Review: The Retreat: A Roughstock Story (Roughstock) by B.A. Tortuga

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEvery year the bullfighters hold their retreat, three days free of families and outside obligations.  Its a time to bond and renew before the rodeo circuit begins again.  And for the first time, Dillon Walsh, rodeo clown and significant other of Coke Pharris has been invited.  With “all manner of mischief is on the menu along with the barbecue”, can Coke and Dillon find time for love as well?

The Retreat is more a piece of flash fiction or excerpt than a stand alone story. It is a glimpse in the early days of Coke and Dillon’s relationship.  While the story doesn’t go into details, Tortuga hints at the early stages of Coke and Dillon’s romance by pointing out that this is the first time Dillon has been invited to be a part of this tightly knit group of men.  And by how circumspect the men are with their PDAs.  Only one other member makes a significant appearance in this short story, it is a telling one with Nate and his wife as a couple who are also close friends of Coke’s and now Dillon’s.   This couple acts as a centering element for Coke and Dillon’s relationship.  They are both a barometer and anchor for all the other bullfighters reactions.

B.A. Tortuga’s great characterizations are front and center of this short story. So even without any background you will find yourself grinning in response to Dillon’s reaction over being invited to the bullfighter shindig:

He gave his butt a little shake, happy and loose in his hips. He sure did like the idea of being invited to the annual bullfighter weekend. He’d never been to one before. Hell, he hadn’t known about them until Nate had asked him.

Just walked right up to him and popped him on the arm and said, “You coming to both parts of the retreat, yeah?”

Like he knew all about it. Like he was just a part of the team, totally, finally.

Of course he’d said yes. Absolutely.

You get the glee, the joy over being finally included in a group of men who are important to him.  Just lovely.

There are any number of Roughstock shorts out there to be enjoyed.  But first, go back and read the core stories in the Roughstock series, Get the background to all the characters and relationships mentioned upon in the short stories.  This will leave your frustrations with these interludes at the door and let you settle back for a quick trip with characters you have grown to love.  Here are the books and stories in the Roughstock series in the order they were written and should be read:

Core Roughstock stories:
Roughstock: Blind Ride — Season One – Novel, m/m, core
Give it Time: the Seven of Wands – Novella, m/m
Roughstock: And a Smile — Season One – Novel, m/m, core
Doce — A Roughstock Story – Novella, m/m
Amorzinhos — A Roughstock Story – Novela, m/m, threesome
Roughstock: File Gumbo — Season One – Novel, m/m, core
Roughstock: And a Smile — Coke’s Clown – Novela, m/m,
Shutter Speed, A Roughstock Story: the Seven of Pentacles – Novella, m/m
Roughstock: City/Country – Novel, m/f
Roughstock: Picking Roses – Novel, m/f
Needing To: A Roughstock Story – Novella, m/m
Upcoming Roughstock Novels
Roughstock: What She Wants – Novel, m/m/f
Roughstock: Tag Team – Season Two – Novel, m/m
Roughstock: Terremoto – Season Two- Novel, m/m

Roughstock Shorts:
Cowboy Christmas (Coke and Dillon)
A Cowboy Family Christmas (Coke and Dillon)
Barbed Wire and Bootheels (Sam and Beau)
Just Another Day At The Office (Coke and Dillon
Leatherwork and Lonely Cowboys, a Roughstock short (Beau and Sam)
The Retreat (Coke and Dillon)
The New Guy (Coke and Dillon)
Some Good Doctoring (CB and Jonesy) – Free Read

Book Details:

ebook, 13 pages
Published May 2nd 2012 by Torquere Press

Review: The Night Visitor by Ewan Creed

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

The Night VisitorKevin fled his old life in St. Louis for a new startup in Memphis.  New job, new place but that was about all.  Then the dreams started, dreams that felt so real that Kevin wasn’t sure when he was awake and when he was asleep. Every night the same tattooed man gave him the most erotic, sexual experiences of his life.  Then the dream starts reoccurring, in greater detail and with more vivid feelings then Kevin has ever experienced, until it starts to overwhelm Kevin’s new life.   Then Kevin’s starts to wonder….is his night visitor real or imagined?

The Night Visitor by Ewan Creed left me with mixed emotions.  An erotic short story, it starts out accomplishing its goal. Creed gives us a vivd sexual dream, Kevin’s erotic dream to be specific.  It involves a rough looking tatted up man who Kevin pays to have sex with. It’s hot, the descriptions are sexy, and it works because the rough language goes along with the  scene unfolding on the pages.  Then the author reaches for more, more in plot, more in descriptive language, and it sort of falls to pieces.

This is our first sighting of “Vic”, the man of Kevin’s dreams:

Another man walked down the sidewalk towards him. He was tall and shirtless and moved with a swaggering confidence that came from knowing himself and knowing these streets. A dirty white wife beater was tucked into the waist of his low slung and tattered jeans. A large serpent tattoo wrapped around one shoulder, curling down his lean torso and disappearing below the elastic band of his underwear. The man looked side to side as he approached. Then he looked straight ahead. He caught Kevin’s eye and sneered.

His hair was buzzed beneath his side-angled ballcap. He looked to be a bad boy, a tasty piece of very rough trade. That was just the way Kevin liked them.

And the initial dream sequences work, the language and vocabulary is coarse, the sex dirty and hot.  It’s all pretty erotic.  But Creed has a larger agenda here, a larger plot than just the erotic dreams of a man in a new setting.  And soon the narrative is muddied with dream within dream sequences that serve to confuse rather than elucidate and the descriptive terms turn from white hot and sexy to unintentionally humorous.

Vocabulary choices such as man meat, piss slit, fire hose, man meat, and  (beautiful, glistening) tool just serve to tumble the narrative from the provocative into a giggling disbelief, never a goal for an author writing erotica.  Authors have to be careful when choosing words to represent the human sexual anatomy because it can so often turn hilarious just when it needs to be smoking hot.*

While beautiful rod is no “purple pickle of passion” some of the other vocabulary choices come close.  Plus we have pecker,prick, cock, tool, and man meat all used  within a couple of sentences of each other (sometimes within the same sentence).  It’s excessive,  too many terms kill the erotic tones of the sex scene being described instead of heighten it.

Getting past the vocabulary, then my final issues are with the plot.  I like what Ewan Creed was trying to achieve but I just don’t feel that it worked here.  The Night Visitor needs either more volume, more pages to bring off the full plot the author has planned or it needed to be cropped down further to just a short erotic story.  But by trying to pull off both elements in 52 pages, Creed ended up with a story that felt like an awkward combination of outright erotica and paranormal short story, seemly scattered and somewhat confusing.

I gave The Night Visitor a 3 star rating because there are good elements here as well as a promising plot.  And while some of the vocabulary made me giggle it didn’t have me wanting to put the book down either.  So you make up your own mind.  I kind of enjoyed this one and you might feel the same.  Consider this conditionally recommended.

Here is an example of what made me giggle: “The night visitor was a real fire hose.” “big juicy slab of meat”.

Book Details:

ebook, 13,000 words, 52 pages
Published September 25th 2013 by Wilde City Press
ISBN13 9781925031539
url  Wilde City Press
*Vocabulary Gone Bad

The Rank Few and their Rank View or When By The People and For The People Went Into the Dump and The Week Ahead In Reviews

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One of the many aspects that people either love or hate when living in the Washington DC Metro area is our constant bombardment of information of and about the Government.  The constant stream flows from our radios, tvs, cable, computers, phones, tablets, seemingly from the air itself.  It keeps us informed and aware of things happening in the government (whether we want to or not). I would even say that most of the people who live in this area work for the government or it has an impact on their work in some way.  Its Inside the Beltway at work and normally I kind of enjoy it.

Not now.

Now the government is shutdown and I am angry, and feeling helpless to make a difference in a situation that never should have happened in the first place.  This has effected me in so many ways, from the people I love, my family, my friends, acquaintances, all who are on furlough, those working and not getting paid, everyone who is impacted by this idiocy., including myself.

All those wondering how their mortgages will get paid, how will they put food on the table, or even get gas to bring them to the work they are not getting a paycheck for.    I see and hear it in the voices of cab drivers and food truck operators with no one to drive or feed,  hotels vacant because the tourists have gone home or have cancelled their trips.  From the front desk to those cleaning the rooms and hallways, and everyone else involved in the hospitality business, all are impacted, all are hurt.

What about those 30 children just admitted to a new cancer program at NIH, a last hope certainly and one that is frozen along with all the other protocols patients enrolled in specialty care need so desperately.  What about that person who needs a serious operation now.  It was scheduled then all leave was cancelled, no exclusions, no exemptions.  Who looks them in the face and tells them no? Even those hoping to get married or WWII veterans hoping to see their memorial? It’s certainly not the idiot Congress at the helm of this shutdown.

I, along with countless others, have called my representatives, Republican and Democrat, to voice my anger that the needs of the people who put them in office are being ignored, dismissed entirely because our views are not considered important.  The phone lines for all, especially the Republicans are constantly busy.  And when I did get through, I got a voice mail, saying all mailboxes were full.  No one is answering the phones on those offices.  But turn a camera in their direction, and they have time to expound on their importance and what they see as their own path to power and glory.

I am embarrassed that those people voted in to help their constituents have decided to help themselves instead.  The rank few with their rank view, those petulantly powerful, those gasbags of arrogance who should have been helping the government work has shut it down instead.  A fight was picked that they knew they wouldn’t win for the express purpose of shutting the government down.  They are confident that they will never have to come face to face with the millions they are hurting in the process.

And they are probably right.

Will they be visiting the people they made homeless?  Or those standing in line in the food banks?  Those in the hospital and those out of work because they lost their jobs or their businesses?  I don’t think so.  For these type of people its never their fault.  Their self-importance and arrogance overwhelms all else, leaving others to suffer for their selfishness and need for even more power.

The United States Constitution starts out as “We the People”, not We the Few and Powerful.  I think those Senators and Representatives who have shut down the government, need to be reminded who and what they represent.  They need to sit down and listen as someone reads to them the documents on which our nation and our freedoms are based.

Right before the signatures on the Constitution, the following paragraphs appear:

In all our deliberations on this subject, we kept steadily in our view that which appears to us the greatest interest of every true American, the consolidation of our Union, in which is involved our prosperity, felicity, safety–perhaps our national existence. This important consideration, seriously and deeply impressed on our minds, led each State in the Convention to be less rigid on points of inferior magnitude than might have been otherwise expected; and thus, the Constitution which we now present is the result of a spirit of amity, and of that mutual deference and concession, which the peculiarity of our political situation rendered indispensable.

That it will meet the full and entire approbation of every State is not, perhaps, to be expected; but each will, doubtless, consider, that had her interest alone been consulted, the consequences might have been particularly disagreeable or injurious to others; that it is liable to as few exceptions as could reasonably have been expected, we hope and believe; that it may promote the lasting welfare of that Country so dear to us all, and secure her freedom and happiness, is our most ardent wish.

Where is their adherence to those words and feelings expressed above?  Lacking, tossed aside in favor of their own positions and small minded thoughts.

How sad,, how infuriating, and how un American.

Now for the Week Ahead in Reviews:

Monday, Oct. 8:         Northern Star by Ethan Stone

Tuesday, Oct. 9:         Starry Knight by T.A. Webb

Wed., Oct. 10:             Enigma by Lloyd A. Meeker

Thurs., Oct. 11:           The Night Visitor by Ewan Creed

Friday, Oct. 12:           Guest Blog by Playing Ball Authors

Sat., Oct. 13:                Playing Ball Anthology

And I Saw A Sea of Squirrels….and the Week Ahead in Reviews!

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And Then I Saw A Sea of Squirrels……grey squirrel drawing

Its fall and my patio and lawns are full of nature’s bounty, aka nuts.  Lots and lots of nuts and therefore lots and lots of squirrels (and deer but that’s for another story from this park naturalist).   This year is a high cycle year so all the oaks, hickories, and beech trees in my backyard were groaning under the weight of the nuts they bore.  And have now loosed them upon every surface available, turning every spare inch into a prickly hulled,DSCN4046 brown blanket or a mosaic of shiny hard bits and pieces of acorns to go along with the prickly hulls of the beech nut.  Of course the green golf balls of the black walnut are dropping too, sounding like hail during the worst of storms.

And my dogs hate this.

I don’t blame them.  Those prickly little bits and pieces hurt the pads of their paws, jagged hulls of shells courtesy of sharp squirrel teeth are just the right size to work themselves between the pads and wedging themselves firmly to great pain and discomfort.  No amount of sweeping is stopping the tide.  It’s relentless, a constant cacophony of sound followed by a carpet of discarded husks.DSCN4053

I think most people don’t realize that nuts are cyclical.  That each year the harvest is that much greater than the year before with the various animal populations that depend upon them for food expanding along with them.   And then the year that follows the one with the biggest yield is all but barren.  No nuts, or at least very little.  People start reporting seeing skinny or starving animals.  And they reason that such a thing helps to keep populations down.  And certainly that is true for the present day.  But not always.

Did you know people once saw seas of squirrels as they migrated through?

Yes, Eastern gray squirrels used to migrate, following the cycles of the oaks, and hickories and other nut bearing trees.  Back when the midwestern and eastern forests were one contiguous mass of forest.  Back before we started to carve out our settlements, and farms and cities. Back when there were only small farmsteads and villages that dotted the forests, tiny punctuation marks of humanity.

Then the animals lived much different lives than they do today.

One of my college professors,  Dr. Vagn Flyger wrote a report for the University of Maryland on a squirrel migration as recent as 1968.  Oh, how he loved squirrels and imparted that love to his students!  And this recent migration, from Vermont to Georgia, fascinated him.  You can read it here.  But even more fascinating are the earlier account of waves of squirrels so massive that it took days before the end of the hoard could be seen.  Or as Robert Kennicott in his article “The Quadrupeds of Illinois” in The Annual Report of the Commissioner of gray squirrelPatents for 1846 stated  “it took a month for the mess of squirrels to pass through the area.”*

Just imagine what that must have looked like! Tens of thousands, perhaps millions of squirrels following the wild harvest through the vast forest of the midwest and east, flowing like a grey furred river, leaping and bounding over every surface as they passed their way through the immediate area.   Here is another quote (from that  *same article ):

*In 1811, Charles Joseph Labrobe wrote in The Rambler in North America of a vast squirrel migration that autumn in Ohio: “A countless multitude of squirrels, obeying some great and universal impulse, which none can know but the Spirit that gave them being, left their reckless and gambolling life, and their ancient places of retreat in the north, and were seen pressing forward by tens of thousands in a deep and sober phalanx to the South …”

No longer.

We still have them migrate occasionally.  The last reported one was likely 1998 in Arkansas but nothing like the vast migrations of the past.  And how can they with no massive forest or massive stands of trees, following the bounty of nuts and seeds as the cycles demanded?  Like the beaver before them, we have changed their natural history and lost something special in return.

Now the Eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) is regarded as a cute backyard dweller or bird seed eating pest.  They get into attics or gnaw on wires.  We are amused by them, infuriated by them, and in some cases regarding bird feeders outsmarted by them.  They throw nuts at my dogs and tease them unmercifully and I laugh, of course.  They are a constant in my yard and a source of food for my owls and hawks.  They are as familiar to me as my wrens and woodpeckers…and my life would be poorer without them.

But once they moved across the land in rivers of energy and gray fur, millions of them covering the landscape and making people stop in their tracks, marveling to see such a sight.  Just once I wish I could have been there, standing beside those folks so I too could have said “and then I saw a sea of squirrels…”.

The Migration of the Grey Squirrels

by William Howitt

When in my youth I traveled
Throughout each north country,
Many a strange thing did I hear,
And many a strange thing to see.

But nothing was there pleased me more
Than when, in autumn brown,
I came, in the depths of the pathless woods,
To the grey squirrels’ town.

There were hundreds that in the hollow boles
Of the old, old trees did dwell,
And laid up store, hard by their door,
Of the sweet mast as it fell.

But soon the hungry wild swine came,
And with thievish snouts dug up
Their buried treasure, and left them not
So much as an acorn cup.

Then did they chatter in angry mood,
And one and all decree,
Into the forests of rich stone-pine
Over hill and dale to flee.

Over hill and dale, over hill and dale,
For many a league they went,
Like a troop of undaunted travelers
Governed by one consent.

But the hawk and the eagle, and peering owl,
Did dreadfully pursue;
When lo! to cut off their pilgrimage,
A broad stream lay in view.

But then did each wondrous creature show
His cunning and bravery;
With a piece of the pine-bark in his mouth,
Unto the stream came he;

And boldly his little bark he launched,
Without the least delay;
His busy tail was his upright sail,
And he merrily steered away.

Never was there a lovelier sight
Than that grey squirrels’ fleet;
And with anxious eyes I watched to see
What fortune it would meet.

Soon had they reached the rough mild-stream,
And ever and anon
I grieved to behold some bark wrecked,
And its little steersman gone.

But the main fleet stoutly held across;
I saw them leap to shore;
They entered the woods with a cry of joy,
For their perilous march was o’er.

Now for the Week Ahead in Reviews (and  Autumn Sedum in my garden):DSCN4051

Monday, Sept. 30:         Sonata by A.F. Henley

Tuesday, Oct. 1:              September Summary of Reviews

Wed., October 2:            Goblins by Melanie Tushmore

Thurs., October 3:         Dominant Predator by S.A. McAuley

Friday, October 4:         The Isle of Wishes by Sue Brown

Sat., October 5:               Knightmare (City Knight #2) by T.A. Webb