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Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon

·         Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (May 6, 2014)

Discovered in an illicit affair with a visiting preacher, a n Ohio precher’s son is kicked out of the house and beaten to a pulp by his cousins.  He makes his way to a traveling carnival.  The carnixal manager takes him in and fast rakes him on as his lover.  When a number of missing and broken  items and start to plague the carnival, the young man is suspected, but ultimately, just as the carnival owner is about to respond to his aristocratic family’s summons to come home to England,  it all comes to a head.  All that is left is to learn if the show will go on without the owner and his preacher’s son lover.

This is tried and true Bonnie Dee and Summer Decon with just enough fantasy of lords and commoners to be satisfying.  The mystery revolving around the stolen and broken items is a good one, keeping the reader guessing, and the carnival owner’s torn loyalties are understandable and heart-wrenching.  If there was anything I did not care for, or, rather, puzzled the Hell out of me it was the carnival owner’s names, Grimstone and Lord Darkwell and his Lucifer-like appearance --  was there a point to this?

The characterization of the various carnival people is sublimely archetypal and true.  I recommend this book to anyone who had gotten used to De and Devon quality.



Bonnie Dee and, Summer Devon

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Publisher: Samhain Publishing (July 1, 2014)

This is one sweet novel. There is just enough recovery from isolation and disappointment to go around making fulfillment of the dreams so satisfying.

Gerard is a rake, traumatized by seeing his mother murdered, trying to forget it all in the life of a libertine. Miles is a lonely estate bailiff, never able to stay put in one place long to put down roots, which he could not do without a single love in his life anyway. They meet when another lost soul comes on the scene, Ipsial the nine-year old boy whose dying mother sends him to Gerard telling him he’s his father. The three need each other so desperately, you wonder if they can actually stop, listen and accept.

In steps the awful cousin Hubert who is vapid, greedy and vain. He wants Ipsial, who is actually his own son, more to blackmail Gerard or to have what he cares for than any real interest in the boy.
One very interesting thing about this book, which takes place in rural England in the 1880s is that there was a movement there and then that suggested that sexual relationships between the upper class and lower class males is the catalyst for crossing the class barrier and creating true democratic societies. This book and its main characters definitely bear this out.

There is a clever double meaning in the title.  Gerard is the gentleman, and Miles is mistakenly referred to as his "gamekeeper".

My favorite scene in terms of some very clever writing is when Hubert takes Ipsial for a walk in the garden. Hubert is trying to get something on his cousin Gerard to blackmail him with:
“You mean you’ve seen them touch?”

“First night here, Mr. Gerard and Mr. Kenway came to blows.”

“Oh. Well, that’s strange. A gentleman is set upon by his bailiff and yet keeps him in his employ? Are you certain you didn’t see them do anything besides fight? Maybe they were wrestling on the ground together, thrashing around and grunting in a… a playful way. Is that what you saw?”

“I saw Mr. Kenway punch Mr. Gerard in the jaw. A good ’un, too. Snapped his head right around. That what you mean?”

Miles smiled . He recognized Ipsial’s dry tone. It sounded exactly like Gerard’s. The boy knew perfectly well what he’d seen that night— men kissing. He was feigning ignorance for Hubert’s benefit. No. Not for Hubert’s, but for Miles and Gerard. The boy was protecting them. Miles’s heart swelled with affection for the child he’d once thought was a lost cause.

The boy’s answer seemed to take the wind from Hubert’s sails, but he gamely tried another tack. “I’m certain these two men you’re so fond of have shown you great affection. Are there any instances you can remember where one of them touched you— something beyond a pat on the head?”

White-hot rage blistered through Miles at the insinuation that either of them might have interfered with Ipsial. He was seconds away from charging out of the shadow of a tree like some wild bull and goring the despicable Hubert Gerard. But he maintained his calm and listened as Ipsial once again neatly turned the tables on his questioner.

“Had to go in the tub once, and Mr. Kenway and Mrs. Billings scrubbed my neck something fierce. I hate baths. If I went with you, would I get to stop taking ’em?”

Miles had no doubt that clever Ipsial was toying with the man like a cat with a mouse as the boy pressed on. “And would you let me shoot your rifle? Mr. Kenway taught me how to shoot and how to use a knife to skin things.”

Miles had never heard the boy lie so fluently. He felt appalled and proud. “I’m really good with a knife and so quiet I can sneak up on rabbits and catch them in a snare. Do you live where there’s animals to kill?”

“No. My home is in the city.” “Too bad. I like to kill things.” “At any rate , a young man of your age should be off at boarding school, meeting chums his own age and learning how to be a gentleman. I’m sure you’d do well in the classroom, a bright lad like you.” Hubert seemed to have caught on to the fact that Ipsial was vaguely threatening him and so offered to cage him with headmasters and vicious peers. Touché.

Ipsial suddenly abandoned all pretense. “Mr. Gerard may not want me here no more. But I’m not goin’ anywhere with you.” With that abrupt statement, he turned and ran off into the darkness, leaving Hubert staring after him.
Knowing what one does about the situation you can’t help but appreciate and admire the young boy’s cleverness and loyalty, and it is more than satisfying to hear him get the best of the scoundrel. And it is done with asperity and a careful hand on the part of the authors.   It is especially satisfying to see a child use his simplicity and innocence to get one over on the grown man.

 There is nothing extraneous whatever in this book. It is basically perfect.


WELLSPRING by Barry Brennessel


Barry Brennessel

Buy On Amazon.com

  • Amazon Digital Services, Inc. March 27, 2014

This is one haunting novel.

Aidan Royce visits  a old, decaying and abandoned spa in Northern New Hampshire.  He is found under a ledge by Sebastian, one of the members of the family that owns the property.  The mysteries start immediately when the two men are shot at and confront the shooter, Essen.  From this point we follow a circuitous but constantly intriguing set of mysteries around Aidan’s search to discover whatever happened to his brother Thad.  It is the early Great Depression and the events in history are the structure for what proves to be a painfully drawn out romance.

I hardly know where to start to praise this novel.  It is remarkably suspenseful with the crumbling spa, guest cabins, a forgotten book with Aidan’s mother’s handwriting in it, the backdrop of German spies during the Kaiser’s reign, a mute boy, and a threatening presence in the person of a tall, strange man.  There is not a moment that you are not on the edge of your seat waiting for just one more explanation.

I had a stroke last April and this book reproduced for me the sense of slight unreality  that I have since felt.  Just enough clues are offered but cut short to leave one still puzzling.  Slowly throughout the novel the author, Barry Brennessel, adds just a bit more from the past and present, revealing information from Aidan’s life to fill in the cracks.

If you don’t read this book you will miss out on one helluva great read with puzzles galore  and a sweet slow romance in a picturesque New England setting.  If I did stars, this book would get 6 out of 5.


DECEPTION by Grace R. Duncan


By Grace R. Duncan

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press; 1 edition (October 31, 2013)

The story immediately establishes the two main relationships, Bathasar and Teman and Cyrus and Nadir.  The first two are the ruler of a Middle Eastern city and the latter two pleasure slaves, like Teman.  The four come together when in 1096 AD there is rumor of an assassination attempt on the Malik Bathasar.  The latter determines that provoking the assassin by behaving in an outrageously lascivious way with his three sex slaves should bring the assassin and his sponsors to light.
 From this premise the story largely of the two main relationships begins.  Any combination of four lovers, mix and match, makes for troubled hearts, and while Bathasar and Teman manage to keep attached to each other, the pairing of Cyrus and Nadir is threatened by insecurity and divided ambitions.
 The result is one of the most relentlessly erotic tales I have ever read.  Each scene of love, lust and affection is exquisitely drawn, each touch, each kiss, each drawn out climb to orgasm, uniquely individual in nature.  I frankly don’t know how Duncan did it.  The book could be a  manual for how to write sex scenes between men.  There are even two women, lesbians, who are an invaluable part of the story as they allow Cyrus and Nadir to reach their couplehood.  As Cyrus struggles with his ambition not to be a slave and Nadir longs to be possessed, the two constantly worry at the implications for their relationship, requiring another exquisitely choreographed sex scene.
 The assassination attempt is always intertwined with the eroticism.  The four are together in order to protect the Malik after all.  Whether they will remain together once the assassin is revealed is part of the tension.  To top all this off, watching all four characters grow and reach their potential, including Bathasar, is a precise examination of character that is well worth sharing with them and the author
 But is it historical?  The date is stated, 1089 and 1096 AD, and the locale is Middle Eastern in description and culture. The names are a mix of Persian and Arabic, perfectly possible in this time period.  Also possible in the place and time is all that happens.  The male-male relationships may even have taken such a preeminent role in a city in this time and location.  I cannot fault the author for creating a sort of alternate history, if she in fact did. 
 Grace, your grace in crafting this story boggles my mind.  Brava bravissima.


WINTER DUET by Anne Barwell


Anne Barwell

Buy at Amazon.com.

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press; 1 edition (October 6, 2014)

I did not read the first book in this series, but that seems not to have been a problem as this one was thoroughly engrossing and a fine read.  It is a meticulously crafted love and adventure story set in the waning months of World War II as the Allies are months from overcoming the Third Reich.  The characters are soldiers and scientists from all over Europe and elsewhere.
  • Kristofer "Kit", with his charming name and nickname, is a nuclear scientist anxious to escape with the plans for an atomic bomb, a loyal German who simply does not want the Nazis to get a hold of the weapon.
  • Michel is a French Resistance fighter whose work to protect the plans for the bomb are complicated by his love for Kit and feeling the need to protect him.
  • Matt is an American soldier sent to locate the plans and retrieve them for the Allies.  He has nightmares about his house burning down and his family all being killed.
  • Ken is a soldier traveling with Matt who is also in love with him.
  • Liang is a British scientist with a Chinese father.
  • Leo is a New Zealander RAF pilot who is shot down in the Black Forest.
Then there are several SS officers, a collection of women who are related to or in love with our boys, and several other people, from a young boy to a Resistance doctor. who step in either to help or screw up the four main characters' mission.

If I have any complaint it is the names.  Kit and Ken. Matt and Max are just too close to keep track of, especially if one reads with one's ears, as do I.  Luckily the women all have longer more diverse names and the Nazis are similarly disparately named.  Thank heavens for Leo, is all I can say.

This is a wonderfully choreographed novel, nothing out of place, nothing wasted, and extremely entertaining and suspenseful.  The characters are distinct, in spite of the names, and one cares for them and wants them to survive and succeed.  It sounded to me like the time and places were all right on.  The racial diversity of the group is certainly credible if a tad forced.

The dialogue is affecting and realistic, all well done.

The reference to a "winter duet" is both clever and inventive and gives one an idea of the contents of a sequel.

And the good guys and bad guys all have white and black hats firmly affixed to the tops of their heads.  Though as far as I am concerned, Leo is the real hero.


Brynn Stern's BLOG TOUR for THROUGH THE YEARS! Giveaway!



Here’s how it works:

I’ve listed the tour stops below and have given either the link to the blog in general or to my post specifically. Feel free to stop by as many as you want. For each stop that you comment on, you will receive one entry to the giveaway. I’ll check all the stops numerous times throughout the tour and will draw five winners on Thanksgiving Day, so even if you come in late to the tour, you can go back through the list and comment on past stops.

I’m giving away five prizes. Prize 1) a signed paperback copy of Through the Years; Prizes 2 and 3) electronic copies of Through the Years, Prize 4) your choice of either a signed paperback copy or an audiobook of Living Again(the audiobook won’t be available until December), and Prize 5) an electronic copy of Haunted.

Blog Tour Stops for Through the Years
Blog Stop
Blog Owner
Blog Address
October 6
Anne Barwell
October 7
Grace Duncan
October 8
Jessica Skye Davies
October 9
Shira Anthony
October 10
Emma Tett
October 11
Kim Fielding
October 12
Bike Books Reviews
October 13
Tempest O’Riley
October 14
Sean Michael
October 15
Allison Cassatta
October 16
Jana Denardo
October 17
Louise Lyons
October 18
PD Singer
October 20
Shae Connor
October 21
Suki Fleet
October 27
Charlie Cochet
October 28
Elizabeth Noble
October 29
Tara Lain
October 31
Sophie Bonaste
November 4
Kit Moss
November 10
Lane Hayes
November 13
Mike Rupured

Blurb for Through the Years
Edward and Gene were instantly drawn to each other when they met at college in Maryland. Fast friends, they developed a "closer than brothers" relationship. But then Edward began to feel more for Gene. In 1967, those kind of feelings would not be tolerated. Not even by Edward himself.

Gene always thought he was asexual. He had never been attracted to anyone... until he met Edward. He dreamed of Edward as more than a friend throughout college, but he knew Edward would not welcome that kind of attention. So Gene wasn't surprised when Edward reacted badly to a drunken kiss just before Edward's graduation. He was surprised when Edward moved to Florida and had little to do with him for years afterward.

When fate finally brings them back together, Edward is married and has a little girl. Gene gladly accepts the role of "Uncle Gene," happy to have Edward in his life in any capacity. Together, they face all the trials and tribulations life throws at them, including the death of Edward's wife, and as each grows and matures, their life views change. The relationship they've secretly wanted all along is closer than ever, and if Edward can break free from his homophobic upbringing and admit his feelings for Gene, there might still be a chance for them to share their lives in the way they both desire. 

A Bittersweet Dreams title: It's an unfortunate truth: love doesn't always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.

Brynn Stein has always loved to write. Fan fiction, original fiction, whatever. While Brynn wrote in numerous genres – everything from mystery, to contemporary, to supernatural – she had always tended toward strong male characters. And then she discovered ‘slash’, male/male romance, and all those strong male characters were finally allowed to express their love for one another. It seems that there are always at least two characters clamoring to tell Brynn their story.
Brynn lives in Virginia with one of her two two-legged children, and two four-legged ones. Her supportive family encourages her writing and provides a sounding board for fledgling stories. When she isn’t writing, Brynn teaches children with special needs. In free time, when such a thing exists, she reads anything she can get her hands on, and haunts bookstores. She draws and paints, and enjoys the outdoors—especially if she can get to the beach—and is always thinking about her next story.
Please feel free to contact Brynn at any of the following:



MAN ON THE BRIDGE by Stephen Benatar

AN ON THE BRIDGE by Stephen Benatar


By Stephen Benatar

ISBN 13 978-1-62798-869-8

It was interesting to me to see Dreamspinner Pressbranch out into more serious literature with Stephen Benatar’s MAN ON THE BRIDGE.  I had heard comments about the imprint Bittersweet Dreams but this went beyond that to something actually important. The novel is neither HEA (happily ever after) nor HFN (happily for now) but addresses a great deal of pain and redemption in the final analysis.  I applaud Dreamspinner Press for producing this fifth edition of this remarkable, may I say, astounding novel.

John Wilmot meets the suave and rich Oliver Cambourne when he is no more than 19 in the year 1958 and quickly becomes his lover.  They reminded me of Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas, with the older man’s affection for the younger and the callousness of the younger man’s selfish regard in return.  There is a great deal of witty badinage in the first third of the book as Oliver and John jet about, almost literally, on Oliver’s checkbook, to Biarritz, and with no responsibility for John paying for anything.  One gets the sense that John in his way really cares about Oliver, but he talks himself into betraying the older man, with dire consequences.  That may sound like the plot of the novel but it is in fact about John’s guilt at those dire consequences and how he manages to deal with what he has done.

Benatar does an astounding job of showing the good and bad sides not only of the youthfully selfish John but the overcompensating Oliver who manages to belittle and demean John by turning him into a pet.  The gray areas of the mutual affection are quite well portrayed.  Even when John has moved on to his new life the selfishness and callousness keeps coming through.  What Oliver has done more wholly punishes John and one is left wondering if Oliver did that on purpose.  My eyes grew wider and wider as I realized just how poetic the justice was.  If John can find redemption given all that has happened, it will be a remarkable accomplishment.

One point made is that John does not believe he is homosexual and, in fact, marries a woman with whom he has a satisfying sex life.  That it is little more than that says more about the importance of the two man’s relationship than if John had only been interested in sex with the woman.  He is bisexual, yes, but that’s not the point of his bond with the important person in his life.  This may b the case with a huge number of people living now, but we are so polarized that we mistakenly insist on the either-or.

That all this happens at the time of the Wolfenden Report when the British finally realized how devastating their laws against homo sexual acts were is no coincidence.  The creative and artistic community in Britain took a very hard blow from its sensitive same sex loving man being imprisoned while the death penalty for murder was outlawed.  The irony of these two bits of jurisprudence comes through with the actions of the main characters.  Early in novel the “man on the bridge” is a painting by Oliver of a young man arrested for, tried for, found guilty for and executed for a murdered he did not commit simply, it is implied, because the real murderer was his male lover.  This single image informs the ironies, injustice and cruelties of the entire story.  It is painful to realize how recent this all took place.

Benatar handles all the excruciating details with sensitivity but lets the injustice hit the reader nonetheless.  This is not a novel that one will easily recover from, no less forget.

Gay Boys - Abstract by Jade