Monthly Mini Review
All Seated On the Ground by Connie Willis – B I saw this short story mentioned in a thread where posters were saying it was the best of Connie Willis’ short stories so I looked it up. I couldn’t buy the story on its own because geo restrictions, but I found it was available in a library book as part of The Best of Connie Willis and placed a hold so I could read the story.
Meg Yates is a humour columnist who unexpectedly finds herself on a committee trying to communicate with the six Altairi aliens who arrived on the doorsteps of Denver University nine months before. Many experts before her and on the current committee have failed to find a way to break through the Atairi glare of disdain before her but her particular history and a chance encounter with some Christmas music and choir director lead to a breakthrough.
Monthly Mini Review
Liam Takes Manhattan by Thea Harrison – C+ The last in the latest trio of novellas about Dragos, Pia and Liam Cuelebre, this one is also the shortest one, coming in at about 50 pages. Also unlike the other two stories, this one felt somewhat incomplete to me. It was more in the nature of a prequel novella, presaging what the next chapter in Liam’s life is and acting as a bridge to (what I hope will be) full length books about Liam. I was involved in a discussion with the author on Twitter recently and she was canvassing interest levels for books featuring adventures in Liam’s life – the first of which would not involve any romance because he’s too young (I picture them as something like a paranormal Vorkosigan series FWIW). The novella sets up Liam branching out on his own. The significance of the Christmas present mentioned in the blurb is a bit misleading I thought. I was expecting a kind of “miracle at Christmas” vibe but it was far more subtle than that.
Why I read it: I was provided with a review copy via the publisher.
What it’s about: (from Goodreads) After barely surviving a shootout in New Orleans, Sidewinder medic Kelly Abbott has to suffer through a month of recovery before he can return home to Colorado. He’s not surprised when fellow Sidewinder Nick O’Flaherty stays with him in New Orleans. Nor is he surprised when Nick travels home with him to help him get back on his feet—after all, years on the same Marine Force Recon team bonded the men in ways that only bleeding for a brother can. He’s very surprised, though, when Nick humors his moment of curiosity and kisses him.
Nick knows all of Kelly’s quirks and caprices, so the kiss was a low-risk move on his part . . . or so he thought. But what should’ve been a simple moment unleashes a flood of confusing emotions and urges that neither man is prepared to address.
Now, Kelly and Nick must figure out what they mean to each other—friends and brothers in arms, or something even deeper?—before the past can come back to ruin their tenuous future.
What worked for me (and what didn’t): When Dreamspinner Press first started publishing their m/m romances at Audible I got very excited. I bought a few and tried them and they are the only books I’ve ever returned because they were TERRIBLE. It made me reluctant to try m/m on audio since then but when I was approached by Riptide, I decided to try again. Riptide have a reputation for quality and I had the opportunity to speak to someone there early on in the piece about what was wrong with the DSP narrations and the kinds of things listeners were looking for in an audiobook. I don’t know how much, if any, influence my little contribution had but I was interested to see if Riptide could manage what DSP could not. The short answer (and admittedly based only on this very small sample) is: yes they can.
I’m over at Dear Author with a review of Luminous by AE Ash. It’s a beautiful, spare, short sci-fi-romance and definitely recommended.
Monthly Mini Review
The Lumberfox by Ava Lovelace – B+ I picked this one up when it was free on promotion and for various reasons I was looking for something short to read so I opened it. Despite the title, it is not a shifter book. It is a quite delightful erotic short. It retails for 99c but I think it’s well worth the money. Geek girl Tara is out in what proves to be a blizzard buying her first vibrator. I was amused she christened her new toy Han Solo because, (wait for it):
“he was cocky and looked like he was going to shoot first.”
I’ve never even seen snow let alone been in a blizzard, but apparently what one does in such situations is leave one’s car on the road until the blizzard ends. When she is (gently) rear-ended by Ryon’s jeep, he gets out of his vehicle to exchange information with her and from there, in a mostly believable way, she ends up in Ryon’s apartment to wait out the blizzard – both of their cars as well as everyone else’s it seems, will wait on the road until the weather is better.
There is immediate chemistry between Tara and Ryon but consent issues are important to both and Ryon gives her a safeword – anytime she wants to call a halt, she only needs to say “Wookiee”. Little things like that Tara made Ryon call her mother and give her his driver’s license number for safety made it easy to relax into the story and the humour really worked for me. Ryon (let’s get this over with – his name annoyed me. Why not just Ryan? I was calling him Ry-ONN in my head the whole book. It was irritating.)… anyway, Ryon is a baker and brewer and has the fortunate surname of Brubaker so I guess his course was set from birth (heh) – he makes a wonderful dinner for Tara and they also share slow hot sex and fast hot sex (in an elevator no less) and in between they talk to each other and find out they have a lot in common – and not just science fiction love. In fact, Ryon shows himself to be both a tender, respectful and inventive lover who is not afraid to get an assist from Han Solo.
The French Have A Word For It by Josh Lanyon – B- Last month, when I bought Heart Trouble, I also bought a number of other novels and short stories by Josh Lanyon (Twitter is my book enabler). This is a sweet short about an American guy in Paris, there to pursue his painting career and get out from the watchful eye of his wealthy grandfather. When he was 14, Colin was kidnapped and Thomas was the bodyguard who rescued him and then make sure of his safety until Colin went off to college. Colin thinks of Thomas as his first love but realises that part of that was youthful infatuation and the unique circumstances which made Thomas very much a hero to Colin. When Thomas turns up in Paris, 10 years have passed and Colin has grown up. They connect and there is the very beginning of a relationship. I would have liked maybe another couple pages to get a better handle on their potential future (because I’m not a fan of ambiguity) and I could easily have read more than that, but it was an enjoyable story and perfect for a night when I didn’t have a lot of time to read.