Published by Dreamspinner Press on 2015
Genres: Fiction, Sci-fi, Romance, GLBTQ
Carter Evans is founder and editor-in-chief of Astounding!—a formerly popular spec fiction magazine currently in its death throes. Not only can he do nothing to save it, but stuck in a rathole apartment with few interpersonal connections, he can’t seem to do much to rescue his future either. And certainly all the booze isn’t helping. He snaps when he receives yet another terrible story submission from the mysterious writer J. Harper—and in a drunken haze, Carter sends Harper a rejection letter he soon regrets.
J. Harper turns out to be John Harper, a sweet man who resembles a ’50s movie star and claims to be an extraterrestrial. Despite John’s delusions, Carter’s apology quickly turns into something more as the two lonely men find a powerful connection. Inexplicably drawn to John, Carter invites him along on a road trip. But as they travel, Carter is in for some big surprises, some major heartbreak… and just maybe the promise of a good future after all.
I mean, eventually I’ll get back on schedule with these. For now, here’s what I read for the week of February 14-20, 2016.
Dreamspinner had a sale on three Kim Fielding books over the weekend, and I couldn’t resist picking them up. I immediately read Astounding! ★★★★★, a m/m romance between a scifi managzine editor and an alien. Alien!hero is stranded on Earth after coming back in the 1950s to observe humankind. All he wants is to go home, and the only way he can do that is through editor!hero’s help. But! Then they fall in love, and alien!hero doesn’t want to leave any longer. Drama! Angst! And other sad things happen, but mooshed in with it all is an adorable romance, a wonderful setting (Washington! and Portland!), friendship and family and just a really fun story. I loved it!
Next I decided to read something that’s been on my TBR a bit longer than only one day, so I picked a werewolf romance/horror-thriller: Beneath the Neon Moon by Theda Black ★★★. I’ve had it since December 2011 and wasn’t overly wowed with the cover, so I kept putting off reading it. And it turns out it’s not entirely my jam, so I don’t regret not reading it sooner. It’s a little too horror-thriller-y for me; I mean, the entire set-up is that the heroes are trapped in a basement together after being kidnapped by werewolves, so it’s not exactly a cuddly situation they’ve got going on. The on-screen rape of one of the protags doesn’t help, either. Nevertheless, I still found the story/characters pretty compelling (and the sexytimes were very sexy!), and if I were more into horror I’d probably like it even more! And I’d still read a sequel, which it desperately needs as the ending is a little open-ended on the happiness front.
Inherit the Sky by Ariel Tachna ★★★½ has been on my TBR since September 2013. It’s a contemporary set in Australia, on a sheep ranch! Both things I haven’t encountered in a romance yet, as far as I can remember. Anyway, it’s got some awkward things in it, like the dialogue and certain phrases used during sexytimes[1. “guardian muscles” and “nubs” come to mind], and the hero’s romantic interest is the kind that’s hot/cold and closeted and standoffish, which is
SO HOT annoying as hell. But! I got sucked into their ridiculous romance anyway, partly because of the setting and partly because they actually tried to work things out and discussed their relationship expectations like adults. And I got used to the dialogue!
I caved and read another Kim Fielding book, this time a werewolf romance: Good Bones ★★★★. It is a WONDERFUL werewolf romance! No alpha BS, no “true mate” crap, no “I can smell that you’re hot for me”. Just two slightly neurotic, emotionally stunted dudes who become neighbors, then sexytime buddies, then boyfriends! And somehow KF manages to write these bozos in such a way that makes me want to hug them, not throw them out of the window. The tension from a crazy ex-boyfriend werewolf helps keep things on the edge, and the romance is both hot and sweet at the same time. Loved it!
At this point I discovered that my library has access to this thing called Enki, a California ebook lending thingamabob that has lots of self-published/Smashwords books. Blood in the Water by Megan Derr ★★½ was one of them. Technically it’s a short story. About killer mermaids! It’s a retelling of The Little Mermaid, except between two dudes. And nobody has to lose their voice. And it’s way too short and undeveloped. But I liked the idea of the story, and I’d read a much longer book about it for sure.
I got Getting His Wolf by Isabelle Arden ★★½ as a freebie from Amazon. It’s a…uh…werewolf romance. Like, seriously, I would TOTALLY read more paranormal books that weren’t werewolves, but it’s all I’m finding for some reason? Anyway, this one’s set in CANADA. With a mountie hero!![2. I desperately need more mountie hero books, with or without werewolves. Sent recs my way, please!] It’s also got the now-stereotypical werewolf thing with alphas and mating and whatnot, which, eh. The heroes were definitely hot together, which was good.[3. at least until the self-lubricating butthole showed up] And there are evil werewolves! Hunting the heroes! Which was pretty exciting. Not a perfect book, not one I will probably ever read again, and I’m not chomping at the bit to read more books by this author, but it wasn’t terrible.
Next came Served Hot by Annabeth Albert ★★, again from my local library. This is a novella set in Portland about two dudes, one who works at a coffee cart and is basically sunshine incarnate and another who’s easing out of being closeted after the death of his long-time lover. I was not super thrilled with this one, for some reason. Maybe because I was SO frustrated with the romance, which moves at a glacial pace and culminates in a tepid sexytime scene. Robby’s adorable, but his boyfriend is milk-bland and I don’t see what Robby so into, tbh.
Another library book! Magic Mansion by Jordan Castillo Price ★★★★ is a mix of contemporary/fantasy/reality show-contest that works surprisingly well. In fact, it worked SO well that I nearly missed my bus stop because I was so involved with the story! JCP managed to write a reality show that I’d actually want to watch, while also peeling back the curtain and giving a look behind the scenes at the real-life people running it. Plus the romance is adorable– two magicians[4. both people of color, btw], both capable of True Magic, both desperate to win while also trying to find somewhere off-camera to make out. Super fun, and I wil definitely be rereading it soon.
I caved (again) and read my last Kim Fielding book: The Tin Box ★★★, a contemporary romance set in a super small town between a visiting grad student and a local. The hook is that the grad student’s staying in a former insane asylum, and he finds a box of letters written by one of the former inmates– someone who was sent there by his family because he was gay. It doesn’t end well for that guy, and his letters are super depressing stuff. The romance between the grad student and the local is sweet enough to mostly balance it out, although, again, it’s not all hearts-and-sunshine stuff. They have their own issues to work through, both personally and in their relationship, and I found that very refreshing. I’m just not entirely sure if the different parts of the story really all worked together.
To cheer myself up, I ended up rereading Frog by Mary Calmes ★★★. I first read it last year and wasn’t overly wowed with the writing, but there was something about the characters or the story or something that hit my “comfort read” buttons. It’s crack. Sweet, sweet crack. It’s not perfect, but it’s weirdly comforting and I’ll probably end up reading it again (and again).
Yet another library book! Another Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon book, The Nobleman and the Spy ★★★★½. Oh my god. Oh my god! SO GREAT! Kind of cracky, but in a super enjoyable way that just makes you want to read more. It’s a historical, set in late 1800s England between a German(?) count and a British spy set to guard him from assassins. There’s political intrigue, explosions, running from danger, hiding in coat closets and getting it on, stoic dudes being overwhelmed with pleasure, and more!
Continuing onward in the Portland Heat series, I read Baked Fresh by Annabeth Albert ★★★½. I liked this one much more than the first book! It’s way dirtier than the first book, for one, and for another the heroes have got much more chemistry. It’s still a little iffy, as one dude basically tries to “nice guy” the other into dating him, but overall it was MUCH more of an enjoyable story. There’s some great character things, like how one hero recently lost a lot of weight but is still dealing with body issues! And the other hero is a recovering drug addict and refuses any emotional support when dealing with his past. All stuff that makes the romance more in-depth than just “baker falls in love with cheerful dude.”
I’ve been wanting to read Apple Polisher by Heidi Belleau ★★★ for several months now, so when I found it in the BKPL[4. I got a Brooklyn Public Library card! Us non-locals can get one for $50 a year, and it’s totally worth it if you like ebooks and don’t feel like dragging yourself over to a LA library.] ebook collection I snagged it at once. It ended up being more of a hot mess than I expected it to be. Like, super awkward seductions, very bad romance decisions, after two conversations they’re boyfriends, etc. The protag is your typical young twenty-something: self-absorbed, doesn’t know what he wants from life, super stressed out and still figuring out who he is. I didn’t find him at all charming, but his romantic interest is a wonderful human with only a couple of neurosis to trip him up. Watching their romance develop was weirdly satisfying. However, I didn’t find the sexytimes very sexy and idk about the overall writing style.
My last book for this week was Rag and Bone by K.J. Charles ★★★ which doesn’t come out until March so I won’t be talking about it until then. It’s the start of a sequel series for A Charm of Magpies, though, which is very exciting! (right?)
So that’s what I read the week before! This week’s book reviews will hopefully be up Sunday.