A MelanieM Review: Say Something by BA Tortuga

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Say something coverJensen Thackerson has loved Mike Simon throughout high school.  Mike was always the rising star even then and Jensen knew Mike was destined for something bigger than their small town.  When Mike leaves for college, Jensen stays behind on the family farm in Texas.  Ranching and being a cowboy is the only thing that Jensen knows or thinks he’s good at, other than loving Mike.  But being in that small town atmosphere means that Jensen will forever be in the closet, about his feelings for men and Mike in particular.  It means abiding by his family’s expectations suborning his own dreams and love in the process.

Mike Simon is thrilled to leave Texas behind.  It’s a place he never felt he belonged.  When acting and UNC beckoned he took off, his only regret was leaving Jensen, the boy he loved behind.  As close as two boys could be, they could never figure out how to move their relationship past friendship into romance and beyond.  As Mike’s journey to stardom begins, Jensen and Mike cross paths again and again, but always with the same results.  Mike rockets upward and Jensen remains in Texas, a place Mike never wants to see again.

As the years pass along with personal milestones for them both,  a tragedy gives Jensen and Mike one last shot at a relationship and togetherness.  But it will take  courage and  trust, something both have lacked in the past, to make this last chance work.  Could the timing finally be right for love and a HEA?

I have taken my time writing this review for Say Something by BA Tortuga because this story has me so divided over my thoughts about the writing, the characters, and the narrative.  I have loved BA Tortuga from the moment I read her Stormy Weather and Roughstock series.  A prolific writer, I could always spot a BA Tortuga story from the opening line. I didn’t have to look for the author’s name because Tortuga’s impeccable regional voices and dialects combined with an intimate knowledge of her settings and regional culture leapt off the page with a vitality that couldn’t be ignored.   Her boys bounced, drawled, bucked and rode off into the sunset with humor, sexiness, and a charisma that few other authors achieved.   Even when this author’s stories lacked one element or another, there was always something uniquely  hers that set them apart and made them  worth reading.  So to say my expectations regarding Say Something were high is a tad on the understated side.

Did this story even come close to meeting those predictions? Unfortunately not.  Had the cover not plainly stated that BA Tortuga authored Say Something I would never have guessed this was written by her.  And that disappointment flavored my overall view of this story and its characters.  Readers without prior knowledge of BA Tortuga, and therefore, lacking in assumptions, might have a differing outlook.  But I don’t think so because other elements as well crowd in to make this one of the harder reviews I have had to write.

Say Something’s plot is large in scope,including its timeline.  From high school students to middle age and beyond, this story covers decades of Jensen and Mike’s lives, the majority of which is spent apart.  Tortuga’s novel has Jensen and Mike’s life break off in far different paths at the end of high school.  One stays closeted and down on the farm, the other is out, proud, and rocketing to fame and fortune.  Only tragedy, terminal illness and death brings them back together…again and again.  Each reader will have to look at their own tolerance for this meandering, frustrating, and in my opinion, unsupported  separation between them.  I say unsupported because the rationale for Jensen’s actions and rejection of Mike feels believable only at the beginning.  After a decade or so, it becomes as tiresome and forced as Mike feels it to be.  It’s never a good thing when I find myself wanting to see a main character die off by mid story, so yes, my tolerance for the character of Jensen and the various contrivances the author uses to keep Mike and Jensen apart started waning pretty quickly.

Even when these two come together where is the joy?  The joie de vivre so associated with characters that feel breathtakingly alive?  Not here. Neither are the quintessential colloquialisms or regional flavor that add so much depth to her men and women and settings.  Instead there exists a blandness and anonymity to the locations, people and events that take place throughout the decades here.  And when this element of tepidness and well, just overall sense of “beigeness” that hovers over the characters along with the disheartening events (terminal illness, and death) that the author uses to bring them  together over and over again…well, then this turns into one sad and seemingly interminable journey.

What will also bother readers (without giving away spoilers), is that both men have other romances and love affairs, meaningful ones, throughout their lives apart.  That was a very realistic aspect to this story but I know that some readers will be put off just by that element alone.  Some readers will say “why harp on a lack of joy amidst so much sadness and death?  Because it’s the need to feel alive that’s missing here, from the characters and from the story.

So why give it 3 stars?  Because BA Tortuga is still an accomplished author and sections of this story are very well written whether or not I think it comes together as a whole.  That alone deserves a 3 star rating and it gets one.  If you are a fan of stories of this type and content, you might be the reader Say Something is looking for.  For all others,, pick up one of BA Tortuga’s other stories.  There are many to choose from and several that are sure to delight.  Start there to get familiar with BA Tortuga and the stories that make her a “go to author’ the majority of the time.

 

Cover Artist: AngstyG has created a beautiful cover in tone and composition.  Love it.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner  Press eBook & Paperback     All Romance eBook (ARe)   amazon       Say Something

Book Details:

ebook, 226 pages
Published September 29th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1632163829 (ISBN13: 9781632163820)
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://batortuga.blogspot.com/

A MelanieM Review: Precious Metals by L.A. Witt

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Precious MetalsAs a provision inspector below the Chilkoot Pass during the Klondike Gold Rush, Constable Paul Benson of the North-West Mounted Police has seen it all. The monotony, the fights, starvation and even death that has come with the miners rushing to make their fortune in gold. But even as the masses of humanity crowd into camps, Paul has been able to keep himself emotionally separated from the madness and madmen around him.  Until the arrival of Joseph Starling in his life.

Joseph Starling appears in camp, practically dead.  Joseph and his two brothers had been among those mining gold up north but there the brothers met a familiar fate.  They were robbed, one brother killed and the youngest still in the clutches of the men who attacked them.  Now Joseph is on his way to find his brother and bring him safely home.

It’s to Paul that Joseph is brought to and its Paul’s plan Joseph will use to catch up to the robbers.  Only Paul never counted on going with Joseph on a journey that will change them both in ways they never expected.  From eight-legged mechs with minds of their own to crash-prone airships, this is a trip with no guarantees, for success and even coming out alive.

Just the cover and the title alone is enough to recall the wonderful steampunk universe L.A. Witt has created for this remarkable series.  The first novel, Noble Metals, firmly established a steampunk world where the Klondike Gold Rush includes steam driven 8-legged brass mechs, mechanical beasts of burden instead of horses or sleds, where the North-West Mounted Police patroled the borders and camps instead of the Royal Canadian Mounties, but the human frailties, greed, and despair remain firmly entrenched by the pursuit of gold.  I loved that story.  It was inventive, believable, and a terrific romance to boot.

Now comes Precious Metals and that treacherous, amazing world comes alive once more.  Using the same format of alternating points of view,  L.A. Witt takes the reader from perspective to perspective easily without jumbling her narrative.  The story opens with Paul Benson looking over the teeming mass of miners gathered to get permits and head north into the Yukon.  Immediately we realize that being a Mountie is not the passion for Paul that one would think, an aspect of this story both unusual and telling. Into his line of vision comes a tattered group of miners walking beside a worn mech, lying on top is Joseph.  From the minute Joseph wakes up in the make shift infirmary, his heartbreaking portion of the story unfolds and Precious Metals takes flight.

Joseph Starling stole my heart immediately.  There are so many facets to this character, loving and loyal brother, ingenious engineer, and courageous, intrepid explorer and that doesn’t even begin to cover it.  There is another surprise in store for the readers concerning Joseph that the cover happily does not give away.But this element of Joseph’s character and its part in the story adds not only depth but heart to this amazing journey. It’s Paul that I had to warm up to.  Paul Benson has his own decisions to make and he tends to need a lot of internal prodding to get moving forward.  But once he does, then the reader is sure to embrace his character as much as we do Joseph’s.

Oh, the descriptions of the arduous trail north that L. A. Witt treats us to!  Heavy snowfalls, avalanches, bone chilling, death causing temperatures, and always, always something worse waiting to happen just around the bend.  And the vivid, wonderful passages make us feel every exhausting, frozen, torturous inch of the trail north.  And did I mention that there are airships afloat as unreliable and crash prone as the mechs themselves?  By the end of the story I found it hard to believe that the journey itself only unfolds in a short time frame because we were in the trenches with Paul and Joseph,  For them, as well as us, the heightened danger and close proximity brings an understanding, though not love, that feels as real as the journey itself.

For unlike the couple in Noble Metals, here the attachment forms quickly, yet realistically.  Is it a case of instant love?  I think not, but certainly a romance with a future if the men have any say.  Yes, this is a HFN that is satisfying in a book that I loved perhaps more than the last.   I highly recommend Precious Metals and its predessor, Noble Metals.  Pick them both up today and begin your passage to Chilkoot Pass , the Klondike Gold Rush and the men who find themselves and love along the way!

Cover artist April Lee’s drawing is both lively and a little rough, a bluntness about it that adds to its charm in my opinion.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing       All Romance eBooks        amazon           Precious Metals

Book Details:

ebook, 150 pages
Published October 27th 2014 by Riptide Publishing
original titlePrecious Metals
ISBN139781626491748
edition languageEnglish

Book in the Metals steampunk universe can be read as stand alone novels:

Noble Metals

Previous Metals

A MIka Review: Heart by Garrett Leigh

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

HEARTTheFinal_edited-1Cornish pastry chef Seb Wright dreads the summer tourist season. The cash injection to his artisan fudge pantry is more than welcome, the extra work, less so. Then one summer, a shadowy Good Samaritan catches his eye. Irish Traveller Dex is bewitching, a beautiful sullen enigma who turns Seb’s world upside down until he disappears in the night, vanishing like a mystical summer rain. 

Twelve months later Dex is in the midst of a dark storm. A slave to his master, ‘Uncle’ Braden, he spends his days cleaning caravans and his nights working in Braden’s other businesses. His short summer with Seb seems a lifetime ago. Lost in the savage violence of the murky underworld, he doesn’t dare dream he’ll ever find his way back, until one night, a brutal crime opens the door for a chance escape. A new life beckons, old faces emerge, and immersed in the heady vibe of London’s East End, new love begins to heal his fractured heart.

Garrett Leigh has become a must read author for me since she put out Only Love. That book is still my favorite m/m book of this year. Heart is about finding one self, finding love, what it means to be in love, and family. Garrett Leigh always seems to put us in these dark places and we get to see these guys find their way to the light. From the beginning of the story we are introduced to this amazing man name Seb, for someone his age which is mine, the amount of compassion and love he has is astounding. I’m a sucker for abuse, dark gritty tells, under educated that’s just me. Seb was a twenty-something guy working in a town that he grew up end making fudge. He is about the only good Samaritan around in my opinion. He finds himself walking home one night and he got the feeling that someone was close which they were. It was Dex, beautiful, sweet, homeless gypsy Dex, and what does it do, honest Dex tells Seb he dropped his wallet he did. I think for me from that view point I wanted more Dex, that’s all I cared about. Reading from Seb’s point of view was so satisfying because he was enthralled just as much as the reader was. It’s a point in the beginning of the story where it’s the weather conditions are horrible and Seb see’s Dex underneath an awning trying to stay warm, Seb invites him in for food and shelter. What broke my heart was what Dex said next. He automatically went into thinking what did he owe Seb for doing this for him. As if everyone in the world expect something from a 19 yr old boy.

Things progress from there for a while. One morning Seb wakes up and Dex is gone. Surprisingly I didn’t cry, which I thought I was going to the entire time. The point of view changes to Dex story now, and man did I cry. He went through so much hard ache and pain. I can’t imagine people having to go through this. He was apart of a gypsy carnival. He was a prostitute who never seemed to come out on the winning side. As I don’t like to give away the plot I can only talk about how I felt towards these characters. I felt anger mostly. I felt anger because he had to go on years with out Seb and only have his memories as the only good thing in life. He does get save it’s not sweep off your feet. It’s hard, and Dex worked really hard for whatever he did in life. Those moments in the story pulled at my heart more and more. I really appreciate his growth, determination and usefulness.

Seb Wright is an amazing character. One thing I could say that really gave him an edge was his patience. He was super patient with Dex when they reunited. I loved how Seb was willing to move mountains for Dex. I will continue to support this author as long as Garrett continues to write. I wish I had beautiful words to encompass of how I felt. Sometimes I do have the words, and other times I just write what comes to me. I can say the angst was alive and kicking. I recommend this book to lovers of Garrett Leigh, lovers of angst. People who want to believe and succeed in life. Don’t ever give up is my only words of wisdom.

The cover artist: G.D. Leigh. I liked the cover; it doesn’t give much away for the story. Upon reading the story you kind of guess which character it’s for. The cover does make you feel at peace with what has transpired for one of the main characters.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner eBook & Paperback      All Romance eBook      amazon Heart

Book Details:
eBook, 204 pages
Published October 27th, 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 9781632163677
Edition Language: English
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