1-tie) Sloan Parker – Breathe
Publisher: Loose Id LLC (November 16, 2010)
Lincoln McCaw lost everything -- his home, his job, his partner -- after he caused a fatal accident. A year later, he's drowning the guilt and despair in whiskey, but he needs to move on. His sister and her kids are counting on him. Then he meets a man who ignites a passion Lincoln thought he’d never find. Too bad one night is all they can have together. Now he needs to figure out how to turn away from the only person who makes him feel alive…before whoever is sending him threats decides Lincoln needs to suffer more than he already has. Jay Miller is surrounded by grief and misery until he finally gives in to all those years of sexual fantasies about being with another guy. Realizing he’s ended up in the arms of the man who caused his wife’s accident, he tries to pull away. But how can he give up a friendship he needs more than anything -- a friendship and a love that could save him? He may not have time to make the choice before someone else destroys it all.
Marie Sexton - Song Of Oestend
Paperback: 412 pages
Publisher: Total-E-Bound Publishing (October 26, 2011)
Amazon: Song Of Oestend
Great world building-- familiar enough to relate to, but with some interesting changes. I liked the mixture of modern with the generators and the old-fashioned windmills. I didn't think I'd like the main character Aren too much, but the author did a really great job of making him (all of them) multifaceted and interesting and he really grew on me the more he grew up. --Kirsten
Paranormal western. I wasn’t too sure at the beginning as I worried it would be a little too horror-like for me to enjoy & I’m not a big fan of alternative reality/sci-fi, but quickly grew to love it. --Juni
Symbols have power... Aren Montrell has heard tales of the Oestend wraiths - mysterious creatures which come in the night and kill anyone who’s not indoors. Aren’s never had reason to believe the stories, but when he takes a job as a bookkeeper on the BarChi, a dusty cattle ranch on the remote Oestend prairie, he soon learns that the wraiths are real. Aren suddenly finds himself living in a supposedly haunted house and depending on wards and generators to protect him from unseen things in the night. As if that’s not enough, he has to deal with a crotchety old blind woman, face “cows” that look like nothing he’s ever seen before, and try to ignore the fact that he’s apparently the most eligible bachelor around. Aren also finds himself the one and only confidante of Deacon, the BarChi’s burly foreman. Deacon runs the BarChi with an iron fist and is obviously relieved to finally have somebody he can talk to. As their relationship grows, Aren learns there’s more to Deacon and the BarChi than he’d anticipated. Deacon seems determined to deny both his Oestend heritage and any claim he may have to the BarChi ranch, but if Aren is to survive the perils of Oestend, he’ll have to convince Deacon to stop running from the past and finally claim everything that’s his.
2-tie) Meghan O'Brien – Wild
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (June 14, 2011)
This book was a great read, and I'd happily read another by this author. Suspense and romance mixed together well, with the romance being a deliciously complicated snarl of trust, desire, and longing both for a partner and for acceptance of self. --Heidi
This was an interesting book; it slowly drew me into the story. I liked the fact that two strong women had vulnerable sides. I liked the way the story line played out it wasn’t obviously in your face and it kept you wanting to read more... So for me this was a great book. --Norma
The only thing that frightens shapeshifter Selene Rhodes more than the full moon is the idea of falling in love. Selene Rhodes has lived her whole life with a terrible secret: not only can she take the form of any animal at will, but once a month the full moon transforms her into a fierce wolf-creature without a human conscience. Managing her condition means living by a strict routine, and more importantly, abstaining from intimate relationships with human beings. Selene is convinced that love and friendship can only bring her pain. Forensic pathologist Eve Thomas is well-acquainted with the pain of romantic love. Swearing off relationships after having her heart broken by a cheating ex, Eve throws herself into her work: catching murderers. When Selene comes to her aid after an attack by a masked man in Golden Gate Park, Eve is shocked by how powerfully she is drawn to her mysterious savior. Shaken by her own feelings for Eve, Selene is even more terrified to realize she isn’t even close to being the scariest monster stalking San Francisco. There is someone out in the city who is killing for pleasure, and his next target is the one woman he thinks might be able to stop him: Eve.
Robin Reardon - The Evolution of Ethan Poe
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Kensington; Original edition (August 1, 2011)
Amazon: The Evolution of Ethan Poe
Thought-provoking! Great characters. Ms. Reardon's writing style is effortless, easy to read, and truly pulls you into the life, persona and internal conflict of the main character. -- Bobby
In the space of a few months, sixteen-year-old Ethan Poe's life has become a complicated mix of facts, theories, and hypotheses. Things he knows beyond doubt: his parents are divorcing, his older brother Kyle is exhibiting alarming behavior, and his best friend is turning into a spiritual fanatic. Then there are the shifting uncertainties-including his feelings toward his father and his desire to both blend in and stand out in his rural Maine hometown. Most pressing of all, there's his attraction to Max Modine, a boy he wants to know much better than he does. Despite Ethan's initial reluctance, he gets pulled into a heated and sometimes violent conflict about whether to introduce Intelligent Design into science classrooms. Family and friends are turning against each other, school is a battleground, and Ethan will have to take a stand. Because some facts are irrefutable and some bonds unbreakable, even when they can't be seen. And once Ethan finds the courage to become who he was meant to be, the outcome could be absolutely extraordinary…
3-tie) Felice Picano - True Stories
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Chelsea Station Editions (March 1, 2011)
Amazon: True Stories
From author Felice Picano, co-founder of the path breaking Violet Quill Club, comes a new collection of memoirs, many of which have never appeared in print. Picano presents sweet and sometimes controversial anecdotes of his precocious childhood, odd, funny, and often disturbing encounters from before he found his calling as a writer and later as one of the first GLBT publishers. Throughout are his delightful encounters and surprising relationships with the one-of-a-kind and the famous-including Tennessee Williams, W.H. Auden, Charles Henri Ford, Bette Midler, and Diana Vreeland.
Colette Moody - Parties in Congress
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (February 15, 2011)
Amazon: Parties in Congress
I would likely never have picked the story up on my own, but wowza, am I ever glad it got assigned to me, because otherwise I’d have missed out on a brilliant, humorously written piece of fiction. This story is a gem well worth reading. I highly recommend it to anyone who has ever been disheartened by the political system here in the US, anyone who has struggled with an improper attraction, anyone with a heart and a brain. Bravo Ms. Moody, bravo. You’ve made a fan out of me. I can't think of a single flaw in the writing of that story. I really believe the story to be one of the best written pieces of fiction it's been my pleasure to read for quite some time. --Cherie
Nicely paced story with good supporting cast. Loved the humor throughout the story. --Tammy
This story was really enjoyable; the story drew the relationship growth between Bijul & Colleen. It may not have been hot & heavy but it showed that sometimes relationships are more than just the sex. I liked the fact that there was diversity in races with the characters. Also the humour was pretty cool as was the sarcastic banter between Bijal & Colleen when the first meet. To be honest I didn’t think I would enjoy it but I am so glad that I read it; it was a real surprise. --Norma
They say politics makes strange bedfellows... Elated to secure her first paid political staff position, Bijal Rao is eager to focus her efforts on the election of her candidate to U.S. Congress. However, Bijal's first unforeseen obstacle is her profound and unexpected attraction to their opponent—incumbent Congresswoman Colleen O'Bannon¬—who is outspoken, charismatic, and openly lesbian. An even greater hurdle is the subterfuge and pretense that pervades the climate in Washington, D.C., where small missteps are readily painted as major gaffes, and lies are explained away as "in the public's best interest." During the heated campaign, both Bijal and Colleen struggle not to cross the lines of propriety—and perhaps more importantly, their party lines.
Lee Houck – Yield
Paperback: 278 pages
Publisher: Kensington (September 1, 2010)
Easily one of the best books I've read in the last few years. Houck writes with an amazing voice, making what could have been an unsympathetic character relatable and likable. The story should be a familiar one, but it felt fresh and engrossing. Strong storytelling and a wonderful way with words. --Josh
In his evocative and mesmerizing debut novel, Lee Houck depicts a contemporary Manhattan thrumming with sex and violence as seen through the eyes of Simon—a twenty-something part-time hustler with a cadre of loyal, sometimes floundering friends. As Simon grows increasingly involved with a gorgeous, guileless client named Aiden, he tries to navigate a path to fulfillment in a city where love and honesty are as dangerous as they are rare. Witty, spare, and rapier-sharp, this is an exceptional story of the friendships that sustain us, the families we create, and the pain and joy that are always within reach, waiting for us to yield…
Heidi Cullinan - Nowhere Ranch
Publisher: Loose Id LLC (February 15, 2011)
Amazon: Nowhere Ranch
I really liked the main characters and I liked the romantic relationship and the slow way it built. Competent and better than a lot in the genre. There was probably just as much "gay rights" lecturing in this story, but I didn't feel like it was blatantly aimed at me. -- Kirsten
Roe Davis is a man who works hard, keeps to himself, and never mixes business with pleasure -- until he takes a weekend away from his new job at Nowhere Ranch and runs into the owner at the only gay bar for two hundred miles. Getting involved with the boss is a bad idea, but Travis Loving is hard to say no to, especially when it turns out their kinks line up like a pair of custom-cut rails. As Loving points out, so long as this is sex on the side, no interfering with the job, they could make it work. The truth is, there’s good reason Roe never settles down and always spends his birthdays and holidays celebrating alone. Shut out in the cold by his family years ago, Roe survived by declaring he didn’t need a home. As his affair with Loving grows into more than just sex, Roe finds out what happens when he stays put a little bit too long: the past always catches up with you. Eventually, even a loner gets lonely, and home will grow up through whatever cracks you leave open for it -- even in a place called Nowhere.