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

Review: Northern Star by Ethan Day

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Rating: 4.25  stars out of 5

Northern StarOn the night before Christmas Eve in a hotel bar at the airport, 27-year old Deacon Miller is getting drunk.  Fleeing a disastrous family holiday he never wanted to attend, Deacon received a text from his boyfriend, breaking up with him and throwing him out of their apartment.  A heavy snowfall cancels his flight leaving Deacon stuck at the airport hotel, drowning his sorrows and regretting almost everything about his life.

Car Dealer Owner Steve Steele has spent most of his 45 years in denial about his sexuality until he just couldn’t face another year repressing his sexuality and his true desires.  Unfortunately coming out also meant hurting people he loved, including his wife and step daughter. Now divorced, Steve is facing his first year anniversary as an out gay man and reflecting back on his failures and current lonely life.

When a chance encounter brings Deacon and Steve together on a night full of self recriminations and doubt, what happens when the one night stand turns into something neither man wants to forget or let go of.

I think when most readers think of Ethan Day, its his humorous stories like the memorable and guffaw inducing Sno Ho series (a favorite of mine) that often spring to mind.  But Ethan Day has another side to him as a writer, the one that produces stories more serious, thoughtful tales like At Piper’s Point and A Token In Time (also favorites).   And while laughter and humor is still an element to be found in each, something larger, more layered in scope is in play there.

Northern Star falls into the second category.  Two men meet on a night when the past is overwhelming them, highlighting the emptiness and failure present in their lives.  Deacon has just received a devastating text from his boyfriend, dumping him in terms crushingly succinct.  He is also being thrown out of their apartment with no where to live and little time to find a place during the holiday season.  It just screams of that aspect of modern day relationships where the use of the text message has become the method of choice for ridding yourself of an unwanted relationship. I don’t know anyone out there that can’t relate to that scene in some measure.

Then Ethan Day brings Steve Steele into the picture.  Steve Steele (I love that name) is also at a place in his life that he never expected to be.  Steve is a divorced, 45 year old car dealer who has finally come out of the closet, exploding his marriage, and family, hurting his wife who he loved and a step daughter who worshiped him.  And although he has found a measure of acceptance within his immediate family and friends, he is himself alone and floundering on his first year anniversary of his coming out.

A snow storm and an airport bar are the means and impetus for the men to meet and fall into bed, presumably just a one night stand.  This is an oft used familiar scene that appears  in multiple media and it works here to bring Deacon and Steele together.  Day perfectly captures Deacon getting his drunk on, his rambling internal monologue both hilarious and sadly recognizable to all who have been in that state sometime in their lives. Here is an excerpt:

“On your tab?” The bartender asked, setting down the freshly made cocktail. “Yup,” Deacon said, smiling slightly when his lips made a faint popping sound, like a cork being violently liberated from a wine bottle.

He did his best to ignore the judgmental expression on the bartender’s face. Glancing down at the name tag, he shook his head, disgusted anyone named Clifford would be casting stones. The pious pity of Cliffy wasn’t what Deacon needed at the moment, and he said as much with the dirty look he offered as a thank you for the drink.

They both turned, hearing a loud group of twenty-something’s come stumbling into the hotel bar. They were all visibly wasted, and from what he could make out from their rather gregarious bitching, they’d each been bumped from their flight as a result of their intoxication.

More rejected casualties, redirected to purgatory via this airport adjacent, cheesy-ass hotel bar that hadn’t been updated since the early nineties.

The burgundy and blue commercial grade fabric was rough to the touch, as if designed to ensure you didn’t make yourself comfortable. That combined with the brass railings that ran along the bar and atop the booths located along the far wall, all the mirrors and glassware dangling from above, the entire room screamed Loser-ville. “And I am right at home with my fellow loser-residents,” he muttered.

Deacon could practically smell the sweaty desperation of yester-year that hung in the air like the scent of stale smoke, from what had no doubt been the scene of many a one-night hookup over the years. Chewing on a chunk of ice, he took a moment to glance around the room at the rest of the poor schlubs.

Then Steve walks into the bar and everything changes.

Steve is an interesting balance for the character of Deacon.  Where Deacon is young and damaged by his upbringing, Steve’s damage is self inflicted.  He denied his sexuality, hiding in a marriage to a best friend’s widow until the truth and the stress made it impossible to continue living in a lie.  It has taken Steve a long time to feel comfortable being gay, but the mistakes he made were real and inflicted pain on those that didn’t deserve it.  Deacon’s pain was due to a alcoholic mother who still continues to put her addiction and selfishness above the needs of her children.  Also a realistic and painfully accurate portrait of the effects of alcoholism on the person afflicted and the family involved.  Added to that is the fact that Deacon’s mother is a pretty self absorbed human being and all the elements are there for extended child abuse and neglect.

One of the aspects of this story that I absolutely appreciated was the absence of instant love.  Instant lust, sure, but love? No, that comes gradually and not without a fight.  Because for every step forward Steve and Deacon take towards an emotionally rewarding relationship, Deacon retreats emotionally and sometimes physically.  The reader’s compassion and empathy for this character is totally engaged as Deacon’s abusive past makes him question his worthiness and capacity to love.

In Northern Star, Ethan Day gives the reader a serious exploration of the journey to love and family by two outwardly disparate men who just happen to be looking for the same thing at this stage in their lives.  For both Steve and Deacon family is important as love and it will be with the help of those families  that will pull them through the events to come.  And yes, there will be plenty of angst driven episodes to arrive as Deacon and Steven work their way through all the emotional and mental obstacles before they can be happy.

There are some wonderful secondary characters here.  Ashley, Deacon’s sister, is a recognizable teenager, with plenty of her own issues at play.  We also meet Steve’s colleagues from work (admirable and funny) as well as his ex wife and step daughter.  I love that her pain from living with Steven’s lies is not glossed over but dealt with in a realistic manner, just beautifully done.

Will every reader love this story? Not if all you are expecting is snappy dialog and snort inducing laughter.  Some of that is present here, it is a Ethan Day story after all.  But this is a more serious story that deals with alcoholism, child neglect and abuse and its long term effects on everyone associated with the alcoholic.  I think  Ethan Day did a great job and gave us a wonderful romance too. Consider this highly recommended.

Cover art by Wilde City Press.  Eye catching and  cute.

Book Details:

ebook, First, 249 pages
Published September 25th 2013 by Wilde City Press
ISBN139781925031553
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.wildecity.com/books/gay-romance/northern-star/#.UkJOvkko5es

Review: Accidental Alpha (Pack Partners, #1) by Poppy Dennison

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Book Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Accidental Alpha coverOne year ago police officer Lex Tompkins was stabbed while on the job.  The severity of the wounds and the long recovery time meant disability and retirement for Lex as he could no longer physically do his job.  Bitter, Lex withdraws from everyone he knows, buying seven acres in the middle of nowhere to hide in and retreat from society.  But almost from the beginning his plans go awry. Lex has a neighbor when his real estate agent promised him none.  And that neighbor, Spencer Robinson, always seems to have a ton of people at his house and a party going on.  Plus the guy isn’t even Lex’s type.

When a toddler shows up alone in Lex’s front yard, he knows that there is only one place he could have come from. Lex picks the kid up and starts to head across the street when the toddler bites the heck out of his neck.  Lex passes out and the next moment wakes up in Spencer’s house as the new Alpha werewolf of a small and dysfunctional pack of werewolves.

Faced with new responsibilities that he doesn’t want, Lex also finds himself attracted to Spencer, someone he never looked twice at before.  What’s a bitter excop to do when Fate rearranges his life in ways he never imagined?

Poppy Dennison became a go to author of mine when I started reading her Triad series (now at book four). So when I saw that she had a new shifter story out, I knew I had to have it.  Accidental Alpha, the first in the Pack Partners series, starts with a hysterical premise, what happens when a toddler accidentally turns a person into a werewolf? I love it when an author gives me a new twist on a popular genre and that’s exactly what Dennison has delivered here.

Dennison has created a unique pack structure for her werewolf story which includes the toddler’s position within it and the reason why he bit Lex in the first place.  This is a small and somewhat dysfunctional pack with a few shifters hanging at the outskirts of the core group that is not getting along without leadership.  Into this interesting group dynamics, Dennison thrusts her disabled alpha cop, Lex Tompkins.  I really liked his character, he comes across as a hard core cop who loved his job.  And the type of personality that it takes to be a cop is exactly the type of leadership needed in an Alpha.  I liked the manner in which Dennison  connects those dots not only for the reader  but for Lex as well.  Lex is a man in need of a job that requires him to police and take care of people and that is exactly what he gets again.

This pack is made up of some very damaged, sad, and angry shifters. Each comes with their own set of challenges that Lex must first decipher and then deal with.  That includes his very strong attraction to Spencer which is clearly a werewolf thing Lex needs to get figure out immediately before his own behavior gets out of control.  I liked the pack that the author has created for this story.  There’s the toddler, Aiden, who is quite adorable.  His mother Mia, two special special favorites of mine Ruby and Nathan, Justin and more.  And then there is Spencer, the neighbor and perhaps potential mate.  I connected with the character of Spencer as well.  Quiet and unassuming, he has a reserve to him that works when the rest of the pack is spiraling out of control.  Its a nice yin and yang  sort of relationship that will evolve with the story and the series.  It’s also a lovely change from the wham bam mate thing that overwhelms characterization and plot that I so often read in shifter stories. Poppy Dennsion sets out a structure for not only the pack but for acquiring mates as well.

The ending of Accidental Alpha sees Lex, Spencer and the rest slowly adjusting to each other and the change in pack dynamics.   It’s a new start for them all and an appropriate place to end the first book in the series.  Poppy Dennison had laid her ground work while still leaving room to flesh out the personalities and back history of the individual pack members.  I also expect to learn more about Lex as well.   Accidental Alpha leaves me wanting more of the Pack Partners series and that’s exactly what it should do.  Great job, Poppy Dennison.  I can’t wait to see what will happen next.  Please don’t make us wait too long.

Cover Art © 2013 Wilde City Press Photo by Kent Taylor, courtesy http://www.ragingstallion.com  What a perfect cover!  That’s Lex exactly.

Book Details:

ebook, 56 pages
Published September 11th 2013 by Wilde City Press