November 10th, 2016

andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Scenes from Adelaide Road by Helena Stone (229-07-28-2016)

A lifetime of abuse, both physically and emotionally at the hands of his father leaves Lennart with apprehension and anxiety attacks. He meets Aidan who helps him cope with all his emotions and depression, even with his abusive father who wants to take everything away from him. This is a very emotional story filled with hope and love between these two young men. Well worth the time to read it. Helena Stone's stories have never let me down. This was truly a perfect story.

Scenes from Adelaide Road by Helena Stone
Gay Contemporary Romance
Paperback: 228 pages
Publisher: Pride Publishing (December 1, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1784309052
ISBN-13: 978-1784309053
Amazon: Scenes from Adelaide Road
Amazon Kindle: Scenes from Adelaide Road

Can a young man find the courage he never knew he had when faced with losing everything he holds dear?

A few months before his final exams in secondary school, nineteen-year-old Lennart Kelly discovers he’s inherited a house on Adelaide Road in Dublin from a grandfather he never knew. Having been ignored, bullied and abused for as long as he can remember, Lennart can’t wait to leave behind his father and the small town he grew up in. Moving away as soon as he finishes his exams doesn’t cure his deep-rooted insecurities though.

Meeting twenty-three-year-old Aidan Cassidy in a gay club on his second night in Dublin, scares Lennart. Used to being ignored and ridiculed, he doesn’t trust the attention he receives and can’t believe a man like Aidan could possibly be interested in him. It takes infinite patience and understanding from Aidan to slowly coax Lennart out of his shell.

But the past refuses to stay where it belongs and Lennart’s father is determined to take the house in Dublin off his son by whatever means necessary. Just when Lennart is learning to trust and embrace life, a violent attack threatens everything he holds dear. Suddenly Lennart is in danger of losing his house, the man he’s grown to love and maybe even his life. If Lennart wants to protect Aidan and safeguard his future, he’ll have to find the courage he never knew he had.

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: The High King's Golden Tongue by Megan Derr (183-07-21-2016)

1) This book was superb, engrossing, and unexpected. I couldn't stop reading. The characters were interestingly drawn, believable, and charming. The setting teemed with detail, and I'd love to revisit this world and see how the love lives of the vivid and delightful secondary characters play out.

2) The characters here are absolutely fantastic - I love the way Derr builds their personalities establishes their roles. As for those roles, I love the way she plays with our gender expectations even more, both with the relationship reveals and the intriguing hints and clues along the way regarding sexuality.

The High King's Golden Tongue by Megan Derr
Bisexual Fantasy Romance
Series: Tales of the High Court
Paperback: 406 pages
Publisher: Less Than Three Press; 1 edition (July 13, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1620046245
ISBN-13: 978-1620046241
Amazon: The High King's Golden Tongue
Amazon Kindle: The High King's Golden Tongue

Prince Allen has trained his entire life to follow in the footsteps of his illustrious mother, who has made their kingdom one of the wealthiest and most influential in the empire. For the past few years he has trained to become the new consort of the High King. The only thing no one prepared him for was the stubborn, arrogant High King himself, who declares Allen useless and throws him out of court. High King Sarrica is ruling an empire at war, and that war will grow exponentially worse if his carefully laid plans do not come to fruition. He's overwhelmed and needs help, as much as he hates to admit it, but it must be someone like his late consort: a soldier, someone who understands war, who is not unfamiliar with or afraid of the harsher elements of rule. What he doesn't need is the delicate, pretty little politician foisted on him right as everything goes wrong.

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Sire by Kate Pavelle (016-02-23-2016)

1) Sire was an intriguing surprise for me. It explores the lives of angsty teenagers without resorting to any over the top drama and the usual slammed doors and bratty outbursts. Main characters Robbie and Brent come from very different backgrounds, yet share the same concerns: what will they do with the rest of their lives, how do they choose their career? Do they try to walk their father’s or family’s chosen path, or do they dare follow their dreams? I loved how Kate Pavelle explored what happens inside a young adult’s mind and how easily things can go very wrong without many signs for others to pick up from. A young man coming from what looks like a perfect life and family gets so caught up between dealing with his identity, from bloodline to sexuality, and external pressures on what to do after high school, that it opens the door to unspeakable tragedy. Yet on the outside, very little changes and only those paying very close attention to him can pick up on the signs. The characters caught me because they seem to have real concerns, not just a first crush or first love. They are worried about family and a future career and being accepted. Love and discovering who they are, these are just parts of a bigger puzzle they need to sort out as they carry on with their day to day lives. While the relationship between Robbie and Brent is center stage, it does not push everything else in the background, it’s visibly integrated in everything else they do. The pacing might seem slow, but it isn’t. Things happen all the time, even if they aren’t big events. It’s a bit like a dam: everything in the character’s daily life builds up until it gets to be too much and reaches a breaking point. All in all, a great read, tears included.

2) Good plot - seemingly sweet story had hidden depths. Although the suicidal ideas seemed to come suddenly out of the blue, the large build up of issues gave a very realistic reason for them occurring. Nice distinct main characters & well drawn. I particularly liked Rob's self confidence which enabled him to think of others. Obviously an area of knowledge for the author, but I didn't feel there had been an info dump. Also obvious were that there had been a previous book, but I didn't feel adrift because of it - just made me wamt to read it. Writing style very slightly choppy, but story well expressed and telling the story from both MCs' pov was successfully handled.

Sire by Kate Pavelle
Gay Young Adult
Paperback: 244 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (October 23, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1634766024
ISBN-13: 978-1634766029
Amazon: Sire (Steel City Stories)
Amazon Kindle: Sire (Steel City Stories)

A companion to Broken Gait

A Steel City Story

A new transfer, Robbie Kowalski embraces his fresh start at Three Rivers Academy. Freedom from football, delightfully challenging academics, family support―Robbie is thrilled. No more fumbles, no more gay taunts, and a refreshing challenge at blending in with the kids of rich people, the sort his dad usually works for. Robbie’s even willing to work in his dad’s carpentry business to help pay tuition, especially once he gets to know his cute lab partner, Brent.

Brent Kenson, competitive rider and key man in his uncle’s stable, schemes to escape the legal career his dad has all planned out for him. He almost pulls it off too, until a scorching kiss from Robbie turns his world upside down. When Brent discovers his dad is not his real father, his world flips again, and he’s left reeling and desperate for escape.

With time running out, Robbie must find a way to help Brent confront his fear of rejection and embrace who he is before Brent takes a drastic step to end his pain―permanently.

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards: Other Side of the Line by Marguerite Labbe (302-08-22-2016)

1) One word that comes to mind in describing this story is 'Beautiful'. It's the sort of story that leaves you satisfied once your reach the end and a story that'll stay with me for a long, long time. The life these two men carried throughout their entire lives is the life I always wished I had. The love of, first friendship, then, the pure love they felt toward each other in a time when it was considered a crime to befriend a person of color. Fantastic writing from an author who I've always respect and admire. Ms. Labbe has never let me down. There are not many times when I give a story a perfect score. This one deserves it.

2) The writing style and the characters pulled me in. I was connected to this book and its people in a way I rarely am but always hope for. Hal and Caleb came alive for me and I was emotionally invested in their well being. They had fascinating lives and interesting challenges facing them. I loved that some obstacles had to be overcome alone before they could deal with the other ones together.

3) A lovely, realistic, retrospective exploration of the relationship between two gay men. Caleb and Hal met as kids in the 1960s, and took a long time to figure out that they were each the answer to the other's searches. Now settled into old age, with foster kids and grandchildren and family around them, the men look back at the years and events that affected them, built them up, pushed them apart, and finally brought them together. We see the early days in Charleston, when the black kid in a newly-desegregated white school, and the white Northern kid who dared to name Sherman as a Civil War hero to a Southern teacher, are bonded as outsiders. We see the impacts of civil rights and gay rights and the Vietnam war on their lives and families. The men circle each other, best friends, yearning for something else but unable to quite make it happen. Caleb has a loving, but not gay-tolerant, family and Hal an abusive bigoted father. Events push them their separate ways, but they reconnect, again and again, until love wins. The most potentially dark and angsty moments are not the ones dwelled upon, and the result is a warm, smoothly-flowing story of life and love through half a century of time.

4) Friends to lovers - friendship being most important. Addressed both homophobia and racism in the 70s. Two lovely main characters well drawn and distinct from each other. Good sub characters. 70s & 80s US - contrast between small town & NY. Well written. Interesting structural approach to,d in reflection from contemporary perspective. Only problem smallish chunks of time reduced flow. Once or twice I felt I had missed bits of their story I wanted to hear about after they got together-  how they got their children etc.

Other Side of the Line by Marguerite Labbe
Gay Historical Romance
Paperback: 330 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (September 18, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1634765842
ISBN-13: 978-1634765848
Amazon: Other Side of the Line
Amazon Kindle: Other Side of the Line

Caleb Hudson and Hal Zimmer became best friends the day they stood up against the schoolyard bully together. Life’s complicated enough with their friendship crossing racial lines in 1960s Charleston, South Carolina, but as time passes, they realize it’s more than their friendship that sets them apart from other kids. At first, Caleb denies his feelings for Hal could be more than companionship. He supports his friend when Hal admits he’s gay, but Caleb isn’t ready to face his own truth.

Hal becomes a staunch antiwar protester, and the divide between them widens after Caleb is drafted. But when Caleb returns from Vietnam, the time for denial is over. His homecoming sets off a series of events that force Caleb and Hal to confront their desires and what lines they’re willing to cross to get what they truly want out of life.

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Spy Stuff by Matthew J. Metzger (129-06-05-2016)

1) This was a delightful story from beginning to end. Snappy, humorous dialogue, and best of all, teenagers who sounded like teenagers. The story was real, believable, heartwrenching at times, and I absolutely fell in love with Jude. In fact, the entire cast of characters were vividly drawn and just leapt off the page. Very enjoyable read!

2) Awesome characters.

3) I loved this book from the first page. Anton’s secret and his constant fear of discovery drew me in and made my heart ache with the knowledge that, as so often happens in fiction, the worst would inevitably come to pass. I marked down a touch on setting because I felt like the author could have done better there. But this book reads like the best of the YA genre and has become a definite favorite of mine. I will look for more from this author.

4) I enjoyed is book and found it very thought provoking. It was good to read it from the perspective of a teenage trans man which gave great insight. I did find some of the secondary characters (Jude in particular) a bit too good to be true, and everything major did seem to work out very neatly in Anton's favour. However, I learned a lot.

Spy Stuff by Matthew J. Metzger
Transgender Young Adult
Paperback: 228 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 29, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1530638771
ISBN-13: 978-1530638772
Amazon: Spy Stuff
Amazon Kindle: Spy Stuff

Anton never thought anyone would ever want to date him. Everyone knows nobody wants a transgender boyfriend, right? So he's as shocked as anyone when seemingly-straight Jude Kalinowski asks him out, and doesn't appear to be joking.

The only problem is ... well, Jude doesn't actually know.

Anton can see how this will play out: Jude is a nice guy, and nice guys finish last. And Anton is transgender, and transgender people don't get happy endings. If he tells Jude, it might destroy everything.

And if Jude tells anyone else ... it will.

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: If The Seas Catch Fire by L.A. Witt (003-02-16-2016)

This was an exciting story, but probably far fetched but I was drawn in to suspend my disbelief. I liked the characters and their relationship but found it hard to believe that a mafia boss and an assassin could be so sappy with each other. Well written and exciting.

If The Seas Catch Fire by L.A. Witt
Gay Mystery / Thriller
Paperback: 450 pages
Publisher: Lori Witt (January 1, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1943426147
ISBN-13: 978-1943426140
Amazon: If The Seas Catch Fire
Amazon Kindle: If The Seas Catch Fire

Sergei Andronikov was a child when the Mafia wiped out his family, leaving him with nothing but a hunger for revenge. Years later, through ruthless strategy and tireless patience, he’s a contract killer working for the three families ruling Cape Swan… and he’s nearly in position to bring them all down from the inside.

Domenico “Dom” Maisano is Mafia royalty, a made man… and a hitman. He’s caught up in a violent life he can’t escape, struggling to maintain an image he doesn’t want, and suppressing desires he can’t have.

A chance encounter throws the killers into each other’s paths. Though Dom knows he’s playing a dangerous game, he’s intrigued and keeps coming back. Sergei can’t resist him either—Dom is everything he set out to destroy, but he’s also everything he’s ever ached for in a man.

Then Sergei gets the contract he’s been waiting for—the hit that promises to bring the town’s Mafia to its knees.

But when a boss makes an unexpected move, Sergei must choose between dropping the hammer on the families he vowed to annihilate, and protecting the man he swore he wouldn’t love.

And the wrong choice—or even the right one—will destroy them both.

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Clean by Mia Kerick (78-04-11-2016)

The first half of this book was really hard to read as the pain of the two main characters came off the page. By contrast there was a lot of hope in the second part for both. I did think that the portrayal of the family involved swung from rather extreme neglect of Lannie to the perfect family stretched my belief, but the underlying contrast rang true.

Clean by Mia Kerick
Gay Young Adult
Paperback: 306 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (December 1, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1517581044
ISBN-13: 978-1517581046
Amazon: Clean
Amazon Kindle: Clean

High school senior Lanny Keating has it all. A three-sport athlete at Lauserville High School looking at a college football scholarship, with a supportive family, stellar grades, boy band good looks… until the fateful day when it all falls apart. Seventeen-year-old Trevor Ladd has always been a publicly declared zero and the high school badboy. Abandoned by his mother and sexually abused by his legal guardian, Trevor sets his sights on mere survival. Lanny seeks out Trevor’s companionship to avoid his shattered home life. Unwilling to share their personal experiences of pain, the boys explore ways to escape, leading them into sexual experimentation, and the abuse of illegal drugs and alcohol. Their mutual suffering creates a lasting bond of friendship and love. When the time finally comes to get clean and sober, or flunk out of high school, only one of the boys will graduate, while the other spirals downward into addiction. Will Lanny and Trevor find the strength to battle their demons of mind-altering substances as well as emotional vulnerability? Clean takes the reader on a gritty trip into the real and raw world of teenage substance abuse.

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Out! by J.L. Merrow (179-07-21-2016)

Out! is a love story told equally well from both sides. Each of the characters has his own point of view that the reader sympathizes with. Several of the other characters are fleshed out in more detail than often happens in stories of this sort. While the plot is predictable - there's never a point when you think they won't make it - it unfolds so charmingly and with such wry good humor, that you don't begrudge it that.

Out! (The Shamwell Tales) by J.L. Merrow
Bisexual Romantic Comedy
Paperback: 258 pages
Publisher: Samhain Publishing (January 19, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1619233207
ISBN-13: 978-1619233201
Amazon: Out! (The Shamwell Tales)
Amazon Kindle: Out! (The Shamwell Tales)

When the costs are added up, will love land in the black? The Shamwell Tales, Book 3 Mark Nugent has spent his life in the closet-at least, the small part of it he hasn't spent in the office. Divorced when he could no longer deny his sexuality, he's sworn off his workaholic ways and moved to Shamwell with his headstrong teen daughter to give her a stable home environment. His resolve to put his love life on hold is severely tested when he joins a local organization and meets a lively yet intense young man who tempts him closer to the closet threshold. Patrick Owen is an out-and-proud charity worker with strong principles-and a newly discovered weakness for an older man. One snag: Mark is adamant he's not coming out to his daughter, and Patrick will be damned if he's going to start a relationship with a lie. Between Mark's old-fashioned attitudes and a camp, flirtatious ex-colleague who wants Mark for himself, Patrick wonders if they'll ever be on the same romantic page. And when Mark's former career as a tax advisor clashes with Patrick's social conscience, it could be the one stumbling block they can't get past. Warning: Contains historically inaccurate Spartan costumes, mangled movie quotes, dubious mathematical logic and a three-legged pub crawl.

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