Gerry B's Book Reviews

Wounded, by Percival Everett

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

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click on the above cover to purchase.

click on the above cover to purchase.

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

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

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Review by Gerry Burnie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Interested in Canadian history?

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

 

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Click on the logo to learn about my books to datre

Notice to all those who have requested a book review Thank you for your interest, and my apologies for not responding to your request individually. I’m getting there, but the numbers have been overwhelming. Please extend your patience just a bit longer. Thanks again!

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

The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon by Tom Spanbauer

A zany, over the top novel, and a delightful read.

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click on the above cover to purchase.

click on the above cover to purchase.

Story blurb: Set against the harsh reality of an unforgiving landscape and culture, The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon provides a vision of the Old West unlike anything seen before. The narrator, Shed, is one of the most memorable characters in contemporary fiction: a half-Indian bisexual boy who lives and works at the Indian Head Hotel in the tiny town of Excellent, Idaho. It’s the turn of the century, and the hotel carries on a prosperous business as the town’s brothel. The eccentric characters working in the hotel provide Shed with a surrogate family, yet he finds in himself a growing need to learn the meaning of his Indian name, Duivichi-un-Dua, given to him by his mother, who was murdered when he was twelve. Setting off alone across the haunting plains, Shed goes in search of an identity among his true people, encountering a rich pageant of extraordinary characters along the way. Although he learns a great deal about the mysteries and traditions of his Indian heritage, it is not until Shed returns to Excellent and witnesses a series of brutal tragedies that he attains the wisdom that infuses this exceptional and captivating book.

 

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Although published in 2000, I first read The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon by Tom Spanbauer [Grove Press; Reprint edition (January 6, 2000)] some five years ago – which attest to my theory that because a novel is dated, it doesn’t render it any less enjoyable.

Indeed, like a fine wine, many novels grow into currency as the society matures enough to appreciate them.

The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon is a zany novel, reminiscent of the 1960s “Hippy” culture when no subject was taboo, and “far out” meant exactly that.

It is told from the first-person perspective of Shed (short for ‘Out-in-The-Shed’), a half-blood, orphaned boy, whose birth under the front porch of a whorehouse in Excellent, Idaho, sets off a journey of self-discovery over  time and across two nations – Indian and white.

The town’s characters make up a good part of the story, from Ida Richilieu – the presiding madam at the Indian Head Hotel; to the blacksmith who wore Vaseline filled gloves to keep his hands soft; to ‘something-or-other’ Dave, the town’s mentally-challenged character, who pissed himself every time he became excited.

Nonetheless, there is a compelling quest that keeps the story moving, both parenthetically and literally, when Shed goes looking for his mother’s Bannock-Indian heritage.

Not surprising, it is not what he expects to find – not ideally anyway – but the adventure answers at least part of it.

However, it is not until he returns to Excellent that the rest is revealed, and his quest is set to rest. Four bees.

A word about political correctness

A number of people have assessed this book on the basis of its non-politically-correct references to Indians and Mormons. In this regard, I found nothing that could be considered offensive to either.

In my opinion, political correctness is the antithesis of creative writing. Political correctness was an artificial construct dreamt up by a gaggle of cocktail-sipping matrons who wanted to offer ‘gentility’ to the oppressed classes. Thereby, they introduced a tyranny titles that far surpassed anything that had been in place before. Moreover, since then, it has lost any minimal relevance it may have had to become a source of division and discord.

This review does not practice political correctness, never has and never will, and will never assess creativity by any such narrow-minded constrict.

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Interested in Canadian history?

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

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Click on the logo to learn about my books to datre

 

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January 19, 2015 Posted by | a love story, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay western, Male bisexual, Mixed race | Leave a comment

Christmasing With You by William Neale

christmas spirit copy

Perfect for curling up with a Baillie’s in hand…

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Click on cover to purchase. also available in Kindle format.

Click on cover to purchase. also available in Kindle format.

Story blurb: Andrew Bastion lost his partner to a violent and senseless criminal act. Devastated and all alone, he questioned how he would ever get through his first Christmas season without the husband he so loved. But when Drew’s best friend convinces him to “find people who need help and help them,” he finally begins to focus on something other than his own grief. And to his great surprise, he meets the one man with the ability to help heal his broken heart. Christmasing With You is a shamelessly heartwarming, upbeat holiday story that will require tissues, smiles, a box of good chocolates, and the willingness to believe that Christmas miracles really happen.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Christmas is a time for warm, fuzzy feelings, morality tales, and schmaltz – at least that’s how it appears to me. I went looking early for a representative Christmas tale, and after reading and rejecting several I finally settled on this little chestnut. Crhistmasing With You by William Neale [MLR Press, LLC, November, 2011] is a written-to-please story that neither rises to the heights nor sinks below the surface.

Andrew Bastion is a corporate lawyer who loses his partner in a tragic manner, and is now faced with spending Christmas alone with nothing but his memories to keep him company.

A good and wise friend suggests he find solace in helping others who are likewise afflicted, and this leads to a meeting with a ‘Nordic god-type,’ soup-kitchen operator, who is incidentally being sued by a pair of unscrupulous shysters.

Needless to say, Andrew puts them to route in white knight fashion, and that pretty much leads to a happy-ever-after ending.

Okay, the storyline is a bit corny, but it’s just perfect for curling up with sore feet from shopping, and a Baillie’s in hand, to just veg in the never-never-land of fantasy fiction. Three and one-half bees.

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Viewers to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 74,753

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Interested in Canadian history?

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

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If you would care to purchase any of my e-books for yourself or as a gift to others, there still is time. Here are two to choose from — Two Irish Lads has a lovely, Irish Christmas scene in the wilderness. Click on the cover to order.

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Notice to all those who have requested a book review Thank you for your interest, and my apologies for not responding to your request individually. I’m getting there, but the numbers have been overwhelming. Please extend your patience just a bit longer. Thanks again!

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

 

 

 

December 22, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Gay fiction, Gay western | Leave a comment

A Royal Affair by John Wiltshire

Interesting Story line, colourful characters, and intriguing setting.

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

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

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

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

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

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Review by Gerry Burnie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Interested in Canadian history?

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

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Notice to all those who have requested a book review Thank you for your interest, and my apologies for not responding to your request individually. I’m getting there, but the numbers have been overwhelming. Please extend your patience just a bit longer. Thanks again!

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

Native: A Novel, by William Haywood Henderson

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

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Click pn the above cover to purchase.

Click pn the above cover to purchase.

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

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Review by Gerry Burnie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 Viewers of Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 71,243

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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:  Point Blankets … a.k.a. “Hudson Bay Company Blankets”

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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.

 

 

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

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

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

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To purchase, click on the cover above.

To purchase, click on the cover above.

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

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

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

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Review by Gerry Burnie

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

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

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

I liked that.

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

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

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

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

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

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Interested in Canadian history? Want to know more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.  It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post: Francis Pegahmagabow, MM-two bar. The most highly decorated Canadian Native in the First World War.

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

       

Notice to all those who have requested a book review Thank you for your interest, and my apologies for not responding to your request individually. I’m getting there, but the numbers have been overwhelming. Please extend your patience just a bit longer. Thanks again! Thanks for dropping by! I’ll have another novel ready for next week, same URL, so drop back soon.

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

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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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:  Who says Canada doesn’t have super heroes?…Step aside Captain America.

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

                    

               

Notice to all those who have requested a book review

 

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

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

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

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

Real Men Ride Horses, by Ken Shakin

Raw, uncompromising, unique, and thoroughly enjoyable.

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real men ride horses - coverStory blurb taken from Ken Shakin’s preface: These stories were published before a certain Hollywood movie made the wild west famous for gay romance and frustration. But cowboys in love are nothing new, to say nothing of the Indians. The history and poetry of the region give evidence of the ways of real men, braves and pardners, with their origins in the tribal practices explored by some thirsty settlers and loving Mormons. You only have to look at an oil painting from the period to see naked boys quenching their thirst at the local swimming hole. You won’t find boys swimming naked together anymore, unless you go looking for it. Much has been written about the impossibility of gay life in the American desert. I wanted to write about all the sex you could have anyway.

I also wanted to show the desert in the mind of anyone with a sexual habit, searching for love in a man, woman, or beast. The west with its wide open spaces seemed the perfect setting for digging into the entrails of human behavior, far away from the holes in the walls in Sleaze City, but maybe just as foul.

When I left New York for good I didn’t know where to go. I toured around the States for a while, before going south of the equator and later settling in the old world across the ocean. These stories are based on my experiences going west, to a place as foreign to me as anything I would find in the rest of the world.

About the author: Ken Shakin has been called the most flippant man in fiction. His irreverent books stain the shelves of the public library, including the highly acclaimed Love Sucks (1997), Grandma Gets Laid (2008), and most recently Thrillerotica (2010). Thrillerotica.com is home to his unique genre, “calculated to send a shiver down even the most desensitized spine” (Omnilit). The New York native is a graduate of the Juilliard School, with a degree in piano. He lives in Berlin.

“Shakin’s darkly humorous and perverse works have earned him an underground following, largely due to the fact that he flaunts every standard of decency.” —Contemporary Authors

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Review by Gerry Burnie

This is a book of vignettes I read some time back, but didn’t attempt to review because I wasn’t certain how I could do it justice. Nonetheless, I think Ken Shakin’s zany style, his off-the-wall imagination, his tell-it-like-it-is starkness—as demonstrated in his Real Men Ride Horses [Thrillerotica.com, September 12, 2012]—has affected my thinking about gay westerns ever since.

Regarding his style: Shakin writes in stark, black and white, with no shades of grey, and yet he is not judgemental. Rather, he simply shines his light on the various characters and situations, one after another, for the readers to judge for themselves. For example from Real Men Ride Horses:

I look around the bar and I know I’m in Sodom. A small town somewhere in America. This could be a Hollywood set. The bar pretends to be western. In the middle of the wild west. The sign above the swinging doors says saloon. The jukebox is twanging. The whole place is made of wood and smells like beer, but there’s a picture of Cher over the mirror that says it all. There are more cowboy hats than cowboys in here. Welcome to the pink desert.

I look at the boy in the cowboy hat next to me. It’s only been a few minutes and already we’re acting like we’ve known each other since we were kids. Playing a game. Cowboys and Indians. As a native New Yorker, I must be the Indian. My arrow aimed straight at the cowboy’s heart.

“Don’t be fooled by the hat,” he says. “Ain’t no cowboys no more. Not real ones.”

He takes a long swig on his piña colada, careful to push the umbrella out of the way with his pinky. Johnny’s old enough to drink. Young enough to fuck. He’s awfully jaded for such a fresh face. The new generation. Wise at an early age, but just as stupid. When I was his age, thrills came in books. Now they have a virtual world to wander. Lost cowboys, shooting it with a joystick.

“Let’s go to your motel,” he says.

That is just one example of many, for it is difficult to know which ones to choose, and yet it is impossible to summarize them all. So, here’s another from Bingo Cowboy:

The anonymous man heads for the toilet. For more stimulating conversation. A man follows him in. Standing next to each other at the urinal there’s nothing to say. They stare at each other’s dicks. The man slips a hand down the back of his jeans and grabs his ass. They leave together. The toilet. The bar. He follows the man into his van and in no time the man is fucking his ass. But half way through the ass changes his mind. Maybe it’s that hit of E he swallowed on his way in the bar. Suddenly the man looks like a human toilet. He doesn’t like the smell of him. Medicinal. Shitty. Maybe it’s just the lube in his ass but he decides he’s had enough of this shit. To get it over with he pretends he’s gonna shoot and the guy responds. By shooting. Bingo!

The thirteen essays Shakin has included read like stories of characters he has either met, heard about or stories he’s been told, and some of them have the ring of historic authenticity. For example, from the essay Little Hero:

The record will show that the boy was arrested in the year 1900. For vagrancy. I find the citation in a dusty book in a library in the middle of a wasteland. The fruity librarian explains that vagrancy meant something else back then. Like loitering. Standing on the corner. Selling your body.ether. The fruity librarian brings out a handful of dusty books, relics from an out-dated criminal justice system, reformed schools that have long since burned down. He seems to have made this boy his hobby. The rest of the boy’s life went from bad to worse. Until one day he disappeared from the records. Maybe he joined the oil rush or struck gold. Or maybe he ended up in the gutter. All I can do now is read the citations. And with a bit of imagination, fill in the details. The story of his young life. And of the boy who shared his cell.

When they pick up the vagrant, he’s got nothing but the clothes on his back and a piece of charcoal in his pocket. Nothing to his name except unspoken emotions and a price list, evidence of his crime. He likes to draw. The wild west graffiti artist. Always carries a piece of charcoal in his pocket so he can draw on a wall or a floor. The price list itemizes his prize possession. His youth. His body. His boyhood for sale.

Ken Shakin packs a lot of meaning and imagery into every phrase, every sentence, and even every word, so if you are looking for an anthology with a refreshing difference I can guarantee you won’t find one like it. Five bees.

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

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

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

 

                  

 

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November 25, 2013 Posted by | Gay western, Homoerotic | Leave a comment

Pickup Men, by L.C. Chase

A pleasant read.

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pickup men - cover

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

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

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

Cover design: L.C. Chase

Review by Gerry Burnie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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boycott sochi

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

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

            

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

Taking Chance, by Laura Harner

A fine example of the western genre from a M/M perspective.

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takin chance - coverStory blurb: Officer Chance Carter is pretty sure he’d still enjoy being on either end of a good ass reaming—just not the one from his supervisor that lands him on an involuntary extended vacation. Another holiday season with nothing to do except visit an old friend.

Former hospital corpsman Bryan Mitchell doesn’t feel less than honorable, but that’s what his discharge paperwork states. Now he’s down and out in Kingman, Arizona until the charity of a stranger lands him a temporary job for the holidays.

When two federal employees go missing during a highly controversial wild horse roundup, the two Willow Springs Ranch newcomers are drafted to help in the search, but if rumors of a local anti-government militia are true, Chance and Bryan may be in serious trouble—and from something far more dangerous than their mutual attraction.*

*Available as a free download on Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16279824-taking-chance?ac=1)

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Taking Chance (Willow Springs Ranch #3) by Laura Harner [Hot Corner Press; Second edition, June 2, 2013] is number three in a series, and I am obliged to admit it is the first I have read. Therefore, I have no background with character like Cass and Ty. However, I didn’t find this to be a disadvantage.

The story line is quite conventional. Bryan Mitchell has been given a dishonourable discharge from the navy, due to ‘conduct unbecoming,’ and because of this stigma he finds himself down and out. Fate leads him to Willow Springs Ranch, and since he and Ty both have navy backgrounds, he is hired on.

In the meantime, Chance Carter screws up on his sensitive job and is given an extended leave of absence; therefore, fate once again, leads him to Willow Springs Ranch.

Both are strong personalities. but from different perspectives, so their first meeting is rather feisty; however, when they are called upon to help find two government workers who have gone missing on a controversial horse roundup, they get to know one another both emotionally and physically.

[I don’t review sex scenes since I generally scan over them, (I mean, how many ways are there that haven’t been written about?) but for those who like a little spice with their story, there are plenty to satisfy.]

Things get dicey on this search, including one of them being kidnapped, but it provides a nice bit of drama as befits a good western.

I am somewhat of an aficionado of the western genre. I’ve read dozens of biographies and autobiographies, plus the same number of fictional adaptations, and this one can take a respectable position among them all.

It’s more of an adventure than a romance (which it should be), but being an M/M story it has to have some. I also liked the fact that the romance part didn’t stray into ‘Harlequin Romance’ territory.

That said, it didn’t break any new territory, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is the difference between a good novel and an outstanding one—in my opinion, anyway. Four and one-half bees.

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Protest the Homophobic attack on human rights and dignity in the former Soviet Union of Russia.

sidney_crosbySidney Crosby, Shea Weber Say They Oppose Russian Anti-Gay Law

Sidney Crosby, the 26-year-old captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Shea Weber, the 28-year-old defenceman of the Nashville Predators, on Sunday came out against a Russian anti-gay law.

The hockey players made their remarks during a news conference to kick off Canada’s Olympic training camp, the Calgary Herald reported.

See: http://www.ontopmag.com/article.aspx?id=16229&MediaType=1&Category=8

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

It is a collection of little-known people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting books as well. Latest post: Sheriff John S. Ingram: Two-fisted town-tamer.

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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 26, 2013 Posted by | Gay fiction, Gay western, M/M love and adventure, Traditional Western, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lonely as God, by Dale Chase

Short, raw & sweet!

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lonely as god - coverFor young drover Tom Seeley, the Chisholm Trail is a lonely damn place, which hardly seems possible among eighteen men and two thousand head of cattle. It’s while guarding the stock at night that second man Jack Dawe quotes a snip of poetry to reveal himself a like-minded man. Suddenly, under that big empty night sky, the loneliness starts to disappear.

When you’re out on the trail, sometimes you ain’t got no choice but to find love in the arms of another man just to stop yourself being lonely as God.

A short story – 688KB (46 pages)

Front cover design – Wilde City Press.

Note: This novel is not yet available on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, but it can be purchased from the publisher’s website, Wilde City Press.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Before I even read Lonely as God, by Dale Chase [Wilde City Press, 2013], I was taken by the cover design. Outstanding! In fact, I’m jealous I didn’t find such an image for my forthcoming western novel.

Right from the beginning one is struck by the unapologetic earthiness of this tale. Told in first person by the main character, Tom Seeley, there is no doubt what it is all about. It is erotica, plain and simple, and yet it is not pornographic in the sense that the author does not dwell on every nuance of the act. Indeed, the sex scenes are perfunctory, almost utilitarian in nature, and for the most part are over in a few paragraphs (as apposed to pages), i.e.,

I’ve come up hard knowing he’ll take me, and I spit in my palm and smear it down my cock while Matt reaches back to part his buttocks. “Give me some dick,” he says, and get behind him and shove in. He lets out moan, and I hear a low whistle from Drew but I don’t look over.

Get a man’s dick up a butt hole and nothing else matters. Troubles, thoughts, concerns, fears, none have a chance amid a fuck and I start to pump into Matt while knowing this, my dick setting me free. Doesn’t matter I came before. My balls have filled back up and feel ready to burst so I give it to Matt good, ramming in and out, grunting like some pig in his wallow.

I can feel Matt working his cock. He moans in time to my thrusting and soon says he’s coming. When he squeals, it drives me to fuck harder. Then my juice sets to boiling which makes my mouth fall open, my tongue come out like it will taste the come. I allow whatever sounds my body requires while gaining release, grunts and groans and all manner of things except for words. I cannot speak at such a time. Then I hit the rise, and I dig my fingers into Matt as the pulse begins. I cry out as I let go into him, filling his chute with my stuff as I pound his bottom. His horse snorts approval.

I keep at Matt even after I empty because I don’t want to stop. Not ever. But nature will have her way and I go soft and slip out. I slap Matt’s bottom and he straightens up and turns. “Some good fuck,” he says as he pulls up his drawers.

I like that. Sex is part of life, and of GLBT literature, but having said this it shouldn’t be the be-all or even the ‘most-of-all’ of a plot. So, even though this tale is highly erotic, it doesn’t run away with the story.

I’m also willing into buy the notion that 18, rough-neck men, are into mano-a-mano sex at the drop of a pair of Levis, but realistically it is quite a stretch. It is, perhaps, the closest the plot comes to being pornographic.

I also like the non-poetic prose. The main character is not an educated man, and cattle drives were not a genteel affair. They were long, hot, dusty and dangerous undertakings, and the men were as tough as the trail or the cattle they drove. So the King’s English would have been out of place here.

There were a couple of places where I thought the story went over the top, especially with the loose sex issue, but generally-speaking it is as true to the conditions, interactions, and language of a cattle drive as I have read.Four and on-half bees.

 

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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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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 tales and characters.

♠♠♠

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

      

Thanks for dropping by. Your continuing interest is greatly appreciated.

June 10, 2013 Posted by | Fiction, Gay military, Gay western, Homoerotic | Leave a comment

   

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