November 3rd, 2009

andrew potter

Love Conquers All by Lisa Marie Davis

When Love Comes Back Around by Lisa Marie Davis

This book can be easily define a sweet romance. The story is pretty classic: small town, two sweetheart lovers, one from the most important family of the town, the other orphaned and raised by a drunk, the rejected of good society. They never should be friends, even less lovers. And to add problem to problem, they are both male.

Caleb is the golden son (even if he has dark hair...) and his father wants for him to be a politician. But when he is 13 years old he meets Royce, new in town after the death of his parents. Royce lives with his uncle, an abusive man, and the friendship with Caleb is his only escape from horror. When they are both 16 years old, friendship becomes loves and for four years they bring along a clandestine relationship. Caleb always swears that they will leave together, after college, they will go where they can claim their love. But when the moment arrives, Caleb cheats out, and Royce goes away alone.

Now after ten years, Royce is again in town, but he has no intention to meet Caleb, since he knows that he still loves the man and he will not survive to another farewell. Instead Caleb wants to see again Royce, even if for few minutes, since his life since their departure was an hell and he needs to be with the man he really loved, and actually the only man, or woman, for him.

The story is not so long, 70 pages, and as I said before, it's almost a sweet romance: there is a lot of talk about love, but not even one sex scene. Both Caleb than Royce treasure their memory, but the reader is not put apart of their thoughts. The story flows smoothly, it's easy to read, but since both characters are 30 years old now, I wouldn't mind a bit of more action. Anyway sometime is refreshing to read a sweet romance, and I'm always fond of the bad boy-good boy next door pair.

Amazon Kindle: When Love Comes Back Around

What Matters Most by Lisa Marie Davis

Silas was always a strange boy. He saw imaginary friends, or so he thought. When he was a bit older he understood that what he saw were the souls of dead people who had something other to do before leaving, and they asked to Silas for help. Even if so young Silas knew that it was not normal for him to see souls, and from his parents he didn't have help. Lucky him his paternal grandfather, an old Irish man, taught him about the "sight" and that their family sometime gives birth to a special man like Silas.

To add strangeness to oddity, Silas soon realized that he was gay, and as he never hid the sight, he didn't hide his being gay. For his parents it was too much and Silas found himself alone at a very young age. With only a money help by his father he moved in a new city and began the life of a ordinary clerk, and at the same time he continued to help the souls. Always open in all the aspect of his life, when he became friend, or lover, with another man, Silas didn't hide the spiritual side of his life, and this lead to him being alone, since no one actually believed him. Silas got the fame to be handsome and sexy, but a bit odd.

When he spends a one night adventures with Josh, and the morning after he discovers that the man is very much in the closet and without any intention to come out, Silas tries to go on with his life, but Josh's mother has other idea... the problem is that Sarah, Josh's mother, is a soul and help her in her last wish means reveal to Josh that he can see the souls of the dead.

The story is an odd mix of hanging atmosphere and lustful sex. Silas is almost double faced, one side the cool and serene man who sees souls and calmly helps them, on the other side the man who picks up a man for a one night stand and makes passionate love; these are two side that almost crash, but that in a way melt together to draw up the character. Josh instead is a problematic man, with a abusive father and a weak mother, a grown man with still the mind of a child; sadly he needs an authoritative figure beside him, since alone he would not be able to break free from his father's clutches.

Even if there is sex in this story, it's almost like an ethereal experience... again that hanging feeling; the overall sensation of the story is of a continuous flow of energy, without the up and down that usually characterize a romance. In a way, for a story which deals with souls, it's quite a right sensation.

Amazon Kindle: What Matters Most

Unstoppable Force by Lisa Marie Davis

This book has written "Cinderfella" all over the pages... there is also a fairy godmother in the guise of the very special male escort agency owner who matches Cinderfella alias Pretty Man Cale to Multi-Millionaire Prince Charming Ethan.

So, see, I can't be too hard with this story, since it's all about romance, and I can't not like a romance; doesn't matter if the story is unbelievable, if the cynical in me continued to say that a man like Ethan will never and never fall in love with Cale, I want the romance and I get the romance.

Ethan is a very handsome and very wealthy business man; at the beginning of his career he was a runaway guy with a skill for software and a pretty, even if rough, look. With the help of both his virtue, he manages to warm the bed of a middle age and wealthy man who in exchange, taught to Ethan how to be a successful business man. When the man moved on to another young lover, Ethan was enough skilled and independent to make his own success life. Today Ethan isn't searching for commitment, he likes to play the field, and so he usually buys the service of an escort agency when he is in the mood.

Cale is another runaway boy; escaping from an abusive stepfather who unfortunately taught to Cale that he is only worth for sex, Cale ended in the clutches of a little mafia criminal who, at his eyes, was a big treat. Managing to escape also from him, Cale now is under the shelter of fairy godmother Gwen, who sends him to Ethan. It's a match made in... bed? but Ethan pampers Cale like a prince, trying to instill a bit of confidence in the pretty man (and in this case I mean pretty as beautiful, since Cale is really beautiful even if he doesn't realize it).

A little trouble to resolve the issue of Cale's past does nothing to ruin the fairy tale atmosphere and the obviously path toward an happily ever after; if only life would be so simple...

Amazon Kindle: Unstoppable Force

Loving Lucas by Lisa Marie Davis

Ten years before Lucas was a young high school teacher just out of college; he was the classical teacher who liked to be more a friends than a authoritative figure for his students, but he did that without second thoughts. Problem was that one of his student was an unstable teen who probably would need a psychiatric help and instead his family didn't take with the right seriousness the problem. Riley, the student, approached Lucas and when the man refused him, all went to hell: Lucas was raped and left for dead in a burning cabin. He managed to survive and to denounce Riley, but he also lost his life and his lover, who couldn't suffer his scarred body.

Now Lucas has a new life in a little small town where everyone loves him, above all the local sheriff; Nicholas is an handsome man, with plenty of choice if he wants, but he sets his eyes on Lucas. When they met five years before, Lucas was still too traumatized by his past events and he was not ready for something serious, and so Nicholas accepted the second choice to be his best friend. But now Riley is out of prison and both Lucas than Nicholas know that the man will come for Lucas, and Nicholas is not willing to let the man take the most important thing he has, Lucas; since Nicholas has no doubt that Lucas is his own.

The story is not very long and there is not mystery, since it's clear since the beginning that Riley will try to harm Lucas once again. It's more interesting to read and see how Nicholas will convince Lucas to accept not only his help but also his love. Truth be told, I think that Nicholas takes advantage of the situation to force Lucas to accept something than in other condition it will be years before they arrive to the same point. Probably Nicholas is tired to wait (but not enough to renounce) and above all he is tired to be judge by someone else actions. And this is maybe the point that I understood less: it's true that Lucas is scarred, but only on his back; in his everyday life, with dress on, he is a very beautiful man, and no one can notice his scars. All right, being a gay man, maybe having is back all scarred is a bit more important than a straight man (naughty Elisa, I know), but is it enough of a reason to dump someone? Lucas is clever, handsome, with a good work, is it possible that someone dumped him for some scars? And even if it happened, is it possible that he chose 10 years of chastity upon the action of only one man?

Anyway, the story is quite tender and the sex is good, something I noticed in the previous books by the same author: she mixes well the two elements, never letting the sex take the main role in the story, always letting the tenderness and love being in first line.

Amazon Kindle: Loving Lucas

Amazon: Love Conquers All (print book)

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle
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A Fostered Love by Cameron Dane

I have always found that Cameron Dane's books have an high emotional level impact and this last one is not different. What maybe I found different was that the story is "normal", nice and sweet, without paranormal elements, and so maybe more linked to reality.

Jonah and Christian were foster kid in the same home. Not really kid truth be told, more young men, at 14 and 16 years old. Maybe since they were similar in age, or maybe since she saw ahead of them, Marisol, the woman who took care of them, put them together in the same room and asked to Jonah, the older, to be as an older brother for Christian, to play as role model. That last part didn't work right, and Jonah made the bigger mistake of his life and went in a juvenile prison. But before he was taken by the cops, Christian shout out his love for Jonah to everyone who could hear him. That was the last time Jonah and Christian were together in the previous 15 years, even when Jonah came out of prison, he didn't come back to Christian, on the contrary he tried to cut off any bond he had with him other than Marisol. But now Marisol is dead and she asked him to help Christian to renovate her home and then sell it for raising money to donate to child care. Jonah can't deny this last wish to the only woman who showed him love, and so now he is again in front of Christian.

Jonah is the typical abused child. Having no one shows him love for the first 14 years of his life, doesn't teach him as to do it. The only person he thought was his only love bond, even if an abusive love, turned him to the system. And when Marisol entered his life, it was too late for him to learn how to love. What he felt for Christian is not exactly love, it's more a protective feeling: even if Christian had his problem with his own family, there are still hope for him to grown and become a good man, and so Jonah reflects in him what he knows he can't achieve. Christian becomes Jonah's hope for the future, he will have the good life he can't have. But Jonah doesn't achieve his goal becoming Christian's protector, on the contrary, he decides to leave him: Jonah considers himself not worthy of Christian's love since the man deserves someone better than him.

Years later Jonah is forced to face again Christian; in the last 15 years Jonah hasn't really had any relationship with another human soul, nor friendship or love. He is like an half man, like the single wing he has tattooed on the shoulder, he is not complete. Probably if Christian had a good life for his own, he would let him in peace, but Christian is alone. At first Jonah continues to deny what he and Christian himself really desire, but then he rushes to the center of it: from not wanting Christian to almost trying to hiding him to the world to have him all for himself. There is a rollercoast of emotion in the book, no half measure, and there is definitely a changing in the characters: at first Jonah appears to be the one in charge, he is the one who decides if starting or not the relationship, but for real, I believe that is Christian who sets the pace. Jonah is always on an edge, his feelings are raw and primitive, and Christian always soothes him. He did that in the past when they where teens, and he does it again now, both in their day-to-day life than during sex; Jonah bounces and Christian welcomes, and with his welcoming he is also dictating the relationship, and this evolution is reflected also in their lovemaking: at first Jonah is only able to take, to be the one in charge, but more their relationship evolves, and more Jonah becomes the one on the receiving side.

In Jonah's first attitude I really can see the foster kid, the one who has nothing and to whom all was stripped away; Jonah has the urge to take and hide (even the sperm of his lover!), and to do that in an hurry, since maybe someone else could arrive and take it from him. More the soothing presence of Christian arrives to him and more he starts to relaxe and to enjoy what the life has in reserve for him.

Amazon: A Fostered Love

Amazon Kindle: A Fostered Love

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle

Cover Art by Anne Cain
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Dreaming of You by Ethan Day

This is the second book I read by Ethan Day, and as before, it left me with the idea that probably, a) Ethan Day is a young guy with a positive and friendly attitude b) he likes very much the romantic comedy (both books but above all movies). In this new book he winks the eye to "Only You" a 1994 movie with Marisa Tomei: in the movie Faith was getting married with the perfect boyfriend, but she has only a regret, she has never met her "dream man", a man who frequents her night and day dreams since she was a teenager.

Same here, Aden is a nice young man, he co-owns a restaurant in Missouri and he has a quite happy life, if not for the thing that he has not a boyfriend. But Aden manages well all the same, he is a friendly guy and he has no problem to get laid, if he wants, and when he has no real man with him, he has his dream man, the perfect fantasy he built when he was a lonely teenager. In the last 15 years he married, built an house, adopted a son, went on holiday, all the time with his dream man.

Then to a convention in Atlanta he meets Logan, a restaurant owner from Los Angeles. Logan is not exactly his dream man (Adan has clear in mind how his dream man looks), but he is not far from the perfect boyfriend material: Logan is sexy, funny, friendly. Maybe he is a bit too much on the playboy side, but it's not that Aden is a virgin maid waiting for the knight in shining armor... so what is Aden waiting? probably the trouble is that, even if near perfect, Logan is not 100% perfect as Aden imagined his dream man, to build something with Logan, Aden has to compromise, maybe even move and change his life (Missouri is not exactly near to California). And it would mean take a risk, since even if Logan behaves like a man in love, from what Aden understood, Logan is not exactly a celibate man, and instead Aden, even if sometime he enjoys himself, is more the commitment and exclusive type.

And then there is the big open point: Aden knows, deep inside, that his dream man is out there waiting for him... what will happen if he commits with Logan to then find his dream man?

I like the feeling of the book, since it's very romantic without forgetting that we are speaking of men; an example? first date between Aden and Logan, Aden is in his room waiting for the night and the dinner with Logan; what would a woman do? take care of herself, maybe go to an hairdress, at least spend hour in front of the closet choosing the perfect dress... what does Aden do? he masturbates! and then, after taking care of himself in his own way, he spends some minute in front of the closet choosing the perfect dress... this is the difference between a "female perspective" on romantic comedy and "male perspective". But this is also the reason why I like it, since, even if obviously a pink glass perspective on love and life, I felt like the characters were real, with all their quirks and faults, and perfect shiny life.

The world where Logan and Aden live and love is an upper-class privileged world; Aden's trouble is to decide or not to move to Los Angeles to live in a poshy apartment with his new boyfriend Logan... all right, the poshy apartment is a bit too "anal" and Logan maybe is a playboy, and his dream man is somewhere in the world waiting for him, but Aden has not to worry about rent or bills or money... and THIS is what makes great a romantic comedy, the light and easy feeling that permeate all the story, we read and see a romantic comedy to dream not to think. Dreaming of You, even from the title, is the perfect example of a romantic comedy.

Amazon: Dreaming of You

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle

Cover Art by April Martinez
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Behind the Cover: Elaine Duillo

Elaine Duillo was born in Germany in 1928 and studied Arts and Paintings. She studied at the School of Art and Music and has had as fellow students great artists like Famers Danno Schwartz and Burt Silverman.

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The career as illustrator began making pictures for gothic novels, suspense and mystery, but her fame arrived with the romance covers. She worked for the most famous publishers like Bantam, Avon, Warner, Harlequin Pocketbooks and St. Martin's Press and has produced most of the covers for Johanna Lindsey, Bertrice Small and Jude Deveraux, working with international models like Fabio Lanzoni and John DiSalvo.

Elaine lives in Hicksville (Long Island) along with two daughters, Melissa and Bettina. John Duillo, her late husband, was also an illustration for western novels covers.
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Wintergreen (Wild Raspberries 2) by Jane Davitt

This is a claustrophobic novel (and BTW I'm not saying it in a derogatory way, I think it was a quite hard psychological work for the author to write it), and how it can't be seeing that it's almost all set in a isolated cabin in the woods in winter? At the end of the previous book, Tyler told Dan that they would have been gone on a travel, to see the ocean: quite the feeling of freedom, isn't it? And so, when the reader starts this sequel, he is all for the moment when Tyler and Dan will leave the cabin to explore the world, and maybe test their relationship. And instead, chapter after chapter they are always there, in the cabin, making loving and quarelling, yelling to each other or kissing. From the most unimportant reason to life change decision, there is always a reason for one of them to be mad and for the other to try to make peace.

Due to the difference in age between Tyler and Dan, more or less fifteen year, you could expect that the one mad would be Dan and Tyler the one always trying to be the balanced one, and instead, in this second novel, we understand that Tyler "needs" Dan, probably as much as Dan needs him. Dan is the anchor to reality, and the reason why Tyler can constantly and firmly refuse to come back in service. And now it arrives another element that adds to the claustrophobic feeling of the story: actually Tyler comes back in service, but all his work is brought on by home, using the internet and his inquisitive mind. Again a claustrophobic feeling, seeing that all the action happens inside Tyler's mind. It's like the outside world doesn't exist, like if they leave their safe haven in the woods, only bad things can happens. The cabin is, at the same time, shelter and prison, and Dan is the first to realize that, if they don't have each other, there is no way he could survive alone there.

Dan is growing in this sequel, he is not yet at his full development as a man, but he is near. You notice that not only from some behavior, like not running away when he is mad, but trying to talk it off, but also in their sexual encounters; more than once Dan takes the lead during sex, and Tyler lets him do so. More, I think that Tyler needs it. When he has too much things swirling in his mind, letting it go, not being the one in control, it's probably the only thing that saves Tyler from going totally nuts.

In a way Dan and Tyler are equal, the difference in age is shortened by their own faults: Dan not yet a man, with still a baggage of insecurities and Tyler with all his nightmares, regrets and fears.

Amazon: Wintergreen

1) Wild Raspberries:
2) Wintergreen

The Rainbow Awards: Third (and last!) Phase: