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review 2017-07-19 02:23
ARC Review: Mascara & Bandages (Mary's Boys #3) by Brandon Witt
Mascara & Bandages (Mary's Boys Book 3) - Brandon Witt

This is the 3rd book in the Mary's Boys series, all set in and around a Hamburger Mary's in Denver, CO.

On his way home from Hamburger Mary's after a performance as his drag queen alter ego Ariel Merman, while still dressed as Ariel, Zachary Cooper becomes the victim of a gay bashing. 

I was already crying when he comes to in the hospital, in pain and worried that the homophobic assholes who attacked him messed up his face and that he won't be able to perform anymore. 

In walks Teegan Chau, his doctor, and things suddenly look up.

Teegan has only recently come out as gay, and while he's divorced from his wife, they share a little girl and have a great friendly, supportive relationship. Teegan has had some hook-ups with other men, but has never been on an actual date with a man. Instantly smitten with the younger, somewhat femme guy in the hospital bed, Teegan and Zachary agree on a date. 

While the story had the potential to be really angsty, it actually wasn't, and there's a lot of inner strength to Zachary. He has a steely interior, and while he struggles a little with the trauma from the attack, he doesn't allow it to destroy him. 

I loved that the author didn't rush the developing relationship. Teegan's adorkable awkwardness on their first date was super cute, but neither he nor Zachary jumped into a commitment - they took their time to test the waters and really build a foundation.

As Ariel, Zachary is free to be himself, instead of worrying about meeting expectations other men might have of him. I loved that the author wrote about a femme man and the misconceptions that come with that. 

This book is the most heart-breaking and also most heart-warming of the series so far, as Zachary and Teegan, and the whole Mary's chosen family, deal with societal expectations, homophobia, the bashing, immediate family issues, and how to forge their own way.

There isn't a lot of steam here, and I for one don't need that in a romance novel to believe the relationship. Zachary grows into himself here, and Teegan finds exactly what he never knew he always wanted. 

So well done. 


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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review 2017-04-27 01:56
Release Day ARC Review: Vodka And Handcuffs by Brandon Witt
Vodka & Handcuffs (Mary's Boys Book 2) - Brandon Witt

The title of this book, much like the first one in this series, plays on the occupations of the two MCs - one a bartender, the other a cop.

Vahin, the bartender, is Muslim, and from India, and gay, and out, which has caused him to be shunned by his family. Marlon, the cop, is black, also gay, but deep in the closet. His partner on the beat is basically a Jeff Sessions wannabe - a racist, homophobic, xenophobic asshole first class, who thinks he can do what he wants because his daddy is a Senator. He's also universally hated by all, including the Chief, and only assigned to Marlon because the Chief figured it'd be best to pair the asshole with his best cop.

Marlon meets Vahin at Hamburger Mary's, they have a night of drunken fun, mostly off-page, and then shit hits the fan, what with the racist cop partner trying to frame Vahin and arrest him, and Marlon being involuntarily outed, and ... yeah... none of it is pretty. This is not a fluffy book. The blurb is a bit misleading. Okay, maybe a lot misleading. Don't expect a fluffy, easy read.

The only real fun on page is when ManDonna struts her stuff - I flove her! She takes no shit, and she will hand you your balls, and you'll thank her for it.

I didn't quite believe the romance in the time line used, and while we get a HFN, I wasn't sure that things were going to last - perhaps we'll see how that goes in a future installment for this series. I do want them to last, I do. I just have doubts that their still fresh relationship can survive the roadblocks that will continue to be in their way, despite marriage equality, and despite the tide slowly turning in their favor. I want to believe that Denver is a bit more enlightened when it comes to racism, homophobia, and xenophobia.

I think this might have worked a little better for me if the book had been longer and had taken the time to really delve into the issues, and perhaps stretch out the time frame a little bit more. The issues raised here are definitely hot topics, and I was a little disappointed that Marlon's forced coming out, and that loathsome, filthy, evil, little cockroach partner's despicable actions weren't given adequate resolutions. Perhaps that is fitting after all - in today's political climate, what with the current administration in the White House, and the "values" for which they stand, it's certainly possible to look at this and realize that, yeah, there won't be any adequate resolutions to homophobia, xenophobia, and blatant racism, until we've gotten rid of the pestilence in orange that empowered this pond scum to strut around with their ignorant flags and "white power" bullshit.

Kudos to this author for making his main characters non-white. I wish there were more books that did that. There is a message within this book too - as a POC, you have to stand up for yourself every damn day, against hatred, against persecution, against blatant ignorance, and if you're POC and gay, your resilience will be tested time and again in triplicate. I commend the author for touching on these difficult subjects with honesty and sensitivity.

The author also sets up the next book toward the end, which will feature Zachary aka Ariel Merman. I had my heart in my throat while reading that bit, and I need the next book, like, now.

This series is quickly becoming a favorite of mine, and that's primarily due to what it isn't - lighthearted fluff. I want to read books that deal with current affairs, and this one definitely does.


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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review 2017-04-09 02:05
I loved this book it was awesome, but...
The Imperfection of Swans - Brandon Witt

It was what came after that brought me to tears...well done Mr. Witt, very well done.

 

 

You'll probably notice that I say this a lot...but once again my decision to start reviewing audio books has enabled me to get to a story on my TBR list that I keep squirreling away from. There's no insult intended to anyone because this is just how I am. I actually do this with some of my favorite authors and have done it for my entire reading life. I read a lot and I also buy a lot of books and I squirrel from book to book a lot. Which ironically in spit of the fact that I own 10 of this authors titles makes this the first story that I've actually read...errr, listened to. 

 

Anyways, enough about my strange reading habits and I'll get back to the real issue at hand here...'The Imperfection of Swans'...wow, what a truly beautiful story. Kevin has always wanted to open up his own bridal store and Casper loves to bake and having his own bakery that specialized in wedding cakes would be a dream come true for him but it's not until these two meet and an acquaintance suggest that they need to partner up that both men begin to believe that they really can have their hearts desires fulfilled.

 

Kevin is both heartbreaking and inspiring. His constant struggle to maintain what he perceives to be the necessary image and to keep himself from falling victim to the harmful effects of his choices made my heart ache for him and in the end his efforts to finally acknowledge and break the cycle of harmful behavior that had ruled his life took so much courage. Yes, he had an amazing support system and I was so happy for that but still ultimately it was Kevin and only Kevin who had the ability to change things for himself and the strength that is needed to do this and succeed is so amazing. 

 

I loved Casper...was he perfect...no, but, he was perfectly wonderful and most important of all...he was perfect for Kevin. He loved and accepted Kevin warts and all and really can any of us every truly ask for more? 

 

There were more than a few awesome secondary characters in this book and for the most part I loved them. From Kevin's family to his ex, who I was happy to see wasn't portrayed as a bad person so much as the wrong person for Kevin. I'd actually like to see that character have a novel where he gets his own happily ever after. I'd also like more about Kevin's Uncle Tony and his husband and Casper's ex not-ex Brent just needs to go away...like I said a lot of interesting secondary characters in this one...the guy that ran the Sushi place? Seriously what was up with him?

 

I'm sure it's no real secret by now that the character of Kevin is based on the author's best friend and while the story got more than a few tears from me it was the comments of the real Kevin and the author that were read after the story that brought even more tears to my eyes because I was yet again reminded that Kevin, the real Kevin is truly a brave soul to share what was both a difficult and trying experience with the world is not something that a lot of people would be comfortable or willing to do. It takes strength to do this especially when you consider that the handsome young man on the cover is the real Kevin. So admittedly the story itself was probably a 4 star read for me but when all this is factored in I can in all honesty give this no fewer than 5 glowing 'you've wowed me' stars.

 

So where does that leave the audio book? Kirt Graves was the narrator for this one. His voices are expressive and have the discernible difference allowing me to listen without difficulty or losing track of who's speaking and questioning which voice is whose, I had no problem staying engaged with the story. In general this narrator works for me and while he's another new to me narrator, based on this book and the samples from a couple of his other books that I've listened to he's someone that I'll look forward to hearing more from in future.

 

'The Imperfection of Swans' is a story that deals with some really tough issues with insight and sensitivity by a 'new to me' author and narrator who made for a really enjoyable combination. 

 

********************

An audio book of 'The Imperfection of Swans' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-03-18 18:00
Review: "Son of Money" by Brandon Witt
Son of Money - Brandon Witt

 

~ 4 stars ~

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text 2017-03-14 14:46
Reading progress update: I've read 25%.
Son of Money - Brandon Witt

"Noah glanced upward and tapped his finger on his lip in an exaggerated motion. "Okay, nonfreaky, overly familiar commitment talk. Let's see." He dropped his hand and looked back at me. "So fisting. Yea or nay?"

Smooth, Noah, smooth.

 

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