November 29th, 2015

andrew potter

2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: One Marine, Hero by EM Lynley

One Marine, Hero by EM Lynley
Gay Mystery / Thriller
Paperback: 254 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (August 17, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1634763831
ISBN-13: 978-1634763837
Amazon: One Marine, Hero
Amazon Kindle: One Marine, Hero

He's a hero to everyone but himself.

Marine helicopter pilot Captain Jake Woodley struggles after receiving the Medal of Honor for a mission where he didn’t bring every man back alive. Being called a hero and having his photo plastered across the news makes him hate himself more. He despises his cushy job flying with the Marine One squadron, carrying the president and other officials, when he’d rather risk something, even death. He gets his wish when he’s ordered to fly a series of classified trips.

Matt “Beau” Beaumont has been relegated to covering the fashion beat after getting downsized from a hard-news position. But an unexpected invitation to a White House dinner might be the boost his career needs. Offering a hot Marine an after-dinner blowjob wasn’t on Beau’s agenda, but when Jake takes him up on the proposition, some phenomenal casual sex soon blossoms into a relationship both of them crave.

When Beau’s extracurricular research uncovers defense department funding anomalies, he soon discovers the trouble goes higher than he imagined. Just as events start to make sense, the investigation puts Beau and Jake in deadly danger. It takes a daring play by Jake―risking everything he loves―to uncover the truth.

Wonderful novel and excellent perspective on the military life. Probably the best, most realistic description of military life and social gatherings I have read in a very long time. Would have received near perfect scores if it had been placed in Romantic Suspense, because the romance and relationship aspects drove this book forward; the mystery felt sidelined.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Kick at the Darkness by Keira Andrews

Kick at the Darkness by Keira Andrews
Gay Paranormal Romance
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: KA Books (May 26, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0994092423
ISBN-13: 978-0994092427
Amazon: Kick at the Darkness
Amazon Kindle: Kick at the Darkness

To live through the zombie apocalypse they have to survive each other first. College freshman Parker Osborne is having the worst day ever. He humiliated himself trying to pick up a cute guy, he hasn’t made any friends at school, and his stupidly hot jerk of a TA gave him a crappy grade on his paper. He’s going to drop Adam Hawkins’ film class and start fresh tomorrow after he’s had a good sulk. But Parker’s about to find out what a bad day really looks like—if he can survive the night. A virus is unleashed, transforming infected people into zombie-like killers. After these quick and deadly creepers swarm campus, Parker only escapes thanks to Adam swooping him onto the back of his trusty motorcycle. Now they're on the run—and stuck with each other. When they’re not bickering, they’re fighting off the infected in a bloody battle for survival. Their only hope is to head east to Parker's family, but orphaned Adam has a secret he’s not sure Parker will accept: he’s a werewolf. Can they trust each other enough to find some light in these dark days?

I Don't do zombies.  I hate zombies.  I avoid them at all costs.  So why the heck could I not put this book down?  Kiera Andrews characters and style just kept me turning page after page.

A real page turner. Loved the dynamic between the 2 MCs and the development of their relationship. I was left wondering if there is going to be a sequel.

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andrew potter

2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Model Citizen by Lissa Kasey

Model Citizen by Lissa Kasey
Gay Mystery / Thriller
Paperback: 220 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (June 22, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1634761308
ISBN-13: 978-1634761307
Amazon: Model Citizen
Amazon Kindle: Model Citizen

Oliver “Ollie” Petroskovic’s life as an international supermodel was heading in the right direction. He worked part-time for his brother at his detective agency―Petroskovic Haven Investigations―and had just bought his dream house. But all that changed when he found his brother dead, a victim of PTSD-induced suicide.

Almost a year later, Ollie is trying to keep his brother’s business afloat, but can’t get his PI license. Then his brother’s best friend, Kade Alme, shows up, fresh from the battlefield after a close brush with death. Kade is looking for a new life, in more ways than one, and with PI license in hand, he’s exactly what Ollie needs to keep PHI running.

When one of Ollie's childhood friends gets in trouble, Ollie feels he has to help. Kade insists on investigating if only to keep Ollie safe. Neither realizes the danger they’re in as someone tries to tear them apart before they can find solid ground together.

Well written mystery with lovable characters. Just enough angst to keep things interesting.  I couldn't stop reading. 

Totally fresh and original characters. Engaging mystery. Strong, interesting writing style.

If you like mysteries then you really need to give this story a chance.  I was pulled in right from the beginning by both the characters and the mysteries woven through the story.  There are several OMG moments and I was surprised by how everything played out.  This is one story that would make a great series, and I plan on re-reading it soon.

A deliciously plotted murder mystery with a great cast of characters and believable relationships.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Ten Little Lesbians by Kate McLachlan

Ten Little Lesbians by Kate McLachlan
Lesbian Mystery / Thriller
Paperback: 162 pages
Publisher: Quest by RCE (May 21, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 161929236X
ISBN-13: 978-1619292369
Amazon: Ten Little Lesbians
Amazon Kindle: Ten Little Lesbians

Ten women, guests at the lesbian-owned Adelheid Inn, are stranded in the Cascade Mountains after a mudslide closes the only road out. One goes missing. One is killed. More than one is not who she pretends to be, and every one of them has a secret. When another woman is attacked, it becomes clear there's a killer in their midst, and it has to be one of them. Is it Beatrice, the judge, surly and sad after the death of her long-term partner? Or her niece, Tish, angry and sullen at being kept under Beatrice's thumb? Or is it Carmen, Beatrice's childhood friend who lured her to the Inn under false pretenses? It couldn't be the Mormon girls, Amy and Dakota. Or could it? Perhaps it's Paula, the gallant butch, or her date, the lovely and silent Veronica. A blind woman couldn't do it, but is Jess really blind? And what about Holly, the hotel manager who is just a bit too perky, or Lila, the mysterious owner of the hotel? One thing quickly becomes clear. They'd better find out, before there are none.

This one sucked me in I even read it more than once and will definitely read more from this author.

Enjoyed it so much I wish it was another 60 pages longer.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: The Butterfly King by Edmond Manning

The Butterfly King (The Lost and Founds 3) by Edmond Manning
Gay Contemporary Romance
Series: The Lost and Founds
Paperback: 290 pages
Publisher: Pickwick Ink Press; 1st edition (September 18, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 098909796X
ISBN-13: 978-0989097963
Amazon: The Butterfly King (The Lost and Founds 3)
Amazon Kindle: The Butterfly King (The Lost and Founds 3)

Terrance Altham doesn’t know why he’s been arrested. He’s committed no crime and the cops aren’t talking. Sadly, the man sharing his holding cell talks too much. Known only as Ghost, he is a young grifter, apparently familiar enough with this police station to convince Terrance a break out is possible, and pushy enough to leave Terrance no choice but to follow Ghost into the underbelly of New York City. Terrified by the unjust imprisonment and the possibility of a life behind bars, Terrance searches for proof of his innocence while Ghost seeks the elusive Butterfly King. But neither man seems in control of the weekend’s direction and the consequences of mistakes are life-changing. As Ghost’s manipulations come to an explosive head, each man must decide amid danger and street violence what kind of man will triumph, lost or found? Narrator Vin Vanbly (a.k.a Ghost) returns in the most revealing King Weekend yet, where he faces the dark side of his dangerous manipulations, and learns missteps can be deadly. Vin must confront sinister dealings from his past—and a future promising disaster—as he waltzes Terrance across Manhattan in spring, searching for the elusive and charismatic, Butterfly King.

The third book is as good as the first two of the series. Edmond Manning is managing well to keep up the quality. He also avoids repeating himself. I love the economy of the writing, New York comes out alive from the book, but without long and useless descriptions. The language once more plays an important role, but it is never an end in itself. Vin is younger here, more full of doubts about what he is doing, still... it is the Vin we came to love through the other two books. I cannot not love him, his deep humanity, and the way he managed to leave his troubled past behind him or at least not to let this past control him. Terrance is black. It is a just a coincidence that this release comes just now, after Ferguson, because the book was roughly plotted in 2010, as Edmond writes in the heartfelt «Author's Note». On the other side it is not a coincidence that the racism issue is addressed in the book, because it is a permanent feature of society (not only US society), which flares up now and then. Please notice that the issue is there, but this is not a preachy book.

What a beautifully, heart-breaking, thrilling, and moving love story that does not end in the way one would expect, but has such a gripping, and perfect ending for the characters of Vin and Terrance that even though I re-read the last few chapters repeatedly hoping against hope that perhaps I would get that ending I wanted, because of how both Vin and Terrance helped each other grow, develop, heal, and learn to love, to truly love, I couldn't find it in myself to be unsatisfied at all or disappointed too much (though, I really wanted the HEA not the HFN or rather the TBC that I received). And while I haven't read the previous books in this series, I didn't feel lost or confused, as a matter of fact I was so enthralled by the story of this Lost King, Vin, trying to help a Found King, Terrance, crossover and become a true king but discovering truths about himself with the help of Terrance, with the love of Terrance, that by the time the book was over I'd realized that I'd read the book in a day. The setting was so artfully described by Mr. Manning that I could hear the screeching of the rats, taste the beer, and see every amazing sight, every minute detail intricately and magnificently conveyed with the mellifluous, graceful, yet strong style of Mr. Manning' talent. I am thoroughly hooked on this series now and went back to not only buy the other books in the series, but I read the excerpt provided in the link at the back of the book. And while I did not cry throughout the telling of this story, the Author's Note at the end, coupled with the dedication and these passages: he’s still a man, subject to the arrows and heartaches of men everywhere. That I understand. Being a gay man—I relate to those issues as well. But existing as a black man in a white-centric culture, he brings unique heartaches which I may never fully comprehend, despite my best intentions. “You call it black history and don’t you see how that distances us, acting like this was our private moment, when in fact, you were there. You were there. It’s our history. Our fucking history together.” "One day a woman came over and told me how impressed she was with my reading, my stack of books. She gushed over me. I loved it. I thought she could see something in me, special. That night, when I told mom about it, bragging about myself, she asked if the lady was white. I told her, yes. I was shocked my mother would guess that. I knew there were black people and white people and other colors, too, but I didn’t know what that meant. My mom explained the lady wasn’t impressed, she was surprised. She was surprised to see a young black boy reading so ravenously..." -made me choke up. Because it was the acknowledgment of it, things I have experienced, thoughts I have had but not wanted or been able to express because I AM a gay, black man and people are uncomfortable when these wounds are ripped open and revealed for all to see, it was the sympathy and the compassion by someone who can only imagine what it means to be a "bronze man", a black man, in this time, in this country that brought tears to my eyes. And for that I wish I could've given higher than the 40/40 because it gave the plot a deeper depth of realism and emotion than previously existed.

Please note that I have not read the other King books in this series. I found this entry read just fine as a standalone and the author did a great job of easing the reader into Vin's world and the world of the Lost and Found Kings. This is a work of fantastic originality that hits the ground running with the jailing of the protagonist Terrance for a crime he did not commit. The fact that his cellmate Ghost is clearly playing some kind of long con with Terrance hooked me immediately and his psychological mechanations along with the fast pace of the storyline kept me engaged. I felt that the depiction of Vin as kingmaker being kept off-balance by Rance's unexpected responses worked very well, although at times the drawn-out intensity of Vin's mind games seemed a little too much. These protagonists were immensely complex creatures but not unlikeable. In the end, although Rance is torn down and triumphantly recreated as the Butterfly King, I couldn't help but feel the most affection for Vin who is a master manipulator but so clearly has feet of clay. Oh, also, I thought the settings were gorgeously rendered - even the sewer scenes which were completely visceral - and I loved the inclusion of the after-hours New York Public Library. I'm looking forward to reading more about Vin's journey.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Bowl Full of Cherries by Raine O’Tierney

Bowl Full of Cherries by Raine O’Tierney
Gay Contemporary Romance
Paperback: 214 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (December 5, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1632165198
ISBN-13: 978-1632165190
Amazon: Bowl Full of Cherries
Amazon Kindle: Bowl Full of Cherries

Porker, Fatty, Tons-of-Fun: Crowley Fredericks has heard it all. He’s dropped a lot of weight since his high school days, but he’s still a big guy, and the painful words and bullying follow him. Rejected―again―because of his size, Crowley is starting to think that maybe love just isn’t meant for huskier men.

Averell Lang and his twin are so different they might as well not even be related. So when Rell’s brother brings his roommate home to snowy Susset for the holidays, Rell expects the worst―another uptight, pretentious hipster. What he discovers instead is Crowley. Nerdy, fascinating, attractive, Crowley. Rell never expected to look at a man this way, and what he sees in Crowley Fredericks is something he didn’t even know he was looking for. If both men can overcome their hang-ups, they might unwrap more than presents this holiday season.

I really loved this book, this is a sweet, simple story about how love and true friendship can make miracles. The plot is well developed, with just that little angst that makes the situation interesting. I stayed up all night to finish it, could not put it down. Had to know there was the happy ending. I like how the characters are described, they feel real, and you share their feelings, their love, their fears with them. I really really enjoyed it.

This was just one of those stories that really sucked me in… I could have kept reading it forever.

I really liked this book.The story wasn't terribly angst-filled or high-octane suspenseful. It was more like spending time with friends. I enjoyed the characters' journey (and as a mother of twins who don't get along, I appreciated the relationship between the Lang brothers!)

Good story of life’s ups and downs. Entertaining.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Geek Out by Samantha M. Derr

Geek Out by Samantha M. Derr
LGBT Anthology / Collection / Contemporary Romance
Paperback: 454 pages
Publisher: Less Than Three Press (January 28, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 162004529X
ISBN-13: 978-1620045299
Amazon: Geek Out

Gamers. Cospayers. B-Movie Lovers. Otaku. Comic Book Enthusiasts. History buffs. Animals. Coffee. we all geek about something, and nothing quite rivals the passion displayed by geeks for the things they love. There's no limit to what can be geeked over, and no rules about who is allowed to geek about what-and No telling when and where those geeks will fall in love. Defying Convention Double Take Horse Crazy Long Macchiatos and Monsters Love Rampage Manifest Of Anime and the Baeci Sext Based Adventures

Interesting stories written with a strong message. 5 Stars.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Knight of Ocean Avenue by Tara Lain

Knight of Ocean Avenue (Love in Laguna Book 1) by Tara Lain
Gay Contemporary Romance
Paperback: 254 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (May 1, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1632165759
ISBN-13: 978-1632165756
Amazon: Knight of Ocean Avenue (Love in Laguna Book 1)
Amazon Kindle: Knight of Ocean Avenue (Love in Laguna Book 1)

A Love in Laguna Novel

How can you be twenty-five and not know you’re gay? Billy Ballew runs from that question. A high school dropout, barely able to read until he taught himself, Billy’s life is driven by his need to help support his parents as a construction worker, put his sisters through college, coach his Little League team, and not think about being a three-time loser in the engagement department. Being terrified of taking tests keeps Billy from getting the contractor's license he so desires, and fear of his mother's judgment blinds Billy to what could make him truly happy.

Then, in preparation for his sister’s big wedding, Billy meets Shaz―Chase Phillips―a rising-star celebrity stylist who defines the word gay. To Shaz, Billy embodies everything he’s ever wanted―stalwart, honest, brave―but even if Billy turns out to be gay, he could never endure the censure he’d get for being with a queen like Shaz. How can two men with so little in common find a way to be together? Can the Stylist of the Year end up with the Knight of Ocean Avenue?

Billy and Shaz were fantastic. They pulled me in and held my attention. This is a feel-good story. It made me happy to read this book and left me feeling happy when I was done. I really liked it.

I always enjoy reading Tara Lain's stories and this one was no exception. I loved the characters and the story line and the writing style is very easy to read. I'm looking forward to reading the next book.

This book has just the right amount of everything: balanced characters and smooth original story that will gift a reader with a fun relaxing time. 

Thoroughly compelling from beginning to end.

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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: A Year in the Life by Cat Grant

A Year in the Life by Cat Grant
Bisexual Contemporary Romance
Series: Courtland
Paperback: 284 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (November 29, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1505293227
ISBN-13: 978-1505293227
Amazon: A Year in the Life (A Courtland Novel #1)
Amazon Kindle: A Year in the Life (A Courtland Novel #1)

Courtland fans, get ready – the next generation’s here! A campus flu outbreak, complicated by a freak October blizzard, brings Cornell seniors Seth Thompson and Bilal al-Mansoori together. Three days spent waiting out the storm at Seth’s snowbound apartment leads to an unexpected mutual attraction—and a hot night under the covers, which quickly deepens into a true emotional bond… Plus, a world of problems for Bilal, an Iranian Muslim. Despite his homeland’s harsh laws and even harsher punishment for homosexuality, Bilal can no longer deny who he really is: A gay man falling in love for the first time. Seth’s gentle manner and passionate lovemaking bring Bilal more joy than he ever thought possible. Yet, despite the lovers’ growing happiness, Bilal’s haunted by guilt and shame left over from his strict upbringing, and the sad realization that he’ll never see his family in Iran again. Speaking of families, it’s time for Bilal to meet Seth’s… Eric, Nick and Ally. Ten years later, this committed triad is still as deeply in love as ever, but even commitment comes with challenges… Is there room in this non-traditional family for Bilal? His future with Seth may depend on it.

An instant classic. A page-turner no one could put down.

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