Group Review: The Last Nights of The Frangipani Hotel by Bey Deckard

All James wanted was a little solitude at his favourite resort: bright sunshine overhead, soft, white sand underfoot, and a hammock to read in while the warm breeze rustles through the coconut palms and almond trees. However, when an old acquaintance shows up, and James is obliged to share “his” beach, a profound exchange over a bottle of rum leads to a lust-fuelled encounter in the dark.

Reeling from the intensity of the drunken tryst, James decides to cut his vacation short rather than face what he’s kept hidden under mountains of denial.

However, his escape is thwarted when Rudie, handsome and plainspoken, calls him out on his behaviour and makes him see that life needn’t be spent running away from his desires.

Set at a rundown old resort on a small Caribbean island, The Last Nights of The Frangipani Hotel is a story about letting go of fear and learning that passion and love can be found in the most unexpected of places.



Lorix - 3 Hearts

A short, quick and easy read about discovering oneself in the quiet beauty of the Caribbean. Bey Deckard always writes prose I enjoy, and while this short did not blow me away I did enjoy the story.

I have a feeling that short stories from this author are not my favourite of his writing. Whilst I enjoy them, they don't hold my attention as the wonderful complexity I adore from his longer novels does.

James and Rudie were likeable characters, enjoying the sun and learning about each other, and in James' case himself. A pleasant read, beautifully written, that I enjoyed but wasn't wowed by. I am definitely in the minority so I would say give this a go.


SheReadsALot - 4.5 Hearts
"See, I like pleasing you. I like knowing that my body, my mouth, my hands... my ass can make you feel so good. I like feeling used. I liked it when you came into my room and held me down and fucked me. Like I was just a thing to be used to make you cum. Like your fuck toy."
After reading nearly all of this author's backlist, I've come to notice a few things.

1. It takes me longer to get into his contemporary. The fantasy pirates? I was all in after the first few pages. I mean pirates, hello. And the sci-fi soldiers...well, I love good D/s and a big buy bottoming, so it was a match made in heaven. The Last Nights of Frangipani Hotel didn't start to hook me until 26% and it was a tentative hook at first. But as the story progressed, I really began to enjoy.

2. This author is really, really great at painting a scene and dirty talk. The Caribbean setting was lush and I felt like I was there with actors James and Rudie in their dilapidated hideaway beach resort. The Caribbean is a favorite place of mine, so it's great to revisit in a story. And as for the dirty talk, I mean, look at the starting quote. I think all my quotes I chose from this story are of a sexual nature in some form. Deckard is to blame. (Or thank?)

James is an actor, hidden away from the stress of being rich and famous in a little vacation hut all on his lonesome. When Rudie, a hot younger German actor, encroaches James' peace and solitude with conversation and hot body. They've met before years before and reconnect over shared interests, books and their occupation.

Oh and that pesky mutual attraction that straight, seperated James tries to deny.
"You are pitying yourself for something that isn't so serious. It's not like you and I are getting married. I'm only trying to help you see yourself in a different way. But if you don't want my help, I won't give it. Just realize that I'm going to lock my door at night so that you don't accidently find your cock in my ass again."
The men are virtually secluded, alcohol is consumed...passion can't be denied. *leers*

But it is an awkward start. And things don't automatically fall into place. James is having an identity crisis because he's adamantly straight. Right? James' denial of being attracted to men was funny. GFY can be hit or miss for me. I'm not that caught up in titles but I do enjoy reading a great internal struggle and James does deliver some good moments. And Rudie definitely knew how to rub James the right way.

I found this novella from The Actors' Circle series is slightly more stronger. Maybe because there was more page time between the main characters. I think I got a better sense of James and Rudie as characters, James more so than Rudie. But Rudie was the star of the book for me. I really liked the way the men got close. Would I call this sweet? Eh, maybe? It's light in tone. I think that they had cabin fever/ vacation-itis love going on for the way the insta-love kinda developed. I'd love to see them in the future in the author ever have plans for that but I'm happy with the way it ended too.
"I felt like I had just noticed that I'd been driving with the parking brake on these years."
Another quick, easy and hot read to break in new readers of the author.
Recommended for fans of vacation romances and dirty talk, seperate or together.

Sunshine - 4 Hearts

Simple, quiet read, but still lusty :)

I loved Rudie. He had an endearing combination of pragmatic confidence and sweet vulnerability that drew me in. I didn't connect with James as much, but I was sympathetic to his struggles and I liked his response to Rudie. Plus, he had his own moments of sweet vulnerability that appealed to me.

The writing was solid, with a strong sense of place and great atmosphere. Words perfectly chosen to set the mood...very evocative. And while I wanted more story, I was happy with the ending, the excitement of a new beginning.

Side note:
Loved the touches of D/s...more, please :)


For more information on Goodreads or Booklikes!

Review: The Grand Ballast by J.A. Rock

In a future where live sex shows abound to keep a jaded population entertained, dancer Bode Martin falls for the brilliant and unstable Kilroy Ballast, who molds Bode into the star attraction of his erotic circus, the Grand Ballast. Drugged beyond any real feeling, Bode trades freedom and his once considerable pride for an illusion of tenderness—until he inadvertently rescues a young man from a rival show, and together they flee to an eccentric town in the west where love still means something.

Valen’s not an easy man to know, and Bode shed his romantic notions under Kilroy’s brutal employ. Yet their growing bond becomes a strange and dangerous salvation as they attempt to overthrow the shadows of their pasts and wade together through a world of regret, uncertainty, beauty, and terror.

But Kilroy won't let Bode go so easily. Long ago, Bode was responsible for the loss of something Kilroy held dear, and he still owes Kilroy a debt. As the three men battle toward a tangled destiny, Bode must decide if his love for Valen is worth fighting for—or if he was and always will be a pawn in the story Kilroy Ballast will never stop telling.


WARNING: Contains violence and noncon. Not a genre romance.
 






Let me just expound on that last line of the description. No, it's not a "romance" but it is about love and all its permutations. What does it look like? Feel like? Do we know it when we have it? What do we do with it? Where does it go when it's gone? 

No, it's not a romance but it is brutally romantic in its honesty about the nebulousness of love and Bode's ironic journey to discover what it means to him.

The non-con and violence warnings... I really want to say just disregard them because life can be a fucked up mess and we live through those atrocities daily. If we can live through a man being burned alive for some misbegotten religious fervency then this book is a walk in the park, comparatively speaking. Yes, those elements are present, but most are not explicit or drawn out.

But, I will caution those prone to depression and/or suicide please exercise caution. This book is very gritty and emotional while being both weighty and transcendent.

It made me ugly cry. If you know me, you know how significant that statement is. I would encourage all those considering this to know your limitations and read other reviews.


People had grown bored with everything but violence and sex.

If I had to choose one word to describe my reading experience it would be discomfiting. 

I was intensely, severely discomfited virtually from word one. It wasn't the events themselves per se that made me so uneasy, but the social commentary and the possibility that this future world J.A. has envisioned could actually come to be. I hope I'm long, long gone if it ever does, but if not, then please PLEASE let me be part of Harkville. Because crossdressing.



The Grand Ballast is a stirring and sometimes surreal fun-house that left me wrung out emotionally and rawThe Grand Ballast is a traveling X-show in a futuristic vision of America set in the "Age of Ennui" after we've lost all interest in social media and visionary ideas. We've become indifferent toward... everything. Brains reduced to only the Id component of the psyche. People are only interested in being shocked by debasing and/or acrobatic sex between any number of people all while they eat their hot dogs and popcorn. If one of those stars is beaten during the show with "the ring stick" for resisting or lacking enthusiasm, so much the better.

The dichotomy of it all was what I found most disturbing . The image of innumerable bored drones sitting in a big top tent eating cotton candy while Bode is gang banged with two or more cocks stuffed into his orifices and cheering only when something is outrageous enough to garner their interest is beyond absurd. When he doesn't "perform" they've no qualms about throwing their carnival food at him while he's cuffed and helpless on a cross, but they get upset when Kilroy backhands him after he saves Valen? Completely nonsensical.

That people could become so devoid of humanity, so disinterested in life, that the concept of compassion could become so warped sickened me. The prose that was used to illustrate this indifference is in equal measures amazing and horrifying with Bode being the shining star even at the darkest times. He somehow manages to retain a purity, an innocence that resonated with me. As much as he believes himself to be broken and tainted he really is guileless.




Bode is a complex character. I'm not sure I've ever read one more complex than him. In the simplest terms, he is a dancer who wants to change the world. He wants to be seen, really seen. He wants to distance himself from his parents and their dull monotony. His dreams are bigger, greater. He is special and he's going to break the mold. But what he wants most of all is someone to love him, and for that person to encompass all of his deepest desires. 

It can't be love
For there is no true love
You said the union forever
You said the union forever
You cried the union forever
But that was untrue
Cause it can't be love
For there is no true love

~The White Stripes

He wants it so badly he creates it with smoke and mirrors and clings to it even though it's a mirage. Kilroy Ballast is that mirage and someone I'd dearly love to case study. He's another complex character. He's the manipulative, calculating, brilliant sociopathic ring leader of The Grand Ballast and Bode's lover. Their relationship is abusive and obsessive and told through Bode's flashbacks. It was easily the most difficult aspect of this book for me personally.




I found myself pleading with Bode not to go back to him, to get as far away from him as possible. Just run and don't look back! The notion that Bode is subjected to all this pain and torment because he made one mistake, the mistake of loving a monster who simply isn't capable of fulfilling his needs? Bode who initially couldn't even bring himself to curse? Bode who is a dreamer? Bode who personifies innocence? Bode who subjects himself to the whims of a madman in some misguided attempt at restitution for a crime he didn't commit? 

The injustice of it gutted me. 

And yet, oddly, I felt sorry for Kilroy more than anything else. He completely deserves what he ultimately gets. He had the devotion, loyalty and love of someone so pure and couldn't recognize it for the gift it was and didn't know what to do with it. So he tried to crush it instead and that made me pity him. But out of those ashes Bode rose to try again with Valen.



Valen, The Boy of the Water, who's no boy at all but a man who's so confused, brainwashed, tired and disillusioned with life that he's volunteered to be the star of a snuff act in another X-show when he and Bode first meet. Their relationship is laborious which is what ultimately makes it so sturdy. They do not pull punches with one another. They've both lost something of themselves, both struggle with PTSD, but neither have completely lost hope. They enrich one another. They compromise. They have an "ordinary magic" that brought me to ugly tears.


Maybe we are all here for the simplest reasons.

The irony of Bode's journey given its origins was unquestionably my favorite part and exquisitely executed by J.A.. The world building is a true melting pot that is rich and vibrant. The secondary characters are distinctive, bizarre and compelling. The Grand Ballast is an artistic achievement that supersedes its genre. If I could give this all the stars and hearts and flowers, I would. Because it was that good. I was impressed by Take the Long Way Home, but The Grand Ballast exceeded my expectations in every way. Hopefully, she'll be recognized for this achievement in a more tangible way than my gushing, but I do want to thank you, J.A., for writing this.




A review copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more on Goodreads.

Guest Review: Vespertine by Leta Blake and Indra Vaughn

Can a priest and a rock star obey love's call?

Seventeen years ago, Jasper Hendricks and Nicholas Blumfeld's childhood friendship turned into a secret, blissful love affair. They spent several idyllic months together until Jasper's calling to the Catholic priesthood became impossible to ignore. Left floundering, Nicky followed his own trajectory into rock stardom, but he never stopped looking back.

Today, Jasper pushes boundaries as an out, gay priest, working hard to help vulnerable LGBTQ youth. He's determined to bring change to the church and the world. Respected, admired, and settled in his skin, Jasper has long ignored his loneliness.

As Nico Blue, guitarist and songwriter for the band Vespertine, Nicky owns the hearts of millions. He and his bandmates have toured the world, lighting their fans on fire with their music. Numbed by drugs and fueled by simmering anger, Nicky feels completely alone. When Vespertine is forced to get sober, Nicky returns home to where it all started.

Jasper and Nicky's careers have ruled their lives since they parted as teens. When they come face to face again, they must choose between the past's lingering ghosts or the promise of a new future.


Guest Reviewed by Vivian

Salacious premise that delivers without falling apart.

First love, a pivotal moment that remains emblazoned in the mind. Some memories are sweet, some hurt, but for everyone that's had it run through their fingers and slide away with youth, it also carries a bittersweetness.

Nico Blue is a rock god. A star. A mess. Lost in his own persona, he's dying. A harsh wake-up call brings him back home to recover, to regain himself. To find what he lost with time.

Jasper, a devout man of the cloth who truly believes in his calling, his service, his mission. He uses his faith to serve both his community and disenfranchised youths in the church run LGBTQ foster home. He never lied or disowned his inclinations, but he did follow another path--abstinence.

The expressions, explanations of liturgy and procedure are well done. There is no scoffing at religion. Jasper believes and the story treats it appropriately, with reverence. And I have to say, that was important to me as I was reading the story. It's easy to set up strawmen and knock them down, but religion isn't the easy out here.

Straight off, the initial clash between Nicky and Jasper is spectacle. Nicky's out of control and it is embarrassingly obvious--Nicky is doing confession all wrong. It's about ones' own failings not accusations. But, Jasper is a patient man who struggles and wants to help his childhood friend, sweetheart to get beyond the pain and heartache, to find a good place again. So herein starts a tentative dance. They push and pull, but both respect the boundaries set.

Jasper is unfair. Nicky's been upfront and honest about his feeling for Jasper and Jazz is taking liberties while keeping him arm's distance as he experiences a true crisis of faith. Things shift in the liminal spaces. And that's where Jasper and Nicky find each other again. Zeitgeist.

While there isn't suicide ideation, there are definite shadows that linger and move forwards and backwards during the story. Pain needs an outlet; there's a lot of it here. This story is an UST lovers' dream, but when it breaks loose--it rolls through like a tidal wave.

Midway, I couldn't see how this story could end without it falling apart. Physical love and the Catholic priesthood are a paradox; they can't exist simultaneously. Choices must be made. Actually, there's one loophole to that--One.

Favorite quote:
With his first words, “Hey, my name’s Jasper,” he’d somehow grabbed hold of Nicky’s hands and pulled him out of the cage he’d been in his whole life. He’d made him a real boy.


For more information on Goodreads or Booklikes!

Review: Bent Arrow by Posy Roberts

Sometimes curves in the road take you right where you belong.


Luther Almond’s life working the Bakken oil field is perfect—short-lived jobs, temporary housing, and easy hookups. That’s one reason he won’t move home when he inherits the lake house. When Erik Heat bends over to fix Luther’s pipes, his tattoos hint he might be up for more than working on the drain. The last thing Luther expects is to want more from this guy than one night.


Every time they’re together, Luther is more grounded and Erik more confident. When the lake house demands attention, Luther asks for Erik’s help. There he imagines a more permanent life, one where he stops running. But he wants Erik by his side. Can he find the courage—and the words—to ask?

What happens when you are a scared of commitment but you fall in love? This is what Luther finds out in Bent Arrow. He runs from commitment of any kind; from where he lives, to his job, to his relationships. Being still, making a commitment is scary, it is easy to keep things light. A hard worker, Luther only stops when he has to. Hook ups take care of his physical needs, exhaustion from long hours takes care of his mental ones - if you can call being so tired you don't have to think taking care...

Life is relatively simple. Until it isn't. And it all starts with a plumbers crack...



At more or less the same time, two things happen. His mom gets on at him to do up the lake house his grandfather had left him, and Erik walks into his life. (Or rather, Erik comes round to repair his plumbing, showing off a sexy arse and an intriguing tattoo). These two things shake up Luther's predictable life and make him start facing some truths.

For a short story (65 pages) this was an enjoyable read. It left me smiling as I followed Luther and Erik's journey towards each other, towards commitment. There was enough of a back story for this to be more than just fluff, more than just smut - yet it was still an easy, fun read. Again, it's another story for those times when you just want to sit and fall into a story without thinking too much. Really enjoyable, thank you. 

.
For more information check out Goodreads.
A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Heat Wave: Tuscaloosa by Jeff Adams

Ethan is a grad student stuck in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for the summer. Though he’s thrilled about his teaching assistant position at the university, he’s not at all excited about the record-breaking heat wave plaguing the area. 

In the midst of an oppressively hot summer night, Ethan meets fellow grad student Marcus. While their initial encounters are scorching, can two busy students have more than a heated seasonal fling? Or could it be the beginning of something that will last beyond the stormy southern nights?


Two grad students and one impossibly hot summer, let me tell you, the temperature wasn't the only thing that was heating up in this novel! This book was a pleasant, and oft times steamy, read. Taking place over one summer, we see the development of the relationship between Ethan and Marcus. From mutual balcony masturbation (public sex kink - tick), to some damn hot sex scenes, the story was full of serious sexy times... but more than that, it showed how Ethan and Marcus developed a relationship beyond the physical.

Though there were a couple of minor editing errors, I enjoyed this story. It was a pleasant summer read. I liked the odd references to pop culture:
"I wished really hard for a either a polar vortex to miraculously blow in, or for Elsa to get pissed off and unleash the cold."
I also felt for these guys; I HATE being too hot and the word humid makes me want to cry. The author did an excellent job of writing how uncomfortably hot the summer was, and the subsequent effect it had on the guys relationship. In fact, without the heat, the relationship might never have happened.The MC's were fun, they were great to read about; they laughed together and made me laugh at several points. When they needed to be there for each other they were.

To be honest, I'm finding it hard to know exactly how to review this book. Not because it was badly written, or boring, but because it really was a middling book. The kind that is perfect when you're a bit tired and just want to fall into bed with an easy, enjoyable read. So often middling, easy, nice, etc, etc seem like insults, but I'm here to say that is not the case. Sometimes all these things are exactly what it needed in a read. It wasn't overly sweet and schmultzy, nor too angsty, it was just a nice blend of pleasant with just enough steam.

A recommended read for those times when something easy, fun and just a touch steamy is what you're looking for.


For more information check out Goodreads.
A copy of this story was given in exchange for an honest review.

Sloe Ride and Shot Glass Sin by Rhys Ford Tour & GIVEAWAY!


It's time for Rafe and Quinn!!!!

Who's been waiting, not so patiently, for their story??

ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME

Rhys Ford has been gracious enough to stop by the clubhouse to tease us with some words from Book 4 of the Sinners Series and a super awesome GIVEAWAY!



Ready for a shot of SIN and a word from the author herself?

Read on for the promised tease and a chance to win a spot in Sinners Gin history!



Sloe Ride.

Actually it’s been more of a long ride. Three years, three books, one novella and a lot of short stories and we’ve come to the point where Quinn gets his story. And we get to really meet Rafe. This is definitely a shift in the band’s story, a lot more Morgan and well, there’s Quinn, the family’s off-black sheep. It was a challenge and a joy to write Quinn and Rafe. And I hope you enjoy it.

We’ve got two more outings in the Sinners series after Sloe Ride but this book kind of pulls a lot of things together. Enough so we can go forward to a few other things. And I hope you enjoy the ride.
This blog tour captures a few scenes along the band’s journey from Damien and Miki to the start of Sloe Ride. It’s called Shot Glass Sin and I’m hoping you enjoy this too. Visit each blog stop to get the next part of the story and when it’s all done, I’ll post the entire thing in a PDF.

Oh! And a GIVEAWAY! But not just any giveaway, because it’s time for a new tour shirt.
Because the guys are going on tour… in Absinthe of Malice, a Sinners novella set to be released in 2016. And they’re going to need clubs or bars to go to.

ONE WINNER at each blog stop will name one of the places the band plays at on their tour. Nothing profane or lewd (These ARE going on the back of a t-shirt) but pretty much anything goes.

Leave a comment below to enter!


Shot Glass Sin

9 —Tequila Mockingbird

“What the fuck was wrong with that last one?” Damien paced the length of Studio 3, snarling at his best friend through the glass partition separating the sound room from the practice space. Miki glared back, hackles up and snarling in return, soundlessly communicating how far Damien could shove his head up his ass to fuck himself with his own tongue.

Or at least that’s what Miki hoped it looked like.

It certainly was what he felt like saying.

Forest, as usual, sat behind his kit, twirling a stick around his fingers, waiting for the storm to pass so he could continue on with his life, untouched by the craziness of Miki’s relationship with Damien.

Nothing seemed to rattle their drummer. Not even Damien at his most infuriating peaks.

“He was an asshole. You could smell the asshole coming off of him,” Forest interjected into the argument as Miki stalked into the room. “Like he was saying everything you wanted to hear. Packaging himself to fit.”

“Faker than a third tit,” Miki added. He plopped into a wing chair someone’d dragged in, holding his breath when it puffed out a cloud of lavender scent into the air. He missed Dude. He wanted Kane.

And most of all, he was really fucking hungry.

His stomach seemed to agree because it growled nearly as nastily as Damie did when he wasn’t getting his way. Much like now.

“Sinjun, we’ve got to find someone,” Damie dragged a short stool over, sitting down between Miki and Forest’s drum kit. “Ackerman, you’re not helping here.”

“Do you really want someone even Forest doesn’t like?” The question hit where Miki’d intended because he saw Damie wince and heard Forest give out a little hey now in response. “Dude, no offense but you’re kind of like a chip off the Frank there. Apple. Tree. Falling. No rolling.”

“True, you’re a lot like Frank.” Damien nodded.

“He wasn’t my real father,” Forest pointed out, riffing a skin with the tip of a stick. “Hell, I didn’t even move in until I was in my teens.”

“Nurture not nature,” Damien chuckled. “So very Frank.”

“Really? Is that why Miki’s the way he is? Because you nurtured him?” Forest shot back.

It was a good hit. Miki had to give him that.

Until Damien replied, “One does not nurture Miki. That’s kind of like waltzing with a honey badger. I just tossed him food until it was safe enough to approach and shoved a microphone into his hand.”

“Nice. Going to be hard to kiss Sionn after I punch your teeth out.” He was teasing. Damie knew he was teasing but Forest grew silent and still. Tossing a guitar pick at their drummer, Miki said, “Joke, Forest. Joke.”

“I have to pack it up soon. The thing’s tonight.” Forest stared at his friends’ blank looks. “The Amp opening? The thing?”

“Shit, that’s right. Sionn wants us to meet up with Rafe Andrade.” Damien stood up quickly and caught the stool before it tumbled over. “They’re good friends but… I don’t know. Kind of feels like a set up.”

“Who?” Miki couldn’t place the name but it sounded familiar.

“Guy from Jack Collins’ band…what the fuck was their name?” D tapped his temple. “Shittiest thing about the whole head thing. It’s like a goddamn hole shit slips out of. I don’t remember the name but the guy crashed and burned after our accident. Fucked the band up and got kicked out for it.”

“Rafe was crashing before your accident.” Forest hauled over one of the baby amps they’d pulled out. “He used to come down here sometimes to play. He’s really good.”

“Maybe we should look at him,” Miki suggested. “Can’t be any worse than anyone else we’ve heard play.”

“Oh fuck no, Sinjun,” Damien grumbled back, a sour look on his expressive face. “Last thing we need is a fuck-up like Andrade. Haven’t we gone through enough? We’ll find someone. We just have to keep looking.”

§

Sloe Ride

It isn’t easy being a Morgan. Especially when dead bodies start piling up and there’s not a damned thing you can do about it.

Quinn Morgan never quite fit into the family mold. He dreamed of a life with books instead of badges and knowledge instead of law—and a life with Rafe Andrade, his older brothers’ bad boy friend and the man who broke his very young heart.

Rafe Andrade returned home to lick his wounds following his ejection from the band he helped form. A recovering drug addict, Rafe spends his time wallowing in guilt, until he finds himself faced with his original addiction, Quinn Morgan—the reason he fled the city in the first place.

When Rafe hears the Sinners are looking for a bassist, it’s a chance to redeem himself, but as a crazed murderer draws closer to Quinn, Rafe’s willing to sacrifice everything—including himself—to keep his quixotic Morgan safe and sound.

Purchase Sloe Ride at Dreamspinner Press - http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com

Or Amazon, Barnes and Noble and ARe.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B014N57K28

Shot Glass Sin Blog Tour Dates

Aug 31 The Blogger Girls (http://thebloggergirls.com/)
Sept 1 It’s About the Book (http://itsaboutthebook.com/)
Sept 2 Love Bytes (http://lovebytesreviews.com/)
Sept 3 Prism Alliance (http://www.prismbookalliance.com/)
Sept 4 The Novel Approach (http://thenovelapproachreviews.com/)
Sept 5 Fiction Vixen (http://fictionvixen.com/)
Sept 6 Sinfully Sexy (http://sinfullysexybooks.blogspot.com/)
Sept 7 Joyfully Jay (http://joyfullyjay.com/)
Sept 8 Boy Meets Boy (www.boymeetsboyreviews.com)

Rhys Ford


Rhys Ford was born and raised in Hawai’i then wandered off to see the world. After chewing through a pile of books, a lot of odd food, and a stray boyfriend or two, Rhys eventually landed in San Diego, which is a very nice place but seriously needs more rain.

Rhys admits to sharing the house with three cats of varying degrees of black fur, and a ginger cairn terrorist. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird, a Toshiba laptop, and a red Hamilton Beach coffee maker.

My Blog: www.rhysford.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rhys.ford.author
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Rhys_Ford

If you’ve actually read this, yay! I need coffee. We should have coffee.

My books can be purchased, folded and first chapters read at Dreamspinner Press. http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com

Review: An Infatuation by Joe Cosentino

With his ten-year high school reunion approaching, Harold wonders whether Mario will be as muscular, sexy, and tantalizing as he remembers. As a teenager, it was love at first sight for Harold while tutoring football star Mario, until homophobia and bullying drove Mario deep into the closet. Now they’re both married men. Mario, a model, is miserable with his producer wife, while Harold, a teacher, is perfectly content with his businessman husband, Stuart. When the two meet again, will the old flame reignite, setting Harold’s comfortable life ablaze? How can Harold be happy with Stuart when he is still infatuated with his Adonis, his first love, Mario? Harold faces this seemingly impossible situation with inimitable wit, tenderness, and humor as he attempts to reconcile the past and the future. 





Minutes are worth more than money. Spend them wisely.
                                                          Thomas P. Murphy  

Time.

It's a funny thing; it heals, it flies, it can be wasted or treasured. It's too short - or too long -, it's of the moment and the past and the future. But what can time do to infatuation? That one perfect first love? This is what Harold, and his husband, Stuart, wonder when Harold's ten year reunion comes round.

High School, being a teenager, developing from childhood to adulthood and all the emotions and fears and uncertainty that comes with it can be both the best and worst time of a person's life. Whilst it is true that the start of the journey is just there, any route still able to be taken, it is also true that being different - and fear of being different - can hinder, cripple, the choices a person makes. 

When a person has to hide who they are, for fear of ridicule, of violence. Of being an outsider, friendless, alone. Of abandonment. When a person has to hide because of these - and many more - factors, then ultimately the routes that seem so wide open are suddenly diminishing. Choices are becoming fewer, decisions harder, options minimising. Life becomes a compromise. And not a compromise through choice, but a forced compromise. Even in the land of hope and plenty.

As we wander back with Harold through his memories, it is easy to see him as the victim. The weak one. The one who is different, who is bullied, who is (in the eyes of his peers, and they are so important at the time) lesser. Mario on the other hand, has it all. He is popular, good-looking, a jock. His family have money. He is well known and well liked. The boy at the top of his game. So basically, they are two opposites: nerd and jock, popular and not, strong and weak.

And ain't that the truth? Though as we follow Harold's story, it becomes obvious that those black and white lines are actually much further from defined than one would first think. And this is because Joe Cosentino is a very clever writer. He takes the stereotype (I admit to using that word hesitantly) and shows more. I've said before that this author is very observational, and he really is. He takes a character, makes them  almost cartoon like, then cleverly dissects away to reveal the real them. And all with a brilliant touch of humour.

And make no mistake, this author is very, very witty. With the timing of the actor he is, his humour shines through, again and again. Hah - time again. The perfect time to wit. (It's my review, I can make a noun a verb if I want. Even if it does make me think of owls, which are in no way part of this review).

As well as Harold, his loving and understanding husband, Stuart, and Mario, there is one other character I want to mention. Mr Ringwood. I had extreme feelings about Mr Ringwood. At first glance I despised him. Though understanding, he didn't have enough backbone to do the right thing. How he treated Harold was wrong - so, wrong. And he knew it. But in a way he was as much a victim as Harold. Not at that precise point in time in the same way Harold was, and don't get me wrong, as an adult it was his job to protect Harold, but he was a victim nonetheless. For all the reasons listed above. Time had yet to help him though. Time did nothing more at that point than make the fear bigger. Too big to do the right thing. Later though, time does help, he knows it, knows it's too late for him, that it is time for someone else.

"It's too late for me. My time has gone, but your time, Harold, is now."

Like an onion, Joe Cosentino's stories have layers. I would really recommend them. This is a Bittersweet novel, but it has laughs-a-plenty despite the sad and ugly lurking beneath the veneer. A truly fabulous read.




Excerpt and to buy links:
One Friday afternoon I accidentally ran into my hero in the boy's locker room. I’d had enough of the big guys banging me into gym lockers, pushing me into cold showers, and hanging me from the gym ropes. So I was on my way to give Mr. Adoni a note from Dr. Dlorah excusing me from gym class for the remainder of the school year (due to my highly contagious disease being studied by my doctor in Guatemala, where he could not be reached for the next year).
The locker room smelled of an odd combination of soap, cologne, sweat, and desire. Mario was getting ready for football practice, standing at his gym locker without a combination lock on it. Nobody would dare to break into it (Except for me that one time I smelled his jock strap. Okay maybe it was a few times, but not more than ten.). Mario slid his T-shirt (red today) over his thick, black hair and threw it on the nearby bench. No longer harnessed by cotton, his arm, back, chest, and neck muscles swelled to full size. I was half hidden behind the adjoining row of lockers, wearing my usual green and blue flannel shirt and brown corduroy pants. Mario, who wasn’t looking in my direction, said something really beautiful to me that I will never forget. “Hi.”
“Did you just? Oh. Hi. Hello. Good afternoon. Nice to see you. I mean, change with you.” I looked down at the floor (but cheated a bit) as Mario kicked off his boots, slipped off his jeans then threw them in the lucky locker. His red underpants (briefs) revealed ample manhood. This is better than the newspaper’s underwear ads!
“Good gym class today with Mr. Adonis, I mean, Mr. Adoni.” Did I just say that? “Harold High.”
“Hi.”
“High.” How can I get my pulse down to 260?
“Hi.” Mario reached into his locker for his sweat clothes.
Shouldn’t people be doing that for you? “Oh, my last name is High. Like a kite.” How can I stop my arms from waving like an airport flagger on speed?
“Mario Ginetti. Like nothin’ else imaginable.” Mario smiled, revealing a row of perfectly white teeth, and held the sweat clothes in his hands as if he was mortal.
“I know. I watch your body play.” Why can’t I stop talking? “I mean, I watch you play … football … on the field … in your football outfit.” I feel like Michelangelo with his David!
As Mario put on his sweats, I continued to sweat.
“I'm voting for your body … I mean I'm voting for you for president of your … our … the student body.” I need my jaw wired shut. “I’m your lab partner in Chemistry class. Ms. Hungry’s class … I mean Ms. Hunsley’s class.”
His olive-colored face glistened as Mario’s face registered recognition—of me! “I thought I knew you from somewheres. Hey, thanks for doing the lab reports.”
“It’s my honor … I mean my pleasure. It’s fine. If you need help putting up posters for your campaign, I can … ”
Having just tied the laces of his sneakers, Mario stood absolutely still. He looked at me as if he was staring into my heart and somehow knew what I was feeling. “I gotta take a wicked piss.”
Can I watch?
“Thanks for helping me out, Buddy.” He slammed the locker door and left.
He called me, Buddy! My heart was as soft and silly as putty that Mario held in the palm of his hand like his soap on a rope.

AN INFATUATION by JOE COSENTINO: a novella from Dreamspinner Press: e-book $4.99
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A copy of this story was given to the reviewer. The review reflects her honest feelings.