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review 2016-12-17 16:45
Not my particular poison
Beyond Shame - Kit Rocha

Picked this up because I saw it on a list of completed romance series -- you know, don't get stuck hanging for a year because Moning can't help but end everything on a cliffhanger -- and the list included a couple series...es that I liked. (Brothers Sinister by Courtney Milan and The Guardians by Meljean Brook, specifically.) This is sold as post-apocalyptic, set in a post-solar storm America. There's a religiously oppressive city with all the money and power, and a ring of sectors beyond with various governments or lack thereof. So far so good. 

 

I kind of can't believe I'm saying this, because I like sex writing as much the next sex-positive feminist, but there was way too much pointless sex for my tastes. I want to be clear I'm not saying "I'm not a prude, but", a phrase that is an exact indicator that the speaker is a massive fucking prude. None of the sex depicted was beyond my comfort level or anything. I mean, sure why not have a ruthless gang of bootleggers have a company orgy every Wednesday; seems legit. But I didn't feel like much of it was in the service of, like, plot or character development, so it ended up often feeling mechanical. 

 

There was a sort of trajectory, sexually speaking, for the leading lady. She is ejected from the confines of her shitty, repressive city life for being sexually precocious, and then learns a little something about menage, BDSM, and blowjobs, and maybe, just maybe, something about herself. This trajectory was undercut a little by having her jump immediately into public sex and blowjobs after maybe sixteen seconds of thinking, oh no, my repressive upbringing, I couldn't possibly. So, it's not so much a trajectory as a backstory we are only told about, and a present course of complete sexual openness. That's not a story; that's a situation. 

 

One of the reasons I like PNR is that it so very often deals credibly with body trauma, people moving from grief and brokenness to wholeness. Because there was no real emotional trajectory for anyone (and I do not credit hero dude struggling with these completely new feelings of tenderness and possessiveness, what are these things I'm feeling?) nothing that happened, no matter how theoretically sexy, had much juice to it. It was stuff that was happening. Except for the tattooing sequence; that was hot, rarrr. 

 

I guess what I'm saying is that I want this book to buy me dinner before we skip to the fucking. I didn't realize I was that old fashioned.

 

Anyway, if you like kinda light BDSM and lots of group sex, you could find a lot worse. Nobody is slut-shaming or becoming a massive alphole. I mean, even when the main pair get together, they still fuck around with other people instead of reverting immediately to middle class American monogamy. So that's good! But I'd prefer a little more apocalypse in my post-apocalit. Alas. 

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text 2016-02-01 11:32
Another Great Kresley Cole Series
If You Dare - Kresley Cole

Wow! This woman, Ms. Kresley Cole, can write anything. I began reading her action packed-under and above the covers- Immortals After Dark series many years ago. I read quite a few, then put her books on hold for a while. I came back last year and have nearly completed IAD. As we Geminis love to do, we read at least five books at one time (depending upon our mood). In doing this, I thought I would try Ms. Cole's earlier works after having recently completed her new-amazing-contemporary erotica series, The Game Makers. Knowing how great she handled Contemporary in addition to Paranormal Romance, I had faith that her earlier works-The MacCarrik Brothers trilogy- would be fantastic. Well, I can honestly say that I placed my faith in good hands because this series, so far, is really wonderful. For those who like non-paranormal romance, don't mind period pieces with minimal historical details, and more detailed erotic scenes with brawny, sensual, loving, alpha-males who happen to be Kilt wearers, then this is your series. This book of three, is well written, has a good story line, is erotic but tasteful, and is an easy read! I highly recommend it. There is just a special way that Ms. Cole, and only Ms. Cole, writes sex scenes that are the most unique and erotic in general romance. I have never read anyone else that writes them like she does. It's strange because the scenes are so normal and vanilla, but they make you puddle on the floor every time. And oh yeah, did I mention there's an actual plot that takes up most of the book! I know, right?! Amazing how now we can get a two-for-one deal in today's literature. This book is indeed a "kilt lifter" not a " bodice ripper." Just to clarify ;) But not a cheesy Harlequin; one of few genres I detest vehemently. Yes, there is a clear distinction. So, check this first book out via Overdrive, it's free! You can't go wrong with that, especially if you are new to her works. Enjoy what's under the kilt, I mean cover ;)

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review 2015-06-10 18:36
Nah bei mir
Nah bei mir (Edition Romantica 1) - Shikomo,Tanja Bern

Story:
Schon immer wurde die junge Katelyn von Träumen heimgesucht, die sie nicht einordnen konnte. Als ihre Großmutter ihr eines Tages die Tagebücher von John McKay gibt, der vor zweihundert Jahren gelebt hat, erkennt sie überrascht, dass die Aufzeichnungen mit ihren Visionen übereinstimmen. So weckt die Lektüre der drei Bücher seltsame Erinnerungen an den jungen Zigeuner Jake, der einst mit seiner Familie auf den Ländereien der McKays lagerte und später für die adelige Familie arbeitete. Zwischen John und Jake entwickelte sich eine tiefe Liebe, die den strengen Gesetzen der damaligen Gesellschaft unterworfen war und die dennoch mehrere Jahre bestand. Für John, der nicht nur verheiratet war, sondern auch die Geschäfte der Familie führte, war Jake die Liebe seines Lebens, ebenso tief fühlte sich der Zigeuner mit dem jungen Landadeligen verbunden.

 

Katelyn taucht immer tiefer in Johns Tagebücher ein und entdeckt schnell, wie eng sie mit Jakes Schicksal verbunden ist. Zudem lernt sie in Chris einen Mann kennen, der ganz ähnliche Träume und Visionen hat, wie sie …

 

Eigene Meinung:
„Nah bei mir“ erschien in der „Edition Romantica“ des Aryuna Verlags und stammt von der Autorin Tanja Bern, die bereits mehrere Romane veröffentlicht hat. Die Geschichte um John und Jake ist ihr erster Ausflug ins Gay Romance Genre, allerdings sind weitere Bücher geplant – so ist für Juli 2015 der Gay-Vampir-Romance „Flüstern der Ewigkeit“ bei Bookshouse angekündigt.

 

„Nah bei mir“ spielt größtenteils in zwei Zeitebenen: der Gegenwart (Katelyn) und im 18. Jahrhundert (Johns Aufzeichnungen). Hin und wieder blitzen auch Jakes Gedanken auf, gerade wenn es um Begebenheiten geht, die John nicht miterlebt hat, die jedoch wichtig für die Gesamtgeschichte sind. Insgesamt nehmen Johns Tagebücher den Löwenanteil der Handlung ein, die mehrere Jahr umfasst. Der Leser erfährt wie der Landadelige zufällig Jake und dessen Familie trifft und wie sich nach und nach eine tiefe Liebe zwischen den beiden ungleichen Männern entwickelt, die trotz monatelanger Trennungen in den Wintermonaten Bestand hat. Daher steht die Liebesgeschichte zwischen John und Jake im Zentrum und man spürt wie tief die beiden Männer miteinander verbunden sind. Dabei ist man gerade John immer sehr nah, erhält einen tiefen Einblick in seine Gefühls- und Gedankenwelt und lernt durch ihn auch seine Frau Hellen, seine Familie und das Personal der McKays kennen. Auch die Fahrenden, denen Jake angehört, werden ausführlich vorgestellt, ebenso Johns Freunde und die Dorfbewohner der Umgebung. Zwar wird es mit der Zeit recht eintönig, da nicht wirklich viel passiert und auch zu historischen Begebenheiten erfährt man nur wenig, dennoch macht es Spaß John zu begleiten und die Beziehung zwischen ihm und Jake zu verfolgen.

Parallel dazu lernt man Katelyn und Chris kennen, die zweihundert Jahre später die Aufzeichnungen lesen und der Vergangenheit auf der Spur sind. Obwohl ihnen nur kleine Passagen gegeben werden, wachsen sie dem Leser ebenso schnell ans Herz wie John und Jake.

 

Die Charaktere sind sehr sympathisch und liebenswert gestaltet. Binnen weniger Seiten schließt man sowohl Katelyn und Chris, als auch John und Jake ins Herz. Sie sind gut beschrieben und handeln zumeist logisch und nachvollziehbar. Nur hin und wieder hat man das Gefühl, dass einige Dinge zu einfach sind. Sei es Jakes Familie, die die Liebe zwischen den beiden Männern vollständig akzeptiert, oder an Johns Angestellte und seine Frau, die es ahnen, jedoch nie wirklich aktiv werden. Wenn man bedenkt, wie schwer die damalige Zeit für Homosexuelle war, dass eine Enthüllung den Galgen bedeuten konnte, haben John und Jake überraschend wenig zu kämpfen. Nahezu jeder ist ihnen wohlgesonnen, weswegen man als Leser manchmal das Gefühl für die Zeit verliert. Es fühlt sich einfach nicht an wie das 18. Jahrhundert.

Auch ihr unterschiedlicher Stand (Landadeliger/Zigeuner) bringt kaum Probleme mit sich. Hin und wieder haben die beiden Männer mit kleineren Schwierigkeiten zu kämpfen, doch selbst Jakes Aufeinandertreffen mit den jungen Männern des naheliegenden Dorfes geht verhältnismäßig glimpflich vonstatten. Gerade an dieser Stelle hätte man mehr Schwung in die Geschichte bringen können, ebenso Charakterentwicklung, denn diese bleibt in weiten Teilen ebenfalls auf der Strecke.

 

Stilistisch ist „Nah bei mir“ gut gelungen. Tanja Bern hat einen sehr blumigen, detailverliebten Schreibstil, der die damalige Zeit sehr eindrucksvoll zum Leben erweckt. Binnen weniger Seiten ist man in der Geschichte, hat die Örtlichkeiten und Charaktere direkt vor Augen. Die Autorin bemüht sich zudem um historische Korrektheit, was Kleidung, Sprache und Stil anbelangt und vermittelt daher die Zeit des 18. Jahrhunderts glaubhaft. Angenehm ist auch, dass sie auf Erotik verzichtet und entsprechende Szenen zwischen John und Jake ausblendet. Explizite Szenen hätten einfach weder zum Inhalt des Buches, noch zu Johns Charakter gepasst, da ist die romantische Atmosphäre wesentlich stimmiger und angenehmer.

 

Ein paar abschließende Worte zur Aufmachung: Das Buch kommt im Hardcover daher, enthält farbige Seiten und kleine Illustrationen zwischen den Absätzen. Allerdings ist das Schriftbild denkbar schlecht gewählt: die serifenlose Schrift sorgt mit der Zeit für überanstrengte Augen und leichte Kopfschmerzen. Daher rate ich eher zum eBook, da man hierbei die Schrift selbst bestimmen kann.

 

Fazit:
„Nah bei mir“ ist ein schöner Historical Gay Romance, der mit liebenswerten, sympathischen Figuren und einem lebendigen Schreibstil punkten kann. Die Geschichte selbst ist ein wenig spannungsarm, da Tanja Bern sich nur auf die Liebesgeschichte zwischen John und Jake konzentriert und dem Paar recht wenig Steine in den Weg wirft, obwohl es in der Zeit und bei der Gesellschaft jede Menge Möglichkeiten gegeben hätte. Dadurch schöpft sie das gegebene Potenzial leider nur teilweise aus. Dennoch liest sich „Nah bei dir“ flüssig und weiß zu fesseln, so dass der Gay Romance knappe 4 Sterne erhält.

Source: www.like-a-dream.de
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review 2014-06-18 18:24
At Least it Wasn't Strike Three
Devil's Game - Joanna Wylde

I am a horrible person. I suppose that I should feel guilty about taking so much energy to rant about the horrible sh*t that went down in book 1 and book 2, when I'm about to majorly drop the ball on reviewing this book, which I actually did like.

It's not even that pointing out frustrations is more fun (oh who am I kidding; it can be), it's just that I still haven't had the time and/or desire to want to review much lately - even for books that made me happy. 

The lead female actually used her brain more than once. I know! I couldn't believe it either, after being so disappointed with Marie and Sophie in previous books. Em was a little bit stronger, a little bit tougher, and a little bit sassier.She also knew when to walk the hell away from a situation that wasn't good for her. *applause*

Hunter wasn't a role model, and that was okay for this particular story. Even with the continuation of the kidnapping plot (which I am thoroughly sick of in MC books), I felt like we got to see an admittedly damaged man come into his own in a way which felt somewhat believable. Hunter had issues, but he KNEW he had issues. He KNEW he was a stalker. He KNEW that he had to get Em off the crazy train. How much better would most super-heavy-drama books be if the screwed up characters actually took some responsibility for their shit? 

I loved watching Hunter grow. I loved watching Hunter's buried sensitive side come out. 

There was some great sexual tension, and much of it was fueled by Em. She already knew what being in the lifestyle meant and what the sacrifices would be, which made her acceptance of everything easier to digest than it had been with Marie and Sophie, who had gone along for the ride far too easily for my preference. 

I know a lot of people didn't like this book as much as the first two, but I felt the writing and characters were stronger on every level. I would rather read something that makes sense and has true character development over reading something that has no entertainment value outside of a drama/shock factor. At least this time, I didn't feel like I was being lead around through a mad house only for the purpose of waiting for a halfway decent sex scene. 

The bantering humor was a welcome addition. The sex wasn't as mind blowing as I would have liked, but the chemistry and timing was excellent, so the balance worked for me. 

My only gripe : I was very put off by the author note at the end, almost "apologizing" for the NA character ages. I agree that NA has a bit of a stigma right now, but don't justify writing what what you want to write. It only fuels the stereotype of certain things being lesser than others. While I do feel that there's a lot of crap NA out there right now, it has not ONE thing to do with character ages, and more to do with cliched and bad writing. If your book is good, it's good, regardless of character age. If the fans can't see that, shake it off and continue writing your next adult book. Please don't make explanations for what you want to do. *soapbox off*

I'm really looking forward to Picnic's book!

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review 2014-05-28 17:22
Ready to Get Off the Tour Bus
Double Time - Olivia Cunning

Very disappointed. I have enjoyed this series for the most part, and loved books 3 and 4. I can't believe I held off on reading Trey's book for so long, then ended up experiencing so much letdown.

I know that polyamory works for many people and that it can be a legitimate form of relationship(s). I have a couple of friends who live this way, so I've seen it firsthand. 

Unfortunately, it's rare that a book is able to convey this type of relationship in a believable light. The closest I've seen was in the book Rough, Raw, and Ready

Mild (nothing major) spoilers ahead.

Why Double Time did not work for me :

1. The insta-love was off the charts. I'm not anti-insta-love. In some cases, it's written fine. But we've seen it before (and done better) already in book 1 of this series. Considering Trey's backstory, it felt very bizarre that he fell in love with not only one, but TWO people so quickly. His journey to healing was too easily solved by finding Reagan. 

2. I didn't believe that the answer to Trey's heartache was to fall in love with two people. This story would have been more believable as a m/m book. Just because Trey is bisexual, it shouldn't have meant that the only way for him to be happy was to fall in love with both a man and woman.

If he wanted to live a poly lifestyle, I would have preferred him to have known this ahead of time and gone into the relationship with the female having her eyes wide open. For him to get involved with a woman, then tell her after the fact that she did NOT complete him - it made me shake my head. There are very few women people who could deal with being told that they are not enough for someone. The way that the situation was handled was the complete opposite of tactful. 

3. Trey didn't have the same uniqueness that I saw in the former books. He had lost some of his zing. I was completely bored with him outside of the sex scenes, which was not how things were before. Trey used to be my favorite character.

Things that worked for me :

Nothing. Not even the sex scenes. Something about Reagan bothered me (couldn't put my finger on it), so I couldn't even get into her head for the sex scenes. 

I'm sad that I had to end an enjoyable series on a sour note. Ah well. I've been trying to skim Sinners at the Altar and am not getting into it. Maybe I'm over the Sinners now. I don't even know why Trey's getting another book after this. Supposedly, his story wasn't wrapped up, but I'm pretty sure that I don't much care what happens next for him. 

I might still read Dare's spin-off book though. I do heart Dare.

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