Gerry B's Book Reviews

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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Viewers to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 58,982

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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

 

                  

 

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

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

Hadrian’s Lover, by Patricia Marie Budd

An interesting and thought-provoking story.

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

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

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Review by Gerry Burnie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is a collection of little-known people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post:  Hurricane Hazel – Oct. 15 – 16, 1954. Canada’s perfect storm.

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

            

      

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cover art: Enny Kraft

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

Unlike some authors, I have no huge background in writing. I’m not good at punctuation and spelling, and my thoughts often surpass my ability as an author to express them. However, I can’t NOT write. It’s who I am. I hope you are touched by my stories.

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

Review by Gerry Burnie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Notice to all those requesting a book review

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

Thank you for your interest and participation.

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

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

How to join in:

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

Join the Movement: Go All Out

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

            

      

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

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

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.

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

      

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

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

Cards On The Table, by Josh Lanyon

Not too long, not too short, but just right!

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cards on the table - coverStory blurb: Fifty years ago a glamorous Hollywood party ended in murder — the only clue a bloody Tarot card. Timothy North is trying to find out what happened that long ago summer’s night, but when a Tarot card turns up pinned to his front door, the only person Tim can turn to for help is his ex-lover, Detective Jack Brady.

About the author: A distinct voice in gay fiction, multi-award-winning author JOSH LANYON has been writing gay mystery, adventure and romance for over a decade. In addition to numerous short stories, novellas, and novels, Josh is the author of the critically acclaimed Adrien English series, including The Hell You Say, winner of the 2006 USA Book News awards for GLBT Fiction. Josh is an Eppie Award winner and a three-time Lambda Literary Award finalist.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Although I have come across the name Josh Lanyon many times while searching through online bookstores, I had not read any of his books until I picked up Cards On The Table [Just Joshin, January 24, 2012], a short story but, oh, so satisfying.

Timothy North is a former reporter who has turned his hand to writing about an unsolved murder that is well and truly cold. However, as in all such cases, there is something intriguing about it; and sinister as well.

The next plot step up is that the case involved a beautiful Hollywood starlet and a bloodied Tarot card. However, as Tim digs further it becomes very evident that someone wants him off the case by pinning a sinister threat to his door—a Tarot card.

Wisely, Tim looks for support in the one person he knows can help—his ex-lover, Detective Jack Brady. The difficulty is that they parted under somewhat strained circumstances, so the question is: Can they warm up to before the parting?

With this twist we now have a second mystery running parallel to the first (in beautiful fashion), which only doubles the the reader’s already piqued interest.

It is subtle contrivances like these that separate the master mystery writer from the pack; this, and a list of eccentric suspects, mob connections, assorted dangers, and a cute cop with dimples thrown into the mix.

Altogether this story is a jewel; not too long, not too short, but just right. Five bees.

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Visitor’s views to date – 50,542

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In Praise of Canadian History.

fenian raidsAfter much difficulty convincing WordPress that it wasn’t a “get rich quick program”—most of my fellow authors will get a hoot out of that one—I am happy to announce a new blog. In Praise of Canadian History is dedicated to proving that Canada Does have an interesting history equal to any, and to commemorating little known events that prove it. Please help me make it a success. Thanks.

Fenian Raids (Battle or Ridgeway, Ontario) – June 2, 1866

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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. Your continuing interest is greatly appreciated.

June 3, 2013 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay mystery, Homoerotic | 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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Visitor views to date – 49,585 [we will surely reach a new milestone this week, i.e. 50,000 views!]

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

To view just follow this link

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaopf4_BiQ8

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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. Why not leave a comment before you leave?

 

May 13, 2013 Posted by | Gay fiction, Gay romance, Hollywood, Homoerotic | Leave a comment

Out of the Blue: Confessions of an Unlikely Porn Star, by Blue Blake

Bookshelf copy

A witty and humorous romp through the gay porn industry –

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out of the blue confessions - coverStory blurb: Out of the Blue is a hilarious autobiographical romp that details the life of porn star turned director/producer Blue Blake and his adventures in the skin trade. Blue has worked with every major star in the industry and won many major awards and honors, including induction into the Gay Porn Legend Hall of Fame.

Available in ebook format – 410 KB (so you can still download it in time for Christmas)

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I was looking around for something light and also inspirational to fit the season, and Out of the Blue: Confessions of an Unlikely Porn Star, the autobiography of Blue Blake [Running Press, 2009] was the surprising answer. I say “surprising” because one would hardly expect the adventures of a porn star to be either light or inspirational, but Blue Bake pulls it off with remarkable wit and humour.

Although he had a fairly rough childhood in Nottingham, England, an abusive father as well, he doesn’t dwell on it. Neither does he dwell on the usual coming to grips with his sexuality or coping with homophobia. Rather, he takes us on an erogenous romp through the commercial porn business, letting us in on the behind-the-scenes goings-on; including seducing self-identifying heterosexual hunks, and the love interests that develop between porn stars.

Blue Blake isn’t just a pretty face and tantalizing body, he is writer of considerable talent and charm. Five bees.

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Visitors count for Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 40,907

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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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Notice: Due to Amazon’s recent decision to  purge reviews it deems “questionable” from  its pages (without notice), I will no longer be posting  on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca. Instead, I will post on Goodreads and Barnes and Noble. I ask you to patronize these sites 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.

      

Merry Christmas to all! May you share it with family and friends, and in good health.

 

December 24, 2012 Posted by | Autobiography, Contemporary biography, Gay documentary, Gay non-fiction, Hollywood, Homoerotic, M/M love and adventure, Male bisexual, Non-fiction | Leave a comment

Sailors and Sexual Identity: Crossing the Line Between “Straight” and “Gay” in the U.S. Navy, by Steven Zeeland

Gerry B’s Book Reviews’ Remembrance Day Tribute

 

Remembrance Day Facts

  • Remembrance Day was originally known as “Armistice Day”
  • In Canada it became Remembrance Day by Act of Parliament in 1931.
  • It is known to our neighbours and allies to the south as “Veteran’s Day”.
  • The poppy is the symbol that individuals use to show that they remember those who fought and died in the service of their country.
  • The idea of the poppy originated with the 1915 poem “In Flanders Field” by Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian Medical Officer in the First World War. His poem reflects his first hand account of what he witnessed while working from a dressing station on the bank of the Yser Canal.
  • An American woman, Moina Michael, was the first person known to have worn a poppy in remembrance.

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Story Blurb: In Sailors and Sexual Identity, author Steven Zeeland talks with young male sailors–both gay- and straight-identified–about ways in which their social and sexual lives have been shaped by their Navy careers.Despite massive media attention to the issue, there remains a gross disparity between the public perception of “gays in the military” and the sexual realities of military life. The conversations in this book reveal how known “gay” and “straight” men can and do get along in the sexually tense confines of barracks and shipboard life once they discover that the imagined boundary between them is not, in fact, a hard line.The stories recounted here in vivid detail call into question the imagined boundaries between gay and straight, homosexual and homosocial, and suggest a secret Pentagon motivation for the gay ban: to protect homoerotic military rituals, buddy love, and covert military homosexuality from the taint of sexual suspicion.Zeeland ‘s interviews explore many aspects of contemporary life in the Navy including: gay/straight friendship networks the sexual charge to the Navy/Marine Corps rivalry the reality behind sailors’reputations as sexual adventurers in port and at sea men ‘s differing interpretations of homoerotic military rituals and initiations sex and gender stereotypes associated with military job specialities how sailors view being seen as sex objectsEveryone interested in the issue of gays in the military, along with a general gay readership, gay veterans, and gay men for whom sailors represent a sexual ideal, will find Sailors and Sexual Identity an informative and entertaining read.

Available in hardcover and paperback formats, only – 338 pages

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Review by Gerry Burnie
Although Sailors and Sexual Identity: Crossing the Line Between “Straight” and “Gay” in the U.S. Navy by Steven Zeeland [Routledge, 1995] is somewhat outdated, the tales of male interaction and bonding, as well as sexual exploration and activity remain unchanged. Therefore, it is still a relevant read.

At the time of its writing, ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ was still the prevailing rule regarding the military, and although it was an improvement over the witch hunts that had preceded it [See: Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War Two, by Allan Bérubé] it was nonetheless a political compromise that left the whole question of sexuality in a sort of limbo. At times it was enforced, at other times it was used as an excuse to exit the service, but just as often it was simply ignored.

However, Sailors and Sexual Identity is not about DADT. Rather, it is, in the words of the author: “[A]…hope that an improved understanding of the sexual realities of military life will contribute to the discrediting of falsehoods and lies used to justify oppression of persons who self-identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, and anyone who participates in consensual sexual activity with others of the same sex.”

To do this, Zeeland “met more than 200 sailors and marines and taped conversations with 30, and of that number, the transcripts of 13 make up this anthology.

Lacking all the requisite scientific controls, this is not a clinical study per se, nor has Zeeland represented it as such. Rather, he describes it as a collection of interviews documenting the lives—both sexual and military—of men in the service, and from whom he has learned. In some ways it is well he distanced himself from an academic study, for it would no doubt have been criticized for being unscientific, and otherwise stigmatized as a laborious read (which it is not).

Zeeland has yet another stated objective, however, and that is to show through empirical observation that the line between “straight” and “gay” is often an ambivalent one; that:

“[H]omosexual expression is a natural possibility for men who identify themselves as heterosexual, and that the unavailability of women is often not so much a cause of, but an excuse for, sexual feeling for another male.”

To me this is the most interesting aspect of Zeeland’s study. It has long been a suspicion of mine that the above statement is true (based in part on personal experience), but I wanted to see some evidence that would back this up. What I got from Zeeland’s study was a solid “maybe.” Most interviewees reported at least some experience with men who identified themselves as “straight,” and who staunchly held on to some stereotypical vestige of  their heterosexuality to ‘prove’ it—like refusing to kiss, or “bottom”—but nonetheless freely indulged in homosexual acts. However, because of the anecdotal nature of the study the question remains unresolved in my mind.

This is one of those books that will interest readers with a navy or marine background, or who enjoy reading about the experiences of others—like I do—but at $42 (paperback, new) it will not be for everyone. Three and one-half bees.

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Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 36,585

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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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We also remember those who gave up their loved ones to the service of others. Thank you!

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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. Add a “like” of comment so that I know you’ve been here. See you next Monday.

November 5, 2012 Posted by | Coming out, Gay military, Gay non-fiction, Historical period, Homoerotic | Leave a comment

Grab Bag (Little House on the Bowery), by Derek McCormack and Dennis Cooper (Editor)

A refreshingly unique style that is also universal –

Story blurb: Grab Bag is comprised of two interrelated novels, Dark Rides and Wish Book, from one of Canada’s most important young writers. Both books are set in the same small rural city, in different eras (1950s, 1930s), each characterized by McCormack’s spare and elliptical prose. Front cover illustration by Ian Phillips.

Available in ebook format – 1148 KB

About the Author: Derek McCormack is the author of Grab Bag (Akashic) and The Haunted Hillbilly (Soft Skull), which was named a ‘best book of the year’ by both the Village Voice and The Globe and Mail, and a Lambda Literary Award finalist. He writes fashion and arts articles for the National Post. He lives in Toronto. Dennis Cooper (editor) is the author of ‘The George Miles Cycle,’ an interconnected sequence of five novels that includes Closer (1989), Frisk (1991), Try (1994), Guide (1997), and Period (2000). The cycle has been translated into fourteen languages. His most recent novel is My Loose Thread (Canongate, 2002). He lives in Los Angeles.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

As Halloween approaches I looked around for something along this line, and quite by accident I found Derek McCormack’s Grab Bag [Akashic Books, 2004], edited by Dennis Cooper, which expanded my knowledge of Canadian writers (always a happy occurrence!)

Derek McCormack is one of those treasures that Canada and the Canadian literati keep hidden under a bushel. It is probably due to the GBLT content of his works, which, as a genre, has yet to be anointed for consideration by any of the major awards.[1] Indeed, when Dark Rides was first published, Globe and Mail’s book critic, Laura McDonald, had this to say:

Derek McCormack’s first published work, Dark Rides, was released in Canada this summer to little notice. It had three problems: It was slim, it was issued by a small press and its writer was unknown. Fortunately for McCormack and his readers, Dark Rides received more ink in the U.S. where, to be fair, there is more ink. Detour magazine even included him in its ‘Top Thirty Artists Under Thirty’ list. Why? Well, cynics might dismiss the book as trendy – a gay coming-of-age story. But anyone who reads the book closely will attribute the success to his skillful, tight-rope walking prose.
– Laura MacDonald, Globe & Mail

Grab Bag is a combining of two McCormack novellas, Wish Book and Dark Rides. Wish Book is set in the depression era of the 1930s, and is a bizarre romp through as list of situations and circumstances that defy probability, and yet could have happened.

Dark Rides is set in the 1950s (an era I am nostalgically familiar with) and is the story of a teenage, Canadian farm boy trying to come to grips with his homosexuality. Regretfully he has less than a minimum of sophistication and no one to turn to in a small, roughneck community. It is a dark plot in some ways, and yet it is humorous on account of his naiveté.

My views

I once read that successful writing is at once unique and universal, and this applies fairly well to McCormack’s style. It has a refreshing difference that almost defies comparison, and yet I was able to identify with the farm boy’s naive character quite well. Even the small community and its denizens were familiar to me.

Journalistically, McCormack is a minimalist. There is no superfluity or long poetic narratives here, only the bare minimum to tell the story and define the characters. Yet they were as developed as any I have read. They are a young farm boy and a ‘slicker,’ base individuals in a loveable way, and so too much development would clutter the picture.

Grab Bag is one of those stories that will stay with me long after I put it down. Five bees.

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Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 35,598

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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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.

[Also, see my comments regarding awards in general in paragraphs 2 and 3 (above).]

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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. Your visits are my inspiration to discover new and interesting books for your consideration. 


[1] Among over two dozen Canadian literary awards there is not one GBLT award.

October 22, 2012 Posted by | Coming out, Fiction, Gay fiction, Historical period, Homoerotic, M/M love and adventure | 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

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

A Book of Tongues: Volume One of the Hexslinger Series, by Gemma Files

A raw, unapologetically sensuous novel – 

Story blurb: Two years after the Civil War, Pinkerton agent Ed Morrow has gone undercover with one of the weird West’s most dangerous outlaw gangs-the troop led by “Reverend” Asher Rook, ex-Confederate chaplain turned “hexslinger,” and his notorious lieutenant (and lover) Chess Pargeter. Morrow’s task: get close enough to map the extent of Rook’s power, then bring that knowledge back to help Professor Joachim Asbury unlock the secrets of magic itself.

Magicians, cursed by their gift to a solitary and painful existence, have never been more than a footnote in history. But Rook, driven by desperation, has a plan to shatter the natural law that prevents hexes from cooperation, and change the face of the world-a plan sealed by an unholy marriage-oath with the goddess Ixchel, mother of all hanged men. To accomplish this, he must raise her bloodthirsty pantheon from its collective grave through sacrifice, destruction, and Apotheosis.

Caught between a passel of dead gods and monsters, hexes galore, Rook’s witchery, and the ruthless calculations of his own masters, Morrow’s only real hope of survival lies with the man without whom Rook cannot succeed: Chess Pargeter himself. But Morrow and Chess will have to literally ride through Hell before the truth of Chess’s fate comes clear-the doom written for him, and the entire world.

Available in e-book format – 459 KB.

About the author: Previously best-known as a film critic for Toronto’s eye Weekly, teacher and screenwriter, Gemma Files first broke onto the international horror scene when her story “The Emperor’s Old Bones” won the 1999 International Horror Guild award for Best Short Fiction. She is the author of two collections of short work (Kissing Carrionand The Worm in Every Heart) and two chapbooks of poetry (Bent Under Night andDust Radio).

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I generally bypass sci-fi and supernatural-type genres, but since my forthcoming novel includes both a western and an underlying supernatural theme, I thought I would see how Gemma File approached these in A Book of Tongues: Volume One of the Hexslinger Series [ChiZine Publications; First edition, 2010].

Suffice to say the two novels are very different, inasmuch as Ms File has pulled out all the stops on the supernatural end of the things, and just about everything else in the process. She has, in fact, written a tour de force in imagination, violence, bloodshed, gore, and raunchiness, that is both shocking and mesmerizing at the same time. I hasten to add that all these elements are in keeping with the shadowy nature of the story, but by the same token they are not for the squeamish or faint of heart.

The story is set at the end of the Civil War when two men are sentenced to death for killing a deranged Confederate Captain from leading a suicide charge against the other side. One is Asher Rook, a preacher, who is hanged, but in so doing it releases a magical power within him known as a “hex.”

His partner (and lover), Chess Pargeter, a cold-blooded gunslinger who kills with the same impunity that one would dispatch a fly.

The third principal player, from whose perspective the story is told, is an undercover Pinkerton Agent, Ed Morrow, charged with the task of infiltrating Rook’s gang to learn the extent of Rook’s powers so that it can be analyzed.
The emergence of Rook as a “Hexslinger” catches the attention of Ixchel an ancient Aztec goddess (described in the blurb as “mother of all hanged men”) who wishes to return to the world along with some of her pantheon. I have some problem with this characterization of Ixchel, because in the several sources I checked she is described as “the goddess of midwifery and medicine.” Though sometimes depicted as a goddess of catastrophe (the woman who stands by as the world floods), she is more often depicted as nurturing. Therefore, unless I am missing something, this is a significant contradiction of personalities.

As I have already mentioned, this is an ‘all out’ novel. There are no half measures regarding profane language, sex, guts and gore, but the saving grace—from being just a gratuitous shocker—is the strong characterization. Thus, the bloodshed seems entirely in keeping with the personalities involved. This is enhanced, as well, by the skilful use of a vernacular that gives the characters extra depth.

The noticeable shortcomings are the backhistory of Mayan gods and cosmology, which for me was too onerous to grasp even superficially; the switching between the present and past contexts; and the resulting, erratic pace.

Otherwise it is a bold, unapologetically adventurous story that you will have to judge for yourself. Three bees.

News, etc.

Thanks to everyone who voted for Gerry B’s Book Reviews in the Independent Book Blogger Awards … Luv each and everyone of you!

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Visitors count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 24,638

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

Norman Lee’s legendary cattle drive is the true-life inspiration for this story. In 1898, Lee set out to drive 200 head of cattle from his home in Hanceville, British Columbia (the so-called “settlement” in the story), to the Klondike goldfields – a distance of 1,500 miles. He was gambling both his cattle and his life. Throughout the daunting weeks of coping with mud, cold and sheer bad luck, Lee kept his sense of humour. When he returned from his Yukon trek, he rewrote the notes from his journal, illustrating his story with his own cartoons and sketches. He completed his manuscript around the turn of the century, but it sat untouched until 1960.

Click on image to enlarge.

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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. See you next week!

April 22, 2012 Posted by | Fantasy, Fiction, Gay fiction, Historical period, Homoerotic | Leave a comment

Sandals and Sodomy (An anthology)

 A erotic romp through ancient Greek and Roman history

Blurb: Greeks Bearing Gifts by D. G. Parker Young Antenor of fallen Troy faces violation and death, only to be rescued and enslaved by a gruff, older Greek, a hard-bitten soldier in the king’s good graces. What Antenor does not expect is Calchas’s good heart that sees him through shipwreck, marooning, and rescue. Troy Cycle by Dar Mavison When the gods abandoned men during the battle of Troy, the greatest of those men – Hector, Odysseus, Paris, Achilles – schemed to end the war. Amongst themselves they waged war both vicious and tender in a desperate attempt to achieve peace, a peace that for some would only be found in death, leaving others to discover it in new life. But no one would ever be forgotten by the other three. Undefeated Love by John Simpson The men of the Sacred Band of Thebes are remembered for their valor, their honor, their devotion to duty, and their great love for their partners. Alexandros and Agapitos found a place amongst them, but little did they know their love and sacrifice would face the test of war – and survive to shine eternally. Hadrian by Remmy Duchene Roman Emperor Hadrian is all-powerful . and alone. But when Antinous trespasses into Hadrian’s bath, the ruler’s eyes are opened to a whole new world of love. After the Games by Connie Bailey When the Emperor sends a beautiful concubine, Valerius, to the slave pens to slake the hunger of his fiercest beast, the fighter Alaric, he doesn’t anticipate that Alaric just isn’t interested. But to keep Valerius from being punished, the fighter keeps him close for one night, a night that turns from talkative to passionate. The Vow by Ariel Tachna Adrastos still mourns his dead partner and lover, and he has hardened his heart and spirit to any other. Knowing his duty to bond and train a soldier, he reviews a trio of Army recruits, but he insists he will not choose one. Eager to prove himself worthy to serve the Army and Aphrodite alike, Erasmos presents himself for the final test.and finds that he, the petitioner, is the savior rather than the saved.

Dreamspinner Press (July 15, 2008). 268p. Also available in eBook format.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Greeks Bearing Gifts” by D. G. Parker

This is a look at the aftermath of the fall of Troy from a young Trojan’s point of view. Antenor is saved from a cruel fate by a high-ranking Greek officer, Calchas, and thereby becomes his slave. However, in a twist that I thought was somewhat contrived, Calchas treats Antenor more like a son (or an eromenos) than a slave.

Antenor gets a chance to repay this kindness when the two are shipwrecked on a deserted island, and Antenor saves Chalchas’ life with a suddenly revealed knowledge of healing herbs.

I found the ending equally implausible as well, so I will reserve my recommendation.

Troy Cycle” by Dar Mavison

There have been many versions of the fall of Troy–an event shrouded in myth–as well as the exploits of Achilles, Hector, Paris and the legendary Helen of Troy. However, this version takes it well over the top with its dark interpretation of all these characters, plus Odysseus, King of Ithaca.

An ‘over the top’ interpretation is fair enough when dealing with a myth, but when revisiting the fall of Troy anything less than heroic is just too much of a departure to be credible—even in a ‘let’s pretend’ sort of way.

Undefeated Love” by John Simpson

Alexandros and Agapitos are two noble-born youths who decide to dedicate themselves to each other, and are therefore invited to join the Sacred Band of Thebes–150 couples dedicated to one another to the death.

There are some good things to say about this story, including references to known historical facts. However, the two protagonists didn’t put me in mind of warriors of the period. Rather, they are lovers who fight as aposed to fighters who love. That, I think, is the essence of King Philip’s famous comment.

Hadrian” by Remmy Duchene

For those who are looking for a one-handed read, Hadrian should do the trick for you. To its credit, however, it makes no pretence about being anything else.

After the Games” by Connie Bailey

This is by far my favourite. Here is plot and character development that  has some depth and sophistication even though it is essentially erotic. Alaric, a gladiator, has taken a vow of celibacy following the death of his lover, but is finally seduced by a young “pleasure slave’s” cleverly spun tales; somewhat reminiscent of Scheherazade.

The Vow” by Ariel Tachna

This is a well developed story that pits a grief-burdened older man against a younger man’s determined desire to be his lover. Both characters are credible in their roles, and there is enough tension to make it more than just a romp to the sack. It’s a good read.

***

Over all I found most of the stories disappointing. Mind you I judge a book by its plot, and erotica just doesn’t compensate for the lack thereof. However, not everyone feels this way, and so I will leave it up to the readers to decide. Two and one-half bees.

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Visitor count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 17,481

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Come count down the days ‘til Christmas on Speak its Name Advent Calendar. Great stories and prizes to be won every day.

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The sale figures are in for Two Irish Lads and Nor All Thy Tears, and while I can’t retire in luxury they are quite gratifying indeed. Thanks you to all those who bought and read them. 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.

       

That you for dropping by!

December 11, 2011 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical period, Homoerotic | Leave a comment

Nor All Thy Tears: Journey to Big Sky, by Gerry Burnie

Note: A busy week of promoting my new novel, Nor All Thy Tears, has put me behind in my reading for this week’s review, and since I want to do the featured novel justice I have decided to display some of the reviews that have been received so far. Thanks for your indulgence.

Story blurb: Love, obsession, treachery, murder, and finally solace under the northern lights of Big Prairie Sky Country, Saskatchewan.

Sheldon Cartwright is a young, exceptionally handsome and gifted politician with a beautiful wife and two charming children. His career is also in ascendance, and given all that the sky seems the only limit to this talented, blue-eyed lad.

However, Cartwright also has a hidden past that one day bursts onto the front page of a tabloid newspaper with the publication of his nude photograph. Moreover, the inside story alleges that he was once a high-end male prostitute with a romantic connection to an ex-con whose body has been found mutilated beyond recognition in a burned-out apartment–the suspected victim of a blackmail attempt gone wrong.

Enter a homophobic cop who is willing to go to any lengths to tie Cartwright into the crime, simply because he is young, handsome and well-educated. With his career in a crisis, and his personal life as well, Cartwright is unexpectedly joined by an ally in Colin Scrubbs, a ruggedly handsome rancher from Saskatchewan. But can they salvage Cartwright’s career from the brink?

*Now available on Amazon.co.uk.

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Review by Avery Lighthouse [This review first appeared on Amazon.com].

Having read Gerry Burnie’s first novel “Two Irish Lads,” a charming story of love set in the 19th-century wilderness of Upper Canada, his latest, Nor all Thy Tears: Journey to Big Sky, was quite a surprise to me, but it certainly attests to the remarkable versatility of this author.

The story involves the rise and near fall of Sheldon Cartwright, a `Monday’s + Tuesday’s child’ for certain–i.e. fair of face and grace. It begins at the zenith of his political career, fresh from besting the prime minister on national television, and being considered for the leadership of his political party at the relatively young age of twenty-eight. However, the discovery of a mutilated body and a provocative photograph are about to cast a shadow over him. This photograph, a nude image of him at age sixteen, then comes into the possession of a homophobic cop with a loathing for “faggots,” as well as younger, successful men with higher educations—both of which apply to Cartwright.

The story then reverts to Cartwright’s early childhood in the remote farming community of Pefferlaw (a real place by the way–as are most places mentioned in the story), and his loving relationship with his mentoring mother. This is a really charming segment of the story, reminiscent of Burnie’s first novel, and for anyone growing up in the 1950s and 60s it is a wonderfully nostalgic time as well. In this part we also learn of his sacred vow to his mother, and of his first encounter with the psychotic and violent Trace Colborn–a real “nasty” if ever I’ve read of one.

The next segment takes him to 1960s Toronto as a university student, struggling to balance academic demands with a late night job at the White Chef Restaurant—a notorious hangout for young male hustlers. It is here that Trace Colborn re-enters Sheldon’s life, and like J. Worthington Foulfellow [“Pinocchio”], Colborn tempts Sheldon with visions of an easy life that Colborn can arrange. Desperately driven to achieve a university education Sheldon naively agrees, and he is then introduced to a “Papa Duck” (the equivalent of a madam in male prostitution circles) who operates a secretive “call boy” service for high-end clients. This leads to Sheldon’s meeting with Edward Deere, a multi-millionaire, who is moved to take him under his wing as a protégé and lover–albeit a paid one.

In the meantime Sheldon meets Susan Koehler, the daughter of a wealth Rosedale matron, and before long Sheldon has fallen in love. However, although they have secretly decided to get married after graduation, he must maintain his other life in order to fulfill his sacred vow to his mother—i.e. to complete his education. He is therefore forced to walk a thin line between his two disparate worlds–e.g. juggling separate relationships with a wealthy patron, a handsome younger lover (Kevin Smyth), the psychotically possessive Colborn, and a full-time girlfriend.

The third stage finds him married to Susan with two charming children, and living the typically suburban life of a young family man in the early 1970s. He has become fairly well-connected too, and this leads to an invitation to stand for election as the Member of “St-Bartholomew-on-the-Hill” (I love that name!), which he wins “on the strength of his boyish good looks and wholesome family-man image as much as anything else.”[2]The story then seamlessly carries on from where it left off in part one, and in this third part we get to meet Colin Scrubbs, the ruggedly handsome Member of Parliament from Saskatchewan, who at first bonds Platonically with Sheldon, but inevitably their bonds deepen into an affair of heart. Nevertheless, Sheldon staunchly chooses to honour his vow to Susan.

It is then that all the elements begin to converge when the damning photograph is released to a tabloid newspaper, and the whirlwind of political and personal scandal touches down to engulf Cartwright with almost devastating effect.

It should be noted that I have purposefully left out several events that would otherwise be spoilers if included; however, this story has it all elements of a good thriller: Humour, pathos, homoerotic sex (both gentle and violent), vengeance, betrayal and murder. Having said that, the author never goes over the top with any of these, and although there is plenty happening at any given time, the storyline never falters at any point from beginning to end. It is, in fact, a masterful balance of control and flow that makes it both exciting and easy to read at the same time.

This is a most worthy piece of literature, equal in some ways to “Catcher in the Rye,” and it is one that riveted my attention from the first line to the last.

****

Review by Scotty Henderson [This review originally appeared on Amazon.com

Quite simply this is a great story that captured my interest from the first line and held it there to the last word. It has everything: great characters, a page-tuner plot, superbly written narrative, and a really romantic ending. I especially liked Lisa and Wally (Sheldon’s children). They added both humor and warmth to a pretty dramatic story, overall. There were also some tear-jerker moments, but it would be a spoiler I mentioned what they were. You’ll have to read it for yourself. Do that, because you won’t be sorry.

****

Review by J. Fraley “Trailboss “Trailboss” [This review originally appeared on Amazon.com].

After having already read Mr. Burnie’s “Two Irish Lads” and finding it an excellent read, I was hoping for at least its equal or better. I was not disappointed. Even better. This story was great.
Nor All Thy tears delivers!! A believeable story from the beginning, it’s filled with drama, intrigue, and suspense, all the while delivering a glimpse into Canadian life and government.
This story moved at a good pace and each scene set way for the next. I was compelled to read without putting it down. And the story continued strong until the end. An excellent novel of love, passion and relationships in a dramatic setting. Two thumbs up!!

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Visitor count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 13,233

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Vist my new Gerry Burnie Author’s Page, on Amazon.com.

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Calling all Canadian authors of gay content novels. I would really love to review your stories, and also add your title to my Goodreads “Best Gay Canadian Novels” list. Contact me, or submit your novel in PDF format to: gerry@gerryburniebooks.com.

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 Both “Nor All Thy Tears” and “Two Irish Lads” are now available in Nook and Kindle formats. The publisher’s price is $4.95; however this price may vary from retailer to retailer.

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 To order any of my books click on the individual covers below.

Thanks for dropping by!!

September 10, 2011 Posted by | Canadian content, Canadian historical content, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay Literature, gay politician, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period, Homoerotic, M/F/M bisexua;, Male bisexual, Toronto history | Leave a comment

Moral Authority, by Jacob Z. Flores

My nomination for the most outstanding debut novel of the year!

This is a re—release (May 22, 2013). It is not yet available on Amazon, but copies can be obtained through Wilde City Press.

moral authority - coverStory blurb: In the year 2050, America has changed. Profoundly. Homosexuality is a crime, cursing in public is a punishable offense, and lifestyle legislation keeps American citizens on a prescribed moral path. The country lives in a Moral Age, all thanks to The Moral Authority, the nation’s fourth branch of government, which has held dominion for the past thirty-five years. Yet the Moral Age comes at a price. Americans either live like mindless cattle or in fear. Told from three points of view, Mark, the brash young hero, who finds true love in the most desolate of places; Isaac, the renegade, who searches for redemption, and Samuel the dictatorial megalomaniac intent on maintaining his power, Moral Authority exposes what happens to a nation that continues to restrict, instead of broadening, civil rights.

About the author: Jacob Z. Flores lives with Bruce, his partner of eight years, and their three children, Pilar, Ainsley, and Carson in Victoria, Texas. Jacob is also a Professor of English at Victoria College.

*Available in paperback from Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

“Moral Authority” [Wilde City Press, May 22, 2013] is author Jacob Z. Flores’ debut novel, and what a debut it is! Flores has conceived a dystopian plot every bit as prophetic and sinister as George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” except that in this case the unforgiving focus is on homosexuality as the ‘thought crime’ and homosexuals as the prescribed enemies of ‘the common good’. Therefore, my hat goes off to him for having tackled (successfully in my opinion) a demanding literary challenge of this complexity so early in his career.

The story centres on Mark Bryon, a quite average graduate student who in ordinary circumstances wouldn’t attract any undue attention apart from being young and attractive. However these are not “ordinary” times when every move, both public and private, is subject to scrutiny by those who have voluntarily subjected themselves to a morally-incorrupt, corrupt state: i.e. “The Moral Authority.” Therefore, there is a very Orwellian tone throughout, including a ‘Big Brother’ in the person of Samuel Pleasant, ‘Newspeak,” and the subjugation of free thought.

There are also the usual twin pillars that form the basis of most fascist regimes, e.g. a simplistic reason for being, and a perceived enemy—both within and without. For example:

According to Randy Gonzales, over the past thirty-five years the United States managed to save itself from moral corruption because of the newest branch of our nation’s government. Since its inception by President Sarah Palin in 2014 and the constitutional amendment she and the Republican majority helped pass the following year, the moral downslide the country experienced then had not only been halted but come about at least 180 degrees. Gone were the days of media violence and pornography. All illegal drugs and associated crimes had been virtually eliminated. Murder, rape, gang violence, thefts, domestic crimes, prostitution, and even vandalism accounted for less than 10% of the overall crime rate in the entire nation. As a result, communities within the United States enjoyed a golden age. 14

And the perceive enemy:

Constitutional amendments and which all had their origins from within the Moral Authority, freed this country from such unhealthy lifestyle choices that caused many health and societal problems, such as homosexuality, obesity, smoking, alcoholism, and even profanity. To commemorate the thirty-fifth anniversary, the Supreme High Chancellor of the Moral Authority, Samuel Pleasant, planned to address the nation the following week. Speculations already abounded that Supreme High Chancellor Pleasant intended to unveil further social legislation to better streamline this nation’s morality. This came about due to recent attacks against moral law instigated by a group of domestic terrorists calling themselves the Human Rights Campaign.  15 [Emphasis mine].

The story then builds on this theme, and as it progresses the plot gets darker and darker in very much the same fashion as totalitarian states rule by edict and the point of a gun. However, at no time does the author push any of this over the top so that credibility is strained. Even in the latter parts of the story when the Moral Authority’s “K3s” are at their cruelest (i.e KKK, the equivalent of the Nazi’s SS elite guard), the reader is never caused to doubt that it could happen.

Along the way, however, the author does make some cogent observations in the context of the narrative, i.e.

According to Mark’s research, the number of Americans cited with violations of the moral code of respect had risen in many major U.S. cities. The manpower and resources alone used to enforce such petty violations could be better redirected to rehabilitating offenders who committed more egregious crimes in the nation, 33

which is a point that applies beyond this fiction to real life. I might add, as well, that the hidden cost of every law—large or small—that is made and enforced is a diminution of our civil liberties. I think this is the message to be gained from this story.

On the other hand, I think I could be tempted to accept a law that restricted unruly children in restaurants, i.e.

The mother and father looked exhausted, and he could see why. Their two preschool aged boys were in the middle of a pretend sword fight with their chopsticks as stand in swords. Obviously, there were no moral officers here as the parents would certainly be in violation of the code of respect concerning the appropriate behavior of children in public. 35 [Emphasis mine].

Altogether this is an engrossing story from beginning to end, a real page-turner and superbly written. I nominate Moral Authority by Jacob Z. Flores as the most outstanding debut novel of the year. Five Stars.

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Visitor count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews: 50,605

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

      

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

 

September 4, 2011 Posted by | Fantasy, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay Literature, Gay romance, Homoerotic | 5 Comments

Lorcan’s Desire (Whispering Pines Ranch #1) by SJD Peterson

A credible first novel

Despite the loving support of his family, Lorcan James wants to try life on his own, so at twenty-one, he finds himself walking half way across the country in search of adventure. What he finds is desperation, desperation that leads him straight to the Whispering Pines Ranch and right into the path of its strong, arrogant, gorgeous owner, who awakens something in Lorcan he didn’t even know, existed.

Quinn Taylor is up to his neck in grief and frustration dealing with a neighboring rancher who wants nothing more than to see him go belly-up. He doesn’t need more complications, but from the moment he lays eyes on Lorcan, his world turns upside down. Despite finding in Quinn what his heart craves, Lorcan refuses to be Quinn’s dirty little secret—and Quinn isn’t the only one vying for Lorcan’s attention. Ranch hand Jess will happily declare his love for Lorcan to the world, something Quinn won’t offer—something Lorcan needs above all else.

Cover Art by Anne Cain

SJD PETERSON, better known as Jo, hails from Michigan. Not the best place to live for someone who hates the cold and snow. When not reading or writing, Jo can be found close to the heater checking out NHL stats and watching the Red Wings kick a little butt. Can’t cook, misses the clothes hamper nine out of ten tries, but is handy with power tools.

 

Review by Gerry Burnie

I understand that Lorcan’s Desire (Whispering Pines Ranch #1) [dreamspinner Press, May 30, 2011] is the first effort by a now “published Author”, SJD Peterson, so congratulations are in order. However, now that the ‘first born’ is out there, let’s see how it rates.

There is much to be said for this story as a first effort. The writing is strong, and technically it reads almost effortlessly—a good start. The style is straightforward with just enough description to make it interesting—particularly the sex scenes, which are as creative a sex scenes get. The plot is also interesting, if taken in a linear
fashion without the twists and turns thrown in.

I was particularly taken by the opening in which Lorcon is introduced as a rebel with a cause, and therein the reader is sympathetically drawn to him. On the other hand, Quinn’s character is not as well developed, and to some extent he remains underdeveloped throughout—apart from carrying a lot of baggage from a previous relationship, and a debilitating fear of being outed by a vindictive and covetous neighbour.

After the introductions, however, the story departs from its nice clean narrative style to get bogged down in a complex of “does he, or doesn’t he’s?” on both sides. I do understand that these are intended to convey the mental turmoil being experienced by both characters, but given that each has a hard-on for the other in every scene they appear together, it unfortunately comes across as more indecision than heart-felt anguish.

The introduction of Jess also took me by surprise. Once in, however, the relationship between Lorcan and Jess–a returning to a clean narrative style–was made much more agreeable because of it.

Having said that, there are some very nice highlights–the tense scene when Lorcan is being hit-on by Jess and Quinn sees them, and when Lorcan and Jess arrive back at the ranch after spending the night together. Also, if you like well-written homoerotica, Lorcan’s Desire is sure to pleae. Three and one-half stars.

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Visitor count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews: 12,020

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 The block proofs for Nor All Thy Tears: Journey to Big Sky, are done and approved, and I think I am on schedule for an end-of-July release–whether it will be listed in Amazon’s catalogue by then, I don’t know. There will also be an eBook version released shortly after that.

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I’ve completed 105/182 pages of rewrites to Coming of Age on the Trail, and it should be ready for publication by the end of September.

This is the story of a teenager’s unique coming of age on an epic, 1,500-mile cattle drive through the rugged wilderness of 19th-century British Columbia

Loosely based on an actual cattle drive to the Yukon during the Klondike gold rush of 1896-1898, this fictional tale pits 17-year-old Cory Twilingate
against an almost insurmountable wilderness in an effort to save his father’s cash-strapped ranch. Supporting him all the way is his father’s recently hired foreman, “Reb” Coltrane, a ruggedly handsome and trail-savvy cowboy from Texas, and as a result a bond is formed between them like two Spartan cohorts fighting shoulder-to-shoulder against the rigors of the trail.

This is a tale that explores the phenomenon of male bonding under extraordinary and sometimes perilous conditions. It is also a romance that includes those most American of institutions, i.e., cowboys and cattle, but as told from a gay perspective. Whether it is a rugged tale of adventure, or a coming of age romance you are seeking, “Coming of Age on the Trail” delivers on all counts.

July 17, 2011 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay romance, Homoerotic | 1 Comment

Long Hard Ride, by Keta Diablo

A hard-riding and entertaining adventure

Civil War divides a nation, yet nothing will stop Grayson Drake from breaking Corporal Marx Wellbourne out of a Union prison. Assigned to bring Wellbourne to Richmond, Grayson soon discovers not only is the Corporal courting death, but he’s also the same man he coveted from afar four years ago in a Charleston brothel.

Pursued by the villainous warden of the prison, Major Britton Darkmore, nothing is as it seems when intrigue, danger and passion collide on the Long, Hard Ride back to Richmond.

Available in eBook format.

Review by Gerry Burnie

The title and the Civil War genre first attracted my attention to Long Hard Ride by Keta Diablo [Decadent Publishing, 2010] and as an in-the-saddle story it delivers quite well. However, it is more of a period story, as apposed to historical fiction, for the American Civil War is merely a backdrop.  Nonetheless, I will quickly add there is nothing wrong with this except the tag.

The crux of the story is that Marx Wellbourne is being held in a hellhole of a Union prison, known by its pejorative, “Helmira,” and is in dire straights. But inside his head are battle secrets that the South is desperate to know, and so Grayson Drake is sent to spring him from this maximum security institution.

The warden, Major Britton Darkmore, is a stereotypical villain who psycho-pathetically  guards his ‘no-escape’ record, and so when Wellbourne is sprung the pursuit is on from New York State, to Richmond, Virginia.

Along the way Grayson and Wellbourne have a rather tempestuous relationship, with neither one trusting the other, but they nonetheless manage to get it on both hot and heavy—such, that an uneasy love bond is formed.

***

Critically speaking, the writing is both strong and mature. The sentence and paragraph structures are smooth, such that the reader isn’t stubbing a toe over rough patches, and the dialogue is effective and believable.

As I have also alluded above, the characters are well developed but somewhat stereotypical—villainous warden, macho and omni-capable hero, and a reluctant lover. Nevertheless, they are consistent and made to play their parts well.

The plot is also clever, but being a bit ‘fantastic’ it could have benefited from more development. For instance, the secretive agency for which Drake worked could have done with more expansion to make it credible, and the happenstance surrounding Wellbourne’s escape from Elmia Prison—as well the old boy’s lodge that just happened to be there when it was needed—could have used some further thought.

Nonetheless, overall it was an entertaining read that had some top-rate moments. Recommended. Three and one-half stars.

News

This past week I entered into a deal with Maple Creek Media to format Two Irish Lads in eBook format. This will be a stand-alone publication with a new cover design by Alex Beecroft and a separate ISBN number. Therefore, this old scribe is entering (slowly) into the 21st-century.

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The manuscript for Nor All Thy Tears: Journey to Big Sky is now in the hands of the publisher, and so it is on schedule for a July, 2011, release.

 Visitor count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 11,756

July 3, 2011 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay Literature, Gay romance, Historical period, Homoerotic, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Vagabond Heart, by A.J. Llewellyn

A fascinating step back in time to war-time Hawaii

Blurb: Gay prostitute Tinder McCartney thought he had it made in WWII Honolulu…until true love and an attack on Pearl Harbor turned his life upside down.

Tinder McCartney is the only gay male prostitute working in Honolulu, HI during World War II. Like the 200 female prostitutes who live and work on Hotel Street, he services the armed forces drifting in and out of the islands. His life and work are controlled by the local police, yet because the cops don’t think that there can be that many ‘depraved’ men wanting the comfort of another man, Tinder is not only busy, but often in danger.

Living by very strict rules enforced by the police, Tinder cannot own or drive a car or bicycle, can’t ride street cars or be seen in the company of other men. He can’t visit bars or restaurants or swim at Waikiki Beach. Savagely attacked by two men one night, he is rescued by a local businessman, Jason Qui, the son of a Chinese immigrant and a former New England missionary.

Jason is not Tinder’s usual type. But Jason offers to protect and house him. It seems like the ideal business arrangement until Tinder’s Vagabond Heart can no longer handle the arrangement… and then on December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbour is attacked, turning the entire world upside down.

Available in e-book format from Total E-Bound Publishers, and in Kindle format.

About the author: A.J. Llewellyn lives in California, but dreams of living in Hawaii. Frequent trips to all the islands, bags of Kona coffee in the fridge and a healthy collection of Hawaiian records keep him refueled.

A.J’s passion for the islands led to him writing a play about the last ruling monarch of Hawaii, Queen Lili’uokalani. He has written a non-erotic novel about the overthrow of her kingdom written in diary form from her maid’s point of view.

He never lacks inspiration for his male/male erotic romances and has to pry his fingers from the computer keyboard to pursue his other passions: collecting books on Hawaii, surfing and spending time with his friends and his animal companions.

A.J. Llewellyn believes that love is a song best sung out loud.

 

Review by Gerry Burnie

Although A.J. Llewellyn has over fifty novels out there, Vagabond Heart [Total E-Bound Publishing, 2010] is the first I have read. It certainly won’t be the last, however.

The plot is somewhat unique, inasmuch as it deals with a male prostitute as a romantic lead. Moreover, the story is set in 1942 Hawaii, just before the Pearl Harbour invasion—an era that is particularly nostalgic for me—and this is where AJ shines.

His bio states his passion for Hawaii, and it certainly comes through in his almost palpable descriptions of Hawaii’s history, culture, beauty and grottiness of Hotel Street. Indeed, it is some of the finest descriptive writing I have encountered to date.

And speaking of “history,” special mention should be reserved for the fascinating history of prostitution in war-time Honolulu—in particular the (US) government’s sanction of it (within certain, ridiculous constraints). In this regard, the hypocrisy of government is almost as palpable of Mr. Llewellyn’s excellent descriptions.

The characters are all well developed and interesting as well. Tinder is very much a boy of the 1930s and 40s; meaning, when he found himself up against it he simply found a way to cope. I know the trait, because the 1940s was my era as well.

The girls’ lives could have been a little more developed, but since they were only minor characters this is a value judgment at best.

The native boy, Lauro is quite believable inasmuch as bisexuality seemed to be quite acceptable so long as marriage—as in “one man and one woman”—took place down the line.

Jason Qui came across as just a bit too ideal, and I thought the scenes with him were somewhat ‘pat,’ but once again that is a value judgement that may or may not be shared with other readers. Likewise, I found the sex scenes—while not overwhelming—a bit repetitive toward the end.

Overall, however,  it is a well written novel, with an interesting topic and plot, and encompassing an intriguing era. Highly recommended. Four and one-half stars.

News

The completed manuscript of Nor All Thy Tears: Journey to Big Sky is presently being proofed by my good buddy, Jim Fraley, who is making good progress. Therefore, it should go the publisher by the 26th of this month.

 Interestingly, it is partially set in the 1950s and deals with male prostitution as well—i.e.

Sheldon Cartwright is a young, exceptionally handsome and gifted politician, with a beautiful wife and two charming children. His career is also in ascendance, and given all this the sky seems the only limit to this talented, blue-eyed lad from small-town Ontario, Canada.

However, Cartwright also has a hidden past that one day bursts onto the front page of a tabloid newspaper with the publication of his nude photograph. Moreover, the inside story alleges that he was once a high-end male prostitute with a romantic connection to an ex-con, whose body has been recently found mutilated beyond recognition in a burned-out apartment.

Enter a homophobic cop who is willing to go to any lengths to tie Cartwright into the crime simply because he is young, handsome and well-educated, and the stage is set for a political crisis of headline-grabbing proportions. Read an excerpt:

Visitor count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews: 11, 459

 

June 19, 2011 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period, Homoerotic | 1 Comment

Matelots: Raised By Wolves, Volume 2, by W.A. Hoffman

An inriguing era, colourful setting and endearing characters. Enthusiastically recommended.

 

 

 

 Story Blurb: Buccaneer adventure/romance. The second of a series chronicling the relationship between an emotionally wounded and disenchanted English lord and an insane and lonely French exile, set among the buccaneers of Port Royal, Jamaica, in 1667.

Publisher’s blurb: Part two of an epic four part “love story for men” set amongst the buccaneers of Port Royal during the infamous Henry Morgan raids. It is the story of the relationship between two lonely and scarred men as they attempt to find happiness and peace through love and friendship. With adventure and romance, this chronicle explores questions and themes of gender, sexual preference, societal acceptance of homosexuality, survival of childhood abuse, and how to build a lasting relationship in a world gone mad.

 

Review by Gerry Burnie

Although I have been watching the Raised by Wolves series for quite a while, Matelots: Raised By Wolves, Volume 2 [Alien Perspective, 2007] by W.A. Hoffman is the first that I have read. To begin, I like the swashbuckling genre of buccaneers and pirates, and the romantic setting of the 17th-century Caribbean. Moreover, the author has done a fine job of describing both of these in colourful detail so that the reader becomes immersed in the story—the way a good historical-fiction should do.

And for those who enjoy character-driven tales, Will and Gaston’s are both engaging. Will is a romantic who lives and loves to the fullest. He’s also a keen observer of humanity, and seeks to understand the complexities of human nature, particularly when it comes to Gaston, who is the victim of a damaging past. In Gaston’s case it is not an easy quest, for he also suffers from a kind of madness that has been with him from birth.

It is here, however that the story suffers a debilitating set back. Will’s deeply held convictions regarding the human condition seem strangely anachronistic for 17th-century European thinking. After all, Europe was an exporter of human misery in the 17th-century, especially to the Caribbean. Moreover, as a previous reviewer has already pointed out, Gaston’s medical expertise seems anachronistically modern as well.

That said, Will and Gaston are still delightful characters, and perhaps even more endearing because of their very human foibles. Wills’ first person narrative also contributes to this, and adds some charming elements—such as saving a supporting character from being pressed only to find out that he doesn’t like him very well.

The secondary cast are all well-developed and interesting, too. The difficulty with introducing a large number of supporting characters is the risk of cluttering the story line, but here Hoffman has managed them all quite well, and made them all distinct as well.

An intriguing era, colourful setting and endearing characters, and altogether an enjoyable read. Enthusiastically recommended. Four stars.

April 17, 2011 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period, Homoerotic, Naval historical fiction | Leave a comment

Secret Historian:The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade, by Justin Spring

Will the real Samuel Steward please stand up…

 

 

 

Blurb: Drawn from the secret, never-before-seen diaries, journals, and sexual records of the novelist, poet, and university professor Samuel M. Steward, Secret Historian is a sensational reconstruction of one of the more extraordinary hidden lives of the twentieth century. An intimate friend of Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, and Thornton Wilder, Steward maintained a secret sex life from childhood on, and documented these experiences in brilliantly vivid (and often very funny) detail.

After leaving the world of academe to become Phil Sparrow, a tattoo artist on Chicago’s notorious South State Street, Steward worked closely with Alfred Kinsey on his landmark sex research. During the early 1960s, Steward changed his name and identity once again, this time to write exceptionally literate, upbeat pro-homosexual pornography under the pseudonym Phil Andros.

Until today Steward’s many identities have been known to only a few—but an extraordinary archive of his papers, lost since his death in 1993, has provided Justin Spring with the material for an exceptionally compassionate and brilliantly illuminating life-and-times biography. More than merely the story of one remarkable man, Secret Historian is a moving portrait of homosexual life in the years before gay liberation.  

Hardcover – 496 pages; also available in Kindle format – 898 KB

 

Review by Gerry Burnie

It’s difficult to know what to say about Secret Historian by Justin Spring [Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2010]. It is the type of story that overwhelms while you’re reading it, and stays with you long after you set it down. Moreover, while I liked and admired Justin Spring’s writing, and the nostalgic look at the twentieth century, I disliked the principal character, Samuel Steward, as being disturbingly egocentric and self-serving.

Having said that, I will start by saying that even though Spring was the beneficiary of nearly thirty boxes of Steward’s journals, papers, photographs, etc. (a horde that most writers—especially me—would give their souls to find), he still had to sort and categorize these into a meaningful order for the rest of us. Not an easy task, given Steward’s will-of-the-wisp nature. In this regard, I believe has done a masterful job of tracing Steward’s development from a displaced youngster in a stiflingly, religious-bound backwater, to the avant-garde salons of Paris; overseen by such literary giants as Gertrude Stein and Alice B Tolkas.

On a personal note I identified most sympathetically with Steward’s small town beginnings, whereby he learned very quickly how to be deceptive because it was what others wanted, i.e.

[The situation was that Steward had written a ‘love’ note to a salesman who had unethically made it public. Thereby, Steward’s father (a drunken, drug-using Sunday school teacher) found out about it and confronted his son.] “I want to know what the hell a son of mine is doing writing love letters to another man.” Steward recalled him saying in his journal, and then went on: ““I think,” I said, drawing on my new vocabulary from Havelock Ellis, “that I am homosexual.”

“…Don’t give me any of your smartaleck high school rhetoric!” He [his father] bellowed…[And] that was the way the conversation went on for about an hour. When I saw that he wanted to believe that I had not actually sinned, the game became fairly easy…I pretended to be chastened, to be horror-struck at the enormity of [what I had proposed to the salesman]…I worked it to the hilt, falling in easily with his suggestion that perhaps I should go to see a professional whore—that such an experience might start me on a heterosexual (he said “normal”) path.””

It was the first lesson that he, and we, learned about being homosexual in pre-Stonewall days—pre-bathhouse-raid days in Canada (1981). Deception and compartmentalization were the prices paid for pursuing an alternative lifestyle; not because one wanted to live a lie, but because others were uncomfortable with the truth. Oh, and the understood cure for deviance was the “Royal Fuck,” as a friend of mine once coined it.

It is not at all surprising that Steward could juggle multiple lives; including, incidentally, a (alcoholic) professor of graduate studies. Moreover, his students apparently loved him, and he loved them; one in particular, for whom he traded “As” for blow jobs.

One of the things I found quite interesting was the absence of the term “gay” when referring to himself or others as homosexual. Rather, he used the more clinical descriptor “invert,” “deviant” or, occasionally, the pejorative “queer.” This is no doubt due to the fact that “gay,” referring to a homosexual, dates from after WWII (1945). It, too, was used as a pejorative until it was adopted by the gay community.

Another aspect that fascinated me was the treatment for syphilis in the pre-penicillin era, i.e.

“The best treatment then available was ‘a three year ordeal—[including] weekly shots of Neosalvarsan from a doctor…’”

“The painful weekly shots gave Steward both purpura and a skin ulcer. After the course of neosalvarsan came a mercury ointment that he had to rub into his armpits and groin, and then a course of saturated solution of potassium iodide ‘which caused the skin to erupt all over [my] back in what looked like Job’s boils.’”

The fact that Steward contracted syphilis is not at all surprising, for he was a twentieth-century Satyr with an insatiable sexual appetite, and who kept his own ‘scoreboard’ on 3” x 5” file cards that he referred to as his “Stud File.” These included sailors, thugs, underage hustlers, Rudolph Valentino, Thorton Wilder (“Our Town”), students, policemen, ex-cons, priests, Hells Angels, scripted orgies, and brutal S/M sessions (both scripted and otherwise). Indeed, so prodigious was he that it surprising he found the time to do anything else.

Nevertheless, Justin Spring, like a good biographer, never judges; rather, he leaves it to the readers to draw their own conclusions. In this respect, while Secret Historian is a valuable look at gay history throughout much of the twentieth century, it is seen through the slightly distorted prism of one man’s exploits. Enthusiastically recommended for biography fans, and students of the twentieth century. Four stars.

Last week 310 visitors viewed Bashed, by Rick Reed. Thank you for your insterest. Gerry B.

February 20, 2011 Posted by | biography, Historical period, Homoerotic, Non-fiction | Leave a comment

Soldier: A Soldiers Story, by Allen Cross and Arius de Winter

This short story should be dishonourably discharged from your reading list

 

 

 

Author’s Blurb: This is the story of a soldier finding himself in the time of battle, falling in love and not being able to express it. This is the story of how soldiers live, of how we, soldiers, fall in love, how the battle field opens the character to express things he never would, and except himself before death finds him. It is a story of odds, moral code and in the end………..?
This book is filled with sexual situations, gay illustrations, sex and one on one sexual situations. Cum join us as these soldiers find something more in the foxhole then war.
As a former soldier who found himself in battle, in love, and in a fox hole, I was blighted by the hopes that might never come, the question ‘why now, why did I find you now” and meeting death face to face. These are the expressions of hope, valor and the human side of love that can be found even in a time of war.
These are the real stories of men in battle, some fictionalized, some up-beat romance added but still the real thing, hope, valor and glory.
This book is illustrated and intended for gay readers, it is my un-edited proof.

 

Review by Gerry Burnie 

Note: Readers should be aware that under the Kindle format, which does not specify either word or page count, some publishers are marketing short stories (some as short as a 30-minute read) with no notice that these are not novellas or full scale novels.

“Soldier: A Soldiers Story” by Allen Cross and Arius der Winter [Amazon Digital Services] is one such example. The complete text of this slapdash effort can be read in about an hour—provided that one has an hour to waste.

The plot, such as it is, is set during WWII in the Pacific Corridor; although that can only be deduced from references to “Japs” and an “island.” The narrator Jack, a soldier, is stationed there and is befriend by two others, Matt and Simon, in the shower. Apart from the fact that Matt has a “full ten inch cock” there is very little description of these two to help the reader get a picture of them. However, “He [Matt] was clean shaved, [sic] cock, balls and all.”

The narrative and dialogue at this point are much along the same lines, i.e.

“Dude,” you ok. [sic]

I felt sick.

He [sic] was this hot guy standing in front of my [sic] with a fucking hard on and I wasn’t supposed to be looking at him like a love lost child. I’d lost total control and now, here my cock was shower dancing with his.

I thought I would explode right there on the spot.

“Hey dude, don’t worry about it, happens all the time”. [sic]

I wasn’t sure what he meant, that his cock was hard or that his and mine were touching?

Matt smiled as he looked down at my cock embrace [sic] with his. He just looked up at me and smiled.

“Hey you fucker, I’m Simon”, the man next to Matt announced. You two dick dancing or can I join.

And so forth.

As a sort of blanket caveat (apology, perhaps), the author is careful to point out that this is an “un-edited proof”—which begs at least a couple of questions: e.g. If the writing isn’t complete, why publish it? and, Does this author not realize that by publishing such shoddy workmanship he is indirectly sullying the image of every other writer who has paid good money to have his or her manuscript(s) edited? And in this regard condemnation I include Amazon Digital Services and every other publisher who markets this type of inferior pulp.

The plot then goes on to gloss over the feeble attempt at a storyline by mixing in lots of explicit, homoerotic sex. However even this is poorly handled in places. For example, the author writes that “Matt sat up, reached for my cock and began to suck my dick as I moaned softly,” but approximately two pages later, he writes, “I desperately wanted his body and his long hard cock but he was so good looking that I wasn’t sure he’d reject me or ask of me more than I was willing to give.” [Emphasis mine]. Rejection? Not two pages beforehand the guy was copping on the narrator’s dick, so it is a pretty fair bet that rejection isn’t overly likely.

Although the hype for this story strongly suggest that this is “…the story of how soldiers live, of how we, soldiers, fall in love, how the battle field opens the character to express things he never would, and except himself before death finds him” I found very few references to army life apart from some superficial, generic situations that told me almost nothing about what it was like. I do know, however, that if soldiers had copulated as openly as these are written to have done, being court-martialled would have been the least of their worries. One-half star.

 

Another short story of the same ilk is: Missing Jackson Hole by Ryan Field [loveyoudivine Alterotica, 2010]. 149K. This story can be read in about 30 minutes; however, one must buy and download it to discover this.

October 15, 2010 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Homoerotic | 1 Comment

Cruising Through History, by Habu

A better-than-average homoerotic work for those readers who enjoy this genre

 

 

 

Book blurb: Since the beginning of man, the unfolding of history has been dominated by the forces of conquest, seduction, and lust. And the pursuit of man by man, although mostly carried out in whispers and in the shadows, is as ancient and constant as history itself. This is a cruise through history in twenty-two short stories, careening from a brash assault on the gates of a Chinese brothel by an adventuring, demanding West to the shores of Tripoli, from an American Revolutionary War colonel’s tent to the brutal dawn ravishment at Pearl Harbor-and even on to alien visitation into outer space itself. You will discover a fast and furious journey of varied and unique tales where men seek out other men for conquest and pleasure. You will be entertained and heated up to the fantasy and treachery and the triumph and glory of the passion one man can have for another-and the sometimes dire, sometimes fully satisfying consequences, that can have in the pursuit of that passion-down through the ages.

About the author: Habu, a bisexual former supersonic spy jet pilot, intelligence agent, and diplomat, is a mainstream novelist and short story writer under another name in another dimension of his life.

Review by Gerry Burnie

Cruising Through History by Habu [CreateSpace, 2008] is a collection of pseudo-historical vignettes along the lines of Time Well Bent, but without the sophistication. Rather, the emphasis in each of these twenty-two short stories is concentrated around the homoerotic sexual exploits of the various protagonists. Now, there’s nothing wrong with this provided that that is all the reader is looking for, but for those looking for more—or even a little variety—it is regretfully one-dimensional.

The problem with too much erotica, in my opinion, is that once you have read one fuck-session you have pretty well covered them all with minor variations.

Having said that, the author has cleverly provided some variety by changing the settings from ancient China to the Iraq conflict. Moreover, the writing is strong throughout—even great in places—e.g. “Naval Dilemma (Pearl Harbor, World War II)” and “Disintegration (Colonial Rhodesia’s demise)”—and both the historical and cultural detail impressed me as being convincingly authentic.

On balance, therefore, I would say that this is a better-than-average homoerotic work for readers who enjoy this genre. Three and-one-half stars.

Drop by my Face Book page and write on my wall (…I feel so ‘modern’ saying that!)

October 10, 2010 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Historical period, Homoerotic | 1 Comment

Casa Rodrigo, by Johnny Miles

A fun read by which you can cheer the good guys and hiss the villain

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Publisher’s blurb: On a lush, tropical island inhabited by rogues, thieves and villains, where men take the law into their own hands, a father and son are thrust into tumultuous events that will change their lives forever.

Bernardo de Rodrigo is proud of his son. Alonso is handsome and winning, and everyone he meets is instantly drawn to the tall, warm Spaniard. But how could either of them have known that a forbidden love is about to claim Alonso’s heart?

Arbol, the charismatic male slave who was saved from the clutches of Raul Ignacio Martín, feels an instant connection with Alonso, the moment he looks into Arbol’s eyes, the moment they touch.

Bernardo has other things to worry about, however. He’s trying to exorcise himself of an intensely gratifying yet shame-filled sexual affair with Raul, who secretly adores Bernardo but doesn’t know how to show it.

When Raul blackmails Bernardo, their dark and sordid relationship not only threatens the bond between father and son, it places Arbol’s life in danger. Now Bernardo must make a difficult choice that could further alienate his son while Alonso must find a way to keep the man he loves.

Front cover art: Anne Cain. Front cover design: April Martinez 

 

Review by Gerry Burnie

 The above blurb is accompanied by the caveat: “This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Dubious consent, male/male sexual practices.” Usually I shy away from stories of this nature, not because they offend my sensibilities, but because they are so woefully short of any plot worth mentioning.

While the plot in Casa Rodrigo by Johnny Miles [Loose Id, LCC, 2010] is not its strong point, it is a credible storyline and an effective balance for the abundance of “explicit sexual content.” Indeed, it has some quite original scenes—such as the opening where the runaway slave vainly tries to save herself and her newly born child, Arbol. It is also a dramatic way of introducing the main characters in the roles they will play throughout the remainder of the story.

The genre, apart from being homoerotic, is a period story. I have seen it described as ‘historical fiction,’ but since it lacks any real historical content I have difficulty in reconciling that description. However, its treatment of slavery seems quite credible to someone who is no authority on the subject. Slavery was certainly inhumane and cruel, and I think Miles has done of effective job of bringing those aspects to the fore.

The characters, Bernardo do Rodrigo, his wife Adelina, the main character Alonso, the slave Arbol, and the villainous Raul Ignacio, are all reasonably well-developed and distinct. However, I had some difficulty identifying with any of them. Bernardo came across as a pathetic, self-serving weakling, and his long-suffering wife, Adelina, seens to be the author of her own misfortune; Alonso, while loving enough, was  altogether to wimpy to be a true hero figure, and Arbol was too articulate and cultured for a slave. Finally, although consistent. Raul Ignacio’s character was a bit over-the-top with his villainy.

Nevertheless, Casa Rodrigo is a fun read. The sort of story by which you can cheer the good guys and hiss the villain. Three-and-one-half stars.

 

See what others have to say about Coming of Age on the Trail (Coming Soon).

If you haven’t done so already check out my other books, Two Irish Lads, and Journey to Big Sky.

September 5, 2010 Posted by | Fiction, Gay fiction, Historical period, Homoerotic | 4 Comments

   

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