October 20th, 2015

andrew potter

2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Moonstruck by Shannon West

Moonstruck by Shannon West
Gay Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Dark Hollows Press, LLC (October 27, 2014)
Amazon Kindle: Moonstruck

Special Agent in Charge Jaden Malik’s meeting with the old gray alpha was the first step in an attempt to convince him a fight by his pack against their removal by the Bureau of Lupine Affairs or the BLA would not only be futile but would lead to their utter destruction. When he’s attacked by the son of the old alpha, he takes the handsome man hostage to ensure the pack’s cooperation and then finds to his horror that the man is his mate.

Tyler Jenkins is furious at his capture and Malik’s plans to take his pack to one of the government preserves for wolf shifters. Malik is a shifter himself, and Tyler can’t understand how he can betray his own kind. Tyler’s pack has evaded capture for over thirty years, since the camps were first created, and he has no intention of being put behind bars. Despite his growing attraction to Jaden, Tyler manages a dangerous, daring escape with his pack, turning the tables on Malik by putting him in his own silver handcuffs and taking him with them.

Tyler has only one chance to save what’s growing between them. He has to make it good or risk losing his lover and his mate forever.

I really enjoyed this story, the characters were both believable and likable and the plot was exciting and held my attention. It doesn't say anywhere that this story is, or will be, a part of a series but I would be disappointed if it didn't become a series as the world Ms West created in this story is quite different to other shifter stories I've read which is refreshing.

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andrew potter

2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: The Fallen Angels of Karnataka by Hans M. Hirschi

The Fallen Angels of Karnataka by Hans M. Hirschi
Gay Contemporary General Fiction
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Yaree AB; 1 edition (August 29, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9187561093
ISBN-13: 978-9187561092
Amazon: The Fallen Angels of Karnataka
Amazon Kindle: The Fallen Angels of Karnataka

In an isolated mountain town in Norway, Haakon dreams of traveling the world, pursuing adventure, seeing great places, finding love. His very first trip to London with friends from university offers much promise, yet soon after tragedy strikes. Still young, and mourning the loss of his lover, Haakon is not ready to give up on his dream, so when a rich Englishman offers him the chance to join him on a tour of the world, Haakon takes it, daring to believe that his dream is finally coming true...but at what price? The Fallen Angels of Karnataka is a novel filled with adventure, life's hard-learned lessons, loss, despicable evil, and finally, love and redemption.

Coming of age journey of present day Norwegian Viking. Nothing can stop the real adventurer. Discover the world with open heart and mind. But beware, not everything on this Earth is angelic.

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andrew potter

2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Twice Lucky by Mardi Alexander

Twice Lucky by Mardi Alexander
Lesbian Contemporary Romance
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (March 17, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1626393257
ISBN-13: 978-1626393257
Amazon: Twice Lucky
Amazon Kindle: Twice Lucky

"When you love someone, there's suddenly a whole lot more to consider, to risk, to fight for."

Mackenzie "Mouse" James's life is all about firefighting. Being a firefighter fills her waking hours, leaving her too tired to think, to socialize, or to put herself out there.

A large part of Sarah Macarthur's success as a doctor is due to the structure and control that she has established to help her cope when all the elements are thrown her way.

As danger draws closer, Mac and Sarah will be tested in ways neither had ever imagined. Both will need to fight far more than fear - they will need to fight for their lives.

I really liked the characters in this book from the main ones down to the supporting cast.

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andrew potter

2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Canning the Center by Tara Lain

Canning the Center by Tara Lain
Gay Contemporary Romance
Paperback: 250 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (December 17, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 163216261X
ISBN-13: 978-1632162618
Amazon: Canning the Center
Amazon Kindle: Canning the Center

A Novel in the Long Pass Chronicles

Six foot seven inch, 300 pound Jamal Jones loves football, so when he finds out the ultra-conservative owner of his new pro football team fired their current center because he’s gay, bisexual Jamal decides to stay in the closet and hang with the females. Then, at a small drag show, he comes face-to-face with his sexual fantasy in the form of Trixie LaRue, a drag queen so exquisitely convincing she scrambles Jamal’s hormones—and his resolve to nurse his straight side.

Trevor Landry, aka Trixie LaRue, hides more than his genitals. A mathematician so brilliant he can’t be measured, Trevor disguises his astronomical IQ and his quirk for women’s clothes behind his act as a gay activist undergrad at Southern California University.

To Trevor, Jamal is the answer to a dream—a man who can love and accept both his personas. When he discovers Jamal’s future is threatened if he’s seen with a guy, Trevor becomes Trixie to let Jamal pass as straight. But Trevor risks his position every time he puts on a dress. Is there a closet big enough to hold a football pro and a drag queen?

My feelings for this author have been spread out throughout this review. Suffice it to say: I will be reading a number of her non-sports novels to see if they reach the high mark set by the first two stories. Tara Lain is an excellent author who, for this reviewer at least, tells a most excellent story and whose previous and future works I look forward to reading.
Sometimes a plot can follow what is a “standard” m/m progression: “Am I gay?”; “does that guy like me?”; the two MCs getting together on the DL; characters forced into coming out to their families; homophobia running rampant in one of the character’s workplace; a happy ending; etc., etc.  Canning the Center has all these tropes, but manages to present them in such a way that the reader is rooting for the MCs all the way through the book. Ms. Lain definitely knows her football, and throws in plot twists and turns that make a “standard” plot work wonderfully.
Ms. Lain sets her story in her hometown of Los Angeles, and use her knowledge of the city to the max. As a native Angeleno, I enjoyed knowing where events took place, and feel that even a reader knowing nothing of the city would be just as “at home” in her setting.
This reader really got to know not only the MCs, but most of the all-but- most-tangential secondary characters. Jamal Jones, the titular center on the team, his family and friends, are roundly and well developed. The second MC, a part-time drag queen, who can “pass” in a casual day-to-day situation, along with the man (Trevor Landry, an off-the-test-charts mathematician) is Trixie when he wants to be, but co-exists with his creation. This is a most unusual side to the drag scene meme, and gives a very unique  dimension to the two halves of the man. Throughout, the MCs friends, employers, families and other secondary characters seem to be just as well-developed as the MCs (to the extent they need to be.) Wonderful characters throughout a story I didn’t think I would like all, since I don’t enjoy football, the drag scene, or homophobic bosses  who blackmail their players into doing as they wish. Excellent.
Once I got past my prejudices about football and the drag scene, I was quickly involved by Ms. Lain’s  warm straightforward style. I had expected to have to force myself through this particular novel, and, instead, was caught up quickly in the plot and its straightforward way of presenting its characters, both major and secondary. I think no finer compliment can be paid to Lain’s style, plot and character development, than that I’m halfway through the first novel in the series of which this novel comprises a second effort.

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andrew potter

2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Love and the Real Boy (Coming About 2) by J.K. Hogan

Love and the Real Boy (Coming About 2) by J.K. Hogan
Gay Contemporary Romance
Paperback: 258 pages
Publisher: Wilde City Press, LLC (September 17, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1925180476
ISBN-13: 978-1925180473
Amazon: Love and the Real Boy (Coming About 2)
Amazon Kindle: Love and the Real Boy (Coming About 2)

How much heartache can one man take before he breaks? That is a question Rich Langston asks himself every day. A Seattle advertising exec who uses his designer suit and showy car like a suit of armor, Rich refuses to let the world get to him. His traumatic childhood has ruined any faith he had in people, friendship, and love. After a meltdown that led to him alienating everyone in his life, Rich agrees to help with the restoration of an antique sailboat as a form of penance. Roped into heading up with the boat repair by his mother, marine restorer Patrick O'Dowd finds himself having to babysit a moody, spoiled rich boy with absolutely no carpentry experience. His easy-going nature is sorely tested, but he quickly realizes that things are not always what they seem; sometimes a fancy suit is nothing but an elaborate deflection from what's real. Through unavoidable personality clashes and fierce attraction, both Rich and Patrick explore their hidden pain and inner demons, and they end up finding with what really matters-love.

I REALLY  hated Rich in the first book but man did J.K. turn me totally around. By the end of this book I just wanted to hug him.. and the end of I Survived Seattle I wanted to murder him.. Excellent book where a sequel surpasses the original in just how much I loved the characters. Well done.

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andrew potter

2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: To Love Free by Chris Paynter

To Love Free by Chris Paynter
Lesbian Contemporary Romance
Paperback: 242 pages
Publisher: Companion Publications LLC (September 24, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1942204000
ISBN-13: 978-1942204008
Amazon: To Love Free
Amazon Kindle: To Love Free

World-renowned artist Madison Lorraine leads a quiet life in Islamorada, Florida, with her nine-year-old daughter, Mo. Madison hasn't painted in over three years since her wife and muse, Callie, lost her battle with cancer. Supermodel Gabrielle Valenci's arrival at her family home in Islamorada unsettles Madison's comfortable routine. Gabrielle has left a floundering relationship behind in New York and travels to Florida to undergo the last of her chemotherapy. Her prognosis is excellent, but her journey since the initial cancer diagnosis has been rocky. The appearance of a dolphin in their cove coincides with Gabrielle's arrival next door. With each unannounced visit, he inspires Gabrielle and Madison as he gently nudges them together. Soon, Madison is accompanying Gabrielle to her treatments. Although the bond between them strengthens and their mutual attraction grows, both are hesitant to take the next step. Can they learn To Love Free again? Sometimes, the fragile human heart is reluctant to heal. But Madison and Gabrielle never counted on the persistence of one determined, magical dolphin they call "Free."

Given its premise, this novel could have easily become both hokey and overfilled with angst in the hands of a  less skilled writer. But Chris Paynter knows exactly what she's doing  here, creating vivid, realistic characters and taking us deep into their lives. She makes us feel everything her characters feel, from the joy of new love to the debilitating effects of chemotherapy. The world her characters inhabit is rendered just as vividly. This is a very moving story.

To Love Free caught my attention from the very beginning and stirred my emotions through the entire book.

For me this story rang true. I enjoyed it from the very first page. It touched home as my dad died from cancer when I was 13. I would definitely read more work by Chris.

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