Monthly Archives: March 2016

Review of Sunset Park (Five Boroughs #2), by Santino Hassell

Sunset ParkI bought a copy of Santino Hassell‘s Sunset Park. It’s the sequel to Sutphin Boulevard, which I reviewed last year.

Description from Goodreads:
Raymond Rodriguez’s days of shoving responsibility to the wayside are over. His older brother wants to live with his boyfriend so Raymond has to get his act together and find a place of his own. But when out-and-proud David Butler offers to be his roommate, Raymond agrees for reasons other than needing a place to crash.

David is Raymond’s opposite in almost every way—he’s Connecticut prim and proper while Raymond is a sarcastic longshoreman from Queens—but their friendship is solid. Their closeness surprises everyone as does their not-so-playful flirtation since Raymond has always kept his bicurious side a secret.

Once they’re under the same roof, flirting turns physical, and soon their easy camaraderie is in danger of being lost to frustrating sexual tension and the stark cultural differences that set them apart. Now Raymond not only has to commit to his new independence—he has to commit to his feelings for David or risk losing him for good.

Oh man, another winner from Hassell. I’ve said it before, but I just love his voice. There is a certain realistic grittiness to it that I just swoon over. He writes real people and you can’t help but relate to them.

For me, Raymond was the undisputed star of this show. I just loved the way he could be so easy going but still 100% willing to go for what he wants (in some areas of his life). It was incredibly endearing.

I liked David too and completely understood his hesitancies and struggles to risk his heart on what he perceived as a maybe. Though it’s never said, it boiled down to a basic distrust of Raymond’s bisexuality and this is something real and hurtful that bisexuals deal with that rarely gets discussed. Trust Hassell, who never seems to flinch away from difficult themes, to slip that one in there successfully.

The sex is hot but not so frequent as to overpower the plot. The characters are appreciably blue collar (when almost everywhere else I look I’m finding billionaires and rock stars). The writing is tight. The dialogue is sharp. The drama did seem to drag on a bit and some of the blow ups seemed a little overblown, but for the most part, I’m almost wholly without complaints.

Review of Legally Bound (Bound #1), by J.R. Gray

Legally BoundI bought a copy of Legally Bound, by J. R. Gray, from Amazon.

Description from Goodreads:
The last thing Daniel, a hard-working public defender, expected to see the morning after a one night stand was his hook-up staring back at him from the wrong side of the law. Assigned to work his case, Daniel vows to keep things professional with Rafael but has a hard time controlling his craving for dominance, the control, and the connection they shared. Rafael, a paid Dominant in the Chicago underworld, has been dealing with a cop problem for far too long. Used to sex with no emotion, he’s entranced with Daniel’s submission, his innocence, and…could there be something more? Can Daniel clear Rafael’s name, keeping him out of jail and in his life, with the odds, a cop, and the mounting evidence against them?

This was one of those books that I both loved and grit my teeth about. I really liked the characters (especially the side characters). I Really appreciated the vulnerable Dom and the way the characters were more than their titles. Doms still knelt in front of others, subs had backbones and demands. I liked that Gray wasn’t ridged in their categorizing of people. I liked the writing and enjoyed the book for the most part.

But…but there are some too stupid to be believed moments in the book. Sure, they moved the plot along and the characters found ways to incorporate them and make the best of the mess, but I could not believe they were oblivious and unaware enough to do them. I did not appreciate the representation of the harpy wife and the constant degradation tossed her way. Yes, I understood Jesse was supposed to have, at least partially and unconsciously, helped to sculpt that relationship, but it jut felt very anti-woman to me, even if it wasn’t meant to. (And this is just so regrettably common in M/M romances on the whole.) And lastly, I thought there was a bit too much sex.

So, this is a middle of the road read for me. But I’d read the next one if it fell in my lap, so it’s not a fail by a long shot.

Review of Balanced on the Blade’s Edge (Dragon Blood #1), by Lindsay Buroker

Balanced on the Blade's EdgeBalanced on the Blade’s Edge, by Lindsay Buroker is a perma-freebie on Amazon, which is where I got it.

Description from Goodreads:
Colonel Ridge Zirkander isn’t the model of military professionalism—he has a tendency to say exactly what’s on his mind, and his record has enough demerits to wallpaper the hull of an airship—but as the best fighter pilot in the Iskandian army, he’s used to a little leniency from his superiors. Until he punches the wrong diplomat in the nose and finds himself issued new orders: take command of a remote prison mine in the inhospitable Ice Blades Mountains. Ridge has never been in charge of anything larger than a flier squadron—what’s he supposed to do with a frozen fortress full of murderers and rapists? Not to mention the strange woman who shows up right before he arrives… 

Sardelle Terushan wakes from three hundred years in a mage stasis shelter, only to realize that she is the last of the Referatu, the sorcerers who once helped protect Iskandia from conquerors. Their subterranean mountain community was blown up in a treacherous sneak attack by soldiers who feared their power. Everyone Sardelle ever knew is dead, and the sentient soulblade she has been bonded to since her youth is buried in the core of the mountain. Further, what remains of her home has been infested by bloodthirsty miners commanded by the descendants of the very soldiers who destroyed her people. 

Sardelle needs help to reach her soulblade—her only link to her past and her last friend in the world. Her only hope is to pretend she’s one of the prisoners while trying to gain the commander’s trust. But lying isn’t her specialty, especially when the world has changed so much in the intervening centuries, and if Colonel Zirkander figures out who she truly is, he’ll be duty-bound to sentence her to the only acceptable punishment for sorcerers: death.

Just a shorty review today, because I’m a Buroker fan and I pretty much knew I’d like this. I enjoyed it almost as much as The Emperor’s Edge series. I liked the characters (especially the fact that they were in their 30s and 40s) and thought the world an interesting one. There was humor and a little bit of romance. Unfortunately, I didn’t think it was quite as meticulously written as past books and there was a little too much he felt drawn to her but didn’t know why sort of hand waving. It made the whole thing feel a bit rushed. But despite that I’d be happy to read more of series.