2015 December

Came Upon a Midnight Clear by Katie Porter

Came Upon a Midnight Clear Rate: 5 out of 5

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Christmas
Publication day: November 27, 2012
Length: 278 pages
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd

Lights, lovers…action!

Born to old Virginia money, film producer Kyle Wakefield’s conservative upbringing kept him in the closet. Only once did he venture outside: for a tempestuous teenage affair with Nathan Carnes. When Nathan’s self-destructive streak landed him in prison, Kyle slammed the door on youthful hopes. Despite Hollywood successes, he still hides his true self.

He thought he’d moved on, until his production company hires Nathan and his Second Chances stunt crew to work on the London set of a big-budget action flick. Watching Nathan risk life and limb with fellow ex-cons looking for a fresh start makes it tough for Kyle to keep his desires hidden.

Thirteen years have passed since Nathan’s teenage self-doubt led him to sabotage any chance of a future with Kyle. He’s come a long way since then, but despite their explosive sexual chemistry, Kyle treats their attraction like a deep dark secret.

Their matched Hollywood ambitions and a pain-in-the-ass director make cooperation essential. As the London holiday season casts its spell, the two men find themselves on the verge of falling in love again—even as old secrets and pain keep them shackled. The only hope of unlocking their hearts is a Christmas miracle.

Re-Read: 12/24-26/2015

Thinking about it, this is only the second book I had ever re-read– the first one being Joshua (I know, completely different genre.) And still a five stars book in my opinion. Why? Because it has everything I like in a romance novel: second chances, raw emotions, lots of angst, a good combination of forceful & lovely sex scenes, and a lot of mundane events, all under a holiday setting. For me, all of these works well. This story is not a literary masterpiece, but a good book to curl down and read when looking for an everyday escape.

Since I realized the other day that I didn’t own a single MM paperback, I just ordered a copy to start my collection. I guess I’ll need to ask the Three Kings for another bookshelf.

Next books to re-read: Isla Cerrera, The Cid and The Little Prince
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Original review: June 22, 2013

Definitely my favorite M/M book. The story is engaging, their passion amazing and their love hurt greatly. Every step they took brought them together, and their reunion was breathtaking. I wish I can read more about this amazing couple, but they deserved the HEA they got.

 

Latakia by J. F. Smith

LatakiaRate: 4 out of 5

Genre: Contemporary, Military
Publication day: December 4, 2011
Length: 340 pages
Publisher: Self-Published

Matthew likes his life in Richmond. He has his friends and his softball and his volunteer work. And he has a very good-looking boyfriend, Brian, who he’s been happily dating for over a year now. So what if his friends tend to question just how good his boyfriend is, and so what if Brian tends to have inexplicable mood swings. And so what if Brian seems to invite Matt’s suspicions on occasion. If he just shows a little faith and trust, he’ll appreciate what he has with Brian the way he should. Right?

But suddenly, Matt finds himself in a desperate life-or-death situation on a trip overseas, and he realizes just how much he misses home, and Brian. He’s luckily rescued by a team of US Special Forces, only to immediately find out they’re a bunch of bigoted jerks. Worse, a quirk of his situation forces him to spend time with them that he’d rather not. And that’s when he finds out that first impressions can be misleading. When called upon, he steps up when every fiber of his being tells him not to, and discovers something deep inside himself that he didn’t realize was even there. And his life will never be the same. He finds that he can, after all, make some very overdue changes in his own life.

What Matt doesn’t realize is that the bond of brotherhood runs both ways. And he winds up changing the lives of several of the men on that Special Forces team as much as they changed his.

All it takes is faith and trust.

My View: Latakia is a hard story to rate. I thought about DNF for the first twenty percent of the book, but since it came highly recommended, I pushed through. In the end, I’m glad I did. The story is worth it, but as a reader, you have to be in the right mental space to enjoy it.

My main issue with the story was the third person omniscient narrator. It was not until the end of chapter one that I realized the narrator supposed to be Matt. I felt as if someone was, over my shoulder, telling me the story. Almost like a Rankin-Bass Christmas movie. We go in and out of Matt’s and the omniscient narrator’s POV until the last fifteen percent of the story when Matt’s POV swaps with Mope’s. Plus, there were other grammatical and structural mistakes that could have been easily solved by a good editor.  And I’m the worse person to criticize those aspects.

I enjoyed all the men in the platoon, their stories, and the events surrounding them. I wasn’t a fan of Matt, Brian, Brett, or Jim. They needed a little bit more to be as good as the Navy crew.

All the events related to the military worked well, and the author did an incredible job keeping them as realistic as possible. There’s a lot packed in this book, but the pacing moved ahead without much dragging.

I don’t consider this book a romance. It has a romantic relationship at its center, but it’s more about faith, courage, and self-discovery. And the faded to black sex scenes didn’t help its case.

Overall, the story is worth five stars, but the delivery took away from it.

What I liked the most: The friendship between Matt and the Fire Team (Mope, Petey, Baya & Desantos).

I wanted more of: Mope’s POV. We only had a chance to see the story through his eyes in the last fifteen percent of the book.

Who should read it: Fans of military stories.

Murder in Pastel by Josh Lanyon

Murder in PastelGenre: Contemporary Mystery, Amateur Sleuth
Publication day: September 11, 2015 (First published April 1, 2000)
Length: 198 pages
Publisher: JustJoshin Publishing, Inc.

“Ten years ago Cosmo Bari vanished, and with him, his legendary masterpiece, Virgin in Pastel. Since that day no one in the seaside art colony of Steeple Hill has heard from the eccentric painter.

Surrounded by an extended family of Cosmo’s colorful compatriots, mystery writer Kyle Bari believes he has come to terms with being abandoned by his famous father, until the day Adam MacKinnon arrives with his new lover, the beautiful but poisonous, Brett.
Brett has an unerring instinct for other people’s weak spots; soon the quiet colony is seething with hostility and suspicion as Brett hints he knows something about the missing artist.”

Rate: 3.75 out of 5

My View: Technically, this is my first Josh Lanyon’s story. I read Mexican Heat back in 2013, but it was co-authored with Laura Baumbach.

At first, I was not sure what to expect. The book blurb seemed interesting even when the cover doesn’t make sense until you read the story, and it’s not the most appealing. The initial setup, leading to the main events, took almost thirty percent of the story, and it’s not until the forty plus percentage that the book gets interesting. Until that moment, I think the book was no more than a three star.

There’s potential behind the characters’ backstories, but since we spent most of the time in Kyle’s head, we don’t get to see much of it. I had to double check Kyle’s age because he felt as immature as Brett’s twenty-one. He didn’t read as a twenty-seven-year-old single man, independently of his illness.

The book felt like a game of Clue, which the author referenced. At least, that was one of my favorite board games when I was growing up. It’s a lot of twists and turns, but the events lacked excitement. Even so, I wanted to read more, to see how the author dealt with everything in the end.

Overall, it was a good mystery– simple and easy to resolve.

What I liked the most: Honestly, the lack of an HEA appealed to me the most. The book has a strong HFN, which works well with the overall story.

I wanted more of: Probably Cosmo. Seeing him through Kyle’s eyes got me more interested in his life before the disappearance– his relationships and what his view’s on Kyle as an adult would have been.

Who should read it: If you’re looking for a romance, this isn’t your book. It’s a good story for those in search of something more than an MM relationship.

 ARC received via Netgalley, courtesy of BookBuzz.net, for an honest review.