January 18th, 2011

andrew potter

A Bitter Taste of Sweet Oblivion by Jordan Castillo Price

Brazen (Sweet Oblivion 1) by Jordan Castillo Price

Sweet Oblivion is the new continuing series in the adventures of goth boy Michael and his vampire lover Wild Bill. At the beginning of this relationship, Michael was the pursuer and Wild Bill the fugitive man: Michael young and naive was fascinated by Wild Bill, a vampire not so old for vampire standards, but old enough to hold a fascination on barely legal Michael. But Wild Bill knew that Michael was not the daring man he wanted to project, Michael was almost a child playing with his parents dresses.

With the growing of the relationship between Wild Bill and Michael, also the perception they have of each other is changing. Michael probably is starting to realize that Wild Bill is not some invincible creature, but that he is quite a normal "man", and as vampire, he is mourning his lost life; Wild Bill was turned when he was too young to be in mood to settle down and make a family, but probably now he wouldn't so against the idea; he is even trying to build a nest in the van they bought, giving an illusion of stability to their relationship. On the other hand Michael is exactly at that phase in which was Wild Bill when he was turned, young and eager to taste all what life could offer. Wild Bill is starting to realize that the young puppy he took off from the street is not a domestic pet, but a wild pup, and while growing, also his hunger is growing. The tables are turning and the maybe the "top" position is shifting from Wild Bill to Michael.

In this novella, Wild Bill and Michael experiment with having a third in their bed; and again it's Michael who leads the choice to whom invite in their bed, and it's Michael who, in the end, becomes the center of the playing; Damien, the third part, is almost a "mute" partner, no more than a sex toy used by Wild Bill and Michael. I'm true, I don't know if I like so much that an "odd man out" enters between Wild Bill and Michael, but truth be told, as I said, he is almost inexistent, I didn't feel nor from Wild Bill or Michael's side a bit of interest in opening their relationship more than only for a night of play.

Amazon Kindle: Sweet Oblivion 1: Brazen
Publisher: Changeling Press, LLC (February 6, 2009)

Snare (Sweet Oblivion 2) by Jordan Castillo Price

Call me crazy, or hopelessly romantic, but I feel like Michael and Wild Bill are setting down... they are not yet arrived to decide china patterns, but I will not bet that it couldn't happen.

Some of this feelings arrive from the opening scene, where Michael is remembering some good moments of the past, when he had an home and a family, and this is reinforced when his sister Julie comes to visit, bringing a cell phone Michael's mother wants absolutely his son has with him. This cell phone represents a link with the past, but also a bridge to a possible future... again, call me crazy, but I can see a future for Michael and Wild Bill near Michael's family, a future in which Michael finally starts college and Wild Bill... well I don't know, maybe he will play the housewife.

Anyway it's not only the cell phone that gave me that idea, it's also the sex between Michael and Wild Bill (and yes, only between Michael and Wild Bill, not intruder this time); I don't exactly remember if in the past it was so intimate like this time, I remember it was hot the first time they did IT alone, but this time I could almost feel their bodies, Michael's emotions were bare and Wild Bill seemed gentler and more caring. It was also one of the few time that anything of vampire interferes between them, there was not the urge of feeding, but only the strong pull to be together, as near as possible, more one body than two. I don't know, it was almost like if Michael was more aware of his body, and of the things his lover was doing to his body, and above all he was more aware of who was doing that... Wild Bill was no more only his lover, he was his partner, the half share of a whole they can be only together.

There is also another step in Michael's discovery journey for something even him doesn't know what, but it's not the focus of the story; it's an important detail, probably it bears an important clue for the future books, but I was so entranced by the previous sex scene between Michael and Wild Bill, that I read all the rest of the story in a dazed condition, still lingering with the mind on what has happened just before. If someone reading this series has ever doubted on Michael and Wild Bill's love, reading this book he will dissipate all of them.

Amazon Kindle: Sweet Oblivion 2: Snare
Publisher: Changeling Press, LLC (April 3, 2009)

Fluid (Sweet Oblivion 3) by Jordan Castillo Price

Fluid is almost a connecting book in the Sweet Oblivion series. There aren't surprising turns of event that are decisively for the continuation of the story, maybe what I noticed more is that Wild Bill is starting to realize that he is a vampire... really? didn't he know before?... I'm joking, what I mean is that even if he has the look of a young man, he is older than that, and living with Michael, barely legal, makes him realize that he has years and years behind the shoulder. The excitement to find a new and young prey every night is starting to wear off and probably Michael is growing on him, or so he thinks.

On the other side, Michael is always more in love with his vampire, but his love is no more an adoration thing; it's true that he is growing, but not tired of Wild Bill, he is starting to think that maybe there is something else in life than searching and killing renegade vampires. For how many you kill, other are out there, and they are only two alone against the world. Maybe working from the inside will be better? Teaching to vampires how to be a blood sucker without being a killer?

Both men have some thinking to do, what I love of this series is that, despite all the strange events, neither of them has ever thought to let it go, never once Wild Bill thought that maybe Michael would be better without him around, and never once Michael thought that out there there could be someone better that Wild Bill. They have to decide what to do of their life, but one thing they know, they will decide together and they will bring on that decision together... or at least I hope ;-) With the help of Michael, Wild Bill is becoming a better man... vampire, giving a sense to his life, and with the help of Wild Bill, Michael is finding who he wants to be. All in all Michael is a teenager with all the doubts and unsecurities of that age.

Amazon Kindle: Sweet Oblivion 3: Fluid
Publisher: Changeling Press, LLC (May 29, 2009)

Swarm (Sweet Oblivion 4) by Jordan Castillo Price

I had the feeling that for Michael and Wild Bill is coming the game over. Until now, Michael has faced all this adventure like a video-game, he is enjoying the ride and it seems that, as soon as he had a problem, Wild Bill was there with a spare life to play again. But now that they are almost settling in a “steady” life, Michael attending college (I think it’s college, since he is doing a practice as veterinary), things are starting to change for them.

Michael starts to be no more immune to the vamp bug, he has desires, blood desires, that are more of a vampire than a donor, and trying to deny this new side of his life together with Wild Bill, I think he tried to make Wild Bill more similar to him, more human. Michael questions Wild Bill on his previous life, before being turned, and in doing so, he upsets Wild Bill. I had the feeling that Wild Bill didn’t want to remember, maybe since he didn’t like his previous life, or maybe since he doesn’t want to regret what he can not more have.

Aside from Michael searching reassuring in all things human, the sexual relationship between Michael and Wild Bill is always good. Michael pushes a bit Wild Bill, exactly in having him showing a bit his “wild” side, and both of them enjoy the result: Wild Bill during sex knows how far he can go, and Michael always enjoys to being a bit on the edge.

Amazon Kindle: Sweet Oblivion 4: Swarm
Publisher: Changeling Press, LLC (August 14, 2009)

Elixir (Sweet Oblivion 5) by Jordan Castillo Price

Elixir is, at least for now, the last instalment in the Wild Bill and Michael’s series; I think the author wanted to prove that these two are not your ordinary romance couple, and that the reader (me) was wrong in thinking they were heading towards a some sort of blissful 2.5 kids suburban little house peace.

First of all the novella starts with a very erotic sex scene, a scene that gives back to Michael the emo boy role he had at the beginning, making him a little more hunter and a little less boyfriend. Second the reader soon realizes the sex scene is like a leitmotiv, playing underneath the main story, that is about how both Bill than Michael need to “escape” from the blissful peace of above to survive. They are not made to be an ordinary couple, their fate is to be on the run, living in the back of a minivan and tasting the very essence of life, right from the source and not processed by “normality”.

Again then, as I noticed in a previous instalment, a little of who Wild Bill was before he was turning makes its appearance, and even more than before, the final conclusion of both Bill than the reader, is that Wild Bill is better as a vampire than he was as a human; not only he is a better “man”, he is also better partner for Michael. And facing the chance to be “normal” again (what a bad word, normal…), both Wild Bill than Michael will choose to be “wild” together and forever.

Amazon Kindle: Sweet Oblivion 5: Elixir
Publisher: Changeling Press, LLC (October 2, 2009)

Amazon: A Bitter Taste of Sweet Oblivion
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: JCP Books (January 18, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1935540203
ISBN-13: 978-1935540205

1) Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/283039.html
2) A Bitter Taste of Sweet Oblivion

Reading List:

http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
andrew potter

Cast the Cards edited by S.L. Armstrong

Probably the most interesting thing of this anthology are the “unexpected pairs”; the editor chose to give a taste to the reader of all possible combination of same sex relationships, also the more uncommon (uncommon at least in the Gay Romance world). And odd enough, since it’s usually not my favourite genre, the one I probably liked best is the contemporary lesbian romance by Emily Moreton.

Burn the Brightest by Emily Moreton (F/F): I really liked this story that is probably the first lesbian romance I have ever read. It’s about a woman who doesn’t want to fall in love, Edith, and the other woman, Jo, who will, with patience and constancy, make her change idea. It was really nice to read how Jo was not only able to courtship Edith in a way that didn’t have her running away in the opposite direction, but she was also humble enough, or maybe in love enough, to bear Edith’s bad attitude, that sometime was bordering rudeness. It’s clear that Edith is scared, scared of love and of loving a soldier, and she will have to face her worst nightmare. I’m not sure this is an happily ever after story, since, even if the fate will be merciful with them, probably Edith will not be able to overcome her fear; but if both events will happen, then this is probably one wonderful romance Edith and Jo will live together.

The Direction of Greatest Courage by Erik Moore (M/M/F): this story took me by surprise, since I didn’t know what to expect; at the beginning of it, Jason is telling, or better explaining to the reader, that he is bisexual, and how this is causing him trouble in love, since women are not comfortable with him loving also men, and men think he is in denial when he wants to go out with a woman. But then Jason starts a nice, and almost ordinary relationship with Beth, that is true, is straightforward and outspoken, but all in all their courtship is quite common. Then it comes out that Beth is in a polyamouros relationship, married with a bisexual man and bisexual herself; and as it comes out, Beth’s husband, Geoff, is a very sexy man, that tingles Jason’s interest as much as Beth did. At this point my understanding of the story was good, and it led towards what I was expecting. Nice ménages a trois with the added bonus of an insight in a somehow “ostracized” type of relationship, the polyamorous marriage (that, according to the author, and his characters, is completely different from cheating, since both side involved are willing and aware).

The Grief of the Bond-Maid by Janine Ashbless (M/F/M): this is probably the most “ordinary” story in the bunch and that is saying much if you consider this is a full fantasy tale with wizards, demons and witches. Sjofn is the apprentice of a wizard, Vegtamr, and after he hanged himself, Sjofn has to find two men willing to take care of the body of the wizard to avoid further damage. The two chosen heroes are Thorkell and Bjarni, two adventurous type who doesn’t mind the company of a woman sometime, even if that woman is a witch. The part of the story concerning the quest is much like one of those videogame with different level to reach; the remaining part is what made me classify this story as “ordinary”, since it’s about the sexual relationship between Thorkell and Bjarni from one side and Sjofn on the other side, and trust me, nothing strange here if not three people having good sex.

Surrender by K. Piet (M/M): the first of the full gay story is also a classical BDSM setting; Aaron is some sort of white collar with a stressful job and he sees the BDSM session as a stress-relief activity. I don’t think Aaron has really understood the meaning of the pain/pleasure games he is doing, and by the way, he claims he is a Dom and that he has never bottomed, and he is not interested. But in all the other similar stories I have read it happens exactly the opposite: men with very stressful jobs want to let it go and find that “space” where they can really rest and relax (at least on a mind level). So when Aaron enters a new club and meets Travis, he is also on for a surprise: Travis, with a joyful predisposition, and a skilled hand, will teach Aaron that sometime there is more satisfaction in surrendering than dominating.

Blazing Star by Marie Carlson (F/F): another lesbian romance, this time in a paranormal contest, even if the paranormal side is not so pushed to overwhelm the romance one. On the contrary of the other story, here one of the two women involved is a nurturing type, the last of a family of demon hunters who has decided she doesn’t want to kill but to save. She has an house that is a sanctuary to other hunters, and while she is probably welcoming any gender, it’s clear that when the one knocking at her door is biker-bad girl Hope, she is more than glad to not only open her house but also a her heart. The problem is that she is a full-package, home, heart and all, and if you want to love her, you have also to love her mission of providing a safe shelter to wandering souls.

Oneiros by S.L. Armstrong (M/M): I think this story was a metaphor; Caleb has just discovered he is HIV positive and he thinks his life is finished. He is no more interested in his job or going out, he is barely interested in taking care of his cat, the only living creature he has contacts with. Then one night he starts dreaming of a perfect lover, Morpheus, the god of dreams, but also of sleep, and so little by little Caled loses contact with real world. And it’s exactly the wrong moment to do so since he has met Scott, another HIV positive patient who is not only willing to help Caleb through the initial nightmare of having to live with the virus, he would be also glad to find in Caleb a partner for life. I like how the author dealt the delicate issues of living with HIV, and I think that her metaphor was that, even with HIV you can have a real life, love and friendship, always better than banishing everything, and everyone.


Amazon: Cast the Cards
Amazon Kindle: Cast the Cards
Paperback: 164 pages
Publisher: Storm Moon Press LLC (October 31, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0982700814
ISBN-13: 978-0982700815

Reading List:

http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle

Cover Art by Nathie