Review: The Dog Trainer by Owen Keehnen

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

“Sometimes the last thing you expect is exactly what you need.”

The Dog Trainer coverRichard Myers’ life is set.  He is a well off gay urbanite looking for happiness and the perfect man one man at a time. Richard has a core group of outgoing if a bit self involved friends who like to party and a well-paying dead end job.  And if he hasn’t found the right man yet, Richard is sure he is out there.

Then  one night while stumbling on his way home, an inebriated Richard finds a puppy and almost immediately Richard’s life and his relationships begin to change.  Richard starts to  interact with his neighbor across the hall,  Evelyn, who also has a dog. In just a few days the  puppy, now named Hambone, wriggles his way into Richard’s life on every level.

Despite Richard’s disapproving friends and on again off again boyfriend, Richard finds a vet and then something much, much more. On Evelyn’s recommendation Richard hires a dog trainer named Abe and from the moment Richard hears Abe’s voice on the phone he feels a connection with this man.

When Abe’s comes for Hambone’s first  training session, the sparks fly. Abe and Hambone together start to show Richard a different life than the one he has been living and Richard likes the change in himself and his lifestyle.

Will love conquer all in the end? It will if Hambone has any say in the matter.

 

Can owning (or being owned) by a dog change your life?  How you answer that question will probably determine how you feel about this story.  The Dog Trainer by Owen Keehen takes that questions and answers it with a resounding yes!  This story really resonated with me (no small wonder here).  I absolutely believe in the power of animals (whatever they may be) to change a person’s view on life.  Whether that change is a small or large one depends entirely on the person involved.  If they have animals or a history with animals, then the changeover is more subtle, or less ground shaking.  But for that individual for whom this is a first time relationship/ownership, the changes can be startling and lasting.

Owen Keehnen certainly understands the impact that one small puppy can have on a solitary individual such as Richard.  The changes in lifestyle that a puppy brings to the right person, an accepting person, enlarges your life and that is exactly what happens to Richard Myers.  Upon first meeting Richard, our first impressions aren’t exactly positive ones.  Richard, like the people he has chosen as friends, are living a somewhat superficial, self involved life style.  Richard and his core group spend their time at bars picking apart people, events, whatever happens to grab their attention.  They dress well, attend the “right” functions and move from one hot bar to another in search of entertainment and romance.  Richard has niggling feelings that he might be missing out on something but soon pushes such trifling thoughts away.  I love  Keehnen’s descriptions of Richard and his friends.  From the dialog to their clothes they are the recognizable Millennials found in cities everywhere.

But in one instant, that all changes although Richard is the last person to understand what is happening to him.  Keehnen has Richard finding his puppy during a drunken walk home.  Pulled into a lot by pitiful cries, Richard finds a bag of puppies, of which only one is still alive.  And because Richard is, at the center, a decent human being, he takes the puppy home and changes his life in small ways at first, then much larger ones.  It is a slow climb out of the lifestyle Richard has made for himself and that makes it a realistic one.  The puppy attracts people he had never interacted with before, new avenues of interest, and slowly Richard opens himself up to new situations, people, and finally love.  I have seen it happen, and so probably have you, if you think about it.

Another great authentic touch is that Richard is uncertain that he wants to be a dog owner, he isn’t sure he wants the changes in his routine that come with dog ownership.  He has to puzzle it out for himself (ok , along with some help from his neighbor, Abe the dog trainer, and Hambone himself) but that is pretty accurate too.

I liked the slow build to a romance.  This is a tale of two Richards and Richard must decide which one he will be in order to get his man and HEA.  Hambone is an endearing character, just as you would expect.  It is easy to see why Richard is willing to make the changes he does when faced with such unconditional love and adoration.  And when Abe comes along, Richard is ready for a “less than picture perfect man” who just might be the man for him…and Hambone.

This is a sweet, endearing romance between man and puppy, and man and man.  There isn’t a lot of drama or fuss but a realistic changeover for one man when a dog comes into his life.  I loved that but then again I have three terriers at my side just like Hambone is for Richard.  So I get it.  And I believe in the power of an animal to change a person’s life.   I think Owen Keehnen gets that too.  I enjoyed this story and loved the cover.  Owen Keehnen is a new author for me so I look forward to seeing what else he has written.

If the above descriptions appeals to you, then pick up this story and start your journey with Richard and Hambone.  This gentle tale might just be the thing for you.

Great cover again by Wilde City Press.

Buy Links:         Wilde City Press      ARe          Amazon 

Book Details:

ebook
Published May 21st 2014 by Wilde City Press
ISBN139781925180015
edition languageEnglish
url http://www.wildecity.com/books/gay-romance/the-dog-trainer/#.U3ttn_ldV1A

Review: Diego (Endangered Fae #2) by Angel Martinez

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Diego Endangered Fae coverDiego Sandoval’s life changed utterly the day he rescued an ailing Fae under the Brooklyn Bridge.  From dumped lover and struggling author, Diego’s life is now filled with the love of Finn, his Pookie lover and the book Finn inspired has gotten Diego a league of fans and followers.  Now relocated to a remote area of Montana, life is good but change is in the wind once more….

A misunderstanding between Finn and Diego shatters their happy lives when in a fit of jealous rage, Diego’s uncontrolled power rips a hole in the Veil which seals his universe away from the Otherworld.  The Otherworld is the place where all Fae fled in the face of humankind proliferation and despoiling of the Earth.  Pulled unwittingly into the Otherworld, Diego must learn how to use his powers, find Finn and make their way back home.

But so many obstacles stand in their way, including a mysterious disease that is slowly killing all the Fae, a disease that all Fae are sure Diego can cure.  And if that is not enough to contend with, then the appearance of the US Army with its own assumptions might be the biggest problem of all….

When a book and characters are able to pull me into their story to the point that I forget the time and other things I need to be doing then I know that the author has accomplished their mission as a craftsman of tales, a first rate storyteller that would be welcomed at any fire or table around.  That’s how I felt about Diego (Endangered Fae #2) when I finally put down the Kindle and looked at the clock.  I couldn’t believe how late it was or how absorbed I had been in Diego, the second book in the Endangered Fae series by Angel Martinez.  I loved the first story, but this one built on that and became so much better….

This is a complex story with numerous characters, locations and worlds involved. Once again, Martinez pulls from a number of mythologies to build her two universes and multitude of Fae species.  Diego follows months, perhaps a year, after the events of Finn.  They have moved into a cabin in the wilds of Montana,  and Diego has become a successful author based on his first published story about a fictionalized Finn.  But a state of happiness is an unknown territory for both man and Fae and Martinez is wise to include the points of view of both Diego and Finn here to highlight their feelings and insecurities about their relationship and each other.

Finn, while long lived or even immortal, has not had a happy history with relationships, especially his last one which ended in his dismemberment and his lover’s torture and burning.  And lurking underneath a traumatic history with love or because of it, is a case of poor self image and enough insecuritiesto fill a canyon.  He wants to be worthy of Diego, but is not sure exactly how to accomplish that.  He fears that Diego will abandon him even as Diego tries to reinforce the depth of his own feelings towards the Fae.  Diego too has a bad history of romance behind him.  Two insecure new lovers must balance their new relationship with the needs of each other, different species included.  That’s a heavy task that Martinez has placed in front of her two main characters and that is only the beginning as well as the foundation for most of their issues.  A stable, loving relationship is so new to both that neither understands how to communicate their fears or feel secure enough in their love for each other to question the firmness of the foundation upon which they base their feelings.  That an impressive fracture to overcome for any new couple, let alone a human and a Fae.  Plus both have a history with Diego’s prior self, Taliesin and the power that Diego has yet to harness.  More issues still for the couple.  I mean Martinez has these two on such shaky emotional ground (believably so) that its a wonder each gets out of the bed they are so fond of.

But an emotional jealous rage shatters a barrier raised by a Fae Queen and both are drawn into an ancient feud that has dire consequences for all.  Here Martinez delves deep into Fae mythology and comes up with some astonishing characters.  From Dana to Balor, ancient enemies with a common sorrow between them, and Lugh, half kin, ex lover and soldier, such amazing characters of immense gravitas and magic await the reader on the other side of the Veil.  And none of them even remotely come across as human.  This element of the story is incredibly compelling and magnetic in its pull.  I loved Martinez’ ability to continue with her relationship dynamics between Finn and Diego while building on Finn’s history and complex relationships with others in the Otherworld.  This will just add to the problems they face, trust me.

One aspect of this story will be the arrival (I won’t say where) of a top secret US Army detachment.  Their impact upon our beloved characters and story isn’t for the squeamish.  While Martinez is not as graphic as she might have been, my imagination supplied far too many details on top of the ones the author already delivered.  Vivid, traumatic, scary….just what you might expect from such an encounter.  The detachment fills much the same role as the Wendig0 did for the first story.  It shakes everything up, provides a enemy to thwart, and makes the ending of the story that much more satisfactory for all everyone went through to get to the resolution.  Not a easy element to read but so worthwhile once you get to the other side.  Don’t flinch…move smartly forward.  Trust me, its worth it.

So many wonders to be found here in this story and series.  I loved the Fae, all of them, and the Otherworld. I loved that Diego’s cultural identity is as important as Finn’s Fae one, a lovely touch that adds spice to the Endangered Fae melting pot of a series.  I absolutely fell in love over and over again with character after character, no matter the species and how much fun is that?

I am getting ready for the third book in the series, Semper Fae (great title).  It deals with the romance between a soldier who plays a major role in this story and another great chacracter found here too.  No spoilers as yet.  It won’t be out for several months.  Until then, get started on this series.  Start with Finn, and then go on to Diego.  I will meet you back here for Semper Fae.

Consider Diego (and Finn) definite recommendations from ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords.  Such happy findings….I can’t wait to see where Angel Martinez takes us all next….

 

 

Cover art by Winterheart Designs.  Nice  cover, love the models standing in for both characters.

Buy Links:              MLR Press        Diego: Endangered Fae Series ” title=”Amazon buy link”> Amazon            ARe

Book Details:

book, 3rd, 296 pages
Published June 6th 2014 by MLR Press (first published September 16th 2010)
original titleDiego
ISBN 1608209342 (ISBN13: 9781608209347)
urlhttp://www.mlrbooks.com/ShowBook.php?book=AM_DIEGO
seriesEndangered Fae #2
charactersDanu, Finn Shannon, Diego Sandoval, Lugh, Balor
settingMontana (United States)
Otherworld ,Tearman Island

Books in the series include:

Finn (Endangered Fae #1)
Finn’s Christmas (Endangered Fae #1.5) (note: this was folded into Finn as the last chapter in the latest edition)
Diego (Endangered Fae #2)
Semper Fae (Endangered Fae #3)