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Posts Tagged ‘Daily Dose’

MagicBroom[The]Title: The Magic Broom
Author: Teagan Loy
Length: 17,659 words (70 pdf pages)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: m/m contemporary
Rating: A-

Blurb:

With the winter Olympics on the horizon, Cody Mikkelson’s editor assigns him several stories about athletes in the area with gold medal aspirations. But there’s a catch: Cody has to try all the sports when he interviews the athletes—and he is so not an athlete.

The day before his torment begins, four new guys move into the apartment down the hall, including the handsome Shane Spicer. Cody is immediately desperate to figure out if Shane is gay, but both men have busy schedules, leaving little time to socialize. So Cody heads back to work and goes to interview the local curling team, where among brooms, laughter, a sore backside, and an unexpected meeting, Cody finds he just might get his chance after all.

Review:

I’m not sure why it took me so long to read this, but it was naturally assigned to me being the Canadian. 🙂 Anyway, it seemed to hit all the right buttons for me. Cody is forced to try out all the sports of some local Olympic hopefuls, complete with appropriate dress. He is not an athlete, nor a fan of winter, however off he heads with his best friend Kira to try them out. Simultaneously, there are some new neighbors that they meet and while Cody’s gaydar is broken, Kira is so busy with one of the other guys she can’t tell if Shane is gay or not.

Cody’s experiences during the test sports was so amusing. The little side thread of the mean-spirited photographer who took great delight in taking pictures every time Cody fell or screwed up added a bit of levity. I felt for him. The did them all but if you are not an athlete I’m not surprised he could hardly walk at the end of the day.

Of course, when it’s time to try out curling, there is Shane. There wasn’t tons of detail on the curling and I think as the story is told from Cody’s POV, the fact that it comes off as a bit confusing fits perfectly. He doesn’t really understand it himself and between him working on the story and Shane practicing for the Olympic trials, they don’t have much time together after they finally hook-up. Shane invites him to go to the trials, even though they’ve only been dating a couple of weeks.

Just the light tone of the story, along with Cody’s moaning and groaning about his life and the sports make this a fun read. There’s not much angst, so when you want a feel good story it’s a perfect choice and I admit I snickered at the end.

My only complaint if I had one was the best friend Kira. She came pretty close to the line of the pushy best friend. She didn’t cross it but I found her rather annoying, but that’s me. I find those types of people annoying in real life. 🙂 You don’t find out much about Shane or his family and his background with curling or the team, but despite that, I really enjoyed the time it took me to finish it and would recommend it even if you have no clue what curling is.

 

Review:

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HeartoftheRaceTitle: Heart of the Race
Author: Mary Calmes
Length: 19,958 words (90 pdf pages)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: m/m contemporary
Rating: C

Blurb:

Varro Dacien spends his life riding toward the next adventure. Brian Christie, his best friend and touchstone, the one person who’s always truly seen him, plays sidekick on these madcap adventures and subsequent trips to the hospital until he can’t take it anymore. While Brian can see Varro, Varro has never caught on that he’s breaking his best friend’s heart.

Without Varro, Brian builds himself a life that’s all about just getting by, doing his best to ignore the hole in his heart and his life. Without Brian to balance him, Varro pushes harder and takes more risks to reach that ultimate high. His job racing high-octane bikes on suicide-level courses makes it easy to get that rush… until it’s no longer enough and Varro realizes it’s not the race, but who’s waiting at the finish line that truly matters. Now he just has to convince Brian to be there.

Review:

A lot of co-dependence guilt-tripping caused my frustration with the story to detract from the overall feel. Brian was basically adopted by daredevil Varro’s family when he was in 4th grade. Varro and Brian were joined at the hip, Brian always there will Varro as he risked life and limb. When Brian reached his teen years, he realized he was not only gay but in love with Varro who was very straight. He found it very difficult to be around him, so went off to university and Varro started racing motorcycles.

After a particularly bad crash where Varro nearly died, Varro’s mother more or less guilt-trips Brian into quitting his job and going to follow Varro around Europe as he races to keep him safe. After watching Varro sleep with 3-4 women a night (stamina much?), Brian finally realizes that Varro is not going to change and he leaves to start his own life. A year later he’s doing well when Varro’s handler shows up begging Brian to come back, and Varro is right on his heals.

I found it frustrating that everyone figured it was Brian’s job to follow Varro around and keep him safe. It’s not the job of another human being to be a grown-ups babysitter. Everyone seemed to imply that what Varro was doing had more value than anything Brian could certainly be doing, so just make sure Varro doesn’t kill himself. Um. No. Maybe you should get Varro into therapy to find out why since childhood he’s been on the path to getting himself killed.

Also, the fact that no one ever talked about the real reason anything was happening was frustrating. Rather than explain why he was leaving, that he needed stability and his own life to be happy, he just walked off and said no particular reason why. I’m not all for talking it out forever, but some basic info sharing would be good. I think fans of the author probably will enjoy this. It has many of the hallmarks of her work, but I just couldn’t connect as I kept thinking that Brian’s 10 year obsession with Varro and Varro’s inability to look out for himself and needing Brain around, was leading to a very dysfunctional relationship.

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MulliganTitle: Mulligan
Author: Nora Roth
Length: 16,943 words (66 pdf pages)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: m/m contemporary
Rating: C+

Blurb:

The only thing between Jesse Yates and the top of the air hockey leaderboard is Cameron Greene. When Cameron returns home from college unannounced and knocks the win out of Jesse’s reach, the last thing Jesse plans to do is strike up a friendship with the guy he dislikes on principle. But Cameron charms Jesse without even seeming to try, and the attraction and friendly rivalry between them soon leads to something more.

Everything is perfect until the world as Jesse knows it comes crashing down when Cameron’s secrets are revealed. Before Jesse can find his balance, Cameron is gone without a word, leaving Jesse alone with anger and grief—hoping against hope for a second chance.

Review:

I like this story, but at times it felt a bit disjointed and like I was missing something. Jesse is ready to take the top title in the air hockey tournament when he’s up against a stranger. Going by the way the guy looks, he figures it’s a sure thing, only he soon changes his mind and after a close match, the other guy wins. That’s when Jesse finds out he’s the local champion of air hockey. He’s mad at the fact that he didn’t win and that he didn’t recognize the guy.

They end up meeting at the arcade again and before long there’s a bet, about who will jerk who off. This is the first time Jesse’s been with a guy, but he can’t resist, although he admits to Cameron it’s his first. They soon start hanging out and fooling around. However when Cameron’s family collapses, he disappears leaving Jesse acting out as he finishes high school.

I found it a bit weird that Jesse never asked Cameron why he was home from university, or asked around at school. I know teens can be pretty self-centred and clueless about the world, but it seemed like it would have come up in conversation. Also, they were only hanging out for a few weeks and Jesse was completely lost when Cameron vanished. I could understand being angry he just took off without saying good-bye but to spiral to drunk driving and sex with strangers seemed a bit extreme.

Still, I liked Cameron a great deal and you could see he was the more confident college student, Jesse the unsure high school student, but still both good kids, definitely teen/young adults. So others may not find it leaves them quite as off-kilter as it did me. I’m not exactly sure why. I just felt like some link was missing. But I’m not sure what exactly. If you like young protagonists, it’s a good choice for a quick read.

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PouringaBrickTitle: Pouring a Brick
Author: Tray Ellis
Length: 10,835 words (43 pdf pages)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: m/m contemporary
Rating: C+

Blurb:

High-energy Spence joins a Brazilian jiu-jitsu school looking for adventure. Will is already a calm, advanced practitioner of the gentle art when they meet, and he takes the new student under his wing. After training for a tournament, Spence realizes that relaxing into the flow works great for channeling his energy at competitions and for life in general, but when it comes to taking a chance on Will, pushing the boundaries may be the only way to take their friendship to the next level.

Review:

This was a nice story with an interesting setting, but I never felt like I really got a handle on the guys. Spence has been trying to find new ways to meet people, he’s tried classes of different types and never really had any luck expanding his social circle or dating life. However he joins Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Will befriends him quickly knowing that newbies who feel accepted are more likely to stick around.

Before long they are sparring regularly and chatting. It seems that this type of jiu-jitsu involves some moves which on the surface could be seen as sexual, but Will is determined to back off, in part because he thinks if things go badly, then it’s awkward for everyone at the school with two feuding exes there. Of course Spence makes it a bit difficult for him to stick to his guns.

I liked the opposites factor. After about 6 weeks Spence is ready to join a competition, but even after a couple of years, Will is content to be a purple belt and he doesn’t like competing much. Just not his thing, he’s more laid back where as Spence is go hard right from the gate. There’s a fair bit of mention about how they became friends, but you don’t see much of it, I suppose in part due to the length, but the development of the friendship seemed a bit glossed over.

Still, I am curious about this sport given some of the descriptions, so I’ll have to Google some videos.  I’m pretty sure there’s no chance I’d try it, but I’d not heard of Brazilian jiu-jitsu so it was nice to be introduced to something new that what described in such a way it didn’t leave me confused and scratching my head. If you’re in the mood for a sweet story of two nice guys getting to know each other it’s a good choice, little angst for when you’ve had your fill elsewhere.

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LuckoftheDiceTitle: Luck of the Dice
Author: Pinky Rae Parker
Length: 6,566 words (30 pdf pages)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: m/m contemporary
Rating: C-

Blurb:

Gavin Gage has never been much for sports, but he does love fantasy-based role-playing games. Though his social life is quite active, Gavin feels like he’s botched his roll in the love department. Then he receives a mysterious invitation to an exclusive gaming tournament at a comic book convention, and Gavin meets a mysterious suitor. Between one roll and the next, Gavin realizes that when it comes to love, everything is just a game of chance.

Review:

As a romance, the interaction between the two main characters is so limited as to be barely there and I just couldn’t connect with the story. Gavin likes his life, although he would enjoy a boyfriend, however his geekiness tends to chase them away. He likes his job at a comic book store and playing the games with his friends and was lucky enough to be asked to be in a tournament at a local game show of his favourite game which is being re-released.

The moderator of the game at his table is someone wearing a goat mask, one of the characters in the world. Everything is going well and he receives a note from the moderator asking him to meet at midnight in a hotel room, where the game starts with a twist.

Large portions of this story are the game itself. Descriptions of what the gaming characters are doing. However these long tracts of text have little, if anything to do with the story. They are completely separate and have no bearing on the romance or progressions of the story. I found myself skimming over them because it just didn’t matter. The romance itself is only revealed on the last page and ends with a quick peck of a kiss. I didn’t get any great feeling of satisfaction from the two getting together, it seemed rather an after-thought to me and certainly not really any great passion or interest on Gavin’s side.

Perhaps those who play these type of games will find it interesting, but the focus was clearly on the game play and not on the relationship and I just couldn’t connect.

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Late-InningHomeRunTitle: Late-Inning Home Run
Author: Stella K. Jefferson
Length: 6,596 words (29 pdf pages)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: m/m contemporary
Rating: B

Blurb:

Widower Jay Parker hasn’t seen his high school boyfriend, Craig Myers, in thirty-five years—not that they ever used the word “boyfriend.” When Craig turns up at a baseball game where Jay’s seventeen-year-old son is playing, Jay discovers the old attraction is still alive. It feels natural to invite Craig home to catch up, but reigniting their flame isn’t easy for anyone involved.

Review:

I enjoyed the easy flow of this story. Not a lot of angst. Jay runs into his old boyfriend Craig at his son’s baseball game. They immediately reconnect and Jay is shocked by the attraction that is still there. It seems that Jay’s wife died five years ago and he has spent the ensuing years raising his kids, and Craig’s partner died of cancer three years ago. They soon end up in bed, but are surprised by an early arrival by Jay’s son.

This was part reminiscing about the kids they’d been and part realizing they could have a second chance. I really liked Jay’s easy way with his bisexuality. He didn’t stress that he was attracted to men and had been attracted to and loved his wife. He’s always been the one easily accepting his teen relationship with Craig, assuring him it wasn’t wrong. It was nice not to have the big angsty “OMG, I might be gay” thing happening. I also thought it was handled well with the son. He was shocked but at 17 he was almost an adult and while it was awkward, it wasn’t  overly dramatic.

It’s also nice to see “old” guys still feeling the passion and excitement of an old relationship turned new. So while there isn’t a lot of conflict or drama here, I just really enjoyed the breezy feel of reunification. Two people happy they have a second chance and willing to grab it without stressing about it too much. I would definitely pick up something else by this author.

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FlexibilityTitle: Flexibility
Author: Maja Rose
Length: 6,104 words (27 pdf pages)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: m/m contemporary
Rating: B-

Blurb:

Jared Glass thinks he’s got a pretty sweet deal. Andrew Blackwell is his best friend and roommate, they both live for gymnastics, and Jared’s on his way to the 2016 Olympics. Then Jared’s teammate breaks his leg, and Andy is named his replacement … except no one tells Jared, and isn’t that something you’d tell your best friend? Then again, they’re good at bending around the obvious: Andy’s been in love with Jared for years but stays silent; Jared denies it could even be possible. Surely two friends this close can be more?

Review:

I think if you like characters who are rather flighty and self-deluded you’ll enjoy this, or he’ll make you crazy. Jared doesn’t handle change well, and just in advance of the Olympics, his roommate suddenly becomes his team-mate which throws him completely into a panic attack. He also sort of admits that he is into Andy, but has managed to convince himself that it’s normal he’s jealous of Andy’s boyfriends, and that he never wants him to leave. Besides, Jared’s had girlfriends.

Even Jared’s twin sister gives him grief over his hidden homosexuality, but he continues to deny it, until Andy is hurt in a car accident and he finally realizes the reality of it all.

I did enjoy Jared, even if he is totally over the top. His internal monologue as he convinces himself that he’s not in love with Andy, and that finding him attractive is normal, and telling himself that he’s totally self-aware, were amusing. Even though they cuddle and hold each other, he’s padding happily down the Nile.

Plus, Jared refuses to believe he’s that dumb. No way is he emotionally constipated enough not to have noticed he’s in love with his best friend. That would seriously be the worst example of self-awareness ever. Anna is totally wrong; he is like 300 percent innate emotional awareness, 200 percent muscle. Like Batman. Actually, bad example on the awareness slot.

The banter between Jared and his twin was cute. A typical sister she wastes no time in tell him he’s an idiot, and I liked that Andy was letting him go at his own pace, but I could see that Jared’s drama-queen antics could put some readers off. However it almost reminded me of a sitcom. Everything has to be just a little bit extreme to show how ridiculous he’s being. I found myself smiling while reading and the length is just right for that kind of humour as I doubt it could be sustained for a novel length book or it would make you crazy long before it ended. Great if you need a pick-me up.

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IceHeartSMTitle: Ice Heart
Author: Kay Ellis
Length: 10,125 words (40 pdf pages)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: m/m contemporary
Rating: B-

Blurb:

Jack Holloway loves two things: Aaron Stone and hockey. Unfortunately, he refuses to acknowledge the first and lets his temper rule the second. He’s turned his life into a list of “can’ts.” He can’t talk with his parents, can’t hold down a job, can’t stay out of trouble, and can’t let go of his reputation as a tough guy on the ice—even if it might cost him his career. Most of all, he can’t admit he has fallen in love with another man. If Jack doesn’t knock that chip off his shoulder, he’s going to lose it all. If he can accept himself and Aaron and stop hiding, he might be able to finally win something bigger than a timeout in the penalty box.

Review:

This friends-to-lovers hockey story starts out with a bang, literally. Jack is about to score a goal when he’s taken out by his own teammate. He punches Aaron, getting himself suspended and you are left wondering what their story is. It soon becomes clear, Aaron and Jack are best friends, and the night before, they had sex. Jack considers himself straight, and everyone knows that Aaron is gay. When Jack snuck out the next morning, Aaron was annoyed enough to ruin his scoring chance.

This is not professional hockey, but more small-town league. However the guys are mini-celebs and the puck-bunnies are lined up to have a good time, and Jack has never been stingy with sharing the love. However his sudden switch to the dark-side has him freaking out. Jack’s got issues. He’s the team enforcer with a temper, and keeps getting himself in trouble for fighting, eventually getting kicked off the team. He can’t seem to hold a job, still lives with his parents, and feels his life is just kind of going nowhere. He worries how his teammates and his parents will view him being gay,and of course, his fear hurts Aaron more than once.

Of course the fact that Jack, and Aaron, were both playing games rather than talking about it was frustrating, but that’s what people do sometimes. At least it didn’t go on for weeks and weeks, it was only a matter of a couple of days, if that. So I didn’t mind so much, and I liked how their teammates and coach were supportive of them, and figured it was “about time” since they were always together anyway. The only thing I would have liked was to see a bit more of Jack’s family’s reaction. His father seemed stunned but didn’t freak out exactly, so I would have enjoyed maybe a bit more exploration of his relationship with his parents, and whether finally admitting his love for Aaron would help put his life on a more positive path.

I did enjoy it though, and despite the stubborn behaviour, it fit Jack’s character that he would react either by lashing out or avoiding the situation. I think Aaron was a saint for putting up with him. 🙂

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HardDTitle: Hard D
Author: Elinor Gray
Length: 7,051 words (30 pdf pages)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: m/m contemporary
Rating: C+

Blurb:

en Meyers has played Ultimate Frisbee since his first week at college, and at every tournament he comes face to face with Darius O’Neill, his favorite rival. This time, though, their good-natured competition goes off the field to the after-party and beyond, when three years of tension finally breaks open on the sheets of Darius’s dorm-issue twin bed.

Review:

There are essentially two aspects to this book, the sport part and the relationship part. I quite enjoyed the relationship part, the sport part had me completely lost. Now this is me, one reader who has never played nor watched a game of Ultimate. I had not read the blurb when I started the story, and it took me a while to figure out what sport it was. I was just unfamiliar with the terminology, so I found it didn’t really make much sense some of the time, and I had trouble visualizing the action. Again, if you are an ultimate fan, this will likely be a non-issue.

However I quite enjoyed the two main characters. They’ve known each other from various tournaments over their time at neighboring universities. There is a bit of flirting and good-natured rivalry, but respect as well. It’s all in fun and no one seemed to take the games too seriously. So when they end up at Darius’s university for a big tournament hosted by Darius and his friends, it’s finally a chance for Ben and Darius to get together.

The sex was well written and rather sweet, given that the guys had been crushing on each other for a while. And there is talk of seeing each other after, although they live one hour apart and seem to think that is a big deal. I think I grew up in an unusual situation or maybe it’s a Canadian thing? But that’s not a big deal. Meet in the middle, that’s 30 min. 🙂 It’s one hour from one end of our spread-out city to the other. But hey, that’s me.

I salute the author for using a rather obscure (although apparently growing in popularity) sport, but perhaps a glossary would have been useful for people like me to understand what the different positions meant. I just wasn’t clear what their roles were supposed to be, or exactly how you scored a point. Still, if you want to give an alternative sport a whirl, the romance in the second part of the book is definitely worthwhile reading.

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ShotatForgivenessLGTitle: A Shot at Forgiveness
Author: Cardeno C
Length: 16,641 words
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Rating: C

Blurb: A dozen years, two thousand miles, and a law degree after high school, Rafi Steiner continues to harbor resentment toward Isaac Jones, his childhood bully turned NBA star. When Isaac appears at Rafi’s favorite restaurant acting like a long-lost friend, Rafi bluntly dismisses him.

But Isaac is tenacious and has his heart set on the grown-up version of the boy he always wanted and never forgot. The way Isaac sees it, he and Rafi are perfect for each other, if only he could sink the most important shot of his life: his one shot at forgiveness.

Review: A Preface: I’ve only read one piece of work by Cardeno C prior to this, which was her very first published book with Dreamspinner in 2011. I had to review that book and let’s just say… I didn’t like it, pretty much at all. I think that for my feelings, which were mostly frustration, I gave a pretty good middle-of-the-road rating and review. And since then, I’ve abstained myself from accepting or requesting any reviews, even reading for pleasure. But my feelings about the author, which admittedly were based on little and early evidence, have grown weaker with so many releases, many of which were very well accepted.

So I’m a little frustrated that I again, had quite a bit of trouble with this story. There is hope for me and Cardeno C, however! My problems with that first book were mostly about execution, something that I probably should have given her more of a pass on since it was her first book. The execution in this story wasn’t a problem at all. If that were my only rating criteria, I’d probably give this a B or B-, because while I didn’t have problems with the actual writing, I did think that the story would have benefitted from drawing out the relationship over time. While some might not feel that two weeks getting to know someone when they’ve had a solid childhood together in their past as insta-love, I definitely did, especially since they weren’t best friends, they just grew up going to the same classes.

I think that what really bothered me was the character change in Rafi. What first comes across as brashness, or self-confidence later seems to be a facade in the sight of Isaac’s heavy-handed demeanor and possessiveness. Once he says that he loves a possessive guy who can over power him it becomes him allowing Isaac to tell him what to do, and that bothered me. Not only did I find it disappointing because I don’t really like characters like that much, but mostly because what I had grown to like about Rafi was thrown to the side.

In the end, I just couldn’t feel any way about it other than insta-love because the guys really don’t know each other that well, no matter how many details about their likes and dislikes they might remember from childhood. So, I’m heartened in the fact that I might more easily give Cardeno C a try in the future, due to the progression I’ve seen in her writing over the past two years. Sadly, this story just wasn’t the one I should have chosen.

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