August 18th, 2011

andrew potter

Signed & Sealed by B.A. Stretke

Reading Signed & Sealed was like doing a jump in the past, when I was an avid reader of the Diana Palmer’s series Long Tall Texans. In those serial romances, there was always, always the mousy virgin heroine who was stubbornly refusing to accept that the handsome, and very wealthy, ranch owner had fallen in love with her. There was also always a butterfly sister/friend/cousin who was taking all the attention while her shy and plain jane sister/friend/cousin was doing her best imitation of a wallflower. Now even if those romances were more or less the same book after book, nevertheless I was browsing the shelves to find yet another one of them. When I sold all my old romances, Diana Palmer was among the few authors I saved. So yes, I loved them, but I also knew, and still know, that those plots were a little unrealistic, and that, well, the mousy heroine was not so clever after all, since the solution to all her trouble was easy but apparently she was not able to see it.

Will is the wallflower in this case; 24 years old and still virgin (even if he had a boyfriend for 2 years), he is called to rescue his sister, the butterfly, from a trouble she herself caused. She needs to payback 500.000$ to a wealthy rancher, Elijah, or marry his brother Martin; she has few weeks to collect the money and until then Will is playing the collateral asset as honoured guest at Elijah’s ranch. Good coincidence is that Will is gay and also Elijah; plus Elijah doesn’t really want for Katrina to marry his brother Martin, he would prefer for Will to marry him. Of course Elijah has fallen in love at first sight with Will, it was enough for Will to shyly smile to Elijah and the man was taken; good job considering that almost everyone considers Elijah cold-hearted and aloof.

Problem is that Will underestimate the power of his shyness, and he cannot see how irresistible he is to Elijah’s eyes; sure Elijah is attracted to Will since he is docile and kind, Elijah is a natural dominant who wants/needs a submissive companion beside him. Will sometime has a rebellious streak inside him, but his rebellion shows only in arriving late to dinner or forgetting to answer the phone… nothing major, maybe annoying to Elijah, but it’s enough that Will makes a display of that shy smile and everything is forgotten.

Amazon: Signed and Sealed
Amazon Kindle: Signed and Sealed
Paperback: 200 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (July 25, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1615819312
ISBN-13: 978-1615819317

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle

Cover Art by Paul Richmond
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The Inside Reader: Michael Klein

Show me the books he loves and I shall know the man far better than through mortal friends - Silas Weir Mitchell
Today guest is Michael Klein, poet and memoirist and two time Lambda Literary Award winner.

"So Long, See You Tomorrow" and "The Folded Leaf" by William Maxwell. These are my two favorite American novels by the same author and they are quite different in range and meaning. "So Long, See You Tomorrow" is a perfect, exquisite and at times experimental (the narrative is given over at one point to a dog) short novel about how a murder effects two families living in the Midwest. The writing is sentence for sentence so full of feeling and yet so concise and surprising. Maxwell is a master.

Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Vintage; 1st Vintage International ed edition (January 3, 1996)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0679767207
ISBN-13: 978-0679767206
Amazon: So Long, See You Tomorrow

In this magically evocative novel, William Maxwell explores the enigmatic gravity of the past, which compels us to keep explaining it even as it makes liars out of us every time we try. On a winter morning in the 1920s, a shot rings out on a farm in rural Illinois. A man named Lloyd Wilson has been killed. And the tenuous friendship between two lonely teenagers—one privileged yet neglected, the other a troubled farm boy—has been shattered.Fifty years later, one of those boys—now a grown man—tries to reconstruct the events that led up to the murder. In doing so, he is inevitably drawn back to his lost friend Cletus, who has the misfortune of being the son of Wilson's killer and who in the months before witnessed things that Maxwell's narrator can only guess at. Out of memory and imagination, the surmises of children and the destructive passions of their parents, Maxwell creates a luminous American classic of youth and loss.

"The Folded Leaf" is the most homoerotic story I know and, in some ways, the most guarded homoerotic story I know. It follows two schoolboys through many different kinds of education and while it's longer and a bit more rambling than "So Long, See You Tomorrow", Maxwell's genius is very much stamped on every page.

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Vintage (October 1, 1996)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0679772561
ISBN-13: 978-0679772569
Amazon: The Folded Leaf

Here is a classic novel from one of our most honored writers--the author of such acclaimed works as So Long, See You Tomorrow and All the Days and Nights." The Folded Leaf is the serenely observed yet deeply moving story of two boys finding one another in the Midwest of the 1920s, when childhood lasted longer than it does today and even adults were more innocent of what life could bring.

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About Michael Klein: MICHAEL KLEIN has written two books of poetry ("1990" and "then, we were still living") and two memoirs ("Track Conditions" and "The End of Being Known"). He has been nominated for a Lambda Literary Award four times, winning the award twice and is currently working on a third book of poems called "The Arbitrarium". He lives in New York City and Provincetown, Massachusetts and teaches in the MFA in Writing Program at Goddard College in Vermont.

The End of Being Known: A Memoir by Michael Klein
Paperback: 152 pages
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press; 1 edition (October 22, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0299188744
ISBN-13: 978-0299188740
Amazon: The End of Being Known: A Memoir

Written in poet Michael Klein's uniquely passionate, unapologetic but humble voice,The End of Being Knownexplores the lines that define, yet also blur, the boundaries of sex, friendship, and compatibility. This collection of autobiographical essays probes the manifestations of sexual desire in its mystical variety: experiencing incest, falling in love, being a twin, and inhabiting the world of anonymous sex—in practice, and, in an essay about the Body Electric movement, as something recuperative and renewing.

Each essay unfurls in a hybrid of poetry, narrative, and fragmentary literary devices. Here is an uncompromising gaze upon the quandaries of those whose sexual, emotional, and relational worlds collide, yielding no answer to the riddle of desire, yet finding meaning by piecing together personal examples of universal themes such as learning, through trial and error, about love and life.
andrew potter

Accidentally in Love by Jane Davitt & Alexa Snow

I don’t know how I managed to miss this one when it came out, first of all since Jane Davitt & Alexa Snow are a couple of authors I like very much and second since this is one of those sweet romance plot I like so much.

Calvin is a social butterfly, always moving from flower to flower, making everyone happy and not leaving broken hearts. The recipe is simple, not stopping long enough to create a real bond et voilà, the life of a perfect bachelor. Tom instead is a 24 years old virgin with a complex; clumsy and overweighed when he was a teenager, he hid his “butterfly” body under shaggy dresses and a nerdy attitude; Tom fears rejection and he doesn’t trust people. And the first meeting with Cal is no different, with Cal leaving him alone in the middle of conversation to run away with a dark haired stranger. But Cal needs a place to stay and Tom has a room to rent, and so the match is made in even. BTW Cal is not as bad as you could think and when Tom hotly complains about a one night stand Cal brought home, Cal starts to look at Tom with different eyes. Of course when Cal discovers the butterfly in disguise, he would have preferred to not show it to the world, since now he has competition.

That of Cal and Tom is a nice and sweet love story; of course, when the sex comes, it’s hot and good, but more or less it felt like a homemade cake, basic and substantial. Cal understands that Tom needs time, but one he is able to overcome his uncertainties, Tom is more than ready to share with Cal all the sex experiences he has only read about until then. Tom is not shy or clumsy during sex, it’s only that he needs to be comfortable with his partner, and a one night stand has never allowed him that level of comfort.

Maybe since they are living together, maybe since, as odd as it sounds, they are actually quite similar, Cal and Tom click right from the beginning: Cal has already had all the carelessly experiences he needed, and so is now ready for something serious; Tom has never wanted them, and will trust Cal to show him directly the best apples of the basket, without having to taste any rotten ones.

Definitely good love story, safe, sound and satisfying.

Amazon Kindle: Accidentally in Love
Publisher: Loose Id LLC (May 10, 2011)

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle

Cover Art by April Martinez
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The Invisible Chains 1: Bonds of Hate by Andrew Ashling

At more than 300 pages and only part 1 of a trilogy, this book is already pushing your level of comfort if you are looking for a “comfort” romance… Bonds of Hate is definitely not that. Plus it has (SPOILER) two elements that will probably push away a lot of potential readers: an incestuous relationship between two half-brothers and non-con sex, at least at the beginning.

I think the strength in this novel is the completely turn around the author did with the characters: Anaxantis and Ehandar, the two half-brothers, start with clear chosen role, Ehandar is the warrior, one year older than Anaxantis at 17 years old, strong and virile; Anaxantis instead is the intellectual, bookish and often ill. They are also different in looks, Ehandar dark and strong, Anaxantis blond and petite.

At the beginning Anaxantis is fascinated by his brother, and he also tries to imitate him, but there is really nothing to do, they are in two different leagues; then Ehandar does the unthinkable, he rapes his own brother and he initiates a chain of events that will lead to his own demise, or better to him being turned into sex-slaves for the pleasure of Anaxantis. Why, from Ehandar’s point of view that is acceptable? Since he strongly believes to be in love with his brother, and even when faced with the chance to run away, he chooses to remain faithful to his own brother. Anaxantis instead, according to me, proves to be a little temperamental…

These are not easy characters to like. I think that most of the readers will take the side for one or the other, but in the end, they will also admit that no one is really right and no one is really wrong. Ehandar with the rape that he commits at the beginning will be disliked by most romantic readers, but those same readers will have to admit that later in the novel, he seems the one with the more honest love feelings. On the other side bookish Anaxantis will have the support of those same readers, but then he will prove to have led his vengeance well over the edge, even if, again, there are some people (me probably) that believes nothing will payback for a rape. True, with the turning of Ehandar’s character, he loses all the characteristic of the rapist, he moves exactly at the opposite, becoming the sex-slave, the one who is object.

The plot is complex and for once, while this is obviously a fantasy, since there is no real setting, it’s not “magical”; true, there are potions and conspiracies, but that was pretty normal even in our real past. Yes, there is an homosexual relationship, but that is justified by the plot: it would have been probably impossible for Anaxantis to be a woman, since in that case, there would have been no chance for him to enslave Ehandar.

Truth be told, I’m not sure about my feelings towards this novel, I can recognize that is well plotted (even if fantasy is not my cup of tea), but probably I need to see how Anaxantis and Ehandar’s relationship will evolve in the following books.

Amazon Kindle: The Invisible Chains - Part 1: Bonds of Hate (Dark Tales of Randamor the Recluse)
Publisher: Ormidon Publishing (January 11, 2011)

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle