BG Thomas on Writing, Second Chances and ‘The Real Thing’ (Guest Post and excerpt)

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The Real Thing by B.G. Thomas
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reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Available for Purchase at

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host B.G. Thomas here today on tour for his new release The Real Thing. 

Welcome, B.G.

✒︎

A Second Chance

There is something that a writer has to learn. And that is when to stop stop stop and hand in a story. So often we want to edit it one…more…time. We wonder if our hero’s brother should be a sister. Maybe our main character should have had a cat instead of a dog, because, dogoneit, all our heroes have dogs! Or maybe we needed to cut a section. Or add one! It can be agonizing.

Oh, and the deadline! When, if you have a chance of getting the story published, you have to turn it in by a certain date. It’s time! Give it up! Hand it in.

And still there is that feeling. That inner voice…. Gosh! If only I had….

Maybe a writer will do a public reading and there will be this inner cringe because, “Oh no! I forgot to resolve that story thread! OMG! Why is it that I haven’t gotten two dozen IMs or emails asking about it? This will be the day! I am reading this out loud and they will hear the mistake and they will come to me and ask about it and….”

And it’s all senseless. There is no point. At some point the child has to be allowed to walk even though they might fall down. But chances are?

Chances are people like the story just the way it is. And maybe they’ll love it too.

But….

Every now and again something happens and an author gets an opportunity to have that rare second chance. When it’s a director, it’s that version of a movie called “The Director’s Cut.” Or a musician will get to do a remix or newer version of a song.

What happened to me is that I got to clean up and add to three different stories!

First the wonderful publisher Amber Quill Press went out of business and a story I sold them back in 2011 became mine again to do with what I will. And then two Dreamspinner Press anthologies, Riding Double and Two Tickets to Paradise went out of print and I had the rights of two more stories revert back to me.

Then I was thrilled when Dreamspinner was interested in the taking the novella Trust Me and reprinting it…as long as I turned it into a novel. I was like—OMG! Because that story was definitely one of those I had wanted to be longer. There was an important twist in the book I wanted in there and I had to leave it at the side of the computer.

And then they wanted my two short stories as well. And once again, knowing that I am a better writer with eight novels and twenty novellas and short pieces under my belt, they asked me to clean them up a bit and expand them. Dreamspinner Press edits and re-edits and re-edits and a writer can’t help but learn and become a better author.

So that is what I got to do. I added something like twenty thousand words to Trust Me and I renamed it Do You Trust Me? Then I expanded the Two Tickets to Paradise story, New Lease, and was very happy with the result. And finally I took the Riding Double story, The Real Thing, and did the same.

I am so happy I got to expand and clean up my story The Real Thing. I think it is charming and it’s personal and I simply love it. But to get a chance to make it better? I was in heaven. Because Bryan and Curtis are very important to me.

Here is the blurb:   

Bryan Mills has fantasized about cowboys all his life. Real cowboys, that is. He even dresses in what his roommate calls “cowboy drag” when he visits his favorite bar, in the hope of attracting the attentions of a genuine cowboy. But all he usually finds are posers and guys his own age.

Then one night, to his surprise, Curtis Hansen buys him a beer, and Bryan has no doubt this is the real thing. Curtis is a rugged, gorgeous man who is every bit a cowboy. He even owns his own ranch. What follows is about the most amazing night of Bryan’s young life. 

But can they move beyond a night of incredible sex when Bryan admits to Curtis that the only horse he’s ever ridden was a birthday party pony? And that he’s nothing but a poser himself? Maybe, just maybe, Curtis can find the real cowboy inside Bryan, and they can ride off into the sunset together!

And there is nothing I love more than arranging the Universe so my characters can ride off into that fabled sunset.

What amazes me is the response to The Real Thing. It has been on the Amazon best seller list for over a week—as a pre-order! And in the first day of sales hit as high as #5 in LGBT short reads, #113 in short reads for Romance—please note that is Romance and not gay romance, and #250 in gay fiction. Wow!  I am in happy tears and am so happy.

I love Bryan and Curtis so very much and it is wonderful to see readers like them too, especially when making comments like, “The Real Thing by B.G. Thomas was an awesome short story. The way the author has of writing the story constantly had me laughing or fanning myself from the hot scenes.” And, “I am a huge BG Thomas fan and I love cowboys. This story didn’t let me down. It was short but also fun as in all B G books and also sweet and sexy.”

I mean, wow! *wipes more happy tears away* Maybe adding to my story was the right thing to do!

Here is a little taste of, The Real Thing:. Curtis has brought Bryan home to his ranch to see how he feels about the idea of living in the country with a bunch of cattle. Because how can he have a forever man if he can’t find one that likes cows?

Brian helped Curtis load the back of a horse trailer with large, heavy metal sections of what Bryan assumed were gates. It turned out they were corral sections. The pieces ranged from ten to twelve feet long and had small pieces of chain attached. After loading the trailer, they climbed back in the truck, and Curtis explained their job on the way.

“I have a bull and a heifer that just won’t come in. I think there’s a dog scaring them or something. We’re going to assemble a small corral, fill a tub with range cubes, and call for them. I think they’ll come.”

The assembly wasn’t easy, and it embarrassed Bryan how quickly he was out of breath. Curtis didn’t seem to even raise a sweat. They arranged the pieces in a large square, placing them end to end and then slipping the small chains through a hole and back around to secure the sections into a fence. When they were done, they stepped back into the truck and Curtis began to tap a pattern on the horn on his steering wheel. “They know this signal,” he explained. “They’ll come.”

But after a while, there were still no cattle.

Just as they were driving off, Bryan stopped him. “Oh, look! Are they that reddish-brown color, like on TV?”

“Yup. You see them?”

“Way off over there,” Bryan said, pointing.

It took Curtis a moment, but then he said, “Yup. That’s the female. She has a white face.”

So they honked and honked, but to no avail.

It was only then that Bryan remembered Curtis’s traditional family Sunday meal.

“I let them know we were skipping today,” Curtis said.

“But….”

No,” Curtis said. “Today is for us. And it’s time for dinner. Our dinner.” With that, he took a bag of range cubes, poured them into a large washbasin, and left it in the corral. “I think they’ll come for them tonight. When I honk tomorrow, they’ll come a-runnin’.”

Then they were off and back to Curtis’s house, where he cooked them two huge steaks, once again from his own cattle, for their dinner.

It was the best steak Bryan had ever tasted.

Finally it was time for Curtis to take Bryan home. Bryan had hoped for one more tumble in Curtis’s bed, but two times in one day wasn’t bad, especially when one of those times was under the sun in a bed of hay. Who all could say they’d done that?

The trip back was nice but sad. He didn’t want to go home. He wanted to stay.

With Curtis.

He kept stealing looks at Curtis as they drove, and his heart threatened to pound right out of his chest. Was this love? God. Was he in love?

The thought made him feel very good. It made him feel wonderful, in fact.

And the idea that this was just a weekend thing scared the shit out of him. He wanted more.

Bryan had never felt like he had the past two days, or the past week. Never anything like it. And maybe Tommy was right. He didn’t have much experience when it came to being with a man when they weren’t fucking. Maybe this feeling wasn’t love. He didn’t really know what love felt like, did he? Maybe it was normal to get so swept off his feet the first time a man wanted to spend actual quality time with him.

God….

If this wasn’t something like love, the real thing might just kill him. But what a way to go.

Suddenly it occurred to Bryan that there was something pretty major he was keeping from Curtis. And before he could even think about what he was doing, what he was saying, what the consequences might be, he blurted it out.

He had to….

And if you want to know what it is, you will just have to read the novella!

So long. Y’all come back, now!

B.G. “Ben” Thomas

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About the Author

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B.G. Thomas lives in Kansas City with his husband of more than a decade and their fabulous dogs Sarah Jane and Oliver. He is blessed to have a lovely daughter as well as many extraordinary friends. He has a great passion for life.

B.G. loves romance, comedies, fantasy, science fiction, and even horror—as far as he is concerned, as long as the stories are character driven and entertaining, it doesn’t matter the genre. He has gone to literature conventions his entire adult life where he’s been lucky enough to meet many of his favorite writers. He has made up stories since he was a child; it is where he finds his joy.

In the nineties, he wrote for gay adult magazines but stopped because the editors wanted all sex without plot. “The sex is never as important as the characters,” he says. “Who cares what they are doing if we don’t care about them?” Excited about the growing male/male romance market, he began writing again. He submitted a novella and was thrilled when it was accepted in four days. Since then the romantic tales have poured out of him. “It’s like I’m somehow making up for a lifetime’s worth of story-telling!”

“Leap, and the net will appear” is his personal philosophy and his message. “It is never too late,” he testifies. “Pursue your dreams. They will come true!”

Website/blog: bthomaswriter.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bgthomaswriter

An Anthology Special! Check out Contact (Gothika #5) by Kim Fielding , F.E. Feeley Jr. , Jamie Fessenden , and B.G. Thomas (guest post, special excerpt and more)

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Contact (Gothika #5)
by Kim Fielding , F.E. Feeley Jr. , Jamie Fessenden , B.G. Thomas

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have F.E. Feeley, Jr. here today to talk about Contact (Gothika #5), an upcoming anthology from Dreamspinner Press.  Welcome, F.E.

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Hi! I’m F.E. Feeley, Jr., one of the authors in the upcoming anthology Gothika: Contact. This is the fifth installment in the Gothika series, which has featured androids, werewolves, voodoo curses, and ghosts! Contact is about encounters with extraterrestrials and alien abduction, and it includes four stories by me, Kim Fielding, Jamie Fessenden, and B.G. Thomas.

In my story, “My Final Blog,” I explored the idea of extraterrestrials establishing contact not by landing a spaceship in our backyard or making toy monkeys come to life (Why do we have those creepy things, anyway?), but by chatting with us online. We’ve already got a worldwide network where it’s possible—and expected—that people will communicate without revealing their identities. How easy would it be for an alien to establish contact with humans on social media, scope us out, and maybe even establish a form of relationship with us before revealing itself?

Here’s how I handled the idea of alien contact in “My Final Blog.”

Blurb

George is an average guy who’s led an average sort of life.  Always fading in the background, he never garnered much attention. People seemed to pass him by or not notice him. Except, of course, in high school where he was tormented by his sexuality. Finding solace online, George developed a blog early on that helped him maintain his sanity.  It was an anonymous link to the outside world to vent his frustrations and express his creativity. And he gathered quite an audience of similar spirits and allies who stayed with him for over the years. 

Especially one commenter, Universal47. In the spirit of anonymity, George never pushed him to expose who he really was.  And over a period of years, began to have feelings for this faceless person. When George finds himself in a horrible one sided relationship with an abusive and neglectful partner, Universal steps in to help George break up with him.  Devastated by the outcome of his failed relationship, George threatens to withdraw from Universal47 as well unless he tells him who he really is. The answer may be more than George can handle.

Excerpt

We were wandering into dangerously choppy waters. I was defensive over my relationship. I mean, there were good times. Christmases and birthdays were great. But there were times when I could dry up and disappear and Joseph, I don’t think would have cared. As a matter of fact, it was sort of ‘go away, come back’ messages that I received from him that confused me. Which, I must say looking back, was sort of pathetic. But you know what they say about hindsight. It was always fifty/ fifty. I ended up saying goodnight and went about my evening. But his words haunted me.

Yet, fast forward to the night he told me his name, I sat staring at my computer screen as his name flashed in front of me. Elijah. I liked the name. I, of course, understood the biblical reference. Elijah was a prophet that once called down fire from heaven to consume a sacrifice to God.  Or, it was the name of a really blue eyed actor who played Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings movies. I put those two things up for consideration in the chat box and was greeted with a great big LOL for my efforts.

Universal47: Neither. But that’s funny.

I tilted my head for a moment before typing: Will we ever meet?

Universal47: I believe so. Do you want to meet me?

Me: Of course.

Universal47: Why?

Me: To put a face with a name?

Universal47: Is that all?

Me: Sure. Isn’t that enough.

Universal47: And what would we do if we met.

I rolled my eyes hard at that.

Me: Well, you’re not getting laid if that’s what you mean. I could go on GRNDR for that.

Universal47: HAHAHAHA! I’m sure you could. And no, that isn’t what I’m after either.

Me: so you are after something?

Universal47: Companionship? Is that weird?

Me: No. I don’t think so. You must get lonely, too.

Universal47: You have no idea.

Me: Well, if it’s any consolation to you. At night, when I fall asleep, you’re not far from my mind.

Universal47: That’s really the sweetest thing anyone’s ever said to me. But you don’t know what I look like.

Me: No. I guess not.

Universal47: What do you think about when think about me before you fall asleep.

Me: Honestly? You’ve had many faces. But your arms are always the same. Strong.  There. Just like you’ve been all these years. There. That’s what matters to me, Elijah.

He was quiet for a long time after that and before he could reply, I felt my eyes grow heavy. It had been a long couple of days. And since it was Friday night, I had a whole weekend’s worth of work to do. I bid him goodnight and logged out. I hoped I hadn’t said too much. I hope I hadn’t freaked him out. But my ability to bullshit was completely depleted by that time that truth sort of rolled out of me in waves.  That night, as I lay in bed listening to the wind howling over the prairies it was so mournful and so lonesome sounding that I cried myself to sleep.

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Anthology Blurb

Since ancient times, humankind has looked into the night sky and wondered: Are we alone? Are there other civilizations beyond the stars? Will we ever encounter these beings? Who are they, what are they like, and what might they want with us?

These questions are about to be answered, but those who discover the truth might wish they had never asked. On the other hand, some might find salvation in visitors from other planets. For while some aliens are hostile, others are benevolent. Some have little in common with humans, but for others, the need for love and acceptance is universal. Lives will intersect and otherworldly passions will ignite as four acclaimed authors of gay romance explore first contact—and where it can lead.

Buy Links

        

A VVivacious Review: A More Perfect Union Anthology by B.G. Thomas , J. Scott Coatsworth , Jamie Fessenden, Michael Murphy

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A More Perfect Union
 
Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5
 
a-more-perfect-unionThis is a collection of four stories that explore the real life implication of the Supreme Court’s ruling on June 26; 2015. In the future no one will ever have to live with the indignation of not being allowed to marry the one they love. In the coming years gay and lesbian relationships will be different because of the possibility of marriage.
 
But what about those who shied from the thought of marriage because they thought they would never be allowed to or those who fought every step of the way so that there would come a day when their marriages to the ones they loved would be legally and lawfully recognized by all. This anthology explores some such stories.
 
Flames by J. Scott Coatsworth – 2 Stars out of 5
Alex and Gio have been together for years but the night that Gio plans to propose, they get in a fight and Alex leaves the house only to later find out that Gio is in a coma. As Alex waits for Gio to open his eyes, he looks back on their life together and regrets the fact that they didn’t get married when they had the chance…
 
This story has good bones but it isn’t very engaging. A lot of the times the story read like an itinerary of events devoid of the emotions that the main characters must surely have experienced during said events.
 
This story is written from the perspectives of both characters but Gio’s character is not very well fleshed out and this is most definitely because of the fact that he doesn’t know who he is for most of the story. While the unique circumstances of Gio’s coma fascinated me they failed to establish Gio’s character and since Alex’s character is very well established the fact that Gio’s character is not creates an inherent imbalance in the story.
 
This story has an interesting premise but it failed to get me invested in the characters mostly because of the fact that the core of this story is mostly hollow of emotions which considering the subject is surprising.
 
Jeordi and Tom by Michael Murphy – 3 Stars out of 5
Jeordi and Tom have to fight for their love every day in the face of Jeordi’s family’s disparage. When Jeordi’s parents try to keep Tom away from Jeordi while he is admitted in the hospital, Jeordi realises that he needs to do something such that no one can ever keep Tom away from him.
 
I liked this story, it had much more of a fight in it. Jeordi and Tom are two youngsters in love while everyone around them is against their relationship.
 
This story has multiple plot lines which are threaded together with a really nice theme of passing on the love.
 
Destined by Jamie Fessenden – 5 Stars out of 5
This is the story of Jay and Wallace. It chronicles their journey from the time they first met till the time they get married.
 
This was an awesome story. I loved the introduction and premise of the story.
 
I really loved Jay and Wallace. Jay is a really vibrant guy and really easy to like but I really loved Wallace. Wallace is a quiet guy, not known to emotional outbursts and appears to be kind of detached from their relationship but the author presents him in such a light that you know that while Wallace may appear detached his heart is very much in the relationship. Despite Wallace’s shy exterior looking at him from Jay’s eyes made sure that we got a good look into the person inside.
 
Jay and Wallace felt very real and I loved their story and how they ended up together. Moreover I loved all the domestic things they did together like shopping, trying to figure out how to live together, buying a house and learning to live together with a particularly over enthusiastic dog.
 
Their marriage was a dream and I loved the destiny angle in their story. I wonder if they ever figured out that they had met years before their first meeting.
 
On the whole I loved the story, it was beyond awesome.
 
Someday by B. G. Thomas – 5 Stars out of 5   
Lucas and Dalton have known each other since they were kids and while life has sent hurdles their way they have always managed to come out on the other side stronger. But Dalton refuses to marry Lucas till marriage equality becomes a reality everywhere in the United States.
 
This one was so beautiful. I loved Dalton and Lucas and their love which was amazing. This was one couple whose story I didn’t want to see end.
 
It was a perfect story about love and marriage and how this particular one came to be. This story also highlights how things have changed in the last 25 years or so… in 1990 no one would have thought that marriage equality would have been a thing of the past come 2016.
 
This anthology has been one awesome read with some amazing stories.
 
Cover Art by Reese Dante. I loved the cover. It is a perfect representation of what this anthology is all about, two men professing their love by vowing to belong to each other forever.
Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon
Book Details:
ebook, 350 pages
Published June 26th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634773322 (ISBN13: 9781634773324)
Edition LanguageEnglish
URLhttp://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7854

Scattered Thoughts Summary of Reviews for August 2013

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August banner with pencils

August 2013 Review and Blog Summary:

5 Star Rating:

Fifty Fifty Chances Are (Chances Are #3) by Lee Brazil, contemporary
Ghost of a Chance (Chances Are #4) by Lee Brazil, contemporary
Wicked Guidance (Wicked’s Way #4) by Havan Fellows, contemporary
Wicked Incarcerations (Wicked’s Way #3) by Havan Fellows contemporarysummer images with book

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:

Chances Are (Chances Are #1) by Lee Brazil (4.5 stars) contemporary
Dance Only For Me (Dance With The Devil #6) by Megan Derr (4.75 stars) fantasy
Demolished by Astrid Amara (4 stars), contemporary
Home Sweet Home (Home #5) by T.A. Chase, (4.5 stars) contemporary
Second Chances Are (Chances Are #2) by Lee Brazil
The Beast Without by Christian Baines (4.75 stars) supernatural
Welcome, Brother (College Fun and Gays #5) by Erica Pike (4 stars) contemporary
Wicked Bindings (Wicked’s Ways #2) by Havan Fellows
Wicked Solutions (Wicked’s Ways #1) by Havan Fellows

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:

Burden by Annmarie McKenna (3.5 stars) contemporary
Faire Fugitive by Madeleine Ribbon (3.75 stars) fantasy
Fall For Me (Rock Gods #1) by Ann Lister, contemporary
Handle With Care by Josephine Myles (3.5 stars) contemporary
Mixed Tapes, Vol. 2 by Kris Jacen editor (3.5 stars) contemporary
Nischal (Leopard’s Spots #9) by Bailey Bradford (3.75 stars) supernatural
Subtle Innuendos (Mixed Tape series) by Z. Allora (3 stars) contemporary
The Boy Who Came In From The Cold by B.G. Thomas ((3 stars) contemporary

2 to 2.75 Star Rating:

The Queen’s Librarian by Carole Cummings (2.75 stars) fantasy

1 to 1.75 Star Rating:

Aching For It (Dominican Heat #1) by Stanley Bennett Clay (1 star) contemporary

Other Blogs:
Author Spotlight: Havan Fellows    
Author Spotlight: Lee Brazil
Wait? That Was The Ending? A Writing Mini rant From Scattered Thoughts

Review: The Boy Who Came In From The Cold by B.G.Thomas

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

The Boy Who Came IN From The ColdLife has not been easy for Todd Burton.  He lives in a small town, Buckman, Missouri.  His father died when he was young and his mother remarried to an abusive man who makes Todd’s life miserable in every way possible, including calling him a “fag”.  All Todd has ever wanted was to be a chef but his dream and small efforts are ridiculed by mother and stepfather alike. One night, the taunts and abuse become too much, and Todd flees his home and town, running away to Kansas City to pursue his dream of being a chef.  But the reality of life in Kansas City is a harsh one and soon Todd is left out in the cold, evicted from his apartment with no where to turn.

Gabe Richards, a wealthy businessman, finds Todd outside his apartment building freezing to death.  The sight of the young man brings back memories that Gabe thought he had buried.  He offers Todd a place to spend the night and food to eat and as the men get to know one another, the night becomes a week, and then more.  But the situation is fraught with tension and awkwardness.  Todd has always assumed he was straight, so why is he checking out Gabe like he would a girl?  Could he actually be gay?  And for Gabe, Todd brings up memories of another young man in Gabe’s past, one associated with pain and betrayal.

Gabe and Todd find themselves falling in love despite their pasts.  For Todd, being evicted and coming in from the cold might be the best thing that ever happened to him.

I have some very mixed feelings about this story because I really liked parts of it.  B.G. Thomas has a lovely writing style and his characters, specifically, Todd Burton and Peter Wagner, a friend and employer of Gabe, are fantastic.  Todd is someone we could empathize immediately.  Even when he is using offensive words like “fag”, we know its because those words have been thrown at and around him all his life.  It’s a knee jerk reaction, especially in someone questioning his true sexuality.  I have to admit having to suspend some belief in Todd’s miraculous culinary skills. Given his background, would someone like Todd really know what to do with fennel or taste white pepper in wine? But as I love a cooking element in a story, I can accept his interest and gift in putting flavors together to create something wonderful.  Todd’s questioning of his sexuality is another terrific aspect of this story, although his leap into bed with Gabe as well as his embrace of his “gayness” came a little too fast for someone who just found out that they were gay.  But again, I can accept that too because Thomas made it seem realistic.

Peter Wagner, vaguely British, kind and over the top is perhaps my favorite character,  Think Peter O’Toole in My Favorite Year and you have some approximation of Peter Wagner.  I loved him and every scene he appeared in.  Thomas must have a real fondness for him too because his descriptions of Wagner and his actions are vivid, almost Technicolor, trying hard to express the heart and vitality of this man.   Here is a sample of Peter at his best:

“Yes,” Peter decreed. “Sexily aromatic, like linen sheets after making love on an island in Greece.” Peter took another sip. “It is superb. And now if I might?” Peter lifted a fork as if it were a conductor’s baton, then a knife, cut into the thigh Todd had placed on his plate and sliced it quickly and masterfully. He brought the morsel to his mouth, stopped, inhaled. Then popped it into his mouth.

Todd held his breath.

A corner of Peter’s mouth slowly tipped upward. He opened his eyes. “Heaven,” he whispered.

Todd felt a rush. He had no idea why. He had no idea who this strange man was with his flourishes and declarations, his nimble swagger, and the graceful way he moved his hands and arms and lanky body. Yet, the compliment Peter had given him might have been the best in his entire life.

And we get that because Peter has become so real to us as well that we understand the sentiments involved.  Great job, great characters indeed.

Gabe Richards is a little more problematic for me.  It is with him and an event and people in his past that I have issues with. Gabe is described as a successful businessman with a painful past that both Peter and Gabe’s friend/assistant are aware of.  This past involves a young man who had been sexually abused by his father for years and was living on the streets when Gabe found him.  This character and his situation are the dramatic fulcrum upon which Gabe’s past angst pivots.  And this is the element that dragged the story down for me.

It’s my opinion that if an author uses rape or sexual abuse as an element in their story, they have a responsibility to treat it as seriously and realistically as the topic deserves.  This includes have the adult characters suggest counseling and police action for sexual abuse/rape, especially in underage victims involved in this storyline.  The fact that this is fiction does not reduce that responsibility for the author.  But when an abused underage young man is instead “adopted” as a son, calls the men who adopted him “Daddy One” and “Daddy Two” and is then looked at as a possible bedmate by both of them, then the subsequent story is undermined for me.  That this young man is then also portrayed not as a victim but instigator of a painful event, then that aspect of the story becomes an object of disbelief.  For that element to have been realistically portrayed, the author should have gone into the ramifications of parental sexual abuse, including perhaps the need for validation by a father figure and other long term aspects of paternal sexual abuse, especially if untreated.  I am aware that this is only a part of Thomas’ story but it is still a small but important one.  The author could have left this element out all together and chosen to make this a shallow opportunistic young man.  If Thomas had, this would have been an altogether different review.  As it is, it reduced the rating almost to a 2.

Outside of the sexual abuse section , this story also contains a case of “instant love”, something I am seeing a lot of these days.  Gabe and Todd have one week together, during which  time Todd not only comes to grips with his sexuality but also falls in love with Gabe, who very conveniently falls in love back.  Sigh.  Gabe’s past “homelessness” really isn’t, as he left his apartment for the night.  So not the same as Todd.  Again, a suspension of belief is called for. The author then wraps up all the loose story lines in a manner that seems a little pat. Again, while I could accept most of them, the resolution of the plot with the young sexually abused man is handled just as badly as was the character’s introduction. He runs off to confront his father by himself.  No police involved,  no one helping him because “he has to do it by himself”. And the last chance to redeem this plot element is lost.

Why give this story a three rating?  I had to ask myself that question too.  I did love parts of The Boy Who Came In From The Cold.  I loved some of the characters and plot points.  The parts that bothered me about the story are, in my opinion, hugely relevant, enough so to drag an otherwise charming story downward. So the writing, and some of the characters saved this story for me enough to give it a 3 star rating.  For other readers, maybe they will skim over those sections that bothered me or it won’t be so obvious as to be an issue for them.  You can make up your own mind.

Cover art by Aaron Anderson is lovely except (and I can’t believe I am saying this) but the model is a little too old for the character of Todd.  Usually it is the other way around.  But the graphics and overall feel is lovely.

Book Details:

ebook, 284 pages
Published May 29th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 162380714X (ISBN13: 9781623807146)
edition language English

This Week’s Reviews From Scattered Thoughts

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Just coming off a wonderful and exhausting week of company and lunch with my fellow Metro M/M Romance Group.  A friend on her way back to the Azores stopped midway to stay with me last week.  It was a terrific visit and we got all caught up on things going on in our lives.  Then on Saturday, my M/M Romance Metro DC Group met at my house for drink, food and book talk.  It was great.  So Sunday?  That was the day I collapsed.  And cleaned.  And did some catchup writing. Now I am about a day behind but not feeling very guilty about it.  Everyone needs at least one day off and yesterday was mine.

So here is how the week is now shaking out.  Not an awesome week, there is one or two redeeming books.  I am saving one stupendously awful book for next week when I will have some great ones to balance it out.  And of course, I have to have one book rant included for the week as well.  This one involves book titles and the willy nilly manner in which some words are capitalized and others are not, depending upon editor, publisher and author.  Makes me crazy and now you are going to hear about it.

Monday, July 29, 2013:                 This Week’s Reviews

Tuesday, July 30, 2013:                 Fire and Light by Berengaria Brown

Wed., July 31, 2013:                        Grime and Punishment by Z.A. Maxfield

Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013:               The Boy Who Came In From the Cold by B. G. Thomas

Friday, Aug. 2, 2013:                     Welcome, Brother by Erica Pike

Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013:                Book Titles and Capital letters are Making me Crazy!

Dreamspinner Press Advent Story Roundup

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The Ghost of Mistletoe Lock by Amy Rae Durreson

Rating: 4.25 stars

DSP: After lonely divorcé Isaac leaves his job as a banker to work as a conservationist on a country river, he gives up on finding the love he always wanted. Then he meets flirty jeweler Ryan and assumes Ryan’s out of his league, but Ryan’s just as lonely as Isaac. Ryan also has the housemates from hell, and when he storms out of the riotous Christmas party they forgot to warn him about, he soon finds himself lost in the snow.

Ryan passes out in front of the lock cottage where Isaac lives, and once Isaac brings him in from the cold, they finally have a chance to get to know each other. But when their insecurities get in the way, it’s up to the ghost of Mistletoe Lock to ensure they give love a chance

I really enjoyed this unusual tale by a new author for me, Amy Rae Durreson.  It starts off with the haunting (literally) death of a young mother in the lock and then forwards to the present where a young British man is leaving his shoppe for the evening after having helped his last customer, a rough looking man looking for a present for his mother.  It is Christmas eve and the party at his house sends him off on a path down the river and a meeting with a ghost and his destiny.  Durrenson has a lovely way with descriptions and her settings come alive with the cold beauty of the locks and river on a moonlighted  Christmas Eve.  Whether it is the Aga warmed old lock cottage or the vivid descriptions of the men themselves, her vision of her story is so clear that it conveys itself to the reader with the same ease and clarity. I loved both Ryan and Isaac, and found the ghost  Emily haunting in her pain. Christmas ghosts abound through literature, the season always bringing with it the joys of family and friends as well as our losses. Durreson has added so very nicely to that tradition. I look forward to other stories from this talented writier.

Traditions from the Heart by Bru Baker

Rating: 4 stars

DSP: When Aaron finds out Ben is missing out on some important Christmas traditions to be with him, he starts thinking of ways to give Ben new ways to observe the holiday. Can a homemade bear, a friend-made video, and a sock-eating goat become the traditions that keep Ben and Aaron together?

I adored this story.  It has everything I look for as a Holiday story.  It is warmhearted, sappy, contains family, love and Christmas traditions that I can relate to all rolled into one sexy and fun holiday tale.  Baker has a terrific way with the characters and the part about the stuffed cat was fun and kept me smiling.  It was lighthearted but still contained enough of the season’s melancholy memories that it rang true there as well.  Like I said, I loved this one and you shouldn’t pass it by.

Bless Us Everyone by Gina A. Rodgers

Rating: 3.5 stars

DSP Blurb: Edan has spent the past five years hiding in his home, living with the ghosts of his Christmases past and unable to allow for the possibility of a future. So when his vibrant and sexy neighbor, Tim, barges into his life with a stepladder and a plate of cookies, Edan finds himself living for the present. But can he let go of his bah humbug ways and accept this second chance as the gift it is?

Cute story about a man whose past has made him isolate himself inside his house for years until a new neighbor draws him out, and into a relationship.  Nice characterizations combined with heart and warmth.  A lovely story for the holidays.

Lucky by Ana Bosch

Rating: 3.25 stars

DSP:  Ever since Martel Heller rolled his first dreadlock, his love life has been blessed. For seven years he’s had the luxury of cherry-picking the hottest men available. But when the dress code at his new job forces him to hack off his lucky locks, his good fortune comes to an end.

To make matters worse, if Martel shows up at the company Christmas party alone, his creepy coworker Phil will know he’s single. As a last resort, Martel enlists his best friend, Felix, a fashion photographer, to hook him up with a model. Then plans fall through, and Martel ends up stuck at the Christmas party with the last person he expects—but as the hours pass, he wonders if he’s finally learned what it means to be lucky.

I actually came close to giving this story 4 stars but in the end the main character was such an unrepentant jerk right up to the last pages that I remained more frustrated than affectionate towards Martel.  I liked the concept that Martel felt his luck resided in his dreads and that once they were cut off due to an employee dress code, his luck was lost.  Now I do wonder about any company being able to enforce a “dread free zone”, especially as dreads can be pulled back and secured or kept “neat: in so many other ways.  Really the AACP or ACLU would have been all over this here in our area. But ok, even given that, there are other things about Martel that just leaves the reader cold.  When you make your main character a jerk and tell the story from his pov, then there should be some redeeming characteristics that allow the reader to understand or make concessions for his, in this case Martel’s, behavior.

I never felt we got that.  Instead we come to love Felix, Martel’s best friend who he treats poorly in so many ways.  Read this for Felix and for the ending, otherwise, I would recommend you skip this altogether.

On The Rocks by Ari McKay

Rating: 3.5  to 3. 25 stars

DSP:

For years, Mal has given Aidan a little piece of the world for special occasions in the form of unique rocks and fossils—until the year he gives Aidan a piece of the moon instead. Aidan has treasured every gift: in a world of impersonal relationships, they’re the one reminder he has that somebody out there cares about him for who he really is. Then through a twist of fate, their relationship goes beyond personal and into intimate, leaving Aidan shocked and set to run the other way. Despite his feelings for Mal, past experiences have convinced Aidan that he’s a failure at relationships, and he’s afraid to trust his heart. It just might take a Christmas miracle for Aidan to find the courage to love.

I actually liked this more than I think it deserved.  I think that perhaps it is due to the fact that when Aidan finally realizes what he has lost, he goes into therapy to try and fix himself first before trying to establish a relationship.  That realistic touch alone elevated this story for me.  I liked Mal and Aiden, although Aiden had to grow on me because of his self centered personality.  But with the concept of rocks as gifts which totally appealed to someone who has always picked up stones everywhere I go, to the idea of someone getting help to solve serious issues.  Well, kudos to  McKay for handling these elements of the story so well.

Bianca’s Plan by B.G. Thomas

Rating: 3 stars

DSP:  Bianca worries that her daddy, Gavin, is lonely and decides he needs a boyfriend for Christmas. So she enlists her father’s best friend, the straight and unattached Curtis. Gavin has a Christmas wish, too, and Curtis setting him up on disastrous dates isn’t part of it! Meanwhile, Curtis finds life becoming complicated as he tries to please Bianca, make Gavin happy, and fend off his own unexpected mixed feelings. Will anyone’s wish come true?

I thought this was a very cute story.  I have to admit that a story plot line that has a daughter or son setting their father up for a romance has always appealed to me.  And Thomas has one wonderful character in the mischievous and plotting little girl, Bianca.  She is absolutely adorable and believable as a 10 year old little girl who sees so clearly what is right before her Dad, that Curtis is perfect for them both.  Bianca wants two dads and a husband for her father and proceeds to get what she wants.  All the characters within the story have some depth to them, although I would wish for a little more realism.  But one sentence tanked this story for me.  When virgin Curtis (virgin to gay sex that is) and Gavin finally realize they love each other, they jump into bed to have sex (no problem here) but then they decide not to use either protectuion, no condoms, or lube. Why?  Because as Gavin tells Curtis, they don’t need that stuff.

“Not this time,” Gav told him. “Nothing fake. It has to all be real.”

So condoms and lube make have sex be less real?   Uh, does STD’s and pain make it more memorable?  Hmmm, maybe it does at that but not in the way I think the author intended.  That sound you hear?  The rating falling through the floor.  3 stars because I liked Bianca.

The Roommate by Teegan Loy

Rating: 3 stars

DSP: Ryan’s finally home after a long week of hiding in a hotel while his boyfriend’s parents visited. He isn’t happy that Jordan hasn’t told his parents he’s gay but believes Jordan when he promises to come out. When Jordan’s family ends up on their doorstep after a winter storm shuts down the airport, Jordan introduces Ryan as his roommate, leaving Ryan horrified and hurt. Jordan’s little sister notices and tells Ryan she’s going to ask Santa to make him happy… but does Ryan’s Christmas wish have any hope of coming true?

Teegan Loy has written a love story for the holidays both cute and frustrating.  Loy’s characterizations are so good that you fall in love with Ryan immediately.  And the fact that Ryan endears himself to the reader from the start (really that cooking scene is hilarious) that when his live in boyfriend hurts him by pretending to his family who has helped him move in Ryan’s apartment, then the story looses its joy and momentum.  Hard to root for somone’s love affair when you have a main character not as fully fleshed out as the other who is coming across as a jerk.  The author never gives us enough backstory for Jordan’s fear of exposure to make any sense, especially after meeting his family.  All we see is a man who continues to reject his loving partner who has gone out of his way to make things easy for his love and gets kicked repeatedly for his efforts.

Yes, there is a happy ending but I am not sure I ever believed it.  Loved Ryan though.

Soups and Diners by Alex Whitehall

Rating: 3 stars

DSP: Two days before Christmas, just after his best friend’s wedding, Max is in a diner when he’s joined by Stan, another wedding guest. Getting to know each other ensues with some awkwardness, teasing, and fun conversation. They seem to hit it off, but Stan has reservations, wondering if Max is too good to be true, and Max has a history of bad boyfriend choices. Will meeting each other be a Christmas miracle—or a prettily wrapped present that’s really an empty box.

Nice story.  But to be honest, I forgot about it as soon as I was finished.  Nice people, nice story, nice ending.  Nothing memorable about any part of this tale so I would give this a pass on that rationale alone.

Old Flames by Davi Rodriquez

Rating: 2.5 stars

DSP Blurb:

There’s something to be said for old flames. NYPD Sgt. AJ Cooper seems to think so. His ex, Brad Meyers, dumped him to work on getting a starring role in a Broadway show, leaving AJ confused and betrayed. Five months later, while patrolling Times Square, AJ sees a giant advertisement for Brad’s show and misses what they had… and then he sees Brad.

AJ grouchily agrees to meet Brad in Central Park the next evening, but he doesn’t realize what he’s in for. AJ might regain everything he lost five months before—or he might lose it all over again.

I thought this story had real potential.  I liked NYPD Sft. AJ Cooper as he seemed like a fairly realistic New York Cop right until his ex showed up and the story fell apart.  There is not much to the  character of Brad Meyers, no layering or depth to explain Cooper’s feeling for him.  There is also no real explanation as to why AJ was dumped after a long term relationship.  So why are we expected to believe that a smart cop would take this guy back?  We don’t believe it, and there is no passion, no credible love between the two to overcome such a wildly unlikely turn of events.  No amount of elf dust would let someone suspend their belief for this one.

The Perils and Pleasures of a White Christmas by Emily Moreton

Rating 2.5 stars

DSP:  Despite the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, FBI Agent Drake and his Army officer partner Tim keep their relationship under wraps for the sake of Tim’s career. Though they’d rather be open about their relationship, the sex and friendship make up for having to hide. Then holiday stress kicks in with a triple whammy of bad luck and they’ll have to focus on each other to find the cheer in the holiday furor, even if that means coming out.

Actually, this reads as a snippet from a much longer story and has very little to do with the blurb above.  Basically it is an afternoon/night in the relationship of Drake and Tim where the power goes out and they spend it in bed having sex.  That’s it.  No angst, no questions about their jobs or  closeted status, nothing.  Just two men who love each other staying warm under the blankets when the power goes out in their building.  It as though the author (who I love btw) has said “here is a bit from a book I am writing, what do you think?”.  And the answer is well it’s a lovely part, like the couple.  Where is the rest of it?.  So that’s what you should do, wait for the rest of it.  There is just not enough here to warrant reading it.

 

Review of Two Tickets to Paradise Anthology

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Rating: 4 stars

Two Tickets to Paradise is a collection of 15 stories of men, alone or with a partner, traveling by car, train, plane, and the occasional time travel in search of new experiences and romance in destinations both home and abroad.  What they find runs the gamut from first time love to love rediscovered after considerable time apart. Can you buy a ticket to paradise? Within these stories, the men find the answer to that question and so much more.

After reading this anthology, I found it difficult to come to a rating, as some of the stories floundered, stuck in the mundane and predictable while others soared into great heights of emotion and romance.  The stories that have remained with me are:

J.L. Merrow’s All At Sea, a tale of youth and young love on the Isle of Wight. The characters here have hidden depths, delightful dialog, exquisite scenary and an ending I am still smiling over.

Chelle Dugan’s Off The Tracks, a middle aged man who believes that love has passed him by takes a train trip into the past and gets the chance at love he’s always dreamed of. Realistic characters, vivid descriptions of the Grand Canyon, combined with flashbacks to the 80’s.

Sean Michael’s Something Different, a story of two ex-lovers reunited in Las Vegas after a separation of 10 years.  What can I say?  It’s a Sean Michael’s story, so the sex is hot, the characters memorable and hope for a HEA is on the horizon.

Mal Peters’ Perpendicularity.  The high altitude setting of the French Alps is the perfect location for Kyle, an Olympic snowboarder, to spend Valentine’s Day with his girlfriend.  But an unplanned breakup, sees Kyle alone in the resort chalet until the smell of baking bread and a succulent pork tenderloin lead him to a young personal chef and a change of heart.  Just the descriptions of baking bread and smells emanating from the kitchen won me over, add in the characters of Kyle and Dylan, and you have a story that is a delight to read.

B.G. Thomas’ New Lease is the penultimate story and reason alone to buy this collection. Wade Porter is alone is an oceanside cottage mourning the loss of his long-time lover, a married man who only saw him for two weeks out of the year at their bungalow near Key West.  With the loss and his age wearing him down,  Wade sees no reason to continue living until he meets Kent, a man who has just moved in next door. Kent too has lost a partner and gradually shows Wade the path out of depression and into the true meaning of love.  I was still crying over this story hours later so be warned!  Get those tissues handy.

Zee Kensington’s Krung Thep, City of Angels is the final story of the anthology and my final recommendation.  Marco has dreamed of traveling and for his first trip abroad or any where actually, chooses to go to Thailand.  Marco is the typical innocent abroad who lands in the steamy, packed streets of Krung Thep also known as Bangkok.  Clearly out of his depth, his journey is almost derailed by his inexperience until he meets seasoned journalist, Chris, who writes for travel magazines.  Chris takes him under his wing, and introduces Marco to the sights, tastes and people of Krung Thep.  The author did such a great job with the vivid descriptions of the food markets, pungent odors of the food stalls, and feel of swampy heat rising from the streets that I felt like I had been there. From the bouncy innocence of Marco to the weary self isolation of Chris, the characters felt alive right down to the sweat rolling down their backs.  I wanted to continue on their journey with them, seeking the paths to paradise.

Cover:  Cover Artist Steve Walker.The cover says it all, because how can you show the range of the stories contained within this anthology?

Reviewed for and copy of anthology obtained from Joyfully Jay

Anthology available from Dreamspinner Press, Amazon and ARe..