Tag Archives: M/M

Review of Treading Water (Forgotten Soldier #1), by Jessie G.

I received an Audible copy of Treading Water from the author, Jessie G.

Description from Goodreads:
After devoting eighteen years of his life to the US Navy, Petty Officer First Class Shane Parker is struggling with the very real possibility of becoming unnecessary. If he doesn’t make Chief Petty Officer before his twenty—and it doesn’t seem likely that he will—he’ll be retired from active service and placed on the Fleet Reserve list until his mooring lines are officially cut forever. While it would all be very honorable and ceremonial, he simply wasn’t civilian material.

Before even swearing-in, Julian Brand knew he wasn’t cut out to be a soldier, but refusing wasn’t an option. Generations of Brand man made careers in the military and the expectation of every Brand son was to follow in those prestigious footsteps. Though the prospect of being rolled back hindered his every step, he survived Battle Stations and did his time. Six years out of uniform and Julian still struggles to find familial acceptance as he fights to live life on his terms.

On the surface, they couldn’t be more different, but when Jared Ramos calls, neither are capable of refusing. If they can find a way to work together, they might be able to save a friend and each other in the process.

Review:
I read Micah’s Soldier at the tail end of 2015. About it I said, “Not particularly deep, but well developed for something so short. It’s also very sweet.” So when I saw an audio version of the sequel available I was happy to give it a go.

I had a mixed experience with Treading Water. I really thought Shane and Julian were a cute couple and I liked the way their relationship progressed. I thought the writing was pretty good and I liked that injured soldiers were shown to have lives even after injury. This was all good.

But I struggled with having five first person POVs and with Shawn as a character. (Well, I struggled keeping Shawn and Shane straight in general. Why are the names so similar?) But I had some difficulty because his injury is what holds the whole book together; it’s the reason Shane and Julian meet at all and why they spend time together. But Since Shane and Julian are the main characters, it left Shawn and his traumatic injury feeling a bit like a storytelling prop.

About the narrator, Casey Hunter…I hate to say it, but he didn’t do a very good job. (Though it did improve as the book went on.) His voice was easy to listen to, but the timing was off in so many ways. There were extra long pauses where you wouldn’t expect them, like in the middle of a sentence, and almost no pauses where you would, like between chapters. There were times I was honestly left confused about who was saying what or that we’d moved on to a new character or section. I don’t know how audiobooks are produced. Maybe this should be put on the shoulders of the producer, not the narrator. Because, as I said, his voice and intonations was fine. But the timing issues definitely effected my listening experience.

All in all, I’d be willing to read more by Jessie G. and that’s really what I judge an author by in the end.

Review of Learning to Want, by Tami Veldura

I think I picked Tami Velbura‘s Learning to Want up in a Instrafreebie giveaway. It was certainly something along those lines.

Description from Goodreads:
Khoram is an enforcer, a bodyguard, but his boss has just betrayed him. Now he’s stranded on a desert planet he’s never heard of, chained to the only other human around.

Atash grew up in the cracks of Dulia’s complex social structure, where dominance and submission are a man’s worth. He’s struggled for years on a lower caste but Khoram could be his ticket to a better life if they can find common ground.

Atash wants to teach Khoram the art of submitting by choice and maybe make a name for himself along the way. Khoram, however, isn’t here to play Atash’s political games. He’s going to escape, if his former employer doesn’t see him killed first.

Review:
So, I found my experience with Learning to Want mixed at best. Picking up a book about a master/slave relationship (and not one in which characters play master or slave, but a real one in which one is actually owned by the other) is always an iffy proposition. Add to the mix that the enslaved character was a free black man, even if the enslaving character is black scaled (he’s still of the dominant, slave owning culture) is an uncomfortable echo of recent Western history. Though, if this was just the authors attempt to include some diversity I have to appreciate the effort.

There was just a lot of squink around the edges of the story. Even the Ohiri, the perfectly bland race that entered enslavement willingly and was supposed to be an example of unproblematic slavery, were raised from birth to submission. There willingness was coerced at best and they’re completely dismissed in the book. Background fodder, basically.

But my main issue is that, with the exception of transport in the beginning, which we’re told was 20+ days, but we don’t see, the whole book is about a week. In that time a free man was captured, molested, sold at auction, fondled some more (with some dubious consent), introduced to BDSM (which was really JUST SPANKING), come to NEED it, fallen in love, accepted and appreciated his ‘collar and cuffs’ (a euphemism of slavery), performed a perfect power-play sex ‘scene’ in front of hundreds, formed a soul bond and lived happily ever after (as a slave). And I was just like, “Ummmm, uh-uh. No way. We have skimmed over some major trauma here.”

Some books have a magic peen, where someone has sex one time and everything is magically perfect in the plot. This book had a magic paddle. One spanking and Khoram released all his guilt over being a drug dealing slaver in the past and accepted his lot as a sexual slave, craved it even. NO. Big fat No.

This book seemed to want to have both slaves and consent in the same people. In fact, that the slave must consent is stated more than once by characters in the book, seriously stressed even. And that just can’t work. It can’t. Veldura tried real hard, but IT DOES NOT WORK.

The writing is fine. In fact there are the occasional turns of phrase that are really beautiful. And the editing didn’t stand out as problematic. But the plot did. It is too rushed and the ‘free and consenting slave’ is an impossibility that Veldura failed to make feel anything but icky. As fluff, ok it’s fine. I could even like it. But think even the smallest amount about the plot and the whole thing collapses in on itself.

Review of Nocturne (Hours of the Night #2), by Irene Preston & Liv Rancourt

I received a copy of Nocturne, by Irene Preston and Liv Rancourt, from the authors for review. I reviewed others in the series here, here and here.

Description from Goodreads:
For generations, the White Monks have treated the vampire Thaddeus Dupont as a weapon in their battle against demons. However, when a prominent matron drops dead at a party, Thaddeus and his lover Sarasija are asked to find her killer. Their investigation leads them to an old southern family with connections everywhere: Louisiana politics, big business, the Church, and an organization just as secret as the White Monks.

Meanwhile, an esoteric text containing spells for demon-summoning has disappeared, Thaddeus is losing control of le monstre, and Sara is troubled by disturbing dreams. These nightmares could be a side-effect of dating a vampire, or they could be a remnant of his brush with evil. As the nights wear on, Sara fears they are a manifestation of something darker – a secret that could destroy his relationship with Thaddeus.

Review:
I really think this was my favorite so far in the series. I liked seeing a bit more of Thad’s “le monstre.” I liked that there wasn’t so much angst about his perceived sins and I liked that Sara had struggles of his own, outside of getting Thad to accept his love. Plus, they were sweet together and I thought the writing was just really good.

I did think it dragged just a little and I was disappointed to end the book not knowing what’s up with Sara’s situation. I assume this is the next book, but it was a pretty big issue to go not only unresolved, but undiscussed even.

All in all, I can’t wait for the next one.