Not bad. The narative style is flat and formal, and structurally it reads very much like a play -- the author's own notes admit to it -- but it's likeable and does a good job of covering all bases. Each character gets a story arc of their own; none of them are especially compelling but they do all get resolved.
The uninspiring prose never quite delivers on the set-up: Ben's parents have died and he has to give up a high-flying career in New York to move back to his hometown and look after his younger brothers. I'm not crazy about unrestrained angst, but this needed just a few more touches to lift it out of robot territory. It sort of works in the first half, because I could buy that emotions were being buttoned down as a build-up to something, but that something never came and so it all blended into one long passage of descriptive narrative.
But like I said, it's likeable for all its blandness. Ben gets explored very thoroughly as a character, and the author does make a genuine attempt to give him some depth. He's an unreliable narrator during parts of the book, but it's balanced out by the earnest reality the rest of the story offers up so it works out.
The sex scenes are tepid as hell, and there's zero tension between the MCs, though (maddeningly) the storyline works really hard to try and establish some. I'm willing to chalk it up to early-book wobbles; I think the author's got potential, but needs to move away from directing the story quite so stringently and loosen up a little. Will be looking out for more from them.
Recommended, but I think this is a first book (or feels like it, at least) so the usual first-book exemptions apply.
Wrote a review, saved it as a draft and ... have no idea where to find it. Anyone have any ideas? BL staff not responding to query.
Poorly characterised and barely plotted, this one pushes the envelope that much further with the inclusion of terrible female characters. Even the little sister (with the uncannily exact same disability) has some of her agency removed by making her a flake who just jumps from interest to interest (she's not really a person in her own right anyway; she's mainly a foil for one of the MCs and then conveniently disappears when her job's done).
I really did not expect to strike out on a Sexton. If there's one thing she does well, it's chase a story down and nail it to the ground. This one felt like she'd left it a week before deadline so frantically set out trying to find the thing that would take the least time to write while still giving her maximum bang for buck. And what does that better than a disability and a potentially life-threatening illness? That shit just writes itself, right?
I wish it had.
The prose was strong and convincing, the story was atmospheric and rich with detail, and I liked the idea of a PNR set in a Cambridge college, of all places. Nick was appropriately British, and the whole thing had this air of being faintly but politely confused, which was very appropos.
The problem is that if there's an abused, submissive character who's one half of the story but who never gets a look-in in terms of POV ... idk man, that seems like a weird authorial choice. Nick is the alpha, the top, and the voice of the story; this is unfortunate, given that the entire story rests on a conflict that Julian's at the heart of, which Nick's stilted, stiff narration doesn't really do justice to. Julian comes across as a plot device that gets to occasionally (and conveniently) get his cock out, which doesn't really do much for me.
I mean don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against cocks as plot devices, but there still has to be a certain degree of emotional depth attached to the fucking. And showing that depth via the perspective of the confused, repressed scholarly stalker isn't going to cut it either. Julian never got developed enough as a character for me to buy into the fated-mate trope here.
The plot also gets awfully ambitious in parts:(show spoiler)
Points though for a very cool female character, who figures things out and gets the job done. I loved Tiffany and could have done with LOTS more of her.
The sex was unconvincing because Julian, the plot was ... okay, I guess, the pacing was right off, and the weird unresolved character problems were icky.
The writing was solid though, and I guess I'd recommend it based on that but nothing else.
Okay no, some of the technical stuff is frankly awful: jism is a word the author's gone with, 'hole' gets used WAY too much, and the prose gets so bad at times it's almost more than a body can take.
But there's something very weirdly compelling about the story; it's so loaded with tension it feels like it's on a hair-trigger, and you're never sure who's going to do what. Alex and Liam have this stop/start, jerky pattern of behaviour that should be annoying -- and there were times when I wasn't sure but that it was just poor writing -- but somehow the author pulls it off, and all the conflict fucking smooths out the bumps the prose leaves behind.
I kind of liked all the awkwardness, to tell you the truth. It made the characters raw and a little confused but there was a vein of honestry running underneath it, if you could ignore the way the conversations didn't always feel completely linear. The overarching plot wasn't bad either: a major villain, psychological and physical torture -- just enough looming evil to justify how the story lurches from one thing to another. The characters aren't in control and nothing goes smoothly but again, it kind of fit.
(There's a LOT of non-con, which is maybe the siren song that called to me (and TW torture fic has always been my Achilles heel, so). I can't really point the P2P finger at this because I don't really know and don't really care, but if it turned out it was I wouldn't be totally shocked)
I'd recommend this if you can get past the first 20 or so pages, where the writing is the most stilted and uncomfortable. After that it settles down into ... something, I can't put my finger on what exactly, but it settles down.
Another perfectly adequate British writer from the stable of perfectly adequate British writers writing in m/m at the moment. Lots of genuinely lovely prose about the British countryside, nice bits of historical background about British artifacts/instituitions, a solid but ultimately bland romance, a decent stab at introducing an element of intrigue into what's really a middle-level, forgettable story -- it's all fine, just not expecially memorable.
The attempt to make one of the characters a super-spy either needed to be extended a whole lot, or collapsed altogether and used for laughs. As it was, I don't really associate insurance investigators with, you know, Bond. But points for trying to give the thing some plot.
You could do worse. The way m/m is atm, you could do a lot worse.
A nice enough story with an emphasis on the storyboarding of one character. Joe's family background and history is compelling, but for me it came at the expense of Mackenzie's story -- which was odd, because Mackenzie's the one with the angsty, abusive past. The relationship between the two thins out for lack of it; their interactions are obviously meant to be loaded with meaning, but they just felt awkward and inadequate. Mackenzie's POV feels very hastily sketched in, and his actual story arc is a bit feeble: some vague idea about starting a business with no real movement towards doing it and no real explanation for the lack of movement.
The saving grace of the whole thing really is Joe and his family, and all the deep family dynamics that the author explores. In some ways this would have benefitted from being a two-part series, with Mackenzie's story explored a little more in the second book and shitloads of UST through the first. As it was it was a little flat, though the writing was sound enough and the characters were pleasant. I hear there's a sequel, which I might check out at some stage though I'm not going to set the world on fire to get to it or anything.
Not especially recommended, but you could do worse.
Title: tumpty tumpty tumpty silver
Authors: There were two
Cover page: two men, one of them wearing a bowler hat (??)
Publication date: ... sometime ...this...? year?
Can you actually remember anything useful about the book, Moss: Victorian era, detectives (or something), possibly gay, possibly not.
Do elves make Christmas smut in Santa's workshop? Will Two Guys Fucking fit under my tree? Does bad porn come with an exchange card?
Happy holidays, spideyfriends, and all the best for 2014!
"Baths is unhygienic," Granny declared. "You know I've never agreed with baths. Sittin' around in your own dirt like that."
- Witches Abroad
If you could go back in time -- knowing what you know now -- to the dewy days when you first discovered m/m, what do you think you would give your younger self to read? What would be the best launching pad for you to get into m/m?
Would you give yourself the Adrien English series? Or start with Vic and Jacob from Psycop? Or maybe you know you were secretly into alien dub-con even back then and some hot tentacle read right at the start would have cut down all that wandering through the genre?
Maybe you wouldn't change a thing. In which case, what did you start off with?
A fandom friend of mine is about to start reading published m/m and I'm her Gandalf, leading her through Moria. It got me thinking about my own reading journey and what it might have looked like if I knew what I know now.
What are your drums in the deep, friends?
13. My favourite writer
There's no such thing. I have writers in different genres who I enjoy, and whom I'll probably follow for a long time to come; I have ones I've lost, but love still.
Terry Pratchett validated my sense of humour growing up. I can't read him anymore but nothing will ever change how he shaped me. I owe a lot of the way I view migration and passage and a mobile sense of nationalism to Bruce Chatwin. William Dalrymple is endlessly fascinating and his books are an education on things I keep thinking I should already know. I own everything Sharon Olds has ever written and always will. I love Katherine Mansfield, and Janet Frame -- all the haunted, fey women New Zealand keeps producing; long may they prosper. Bill Bryson is the funniest man alive. When Eloisa James is on form she writes the best historical romances money can buy. No-one writes two men fucking like KA Mitchell.
There's no such thing as a favourite writer. There's moments in time when one might soothe away the weariness better than the others, but that's a temporary singularity. They've all performed that function; I owe them all.