An Alisa Review: Finnegan’s Promise by Carol Lynne

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

How much will it cost Fin to keep his promise?

 

During the off-season, professional football player Calder Finnegan returns to Boston to help run his estranged father’s pub. Little did he know he’d find the love of his life in the pub’s bartender, Mick Sullivan. Fin soon discovers his father has only weeks to live. All his hopes of getting to know the man who always seemed too busy to be a father are dashed. With Mick’s help, Fin begins the healing process between father and son and through this some of Mick’s wounds are healed as well. When Fin makes a deathbed promise to his father, he’ll do anything to keep that promise. Even if it costs him his lover and his career.

 

This was a nice story in which I liked the concept.  Both Fin and Mick have essentially been hiding for years; Fin from others finding out he was gay and Mick from his fame.  They both quickly fall for each other but it’s the logistics and the real world that they need to learn how to deal with.

 

While I liked this story I had a bit of a hard time connecting with the characters.  We see both of the characters’ points of views so we can see what they are thinking.  There was definitely insta-love in this story, which isn’t usually a problem for me but I didn’t see them really building a deep relationship and future throughout the story like I thought I would.

 

The cover art by Posh Gosh is nice and understated.

 

Sales Links: Pride Publishing | Amazon

 

Book Details:

ebook, 114 pages

Published: 2nd edition July 18, 2017 by Pride Publishing

ISBN: 9781786516008

Edition Language: English

Review: Second Chances (Cattle Valley #28) by Carol Lynne

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Rating: 3 stars

After a shotgun blast took off his arm, former Chicago police officer Robert “Oggie” Ogden moved to Cattle Valley to start life over again as a cattle rancher.  Then another opportunity came along, that of turning a portion of his ranch into a sanctuary for homeless and troubled GLBTQ youth.  With the help of  local philanthropist Asa Montgomery, Second Chance Ranch is about to complete its second dormitory and other facilities.  But accepting Asa’s help has also meant that Oggie has had to put up with Drake Smith, the head of security for Asa’s company.  Oggie hates that people think of him as disabled and refuses most of the offers of help sent his way, including Drake’s.

Drake Smith learned early in life that his small size made him an easy target for bullies as did his home life.  And to take on the bullies he learned to defend himself, becoming a skilled fighter.  But emotionally? That was something he found tougher to guard against the hurts inflicted by others.  So he gave up, withdrew, isolating himself within his  apartment and into his job.  Against his better judgement, Drake finds himself drawn to the taciturn Oggie and reaches out to him only to find himself and his overtures of assistance harshly rebuffed.

Only an emergency rescue of a young boy in Washington, DC brings these two men back together.  As they search for the missing boy, the sexual heat flares between them, burning down their barriers along the way.  Neither man is prepared for the feelings emerging from their encounter and pull back from each other.  When they land  back in Cattle Valley with the rescued young man, only time will tell if they will give each other the second chance at love.

Carol Lynne’s Cattle Valley series has really turned into a hit or miss reading adventure.  The last book I reviewed, Alone In A Crowd, was a return to the reason I loved this series and grabbed up each book as they were published.  Carol Lynne brought back her original characters in a long established relationship and gave us an intimate look into their changing dynamics with only scarce mentions of new characters to come. So I eagerly picked this book up, only to find that the author has returned to the form that made me eventually give up on Cattle Valley.  Here in Second Chances, the author has so many balls in the air that they are dropping figuratively all over the landscape and we are left with a grab bag of nonsensical characters and behaviors culled from the back of a psychiatry handbook.

Really, from the descriptions and back histories of the main characters here, Oggie and Drake, it looks like the author used the Mr. Potato Head method of character construction,  jamming in various characteristics into her people regardless of whether they fit or not.  I don’t know how else to explain it.  This is Drake Smith.  He is small statured (no problem), so preoccupied by threats to his safety (real or imagined) that he lives in a tiny apartment in Asa’s business complex with multiple locks on his door.He take a gun with him to answer any knocks on it.  Drake bases all his life’s decisions on “what would make his (dead) mother smile” but only eats Campbell soup because that’s all he and his mother ate.  Drake is a cutter. He self mutilates and then runs around on cutup feet like it is no problem. And after one episode, the cutting is never mentioned again.  It just disappears. Drake is ok with casual sex but won’t open his door without a gun? Huh.  And it just keep snow piling from there.  I get that Lynne wants us to find him a pained filled little man needing our sympathy but all she accomplishes is to make him out as a whacko with the Bate’s Motel in his background. Trust me it gets worse if you think that is harsh.  We will come back to him later.

Oggie is a little better.  I can see a cop having trouble leaving his life behind and having problems adjusting to his disability.  I get that, I do.  Oggie is more believable as someone who is afraid that pity lies behind offers of help.  He’s not too bad except when Drake gives him a compliment and his response is “F*&k, Drake, you turning me into some kind of damn woman or what?” Really? That’s what you come up with after muttering an endearment? I don’t know about you but I found that offensive to both men and women.

Then there is the matter of a little scene between the two men in the airplane on their way to DC.  Drake carries with him a small photograph album of pictures of him and his mother. He gives them to Oggie to help him better understand where Drake is coming from. Sweet, right?  The first picture shows a 5 year old Drake and a women with bandaged feet.  As he ages, his mother loses more and more limbs over time (to Diabetes),  First her feet, then her arms…year by year there is less and less of her. Another year, another limb.  And by then I am in tears.  Of laughter.  Not because of the very real possibility of amputation as the disease progresses.  No, I am in hysterics over the thought of what an SNL sketch this would make.  Definitely not the reaction I think Carol Lynne going for. But that just shows you how over the top this story got in making a grab for our emotions.

And finally there is Cullen “Little Man”, the boy they were sent to rescue.  Her characterization of this young man is the ultimate black mark against this book.  Cullen was a young prostitute on the streets of DC until Father Joseph (hopefully Episcopalian) talks him into the shelter he runs for GLBTQ youth.  But something happens and Cullen returns to the streets where he is abducted by his pimp and made to pay for trying to leave his stable.  It is inferred that this kid was gang raped i.e.,  tortured and “retrained” by multiple men. And when Oggie and Drake find Cullen, he is tied to a bed  barely breathing, bloody, beaten, raped and a W is carved into his forehead.  I don’t think it is a stretch for anyone to imagine the emotional and  psychological trauma this would inflict on this young man, to say nothing of the physical mess his body is in.  But is this handled responsibly after loading up this poor guy with one horrific event after another? No,  Cullen bounds back to normal almost immediately.  Nothing is said about the huge W on his forehead.  It’s as though nothing bad had really happened to him.  So how do you go there as an author and not address the very real problems brought up?  I don’t know and Carol Lynne has certainly not given us any answers.

There are smaller editing errors (Drake “unlocks” his apartment upon leaving) as well as an unrealistic case of “instant love”, all in 89 pages.   But there are so many larger issues here, that is the least of the book’s problems.

And finally there is the prospect of a romance on the horizon that even if Cullen turns out to be of legal age, leaves me kind of nauseous. So where do I go from here?  One terrific book is followed by one that is just this side of awful.  I will probably keep reading them.  At this point it is too late to stop and, like a carrot before the horse, there is always the promise of a return again to the form that made Cattle Valley I place I loved to visit.

Cover by Posh Gosh is perfection as usual.

Review of Alone In A Crowd (Cattle Valley #27) by Carol Lynne

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Rating: 4 stars

Sheriff Ryan Blackfeather has worked hard to overcome his torturous past to get where he is today, successful in his job as Sheriff, in a town where he has friends and is respected, and most importantly, content and happy, in love with his two partners, Nate and Rio.  But a phone call from Oklahoma revitalizes old memories, bad ones that upset his hard won equilibrium and makes him pull away from those he loves.  Ryan’s mother has died and the landlord wants the trailer moved off his lot or the rent paid for.  Without telling either Rio or Nate why he is going, Ryan leaves on a trip back home, to face his past and confront the abusive father who raised him.

When Nate and Rio realize that Ryan has been withholding the truth about his travels from them, they are hurt and worry about the man they love.  How can they help with when Ryan doesn’t realize he needs their help to begin with.  As the emotional turmoil of Ryan’s past starts to tear at his relationship with his partners, Ryan understands that only by returning to Oklahoma and confronting his demons can he save all he has now, including the men he loves.

Carol Lynne’s Cattle Valley series were some of my first books when I started reading m/m fiction.  As I have said back in our Series week, I love starting a novel and then discovering that I have a slew of books yet to read in the series.  So there is a huge reservoir of affection that wells up in me when Cattle Valley is mentioned. I think there was six books in the series when I started and now it is up to book #27, each running anywhere from 98 to around 130 pages.

Cattle Valley series began in 2007 with All Play and No Work (Cattle Valley #1).  In this book, Lynne introduces us to Cattle Valley, Wyoming, a gay haven established by a man mourning the death of his gay son.  The millionaire wanted to build a place where everyone was gay, and safe, and could build a meaningful, rewarding life among others just like themselves.  So he deeded his land to the town and the GLBTQ community came.  Lynne starts off her Cattle Valley series as Ryan Blackfeather arrives from Texas to take the job as Cattle Valley’s first Sheriff. Ryan is a part of a triad, his other partners being Rio Adega and Nate Gills.  When their small Texas town’s disapproval of their relationship becomes overwhelming, Ryan convinces his men to make the move with him to Cattle Valley.  That move and the trio’s adjustment to Wyoming starts the river of books that are the Cattle Valley series.

In each book, Carol Lynne concentrates on one or two pairs of men and their relationships.  It is also a staple of Lynne’s that the characters for the books that follow are introduced in the current one.  And then as the town fills up with people and businesses, during the course of book the characters we have already met continue to pop up again and again in every story.  So Ryan as Sheriff, Nate (who eventually becomes the Mayor) and Rio who runs the local gym are focal characters for the series.  These men and their relationship were also my first introduction to m/m/m!  Lynne has taken their relationship and reexamined its dynamics throughout the series and she does so again in Alone In A Crowd (Cattle Valley #27).

In previous stories we learn Nate and Rio’s history. Here we concentrate on Ryan Blackfeather who has always come across as the rock of their relationship.  Ryan has always seemed so controlled and steady while not detracting from the deadly abilities he gained in the military. So it’s interesting that it’s Ryan who starts to fall apart when confronted with his past, a real switch of rolls within the triad.  Lynne’s descriptions of the reservation and the living conditions Ryan faced growing up in a derelict trailer are both heartbreaking and realistic. Any one familiar with the plight of Native Americans on reservations today will recognize the authenticity Lynne brings to the scenes in and around Tahlequah, Oklahoma, capitol city of the Cherokee Nation.  Whether it is Ryan confronting his father in the nursing home or both men facing their pasts in a dusty cave on the reservation, the descriptions brings the men to life and we feel the anger and pain of their conjoined past rise up around all of us.

In addition to Ryan’s story, another character from the past comes back to Cattle Valley.  Smokey Sharp from Rough Ride (Cattle Valley #4) reappears in town, sober and hoping to make amends to the people he wronged in the past.  That would be Erza James, Palmer “Wyn” Wynfield (a favorite of mine), and Elliot Simmons, owner of the grocery store. Smokey is suffering from rheumatoid arthritis which limits the work he can do.  Ryan finds Smokey work on Robert “Oggie” Ogden’s Second Chance Ranch as a ranch manager.  Carol Lynne uses Smokey and Oggie to set the stage for the next book in the series.  Oggie’s ranch will become home for GLBTQ youths homeless and/or in trouble.  She is already lining up the characters: Drake Smith, Chief of Security of Montgomery Enterprises who wants to help financially, and maybe even Joseph, Nate’s ex boyfriend who runs a GLBTQ youth center in NYC.  And then there is Dean Grooper, former school custodian, using alcohol to drown his pain over the loss of his long time partner.  We meet him here too.

And this brings me to my main quibble with Carol Lynne’s stories lately.  Too many characters crowded together into books too small in size to adequately give each character sufficient attention. In the first 6 or even 8 books, the town is still small and Carol Lynne concentrates all her wonderful powers of characterization into a small group of people. With a small focus group, it is easy to become invested in them and their stories.  And quite frankly, easy to remember who is with whom. I love those people and can remember each and every detail from their backgrounds.  Then the town got bigger (as towns will), more people came and Lynne left behind the one couple/one book format for multiple pairings in a novella sized book.  After a while I felt I needed a town chart and name tags for everyone who showed up in a scene plus all the newcomers making their debuts to get them in place for the next in the series.  There were so many people crying out for attention that my brain hurt and characters were forgotten.

Another quibble for me is the pairings. Lynne took Cattle Valley from strictly m/m or m/m/m into other pairings such as m/f/m which doesn’t interest me. Multiple relationship combinations make sense in that Cattle Valley is set up as a town of tolerance so any pairing outside of m/f  would be acceptable in town, I am just not interested in reading them specifically. And yes, you can skip those books like I did but as each book moves the series forward, we miss out on events that will be mentioned down the line. It also seemed to bring in an element of “MarySue” into her writing that had been absent up until then.

Carol Lynne packs a lot of emotion into a story and her characters.  She also packs a lot of sex. She has dealt with sex when one partner is paralyzed, sex with multiple partners, interracial sex, fem gays, Bdsm, D/s, you name it and Lynne has probably addressed it in a story .  Her sex scenes are vivid, hot and never unintentionally funny.  In Alone In A Crowd, she had the boys do things with an ear of corn (ok that was funny but intentionally so) I had not read before and still left me able to have corn on the cob at my next meal!  I can’t tell you how much I appreciated that as I love corn.  She also mentions a douche attachment for the boys shower, something I think should be brought up more as it is a realistic part of anal sex.  Carol Lynne did a great job here while still giving us realistic elements.

I had stopped reading Cattle Valley around Neil’s Guardian (Cattle Valley #17), overwhelmed by too many characters and too little plot in too few pages.  With Alone In A Crowd (Cattle Valley #27), Carol Lynne returns to the form that made me a fan to begin with and does it with the characters that started it all. I hope this continues with the next in the series, #28 whatever that may be.  And in the meantime, I might just have to go back and pick up the ones I missed.  I still love Cattle Valley and its vision of a town of tolerance and equality.  Alone In A Crowd brought that all back.  If you are new to the series,start from the beginning.  See Cattle Valley as it gets off the ground, meet  all the inhabitants as they find their way to town, watch as the romances form and carry over, story after story.  You will have 27 to go and counting.  For those who got lost along the way like me, pick it back up again and remember why you loved it.  And for those who never left,  here is a gem of a story to treasure as Cattle Valley continues to grow.

The Cattle Valley Book Series covers by Posh Gosh are my favorites in a series cover.  They brand the series while still conveying the subject of each book.  Great job.

Here are the stories in the order they should be read to understand the series and the characters.

Cattle Valley: All Play & No Work,Cattle Valley: Cattle Valley Mistletoe Cattle Valley: Sweet Topping Cattle Valley: Rough Ride Cattle Valley: Physical Therapy Cattle Valley: Out of the Shadow Cattle Valley: Bad Boy Cowboy Cattle Valley: The Sound of White Cattle Valley: Gone Surfin’ Cattle Valley: The Last Bouquet Cattle Valley: Eye of the Beholder Cattle Valley: Cattle Valley Days Cattle Valley: Bent-Not Broken Cattle Valley: Arm Candy,Cattle Valley: Recipe for Love Cattle Valley: Firehouse Heat Cattle Valley: Neil’s Guardian Angel Cattle Valley: Scarred Cattle Valley: Making the Grade Cattle Valley: To Service and Protect Cattle Valley: The O’Brien Way Cattle Valley: Ghost from the Past Cattle Valley: Hawk’s Landing Cattle Valley: Shooting Star Cattle Valley: Confessions Cattle Valley: Shadow Soldier

Review of Unconventional at Best Anthology

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Rating: 3.5 stars

Unconventional at Best is an anthology from six authors of stories featuring romance in and around conventions.  GayRomLit convention last  year provided the inspiration for this selection of stories by Carol Lynne, TA Chase, Amber Kell, Jambrea Jo Jones, Stephani Hecht, and Devon Rhodes. The stories run the gamut of lovers reunited, best friends to lovers, alien love, geek love, confectionary love and love among tops and it all occurs at a convention.

I found this anthology to be a fifty fifty proposition.  Out of 6 stories,only three kept me completely entertained, staying with me once I was done with the anthology.  The others remained just nice stories, forgotten as soon as I put them down.

Here are the ones that stayed with me. I think they are just wonderful stories.

‘Ninja Cupcakes’ by T.A. Chase

Ethan Gallagher is a baker of very special talents.  His cupcakes are not only delicious confections but when certain ingredients are added, downright magical.  When Ethan and his business partner agree to supply the desserts for his brother’s sci-fi convention, it presents the perfect opportunity for Ethan’s floury confections to work their particular magic on certain participants, including an astrophysicist Ethan has been corresponding with for four years. With just the right timing and the special ingredients, Ethan bakes cupcakes that insure that love is in the air or desserts.  Or perhaps we should say Ethan insures that  everyone gets their just desserts!

This is a delicious little story.  I have always found that cooking, or in this case baking, and magic were natural combinations. T.A. Chase does a terrific job of doing just that in Ninja Cupcakes.  From that great title to Chase’s wonderful characters, I just loved this story and wished to see them all again once I was done. This is fun, frothy and still is grounded in realistic characters that capture your hearts. Ethan and Callum were an especially endearing couple.  I wish I had their story, complete with how they first met, and what happening to each of them during their four year correspondence.T.A Chase, this would make a wonderful story.  Just saying.

‘Operation: Get Spencer’ by Jambrea Jo Jones:

“Even if superpowers were real, Benjamin still might not get his man.”  Good friends Benjamin and Spencer are spending the day at Comic-Con, something Spencer has always wanted to do.  Benjamin has a surprise for Spencer to go with their day at Comic-Con.  Benjamin intends to tell his friend that he is in love with him and decides the convention is the perfect time to reveal it.  The problem?  Spencer believes Benjamin is straight and with good reason as Benjamin has told everyone he is straight over and over again.  But Ben hopes that a convention where everything is possible is the perfect place to make Spencer believe in his love.

Friends to lovers and gay for you, both happen here in this story about sexuality, perceptions and fear of change.  Jones takes two completely recognizable characters and brings them together at Comic-Con for her story of friends and lovers.  Ben has been so busy denying that he is gay that everyone believes Ben is straight even if Ben no longer believes it himself.  His best friend Spencer is gay and they have always done everything together. But recently Ben has discovered that his feelings for Spencer go beyond friendship and into romantic love, but how to tell his best friend?

Jambrea Jo Jones makes us laugh and sympathize with Ben and Spencer throughout it all.  From Ben’s mishaps, missteps and outright screwing up his announcement, we are still on his side and hope he gets his man.  Spencer is authentically confused about Ben’s change of heart regarding his sexuality, we understand his point of view as well.  He doesn’t want to mess up his relationship with his best friend, his confidant, and we get that too. Somehow it all comes together in a satisfying end back where they started it all – Comic-con.

‘Fan-Tastic’ by Stephani Hecht

“Everybody knows the best lovers are geeks.” The setting this time is the annual Comic Book and Horror Convention.  Here Deke Masters, a well-known actor in a zombie TV show is ordered to appear on a panel for his show.  Also in attendance is Blake Tallision.  Blake is trying to sell his comic book Star Cats and other items that he has been working on so hard.  Blake also has a crush on Deke going back to their school days.  Even then Deke was a star and Blake the nerd hiding in the shadows of the stage.  To Blake’s amazement, Deke is a fan of Star Cats.  The convention turns out to be the perfect stage for a romance neither saw coming.

This was my favorite story of the anthology. In Deke Masters and Blake Tallision author Hecht gives us characters worth cheering for.  Blake is an especially memorable one.  In pursuit of his art, he has starved himself, living in the basement of his abusive mother’s home, almost despairing of making it.  Blake was so real I could see his skeletal frame and intense features. His vulnerability drew me in and kept me there. Deke also came across a fully realized human being, a guy who has worked to get where he is now but misses being wanted for just himself.  While Blake wants nothing more than to be noticed by Deke, when that happens, Blake is believably wary and insecure, not seeing himself as others do. Deke is perfect for him, the normal guy who just happens to be a tv star, he understands Blake’s struggle because he was once at that stage himself. Everything about this story from the dialog to the characters just cried out for a larger version, especially to delve further into the relationship between Blake and his mother who had a secret she was hiding from him.  Great job.

Sunday After The Storm, September Thoughts and The Week Ahead in Reviews

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Well, that wasn’t a fun night for anyone around here in Maryland, or even straight up the coast and into NYC.  High winds, tornados, hail, and rain,  lots and lots of rain.  Our neighborhood was without power for about 8 hours, but at least we did not have tornados to  deal with, as others in Maryland, Virginia and NYC did.  Other than some branches falling, we came out of it rather well.  I wish I could say the same for others.  Nature is all stirred up and doing something about it.  Perhaps we should listen a little harder to what she is trying to tell us.  Just a thought.  Now on to more pleasant things….

September always seems to me to be the reset  month.  Summer has ended but Autumn has yet to make it’s appearance.  September is the breather between the two.  September gives us time to gather our thoughts, to recollect on Summer doings and to think ahead and plan for Fall.  For a gardener, it can be such a busy time.  Hydrangeas need fertilizing and mulching in, so do the roses, some of which are still blooming.  Trees get to be trimmed, old vegetables dug up and composted while still remembering to refill the hummingbird feeders for the last of the migrants on their way south. Some flowers will be left standing, their seed-heads offering food to Goldfinches and the like.  The windows will open and Kirby will be the first there to rest his head on the windowsill, contemplating the birds, and squirrels, and the hawks circling in the sky above.  The geese honk overhead, hurrying their way to the Marshlands as a few leaves turn yellow and drop.  I love this time of year.  I have time to smell the last  rose, put mums in the planters, and admire the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds skimming through the gardens, visiting the feeders before their long journey ahead. Less humidity means more time spent outside, reading, observing, and enjoying the cooler breezes.  I hope you all are doing the same.

Here is the week ahead in Reviews:

Monday:                      Play It Again, Charlie by R. Cooper

Tuesday:                       Alone in the Crowd (Cattle Valley #27) by Carol Lynne

Wednesday:                Love in La Terreza by Ethan Day

Thursday:                    Unconventional At Best Anthology

Friday:                          Love, Hypothetically by Anne Tenino

Saturday:                      Life As A Fairy Thrall (Fairy Compacts #2) by Katey Hawthorne

Why A Series Can Make My Heart Sing!

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It’s no secret that I love books and always have.  From my earliest memories of listening to someone read to me then transitioning to being old enough to pick up a book myself to while away the time. When I was younger, my family moved around every couple of years or more as my father’s job was to evaluate school systems. While not a hardship, it’s not conducive to the young who find it hard to leave friends and special places behind again and again.  As I got older and the moving proved more stressful, I turned to books for companionship.  Books, never far from me from birth (a given with parents as educators), became my constant companions. They became my escape from reality, an acceptable form of “invisible friend”, my Harvey. I was lucky in that one of my uncles, a great uncle really, worked at Charles Scribner’s & Sons. Uncle Wade sent us boxes of books of all types and genres, most of which were too old for me (Frank Yerby, really?) and that created its own special allure, to be old enough to read all those  books!  A new goal and easily fed addiction formed early in life – I was seven by then.

Have I said that books fascinate me? It was always just a matter of minutes before I lost myself in an author’s special universe. Their characters jumped to life on their pages waving swords or crawling through tunnels, the places they created became worlds whose paths I wished to tread and on whose seas I wished to voyage. Don’t you remember picking up a book and starting to read, and thinking please, please, never let it end?  That was me, out in the woods or under a blanket in bed, book in hand, eyes shut tight and wishing with all my might for a magic wand and horses with wings.

With some books, just one book is sufficient to satisfy your need for the world the author created.  You read it and are happy to have visited there.  They were great hosts, told you a marvelous story and fed you a meal that left you full if not completely replenished. When it came time to take your leave,you wished those characters well and felt that while you have enjoyed the visit other destinations were calling and you must be off. My Friend Flicka was one. Treasure Island was another.  So was Old Yeller, Dahlgren and National Velvet and hoards of nameless books of my youth. But then there are those books whose characters became friends or heros, the worlds they lived in were places I yearned to go, each and every element necessary and magical to me at the time. Those stories had multiple books called a series! From the mundane to the mystical, I gobbled up series with all the ardor and fervor of a zealot.

For me a series meant never having to leave your favorite characters behind or the universe they inhabited.  After you finished one story, you could look forward to a new adventure, a new challenge or a new journey taken with the same beloved people/beings you met in the first book.  Sometimes the characters stayed the same, they lived in their old house, had the same friends and stayed the same age.  I am thinking Nancy Drew here with Beth, George and Ned.  And sometimes the characters grew up like those in C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia.  But whatever the shape the narrative took, I knew that I would be visiting a familiar place but with unknown consequences. Oh the anticipation, the agony, the  time I spent daydreaming about what was to come next for my heros (of all genders and species).

Whether it was L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz books or Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings , book series have been my affordable addiction. Not possible to own a herd of horses in a suburban backyard? Let’s substitute dragons for horses and scarf up Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern. My parents inform me that we are southbound, going to visit the relatives again this summer. My first reaction? OK, second reaction? Hide all of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover books in my suitcase to pull out at the cousins first suggestion to Dippity Do my hair and head out to the Dairy Queen. Series after series, genre after genre, my addiction grew and my bookshelves groaned.

Has my addiction to series dwindled as I have aged? Not on your life! Don’t look at me like that!  I know you have been there along with me. Haven’t you ever reached the end of a book that has kept you mesmerized from word one and wanted to scream out ‘Noooooooo, I don’t want it to end”?  Or had the characters in the latest book you were reading seem so real that the last sentence of the epilogue left you feeling bereft? Or maybe the world that came alive in between the pages was so vivid that you could smell the alien air and feel the magic in the landscape?   It still happens to me at 2 or 3 am in the morning (just like always) when I come to the end of a gripping saga I started earlier that day and never put down.  I scramble to get back to the pages in front and then in the back to see what else the author has written. If stymied, and who wouldn’t be  at that time of the morning, I turn on the computer (ok this part is new) and check for updates at their publishers or websites, never mind the dogs glaring at me because I have disturbed their sleep.  And when my search turns up that the book is a part of a series? Well, let’s just say I give the ol’ Rebel Yell a run for its money and make my Celtic ancestors proud!

Some of my favorite series?  Hard to separate them out as I have so many in different genre’s.  Mystery authors make it easy for me.  Love you Martha Grimes and Inspector Jury, same to you, P.D. James and Inspector Adam Dalgliesh, and on right to up Sarah Paretsky and her female private eye, V I Warshawski and Stieg Larsson and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Once a mystery author creates a character, a series is sure to follow.  Authors of the supernatural and fantasy are much the same.  Look at Laurell K Hamilton and Anita Blake.  Hit List is the 20th Anita Blake novel.  Or Terry Pratchett and his Disc World series that is comprised of 33 novels.  That could be a little daunting if not for the treasure that is Disc world.

Sooooo, where was I? Oh yes, my love for book series.  Today with the advent of eReaders and ePublishing, the novel and book series has never been more popular.  Especially with my m/m fiction, I have so many favorite series that I hardly know where to start.  Perhaps I will start with a series I began my m/m journey with.  That would be Carol Lynne’s Cattle Valley series, still going strong today at book no. 27. I love  Josh Lanyon’s Adrien English series and Kate Steele’s Bond of the Maleri books. Can’t go wrong there.  I would wave Jet Mykles Heaven Sent series at you, can’t miss those! Or JL Langley’s With or Without series with her wolf shifters that are so hot and memorable. So many that I need to start a list.  And just look at the books I have reviewed lately.  Some of my must read series are among them: Cut and Run from Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux (now just written by Roux), Infected by Andrea Speed (I groan just thinking about Roan – snicker), the Lost Gods series by Megan Derr, the Cambridge Fellows books by Charlie Cochrane, Katey Hawthorne’s Superpowered Love series and so many more.  I feel like one of those people at an awards show with a never ending list.  I could go on and on and on while a guy in the wings gives me the signal to shut up.

So here I am all these years later and nothing has changed.  OK, yes some things have changed.  Sheesh! You think you would let a girl get by with some things…but my love of books and a series of books?  Never.  A great series still fills me with excitement and the expectation of wonderful surprises just on the horizon.  I look forward to each new twist and turn the author can think up and that I never saw coming.  I can’t wait for the paths unexplored and the roads not yet taken by characters I love on worlds new and known.  And  that is why a series makes my heart sing.

Small list of my favorite series in no particular order and yes I know I left a lot out.  Please send us your favorites:

M/M Series (3 or more books):

Promised Rock series by Amy Lane
Lost Gods series by Megan Derr (fantasy)
Conquest series (rockers) by S. J. Frost
Heaven Sent by Jet Mykles (rockers)
Adrien English Mystery series by Josh Lanyon contemporary
Cut and Run by Urban and Roux, now just Abigall Roux – contemporary
Infected series by Andrea Speed (science fiction)
Sanctuary series by RJ Scott action/adventure
Faith, Love, and Devotion series by Tere Michaels contemporary
St. Nachos series by Z.A. Maxfield contemporary
Cattle Valley by Carol Lynne cowboys contemporary
With or Without series (shifters) by JL Langley
Sci Regency series by JL Langley
Cambridge Fellows series by Charlie Cochrane
A Matter of Time series by Mary Calmes
Warder series by Mary Calmes
Home series by TC Chase
Superpowered Love series by Katey Hawthorne

and all the series I have written about this week, Infected, Cambridge Fellows, Lost Gods, Dance with the Devil, The Sanctuary series…..

Bellingham Mysteries series by Nicole Kimberling  – last day to make a comment and be entered into the book giveaway contest for Primal Red.