#BlogTour: Sailor Proof by Annabeth Albert

For this blog tour we’re looking at the first entry in a new series of gay military romances. For this blog tour we’re looking at Sailor Proof by Annabeth Albert.

Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

Solid Military Romance. This is a fairly standard romance / Annabeth Albert romance with one guy in uniform and the other not… and eventually, neither is. ๐Ÿ˜‰ She’s done the virgin thing at least once or twice (I fully cop to not reading her full back catalog, and I seem to remember her covering this even in the books I *have* read from her), and here it works just as well as it did the last time. For those looking for “clean” / “sweet” romance… Albert uses the virgin trope to explore as many successive sex acts as she can squeeze into a book. So this won’t be something that fits those definitions, but will work well within the more general romance/ gay romance reader crowd. The family dynamics are fun, some of the situations border on silly yet work, and the military scenes are accurate enough for someone who is only vaguely aware of US Navy operations. Looking forward to seeing where this new series will go. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt and the details about the book from the publisher, including the book description, author bio and social media links, and links to buy the book.
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#BookReview: The Other Man by Farhad J Dadyburjor

Interesting Romance In (Arguably) Underserved Setting. Maybe there are more gay romances set in India written in Hindi and/ or marketed to Indian audiences. This American that doesn’t know any human languages other than English can’t say. But *in my experience* as someone for whom this was Book 189 on the year and who has read over 600 books since Jan 1, 2019 alone… this was unique in setting and primary characters.

Further, as someone in tech (who actually manages – and thus interacts near-daily with – teams of Indian nationals), the workload described here sounds realistic. (For better or for worse. My guys are *awesome*, but they *do* tend to work quite a bit.) The interfering family dynamics are something Nicola Marsh has written of fairly often in her straight romances involving the Indian diaspora (such as July 2021’s The Man Ban), and the struggles of coming out vs submitting to familial and societal expectations are well known and told quite often in American literature and culture at minimum. Hell, even in the US gay sex was officially illegal even this Millennium!

All of this to say, as a romance, I think this book actually works in showing a (mostly) seemingly realistic view while still falling into the standard rules of the genre. Yes, there is a fair amount of sex, on screen though not erotica level explicit. Yes, there is a happily ever after. And yes, there is a fair amount of angst getting there, culminating in a massive fight that splits the couple up before finally coming together – fairly standard stuff for the genre, and yet filled with details specific to its setting. While I don’t know if the Indian law that plays a fair role in the background of the story was ever actually overturned and I have no idea when this fight was going on, it doesn’t play enough of a role to detract from the story not knowing when this was – though those that *are* more familiar with that particular fight may be able to identify a bit more with the book just from seeing what was happening in their own lives at that time. While I’m not sure that I personally would classify this book as romantic *comedy*, there were a few funny moments and it could well be that there is more humor to be found here for those more familiar with Indian culture.

Overall a strong and interesting book, and very much recommended.

This review of The Other Man by Farhad J Dadyburjor was originally written on September 8, 2021.

#BookReview: Love Lockdown by Elizabeth Greenwood

Making The Case For A More Systematic Examination Of Its Topic. This book does a *tremendous* job in looking at as many facets of love and relationships involving the United States’ millions – literally -of prisoners via multi-year case studies of five particular couples. And therein also lies its chief weakness – while the original research for the case studies themselves was conducted directly by the author, the author states many facts beyond the people she is directly interviewing… and then the text doesn’t provide any form of bibliography to back up these (sometimes alarming, shocking, or even dubious) claims. But even with this weakness noted, the text’s strengths via its case studies are truly remarkable, and show the pressing need for a more systematic – and documented – examination of this particular topic. This is a book that will shock you. It will pull at your heart strings. It will make you cheer and cry and scream out at the people involved “WTF ARE YOU DOING!!!!!!”. And in these regards, it truly is a phenomenal book. Very much recommended.

This review of Love Lockdown by Elizabeth Greenwood was originally written on June 22, 2021.

#BookReview: Margaritas At The Beach House Hotel

Entertaining. This is a book that is somewhat deep in a series – Book 5 – and never once shies away from that fact. It has a wide range of established characters and storylines, but Keim does a remarkable job of making sure the reader understands the relevant histories, no matter if they’ve been a long time fan or if this is your entry point to this series or even this author – as it was both for me. Indeed, it is arguable that perhaps Keim does *too much* rehashing of prior stories- more in repeating a few sentences (with variation, not copy/ paste, at least not obviously) about whatever relevant fact such as how characters met or why another character is so problematic, etc.

And yet, despite and perhaps because of all of this, this book absolutely works as a continuation of its world and as a showcase for the author’s style and tone. Those that enjoy ensemble casts with a lot of characters and a lot going on will thoroughly enjoy this book, those who prefer fewer characters… probably won’t like it as much. But the storylines all interweave remarkably well, particularly with the narration being solely driven by one character’s perspective and the primary focus being that character and her business partner and friend – who enjoy catching up in stolen moments via the titular event.

Ultimately a strong book about friendship and defending the hurting, this tale is very much recommended.

This review of Margaritas At The Beach House Hotel by Judith Keim was originally written on June 8, 2021.

#BookReview: Stability by Emily Alter

Perfectly Titled. This is a solid adult FF romance featuring two established-yet-still-young ladies who know themselves and yet still find themselves growing… together. I titled this review as I did because the book really is perfectly titled, as the major conflicts between these women truly do center around the issue of stability and what that can mean for different people in different situations. Some, such as Zaira, more grounded and family oriented may need one form of “standard” stability. Others, such as former child prodigy Paige, may find a more gyroscopic sense of stability in the chaos. Merging the two worlds… well, Alter does a great job of showing the realistic headaches and heartaches that such an attempt can bring about. Excellent story set in an existing world, but within its own corner of it and with prior characters featuring heavily. For those who are less concerned about details of prior books being revealed before the reader actually reads those books, this is absolutely a book you can enter this world in and go back and read the details of the other relationships discussed in the other books. For those who are more concerned about such things… you’re going to want to read those other books first. Based on this book – the only one I’ve read from the author so far – I can tell you that you’re most likely going to want to read those books anyway, and when you read them you’re going to want to have this one on hand anyway if you didn’t read it first. Truly an excellent and seemingly realistic-ish story. Very much recommended.

This review of Stability by Emily Alter was originally written on June 7, 2021.

#BlogTour: Hard Sell by Hudson Lin

For this first entry in our Slide Into Summer Romance Blog Tour Series. we’re looking at a MM romance that makes its name thanks to its interesting dichotomies. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Hard Sell by Hudson Lin.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Interesting Dichotomies. This book, for me, was more about the interesting dichotomies than anything. You get a MM romance… with both an FF couple as side characters and set within the Asian community, which isn’t overly common. (Maybe not as hyper-macho as wildfire firefighters, but seemingly near that level in rarity.) You get a hyper successful financial type… who isn’t being his normal hyper successful self, and in fact is desperate for a win and who comes from… less successful… beginnings. You get a black sheep who feels he must prove himself apart from his ultra-successful family. And you get the particular blend of tech and finance that I could have felt was a bit too close to my own “real” world (where I work in IT for a Fortune 50 financial firm) that it could have been *too* real. And yet it all worked. And worked well in fact. On the actual romance side, you get a fairly standard will they/ won’t they / this is a freaking romance novel so you know they do. You get the whole “best friend’s sibling” dynamic, with its usual problems and resolutions. And you get a *crap ton* of angst. If you want your romance novels bright and breezy… this aint it. But if you want a romance novel unlike most you’ve ever seen before… this one is probably *exactly* that. Very much recommended.

Below the jump, a page-ish excerpt from near the beginning of the book (seemingly Chapter 1, but it *could* have been Chapter 3) and the publisher information ๐Ÿ™‚
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#BlogTour: When Sparks Fly by Kristen Zimmer

For this blog tour we’re looking at a solid young adult/ new adult tale of lesbian love in high school. For this blog tour we’re looking at When Sparks Fly by Kristen Zimmer.

First, here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Solid Lesbian High School Romance. This one has the metric shit-ton of angst one would expect from teenage girls – you’ve got the foster kid trying to fit in. You’ve got the spoiled rich kid hating herself over something the foster kid knows nothing about (but finds out about eventually) who leads one group of friends. You’ve got the spoiled rich kid’s ex-girlfriend who shared in the tragedy and the guilt… and who leads the other group of friends. You’ve got the foster kid trying to fit in with both sets. And along the way, you get all kinds of will-they/ won’t-they teasing between the three… which *also* leads to quite a bit of angst. ๐Ÿ˜€ But yes, somewhere along the way it becomes a bit like Sky High’s *awesome* final line, and you do in fact get an actual romance as it does so. Zimmer also did an excellent job of making this a shared universe with her first book, but while making it effectively a standalone book rather than a true “series” book. So if you’re into high school and/ or LGBT/lesbian romances, give this one a try. Even if you’re not, this one is a good book to experiment with. As is typical of many high school based romances, there is less sex than many/ most older adult romances and more kissing. Though there is an eventual rounding of the bases. Or several. It just primarily happens “off screen”. Not for the “clean”/ “sweet” romance crowd, though I’ve seen little evidence of that crowd looking to the LGBT romance arena anyway. Very much recommended.

Below the jump, the publisher information, including the book description, a bit about the author, and some direct buy links.
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#BlogTour: Up In Smoke by Annabeth Albert

For this blog tour we’re looking at the latest book in Annabeth Albert’s year-long tale of MM romances set in the hyper-macho world of “hotshot” firefighters. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Up In Smoke by Annabeth Albert.

Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

Another Solid Entry In Series. This is another solid entry in the series Albert has created over the last year featuring MM romances set in the hyper-macho world of western US “hotshot” firefighters and smoke jumpers – the front lines of any wildfire containment efforts. Here, we finally get smokejumper Brandt’s story, and it is at least as good from the romance angle as any of the other entries in this series. Maybe even better, since it runs a bit smoother with lower angst, minimal separation, both equally hoping for the other’s success, etc. Has an almost A Star Is Born vibe to it at times, though without the more depressing elements of that tale. But the biggest thing that will be hit or miss depending on exactly what you feel about it is the baby stuff in particular. Even as a childfree married male who generally doesn’t like babies (older kids are much cooler, though I’m always grateful that I can leave when I need to :D), I didn’t find the baby aspects *too* detracting, even for my tastes. Because the story really did focus on the interactions of the adults, with the baby providing the realistic distractions that adults having to care for a baby would actually provide. But if you’re particularly opposed to anything remotely baby related… well, you were told in the description that this one had one. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Overall a truly solid story, and very much recommended.

Below the jump, about a page long excerpt from the very first scene of the book, when Brandt and Shane first meet. Followed by the publisher information. ๐Ÿ™‚
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Up In Smoke by Annabeth Albert”

#BookReview: Hennessey’s Handler by Pandora Pine

Hairy Harmony. Another solid entrant into this series, this time featuring the one natural child of the unifying parents of all five brothers this series revolves around. As with every other entrant here, if you don’t mind minor (and sometimes not quite so minor) spoilers about previous books, this one is perfectly fine as an entry point into the series. Solid MM romance with a rather shocking ending given how this series has been built to this point, and as with every other book in this series introduces the next brother and features him fairly prominently. (Including a rather interesting revelation about that particular brother’s mysterious past.) Very much recommended.

This review of Hennessey’s Handler by Pandora Pine was originally written on April 15, 2021.

#BookReview: We’re Not Broken by Eric Garcia

Mostly Solid Work A Bit Misguided By Its Own Biases. This is one of the more comprehensive books I’ve found about the actual issues facing Autistics in the current world (circa 2020) – well, in the US anyway. Discussions of education, gender, housing, personhood, etc are mostly solid and mostly problem free, focusing on numerous interviews the author has conducted over several years combined with well documented (roughly 32% of the text of this Advance Reader Copy I read) research.

It even has two *extremely* good points:
1) “We don’t know what Autism in and of itself looks like. We only know how autism informed by trauma presents itself.” -Cal Montgomery
2) From the close of Chapter 9: “People who are not Autistic often assume they are acting benevolently by hand-holding those on the spectrum. But despite their best intentions, there is an element of condescension in thse actions because it assumes that non-Autistic people know what’s best. But it is Autistic people who live with the condition of Autism – for all of its positives and negatives – as well as the consequences of any collective action meant to help them. If there is going to be policy that has seismic impact on their lives, they deserve to have a say it in, no mater how they communicate. Furthermore, while many parent advocates, clinicians, and other “experts” may have good intentions, centering their voices continues to give them power that should lie with the Autistic community. To achieve any true sense of freedom, Autistic people need to take this power back.”

HOWEVER, the fact that the discussion routinely ignores and even outright dismisses the needs and challenges of white Autistics and/ or Autistics who *do* find meaningful employment in the science and/ or technology sectors means that the book fails to have truly the comprehensive discussion of the condition that it seems to seek to have. In ignoring these facets, it doesn’t truly “change the Autism conversation” in any truly helpful manner, as it blatantly ignores and dismisses a key component that can actually do quite a bit of good in trying to address all of the other issues the narrative does go in detail on. We Autistic technologists can create the very technologies Garcia sometimes points to as being needed, in part because we ourselves truly do live with these very same issues – and thus, we don’t actually need a neurotypical trying to approximate some solution, as we can create a solution that works for our own particular case and allow for it to be customized to fit other cases as well.

Ultimately this truly is a very strong look at the state of Autistic society today and the issues Autistics face in trying to fully integrate into larger neurotypical societies, it simply missed its potential to be so much more. Very much recommended.

This review of We’re Not Broken by Eric Garcia was originally written on March 14, 2021.