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Archive for the ‘Recommendations’ Category

55c46-1868508It’s been a reading week, hasn’t it.

Well, it has been for me. Cwtching up in the corner of the sofa with tea, chocolate digestives and something a bit different on my ereader is a grand way to while away the time ’til sleep.

Anyway, in my quest to bring you something a bit different I’ve made an unusual choice this week. For a start I bought it purely because I liked the title and cover – and I’m not usually that spontaneous and reckless – and then it’s mainstream fiction not M/M romance, and finally it has no on page sex!! BUT it was very good and I really enjoyed it.

The book – Playing Charlie Cool by Laurie Boris.

This is the third book in a fairly loose trilogy. The second book, Don’t Tell Anyone, was written first and has a female MC. It is a family saga about the effect the terminal illness of the matriarch has on the rest of the family and in particular on the MC her daughter in law. A minor character – Charlie – required his own story told and so the author wrote a short story called The Picture of Cool, as book one of the trilogy, and Playing Charlie Cool is the third and final part. Having no idea the other two books existed I was a bit at a loss for a page or two but OH the story gripped and I soon picked up on the interwoven relationships and backstories.

Charlie of the title is a TV producer responsible for an award winning TV show with a bunch of gorgeous intelligent and charismatic ladies at the helm. I imagine it’s a bit like a cross between the UK tv show Loose Women and Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour only with size 4 clothing, Jimmy Choo’s and OMG so much more makeup. Charlie is in love with Adam, though Charlie calls him Joshua, a politician who has recently disrupted his whole life by coming out and who is now being urged to run for congress. Although deeply in love with each other, pressure from Adam’s soon-to-be ex-wife, her family, his family, and the requirements of political life mean that they have to keep their relationship on the down low, meeting furtively and briefly and generally making Charlie feel like a dirty secret.

But the relationship isn’t he only thing that’s impacting on their lives because they both have jobs to do, they both have relationships to maintain apart from each other, they have responsibilities and the joy of the book for me is that neither of them lost sight of those responsibilities. So often in romance we get the ‘all for love and the world well lost’ scenarios where the heroes are so desperate to be together than nothing else matters. Well it matters to me and makes me very annoyed. In this book both Charlie and Adam/Joshua spend time nursing extremely bruised hearts but are shown to be facing up to their problems and making sure that nobody else suffers through their distraction. I gave them both a big cheer and a thumbs up for that.

I also want to give the author a big thumbs up for her female characters. They are delightful. Don’t let the blurb fool you into thinking that you’ll find the usual evil ex-wife, bigotted parent cardboard cut outs. Sure there are ladies who behave less than well, but in the majority of cases you see WHY they behave like that and I found them sympathetic even while deploring what they were doing.

This is such good fiction – also gentle, kind, intelligent Charlie won my heart. Highly recommended.

Playing Charlie Cool

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readingYep a day late and a shilling short, as they say. But no, no missing shillings because today I have just finished something rare and wonderful.

I’m ploughing a hard furrow at the moment with a mule that’s on three legs and a swinger, and with Christmas coming up it’s enough to drive a body to drink. But I don’t drink so instead I mine the M/M pit for gems and take my mind of the situation by reading a lot.

This weeks gem is a softly glowing pearl of a book – Like Fire through Bone by E E Ottoman.

I’m a real history nerd and feel that some periods and places are unjustly neglected, so it was a HUGE treat to find this book set in something very much like the Eastern Roman Empire. Byzantium/Constantinople is never mentioned and the geography has been fiddled with a bit, but the world was familiar, lush, horrifying and complex. I loved that.

Then there are the characters. Firstly Vasilios, the MC, a castrato who was captured in war and mutilated. Rather than falling into despair he worked hard and has made himself indispensable to his master, a merchant whose health is failing. These eunuch bureaucrats, highly educated, highly motivated, cultured and competitive, were the driving force behind the Roman Empire, both east and west and the Ottoman Empire that followed, in government, th military, financial institutions, the church and right down to household level. Vasilios runs his master’s household, directs his business, disciplines the other servants and has more or less given up on doing anything other than serve others. He’s a sweet, gentle, intelligent man who is appreciated only as a valuable asset rather than a person in his own right. His one little self indulgence is a wistful crush on General Markos, confidant of the Emperor.

Then Vasilios begins to have horrifying dreams and realises that they have a bearing on a task that the General is trying to accomplish. This provides the excuse fr him to meet the General more often and the crush blossoms as he realises that the General too may be harbouring feelings for him. Markos is a tough guy but benign who has attained his rank through competence and loyalty rather than birth or connections. As such he’s a very good match for Vasilios.

Their gentle and careful courtship forms part of the story. Other themes are a dark paranormal tale concerning devils and murder and the utter vulnerability of slaves in a world where they have absolutely no rights and can be killed, discarded, used or brutalised at their owners whim.

I read this book almost at a sitting and enjoyed every word of it. Very highly recommended. If you want a standard romance structure you might be a little disappointed in the slightly ambiguous ending but for me it was perfect for Vasilios and an ending that is good for the character has to be better than one that panders to readers tastes doesn’t it? Get it, read it. I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I did.

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Today is my birthday 😀 I’m sure you’ll allow me to gloss over exactly how old I am but the date means that I have been a Kindle owner for a whole year [and a ereader owner for 3 years]. I thought it might be fun to look back through my files.

I’m a bit shocked at how many books I have in my archive, and I am by NO means as fast a reader as some of my mates. Altogether it comes to approx 650 separate titles – assuming a mean average of one centimetre per book that would mean double shelving my two largest book cases to the peril of my floor. Some of the books have been sexy, some bizarre, some glorious, and some very few had their good parts but, for reasons due more to me than any lack of skill on the author’s part, left me cold. No names no pack drill for those, but I do want to say thank you to some writers who have been an inspiration, whose characters have become dear old friends I greet with delight each time there’s a new episode of their adventures, or revisit between times to tide me over.

PLEASE NOTE: This list is by no means complete and if you’re not on it it’s because my train of thought is taking a very complicated route

The first book on my old Sony ereader [still kept charged just in case] is The Charioteer by Mary Renault, followed by the whole of the rest of her ouevre, then the Brits in a big way with books by dear friends like Charlie Cochrane, Clare London, Erastes, and Alex Beecroft. Alex led me to Lee Rowan, Lee to Donald Hardy, Donald to Josh Lanyon and Josh to Harper Fox. Jordan Castillo Price! Aleksandr Voinov, on his own and with L A Witt! L A Witt on her own too! Tamara Allen! Sue Roebuck! Dianne Hartsock! Amazing authors who were giving their work away for free, or for pennies, like M Chandler, Bruin Fisher, Sam Starbuck, and Rolf and Ranger. Amazing authors whose work I read through my fingers, like Lisa Henry and Amelia Gormley. Authors who make me howl with laughter like Jo Myles and J L Merrow. Sci fi writers like Anna Butler and Angel Martinez. Fantastic contemporary romance writers like R J Scott, Lisa Worrall and Sue Brown. Historical writers like J P Kenwood, Parhelion, S A Meade, Sarah Granger and Joanna Chambers. Blokes who write sweet or sexy romance like Damon Suede, Alan Chin, Ben Thomas, Jon Michaelsen, Liam Livings, Adam Fitzroy, Hans Hirschi, Chris Delyani, Larry Benjamin, Ulysses Dietz, Neil Plakcy, Greg Hogben and OMG Edmond Manning! Ladies writing about ladies like Stevie Carroll, Shira Glassman and Jean Earhardt. Newbie blokes like Emmett Skipper and Rafe Haze, veteran writers with oodles of experience like Dorien Grey and Elliott Mackle. The wild and wacky but oh so good like K J Charles, Jordan L Hawke, Charlie Cochet, Sarah Madison and Kay Berrisford. The folk who move effortlessly from one genre to another like Chris Quinton and Julie Bozza. Oh and let’s not forget the grphic novel writers/artists like Joe Glass, Tab Kimpton, Alex Woolfson and Dale Lazarov!

And there are new and wonderful things to be discovered every day. Just this week I have read ‘new to me authors’ N R Walker, Diana Copland and OMG Alexis Hall.

So no specific recommendations this week, just a heartfelt THANK YOU to all the authors who have made the last few years so much fun and have kept me company on dark nights and cold days. You lot really are the best.

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55c46-1868508OMG it’s been a long week and once again I’m thankful to all the authors out there who are so diligent in providing books to take my mind off stuff.

The book that caught my eye is The Last Wolf by Sue Brown.

Sue usually writes serials, rather than series. Each book will have its own story arc, brought to a satisfying conclusion but will set up a situation that needs resolving in the next instalment. Usually this involves characters who are introduced as potential romantic partners and it’s always fun trying to work out which ones will be the stars of the next book. Sometimes it involves an unashamed cliffhanger that leaves you gagging for the next title. So be warned – you can read The Last Wolf as a standalone, but only if you have nerves of steel [or in my case a pretty fair grade of arsenical bronze].
Pretty cover, isn’t it? Another of Meredith Russell’s.

The plot?

Joe Lowther. a college teacher, has returned to his father’s ranch to keep it going while his father is in hospital undergoing treatment for a serious, possibly terminal illness. Raised on the ranch, Joe has a level headed, stock raising attitude to wildlife. As far as he’s concerned there’s only one sensible reaction to spotting a wolf on his property and that’s to shoot it before it causes too much harm. Imagine, then, his horror when he shoots the wolf – not particularly efficiently – and when he approaches it to finish it off discovers instead a young attractive man called Callum to whom he is inexplicably drawn and who appears to be able to speak directly into his mind.
So the story kicks off and proceeds along a complex path involving a whole shifter culture across the USA with hierarchies and customs of their own, a team of apex predators who get their kicks hunting shifters and family connections going back decades. I haven’t read much in the way of shifter fiction so some of the time I was having to pick up cues from context about what was going on but there’s some good tension going on, a likeable team of potential candidates to star in subsequent books and plenty of action. If you like shifters I think you’ll really like these. Book 2, The Hidden Wolf, will be available soon.

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55c46-1868508 It’s been a good week for reading – my laptop had a problem and writing hasn’t been possible so I’ve been comfort reading and picking at some recommendations. So this week I have not one but TWO books for you.

First of all I had best come clean that my first rec is a brand new release from one of my dearest friends – a book that I read in first draft mode – but I still think that I Knew Him by Erastes is superb and very unusual, as you will see.


Young Harry Bircham, up at Cambridge, seems at first sight to be our traditional historical hero. He’s handsome, intelligent and is desperately in love with his best friend. But there’s SO much more to Harry than that. Perhaps his wit is a little vicious? Well it was the fashion of the time. Perhaps he’s a little possessive? One can excuse his anxiety when one reflects that the object of his devotion doesn’t seem quite as into Harry as Harry is into him. Maybe he’s inclined to cut corners to get what he wants? But then Harry is moving in top drawer circles without a lot of family money to back him up. Harry does what he has to and is always going to come out on top – unless it’s his whim to be on the bottom. Pushy? I should say so.

The book is filled with delicious 1920s set pieces, from Cambridge student life, to country house parties to polo matches and Harry sails through it all, doing his own thing. What his thing is would be a spoiler, and I don’t want to do that, but I remember when I first read it that my eyes got wider and wider.

This is absolutely NOT a M/M romance so shouldn’t be read as such, but it is a riveting and exciting story – one that you’ll read alternately cheering Harry on, then saying “Oh no he DIDN’T!” I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

And I promised another, didn’t I? I saw this book recommended by S. A. Meade, whose work I think is cracking, so I took a chance.

So what if you’re a retired spy, a faithful servant of your masters, now out to grass and enjoying a quiet coffee in a cafe in Britanny? What if, as you tussle with the cross word and look out across the street to the sea, a man sits down at your table – a man you were sure was dead and who you know has every reason to want to end your life in the most painful way possible.

That’s the premise of In the Presence of Mine Enemy by Helena Maeve. I’m wondering why I’ve never read anything by this author before but I fear that it’s because her work is labelled as erotica. Yes, the sex in this book is explicit, but there was some point to most of it and the bits that didn’t seem to have much point plotwise showed character development.

This is another strong, exciting and edgy book that’s not at all run of the mill romance. Give it a go.

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55c46-1868508Here we go again – and apologies for not posting last week.

This week I have been reading a variety of things, mostly non-fiction, and the fiction has been mostly comfort reads because I’ve been feeling in need of comfort. But I have grabbed one excellent piece of science fiction that kept me very happy for 48 hours or so.


Gravitational Attraction by Angel Martinez is a cracking romp of a space opera.
ESTO, an organisation that I imagine started off pretty much like the East India Trading Company but that has evolved into a military led dictatorship, is the villain of the piece and interferes in the life of hero Isaac Ozawa when he assists in the rescue from a wrecked space ship of the sole survivor of an attack by alien pirates. The survivor, Turk, a man of massive stature and scary mental abilities, is both the other protagonist and the Macguffin that ESTO wants to get its cold hearted exploitative claws into.
If that’s not enough to attract interest, Isaac is ex-ESTO himself, a highly trained tactitian and fighter pilot whose career was ruined when the brain implant required for flying the fighting ships was rejected by his body. Isaac has to cope with severe headaches and other symptom that reduce his efficiency. Turk on the other hand, comes from a secretive warrior race with a whole range of customs and behaviours that conflict with those that are natural to Isaac. The differences between them and the way a simple thing like a beaming smile can cause bloodshed is very nicely depicted.
They go from freighter – some lovely characters amongst the crew, to space station, to deep shit and back out again, and then to refuge on Turk’s home world, and that’s another joy.
This is immersive stuff and I’m very pleased that there are more standalone stories set in that universe. Very highly recommended.

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I haven’t done one of these for a long time – life has, as they say, been ‘interesting’ – but I recently read a follow up to books I have recced before so I thought I’d give it a mention.

I was very excited to hear that the next one in K Z Snow’s steampunky magiccy fantasy series was out and I’m delighted to say that my excitement was justified.

Machine by K Z Snow continued the story of the relationship of Fanule Perfidor, Eminence of Taintwell, and his ex-carnival snake oil salesman lover, Will Marchman, who has given up on the snake oil and now sells luxury items for personal grooming, with some time spent revisiting other amazing characters like Clancy Marrowbone, vampire, and Lizabetta and her cat, surely the most unusual healer and pet currently in fiction.

Life is proceeding pretty well until a strange wagon arrives at the carnival, then appears in various places around Taintwell, and the citizens begin to exhibit odd behaviours and in some cases disappear. The owner of the Spiritorium is implicated and Fanule has to find out who he is and what he’s doing.

Then epic stuff happens, happy couples are torn apart and everyone’s well-being spirals quickly towards the drain.

This is such good fun and fills in answers to some questions that had occurred to me in book one, Mongrel. Another thing I really enjoy about it is that the lives of the bit part players are treated with sympathy and there are some of that rare breed in M/M fiction – strong sensible female characters who are not interested in getting into either hero’s pants because they have their own thing to do. People in this world have flaws to overcome and conflicts to resolve beyond the main plot and that is as it should be.

But the main plot is compelling and exciting and I recommend this book very highly to any reader who craves a good sound plot and compelling characters.

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I‘ve been a bit dopey the past few weeks and got out of the habit of posting my weekly recommendation for the S’n’S crowd, a small select band of authors offering snippets of top quality fiction each week, or in my case a recommendation of something I have read and enjoyed enough to want to share it. Just click on the graphic to the left to see the other contributors.

This week it’s not one but two books – old favourites of mine that have come out in actual dead tree format so I’ll take a minute to celebrate that by telling you about them.

The books are The Hot Floor by Josephine Myles and Pressure Head by J L Merrow.

The Hot Floor concerns glassblower Josh, who lives on the top floor of a crumbling Edwardian house and is regularly driven crazy by the sounds coming from the apartment below where hunky Evan and dainty Rai sound as though they are getting pretty kinky.  Then, one hot night, Josh’s floor gives way dropping him into their laps.

Pressure Head is written from the POV of Tom Paretski a plumber with a sideline in assisting the police with their enquiries with his intense and sometimes painful psychic ability. When a local girl is murdered Tom finds himself having to work with hunky Phil Morrison, a PI with whom he has a very edgy past.

Both books are joyful reads, with engaging leads, memorable secondary characters and plenty of incident. They are also laugh out loud funny.

Very highly recommended and the authors are having a giveaway in celebration of the dead tree release. Just comment to this post to be in with a chance of winning.

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