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Search tags: painful-in-all-the-right-places
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review 2015-10-26 00:00
Vespertine
Vespertine - Indra Vaughn,Leta Blake

4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 because I'm so sorry for being so overly sceptical in the beginning


Oh my god, I can't believe I actually thought about putting this on my "never-going-to-read-shelf" and be done with it. But this was such a tough sell for me. Leta Blake is - I'm sorry to say it - not my most favorite author. Mainly because I had some issues with parts of Training Season, and started one other book that didn't make it on my kindle after I finished the sample and wasn't thrilled. Also, a gay priest and a rock star? I was so sceptical when I started, I almost expected to dnf this.

But holy f-ing Christ on a stick - pun intended. Was I ever WRONG. Jasper, an out but celibate priest, and Nicky, singer and songwriter hitting rock bottom too damn early in his life, drew me in so fast, I didn't even realize it until it was three in the morning and I still coulnd't stop reading.

I admit it freely, I'm a sucker for the hurt-feelings-in-the-past-theme. I love a well written story where two people who hurt and abandoned each other somehow find their way back through all the molasses that is hurt pride, broken hearts and destroyed trust, to something so new and so deep, that they can't help but explore all of it. I fell especially hard for Nicky. In some ways he could have been the absolute rock star cliché, but he really wasn't. His childhood was not desolate and lonely, even though he had a very bad start in life (to put it mildly). Jaz was not exactly my most favorite person in the world, and he too, had the potential to be the walking cartoon image of a closeted clergy man.

In the end, they both weren't what I thought they would be, which was not only refreshing, but grabbed me and didn't let me go until the last page was turned. The writing was beautiful, the journey of the two not too fast and not too slow.

The only wish I had, that wasn't fullsilled, was the sex problem. I was really hoping for a different outcome after their make-out session on their island. In a way, it was nice to not have Jaz being destroyed by his anxieties and guilt after the deed was done. But on the other hand it would have been nice to have him figure his life out, especially him leaving the priesthood, before he gave his heart and body to Nicky completely. I felt a little bit akward reading their sensual, hot sex scene, when I had the same issues Nicky had. Namely, my absolute conviction that everything would go to shit once Jaz was done thinking with his dick. In the end, it didn't, bless the authors. But it was still not what I was hoping for.

Additionally, Jaz' lack of gut-wrenching confusion, his guilt, the severe conflict between his heart and his faith, fell somewhat flat here. Not even after he broke his vows, threw a life-long commitment to his church and his faith out of the window, did some of the crushing feelings and/or guilt come. In a way, I was ecstatic, because I am a big opponent of the abstinence of catholic priests and nuns - because I'm sorry, but this is not only against everything evolution and biology tells your body to do, it's also unhealthy, outdated and in my opinion, unnecessary and cruel. But that's a story for another day. What I wanted to say was, it was nice not to have Jaz going completely bonkers after sleeping with Nicky for the first time. On the other hand I would have liked to see at least a little bit more struggle with his beliefs. Since they were the most important thing in his life for years.

Oh well, you can't have your caker and eat it, too. And in the end, there were really enough problems and struggles to last a lifetime or three. Didn't change the fact that I enjoyed the hell out of this story and would recommend it to every fan of the hurt-comfort theme. It's beautifully done here.

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review 2015-10-21 00:00
Complementary Colors
Complementary Colors - Adrienne Wilder

And another intense, beautiful read by Adrienne Wilder


"I stared at all the broken fragments of color that where once me, lying scattered around my feet."


Alright, folks, this is one intense read. On the one hand you get Roy. Simple, relaxed, calm, maybe a little mysterious himself in the beginning. He has his own demons, his own skeletons and his very own closet, albeit one with wide open doors.

Then there is Paris.

And Paris is what makes this book so colorful, but painful at the same time. He is beautiful, talented in a twisted way, caged and abused, and even though I don't like the expression much, he is the Victim with a capital "V" here. What he lived/lives through, how he suffers, is a main part of his art, of his story, of his personality. And it hurts to read it all.

Because one thing is for sure: When Adrienne Wilder writes villains, she writes them EVIL. Pure, unredeemable, ruthless, heartless Evil. Which is not something I fall for usually, but somehow she just makes it work. At least I don't feel like I'm in the middle of a Disney-inspired bad cartoon. I'm saying that just to warn potential readers. The bad guys here aren't just bad, they're despicable, disgusting, and they'll rip your heart out with a bright fake smile on their faces. You've got to have the stomach for this ind of thing if you want to read this book. Even I struggled with some of the scenes. Partly because of some violence and cruelty that was just that side of painful to read, but also partly because of a somewhat (overbearing) sense of dread I was carrying around while reading this.

Another thing I would warn potential readers about is the pace. Even though the very first scene is hot and steamy, the actual development of intimacy and love takes time. Quite some time, actually. Paris has issues. Not the (dare I say usual?) problems and baggage of a young man, but very, very serious mental health problems. And there is no magic cock here, no "love is all you need", no fast solution for everything. Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of love, devotion, help and happily ever after in here. But it isn't instant, or easy. It's a gut-wrenching, desperate journey, so you should go in prepared.

And don't ecpect change to happen over night, because as in real life, the fight against abuse, self-hate and mental illness takes time and, in most cases, never really ends. I saw some readers getting frustrated with this, with Paris and his inner struggles. Which goes to show that some people not only have no idea about mental illnesses, but that for some readers, this is just the wrong topic. Because fact of the matter is, mental problems, like borderline disorder, depression or OCD, never leave you completely. They're not "curable" or of one's own making. If you feel like all of these things are weaknesses, that people struggling with this are not strong enough, not determined enough to be well, just plain not good enough to life a "healthy" life like you, than please put this book aside and never touch it again. You are absolutely not going to like this book, I guarantee it! Because - hate me all you want for that comment - you are not made for it and you won't be able to appreciate it. It takes a (special?) kind of patience, empathy and compassion to appreciate the hard path Paris takes, and how far he comes until the end of the book. Obviously, it's not for everyone.

Also, if you can't stomach a lot of angst, cruelty or violence, you might want to pass this up. It's really not for highly sensitive readers. But for everyone else: Read it! It's absolutely worth it.


I had one issue, though. The sex. While I don't have a problem with frequent sex scenes, some of them felt kind of wrong here. Mainly because of the timing. Having a nice, hard fuck while your homicidal monster of a sister is looking for you? While you have to fear for your own life and the life of your partner? How about NO? I couldn't enjoy this particular scenes at all. I was too anxious, too tense to even appreciate the love shared between the two MCs, because all I could think was: "What the fuck are you doing?! You. Are. In. Mortal. Danger. Get your freakking bags and get the fuck out of there! She'll be there in no time at all!"

Of course they didn't, and She fucking did. I knew it, so this part frustrated me. It didn't only make me angry, but it also "provoked" and forced an ending that wasn't strictly necessary and somewhat over the top, IMHO.

Like I said, hot sex is fine and dandy, but even I need a little more "good timing" for it to not feel too forced or uncomfortable.

All in all, I enjoyed this book. I struggled with some scenes, I would definitely issue a trigger warning, and parts of the ending were a little too forced for my taste, but I'd still recommend it, just not necessarily for everyone.

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review 2015-09-27 00:00
Whistle Blowing
Whistle Blowing - Ada Maria Soto

4.5 healing stars!

I only didn't give five stars, because really?! I soooo need an epilogue, or a tiny little addition to that story! Yes, I'm greedy like that, and I really, really liked this one! It just isn't finished, yet. At least not for me.

But dang! If you want to see how to do a hurt/comfort theme right, please stay here and take a closer look. Of course I understand where some people come from, saying that the warnings for the story weren't enough for them. Even though the violence and assault are not described in detail, and only happen off page, the aftermath is a completely different can of worms. Because yes, the cleaning of ALL wounds is very graphic. But I really liked how it was done here. Very sensitive, in a quiet, respectful way that still broke my heart completely and glued it back together piece by piece afterwards. Therefore, this was clearly a slow, slow, slow burn. In addition to the extensive injuries, one character didn't even identify as gay at that point, so yes, no insta-lust or love.

For me, this was perfect. I rooted for these guys, I believed in their developing feelings and growing trust and intimacy. I also really enjoyed the amateur-spy/suspense element immensely! This story just had everything. Funny times, heart breaking scenes, hope and angst and love and everything inbetween. As I said, my only niggle really is that I absolutely need a follow-up, because that journey is so far from finished, the end hasn't even started yet. But even if I won't get my sequel, this was still absolutely worth it.

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