A Caryn Release Day Review: Andre in Flight by Laura Lascarso

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

andre-in-flight-by-laura-lascarsoOooh, what a twisty and devious book this was!  It’s not mentioned in the blurb, and only hinted at in the beginning of the story, but there was a subtle paranormal aspect to it which was not what I expected it to be.

Martin is an artist, a painter, who waits tables in a trendy Miami restaurant to pay the bills.  His friend/sometime lover/manager Melissa also works there with him, while she finds ways to promote and encourage his art, and makes sure that he is making money for both of them.  One night when he walks into the restaurant for his usual shift, he notices a beautiful new young man working as a dishwasher.  Martin is entranced, helplessly attracted, but also has that deja vu feeling that he knows this man.  In a matter of a week he has convinced Andre to move in with him, and his attraction starts to turn into obsession.  He paints frenziedly, always of Andre, and it is his best work yet.  But there are  ominous mutterings from Melissa – who has always been a bit mysterious and cagey with Martin – as well as frightening and intrusive new thoughts and feelings that get mixed up into Martin’s recurring nightmare of fire.

The foreshadowing was very nicely done, keeping the sinister impression going through most of the book, even during what should have been a very happy time for Martin and Andre as they enjoy the excitement of a new relationship.  It was like having the Jaws theme playing continuously in the background, but in a good way!  The uneasiness and disquiet come to a climax about two thirds of the way through the book, and Martin is left devastated and confused, and ultimately makes a deal with the devil (guess who that was?) to make sure he can be with Andre.

The plot was great.  The writing was very good, and I really enjoyed how the sex was not presented as a detailed “he did this, and he responded like that”, but rather as a poetic rendering of what Martin saw and felt, both physically and emotionally.  Truly, it was some of the most memorable writing in the book, even though the scenes were brief and infrequent.  I considered giving the book 4 stars, but in the end, although I was attracted to the writing, I never really did connect with either Martin or Andre, or their relationship.

Despite that, I really enjoyed the book, and this author, who is new to me.  I will be looking for more from her!

Cover Artist: AngstyG. Cover art is beautiful, and a fit to the brooding quality of the writing.

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Book Details:

ebook, 116 pages
Expected publication: November 16th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 163477793X (ISBN13: 9781634777933)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Caryn Release Day Review: The First Act by Vanessa Mulberry

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Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

the-first-act-by-vanessa-mulberrySet in Elizabethan England, this is the story of how William, a young innocent country boy, schemes to win the love of the actor Richard Brasyer.  Richard is older, worldly, somewhat jaded, and they come into contact when Richard’s troupe is performing in Oxford while the plague rages in London.  William is enraptured, intensely attracted to Richard, and convinces himself he is in love.  Through a combination of whining and appealing to his vanity, William bulldozes his cousin (who happens to be co-owner of the troupe) into letting him join as an apprentice, and travels to London where he hopes to end up in Richard’s bed.

Twenty-four hours after arriving in London, that’s exactly where William is.  After Richard’s previous apprentice is conveniently dismissed.  Now William just has to seduce the older man, who vacillates between being irritated with how naïve William is, and lusting after his body.  Their relationship is summed up in this quote:

“William had been in Richard’s employ for several hours now, and already he was growing frustrated with the slow progress of their relationship”

I mean, there’s insta-love, and there’s this.  And of course, the attraction is purely physical on both sides, and the next two days find William throwing himself at Richard and being repulsed for various reasons, or deciding he’s fed up with the whole thing and will go back to Oxford, but can’t because he’s just so in love, but really, Richard is not as good as William thought he was, but he still really wants to have sex with Richard, except when he doesn’t.  Oh my God, make up your frickin’ mind!  Richard of course does the same thing, alternating between admiring William and feeling that resisting him is futile, or wanting him to go home to Oxford because he’s an irritating prat, or feeling that he is not worthy of William’s devotion and must shelter his innocence from the big bad world, or some other repetitive hot and cold waffling.

And then there’s the spy aspect.  Which basically just amounts to a little sneaking around.  Finding whatever information they need usually takes about 30 minutes.  The mastermind uber-spy, Bennett, is a silver fox who is an old lover of Richard’s, who still exerts a fascination that Richard can’t seem to walk away from, though there is some reason why he should.  I never figured out what that reason was, other than lying to Richard, or having him followed for no particular reason.  But what the hell, he’s sexy, and is able to give it to Richard like no other man ever has, so Richard says yes, then no, then yes, then walks out, then can’t make it past the bedroom door and goes back in, remembers he used to love Bennett, remembers that he actually loathes him now, remains conflicted but can see in Bennett’s eyes that he’s telling the truth this time, but actually he’s lying again….  Just get it over with already!!

I got the feeling that the author really wanted to write about some big cryptic conspiracy that would draw the MCs together via intrigue and danger, but what she actually did was pose some random vague mission about getting some list that was life or death to Bennett and the other spy masters for no particular reason.  It was pretty boring.  And the MCs are so inconsistent, so wishy-washy, and I felt absolutely no chemistry and frankly, didn’t care if they got together or not.  And the purple prose was a little too much, like these examples as William and Richard travel to Cambridge to track down the mysterious list:

“Take me tonight, I don’t want to face danger without knowing what it felt like to have a man inside me”

“[My cock] will be hard all night and all day tomorrow, and it will distract me.  Do you want me to die with this throbbing between my legs?”

I had to laugh, remembering how my husband used to describe trashy romances as “creamy thigh and throbbing member” books.  Yep, this is one of those, just with two throbbing members.  And admittedly I don’t know a lot about Elizabethan England, but I don’t think all these gay men were so open, and I just can’t see two Shakespeare era actors rimming each other.

Cover Artist: AngstyG.   Great job, brings in  an historical atmosphere.

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Book Details:

ebook, 206 pages
Expected publication: October 17th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634777824 (ISBN13: 9781634777827)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Caryn Release Day Review: Waiting for Patrick by Brynn Stein

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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
 
waiting-for-patrickElliot is a rolling stone.  He’s spent his entire life moving from place to place, never stays anywhere more than a few months, doesn’t believe in relationships, has no family, and very few friends.  He’s a loner, and as the story progresses, you see why — Elliot can be a self-centered asshole.  He lives for his work, enjoys casual hookups, and overall is perfectly satisfied with his life.  He’s built a business of flipping houses into a thriving architectural design corporation and is now able to spend time doing the type of renovations he enjoys as well as those that are profitable.
 
All of this changed when he acquired a civil war era plantation home in South Carolina.  From the beginning, Elliot was drawn to this property in a way he’d never experienced before, and felt a sense of peace there that was also alien to him.  He decided to live in the house and do some of the work himself as the renovation proceeded, rather than contracting everything out like he usually did.  And he surprised himself by sticking around long enough to become attached to the house as well as a few local people that became friends.  Over the following weeks, he found out that not only was the house haunted, but the ghost, Ben, was able to communicate with Elliot in increasingly more specific ways, until Elliot knew not only Ben’s history of enlisting in the Union army with his lover Patrick, but also of Ben’s death in the house, and of his promise to wait for Patrick to return for him.  Ben and Patrick were true soul mates, so that was more of an eternal vow than a simple promise, and Ben is faithful to it.  Elliot’s friends were amused that he was becoming close to a ghost — certainly closer than he’d ever gotten to a living person — but they were surprisingly supportive of him.  After all, how do you carry on a romance with a ghost?  Especially a romance doomed to end because Ben insists that Patrick will come back?
 
The rest of the book was not exactly predictable (at least not from the beginning), but before each new event or revelation occurred, there was so much foreshadowing that I knew exactly what was coming and wanted the author to hurry it up.  Elliot’s not dumb, so his inability to get a clue about so many things was not only irritating, but didn’t really match his personality.  That disconnect kept taking me out of the story.  The pace of the book is slow, because of all the build up.  There were occasional meanderings into side plots that went nowhere and seemed pointless.  The secondary characters were not as well fleshed out as I feel they should have been given the length of the book, as a lot of the conversations and interactions were repetitive.  Elliot was the only character who grew and changed.  The others were pretty static, which made them increasingly irrelevant.  I think that may have been intentional, a way for the author to emphasize the growing connection between Elliot and Ben and Elliot’s gradual withdrawal from the real world, but if so, it was not entirely successful.  And finally, the paranormal aspects — communicating with a ghost, retrieving memories, finding a lost soul mate, and even the entire concept of a soul mate — were over-explained.  I think an author should let magical realism happen, or not, but trying to explain the magic by mundane physical rules just ruins it.  
Cover art by Bree Archer is wonderful and speaks to the story.
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Book Details:
ebook, 280 pages
Expected publication: September 16th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634773985 (ISBN13: 9781634773980)
Edition LanguageEnglish