Review: The Heir Apparent by Tere Michaels

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

The Heir Apparent coverArchie Bank, body guard and driver for Henry Walker, scion of the powerful and wealthy Walker family, is also Henry’s childhood friend and secret lover.  Archie has used his job to help pay for his education and help support his mother and is now poised to graduate college.  But graduation means a change in jobs, leaving Henry Walker behind.  Henry doesn’t want to lose Archie but doesn’t know how to come out to his family or make a stand for their relationship.  All Henry sees is Archie slipping away from him forever.

Then a kidnapping goes horribly wrong, ending with Henry in the hospital and Archie under suspicion.  Together Archie and Henry must unite in order to uncover the mastermind behind the kidnapping before more lives, including their own, are threatened.

I love Tere Michaels.  Her Faith, Love & Devotion series is among my top all time favorite contemporary m/m fiction.  In The Heir Apparent, I see all the components that make her writing so enthralling and addictive, along with some minor issues that bring it down a notch or two.  First, the plot. It is full of suspense, well balanced with romance and hot, sexy scenes.  There are several layers to the mysteries here, not just the person behind the kidnapping.  I really enjoyed that aspect of the story, even though I identified correctly early on exactly who the person was behind the plot.  While some may find it frustrating that the characters did not recognize where the threat was coming from, I thought Michaels handled the reasons behind that gullibility with rationality and sensibility.

The two main characters are well defined with Archie  probably being my favorite, a kind of Upstairs Downstairs sort of thing.  Archie’s mother was a servant as well and they were part of the Walker home for a long time, albeit in their strictly defined roles. I do wish Michaels had given us more of a past recollection of Archie and Henry’s childhood together.  It would have helped give a firmer foundation to their current relationship than the one we are given.  Henry’s father at one point  talks about the boys misadventures as children, with Archie in the role of the child who always lead his precious son into scrapes.  But other than a tidbit here and there, nothing really substantial is relayed to the reader about their back history.  Henry takes a little bit longer to come to grips with.  He will not acknowledge his romantic relationship with Archie nor tell his father he is gay.  To be sure, Michaels has made Mr. Walker a powerfully intimidating personality, however Henry shows little spine with regard to him or his father’s close associate (almost an uncle figure here).  With Henry’s insecurity and passiveness, it takes some time before the reader connects with him, and that hurts the story in the beginning.

The Heir Apparent really picks up and delivers powerful, emotional scenes once the kidnapping begins.  This is when the story and all the characterizations gel for the reader.  From that moment on, Henry’s father becomes a person who  we identify with and connect with emotionally at the most basic of levels, that of a father who loves his son and fears for him.  Powerful stuff indeed.  Even shadowy characters, like Henry’s stepmother, come forward with a greater presence and impact once this traumatic event takes place.  Tere Michaels builds the story, layer upon layer, until all the pieces fall into place at the end, and the criminal is identified and caught.

Do the men get their HEA?  The plot points in that direction but, in my last quibble, the resolution to their relationship issues, doesn’t seem entirely satisfactory.  It ends with some things a little unclear and some readers will find that frustrating.  I know I did.

But with all my quibbles aside, do I recommend this story?  Yes, absolutely.  A Tere Michaels book is always something to be grabbed up, you never know what marvelous things to expect inside.  And some of the issues I had with the story, others might find not objectionable at all.  To tell the truth I did go back and forth between a 3.75 and a 4 star rating but the quibbles won out in the end.  Pick up a copy and  make up your own mind.  I would love to hear what you think.

Cover art by Dar Albert is got two gorgeous torsos to look at but what it has to do with the story is anyones guess.  Call this a miss.

Book Details:

ebook, 166 pages
Published February 26th 2013 by Loose Id
original title
The Heir Apparent
ISBN13
9781623002589
edition language
English

Review: Flawless (Irresistible Attraction #4) by Cat Grant

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Flawless coverSteve Campbell’s life has just hit a few speed bumps now that he has gotten a little older.  His best friend and coworker has found true love, and now has little time to spend with Steve.  They are also arguing about a new client and the direction a job should take.  On top of that, Steve is frustrated by comparing his life to that of Connor’s new status as a happy man in love.  Steve had long repressed his feelings for Connor, preferring to stay safely in the “straight” category until it was too late and Connor had met someone else.  Steve realizes that his life is stuck on hold but is unsure how to move on, romantically and sexually.

Then Steve’s Ferrari refuses to start up in the parking lot outside his gym, and Gil Alvarez comes to his rescue. Gil Alvarez has not had an easy life. He has struggling through childhood and rejected by his family for a body that didn’t match who he was inside. A skilled driver and mechanicm Gil Alvarez now owns his own body shop but is struggling to make it a success.  With all the complications he is currently dealing with, a white, rich, clueless guy is not what he needs in his life.

But one date and steamy night later and both Gil and Steve realize their lives have changed forever.  Steve wants a committed long term relationship and thinks Gil is the one man for him, if he could just stop putting his foot in his mouth whenever the other man is near.  For Gil, the obstacles are much greater. Gil’s ex has reentered Gil’s life, and not in a good way.  Plus Gil harbors a secret that he fears will turn Steve away once it is revealed. Can Gil and Steve pull down the barriers between them and have the life and relationship both men crave or will they let love slip away?

Flawless is the fourth book in the Irresistible Attraction series but the first one I have read.  Based on the high quality of the story I just read, I know I will be running back to grab up the rest of the books in the series.  At 91 pages, it might seem a quick read but don’t let that short length fool you into thinking that it will be short on characterization and plot depth.  Quite the contrary.  From a slightly fluffy “boy meets boy” romcom meet cute start, the story then veers into a more complicated, and realistic tale of self-actualization as well as finding the courage to stand up for who you are as well as who you love.  I have to admit I thought Steve Campbell pretty funny from a number of angles as well as being a realistic representation of a man who has been more caught up in his career than his personal life.  Steve is someone not at ease in a casual conversation, particularly when he is talking to someone he is attracted to.  Being brilliant in a lab does not translate necessarily to one’s personal life.  Steve is awkward and just finding out who he is late in life, a wonderful characterization.

Gil, on the other hand, is someone Cat Grant has imbued with a number of personality traits more in line with someone who has had to pull himself up from a poor start to achieve his goals, yet Gil has more a feeling for community and history than Steve does.  And there are further, more fundamental issues here that are only hinted at in the book blurb from Riptide Publishing.  I really don’t want to get into that here, mostly because how it is brought to  Steve’s and therefore the reader’s attention is so beautifully done that I would hate to spoil it for you all.

At the core of this love story is the fundamental idea of self, of one’s true nature.  For Steve, it is something he has only recently acknowledged after having repressed feelings towards men all his life.  It has cost him Connor and now he wants to come out but doesn’t know how.  Gil is Steve’s opposite.  Gil has always known he is a man but the consequences of that knowledge is something he is still having to deal with.  Cat Grant does a wonderful job with this aspect of the story, treating it realistically and with great sensitivity.  Gil Alvarez is a terrific character, one who captured my sympathies and compassion immediately, if nothing else but for the manner in which Gil was reaching for his goals, no matter the obstacles in his path.

I will admit that the length of the book does come into play.  At 91 pages, Steve and Gil get a HFN rather than a HEA, there just is not enough time for them to achieve a deeper relationship.  And that is precisely what this story needs in my opinion, a little longer peak into their relationship down the line to see how they adjusted to commitment and each other’s life.  But as it is, I highly recommend Flawless, it is a great read and one that shouldn’t be missed.

Here are the other books in the Irresistible Attraction series.  They can be read as stand alone stories.

Priceless (Irresistible Attraction #1)

Doubtless( Irresistible Attraction #2)

Fearless (Irresistible Attraction #3)

Flawless (Irresistible Attraction #4)

Book Details:

ebook, 91 pages
Published April 22nd 2013 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN 1626490120 (ISBN13: 9781626490123)
urlhttp://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/flawless
seriesIrresistitableAttraction

Cover Art by LC Chase who did a great job with the models and of course that cherry red Ferrari.