book reviews · m/m romance

Book Review: Reiko Morgan’s “Over the Mountain of the Moon” (2010)

over-the-mountain-of-the-moonI was a little hesitant to read another “courtesan” story, but this book’s preview chapters were so immensely compelling that I dove right in! The story remained compelling throughout, moving at a fast pace, with a new danger or difficulty around every corner that’s sure to keep you glued to your seat.

Over the Mountain is probably the most sentimental and romantic book I’ve read in a while. I don’t say that as a negative, but I was a little surprised! The speed of Tetsuya and Jin’s romance was possibly too fast at the beginning, a little incredulous perhaps, but as time went on it became clear just how well suited they were for each other, and how good they were for each other. So perhaps there is such a thing as love at first sight, and this is it!

The setting of the book was just lovely, and Morgan’s descriptive writing is beautiful. There was no excessive, forced, this-is-Japan description; it simply was Japan (probably best to leave your history lessons at the door, though; I don’t think strict historical accuracy was the goal here- and it wasn’t necessary!). The story takes place in winter, with the snow and ice a permanent feature and background throughout the book. It was gorgeous. And as someone who has a serious love of (almost fetish for!) kimonos, all the silk was an absolute delight.

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book reviews · m/m romance

Ava March’s “Convincing Arthur” (2009) & “Convincing Leopold” (2011)


24587277I thoroughly enjoyed both these books! They were fun, steamy, and ultimately sweet. The writing is of a very high standard and the characters are excellent. The pacing is perfect- there’s never a dull moment, and the plot moves along swiftly. The first book has a solid conclusion, but I am sure readers will be eager to get into the sequel as soon as possible, which brings Arthur and Leopold’s story to a very satisfying end. (I have to admit that I assumed the third book in this series, Convincing the Secretary, was also about our boys and I was pretty disappointed that it wasn’t- though it’s still a great book in itself!)

These books may be closer to m/m erotica than m/m romance, but I still think that the relationship between Arthur and Leopold was quite well thought-out and well-developed, with each character facing their own demons and making choices about the kind of lives they want to live. Despite Leopold’s charismatic, outgoing personality, he has a very soft, vulnerable side that I think readers will really respond to. His internal darkness is addressed more explicitly in the second book, and I really appreciated how the author handled it. Arthur is much, much more reserved, and has a lot more to lose by letting himself be with Leopold. It takes courage on his part to follow his heart.

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book reviews · m/m romance

Book Review: Ann Somerville’s “More Than A Thousand Words” (2015)

fb8a0ad0bd3c9602d88c24aff136a8bbfc1a5b67This is a light, happy, easy read that is sure to put you in a good mood. It’s also one of the few Somerville works which isn’t drenched in darkness and foreboding- and although I happen to like the darkness and foreboding, More Than A Thousand Words definitely made for a nice change.

There’s a lot to enjoy here: the writing is great, the pace is perfect, and the characters are very loveable. Luce is bright, temperamental, entertaining- and loves to wear skirts and nail polish. Steve is sturdy and adorably reliable- and 2000% just fine with whatever his unpredictable, gender-fluid boyfriend chooses to wear (indeed, those long, super-silky skirts are a real turn-on). They work together very well, and are sappy and sugary-sweet, in the best way possible. Which, of course, doesn’t mean they don’t have problems to work through- and it’s thoroughly satisfying to see the two work through them. Ultimately they’re the best kind of support for each other- and this is just the kind of romance I need regular injections of to keep my pessimism at bay.

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book reviews · m/m romance · Sam's Favorite Books

Book Review: Eli Easton’s “The Mating of Michael” (2014)

22370569WOW. Just…wow! This book is incredible and blew me away entirely. I didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into when I started reading it, and probably wasn’t quite prepared for such an intense emotional onslaught. This is the kind of book that’ll have you sneaking away from a party to read by yourself in a corner or staying up all night to finish. It’s the kind of book that will occupy all your thoughts and feelings even once you’re finished. It’s the kind of book you’ll want EVERYONE to read, to hold up as an outstanding example of the m/m romance genre. And…it’s probably the kind of book you’ll want to re-name to give a slightly less, um, cheesy title…ha.

One might expect angst from a story about a lonely man in a wheelchair, but this was angst on a whole new level. The fact that James is in a wheelchair quickly fades into the background as being far less important than his other emotional issues- his scars and childhood trauma, that have left him with crippling social anxiety, depression, and a raw, desperate fear of letting anyone inside his shields. James’s POV chapters are swamped with his dark and pessimistic outlook on life and his future: he’s at a critical, desperate point in his life where he is truly struggling to see any light. Reading about his journey to overcome his fears- even of small things, like going somewhere new and unfamiliar- will be a visceral experience for anyone who’s faced the same issues. In fact I might even put in a word of caution here for readers with depression; I found James’s battle to be almost distressingly realistic.

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book reviews · m/m romance · Sam's Favorite Books

Book Review: N.R. Walker’s “Imago” (2017)

34342184This was a truly striking read, one I would recommend to anyone- shout from the rooftops, in fact- and not just to fans of m/m romance! The plot, pacing, and emotional depth were exceptional, and the characters were lively and likeable. This book had me hooked right from the summary- a geeky butterfly expert? A rugged wilderness ranger? The Tasmanian bushland?! I could not buy and download this book fast enough! I read it within a day and it was fantastic.

N.R. Walker writes amazing characters. Lawson is a precious boy and I adored him. He’s comfortable in his own skin and his own style (bowties! suspenders!), and is living exactly the life he wants, doggedly pursuing his purpose- and he doesn’t give a single flying f**k if his purpose (namely, butterflies) seems a little strange to others. Or, indeed, if he himself seems strange to others. It’s clear he’s not one to compromise. He might be mildly lonely, but he sure as hell isn’t interested in anyone who doesn’t accept who he is. I think he’s actually quite surprised- in disbelief, in fact- when Jack seems to be SO entirely accepting and even in awe of who he is. But even with Jack’s overt, overwhelming attempts to court him, he’s not going to let this charismatic, strong-willed guy just get his own way. Lawson has standards, and those standards need to be met before he’ll give any of himself away. Of course it’s utterly adorable to see Lawson’s surprise and delight at Jack’s efforts to impress and please him, and it’s lovely to read about the two of them gradually getting closer.

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m/m romance

Book Review: R. Cooper’s “A Little Familiar” (2015)

26862609Reading A Little Familiar is like curling up on an armchair with a fluffy blanket and drinking a warm, sweet cup of tea. It’s the kind of book that’s best read on a rainy, lazy day. It will leave you feeling contentedly blissed-out and at ease with the world. …or, at least, that’s how I felt when I read it!

Cooper’s book is unapologetically domestic, taking place almost entirely within Piotr’s home- and a cosy, warm place it is! An apple orchard out the back, a wooden porch covered in cats, fresh bread and muffins in the oven- it’s utterly charming. And the characters are just as charming: silent, stalwart, steadfast Piotr and quick, bright, glittering Bartleby. As much as poor Bartleby’s name irked me, that character himself was delightful- all sparking, bold, gender-fluidity. The chemistry between them is fantastic, with the two characters sparking against each other from the very beginning. There’s no mystery here: it’s clear what will happen, and when it does you’ll enjoy it. A lot.

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book reviews · m/m romance

Book Review: Ginn Hale’s “Lord of the White Hell: Book Two” (2010)

61ne6qyjhel-_sy344_bo1204203200_It this second half of Lord of the White Hell we see the completion of Kiram and Javier’s story as they learn to understand and control the “White Hell” and face its consequences. The book picks up directly where the last book left off and the action begins at once, with no unnecessary “previously-on” to bog down the reader. The pace is swift and pleasing with never a dull moment. I am certain you won’t be able to put this book down! Plan for a late night- it will be worth it.

Book Two has approximately 2000% more action than Book One, both in terms of violence and sex. None of it is gratuitous, however, except for one upsetting, bloody scene towards the end. Kiram and Javier’s physical relationship progresses quickly, as does their emotional connection. That they are deeply in love is clear to anyone.

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