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Posts Tagged ‘Jenna Jones’

lightsout185Title: The Haunted Halloween of Barnaby Sloan
Author: Jenna Jones
Length: 7,600 words (28 pdf pages)
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m paranormal
Rating: C+

Blurb: 

It’s Halloween, and Barnaby and his friends plan to do their usual Halloween ghost walk at a local park that is rumored to be haunted. Barnaby worries his new boyfriend Liam will find their plans ridiculous, and he doesn’t even believe in ghosts, but he invites Liam to join them on the ghost walk anyway.

While their friends scare each other at the park, Barnaby confides in Liam about why he doesn’t believe in an afterlife. Then Barnaby hears a familiar voice whispering his name — and of course, he must investigate…

Review:

This is a sequel to The Wishing Book of Barnaby Sloan which was reviewed on the site last October, but which I confess I have not read. It’s not essential you read it, but it would probably be worthwhile. This story takes place only a short time after the last book. Barnaby has been seeing his older boyfriend Liam for a bit, although they’ve not really been dating, more falling into bed. This Halloween, Barnaby worked at a wedding that Liam attended and despite their relationship, Barnaby is not really sure they are “dating”. He can’t figure out why a great guy like Liam would be into him.

Liam asked him out after the wedding, but Barnaby declined as he had plans to go ghost hunting with his friends, and he’s sure a guy like Liam wouldn’t want to do that. His friends give him a bit of a hassle, and when Liam shows up unexpectedly, they push Barnaby to invite him, and to Barnaby’s surprise he’s more than happy to go along.

The event takes place in a local park, supposedly built on a grave-yard. After wandering around in the dark and taking some time to share some personal info, Barnaby hears something odd nearby and of course, like a victim in a horror movie, sneaks off on his own to check it out, getting attacked by some thugs while doing so.

There’s not much to the story. A hint of the paranormal, but I think for fans of the first book they’ll enjoy seeing the couple move forward and share some more intimate details about themselves. It’s more about Barnaby and his desire to believe in the paranormal for personal reasons, rather than a romantic story. If you enjoyed the first story, you will enjoy this one as well.

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Title: The Wishing Book of Barnaby Sloan
Author: Jenna Jones
Length: 7,900 words
Publisher: Torquere
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Rating: C+

Blurb: Nothing exciting happens to Barnaby Sloane. He has a crush on the director of the museum where he volunteers, Liam Morrison, but has never allowed himself to believe it could become anything more.

For his twenty-fifth birthday, Barnaby is given a leather-bound journal. Since it’s his birthday and people expect him to have wishes, Barnaby writes his wishes in the journal: that he could go to Egypt with his archaeologist aunt, that he could work at the museum permanently, and that he could share his life with Liam. It’s just a game until his wishes start coming true.

Review: Barnaby Sloan is called into his boss’ office after giving a tour to a group of children at the Natural History museum, only to find a surprise. It is Barnaby’s birthday and when he celebrates with his friends later that night, he’s delighted to see his present from his world-traveling aunt — a prayer book. For some reason, the wishes he wrote down seem to be coming true…

This is a cute story that does well within the time constraints, though still felt a little rushed to me. The basis of the story comes through, that is the validation Barnaby needs for his self-esteem. He’s rather put together for his age, but still unsure of himself and in the process of transition into an adult, especially in his career and academia, both of which are on the cusp of something bigger. I liked that the story approaches this in a rather light hearted manner.

Unfortunately, I never really felt like I knew anything at all about Liam, Barnaby’s crush and love interest. On the one hand, I understand that this story is supposed to be a prelude to a relationship; there isn’t time to develop more than that. On the other hand, I didn’t really feel like Liam was a three dimensional character. With so much of the focus on Barnaby himself, Liam seemed more of an older male caricature to me and their relationship brought up a lot of problems that while briefly recognized (at least one of them) were never explored at all.

I’ve liked this author in the past, but I’ve also had some difficulty getting into her longer work, so I was a little unsure about reading this story, though I liked the blurb. I was fairly happy with it, though, and it did a commendable job of consolidating a story to the required length (which some of the others have really failed at). So, in the end I was pleased, and I definitely enjoyed the story — it was something short, cute and uncomplicated when I needed it.

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Title: Tryst, an Apples and Gin Story
Author: Jenna Jones
Length: 7,900 words
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m/m contemporary
Rating: C+

Blurb:
Noah Kingston and Sawyer Shaw from the Apples & Gin series adore their friend David. He’s been a good friend to them for decades, he’s directing one of Sawyer’s videos, he’ll be the best man at their wedding, and they want to make him as happy as they can in return. They’re devoted to each other, but is there room in their relationship for one more?

Review:
In all these collections of short stories, whether here at TQ or at some of the DSP daily dose stories, you always get a story that’s really just aimed at the fans of a particular couple. Your enjoyment of these types of stories therefore depends on either how much you love the couple and long to revisit them, or whether the author does a good enough job of drawing you into the established couple’s story that it doesn’t matter that you’ve not read the source book. Tryst was this type of story. I happen to have read the previous story, Apples and Gin: Wedding Cake, but none of the others in the series. In the case of this book I don’t think it really matters because the focus is more on how the couple, Noah and Sawyer, try to help a friend by allowing him into their bed.

Noah and Sawyer are pretty established as a couple and are planning on getting married. Sawyer is a singer who has written a duet with Noah which is to be released shortly before their wedding in February (I see a Valentine Sip coming up here). The video for the song is being filmed by David, an actor friend of Noah’s who is quite a lonely guy. Noah can see that there’s an attraction between Sawyer and David, but is at first surprised when Sawyer asks him whether they can ask David to share their bed.

The positives of the book are that all the characters are well drawn and interesting. Sawyer and Noah are obviously in love, as it can been seen in all their words and actions. It was nice to see two men so comfortably in love and secure in their feelings for each other that they feel confident enough to bring in another man without it damaging that. David, too, was rounded as a character and I felt sorry for him that he’s a successful actor and yet can’t get that same success with relationships. The sex between the three men was well choreographed and inclusive and I was happy about the way the book ended in terms of the three-way relationship.

What didn’t work so well was that the story felt rather like a set-up both for a wedding story for Noah and Sawyer, as well as a possible off-shoot story for David. Whilst technically there’s nothing wrong with this, the end left me a little flat because very little is resolved or changed for the characters. The story ended up being a nice little slice of life for Noah and Sawyer, plus a solidly written m/m/m sex scene, but nothing that was particularly unusual or memorable.  Fans of the series, and these characters, will really like it, especially as the story is aimed mostly at them.

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Title: Learning to Waltz
Author: Jenna Jones
Length: 7,000 words (17 pages)
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m contemporary
Rating: B-

Blurb: 
Conor was hired by the Todd family to keep Gabriel safe and sober. Conor has done his job so well that Gabriel no longer needs a caretaker, but they can’t bring themselves to part ways.

Gabriel and Conor live in a comfortable rhythm, pushing and pulling each other in a cautious dance. Conor doesn’t think he’s Gabriel’s perfect partner, but Gabriel may have other ideas…

Review:
This was a cute little short about hired caretaker/companion Conor who, over the last three years, has been responsible for pulling rich kid Gabriel out of a drug habit and keeping him on the straight and narrow. Unfortunately for Conor, during this time he has fallen for his charge. He’s reasonably happy with the close friendship they share but at Gabriel’s birthday party it turns out that Gabriel isn’t as content as Conor with the situation.

I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say where this story is heading :). I have a soft spot for friends to lovers stories and this one was just perfect for getting a quick fix of the theme. I thought the author did a good job of showing the closeness between the men and how Gabriel’s past actions and Conor’s part in his rehabilitation had shaped them and their relationship. Gabriel could have come across as a selfish and spoiled brat – and perhaps if we had seen him when Conor first meets him that would have been the case – but instead he’s a warm character who, through Conor’s guidance, has matured into a thoughtful young man.

There’s not much room for anything else in such a short story but there’s enough space to give the reader clues as to the reasons why Gabriel went off the rails and to show the restrictions of living within such a rich and influential family.

If I have any complaints it’s that there were a few loose threads left at the end, particularly in relation to Gabriel’s family and how they would react to the change in relationship between Gabriel and Conor. This wasn’t enough to spoil the story too much though and I found myself charmed by a pair of likeable men and a sweet story which left me with the warm fuzzies.

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Title: Apples and Gin: Wedding Cake
Author: Jenna Jones
Length: 7,100 words (29 pages)
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m contemporary
Rating: B-

Blurb:
Noah Kingston and Sawyer Shaw agreed to get married on Valentine’s Day in Boston, and the day has finally arrived. Noah wants to give Sawyer the wedding of his dreams, but it won’t be perfect without Sawyer’s family attending, too.

Sawyer has always had the most faith in their love. When Noah learns Sawyer’s family doesn’t intend to even see him again if the wedding takes place, Noah wonders if that faith will be enough to get Sawyer down the aisle.

Review:
I accidentally jumped right into the end of a series with this sweet valentine story as I hadn’t realised it was part of a series. It begins as two men are preparing for their wedding day. Noah is an artist and Sawyer a singer. They’ve been together for a while and have decided to get married in Boston on Valentine’s Day. Their preparations are slightly spoiled by the knowledge that Sawyer’s family won’t come to the wedding, but Noah is determined that he and his own loving family can be a support for Sawyer.

There was much to like about this short. Sawyer and Noah are obviously deeply in love and it was really heartwarming to see their loving interactions. They have been apart for a little while and the longing they feel to be alone as soon as possible gave a nice short bit of sexual tension before leading into a very tender sex scene. There’s not much to the story itself and the focus is mainly on the romantic lead up to the big day, plus the sorrow that Sawyer feels over his family’s rejection. Other characters flit in and around the couple adding depth to the characterisation. The sweet and the angsty blended well in the storyline, and if the sweetness over-rode everything by the end, I could forgive it. It was a valentine’s story, after all :).

Overall, if you are looking for a delightfully romantic read, which is high on sweetness with a touch of angst, then I recommend this story. I probably would have got more out of the characters if I’d followed the series, but at least now I can go back and read how they first met each other – something to look forward to!

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