Category Archives: indiefever 2015

Blueberry Boys

Book Review of Blueberry Boys, by Vanessa North

Blueberry BoysI received a copy of Vanessa North‘s Blueberry Boys from Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
Connor Graham is a city boy—a celebrated fashion photographer in New York. When his uncle’s death drags him back to the family blueberry farm, all he wants to do is sell it as quickly as he can. Until he meets his uncle’s tenant farmer. 

Jed Jones, shy and stammering, devout and dedicated, has always yearned for land of his own and a man to share it with. Kept in the closet by his church, family, and disastrous first love, he longs to be accepted for who he is. But now, with his farm and his future in Connor’s careless hands, he stands to lose even the little he has. 

Neither man expects the connection between them. Jed sees Connor—appreciates his art and passion like no one else in this godforsaken town ever has. Connor hears Jed—looks past his stutter to listen to the man inside. The time they share is idyllic, but with the farm sale pending, even their sanctuary is a source of tension. As work, family, and their town’s old-fashioned attitudes pull them apart, they must find a way to reconcile commitments to their careers and to each other.

Sooooo, I held off reading this book for a while because I often don’t mesh with contemporary romances. I need a little extra oomph to make romance in general work for me. But I’d seen so many wonderful reviews of this book that I gave in and requested it from Netgalley……and I should have stuck with my initial instinct. This wasn’t a winner for me.

Now, it was marvelously written. I liked the characters, both their personalities and their imperfections. I liked North’s treatment of Jed’s religion and its importance to him. And it was very sweet. But…but…well, I’m just gonna go ahead and say it. I was bored. It’s a fairly straightforward romance. There are a couple challenges to overcome, but no real twists. And the challenges seemed overblown to me. I mean Blandford was 2 hours from New York. Seriously, I know a man who commutes that distance everyday for work, so I don’t understand why this is such a barrier to a relationship.

Here’s the thing though, I suspect my boredom was at least in part the result of me not relating to the primary events of the book. I’ve never had to come out to family. I’ve never had to negotiate my sexuality and my religious beliefs, etc., etc. Perhaps if I had, I would have been grabbed more fully by this plot. Which is to say that those who this is familiar to might find a homecoming here that I didn’t. In this, I am perhaps just not the intended readership.

Outside of that, my only real complaints are that the attraction seems instant and based largely on being the only two gay men around and how neatly and easily it all wrapped up. [Slightly spoilerish] Jed decides to come out and then seek advice from the pastor immediately after the homophobic jerkface pastor leaves and the new conveniently liberal and accepting pastor comes in. (And there was no indication that this was purposeful.) Conner’s brother, who had been hostile his whole life suddenly decides to try and correct his ways. Jed’s homophobic family come around to accepting him in no time flat. It all just happened too easily and honestly it’s just a little too pat for me. Plus, it’s super sappy-sweet.

So, not a winner for me, but I suspect a home run for other readers

The Subs Club

Book Review of The Subs Club (The Subs Club #1), by J.A. Rock

The Subs ClubI received a copy of J. A. Rock‘s The Subs Club from Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
A year ago, my best friend Hal died at the hands of an incompetent “dom.” So I started the Subs Club, a private blog where submissives can review doms and call out the douche bags.

A perfect example of the kind of arrogant asshole I mean? The Disciplinarian. He has a pornstache. He loves meat, stoicism, America, and real discipline. And he thinks subs exist to serve him.

But . . . not everything about him is awful. His Davy Crockett act just seems like a cover for his fear of intimacy, and part of me wants to show him it’s okay to get close to people. And, I mean, sue me, but I have fantasized about real discipline. Not role-play, but like, Dave, you’re gonna be thirty in four years and you still work in a mall; get your ass in gear or I’ll spank it.

Not that I’d ever trust anyone with that kind of control.

I’m gonna redefine “battle of wills” for the Disciplinarian. Or I’m gonna bone him. It’s hard to say.


Sorry, this is a little bit of a discombobulated review, but I can’t decide how to rate this book. In some ways I really liked it (it was funny and witty and subversive) but in others it fell flat for me. And I’m not certain how much of that is the book and how much is that a lot of it just isn’t my kink. I get the pain aspect and thought some of it was hot, though it surpassed my comfort margins. But I can’t blame the book for that; it’s a subjective complaint. As is the fact that I don’t really care for the discipline kink.

[Slight spoiler] But I think the book also felt a little heavy on the BDSM safety lectures and negotiations. This was problematic for me because I kind of thought it was a bit of a ripple in the plot. David started The Subs Club to keep subs safe, instead of going to the existing panel discussions, because the people who come to the discussions were the same-old, same-old and the people who were problematic don’t come. But the happy conclusion to this was that he got to lead a regular panel discussion. OK, yeah, there was the new reporting path created too, but I have a hard time thinking the owners of the club hadn’t been open to that to start with. So, it seemed like an unfortunate concession in the end, which it may have been, but it still left me less than satisfied. But again, am I just being overly critical because that aspect of the book didn’t grab me enough to stop over-thinking it? I don’t know.

Having said that, outside of David’s ‘this is how it should work’ mental mastication (which, though heavy, was much less didactic than a lot of such books), I enjoyed Dave’s insistence on his right to safe words, hard limits and to be treated as a person with agency even as a submissive. Really, in some ways this is what the book is about. How to maintain the passion and spontaneity and danger while also remaining safe, especially when your confidence has been shaken.

I’ve seen a number of reviews refer to David (Pornstash-David) as Ron Swanson. I’ve never even seen the show, but I’ve seen enough memes to get the picture and I couldn’t help but picture him that way. It worked and I liked him a lot. I thought he and sub-David were funny together. I enjoyed the side characters and look forward to reading their books in the future. I loved sub-David’s inner monologue and, though I’m not at all familiar with real life BDSM, I liked that mistakes were made, mold existed, toys had to be sterilized, negotiations happened, etc., etc., etc. I liked that this felt like less of a fantasy BDSM book than most. Though, that’s just as likely to be the effect of a talented writer that can hide the fantasy element of the story as anything else.


Book Review of Dragonspire, by Talya Andor

DragonspireI received a copy of Talya Andor‘s Dragonspire from Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
In the wake of his grandfather’s death and the unexpected contents of his will, Gideon abandons his career, cuts ties with his family, and heads overseas to figure out a life that has never made him happy. He settles for a time in Myanmar, content to roam the country taking pictures, carefully avoiding the dangerous local politics.

When he ventures into the jungle, he expects wildlife and possibly men with guns if he’s unlucky. Instead, he meets a princess who sweeps him off to another world, claiming that Gideon is the only one who can help her slay the terrible black dragon threatening her people—and if he ever wants to see home again, he has no choice.

I think OK is the best I can give Dragonspire, and even that is only for beyond the 30% mark. The first third is so rough I almost just gave up on the book. But I stuck with it and it did smooth out eventually.

I did enjoy the main characters and the general shape of the plot. But unfortunately I thought the whole thing was dragged out far too long, with too many conveniently unspoken things leading to misunderstandings. Plus, you’re never given a satisfying explanation on Gideon’s grandfather’s actions that spurred him into the events of the book.

I also had an issue with the diversity in the book. Hang with me a minute, because I can’t believe I’m saying this either. It’s the sort of thing that normally makes me cheer. I want everyone to be able to see themselves represented in their literature. But at one point, one character is introduced to ten or so dragons and their mates and they are of every conceivable pairing. There are M/Ms, F/Fs, M/Fs, gender fluids partners, non-binaries partners, polys, etc. And while a very very large part of me was like, ‘Yeah, look at that. I love seeing such representation’ another (admittedly smaller, but still present) part of me was like, ‘Oh look, the author tossed in some obligatory, I’m-so-liberal diversity.’ The characters (and their sexuality) played no significant part in the book and the pages and pages and pages of description were distracting, but worse, felt like hollow tokenism. Maybe for some the former will outweigh the latter, but it made me uncomfortable.

Anyhow, after the first third, it’s a fluffy, feel-good book that, if you like that sort of thing, is worth picking up, despite my complaints.