March 7th, 2012

andrew potter

The White Knight by Josh Lanyon

The Dark Horse was the first book I read by Josh Lanyon... yes I know, I haven't read the Adrien Mysteries series, at least not from the beginning, and I know that is wonderful, too many people keep saying it to me, but at the time, I was more hooked by that story on a movie star and the detective who helps him against a crazy stalker. Probably I was expecting hot sex behind the scenes and the usual media scandals, maybe even the classical Hollywood scene of the red carpet where finally the actor admits his love for a man... and instead I found a couple in the aftermath of something huge, the stalker is already dead, the two heroes started a not simple relationship, and apparently Sean, the actor, is becoming crazy, if he wasn't yet crazy even before.

In the previous book we discovered that Sean is not imagining things and that there is another stalker in his life, someone he would never suspect. Dan again becomes his hero, but at the same time he is his worst enemy: Dan is not accepting that Sean is playing the role of the perfect balanced man. Sean has problems, bigger ones, he is in denial; he faces them in his own way, forcing himself to accept things that his mind is trying to refusing, like sex with a man, and running away when faced with the true.

The second book starts with Sean who is another time in danger, but this time he is far from Dan... he ran away, as usual, with the excuse to filming a movie in Galles. Even if before leaving he played the role of the lover who couldn't understand why Dan wasn't accepting, it's quite obvious that it was the perfect chance for Sean to not face again the truth; it was unthinkable for Dan to leave his work for more than three months, and Sean made everything possible to put Dan in front of an accomplished fact. Now in Galles Sean was victim of an accident, or maybe of an attempt murder, and he lost his recent memory; the only thing he remembers is that he loves Dan and he wants him near him, and Dan arrives, without questions or delaying.

Sean is again all sweetness and words of undying love, but Dan this time doesn't buy it all; I like this double face of Dan, strong an unyielding in front of Sean, wanting from him to admit his mistakes and take measures for them, but at the same time protective and gentle, never leaving him alone. One of the fault I probably found in the previous book was that Sean and Dan's outside images were sometime stronger than their private side: this was maybe the reason why I felt the need to read something more on how they met and fell in love, and the reason for why they decided to live together. The second book fills completely that void, giving to Sean and Dan's feelings and reasons a main role, and letting the mystery in the background, almost nonexistent.

During Sean's recovery, he replays in his mind two different timeline of his life with Dan: their first moment together, before the events that took place in book 1, and the aftermath of that book, when they tested their living together and Sean's inability to admit that he needed help. Don't get me wrong, it seems quite like Dan is the perfect knight in shining armor and Sean a shrinking violet who needs a shrink (pun intended); it's not exactly like that, Sean has only had very bad and negative experience with the doctor professional category and he needs time to trust them again. Dan on the other side is the perfect partner, supportive and attentive, with the right dose of protectiveness; maybe he should have more faith in Sean, and doesn't worry too much if the man goes 3 months away for work. But also Dan has to have some faults, a too perfect hero would be too much boring, so he is instead a knight in shining, and a bit cracked, armor, that is even better.

Again the book is not what I was expecting (no big Hollywood scenes) but nevertheless a book that got me hooked till the end. And this time for me it's complete, not loose ends, the love story is full, developed and nicely tightened up.

Amazon Kindle: The White Knight (The Dark Horse)
Publisher: JustJoshin (March 7, 2012)

1) The Dark Horse:
2) The White Knight

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andrew potter

The Subtlety of Understanding by T.A. Chase

Mason is a snow leopard shifter, made into it from a nut scientist, who amused himself creating all genres of shapeshifters he could. Heinrich is the son of the scientist, he himself an expertiment of the madness of his own father. Mason is not used to trust people, and when he meets Heinrich and the other shifters the man is trying to help escaping the clutches of his father, he reacts with skepticism.

The story is a mix of paranormal and sci-fi, meaning that the shifters in this story are not some mythological creatures but the dangerous experiment of a crazy scientist. Strangely enough, the separation between animal and human is more marked in these creatures than you usually find in an “ordinary” paranormal romance. You notice it in the little things, like the small gestures some of them have when they are in their human self that are more like their animal self, the reactions and the behaviour, but also the physical built, reflecting their inner beast.

Among them there is Mason, a snow leopard shifter who is the only one who can touch Heinrich, the son of the crazy scientist who was himself an experiment of his own father. The idea they have is that Heinrich’s father “created” Mason as a special pet for Heinrich, to allow someone/something to be near to his son. But that was not done out of love for his son, but more like another experiment to understand how dangerous Heinrich could be.

There are different subplots, many of them quite interesting, like the one among a shifter rave and a shifter bear, or the one barely hinted among a shifter coyote and a shifter timber wolf. Love and danger seem to be all over the place, and the shifters living in the safe shelter that is Heinrich’s ranch tend to find comfort in each other; this is not like a Noah’s Ark and so the shifters don’t find the only one that can match them, and they have to do with what is around, and so an odd couple like a raven and a bear, or a lion and a bull, is paired; I think this is a metaphor with what is happening outside the ranch, with simple "humans" who are not able to accept who is different from them, while the dangerous "beasts" are able to live in peace.

As usual in a T.A. Chase’s novel, the sex is a great, a good, share of the story, and it’s sexy and naughty, with a love for little details that makes it graphically detailed without being a “medical textbook”.

Amazon Kindle: The Subtlety of Understanding
Publisher: MLR Press (March 7, 2012)

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andrew potter

Coming Alive With You by Penelope Rivers

I think the author put together an original ensemble of characters: Farrell, the former high school bully, is a classic example of kid who is projecting the difficult situation he has at home outside, plus he is also fighting the realization he is gay, when his family is uber-conservative and anti-homosexual; Toyo is the fat kid, the one with a very low self-esteem, the one that today, successful business man, is still looking behind his shoulder believing everyone is laughing at the “fat kid”; even Allen, Farrell’s “bad” boyfriend, is, in a way, a good character, so vain that he is almost a farce. Maybe the only complain I have is that all these characters were too “harsh”, their edges were not smudged, and in this way, sometime, they scratched my reading. Farrell’s tendency to always fall in tear, Toyo’s stubbornness to always see the worst in Farrell, Allen’s selfishness, Ty’s mother being so uncaring, all of them were on the edge, like their faults were magnified by a lens.

But I applaud to the author’s plotting skills, and even if on the edge, their characters were for sure not ordinary. I above all liked that, even without being common, these characters were not extraordinary, and please forgive me the strange contraposition: the author managed to build an original story with ordinary characters, Farrell is not some unrealistic romance hero, Toyo is not a knight in shining armor; Farrell is generous, able to great kindness towards Ty, but Farrell is also the kid who was torturing Toyo; Toyo managed to build a new future for himself, but he is not turned into a fitness model, he is still an ordinary man, struggling with maintaining the right weight, still with his self-esteem issues.

Amazon Kindle: Coming Alive With You
Publisher: Amira Press (February 8, 2012)

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle