Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Dark Tide

Title: The Dark Tide
Author: Josh Lanyon
Publisher: Loose Id
Publisher URL: http://www.loose-id.com/
ISBN: 978-1-60737-490-9
Genre: [M/M] Suspense
Rating: 5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Mystical Nymph

As usual, Adrien English’s life is in turmoil. He’s still recovering from open heart surgery and after three weeks of staying with his over-protective extended family, he has finally escaped back to his apartment. He hasn’t been home a day when someone is trying to break into the bookstore, and Adrien doesn’t have a clue what the intruder might be looking for. Is it a random burglary attempt, or is something else going on?

Then there’s the little matter of two previous lovers, Mel and Guy, trying to come back into his life. What’s he supposed to do about that, especially when he still has unresolved issues dealing with the now out-of-the-closet Jake, who he still can’t get out of his head or heart, despite the pain of their past.

On top of that, there’s another mystery to solve; when the other half of his building came up for sale, Adrien bought it. Now, his contractor is renovating the three-story structure, and wouldn’t you know it…on the walled up third floor, they find a fifty year-old body between two floor joists. Between the attempted break-ins and the body, Adrien turns to his wayward lover for help and Jake is more than happy to run to his aide. Can these two men find their way back to each other, or will they discover the only thing they have in common is pain and death?

The Dark Tide, the fifth and long-awaited final installment of the Adrien English Mysteries series is finally here. As a fan of the series, I’m thrilled with the ending of the story arc, but it’s still sad knowing characters I’ve enjoyed so much since reading Fatal Shadows for the first time, won’t have any further adventures.

At the end of Death of a Pirate King, Adrien was in the hospital following surgery, after being shot. This new release takes up approximately three weeks later, during the period where Adrien is recuperating from open heart surgery. If you’ve missed the previous books in this wonderfully constructed series, I’d like to assure you to go ahead and read this one first, but I can’t. There’s so much background information, family interaction, history between Jake and Adrien and emotional baggage dealt with in the other books that the only way to really understand what’s going on, is to read them in order. Which isn’t a hardship, believe me.

Once again, Josh Lanyon has gifted his readers with a fantastic read. The characters of Jake and Adrien are still compelling, but they’ve both changed markedly. At times, Adrien is a little more bitter than before. He doesn’t know what to do about his feelings for Jake, but he still can’t give him up. Jake is still big, hunky and all alpha male, but more open; not just to his sexuality, but his feelings for Adrien. So, in reality, there are really two stories running through the book; Adrien and Jake’s relationship, and the complex fifty year-old murder mystery.

Both portions of the story are well written, and flow seamlessly from one to the other. The wordage is tight and efficient, but at the same time filled with tenderness, passion, pain and hope. There are old familiar characters and new interesting one interspersed throughout the story, not only fleshing out the plot, but giving it a sense of depth and complexity I enjoyed. I particularly enjoyed revisiting with Adrien’s fourteen year-old step-sister, Emma and the new character Jazz, who’s now in her seventies. These two are about as different as possible, yet both add a certain spice to the overall plot.

I’ve liked Jake from the beginning, felt sorry that he’d lived a lie his entire life. He’s definitely not perfect, in fact far from it, but he’s flawed in expected ways that have allowed him to survive in his closeted world. In The Dark Tide he’s allowed to be himself for the first time as an adult, and his difficulty verbalizing his depth of feeling to Adrien is a huge stumbling block in the reconciliation of their relationship. Yet Mr. Lanyon does that and does it well. These two have so much hurt standing like a barrier between them that it would have been easy to just call it quits but instead, this talented author has worked the characters through their problems in a realistic manner and allowed them to come out content and satisfied in the end.

Okay, I’ve finally gotten to the end of this very long review and I can truthfully say that this is one of my all time favorite series, and some time in the future I’ll be reading it again. The quality of the writing, the depth of characters, the emotions and passion, and basic story telling skills gives the wonderful series a place in my keeper file. I’ve enjoyed and I’m certain you will, too.

Lessons in Temptation

Title: Lessons in Temptation
Author: Charlie Cochrane
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Publisher URL: http://www.samhainpublishing.com/
ISBN: 978-1-60504-845-1
Genre: {M/M} Historical
Rating: 5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Scandalous Minx

Orlando Coppersmith and Jonty Stewart are visiting Bath and wishing for a mystery to solve. The twosome gains their wish, when a twenty-five year old murder is brought to their attention, and they are requested to unravel the mystery.

Orlando and Jonty do quite a juggling act in the latest Cambridge Fellows Mystery release, Lessons in Temptation. Charlie Cochrane expertly adds the mystery into this story along with a bit of work, as well as Jonty’s interaction with an old school chum that could lead from noon tea to becoming a nooner. It was hard to imagine Jonty cheating on Orlando. The two men have brought so much to each other’s lives. But the bit of spice more than kept the story flowing and had me hoping against hope that he wouldn’t lose his lover. The mystery itself is well written and I will admit I never correctly guessed who committed the crime.

I’ve come to love this series because of the mysteries. And while Jonty and Orlando do have some intimate moments, they never make me lose focusing on the “who done it” portion of these stories. If you enjoy gay mysteries, pick up a copy; you won’t be disappointed.

Out of the Fire

Title: Out of the Fire
Author: Ariel Tachna
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publisher URL: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/
ISBN: 978-1-61581-214-1
Genre: [M/M] Contemporary BDSM
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Mystical Nymph

Evan Nichols is, at heart, a happy man. He has a job he enjoys, lives in Boston - a city that suits his temperament, and is a respected Dom in the local BDSM community. When his best friend and fellow Dom, Rhys Calhoun calls from Las Vegas needing his help, Evan drops everything and flies across the country to help. Except, he isn’t certain it’s possible, or that he should get involved. Rhys is the successful owner of Metamorphosis, the only BDSM club in town, and he’s fallen in love with a long-time employee, Takoda Cordier, an abused sub, and Rhys needs help rehabilitating him.

It seems like a situation Rhys should be able to hand on his own, but he can’t. The Dom’s too emotionally involved and upset over what happened to Takoda, a man who wasn’t involved in the BDSM lifestyle. Seeing the man he loves scarred, frightened, uncertain and afraid to leave the house is tearing Rhys apart, leaving him feeling out of control and emotionally ragged. It’s up to Evan to find a way to heal both Takoda and Rhys, while dealing with his own issues of suddenly discovering he wants a sub of his own.

Out of the Fire might be steeped in the BDSM lifestyle but at heart, it’s a story of friendship, trust and recovery. There aren’t many people who would put their life on hold for another person, no matter how good or long the friendship, but that exactly what drew me to Evan’s character in the first place. That even if he thought the situation was impossible; the very fact Rhys called and asked for help…he went.

It was nice seeing bits and pieces of Evan and Rhys’ friendship interjected into the story. Including the information allowed a thorough understanding of just how deep the feelings of the two men went. They’d do pretty much anything for each other…which brings us back to Takoda. The author’s expression of his emotional and physical misery was extremely well done, leaving no doubt how much he’d suffered at the hands of his abusive tormentor. There’s also never any doubt of how much Rhys love him…enough to bring in another man to help him, even if seeing his friend touching Takoda makes him a crazy with jealousy.

There are plenty of sexual scenes with Takoda and Rhys acting as subs to Evan’s Dom, but they never seem out of place in the overall plot of the book. I guess, I mean they never felt like they’d been stuck in just for the sake of sex…if you get my drift.

A nice addition to the plot at the mid-way point was Patrick, the man…the sub, from Boston that Evan couldn’t stop thinking about. Having him speak to Takoda, letting him know what it means to be a sub…from a sub’s point of view was a nice touch. I also appreciated Patrick’s portrayal as a man who liked to be submissive during sex, but who still had a job, opinions and a strong personality outside the bedroom or dungeon.

I liked these four men and would really like it if the author revisited them again sometime in the future…even if it’s only a short.

Caging the Beast

Title: Caging the Beast
Author: Marie Harte
Publisher: Total-E-Bound
Publisher URL: http://www.total-e-bound.com/
ISBN: 978-1-907280-29-0
Genre: {M/M} Futuristic, Light BDSM
Rating: 5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Scandalous Minx

Zachem'zen, a Creation on the run from peacekeepers, has been enslaved and made to work as a brawler in an underground fighting pen. Despite his brawn, he’s a submissive at heart and his nature leads him to desire the newest member of Colony6.

Tarn “the Destroyer” has grown tired of policing the rogue Ebrellions and wants a bit of action. Working undercover for his nephew lands him in Colony6 as a slave, but it also leads him to his soulmate, Zachem'zen, “the Beast”.

Marie Harte’s Creation series keeps getting better and better. I love the latest release, Caging the Beast. Both of these characters are strong men. There is no favorite between the two main characters, each brought something unique to the story and kept me on the edge of my seat. Zachem’zen wanted love and to be able to trust someone not to use him. After reading more about him, and watching Zachem’zen interact with the main and supporting characters, it was hard not to like the giant of a man. Tarn is the type of man you would want to rescue you from the depths of a pit. He is a formidable fighter and a superior lover who knows what’s important to his mate. I could feel their emotions pouring off the pages. If you enjoy futuristic gay stories with great fighting scenes, then you are in for a treat.

The Taste of You

Title: The Taste of You
Author: Sara Bell
Publisher: Torquere Press
Publisher URL: http://www.torquerebooks.com/
ISBN: None listed
Genre: [M/M] Contemporary Vampire
Rating: 3.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Mystical Nymph

Ten years ago, life changed for every human on earth when werewolves, vampires and other creatures of the night stopped hiding from the world. Unlike his family and friends, who’d like to pretend the newly acknowledged creatures exist, Wyatt Shelton doesn’t believe in pretending. With that in mind, he decides the best step is to sign up as a blood donor for those vampires who can’t tolerate bagged blood. He’s determined, nervous and shocked to find the vampire he’s been assigned to, is none other than his ex-boyfriend, Luke…the man who broke his heart.

The Taste of You is a fun, quick read about a world in change and how Wyatt deals with it, in spite of the vocal objections of his family. I liked that he stood by his convictions; determined to do what he thought was right, even in the face of the loud differing opinions of his family. The story is engaging from the beginning and the fact the author didn’t make a ‘perfect’ world, instead leaving it filled with prejudiced people made it all the more realistic. The realism even extended to Luke’s job as a social worker, which I thought was a hoot. I do wish that the ending had been a little longer…it seemed a bit abrupt.