November 22nd, 2016

andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Come Back To Me by Edmond Manning (404-09-05-2016)

1) The fifth book in a series I love. I'm not able to judge how it would stand on its own, but for me this was all that I appreciate in Manning's writing. There are moments of deep pain and of joy, humor that made me laugh out loud and plot surprises that I did not see coming. I would have loved the book to be twice as long, to see parts of the relationship between Vin and Mark that happened off the page. But that's mostly greed, since I wouldn't give up any of the parts that we did get to experience. Manning writes like no other author in this genre, and the result is an amazing, vivid, and gorgeously emotional ride.

2) Beautiful and heart tugging. Whether you have followed the journey of Vin Vanbly or not, you will love and hate this installment in his tale.

3) This was very much like the satisfying culmination of a long arduous time in college when you finally obtain your degree. The glorious dessert at the end of a fabulous meal that leaves you overstuffed and yet your tastebuds are so supremely happy with what they have just experienced they are willing to have "just a little nash." This was the earth-shattering, bone melting, world-rocking, spine-tingling, breath-stealing, fireworks exploding, brain wiping orgasm that romance authors write about, and mere mortals can only ever dream of experiencing. From the very beginning of the book, the Trigger Warnings page, which was handled very eloquently, and with much sensitivity on the part of the author, to every detail (both small and large), secret, and "big reveal," to the meat of the story, the plot with its intricate weaving and engraving of subplots and emotional daggers and mental exercises, this book took the reader on what could only be characterized as a feat of reading strength. Even the beautiful moment where the scene is canceled, Vin finally realizes what he can have, and his true name is revealed, is one that is so fraught with beautiful pain and unbearable love, relief, pleasure, and yes-the tension that only reveals itself when you are waiting for the other shoe to fall-that the reader can't help but feel as if their every response, action, reaction, and perspective is being altered mentally, emotionally, and spiritually by the growth, stretch, and depth revealed in the characters and their relationships in this book. Through all of that, however, the settings, so artfully described as to make the reader feel as if they are ones in the gleaming jacuzzi bathtub, or in the dirty garage, trying to come down from a particularly emotionally harrowing scene, to the bedroom where dog toys are hidden and the scent of magical soap drifts out of the bathroom, and many more, the plot stays true. It is not burdened by too much information on the characters, or too much angst, or even a plot too heavy with too much promise without delivery, this is a book that fulfills every promise and supersedes them. It reveals not only the strength of the human spirit, but the depth of the human heart, and the sustainability of a "true king's" soul. And as with every story in this series, there is that one perfect sentence that is pertinent, not only for the book, but for life. And this one came almost at the end of the book: "Absorbing someone's story can do that to you-weigh you down. It can also free trapped parts of yourself, but first, you have to let it weigh you down." What a beautiful story. From the rich development of the characters, to the vivid description of the settings, to the effervescent plot sprinkled with darkness and cold reality, even with its heartwrenching memories and retellings, its realistic descriptions, and its real consequences of action, inaction, violence, pain, and love, and with its glorious ending, this was a book that completely deserves the score of 40/40. What a magnificent job this author did in writing it. Thank you for sharing this with the readers.

Come Back To Me (The Lost and Founds #5) by Edmond Manning
Gay Erotic Romance
Series: The Lost and Founds
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Pickwick Ink Press; 1 edition (August 22, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0997860812
ISBN-13: 978-0997860818
Amazon: Come Back To Me (The Lost and Founds #5)
Amazon Kindle: Come Back To Me (The Lost and Founds #5)

After years of lying, scheming, and dangerous manipulation, Vin Vanbly finally gets what's coming to him: love. How can he survive unstoppable, uncontrollable love when his very nature demands he control everything? Clues about his one true love—tantalizingly hinted at in each of the books in The Lost and Founds series—come together in four life-changing stories. In No Kings, a sex hookup with a parking lot stranger reveals more about Vin’s life as a Lost King and his destiny than he could have dreamed. In King Fitch, Vin meets the last king in his long legacy, one final weekend before he withdraws from the world to an anonymous Latin American jungle. The Lost Ones recounts a terrifying kidnapping by street thugs from Vin’s past. In King Malcolm the Restorer, Vin’s mysterious relationship with his older brother—and the soul-crushing secret which drew them together—is finally revealed. Through it all, Vin Vanbly struggles to survive. But what if he is destined for more than mere survival? Is he finally ready to embrace the truth and remember who he was always meant to be? Once there were a tribe where every man was the one true king and every woman the one true queen…

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: All The Wrong Places by Ann Gallagher (202-07-24-2016)

1) This is a good story. The characters were interesting and when more of their history came out I wondered how the author would go about bringing them together. I liked that she started them out as friends first. This book is part of an ongoing series but can be read on its own.

2) This was my first story with asexual protagonists, and I thought it was interesting and well-handled. I'm often not a fan of stories with alternating first-person POVs, but I thought it did add an element of depth to the characters here, both of whom I felt were sympathetic and likeable. The secondary characters, even Zafir's son Tariq, seemed a little flat, however. I appreciated that Brennan's ex was not completely demonized, but I still didn't like the "Big Mis" section where, at Aimee's prompting, suddenly questions his relationship with Zafir - this seemed extremely abrupt and disjointed from the main plot. Overall, though, this was an enjoyable read on a less common topic.

All The Wrong Places (Bluewater Bay) by Ann Gallagher
Asexual Contemporary Romance
Series: Bluewater Bay (Book 14)
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Riptide Publishing (February 17, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1626494207
ISBN-13: 978-1626494206
Amazon: All The Wrong Places (Bluewater Bay)
Amazon Kindle: All The Wrong Places (Bluewater Bay)

Three cheating girlfriends in a row have given skateboarder Brennan Cross the same excuse: he wasn’t meeting their needs. Desperate and humiliated, he goes to the professionals at the local sex shop for advice.

Zafir Hamady, a sales clerk at Red Hot Bluewater, has an unusual theory: he doesn’t think Brennan is a bad lover. In fact, he doesn’t think Brennan is heterosexual. Or sexual at all, for that matter. He also can’t stop thinking about Brennan. But even if he’s right and Brennan really is asexual, that doesn’t mean Zafir has a chance. Brennan’s never dated a man, and Zafir’s never met anyone who’s game for a Muslim single father with a smart mouth and a GED.

Brennan’s always thought of himself as straight. But when sex is explicitly out of the mix, he finds himself drawn to Zafir for the qualities and interests they share. And Zafir can’t help enjoying Brennan’s company and the growing bond between Brennan and his son. They work well together, but with so many issues between them, doubts creep in, and Brennan’s struggle with his identity could push away the one person he didn’t know he could love.

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2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Whipping Boy by Jordan Brewer (244-08-02-2016)

1) The world the author depicts in this story is not a nice place, and I did find some of the scenes difficult to read because of it. The author doesn’t shy away from the brutality and consequences of this world but I think it made for a stronger story. The characters are very likeable—I particularly liked Amberlyn, Gabriel’s sister, and some of the minor characters really came into their own toward the end of the story. The peril also felt very real. I sat up very late to finish the story as I was worried that some of the characters wouldn’t survive. I thought the ending was realistic as a traditional HEA wouldn’t have worked and it would have taken away from the rest of the story.

2) Once I started reading this, I was sucked so deep into the story I didn't even look up once. Some of it hit me so hard I actually started sobbing!

Whipping Boy by Jordan Brewer
Gay Sci-fi / Futuristic
Publication Date: April 13, 2016
Amazon Kindle: Whipping Boy

Prince Marc Vincent of Kentuckiana is being torn in two. His father the king is dying, and Marc’s legacy is a war ravaged economy, a soul-weary populace who blames his family for their troubles, and a rising tide in favor of a theocracy.

Bishop Waysmith, Marc’s implacable enemy, runs the Church of Jesus Christ Purified with an iron hand. He’s intent on installing Marc’s uncle, Duke Roberts, on the throne. But he can only do that if he can prove Marc unfit for succession.

Marc’s survived assassination so far, thanks to his Companion and lover, Gabriel Shea, and his dedicated guards. Homosexuality is a capital offense, and if the bishop obtains evidence of the affair between Marc and Gabriel, Marc would lose the throne. And since royalty’s person is inviolate, any physical punishment must fall on the Prince’s Companion… and Gabriel would lose his life.

To survive, Marc and Gabriel must expose the church as corrupt, or prevent the secret of Marc’s sexuality from being revealed…even if it means abandoning his relationship with Gabriel, if Prince Marc really has to give up all chance at love to save his people.
WARNING: This is not a BDSM book. Whipping Boy is used in its classic sense as a discipline surrogate for a royal personage. Contains graphic descriptions of gay and heterosexual sex as well as depictions of torture. Presents organized religion in an unflattering light. For mature readers only.

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2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: The Edge of Control by Lou Kelly (338-08-28-2016)

1) Once again, this author has impressed me. Each character, including secondaries, were well rounded and felt real. The story moved quick, but not insta-love, and the suspense portion delivered perfectly. You could imagine yourself in the corridors of this hospital, watching the drama unfold.

2) Written from the first person point of view, it was a delightful and heartwarming book, I absolutely and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. This book really grabs a reader and personally I could not put this book down until I finished reading it. The plot is well thought of, the characters jump out of the page and grab you. I recommend it highly!

3) I've not read a hospital drama for ages and what a rollercoaster ride this book was. Although, on occasion, it seemed as though the 2 MCs were going to drown in plot overload, this book had me engaged from start to finish. I loved the supporting cast of Ian's family and how they interacted with him, and David's stalwart friend, Caroline. Written in first person, David's voice is engaging, warm and, at times, humorous. I've not read anything by this author before but will be doing so in the future.

4) This book grabbed me from the first paragraph.  A fine balance of budding romance, steamy lust, skillfully-woven intrigue, villains, triumph-over-evil, all-embracing family, cute kids, rags-to-riches, heart of gold prostitute makes good, heart-pounding love to the rescue, all overlaid with a world where LGBT people are seen for what we can accomplish and those who would abuse us are dealt a harsh blow.  What's not to like??  A perfect score!

The Edge of Control by Lou Kelly
Gay Romantic Suspence
Paperback: 328 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (June 1, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 153362660X
ISBN-13: 978-1533626608
Amazon: The Edge of Control
Amazon Kinlde: The Edge of Control

When passion pushes David Carlson into dangerous territory will he walk the razor’s edge between life and death in order to be with the man he loves? As the youngest Chief of Medicine at Southside General Hospital, David Carlson has no business lusting after the most hostile nurse on the ER staff. A professional, hard-working, over-achiever, he’s finally realized his life-long dream of promotion, and the last thing he needs now are complications. But he can’t help being intrigued by the enigmatic Ian James. Not only is Ian flat-out gorgeous, he’s also mysterious. And he awakens in David a passion that he hasn’t felt since … well, ever. Unfortunately, Ian James is a man with a dangerous past and an even more dangerous present, and loving him will come at a cost. Can David trust him? Is he willing to put his entire career on the line to protect a man who might be playing him? Is Ian capable of loving and trusting him back? Discovering the truth will take David into the heart of blackmail, corruption, and scandal. Straight to the edge of control.

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2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: David, My David by Eduard Qualls (410-09-12-2016)

1) The leisurely writing style takes a little getting into, but it's worth the effort. Excellent, painful, and timely. Americans need to read this.

2) This debut is written in an elegiac strain. We have not only a tattooed survivor of the Holocaust but also an AIDS patient and a gay-bashing. I really wanted to like the book a lot. But I couldn't. The author makes some amateur mistakes.Too many exclamation points where none are needed. The prose is extremely purple. Many typos (staunch for stanch, shpiel for spiel, proffered for offered, and so on). Too many clumsy explications of German (or Hebrew) to English. The author assumes knowledge of music (which I have) that the ordinary reader won't have. That would be fine, if it wasn't explicated (at times) or assumed (at others). But I can't hate on this. I see how heartfelt the book is. For this, I love it. And love what he's aiming for. I really love the intention. The execution--not so much. I would love, though, to encourage the author to test his limits and join a writing class. I don't know whether he's young or old. If old, then all praise for the testament. If young, though, please keep writing! Even William Faulkner wrote a bad first book.

David, My David by Eduard Qualls
Gay Historical
Paperback: 372 pages
Publisher: Danaan Press (April 27, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1890000132
ISBN-13: 978-1890000134
Amazon: David, My David
Amazon Kindle: David, My David

"Hatred is the laziest form of cowardice.

Born in 1921 Germany, Eduard Meyer finds that, toward the end of his life's long journey he must, himself, deliver a gift, containing remnants of his arduous life's experiences, that he had promised to his American, Texas-born nephew.

That fulfillment of his promise, in 1995, frames the saga of Herr Meyer's life.

Within this exposition, he details his quest: the early discovery and development of his musical, keyboard prodigy, his early childhood bereavement, his harrowing experiences and traumatically maximal personal losses during the Hitler-time. Ultimately, after struggling through stress and depression, he must impart to that nephew the survivor's wisdom and knowledge that had arisen through his travails, that had carried him through all his trials.

This American nephew must face his own hate-riven era, the US-Reagan AIDS-hysteria of the 1980's. Only too late is Herr Meyer able to deliver the promised gift, the packet.

A story of personal triumph, of family cohesion and understanding, of an abiding faith in indestructible love and devotion, this saga does to hatred—to Anti-Semitism and homophobia, in particular—what Uncle Tom's Cabin did to slavery: it makes hatred intensely, inescapably personal.

A first-person narrative, readers will within it understand viscerally, unforgettably, its characters' forceful assertion that Hatred is the laziest form of cowardice.

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2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: A Royal Craving by Elaine White (009-02-16-2016)

I thought the world building was very good, and I enjoyed the writing style - very easy to read.

A Royal Craving by Elaine White
Gay Paranormal Romance
Paperback: 440 pages
Publisher: Encompass Ink (January 8, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1530067472
ISBN-13: 978-1530067473
Amazon: A Royal Craving
Amazon Kindle: A Royal Craving

Poor and deaf, Spencer struggles to live in a new world. In search of hope, aged just thirteen, he defies the city and his parents, to visit the prophetess. After promises of a struggle between a path to death and a path to love, he's left with a token of the risk he took. Five years later, Spencer chooses a path that leads him straight into Prosper's arms. Disfigured, the vampire King sees himself as nothing but a monster to haunt Spencer's nightmares. Can a simple human bring Prosper out of the shadows and back into a world that desperately needs his guidance?

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2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Sharing a Pond by Alex Whitehall (218-07-26-2016)

As shifters go, this is a new one for me. Frogs? Some might cringe at the idea. I didn't mind it one bit. Different is good. Shall we call Brent, one of the shifters, a trans, since he shifted for the first time from a girl to a guy? This is a well-done romance, cute, with a lot of caring toward their third (Brent). This was beautifully done and the poly relationship was done tastefully and beautifully. Well done and would recommend it.

Sharing a Pond by Alex Whitehall
Gay Paranormal Romance
Paperback: 200 pages
Publisher: Less Than Three Press (October 21, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1620046407
ISBN-13: 978-1620046401
Amazon: Sharing a Pond
Amazon Kindle: Sharing a Pond

Brent shows up on Corey and Shane's doorstep in the dead of winter needing a place to stay—and hopeful his mates will provide it, and not mind he's a frog shifter. Being a shifter is nothing new to Corey and Shane, but neither is being mates. They've been together since before they first met Brent ten years ago—back when Brent was Brenda. Bringing a third into their relationships is more than a little complicated, but they're willing to try. But change is always easier said than done, and Brent wonders if he ever really stood a chance at being happy with the men he has always loved and admired.

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2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Time: Wounds All Heal by Princess S.O. (203-07-24-2016)

1) After I'd read the first few pages I wondered where this was going, I even became bored, but soon after Princess blew my mind with this story. Wow! What a trip this was! And the oddest thing was that soon after reading the scene where IS bombs the hospitals in Syria I took a break, turned to the news online and my jaw hit the floor. A bombing at a hospital in Syria had just happened! The break I was going to take was cut short. I had to come back to Princess' story and continue reading. Loved it! But the one thing I loved most was the actual references she included throughout. Very entertaining, fast-paced, never a dull time (after the first few pages). One downfall this book has. It's in Desperate need of editing. The grammar errors were too distracting.

2) This was a tight, fast paced, action packed rollercoaster that kept me glued to it from page one.

Time: Wounds All Heal (The Teddy Bear Collection #4) by Princess S.O.
Gay Romantic Suspence
Series: The Teddy Bear Collection
Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: Talon ps (April 3, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0692673865
ISBN-13: 978-0692673867
Amazon: Time: Wounds All Heal (The Teddy Bear Collection #4)
Amazon Kindle: Time: Wounds All Heal (The Teddy Bear Collection #4)

The Skeptic: “If all this had truly been staged, people would’ve figured it out and demanded the government come out about it.” The Journalist: “It’s easy to fool a person— It’s quite another to convince them they’ve been fooled.” Even with the blanket of tattoos that covered both his arms and most of his upper chest, or the face hidden under the hair that constantly fell over his eyes, Channing Maroussas was likely the most beautiful man Chris Sayer had ever met. He was thankful they were close friends as it excused him for any lingering glances. Channing was a bird of brightly lit feathers perched in a world of darkness. But his gift wasn’t just about being beautiful; it was what he could see. He could be in a room full of people, a field emptied of life, reading a newspaper, or overhearing a conversation on the bus— and what was unseen and unheard by others spoke volumes to him. Channing saw what the rest of the world never slowed down long enough to notice, though once pointed out, furies and passions flourished. It was voices like Channing’s that broke the silence of ignorance. His voice just happened to be recorded between the pages of TIME magazine. Chris Sayer has known Channing for years. But not even that can broker some rules of silence. Chris’s government job is so secretive he can’t even tell his best friend who he works for, which doesn’t help his disagreement over Channing’s journalistic views on global current events. He likes it even less when he finds out Channing left for Syria to cover a story. After Channing accusing the leading presidential elective Nolan Prumpt of inciting hate mongering and fascism, a trip through the greatest hot zone on the planet was like wanting to wash a pill down with poison. But when news got out that Channing had gone missing, Chris knew better than to believe the accusations that his best friend may have changed sides and was now considered an enemy of the state. The one thing Chris did know was he needed to do everything in his power to find Channing before anyone else did. If for no other reason but to let him know how he feels about him. Time— it’s not long enough — yet with enough of it, wounds all heal.

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