Monday, December 12, 2011

Review: Lone Star

Lone Star
Lone Star by Josh Lanyon

Mitchell Evans achieved everything he set out to on that Christmas Eve twelve years ago when he left his home town Llano, Texas in a hurry after breaking up with his father and the love of his life, Web. Now Mitch is a successful ballet dancer in New York, and he never intended to come back to Llano.

However, life apparently has other plans with him. A few days before Christmas, after a number of heavy blows to his professional as well as his private happiness, Mitch needs to get away from New York as fast and as far as possible. In some kind of rash action, he returns to Llano, telling himself he’ll only be there for a few days. But, whether he likes it or not, there’s unfinished business waiting for him there, the biggest of which is Web, Mitch’s first love, who he runs into first thing before he even arrives.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

City Falcon won an Honorable Mention at the 2011 Rainbow Awards!

I almost fell off my chair when I received the following email:

I'm glad to announce you are among the finalists of 2011 Rainbow Awards:

Best Gay Debut Novel/Book
Best Gay Contemporary Romance

I'm thrilled, I'm speechless...
Really, I had to ask a friend to pinch me before I could believe it. Here and here are the category results.

All that's left to do for me is to say thank you to Elisa and her team of judges for taking on this huge endeavor.

In celebration of the occasion, Dreamspinner Press offers a 20% discount on ALL award-winning titles from now until Friday, Dec 16th. Check it out!

But there's still more.

The cover of City Falcon made third place in the "Best 2011 LGBT Cover" category.

This honor is not mine, though, it belongs entirely to the incredible Reese Dante. Congratulations and thank you so much for creating such beautiful coverart!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Review: The Time of the Singing

The Time of the Singing
The Time of the Singing by Louise Blaydon

An intense read; a full 4-courses menu rather than a snack.
First of all, a warning: this book features a twenty-nine-year old character having on-page sex with a seventeen-year-old. It’s totally consensual and tastefully done but it’s also graphic and detailed. Readers who are adverse to this kind of thing might want to stop here and avoid this book altogether.

Israfel grew up in a conservative, very religious Catholic family. Unlike his outgoing, athletic brother Michael, Israfel has always been more a scholarly type. After he came out to them, and after all the Christian counseling and all the praying from his family and Israfel himself couldn’t help his homosexuality, the celibacy that comes with priesthood seemed to be the only way Israfel could reconcile his sinful desires with his faith.
Israfel found that he liked being a priest. The rituals gave his life structure, his position lent him status, and he used to wear his cassock like a suit of armor that would at once hide him and keep him safe from the temptations of the world. It worked for him. Actually, it worked so well that Israfel had almost convinced himself that being a priest was his true calling and not his last resort. It worked, that is, until the day Israfel first met Nate Mulligan.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Review: Game On, Game Over

Game On, Game Over
Game On, Game Over by Chris Quinton

This book in its entirety wasn’t quite what I expected from the blurb. Part one was fraught with tension in every aspect, moving along at a fast pace. Okay, the setting was perhaps a little romanticized, but not so much as to appear unrealistic, and the rivalizing tribesmen’s knives and bullets were certainly real enough. I liked the descriptions of life at the archeological site and the way this emphasized John/Aidan’s professor persona. He was very believable as adept yet half-hearted spook, and his ready retirement when he had the opportunity was only logical.
The romance fit the setting just fine with its surging, adrenaline-fueled passion. What suffered a bit during the first part were the other characterizations, the secondary cast’s as well as Scott’s, but the latter is remedied as we get to be in Scott’s head more often during the second part.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Review: Simple Treasures

Simple Treasures
Simple Treasures by Alan Chin

Lance Bishop has a mountain of debts, and he might go to jail if he can’t repay what he has appropriated to himself before anyone notices. Selling his father’s ranch and property looks like the perfect way out of his dilemma, he even has his buyers lined up already. There’s only one big obstacle, the fact that his father is still alive.
Though physically unable to keep the ranch running and mentally broken after the death of his beloved wife six years ago, Emmet Bishop refuses to either leave the ranch or die. Eaten up with illness, grief and self-pity, the old man has cut himself off from the world, even from the last person who still cares for him, his grandson Jude Elder. He spends his days sitting around in his long johns and drinking whiskey from the bottle, and he has driven off each and every single nurse Lance sent his way so far, thus unwittingly playing into his son’s hands.
Lance is determined to solve the problem of his stubborn father by having him deprived of the right of decision – he has already arranged for a judicial verdict – and all he needs to get that is his father drunk and incapable in the face of a judge in spite of being allegedly provided with hired help.

Monday, October 10, 2011

City Falcon Freebie

For the readers who wanted a bit more of Hunter's voice: Here's the first scene from City Falcon, told by Hunter himself.

This airport was really damn big, almost a city on its own. Worse, a city with a dizzying multitude of people and vehicles milling about between concrete-and-glass buildings that all looked disturbingly alike. Or perhaps it was just me, walking in circles and passing the same building again for the nth time. As I stood to take a look around, searching for a landmark, someone immediately bumped into me from behind. My falcon shifted and shook her feathering. Cursing softly under my breath, I straightened Iman’s jesses through my gauntlet as I felt her growing uneasiness through the scrabbling of her talons on my wrist.
This was all Greg’s fault. As usual, he had forgotten about the appointment with the DES scheduled for this afternoon. Since his last four peregrines had also arrived today, Greg didn’t have time to wait for me until I had retrieved Iman from Customs where the Animal Import Center had kindly delivered her after her quarantine. 
„Meet me at the Air Cargo Terminal,“ Greg had said when he’d dropped me off at Customs. „You’ll find your way there, won’t you?“  - and I had foolishly agreed. And now here I was, utterly lost, with people on all sides jostling the falcon on my wrist. I needed space and quiet, badly, and Iman even more so. Whether Greg might or might not still be waiting for us, I had to find that damn building - if he wasn’t there now, he’d certainly pick me up at some time or another. Taking a breath, I dodged a woman who was heading straight at me without looking as she was ranting at the wailing brat she dragged along, and made for the nearest set of sliding doors. They had to have something like a helpdesk in there. 
Bad choice. The hall was jam-packed with people, with human voices, the rattle of baggage carts and loudspeaker announcements reverberating everywhere. I was so busy keeping Iman still and out of people’s way that I only noticed some guy calling out for me when his voice sounded right behind me. Shielding my bird with my free arm, I turned to find myself face to face with a blue uniformed hunk of a man who had “What the fuck?” written all over his face   
    “What do you think you’re doing here with that beast?” the official barked, and my hackles, which hadn’t been undisturbed to begin with, immediately stood on end. For one, I don’t like being barked at. Who does? And then, I had plenty enough on my plate as it was without some cockalorum getting in my way.
“Who’s asking?” I snapped back. Iman’s claws dug into my wrist, and I quickly tucked her closer to my body, gripping the dangling ends of the jesses with my free hand, just in case.
Visibly reining himself in, the guy tapped the brass badge on his uniform blouse with his forefinger. “Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police. I’m afraid you can’t bring that animal with you on board a plane. Please take it out immediately.”
I took a look, and then another one for good measure as I found my irritation easing up, replaced with a twinge of interest. His nameplate read “Bowman”, but that wasn’t what held my gaze now, rather the chest it was attached to. It was a nice one, broad and hinting at powerful muscles even in the concealing uniform. The rest of the man wasn’t bad, either – small waist, long legs, big feet. He had big hands, too – I like big hands on a man. My eyes swept back up to the impatient pinch of his lips, and further up to his glaring brown eyes, and that was when I remembered I was supposed to react to his words.
“We’re not passengers. This particular animal is working here. Haven’t you been told, Mr. Bowman?”
He had his features well under control, but his eyebrows gave him away. I watched the right one twitch upward before he regained composure.
“Working as what?” he asked, disbelief and curiosity warring in his tone of voice. As I explained  Iman and the Falconry Against Birdstrike trial program to him, it occured to me that it could save me a lot of time and trouble having a local at hand who could direct me to my destination.

Should’ve known better. Even though I asked nicely, my request for guidance inevitably woke the policeman’s suspicion, or perhaps his determination to make head or tail of me—which he seemed unable to as it was. At any rate, he led me politely but firmly to a quiet nook, demanded my ID and started inquiring about me over his radio.   

While we waited for Mr.—no, Officer, as he had insisted I address him—Bowman’s Central Police Desk to get back at him,  I found myself enjoying this encounter a lot more than I’d have thought possible. Although he was apparently aiming at disinterested, Officer Bowman kept throwing surreptitious glances my way. Or rather at Iman, I supposed. Now that I had calmed down some, I realized I’d been quite delusional carrying Iman around a busy public space like John F. Kennedy Airport. This wasn’t the Middle East, after all; hunting birds were far from a common sight here. I realized also that I’d lucked out coming across an official who took me and my falcon with Officer Bowman’s equanimity. This man impressed me despite myself. It took a lot of cool to react as he had done.
Didn’t hurt that he was easy on the eyes, either. He wasn’t the only one casting sideglances; our gazes met briefly when I pushed my hair out of my face. Now that he wasn’t glaring, his eyes were warm and, though he still appeared guarded, shone with what stroke me as spirit and a silent kind of humor. I smoothed down Iman’s breast feathers.

“She’s growing impatient,” I said, partly to break the silence and partly because it was true. I could feel her feathers ruffle back up under my fingers. While I hummed to her and caressed her some more, I let my hair fall forward again, creating a welcome disguise as I watched the policeman out of the corner of  my eye. With this air of attentive patience around him, he reminded me a little of Hamid, my Bedouin friend I’d left behind in Dubai. Thinking of Hamid made me smile, and I bowed my head deeper as I whispered an Arabic blessing to Iman in his memory. Hamid and I had been far more than friends, and Iman was his parting gift to me. As if I could ever forget about the man who’d saved my life and helped me stay sane when I thought I’d lose my mind from grief and loneliness.

“What did you mean to achieve walking your—what? Saker falcon? —through Departure hall anyway, Mr. Devereaux? That bird’s not exactly a plushy, after all,” Officer Bowman said, startling me out of my nostalgia. His voice sounded slightly strained, belying his calm demeanor.
“She won’t harm anyone,” I assured him.
He made a small noise, half huff, half snort, that sounded clearly exasperated. “Not my point,” he said.
Not that patient, after all, are you? I thought, but I still complied with him. “Well, she just spent thirty days in a quarantine cage. I wanted to give her a breather. I thought I’d make it to the air cargo terminal on my own, but I was wrong, obviously.”
There was this noise again, but now it sounded amused rather than annoyed. “With Emil Eagle?“ he asked. His tone of voice gave me pause as it made me reconsider the similarities between Officer Bowman and my occasional lover Hamid. Could he possibly be...?
With a little smile, I said, deliberately haughty, “Her name is Iman. That’s Arabic for faith.”
The chuckle in his voice was impossible to mistake this time. “Uh-huh. You don’t say.”

I couldn’t help it, my gaze dropped to his crotch for a moment as this deep rumble sent a hot twinge through my gut. It had been so damn long... There was nothing for me to see down there, of course, with his loosely cut uniform pants and that belt and all those things dangling from it. But when I looked back up, our gazes met and held, a slow smile spreading across his face.

No time like the present. I smiled back, allowed my lips to part, put a little lewdness in it. He braved the spectacle until I turned the heat up a few notches with biting and licking my lower lip.
Bingo – he stared. And then I had the pleasure of seeing him jump when his radio came alive with a crackle. Blushing, he almost fumbled it.

I stood patiently by as I listened to Officer Bowman being assigned chauffeur duty to get me and Iman to where Greg and Mr. Johnson from the DES were already waiting for us.

He’d been blushing. I’d made him blush. 

Being back home had just gained a whole lot of appeal.   

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Review: Full Circle

Full Circle
Full Circle by Kaje Harper

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As the author said it herself, this is not a romance, though it has romantic elements and, not to be forgotten, some hot erotic scenes. This story is all about hurt/ comfort and the healing powers of love, and yet it’s as different from the usual similarly-themed fare as night from day. Where other stories use the “if you love it, set it free” trope merely to create some angst in preparation of the big reunion, this story follows through with it to the bitter end. I found this admirably consequent, realistic, and very, very well done. Convincing, too – it fits both characters to the minute detail.

Although the characterizations were as consistent as the plot, I had slight problems with the character of Jamie. Though he changed from a self-pitying, self-destructive Saulus to a mature, reasonable Paulus, and though this process was beautiful to watch, he lost me later with his self-inflicted loneliness. Some kind of love/hate issue with a character, I guess, and it was probably only me, but I just don’t do martyrs. It was really mostly the way he interacted with Heath, Toller’s son, what saved Jamie for me.

Toller, on the other hand, was fantastic. Given room to grow, he unfolded like a flower, and I could totally believe him turning into the proud, self-sufficient man as who he was pictured in the end. He’s someone who doesn’t want nor need charity, but can accept a generous gift with grace and put it to the best use, his own and the giver’s. A personality you’d like to see your own kids grow up to be.

The writing was gripping, smooth and well-paced; the story pulled me in right from the first sentence. Toller’s dreadful past isn’t glossed over, but revealed little by little, which made it bearable for me – alongside with the characters. Again, very well done. And if the forefinger of morale shows time and again, what about it? It fits the story. If I have one niggle it was that the characters had to suffer so much – I wanted to shout, too much! – even if I’m aware there are even worse fates out there.

This isn’t a light and fluffy read, the book deals with serious issues like loss of loved ones, AIDS, rape, abuse, and addiction, and it DOES have a nontraditional (though hopeful and positive) ending. It was still a beautiful story, and it certainly will stay with me for a long time. Warmly recommended.

Full review at

View all my reviews

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Review: When Love Is Not Enough

When Love Is Not Enough
When Love Is Not Enough by Wade Kelly

This book was worth reading, but quite exhausting, and not only for its subject matter.
This was an exceptional book in many ways. Starting with the narrative - with three different narrators, diary entries, flashbacks, and the present - this might sound confusing but it actually wasn't. The three voices were different enough to keep them apart even without the dates at the head of the paragraphs, offering insights into the heads of all three main characters, Jamie, Matt and Darian, and thus making them come alive nicely. All three were flawed and tortured, and still each one likeable in his own way. Even Matt, who started out as some kind of grunting, self - centered caveman but redeemed himself nicely enough by the end.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Review: Servant of the Seasons

Servant of the Seasons
Servant of the Seasons by Lee Benoit

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Meco, a former architect, used to be a "domer", one of those people who live in enclosed communities which rely entirely on technology for food, clothing, housing. Meco is turfed, that is thrown out of his dome, for a transgression - a punishment that is considered worse than death, since the land outside the domes is barren and dead.
All of a sudden Meco finds himself forced to work the land for his daily handful of beans when he used to live a life I imagine pretty much alike to what we're used to, and he's not faring too well, living in a damp sod house, pulling his own plough and with only his devious neighbor Varas for company. Meco's being a turfed domer makes it unable for him to go to the taon, a human settlement, when he wants to buy a drag beast, so he sends Varas who, true to form, doesn't bring him an animal but two Novigi slaves. Meco hasn't it in him to own another person, human or not, though, so he sets Lys and Tywyll free on their first evening. Soon, he finds himself drawn into the strange bond that connects the two young men. Domers use to completely suppress their sexuality with chemical means. Cut loose from that, and with two sexually very active young men close by, Meco's own needs slowly awake, together with the land once the Novigi start working it. Lys and Tywyll do everything to include Mecon in their bond and into their love and care for each other and the land. And as the land changes, so does Meco, going from careful acceptance to friendship to lust until he's open for more, for a love and a deeper connection of his own, a connection he'll sacrifice everything for, even his life.

This was a wonderful book. Meco's shy, compelling persona immediately captured my heart, and so did Lys, open, giving and generous, and Tywyll, who was determined, fierce and protective. I experienced Meco's slow development, his growth along with him, and cheered him on along the way. The writing was flawless, almost poetic at times, and the erotic scenes fit seamlessly into the flow of the narrative, occuring inevitably like the change of the seasons. A quiet book, despite the fighting scenes, and yet endlessly fascinating, an outstanding read. Can't recommend it highly enough.

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Friday, September 9, 2011

Banners are up!

Played with Photoshop a little, and look what that got me.

Like them? Feel free to "steal" one. If you want me to put your banner on this site in return, just let me know!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Review: The Finder

The Finder
The Finder by Brandon Fox

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story is set in a fantasy dystopia, an unusual background that was very well done. Hundreds of years ago, the ancient empire went down in the Daemon Wars. From the ruins of the past, a new empire rose. The Tjumens apparently consider themselves superior to Rhan's people, who are mostly peasants and are tributary to the Tjumen.
Fear of the daemons, beings that can "mark" humans, rules this world, kept alive by the clergy. A "mark" can be everything that makes people different, unusual eye color, surplus fingers and so on. "Marked" people are hunted down and culled by the Tjumens; once culled, they disappear never to be heard of again, like it happened to Rhan's childhood friend, Kev.
Rhan is a finder, someone who scours the ancient ruins for relics of the daemon wars and before. Those things are in high demand, they can fetch a high prize for the finder's village, but the Tjumen examiners often just confiscate relics, too, and collect them in huge archives in their capital, Chakragil. Rhan isn't fond of the Tjumens, mostly because of Kev, but also because he bears an invisible mark and is afraid to suffer the same fate as his friend should he be discovered.
One day Imperial soldiers come to Rhan's village demanding the finders's help in searching for a heretic and a dangerous relic. Rhan and his friend Catrin are assigned to a team of soldiers, Aerik and Maiko. While Maiko is a dumb, greedy brute, Aerik turns out to be a kindred spirit to Rhan. They become friends, and soon lovers. But love between men is not condoned in this world. Though Catrin accepts them, they have to be careful because of Maiko, who can't stand Aerik, who is a nobleman's son, and soon takes a dislike to Rhan too.
Things escalate when Rhan and Aerik find a mysterious relic which they take to Chakragil to show it to Aerik's father. Suddenly they're on the run from the Nuridians, a power-hungry group of Tjumens, who strieve to wrench their secret from them by all means.

The worldbuilding is one of this story's strong points. Elements out of different time periods and geographical locations are put together in a new and interesting way to create an unique and engrossing world that nevertheless is familiar enough that I could find my way around it effortlessly. It was done subtly too, woven into the narrative to avoid infodumping.
The characterizations of Rhan and Aerik were well-done, and the romance between them sweet and passionate, including the sex scenes. And I liked Stian, Aerik's old friend, very much.

Still, I also had a few niggles with this book, first of all Catrin. Not that she wasn't a sympathetic character, quite the opposite, but she didn't do much of anything for the story, and I couldn't help wondering what she was there for anyway. Also, Rhan's and Aerik's adversarys came across as two-dimensional, particularly Maiko, who was so evil and so dumb I wondered how he'd made it into the militia at all, let alone gained the rank he apparently had. My biggest problem, though, was the ending. The story ended kind of abruptly right at the moment when it started to become really interesting. Hopefully there will be a sequel, I'd love to see what happens next to Rhan, Aerik and Stian, and perhaps Catrin will find a purpose then, too.

View all my reviews

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Saturday, September 3, 2011

City Falcon Release Day Trivia Quiz - Answers and Winners

To anyone who took the quiz during my Release Party for City Falcon at the Dreamspinner blog -
Thank you all who joined the party and helped to make this day special!

Here are the answers:

1. A word meaning “deceived” that comes from a common pratice to calm falcons: a) beguiled, b) hoodwinked, c) bamboozled, d) double-crossed
2. A word meaning “to entice”  that comes from a training practice for falcons (one word) (to) lure
3. A phrase that mean “finished with due to frustration”, originally applied to a falcon who had just eaten and didn’t feel like hunting (two words) fed up
4. A word for “alcoholic beverage” that was originally used to describe a falcon’s way of drinking: a) hooch, b)booze, c) toddy, d) tipple
5. An expression for “overeat” that comes from watching falcons eat their prey: a) stuff, b) binge, c) gorge, d) cram
6. Which Toyota model was named after a male falcon? a) Prius, b) Tercel, c) Camry, d)Yaris
7. What do Arabic falcon lovers appreciate most in their falcons? What do they pay the highest prizes for? a) sound health b) amazing hunting skills c) flawless pedigree d) white feathering

Nobody got everything right, but some got very, very close; thus we have our WINNERS!


email is on its way to you. Thanks for playing everyone!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Release Day!

As of today, my novel City Falcon is available from Dreamspinnerpress!

In celebration of the occasion, I'll be holding a "release party" at the Dreamspinner Blog.  I'd be happy to meet you there today  between 8:00 AM EST to 10 PM EST for excerpts, background info and a quiz (don't be shy and take it - there's a prize in it for you!)

The Dreamspinner Blog is here

Buy link for City Falcon is here

Happy Reading everybody!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

City Falcon - Release Day Is Closing in!

Coming events cast their shadows... I'll be holding a "Release party" for City Falcon on the Dreamspinner Blog during August 26th. If you like, look in on occasion for background info, excerpts and giveaways!  

Here's a teaser:

March, 1994

Mark Bowman blinked twice when he spotted the bird of prey in the middle of the crowded International Terminal Departure hall. It hovered over the sea of human heads, leaving small waves of commotion in its wake.
“Hey there,” Mark called out after the bird. People readily gave way as he wound his blue-uniformed six feet three through them, finally catching up with the ominous animal.
It didn’t fly. Well, how could it? It perched on the gloved hand of a tall, slender figure that glided smoothly through the crowds, heedless of turned heads and startled murmurs. All Mark could see was a mass of brown curls cascading down a slender back and long jeans-clad legs ending in oxblood-red Doc Martens.
“Hey there,” he called out again. “You with the bird, wait!”
The bird carrier stopped and turned to face him. Cool, light eyes scrutinized Mark from beneath raised eyebrows. “Yes?”
Full baritone voice. Two or three days worth of beard on narrow cheeks. The most beautiful face Mark had ever seen on a man.
Mark stopped dead in his tracks in front of him. The flood of passengers parted around them like the Red Sea before Moses, creating an island of solitude.
“What do you think you’re doing here with that beast?” Mark asked, his voice sharper than he’d intended.
“Who’s asking?” the man snapped back. The bird sat on his fist like a stuffed animal, not a single feather moving. A leather hood covered its head. It reminded Mark of a deep sea diver’s helmet, with bulging eyes and a tuft of hair like a long-bristled paintbrush sticking out on top.
Struggling to regain his composure, Mark pointed at his badge. “Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police. I’m afraid you can’t bring that animal with you on board a plane. Please take it out immediately.”
Instead of doing what he was told, or at least arguing, the man slowly sized Mark up.
Mark felt irritation rise inside him at the blatant insolence. Right before he would have lent a bit more weight to his request, the man spoke again. “We’re not passengers. This particular animal is working here. Haven’t you been told, Mr…,” he read the badge, “Bowman?”
What the… working here? Mark felt his right eyebrow threaten to lift and remembered just in time to keep a professionally blank expression. The man stood tall, only a few inches shorter than Mark himself, holding Mark’s gaze with calm confidence. He had the strangest eyes, so light gray they appeared almost colorless in his deeply tanned face, and he spoke with an accent Mark wasn’t quite able to place, something European, maybe? At any rate, it made him appear all the more exotic.
This is so odd it could be true, Mark thought. His curiosity taking over, he decided to play along for the moment. “Working as what?”
“We’re part of the Falconry Against Birdstrike project. This is a field trial on the use of falcons to keep the runways free of nuisance birds,” the stranger said, an edge of impatience to his voice as if he’d given the same explanation several times before.
“Falconry against bird strike,” Mark echoed. “I’ve never heard of such a thing.”
The birdman took a deep breath. “I assure you, it’s for real.” Regardless of his awe-inspiring companion, he managed to look unthreatening, even a little forlorn as he spoke on. “Actually, since you’re police, I’d appreciate your help, Mr. Bowman. We were supposed to meet with a Mr. Johnson at the air cargo terminal, but I seem to have lost my way. Can you tell me how to get there?”
For a moment, Mark wondered why it irked him so that this man kept calling him mister instead of officer. Then his professional mind kicked in, and he realized he was still standing in the middle of a very busy airport building next to a very large bird of prey, held on its master’s hand only by a thin leather strip.
Strangely, the passersby didn’t seem to be bothered much. Although some people gawked at them, most didn’t deign them more than a fleeting glance. This was New York, after all. The natives met weirder things on a daily basis, or so it seemed.
“I’ll have to inquire about you first,” Mark said with restrained politeness. “Do you have identification?”
The other man wordlessly produced a New York driver’s license from the back pocket of his jeans. Mark took it from him, noting in passing that it was brand new. He headed for a quiet nook, gesturing at the man to follow him.
“Would you come with me over there? Less traffic.” Reaching for his radio, Mark couldn’t resist tacking on, “Oh, and it’s officer, by the way.”
“Beg your pardon?”
“Officer Bowman. Not mister.”
Turning, Mark met a flicker of amusement before the other man’s face turned serious again. “All right, Officer Bowman. I’ll try to keep that in mind.”
“Ten-sixty-two for CPD,” Mark said, into his two-way radio. “Come in. Over.”
“CPD,” the dispatcher’s voice crackled from the radio. “Come in, please.”
“I need identity verification. It’s one…,” Mark read the card, “Mr. Hunter Devereaux. D-E-V-E-R-E-A-U-X. He’s got a raptor that he says is working here at the airport. Can you confirm that? Over.”
“He’s got a what?” the Central Police Desk operator squawked, for once forgetting about formal radio talk.
“Bird of prey. Big bird with talons and hooked beak. Over.”
“Saker falcon,” prompted the bird’s master.
“Saker falcon,” Mark repeated. “Over.”
“Hold on. Over,” the dispatcher said. Seemed she had already regained her equanimity.
Side by side, they stood waiting. Mark drummed his fingers in a silent tattoo on his belt and watched the man out of the corner of his eye, trying to be unobtrusive. Devereaux had his head bowed over his bird, caressing its feathers with slow, regular strokes of his free hand. He hummed under his breath, the soft sound occasionally stopping for a few whispered words in a foreign language. His long hair, barely restrained by a black bandana, fell over his face like a veil. He threw it back with a short jerk of his head, eyes flickering sideways to meet Mark’s for a second. Caught staring, Mark focused on the falcon instead.
The bird opened and closed its talons on the thick leather glove, jingling little bells which were attached to its feet by small leather straps.
“She’s growing impatient,” Devereaux remarked casually. Mark took his words as leave to look openly. The bird didn’t strike him as particularly impatient. It continued to imitate a Zen statue.
All by themselves, Mark’s eyes wandered back to Devereaux’s face, those clean-cut lines of high cheekbones and a fine, straight nose. His beard, a shade darker than his hair, was just long enough to accentuate thin lips which curled slightly at the corners in an unconsciously sensual not-quite smile as the man resumed humming to his bird.
Out of dire need for distraction, Mark asked, “What did you mean to achieve, walking your—what? Saker falcon?—through Departure Hall, anyway? That bird’s not exactly a plushy, after all.”
Devereaux tugged at the leather strips which dangled from his glove.
“She won’t harm anyone,” he said.
“That’s not my point,” Mark replied, exasperated.
The other man shrugged. “Well, she just spent thirty days in a quarantine cage, so I wanted to give her a breather. I thought I’d make it to the air cargo terminal on my own, but I was wrong, obviously.” Now he looked rueful. “Actually, I was looking for the helpdesk.”
Mark had to bite his tongue in order to stifle a laugh. “With Emil Eagle?” he couldn’t help asking.
Devereaux’s lips twitched. “Her name’s Iman. That’s Arabic for faith.”
Mark couldn’t hold back the chuckle this time. “Uh-huh. You don’t say.”
Devereaux raised an eyebrow and gave Mark another slow, thoughtful once-over. Their gazes met and held once more, way longer than necessary. Intellectually, Mark knew it was stupid to let his self-control slip like this, but he found himself unable to break eye contact, unable to keep his lips from curling up into a broad, genuine smile. Suddenly Devereaux’s eyes widened. Holding Mark’s gaze, he slowly, very deliberately, sucked his lower lip in and let it slide out again, flashing white front teeth and, for a split second, the tip of a pink tongue in a wide answering smile. Jesus, was the man flirting with him? Mark felt his cheeks heat up and quickly turned away.
CPD chose just that moment to call him back. Mark almost jumped at the crackle of his radio. Hastily, he grabbed the device.
“Confirm on the ID,” the operator said. “Johnson from the DES is already waiting for him out at the southern runways intersection. Must’ve got lost. DES asks you to get Mr. Devereaux and his bird there. Over.”
DES, the Department of Environmental Services. That made sense.
“Roger. Eight-forty-one for southern intersection. Over and out .”

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Review: Out Of Focus

Out Of Focus
Out Of Focus by L.A. Witt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yes, I did. I really liked it.
When it comes to threesomes, I often feel as if the guys take it really easy. But here, it takes the three heroes real effort to come to terms with their emotions getting into the way of what was supposed to be a nice and casual erotic pastime. I love books where people communicate, and those guys do, even if it isn't always easy on them. As opposed to other books of this author I've read, the inner workings of the characters didn't feel overdone - it helped that all three got to be narrators, so I as the reader was privy to all of their thoughts.
The sex scenes were hot as hell, although one or two felt expendable (then again, did I mention they were hot? I won't complain too hard). The book was fairly easy on the BDSM, too, which suited me.
Big plus: the animals. Cats, horses, dogs, and the heroes's interactions with them added, if not substantially to the plot, then a little lightness and comfort.
Nitpicky niggle: The wax play. Why not at least a paragraph break between three various 1st person POV's? This writing style may have been an experiment intended to make the scene more intense, but if it was, it unfortunately missed the mark. All it did was confusing me - 'course this could be only me.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable read and a skillfully done, scorching hot threesome. Recommended.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

City Falcon

My new book, City Falcon, is scheduled !

Dreamspinner put it on their Coming Soon page;  Publication date is August, 26th, 2011.

Look at this amazing cover by Reese Dante:

 And here's the blurb:

New York, 1994

What on earth is a live falcon doing in the middle of JFK airport? The answer to this question brings PAPD officer Mark Bowman face to face with falconer Hunter Devereaux, right in the middle of a fascinating field experiment using falcons to keep runways free of nuisance birds. The falcons are intriguing, but it’s arrogant, out-and-proud Hunter himself who really rubs Mark the right kind of wrong. Too bad Mark can’t act on the attraction: he’s deeply in the closet, and since he wants to keep his job, that’s where he's determined to stay.

However, every time their paths cross, Hunter gets a little deeper under Mark’s skin, until Mark can’t deny his feelings any longer. Giving in to his desire makes Mark happier than he can remember being, but Hunter isn't willing to hide their relationship forever. If they’re going to make a life together work, something has to give. Someday soon Mark will have to choose, or life will make the choice for him before he’s ready for it.

Come back here for an excerpt someday soon!

Review: Breaking Cover

Breaking Cover
Breaking Cover by Kaje Harper

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the sequel to Life Lessons and the continuation of Mac's and Tony's story. While in Life Lessons Tony, openly gay teacher, played the major role, it's Mac, deeply closeted detective with the Minneapolis PD who takes center stage here. Which is only right, since it's Mac who has to go through the bigger obstacles here, the biggest certainly being his own insecurities.

A serial killer is loose in Minneapolis, going for blond, promiscuous women. The case has Mac stressed out since he's afraid he has to wait for the next victim and the killer making a mistake to get a good lead. On top of this, as happy as Mac and Tony are together, Tony starts to show hints at how much the secretiveness of their relationship gets to him. But Mac isn't ready to come out yet. With their relationship already strained like this, Mac has reason to fear that it'll take only a little more pressure to fall apart.
This little bit more of pressure comes when Tony suddenly has to fight for legal guardianship over Ben, a boy who he's taken care of for years. With childcare snooping around it's impossible for Tony to hide his secret relationship with Mac any longer, and he won't jeopardize his chance on havein Ben, not even for Mac. Now Mac really has to decide. Is keeping his secret worth losing every chance on a future with Tony? Not to mention Ben, whom Mac has come to love almost like his own child Anna - and Anna loves Ben, too. He can't come off this mess without some skin off his hide, but even Mac himself didn't count on the big boom it'd going to turn out to be. And then the killer strikes again, and everything Mac has fought so hard for is in danger once more.
What can I say, I loved this book. The trope is really nothing new, a closeted gay man fighting to come to terms with himself and his sexuality while figuring out what really counts in his life, but the author took this plot and made it into something beautiful and gripping that I couldn't put down. Add to that a really good mystery plot, and I'm one happy camper.
Normally I don't care much for children in m/m books; usually it's either the happy-family-with-two-dads saccharine or the kids appear tacked-on and superfluous. Not here, though. The children are so much a part of the plot, and the development of Mac's and Tony's story, it couldn't be different. Furthermore, those kids are amazingly portrayed.
Imust admit I liked Life Lessons more. This book is quieter, more focused on the inside of the characters than the outside action in a way (even though plenty happens here!)Still, I can't recommend these two books highly enough. Don't miss Kaje Harper's authentic, distinctive narrative voice and her true-to-life characters.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Review: Apples and Regret and Wasted Time

Apples and Regret and Wasted Time
Apples and Regret and Wasted Time by Cornelia Grey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

wonderful, sad and dream-like. An exceptional story.

he story opens with our narrator, wounded and bleeding after being in a fight, sneaking through the streets of a city he left three years ago, on his way to his old lover’s house. As he climbs in through the window left open for him, the apartment is deserted, but his lover returns while he’s in the shower and surprises him there.

Right from the beginning, their reunion is laced with a sense of melancholic foreboding, but it’s also clear from the beginning that the two men share a deep, passionate emotional connection. There is so much hurt, regret and unfinished business between them, but also so much desire, burning sexual energy and the pure joy of being reunited. As the story unfolds, we get to know the two men a little better. Small details give hints at their history of a powerful love that was lost to external circumstances. What they are and what they do for a living puts them at polar opposite positions of society. However, over the course of a shared dinner of Chinese takeaway and apples, they seem to connect on a plane detached from their reality. For a few short hours, they return to a place where their differences and all the hurts and regrets of the past don’t matter anymore–and where they find a sliver of hope that maybe, eventually, there might be a future for them against all odds.

Due to the short format of this story, there’s only a modicum of background and setting. Yet, with a few well-chosen words, the author transported me right into the forbidding and hostile city , and into the lover’s spartan apartment which entails so many memories for the narrator. There was a dark mood to the setting that only added to the overall dreamlike feeling of this story.

The writing is beautiful, sparse and unelaborated and right to the point.
Over the course of only 13 pages, this tale of two lovers separated by almost insurmontable obstacles created an atmosphere of desperate yearning that gripped me immediately. Even though I didn’t even know their names, I felt deeply connected to both characters; I suffered with them and hoped for them, longed to see them happy together forever even though I was afraid they simply couldn’t be. Impressive, poignant and highly recommended.

Full review here:

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Review: Hot Head

Hot HeadHot Head by Damon Suede

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


So this was powerful, an engrossing read with very likeable characters. I loved big, softhearted bear Griff - although he was so dense at times I wanted to smack him over the head and shout at him, Brains, much? And of course spitfire-loose cannon-Dante was adorable and ├╝ber-sexy. Actually they both were acting - and especially not-talking - as if they were a little... slow. not dumb, mind you, just not that accustomed to talking, rather than acting. Which fits their characters. And set in my beloved dream city of New York - I felt like sitting in a cafe right there in Brooklyn, watching them over a latte or something.

I loved the writing, could myself lose totally in those wonderful word pictures, and the clever wordgames had me laughing out loud more than once. Didn't know there were so many synonyms for "masturbate", I'd swear the author made some of them up. More power to that!

The story in itself... well, this is fiction, isn't it? Others have complained about how unrealistic it is, and I won't argue that. I liked it nevertheless.

The porn plot is not THAT new, but here, I found it was approached in a fresh, and engaging way, adding firemen in the mix. It worked, even though it demanded quite a lot of suspension of disbelief. Especially Alek...ouch. He won't make a lot of cash that way, being this sympathetic whenever one of his actors gets postcoital freakout cold feet. For Dante and Griff, I'm glad he was. Is Dante thinking about a career change, given how well he came to get along with Beth?

Oh yes, the women. From Nonna to grandchild, the Anastagio women were some of the most positively portrayed female characters I've found so far in m/m. And Beth? Please, please send her my way, i hope she digs redheads... joking.

One niggle: The last thirty pages or so felt tacked-on,more like an appetizer for the next book than a necessary part to this. Nice to see them all in happy-happy-joy-joy, but it was kind of a let-down after the high of explosions and fireworks with Griff and Dante.

Still, this book lives up to the hype around it. A truely fine read and a great opening to a series.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Review: Khyber Run

Khyber RunKhyber Run by Amber Green

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Right from the beginning, this story throws the reader smack in the middle of events. Little is explained; the story, the environment and the characters unfold over the course of the story with background information only given through Zulu’s memories which are strewn in. While this narrative style took a bit getting used to, it added to the overall engrossing reading experience. This story evoked an incredible intense sense of atmosphere and place. There are several scenes which aren’t really necessary to forward the plot, like the encounter with the handless spice dealer, the slave auction or the buzkashi game, but those scenes nevertheless add feeling and “vibe” to the setting. Likewise, the element of contrariness is used in advantage of the world building, the contrast between the seemingly medieval Afghan society and the well-equipped Western troops delivered in a stark matter-of-fact, amazingly non-judgemental view through Zulu’s perception. And as for the locale – the author created vivid images with sparse descriptions, not a word too much, and still a rough kind of poetic quality.

I think the key to loving this book or not is whether or not you’re able to like or at least to relate to Zarak/Zulu. I did, apparently — for me, this character was brilliantly done.

Zulu is a captive between two worlds. His mother was an expatriate American teacher who married a Pakhtun man and was happy to live as an Afghan woman until her husband and oldest son were killed by the Soviets. She then took her four surviving sons and returned to her native Pensacola (and how she achieved this is a remarkable adventure in itself, told in parts through flashbacks).

Uprooted from his native Afghanistan at an age when he had already internalised his forefather’s values and norms, Zulu was thrown into a foreign culture with rather diametrically opposed moral standards. But once he’s back in his native land, he finds his perceptions tainted by his Western education, which makes him a foreigner again. For Zulu, Oscar embodies everything he has ever held dear – honor, strength, maleness. Oscar is the one who can give Zulu purchase, and might ultimately help him grow new roots.

Curiously enough, this story would have worked for me even without the romantic element as a classic action/adventure novel. Nevertheless, the passionate love scenes added depth to both heroes’ characters, and made the book round in a way I haven’t found in the latter. Those were two quintessential macho males at work (even though it took Zulu a while to find his inner alpha ;-) ) Those aren’t men who talk about emotions or put their affection for each other in so much words. Nevertheless, they managed to communicate their feelings so that by the end, I was utterly convinced of their commitment to each other. Who wouldn’t like dark, brooding and handsome? Particularly when, like in Zulu’s and Oscar’s case, the hard crusts actually hide burning cores of passion. What could be more romantic?

This was a deeply engrossing book that took me right out of my everyday life and carried me far away to a place I’ve had a penchant for ever since reading “Kim” when I was little. Highly recommended.

Read the full review here:

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Lines in The Sand by Lyn Gala

Lines in the SandLines in the Sand by Lyn Gala

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ever since Carl walked up to him in prison, all balls and no sense of self-protection, asking for a job, Pete wanted the kid. But he’ll never force himself onto another man. Not even on this man, who ratted him out, who made him flee to Mexico.  Not this man, who showed him a strange kind of loyalty, keeping Pete’s finances a secret from the feds even as he lead them to the graves of Pete’s victims. Which is why Pete can afford a rather comfortable life now, and which is also why Pete felt obliged to save Carl from vengeful mobsters as well as from himself, since the man is obviously too dumb or too stubborn to watch his own back.

With two so flawed heroes, a murderer and a traitor as the main characters - in a romance, of all things - it’s not an easy task to get readers to like those men.  And yet, I couldn’t help doing exactly this.

The author doesn’t make excuses for them, they are what they are, but for all the crimes they committed, they have consciences. Even better, each becomes the other man’s conscience out of care for each other. While their relationship started out on an utter imbalance of powers,  their mutual care makes them equals in the end.

Over the course of almost a year they spend together, they don’t suddenly turn into saints. Nevertheless, the new morals they come to accept for themselves make them fit in with the society they are now a part of.

This society is portrayed in a matter-of-fact, non-judgmental way through well – wrought supportive characters:  Jose, Pete’s best friend and business partner;  Castellan, a federale and Jose’s cousin; Vincente, a cop who attempts to blackmail Pete. They may appear openly corrupt and their values may appear as strange as they’re peculiar, but those people, too, are who they are, trying to make the best of what Fate dealt them by drawing their own lines in the sand.

As much as I loved this book, it had its flaws, the biggest being repetitive writing. Some of the character’s reflections were rehashed so often I eventually felt hit over the head with them.  And unfortunately, there were typos and grammar errors too numerous and too obvious for me to ignore, particularly towards the end.

This aside, I can only recommend this book. The characters grew on me a lot, and I finished their story with a happy smile for them.

Find the full review here:

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hunter's Story Continues

The sequel to my short story, Desert Falcon, was accepted for publication!
For those who wanted to know what happens to Hunter after his return to the United States, here's a little appetizer:

PAPD officer Mark Bowman can't believe his eyes when he catches sight of a live Saker falcon in the middle of JFK airport's terminal hall. The bird comes with a falconer, Hunter Devereaux, whose exotic beauty and charming attitude immediately hit home with Mark. But Mark is deeply in the closet and determined to remain there, since he wants to keep his job.
As the cop's and the falconer's paths cross again and again, Mark's resolve dwindles. When he finally gives in to his attraction to Hunter, he finds himself happier than he has ever been before. But a resentful society and their own deeply ingrained fears and insecurities threaten to tear the lovers apart. Can there be a shared future for them against all odds?  

Prospected publication date is August/ September, 2011

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Review: Life Lessons

Life LessonsLife Lessons by Kaje Harper

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was one of the books I closed with reluctance. I didn't want it to end, it was so good. Way good. Outstandingly good. This is an exceptional read in so many ways!
First, it was a really good mystery, of the kind the French call an "roman policier". The classic kind, the one that allows the reader to follow the police's investigative process step by step, even along to dead ends and grub work. Then it turned into a murder chase, with red herrings dropped along the way, just like the detectives might find one clue after the other, and it ended in a thriller - worthy, nailbiting, edge-of the seat hostage situation complete with standoff and shootdown.But as if this wasn't enough, there were two wonderful main characters, so complete and well drawn and - sorry - F***ing real, they took my breath away. The out-and -proud teacher and the deeply closeted cop are almost stereotypes. but these two were anything but. The out one wasn't in your face or flamboyant. The closeted one was not in denial or ashamed, and for a change he had several good reasons to stay in the closet, except for his job. I know I'm repeating myself, but these two were the most believable real persons I've come across in a while.
Even the best books have their flaws, and I won't deny this had a few, too. With all the police procedure, interesting and plot-important as it was, the beginning was a bit slow, and the way Tony (who is a schoolteacher in his mid-twenties) was constantly referred to as "boy" or "kid" was rather bothersome, but really, the awesomeness of the whole rest outweighed those minor flaws by far.

This book hit me hard and stayed with me long after the last page. Don't miss it, really, it's absolutely worth it. I can't recommend it highly enough.

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Review: Ink Illusions

Ink IllusionsInk Illusions by Val Kovalin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a great read. The story touched many difficult topics, handling all of them with sensitivity and respect. The pairing of a Norse Pagean with a Jew is fascinating and unusual. I loved the hints at Travis's religion and Tony's backstory which never turned into infodump but were worked seamlessly into the narrative flow. Characterization is one of this author's fortes, and thus I wasn't surprised that both Travis and Tony were likeable, realistic persons, down to Travis's anger issues. If anything, Tony was almost too good to be real, though saved by his inner insecurities and the moments he lost control.
I loved Rosemary and Belinda, and I particularly loved the way the author used a child's worldview to get her message of tolerance across without hammering anything in. A wonderful, heartwarming read, backed by wide knowledge, with an intelligent plot and a flowing narrative voice. And it doesn't hurt that it contains some seriously hot eroticism.
Highly recommended.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Review: Well Traveled

Well TraveledWell Traveled by Margaret Mills

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We first meet Gideon Makepeace when he’s getting ready to leave Livingston, Montana where he had taken up a summer job training horses. Gideon is bound for San Francisco to reunite with his folks who are members of a big traveling “Wild West” show. Enter halfbreed Lakota Jedediah Buffalo Bird, currently a fatally injured man who is bullied by a band of white Livingstonians who don’t want his kind in their town. Without hesitating, Gideon steps in to save the Indian, takes him to the doctor’s and finally helps him find shelter in a friendly brothel. With selfless care, Gideon nurses Jed back to health, using up the money that had been designed to pay his and his horse’s fare and of course, missing his train.
Even while caring for Jed, Gideon feels very attracted to the good-looking man. He thinks that nothing can come of it, of course – for one he can’t take advantage of a sick and possibly dying man, and then it’s unlikely that the Indian would share Gideon’s leaning towards men. But while talking to Jed during the man’s lucid moments Gideon discovers that the Indian appeals to him in more that just one way, and he realizes that they might get along well as traveling companions, if nothing else. Thus Gideon more or less coaxes Jed into guiding him overland to San Francisco after he has recovered – and Jed agrees readily enough, even though he mocks Gideon by calling him soft and pampered.

Their journey begins, and soon Gideon finds out that he is, indeed, soft and pampered compared to Jed. His admiration grows, and so does the attraction. It doesn’t take too long until their relationship turns sexual, after all, as Jed admits and acts on his own attraction to Gideon; and the dreaded long journey soon turns into the best time Gideon’s ever had. Still, even though Jed seems to develop feelings for Gideon, he takes an effort in keeping the young white man on arm’s length, because he obviously thinks their different races can never meet eye to eye.
Being friends with the Indians that travel with the show makes Gideon a lot more understanding about Jed than his contemporaries usually are, and since Gideon is a traveler himself, he can even relate to many of Jed’s reservations. On the other hand, listening to Jed, watching him and generally being with him changes Gideon’s point of view about many things. He’s openminded enough to allow those changes and in no way above adopting some of Jed’s opinions and manners.
Practically from the first moment of his life, Jed has seen his people mistreated by white men, and has experienced his share of mistreatment first-hand. Taken from his people at a young age and forced into a “civilized” education by Catholic nuns, Jed harbors deeply ingrained distrust and prejudices against whites. Since the entire story is told from Gideons third – person POV, we get Jed only through Gideon’s eyes, but even so, we watch him change too as he spends time with the often naive and rash young white man, opening first his body, then his heart to Gideon.

The characterizations were incredibly good. Gideon was every little bit the twenty – year old happy- go -lucky selfish adolescent, often trampling on Jed’s and other people’s feelings out of sheer ignorance. Just as often, though, he showed consideration and understanding far above his years, which hinted at the innate goodness of his heart and also cast a very positive light at his upbringing. In fact, even though we don’t meet Gideon’s family in person, they are mentioned often enough to become alive, and they grew on me, too.
I was even more impressed by the way Jed was drawn, a powerful, three – dimensional and fully fleshed character even though he doesn’t speak much and we don’t get into his head. He had so many layers. At first traditionally brought up as a Lakota, he internalized his people’s ways and clung to them through the time he was forced to spend in the boarding school. He is older, better – educated and more experienced than Gideon (and even Gideon thinks him the smarter one) , but he is also wary out of habit and used to expect the worst from white men in general. In a way, Jed was the more close-minded of the two, and I could only admire the author duo for resisting the urge to make Jed a “noble savage” or a larger-than-life saint in disguise, giving him depth, flaws and humanity instead.

Jed’s deeply ingrained misgivings are what keep him from truely committing to Gideon, even though he has come to love the young white man, to a point where leaving him almost tears Jed apart. And this is what Gideon has over Jed: Gideon has the kind of faith it takes to stand by his man, unconditionally and at any cost. Maybe, just maybe, Jed loves Gideon enough to learn trusting him completely, heart, body and soul.

This book breathed authenticity in every little detail, down to every word and gesture, down to the way Gideon and Jed talk, dress, eat and have sex. Every now and then, the authors’ moralizing forefinger peeked up just the tiniest little bit, as the journey brings them through wild and untamed land in contrast to small, rural towns, mining sites and big cities on the verge of industrialization. It never turns to preaching, though, it just colors Gideon’s experience; in fact, the growing awareness for the destruction of the land was part of Gideon’s growth process.
I know I’ve complained about the use of the word Indian in another book recently; curiously, this didn’t bother me here. For one, Gideon saying it or even using the term “Injun” fit both the time and Gideon’s character – he IS thoughtless at times, although willing to overcome his ignorance. For another, Jed used the various referrals to himself and his people in a very subtle way, calling himself Lakota when he felt comfortable with Gideon, and Sioux or Indian when he wanted to create distance. It’s another part of Gideon’s character development that he became aware of those subtleties, among Jed’s many other little peculiarities the more attention he paid to Jed, the more he fell in love with him – and I loved the way I, as the reader, was included in this slow progress through Gideon’s eyes.

This was a beautiful, thought – provoking, heartfelt story. As I said above, I recommend it wholeheartedly.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Review: Breathe

BreatheBreathe by Sloan Parker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was an incredible book in so many respects. Incredibly intense,for one - the emotions were palpable, whether hatred, love, fear, lust.

Lincoln was a fantastic character, real and believable in his brokenness and determination.

Jay, of course, was larger than life. One of the most positive Heroes I've ever come across. Testament of the author's skill was the fact I could actually buy most of it, feel with Jay, cheer him on.

The third main character was Katie; she was always present,at first a haunting for Linc, later like a benevolent spirit who'd bless the lovers.

Another forte was the writing. Fast-paced,gripping and flawless, action scenes and hot sex scenes as enticing as inner musings and tender kisses.

What baffled me most was the way how the author took an absolute impossible plot and turned it into something that could and did work. Absolutely awesome, a book I can't recommend highly enough.

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Review: Settling the Score

Settling the ScoreSettling the Score by Eden Winters

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Joey Nichols is hoping for a new life, away from his small Georgia town at the side of his love, former smalltown boy and now up-and-coming Hollywood star Riker. How bitterly disillusioned is he when his boyfriend casually annonces the end of their relationship over prime time TV. What's worse, Joey has to learn about Riker's two-timing from the tabloid press; Riker's snide remarks about Joey are all over the internet for everyone to see. In the middle of being shunned by half his hometown and having insults and eggs hurled at him for being gay, Joey finds remarkable support from his family. A stubborn lot, the Nichols's prepare to ride out the wave of rejection, enduring hardships out of their love for Joey, which only adds to Joey's shame and embarrassment.

Troy Steele is a successful writer who had his books made into even more successful movies. But his success came at a high price: in order to fit in with the persona his publicists created for him, Troy allowed himself changed out of recognition. Estranged even from himself and still smarting from his former lover Ian's betrayal, which once broke up a wonderful relationship for him, Troy leads the life of a recluse, turning into a bitter old man at only thirty - eight.

This changes when Troy and his PA Erica watch Joey's day of humiliation on TV. Quick - witted, calculating, firecely loyal Erica immediately recognizes Joey's potential as a means of retaliation. What's more, his fate happens to match the new book Troy is currently writing, and Joey promises first - class research material. They end up offering Joey a chance to "reveal his inner swan" as Erica puts it, and with a little coaxing, Joey accepts.

As the weeks go by, Troy finds himself more and more taken by his new assistant and reseach object. There is so much more to Joey than meets the eye. Alongside Joey, Troy changes, not only on his outward appearance, but also in his view of life and in the order of his priorities. But then Troy's conscience kicks in: in using Joey for his personal revenge, is he any better than Riker or Ian? Before he can tell Joey the truth, though, Joey finds out on his own and leaves. Now Troy has to come up with an equivalent of diamonds and flowers good enough to reconcile him with his down-to-earth auto mechanic.

This book was a real treat to read, a brilliant and originate take on the old Pygmalion theme. The story gripped me from the start and took me on a wonderful ride into the ideal world. Who wouldn't wish for a world where both the bad and the good harvest what they sow in spades? The beauty of this particular tale lay in the fact that it turned its fairytale-ish concept into something that could have actually happened for real. Both Troy and Joey were no fairy-tale princes who had their happiness fall into their laps, they had to figure out what they wanted first and then to work hard for it. They were real human beings, with flaws, weaknesses and quirks, they made consequential mistakes, hurt others out of thoughtlessness and selfishness and still had enough inner goodness and conscience to realize where they had erred and go about righting their wrongs. They were two of the most human, most likeable characters I've met lately in fiction, perfect examples of Eden Winter's incredible skill with characterization. The secondary cast was just as perfect, down to minor characters like bully Chuck and hypocritically friendly neighbor Andrew. I particularly loved Joey's family - not the picture-perfect American family at all, but unwavering in their love and loyalty for Joey and perfect where it counted. The only less than real character was Erica, although also one of the most likeable - she was a bit over the top in her fairy-godmotherhood, but I could easily forgive her since she was exactly what Troy and Joey needed, and boy, did that tiny pixie pack a punch!

The wonderful characterizations, the sparkling dialogue and the great, easily flowing writing easily made up for the occasionally quite far-fetched plot. The entire tale breathed heartfelt honesty, down to the last little pieca of dialect worked in, down to the stark reality of our media-ridden world where everyone's deepest secrets can be dragged to light over the internet, laid bare for anyone to trample on.

A book that went immediately to my keeper shelf, to be pulled out and read again and again. Heartily, thoroughly recommended.

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sarah Black Interview

The lovely Sarah Black, author of Idaho Battlegrounds, interviewed me today on my first published story, Desert Falcon.

Sarah Black interviews Feliz Faber on the release of her new story, Desert Falcon, from Dreamspinner Press

Sarah: Your new story, Desert Falcon, has such an exotic setting. Can you tell us about it? Do you have experience yourself in this region of the world?
Feliz: In a way, the setting came with the main character. When I first met Hunter, I went looking for a place where he could have become as devoted to falconry as he is, and the first thing that came to my mind was Arabia. Falconry is an integral part of the Arabian culture; the Saker falcon was the Prophet Mohammed's favorite bird according to the Holy Qur'an. While researching for Desert Falcon, I chanced upon a female German veterinarian who leads a falcon clinic in Abu Dhabi, I think, and I knew immediately this was the place for Hunter. I thought about making him a veterinarian, but as it happens often with my characters, he put his foot down and refused, and thus became an ornithologist.
Sarah: He’s a strong character- very powerful and quite believable that he would put his foot down with you!
Feliz: As for my personal experience with this region of the world - no, I've never been there, although I'd really, really love to some day. Ever heard about Karl May? He was a German novelist in the late 18 hundreds, incredibly prolific (he wrote almost 80 full novels and countless short stories). He wrote "travel reports", pretending he'd actually been to all the places he described; his books were pure fiction but so accurate some of his fans in the 1950 could actually use them as travel guides. Many of those books are set in the Middle East. I grew up with them, read them over and over, immersed myself in his worlds. A decade later, I met a friend, a Persian (he never said Iranian!) whose parents had fled with the Shah. Through him I gained deeper insight into this culture, which I've come to deeply respect and love since.
Sarah: And Karl May did all that without the internet! He must have been a great reader. I have been a big fan of Persian poetry, which is intensely romantic.  I read on your blog that you’ve lived all over the world. What were some of your favorite places? What do you particularly like about travelling and moving?
Sundown in Brittany
Feliz: Persian poetry is fantastic! I always regret that I never learned Arabic writing, let alone Farsi. Well, I've lived and worked mostly in European countries - Switzerland, France, Denmark, and about ten or twelve different places in Germany. I've traveled all over Europe, though, to Turkey and Australia. What's always the best thing about a new place is getting to know it, getting familiar with different people. A new place is full of immense opportunities, for everything - making new friends, learning something new, exploring new locations, habits, foods. My favorite places? Brittany, I think, especially Saint Malo and the Mount St. Michel. Such beauty! Brisbane - I didn't want to leave.  Mannheim  - a down to earth, cosmopolitic city that grounded me in a way no other place did.
Sarah: The main characters, Hunter and Hamid, are both falconers. What do falconers do? How did you get interested in falcons?
Feliz: I met my first falcon at a birdwatch show when I was little, and I was hooked immediately. I never got round to have a falcon of my own, but there's a professional falconer in my neighborhood who I can go hawking with, which I usually do once or twice a month in winter season.
Basically, Falconry is a way of hunting with tamed birds of prey. In the middle age, falconry was very common everywhere in the world; at times, even peasants got to hunt for fowl or rabbits with trained hawks. Modern falconers are mostly environmentalists, but falconry has a lot of uses even today, far beyond falconry shows or education. For example, falcons are used for biological pest control, keeping buildings free of doves, parks free of rabbits - and airport runways free of nuisance birds.
Lanner Falcon
What do falconers do? Don't get me started! Caring for the birds, keeping them clean, healthy and entertained is almost a full-time job. The reward, of course, is having a companion who's with you all of her free will. They aren't pets at all, they always remain wild. Feeling a falcon's deadly claws on your wrist, and watching her fly - it's a feeling beyond description when she comes back to you although she doesn't need to.
Sarah: Is Desert Falcon your first story? What are your plans for your writing?  Are you working on something now?
Feliz: Desert Falcon was the first story I had the nerve to publish, but it's not my first story - I've got about a dozen tales sitting on my hard drive that better never, ever see the light.
Actually, Hunter is one of the two main characters in my first "real" novel, City Falcon, which is unpublished as of now (yet, I hope - I've submitted it for publication only recently). Desert Falcon is Hunter's backstory, which turned into a Bittersweet Dreams short story almost on its own volition. As I said, Hunter is a rather strong - willed character; he quasi dictated his story to me during a single weekend, and I had to make very little alterations once I had written it down. 
I'm currently working on the sequel to City Falcon (Hunter isn't quite done with me, for which I'm deeply grateful), which I've almost finished outlining.
Sarah: I’ve had a few characters like that- they just have some things to say, and I’m their scribe!
Feliz: I have another unrelated project, a story about a gay horseracing jockey, which I hope to finish sometime this summer.
Sarah: That sounds interesting. I was a big fan of Dick Francis when I was younger. I loved that whole world of horse racing. This book is short. Do you have a particular fondness for short v. novel length fiction?  What are your thoughts on this?
Feliz: I don't have any preferences in regard to story length. Generally when I start writing something I have a vague notion what it's going to be, but I must admit, I never know for sure until the outline is done. I don't consciously plan to write a novel, a novella or a short story - the story lasts until it's told.
Sarah: Tell me about you as a reader. Ebook vs paper? Any childhood favorites? What’s on your TBR pile right now?
Feliz: Oh, reading. Since I'm a voracious reader, I have bookshelves everywhere, my home office, my bedroom, the hallway, even the bathroom, all overflowing with books. Afraid to be buried alive under a bookalanche, my man applied the emergency brakes on my book addiction last year by giving me a Sony reader for my birthday. Which he bitterly regrets by now, though, since I haven't let it out of my reach ever since.
This is my chatty way of saying I've turned to almost exclusively reading ebooks recently, although I still buy and read the odd print book on occasion. On my TBR is Eden Winter's Settling the Score, Rick R. Reed's How I Met My Man, Kris Jacen's Wishing on a Blue Star, Ariel Tachna's Alliance in Blood and about a dozen others. It grows constantly *sigh*
As for childhood favorites: see above. My all - time favorites are Bengtsson's The Long Ships and Kipling's Kim.  
Sarah: I love Kipling, too, and because of him, I have an unrequited love of India. Like your guy Karl May, I love reading stories where the setting takes me to a place I haven’t been before.  It’s so easy for us these days to travel to new places via books- and for us writers, to research a new place well enough we can smell it and taste it. When I’m writing about a new place, I always try to make their cooking at home- so the house smells right while I’m writing. Though I never mastered New Orleans pralines and shrimp. New Orleans may have too many layers! You have a couple of dogs at home. Will you tell us about them?
Feliz: They're the joy of my heart. Sherry, the girl, is seven now, and Filou, the boy, is two. 
They're real clowns, cute, stubborn and hoggish. They get my backside off the computer chair and make me laugh, and there's no other creature that can love quite like they do. No matter how hard my day was, when I come home in the evening and they greet me with that unconditional, exuberant happiness - it's catching, comforting and incredibly beautiful. It's a pity I can't take them when I ride my motorbike!
Desert Falcon, available now from Dreamspinner!