September 26th, 2016

andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Stealing Dragon's Heart by Susan Laine (98-05-01-2016)

This was a fun read - the world building was imaginative though lightly touched in places falling more heavily on the characters and plot. I enjoyed the interplay between Cameron and Finn, and particularly appreciated the time taken to develop the love story and move it through to its natural conclusion, rather than an abrupt ending at the wrap up of the main story arc. All in all, a fresh take and well appreciated.

Stealing Dragon's (Lifting the Veil) Heart by Susan Laine
Gay Paranormal Romance
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (March 2, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1634769716
ISBN-13: 978-1634769716
Amazon: Stealing Dragon's (Lifting the Veil)
Amazon Kindle: Stealing Dragon's (Lifting the Veil)

A Lifting the Veil Story

Notorious master thief Finn Grayson is hired to break into a high-class skyscraper in New Shanghai and steal a priceless artifact known as the Shard. But someone’s gotten to the Shard first―and the penthouse suite turns out to be a dragon’s lair.

Cameron Feilong, Guardian of the Earth Shard, is ancient enough to realize that he and his unbidden guest are being used like puppets on a string. Forming a shaky alliance is the only way for them to survive and to stop their ruthless foes.

Unfortunately, Finn and Cam seem to be forever one step behind. To learn more about their clandestine enemy, they travel together from walled Asian cities, barren tundras, and underwater temples to secret paranormal clubs and legendary elvish cities rising high in the trees or buried deep under glaciers. Finn and Cam must learn to trust each other before it’s too late, for bringing together the five Elemental Shards will spell the end of the world.

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Cast Me Gently by Caren J. Werlinger (253-08-07-2016)

1) It was by far the most enjoyable of the five books I read for the awards this year. Overall, the writing was strong, but there was an overuse of the word "as" and several clunky passages throughout the book. A few times, the author used phrases that made me roll my eyes. "Her eyes shone with tears," "tears were running down her cheeks," "her eyes filling with tears." As far as the setting, the details placing the story in 1980 were convincing, but while Pittsburgh was mentioned repeatedly, and names of neighborhoods were thrown about, I didn't get enough details about what was actually there. I thought the story started off well. I liked the emphasis on helping the homeless. However, since for 2/3 of the book, we're led to believe Dogman is Ellie's brother, when he suddenly drops out of the story and that subplot is left unresolved, I feel dissatisfied as a reader. Perhaps it's "realistic" for everything not to be tied up neatly. I don't need "neatly," but I also don't like being left hanging. I enjoyed the window display parts of the story. I can't say I "enjoyed" the banking parts, given the sexual harassment scenes, but they were compelling. The Italian family dynamics were good. The characters were believable and likable. I thought the dialogue "Do you eat like this every day" "Don't I look like I eat like this every day?" funny. I know in every romance, there has to be a problem and a temporary separation before the characters can get back together. But the emotional pain and hurt caused by the separation in the book was so profound that I'm not sure I believe their reunion at the end. It truly feels like the damage is irreparable, that there will always be deep scars which will prevent them from feeling they are safe with each other, that they are too aware of the pain the other is capable of delivering to them. I can't imagine them not always being a little bit on their guard from now on. That's okay, I suppose, as it's "realistic," but the ending as written suggests we are supposed to believe all is forgiven, and I'm not sure I buy that. The dinner conversation where Teresa's family talk her into going back to Ellie was a little forced at the end, particularly the line, "All her life, the best way to talk Teresa into anything was to plant the seed and leave her alone to think it over." I can SEE for myself that they're planting a seed and that she has to think it over. I don't need the author to tell me. It's overkill. I don't want to be told what to think. Just plant the seed and let me watch for myself as the character reflects on it. Finally, I loved the scene where the aunt tells Teresa that she'll have regrets no matter what decision she makes, that she just has to figure out which set of regrets she can live with. Overall, I enjoyed the book quite a bit, but these few errors and problems keep me from giving it as high a score as I wish I could.

2) A perfect score for what really is a perfect romance and later-in-life coming-of-age story. A subtle story that gently builds, incorporating a gritty, immersive setting, and featuring delightful and diverse characters that leap off the page. Absolutely wonderful.

Cast Me Gently by Caren J. Werlinger
Lesbian Contemporary General Fiction
Paperback: 370 pages
Publisher: Ylva Verlag e.Kfr. (October 1, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 3955333914
ISBN-13: 978-3955333911
Amazon: Cast Me Gently
Amazon Kindle: Cast Me Gently

Teresa Benedetto and Ellie Ryan couldn’t be more different, at least on the surface. Teresa still lives at home. As much as she loves her boisterous Italian family, she feels trapped by them and their plans for her life. Their love is suffocating her. Ellie has been on her own for years, working hard to save up enough to live her dream of escaping from Pittsburgh to travel the world. Except leaving isn’t that simple when she knows her brother is out on the streets of the city somewhere, back from Vietnam, but not home. When Teresa and Ellie meet and fall in love, their worlds clash. Ellie would love to be part of Teresa’s family, but they both know that will never happen. Sooner or later, Teresa will have to choose between the two halves of her heart—Ellie or her family. Set in 1980, the beginning of the Reagan era and the decline of Pittsburgh’s steel empire, Cast Me Gently is a classic lesbian romance.

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Not Safe For Work by L.A. Witt (008-02-16-2016)

I have read a few other LA Witt books and have loved all of them. She draws readers into the story as if you are there and you can feel the romance developing between the characters. I will always read her first if I get a list of by books to read.

Not Safe For Work by L.A. Witt
Gay Erotic Romance
Paperback: 314 pages
Publisher: Samhain Publishing (December 15, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1619232049
ISBN-13: 978-1619232044
Amazon: Not Safe For Work
Amazon Kindle: Not Safe For Work

They're a match made in the dungeon...until their secret gets out. Bored senseless in a meeting, architectural modeler Jon McNeill amuses himself with a kinky dating app on his phone. Then the app matches him with another user...who's six feet away. Suddenly Jon finds himself on the same page as someone way above his pay grade: millionaire property developer Rick Pierce. His firm's biggest-and hottest-client. The app isn't kidding either. They're a perfect match. Jon's a Dom, Rick's a sub, and bondage is their thing. Both guys are well into their forties, know their way around the bedroom, and definitely appreciate a good suit. And the best part? They're a match outside the bedroom too. But office relationships aren't easy to keep a secret. When the truth comes out, Jon is certain he's about to get fired. Instead, his bosses throw him a curve ball-an ultimatum that puts both his job and his relationship in jeopardy. Warning: Contains literal and figurative sex machines, blindfolds, a sub being punished during a business meeting, enough rope to tangle up a millionaire, and a Golden Girls marathon.

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Perihelion by Tami Veldura (010-02-16-2016)

This book is intriguing, intense, and instantly engaging. From the beginning, the reader is swept up into this fast-paced whirlwind that turns everything on its head and inside out. At the same time, the author provides just enough information to keep the reader up to speed, though you have to stretch to get it sometimes. Many seemingly unrelated stories were woven into one. I loved the various genders and identities, and especially the map of everyone at the end. Very useful. A near perfect score, I gave a 9 to character development because there were some I would have liked a bit more on. Overall, an awesome read!

Perihelion (Queenships Book 1) by Tami Veldura
Transgender Sci-fi / Futuristic
Publisher: Oldewolff Alternascents (April 15, 2016)
Amazon Kindle: Perihelion (Queenships Book 1)

Kato Ozark, crown prince and soldier, has just been chosen to pilot his family’s queenship. He’s trained his entire life for this honor, but it comes with a catch. It seems that First Engineer Mas’ud Tavana has also been chosen as the queen’s pilot. Mas’ud has no formal training, and they both believe a mistake has been made. But when an attack on a distant Ozark queen forces them to work together, it’s clear their minds are better as one than apart.

They might even go on a proper date. Through mission briefings and politically required offspring, the mental link their queenship forges between them only grows stronger. Within this bond they find strength in each other. Then a rogue AI attacks their ship, ripping the queen open to the core. The two pilots feel it all; the assault destroys their connection and tears them adrift into open space.

Kato and Mas’ud wake up in the medical bay of a rival family with no memory of their queenship or each other. Hailed as a war hero, Kato retrains as a kingship pilot, preparing to defend Earth against the AI. Mas’ud, dismissed as permanently broken, struggles to rediscover his own truth.

Their queenship is out there, waiting for her pilots to come home. The future of their family depends on it.

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