August 19th, 2009

andrew potter

Naughty Nooners by Kaenar Langford, Carol Lynne, J.P. Bowie, Dakota Rebel, Cian Fey & Jude Mason

The common theme of the various stories are the naughty nooners, those encounters you have during your lunch break, instead to eat... quite a good way to stay in shape! Anyway, the "naughty" in the title, and the situation that usually leads to forbidden lovers, are a sure hints that the stories are mostly light and without angst.

Indulge Me by Kaenar Langford: Keane has an unrequited love for his boss Rayche (side note: but the two are drawn together since both have such strange name? ;-) ); it's months that he lusts for the man and only a brief encounter with a mysterious stranger in a exclusive gay spa broke his involuntary celibacy. And so when he receives an anonymous note inviting him to that same spa for a noon appointment, naked..., Keane decides to give it a try. And when he finds there Rayche, he is not sure that he wants to give on for only a naughty nooner.

The story is light and very naughty, mostly about free sex without two very handsome men; sometime, reading on their hot encounter, I had the impression to be reading a script for a porn movie, but then, that is the purpose, isn't it?

Amazon Kindle: Indulge Me

Dalton’s Awakening by Carol Lynne: Dalton is out from a bad divorce: his wife accused him to be gay, even if Dalton never had a gay experience in his life. It's not clear if he thought about it, maybe deep in the closet which is his conscience, some idea wandered in his mind, but he never acted on them. And then he meets by chance Sal, the sexy and gentle owner of an Italian restaurant near his office. Their noon encounters begin to be a necessity for Dalton, who lost all his friends with the divorce. But Sal wants something more from him than a good friend.

The story is really tender; it's clear to everyone that Dalton and Sal are made for each other, but Sal knows that he needs to be careful with Dalton, he is like a newborn baby and has to learn everything again, and above all he needs to trust again. The scene in which Dalton calls on the phone a friend only to be rebutted is so sad but also so right to create the right background for the character.

Amazon Kindle: Dalton's Awakening

Lunches in Laguna by J.P. Bowie: apparently Scott is a young and simple man, who enjoys the eye candy of all the men strolling up and down along Laguna Beach; yes, Scott is simple, but he comes out to me as a romantic at heart, willing to fall in love at first sight when he sees Michael, the gallery's owner he spots during a lunch break. That Michael is willing to return the feeling is a dream comes true. But then Michael's past rears its head, and Scott has to decide if he wants for a noon romance to become the love of his life.

Probably the most romantic story of the anthology, I really like the easy feeling between Scott and Michael, the little love tokens the two exchange, like a simple rose bought by instinct. With the one by Carol Lynne, it's probably the story which more is in line with the theme of the anthology. I also like a lot Scott's character, so shy but at the same time so charming, I believe he enchanted Michael more for his awkwardness than for anything else.

Amazon Kindle: Lunches in Laguna

Raven by Dakota Rebel: Patrick and Kennedy are two not very old vampires who opened a gay club to have an harem at hand for their needs (at this regard, I don't understand if the two are vampires or incubus, since more than living on blood, they seems to live on sex). Anyway, Kennedy is the indiscriminate of the two, the one for whom everyone is the right one, and instead Patrick is the selective one, maybe also since he has an hidden interest on Kennedy. And when Samson, a man who was sniffing around Kennedy, now tries to same with Patrick, Patrick decides that maybe it's time for him to reclaim his partner, not only for business reason.

The game between the three characters, Patrick, Kennedy and Samson is quite interesting, but probably for a short story is too much. There is a lot happened before and probably there will be a lot after, and on the few pages of the story I have no time to feel for the characters as I would like. And then, as I said, Patrick and Kennedy are more the incubus type than vampires.

Amazon Kindle: Raven

Lust in the Afternoon by Cian Fey: this one is really nice and naughty all together. Ted is an IT manager for a gay website which, everyday at noon serves to its customers live peeping shows. But due to a snow storm, only three person are in the building, Ted, Grayson, the art director and Nathalie, the secretary. Obviously Nathalie doesn't have the necessary equipment, and Gray is needed behind the camera, and so Ted wins the today role in front of the camera. Not that it's a big problem for him to have an hard one to show, since he has the hots for Gray since weeks, and when he discovers that the feeling is mutual...

Very nice interracial story (Gray is an African American young man), between the geeky Ted and the handsome Gray; despite working for a gay website, both Ted than Gray are simple guys, I would say also romantic, and they are only waiting for a nice chance to "come out" to the man who stars in their daydreams.

Amazon Kindle: Lust in the Afternoon

Lunch is Served by Jude Mason: Philip needs a job, Mark has a job. The problem is that, during the job interview for a waiter job in a BDSM club, Philip was full dressed, and he was able to hide the hard on he had for Mark. But when he starts to work in the club, he finds out that his "uniform" is a leather harness with a very small leather jock... quite impossible to hide now. Lucky him, Mark seems very interested in what he has to show.

Despite the BDSM setting, I found the story quite funny: Philip is very much distressed from the fact that his body, and in particular a very center part of his body, has decided to have its own mind... well, at least, it gains him higher tips!

Amazon Kindle: Lunch is Served

Amazon: Naughty Nooners
Paperback: 356 pages
Publisher: Total-E-Bound Publishing (August 19, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1907010955
ISBN-13: 978-1907010958

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle
andrew potter

Cattle Valley 6 by Carol Lynne

Eye of the Beholder (Cattle Valley 11) by Carol Lynne

The eleventh book in the Cattle Valley series is the classic example of why this is a serial, and it's almost impossible not to read it in the right order. Bo Lawson is a spin off character from another serial, Campus Cravings. He was Lark's first lover, and he had a quite important role in Lark's book, A Biker's Vow. In that book, Lark and Kade were considering to move in Cattle Valley, and Bo tagged along when they went to perusing the area. He liked the place and he decided to stay; in the very first scene in Cattle Valley he set his eyes on Rance, but in the following books there was no indication on what happened to them. In this perspective, you are not forced to read all the Campus Cravings books to enjoy this one, but maybe it would be better if you read at least that book, A Biker's Vow.

Bo is a friendly and handsome man, so friendly that he managed to stay friend with Lark even after their relationship ended and he married with a woman. Bo lived in a Canadian "free love" community, and why he married a woman it's not quite clear, since Bo's preferences are all for men. But in the community the marriage's bond it was not so important, it was almost like a roommate statement, if you are married, you share a room, nothing else. Bo's main characteristic in that story it was his HIV positive status, something he shared with Kade, and this allowed Kade to see that, even if positive, you can still have a normal life, with some precautions more, but still a life. The same acceptance Bo found in the community, he finds also in Cattle Valley, and when his story starts, he is in the middle of wooing Rance, trying to overcome Rance's barriers.

It's not Bo's HIV+ status that put a stop to their story, it's something in Rance's past; I like this taken on the story of the author, she deals with Bo's illness in a light mode, but not underestimating it; I believe that she willingly decided to not make it the turning point of the story but at the same time giving the right importance to the matter. Actually, once the reader finds out Rance's secret, compared to Bo's trouble, I had almost a reaction like, "well, is it all? And you have a problem due to that?" and since I'm quite naughty, I also anticipated the enjoyable conclusion that Bo arrives to... I don't want to give up the story, but it's all a question of right angles ;-)

Book 11 in the series is one of those books that is nice and good, without any breaking event, but nevertheless essential to the story; it serves also to know something more about Jay, the almost androgynous new Cattle Valley's character, and about Asa, the multimillionaire gay man who decided to move in Cattle Valley, but that I still haven't quite framed.

Amazon Kindle: Cattle Valley: Eye of the Beholder

Cattle Valley Days (Cattle Valley 12) by Carol Lynne

As I have already had the chance in the past to notice, Carol Lynne can write light and almost unbelievable love story, where everything is perfect and the happily ever after is just there around the corner, and then, she suddenly comes out with a full drama, like Cattle Valley Days.

From the blurb and the beginning of the story, I was ready to read one of those wrap up books that usually an author writes when a series is going on for so long that she fears the readers could have lost the thread. These books usually are light and funny, a all come together type of story where old and new friends meet, they share happy news and are all good. In this one, Carol Lynne also gets together even the Good Boys, the characters from the Good-Time Boys series from which she span off the Cattle Valley one.

As it should be, the main characters of Cattle Valley Days are once again Nate and his partners Ryan and Rio. Nate is plunged till his head in trouble to organize the Cattle Valley Days, the rodeo weekend during which there are also sports tournaments, carnivals and a great ball on the street. For Nate this is the final test, the time he can prove to the city that he is a good mayor; only that Nate is not able to delegate, and he is taking all the decision on himself, from the big things to the smallest trouble. This reflects bad on his relationship with Ryan and Rio, for different reason: Rio was used to have Nate around him all the time, even if they have an official job as owner of the local gym, they actually spent all the time matchmaking their friends, and waiting for their Alpha man Ryan to come back home. They were like boys at play, taking all with lightness. Now Rio is all by himself and he feels lost; he also fears that he is living again the nightmare of his parents' divorce, when he was forced to choose between them: if put in front with the question if he prefers Nate or Ryan, he really doesn't know what to do.

On the other hand, Ryan at first is supporting of Nate. He knows what it means to be in charge, and he thinks to understand Nate's stress. But then the lack of Nate's availability starts to get even to him. And maybe he starts to feel like he is no more the Alpha man he was before. Nate is trying to do everything by himself, he doesn't search Ryan's counseling, and Ryan doesn't like it, he wants to be there for his man, he likes to be the mainstay of their relationship.

So on, the story was less light than I was expecting, but it was still a simple quarreling among lovers, nothing major and something they obviously can deal with. Then Carol Lynne decides to give a dramatic spin to the story, something that involves not only Nate, Ryan and Rio, but all the town of Cattle Valley. And this is like an earthquake to all the series, since, more or less, Cattle Valley till now was like the Paradise, a place where everything was perfect, where everyone knows everyone else, and where it was only a question of time to find an happily ever after for your own. Maybe after 11 books, Carol Lynne decided to give a taste of reality even to her perfect little paradise place on earth.

It was a surprising read, something unexpected. At the end of Book 11 I was waiting for Jay's story, and when Cattle Valley Days came out, truth be told, I was a bit disappointed: why Carol Lynne felt the need to write something more on an "old" trio like Nate, Rio and Ryan, when she had so many new possibilities with characters like Jay, Enrico, Asa or Mario? Now I understand that she needed to prove that, in Cattle Valley you can dream, but nevertheless, it is a place like all the others, where there are good and bad things. It's a splash of reality that gives deepness to this fictional world.

Amazon Kindle: Cattle Valley Days

Amazon: Cattle Valley Vol 6: Eye of the Beholder / Cattle Valley Days (Volume 6)
Paperback: 258 pages
Publisher: Total-E-Bound Publishing (August 19, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1907010963
ISBN-13: 978-1907010965

Series: Cattle Valley
1-2) Cattle Valley 1:
3-4) Cattle Valley 2:
5-6) Cattle Valley 3:
7-8) Cattle Valley 4:
9-10) Cattle Valley 5:
11-12) Cattle Valley 6

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle

Cover Art by April Martinez

Cover Art by April Martinez
andrew potter

Footprints by Clare London

From the blurb and the setting, you would expect for this one to be more adventurous, big bang boom style: undercover secret agents searching to dismantle a terrorist organization. And instead it's exactly the opposite. The story starts when all is finished; the terrorist group is over, the interactions among the four secret agents are defined. There is the boss, Nolan, there are the good boy and the body, Grady and Ramirez, and there is the rookie, Riley. Obviously the boss is bent to push the rookie to his limit, and between them there is only competitiveness and tension... or not?

The mood of all of them is different from a "normal" situation, there is not the adrenaline to be in danger. They are waiting to leave the quiet sea town where they were standing for the last 9 months and Grady and Ramirez are happy to go back to their lives. But for Riley is not the same; he has noticed that Nolan is strange, that living near the sea gave him a strange mood; leaving this place for Nolan is both a good thing and the worst event ever, near the sea he has let out something of himself. And Riley was there to catch that info and store it.

When the story start, there are three men, Grady, Ramirez and Riley, talking. Apparently between them and Nolan there is only a professional entanglement, and nothing else. Then they start to remember: the first event is a work related fact, and something that strengthens the idea that Nolan is somewhat aloof and estranged from his colleagues, as it is also proved by the fact that he is not there with them.

Then with the second walk on the memory lane, something changes, Nolan is somewhat more human, and Riley has suddenly a more personal interest in him. And so the worry that the present Riley is feeling towards the absence of his boss is more comprehensible; maybe also the reader is starting to wonder if maybe it is not happened something of tragic, if the reader and Riley himself have not to go searching for the man he loves... yes, since now it's clear that Riley loves Nolan, but it's not still clear if the feeling is mutual.

And finally, with the last memory, also Nolan comes out, his feelings and his mourning, and maybe also the reason why he is so upset to leave a place that only cause him pain. With the finally memory the circle is closed and the story is ready to start again, this time in present time and with a path no more shadowed by painful memories.

I like a lot the development of the plot, all was already decided, the characters already have set their mind, and the reader was letting inside them little step by little step. The mood and interactions between them clearly changed memory by memory, and in only 70 pages we read of all the spectrum of their feelings. What I liked maybe most of all, is that the novella was more intimate and warm of what I was expecting; the "secret agent" side of the story is in the background, and there are no firestorm to distract the reader from the main core, the two men and their love.

Amazon Kindle: Footprints

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle

Cover Art by Dan Skinner
andrew potter

Proposal to my friends (and not ;-) )

As I hope you noticed, I have a Top 100 Gay Novels list. It was born as a "Gay Romance" list, but then it was impossible to limit it to only the romance titles, there were so many books out there that were out of the boundaries of romance, but still they were wonderful. I still maintain the limit of the print release after January 1, 2000, and still consider only books available also in print: in this way I'm able to manage and maintain the list all by myself.

But, there is a but... some books of the list I read, some I have in mind to read, but some of them I will have never the courage to read, they are too strong for me, too far from my comfort zone. I know, it's not a good excuse for a reviewer, but guys, I have never pretended to be a real reviewer! So I'm making a proposition to who will like to accept it: if you have read one or more books in the list, and would like to send me a review, I will post it giving you full credits. I know that among my friends there are who have already read some of these novels (yes, yes, Alex (beauty_forashes) and Paul (gwailowrite), I'm calling also you, I know you read Dennis Cooper and Alexander Chee...), and it's not even necessary that you liked the book, even if it would be preferable. And you can also send me a review of the novels I have already read, if you want.

My idea, if possible, is to have at least a review for every novel in the List, so that all the authors in there will have the change to have a better Spotlight. So, here is the list: (simple) (with photos)

I hope you will join me in this. Thank you in advance.
andrew potter

Top 100 Gay Novel: The Sluts by Dennis Cooper

Guest review by Alex (beauty_forashes)
Original review posted here:

The Sluts is a novel which is mainly set on a web site where gay male escorts are reviewed by their clients. It's a story told through these reviews, e-mails, telephone conversations and posts on web forums, which is exactly why I was ambivalent about starting this book. I found it hard to imagine how a novel could be written in that format and not become a disjointed mess. However, once I picked it up, I could barely put it back down, and was riveted from cover to cover. It's hands down one of the best contemporary novels I've ever read, and one that blows 99% of so-called "gay fiction" clear out of the water.

The story opens up with a review of "Brad", an adrogynous child-hustler with obvious mental problems, according to his client. This review is followed by another, then another, as slowly the story of "Brad" becomes more and more bizarre - Brad, who may be mentally ill, drug addicted, or not; who may be fifteen or eighteen, have a brain tumor, or not. Or all or none of the above. Who may not even be real. Who, if he's real, may be under the wing of a psycho-sadistic pimp named Brian, who's apparently hiring him out for "the ultimate" satisfaction of pedophiles, extreme sadists and, ultimately, snuff, after there's nothing left of Brad to dismember. Or maybe not!

One review or conversation verifies any or all of the above as truth, and is immediately contradicted by another. And most of it is lies. The only certain truth is that Brad and Brian become objects of obsession, almost iconized by this on-line community, as their saga continues and seems to reach a conclusion...which is immediately put into question again.

I'd definitely recommend this book, but not to everyone. The sex and violence described in the story are graphic and extreme, the plot is sordid and very dark, but if that's your cup of tea as much as it's mine, you're in for a highlight and a treat with this brilliantly written book. Brutal as it is, the violence is never gratuitous, it's a book for intelligent readers and a glimpse into the depravity of the mind, nothing I'd categorize in the mindless splatter-genre. Beyond that, I can't praise it enough, it's truly a tour de force.

Amazon: The Sluts

Dennis Cooper's In the Spotlight post:
andrew potter

Best Fantasy Novel (2° place): The Pauper’s Prize by Mark Alders

It seems that the story of the Pauper and the Prince is pretty common among whom likes to revisited the gay romance with a fantasy / historical flavor.

This is the time of Mark Alders and his definitely fantasy tale. In a medieval fantasy kingdom, there is a sad prince, Wilhelm, who likes men but has to marry a woman to have an heir, and an even sadder pauper, Pavel, a very young man who has to barter his body for a piece of stale bread. Between the two, the one more clever to me it seems Pavel: despite his young age, Pavel knows that he can't be fussy with his partner choices, even if he fancies the handsome prince who looks at him with hungry eyes, the ones who give him food in exchange of sex are the lower class men who do that behind their stores. True, there is not much romance in this part of the story, but it serves the reader to understand Pavel and his disbelief to Wilhelm unselfishness: Pavel can't believe him since in his life no one has never given him something without asking something else in exchange.

This is true for people, but Pavel has a very special friend, a chimera, a mythical being with the body of a dragon and the head of a lion, who has always protected Pavel since the boy was less than 10 years old. But the chimera, Odoacro, can't protect Pavel from the ugly things of the human world, and can't prevent the man to sell his body for food. And so the chimera decides to push Pavel in Wilhelm's arms, hoping for the prince to be kinder than the other men. When Pavel goes to Wilhelm with his usually blunt barter, sex for food, Wilhelm is at first excited by the prospect, but then also horrified: he doesn't want the man like that, in his naivete, Wilhelm still wants Pavel for love not for sex; doesn't matter if the man has sold himself to other men, with Wilhelm will be only love. And so he asks only a kiss in exchange for the food Pavel needs.

The way as Wilhelm behaves, confirms to the chimera that he is the right man for his young friend. In a way the chimera is the fatherly figure both men lacked in their life: Wilhelm's father is not exactly a supporting parent, but truth be told, it's probably the way any normal parent will behave in his same situation. If I'm true, I didn't like so much how he ends up, quite a bloody way, but all the second part of the story took a decisively turns towards fantasy that almost borders on myth and magic. It's strange, despite being very sexy, and the sex quite explicit, let alone the memories of poor Pavel and the way he had to gain his morsel, the story nevertheless maintain a fanciful taste, I don't know, I had the feeling that both Wilhelm than Pavel were more boy at play than real men at work. It was like all the work was done by the others, like the chimera or Catherine, Wilhelm's fiance, and to Pavel and Wilhelm only be left the good share, like they suffered enough before the reader met them, and now it was time for them to be happy.

On the contrary of other similar novels I read lately, The Pauper's Prize is a full fantasy tale, and of the old school. It is not, and it doesn't want to be, historically accurate; this is like one of those classical fairy-tales where you don't question if the dress of the princess is right for her age! For a first book I read by this author, I have to say that it's a nice discovery.

Amazon Kindle: The Pauper's Prize

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle