Thursday, December 16, 2010

Review: The Path to Forever

The Path to ForeverThe Path to Forever by Etienne

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was enticed by the blurb to read this book by a new-to-me author, but sadly, I ended up unable to really get into the story for a number of reasons.

For one, the writing style was quite unusual. Although it is told in Dani’s and Marco’s alternating first person POV, we don’t get much of the actual narrator’s thoughts or feelings since almost everything is handled through conversation. Emotions, plans, descriptions, history – everything is speech, except for the occasionally thrown – in austere report on locations or actions, and then it’s speech again.
It took me a while to realize why this bothered me so. Aside from the missing internal view – which is not necessarily a bad thing in itself – it was mostly the fact that those guys don’t talk to each other, they are holding stage-worthy dialogues. The overall effect to me was like attending a show or a play with my eyes closed, with someone describing the stage scenery to me. The writing style made it hard for me to take to the characters.

However, the mostly – dialogue writing style makes for a fast-paced reading. Others may love this book just for that.

For another thing, the story flowed along like a calm river despite all the obstacles the two heroes had to master. Marco’s mother gets kidnapped? There’s an almost impossible treaty to negotiate? There was an attempt on Marco’s and Dani’s life? For the most part, those problems are solved like, well that’s what lawyers/private investigators/investment bankers are for. When there’s no handy contractor available, the Duca’s money takes care of next to anything. Well, this is fantasy, after all, but after a while, it felt as if things just fell into Marco’s and Dani’s lap and they didn’t have to work for anything, including their relationship.

There is no on-page sex in this book, at least not between the main characters (although there is a description of Marco getting a hand-job from another gay man they become acquainted with in Aragoni). There are lots of hints at Marco and Dani having sex, but those scenes are not even fade to black, but waved aside with half sentences. It makes sense, in a way, since Marco and Dani have been together for ten years. On the other hand, the lack of physical nearness between the main characters added to my inability to connect with them. Although other characters in the book often refer to noticing Marco’s and Dani’s deep love, I couldn’t. Again, though, this is just me, and my opinion is but one. Others may very well be able to understand their relationship just from the words.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Review: Transit

TransitTransit by Raev Gray

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Several times over, here and on other sites, readers have been asked what they wish for in books. Often, the answers were along the lines of more realistic tales, real people, people who deal with their problems like adult persons and not like kindergarteners who run pouting into the Big Misunderstanding. As it turns out, these two authors actually listened and subsequently created this beautiful little gem of genuineness together.

Andrew Young is an account director with the same advertising company where Javier Castillo has been working as an art director for fifteen years now. When a flighty dissatisfied customer threatens to take her business elsewhere, the two men are sent to Singapore together in order to smoothen the waves.

About the only thing Andrew and Javier have in common is that both are gay, but previous to this shared business trip they only knew each other through the company rumor mill. Thus both are not overly comfortable when a freak snowstorm strands them in Malpensa, Northern Italy, and a scarcity of accomodations throws them together in one hotel room. Over Christmas, of all times. Wagging tongues have branded Andrew as a slut since he’s said to have slept with a customer for an account, while Javier is considered a solitary workaholic who -

“only pretends that he’s gay so he doesn’t have to go home to his wife and children”

However, the forced closeness and growing mutual attraction soon lead to the inevitable, and they have sex. It’s almost by accident that Javier, the more reserved of the pair, initiates it. Andrew, who’s had a silent crush on Javier for a while, responds with an enthusiasm that soon works its way beneath and behind Javier’s inhibitions.

Javier is a romantic who has almost exclusively had long – term relationships. He’s also someone who dislikes unpredictability and prefers to be in control of everything, starting with his career right through to his physical reactions when he has an orgasm. When he realizes how fast and how far his feelings for Andrew exceed sexual attraction, he’s scared almost to the point of bolting. Andrew, on the other hand, is just recovering from breaking up with an unfaithful, selfish boyfriend. He has been burned over and over like this in the past since he seems to have a talent for always picking the wrong men, and he’s fed up . In Javier, he sees the solidity and reliability he secretly craves, if Javier would just come around and make up his mind.

And here comes the best part, people: those guys TALK to each other. They talk things through, they work things out, and they talk in order to make things work. They even talk during sex, not your usual dirty remarks and demands (although those occur, too), but about ordinary things, and important things, and their wishes and dreams in bed and beyond

“…as if the sex were only an incidental part of the conversation. Oddly enough, maybe it was. They were connecting, and not just physically.”

Considering they both work in the advertising business, where words are everything, and considering how much they both enjoy what they do and live through their work, I could totally buy this as their way of building a relationship. It fits both their personalities and rounds them. It’s simply wonderful to watch how Javier opens up to Andrew, how his artist’s habit of drawing, scribbling and sketching all the time actually helps him sort things out for himself. Later, when Javier’s fears and Andrew’s misplaced secrecy threaten to drive them apart, they don’t retire sulkily into their mutual shells, either. Javier seeks a friend’s advice to get his head on straight, and Andrew opens his door for Javier and listens to him. They each give a little, take a little, and in the end, both agree that life doesn’t give guarantees, but some things are just worth taking a risk.

There was no exaggerated drama and only very little angst in this story, no breathtaking action or dreadful fate, no power play and no unsurmountable obstacles. Andrew and Javier are just two ordinary people with ordinary problems and normal fears and precautions who have something wonderful happen to them, and when they realize how precious it is what they have, they work together to make it last.

This sweet treasure of a story Raev Gray and Aleksandr Voinov came up with together is absolutely worth exploring. Don’t miss it.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Review: Frontier Men

Frontier MenFrontier Men by J.P. Bowie

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The story opens with Red Hawk returning to his mother’s Shoshone tribe from his exile in the “white man’s” world. He experiences a surprisingly warm welcome there, particularly from the chief’s younger brother, Fighting Bear, with whom he soon falls in love. Their happy yet secret relationship comes to a sad and sudden end when Fighting Bear dies in a fight against white soldiers. Red Hawk takes his lover’s murderer captive, but he is expelled from the Shoshone when he finds himself unable to kill the defenseless man. Now he’s on his own again, with no clothes, shelter, and with only his weapons to rely on for food. After he has lived through his first winter alone, the loneliness gets to him. When he comes across a white fur-hunter, he finds himself intrigued. Red Hawk decides to stalk the white man and, to his delight, discovers the paleface is a lover of men, too. A raging bear just comes in handy for him to make the huntsman’s acquaintance.

Daniel MacLeod left Pennsylvania after he lost the man he loved to tragic circumstances. He still misses his dead lover, but has been silently longing for a companion for a while now. On his way back to the trading post, a strangely attractive young Indian crosses his path, soon followed by a mad grizzly bear. The two men fight the powerful beast together, finally beating it, but the Indian apparently gets severely hurt in the process. Although Daniel wants nothing to do with a “thieving redskin”, he finds himself attracted to that particular one, so much so he can’t help but becoming intimate with him. Before Daniel knows, he has gotten himself a companion, one who makes it very clear he won’t be shaken easily. No one is more surprised than Daniel himself to realize he quite likes the prospect.

Now continuing their journey together, Daniel and Red Hawk have an unpleasant encounter with three rowdies in the trade post’s saloon, forcing them to leave quickly. They decide to head for California and use the money Daniel made to start a horse farm, a dream they both share. But the three rowdies catch up with them. Before robbing them of all their possessions, including their weapons, they truss Daniel up and make him watch as they each take a turn in raping Red Hawk. Afterwards, Daniel wants to seek revenge, but Red Hawk convinces him to let Fate take care of the evildoers’ punishment. Yet, the shared dreadful experience has strengthened their bond and made them realize that what they feel for each other is more than a fleeting attraction. They travel on, overcoming the hardships of being almost weaponless in the wilderness together. However, their struggles aren’t over yet. When they encounter the three rowdies again, it isn’t about humiliation and robbery anymore. This time, their love must stand the test of a fight for life and death.

I liked the characters, particularly Red Hawk. He is sweet and easygoing by nature, and quite naive in a way, and yet makes sure he gets what he wants, resorting to manipulation if he must. Some of his shenanigans made me think of him as an American Indian fairy queen, if there is such a thing. Daniel is equally good-natured, although he has a hot temper, and he puts up with Red Hawk’s games even though he knows that he’s being played, and he stands up for Red Hawk against other white men. The attraction between them is clear and mutual, and the sex is hot. Both complement each other and grow together over the course of the story yet I couldn’t quite get into the tale. Daniel and Red Hawk shared some humorous moments, and they expressed their mutual feelings to each other, but I couldn’t entirely buy it. Perhaps this was partly due to the element of insta-love and the way how Red Hawk was first described as feeling eternally connected to Fighting Bear and a few pages later he’s experiencing the same feelings regarding Daniel. Also, the author chose to make both of them think and act like a rather modern gay couple. They could have been taken out of the 1820′s and placed into some contemporary suburb, and they’d still have worked.

My biggest issue was the last part of the book, though, the entire business with the three rogues. Those scenes felt like taken from “Storytelling 101″. Get the heroes together, check. Create a challenge for them, check. Let them overcome it and grow stronger doing so, check. Technically, it was perfectly done, but it lacked genuineness. Subsequently, the rape scene felt cold and distant where it should have been disturbing, and both Red Hawk and Dan dealt with it like it was almost meaningless – which made me wonder why it had to happen in the first place.

Overall, a quite nice and entertaining story with some funny moments and likeable characters. I’d recommend it to fans of the romantically – transfigured view to the Old West who like Indians pictured as noble savages and their White friends as gruff, golden – hearted bears.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Angel Requiem by Jaime Samms

Summary Review:
Not your usual m/m romance, but a delicious, almost lyrical allegory on the power of love.

The Blurb:
In a world without hope that kills what it can’t understand, a solitary priest who has lost all he ever loved may be the last man to still believe in Angels. In the end, his belief may be all that can safeguard the fate of two Angel lovers—and restore his own faith in the power of love.

The Review:
In a not-so-distant future, humanity has lapsed from faith, which rendered the angels pointless.  Now they’re wandering aimlessly among the humans who have turned to hunt and kill those they have once worshipped. In an unnamed wintery city, a lone priest guards his old church and its cemetery in which his brother was buried ten years ago . The priest has lost everything – his brother to the drugs, his lover to a murder, his purpose in life to the lack of faith. The only thing that’s left to him is a hidden power of healing which he doesn’t dare to make use of; and yet he can barely restrain it: whenever he touches the ground, it breaks into greenery and flowers. The voices of the dead sing to him in his mind and lead him to the murder of yet another angel, but he just watches him die and adds the bullet which killed the angel to his growing pile of mementos, as he has done for years.
One day the priest meets a pair of angels who are lovers – Michael, a warrior angel, and beautiful, delicate Gabriel. Watching them, witnessing their tender affection, stirs something in the priest’s frozen soul.  He finds himself longing desperately for what those two have.  They even seem to be offering something, but the priest is too far gone in his hopelessness and sends them away. A while later, though, Gabriel returns to him, beaten bloody an dying. When Gabriel tells him about the attack which might have cost Michael’s life, too, the priest realizes he can’t hide any longer.  He has to finally let loose his power, not for himself, but for the sake of those two, in order to save them and their love – even if this may cost his own life.
Over most of the story the lone priest remains nameless. We look at the world through his eyes and thoughts. Since he’s mostly living inside his head, we don’t learn much about the world in itself, but more about the way the priest sees it, which makes for an emotional, if at times disconcerting experience.  There is almost no worldbuilding; with a few dry words the author depicts a world that is disturbingly familiar and yet just distant enough from our own to be fictional.  Also, there is almost no backstory (which is partly due to the format, of course); for example, we never learn why the priest is so afraid of using his power in the first place, or how he came to hear the voices of the dead all the time.  Many things are not explained, they just happen. The reader follows their course together with the priest, reacting rather than willingly influencing them until the need to decide forges ahead and becomes unavoidable.  The overall effect is not confusing, as one might think it would be, but very intense, bordering on poetic. The motive of love, faith and hope pervades the entire story, embodied beautifully by a little girl in a red coat who, to the nameless priest, eventually turns into a promise for a possible better future.
The “purists”  among us may want to give this a pass, though, since there is no sex at all, it is barely hinted at by the end, almost as an afterthought. Even the actual romance takes a backseat to the allegory.  But those who are willing to veer outside the familiar tracks are in for a treat with this fine, spirited little piece of prose. I enjoyed it greatly and hope to get to read more by this author in the future.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Review: Death of a Blues Angel

Death of a Blues Angel  Death of a Blues Angel by Sarah Black

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's 1966 and although people of all races live quite peacefully together in Washington DC, it's an entirely different story in the South. Three famous old black masters of blues, James Hurt, Blue Otis and Blind Pete, come to perform in the Blues Angel Bar, Washington DC. With them is a young white man, Rafael Hurt, who plays the blues just like they do.
Deacon, half black and half comanche, a reporter with the Washington Post, is sent to the Blues Angel by his boss, Brian, who is also his good friend. Deke is reluctant to go, since he doesn't see the point in interviewing three old me just to write a Christmastime feelgood story like Brian insists he do. Besides, the Post already has a music reporter. But when Deke gets to know Rafe and his three old men better, he is lost. Rafe and Deke fall into mutual attraction almost immediately, and it turns to love for both of them faster than they ara aware.
During Rafe's first gig at the Blues Angel, a young girl is murdered. This murder, and its painful solution almost tears Deke and Rafe apart. Set in their mutual ways, they have to follow their respective fates, even though this might mean losing each other. Then again, their love is strong and true; it might even be strong enough to overcome everything that separates them.

This story was so unbelievably wonderful I didn't want it to end.
The fast, laconic writing style created a film-noir feeling which formed the perfect backdrop to a story so old, sad and sweet like the blues itself. Rafe, depicted as an angelically beautiful boyish man, is deeply rooted in his homeland's ways, tangled up in a net of familial ties he can't escape, even at the price of losing his newfound love. Deke, self-contained lone wolf, never had a family to speak of and has always suspected he'd end up alone. When he meets and falls in love with Rafe, the hope of having found a companion and the pain of losing him again almost break him. These two men are so different and yet so perfect for each other, both so intense and absolut in their determination that their love shimmersand dances from the pages.
This story is as simple, clear and multi-layered as the music which it is all about, the kind of music that needs to be sung when you just can't keep it in any longer.
Don't miss this story, it's worth it beyond words.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Review: 'Til Darkness Falls

'Til Darkness Falls'Til Darkness Falls by Pearl Love

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3,5 Stars

Ancient Egypt, about 1000 years before our time. Prince Rahotep and his slave Tiye love each other deeply, their union favored by Fate itself. But Rahotep's intended bride Hebeny feels cheated of her rightful position of power by Rahotep's side and in his bed. Out of jealousy and hurt pride, she magics up Set, the wicked ruler of the Egyptian underworld. With his help, she manages to turn Rahotep and Tiye against each other. But Set's curse dooms Hebeny to repeat her scheme again and again as she follows the lovers through centuries of reincarnation, for if she fails to turn their love to hate, Hebeny's own soul is forfeit.

Three thousand years later in an unnamed contemporary North American city. Brian Macon, burnt-out, shy, introverted homicide detective is having a drink at a gay bar when a beautiful blond man with an enticingly exotic accent hits on him. Brian is immediately drawn to the stranger who he later learns is a German writer, and the attraction is mutual. The men land in bed together before they even get to exchange names. Soon their passionate affair turns into much more. But Alrick Ritter isn't only a man who loves Beethoven and used to play the cello until a tragic accident robbed him of this pleasure. He's also a hitman and the very sniper Brian is currently hunting. Hebeny, following her ancient curse, has once again set the fated lovers onto the high road to perdition. But as she leans back to gleefully watch the show, something starts to go wrong. It seems that in this incarnation, Brian's and Alrick's love will finally overcome Hebeny's eternal hate.

This book was awfully hard to rate for me.

On the one hand, the plot idea was fascinating. Fated lovers, meeting and falling in love again and again in every reincarnation, doomed to have their love turned into murderous hate every single time...what a wonderful, tragical drama! Both the contemporary and the historical plot line were well done, with sizzling eroticism and true, heartbreaking emotions. Brian Macon was a well rounded, haunted character, his partner Angela a motherly enforcer everybody would love to know, and his captain a wonderfully malicious bitch. The bad boys were your old-school mafia stereotypes, so exaggerated I think they were intentional, and the supportive cast were just as colorful.
Rahotep and Tiye were less well elaborated, but nevertheless likeable characters, Hebeny was acting just the spoiled, ambitious, arrogant teenage girl she was supposed to be, and Set was deliciously mischievous, just like the ancient legends picture the evil god.

The writing had its flaws, though. Both Alrick's and Brian's back stories are told several times, first by the author during the narrative. Later Brian tells his story to Angela in his own words, and Aldrick's story is revealed to Brian by Alrick's sister, and once again when Brian tells Angela about Aldrick. It's the same spiel with Tiye's and Rahotep's story which is repeated at least three times, at wearisome length and with barely any variations. A little more concise would have the story flow a lot of good.
Yet, when it comes to action, either fights or emotions or sex, there's nothing to bitch about. Those scenes are fast-paced and powerfully written. Even though some sex scenes come across as gratuitous, they are particularly beautiful and nothing to complain about.
Considering the multitude of complicated plot lines, they were surprisingly smoothly woven together with just the tiniest inconsistencies regarding former and present incarnations by the end.

The main reason why I found this hard to rate was the fact that I'm German. I was enticed when I saw one of the main characters was my nationality, and it amused me greatly that Brian thought Alrick's German accent erotic. The story is peppered with background info about East/ West Germany and untranslated German words and phrases. And this is where my but comes in. With a capital B.
Alrick's German is awful, plain and simple. Most of the time he uses outdated or completely inappropriate words and has no command of grammar. This makes him sound uneducated, even stupid although he clearly is anything but. His sister is just as bad. I won't harp on about Alrick's backstory, there are some facts which aren't quite right, but forgiveable since this is fiction, after all. But why, if Alrick being a German is so very important, not have the book proofread by a German native speaker? Those mistakes thoroughly marred Alrick's character for me, to a point I found him annoying and couldn't enjoy the story anymore. Yet, someone who doesn't speak German probably wouldn't notice anything at all, thus I couldn't let this influence my rating.

I'd recommend this book for fantasy - fans and romantics who don't mind a bit of repetitive telling. It's got a fascinating plot and a good story.

'Till Darkness Falls is part of DSP's Bittersweet Dreams Series which features m/m romance stories with untraditional endings.

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Review: On Days Like These

On Days Like TheseOn Days Like These by Christiane France

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Merk, a writer searching a cure for his writer's block by means of traveling from Paris to his ancestor's house near Genoa, Italy. After the trip from hell, he arrives at the house in the middle of the night, only to find it broken into, ransacked, and occupied by a flock of chickens. To crown it all, there's a naked man sleeping in the only remaining usable bed.
Yet that sleeping man turns out to be sexy, funny, enticing and generally a good person which might be just what Mark needed.

A sweet, funny story about how something good can come out of even the worst that can happen. Set in Italy, it doesn't feel overly Italian, could just as well take place in the San Francisco Bay area, for example. Yet it was fun to read, very entertaining and I recommend it for a lazy, rainy fall afternoon - heartwarming like a good cup of tea.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Faster than sorrow

When I was nine years old, I fell in love for the first time.
This was when I was riding pillion behind my father's broad back on his 250ccm MZ, and at the red light next to us stopped a slender, black, elegant motorbike which made a deep, throaty "blop-blop - blop-blop" instead of "eng-degedeng-degedenng" like the MZ did. From that day, I dreamed of riding that motorbike just to feel the shuddering vibrations this sound made for myself.
They say be careful for what you wish, you might be granted it. I was. And boy, did I love her, my beautyful,skittish Yamaha SR 500 bitch. She had a kickstart which was really tricky for me since I had only about 120 pounds on me.The lever had to be brought down with maximum momentum at just the right speed and angle for the engine to catch without the whole contraption toppling over. She had a fickle gas and tended to die at red lights when I forgot to play with the throttle. But she VIBRATED and her sound BOOMED. She got opened up at some point, giving her 50 ps which is quite the guts for a bike of roughly 340 pounds plus rider, and she was lithe and nimble - not a single traffic jam for me anymore, I skidded right through those even the big bikes got stuck in.
Over time it was exactly the thing I loved most about her that did her in, though. The vibrations loosened parts, and I got fed up cleaning up winkers, mirrors, screws and bolts behind me. I lost my left hind flash in the middle of Autobahn once and couldn't replace it with the original parts not produced anymore. And she was slow, even at 50 ps, and my spine which stopped to be so young as it used to be suffered seriously during longer rides.
Well, just like real life, I suppose. I came across a younger, heartier version of my dear old lady, and since I couldn't afford two bikes, my spinster got replaced. The Yamaha 600 Fazer became my bonnie lass, a big-bosomed wench, eager to dance and strong enough to pull her parts.
She's the one which now takes me away faster than sorrow and faster than pain.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Review: Sleeping Stone

Sleeping StoneSleeping Stone by Alexa Snow

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jazz Stone is playful, chaotic, relentless, open, funny, impulsive and endlessly interested in anything that goes on around him. In other words he's everything that Chris Turner isn't. When they meet, it's like opposites attract quite from the beginning, and what starts out as a funny pastime grows into something more over the weeks. But when Chris finally is ready to throw his misgivings overboard and moves in with Jazz, there's suddenly another man with them in the picture: Richard, Jazz's ex. Richard is obviously still in love with Jazz, and what's worse, Jazz still loves Richard. But the biggest surprise, even to Chris himself, is that he feels attracted to Richard too, and in a big way, a feeling Richard wholeheartedly returns. It takes all three men quite a bit of time to acknowledge that maybe three people can be as good together as two, but finally they manage. Now they're a still slightly awkward, but for the time being, stable threesome, this could get perfect. Hadn't Jazz gotten a liking to driving a motorbike he can't master. Hadn't he had a terrible accident which throws him in a coma.
And now Chris and Richard, left alone are hanging in a terrible lurch of time, nearly speechless without Jazz's inexhaustible energy, waiting for the man they both love to wake up. But will he ever?

The story started kind of slow; it took two or three chapters getting used to the alternation between the present tense parts which tell about Chris spending time with Jazz in the hospital and the past tense parts which tell about the story of the three men getting together. (Both parts are mostly not connected as regards content; luckily the present tense parts are printed in italics and easily discernible. )
But it rapidly took up speed, and when it did, it became an unable-to-put-down read.
Since the story is told entirely from Chris's point of view, Jazz is pictured the most colorful and thorough of the three. We see him through Chris's eyes and therefore presumably mostly through pink-hued glasses, but still he's a very likeable character. His carelessness borders on daredevilry, his self-confidence on egoism, but he is so considerate and so very much aware of Chris that there is no doubt why Chris simply has to fall for him as hard as he does. Chris, on the other hand, is easily manipulated by Jazz, but mostly for his own good; he is someone who has to be dragged to his own luck kicking and screaming, but he is also protective and caring AND manages to give Jazz space. Richard is least drawn out, but still the characterization is well enough to understand why both Jazz and Chris are drawn to him.

There were some minor issues, too, first and foremost with the threesome in on itself. From Chris's former characterization I simply couldn't see him accepting Richard into their relationship as easy as he does - unless Jazz pushes him towards it, and that takes sympathy points from Jazz. Still, the relationship, after it is established, is nicely done and in fact is one of the strongest pros for this story.
There's also a lot of sex scenes. And while some of those are integral to the plot and the development of the characters, there are also some superfluous scenes (albeit greatly done ones, so I won't complain too much)

Overall, a great book about the power of love overcoming even the biggest obstacles. Very gripping and a wonderful story. Definitely recommended.

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Review: Bound by Blood

Bound by Blood (Soul Mates, #1)Bound by Blood by Jourdan Lane

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Peter is a bartender at Rave, a gay night club in an AR Houston where vampires, werewolves and any other kind of paranormal creatures are a quite common thing. Peter's been working there for over ten years, or so it seems, having an on-off fuck-buddy relationship with his fellow bartender Jack, Jack's boyfriend Mike and a number of one-night stands, mostly strangers passing through. One night, though, just another stranger catches Peter's eye and soon Peter can't get the beautiful, mysterious Lucien out of his head anymore. In the beginning, Peter freaks a little over Lucien being a vampire, but the hot sex and the pleasures of being with a vampire soon help him come around. Finally, Lucien's very existence is threatened, and Peter throws all inhibitions overboard as his beloved needs him so desperately.

This book was like a train wreck: twisted, flooded with blood, outright horrible, but unable to look away from. Geez, the bucketfuls of semen and the gallons of blood those characters spill! In Lucien's and Peter's world, sex is the answer to just about everything. We need to talk about this? let's have sex. Your're pissed at me/ someone else/the world in general? Let's have sex, preferably with those you're pissed at, too. We're in mortal danger? Let's have sex first. Oh, and don't forget, if sex doesn't help, there's always the blood, which can answer teh otehr half of the questions.

Don't get me wrong, I liked this book. Although there was so much sex I lost track of who put his what in whose what first, or last, or sometimes in between, those sex scenes were still hot, and a lot of emotion was transported through them. The relationship between Peter and Lucien was very good, and the author even managed to add their respective pets (Caleb and Xander)and exes (Antoine, Christopher and Jack) into the mix and make the way those are all bonded together in love, lust and mating believable. But outside of sex, blood and action, there was quite a lot left to want.
The worldbuilding, for example. Vampires, werewolves, incubi and whatnot are mixed up and thrown together like in a funny shaker. Okay, it's fiction, and its this author's world, but still - lore is lore, and if you're about to break familiar patterns, you better make sure you're really consistent about it.
Another major issue was why Peter was so important to Lucien in the first place. Peter was nothing special, he even came across as a bitchy queen at times. So this Lucien has waited four hundred years and won his position as Master Vampire in a bloody fight, and for what? A quite ordinary Joe who happens to be pretty and who needs to be convinced he loves Lucien in the first place? Well, love isn't partial, I guess. Still, once Peter has been convinced he actually loves Lucien, the relationship is, as I said above, beautiful and deeply empotional.

All in all, a story for those who like lots of (HOT) sex with multiple partners, overwhelming emotions and don't mind inconsistency, lack of logic, convenient solutions and lots and lots of blood.

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Review: Stirring Up Trouble

Stirring Up Trouble Stirring Up Trouble by Z.A. Maxfield

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now this was an absolutely fantastic read!

Evan is wonderfully gruff, the classical golden-hearted bear, and Toby might be his perfect Goldilocks. The villains are deliciously mean, and Toby's little nephew is simply edible.

The author managed to capture the world of the high cuisine perfectly. Every single one of the cooks, chefs and waiters are taken right from real life. Evan and Toby are real people with real issues perfect for each other.

This book belongs on every m/m reader's menue. Definitely recommended.

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Way of the Sword

"Hey, Earl!"

The stocky security guardsman in his glass cubicle jumped at Arvid's voice from behind his back and sputtered into his drink, spilling it all over the magazine he was reading. Arvid got a glimpse of bare breasts, now soaked in coffee, and winced. Earl looked up at him and, finishing his coughing and trying to hide his mag at the same time, squeezed out: "Mr. Sveinsson! You scared me half to death. Didn't expect you here at that time of the night."

Arvid leaned his tall figure against the doorframe, arms crossed over his chest. "Why are you here, anyway? Aren't you supposed to do your rounds by now?"

The man puffed up. "Why, I just finished one, at 2:30 and everything was quiet. You can take a look for yourself." He pointed at the bank of four monitors in front of him. Each screen displayed a different security camera take of the empty Main Hall. The pictures switched every ten seconds to another location.

Arvid nodded. "And you're always keeping an eye on the monitors, I'm sure," he said, his face stern. The guardsman visibly tried to judge whether Arvid was joking or not, and obviously settled for yes, for he winked an eye and grinned. "Always one eye, Mr. Sveinsson," he said.

"However," Arvid straightened. "You know, Samuels has been complaining about the armory being in disarray in the mornings for a week now, and I came here tonight to check it. Probably a waste of time, but I'd like to be sure. No offense to you, Earl."

"None taken", Earl said, although his sour face belied his words.

"Would you please tell your colleague at the back doors that I'm gonna be around for a while?" Arvid asked. "I will contact one of you when I'm leaving."

Earl nodded, and Arvid gave him a thin smile and turned. Walking away, he could hear Earl on his walkie-talkie. "Listen up, Razeen, we've got us a visitor. No, it's Mr. Sveinsson. Yes, the stunt coordinator. Says he's gonna check the armory. Dunno..." the voice faded to a faint murmur behind him as he entered the Hall proper. He didn't care if they were annoyed. After more than ten years as a stuntman and actor, this was his first job as stunt coordinator and Master of Swords. And this film was an ambitious fantasy game adaptation with a ridiculously generous budget and a director famous for shooting blockbusters. It was all about his special subjects:  martial arts, swordplay, and riding horses. Ben Johnson, leading man of the film and Hollywood's recently most successful actor, even took swordfighting lessons with him. Nothing, not the slightest crap, was to go awry with this job, if it was up to him. And he would not rely on derelict security men to make sure that his charge, an armory full of valuable custom-made weapons, was as safeguarded as possible.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Review: Strawberries for Dessert

Strawberries for Dessert (Coda Books, #4)Strawberries for Dessert by Marie Sexton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What happens if a flaming, flamboyantly out gay man meets an uptight, half-closeted accountant? Sparks fly, of course. At first it's sparks from two diametrally opposite characters clashing, but soon its from an entirely different sort of friction.

Jon and Cole are opposites if there ever where. Set up on a blind date together by Cole's former casual lover, Jared from "Promises", their first meeting is a diaster. Jon is constantly on the phone with work, annoying Cole so much he walks out. Luckily, Cole found Jon interesting enough to leave his phone number and give him a second chance. Slowly, very carefully, their "it's-just-sex" arrangement moves along and changes into something far more serious. When they finally both realize it's love they feel, it's almost too late.

This was another wonderful book by Marie Sexton. Although it's loosely connected to her "Coda, Colorado"-Series, it can be read as a standalone.
The characters were wonderful. I loved Cole, the very picture of what Jon's father calls rightly a fruitcake, so affectionate and gay cliché, yet hiding his vulnerable, loveable self behind his attitude. And I also loved Jon, who's self-centered and obsessed with climbing the company ladder, and needed Cole's pushing to quit vegetating and start living. They were very real and very believable together. The emotions are so vivid and understandable, they seem to shine through the pages.

Jon, the 1st person narrator, was given an unique voice by hints of colloquial language in the narrative. The author managed to make him sound genuine, like a real person; at times the story didn't feel read but more like listened to, as if Jon told it in person over a glass of his beloved Chianti. And Cole's mannerisms, wich at times rubbed off on Jon, were sometimes hilarious.

Well, some obstacles are quite conveniently solved, and the last few sentences could have been just as easily left out, but this didn't lessen the experience of this story. Simply great, enthralling, wonderful. Highly recommended.

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Review: The Station

The StationThe Station by Keira Andrews

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sweet, really sweet. Colin Lancaster, son of a wealthy English family fell in love with his father's horse groom when he was only a kid, but it takes him witnessing Patrick's trysting with another man to realize the true nature of his feelings. Shocked and horrified, he tries to deny what he feels, because it is against everything his 19th centuries morales teach, but to no avail. When Patrick is found out, Colin puts out for him and reveals his desires in front of his entire family. Both men are shipped off to the colonies, Australia in their case. During the long passage on the convict's ship, Patrick and Colin grow closer, but only when fate in the form of a frightened, widowed woman extends its hand, they get to truely know each other and finally find out whether this strange, dangerous land may hold a futuree for them together.

There was much to like about this story. Colin, coming to terms with his true nature and telling about it with his own voice, is sometimes as naive as one would expect a sheltered schoolboy of his times to be; it's hard to remember he's actually supposed to be twenty years old. He welcomes the sudden and thorough changes in his life with open arms, determined to see a good in every bad thing that happens to him. He was truely likeable in his unshakeable optimism. Patrick, on the other hand, gloomy and forbidding, is very well drawn too, a proud man so busy being at odds with his fate that he can't see beyond his destroyed dreams.

The story is mostly narrative, though; there's precariously little showing with all the telling. Yet, some of the lengthy narrative describes early Australia beautifully, the action scenes, when they happen, are great, and the sex scenes are beautifully done and hardly ever superfluous. The author went about the task of showing the coming-out of a nineteenth century youth with a loving, skillfull hand and in a truely entertaining way. Positively recommended.

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Review: Trinity Trespass by Val Kovalin

Val Kovalin owns the obsidianbookshelf blog ( where she reviews m/m romance books. She's also a wonderful author in her own right.
This is how I reviewed her first book, Trinity Trespass, on goodreads:

Demons were freed from Hell by the first atomic bomb launched by J.Robert Oppenheimer at Trinity Site. Since then, they walk the earth among us, lead by their "higher-ups", the cadre, and fought every step of the way by their eternal enemies, the Angels. Demons and angels are connected by a kind of common mind, the Collective, an energy net through which they can sense each other's souls right down to detecting true feelings and lies. Only in New Mexico the Collective isn't as powerful as it is everywhere else; there is a border, set by the Cadre, to create a no-man's-land where neither angels nor demons are supposed to reign.
This is, in short, about the essence of the worldbuilding as I perceived it. A very interesting and unique concept. The author plays on the chords of Catholic lore, giving it some new twists which sometimes remind of "the Exorcist" and sometimes of the Matrix movies. For example, the angels are the bad boys here, since they obviously think they will return to Heaven when their physical body dies no matter what they do. The demons, fearing death since it means their return to Hell, seem to be much keener on balancing good and bad.

Since the worldbuilding is so complicated it was amazing how the author managed to get it across through the thoughts of Parnell, the 3rd person narrator, or through dialogue. Due to this, though, the book was also a bit slow to begin. Even one of the key events which happens early on is almost drowned under the need to get more information across.
Yet, after about one-third of the book, the picture is clear, and Parnell and Navarro take off like rockets. Those two are totally hot together, it was easy to buy the emotional passion which needed frequent release through wild sex (of which there is a lot from the very beginning). There was love and hate precariously balanced between them, underlined by Navarro's fierce loyality and Parnell's desperate need.

The third man, Chavez, remained a bit of a mystery. An angel-demon-hybrid, he's sought after by the Cadre after he has been used by the angels for several years. They suppressed his sexuality completely, and now, let loose, he makes up for lost time with Navarro and Parnell.  Both were attracted to him and he to each of them, threatening to trip their power-play. In the end Chavez is still an outsider, but not because Navarro and Parnell make him, but because he simply is what he is.
This book is more about the world and characters than about plot (although there IS plot!). I think the author did a great job, and hope she won't let all that work go to waste by NOT writing a sequel. This cries for one. 
An unusual, intriguing fantasy with speedy action and a lot of very passionate sex. Definitely recommended.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Review: Persistence Pays by Mara Ismine

Librarian and martial arts enthusiast Asa Hartvigsen is less than thrilled when Tan Gordon shows up on his doorstep one rainy night soaking wet and looking for a place to get dry and spend the night. Although Tan is hot as hell, Asa kept trying to hold him at arm's lenght because Tan has a reputation and Asa isn't inclined to become one of Tan's tricks. But, as Asa puts it, Tan is like a stray cat: show them one moment of friendliness and you never get rid of them again. So Tan kept coming back stubbornly for five years, kind of pushing into Asa's life, obviously determined to stay there. The night and the following morning could have been one of their usual dances around the subject if, yes if not Asa's parents had decided to drop by in the morning. Asa's mother who threw herself to the task of having a gay son with body and soul, immediately takes a liking in Tan, and their little scheme changes things for Asa once and for all.

This was a really nice little story, full of humor and sweetness. Some lines had me laughing out loud, and the character of Asa's mother was one of the best supporting characters I've ever come across. Asa made me want to smack him over the head sometimes with his stubborn determination to save himself from getting hurt and his gruffy refusal to take the good offering that was right in front of his nose - a feeling I obviously shared with Asa's mom. Tan was sunny, open and fetching and totally likeable. It was heartwarming to watch Tan going to such lengths in order to win the heart of a hedgehog-like bristling loner like Asa. I was happy to see them coming to terms with each other.
A fine, nicely done, entertaining short read. Recommended for everyone who wants to escape reality for a while and have a really good time.

Out there

When I first met Hunter, he was carrying a Saker falcon on his fist through JFK airport's International Terminal arrival hall. He was lost, and yet he didn' t look it, winding through the crowd, heedless of the strange looks he got. I watched him as the authorities in the body of PAPD officer Mark Bowman stopped him, and I watched him sizing the officer up, picking up his scent and deciding to give it a try. I coudn't fight back silent amusement when I saw the poor officer's reaction as Hunter worked his magic with quiet self - confidence and zenlike serenity. It made me wonder what could make a man like this lose his cool, and why it was Mark, of all people, would be the one to make him. And this lead to wondering how a man like Hunter could have become that way in the first place, what it might have taken to build those many layers of stillness around a burning hot, untiring core.
This was when Hunter stepped forward to tell me his story. I only needed to write it down.

The result became a short story, DESERT FALCON.
I liked it. Actually, I liked it a lot.  I let a few people read the story, and guess what? They liked it, too.
So I decided to give it a try. Do you know what happened?

Make an educated guess, as the angels suggests to the dead man with the coffee maker in the commercial.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Why do women read and write about gay men?

Yes, why, anyway?
I think if you asked every female reader of gay fiction, the answers would fill volumes. I can only speak for myself.
First and foremost, I like men. Well, women too, but still... I go by one man is good, two men are better. Go  figure. That's why gay sex scenes are better. Twice the cock, twice the fun, isn't it? Well, maybe there's an element of voyeurism to that, and the thrill of reading (or watching - there IS gay porn on the 'net, didn't you know?) something which the average woman isn't likely to ever come across in real life.
Men aren't women. The dynamics between two men are different from what there is between a man and a woman, and very different from what is between two women. Since I'm no man, I'm fascinated with watching two men, particularly two men who fall in love for each other, which is what I haven't expected personally and thus need to learn from description.
The world of gay literature isn't only m/m romance, there's a lot of gay fiction and also non-fiction out there. Romance, well show me a woman who doesn't like romance, whatever kind she prefers.For that matter, show me a MAN who doesn't want, deep inside, hidden even beneath his deepest layers of cool and successful and don't give a shit, to find the one person who loves him and who he can love. And that's what Romance is about, isn't it?

Anyway. Jay has something to say to the topic of women getting their kicks out of watching gay men getting it on.

Jay speaks:

There was this gay bar in Heidelberg, not far from Karlstorbahnhof. Whisky-a Gogo
It was really famous back in the day,with people coming as far as from Frankfurt just to see Claudia, the owner, dancing in his paper dress. There were always some women in there, either lesbians who hadn't their own place yet back then, or straight women, who were looking for a place where they could have a quiet drink with no-one there to hit on them. Well, some of them were there for the eye-candy, too, I guess, just like me. I didn't begrudge them their pleasure
Klaudia, Klaus actually, didn't care for women overly much, though. Why, I don't know, maybe it was just that he didn't have any use for them. He was a pretty enough boy, a beauty actually, and maybe he was afraid of going into a contest or whatever. Anyway, one night, or  rather one early morning we were still having a good time, just us guys, no women present, and to my knowledge, no straight guys either. There was some action going on in the booths and bathrooms and we were all pretty shit-faced when the doorbell rang. The Whisky was a club, after all. Klaudia went to answer the door in his paper dress which was almost not there anymore from being so soaked. Just then the music paused, and we all heard two female giggles, and Klaudia's voice (he had a high, always slightly whiny voice and that particular kind of effete slur to it). "What do you want here? We aren't some fish tank!" Well, the music boomed again then, and I couldn't hear what the women said, but when Klaudi came back down the stairs, his dress was entirely gone, and he was only wearing his mean smile. I guess those women had had their eyeful, after all, for we sure as hell had, and just as sure, Klaudi went right to the back. Thinking of it, went is wrong, he was dragged, rather, by Max, his current boyfriend. Whatever they did there, they weren't seen anymore that day.

Review - In the Flesh by Ethan Stone

I've come across this book lately on Wave's site. Looked nice enough, so I bought it. Didn't think it would turn out so fascinating I need to re-read it right now although there's a shitload of books in my TBR and sitting idly on my Sony. Well, if needs must...

This is how I reviewed it on Goodreads.

In the beginning this books is factual, dry, a little distanced, just like Cristian Flesh, the first person narrator. It picks up pace fairly quickly, though.

The characters were very believable, particularly Cristian, a genuine flawed hero with a painful past which is never entirely revealed but still hinted at often enough to make his motives understandable. He keeps himself distanced from everybody and has surrounded himself with a fortress wall of rules for nearly every aspect of his life, especially his sex life. It takes a very confident, very strong man to get Cris to break his rules. This would be Colby Maddox, the lawyer who defends Cris when he's accused of the murder of one of his hookups. Although it's only sex in the beginning, Cris comes to realize that he wants more with Colby, or rather that he can't escape the way Colby wants more with him - and what's even more of a revelation for don't-have-sex-twice-in-a-row-with-the-same-guy Cris, that he doesn't even want to escape.

The actual mystery was realitically written, too, with futile research and meeting dead ends, with false solutions and bad evidence, just like in real life.

I liked the little quirks the author worked into the book, like the names: the bible-thumper Pryor, the tough-as-nails partner detective Alexandra "Lex" Luther, the bald, very carnal hero Flesh, or Kismet, the hooker whose clues finally help solving the murder. Also, I very much liked the way the writing changed from the almost cold beginning to passionate emotional passages when Cris finally allows himself to feel again.

There were a few very minor niggles too, little breaks in the logic. For example, why a man who is as promiscuous yet aware of the risks as Cris would allow himself being taken bare when it's still only sex for him, or why he would go back for more sex with the victim, Sanchez, thus breaking one of his rules, when he was still far from that point in his personal development. At one time, Colby was playing with Cris's hair, yet there was no indication before that Cris had grown any by that time. Also there were some repetitions of phrases the author seemed to be fond of. But these were really very minor niggles, more like "huh?" moments.

Overall, a great read, fast-paced action mystery with a flawed hero who grows and develops over the course of the book, and an emotional, passionate, realistic romance, written with great skill and without a single superfluous word. Definitely a keeper.    

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It flies, no matter the size

Ever heard of Airport Falconry, anybody?  But it is there, and at one of the biggest commercial airports in the world, to booth.

Look here:      Short film on falconry

This vid gave birth to Greg, falconer and scientist. He was soon followed by his former pupil and friend Hunter Devereaux. Mark Bowman, PAPD Cop, took a little longer to come forward, but here they are now, very alive and kicking.

This is what it's about.

Bird strike costs military and civilian aviation over $400 million a year in the US alone. The Israeli Air Force has lost more planes to collisions with birds than to enemy fire. Although it might be hard to believe that a few-pound gull or goose striking a thousands of pound aircraft might cause any fundamental damage, such collisions could have fatal consequences. Deadly bird-related accidents occur every few years. The problem is increasing worldwide as conservation efforts help to expand bird populations while at the same time general air traffic is rapidly increasing.
The most recent and most popular plane crash caused by bird strike happened on January 15th, 2009 when US Airways Flight 1549 from New York's La Guardia Airport destined for Charlotte, North Carolina, hit a flock of Canada geese shortly after taking off. Both engines got disabled. Thanks to the amazing skill of Flight Captain Charles Sullenberger who managed to land the Airbus A320 on the Hudson River nobody had to die, but the dramatic pictures of the emergency ditching made their way around the whole world.

No other airport worldwide has a greater potential for bird to airplane collisions than JFK International Airport, New York. The airport borders on a bird sanctuary, the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, home to more than 300 different species. Kennedy lies also directly in the path of two major migration routes along the Atlantic coastal flyway. From 1979 until late 1980ies, there have been nearly 4000 recorded incidents of birds damaging aircraft at Kennedy.

The airport tried to scare the birds away from the runways with acoustic devices such as booming propane cannons, fireworks and recorded gull distress calls. But  these measures proved of limited effect since the birds became inured to acoustic signals. Teams of marksmen were flown in by the United States Department of Agriculture. Since 1988 an average of 10.000 birds per year were shot during the nesting season March through September. Not only was this approach management expensive, it also caused a considerable amount of friction between airport security officials and National Park scientists. In 1991, the National Birdstrike Committeewas formed to work out an in all respects acceptable solution. Among other things, the ancient idea of using falcons to keep the runways bird-free came up once again.
In 1994, the Port Authority hired a wildlife biologist and falconer in order to approach the problem from another point of view. By that time, several airports across the world had already experimented with the use of falcons and other birds of prey to reduce the threat of nuisance birds. The U.S. Air force had also been testing the technique, at European airbases as early as back in the 1970s.

During the early gull nesting season of 1995, March through May, a field test was started with four falconers and nine birds of prey patrolling the airfield in alternating shifts. The number of gulls shot dropped, and the bird to aircraft collision incidents rate sank. But the additional positive effects of the falconry project were considered insignificant compared to its cost, and by the end of May 1995 the field test was cut short due to financial issues. 
In June 1995, an Air France Concorde on approach to JFK Airport was struck by a flock of geese. Two of the birds were inhaled into one of her jet engines, shredding it into pieces. Luckily, the aircraft had been descending; during takeoff a similar occurrence would probably have caused a fatal crash. Still, a $5 million damage resulted.
The next year, the falconry program was established anew.

To this day John F. Kennedy International Airport is the only commercial airport in the U.S. which regularly uses falcons as a means to prevent birdstrike. Today, the falconry program is run by a contracted company, Falconry Environmental Services, that links to the Port Authority via a manager of operations.   

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Jay speaks:

It all began in the back room of the "Bean", a bar/ cafe in Heidelberg. Must have been the late '60s,early 70', I think. I was with B. at that time, who didn't know at that time she was going to be my daughter's mother. I worked as a locksmith back then, actually still worked, with paychecks and insurance and stuff, although my boss chewed my ass out more often than not those days since I used to run late, if I came to work at all.
However. There was a billiard in the back room of the Bean. Everybody played pool, save me. I found it boring. The others, though, they couldn't leave me alone about it. So, to escape their nagging, I took up a cue one day and made my first game. I played against Micha, a regular there, who also pimped his girlfriend in occasion. Micha set up, cracked, pocketed two balls and then leaned on his cue with a smirk. "Your turn, kid."

I was actually quite skinny back then, and I had still to make my last spurt of growth, but I hated it if anybody took me up on that. So I cleared my balls from the table, and while I was at it, his balls, too.
Micha's jaw hit the floor, and the others weren't much better.
"That was beginner's luck," Micha said. He knew I hadn't ever played before.
"It wasn't;" I said. After all, the balls had to follow the laws of physics, hadn't they? So it was simply a matter of logic, and not luck, to clear that table. I didn't think of it as very special; as I said, dull to the point of boring.
"You bet it  was," Micha said. I grinned at him. "How much, then?"
I walked home that day with a pocket full of money I hadn't needed to work for, my mind spinning almost as fast as the balls had on the tarpet. 
That's how it all began.

From the beginning

The first post in a blog is supposed to summarize the reason why this particular blog was created, and what's it all about. So, well, here we go:

Hi everybody. My name is Feliz. I'm a wordoholic. I read, and I write, and I talk, although you're probably never going to be partial to the latter.

What I read? Oh, anything. I can't go a day without, you know, that's what addiction is like. At least I'll give anything a try. I've been reading since I was four, and never stopped since. Back in the day, I had a voracious appetite and time on end on my hands. I've become a bit pickier since, mostly because I now need to earn the bucks I get to spend on books beforehand, which eats up a lot of my time. I like to comment on what I read, conveniently on Here's the link:

What I write, mostly, is m/m. Romance, fiction, stories. To those of you who didn't know: m/m means man-on -man. Gay guys, guys. Yes, I'm a woman. No, I'm not straight. So?
If you have a problem with any of this, you'll want to leave now. Right. Now. 
Otherwise, you're beyond welcome to stay for a while, or three. Comment, if you like. Enjoy. Criticise. Share.

We could have a good time, don't you think?

There will be others present here, time and again. People with voices too strong to ignore, personalities who want out. Of my head. On pages, on screen, no matter what. I'll do my best to give them room, space and voice, since that, guys, is the reason why I'm here, in this blog, and why you are here, reading what I wrote, although I don't know you. Or if ANYBODY will ever read this. Whatever.