November 19th, 2016

andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Eleventh Hour by Elin Gregory (188-07-21-2016)

1) I will have to keep my eyes open for more stories by this author as she pulled me into this story from the beginning.

2) Thoroughly enjoyable and historically fun story of espionage and an unusual romance, with great characters.

3) I must confess that I'm a huge Helen MacInnes fan, so the storyline of Eleventh Hour by Elin Gregory was right up my alley.  Having lived in England, I am also a big fan of the Victorian sewer systems, of which this story made very satisfactory use.  For my money, this was pretty much the perfect story, starting out slowly with what appeared to be a straightforward surveillance job but building up to an exciting race against time. I so much enjoyed seeing Briers - who comes across as a little hard and world-weary - develop grudging respect and later genuine interest in his partner Miles.  The old saw of kissing passionately to distract others from your real intentions was used wonderfully here, and Miles-as-Millie was used to great effect throughout the story (I am trying very hard not to spoil here).  The cast of secondary characters was equally engaging:  the charming if opportunistic agent Falk, Miles' down-to-earth brother George, even the young wife Elsie who reacted with moral outrage upon discovering that Millie is actually Miles.  A great read.

Eleventh Hour by Elin Gregory
Gay Historical Romance
Publisher: Manifold Press (August 1, 2016)
Amazon Kindle: Eleventh Hour

Borrowed from the Secret Intelligence Service cipher department to assist Briers Allerdale - a field agent returning to 1920s London with news of a dangerous anarchist plot - Miles Siward moves into a 'couples only' boarding house, posing as Allerdale’s 'wife'. Miles relishes the opportunity to allow his alter ego, Millie, to spread her wings but if Miles wants the other agent’s respect he can never betray how much he enjoys being Millie nor how attractive he finds Allerdale.

Pursuing a ruthless enemy who wants to throw Europe back into the horrors of the Great War, Briers and Miles are helped and hindered by nosy landladies, water board officials, suave gentlemen representing foreign powers and their own increasing attraction to each other.

Will they catch their quarry? Will they find love? Could they hope for both?

The clock is ticking.

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Until September by Chris Scully (70-03-28-2016)

Overall, a beautiful story a little bit reminiscent of Shakespeares "The Taming of the Shrew", compellingly written with humor and depth. Actually, the latter got a bit much at times with pages and pages of introspection, angsting and the, at times, rather pronounced social criticism mainly present in Archer's somber backstory. But I admired the writing skill it took to rehabilitate an initially quite unappealing character and one who's just tooooooo perfect, crafting them into a couple I found myself rooting for in the end.

Until September by Chris Scully
Gay Contemporary Romance
Paperback: 250 pages
Publisher: Riptide Publishing (October 27, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1626493561
ISBN-13: 978-1626493568
Amazon: Until September
Amazon Kindle: Until September

As a teenager, Archie Noblesse clawed his way out of the poverty, heartache, and abuse of the reservation and left his family behind. Desperate to shake the shadow of his past, he reinvents himself as Archer Noble, an outspoken blogger and controversial author who lives only for himself. But when his beloved sister dies, Archer is saddled with guardianship of his niece and nephew.

Elementary school teacher Ryan Eriksson is devastated when his best friend Marguerite is killed, leaving her two young children orphaned. Helping Archer with his new responsibilities eases his grief, but when Archer offers him custody of the children, Ryan’s left with an impossible choice: get the family he’s always wanted, or respect Margie’s wishes and convince Archer to give parenting—and his heritage—a chance.

To buy time, Ryan promises to stay for the summer, hoping that Archer will change his mind and fall for the kids. But Archer’s reluctant, and the growing attraction between him and Ryan complicates matters. Legal decisions must be made, and soon, before Ryan returns to school. But with hearts involved, more than just the children’s future is on the line.

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Roller Girl by Vanessa North (406-09-06-2016)

Roller Girl is a lovely and lovingly written romance with a side of joyful friendships. North's prose is excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed Tina, Joe, and the cast of secondary characters. I found the romance to be on the lower-angst side; the conflict quickly resolved. Utterly happy none of the romance issues involved Tina being a transwoman. She was who she was, and was accepted by her old friends, her new friends and her community (as it should be). The derby parts were well-researched and flowed well with the romance.

Roller Girl (Lake Lovelace #3) by Vanessa North
Transgender Contemporary Romance
Series: Lake Lovelace (Book 3)
Paperback: 154 pages
Publisher: Riptide Publishing (March 21, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1626494185
ISBN-13: 978-1626494183
Amazon: Roller Girl (Lake Lovelace #3)
Amazon Kindle: Roller Girl (Lake Lovelace #3)

Recently divorced Tina Durham is trying to be self-sufficient, but her personal-training career is floundering, her closest friends are swept up in new relationships, and her washing machine has just flooded her kitchen. It’s enough to make a girl cry.

Instead, she calls a plumbing service, and Joanne “Joe Mama” Delario comes to the rescue. Joe is sweet, funny, and good at fixing things. She also sees something special in Tina and invites her to try out for the roller derby team she coaches.

Derby offers Tina an outlet for her frustrations, a chance to excel, and the female friendships she’s never had before. And as Tina starts to thrive at derby, the tension between her and Joe cranks up. Despite their player/coach relationship, they give in to their mutual attraction. Sex in secret is hot, but Tina can’t help but want more.

With work still on the rocks and her relationship in the closet, Tina is forced to reevaluate her life. Can she be content with a secret lover? Or with being dependent on someone else again? It’s time for Tina to tackle her fears, both on and off the track.

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: How Not to Summon Your True Love (416-09-16-2016)

Would have loved to have learned a bit more about the characters through further conversation/interaction during the roadtrip beside just the basics about each other, but this was a unique little story with an interesting twist at the end, great/unique plot, and an overall fun read.

How Not to Summon Your True Love by Sasha L. Miller
Asexual Fantasy Romance
Paperback: 136 pages
Publisher: Less Than Three Press (March 16, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1620047284
ISBN-13: 978-1620047286
Amazon: How Not to Summon Your True Love
Amazon Kindle: How Not to Summon Your True Love

Though it doesn't really come as a surprise, Cy is still crushed when he's dumped. His relationship with Alex had lasted longer than all previous attempts, and started promising when Alex had proclaimed he was perfectly okay with Cy being asexual.

On impulse, convinced no one will ever really see him as worthy relationship material, Cy turns to a book that belonged to his late mother, a grimoire of magic spells that obviously won't work. It's a stupid idea, and even if magic was real there's no way a true love summoning spell would work for him...

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Loving the Master by Lynn Kelling (67-03-26-2016)

1) At 10%, I was ready to throw in the towel, but I persevered. At 25%, I had to take a break from reading, and truthfully, I considered calling it quits. I found the violence in the first quarter of this novel unbearable, but I trusted it was crucial to the plot development, and I was already fully invested in the characters, so I read on. The author paints a vivid setting through scant description, allowing the reader’s imagination to take over. The characterisation is rich and consistent. The story unfolds at a perfect pace (although the last 10% felt a bit like ticking boxes for readers). This is not the book for me; nor is it the kind of book I would usually read. I’m grateful for the opportunity to do so.

2) The characters really put this one over the top for me. I enjoyed the fact this author didn’t completely ignore setting, adding details about the world in which the characters moved around in—I could have used more of that. I could have done without some of the sex and still enjoyed the story just as much, but that is a personal taste thing. I didn’t always ‘believe’ what was happening within the story, but the characters themselves felt real to me. All in all, I’m not much of a BDSM fan and that didn’t matter in the least with this story, the characters were well-drawn and I cared what happened to them, which allowed this story transcend the BDSM subgenre ties(no pun intended) to become a really nice romance. Two thumbs up.

Loving the Master (The Manse) by Lynn Kelling
Gay Contemporary Romance
Series: The Manse
Paperback: 342 pages
Publisher: Fantastic Fiction Publishing (February 8, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1622342763
ISBN-13: 978-1622342761
Amazon: Loving the Master (The Manse)
Amazon Kindle: Loving the Master (The Manse)

David Davenport is, by most standards, a very successful man. He has money, influence, and the Manse, his private gay club. Still, that’s not enough to make him happy. Despite all his privilege, David is a lonely man. While at lunch with an old friend, David finds himself enchanted by the charming young waiter, Shea Whittier. Unlike David, Shea does not have wealth or influence. He does have problems, though, and David is more than willing to help. As the men grow closer, Shea’s submissive nature responds to David’s dominance, bringing a powerful intensity to their relationship, and leaving them vulnerable to an unexpected danger.

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