I have ordered a few paperback books from you over the past few months, and I just thought I should let you know that the quality of them is deteriorating. One arrived today and I am fairly horrified by it.
Not the content. Your authors continue to put out great books, but the physical quality of the book is fucking awful. The print is wonky, the typeface blurred and the overall appearance of the book increasingly cheap and nasty.
I appreciate that we are in an age now where print is becoming obsolete, but with that in mind, why not make its last gasp something special? Other MM houses are putting out print books for the same price at a much higher quality.
I ordered a book from Riptide that is streets ahead, beautifully set and printed, it's a real joy to see on my scant shelf of MM print books.
I don't wish to complain. Dreamspinner is a wonderful house to buy from, but I felt compelled to write and bring this issue to light. I have seen it constantly mentioned on social media, and it saddens me. Dreamspinner leads the way in so many things, art work and marketing, why not this?
Please address this issue with some urgency, not with me, ignore me by all means, but please look into making your paperbacks something special, rather than a flimsy piece of crap.
Review originally posted on Joyfully Jay
If you lie with Scorpions, you’d better have a taste for poison…
I really loved this book, but I know the review is going to be as complex to unpick as the book itself. The plot is dense and convoluted, and I will definitely have to read this book over and over to fully appreciate its complexities.
Nevertheless, I will try and dissect it the only way I know how….which is rambling…
Lying with Scorpions is the second book in the Memory of Scorpions series and picks up with Kendras after Adrastes has tentatively taken the throne of Dalman, and tells the tale of the struggle for power that follows. In the previous book, Kendras and Adrastes became lovers (of sorts, as everyone in their clan of Scorpions shares some sort of sexual bond), but in this book, it’s clear from the beginning that things have moved on.
Adrastes is no longer the Officer of the Scorpions, he is now the king, and any hopes I, or indeed Kendras, may have had that his new role won’t change him, are dashed from the start.
While Kendras takes on the vacant role of Officer, Adrastes returns to the power and riches from which he came. While Kendras is uncomfortable with the lavish finery, it’s clear Adrastes isn’t….that he feels right at home. Though he and Kendras continue to share a relationship, sexual and otherwise, it doesn’t feel quite….right. And though I was upset at the demise of a relationship I’d invested in from the previous book, the subtle disintegration of their bond was very well written. I thought I expected it, I did expect it, and yet somehow, it took me by surprise.
The whole book is, as with the first, told entirely from Kendras’ POV. At the heart of the plot is his struggle to find his place as the new Officer of the Scorpions, and his deep-rooted unease with his extra role as Adrastes’ bodyguard. Kendras does not like the King Adrastes’ becomes. While he still feels the bone deep need to protect him, as the book and the political wrangles and struggle for power play out, Kendras becomes more and more disillusioned with Adrastes. The game leaves him uneasy and uncomfortable. Adrastes does things Kendras can’t live with.
And alongside this, Kendras also struggles with his own identity. With the help of some of his own blood clan, nightmares he’s never understood become real and without Adrastes to lean on, he finds himself in the arms of another.
Now, I wasn’t so sure about this at first. Though I felt instantly allured by Graukar’s uber masculine ways– the fighting, the teaching, the way his men followed him, and the way he reached out to Runner, the idea of Kendras having an actual relationship with him didn’t feel right. The tone of it didn’t resonate with me.
But, it was a slow burner, and after a while, I understood how…and why… it happened.
I couldn’t help but wish Graukar was a Scorpion, though. His character seemed to fall flat after a while, and I would’ve liked a little more interaction between Kendras and the Scorpions. I enjoyed his new love interest, and his fading fire for Adrastes, but I did feel sometimes that the point of the series – the unbreakable bond with his men/brothers/lovers –had been left by the wayside. I was disappointed when Kendras didn’t follow through with tradition when he took Kiran up to the mountain (though I understood the physical reasons he didn’t), and it kinda felt like everything Kendras went through on his own initiation was undermined. I was left wondering if Adrastes had lied to Kendras.
But, on the flip side, I am willing to believe this was just me wanting to see Kiran nekkid. Scorpions seem to have that effect on me. I love them all – Dev, Riktan, Selvan.
Selvan, sweet little Selvan. The warm hearted slave provided me with the best feels of the whole book.
From the new characters, I very much enjoyed the mystery of Runner. She is a little spitfire, and I cannot wait for the others to find out she’s a chick. I loved the way she cared for Kendras, trusted him and came back for him when he fell from his horse. She was one of my very favorite characters, which is something, because, by nature, I usually prefer the dudes. Although I have to point out, I applaud the author’s use of transgender characters in general. Amrash, the enigmatic Jaishani general who morphed from male to female from page to page was superbly written. I dug that part, hard.
There were a few occasions where the language felt a little too modern for the book. I’m not going to pick them out as they were very rare and others may not notice them, but it was something I picked up on in the previous book too.
I loved this book.
Lying with Scorpions is a fantasy novel and plays by its own rules. There is no happy ending. In fact, by the time the book draws to a close things are less clear for Kendras than when it started, but I was totally cool with that. I didn’t pick it up looking for the obligatory comforting sap I expect (and enjoy) from a contemporary romance. Multi-layered, dense, rich and wonderful, there is nothing like this out there in this genre.
This book and series stands alone in a class apart and I can’t recommend it highly enough. A great book and lesson in the mystery and art of ancient war games, and I can’t wait for the next one.
Okay, so today I was accused of being a crotchety old bitch, or words to that effect, for giving a book a two star review… Apparently, I don’t have a good word to say about books, puppies, kittens and just about anything. Yeah. You heard it right: I hate the world.
I’ve sat on this for most of the day, and for the most part, convinced myself to let it lie. But then there’s that little part of me that can’t possibly do that, because though the comment (which was pointed out to me by my brother of all people, but that’s another story…) was extremely naïve, and not to mention, totally ignorant, it got one thing spot on. I am an asshole, and a crotchety one at that.
You see, I have a right to an opinion, and though I’ve been guilty – as have most reviewers – in the past of not being balanced, of perhaps attacking an author rather than critiquing the book, that is not what happened here. Here I simply said the editing was crap, because it was. Apparently I say that a lot, but does this mean that I’m wrong? No. It means a lot of editing sucks. It means a lot of people throw books up on Amazon without paying for a professional edit and as such, their books, however great they might have been, turn out to be crap.
For pointing this out in a direct, concise manner, I will not apologize. Did I go through the book sentence by sentence and draw attention to its every flaw? To every clumsily applied dialogue tag, abused adverb, tense flip-flop and vomit of passive voice? No.
Do I want to now? Hell yeah.
Am I going to?
No. But I will say this: I’m not asking for perfection. In this mild rant alone I have used the word ‘crap’ a baziliion times. Were this post being scrutinized by a professional editor, they would no doubt insist I open my mind and find another adjective.
Writing is hard. I get it. I live with a journalist, and if I’m swamped at work too, the poor cat has to make do with licking the sticky remains of a long forgotten glass of merlot. And I get that editing is a drag. Boring. Frustrating. Lonely.
But. It. Needs. To. Be. Done. And if you don’t do it, I have every right to say so.
Seeing as I could only recommend books I'd reviewed for Jessewave on that site as my top books of the year, I figured I'd post my whole list on here based on all the book I've read this year.
(That's not to take anything away from The Little Things, by Jay Northcote, the only book I reviewed for Jessewave this year that I deemed worthy of a mention)
So, here it is. Please bear in mind that I'm a doofus with Booklikes so this may take a couple of tries for me to get right...
1 – Slide. Garrett Leigh
Garrett Leigh is the standout newcomer of the year for me, and Slide was a debut novel that blew me away. I’m a sucker for hurt/comfort/angst books anyway, but with the added bonus of Pete the paramedic and Ash’s emotive tattoos I was hooked from the beautiful, haunting prologue. Slide is a rollercoaster, and not a perfect book by far, but for me, even the very few editing flaws were part of its charm. Slide is a book that will stay with me forever.
2 – The Little Things. Jay Northcote
Another debut novel that hugely impressed me. A very British book, full of ‘arse’ and ‘bloody’, I adore Jay Northcote’s boys and I found her voice in this book soothing, even when she cranked the angst up to her own subtle maximum. Great book, and together with V.M Waitt and Garrett Leigh, an author to watch. I'm officially a fan.
3 – Chase the Storm. V.M. Waitt
Cowboys and horses. Hay bales. Grief. Yeah, I liked this one. V.M. Waitt proved a compelling story teller and I enjoyed this western-styled contemporary very much. If you like horses, you’ll love this one. There’s one horse in particular who really made this book sing.
4 – Quid Pro Quo. L.A Witt & Aleksandr Voinov
With this pair, you know you’re going to get a quality piece of writing. Funny, hotter than hell, and with the typical Voinov punch, this is one series I can’t wait to explore more of. These two always push my boundaries to the max, and this left me more than a little hot under the collar. I’ll say it again: quality writing from the masters of this genre.
5 – Painting Fire On The Air. J.P. Barnaby
A brave book. A little dense on the angst, but Jude’s character drew me in and kept me there. Adored him taking care of Ben, and enjoyed the lessons on the more extreme side of BDSM. Not sure I’ll be trying fire flogging anytime soon, but J.P Barnaby painted (pardon the pun) a hell of a picture. A book with a searing message.
6 – Learning Curve. Kaje Harper
Kaje Harper is one of my favorite MM authors, and this series is one of the best out there. This installment is emotive and resonant, and I came away with a renewed love for characters that feel like old friends. Mac will always hold a special, frustrating place in my heart, and Tony is the husband I dream of when my own is being a douche.
7 – Bullet. Garrett Leigh.
Another Garrett Leigh triumph. Yeah, it’s porn fan fiction, but the depth packed into this novella is stunning. This author is a master at creating flawed, multi-layered characters. The tagline for this series is Beyond Porn, and I couldn’t put it better myself. A quick, dirty read with a bighearted bite.
8 – Blood Red Butterfly. Josh Lanyon
Lanyon’s best work for ages. None of the rambling mystery I’ve grown tired of and instead something short and sharp, and laced with real, complex emotions. I couldn’t put this novella down, and I may have growled a little when I reached the end. This is a book that left me a reborn Lanyon diehard.
9 – High Concept. Whitely Gray
A rather simple plot and concept, with some obvious tropes, but I enjoyed this book very much. The romance was sweet and tender, and sometimes that’s just what you need. One MC was out, one most definitely wasn’t. Throw in some Cop/FBI drama and my tube ride home was complete.
10 – Trusting Thomas. K.C. Wells
I’m not big into BDSM, but when K.C Wells writes it, I suddenly become a sucker. It ain’t perfect – no book on this list is – but, by God, it’s lovely. Age gaps usually give me the creeps, but the way Thomas cared for the young man in his care convinced me. A heartwarming read, and definitely one for the softies.
So there you have it. 2013 was an interesting year for me. Some big name authors put out some terrible books and several debut authors blew me away. Seriously. Three debut novels made up my top four. Lunacy, you might say, but it dang sure gives me hope for the future. Jay Northcote, Garrett Leigh, V.M. Waitt; all names to watch in 2014. And, of course, there’s old favorite like the Voinov/Witt collab, Kaje Harper and J.P Barnaby. And Josh Lanyon who restored my faith in him with Blood Red Butterfly. I began this list thinking I wouldn’t find ten books to pimp, but in the end, I reckon 2013 was actually a bit of a winner.
On a side note, I’d like to remind y'all that in the new year, I will be writing and reviewing for Joyfully Jay. I’ve had a blast on Jessewave, and I’m so sad to see the site close, but I’m looking forward to exploring new horizons.
So, it’s goodbye from me…for a few weeks at least, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
Zac D (Grumpy ole' Isaac)
Don't be fooled by one of the best covers I've seen all year.
Review originally posted on Jessewave.
A story with prevalent themes and a brave MC, unfortunately let down by an overcooked plot. The cover is intriguingly beautiful, and James’s disability inspired, but the rest of the book is a bit of a mess.
Let me start of by saying I really loved and admired the premise of this book. Characters with physical and mental disabilities are all too often ignored, or caricatured in fiction and any author with the balls and respect to write an MC with a disability of any kind gets my vote.
James is the MC with the disability, and though it was obviously mentioned a lot (and rightly so, it’s a huge part of his life) it was described in a way that meant his disability didn’t define his whole personality. Nor did it make him weak. He lived independently and did absolutely everything he could to take care of himself.
Kudos for that. I came away from this book with huge respect for James, (in that sense, at least. He annoyed me in other ways) and I liked James as a character too. He was sweet and shy, and I loved the image of him with his paint splattered crutches. In the beginning, the author does a really good job of describing him and getting inside his head. In a plot littered with hysterical melodrama, James still shines through as a decent character.
Unfortunately, the rest of the book was a big hot mess. The plot was scrappy and crowded, and the writing simply not strong enough to carry it through. There were a lot of themes competing for attention, and in the point of the book (whatever it was) was lost in a sea of clumsily bad dialogue and a completely off the wall sprinkling of BDSM.
Now, I want to talk about the BDSM element here. I admit I’m no expert on the subject. It’s not that I don’t like it…I just don’t get it, and unless it’s written superbly by someone who really does understand the psychology behind it, it just doesn’t work. In this book, it didn’t work. It wasn’t woven into the plot or characterized well enough to resonate and make any sense. For me, it seemed the characters would be having a perfectly mundane conversation and then one of them would throw in the word ‘submissive’ and we’d have ourselves a cringeworthy BDSM moment. The book would’ve been far better for just removing the vague subplot and concentrating on the basics.
The second MC, Seth, was a little overbearing anyway, and the BDSM compounded that for me and made him difficult to like. His establishment in James’s life is massively rushed, and though I’m sure his demeanor was intended to come across as protective, he just seemed controlling and manipulative. He irritated me from the moment he ordered James’s food for him, and unfortunately, I couldn’t get passed it.
James: Paired with a more likeable MC, James would’ve fared much better and the plot could maybe have worked out. As it was, this book had a lot of great ideas, but they weren’t explored properly. There were lots of unresolved strands floating about, and I just feel that an editor should’ve stepped in and made some real cuts…like, iron fist cuts.
In fact, I think this book could have done with another two or three rounds of edits anyway. The dialogue was awful in places and the overuse of pet names hugely annoying. There is nothing attractive about two men who’ve literally just met calling each other ‘pet’ and ‘baby’ every other sentence. Typos. Laborious prose. Eye twitching sentence structure. Eleventy different plot holes.
I could go on, but I won’t. I’m going to stop being ornery now, but I’d like to point out that one of the reasons these things get my goat so much is that they are so easy to fix. In this case, of the twenty highly unrealistic, unresolved plot elements: take out twelve and write those that remain better…much better. Overhaul the dialogue, removing about half of each sentence and dropping the incessant pet names. Cut out the lightbulb popping exclamation points. Doing just half of that would make this book far more readable.
I did enjoy the secondary character of Chase. The guy (though he suffered from some of the worst dialogue. Poor guy ‘practically squealed’ a lot) was very sweet. The way he looked out for James was totally endearing. I think everyone needs a friend like that…one who won’t take no for an answer and helps you anyway. Everyone needs a little help sometimes, and though Chase had a few moments when he needed a slap, overall he was a strong character. I also got something positive from some scenes toward the end of the book, particularly those with James’s mother. The writing here was much stronger than the rest of the book and the scenes were emotive.
James’s disability aside, the strongest element of this book was the clear demonstration of how damaging an unsupportive childhood is to any child, let alone one struggling with the added complication of LGBT. James grew up in a household where abuse seemed to be actually encouraged and as a result was plagued by low self-esteem and self-doubt. Seth, on the other hand, grew up loved and supported, and with a family that stood by him in every way they could.
The differences in the two men as a result are startling, and a message for all. Love your kids for who they are, not who you want them to be.
So, to sum up, Designs of Desire has a wonderful cover and a promising premise, but unfortunately the execution and editing are extremely poor. I wanted to like this book far more than I did, and I felt let down by the way its relatively strong start fizzled away into a rather flat kind of chaos. Good ideas, but ultimately, not good enough.
Two point seven five stars.
Trusting Thomas is the third imperfectly perfect book I’ve read in as many weeks. The grammar is a nightmare, and some of the sentence construction appalling, but I didn’t care. Didn’t give two hoots, and the reason for this was simple: the characterization, and the depth of feeling between the two MCs.
Let me start with Peter. A vulnerable, abused young man is always going to push my buttons, but Peter is managed particularly well. Beaten and bruised by his previous Dom, he is rescued by an earnest bystander and passed to Master Thomas, the Dom of all Dom’s to look after.
Now, what I liked about this first plot arc, was that it didn’t follow the much used trope of the rescuer becoming the lover. Thomas came into play further down the line, and I liked that. He didn’t save Peter from his terrible situation, but instead became the key to his recovery. A recovery that resonated through Peter’s inner monologue.
In fact, I liked most of Peter’s depiction in the book. The description of his mental state was done well, and I enjoyed his friendship with Alex. The only complaint I had was the dialogue. It didn’t fit their intended age range. To me, they sounded like middle aged women, and not young men.
Keeping on the subject of age, I found the age gap between the MC’s a little much. Though frequently reminded how ‘hot’ Master Thomas was, I couldn’t get over the fact that he was fifty-six, and Peter just twenty-six. It sucked some of the hotness out of it for me, but then again, the BDSM element of this book was actually used as far more than simple titillation, so perhaps that’s just as well.
BDSM. I’ve admitted before, I’m no expert, but I really enjoyed how it was written in Trusting Thomas. It felt…right. The club, the other participants, everything. I’ve read other books recently where the author didn’t seem to understand the subject either, but with this book, it’s obvious some serious research was done, and applied with earnest. The ‘scenes’ weren’t as racy as the previous book in the series, but they were spot on for the context and tone of the book. Great work.
Thomas was my favorite character in the book. His struggle and ultimate failure to dismiss his feelings for Peter were warmly written, emotive and painful, and I enjoyed that element of the plot very much. Though I cringed a little at his age (ironic, as I’m even older than him) I appreciated his strong sense of self. I also enjoyed his relationship with Leo. I didn’t find Leo particularly convincing in the first book, but his slightly overbearing nature worked for me here. Sometimes a guy really needs a kick up the rear, and Leo was just the man for the job.
Most of my niggles with this book are slight: the latter half of the plot was a little chaotic and unbelievable. The staggering overuse of adverbs. The clumsy narrative. But I have a major one that really bugged me, and that was the use of American terminology in what was supposed to be a British book. I can forgive colour becoming color and the like, because really, who cares? But when it comes to an accurate portrayal of a book’s location, you can’t mess about. Chopping and changing undermines every word, and I’d find it equally distasteful the other way around.
I’m a Yank living in London, and trust me: no one wears sneakers over here. I could pull out more examples, but I won’t. I pulled out this one because it appeared more than once, leading me to believe it was ignorance more than oversight.
Okay. I’ve bitched and rambled, and still given the book five stars. How does such a thing happen?
Well. Here goes…
Basically, despite all my moaning, I really loved this book. It was a pleasure to read and the characters gave me that warm, fuzzy glow that leaves me able to forgive just about anything. Grammar errors be damned when you want to climb inside a book, kidnap the characters and put them to bed in your own front room. Trusting Thomas was the third book to evoke such a response in me recently, and while I’m starting to wonder if I’m simply going soft in the head, I can highly recommend this book.
Yeah, sometimes you have to overlook the stuff that doesn’t really matter and go with your heart.
Light, instinctive BDSM, subtle hurt and comfort, and lots of cuddles.
A good premise and blurb, and a half decent character in Wesley, but huge inconsistencies and a serious issue handled with a sledgehammer make this book hard to swallow.
Full review to come on Jessewave October 2nd.
I'll admit it right now, I’m no expert on BDSM. I haven’t read a huge amount of it, and I went into this book prepared to face things my ignorance would prevent me from immediately understanding. However, given the lack of trigger warning, I was sorely unprepared for the appallingly handled scenes of sexual violence.
More of that later.
Let me start with the aspects of the book I enjoyed. Wesley. Despite his propensity to burst into tears at any given moment, I liked Wesley. The kid was sweet and shy, awkward and slightly ridiculous. Some of my favorite things. His insta-love feelings for Scotty are slightly simpering, but I got over it.
I also enjoyed the ‘scene’ between the other MC, Scotty, and another ‘sub’ Kevin. Despite Scotty’s inner monologue trying (and failing) to convince me that cheating is only cheating if penetration is involved, the dynamic felt right, and managed to shine through the dodgy writing.
Unfortunately, the positives ended there, for me at least, and the first warning sign that this book wasn’t going to work for me came when Scotty, a librarian, first lays eyes on Wesley, a young student he worries (given how hot he thinks he is) might still be in high school.
Now, my issue with this sequence is difficult to explain, because Scotty doesn’t exactly think anything would stand up in court, but the tone of the scene left a really bad taste in my mouth. It set Scotty up as creepy, and slightly sleazy, and it was a sensation that stayed with me throughout the book. This feeling increased with every page, especially when I realized every single sex scene in this book is performed without a jot of preparation. Even the consensual ones.
The setup of the BDSM club, Barringers, is all wrong too. Like I said, I’m no expert, but from what I know of BDSM, the clubs are stringently managed, with the safety of sub and doms alike, absolutely paramount. Not so in Barringers. In this place, doms seem to be permitted to ‘get a bit rough’ with subs with no security or consequences. The atmosphere is not one of erotically charged submission, but more one of crass bullying.
Sticking with the BDSM theme, this where Scotty becomes a thoroughly dislikable character. I know some people find it hard to connect with doms in general. I’m not one of them–I get it, I just don’t do it–but I challenge anyone to connect with Scotty. Hell, I don’t think the dude even likes himself, or the lifestyle he chooses to be so deeply involved in.
When I read BDSM, I enjoy an MC describing a lifestyle they are truly passionate about. A lifestyle they believe in, and showing me a world I know little about. But here, the general impression I get is that Scotty is thoroughly disillusioned with the whole thing. Also, stilted dialogue and a brattish internal voice paint him as a whiny control freak. I usually get epic feels for MCs with tortured pasts. Not here. Here it seemed a license for Scotty to be an asshole, and I didn’t like it. To me, it felt like sexual abuse was being used as a crude plot device, and not used well.
Which brings me to my next point. The rape scenes. I just…no. Not only did the first one smack me in the face right in the middle of some mindboggling headhopping, but it also left the very serious issue of nonconsensual sex…rape…trivialized and sidelined in a way that is utterly unforgivable.
‘It wasn’t like he’d been raped.’
Wasn’t it? I think it was, and the fact that Dustin, a secondary character, didn’t seem to comprehend what had happened to him was written in such a way that by the end of the chapter, I was left feeling as though this was because it didn’t really matter. That rape was something that just happened in every book. No need to explain, or take the time to explore the devastating emotions. Just throw it in and blunder on.
Keeping with the rape theme. Later in the book, Wesley is assaulted by the same man. Beaten, broken and on the verge of another violent rape scene. He’s rescued eventually, but what follows is probably one of the most vile things I’ve ever read. Scotty takes Wesley home and proceeds to throw a tantrum about his perceived loss of ‘control’. The whole thing was…hideous. And not just because the issues at hand are controversial. The technical quality of the writing and editing is also very poor. The character POV’s switch from sentence to sentence with no warning at all, and at times I had no idea whose perspective I was supposed to be interpreting.
By the time the death of another character, Jesse, is glossed over without little reaction from Wesley (they are supposed to be close friends), I’d just about lost my wits, or the inclination to care.
There is a lot going in this book. Perhaps too much, and as a result, nothing is explored properly, or well. The BDSM theme is patchy, and inconsistent. The numerous scenes of sexual violence swing between blasé and grotesque, and the actual romance of the book is lost in the ego of a thoroughly unlikable MC.
Rant over. I didn’t enjoy this book, and I didn’t enjoy writing this review. I picked it up because the blurb intrigued me. Persevered because I liked Wesley and I hoped some clumsy handling of sensitive themes would get better. It didn’t. Shame, because with a more likeable MC than Scotty, some stronger writing and edited to be coherent, this book could’ve been good. Maybe.
Unfortunately, it was not. One star.
Fabulous. Broke the mold of Slide with style.
Wow. What can I say that Monique hasn't already said? Probably not much, but I'll give it a go...
It's not secret that I'm a Garrett Leigh fan. Gypsy Rain had me intrigued earlier on in the year, and then Slide came along and sealed the deal. I was a little worried when I saw the themes of Bullet. I've read porn themed books before and not been impressed. I mean, I LIKE porn, but books based on the subject tend to read like bad Corbin Fisher fanfic, ya know?
Not this one.
Somehow, Garrett Leigh has taken the setting of an LA porn studio and turned it into something emotive, gripping and startlingly beautiful.
Levi had me from the beginning. At first, he appeared to be the kind of power top I hate. All dick and no substance, but boy, was I wrong. In just a few pages it was clear that there was far more to Levi than just his johnson. The guy was tortured, and seemed to be trying to please everyone, 'cept himself. His relationship with his crazy momma broke my heart. It was so obvious he'd tried to love her and had it thrown back in his face over and over.
Bella's character was awesome. I mean, I hated her, but by the end...not gonna spoil, but Levi and a stack of photographs. I cried. A lot. Perhaps even more than I did in Slide, because this heartbreaking blow crept up on me. Seriously. There's one line that just blew me apart.
The blurb (long awaited, LOL) say enter Sonny...
And, jeez, what an entrance. Sonny was special from the moment Levi laid eyes on him. Intriguing, belligerent and beautiful. I loved the 'prep' scenes between him and Levi. Those scenes had the potential to be icky, but they were enthralling. Superb writing.
So yeah, the characterisation in this book was excellent.
The porn theme was something else, and not what I expected at all. Somehow, though it laced every page, it also simmered in the background. The point seemed to be the emotions and consequences, not the scenes themselves.
If you go into this book expecting crass sex scenes, you'll be disappointed. I'm not explaining it that well, but the sex in this book was just...more.
The last sex scene, especially. It's very moving, and it stayed with me for a while after.
So, to sum up, Bullet is a short book of great depth and much emotion. It takes themes that could've been glib and vulgar and made them resonate.
Another fabulous book from a debut author who is fast becoming an auto buy for me.
PS. Thanks Monique for the insider tip. Glad to hear of another instalment. No way have I had enough of these boys in my (literary) life.
Highly recommended novella. Five whole stars from grouchy ole Isaac.
Woot. the first review I've cut and paste from Goodreads. May it be the first of many!
Took me a while to write this as this book left me a little haggard. I wanted to curb the flailing and be objective. I think I've managed it. The book is far from perfect, but it worked for me.
And this is why...
Okay, I loved this book. I'm gonna put it out there before I tear it to shreds. It ticked every box, pulled on every heartstring, and left me a weeping mess. Check my updates if you don't believe me.
It's true. Grouchy ole Isaac cried.
The prologue is amazing. It pulled me in with the imagery and depth of feeling, which, I gotta say, surprised me. Usually, for me to enjoy a sex scene, I have to have established feelz for the characters. I didn't here, because it was the first I'd seen of them, but somehow, the established warmth between the two MC's grabbed me from the start.
And then Ash came along and put a spell on me, and I think it was this that held the key to me liking this book so much. Angst can be a tricky subject. If a reader can't connect with the characters, heavy angst and drama is simply annoying, but if an author finds that spark that connects to a reader, be it just one or many, then that book becomes magical.
For me, Ash was that spark. The kid is just every angst lover's dream of a tortured soul. His backstory is revealed bit by bit, and every nugget broke my heart. His innocence, cruelly laced with the sense of a young man who's endured too much was nicely balanced. By the end of the book, I just wanted to wrap him in a blanket and put in my cabinet with my best china.
(I don't have any china, but you get my point…)
Then there was Pete. I enjoyed Pete for the most part. He was warm, caring, and just what Ash needed most of the time.
There were some moments when his reaction to Ash annoyed me, but actually, I found that made him very human. Ash's battle with his mental health was brutal, and though I felt some of it could have been avoided if Pete had kept his temper and stopped to think, I almost came away feeling like what happened in the latter half of the book needed to happen for Pete to realize just how ill Ash was.
Almost. Because, let's face it; no one wants to witness what Ash went through. I thought the mental health issues Ash had were handled very well, and I particularly appreciated that they were told from both sides; from Ash in the beginning, and then from Pete's perspective when things spiraled out of control. Watching a loved one descend into the depths of a mental health condition is horrendous. I know, because I've done it, and I felt Pete's panic when he was trying to talk Ash down from the peak of his crisis. That kind of thing by its very nature isn't easy to articulate, and I think the author did a good job of it.
Pete…he frustrated me, but it was written well, so I forgave him for the most part, especially when his inner monologue kicked in and he began to see the damage his pigheadedness had caused. I think that perhaps he is as flawed as Ash in his own way. Perhaps even more so, as he seems better at hiding it. Either way, I came away with a lot of love for Pete and the way he cared for Ash, but also with the desire to flick his ear. I do enjoy characters that make me yell at my kindle, but Pete did push the boundaries of my tolerance.
Hmm, what else, what else…
The secondary characters: some were awesome, others seemed a little superfluous. I loved Maggie, and her bond with Ash was lovely to read. Ellie, I found slightly irritating, but I think that maybe because she reminded me of the girl who lives below me with her loud, er, love life.
Joe, I didn't get. I figured him a villain at the start, but then he became a sort of hero. I enjoyed his role in taking care of Ash at the end, but I didn't quite understand how it happened that way. I think that relationship could've been explored better on the page.
The sex: the sex scenes in this book are very good. They are emotive, rather than graphic (though they are certainly not purple prose) and each one seemed to serve a purpose. The desire between the two MC's is well described, and despite the bucket load of angst laced within each one, pretty damn hot. I particularly enjoyed the ones right at the beginning, and at the end. They seemed to sandwich the book nicely and show me the purpose of the story.
Overall, this book is an excellent read…if you like that kind of thing. And I do, very much.
Angst, tattoos, sex, hurt, comfort. Great.
However, it's not for the fainthearted, and I think it's the kind of book folk will either love or hate. I loved it, but even as I read it, I could sense parts that I knew would infuriate some people. For me, the characterization of Ash blew me away, but I think Pete's action, or rather, lack of, will frustrate some. I also think some of the wording needed a stronger edit. The dialogue is excellent, but the paragraph construction was…not weak, but just not quite right in places.
BUT, these are minor quibbles (love that word). As a whole, this was a beautiful book and I can highly recommend it to anyone who loves a good roll in the hay with the angst. Ash was wonderful character, and his tale is heartbreaking. His bond to Pete is deep and true, and the depth of that bond kept me hooked from start to finish.
Great book. 4.75 stars.
Thanks to everyone for following me back! I joined the mass exodus from GR and haven't a clue what I'm doing!