August Round Up

Monthly Mini Review

planetscape in reds yellows and oranges - looks kind of like MarsTo See The Sun by Kelly Jensen, narrated by TJ Clark – B Gael Sonnen is a young man living in the undercity of his home planet, Zhemosen, never allowed to see the sun which is only for the wealthy and privileged who live above ground. He’s also beholden to a bad guy because reasons. When said bad guy requires Gael to murder someone, he is unable to go through with it. With the help of a friend, Gael flees to Alkirak as a kind of “mail order groom”  on a “companion contract”.  Alkirak is very far away from Zhemosen way out of reach of the commonwealth law; a kind of wild west frontier planet, still being terraformed. Abraham (Bram) Bauer is an older guy who is lonely and looking for more than just hook ups. He can get hook ups easily enough but he wants more.

His friend suggests a companion contract and when he sees Gael’s “holo video” he is smitten.  Bram is a farmer and a miner and life is fairly hard where he is but as difficult as things are, for Gael it is a paradise compared to where he grew up (even though he doesn’t immediately see that is the case).

I don’t want to give too much way but I will say there is a strong found family vibe and I was here for it.

I liked the gradual slow burn of the romance and how Gael and Bram made a family together. The last section felt a bit out of left field and I wasn’t convinced the narrative had truly set up the scenario but it wasn’t the main part of the story and I guess things had to come to a head somehow.

July Round Up

Monthly Mini Review

arctic/Alaska scenic picture with mountains, snow and trees and ocean, and superimposed in the sky of the picture are the lower faces of a white silver fox (or silver bear!) and a younger indigenous man.Arctic Wild by Annabeth Albert, narrated by Iggy Toma – B+ I enjoyed Arctic Sun recently, the first book in the Frozen Hearts series set in Alaska and after Caz enjoyed the follow up book, I decided to listen as well. I hadn’t listened to Iggy Toma narrate before but he has been highly recommended so I decided to give it a try.

Listeners were introduced to Tobias Kooly briefly in Arctic Sun but this book stands alone fairly well. Reuben Graham is a white guy in his late forties, going on an Alaskan holiday/adventure for his birthday. He was supposed to go with a couple of friends but they had to cancel at the last minute so he goes alone.

31 year-old Toby is the pilot/guide for his tour. Toby’s identifies his ethnicity as:

“My family background is a mix but mostly Athabascan from Ninilchik and Kenai. Also some Russian, Dutch, German thrown in.”

and it forms a large part of his identity. While I know the author is white, it seemed to me that the representation was done well but as I’m also white I’m hardly the expert here.

January Round Up

Monthly Mini Review

Two hot military guys in an embraceWheels Up by Annabeth Albert, narrated by Greg Boudreaux – B- Navy SEAL Lt. Dustin Strauss has been exploring his bisexuality via an app called Joe for Joe and has developed a connection with a fellow SEAL, Petty Officer Wes Lowe. Although because they use avatars, neither knows the other is a SEAL until Wes joins Dustin’s SEAL team. They had a hot in person hookup in DC but Wes was called away suddenly and they hadn’t had a chance to do much talking. Also, Dustin had let Wes believe he was a marine and Wes had told Dustin he was in “security”. So, when Wes does join the SEAL team, it’s a very unwelcome surprise. As much as Dustin has enjoyed their cyber sex and exploring his kinky side with Wes, it is against the fraternisation rules for them to even be friends. Their attraction is too much to deny and a distraction on the job and it also puts their careers are risk. Dustin could be court-martialed. It’s a big deal.

Dustin is into submission with a bit of pain (no blood) and it turns Wes’s crank to let out his inner Dominant for Dustin. As they keep having more and more (and always unwise) encounters their feelings become stronger until something has to give.

The Remaking of Corbin Wale by Roan Parrish

Spooky fantasy scene in blues with fancy titlesWhy I read it:  I picked this one up when it was on special for 99c recently but it had been on my wishlist for ages.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Last month, Alex Barrow’s whole life imploded—partner, home, job, all gone in forty-eight hours. But sometimes when everything falls apart, better things appear almost like magic.

Now, he’s back in his Michigan hometown, finally opening the bakery he’s always dreamed of. But the pleasure of opening day is nothing compared to the lonely and beautiful man who bewitches Alex before he even orders.

Corbin Wale is a weirdo. At least, that’s what he’s heard his whole life. He knows he’s often in a fantasy world, but the things he feels are very real. And so is the reason why he can never, ever be with Alex Barrow. Even if Alex is everything he’s always fantasized about. Even if maybe, just maybe, Corbin is Alex’s fantasy too.

When Corbin begins working at the bakery, he and Alex can’t deny their connection any longer. As the holiday season works its magic, Alex yearns for the man who seems out of reach. But to be with Alex, Corbin will have to challenge every truth he’s ever known. If his holiday risk pays off, two men from different worlds will get the love they’ve always longed for.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I didn’t really know what to make of this book at first. It’s in a genre all of it’s own I think. It’s contemporary with a touch of magic. It’s a fae book in so many ways. The writing style has more than a hint of faery tale to it, particularly in the sections told from Corbin’s point of view. It’s not quite PNR, it’s more ethereal than that. What it is, is quite beautiful.

The Remaking of Corbin Wale is told in the style of a faery tale and once I worked out what was going on I just went with it. There’s a surrealism to the writing and to the story and a lyricism to the language which fits the tone entirely. Some of the phrasing is just lovely and also innocently profound.

And sorry was just a wish about something that had already happened. Just a regret on someone else’s behalf.

Because of the style of the book, there’s not much by way of courtship. Alex falls for Corbin immediately, feeling a strong connection to him from the start. It becomes apparent that Corbin felt much the same way, although it is quite a bit later in the book before the reader is in his head to know for sure. Usually I’m not a huge fan of “insta-love” but that’s not really what it felt like here. It was obviously far deeper than lust (although their sexual attraction is definitely strong), more like pieces of a puzzle clicking into place somehow. It works in a faery tale far better than in a straight up contemporary story. I wasn’t left questioning the judgement of either character. Quite the contrary in fact.

Both men want quite desperately to be together but each is cautious because reasons (I won’t spoil them here; it’s much more fun to let the book evolve on its own I believe) and neither rushes into a relationship.

Corbin is very much a wild fae creature (although he is a human) and Alex senses instinctively that to push or persuade him into giving more than he is willing will only lead to disaster. Alex coaxes but always respectfully. He does not manipulate. It was kind of like tempting a feral cat to come to eat out of his hand, though Corbin is not an animal and the book does not ever portray him that way so the analogy only goes so far.

What else? Perhaps there was a time in the story where I wondered if Corbin would give enough to Alex to make the relationship feel balanced. Alex is always going to be more comfortable “in the world” than Corbin but Corbin does more for Alex than be someone Alex takes care of and I was happy with the way things worked out.

There are some earthy sex scenes (though not many, which is fine) but overall the book had a sweet and whimsical feel to it. It’s the kind of book which stays with you and which I expect will be richer on a re-read.

I do hope there is another book in this world one day. I’d like to know more about Gareth and Orin.

Grade: B+


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