November 7th, 2015

andrew potter

2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Muse Me Only by Princess S.O.

Muse Me Only by Princess S.O.
Gay Erotic Romance
Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: Talon ps (January 25, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0692372946
ISBN-13: 978-0692372944
Amazon: Muse Me Only
Amazon Kindle: Muse Me Only

Xherdan Chantal is an artist still trying to find his place among the masters of color. He’s a rather independent soul, working at the New York Metropolitan Museum, who lends no time to pretending to be anything he’s not or be involved in anyway other than to stimulate his muse. However, when a local pole dancer sneaks a shoulder-mount-to-flying-half-flag maneuver into his life, managing to seduce far more than Xherdan’s muse, he’s not sure how to put it all into perspective. Then again, painting is Xherdan’s artistic magic, not words. So, while poetic prose may have failed him, he still enjoys exploring this new sensation with loyal attention that sets Sreven above the rest of the world that’s only purpose is to feed his muse. What Xherdan was never expecting was for Sreven to become the living breath and motion of his muse. But there’s just one fight a lover should never pick with an artist.

This was an interesting one. Certainly not your mass market M/M, but it turned into a truly rewarding read. “Muse Me Only” excels in setting development, and that includes all the settings used in the book, as well as the technical details pertaining to the MC’s world. The characters reveal themselves as the story progresses and are interesting, flawed, yet sympathetic. The plot could’ve been a plain “boy meet boy,” except the the element of the artistic Muse adds an extra dimension that can either drive or thwart the romantic development of the story, thus adding tension. The writing style is almost archaic in its pacing and paragraph structure, but once I got used to it, I found its eloquence refreshing. In a world where most of us are told to “reduce, reduce, reduce” and keep cutting words and shortening sentences, it’s refreshing to see a writer who revels in their love of language and it’s various textures and flavors. I was torn whether to give points off for what I consider “craft issues,” or give extra credit for an unapologetically fresh and unique writing voice. I made sure not to penalize the occasional typo or punctuation oddity - this book would benefit from a better proof-reading, but the storytelling was compelling enough to make me realize my scores are about the story, not about the publishing aspects of the final products. Well done!

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andrew potter

2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Broken Ink by Jack L. Pyke

Broken Ink by Jack L. Pyke
Gay Paranormal Romance
Paperback: 334 pages
Publisher: Fantastic Fiction Publishing (December 4, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 162234197X
ISBN-13: 978-1622341979
Amazon: Broken Ink
Amazon Kindle: Broken Ink

Stolen and Stained. Carrying a tattoo on your skin no longer just comes with a risk of infection. Get the composition right, you have the latest mind-control drug on the market. It’s the sex-traders’ dream, or worst nightmare, depending on the concentrated dose of the ink—and just who’s wearing it. For Kiyen, the ink means he’s able to strip raw the minds of the best and worst of society. He’s one of MI7’s top killers and never more driven to select and take down a target. For Falen, the ink has ensured he’s spent his early years as a willing sex slave and low-grade empath. Hiding out in a small town and trying to bury the needs running through his body, Fal’s hoping to stay under the radar of MI7 and their specialist killers. But the ink itself has a mind of its own, wanting to ignite the natural dynamics driving a Dom and sub, so when Kiyen is forced into Fal’s small world, prejudice battles a pure need to touch. Only problem is: Kiyen’s on the run, and in a world where thought can be the worst crime of all, Fal’s in for a fight for his sanity to find out just what it is that’s making a young killer run for his life.

I really liked the way this story was plotted out. The author did a great job of using the characters to move the plot along.

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andrew potter

2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Winter’s Wolf by Tara Lain

Winter’s Wolf by Tara Lain
Gay Paranormal Romance
Paperback: 220 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (February 27, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1632165430
ISBN-13: 978-1632165435
Amazon: Winter’s Wolf
Amazon Kindle: Winter’s Wolf

Tales of the Harker Pack: Book Three

Winter Thane was raised on the two cardinal rules of werewolf existence: don’t reveal yourself to humans under penalty of death, and there’s no such thing as a gay werewolf. It’s no surprise when his father drags him from his wild life in remote Canada back to Connecticut to meet his old pack in hopes it will persuade Winter to abandon his love of sex with human males. Of course Dad’s hopes are dashed when they come face-to-face with the gay werewolves in the Harker pack.

Winter takes one look at FBI agent Matt Partridge and decides bird is his favorite food. Partridge is embroiled in an investigation into drug dealing and the death of a fellow agent. He can’t let himself get distracted by the young, platinum-haired beast, but then Winter proves invaluable in the search for clues, a move that winds them both up in chains and facing imminent death. Winter quickly learns his father’s motives are questionable, the pack alphas are a bunch of pussies, humans aren’t quite what they seem, and nothing in the forests of Connecticut is pure except love.

I love shifter stories. The characters seemed so lifelike I felt like I really knew them by the end of this story. I bought all the other books in this series so…

Since I already have the first two books I decided to read the series in sequence. The first book left me with doubts but I'm glad to keep going because I by book 2 I could see the difference in Tara's writing. By book 3 I was blown away! I really enjoyed these wolfs! Winter's Wolf was quite enjoyable with its fast pace and the whodunit. Quite an enjoyable series!

I really enjoyed this 3rd book in the Tales of the  Harker Pack, for me each book is better than the one before it. I loved Winter and Matt and all the many layers to this book. As always, Tara Lain’s writing style makes for an enjoyable read.

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andrew potter

2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Gemini by Clancy Nacht & Thursday Euclid

Gemini by Clancy Nacht & Thursday Euclid
Gay Erotic Romance
Publisher: Loose Id LLC (September 29, 2014)
Amazon Kindle: Gemini

Cass Manning is a serial monogamist, grad student, and identical twin to Paul, a drug-addicted prostitute. Fleeing his unfaithful boyfriend, Cass returns to Houston after years away only to be drawn into danger before he's out of the airport.

When Paul dies under suspicious circumstances, Cass must rely on one of Paul's clients, Kilo, a mercenary willing to protect Cass in exchange for favors. Together they have a chance to bring justice to the corrupt heart of Texas's political power structure, but Kilo's mysterious past may tear him from Cass when he needs him most. Even if they outlive their untouchable adversaries, how does a polite academic find lasting love with a soldier of fortune?

Wonderfully written. I could not fault this story. I really felt for these characters and I was immersed in the plot from the very beginning. Superb.

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andrew potter

2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: The Girls of Usually by Lori Horvitz

The Girls of Usually by Lori Horvitz
Lesbian Biography / Memoir
Series: Contemporary Nonfiction
Paperback: 248 pages
Publisher: Truman State University Press (January 12, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1612481361
ISBN-13: 978-1612481364
Amazon: The Girls of Usually
Amazon Kindle: The Girls of Usually

Lori Horvitz grew up ashamed of her Eastern European Jewish roots, confused about her sexuality, and idolizing the "shiksa in her living room," a blonde all-American girl whose photo came in a double frame and was displayed next to a family photo from a bar mitzvah. Unable to join the "happy blonde families," she becomes a "hippie chick" who travels the world in search of … something. "The Girls of Usually" chronicles each trip, each romance, each experiment in reinventing herself that draws her closer to discovering the secret door through which she can escape from deep-rooted patterns and accept her own cultural, ethnic, and sexual identity.

Horvitz's writing is very good and her memoir is quite vivid and interesting. I appreciated her honesty in discussing various relationship issues. What didn't work as well for me was the ending, which felt a bit like she might have intended to write something different but changed her mind. Overall though, a good book which deserves to be in the upper tiers of this category.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book from Lori Horvitz.  Her writing is tight and clever, her scenes are vivid, and her prose was a pleasure to read.  She is a very skilled writer and I look forward to reading more of her work.  Unlike so many books I read, not once did I find myself skimming pages or even paragraphs out of boredom.  Her writing was solid and focused, and I very much enjoyed it.

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