Sunday, March 30, 2014

An Intoxicating Crush by EM Lynley

Synopsis From Publisher:

Simon Ford's success is hard-won.  He grew up in Napa and resents the rich people who have moved into the valley, changing the culture by opening boutique wineries and pricing the locals out of the market.

Austin Kelvin runs an award-winning winery his father started after making a fortune on Wall Street.  He lives the posh lifestyle Simon resents but secretly longs to attain.  However, Austin's world isn't as luxurious and privileged as it seems.: he didn't inherit his father's business savvy, and his winery is going under.

When Simon's boss sends him to covertly scope out Kelvin Cellars for a possible takeover bid, Simon sees it as a step toward attaining his financial dreams.  Until he falls hard for Austin.  The feeling is mutual, but when Austin learns the real reason for Simon's initial interest, he suspects Simon's seduction is merely a means to procure the winery at a bargain price.  If there's any hope of winning Austin's heart, Simon will have to risk it all to prove Austin is more than just an intoxicating crush.

I'm really not sure what the hell is wrong with me, but I can't stop reading gay romance novels right now.  It seems to be this huge addiction I have, that no matter how many I read, it's never enough.  Let me put it this way, I would have to review a book a day for over a year, and I still wouldn't be done writing reviews for the books/novellas that I've already read.  It's ridiculous and I know, but I keep getting my grubby hands on more.  It's a good thing that it doesn't take that long to read them, even a 500+ page book on a NOOK is a piece of cake.

I have found that through all this reading, I'm developing the taste for certain authors, and for certain story lines.  I'm not a huge fan of anything paranormal, so werewolves and vampires are out.  I've read a few of them, but they don't really do anything for me.  I've found myself gravitating towards the hyper-masculine plot lines: cops, firemen, soldiers, cowboys, ranchers, and various other "manly" stereotypes.  I also like stories that feature a normal every day couple, if they happen to be rich and have killer bodies, as they face the trials and tribulations that only a romance author can dream up.

EM Lynley is one of those authors that I seem to enjoy, not as much as a few others, but more than most.   The characters, like Austin and Simon, seem to be grounded in reality and not an idolized version of what a gay man is supposed to be, even if they are incredibly gorgeous and rock the perfect body.  It's the emotions behind the couple that seems to feel the most real for me with these two characters.  Their insecurities shine through as much as their virtues.  They are both complex men who find solace and love with each other, something that I'm still looking for in my own life.   Which might explain my addiction to romance lately.  I've taken myself out of the dating pool for so long, that now I'm starting to think it's time to dip my toes into the water again.

That's not to say that reading romance is going to give me the best outlook for such an endeavor. Life isn't a romance novel.  As much as I would love to meet a guy like Austin, I'm not holding my breath.  And at my age, while I'm not willing to settle, I know that happily ever after is a little more work than the brilliant endings the typical romance book personifies it to be.

I guess you want to know about the book though, not my odd ramblings you have been treated to so far.  Simon and Austin are the kind of guys that I could be friends with, they seem to be a little bit more laid back and well grounded that a lot of the heroes I been reading about lately.  They are at the same place in life, even if it doesn't appear to be at first.  Austin looks as if he has everything, while Simon is doing everything he can to get everything.  In reality all they are both looking for is a happy home and someone to share it with.  They find it in each other, and even when it appears as if the obstacles in their way are insurmountable, it's obvious that the foundation to recover is already established, and that there is really nothing to worry about.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

House Warming Weekend (All In My Head Of Course)

So I just bought a new home, and I'm rather proud of it.  So I thought what better way to celebrate my purchase, than by throwing an old fashioned house party.  I'm going to invite 13 of my closest friends over for the weekend, and we are going to have so much fun.  They will arrive on Thursday and be out of my hair by Monday afternoon.  It wasn't even that hard to make up the guest list really, since I plan on throwing one of these parties, at least once a month, I don't need to worry about hurting anyone's feelings.

There will be board games in the parlor, some lovely tennis matches on the clay courts, and maybe even a fox hunt or two.  Of course we aren't going to hurt the fox, what kind of person do you think I am.  We will dine on succulent feasts and regale each other with tales of adventure and love, all while sitting by one of many roaring fireplaces.  Who knows, we may even make history somehow.

So I'm assuming you are wanting to see the first guest list right now.  I know the society papers are dying to know, so you must be all giddy with excitement.  I tried to make the list as well rounded and lively as I could.  I just hope the guests all get along, though it may be nice to see a fight break out.  Maybe even get to witness a good brawl or two.  Pretty sure that won't happen, but a boy could always dream.

I know that most of you will recognize many of my friends who will be spending the weekend in my home, I just hope the jealousy doesn't eat you up inside.  Depending on how this party goes, I may even invite a few of you along to the next ones.  But until then, look at this list, and drool.

Dame Agatha Christie, Mystery Novelist

Nick & Nora Charles, Sleuthing's Premier Couple

Mame Dennis Burnside, New York Socialite

President Barack Obama & First Lady Michelle Obama, President and First Lady of the United States

Diane Rehm, Journalist and NPR Radio Host

Vanyel Ashkevron, Herald Mage of Valdemar

Anderson Cooper, Journalist and CNN Anchor

Loreena Mckennitt, Canadian Musician

Robert Burns, Scottish Poet

Barbara Stanwyck, Hollywood Screen Legend

Mario Frangoulis, Greek Tenor

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie

Synopsis From Back Over:

Christmas Eve, and the Lee family's reunion is shattered by a deafening crash of furniture and a high-pitched scream.  Upstairs, the tyrannical Simeon Lee lies dead in a pool of blood, his throat slashed.

When Hercule Poirot offers to assist, he finds an atmosphere not of mourning but of mutual suspicion.  It seems everyone had their own reason to hate the old man...

So I am ridiculously slow on my Agatha Christie self challenge.  How the hell was I naive enough to think I would be able to do this in one year?  I'm not even half way through, and it's almost five years later.  One piece of good news though, with this book, I am officially over halfway through the Hercule Poirot books!  I don't hate him anymore, but I prefer to spend my time with Jane, Parker, Tommy, and Tuppence.  They don't grate on my nerves the way Hercule does.

This wasn't a book I had read before, at least I don't remember anything about it.  I'm not even sure I've ever seen the PBS Mystery version of it.  So I was able to go into with a fresh, open mind, and I loved it.  There was nothing about it I didn't like, though it was the setting and the characters that made me fall in love and not let go.

Dame Agatha was brilliant at setting her stories, and she was on her A game here.  Who doesn't want to spend Christmas in an English manor house, with all the odd assortment of relatives and hanger-ons.  Add in a good old fashioned murder, and you have me hooked.  It's the perfect Christmas, and why someone hasn't made it happen for me yet, disappoints me every year.  So if one of you guys would be so inclined to make this happen for me this Christmas, I would really appreciate.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Wordsmithonia Radio: Random 80s

So I'm sitting at home, listening to some music, and I'm finding all I want to listen to today is from the 80s.  It's not even following any sort of pattern that I can detect.  And because I'm such a nice guy, I figured I would share some of what I've been listening to.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Steamroller by Mary Calmes

Synopsis From Publisher:

About the last thing Vincent Wade expected was for Carson Cress to ask him out.  Vince is a dedicated biology student and a bit of a loner.  Superstar quarterback Carson is larger than life, and he lives under a public microscope.  There's no way they should work.  But Vince is learning that sometimes people just come steamrolling into your life and all you can do is hang on for the ride or lose your heart in the process.  If their relationship can survive the fallout when a injury derails Carson's future plans, maybe Vince can finally find something to believe in.

For those of you who I'm not friends with on Facebook, shame on you.  Why haven't you friended me yet, it sort of hurts my feelings.  Cause if we had been friends on FB, you would know that I finally broke down and bought a Nook HD on Black Friday.  When I first got it, I thought I would just download free, out of print books that I've been wanting to read for a while now.  While I may have downloaded a few Mary Roberts Rinehart books, that plan quickly went out the window.  Instead I've been gorging myself on gay romance novels, like all you can eat buffet kind of gorging.  I'm not going to tell you have many I've already read, I'm rather embarrassed by it, but I am going to randomly pick one to review every once in a while.

First up on the block is Steamroller by Mary Calmes.  This wasn't the first book by her that I read, I had actually read a four book series by her first, and I fell in love with her writing style.  I know that when you are reading a romance book, the characters are put into situations that are sometimes so over the top, that it's hard to buy into the story line, and that can make it hard to buy into the romance.   Mary Calmes is one of those authors that I've found myself relaxing with, and just enjoying the story for what it is.  She somehow makes me completely buy into her books, which means I'm utterly enraptured with her characters and their story.

I loved Vince and Carson, despite their differences the chemistry between them felt genuine, and at times I found myself just a tad bit jealous.  They didn't go for the happy ending right away, and there doubts and challenges that had to be faced, but they faced them in a real way, and had me rooting for them the entire time.  I'm actually hoping that she writes a sequel to this one, as it's obvious they have a lot more story left to be told.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield

Synopsis From Dust Jacket:

One moment in time can haunt you forever.

Caught up in the moment of boyhood competition, William Bellman recklessly aims his slingshot at a rook resting on a branch, killing the bird instantly.  It is a small but cruel act, and is soon forgotten.  B the time he is grown, with a wife and children of his own, Williams seems to have put the whole incident behind him.  It was as if he never killed the ting at all.  But rooks don't forget...

Years later, when a stranger mysteriously enter William's life, his fortunes begin to turn - and the terrible and unforeseen consequences of his past indiscretion take root.  In a desperate bid to save the only precious thing he has left, he enters into a rather strange bargain with an even stranger partner.  Together, they found a decidedly macabre business. 

And Bellman & Black is born.

Sometimes I think sophomore books get a bums rap.  They are almost always compared to the author's first outing, and for most people, rarely live up to whatever the expectations were, even if they were just in the reader's head.  When that first book is as brilliant and moody as Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale, I sort of understand the issue.  A lot of reviews and commentary I heard about Bellman & Black were negative, not because the story was bad, but because it wasn't like her first book.  A lot of bloggers and readers went into it thinking it was going to be a retread of The Thirteenth Tale, and they, for whatever reason, seemed to be disappointed that they are nothing alike.  I for one, was relieved and loving the idea of Bellman & Black standing on it's own power, forcing readers to rethink the type of novel that Setterfield writes.

Where The Thirteenth Tale is dark and brooding, full of family mysteries and decaying buildings, Bellman & Black is full of family love, heart breaking loss, and redemption.  It's still dark and brooding, but the themes explored are totally different and they are not wrapped in Gothic trappings.  Instead we are treated to hints and teases of the supernatural, but we aren't drowned in them.  This is not a urban fantasy book, which I am most grateful for.  It's not full of ghosts and goblins stalking the streets of London, nor is it full of tired cliches that seem to litter the publishing world right now.  Instead Setterfield gives us a novel that explores death and loss in such a way, that as a reader, I'm ready to start planning my funeral.  She made me fall in love with death, while making me contemplate my own life, and the relationships in it.  She made me want to live and enjoy the life I'm given by making me comfortable and horrified by death.

Now I just need to wait and see what Setterfield has in store for us in her third novel.  I'm just hoping that she keeps the atmosphere but gives us something new, something that will both enchant and scare me at the same time.