely so. Now, from a writer’s point of view this is a risky proposition—to invite your audience to dislike your main character—but with an ounce of redemption Leavitt pulls it off quite admirably.

It all comes together when Edward makes an attempt to rescue friends from the growing storm in Europe, but to get into the part of the plot would definitely be a spoiler, and so I will leave it for the readers to discover.

One of the things I like about this story is the subtle way the author draws the reader into the tenor of the times. In spite of the fact that the dialogue tends to slip into a more modern vernacular from time to time, the reader is nonetheless persuaded that they are experiencing 1930s England or Europe, as the case may be.

Likewise, the mock prologue and epilogue add a sense of time and place, as well.

However, if you are the type that prefers a happy-ever-after ending, this might not be the story for you. Four and one-half bees.

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May 5, 2014 Posted by | Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Historical period | 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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April 14, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay romance, Young adult | Leave a comment

Well Traveled (Gideon and Jedediah #1) by Margaret Mills, Tedy Ward

Altogether, a very enjoyable story

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well traveled - coverStory blurb: Gideon Makepeace, a young man of twenty, knows who he is and what he likes: decency, men and women too, horse training, and fun… and in Livingston, Montana, in the lush autumn of 1895, he finds he likes a Lakota Sioux Indian better than he might ought to.

Jedediah Buffalo Bird is seriously wounded and seeking medical care, and Gideon helps Jed when some bigoted townsfolk might have done otherwise. Jed, who knows the wild far better than Gideon and feels indebted to him, agrees to repay him by being his guide to San Francisco.

Their trip takes them across thousands of wild miles, through the mountains men mine and the Indian reservations dotting the plains. Facing a majestic West, they learn from each other about white folks and Indians alike. Gideon’s interest in Jed is clear from the start, but will Jed give up the life he knows for a young, brash white man he has perhaps come to love? Or will he push Gideon away in favor of the peace of nature and the personal freedom of having nothing to lose?

About the author: Margaret Mills is a professional technical writer and editor; branching into narrative fiction seemed like a natural extension of the pleasure that writing has always been for her. A California resident, Maggie enjoys hiking in the nearby hills, reading, walking the dog on the beach, and writing with her co-author, Tedi Ward. Maggie met Tedi in a writers’ group, and their personalities mix almost as well as their characters’ do; they enjoy writing the kinds of stories they love to read.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I was in the mood for a male adventure story this week—for which there are suprising few—when this one came into view. Well Traveled (Gideon and Jedediah #1) co-authored by Margaret Mills and Tedy Ward [Dreamspinner Press, October 18, 2010], is a somewhat epic journey undertaken by two boys of different racial backgrounds in 1895.

Gideon Makepeace is white, twenty years old, working in Livington, Montana for the summer, and is about to return to California to reunite with his parents in San Francisco. Jedediah Buffalo Bird is slightly older, a mixed-blood Lakota Sioux, a product of the dreaded boarding school experience, and a victim of some redneck bullying when they first meet.

Gideon, a decent kid with a slight leaning toward men, nurses him back to health, and thus starts a—Platonic at this point—relationship between them. The problem is that Gideon has used up his train fare in the process, but after a little good-natured ribbing regarding Gideon’s tenderfoot condition—which raised a question for me since the latter had spent the summer training horses—J edediah agrees to guide him to California—something like 1,100 miles through rugged wilderness and mountain country.

The journey therefore becomes the challenge; nevertheless, after the relationship has blossomed, there arises some tension regarding how a couple of mixed race can fare in either culture. This threatens a solid commitment on Jedediah’s part, and so it is this question that has to be resolved in the end.

This is a well crafted story. The premise is credible—an eleven hundred mile trip was not out of the ordinary in 1895—and it placed the two players in a context in which romance could logically take place. The race issues were real. Indians were ill-thought-of by the whites, and an Indian of mixed blood  (a “Breed”) was disliked by both cultures. Nonetheless, the two authors wisely didn’t succumb to the temptation to moralize.

The pace is a bit slow, but given the cultural issues it takes time to develop these complexities. Moreover, it didn’t bother me that it took quite a few pages (I didn’t count) to get them into the sack. I’m of the school where sex is the piquant, not the main course—or shouldn’t be.

Altogether, quite enjoyable: Four and one-half bees.

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April 7, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Coming out, Cross Cultural romance, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Gay western, Historical Fiction, Mixed race | 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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Interested in Canadian history? Want to know more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.`

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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

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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Interested in Canadian history? Want to know more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian 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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February 24, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Fiction, Gay romance, Henry David Thoreau, 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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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

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:

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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

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

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

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

christmas dedication.

♣♣♣

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

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

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

 

 

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

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Notice to all those who have requested a book review

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

Wild Onions, by Sarah Black

A tale of hope and heritage, as well as a gentle love story. 

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Wild Onions - coverStory blurb: THE YEAR was 1882, and the last of the native tribes had dropped to their knees and slipped on their yokes under the boots and guns of the US Cavalry. The Blackfoot were the last, and then the buffalo hunt failed. The vast plains were barren and empty, and the people began to starve. Desperation spread like poison across the land. Evil men, seeing their chance, fed on the hunger, ate the clean hearts of the people. The blood that was spilled in 1882 has not been avenged today. The ghosts are waiting for someone to set them free.

Robert looked over to the corner of the porch. Their old fishing poles were leaning against the screen. He carried them back to his chair, started untangling the nylon fishing line. Val’s pole was for serious fishermen, a supple thin Orvis fly rod with a reel full of braided yellow nylon. His pole was cheap, from Wal-Mart, with a soft cork handle and a reel with a sticky thumb button. Val laughed when he saw it, said it was for little boys fishing at reservoirs.

He put Val’s pole back in the corner, carried his down the slope to the river bank. It took him a little while to find his balance again. He didn’t try to get into the water. That would probably be too much for his shaky leg. But after a few casts he got his rhythm again, let the weight fly out low over the water.

There was a splash a bit upriver, and a moment later a young man appeared, walking down the middle of the shallow river from rock to rock in green hip waders, dressed in the dark green uniform of Fish and Wildlife. He had a fishing pole over his shoulder and a woven oak creel. From the weight of it on his shoulder, Robert could see he’d had some luck. He was Indian, Blackfoot, maybe, and his long hair was tied back at his collar. He raised a hand in greeting.

Robert nodded back. “Evening.” He reeled in his line, and the man watched the red and white bobber bouncing across the water in front of him.
The man’s face was impassive, but he blinked a couple of times when he watched the line come out of the water, bobber, lead weight, no hook. No fish. “I guess I don’t need to ask you if you have a fishing license,” the man said. “Since you aren’t really fishing.”

Robert nodded to the creel over the man’s shoulder. “Looks like you’ve had some luck.”

The man eased the basket off his shoulder, dipped it down into the icy river water. “Yes, I sure did.” He slapped the Fish and Wildlife patch on his uniform shirt. “Course, I don’t need no stinkin’ license! Just another example of the generalized corruption of the Federal Government.”

Robert grinned at him. “Wonder how many times you hear that in the course of a week? We must be in Idaho! I’m Robert Mitchell.”

The man reached for his hand and they shook. “I’m Cody Calling Eagle.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Three Piegan Blacckfoot chiefs on the prairies of Montana.

Three Piegan Blacckfoot chiefs on the prairies of Montana.

And speaking of shared dreams (…as does the story of Wild Onions by Sarah Black) I believe she and I may have shared a couple of visions as well. My latest work-in-progress-novel deals with forgotten legends and unsettled spirits too, and so I read this story with particular interest,

It is a lovely story—a true romance—and somewhat unique inasmuch as it deals with love across cultural lines.

The story opens poignantly with Robert Mitchell visiting the cabin he frequently visited with his deceased lover, Val.  The cabin goes way back in Val’s ancestry, but beset with medical bills Robert is now thinking of selling it to get out from under these. However, once he gets there and surrounded by memories, he has a change of thought.

Enter Cody Calling Eagle [my main character’s name is ‘Cory’], a Blackfoot descendent  who is still as fresh-faced and unaffected as the wilderness around Salmon River, where he is employed as a conservation officer.

He is like a breath of fresh air that fans the embers of love within Robert, and Cody is open to it as well. Then, as mentioned above, they began experiencing visions of a disturbing past connected to the cabin and Val and Cody’s ancestry. These also begin to have an affect on their relationship, and so Robert has to work hard to overcome this.

At another level, Ms Black weaves  into the storyline some of the history of the Piegan Blackfeet, i.e. the 1882 disappearance of the buffalo, and the ‘Winter of Starvation”  (1883-84),  during which 500 Blackfeet died of starvation.

Despite this it is a story of hope and dedication, as well as a gentle love story. Five bees.

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Viewers to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 56,523

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Presenting the revised cover for my upcoming novel: Coming of Age on the Trail – Part One 

Presenting the revised cover for my forthcoming novel: ComiNG of Age on the Trail - PART ONE.

Presenting the revised cover for my forthcoming novel: ComiNG of Age on the Trail – PART ONE.

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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:  “Spadina House:  One of the great houses of Canada.

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If you would like to learn more about my other books, or to order copies, click on the specific cover below. Two Irish Lads and Nor All Thy Tears are available in both Kindle and Nook formats. Publisher’s price, $4.95.

      

      

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Notice to all those who have requested a book review

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

Thanks again!

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

 

October 14, 2013 Posted by | Cross Cultural romance, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Historical period, Native history | 2 Comments

Older Man Younger Man: A Love Story, by Joseph Dispenza

A break through topic, a mentor’s example, and a good news story rolled into one.

 

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older man younger man - cover“Older Man/Younger Man” is a memoir of the relationship between a middle-aged man and a man thirty years his junior, from their first meeting, through the challenges of living together across a wide age-gap, to a climactic confession of shame and regret, the terror of loss from a life-threatening disease—and, ultimately, the triumph of love. This is a passionate, bittersweet story of a powerful love that transcends gender, bridges generations, defies convention, and brings to the partners the richness of spiritual fulfillment.

The relationship between an older man and a younger man is one of the last taboos left in our culture’s sexual closet. “Older Man/Younger Man” is the first book to address an inter-generational gay male relationship as a path of spiritual redemption.

What makes this book unique and special is its presentation of the pairing between an older man and a much younger man as a healthy, successful relationship and as a spiritual journey.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I grew up in a rural community of less than one thousand inhabitants, where everyone knew everyone back to their second-great grandfather, and where the first question asked was always, “What will the neighbours think?” Moreover, I too have had lovers who were decades younger than myself, and so I can relate in several ways to Joseph Dispenza’s personal memoirs in Older Man Younger Man [Sept 2011].

A  personal- experience book of this nature is tricky write, for it has to straddle a narrow line between self indulgence and ‘author as example.’ Dispenza does this fairly well, with only a few examples of overworking certain parts with personal detail: such as the bathroom regimen preceding the detection of prostate cancer. Nevertheless, I can well understand how such a traumatic discovery would stand out in one’s mind.

One of the aspects of Older Man Younger Man to which I could particularly relate was the first introduction of the other to parents, relatives, and/or friends. Almost invariably this is an awkward time of ‘double whammy’: Your friend/partner/lover is male, gay, and also young enough to be your son—or father, as the case may be.

After this it is the ‘smirky’ looks of strangers and certain business associate until everyone gets used to it.

All of these Despenza and his partner experienced, but the rather cool part is that he doesn’t dwell on them. Yes, age differentiation is a regrettable part of an older/younger relationship, but Dispenza chose to talk more about the ordinary routines of living together, and the joys and challenges that entails.

While it is a fascinating story, well written, and insightful to read, it is difficult to categorize. It is a break through topic of sorts (inasmuch as there are few older-perspective, gay stories out there); it is a mentor’s example for those faced with a similar situation; and it is a good news saga because love prevails in the end. Take your pick. 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 little-known people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post:  Benedict Arnold – A Canadian Connection.

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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.

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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 30, 2013 Posted by | Gay romance, Memoir, Non-fiction, Older/younger relationships | 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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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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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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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.

            

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

Into Deep Waters, Kaje Harper

An enduring love story … True love conquers all.

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in deep waters - coverStory blurb: For Jacob and Daniel, two young gay men aboard a Navy ship in WWII, the risks were high. Not just the risks of injury and death from Japanese planes and submarines, but the risk of discovery, of discharge, imprisonment or worse. Only a special kind of love was worth taking that chance. But from the moment Daniel met Jacob’s eyes across a battle-scarred deck, he knew he had to try.

Being together required figuring out what it meant to be gay and in love with another man, in an era when they could be jailed or committed for admitting the desires of their hearts. On a ship at war, their relationship was measured in stolen moments and rare days of precious leave, with no guarantees there would be a tomorrow. And if they survived the war, they would need even more luck to keep their love alive through all the years to come.

Available as a free download from Kindle.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

in deep water - sailors kissingI recall seeing Into Deep Waters by Kaje Harper [Amazon Digital Services, Inc., June 2013] some time back, and noted that the story dealt with, not only young love, but also mature love of an enduring kind.

I also noted that, although it dealt with a romance that spanned almost sevven decades, a good portion of it was set during the war years of the 1940s—the nostalgic years of the Andrew Sisters singing “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else But me)”, and Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again (Don’t Know Where, Don’t Know When).”

Those were for straight folks, though. For would-be gay lovers like Jacob Segal and Daniel Arcadi, however, it was a different matter. Theirs was a furtive love, conducted in secret, and at considerable risk. [See my review of “Coming Out Under Fire, The History of Gay Men and Women in Word War Two, by Allan Bérubé”].

The beginning of the story is one of discovery; not only of their love for one another, but of themselves, and is told in a most credible and endearing fashion—two lovers in the throws of newfound love, forced by society’s convention to restrain it, and always under the threat of the foreign enemy. Nevertheless, love will find a way, and by a combination of luck and good management they and their love survive the initial stages.

There is some serious angst in the combat scenes, which the author describes remarkably well, and equally in the sinking of the ship. The aftermath of this is heart wrenching as well, but once again true love finds a way to carry them through.

Covering nearly seventy years in one story is a daunting task, but Ms Harper carries it off well. She uses this span to blend in the events that transpire in Jacob and Daniel’s lives, and some of the milestones that occurred in GBLT history—most notably Stonewall and equal marriage legislation.

So, for two lovers growing older with the faint hope they might see some acceptance in their lifetimes, this makes a most gratifying conclusion. Five bees.

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Russian youth murdered because he was gay and honest…

russia-murder-croppedOn May 9, during a night out drinking beer, Vladislav Tornovoi revealed to a pair of long time friends that he was gay. The 23-year-old’s dead body was found naked the next morning in the courtyard of an apartment complex in the southern Russian city of Volgograd. His skull had been crushed with a piece of broken pavement. His genitals were mutilated, his ribs broken and he had been sodomized with beer bottles with such force that they damaged his internal organs. Before they left, his assailants set fire to his battered body.

Vladmir Putin spawned this murder just as surely as if he was there and took part in it.

Please do what you can to protest Putin’s homophobic war against gays.

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 Interested in Canadian history? Want to see more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian 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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August 5, 2013 Posted by | Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay military, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period | , | 1 Comment

Houseboat on the Nile (Spy vs. Spook #1) by Tinnean

A few leaks, but worth a look…

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houseboat on the nile - coverMark Vincent is WBIS—Washington Bureau of Intelligence and Security. Quinton Mann is staunchly CIA. Mark thinks the CIA is full of dilettantes who leave him and the rest of the WBIS to clean up their messes. Quinn thinks most WBIS agents are sociopathic loose cannons. So they don’t exactly get along.

Of course, just because they don’t like each other doesn’t mean they can’t play mind games on each other. Or sleep together. But when an explosion at Mark’s apartment sends Quinn to the morgue to ID a body, he has to reevaluate his position on denial.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

When the term “Nile” appears in the title of a book, as it does in Houseboat on Nile, by Tinnean [Dreamspinner Press, 2012], one immediately thinks of exotic places à-la-Agatha Christie and Hercule Poirot, etc. That was the first query I encountered with this story. It actually doesn’t have anything to do with the Nile. But, then again, the story blurb never said it did.

It’s a cloak-and-dagger-type mystery, written in a style that is reminiscent of Mickey Spillane—take away the 21st-century swearing. The characters are interesting, fairly well developed I’d say from the perspective of being distinct from one another, and the dialogue (although made repetitious more times than enough) is crisp and effective.

The basic plot has two men who dislike each other professionally, romantically drawn to one another in spite of their differences. It doesn’t help that they each refuse to give up their ingrained biases by playing head games until they are forced by romance and circumstances to join forces.

This is a fertile scenario for lots of twists and turns, and there are some good ones, but the waters are definitely muddied by a constantly shifting point of view regarding the exact same scene.

Now, I have read stories where a shifting POV works (reasonably well), but never as a refocus of the same scene. As an experiment I give the writer full marks for temerity, but as a reader I found it distracting to the point of frustration. Nonetheless, this is my opinion (as are all my reviews), for I have read others who found it a plus.

My rating – three 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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July 15, 2013 Posted by | Gay fiction, Gay mystery, Gay romance, M/M love and adventure | 1 Comment

Shy, by John Inman

Love and mayhem down on the farm…

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shy - coverStory blurb: Dating is hard enough. Throw in an incontinent Chihuahua, an unrequited love affair, a severe case of social anxiety disorder, a dying father, and a man-eating hog and it becomes darned near impossible. Still, it takes two to tango—and when Tom Morgan, a mild-mannered assistant bank manager with a debilitating case of shyness, meets Frank Wells, who is straight off the farm and even shyer than he is, sparks start flying.

Just when Tom and Frank’s burgeoning love affair is rolling along nicely, Frank must return to Indiana to oversee the farm while his father battles cancer. Tom tags along to help Frank out and finds himself slopping hogs and milking cows and wondering what the hell happened to his orderly citified existence. And what’s with all the chickens? Tom hates chickens!

With Frank’s help, Tom grits his teeth and muddles through. Funny what a couple of guys can accomplish when they’re crazy about each other. Not even nine hundred chickens can stand in the way of true love.

About the author: John has been writing fiction for as long as he can remember. Born on a small farm in Indiana, he now resides in San Diego, California where he spends his time gardening, hiking and biking the trails and canyons of San Diego, and of course, writing. He and his partner share a passion for theater, books, film, and their chihuahua, Sophie, who firmly believes the world owes her a comfortable existence and is in no way shy about collecting.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I have long lamented (grumbled) about the fact that many GBLT books tend to lean toward the depressing side of life with a standard fare of angst and self-doubt regarding one’s sexuality. Admittedly, these have been, and still are, a regrettable part of GBLT life, but from my experience there have been many more humorous moments than sad. So when I saw the cooky cover of Shy, by John Inman [Dreamspinner Press, 2012], I felt it was time for a little humour.

The basic story has Tom Morgan, a SAD sufferer (“Social Anxiety Disorder” – not to be confused with “Seasonal Affective Disorder”), going to a party hosted by his ex-boyfriend and hisnew boyfriend—a real nogoodnic-cad named Stanley.

At this party he meet’s Frank Wells, a displaced farm boy, who also happens to be Stanley-the-cad’s brother. By coincidence Frank also suffers from a social anxiety complex, and so the two find comfort in one another’s limitations.

As it happens Frank’s father is critically ill back on the farm, and so Frank is called back to keep things going, taking Tom (an urbane New Yorker) with him.

Also playing the comic relief role is a loose-bowelled chihuahaua by the name of “Pedro,” a razorback hog, and a flock of chickens the size of Galapagos Islands. Therefore, there is no shortage of comedic circumstances, and Inman delivers on most of them.

I connected with this story in a number of ways. I too was a farm boy, and as such I took a sort of perverse pleasure from watching my urban cousins trying to steer themselves around chicken dropping, which are like trying to sidestep snowflakes. So I got a good chuckle from some of Tom’s fastidious antics.

I liked the banter as well, but here I thought it was perhaps a bit overdone. In other words, I sometimes felt that what was meant as repartee was merely bitchy, and made Tom look like a GECQ (“grand eighteenth-century queen”.)

I also join others in thinking that Stanley’s ‘no-good-ness’ was a bit overdone, but I defend the author’s choice regarding his fate. It’s his license. He created the characters, and so he can dispose of them the way he wishes. Therein lies the ‘author-as-god’ syndrome. 🙂

Altogether I thought it was a fun read with a few limitations. Three and one-half bees.

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Editorial comment: For some inexplicable reason, four of the last six or seven novels I have read have all had similar themes; i.e. the main character (or in this case, one of the MCs) grows up on a farm or ranch, and is called back because of an illness or other emergency. In the other novels, the returning boy meets a former admirer or heart throb, and after a bit of business they fall in love and live happily ever after

I’m sure this is merely a coincidence, but is there a back-to-the-land movement I’m not aware of?

I mention this because you may be plotting a new story just now, and if so the boy returning to the farm has been done before!

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

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July 8, 2013 Posted by | Gay fiction, Gay romance | 2 Comments

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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Thanks again!

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Visit my new page, In Praise of Canadian History.

It is a collection of little-known facts and events in Canadian history, and a bibliography of interesting books I have collected to date. Latest post: Kootenai” Brown: Canada’s earliest conservationist.

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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 17, 2013 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay romance | 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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May 27, 2013 Posted by | Fiction, gay athletes, Gay fiction, Gay romance | Leave a comment

Texas Pride, by Kindle Alexander

A gentle romance between an ex-movie star and a cowboy

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texas pride - coverStory blurb: When mega movie star and two time Academy Award winner, Austin Grainger voluntarily gave up his dazzling film career, his adoring fan base thought he’d lost his mind. For Austin, the seclusion of fifteen hundred acres in the middle of Texas sounds like paradise. No more cameras, paparazzi, or overzealous media to hound him every day and night. Little did the sexiest man alive know when one door closes, another usually opens. And Austin’s opened by way of a sexy, hot ranch owner right next door. 

Kitt Kelly wasn’t your average rancher. He’s young, well educated and has hidden his sexuality for most of his life. When his long time wet dream materializes as his a new neighbor it threatens everything he holds dear. No way the ranching community would ever accept him if he came out. With every part of his life riding on the edge, can Kitt risk it all for a chance at love or will responsibility to his family heritage cost him his one chance at happiness?

About the author: Best Selling Author Kindle Alexander is a innovative writer, and a genre-crosser who writes classic fantasy, romance, suspense, and erotica in both the male/male and male/female genres. It’s always a surprise to see what’s coming next! Happily married, with five children, and four dogs living in the suburbs of Dallas, where the only thing bigger than the over active imagination, may be the women’s hair!

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Review by Gerry Burnie

As I’ve mentioned before, I generally avoid contemporary western novels because they are too often just a series of romps in the sack with very little plot. There are many that aren’t, of course, and happily Texas Pride by Kindle Alexander [The Kindle Alexander Collection LLC, March 16, 2013] is one of them.

The well-written story blurb covers the plot fairly well: A famous in-the-closet Hollywood star (Austin Grainger) suddenly hangs up his make-up kit for life on a fifteen-hundred-acre ranch located in his home town.

Unbeknownst, a fellow in-the-closet case (Kitt Kelly) owns the adjoining Ranch. However, when Grainger re-encounters Kitt (they had admired each others assets in high school) he sets out to get him into his corral.

Kitt is deeply in the closet, however, and although he’s fine with the sex he makes it clear that he has a lot riding on getting the family ranch back in business—not to mention a step-mother and sisters who are counting on him.

The inevitable happens (of course), but to add some angst to the story the author employs a group of sleazy tabloid hounds who manage to out the two lovers to the shock and astonishment of their home town. 

Will the two men be able to weather the outcome? That, I’ll leave for the readers to discover.

Over all I liked the main characters—Kitt in particular—and for the most part the business (i.e. action) was well-paced and plausible. The plot was interesting, although not unique in any way, and the ending was gratifying.

Unfortunately, the shortcoming came at a most fundamental level—grammar and spelling. I realize that professional editors are expensive, usually costing one or two thousand dollars for a good one, but spellcheck should pick up most typos, and a reasonably literate friend can pick up the simple grammatical errors–like tense.

All that said, it’s a pleasant romance with a happy ending. Three and one-half bees.

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A fun and interesting, vidwo review of “Two Irish Lads” by Angello Adrien

To view just follow this link

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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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May 13, 2013 Posted by | Gay fiction, Gay romance, Hollywood, Homoerotic | 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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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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Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 47,356

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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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March 18, 2013 Posted by | Coming out, Fiction, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period, Male bisexual | , , | Leave a comment

Gives Light (Gives Light #1), by Rose Christo

“Sweet.” “Inspirational,” “Heart-warming,” “Thoroughly enjoyable” –

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gives light - coverStory blurb: Sixteen-year-old Skylar is witty, empathetic, sensitive–and mute. Skylar hasn’t uttered a single word since his mother died eleven years ago, a senseless tragedy he’s grateful he doesn’t have to talk about.

When Skylar’s father mysteriously vanishes one summer afternoon, Skylar is placed in the temporary custody of his only remaining relative, an estranged grandmother living on an Indian reservation in the middle of arid Arizona.

Adapting to a brand new culture is the least of Skylar’s qualms. Because Skylar’s mother did not die a peaceful death. Skylar’s mother was murdered eleven years ago on the Nettlebush Reserve. And her murderer left behind a son.

And he is like nothing Skylar has ever known.

Available in e-book format – 372 KB

About the author: “I am Plains Cree and Lenni Lenape. My best friend is Shoshone-Bannock. I mostly blog about the crap going on in Indian Country today. We may not be on your local news network, but trust me, there’s a LOT going on in Indian Country today. Some of which you’d probably be shocked to learn.

My grandpa was Saline Shoshone. He was the coolest old guy you’d ever meet. That’s probably why the kids in Gives Light are all Shoshone, too.

Few things bother me more than racism. If somebody tells you “Please stop mocking / stereotyping / inaccurately portraying my culture, it really hurts my feelings,” but you’re more concerned about your freedom of expression, then guess what? You’re a racist.

Right now I am writing a story called The Place Where They Cried. After this I’m going to write another contemporary YA story. No title yet but I’ve got the outline.

Munito sakehewawinewe—“God is Love.”

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I am always on the lookout for unique stories,  or at least stories that have a unique aspect to them, so when I read the intriguing blurb to Gives Light (Gives Light Series#1)  by Rose Christo [self-published by Rose Christo, July 2012], I knew I was onto something quite unique.

Gives Light is the first of a trilogy by that name, and although I haven’t read the other two editions, I think it might be best to start the series with this particular volume. It is described as containing 353 pages (estimated) but when the spaces are deducted—between the block-style paragraphs—it is probably half that number.

If a story can be summed up in one word, then the word that applies to this story is “sweet.” There is not a lot of tension or angst, and even the sexual content is limited to kissing and a bit of petting, so unless the standard is particularly puritanical it would be quite appropriate for young adults.

The story is told from the point of view of Skylar St. Clair, a 16 y.o. Shoshone Native who has been mute since his throat was slashed during the murder of his mother some five years previous. From that time he had been living with his father until his father mysteriously disappears as well.

He is then put into the custody of his estranged grandmother who resides on the Nettlebush Reserve, and from then on it is the story of adjusting to reservation life; including learning the traditions, and getting to know its cast of characters.

For the most part these are all quite charming, typical teenagers, who readily welcome Skylar into their midst; all except for the enigmatic Rafael, son of murderer who slay Skylar’s mother.  Yet, the two of them are gradually drawn together by both their commonalities and differences, and when they do finally unite it is like a blossom that blooms in the shadow of the forest; pure and fragile.

I found very few quibbles to mention: The writing is strong; the characters engaging; and both the plot and pace kept me involved. However, there were a few minor disparities that left me wondering. For example, it was never really explained how Annie Little Hawk learned to sign. ASL training is not universally available, and I would think less so on a remote reservation. Moreover, I occasionally thought Skylar’s language was a bit sophisticated for his background. One phrase that comes to mind is, “…Regardless of his administrations.” Grammatically it is quite correct, but not the sort of language a 16 y.o. would be likely to use.

I have already used the term “sweet,’ and now I’ll also add the terms “inspirational,” “heart-warming,” and “thoroughly enjoyable.” Four and one-half bees.

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February 18, 2013 Posted by | Coming out, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay Native American, Gay romance | 2 Comments

A Heart Divided, by J.M. Snyder

A true romance with an authentic core –

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a heart divided - coverStory blurb: Confederate Lieutenant Anderson Blanks has grown weary of the War Between the States. He is all too aware of the tenuous thread that ties him to this earth—as he writes a letter home to his sister, he realizes he may be among the dead by the time she receives the missive. His melancholy mood is shared by other soldiers in the campsite; in the cool Virginia night, the pickets claim to hear ghosts in the woods, and their own talk spooks them.

Andy knows the “ghost” is nothing more than a wounded soldier left on the battlefield, dying in the darkness. With compassion, Andy takes the picket’s lantern and canteen in the hopes of easing the soldier’s pain. After a tense confrontation with the soldier, Andy is shocked to discover none other than Samuel Talley, a young man Andy’s father had chased from their plantation when the romantic relationship between the two boys came to light. The last time the two had seen each other, Sam had been heading west to seek his fortune, and had promised to send for Andy when he could.

Then the war broke out, and Andy had enlisted in the Confederate Army to help ease the financial burden at home. Apparently Sam had similar ideas—he now wears the blue coat of a Union solider.

Sam is severely wounded and infection has begun to set in. Andy can’t sneak him into his own camp for treatment because all Union soldiers are taken prisoner. But Andy’s Confederate uniform prevents him from seeking help from the nearby Union camp, as well. It’s up to Andy to tend his lover’s wound and get Sam the help he needs before it’s too late…and before Andy’s compatriots discover Sam’s presence…

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. For more information on newest releases and submission guidelines, please visit JMS Books LLC online.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

One of my favourite genre settings is the American Civil War. In reality it was a brutal conflict with unimaginable bloodshed and death, but it also had a strong element of gallantry and romance as represented by the young men, the ‘flower of manhood,’ who participated in it because of principles they were willing to die for. This is the sense I found in J.M. Synder’s period novel A Heart Divided [CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, July 27, 2011].

The story begins in March, 1865,just  one month before Lee’s surrender at Appomattox on April 9th, 1865, and at the opening we find Confederate Lieutenant Anderson Blanks writing to his sister with the pathetic notion that he could well be de dead by the time she receives his letter. It is a powerful opening, and true, for death was always just one breath away in this conflict.

Snyder also does quite a fine job of capturing the tense environment of the encampment, frequently in sight of the enemies picket fires, and surrounded by the yet-to-be-retrieved wounded and dead. His men fear the voices of ghosts when they hear an enemy soldier crying out for water, but Blanks recognizes it as such and takes a lantern and a canteen in search of him.

This scenario struck a familiar chord, for I remembered reading about Sergeant Richard Rowland Kirkland, the so-called “Angel of Marye’s Heights,” and his heroic deeds.

a heart divided - richard kirland paintingThe story goes that on hearing the cries of wounded Union soldiers: “Kirkland gathered all the canteens he could carry, filled them with water, then ventured out onto the battlefield. He ventured back and forth several times, giving the wounded Union soldiers water, warm clothing, and blankets. Soldiers from both the Union and Confederate armies watched as he performed his task, but no one fired a shot. General [Joseph B.] Kershaw later stated that he observed Kirkland for more than an hour and a half. At first, it was thought that the Union would open fire, which would result in the Confederacy returning fire, resulting in Kirkland being caught in a crossfire. However, within a very short time, it became obvious to both sides as to what Kirkland was doing, and according to Kershaw cries for water erupted all over the battlefield from wounded soldiers. Kirkland did not stop until he had helped every wounded soldier (Confederate and Federal) on the Confederate end of the battlefield. Sergeant Kirkland’s actions remain a legend in Fredericksburg to this day.” Wikipedia.

Whether or not Snyder was aware of this story is immaterial. What is relevant is that it makes a most powerful device by which to reunite Blanks with his tragically lost love, Samuel Talley.

The rest of the story pits the two of them against the ideological divisions of “north” and “south,” and the severity of Samuel’s wound. I won’t elaborate beyond saying that the tension is balanced with romance, and the writing is strong.

My quibbles are almost too trivial to mention, but at times I felt the coincidences were just a bit convenient.

Altogether, it is a true romance with an authentic core. Five bees.

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Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 44,529

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Sometimes a single letter can make all the difference. That’s how I felt when this missive arrived:

Dear Mr. Burnie,

After I finished Two Irish Lads I immediately ordered Journey to the Big Sky.  Both books are fantastic… I’ve just found another favorite author.  Thanks so much for such fantastic reading.  Your words make the characters come alive and become someone we care about, and to me that is what makes a great author.   Thanks ever so much for you dedication to these books, their research, etc.  However and FWIW, I really was disappointed in the cover of Big Sky though – IMO Sheldon doesn’t have the looks that your Sheldon has to command the attention, etc..  But I did thoroughly enjoy both books; now the big question… when can I get Coming of Age, I can’t find it available anywhere?  Also, I really appreciate the fact that you’re making them available in e-books.  Thanks ever so much again.

Best,
Rock H

Definitely inspirational … And humbling.

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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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February 4, 2013 Posted by | Coming out, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period | Leave a comment

Longhorns, by Victor J. Banis

An enjoyable read in the style of Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour

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longhorn - coverForty-year-old Les, the trail boss of the Double H Ranch, works for its beloved chatelaine, the elderly widow Miz Cameron, “a little dumpling of a woman, dressed in black.” Les rides herd over a crew of rowdy cowboys, roping steer and sleeping around prairie campfires. Young drifter Buck, part Nasoni Indian, catches up to them on a roundup. After proving himself an expert sharpshooter, rider and roper, Buck celebrates his initiation to the group by luring one of their number, Red, into his bedroll. But Buck is really after Les, sandy-haired and significantly endowed.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I had previously passed on  Longhorns by Victor J. Banis [Running Press, July 13, 2007] several times, fearing that the title was a euphemism for long (male) ‘horns,’ but seeing the reaction it has received from so many readers, my curiosity finally got the better of me.

What I found was a pulp-style western, written (for the most part) in the classic vernacular. These are both good features from this reader’s point of view. Moreover, Victor Banis has also done quite a good job of capturing the atmosphere and camaraderie of a 19th-century cattle roundup; ruggedly independent men, interacting man-to-man, and free from the disruptive influence of women.

And, yes, there was sex between some of them [see: Queer Cowboys by Chris Pickard]. It was common for men in early Western America to relate to one another in pairs or in larger homo-social group settings. At times, they may have competed for the attention of women but more often two cowboys organized themselves into a partnership resembling a heterosexual marriage. This is reflected in a poem by the renowned cowboy poet, Charles Badger Clark, i.e.

longhorn - lost pardnerWe loved each other in the way men do
And never spoke about it, Al and me,
But we both knowed, and knowin’ it so true
Was more than any woman’s kiss could be.
We knowed–and if the way was smooth or rough,
The weather shine or pour,
While I had him the rest seemed good enough–
But he ain’t here no more!
The range is empty and the trails are blind,
And I don’t seem but half myself today.
I wait to hear him ridin’ up behind
And feel his knee rub mine the good old way
He’s dead–and what that means no man kin tell.
Some call it “gone before.”
Where? I don’t know, but God! I know so well
That he ain’t here no more!

Nevertheless, as can be seen from the above, it was seldom if ever overt, and this is where the story lost credibility with me. Buck was just a bit too out to be believable—or to have even survived, for that matter. Moreover, as several other reviewers have already noted, his fellow cowhands were also incredibly accepting of a way of life that was still considered “unspeakable.”

These are not fatal flaws, just niggling drawbacks, so I want to stress that this is an enjoyable story with some really strong writing, and a bang-on style. In fact, the style is every bit as authentic as Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour. Three and one-half bees.

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Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 44,099

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Glory Hallelujah! – I am pleased to announce that I have finished the pre-edited draft of my WIP novel, Coming of Age on the Trail. It has taken three years, 227 pages, 133,500 words, and a good deal of sweat and tears. I also feel behoved to mention that I had to fight Microsoft Word (“Microcrap”) every single line, paragraph, and page along the way. In fact, I have given it an un-dedication at the front of the book. To learn more, click on the above link or image.

stag dance copy2

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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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January 28, 2013 Posted by | Coming out, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period, M/M love and adventure, Traditional Western | 2 Comments

The Celestial, by Barry Brennessel

It’s unanimous: The Celestial by Barry Bennessel is a great read!

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celestial - coverStory blurb: Love was the last thing Todd Webster Morgan expected to find while searching for gold in 1870s California. But that was before he met Lâo Jian.

Hardened beyond his nineteen years, Todd Webster Morgan is determined to find gold high in the Sierra Nevadas. But his dream is violently upended. Complicating matters even more, he meets a young Chinese immigrant named Lâo Jian, whose own dreams of finding gold have been quashed by violence.

But life back in Sacramento isn’t any easier. Todd’s mother struggles to make ends meet. His invalid uncle becomes increasing angry. Todd seeks employment with little success. Meanwhile his friendship with Lâo Jian turns to love. But their relationship is strained as anti-Chinese sentiment grows.

Todd vows not to lose Lâo Jian. The couple must risk everything to make a life for themselves. A life that requires facing fear and prejudice head on.

About this author: When Barry’s first collection of stories was read aloud by his second grade teacher, the author hid in the bathroom. As the years flew by, he wrote more, hid less (not really), and branched out to Super 8 films and cassette tape recorders. Barry’s audience—consisting solely of friends and family—were both amused and bemused.

Since those childhood days, Barry has earned degrees in English and French from the State University of New York College at Brockport, and a Master of Arts in Writing from the Johns Hopkins University.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

It’s unanimous: Barry Brennessel’s novel The Celestial [MLR Press,LLC, September 6, 2012] is a great story! Most reviews I have read have dipped into the superlative bag for apt descriptors, and I must agree.

My approach comes from my passion and accompanying research into American frontier history, including the California mining communities of  the mid-1800s, and I must say that the author has captured the tone of these rough-and-tumble, gritty and grotty settlements remarkably well.

Set against this rugged backdrop is the wide-eyed naïveté of farmboy, Todd Morgan, and his companion Lâo Jian; both innocent romantics who just want to live and love in the midst of this harsh environment.

Part of Brennessel’s strength as a writer is his ability to create vivid characters who are both interesting and unique. Each character has a distinctive voice that sets him (or her) apart while contributing to the over all story. So, whether it’s Ned Calvert, Todd’s irascible uncle, or the young Irish miner, Breandon (on whom Todd has an early crush), they all contribute in their own way.

celestial - chinese minersOne of the regrettable aspects of frontier society was the degree of prejudice against certain ethnic societies, i.e. Native Americans and certain foreigners, especially–to the miners–the Chinese, who were called “Chinamen,” “Johnny Pig Tails,” or “Celestials” (because they came from the so-called “Celestial Empire.”)

The miners resented them because they saw them as competition, and distrusted them because they tended to stick to their own communities, which is not surprising since they were generally shunned elsewhere. As a result the Chinese were subjected to all manner of abuse, even murder, and Brennessel has done quite a credible job of portraying this.

Nonetheless, Todd and Lâo Jian persevere primarily because of the strength and love they derive from one another, and this is the inspirational theme that underlies the whole story. Highly recommended. Five bees!

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Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 43,538

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Coming of Age on the Trail: A number of people have inquired about my forthcoming novel, and where they can find more information on it. Others have expressed concerns that the URL link “COA related photos” listed earlier, is not operating. That’s because I have changed servers in the meantime. So, to Answer both queries click on the banner below to be taken to the new URL, and follow the links you will find there. Thanks for your interest.

COA - banner - 500px

A progress report: I will finish the pre-edit draft in about 2 – 3 days, and after one more re-write it will be on its way. Watch for it early summer 2013.

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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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January 21, 2013 Posted by | Coming out, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period, M/M love and adventure | Leave a comment

Northern Lights, by James Matthew Green

This is  history as it should be told (and taught): A history lesson that can be absorbed while enjoying a truly enjoyable story.

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northern lights - coverJames Matthew Green’s historical novel, Northern Lights, takes the reader into the vivid excitement of the French and Indian War. Daniel Allouez, whose father is French and mother is Ojibwe Indian, enters into the war not only to fight the enemy, but to discover who he is at the crossroads of race, religion, and sexual orientation.

The spiritual nature of Daniel’s search draws beautifully upon his Ojibwe tradition, with its emphasis on experiencing the Divine in nature. Daniel’s discovery of love in a same-sex relationship presents difficulties as well as transformation in this resounding story of triumph and emotional healing.

About the Author

  • James Matthew (Jim) Green is a psychotherapist in private practice in Charlotte, NC. Born in 1952, Jim grew up in Minnesota, and has lived in California, Oregon, Montana, and North Carolina. His ethnic roots include Norwegian, French, and Ojibwe/Odawa. Jim is enrolled at White Earth Reservation in Minnesota.
  • Jim’s work as a psychotherapist and as a writer explores the Sacred Mystery and Power encountered in nature and in the experiences of life.
  • Jim is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. He studied theology at Saint John’s Roman Catholic Seminary in Camarillo, CA, and earned a Masters of Divinity at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, SC.
  • In his psychotherapy practice, Jim specializes in spirituality for emotional healing.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Ever on the lookout for Canadian authors and/or Canadian content and history, especially from a gay perspective, I came across Northern Lights, by James Matthew Green [CreateSpace Independent Publishing , June 23, 2012], and although the author is American this novel fills the latter two categories quite admirably. Moreover, it fits my concept of gay historical fiction to a “T” by giving history a face—albeit a fictional one—to represent those GBLT men and women who lived and loved in another time.

Northern lights - French-Indian-WarThe story is set in the 1750s against the somewhat neglected backdrop of the so-called “French and Indian War ” (1754-1763) [more about this point below]. It is also the backdrop for James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans. However, in this novel the main character wasn’t merely raised by Indians, he is in fact half-Indian (Métis), and the other half being French. The Métis theme is also one that has been surprising neglected in the past, for few things can evoke the northern frontiers like a band of the bon vivant Métis and Coureurs de bois.

While these elements form the backdrop, and at times provide some exciting drama, the main theme here is spirituality—both Christian and Native. Being part Ojibwe himself, the author has provided some fascinating insights into Ojibwe spiritual beliefs, including Two Spirit culture, as the main characters, Daniel and Rorie, come to terms with divergent beliefs and their sexuality.

I was particularly intrigued, as well, by the scenes involving ‘near death experience,’ for it was a widely held belief among many tribes that the spirit left the body to converse with inhabitants of the “Other Land,” and then returned with messages to “This Land.” In fact, I have used this theme in my forthcoming novel, Coming of Age on the Trail.

I was also struck by the way the author emphasized the reverence and respect Natives held for the environment around them without flogging the point. For indeed, that is how it was. It was a natural as etiquette is today—or was.

My quibbles are minor and technical, and probably wouldn’t even be noticed by anyone who wasn’t a former professor of history, but they stood out for me. The first, as I mentioned above, has to do with the use of the lable “French and Indian War” to describe the conflict. The author does acknowledge that this is an American term, but goes on to describe the Canadian equivalent as “The War of conquest.” Nope—not exactly. English-Canadians refer to it as “The Anglo-French Conflict,” while French-Canadians refer to it as “La guerre de la Conquête” (i.e. “The War of Conquest”.)  In a country with two distinct cultures, and an underlying current of nationalism, that is a big deal.

My second quibble has to do with the term “Winnipeg;” as in “Winnipeg River.” Actually, the much later name Winnipeg is an English bastardization of  the Cree word “Wīnipēk (ᐐᓂᐯᐠ)”, meaning “murky waters,” and contemporary maps of the period also show it as such.

That said, this is history as it should be told (and taught): A history lesson that can be absorbed while enjoying a truly enjoyable story. Four and one-half bees.

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Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 43,006

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Notice: Due to Amazon’s recent decision to arbitrarily purge customer reviews from  its pages, I will no longer be posting  on Amazon.com and/or Amazon.ca. Instead, I will be posting on this site, Goodreads, and Barnes and Noble. If and when Amazon changes its policy, I will be happy to resume.

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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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January 14, 2013 Posted by | Canadian content, Canadian frontier stories, Canadian historical content, Coming out, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period | Leave a comment

The Nothingness of Ben, by Brad Boney

nob - happy new year

A worthy debut novel

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NoB - coverStory blurb: Ben Walsh is well on his way to becoming one of Manhattan’s top litigators, with a gorgeous boyfriend and friends on the A-list. His life is perfect until he gets a phone call that brings it all crashing down: a car accident takes his parents, and now he must return to Austin to raise three teenage brothers he barely knows.

During the funeral, Ben meets Travis Atwood, the redneck neighbor with a huge heart. Their relationship initially runs hot and cold, from contentious to flirtatious, but when the weight of responsibility starts wearing on Ben, he turns to Travis, and the pressure shapes their friendship into something that feels a lot like love. Ben thinks he’s found a way to have his old life, his new life, and Travis too, but love isn’t always easy. Will he learn to recognize that sometimes the worst thing imaginable can lead him to the place he was meant to be?

About the author: Brad Boney lives in Austin, Texas, the 7th gayest city in America. He likes to tell stories about the hot boys in his neighborhood near the University of Texas. Brand new to M/M fiction, he plans to set all of his books in Austin and hopes to become an ambassador for his city. He grew up in the Midwest and went to school at NYU. He lived in Washington, DC and Houston before settling in Austin. He blames his background in the theater for his writing of all time is 50 First Dates. His favorite gay film of the last ten years is Strapped. He has never met a boy band he didn’t like. The books he’s rated say a lot about him.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Ordinarily I don’t read contemporary western novels. They tend to be little more than gratuitous romps in the sack, barn, hayloft, bunkhouse, or any other place where they can get horizontal, with a bit of narrative thrown in as a makeshift plot. Happily, The Nothingness of Ben, by Brad Boney [Dreamspinner Press, 2012] is an exception. Oh, it is sexy enough, but it also has a plot and some decent writing going for it.

Gay Lawyer, Ben Walsh, is a young, upwardly mobile person; typically ambitious and self-centred, and in accordance with Maslow’s Theory of Hierarchy, he is far removed from his modest Texas beginnings. That is, until tragedy calls him back as guardian of his three younger brothers—the youngest being in the midst of his difficult, teenage years.

Decently (I think) he responds to the challenge, and that is when he meets Travis Atwood, a self-taught tradesman and Ben’s social opposite. Travis is also ‘straight’ (meaning he’s had no previous homosexual experience), but inevitably he and Ben hit it off sexually as well as otherwise.

The plot then winds its way through some minor challenges until is arrives at a happy resolution.

To that extent it is a nice story, and as a debut novel it is better than many: The writing is solid; the characters are interesting and well defined; and the plot and pace are both progressive. In other words, it can take its place on bookshelves or in ebook libraries quite unashamedly.

Nevertheless, I have some quibbles. For one thing the plot is far from unique. City boy (or ‘city-oriented boy’) ends up in a rural setting where he meets a handsome local and falls in love. Off hand, I can think of half-a-dozen novels with approximately the same theme, so it is becoming just a bit trite. I also agree with some other reviewers who found it a little Utopian and short on angst (contrast). On this point, however, I must admit that I hate to knock my characters around as well, but even taffy requires salt.

Nonetheless, I will say categorically that the strengths of Boney’s writing outweigh the shortcomings. Besides, as I always say, your tastes may be different from mine. Three and one-half bees.

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Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 41,527

Visitors count for 2012 – 23,200

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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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MicrocrapAs a writer I spend at least eight hours per day on the computer, and a good portion of that is wasted on wrestling with MS Word. Annoyances like:

chasing the pointer as it jumps around the page;

  • deleting and retyping the misplaced copy that results;

  • undoing the blocking of copy that mysteriously appears on its own, and is then deleted with my next key stroke;

  • struggling to undo the alternate characters (the blue ones on the keypad) that arbitrarily appear.

See my full comments at my blog: Stop the Bull

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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. We`ve had our best year ever and the numbers are increasing every day. Congratulations. On behalf of the authors represented on these pages, I wish you a happy and prosperous new year!

December 31, 2012 Posted by | Coming out, Contemporary western, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay romance | Leave a comment

For a Lost Soldier, by Rudi van Dantzig

A powerful story of coming of age –

Story blurb: Forty years after the fact, Dutch choreographer Jeroen Boman recalls a wartime romance. During the Allied liberation of Holland, the eleven-year-old Boman entered into a tender relationship with a Canadian soldier. Back to the present, Boman attempts to incorporate his experiences in his latest ballet work, a celebration of the Liberation.

The printed version of For a Lost Soldier is no longer available, but the film version (written by director, Roeland Kerbosh) is available on DVD.

About the author: The choreographer and director Rudi van Dantzig (August 1933 – January 2012) played a major role in the development of classical ballet in the Netherlands. Many of his ballets contain a strong thread of social criticism; he was not afraid to explore difficult subjects. The vividly theatrical Monument for a Dead Boy (1965) told the story of a boy who discovers his hitherto repressed homosexuality and is ultimately destroyed by his own desires. This ballet brought Van Dantzig international notice and was mounted for several major companies.

He also had a second career, which developed later in his life, as a novelist. In 1986 he wrote an autobiographical novel, Voor een verloren soldaat, about his love affair while a young boy with a Canadian soldier, which became a great success. It was awarded several times and a film was made of it. An English translation, For a Lost Soldier, was published in 1996.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

In preparation for this week’s review, I went in search of a gay Canadian novel in all the usual places (including Amazon.ca), but I may as well have gone searching for a unicorn! All I found were a couple of pages of outdated, academic, and even American offerings (i.e. The Best American Short Stories 2012). To add insult to injury, my own novels weren’t even included.

All was not entirely lost, however, for I came across a book I had read some time ago, For a Lost Soldier, by Rudi van Dantzig, [Gay Men’s Press, 1997], which is now out of print. However, a DVD film version (written and directed by Roeland Kerbosch, and starring Maarten Smit as young Boman, Jeroen Krabbé as the adult Boman, and Andrew Kelley as the Canadian soldier) is still available.
The book and the film differ quite significantly, especially in the way the ending is constructed, but the basic story outline is the same.

Near the end of the war in Holland, eleven-year-old Jeroen Boman is sent to live in the country due to a food shortage in Amsterdam. However, despite a relative abundance to eat he is wracked with loneliness for his parents and friends.

This is subject to change when the village is liberated by a group of Canadian Troops, and Jeroen encounters a 20-something soldier named Walter Cook. Jeroen revels in the attention shown by Cook, and a relationship is formed between them that eventually becomes sexual in nature.

A dark cloud forms, however, when Cook’s regiment moves on, and he leaves without saying goodbye to a devastated Jeroen. Even the photograph of him—the only token Jeroen has left—is damaged by rain.

The remainder of the novel is dedicated to Jeroen’s life when he returns to Amsterdam, and the desperate but fruitless search for his first, lost lover. Eventually Jeroen is forced to realize that all he has left are memories.

Given the controversial nature of man/boy love, even when it is pseudo-autobiographical (as it is in this case), a number of people will be put off by this point alone. However, the sexual aspect in the novel is delicately handled, and in the film it is so subtle that one might actually miss it. What remains is a powerful story of coming of age, and the lifelong impact of first love. Five bees.

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Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 38,355

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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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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.

      

Thank you for dropping by. It appears almost certain that we will reach 40,000 by year’s end. Congratulations!

November 26, 2012 Posted by | Canadian content, Canadian historical content, Coming out, fiction/autobiographical, Gay romance, Historical period | Leave a comment

When the Bluebird Calls (The Heart of the Mountain #1), by Leiland Dale

For lovers of true romance in the Harlequin style –

Devon Reid, veterinarian, had a partner of 2 years, a beautiful house, and a fantastic job. Then, life as he knew it, changed.

Six months ago, he became his mother’s sole caretaker when her cancer returned. With his constant absence from home, his relationship ends leaving him alone in one of the most emotionally draining points in his life. When his mother passes, he is lonely and loses his zest for life.

With his emotions and life in turmoil, Devon decides it’s time to make a change. Leaving the city life behind and taking a job in a small town in Montana, was just what the doctor ordered. Then, he meets the hunky ranch foreman, Greg Elliot.

Greg has lived most of his life on a ranch. Living in a small town didn’t offer many prospects for a relationship, until he meets the new veterinarian in town.

While they try to resist the obvious mutual attraction, a fateful call during the night changes it all.

What is a city boy to do when a small town cowboy ropes him in?

Available in ebook format, only – 223 KB

About the author: Initially, Leiland began reading Harlequin Romance and Silhouette Desire but later transitioned to Silhouette Nocturne. But after reading the first M/M erotic romance, tons of M/M material soon followed. As an avid reader, Leiland decided one day to take a stab at writing a book. These days, when not writing something new, Leiland can be found reading a steamy romance (shifters are a fav!), taking the pet dog for a walk or watching movies such as A Walk to Remember.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I think what first attracted me to When the Bluebird Calls (The Heart of the Mountain #1) by Leiland Dale [Silver Publishing, 2010] was the award-winning cover by Reese Dante. It’s sexy without being overly erotic. The second thing was that the blurb didn’t mention “hot,” “steamy” or “lusty” even once, and that was enough to overcome my usual avoidance of contemporary western novels.

The plot is rather simple. Devon Reid is an urban veterinarian, gay, and with a boyfriend. Tragedy strikes when his mother is stricken with a fatal form of cancer, and with her loss, as well as the break-up of his relationship, he decides to escape to the rural town of Bridger, Montana.

Here he continues is veterinary practice, and one of his clients is a ruggedly handsome, ranch foreman by the name of Greg Elliot.

It is very much a situation of ‘love at first sight’ for both of them, and a courtship of sorts follows. However, it is not until they are fortuitously brought together when Devon is called to assist the birth of a colt, and from there it is pretty well a situation of happy-ever-after.

My views:

It’s interesting that the author started off by reading Harlequin Romance novels, because this is definitely a romance: A lonely ingénue dreaming of love; a storybook town nestled in the rolling hills of Montana; and a hunky foreman ready to settle down with the right guy. It`s not the way it generally happens, but it is the way we`d like to see it happen. Nothing wrong with that.

However, even Harlequin Romances have some sort of tension (angst) written into them, a ‘pinch of salt’ if you will, and this is what wI wias missing from the mix. Everything was just too idealistic. It is not so much a credibility problem as a lack of colour and variation.

The pace was also a bit frenetic at times—especially the opening scenes with the death of the mother and the alienation of the boyfriend. It was all over so briefly that I just didn’t get to feel Devon’s desolation quite as much as I should have. True, this is a novella (about 85 pages), but a paragraph or two to describe Devon’s sense of loss would have helped throughout the remainder of the story.

Having said that, however, it is a good read for lovers of happy-ever-after romances. Three bees.

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Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 37, 347 (That’s up 747 visitors from last week).

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A star in the making. Canada is blessed with a remarkable array of talent, and one of the up-and-coming young stars is concert pianist,  Lucas Porter. He has won several awards and been featured on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporations’ NEXT program. Click on the image to hear Etude, Opus 4, by Frederick Chopin.

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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. We hit a milestone this week by coming just short of an 800-visitor week. Thank you so much for your participation.

November 12, 2012 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay romance | , , | Leave a comment

Out of the Blue, by Josh Lanyon

A bang-up short story, enthusiastically recommended –

Story Blurb: Grieving over the death of his lover, British flying ace Bat Bryant accidentally kills the man threatening him with exposure. Unfortunately there’s a witness: the big, rough American they call “Cowboy” – and Cowboy has his own price for silence.

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

In preparation for Remembrance Day–for which I have a non-fiction book picked–I came across Out of the Blue [Just Joshin Publisher, 2012] by Josh Lanyon. It’s a name I’d heard of before, but had never stopped to read any of his works. Nevertheless, I’m glad I did.

The tale is set at an allied air base in France during WWI. Captain Bat Bryant is a British flying ace with an Eton College background, and as the story opens he is being confronted by a potential blackmailer. During the course of this confrontation Bryant strikes and accidentally kills the extortionist, and is witnessed by an American flying ace named “Cowboy.” Cowboy then reveals that he also knows of Bryant’s brief affair with Lieutenant “Owl” Roberts, but inexplicably offers to dispose of the body just the same. Bryant accepts his offer, and the stage is then set for the bulk of the story involving the relationship with the exploitative American.

***

At 193 KB this ranks as a short story, which I tend to like because of their distillation of events. Author Lanyon appears to understand this appeal as well, for he has staunchly adhered to the three basic rules; i.e. get in, tell the story, and get out. There is no dallying here. The prose is spare but efficient, the characters tend to develop as they go along (mostly relying on dialogue for their personalities), and the era and setting get a just-enough amount of description.

Having said that, there is very little missed. Cowboy is a ‘cowboy,’ and Bryant is his willing ‘mount,’ yet there is a genuine affection as well. The era is effectively evoked by touches like the lyrics to “Roses of Picardy”—an iconic song of WWI—and the “dogfights” are some of the best I’ve read.

My only quibble with Out of the Blue is that some (a few) of the events tend to come out of blue as well, and as such I was ‘quizzical’ regarding the motivations. Nonetheless, this is a bang-up story that gets my enthusiastic recommendation. Four and one-half bees.

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Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 36,104

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Notice to all those who have requested a book review

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Thanks again!

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A personal boycott.

Just received notice of the Goodreads Choice Awards 2012. I WON’T be taking part. For one thing, it is only open to “Books published for the first time in the United States,” (nothing about Canada), and of the 15 categories, not one of them is for GBLT books–fiction or non-fiction. So best of luck, but no thanks.

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If you would like to learn more about any of my books, or to order copies, click on the specific cover below. Two Irish Lads and Nor All Thy Tears are available in both Kindle and Nook formats. Publisher’s price, $4.95.

      

Thanks for dropping by. I hope that all my friends living on the east coast of United States and eastern Canada will be safe from Sandy’s wrath. My thoughts are with you.

October 29, 2012 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay military, Gay romance, Historical period | Leave a comment

Only Make Believe, by Elliott Mackle

A well-conceived, superbly written murder mystery/romance –

Story blurb: It’s amateur night at the ultra-private, members-only Caloosa Club on the Fort Myers, Florida, riverfront. Trouble begins when the fat lady sings. Her triumph is sweet. But, only hours later, the diva lies near death in a hotel room upstairs, the victim of a vicious beating. Hotel manager Dan Ewing and his sidekick, Lee County Detective Bud Wright, soon discover that this was no lady and that a variety of unsavory characters hoped to dance on the dead diva’s grave. In Southwest Florida in January 1951, almost anyone who wanted to have a little illicit fun put his—or her—life on the line.

Dan, a World War II veteran who survived Japanese torpedoes, five days on a life raft and the death of his Navy lover, feels he’s found more safety and freedom than any gay man might expect. Dealing cards, serving untaxed mixed drinks and selling the services of escorts of both sexes, he acts as if he has nothing to lose. Yet he does. Bud, his secret lover, is a former Marine sergeant twice decorated for valor. Strong and brave but deeply conventional, he lives with the uneasy knowledge that every time he and Dan make love they commit a felony according to the laws he is sworn to uphold.

The Caloosa, exposed to the pitiless glare of a front-page homicide investigation, attracts unwanted attention. The mounting pressure, instead of forging a stronger bond between Dan and Bud, threatens to tear them apart. As the jeopardy to both escalates, Dan realizes he may lose the one man who holds the key to the peace and harmony of his postwar world.

About the author: Elliott Mackle served four years in the United States Air Force during the Vietnam era. As a very green second lieutenant he commanded a squadron of cooks and bakers, later achieving the rank of captain. He was stationed in California, Italy and Libya, the latter the setting for his new novel, CAPTAIN HARDING’S SIX-DAY WAR (Lethe Press). His previous novel, HOT OFF THE PRESSES (Lethe Press), is based in part on his adventures covering the 1996 Olympic Games for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Then an AJC staff writer, he served as the newspaper’s dining critic for a decade, also reporting on military affairs, travel and the national restaurant scene. His first novel, IT TAKES TWO, was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. He has written for Travel & Leisure, Food & Wine, the Los Angeles Times, Florida Historical Quarterly, Atlanta and Charleston magazines and was a longtime columnist at Creative Loafing, the southeast’s leading alternative newsweekly. Mackle wrote and produced segments for Nathalie Dupree’s popular television series, New Southern Cooking, and authored a drama about gay bashing for Georgia Public Television. Along the way, he managed a horse farm, served as a child nutrition advocate for the State of Georgia, volunteered at an AIDS shelter, was founding co-chair of Emory University’s GLBT alumni association and taught critical and editorial writing at Georgia State University. He lives in Atlanta with his partner of 40 years.

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Review by Gerry Burnie (http://www.gerryburniebooks.ca)

Only Make Believe by Elliot Mackle [Lethe Press, 2012] is the second in a series, but the first I have read. However, it does very well as a stand-alone  novel.

The story is set in post WWII, 1950s Fort Myers, FL, and is a next adventure in the lives of Dan Ewing, owner of the members-only “Caloosa Club,” and his closeted lover, Detective Bud Wright. Bud also works, part time, with the county sheriff’s office.

Both are good strong characters, but it is Dan who is the stronger, mostly on account of being comfortable in his own skin.

This particular adventure centres around a cross-dressing amateur singer who is murdered at the hotel, and the resulting publicity puts a strain on both men, particularly on Bud because of his clandestine sexual preferences—make that, ‘practices.’

One of the areas that I thought Mackle captured very well was the schizoid thinking of the time, regarding homosexuality. Homophobia was very much to the fore, of course, but even those who were somewhat sympathetic (i.e. marginally accepting) shrunk from the scene when forced to make a choice. Moreover, the over-the-top reaction of some homophobics made a nice bit of tension while the plot was unfolding.

Another aspect that I thought was both effective and clever was to show the impact of this tragedy on the victim’s 17 y.o. son. An aspect that is very often overlooked.

My quibbles are minor. For example, I thought the resolution of the murder investigation was a bit incredible (but not inconceivable), and although it is not specifically directed at this novel, I am beginning to weary of the ‘persecution complex’ that seems to be dominating most GLBT stories.

While persecution is an undeniable aspect of GLBT life that has existed since the advent of Christianity, the burden of this one particular theme is becoming repetitious. To borrow a phrase from renowned sociologist, Jane Jacobs, it is becoming the “Great blight of sameness.”

I do recommend Only Make Believe, however, as a well-conceived, superbly written murder mystery/romance. Four and one-half bees.

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Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 35,087

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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!

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Help put Richer, Manitoba, on the national Map

Cynthia Cramer, Author of “Real Justice: Guilty of Being Weird,” has submitted a short story to the Reader’s Digest “Most Interesting Community” contest. Her submission is about her municipality of Richer. Manitoba, so let’s help recognize Richer by taking a moment to vote. To cast your vote, go to: Canada’s Most Interesting Towns Contest | Readers Digest.ca: http://www.readersdigest.ca/cmit/submission-details?submission_id=187. YEA RICHER, GO, GO. GO!

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If you would like to learn more about any of my books, or to order copies, click on the specific cover below. Two Irish Lads and Nor All Thy Tears are available in both Kindle and Nook formats. Publisher’s price, $4.95.

      

Thanks for dropping by. I hope I have given you some ideas for your reading pleasure. The authors featured here, and I, welcome your views.

 

October 15, 2012 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Historical period, M/M love and adventure | 2 Comments

Skybound, by Aleksandr Voinov

A textbook example of the short story art –

Story blurb: Germany, 1945. The Third Reich is on its knees as Allied forces bomb Berlin to break the last resistance. Yet on an airfield near Berlin, the battle is far from over for a young mechanic, Felix, who’s attached to a squadron of fighter pilots. He’s especially attached to fighter ace Baldur Vogt, a man he admires and secretly loves. But there’s no room for love at the end of the world, never mind in Nazi Germany.

When Baldur narrowly cheats death, Felix pulls him from his plane, and the pilot makes his riskiest move yet. He takes a few days’ leave to recover, and he takes Felix with him. Away from the pressures of the airfield, their bond deepens, and Baldur shows Felix the kind of brotherhood he’d only ever dreamed of before.

But there’s no escaping the war, and when they return, Baldur joins the fray again in the skies over Berlin. As the Allies close in on the airfield where Felix waits for his lover, Baldur must face the truth that he is no longer the only one in mortal danger.

Available in ebook, only – 198 KB

About the author: Aleksandr Voinov is an emigrant German author living near London where he makes his living as a financial journalist, freelance editor and creative writing teacher. After many years working in the horror, science fiction, cyberpunk and fantasy genres, Voinov has set his sights now on contemporary and historical erotic gay novels.

Voinov’s characters are often scarred lonely souls at odds with their environment and pitted against odds that make or break them. He described the perfect ending for his books as “the characters make it out alive, but at a terrible cost, usually by the skin of their teeth. I want to see what’s at the core of them, and stripping them down to that core is rarely pleasant for them. But it does make them wiser, and often stronger people.”

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Review by Gerry Burnie (www.gerryburniebooks.ca)

If you are a regular follower, you might have noticed that I have an affinity for gay/historical/military/genres. It is a natural outcome of my passion for history, and my self-identification with those who have faced the harsh brutalities of war. Courage like this should not be forgotten lest we make the same mistake again.

In Skybound by Aleksandr Voinov [Riptide Publishing, 2012] we find yet another reason to care. Two individuals caught up in the confict, Germans, seeing the evil regime of which they are part crumbling around them, and yet fighting on through a stalwart—but misplaced—sense of duty.

Well … One of them is, anyway. Baldur Vogt, a Luftwaffe ace, bold, handsome and dashing, flies his missions because it is what he does. On the other hand, Felix, a ground-crew mechanic does what he does to keep the man he loves (Baldur) as safe as he can make him, and with that simple revelation the whole perspective of war changes.

But that is only one thread in this complex tapestry, for Felix despairs that Baldur will ever respond in the way he (Felix) has dreamed. For one thing, Baldur comes from money, compared to Felix’s humble background, and even if this could be brushed aside, man-to-man love was an anathema in Hitler’s Arian scheme of things—a veritable death sentence.

Nonetheless, fate will have its way, and when Baldur somewhat miraculously escapes a bullet that otherwise had his name on it, he celebrates by taking Felix away for a few days of relaxation.

Once away from the harrowing events of the day, love blooms—a quiet, tender affection that emerges as naturally as a breeze on a warm summer’s day. Indeed, when it happens one cannot imagine it being any other way.

However, once the point is made, and given that the only world they know is crumbling around them, how does one go about getting a ‘happy ever after ending’ out of that?

That remains for readers to discover, but it is almost a textbook example of the short story art; i.e. get in, make the point, and get out, which Voinov does very well. In addition the various ‘flavours’ are as concentrated as a brandy that lingers, agreeably, on the palate. Five bees.

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Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 34,566

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Last week I announced a new look and URL address for “Coming of Age on the trail” (www.comingofagenovel.ca), and Gerry Burnie Books. This week I want to ‘show off’ my new banner/logo for that site, as well. Click on the banner to go to the site.

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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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. If you haven’t noticed, I’ve switched the publication day to Monday. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

 

October 8, 2012 Posted by | Coming out, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay Literature, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period, M/M love and adventure, Military history | 3 Comments

The Pleasuring of Men, by Clifford Browder

A delightful story–in the manner of “Tom Jones” – 

Story blurb: In New York City in the late 1860s, Tom Vaughan, a respectably raised young man, chooses to become a male prostitute servicing the city’s affluent elite, then falls in love with Walter Whiting, a renowned scholar and lecturer who proves to be his most difficult client. Having long wrestled with feelings of shame and guilt, Whiting, a married man, at first resents Tom’s easy acceptance of his own sexuality. Their story unfolds in the clandestine and precarious gay underworld of the time, which is creatively but vividly created. Through a series of encounters– some exhilarating, some painful, some mysterious—Tom matures, until an unexpected act of violence provokes a final resolution.

Available in e-book format – 443 KB

About the author: The Pleasuring of Men is Clifford Browder’s fourth book and first novel. His short fiction is set in New York City in the years 1830-1880. Characters often reappear in other novels and, quintessentially, in poetry in the form of monologs. Selections of his fiction have been published in Quarter After Eight, Third Coast, and New York Stories. His poetry has appeared in various reviews and online, including Poetic Voices Without Borders 2 and ArLiJo. He has helped two aspiring authors, a Sister of Mercy and a gay inmate in North Carolina, write their memoirs. He is also the author of two published biographies and a critical study of the French Surrealist poet André Breton.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I know almost northing about New York now or in the 1860s, but after reading The Pleasuring of Men by Clifford Bowder [Gival Press; 1 edition, 2011] I am sure I have a fairly credible idea of what it was like. It’s that sort of a novel.

Indeed, we get our first impression from Tom Vaughan (the protagonist and first-person narrator) in the opening of Chapter 1, i.e.

“When Mr. Neil Smythe became a roomer in our brownstone, my brother Stewart scowled and wondered if the subtle scent he gave off was cologne or “hair slime”; my mother declared his last name “elegant, and so much nicer than Smith”; and I said nothing, knowing that I’d just met the handsomest man in the world.

“That we were taking in a roomer was the result of a desperate need to put our finances in order. Since my father’s death years before, following heavy losses in a panic, my moher, having mourned him interminably, through skimping and saving had done her best to maintain herself and her two sons in our handsome brownstone on Twenty-fifth Street just off Fifth Avenue, a fashionable address that she could not bring herself to leave in a move to humbler quarters.”

And of his impressions of Mr. Neil Smythe:


“A clean-shaven young man of twenty-two, he was tall and thin, with smooth skin and wavy long blond hair. He came to us correctly dressed in a gray frock coat, fawn trousers, and bland pointed shoes, with a scarf pin and cuff links that glittered, and a boyish look that I, myself sixteen found stupendously appealing.”

From Tom’s observation that he had “…just met the handsomest man in the world,” we know that there is definitely more to come, and it is not long before he admits to “playing games” with himself in front of an ornate, “oval-shaped” mirror, secretly admiring a cherubic, blonde-haired choir boy, and having a crush on the elegant Reverend Timothy Blythe, D.D.

Then, on a mischievous schoolboy outing prompted by one of his school mates, he accompanies him to some of the seedier bars and clubs of the lower side, and one in particular; the  Lustgarten or “pleasure garden.” Tom is shocked and intrigued by sight of men dancing together, some of them dressed as women, and of the lascivious interplay between younger and older. However, as shocked as he might be, he decides that this is the life for him.
Inevitably, Mr. Neil Smythe shows up at the Lustgarten, and tom learns that he is employed by a call-boy ring owned by corrupt politicians and businessmen (quite conceivably “Boss” Tweed and the Tameney Hall gang).[1] Intrigued by Smythe’s stylish way of life, Tom implores him to teach him the ‘tools’ of the trade, which Smythe does in a hands-on sort of way.

Being a quick learner Tom is soon out on his own, pleasuring the grey set with his charms, and being generously rewarded in return. His clients are numerous and varied, and here the author (through Tom’s words) out does himself with colourful and often amusing descriptions of their proclivities—from a European who masquerades as a nobleman; an ‘athletic’ lawyer; and even the Reverend Timothy Blythe, D.D.

Eventually Tom is sent to the townhouse of Walter Whitling, a formidable scholar in just about everything, including the Greek language, and after a rather tempestuous getting-to-know-one-another, the older scholar agrees to teach Tom Greek in the manner of an Erastes with his Eromenos. Thereby Whitling first undresses Tom, and seating himself in front of him he touches Tom’s genitals before proceeding where the scene ends.

Altogether this is a tale encompassing both sophisticated wit and humour, and yet the subject matter is the grotty underbelly of society as enacted by its leading citizens—including the Reverend Timothy Blythe, D.D. Indeed, as I followed Tom’s sexual romp through the streets of New York, I couldn’t get the image of that other Tom out of my mind i.e. “Tom Jones.”. It is absolutely delightful. Five Bees.

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Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 34,069

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Here is an interesting report on Gerry B’s Books Reviews for 2011. I had almost forgot about it until someone requested it, the other day. Something I found interesting was that the visitors count at that time was 13,000! We’ve come a long way, Baby. To see the report, click on the image or go to: https://gerrycan.wordpress.com/2012/01/01/2011-in-review/

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Announcement: All of my web pages now have new URL address. Gerry Burnie Books now resides at http://www.gerryburniebooks.ca, and Coming of Age on the Trail now has both a new address and design. It can now be found at: www.comingofagenovel.ca. Or click on the image.  


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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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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.

      

On behalf of the wonderful authors featured on this blog, I thank you for dropping by. Do drop back next week.

[1] an American politician most notable for being the “boss” of Tammany Hall, the Democratic Party political machine that played a major role in the politics of 19th century New York City and State. At the height of his influence, Tweed was the third-largest landowner in New York City, a director of the Erie Railroad, the Tenth National Bank, and the New-York Printing Company, as well as proprietor of the Metropolitan Hotel.

October 1, 2012 Posted by | Coming out, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Auspicious Troubles of Chance, by Charlie Cochet

An interesting, well written and well-developed plot 

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

Available in e-book format, only: 586 KB

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

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Review by Gerry Burnie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notice to all those who have requested a book review

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

Thanks again!

If you would like to learn more about any of my books, or to order copies, click on the specific cover below. Two Irish Lads and Nor All Thy Tears are available in both Kindle and Nook formats. Publisher’s price, $4.95.

       

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Available in digital format only – 418 KB

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

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Review by Gerry Burnie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gossip destroys a family

 BY CHRISTINA BLIZZARD ,QMI AGENCY

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

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

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

The FACS worker decided to call in police.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He hasn’t been home since.

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

Suffer the little children? They certainly do in Niagara.

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

Notice to all those who have requested a book review

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

Thanks again!

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Patrick Latter’s Photography

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

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If you would like to learn more about any of my books, or to order copies, click on the specific cover below. Two Irish Lads and Nor All Thy Tears are available in both Kindle and Nook formats. Publisher’s price, $4.95.

       

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

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

A Foreign Range, by Andrew Grey

A pithy plot, well-written and engaging – 

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

Available in ebook format – 1264 KB

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

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

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Review by Gerry Burnie

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

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

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

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

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

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

My views:

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

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

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

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Notice to all those who have requested a book review

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

Thanks again!

♠♠♠

If you would like to learn more about any of my books, or to order copies, click on the specific cover below. Two Irish Lads and Nor All Thy Tears are available in both Kindle and Nook formats. Publisher’s price, $4.95.

 

       

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

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

The Station, by Keira Andrews

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

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

Available in electronic format – 325 KB

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

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

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Review by Gerry Burnie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My view

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

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

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

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Notice to all those who have requested a book review

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

Thanks again!

♥♥♥

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

 

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If you would like to learn more about any of my books, or to order copies, click on the specific cover below. Two Irish Lads and Nor All Thy Tears are available in both Kindle and Nook formats. Publisher’s price, $4.95.

       

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

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

Alike as Two Bees, by Elin Gregory

A happy-ever-after story for a summer afternoon

Story blurb: Horses, love, and the tang of thyme and honey…

In Classical Greece, apprentice sculptor Philon has chosen the ideal horse to model for his masterpiece. Sadly, the rider falls well short of the ideal of beauty, but scarred and tattered Hilarion, with his brilliant, imperfect smile, draws Philon in a way that mere perfection cannot.

After years of living among the free and easy tribes of the north, Hillarion has no patience with Athenian formality. He knows what he wants—and what he wants is Philon. Society, friends and family threaten their growing relationship, but perhaps a scarred soldier and a lover of beauty are more alike than they appear.

Available in ebook format – 244 KB (approx. 54 pages).

About the author: Elin Gregory lives in South Wales and has been making stuff up since 1958. Writing has always had to take second place to work and family but now the kids are grown up it’s possible she might finish one of the many novels on her hard drive and actually DO something useful with it.

Elin’s first published stories appeared in the British Flash and Tea and Crumpet anthologies produced by the UK Meet team. Elin still can’t quite believe it. However, there are always new works on the go and she is currently finishing a novel about pirates, planning one set in 6th century AD England and contemplating one about the British Secret Service between the two World Wars. Heroes tend to be hard as nails but capable of tenderness when circumstances allow. Historical subjects predominate but there are also contemporary and historical paranormals, science fiction, crime and a Western.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

As far as I can determine,  Alike as Two Bees by Elin Gregory [Etopia Press, 2012] is the debut novella for this author, and as such it is a worthy effort.

Set in ancient Greece the story focuses on Philon, a sculptor’s apprentice, who is characterized as a somewhat shy but talented boy. His character is rounded out be his fellow apprentice, Anatolios, a precocious thirteen-year-old.

Playing opposite them are Aristion, the bratish son of a wealthy patron, and his older cousin  Hilarion. Due to Aristion’s bullying of Anatolios, Hilarion and Philon meet and are immediately attracted to one another. However, Aristion remains resentful and even vengeful, and when he threatens Philon, Hilarion comes to his lover’s defence and all is agreeably resolved.

This is a sweet, uncomplicated story that focuses on romance in a romantic setting. It is well written,  and the characters are appealing rather than complex. In fact they are rather standard fare. Philon is the struggling good boy, Aristion is the spoiled rich kid, Anatolios is the impish-catalyst, and Hilarion is the mature kid who is attracted to the good boy.

There is nothing wrong with this type of character development, and it makes for a good solid read, but it doesn’t break any new ground, either.

Altogether, Alike as Two Bees is a happy-ever-after story that will pleasantly fill an afternoon at the beach, or an evening curled up in your easy chair. Three and one-half bees.

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Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 32,020

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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!

♣♣♣

Notice: Have you had any dealings with  Fontcraft? (http://www.fontcraft.com/fontcraft/#axzz22jaeXIBi)

This is my experience: I ordered a font online from Fontcraft, for which I paid $18.00, but the download URL I was instructed to use was non-functioning [see:http://www.fontcraft.com/download/9e5U4a4Iz3viqEsU/ ]. I wrote with my concerns to the email address provided, but I have yet to receive an acknowledgement or response. So judge for yourself.

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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. Hope you found your visit enjoyable. Please drop by again.

 

August 26, 2012 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period | Leave a comment

Song of the Loon, by Richard Amory

The ultimate feel-good story – 

Story blurb: “More completely than any author before him, Richard Amory explores the tormented world of love for man by man . . . a happy amalgam of James Fenimore Cooper, Jean Genet and Hudson’s Green Mansions.”—from the cover copy of the 1969 edition

Published well ahead of its time, in 1966 by Greenleaf Classics, Song of the Loon is a romantic novel that tells the story of Ephraim MacIver and his travels through the wilderness. Along his journey, he meets a number of characters who share with him stories, wisdom and homosexual encounters. The most popular erotic gay book of the 1960s and 1970s, Song of the Loon was the inspiration for two sequels, a 1970 film of the same name, at least one porn movie and a parody novel called Fruit of the Loon. Unique among pulp novels of the time, the gay characters in Song of the Loon are strong and romantically drawn, which has earned the book a place in the canon of gay American literature.

With an introduction by Michael Bronski, editor of Pulp Friction and author of The Pleasure Principle.

Little Sister’s Classics is a new series of books from Arsenal Pulp Press, reviving lost and out-of-print gay and lesbian classic books, both fiction and nonfiction. The books in the series are produced in conjunction with Little Sister’s Book and Art Emporium, the heroic Vancouver bookstore well-known for its anti-censorship efforts.

Available in e-book format – 483 KB

About the author: Richard Amory was the pen-name for the author Richard Love, who worked out of San Diego. He published five other novels between 1968 and 1971 with Greenleaf Classics and Olympia Press Traveler’s Companion Series.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

The so-called “Stonewall Inn Riots” of 1969 are considered the ‘enough-is-enough’ turning point in GLBT relations with the broader public, and the predominantly homophobic officials who policed it. Likewise, in Canada it was the 1982 “Bathhouse Raids[1] that gave rise to the Gay Pride demonstrations. Imagine, therefore, that the Song of the Loon, by Richard Amory [re-released by Arsenal Pulp Press, May 1, 2005] was first published three years before Stonewall, and 16 years before the Bathhouse Raids. That make it a true artefact, and as an unapologetic homoerotic novel, it is also somewhat of a legend.

It is not to say that homoerotic books weren’t available before 1965. They were. However, they were generally badly written, and could only be purchased through P.O. boxes, or from a clandestine bookstores, like the “Glad Day Books” in Toronto, hidden away on the second floor of a non-descript building.

Although I was aware of Song of the Loon, and remember the making of the 1970, motion picture version, starring John Iverson, Morgan Royce and Lancer Ward, I never got around to reading the novel until now. I was struck, therefore, by the amount of sexual content (albeit not as explicitly written as today) and the gutsyness of the both the author and publisher in  publishing it.

The plot and style are noteworthy, as well. Someone has described the style as “pastoral,” and I think this describes it very well. It is evocative of the ‘return to nature’ movement—complete with a cast of noble savages—where man is able to find his inner self in an idyllic setting; and, as one might expect, the characters are all idyllic too, including, to a lesser extent, the villains.

This is not to belittle the story in any way, for I think we have all wished for a Garden of Eden existence where the inhabitants are all hunky and horny, the risks are minimal, and homophobia does not exist.

If you are looking for the ultimate feel good story, you should give this one a try. Enthusiastically recommended. Four bees.

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Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 31,258

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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Have you had any dealings with Fontcraft (a.k.a, Scriptorium)? (http://www.fontcraft.com/fontcraft/#axzz22jaeXIBi)

This is my experience: Three weeks ago I ordered a font online from Fontcraft, for which I paid $18.00, but when it came to downloading it I was sent to a non-functioning URL. [see:http://www.fontcraft.com/download/9e5U4a4Iz3viqEsU/ ]. I wrote to the email address provided, but I have yet to receive an acknowledgement or response. So judge for yourself.

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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. We have passed the 31,000 mark, now lets see if we can double it by this time next year. Yay!


[1] Operation Soap was a raid by the Metropolitan Toronto Police against four gay bathhouses in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, which took place on February 5, 1981. More than three hundred men were arrested, the largest mass arrest in Canada since the 1970 October crisis,[1] before the record was broken during the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs in Edmonton, Alberta.[2]

August 12, 2012 Posted by | Coming out, Fantasy, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay Literature, Gay romance, Historical period, Homoerotic, M/M love and adventure | Leave a comment

Walking Wounded, by Lee Rowan

A tender-sweet, feel-good story

Story blurb: John Hanson joined the military because he wanted to serve his country. Lacking a home and family of his own, the idealistic young man longed to be a part of something bigger than himself. He didn’t expect to find love in officer’s training-so when an assignment took him away from Kevin Kendrick, the love of his life, he sacrificed personal happiness and did his duty. Kevin has made his own sacrifices. Career came first and the impressionable Army brat, tired of living in his father’s shadow, pledged his loyalty to his country and followed his ambition. Now seven years later, when the Army that Kevin so faithfully served has made him the scapegoat for their latest Middle East snafu, he can only think of one place to go, one man who can provide solace and heal his wounds-John. Reunited, the two war-torn lovers once again discover their passion for life, love, and one another. But Kevin’s past isn’t through with him yet, and when an old enemy surfaces, the two men realize that they must together face the nightmares of the past if they are to have the future they dream of.

Available in ebook formats

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Review by Gerry Burnie

This past week I got to thinking that I hadn’t featured a military fiction lately, nor had I covered anything by Lee Rowan (best known for her Royal Navy series), and so I settled on Walking Wounded, [Cheyenne Publishing (December 7, 2009).

Although entering the army for quite different reason, John Hanson and Kevin Hendrick meet and fall in love in officer’s training. Their affair burns bright for the brief year they are together, but inevitably their careers take them off in separate directions.

Seven years intercede, plus a lot of life in the form of adversity for both of them, but once again the two are united to resume life and love at more-or-less where they left off. They are older, of course, and slightly disillusion by their army experience, but they find solace in each other, as well as domestic solidarity.

If this was it, it wouldn’t have been much of a story (for a work of fiction, I mean), but a spectre arises out of the dust of Kevin’s past that threatens to imperil their ‘kittens and happy-home’ relationship.

As one can readily tell, this is a feel good story. A tender-sweet (very sweet) romance, and although it touches on homophobia and social rejection, it doesn’t unduly dwell on these. It is, therefore, a pleasant change from the sombre trend in most GLBT novels.

My quibble, although slight, is with the pace of the first half of the novel, which I thought could have been livened up with some sort of business that would have added some colour. I hasten to add this is a matter of opinion, mine, and may not be shared by other readers.

Enthusiastically recommended. Four bees.

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Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 30,785

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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Have you had any dealings with Fontcraft? (http://www.fontcraft.com/fontcraft/#axzz22jaeXIBi)

This is my experience: I ordered a font online from Fontcraft, for which I paid $18.00, but the download URL I was instructed to use was non-functioning [see: http://www.fontcraft.com/download/9e5U4a4Iz3viqEsU/ ]. I wrote with my concerns to the email address provided, but I have yet to receive an acknowledgement or response. So judge for yourself.

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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 continued interest a support is appreciated by all the remarkable authors featured on these pages.

August 5, 2012 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay military, Gay romance | 1 Comment

Calico, by Dorien Grey

(This marks the 150th post to date)

An excellent, engaging, and well-written story – 

Story blurb: It seemed like a simple job—guide Josh and Sarah to Bow Ridge to live with their aunt until they reached their 18th birthday. It was want [sic] their aunt Rebecca wanted, and the best choice Calico Ramsey thought he could make. But someone wants them dead, which makes no sense to Calico. Neither do the feelings aroused by the nearness of the handsome young man from Chicago-feelings that seem to be returned, and nothing in his past has prepared him for either.

Available in paperback and e-book format –  344 KB

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 love a good western—especially if it is written in the classical style of Calico, by Dorien Grey [Zumaya Publications, 2006]. To me this genre speaks of an earlier, simpler time, populated by strong, independent men and women who set the foundation of our present-day nation(s). They were simple folk, and yet they possessed a nobleness of spirit based primarily on the “Golden Rule,” i.e. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” [I hasten to add, however, that my preference does not run to gratuitous, rodeo-like romps from one bed to another; which I generally pass up.]

Calico Ramsey fits the bill of a hard-working, dedicated cowboy,[1] raised by a kindly rancher , “uncle Dan,” who took him in when he was orphaned. To get the plot rolling, Dan is unexpectedly named guardian of his twin, seventeen-year-old niece and nephew, Sarah and Josh, who are on their way from Chicago.

Nevertheless, tragedy strikes when Dan is murdered, and Calico picks up the task of meeting the twins at the railway station, and also delivering them to Dan’s sister, Rebecca, who lives in far off Colorado. Moreover, the plot thickens when it becomes evident that someone is out to kill them.

Since Calico is the oldest (at 27) he assumes the role of leader, and also undertakes to protect Josh and Sarah from harm; a not-so-easy task when confronted by fires, rock slides, stampedes, and the like. But, as the old saying goes: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” all this adventure draws the three of them closer together—especially Josh and Calico, who like most trail mates gradually build a bond of mutual admiration and respect. Comrades first, and then lovers when a handshake isn’t enough.

Having said that, I should point our that while this is a sweet, romantic relationship, it is strictly Platonic when is comes to sex. In other words, there ain’t none.

This, I presume, has to do with it being targeted toward a ‘young adult’ readership, which has never really been satisfactorily defined in my mind. Most adolescents could give us chapter and verse on sex and sexual practices, so where does one draw the line? Nonetheless, most writers pussyfoot around the topic of adult/youth relationships in the 16 – 20 year-old category [the age of consent is 16 in most jurisdictions], and so there is no real breakthrough here.

Nonetheless, while I demand a good plot, I am very content with a story that is sensual rather than erotic. I mean, how many ways are there of doing ‘it’ that haven’t been written about? So Dorien gets full marks on the romantic side.

My only complaint has nothing to do with this excellent, engaging, and well-written story. Rather it has to do with the story blurb, which has to be one of the poorest I’ve read (including a rather blatant typo).  So someone should get their knuckles rapped for this one.

Otherwise, I loved “Calico,” and I think you will, too. Five bees.

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Visitors Count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 30,256

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Notice to all those who have requested book reviews

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

Thanks again!

♥♥♥

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If you would like to learn more about any of my books, or to order copies, click on the specific cover below. Two Irish Lads and Nor All Thy Tears are available in both Kindle and Nook formats. Publisher’s price, $4.95.

       

Thanks for dropping by. This week we set a new milestone of 30,000 visits. On behalf of myself and all the remarkable authors represented here, I thank you!


[1] I hesitate to use the term “cowboy.” When asked about cowboys and cowponies, legendary rancher Granville Stuart replied, “There weren’t no ‘boys’ and there were no ‘ponies.’”

July 29, 2012 Posted by | Coming out, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period, Traditional Western, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Private Gentleman, by Heidi Cullinan

A thinking-person’s read, and one that comes enthusiastically recommended from this reader –

To seal their bond, they must break the ties that bind.

Painfully introverted and rendered nearly mute by a heavy stammer, Lord George Albert Westin rarely ventures any farther than the club or his beloved gardens. When he hears rumors of an exotic new orchid sighted at a local hobbyist’s house, though, he girds himself with opiates and determination to attend a house party, hoping to sneak a peek.

He finds the orchid, yes…but he finds something else even more rare and exquisite: Michael Vallant. Professional sodomite.

Michael climbed out of an adolescent hell as a courtesan’s bastard to become successful and independent-minded, seeing men on his own terms, protected by a powerful friend. He is master of his own world—until Wes. Not only because, for once, the sex is for pleasure and not for profit. They are joined by tendrils of a shameful, unspoken history. The closer his shy, poppy-addicted lover lures him to the light of love, the harder his past works to drag him back into the dark.

There’s only one way out of this tangle. Help Wes face the fears that cripple him—right after Michael finds the courage to reveal the devastating truth that binds them.

Available in ebook format, only – 494 KB

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I think it was the lush cover that first attracted me to A Private Gentleman by Heidi Cullinan [Samhain Publishing Ltd, 2012], but once I got into it I found an equally pithy story inside.

Lord George Albert Westin is an opiated (my invention) recluse, whiling away his days with his beloved plants and gardens. Naturally, for a hobby like this, there is a certain quest for achievement involved, and when he hears of a rare orchid in the possession of a Michael Vallant it is enough to lure him out of his self-imposed exile.

However, Michael Valliant isn’t your average, nerdy garden enthusiast. Far from it. He is, in fact, a “professional sodomite,”[1] i.e. a high-class male prostitute (with a procurer, no less). The explanation is that he suffered an abusive childhood–as the son of a courtesan–and this has left him psychologically scarred into adulthood.

This is the ‘launching point,’ so to speak, and the rest of the story is how these two scarred individuals find mutual ground in a complex and conflicted way.

I personally liked “Wes” and Michael. They are superbly developed with layer upon layer of complexity, and yet they are not over the top in any way. One can readily understand that a severe stutter in the 1800s was a far greater affliction than it is now, and for this Wes would want to shun society’s misguided stares and taunts.

Likewise, even with my limited grasp of psychology, I have read that self-degradation (i.e. prostitution, etc.) is one symptom of childhood abuse, and so Michael’s torment is understandable as well.

I also liked the gradual way in which the author worked them through their afflictions, although I did find some quibble with the overall pace. It was inconsistent, going from doldrums to near hectic and back again.

While I’m on the topic of ‘likes’, I give full kudos to the author for holding back on the homoerotica  in favour of the superbly turned plot. It is not to say that it lacks sex, not at all, but it is nicely balanced with the story line.

Altogether it is a thinking-person’s read, and one that comes enthusiastically recommended from this reader. Four and one-half bees.

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WE DID IT! Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews (10:30 AM, 26/07/12) – 30,010. The 30,000 goal has been reached!

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Notice to all those who have requested book reviews

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

Thanks again!

♣♣♣

If you would like to learn more about any of my books, or to order copies, click on the specific cover below. Two Irish Lads and Nor All Thy Tears are available in both Kindle and Nook formats. Publisher’s price, $4.95.

       

Thanks for dropping by. As mentioned above, there are only 272 more visitors to go before we reach the 30,000 mark. I’ll be posting an update every day until we reach that goal, so drop back and follow the progress. Thanks again.


[1] I’m not certain this was a common term used in the 19th-century. I’m familiar with “libertine” and “catamite,” but not a “professional sodomite.” However, I only mention this in passing.

July 22, 2012 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay Literature, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period | 2 Comments

Secret Light, by Z.A. Maxfield

Superb atmosphere and character development –

Story blurb: Rafe Colman likes his life. He has a nice home, a good job, and a wonderful dog. But he’s exhausted by living a lie. When his home is vandalized because of his perceived German ancestry, he can’t even share the irony with friends.

Officer Ben Morgan falls for Rafe’s dog first, but it isn’t long before he’s giving her owner the eye. He thinks they have more in common than the search for Rafe’s vandals, and he’s willing to take a chance and find out.

If life in 1955 is tough on a cop in the closet, it’s even tougher on a refugee who’s desperate to hide his roots and fit in. Rafe knows from tragic experience how vicious prejudice can be. Every second with Ben is stolen, every kiss fraught with danger.

When Ben’s partner threatens to ruin everything, Rafe and Ben have to fight to protect what they have but they’re tired of hiding their secret light.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Editorial comment: The Goodreads’ posting of this book comes with a caveat, i.e. Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual situations, graphic language, and material that some readers may find objectionable: male/male sexual practices,” which I find ‘objectionable’. Were this a heterosexual story with heterosexual ‘sexual practices’ would it have the same caveat? I think not. Therefore it is demeaning at best.

This is the second of Z.A. Maxfield’s stories I have reviewed (see: St. Nacho’s, February, 2010) and I am happy to say that Secret Light [Loose ID LLC, 2011] is generally of the same well-written calibre.

Set in 1955, a period when the memory of WWII is still fresh in many people’s minds, we find Rafe Colman, an gay Austrian DP (displaced person) with his own, tragic memories of the war. These include the death of his parents and the murder of his dearest friends, a gay couple, and so he is understandably and profoundly affected by these events.

As is so often the case (it certainly was in mine) he has learned to cope by adopting a persona that ‘fits’ mainstream expectations; especially for a single man–nice guy with an eye for the ladies, friendly with everyone but seldom personal, successful with a medium-high profile. The problem with role playing of this nature is that it sublimates the real person inside, and no one can be allowed behind the scenes for a closer look.

Of course, this doesn’t prevent some busy bodies from drawing their own conclusions, rightly or wrongly, and from acting on them on account of prejudice or spite. So, when Colman’s house is vandalized because he is perceived as ‘German,’ the police become involved in the person of officer Ben Morgan; a closeted gay man, himself.

Call it “gaydar,” or whatever, the two of them come to recognize themselves in the other, and a relationship is formed based on mutual understanding, honesty and caring. It is not all cotton candy and roses, however, but at least the promise of an HEA ending is there.

While the plot circumstances aren’t particularly original, as they were in “St. Nacho’s”, the same attention to detail and atmosphere has been used to give the reader a sense of time and place. The character-development is also topnotch, which adds greatly to the credibility of their actions, and the pace allows the reader to appreciate both these aspects.

The drawback for me was the somewhat obvious story manipulation, resulting in resolutions that were just a bit on the convenient side. I hasten to add that these were not incredible in nature, but they were noticeable enough to affect my score.

Altogether, though, I have no hesitation in recommending Secret Light as an enjoyable read for all its great parts. Four bees.

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Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 29,343

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It’s so gratifying!

Although it was published in 2008, Two Irish Lads is still ranked #4 on the Old Line Publishing Best-Seller list. In the past, the Two Lads have also been awarded the iUniverse’s “Editor’s Choice,” “Publisher’s Choice,” and “Reader’s Choice” awards. As they say, “Them’s my boys!”

Oh, by the way, Nor All Thy Tears, is ranked #6 on the Oldline list, as well.

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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.

      

Thank you for dropping by! We are approaching a milestone of 30,000 visitors, so I hope you will continue to come back.

July 15, 2012 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period | , | Leave a comment

Bonds of Earth, by G.N. Chevalier

A great debut novel. Enthusiastically recommended.

Story blurb: In 1918, Michael McCready returned from the war with one goal: to lose himself in the pursuit of pleasure. Once a promising young medical student, Michael buried his dreams alongside the broken bodies of the men he could not save. After fleeing New York to preserve the one relationship he still values, he takes a position as a gardener on a country estate, but he soon discovers that the house hides secrets and sorrows of its own. While Michael nurses the estate’s neglected gardens, his reclusive employer dredges up reminders of the past Michael is desperate to forget.

John Seward’s body was broken by the war, along with his will to recover until a family crisis convinces him to pursue treatment. As John’s health and outlook improve under Michael’s care, animosity yields to understanding. He and John find their battle of wills turning into something stronger, but fear may keep them from finding hope and healing in each other.

Available in ebook format – 240 pages

About the author: G N Chevalier has lived in Ottawa, Toronto, Québec City, and Montréal, but currently resides in Nova Scotia with her partner of many years. A long-time student of history, she is particularly interested in helping to tell the hidden stories that are only now being rediscovered. Some of her hobbies include playing music, video remixing, and photography.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Although I have conducted an active search to find Canadian writers of GLBT fiction, it was only this week that Bonds of Earth, by GN Chevalier [Dreamspinner Press, 2012] came to my attention. Perhaps, this is because it is her debut novel, or perhaps it is because the Canadian connection just never made it to the surface.

Bonds of Earth is a historical fiction set in the period directly following WWI. The “Great War”, or the “War to end all wars,” was by all accounts a horrendous experience for those who participated. “Trench warfare” meant months of standing in muddy ditches, with “trench foot” attacking your feet, and the sounds of enemy artillery shells passing overhead for hours on end. It also meant all-out charges through and over ‘razor wire’ while being shot at by machine guns and sniper rifles.

Out of this hell came two men, Michael McCready, the son of poor Irish immigrant and a brilliant medical student, and John Seward, a wealthy recluse, both indelibly scarred by the experience.

Their coming together is fateful, which is the way fate often works, when Michael is coerced into taking a rural job as a gardener, and ends up on John’s estate (actually belonging to an aunt). The fact that Michael is the equivalent of a massage therapist, and that John is handicapped is serendipitous as well.

If that was it (the plot) it would be a “so-so” book at best, but Chevalier (a name tailor-made for a writer) shows great insight by pitting them together as antagonists to start. This bit of angst greatly contributes to the characterization of the two protagonists, and leads inevitably to the resolution.

I also liked the way she gave character to the supporting cast; each one serving a secondary role but interesting in their own way.

The tenor of the times is captured nicely, as well, and the pace is good … right up until (as it has been mentioned at least a dozen times) the epilogue. It’s not a fatal flaw. In fact I wouldn’t even call it a serious flaw, but being anticlimactical it detracts from the overall enjoyment like one-too-many desserts.

Enthusiastically recommended. Four bees.

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Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 28,937

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What’s your opinion of cross-genre themes?

Lately there has been a surge of so-called “crossover” themes, i.e. cowboys and aliens, vampire-romance themes, etc.

  1. Have you written a crossover theme story?
  2. Have you considered writing one?
  3. Would a cowboy/Theban warrior theme interest you?

Share your comments below.

Notice to all those who have requested book reviews

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

Thanks again!

 

If you would like to learn more about any of my books, or to order copies, click on the specific cover below. Two Irish Lads and Nor All Thy Tears are available in both Kindle and Nook formats. Publisher’s price, $4.95.

      

Thank you for dropping by. We are now approaching 30,000 visitors, and your continued visits will get us there. Drop back often.

July 8, 2012 Posted by | Canadian author, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay Literature, Gay romance, Historical Fiction | Leave a comment

Deefur Dog by R.J. Scott

A feel-good summer read that would go nicely with gin and tonic –

Story blurb: For over a year, widowed Cameron Jackson has tried to juggle his business with childcare for his two year old daughter …all while living with Deefur, a Great Dane who believes he rules the house.

Nannies last a day, some don’t even make it through the front door if the self-proclaimed ruler doesn’t approve. Something has to give. Enter Jason Everson, nanny, teacher in training, apparent dog whisperer, and the only man who seems to make it past the initial scrutiny of the king. Can Jason help Cam put his house in order and help to heal his heart?

Available in e-book format – 395 KB

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I have often lamented the fact that GLBT stories (the ones I’ve read, anyhow) tend to dwell on the serious side of life: bigotry, discrimination, complicated romances and such, so Deefur Dog by R.J. Scott [Silver Publishing, 2011] was a pleasant departure. I mean, who couldn’t like a story about a dog, a kid, a single father and light-hearted mayhem?

The basic story revolves around a young single father, Cameron Jackson, his two year old daughter, and a Great Dane named Deefur. Deefur reminds me of the comic strip, canine character, “Marmaduke”—a well-meaning giant who is forever running afoul of human logic (which ain’t so hard to do in some cases).

Jackson is a modern dad, inasmuch as he’s trying to run a household, be a father, and manage a growing business all at the same time. A live-in nanny seems to be the answer to the domestic side of it, but not to Deefur. For one thing the house is his den, and protecting the “pup” is his responsibility, so strangers must pass inspection before they enter his territory . Besides, some strangers simply don’t smell right.

In this human-dominated world, however, canine logic is not always shared, and so it is Deefur who must make way.

Enter Jason Everson, young, hardworking animal lover, who just happens to be looking for a job as a nanny and needs a place to live. Moreover, he even passes Deefur’s inspection. Voilà! Now, the only question remaining is whether the recently-bereft Cameron will find love again.

My view

This is a heartwarming story, and as I said above, “who couldn’t like a story about a dog, a kid, a single father?” It’s basically well written, too, and I love the cover, but there are some slight drawbacks between it and five bees.

By his own admission R.J. Scott is a romantic, and I think this tends toward a “happy ever after” scenario before the wrap-up even comes along.  For example, I thought the serendipitous meeting with Jason was a bit too opportune, and his acceptance by Deefur somewhat tidy. I hasten to add these are not serious flaws because the story is supposed to be light, but even toffee requires a little salt to enhance the flavour.

That said, I liked it as a feel-good summer read that would go nicely with gin and tonic. Four bees.

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Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 27, 492

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“Microcrap” and I

I purchased a copy of Micrsoft Office 2010 this week. As far as I can tell it’s not much different than 2007, but I thought they might have corrected the glitches in the latter—they haven’t. But the story is that I purchased three downloads, and it downloaded fine on the first computer. However, on the second it would go right to the very end (about 60 min.) and then abort. Ergo, I wasted six hours trying every combination and permutation without success.

Fortunately I purchased a DVD copy as well, and so I hope that will solve the problem. Is there such a thing as a “cyber throttle?”

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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. Summer is a great time for relaxing with a good book, so I hope you will choose one by the fine writers featured on this blog. Happy reading!

June 10, 2012 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay romance | Leave a comment

According To Hoyle by Abigail Roux

Well written in the classic western style

Story blurb: By the close of 1882, the inhabitants of the American West had earned their reputation as untamed and dangerous. The line between heroes and villains is narrow and indistinct. The concept that a man may only kill if backed into a corner is antiquated. Lives are worth less than horses. Treasures are worth killing for. And the law is written in the blood of those who came before. The only men staving off total chaos are the few who take the letter of the law at its word and risk their lives to uphold it. But in the West, the rules aren’t always played according to Hoyle.

U.S. Marshals Eli Flynn and William Henry Washington are escorting two prisoners to New Orleans for trial when they discover there’s more to the infamous shootist Dusty Rose and the enigmatic man known only as Cage than merely being outlaws. When forces beyond the marshals’ control converge on the paddlewheeler they have hired to take them downriver, they must choose between two dangers: playing by the rules at any cost or trusting the very men they are meant to bring to justice.

Available in e-book format – 640 KB

About the author: Abigail Roux was born and raised in North Carolina. A past volleyball star who specializes in pratfalls and sarcasm, she currently spends her time coaching middle school volleyball and softball. Any spare time is spent living and dying with every Atlanta Braves and Carolina Panthers game of the year. Abigail has a little girl they call Boomer, four rescued cats, one dog, a certifiable extended family, and a cast of thousands in her head.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Like the title implies, “According to Hoyle,” by Abigail Roux [Dreamspinner Press. 2011] is a “thinking western.” Oh, it has the usual standbys, i.e. the gunfights and rough-and-tumble, plus the ‘good guys’ in the persons of two lawmen, Marshals Eli Flynn and William “Wash” Washington, a pair of ‘not-so-good’ guys, Gabriel “Dusty” Rose and the mysterious ‘Cage,” and some downright no-goodnics like Stringer & company. However, being plot driven it has somewhat more sophistication than shoot-em-up.

The crux of the story comes in the second half when Flynn and Washington undertake to deliver Rose and Cage to justice in New Orleans, and to do so they take a riverboat down the mighty Mississippi.  Cloistered, so-to-speak, the four men cannot help but interact, and Rose, the plot catalyst, sets the pace by openly taking a shine to the enigmatic Cage. Dusty is the one to do it, of course, because he is written as a glib-talking, iron dandy, who makes no apologies for his preference for men, and as their relationship develops it gets Flynn and Wash thinking romantically as well.

By way of a parallel plot there is a valuable artefact on the boat, and its allure attracts the attention of the sinister Stringer and his band of outlaws. Standing in the way, of course, are Flynn and Washington who are sandwiched between the outlaws they have in custody, and the ones they haven’t dealt with, yet. This inevitably causes some rethinking and reshaping of trusts and alliances.

My views

Overall, I liked it for the complexity of plot, and the adherence to classic western principles; i.e. resisting the prevailing temptation of bouncing characters in and out of bed. For some unknown reason, contemporary westerns tend to consist of riding the range on someone’s butt; whereas, Zane Grey (“Riders of the Purple Sage”), Max Brand (“Destry Rides Again”), and Owen Wister (“The Virginian”), etc., wrote no sex whatsoever.

But while we are on the topic of sex and sexual orientation, I did find the occurrence of four same-sex-oriented characters in the same plot a bit much. Yes, there probably was as much same-sexual activity as there is today [see: Queer Cowboys – Chris Pickard for a discussion on that topic], but, for the most part, it was all very hush-hush.

I also had a bit of difficulty following the plan for the heist. It just didn’t seem as solidly thought out as the rest of the plot. However, that may be just me. Recommended as a good read. Four bees.

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Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 27,065

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Come visit “We Carry the Torch – It is an event linked to the Olympic torch relay through the UK, trying to cover all 70 days of the event with posts linked to the area the torch will visit that day. Something about a GLBTQ story set there (published or about to be), or about an author who lives there. Some research set in the vicinity or a link to a character from a story (born there, left in disgrace, or the like).

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My “work-in-progress” novel (no name yet)

I’m working diligently—when I’m not doing the governments’ bidding or wrestling with computers and computer programs—and it is moving ahead (about 40%) rewritten. Basically it is the same story as in Coming of Age on the Trail, but in two parts. Therefore, I’m rewriting Part 1 as a stand-alone novel that will have a sequel in Part 2.

I’d love to use the picture of these two lads on the cover, but I don’t have the rights to it. Nonetheless, this is the image I’m using (in my mind) as I develop “Cory” and “Reb” as characters.

More news as I go along.

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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! Please feel free to leave a comment.

June 3, 2012 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Historical period, M/M love and adventure | 1 Comment

On the Trail to Moonlight Gulch, by Shelter Somerset

A classic-style western that touches all the right bases –

Story Blurb: It’s 1886, and Chicago is booming, but for nineteen-year-old Torsten Pilkvist, American-born son of Swedish immigrants, it’s not big enough. After tragically losing a rare love, Tory immerses himself in the pages of a Wild West mail-order bride magazine, where he stumbles on the advertisement of frontiersman and Civil War veteran Franklin Ausmus. Torsten and Franklin begin an innocent correspondence—or as innocent as it can be, considering Torsten keeps his true gender hidden. But when his parents discover the letters, Tory is forced out on his own. With nowhere else to go, he boards a train for the Black Hills and Franklin’s homestead, Moonlight Gulch.

Franklin figures Tory for a drifter, but he’s lonely after ten years of living in the backcountry alone, and his “girl” in Chicago has mysteriously stopped writing, so he hires Tory on as his ranch hand. Franklin and Tory grow closer while defending the land from outlaws who want the untapped gold in Franklin’s creek, but then Franklin learns Tory’s true identity and banishes Tory from his sight. Will their lives be forever tattered, or will Torsten—overhearing a desperate last-ditch scheme to snatch Franklin’s gold—be able to save Moonlight Gulch and his final shot at love?

Front cover design by Mara KcKennen

Available in e-book format – 1024 KB

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Review by Gerry Burnie
I’m a great fan of classic western tales, especially if they are accurately portrayed regarding setting and lifestyle, and in my opinion On the Trail to Moonlight Gulch, by Shelter Somerset [Dreamspinner Press, 2012] touches most of the  right bases.

The story is about a lonely, tenderfoot Easterner, Torsten Pilkvist [I love the names], who naively starts a lovelorn correspondence, as a woman, with an equally lonely rancher, Franklin Ausmus, and when Torsten is forced to leave home he impetuously makes his way west to find him.

As improbable as this may seem, it nonetheless works because Somerset has done a superb job of bringing the loneliness of these two characters to life, and since we’ve all “been there,” so to speak, it is easy for us to empathize with them—i.e. the litmus test of a good writer.

Thinking Torsten is a drifter, Ausmus takes him on as a ranch hand, but Thorsten chickens out on telling Frank he is the ‘gal’ he has been writing to—setting up a conflict of significant proportions later on.

Of course, no good western would be complete without villains, and there are a whole cast of them in this story. The ring leader is a French Canadian by the name of Henri Bilodeaux who, along with others, covets the gold that still remains on Ausmus’ property.

What I liked

The writing is solid from start to finish, and the descriptions are not only vivid but also informative at times. Somerset has done his research well, and it shows.

For the most part the characterization is also done well. The good guys are principled but ‘human,’ which makes them all the more credible, and the bad guys are definitely bad. The author has also given Torsten a reasonable period of adjustment to fit into the role of ranch hand, rather than thrusting him into it as many writers do.

The other supporting characters, Wicasha the Indian and Madame Lafourchette, are a bit formulaic but nonetheless charming—almost de rigueur in a classic-style western of this sort.

Altogether, this is a delightful read for all those who like their westerns ‘classic.’ Four solid bees.

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Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 25,328

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Introducing the characters, settings etc., from my forthcoming novel, Coming of Age on the Trail.

It might seem odd for a western-themed story to have a mythological element to it, but in addition to the appearance of the Sasquatch, it also has an underlying role for the Greek God Apollo, god of light and the sun, truth and prophecy, healing, plague, music, poetry, and more.

His involvement comes by way of a prophecy given to two young lovers who died with the legendary, Sacred Band of Thebes at Chaeronae, in 338 B.C. It seems their spirits somehow became separated, but in the prophecy Apollo has promised to guide them back together “for all eternity.”

      • Your devoted love will span the millennia,
      • Though cast apart in unknown lands,
      • Yet will Apollo guide your steps across time
      • Until you be united again for all eternity.
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If you would like to learn more about any of my books, or to order copies, click on the specific cover below. Two Irish Lads and Nor All Thy Tears are available in both Kindle and Nook formats. Publisher’s price, $4.95.

       

Thanks for dropping by! Your participation is what I work for.    

May 6, 2012 Posted by | Coming out, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period, M/M love and adventure | Leave a comment

Eromenos, by Melanie McDonald

A textbook example of how historical fact and fiction should balance – Fairly well flawless –

Story blurb: Eros and Thanatos converge in the story of a glorious youth, an untimely death, and an imperial love affair that gives rise to the last pagan god of antiquity. In this coming-of-age novel set in the second century AD, Antinous of Bithynia, a Greek youth from Asia Minor, recounts his seven-year affair with Hadrian, fourteenth emperor of Rome. In a partnership more intimate than Hadrian’s sanctioned political marriage to Sabina, Antinous captivates the most powerful ruler on earth both in life and after death.

This version of the affair between the emperor and his beloved ephebe vindicates the youth scorned by early Christian church fathers as a “shameless and scandalous boy” and “sordid and loathsome instrument of his master’s lust.” EROMENOS envisions the personal history of the young man who achieved apotheosis as a pagan god of antiquity, whose cult of worship lasted for hundreds of years—far longer than the cult of the emperor Hadrian.

Available in e-book format – 551 KB


About the Author:
Melanie McDonald was awarded a 2008 Hawthornden Fellowship for Eromenos, her debut novel. She has an MFA in fiction from the University of Arkansas, and her work has appeared in New York Stories, Fugue, Indigenous Fiction and other journals. She has worked as a reporter and freelance writer, and spent several months in Italy while at work on Eromenos. A native of Arkansas whose Campbell ancestors were Highland Scots, she now lives in Virginia with her husband, Kevin McDonald, author of Above the Clouds: Managing Risk in the World of Cloud Computing.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Until I came across Eromenos by Melanie McDonald [Seriously Good Books, 2011] I had never before heard of Antinous of Bithynia, or his legendary affair with the Emperor Hadrian. Just how I could have missed such a charming page in history (referred to as the “real life version of Zeus and Ganymede”) I don’t know, but I am certainly grateful to Ms McDonald for introducing me to it in such an entertaining way.

The story

Antinous was born in the town of Bithynion-Claudiopolis, in the Greek province of Bithynia, and the story is told in his voice as a recollection. At about 12 years Antinous is sent to Nikomedia for his education, and it is there that he catches the eye of Hadrian on one of his many tours. With a ready eye for beautiful young boys, Hadrian invites him to join his imperial retinue as a page.

This is fairly heady stuff for a farm lad from one of the Greek provinces, but even more honours were to follow when Hadrian asked him to be his personal attendant on a hunting trip, and eventually into his bed.

As one might expect, however, being the catamite of a living god had its ups and downs, as Antinous would soon discover, for Hadrian was by profession a general as well as emperor, and thereby firmly in command of everyone around him. Nonetheless, Antinous somehow learned to cope with the vagaries of both the emperor and the imperial court for some seven years.

Nevertheless, as he approached manhood (around 19) he began to realize the he could no longer be Hadrian’s lover because of public opinion and because Hadrian preferred younger boys; therefore, Antinous decided to sacrifice himself to the gods and the man he loved. At least that is how the story goes, for no one really knows for certain.

One researcher has put it this way:

“One may well wonder why a young and vibrant man would sacrifice himself for his Emperor and for Rome. There is the obvious answer that people often do strange and illogical things for love. Antinous may well have believed that he would win immortality in the waters of the Nile and hence may not have seen his death as an end to his life. And, although there is no direct evidence that Antinous was suffering from a depression, he had to have realized that he was passing the age of eromenos. Within a year or two at most Antinous would either have to give up his position as royal favorite or accustom himself to the condemnation, “pathetic.” Whatever would become of Antinous after his decline from favorite could only be a lessening of position and if he truly loved Hadrian he would undoubtedly be alarmed at the prospect of ending their relationship not only for reasons of status, but for reasons of the heart. Or, perhaps, Antinous had simply grown to feel shame at his position and was driven into the waters with a sense of helplessness and lack of self worth that could scarcely be considered rare in teenagers of any time period.” http://ladyhedgehog.hedgie.com/antinous.html#antinous.

The aftermath

The days following Antinous’s death brought great emotional upheaval and strain to the emperor. Trudging through a despair and sense of guilt, Hadrian’s first impulse was to follow his beloved into the otherworld. However, Hadrian was emperor and his life was not really his to give, and so in compensation he declared Antinous a god.

For whatever reason Antinous entered the waters of the Nile, therefore, he did obtain a form of immortality. Had he passed quietly from his role as favourite he may well have disappeared from history, but with his death and Hadrian’s response to it, he was assured a place in future remembrance—such as this book.

My Review

This novel is a textbook example of how historical fact and fiction should meet in a seamless, agreeable balance, so that one does not outweigh the other. Moreover the characters are well developed, and as far as I could determine, historically accurate. I rate is fairly-well faultless. Five bees.

Note: I note the Seriously Good Books is a new publisher with a worthy mission. i.e. “SERIOUSLY GOOD BOOKS hopes to survive and thrive as a small, independent press publishing historical fiction of lasting quality. Here you will find solid historical fiction that enlightens as well as entertains. From time to time, SG Books may select a work of literary fiction, a notable thriller, or some other surprise, so be sure to bookmark and visit these pages frequently.”  See: http://www.seriouslygoodbooks.net/#!__bookstore

 

News, etc.

I have entered Gerry B’s Book Reviews in the Independent Book Blogger Awards contest. It is my first contest ever, so I would really appreciate your support. Please take a few minutes to vote. Just click the “vote” link below.

Independent Book Blogger Awards

Vote for this blog for the Independent Book Blogger Awards!

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Visitor count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews- 23,736

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Meet the characters, settings etc., from my forthcoming novel, Coming of Age on the Trail

Probably the most anticipated time on any cattle drive or roundup was relaxing around the campfire. After a long hard day of riding–usually ten or twelve hours in duration–it was a time of socializing with tall tales, gambling and music.

Such a venerable institution didn’t vary wherever cattle and men were brought together, and so Cory and Reb enjoyed the campfire as much as any on their trek North to Dawson City, Yukon.

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Introducing a brand new author and her new Novel.

Altered-Revelations, by Shawnda Falls-Currie is new on the Kindle market.

Story Blurb: Abandoned by her family, Lacey is sent to a juvenile detention center known as Clear Waters. Her teen years don’t look promising until she is befriended by a mysterious stranger named Taylor, a gorgeous guy whose captivating eyes seem to stare into her soul. Convinced she is in danger at Clear Waters, Lacey joins Taylor in a daring escape. As she meets Taylor’s group of friends, she discovers that they’re more than they seem – they’ve been sent from the future to head off an evil corporate plot that will lead to a world war unless averted. With Lacey as their only hope to prevent a grim future, Taylor shows Lacey how to tap into her psychic abilities known in his time as evolved humans. Travelling with her new friends, she discovers the magic of love while she grows into the powerful warrior chosen to make the difference to the world!

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If you would like to learn more about any of my books, or to order copies, click on the specific cover below. Two Irish Lads and Nor All Thy Tears are available in both Kindle and Nook formats. Publisher’s price, $4.95.

        

Thanks for dropping by. Your participation is an honour I hope I’ve earned.

April 8, 2012 Posted by | Coming out, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay Literature, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period | 2 Comments

The Master of Seacliff, by Max Pierce

An American Gothic novel reminiscent of an Agatha Christie novel –

A gothic mystery with a decidedly masculine point of view

The year is 1899, and Andrew Wyndham is twenty years old—no longer a boy, but not yet the man he longs to become. Brought up by a harsh and stingy aunt and uncle in New York City after the death of his parents, young Andrew dreams of life as an artist in Paris. He has talent enough but lacks the resources to bring his dream to fruition. When a friend arranges for him to work as tutor to the son of a wealthy patron of the arts, Andrew sees a chance to make his dream come true and boards a train heading up the Atlantic coast. His destination is the estate called Seacliff, where he’ll tutor his new charge and save his pay to make the life he dreams of possible. But danger lurks everywhere and nothing is quite as easy as it seems.

I pulled some paper out of my makeshift sketchbook and started a study of the mighty train that brought me here. Lost in thought, I had completed one drawing when a slurred voice came from my left.

“Want some advice? Get back on that train. There’s nothin’ but death and despair at Seacliff.”

A grizzled man stood at the west edge of the platform. He was short, tanned like oilpaper and wearing dried out, wrinkled clothing. Staring ahead as he limped towards me, the lenses of his glasses made his eyes look larger than normal. Without waiting for me to respond or acknowledge him, he continued, rasping.

“Take it from one who’s seen the devil’s wrath. They’ll all join Satan in hell. You too, unless you leave. Run.”

“Seacliff is my home,” I answered with false confidence. But as I turned, the stranger had evaporated.

Seacliff: A dark and brooding cliff-top mansion enshrouded in near-eternal fog, dark mystery, and suspicion—perhaps a reflection of the house’s master. An imposing Blackbeard of a man, Duncan Stewart is both feared and admired by his business associates as well as the people he calls friends. And his home, in which young Andrew must now reside, holds terrible secrets, secrets that could destroy everyone within its walls.

Available in e-book format – 452 KB

Review by Gerry Burnie

Every once in a while I get a yen to read a gothic tale—something like the compulsion for a decadent dessert—so when I came across one in the gay genre I just had to order a serving.

The Master of Seacliff by Max Pierce [Lethe Press, 2012] is a gothic novel written in the classical style, with a quintessential brooding mansion atop a seaside cliff; a cast of eccentric servants; a young innocent (male); and a darkly-handsome master with a slightly sinister reputation.

Young Andrew Wyndham, driven by his ambition to study art in Paris, takes a position as tutor to the son of a wealthy, hardnosed businessman, Duncan Stewart. He therefore travels from his modest home in Manhattan to take up residence at “Seacliff,” Stewart’s remote seaside estate on the Atlantic Coast.

His arrival is none too encouraging when the first person he encounters is a grizzled man who warns him to flee for his life—and his soul. He nonetheless carries on, and eventually hears that Duncan is rumoured to have shot his father and his father’s friend in order to gain control of the family business.

However, this is not the only mystery hanging over Seacliff Manor, for Duncan’s protégé (and secret lover), pianist Steven Charles, disappeared a year before Andrew’s arrival and his absence has cast further suspicion on Duncan. But Duncan is a man who can be disarmingly charming, as well as irascible, and so Andrew is more intrigued by him than frightened.

Other characters populate this story, as well: The dour and suspicious butler; the (gay) brother and sister who own the neighbouring estate; Duncan’s son, Timothy; and the mute son of the housekeeper’s daughter (who leaped from the cliff when she found her lover had been murdered.)

All is revealed in the end, but in the meantime it is a fun read, almost reminiscent of suspects ‘popping in and out of doors’ in an Agatha Christie novel. Highly recommended. Four bees.

News, etc.

Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 23,262

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Independent Book Blogger Awards

Vote for this blog for the Independent Book Blogger Awards!

Voting begins Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

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Meet the characters, settings etc., from my forthcoming novel, Coming of Age on the Trail

In an atmosphere where men were drawn together by mutual dependence and respect, Cowboys did fall in love—as Cory and Reb did. But driving skittish cattle over hundreds of miles, through terrain that could change from drought to flood in a matter of minutes, was a risky business. So what happened when a lover was killed and you couldn’t talk about it? Badger C. Clark, the iconic cowboy poet, addresses this question in “The Lost Pardner”.

  •  I ride alone and hate the boys I meet.
  • Today, some way, their laughin’ hurts me so.
  • I hate the mockin’-birds in the mesquite–
  • And yet I liked ’em just a week ago.
  • I hate the steady sun that glares, and glares!
  • The bird songs make me sore.
  • I seem the only thing on earth that cares
  • ‘Cause Al ain’t here no more!
  • ‘Twas just a stumblin’ hawse, a tangled spur–
  • And, when I raised him up so limp and weak,
  • One look before his eyes begun to blur
  • And then–the blood that wouldn’t let ‘im speak!
  • And him so strong, and yet so quick he died,
  • And after year on year
  • When we had always trailed it side by side,
  • He went–and left me here!
  • We loved each other in the way men do
  • And never spoke about it, Al and me,
  • But we both knowed, and knowin’ it so true
  • Was more than any woman’s kiss could be.
  • We knowed–and if the way was smooth or rough,
  • The weather shine or pour,
  • While I had him the rest seemed good enough–
  • But he ain’t here no more!
  • What is there out beyond the last divide?
  • Seems like that country must be cold and dim.
  • He’d miss the sunny range he used to ride,
  • And he’d miss me, the same as I do him.
  • It’s no use thinkin’–all I’d think or say
  • Could never make it clear.
  • Out that dim trail that only leads one way
  • He’s gone–and left me here!
  • The range is empty and the trails are blind,
  • And I don’t seem but half myself today.
  • I wait to hear him ridin’ up behind
  • And feel his knee rub mine the good old way
  • He’s dead–and what that means no man kin tell.
  • Some call it “gone before.”
  • Where? I don’t know, but God! I know so well
  • That he ain’t here no more!

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Introducing a brand new author and her new Novel.

Altered-Revelations, by Shawnda Falls-Currie is new on the Kindle market.

Story Blurb: Abandoned by her family, Lacey is sent to a juvenile detention center known as Clear Waters. Her teen years don’t look promising until she is befriended by a mysterious stranger named Taylor, a gorgeous guy whose captivating eyes seem to stare into her soul. Convinced she is in danger at Clear Waters, Lacey joins Taylor in a daring escape. As she meets Taylor’s group of friends, she discovers that they’re more than they seem – they’ve been sent from the future to head off an evil corporate plot that will lead to a world war unless averted. With Lacey as their only hope to prevent a grim future, Taylor shows Lacey how to tap into her psychic abilities known in his time as evolved humans. Travelling with her new friends, she discovers the magic of love while she grows into the powerful warrior chosen to make the difference to the world!

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Introducing Lucas Porter, pianist

An exciting new, 21-year-old artist from Nova Scotia, Canada, presently studying at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.

Lucas was recently featured on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s “Next” series, part of a high-profile project created by the CBC Radio 2 program In Concert in which promising young classical musicians reveal their artistry.

Click here to listen, and please pass it on.

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If you would like to learn more about any of my books, or to order copies, click on the specific cover below. Two Irish Lads and Nor All Thy Tears are available in both Kindle and Nook formats. Publisher’s price, $4.95.

         

Thanks for dropping by. Your participation makes it all worthwhile!

March 30, 2012 Posted by | Coming out, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period | Leave a comment

The Eunuch Neferu, by Daniel Tegan Marsche

A love story set in the 23rd century BC –

Publisher’s blurb: Marsche conveys an enthralling, historical fiction tale with The Eunuch Neferu. Upon the canvass of Roman-occupied Egypt in 23 B.C., this literary tapestry is woven using a rich and enchanting combination of history and human emotion. Controversial and thought provoking, The Eunuch Neferu chronicles the life of a boy who rose from desert poverty to aristocracy in ancient Alexandria. Illustrating both the power and delicacy of the human spirit, this book is about desire, drive, choices and consequences. Take a look at 23 B.C. through the eyes of Kebryn – peasant, servant, student, nobleman – and discover one of history’s most alluring, enigmatic characters.

Available in e-book format – 445 KB

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Review by Gerry Burnie

For this week’s review I looked around for something a little different, and when I spied The Eunuch Neferu, by Daniel Tegan Marsche [Xlibris, Corp., 2006] it occurred to me that I hadn’t previously reviewed a story with an Egyptian theme. Mind you, The Eunuch Neferu is an Egyptian boy’s story told from a Roman perspective, but its close enough.

The story centres around an Egyptian peasant boy, Kebryn, who is purchased as a slave by a retired Roman general who then confesses his love for the boy within the first dozen-or-so-pages. It seemed like an odd things for a high ranking Roman general to do so quickly, but ‘love at first sight’ has long been postulated as possible, and so I read on.

The relationship continues to grow between the general and the boy, with the lad returning the older man’s affections, but when Roman law threatens to separate them due to Kebryn’s reaching a certain stage in life, the boy has to be castrated in order to avoid its onslaught; thereby becoming the Eunuch Neferu.

The general ultimately declares Neferu his heir, and changes his will accordingly.

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As a gay romance this is a tender love story, and there are certain aspects of the setting that are evocative of BC, 23rd-century Egypt, but once you add the term “historical” to it the problems (for me) begin to arise.

Even if it is classified as fiction—as apposed to a fantasy—there is a certain expectation of accuracy regarding the facts. For example, as has already been pointed out by other reviewers, potatoes didn’t reach Europe until the 16th-century, AD, and the same for tomatoes. Moreover, these were both introduced by Spanish explorers, not Italian.

There is also an unwritten rule regarding historical fiction, and that is there should be a balance between research and plot. That is to say, the plot should not ignore historical facts, as it did in this case, and the facts should not burden the plot to the point where it overwhelms it. Regrettably, I found that this was frequently the case as well.

To comment further would not serve any purpose except to say these are my opinions and may not agree with others. Two bees.

News, etc.

Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 22,948

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Meet the characters, settings etc., from my forthcoming novel, Coming of Age on the Trail

The theme of this story is the struggle to get a herd of cattle to the gold fields of Dawson City, YukonTerritory, where beef was fabled to be selling for $48-a-pound.

Cory and Reb, the main characters, attempt to do it overland because the alternative was by the notorious White Pass from Anchorage, Alaska.

White Pass

The White Pass trail brought out the worst in the men and women who traveled it. It came to be known as the Dead Horse Trail for the bodies of animals that lined its length like gruesome trail-markers. It is estimated that over 3000 horses died on the trail, their untrained owners caring nothing for their horses health in a mad lust for gold.

The difficulty of the trail made it all but impassable by September 1897. The trail was closed for a time while a proper wagon road was constructed and was reopened later during the winter of 1897-98. The stampeders who followed were charged a toll to use the trail; the grisly remains along the path were a constant reminder of the horrors that had taken place there.

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Introducing a brand new author and her new Novel.

Altered-Revelations, by Shawnda Falls-Currie is new on the Kindle market.

Story Blurb: Abandoned by her family, Lacey is sent to a juvenile detention center known as Clear Waters. Her teen years don’t look promising until she is befriended by a mysterious stranger named Taylor, a gorgeous guy whose captivating eyes seem to stare into her soul. Convinced she is in danger at Clear Waters, Lacey joins Taylor in a daring escape. As she meets Taylor’s group of friends, she discovers that they’re more than they seem – they’ve been sent from the future to head off an evil corporate plot that will lead to a world war unless averted. With Lacey as their only hope to prevent a grim future, Taylor shows Lacey how to tap into her psychic abilities known in his time as evolved humans. Travelling with her new friends, she discovers the magic of love while she grows into the powerful warrior chosen to make the difference to the world!

March 28, 2012 – Get your FREE Kindle copy of Altered – Revelations today: Click here to go to Amazon.

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Introducing Lucas Porter, pianist

An exciting new, 21-year-old artist from Nova Scotia, Canada, presently studying at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.

Lucas was recently featured on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s “Next” series, part of a high-profile project created by the CBC Radio 2 program In Concert in which promising young classical musicians reveal their artistry.

Click here to listen, and please pass it on.

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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, 2012 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period | Leave a comment

Wingmen, by Ensan Case

A superbly written epic of manly love set in WWII –

Story blurb: Jack Hardigan’s Hellcat fighter squadron blew the Japanese Zekes out of the blazing Pacific skies. But a more subtle kind of hell was brewing in his feelings for rookie pilot Fred Trusteau. As another wingman watches – and waits for the beautiful woman who loves Jack – Hardigan and Trusteau cut a fiery swath through the skies from Wake Island to Tarawa to Truk, there to keep a fateful rendezvous with love and death in the blood-clouded waters of the Pacific.

In the author’s own words: I wrote Wingmen in 1978 at the age of 28. Avon Books in New York published it in 1979. After one printing, sales stopped. I turned to other pursuits.

In 2011, during a move, I discovered my original file box of notes for the work. On a whim, I googled “Wingmen Ensan Case”, and was stunned by the result. The book is apparently more popular now than it was in 1979. I have begun the process of regaining the publication rights from Avon Books, and republishing the work in paper and ebook formats. Progress has been good, and it should be available by the first quarter of 2012.

Review by Gerry Burnie

You may have noticed I have a passion for WWII-vi