Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mini Reviews: M/M Romance Reading Challenge - Part Six

Dancing in the Dark by Jenna Byrnes

Vice Cop, Nick D'Amato is turning 40 and he and his buddies, Gil and Sam, are three gay cops in a sea of blue. They've had their share of fun and broken relationships, now Gil is feeling the weight of a long-term relationship going south, and Sam is in desperate mode looking for love wherever he can find it. Nick seems to be the only one who doesn't have a problem with being alone or with that upcoming birthday.

Nick is holding out.

William (Squeek) is a hustler who works the streets on Nick's beat. Will has become Nick's dirty little secret. A young man who refuses to change his lifestyle and take help from Nick, even when there is a serial killer on the loose, Will is Nick's obsession and his secret love.

Dancing in the Dark was erotic and dished out enough angst for my taste. Nick's obsession and love for Will are obvious and you can feel his pain, hurt feelings and his love for the young man, as well as his anxiety about the future. The suspense part of the story felt contrived, although it did not affect my overall enjoyment of this piece as it was not really the central part of the story.

Ms Byrne touches lightly on sexual addiction -- a subject key to the story that needed to be better fleshed out. Will's feelings for Nick were not as clearly defined even at the end, and the resolution to their conflict seemed rushed. This novella was a short but complete story with likable characters.

M/M Erotica: Grade B-
Find this book here.

Which Way to Dominance by Gavin Atlas (How the West Was Done Anthology by Editor Adam Carpenter)


Teddy has worked on the Lawson ranch and sheep farm going on four years now, since the age of 16. Roy is the ranch foreman and quite a despicable man who abuses Teddy. For all of his 20 years on this earth, Teddy hasn't had an easy life and doesn't ask for much. Teddy feels that all things considered, his life "could have been worse: and at least he has a job and isn't alone.

One stormy night, Roy sends Teddy to the airport to pick up the new ranch hand, Marco Belini. Marco becomes Teddy's bunkmate, and in getting to know him, Teddy finds a kindred spirit when it comes to gentling horses. In Marco, he also finds a friend and eventually a lover.
Roy was a bully and an abuser. The man took his pleasure by inflicting pain. He was sadistic and uncaring of his partner's pleasure or lack of it -- a brute to both humans and animals alike. I found the abusive scenes disturbing, although Atlas writes them well.

Teddy is a near illiterate young man with submissive tendencies. His rationale for staying and taking Roy's blackmail and abuse was: better than being alone. It seemed to me as if Teddy was afraid of going out into the world on his own. He felt comfortable enough where he was, even if he had to take the abuse.

In comes Marco -- a new ranch hand that travels all the way from Argentina and ends up bunking with Teddy. Marco and Teddy share their love of horses and their abilities to tame them without force. The title, "Which Way to Dominance" in this book can be applied to both Teddy and the horses. Marco's role in this triangle shows us how to use dominance without force.

Although I was repulsed by Roy's character and behavior, I thought Atlas dealt well with both. The abuser in this instance is definitely dealt with, and although we don't exactly know his motivation, his character is well established. The abuse and the consequences are not glossed over. Atlas takes them straight on.

Teddy's character was a bit tougher for me to process. Although it is established that he has a submissive personality, he also emerges as being very dependent. I was ultimately unable to connect with his character and thought that due to the heavy subject in this short story, the victim needed further development.

Marco played the knight in shining armor with lots of tenderness and a soft touch. The perfect way to illustrate "Which Way to Dominance."

M/M Erotica: B-
Find the Anthology here.

Str8te Boys by Evangeline Anderson

How far would you dare to go... to win it all?

Maverik Holms and Duke Warren share almost everything -- a college soccer team, an apartment and the same extremely competitive nature. Thanks to that never-back-down spirit, they're about to share more than they bargained for.

The game is "gay chicken." The rule: get as close as possible without kissing, and the one that pulls away first is the loser. The problem: neither of them likes to lose. It isn't long before the game becomes an excuse to touch and kiss in every possible forbidden way. And after they pose for a gay website to earn extra money, things really heat up.

Suddenly Duke is talking lifetime commitment, and Mav is backpedaling as hard as he can, not sure if he's ready to accept all his best is offering him. Or the truth about what he is.
Oh my! What can I say about this book? Except, that it was tons of fun to read. Evangeline Anderson wrote one of the first M/M books I read, "The Assignment." I still feel nostalgia when I think of that book and my reaction to it *g*... so, when I saw she had a new release, I just had to add it to my list.

Fun and sexy, the characters in this book go from playing "gay chicken" to "super gay chicken" to well... you can just guess. Mav's denial is as deep as the River Nile, and Duke plays the game pretty well, no doubt about it.

Two hot, sexy and likable characters, some erotic games, lots of straight boy denial mixed with angst, and a happily ever after. If you want a light, fun read, you can't ask for more.

M/M Erotica: Grade B-
Find this book here.

2 comments:

  1. The Anderson books always have straight to gay? Or is it just me that thinks that. Not that they're not good but after a while I want to see gay to gay! lol Despite that it sounds good.

    Good reviews.

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  2. It does seem that way, doesn't it? Some writers tend to have a formula or a favorite trope they like to write... maybe this is Andersons...

    This was a fun one, Tracy. Lots of games and well... fun *g*

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