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Book Reviews: Shorts/Novellas

I class a short or novella as any book under 100 pages.

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Merrick works on Savile Row, catering to the nouveau rich and frequently questioning his life choices. But between the days that seemed designed to vex him are visits from Darcy: spy, best friend, and hopeless crush.

When Merrick is abruptly kidnapped one day, he fervently hopes it’s one of Darcy’s infamous pranks and not the worst—and possibly last—day of his life.

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Book – Just a Suit
Author – H.P. Medina
Star rating – ★★★☆
Cover – Cute!
POV – 3rd person, one character POV
Would I read it again – Yes!!

Pages – 42

Genre – LGBT, MM, Romance, Spy, Tailor

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** COPY RECEIVED THROUGH NETGALLEY **
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Brilliant. Incredible. Hilarious. Sweet.

There are so many words to describe this story, but I’m sitting here feeling rather speechless.

With remnants of “The Kingsman” feel to it, this story packs a punch in more ways than one. With hot sexy men, spies, a kidnapping, a grumpy tailor and a scorching ending in a hotel suite, I couldn’t have asked for more.

You want a British spy? Got one. You want some awesome (and correct) use of the British accent, swearwords etc. Got it. Chemistry? Bullets flying? Car chase (sort of)? Tailors? All here in bundles.

Oh, and the double meanings that allowed Merrick to live his little fantasy, at the kidnapping, was pure genius.

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 Before Christian can end his relationship with a closeted cheater, he needs to see the evidence firsthand. He disguises himself and attends a masquerade ball escorted by a friend, in search of the Stranger in Black. When he finds him, he gets something entirely different—and much more erotic—than he expected.

Wearing a black-and-gold mask, Jarrod is on the hunt for Chris, the “other woman” his best friend’s fiancé is having an affair with. But a sexy vision in a white gown captures his attention and takes his breath away, which is strange, since he’s gay.

One by one, the pieces fall away, exposing their dual deception. After the masks—and the pants—are off, Christian and Jarrod must work together to support a friend… and maybe become something more than strangers.

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Book – Stranger in Black
Author – Devon Rhodes
Star rating – ★★★★★
No. of Pages – 69

Cover – Gorgeous!
POV – 3rd person, dual POV
Would I read it again – Yes.

Genre – LGBT, Contemporary, Romance

** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **
Reviewed for Divine Magazine

This was a great little short story. With a nicely balanced emotional impact, we were introduced to Christian, who is our first MC. In love with Carl since childhood and dating him, he discovers that he’s being cheated on and decides to end it, but to do that he needs to see the truth for himself and face it head on. So he goes to a fancy-dress ball, disguised as a woman, to see it through. There, he meets our other MC, Jarrod, who is there to fend off the “other woman” in Carl’s life.

With a few twists and turns along the way, the romance between Carl and Christian is explored only through thought and memory, which his great. There’s no real on-page cheating her. The romance between Jarrod and Christian is much more physical.

Personally, I contemplated knocking a star off my rating, just because things happen so fast, but I relented and kept the 5th star. It’s a short story – only 69 pages – so there are definite limitations there, with how much time can pass and in how much detail. Thankfully, weeks passed between first meetings and anything heavy, telling us they began “dating”, but I missed the “seeing” aspect, with the chemistry and the learning about each other. Sometimes that can be the best part.

However, I did love the mass of chemistry and emotional attachment Jarrod and Christian had with each other, right from the start. It made up for the loss of detailed time passing, which is why I left the final star in place. Together, those two were hot, but also believable as a couple.

The added relationship between Mira and David – two best friends, who really kicked off proceedings – was a great bonus and something that was nicely handled, with just the right amount of balance, when compared to the story between Christian and Jarrod.

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Favourite Quote

“I’m getting a bit worried about your orientation, bud. Should I be welcoming you to the dark side? We have cookies.”

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Having grown up in the city in a tiny apartment that somehow fit four, Nick has always dreamed of a home like in the movies. So he should be over the moon when his father’s investments finally provide sufficient funds for the family to build one.

Then a chance encounter with Eli, the architect they hired, changes Nick’s entire world, and forces him to reconsider what exactly home means, and figure out what he really wants and what he’s willing to do to make dreams come true.

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Book – Dreams and a Home
Author – Max C. Payne
Star rating – ★★★★★
No. of Pages – 96

Cover – So cute!
POV – 1st person, 1 character POV
Would I read it again – Yes!

Genre – LGBT, Contemporary, Romance, Family, Homophobia, May/December

** COPY RECEIVED THROUGH NETGALLEY **

You know when you’re watching your favourite romantic movie, that you’ve seen a million times, but you still let out one of those soft, faint, happy sighs, when things all work out in the end? That’s this book.

To sum up what this story made me feel, I only need the words “happy sigh” and it pretty much says everything.

There was drama, sure. What good romance doesn’t have a little drama, a little heartache and uncertainty, a little bit of “is this right?” or “should I do this?”? This story had all of that. And chemistry. Boy, did it have chemistry. From the minute Nick and Eli met there was chemistry off the charts, even when they couldn’t see it for themselves.

And, thank you for the flashbacks. Normally I don’t get along with them – or with 1st person POV, for that matter – but these were perfect. The story wouldn’t have worked in anything other than 1st person and, without the flashbacks, we would have missed all the good stuff! And it was so well placed. No flashback ever felt forced, unnecessary or out of place. They were only there to provide more background, more love, more agony and show us how Nick and Eli had come to this place in time.

*sigh*

I’m going to be thinking about this story a lot. I’ll come back to read it all the time, when I need a solid pick me up.

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 Alexander Drake, Investigator for Hire, doesn’t like working for the Nobility, and doesn’t prefer to take jobs from strange men who accost him in alleyways. A combination of hired muscle and ready silver have a way of changing a man’s mind. A lord has been killed, his body found covered in bite marks. Even worse, the late lord’s will is missing, and not everyone wants Drake to find it. Solving the case might plunge Drake into deeper danger.

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Book – City of Wolves
Author – Willow Palecek
Star rating – ★★★★★
No. of Pages – 96

Cover – Stunning!
POV – 1st person, 1 character POV
Would I read it again – Yes.

Genre – Crime, Alternative History, Shifter

** COPY RECEIVED THROUGH NETGALLEY **

I really enjoyed this one. It’s very “Hound of the Baskervilles”, which is one of my all time favourite novels.

So, normally I’m not a huge fan of 1st person, especially when the character talks to the reader, but somehow this one worked. It felt a little like a Penny Dreadful and had the definite mix of adventure, supernatural and crime that lent an air of Victoriana charm and Classic Crime elegance to the story.

I loved the way that Victorian England was seamlessly mixed into the supernatural world, with a complete alternative history of the War of the Wolves. Drake, as a main character, was a really interesting character to follow and the kind of rough, loveable rogue that we all love from Victorian crime stories. Someone who is of the people, for the people and yet is just a little reprehensible.

I could easily see the author digging this character back up for a few more novellas, especially continuing the story begun here. I would read them all, without a second of hesitation.

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 At nineteen, college freshman Mace Danner works as an escort, hiring himself out to customers who want a submissive they can dominate. Having no carnal urges himself, the sexual side of his job leaves him cold, but he sees the pain inflicted on him by his clients as punishment for causing his brother’s death when he was in high school. Pain is not enough, however, to wash away his guilt, and Mace starts binge drinking in an effort to escape his remorse.

The dorm’s resident advisor, Dex Hammel, sees Mace spiraling out of control and strives to help him. Despite the mutual attraction between them, Mace is disturbed that he still feels no sexual desire for anyone. Even with Dex’s support, Mace’s self-destructive behavior escalates, leading to a situation that endangers his life.

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Book – Bender
Author – Gene Gant
Star rating – ★★★★★
No. of Pages – 86

Cover – Beautiful and evocative. But heartwrenching, once you know what it represents.
POV – 1st person, one character
Would I read it again – Yes!

Genre – LGBT, Contemporary, Mental Health, BDSM-ish, Escort, College, Asexual

** COPY RECEIVED THROUGH NETGALLEY **

Wow. I really don’t know what to say about this one except that it crushed my heart.

Confession: I have a few of Gene Gant’s books, but with work and my review list, I’ve never had time to get around to reading them. After reading this and knowing the genius of the writing, the storytelling and the utter heartbreak that they can evoke with just a few words, I’ve just moved them to the top of my list.

Mason captured my heart, squeezed until it was raw and he had wrung every ounce of emotion from it, then he released to let me breathe freely for a while, before crushing it entirely. That is the only way to describe what happened to me while I was reading. This isn’t a story; it’s a feeling in words.

Somehow, Gant has found a way to translate all of the lost, hurt, pain, loneliness and emptiness that a person can ever feel into words and poured that into this book. Mason’s story is both heartbreaking, reaffirming and utterly beautiful.

I’m going to say nothing about the plot, because it was perfection. I loved everything about it, from the characters, the description, the pain, the torment and the utter bravery it involved. I won’t tell you what happened or how it made me feel, because I couldn’t find the words even if I wanted to. And I don’t want to. I just want you to read this, cry a few times, laugh and feel like your heart has broken, then come back to let me know that you understand how it feels.

I have never been put through such an emotional wringer in such few pages. If I could give it ten stars, I would.

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Favourite Quotes:

“The fresh pain is good. The drink is going to be even better.”

“I’m poison. I poison everything.”

“It’s as if I’m watching someone else do all these things, warning from a world away.”

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