November 21st, 2016

andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: The Guy With The Suitcase by Chris Ethan (319-08-25-2016)

I must admit, this was a very heartfelt and emotional story. The caring these two extremely flawed characters show toward each other is quite endearing. The story ran smoothly and gave us a view of what can happen and does happen to young men and women in this world when the parents or stepparents are not accepting. At first, I wasn't sure where the story was going, but I'm sure glad it went as it did. Loved the MCs and the attention they paid to each other. Very satisfying end. I really enjoyed their journey together.

The Guy With The Suitcase (Once Upon A Guy #1) by Chris Ethan
Gay Contemporary Romance
Series: Once Upon a Guy (Book 1)
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Rhys Christopher Ethan (February 14, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1945171111
ISBN-13: 978-1945171116
Amazon: The Guy With The Suitcase (Once Upon A Guy #1)
Amazon Kindle: The Guy With The Suitcase (Once Upon A Guy #1)

Pierce is homeless. Young and strong-willed Pierce has been living in the streets of New York City for six months, since his parents kicked him out of their perfect, Christian, suburban house. Pierce is gay. And he is suffering the consequences for being true to himself. Rafe is homeless. He is also sick. Impressionable, but far from innocent, Rafe ran away from home almost a year ago. His sickness is slowly killing him. But Rafe is not a hopeless case. He has learned to get by. Nights of paid passion turn to sheltering warmth from the imminent New York winter. And then there's a suitcase. Pierce's suitcase, which holds secrets from everyone including its owner. When their worlds collide, their lives intertwine and when the world seems bent on bringing the two souls to their knees, fate has other plans for them. Caution: Contains adult language, New York City streets, tough life choices, sexual tension, stubborn brutes and swoon-worthy romance.

Rainbow Awards Guidelines: http://www.elisarolle.com/rainbowawards/rainbow_awards_2016.html

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Skyships Over Innsmouth by Susan Laine (256-08-09-2016)

1) Full marks from me for a well-crafted world, and a plot with a surprise twist.

2) Loved the world building, and premise of the story.

Skyships Over Innsmouth by Susan Laine
Gay Sci-fi / Futuristic
Paperback: 200 pages
Publisher: DSP Publications (August 2, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1634769899
ISBN-13: 978-1634769891
Amazon: Skyships Over Innsmouth
Amazon Kindle: Skyships Over Innsmouth

Twenty winters have passed since the Cataclysm brought down society and robbed people of their memories. Humanity, vastly reduced in numbers since the initial chaos, has started anew in Canal City with the aid of library books and steam technology. The Scout and Ranger Corps was established to search for possible survivors and to replenish dwindling resources.

Dev is the captain of the scout airship Smoke Sparrow, and Shay is the scholar of their newest expedition. Their destination is Innsmouth, Massachusetts, a small fishing town that is mentioned in obscure books but shows up on no maps. Might its secrets offer answers? But within the fog-covered, ruined hillside town by the bay lurk unspeakable dangers and horrors beyond imagining. The expedition team soon learns that Innsmouth is one town that should have been left forgotten.

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: His Rules (174-07-13-2016)

This is a powerful collection of BDSM stories told from various points of view. The stories explore not only the physical side of BDSM, but also the different and widely varied emotional experiences that bring people to the scene. Although most of the stories are hotter than he—, several of them have excellent plots that would work independently of the sex. A very enjoyable collection.

His Rules by L.M. Somerton, Sean Michael, Morticia Knight, Lily Harlem, S Dora, Samantha Cayto
Gay Anthology / Collection / Erotic Romance
Paperback: 274 pages
Publisher: Pride Publishing (May 24, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1786513447
ISBN-13: 978-1786513441
Amazon: His Rules
Amazon Kindle: His Rules

Time Out
Val and Chaz broke up after Chaz safeworded unnecessarily during a scene. Can they find a way to come back together?

Strict Consequences
One proposition, one night. Could it be the beginning of a forever after for a Master and sub?

Tagging Mackenzie
Achieving a Dom’s undivided attention can have unpredictable consequences.

Bad Idea
Bad ideas can sometimes be the best!

Safeword
A dangerous game turns into unexpected pleasure…

Earning his Leathers
Call him old-fashioned, but Connor believes a Dom should earn his leathers.

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Strength in Numbers by Brad Vance (241-08-01-2016)

Very well written, intriguing characters, fast paced plot.

Strength in Numbers (The Game Players #2) by Brad Vance
Gay Mystery / Thriller
Publication Date: February 9, 2016
Amazon Kindle: Strength in Numbers (The Game Players #2)

They’re back! In their first adventure, Marc Julian, software billionaire, and Jesse Winchester, hacker extraordinaire, survived the evil plans of the Krom brothers and Jesse’s first lover, Chip. But Jesse has old debts to pay to Russian gangster Leonid Ivanov. Now Leonid is calling in those debts, demanding that Jesse find a great treasure for him, and a new game is set in motion…

The mysterious “Satoshi,” creator of the cybercurrency Bitcoin, has been hiding $375 million worth of the currency for years. But now, he has chosen to start a quest for the keys to the Hoard, and he who controls the keys controls the fortune. And this will be a quest that will test the strength, the will, and the character of those who pursue it.

But Marc and Jesse aren’t the only ones on the hunt, as old enemies resurface to try and beat them to the treasure… And even if they reach it first, they must ask themselves – do they really want to give a Russian gangster $375 million to pursue his deadly enterprises? And what would be the consequences if they don’t?

The pursuit will take them from Andorra to Barcelona, through the museums of Tokyo, the streets of Buenos Aires, and the coast of Mexico, in a desperate and dangerous race to keep the fortune in digital gold from the hands of all their enemies…

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Just Physical by Jae (200-07-24-2016)

1) I cried.

2) Just Physical explores a Hollywood-setting romance where one character, a young actress, is living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) struggling to remain viable in the industry despite her physical limitations.  This viability, though, does not include room for a romance, despite a growing mutual attraction between the actress and her stunt double.  Although structured as a romance, Just Physical does an excellent job of exploring the issue of disability, both in terms of the struggle of the individual and the budding relationship itself.  It deals with a serious issue factually and sensitively without sacrificing the magic of what you want from a romance novel.

Just Physical (The Hollywood #4) by Jae
Lesbian Contemporary Romance
Series: The Hollywood Series
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Ylva Verlag e.Kfr.; 1 edition (July 2, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 3955335348
ISBN-13: 978-3955335342
Amazon: Just Physical (The Hollywood #4)
Amazon Kindle: Just Physical (The Hollywood #4)

After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, twenty-five-year-old Jill Corrigan takes herself off the romantic market. Not wanting to become a burden to a potential partner, she focuses on her career as an actress instead. On the set of a disaster movie, she meets stunt woman Kristine “Crash” Patterson, whose easy smile instantly makes Jill wish things were different. Meanwhile, Crash is trained to fall, but she didn’t count on falling in love. Despite their growing feelings for each other, Jill resolves to let Crash into her bed, but not her heart. As they start to play with fire on and off camera, will they really be able to keep things just physical? "Just Physical" is part of The Hollywood Series but can stand alone too.

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Poppy Jenkins by Clare Ashton (161-06-27-2016)

1) I was absolutely charmed by the characters, and the story drew me in immediately and held me until the end.

2) A really amazing read. There was nothing here that made me think it was too much or too little or too anything else. All was perfect and I don’t use this word easily. The characters are all very well developed, so much so that at the end of the book they feel real; the story is interesting with the right amount of plot twists that keep the reader engaged but that don’t devolve in the realm of absurd even when unexpected things happens; the writing style is really really good; and the setting is one of the most interesting of all that I have read till now. What make this book even better is the way the author was able to navigate two different times of narration: it never feels like Poppy’s walks down memory lane are a rude interruption of the story, and the contemporary storyline is strong enough to become better thanks to them. Wonderful read!

3) Clare Ashton takes us to a place, the middle of Wales, where we never thought we want to travel and makes us want to go there.  She evokes a magical small town and country setting and brings it to life.  Rarely does a romance provide the reader with a more vivid sense of place.  The plot provides a great combination of whimsy, intensity, heat, with a dash of serious.  While not technically a "second chance romance," Poppy Jenkins has the essence of one by giving us a story of close childhood friends, torn apart and then reunited as adults.  It's a lovely book.

Poppy Jenkins by Clare Ashton
Lesbian Contemporary Romance
Paperback: 378 pages
Publisher: Breezy Tree Press (June 19, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1534934103
ISBN-13: 978-1534934108
Amazon: Poppy Jenkins
Amazon Kindle: Poppy Jenkins

Two old friends, one hot summer, a whole load of confusion. Poppy Jenkins makes everyone smile. She’s the heart of Wells, a beautiful village in mid-Wales, leaving light and laughter in her wake. She has a doting family, an errant dog and a little sister with a nose for mischief. But she’s the only gay in the village and it’s a long time since she kissed a girl: the chance of romance in sleepy Wells is rarer than a barking sheep. If she doesn’t think too hard, life is cosy, until a smart sports car barrels into town with the last woman Poppy wants to see behind the wheel. Beautiful Rosalyn Thorn was once Poppy’s high school BFF even though she was trouble. Then one day she abandoned Wells and Poppy without explanation. Now the highflier is back and bound to cause fresh havoc in the village and with Poppy’s heart; folk are not happy. Wells needs to wake up to the 21st century and Rosalyn can help, but old prejudices die hard. If they can be friends it could be the chance to make everyone’s happy ever after. Couldn’t it?

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Truth and Consequences by Sarah Madison (55-03-20-2016)

1) This was a tightly drawn, well executed plot - weaving paranormal elements into a mystery with an excellent use of an amnesia plot device. The interplay between the characters was believable and compelling. I want to read more!

2) Fans of Lee and John can't miss this installment in their story. Madisons superior imagination comes through and if you aren't in love with these two at the beginning, you will be by the end.

Truth and Consequences (The Sixth Sense #3) by Sarah Madison
Gay Paranormal Romance
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (October 14, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 163476627X
ISBN-13: 978-1634766272
Amazon: Truth and Consequences (The Sixth Sense #3)
Amazon Kindle: Truth and Consequences (The Sixth Sense #3)

Sequel to Walk a Mile

The Sixth Sense: Book Three

When FBI agent Jerry Lee Parker wakes from a coma after a murderous attack on his life, he has no memory of his immediate past. In the blink of an eye, he has gone from having a nearly photographic memory to recalling nothing of the last six months of his life, including his partner and lover, John Flynn. While Lee tries to reboot his past and reconnect with John, there are events at play around him he doesn't understand. John is keeping secrets from him, secrets that could get them both killed.

Matters come to a head when Lee is hounded to turn over a mysterious artifact, of which he has no knowledge. The two men wind up in a fight for their lives as they risk everything to keep the powerful relic out of the hands of a ruthless killer. In order to protect those he loves, however, John may be forced to make a deal with the devil.

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Penalty Shot (Hat Trick #3) by Jeff Adams (270-08-14-2016)

1) Simon and Alex are featured in Penalty Shot. From the beginning of the book to the end it's hard to put the book down: the characters are fresh, interesting and likeable, I hope we'll read more of the hockey playing couple in other books.

2) Mr. Adams made me tear up or ugly cry on four separate occasions between Penalty Shot and Reunion. However, I can not think of a more fitting end to this fabulous series.

Penalty Shot (Hat Trick #3) by Jeff Adams
Gay Contemporary Romance
Series: Hat Trick
Paperback: 344 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 2, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1515308138
ISBN-13: 978-1515308133
Amazon: Penalty Shot (Hat Trick #3)
Amazon Kindle: Penalty Shot (Hat Trick #3)

Life has a sneaky way of checking you into the boards.

The relationship that began when Simon Roberts and Alex Miller were in high school is about to cross another milestone as they start their final year at the University of Michigan. It’s been four amazing years of love, friends, and hockey.

Now it’s time to help pay it forward.

When a talented sixteen-year-old goalie is denied placement on a youth league roster, he asks Simon and Alex to coach a team of LGBT youth and allies. With the determination, hard work, and help of an amazing group of friends, they rally the team towards a winning season.

In the final installment of the best-selling Hat Trick trilogy, Simon and Alex find everything they’ve worked so hard for is in jeopardy. When they’re thrown a devastating curve ball, the far-reaching implications put their entire future together on the line.

NOTE: The paperback edition also contains the short stories, Hat Trick Overtime: Summer Camp and Hat Trick Overtime: Reunion.

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: The Tyack & Frayne Mystery Series (379-09-02-2016)

1) Every detail of this fantastic and fascinating novella series is so vivid and three dimensional that I felt like I was actually there! I absolutely LOVED this collection!

2) You can't go wrong with Harper Fox. Her Tyack & Frayne Mysteries are each supberb stories in their own rights. However, taken together they are sublime.

Once Upon A Haunted Moor, Tinsel Fish, Don’t Let Go, Kitto, Guardians Of The Haunted Moor, Third Solstice (The Tyack & Frayne Mystery Series, 6 novellas as 1 submission) by Harper Fox
Gay Contemporary Romance

Once Upon A Haunted Moor by Harper Fox
Publisher: FoxTales (October 30, 2013)
Amazon Kindle: Once Upon A Haunted Moor

Gideon Frayne has spent his whole working life as a policeman in the village of Dark on Bodmin Moor. It’s not life in the fast lane, but he takes it very seriously, and his first missing-child case is eating him alive. When his own boss sends in a psychic to help with the case, he’s gutted – he’s a level-headed copper who doesn’t believe in such things, and he can’t help but think that the arrival of clairvoyant Lee Tyack is a comment on his failure to find the little girl.

But Lee is hard to hate, no matter how Gideon tries. At first Lee’s insights into the case make no sense, but he seems to have a window straight into Gideon’s heart. Son of a Methodist minister, raised in a tiny Cornish village, Gideon has hidden his sexuality for years. It’s cost him one lover, and he can’t believe it when this green-eyed newcomer stirs up old feelings and starts to exert a powerful force of attraction.

Gideon and Lee begin to work together on the case. But there are malignant forces at work in the sleepy little village of Dark, and not only human ones – Gideon is starting to wonder, against all common sense, if there might be some truth in the terrifying legend of the Bodmin Beast after all. As a misty Halloween night consumes the moor, Gideon must race against time to save not only the lost child but the man who’s begun to restore his faith in his own heart.

Tinsel Fish by Harper Fox
Publisher: FoxTales (December 20, 2013)
Amazon Kindle: Tinsel Fish

Christmas in a Cornish seaside town, bright lights and a hot new romance to ward off the winter storms... What could be finer? But Gideon and Lee’s first festive season together is shockingly interrupted when Lee tries to rid a client’s home of a malevolent presence. The ritual goes wrong, and in its aftermath Lee is strangely altered. As well as dealing with the changes in his lover, Gideon has a sinister thread to follow, linking the haunted house with disappearances among the homeless people of Falmouth.

Can love withstand what looks like a case of possession? As the darkest night of the year comes down, Gideon finds himself locked in a battle to restore his lover’s soul.

Don’t Let Go by Harper Fox
Publisher: FoxTales (February 11, 2014)
Amazon Kindle: Don’t Let Go

What’s haunting Lee Tyack? He’s moved in with Gideon Frayne, and they’re both loving their new lives. But the shadow is still there – a voice from hell that torments clairvoyant Lee, and which even the pragmatic copper Gideon can hear.

Gideon’s determined to protect his lover. But after a serious injury on duty, Gideon finds out the hard way that he needs protection too. His job’s on the line and he’s scared. Worst of all, he thinks he knows who that voice belongs to – and he can’t stop Lee from heading off to confront this most terrifying ghost from his past.

When the full spring moon rises over Cornwall’s rugged coast, and the veil between the worlds grows thin, Tyack and Frayne must join forces to solve a decades-old mystery that still has the power to tear their world apart.

Kitto by Harper Fox
Publisher: FoxTales (June 20, 2014)
Amazon Kindle: Kitto

Now Lee is free from the malevolent ghost of Morris Hawke, his clairvoyant gifts are expanding fast. Too fast for comfort, and he and Gideon find themselves wrestling with his unsettling capacity to see the future. In some ways this new power is wonderful, and Lee finds himself a local hero after predicting a flood.

But there’s one aspect he can’t bear, and that’s the blind spot he sees when he thinks about the wedding plans he and Gideon have started to make. It’s as if this event, which he wants more than life, simply isn’t going to happen. He’s troubled and stressed out, and Gideon decides to intervene, whisking him off to an isolated creekside cabin in the mysterious Cornish ria country. All is peaceful there, and the clamour in Lee’s head subsides. It’s time for companionship, peace, good food and plenty of sex...

Then a young man wanders out of the woods and turns their blissed-out retreat into chaos. Kitto is harmless – a charming drifter, very handsome. To Gideon he’s just a kid, flesh and blood and a bit of a nuisance. But Lee reacts with horror. Since when can Gideon – Lee’s rock, his connection to the real world and sanity – see ghosts?

Mysterious midsummer is rising in the deep green Cornish countryside, and as the village gears up for the eerie Golowan festival, Lee and Gideon face their toughest case yet: a battle between the real and spirit worlds that threatens to tear their own apart.

Guardians Of The Haunted Moor by Harper Fox
Publisher: FoxTales Publications (August 1, 2015)
Amazon Kindle: Guardians Of The Haunted Moor

The wedding is just the beginning…

Gideon and Lee have spent a year in chaotic married bliss, with all the trimmings – a dog, tricky in-laws, and a baby girl they both adore. But even the best of lives can be fragile, and a shocking family loss hits their new world like a demolition ball.

Gideon has little energy left to investigate a murder that’s taken place in the fields outside Dark. He still has his duties to his community, though, and with Lee at his side, he begins to unfold the mysterious death of Farmer John Bowe. It’s harvest time, ancient West Country magic in the air, and rumours are flying through the village of an enemy Gideon thought he’d left behind long ago.

Can the beast of Bodmin possibly be real? Everything in Gideon’s stoical police-sergeant’s nature says no. But Lee has taught him to see the world differently, and now they must pool their resources to unmask a killer before more lives are lost – and somehow find a way to mend their shattered family, too.

Third Solstice by Harper Fox
Publisher: FoxTales Publications (December 17, 2015)
Amazon Kindle: Third Solstice

Gideon’s managed to swing a few festive days off, and he and Lee are looking forward to celebrating their little girl’s first birthday. But duty calls, and Gideon is too good an officer to ignore the summons. He finds himself on the streets of Penzance, helping police the midwinter Montol celebrations.

It’s his third winter solstice with Lee, and disturbance, danger and magic are in the air. His daughter is beginning to show some remarkable gifts, and not all the family can cope with them. As the Montol festivities reach their fiery heights, will Lee and Gideon find a way to keep those they love best on the right side of the solstice gate?

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Witches of London: Lars by Aleksandr Voinov (389-09-04-2016)

1) Lovely and unexpected. Had me tearing up in several places. I particularly enjoyed the mastery displayed in bringing life to pagan rituals, incorporating them in a nuanced way to make them believable. This was the complete package for me - fresh plot, accessible language, well conceived characters, over arcing themes of faith, love, sacrifice. Well done.

2) An interesting combination of modern-day London and ancient Gods of the Northern Path, “Lars” explores the world of pagan religion and the real-life ramifications of what happens when a God chooses bestow his attention upon a real believer. The author brings London, as well as other-worldly realms, to life with ample sensory detail and socio-political commentary on the implication of being gay in certain Pagan groups. A thoroughly entertaining read.

Witches of London: Lars by Aleksandr Voinov
Gay Paranormal Romance
Publisher: 44 Raccoons (August 7, 2016)
Amazon Kindle: Witches of London: Lars

Some problems you can’t solve with magick—and some you can.

After a homophobic pagan group rejected him, Lars Kendall is a solitary heathen on the Northern Path, loyal to the gods of the Norse pantheon. But being on his own sucks. So when he finally meets a mixed group of other queer witches and magick-users, it’s like finding family. If family involved exploring past lives and casting spells.

Rhys Turner quit a stressful job in the City after his high-strung boyfriend of six years walked out. He sold the expensive flat in central London and bought a run-down house out in the suburbs. Never mind that it needs walls knocked down, its garden landscaped, and what the hell is up with that carpet?

With his health failing, Rhys is desperate for a clean slate and a new start. He isn’t ready to fall in love with anybody, least of all the hunky builder who looks like he’s stepped out of a TV show about Vikings—tattoos, long hair, and all. But as strong and loyal as Lars is, he also has a very soft heart, which might be the hardest thing for Rhys to resist.

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: It's a Sin by Steve Burford (272-08-14-2016)

1) Narrated from the third person point of view, the book is Intelligent, anti-stereotype, humorous, heartbreaking, surprising, quiet, unapologetic, showing the imperfections of the characters, the circumstances they find themselves in, and the decisions they sometimes make in attempts to deal with it all. The characters come out of the page and grab you. The twists and turns of the plot will hook you from page one. I could not put it down! I read it all at once and would certainly recommend the book to anyone who likes a modern day mystery.

2) This was a British police procedural (is this a UK term?) rather than a romance and quite refreshing for it. The plot was well worked although the ending became a little complicated. Characters were perhaps a bit too typical of their type with many of the usual traits ascribed to British police. The setting was well done and felt authentic.

3) Good police procedural and very interesting relationship between the newly-minted Inspector and Sergeant. I'll be keeping an eye out for this series. 

It's a Sin (Summerskill and Lyon #1) by Steve Burford
Gay Mystery / Thriller
Series: Summerskill and Lyon
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: NineStar Press (August 4, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1911153773
ISBN-13: 978-1911153771
Amazon: It's a Sin (Summerskill and Lyon #1)
Amazon Kindle: It's a Sin (Summerskill and Lyon #1)

“He is a talented and very promising young policeman. Make no mistakes, he deserves the promotion.” But when gay Detective Sergeant Dave Lyon is assigned to Detective Inspector Claire Summerskill’s team as part of the Service’s ‘positive discrimination policy’, no-one at Foregate Street Station is happy. And that includes Summerskill and Lyon. Mutual suspicion and mistrust must be shelved however, when a young man’s beaten body is found on a canal tow path, and a dead-end case of ‘happy slapping’ unexpectedly turns into a murder investigation. Why would someone want to kill middle class arts student Jonathan Williams? And how is his death linked to that of rent boy and would be ‘adult’ film star Sean? As Summerskill and Lyon’s investigations proceed, the newly-promoted detectives begin to untangle a web of connections, false assumptions and sheer prejudices that force them both to question closely not just their relationship with each other but with the rest of their colleagues at Foregate Street Station and with the Police Service as a whole. “It’s A Sin” is the first in the “Summerskill and Lyon” police procedural novels.

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Rag and Bone by K.J. Charles (134-06-05-2016)

1) I felt totally immersed in this world, even without having read any other books in the series. The magic was interesting, the "monster" suitably horrifying, but mostly it was the day-to-day details of life that caught me and dragged me in. And some lovely characters, too!

2) A relatively short story but the characterization is excellent and so is the world-building. The rules of this paranormal universe are made clear without lectures, the feelings the characters have for each other shine bright and clear without any unnecessary "telling." Nice conclusion that leaves the series open for more stories.

Rag and Bone by K.J. Charles
Gay Fantasy Romance
Paperback: 216 pages
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd. (June 7, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1619234742
ISBN-13: 978-1619234741
Amazon: Rag and Bone
Amazon Kindle: Rag and Bone

It’s amazing what people throw away…

Crispin Tredarloe never meant to become a warlock. Freed from his treacherous master, he’s learning how to use his magical powers the right way. But it’s brutally hard work. Not everyone believes he’s a reformed character, and the strain is putting unbearable pressure on his secret relationship with waste-man Ned Hall.

Ned’s sick of magic. Sick of the trouble it brings, sick of its dangerous grip on Crispin and the miserable look it puts in his eyes, and sick of being afraid that a gentleman magician won’t want a street paper-seller forever—or even for much longer.

But something is stirring among London’s forgotten discards. An ancient evil is waking up and seeking its freedom. And when wild magic hits the rag-and-bottle shop where Ned lives, a panicked Crispin falls back onto bad habits. The embattled lovers must find a way to work together—or London could go up in flames.

This story is set in the world of the Charm of Magpies series.

Warning: Contains a warlock who needs to go straight (but isn’t), a waste-man running out of patience, blood magic, bad-tempered justiciars, and a pen with a mind of its own.

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: In Deep by Adam Fitzroy (72-04-04-2016)

1) Plot was a bit slow to get moving, as the reader doesn't learn the protagonist's goal/agenda for far too many pages, imho. Once that comes out, the stakes are clear and this complex "isolated village" story lights up. The fierce setting is a major character in the story, literally a force of nature. The nuanced and believable main characters are well drawn in a writing style both dense and elegant, especially the protagonist. I thoroughly enjoyed this poignant, measured, thoughtful read. A very satisfying mystery.

2) This was a carefully constrained story, unfolding step by step as the protagonist searches for answers in the death of his step son. Fitzroy does a beautiful job creating a world isolated both geographically and emotionally, the characters are roughly hewn from the landscape and finely detailed and nuanced in character so that everything, every step the protagonist takes, seems compelling and inevitable, and the love affair realistic.

3) I loved the writing style and the realism of the book. It was slower moving, but highly entertaining.

4) A premise (and a cover) I've seen more than once, but this story stands out because its slightly older protagonists are convincingly mature and thoughtful. Good plot, fine attention to detail, and characters who actually think before they act. A nice change from the impulsive and often dim-witted youngsters in many stories.

In Deep by Adam Fitzroy
Gay Mystery / Thriller
Publisher: Manifold Press (November 2, 2015)
Amazon Kindle: In Deep

Arriving on a remote Scottish island to investigate an unexplained death, Ted Harris finds himself entangled in the life of the community – and becomes attracted to Athol, his enigmatic landlord. Soon they’re working together, depending on each other for survival in perilous circumstances, and slowly unravelling the mystery. Will they ever figure out exactly how and why Kieran Parnes died and who was responsible for his death, and what will it do to the island – and to the tentative beginnings of their relationship – if they tell anybody what they know?

Rainbow Awards Guidelines: http://www.elisarolle.com/rainbowawards/rainbow_awards_2016.html

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Tackling the Tight End by Tara Lain (045-03-17-2016)

1) Tackling the Tight End was a fun, sensitive, and thought-provoking read. I enjoyed it all the way through. There were moments that made me chuckle aloud, moments that made me wonder about the fates of Raven and Dennis, and, of course, there were moments that got delightfully steamy. Highly enjoyable and definitely recommended!

2) I really loved this book and although this is part of a series it is possible to read this book without having read the others. Readers should know that this book does touch on subjects that may be difficult for some to read.

3) A much better story than I expected from the title.

Tackling the Tight End (The Long Pass Chronicles) by Tara Lain
Gay Romantic Suspence
Paperback: 216 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (January 15, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1632162636
ISBN-13: 978-1632162632
Amazon: Tackling the Tight End (The Long Pass Chronicles)
Amazon Kindle: Tackling the Tight End (The Long Pass Chronicles)

A Novel in the Long Pass Chronicles

Everyone wants the best for SCU student and tight end Raven Nez―and they know exactly what that is. Enter the NFL draft, become a big football hero, promote his tribe’s casino, and make a lot of money to help people on the reservation. Just one problem. Raven’s gay and he really wants to work with gay kids. Plus he figures a gay Native tight end will get flattened in the NFL. Then the casino board hires a talented student filmmaker to create ads for the tribal business and asks Raven to work with him. But the filmmaker is Dennis Hascomb, a guy with so much to hide and a life so ugly it’s beyond Raven’s understanding. Still he’s drawn to Dennis's pain and incredible ability to survive. Captivated by Raven’s stories of the two-spirited and by the amazing joy of finally having a friend, Dennis knows he has to break free from everything he’s ever been taught was good―but that’s a struggle that could kill him and Raven too. Is there a chance for “the great red hope” and the “whitest guy on earth”? A future for the serpent and the raven?

Rainbow Awards Guidelines: http://www.elisarolle.com/rainbowawards/rainbow_awards_2016.html

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Blow Down by J.L. Merrow (181-07-21-2016)

1) This is a British mystery novel - complete with all the British spelling and slang - that stars newly engaged plumberTom Paretski and his fiancé Phil Morrison, a private investigator. Hired to find a missing necklace, they stumble on the corpse of Amelia Fenchurch-Majors. The list of suspects are many: Amelia's step-daughter, Amelia's husband, Amelia's business partner, Amelia's brother. It even includes a bishop! As our protagonists decipher all the clues, they find themselves pulled in all directions - both from the families involved and also from their desire to form a family of their own. Even though this book is the 4th on a series, it's a stand alone book. No need to read the three others to enjoy it fully. The writer narrates the story from the first person point of view and the story is well developed. The characters are alive - the dialogue is phonetically British complete with its slang. I might had included a glossary for those of us who did not grow in Britain. Even though there is explicit homosexual sex, it's neither erotic nor pornographic. I was engaged from the beginning and enjoyed the book greatly. Highly recommended for those who like mysteries.

2) I love this series so much I had to reread the first three before I dove into this one. Such an odd premise for a series just works in every way. All of the characters have personality and so do the settings. Hoping book five has a wedding for the boys.

3) This was a delightful story, full of snappy, humorous dialogue and vivid characters. I laughed out loud more than once, and I really enjoyed the well-crafted mystery.

4) A good strong mystery story with well-delineated, likeable characters, in a setting so beautifully realized that I feel I was there.  The characters draw me in, such as the straight guys who don't want to be told what the gay guys get up to in the bedroom, but are happy to have a pint in the pub with them.  Merrow's craft at characterization is particularly evident in how quickly she depicts the villainess' personality in a few deft paragraphs.

Blow Down (The Plumber's Mate #4) by J.L. Merrow
Gay Mystery / Thriller
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd. (July 12, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1619235803
ISBN-13: 978-1619235809
Amazon: Blow Down (The Plumber's Mate #4)
Amazon Kindle: Blow Down (The Plumber's Mate #4)

Death is what happens while you're making other plans.

The Plumber's Mate Mysteries, Book 4

The last thing newly engaged plumber Tom Paretski needs is to stumble over another dead body. He's got enough on his mind already as the reality of his impending marriage sinks in. Not only is his family situation complicated, his heroism at a pub fire made him a local celebrity. Now everyone and their uncle wants a piece of his psychic talents.

Hired to find a missing necklace, Tom and his fiancé, private investigator Phil Morrison, wind up trying to unmask a killer-and there's no shortage of suspects, up to and including the local bishop himself.

As Tom and Phil try to uncover the truth, they find themselves pulled in all directions by the conflicting pressures of their families and their own desires. But the murderer they're up against is a ruthless schemer who won't hesitate to kill again. If Tom and Phil aren't careful, their love-and all their plans for the future-could be blown down like a house of straw.

Warning: Contains a bishop of questionable Christian charity, a necklace of questionable taste, and a plumber of questionable nationality who may be running out of time.

Rainbow Awards Guidelines: http://www.elisarolle.com/rainbowawards/rainbow_awards_2016.html

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: To Love a Traitor by J.L. Merrow (178-07-21-2016)

1) A deceptively quiet book that does more than tell a love story. Historical detail is succinct and well placed, and there is an overall tone of sweetness, despite the setting. In particular, I enjoyed Merrow's handling of George and Matthew's sexuality, and the equitable friendship that developed between them before they gave into mutual attraction.

2) Although a re-writing of an existing story, well done, wonderful characters, excellent writing.

3) Loved the historical details - very grounded and very well done.

4) I like historical novels, and the description of post Great War Britain is pitch-perfect, absolutely convincing to this Yankee.  It is a bit (too) reminiscent of contemporaneous "love-that- dare-not-speak-its-name" novels of the period, up to and including a suicide, so it doesn't feel as sharply original as other Merrow stories.  Still, a fine read.

To Love a Traitor by J.L. Merrow
Gay Historical Romance
Paperback: 200 pages
Publisher: Samhain Publishing (September 15, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1619231506
ISBN-13: 978-1619231504
Amazon: To Love a Traitor
Amazon Kindle: To Love a Traitor

Wounds of the heart take the longest to heal. When solicitor's clerk George Johnson moves into a rented London room in the winter of 1920, it's with a secret goal: to find out if his fellow lodger, Matthew Connaught, is the wartime traitor who cost George's adored older brother his life. Yet as he gets to know Matthew-an irrepressibly cheerful ad man whose missing arm hasn't dimmed his smile-George begins to lose sight of his mission. As Matthew's advances become ever harder to resist, George tries to convince himself his brother's death was just the luck of the draw, and to forget he's hiding a secret of his own. His true identity-and an act of conscience that shamed his family. But as their mutual attraction grows, so does George's desperation to know the truth about what happened that day in Ypres. If only to prove Matthew innocent-even if it means losing the man he's come to love. Warning: Contains larks in the snow, stiff upper lips, shadows of the Great War, and one man working undercover while another tries to lure him under the covers.

Rainbow Awards Guidelines: http://www.elisarolle.com/rainbowawards/rainbow_awards_2016.html

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Two Natures by Jendi Reiter (298-08-20-2016)

1) For this novel to be Ms. Jendi's first I found it super fantastic. The topic in question is one that, as many say, it's not an easy one to tackle. But Jendi has built a great world within these pages. It is heart-breaking and yet satisfying in the end. It is a well done, well-written book, one that will leave you wanting more out of it. The protagonists, as well as all the people involved within the pages, are quite likable and the reader is simply involved as part of the story. My hat's off to you, Ms. Jendi!

2) This is one of the best books I read for this year’s Rainbow awards. Beautifully written, it touched a chord in me that I can’t quite explain but I will be looking for more from this author.

Two Natures by Jendi Reiter
Gay Contemporary General Fiction
Paperback: 376 pages
Publisher: Saddle Road Press (September 15, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0996907424
ISBN-13: 978-0996907422
Amazon: Two Natures
Amazon Kindle: Two Natures

Jendi Reiter's debut novel offers a backstage look at the glamour and tragedy of 1990s New York City through the eyes of Julian Selkirk, an aspiring fashion photographer. Coming of age during the height of the AIDS epidemic, Julian worships beauty and romance, however fleeting, as substitutes for the religion that rejected him. His spiritual crisis is one that too many gay youth still face today. This genre-bending novel couples the ambitious political analysis of literary fiction with the pleasures of an unconventional love story. Vivid social realism, enriched by unforgettable characters, eroticism, and wit, make Two Natures a satisfying read of the highest sort.

Rainbow Awards Guidelines: http://www.elisarolle.com/rainbowawards/rainbow_awards_2016.html

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