Review: New York Christmas by R.J. Scott

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars

New York ChristmasDaniel Bailey and Christian Matthews went to the same university and Daniel was even in the same English class where Chris was the T.A.  But that is where the similarities  between them ended.  Daniel was gorgeous, rich, and a bit of a slut.  Everything came easy to him, including a trust fund at the age of twenty five and a job guaranteed at his father’s firm.  So Chris never expected to see Daniel again once Chris graduated, but life has a funny way of messing with your expectations.

Now years later, Chris is reeling from a series of blows life has dealt him.  Chris had graduated and become a teacher, the one thing he had always wanted to be and was great at.  But then his boyfriend, a fellow teacher at the private school they worked for betrayed Chris and the fallout cost Chris his job as well as ruined his reputation.  The only thing that saved Chris was his best friend offering him work at her bakery. That’s where Daniel Bailey walked back into Chris’ life, not as the rich man Chris expected Daniel to turn out to be, but as a police officer who very much wants Chris in his life.  Christmas is a season of miracles, and if it can bring Daniel back to Chris, maybe everything else can be made right too.  Everything seems possible in a New York Christmas.

RJ Scott broke out the carols, the mistletoe,  and the wassail because this story is permeated with the glow and good tidings of a wonderful Christmas tale.  I have certain expectations of a holiday story.  It must make me feel good, leave me smiling in joy for the characters who have found love in each other and the season.  I love to have some snow (although not necessary), some good deeds, and a couple or couples well on their way to happily ever after.  With New York Christmas I get all that and more.

I love RJ Scott’s characters and here she delivers two more wonderful men, reunited after years apart.   Time has changed both of them, especially one who seemed destined for a life lived shallowly and at the expense of others.  But Daniel surprises Chris and the readers with his depth, charm and commitment, to his job and to Chris as well.  I loved Daniel.  Chris is another lovely man who just happens to need a Christmas miracle.  Fired from the job he loved because of the cowardice of a man he thought cared for him, Chris was almost homeless if it were not for his friend who gave him a job, filling in for a worker out on pregnancy leave.  Chris is full of pain over the loss of a career as a teacher and lonely.  It is so easy to empathize with this man, so full of goodness that has been trampled on by others.  So when Daniel comes back into his life wearing the very uniform that is an emblem of safety, bravery, and wellbeing, you just know that Chris’ life has changed finally for the better.  And it has much to the delight of the reader as their relationship unfolds over the next 79 pages.

At the end, there are good tidings, holiday cheer and a couple deeply in love.  And that’s how I like my holiday stories and that’s why I loved New York Christmas.

Cover design by BitterGrace Art.  I loved this cover, the men are adorable and perfect models for Daniel and Chris.

Available through RJ Scott’s website.

Review of Acceleration (Impulse #2) by Amelia C. Gormley

Standard

Rating: 5 stars

Acceleration book coverQuiet, down-to-earth Detroit handyman Derrick Chance is still adjusting to the fact that he has a boyfriend.  Gavin Hayes is a wonder to him.  Gavin is gorgeous, loving, outgoing with tons of friends and a job he loves.  True, Gavin comes with an ex-boyfriend with a hideous outlook on AIDS/HIV who not only raped Gavin but maybe even gave him the AIDS virus too. Derrick tries not to dwell on this side of his new lover but inside him a small voice reminds him that everyone leaves Derrick and Gavin will too if his tests turn out to be positive.  Not a good thing to hide from his lover.

Gavin is a wonderful and inventive lover.  Derrick appreciates that because as a virginal 30 year old, he had no frame of reference to work with.  But Gavin is happy to teach him things about himself through sex and their sex life couldn’t be better.  Now if only Gavin and Derrick could say the same about the other areas of their burgeoning relationship.  A life of caring for his ailing grandparents has left Derrick almost completely nonverbal.  He has no idea how to share his inner thoughts and parts of himself with Gavin and Gavin is getting increasingly frustrated with him.  Gavin has shared everything about himself with Derrick and expects Derrick to do the same, to Derrick’s consternation and horror.

After his last partner, Gavin never again wants to have a partner who won’t share everything about himself with Gavin.  Gavin needs someone who will be open about himself and there for Gavin when he needs them. And Gavin thought that Derrick was that man but he can’t seem to get Derrick to open up and share himself with Gavin, no matter what  Gavin has tried.  Derrick has had so little control in his life, that when his grandparents died and he regained his life and life choices, he finds himself unable to give that control up to anyone, except maybe in bed.  But the thought of letting Gavin into his life, into areas where he is vulnerable, areas he has kept sealed off, well Derrick is not sure if he even wants to try.  To keep their relationship accelerating and their newfound love alive, can Gavin and Derrick adjust enough,compromise enough to be  the man each other wants and needs.

I had wondered how Amelia C. Gormley was going to follow up her wonderful first novel, Inertia (Impulse #1).  If her characters would continue to keep me absorbed in their story and the momentum that was building to a meaningful relationship.  Well, I shouldn’t have worried, Acceleration (Impulse #2) is a wonder of a novel all on its own and an marvelous sequel to a book I loved.

Gormley has given us two magnetic and endearing characters as the foundations to her stories.  Derrick Chance is especially captivating.  He has so many unexpected facets to his personality that it just amazes me as each new one is revealed.  Here is a man arrested emotionally and socially at an early age.  Through the deaths of every important person to him, his parents, his maternal grandmother and grandfather, then his only brother and finally his other grandparents, from the youngest age he has submerged his wants, his very socialization to care for his family, spending much of his adolescence and teenage years in hospitals and then through sleepless nights at home.  And finally at the age of 30, he starts to look outward from his isolated life in his grandparents house and finds Gavin.  Oh my, what an incredible journey Gormley has set Derrick and the reader on….no less than the blooming inner and outer life of a closed off individual.  Then she partners him off with Gavin Hayes, a man equally complex who carries with him a backstory of pain, abuse, and insecurity.

Gavin is a sexually aggressive man who has been made to feel embarrassed and ashamed about his need for a little pain and roughness in his lovemaking.  When Derrick and Gavin come together sexually for the first time, it is a restrained affair.  Derrick is a virgin and awkward in his lack of knowledge.  Gavin is possibly HIV positive, he is awaiting his results of his test.  The virus would have been transmitted by his exboyfriend on purpose, a fact that devastated Gavin and left him reeling emotionally. So you can well imagine what a tentative affair that should have been, but like everything  else in these books what came next surprised, delighted, was incredibly hot and demonstrated how the author intended to go about her compelling tale of love and growth.

Acceleration sees an “quickening” to their sexual life and what a life that is turning out to be.  Gavin and Derrick are venturing into bdsm and adding  pain to the mixture of dominance and submission. As a reader, let me say that this is not something I normally would read, nor am I knowledgeable about the lifestyle but Gormley makes their forays into bdsm completely understandable, especially given their  personalities and background. If this makes you uncomfortable, let me say that it is related in a way that not only makes sense for the characters and fits in easily with their story, which is the relationship growing between these two remarkable men. Don’t let that keep you away from this marvelous series.

Do not expect caterwauling angst or scenes of high drama, that would be out of character for both Gavin and Derrick.  No, what we are given is a realistic look at the bonds and relationship dynamics of two very different men who have fallen in love.  It is clear that love is not going to be enough to make this partnership succeed, the men have been through too much for that to happen and feel authentic.  Instead we get the normal fights any couple gets into, over communication issues, and how to meld friends and lives.  All wonderfully normal and yet in Gormley’s hands, still very exciting, full of doubts and anxiety of their future together.

As the title  states, here we have the relationship as it accelerates into  unknown waters of commitment and long term planning.  Gavin’s boyfriend returns briefly in this book, in a funny episode that shows how deep are the still waters that exist within our wonderful Derrick.  How I loved that scene.  There are so many more great scenes I could relate but I feel that would take the joy of discovery away from the reader, and this is so good, I cannot bear to have that happen.  Gormley gets it all right in her Impulse series, from the characterizations to the unique “voices” she has created for two men that capture our hearts and imaginations.  When Acceleration ended, all I could think of what, “ok, what happens next?”.  I want to know where our guys go from here?  At the end of this book, they have made a commitment to a major change in their lives but there are some powerful elements stirring, one especially is fraught with danger for Derrick, who in his complete innocence, doesn’t begin to understand the hate behind homophobia.

S o run, don’t walk to the computer and grab up this eBook for yourself.  If you are new to this trilogy, go to the beginning and start with Inertia (Impluse #1) and then move on to this one.  This series is one of my best for 2012 and the author quickly adding herself to my must buy list. You won’t be sorry, I promise you.

Love this cover by Kerry Chin. Dramatic,  erotic, just perfect.

This is the Impulse trilogy in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters and the events within:

Inertia (Impulse #1) read my review here.

Acceleration (Impulse #2)