Tag Archives: LGBT romance

Whyborne and Griffin: Widdershins by Jordan L. Hawk

This review required a little research from me on the genre distinction between paranormal and fantasy, so I could resolve that Widdershins is the former. The first in a series, which takes its name from the main characters, this paranormal romance features a couple interacting with occult forces and things that go bump in the night. I would recommend Widdershins, even though it was not my cup of tea. It was fun, but I like significantly less violence and prefer a dearth of imaginary creatures in my kissing books as a rule.

Set in the late 19th century, a linguist working away happily in the bowels of a museum, Percival Whyborne is approached by private investigator, Griffin Flaherty, to decode/translate an encrypted text left behind by a murder victim. As they work together freaky events happen around them and in turn reveal a cult trying to end the world. Racing against time, Percival and Griffin have a grand, but occasionally creepy, adventure and fall madly in love. I was very much in favour of that last part.

Given that I prefer my romances without the paranormal elements, I’m not sure how to judge the ones here. They were fine and well portrayed, I guess; however, Widdershins was suggested first and foremost as a fun M/M romance and it did deliver. Whyborne is closeted even beyond the requirements of the time, owing to a very bad experience, but he steps out enough to let Griffin into his life and his heart. That portion of the story did not disappoint and I appreciated the historical detail, not just of the complication of being gay in a world which tells you it’s wrong or a sin, but also of the time period itself. I won’t be continuing with the series, but I can see how it would be a delightful romp for people who are interested in nightmare creatures skulking around the workaday world.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful or my  streamlined recommendations list. I have a list of LGBTQ romances, too.

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Imago by N.R. Walker

Look at these two nice people falling in love! It’s so sweet. They’re both so lovely. They match so well. Everyone is down-to-earth and sensible. It’s so realistic. Is it maybe just a little bit dull?

Recently, I have been reading a lot of N.R. Walker contemporary M/M romances because they are very pleasant and occasionally delightful, the Australian settings lend a certain subtle exoticism, and they were almost all free for my e-reader. Of the six or so I’ve read, I’d recommend Imago and The Weight of It All most highly. Both feature men finding wonderful partners and looking to build a future together.

Lepidopterist, bow-tie wearer, and “Hottest Fucking Nerd on the Planet” Lawson Gale is in Tasmania for a week of hunting for a possibly non-existent species of butterfly. On the way there, he runs into Jack Brighton who just happens to be attractive; attracted to Lawson, hence the Hottest Nerd designation; and a Parks and Wildlife Officer in the region Lawson is conducting research in. When Lawson’s car rental falls through, Jack is more than happy to provide a lift to his meeting and, hopefully, the rest of their lives.

Lawson and Jack spark to each other instantly and move through a series of charming dates and days in the field being nice, adorable, and compatible. They are enormously attracted to each other – Jack tall, friendly, and easygoing; Lawson stylish, introverted, and slight  – and it doesn’t take long for them to be a couple. It only takes a week in point of fact.

Everything in Imago worked, but while it was a solid and engaging romance, it lacked a certain something that I can’t quite put my finger on. All of the Walker books I’ve read so far are short on drama, usually there is only one incident, but the novels also don’t spark or sizzle quite as much as I feel like they should – which leads me to  wonder what I look to these books for and how it is provided successfully. I don’t have an answer though, just the quibble.

Also by N.R. Walker:
Learning to Feel
Sixty Five Hours
The Weight of It All
Imago – please see above
Red Dirt Heart – review to come
Twelfth of Never – follow-up short story from Walker’s Blind Faith series
His Grandfather’s Watch – in my TBR pile

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful or my  streamlined recommendations list. I have a list of LGBTQIA romances, too.

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That is a WORLD CLASS cover, artistic and appropriate!

Waiting for Clark by Annabeth Albert

Are you sitting down? Please do so.

Are you braced? It might be an overabundance of caution, but get ready.

Annabeth Albert’s contemporary romance novella Waiting for Clark features two gay men…

That’s not the part you have to prepare yourself for. This is:

Annabeth Albert’s novella Waiting for Clark features two gay men who are gay for the entirety of the book. Not questioning, not confused, not “gay for you” in that way of LGBT romances written, I suspect, for women. The heroes are both gay. Straight up gay, if you’ll excuse the pun.

FINALLY!

Aren’t you glad you sat down?

Plus the cover is what The Kids Today refer to as “adorkable”:

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Bryce and Clark were roommates in university who couldn’t quite get their timing right. They were never single at the same time or their academic and professional pursuits pulled them in opposite directions. This left both of them hurt, disappointed, and guarded. Dressed as Batman and needing a Superman to fill out his superhero roster at a Comic Con style convention, Bryce finds himself facemask to spandex with his former roommate.

Clark and Bryce find that they are still tremendously attracted to one another, each is the one that got away, and, when Bryce provides a place to stay, they are at last in the right place at the right time. Unfortunately, having been disappointed before, Bryce will take some convincing that Clark is not going to leave him heartbroken again.

Related in the present and flashbacks, Waiting for Clark moves quickly to its resolution, including the magnificent term “volcano scene” to describe the kind of go-for-broke conversation people have when they are about to die. I vote that it enter the lexicon and supplant the expression “come to Jesus” for such talks. Please submit your ballots in the comments.

 

LGBT romance recommendations can be found here. Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

 

Home for Three by Nicole Stewart

Prurience isn’t the best reason to read a romance novel featuring two men and a woman, but I willingly admit it was a key one for me in this case. The fact that Home for Three was free also contributed, as salaciousness for its own sake should always be a bargain. This contemporary romance features an established gay couple who meet the woman of their dreams.  Can the three of them find a way to create a family?

Home for Three is Queer Eye for the Straight Guy with a woman and coitus. Earning prurience demerits, the sex wasn’t particularly enjoyable; moreover, the writing included some odd choices, and, even for an escapist novel, the whole thing read like a silly female fantasy about cliched gay men who are only as gay as they need to be to fill your fashion and cultural needs, but still want to have sex with you.

Gay Selwyn* and bisexual Jack have been together for a year. When they need a realtor, Kess enters their lives and they both find themselves overwhelmingly attracted to her and she to them. After the usual romance novel kink trope – a “Mother May I?” phase for Kess –  the three become romantically involved. How could she possibly resist these stereotypical men who are attracted to men? “You’ve got two men with disposable income and creative flair, taking you to exclusive art shows and private poetry readings.”  Selwyn is a costume designer who makes snide comments about Kess’s wardrobe before treating her like a living doll and creating an entirely new one for her including admonishing her to wear matching bras and panties, while Jack is a successful sculptor who introduces her to the sophisticated world of high culture.  For a genre I love built on tropes and limited story lines, this was too much even for me. Kess gets to have it both ways and it’s poppycock.

Having been distracted by the especially implausible plotting, I’d like to move on to savouring writing choices made by Nicole Stewart.

Jack sighed as he slid his arms into a deep purple watered silk blouse.
(Note: He’s not cross-dressing.)

…Kess, with interest and apprehension, studied the two men sitting on the artisanal sofa.
(That’s a mic drop, that one is.)

There was a flautist improvising a score to accompany the poem , and Mitch tapped a drum with his fingertips.
(See? CULTURE!)

And you’ve hurt me, too. I am a guileless lover.
(He’s also a recalcitrant dishwasher and a gormless automechanic.)

LGBT romance recommendations can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

*Selwyn is a person of colour which I mention because diversity in romance is welcome and needs to encouraged.

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Noah by Cara Dee

Another Kindle Unlimited book, another M/M romance, and one of two romances I have read recently in which there was a large age difference between the main characters.

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From Amazon: In 48 hours, I lost everything. I came home to find my girlfriend of four years with another man. The next day a plane crash ripped my family away from me, shattering me in the process. In many ways, I died that day, too. The fun-loving man who’d lived in the fast lane and loved his career in the film industry was gone. Left was a forty-year-old shell that dwelled at the bottom of a bottle.

Only one person knew what I was going through. My sister’s stepson, who hadn’t been on the plane. Julian knew what it was like to lose everyone he loved, too. He’d stopped showing up at reunions when he was a teenager, so I didn’t know him very well. But I told him at the memorial service he could come out and visit me in LA whenever. One day he did, and I guessed it was as good a day as any to start picking up the pieces and see what was left of us.

Got that? Noah, a forty-year-old bisexual man, loses everything and is thrown into first a friendship and then struggles against and surrenders to a relationship with a much younger man, Julian, who is his nephew my marriage. Judging by other couples in the story, Cara Dee sometimes writes contemporary romances for people who are interested in major age differences and relationships that tread on, but do not technically cross, the taboo lines of appropriateness or legality.

Look, Julian is an adult. He’s 23 years old. Yes, he has known Noah for a long time, but the two aren’t blood related and have had a minimal relationship. They come together to rebuild their lives because they each need someone who understands what the other person is going through. Noah is appalled by his feelings at first, horrified. They know what they are doing might be seen as wrong by others, but their connection is too intense and they ultimately yield to it. I COULDN’T GET PAST IT, especially since some of their bedroom antics involved power dynamics in which Noah was the dominating participant. It was gross with a grossness that was gross and I only kept reading to see if Dee could find a way to make me okay with the taboo. She couldn’t and I should have stopped reading, just like I should stop wri

 

 

 

Guardian by Sierra Riley

 

Set in Queens, New York, the contemporary romance Guardian is the story of Alex and Titus, called Ty, although Titus is way cooler, if you ask me, which Sierra Riley did not. Opposites attracting, Alex is an attorney for a family law practice, Ty runs an auto repair shop and is raising his young niece, Phoebe. They meet when Alex’s car breaks down and Ty’s business is the closest to hand. They are brought together again when Ty is drawn into a custody battle for Phoebe. The case is resolved with minimum drama, but heretofore straight Ty finds himself inexplicably drawn to Alex.

I would really like to read a M/M romance in which neither of the men involved are questioning their sexuality.Ty comes to terms with his interest in Alex reasonably calmly, but I have read scores (and scores) of M/F genre novels and those folks are all written as simply straight and without the “I’M WHAT?!” element in their plotting. It’s often a major issue in LGBT romances and there are enough other tropes to provide story-lines. Either way, Guardian was a middling, sweetish romance, but I  didn’t really cotton on to either of the leads, so I don’t think I’m going to try any other Sierra Riley novels. I borrowed this one using Amazon Unlimited and I’m pleased I didn’t pay for it.

Review completed, there is one more element in the book I want to mention. Ty is a common hero type – a protector, heck, it’s right there in the title – and, as much as I enjoy a big lug, he’s also 6’5″ and got an only-he-if-lives-at-the-gym-and-drinks-17-protein-shakes-a-day physique and is heavily tattooed, none of which appeals to me. To be clear, it’s one tattoo that covers part of his chest, his arms to the wrists, his entire back, and most of his tushie. Seeing just the feather patterns on Ty’s arms, Alex finds them incredibly sexy. I found the feathers intriguing  until the image was described as a “vast bald eagle” starting at the center of his back. I could but giggle. Wings I could live with, in a over-the-top but endearing way; however,  once I started reading about its eyes, talons, and beak, humour was my only response.

Lastly, the cover art is truly awful. The hair colours are accurate, I’ll give them that.

 

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LGBT romance recommendations can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author orAuthor Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

LGBTQIA Romances (Exclusively GB)

Most of these romances feature gay and bisexual men. I have read a lesbian romance, but, for me, it don’t mean a thing, if it ain’t got that schwing. Unless otherwise noted, everything on this list has a contemporary setting. Reviews are linked, recommended books are in bold.

Albert, Annabeth Waiting for Clark (Bryce/Clark) Hallelujah, both gay the whole time!

Banner, Darryl Dog Tags (Brandon/Jesse)

Bettencourt, Rick Marketing Beef (Evan/Dillon)

Bowen, Sarina The Understatement of the Year (Graham/Rikker) – New Adult, part of the fantastic Ivy Years series, I really liked it.

Bowen, Sarina and Elle Kennedy Him (Wes/Jamie) – New Adult, it’s steamy AND heartfelt.
Bowen, Sarina and Elle Kennedy Us (Wes/Jamie) – Not-as-new adults, finding their way.

Calmes, Mary A Piece of Cake novella (Jory/Sam) – Light and fluffy, mid-series novella

Charles, KJ A Seditious Affair: A Society of Gentlemen Novel – (Silas/Dominic) Historical, strong political elements and period details.

Dee, Cara Noah  (Noah/Julien) – squicky dynamic

Ford, Rhys Sinner’s Gin (Kane/Miki) – Overshadowed by the background story and over-the-top main plot.

Frank, Ella Try (Logan/Tate) – Too much sex? Is that even possible?
Frank, Ella Trust (Logan/Tate) – It’s possible.

Gale, Avon Power Play (Misha/Max) – Contemporary hockey romance, quite enjoyable

Grace, Aria More Than Friends (Ryan/Zach) – New Adult

Hart, Riley Collide (Cooper/Noah) – Decent, I meant to review it, but never bothered.

Jaymes, River Brad’s Bachelor Party (Brad/Cole) – Not good
Jaymes, River The Backup Boyfriend (Alec/Dylan) – Decent
Jaymes, River The Boyfriend Mandate (Memphis/Tyler) – Meh

Hawk,Jordan Widdershins (Percival/Griffin) – Paranormal, very entertaining

Kell, Amber Attracting Anthony (Silver/Anthony) – Paranormal, weird daddy/son tone

Kennedy, Sean Tigers and Devils (Simon/Declan) – Charming, a novel with romance more than a romance novel

Klein, K-Lee Lazy Sundays (Devon/Scott) – Very quick read

Merrow, J.L Muscling Through (Al/Larry) – Big and stupid (really stupid) meets small and smart

Milan, Courtney The Suffragette Scandal (Edward/Free) – It has a small lesbian subplot and a unacknowledged but clear gay partnership in addition to the main M/F romance, but this book is SO GOOD I am including it anyway.
Milan, Courtney Her Every Wish (Crash/Daisy) – It’s a M/F historical romance, but the hero identifies as bisexual.
Milan, Courtney Hold Me (Jay/Maria) – Contemporary new adult romance in which the hero is bi and the heroine is transgender.

Northcote, Jay First Class Package novella (Jim/Patrick) – quick, light read

Riley, Sierra Guardian (Titus/Alex) – If you like big, tattooed men, this could be for you.

Stewart, Nicole Home for Three (Selwyn/Jack/Kess) – A gay man, a bisexual one, and a straight woman.

Walker, N.R. The Weight of It All (Henry/Reed) – Contemporary, enjoyable, sweet, funny
Walker, N.R. Learning to Feel (Nathan/Trent) – Contemporary, mostly pretty standard.
Walker, N.R. Sixty Five Hours (Cameron/Lucas) – Contemporary, pretty good.
Walker, N.R. Imago (Jack/Lawson)- Contemporary, very good
Walker, N.R. Twelfth of Never (Mark/Will)- follow up story only
Walker, N.R. Red Dirt Heart (Charlie/Travis) – good, not great

York, Sara Pray the Gay Away (A Southern Thing Book 1) (Jack/Andrew)- high school, drama, sweet, the start of a series.

As always, recommendations are welcome.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful or my  streamlined recommendations list.