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Not having the time to read much lately, I read the first book in this series, and so I know who Elliott Smith is and his background, and who is Steve, Elliott's partner, the whys and whens of their relationship. At book 4, Elliott and Steve are a steady couple, and I have to say I enjoyed reading about their "ordinary" relationship; they were extraordinary in being an ordinary couple in a romance thriller setting. Elliott, playing PI, isn't ultra-charming, uber-hot or any other superlative adjective. Maybe Steve, from what I gather, is on the handsome side of beauty, but even him, althought an artist, is struggling with a day job and with an uncertain future as newby gallery owner.

Another interesting plot device was having the victim, still alive for a good part of the book; that gave the reader the chance to know him, and in a way hating and loving him at the same time. Dante is very handsome, very talented and a total prissy diva. He is unpolite, egoist, a liar... but in the end, when he is killed, I felt pity for him, like he didn't have a chance to prove he was better than what he appeared. And then, it was a waste of talent and beauty.

Beside, all the possible culprits were nice characters, and I didn't want for anyone of them to be the murderer. And yes, when I found out who they were, again, I was sad for them, till the end I wanted a turn of the tables telling me I was wrong, but that didn't happen.

How it was possible to like both the victim than the murder? to want for both of them an impossible happy ending? that is probably the best achievement of this book and author.

Paperback: 204 pages
Publisher: Zumaya Boundless (July 27, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1612710654
ISBN-13: 978-1612710655
Amazon: Dante's Circle: An Elliott Smith and John Mystery (Volume 4)
Amazon Kindle: Dante's Circle: An Elliott Smith and John Mystery (Volume 4)

Series: Elliott Smith and John Mystery
1) His Name Is John:
2) Aaron's Wait
3) Caesar's Fall
4) Dante's Circle

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I was puzzled by this book, reading the blurb I had the wrond impression this was a paranormal story, but indeed the paranormal elements are so feeble, that, in a way, even if they weren't there the story was working good as well. Considering this is book 1 of a series of 3, all with the same release date, is it possible those elements will acquire importance in a later book, maybe.

Anyway, the relationship between Jon, a former US marshall with PTS disorder, and Ellis, a kind man who is devoting his life to taking care of his mentally disabled brother, was not easy, but masterfully managed. I think the author didn't underestimate the issue, Ellis's brother, Rudy, felt realistic, a 5 years child in the body of a 42 years old man. The love story between Jon and Ellis, while sudden, wasn't easy; sure they fell in few days, and maybe the reason why they fell is more dependency than love, but nevertheless, it was strong. Strange enough, it's not Ellis who needs Jon, but viceversa: Jon needs a reason to live, and Ellis and Rudy represent it.

I'm true, this lately I cannot read three books of the same author one after the other, but well, if there is an author who enticed me in doing so, it's Adrienne Wilder with this series.

Publisher: Adrienne Wilder (March 25, 2014)
Amazon Kindle: My Brother's Keeper (Book One): The First Three Rules

More Reviews by Author at my website:, My Reviews
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Surprisingly less frightening than expected, even if the gory details didn’t lack, I found myself enjoying this novel very much, even considering I’m not really a huge fun of ghost stories. More, I found it sweet and even cute at time.

Probably the element I liked more was the couple, museum curator Wyatt and flair bartender Ash, who comes along equipped with very interesting tongue piercings. So of course, you are expecting for the nerdy professor to be captivated by the domineering bartender, and instead? Wyatt displays a strong, almost dominant attitude toward Ash, especially during intimacy, making him more the protector than the captive. And Ash will unveil an endearing fragility, and here the cuteness factor came out strong and loud.

The setting was a protagonist as well, Richmond, Virginia, coming out from the pages in full force, a mix of past and current, mixed together that, while it was obvious a contemporary story, sometime it seemed we very living in the past; sure, the Gaslight ambience of the Gravedigger’s Tavern, the place where Ash is bartending, was helping in this feeling, but it was also the cobblestone streets and the old building, the tidbits of history the author was springing around, and of course, the Historian society for which Wyatt is a curator. Oh, yes, also Noah and his strange history lectures.

If you usually avoid the ghost themed stories cause they are too “involving” or scaring, mind you that, in a way, this was more a romantic thriller than a horror story.

Paperback: 200 pages
Publisher: Riptide Publishing (October 9, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1937551539
ISBN-13: 978-1937551537
Amazon: The Gravedigger's Brawl
Amazon Kindle: The Gravedigger's Brawl

More Reviews by Author at my website:, My Reviews
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I’m not really a fantasy lover, but Nor Iron Bars a Cage bore nothing of what usually makes me stay away from these novels: even if the setting was complex and original, it wasn’t overwhelming so much it eat the story: I don’t like when I spend too much time trying to follow all the details the authors is showing off to prove they have done homework. That of Lyon and Tobin is a rendering of a Medieval kingdom, so some of it was familiar, but it was a place and time where sorcerers and ghosts not only exist, they are even common occurrences; moreover, to threw the reader a little more off the current time and into the fantasy world, time and space and how to measure it was different, there wasn’t the concept of weeks or years or miles, but similar concepts (the week is actually 6 days and not 7, the length is measure in horse feet or arrows’ arch, and so on).

But what was the most beautiful thing was the sweet love story between Lyon and Tobin: they were kids together, and young, but yes, already probably in love. Tobin, second son of a nobleman, was destined to the army, Lyon, from the middle-class, was the apprentice of a sorcerer. Tobin thought they had time, that he could go in the Army do his deed, and come back to Lyon, but when he did come back, in the end, Lyon was believed to be dead. Lyon wasn’t dead, but for him, he wasn’t far from it. He is living like an hermit, in a small cottage far from the city and he is trying to not let his tragedy kill him for good. There is no space for Tobin’s memories, or maybe, he has forced himself to forget. But when Tobin knocks at his door, everything comes back in a rush, with the only difference that he is no more the boy to whom Tobin was hoping to go back home.

Tobin is a really good man, nor before or now he lets jealousy, or passion, eating his love; he loved Lyon before and he loves him more now. Even if he is one of the more trusted men of the king, he will put Lyon before his sire. Lucky for them, homosexuality doesn’t seem to be a trouble, they are fays, and being fay isn’t a condemnation. Tobin easily admits he was fay when they were young, and with that, admitting also that he was in love with Lyon. This love will give a reason to Lyon to try to overcome his tragedy, and be ready to face life again.

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Amazon Kindle: Nor Iron Bars a Cage (Free Download)

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I’m more a contemporary sort of reader, and while I may believe in “special” energy, I’m not really a believer in ghosts, in a way, I’m probably a little like Jordan; but maybe, if I had the chance to meet someone like Sunny, head investigator and founder of Sisters of Spirits, a paranormal society dedicated to helping others understand what they can’t see, I’d have more chance to change my attitude.

The strongest point of the story is its balance; good mix of romance, drama, horror, mystery, all of them melted together in a fluid plot, with no bump. In a way, this what I liked more, but what it makes it so different from previous horror novels I read (and I admit, I’m not really an horror story lovers): I don’t really like when there are too much ups and downs in the story, one effect here and there is good, but always being on a roller coast is not my thing. The Awakening is more psychological than horror, and that is what I liked.

From the romance point of view it’s an opposites attract theme, but with a twist, while Sunny’s job should led her to be the “darker” side of the couple, even in her name she is the more open, light and adjusted, while instead Jordan brings with her a baggage of pain and past angst. Sunny needs to help her to look inside herself, to be able to open up to other.

First in a trilogy, The Awakening is also a confirmation of Yvonne Heidt’s talent which was already highlighted with her debut novel, Sometime Yesterday.

Series: Sisterhood of Spirits Trilogy (Book 1)
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (January 8, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602827729
ISBN-13: 978-1602827721
Amazon: The Awakening (Sisterhood of Spirits Trilogy 1)
Amazon Kindle: The Awakening (Sisterhood of Spirits Trilogy 1)


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This is not the first time I have the pleasure to read a Young Adult novel by Hayden Thorne, and the tastefully setting is always confirmed, story after story, novel after novel. The fantasy elements can be more or less marked, but in any case, the alternative-historical universe is always an asset.

In the main story, The Winter Garden, the story reminded me the Secret Garden, one of my favorite young adult novel when I was young. The setting is a Victorian undefined city, perhaps even London, the time is beginning of XIX century. The plot develops around two boys, to a modern concept teenagers, but for the time, practically adult; and indeed one of them, is already working with his father, behaving like a young man, drinking and talking of girls; the other instead is sheltered by his own parents due to his weak constitution and mostly spends his time in their walled garden, the same wall that the other boy climbs to meet with him and turn upside down that sheltered life.

While to an adult eyes, you can see it’s a romance between the two boys, to a reader of the same age it can be the story of a friendship lasting forever, cause no sex, not even a kiss is shared between the two boys. But that doesn’t mean the feelings are less stronger, or not real; they are so strong and real that will overcome even the realm of possible to become fantastical. That is another asset of this author, the ability to mix reality with fantasy and still maintain the story touching and moving, near to the heart of the reader. I personally was really moved by the story of these two boys, and even if they have their happily ever after, it’s bittersweet.

Amazon: The Winter Garden and Other Stories
Amazon Kindle: The Winter Garden
Paperback: 194 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (May 10, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 147505727X
ISBN-13: 978-1475057270

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This novel reminded me of a very nice movie, Undertow, with a tragic ending, and so I was reading it teetering on the edge of fear, wanting to like these characters but afraid of what would be of them. Lucky for me, this is a romance, and of course, although non-conventional and not even totally rounded, there was a some sort of happily ever after for them.

Ori is finally coming back home, but unfortunately his childhood friend, and unrequited love, Kalani, is not waiting for him, or at least, not in a way Ori is happy to acknowledge. Kalani is in coma, according to the doctors it’s irreversible, and Kalani’s foster mother is asking Ori’s consent to detach the machines maintaining his body alive. When Kalani was attacked, Ori tried to come back home as soon as possible, but instead he ended up doing 1 year of prison for attacking his superior officer. Now one year later, Kalani’s situation didn’t change, and basically they are waiting only for Ori to have the chance to say goodbye. But the same night, Kalani’s spirit appears to Ori, and he is very much alive. Both Kalani than Ori know Kalani’s body is dying, and basically Kalani is asking Ori to let it go, but Ori thinks that, if he will be able to solve a mystery in Kalani’s past, that will allow his spirit to find peace. But finding peace will mean that Kalani will really go forever, in a place where Ori and him will not have the chance to be finally together, unless Ori doesn’t follow him there too.

Hawaiian’s tradition are quite complex, and they are a mix of religion and myth. What I always find in these novels is the feeling that the admixture between them is so strong that paranormal becomes almost ordinary, seeing spirits is exceptional but not extraordinaire, and to someone like Ori, after the first surprise, is natural to accept Kalani is real and in need of his help. Ori and Kalani’s relationship, before and after Kalani’s accident, is bittersweet, already marked by tragedy, even before they were born.

This is not an easy novel, the plot is complex, made even more that by the different flashback not in chronological order, and at one point we even go back before Ori and Kalani were born, to a totally different pair who perhaps share the same forbidden love. More than paranormal, Hawaiian Gothic is spiritual, new age, mystic; if you like all these you will love it.

Amazon Kindle: Hawaiian Gothic
Publisher: Loose Id LLC (June 12, 2012)

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle
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I'm a faithful reader of T.A. Chance from the beginning; long or short, with cowboys or sport stars, fantasy, historical or contemporary, a new story by T.A. Chase always climbs the first place in my reading list. They are always different but still there is always this mix of romance and naughty sex that make them so good. And in a way, I can say that T.A. Chase loves everyone of his characters.

Padraig is a ghost; but he is not living in Paradise, he is wandering the earth since when he died, he left too much things behind, above all his unrequited love for Gareth. When he was in life, Padraig was an hot head; he worked in the docks in Belfast and he was not exactly a good boy. And probably he didn't believe he was good enough for Gareth, a shy man who worked as employee in the docks office. Padraig and Gareth exchanged glances but seldom words, and at the moment Padraig died in a fight bar, he had just gathered enough courage to go finally talk to Gareth. Only that he hadn't time to do so.

Gareth is a really nice character, but who came out in full in this novella is Padraig. I can almost see him, always self deprecating himself, always thinking that, someone like him, doesn't deserve anything better than what he gets. As a dead man, he almost arrives to think that, well, maybe it's better that he ended like that, for his mother and Gareth will only be better without him. Even when he has the possibility to come back to life in the body of another man, a dying man, he has still this little doubt that maybe the dying man was better than him, and so he shouldn't deprive him of his life: mind you, Patrick doesn't do nothing to "kill" the man, he only happens to be there at the right moment for him to possess the body of a man that would die in any case.

Ten years for Padraig were without "time". Padraig knew he was a ghost, but for him time means nothing and so, when on St. Patrick's Day he has a second chance with Gareth, for him it's like he left the man only seconds ago. Not the same for Gareth, who is mourning his lost chance with Padraig for years, even more since when Padraig died, he received his last gift, the token which should have marked the beginning of their love together. And so when he is approached in a bar by a man with the same green eyes of Padraig, he does the unthinkable, he brings him home. Probably since so many years ago Gareth hadn't the courage to grasp his chance at love, and he always regretted it, now Gareth gives to this "second" Padraig in his life the chance he didn't give to old Paddy.

This is a novella and so spans only a night and a day in Padraig and Gareth's life. Their present time together is spent practically always in bed, like they have to make up for the lost time; the romanticism and the sugary feelings arrive all from their past together, even in few words, T.A. Chase manages to let you imagine the life of these men, when they were young and full of hope, when they still had all their life ahead of them. From here derives the mix between sex and romance I said before: when the reader is almost to the edge of tears, thinking to all the lost things, then he is plunged in an erotic scene, that even if detailed, it's never vulgar.

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This is the first book I read by this author, but even if I’m not sure, I suppose this is not a debut novel. The story is too polished, and the hand too expert for this to be a tryout, I really had the feeling I was reading the product of a skilled author. I have to be true, ghosts and zombies are not really my thing, and I was not really sure I wanted to continue reading it when I realized where the story was going, but the characters got me, and I couldn’t leave without knowing what was of them.

Goth-beauty Leif and farm-boy Dan were apparently a stereotype, and I was already imagining them playing by the “rules”, emo-style and all; but that is not what happened, and actually the author spent a great deal of time to build their relationship, giving time to them and to the reader to be really sure what was happening wasn’t something fading away in few hours of passions. The romance part of the story was well plotted as it was the paranormal-horror.

It’s not the first time I read about this type of horror, but I tend to not like it too much for the gruesome details; in Hainted, the author managed to have all the horror and tension with less “splatter”. I don’t know, it’s not easy to explain, but it was like she was more contained, less searching for the exploitation, but maintaining all the scariness anyway. Sure Hainted is not for the fainting reader, but nevertheless it can be within the range of who doesn’t mind a little bit of horror if the romance is good.

My compliments to Jordan L. Hawk to manage a self-published book which had all the feeling of a consummate author’s novel.

Amazon Kindle: Hainted
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

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This is the story of Emma and Mandy; if this sentence sounds strange, giving that Mandy is for most of the novel a second stage character we hear only through a phone, that was my feeling. I was really not liking much Emma at the beginning, since my idea was that she was not treating well Mandy; Emma and Mandy have a 15 years long relationship, and despite this, Emma is still hiding things to Mandy, something I relate to not trusting her, and who you can trust if not the person you love? i.e. Emma was not really in love with Mandy. I’m happy I was wrong, and what you will read, if you trust my words, is “also” the romance of Emma and Mandy.

There is a plethora of supporting characters, Beau, Peter, Genevieve, Sharon, and of course Cora Beth and Annie, but while I was intrigued by Cora Beth and Annie’s story, my heart and hope were on Emma and Mandy. Nevertheless I enjoyed this paranormal romance, how the author deals with Emma’s extra sensorial experience, must of all, I liked that everything felt realistic, even if the word could be odd in this contest: true, there is a paranormal experience, but in any case the focus remained in the very much ordinary, and contemporary, story of Emma and Mandy, with their highs and falls.

Yet another thing that intrigued me was Charleston; I have actually in mind to visit the place this same year, and coincidence was that I’m planning it right now. Reading this book gave me the push towards including the town in my trip that I needed. I cannot say if the descriptions are realistic, but I hope so, because I would like to find the same quaint feeling I had of it in the real thing.

Amazon: Out of the Past
Amazon Kindle: Out of the Past
Paperback: 244 pages
Publisher: L-Book ePublisher (August 15, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1934889997
ISBN-13: 978-1934889992

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle
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This is a more than nice story taking back alive the old fashioned love stories of an handsome and wealthy American man meeting a same young and pretty English rose. Only that, in this case, the English rose is a male specimen.

Cody is arrived in England mostly to distance himself from an abusive lover. The excuse is to follow the restoration work on an old cottage his family owns in Ferrers’ Arms, a small village. Ferrers’ Amrs is exactly like you would imagine it, just a cross, a church, an inn and an old manor. And of course there is an handsome man living in the old manor, of course a bachelor. Actually there are three, but one is a priest and the other is straight, so of the three brothers, only Sebastian is the right match for Cody.

I like that actually nor Cody or Sebastian are the ordinary romance hero. Cody is a troubled young man, but he is not weak; he is running away from a tragic past, but he is trying to cope, and he is willing to fall in love again. He has money, but that is only a way for the author to make it possible for him to be in England without time limit, he has all the time he needs to patch it back his life and preparing the path for a future of love with Sebastian.

Sebastian is handsome and kind, but again, he is not the perfect romance hero. He is from an ancient family, but he is land rich and cash poor. Despite this, he is not at all interested in the fact that Cody has money, he doesn’t even investigate how Cody can afford to be there in England without an apparent job. Sebastian is one year young than Cody, making him 26 years old, and indeed he is behaving exactly like a young man in love; he is not an hero, he is not perfect and he is only 26 years old.

The relationship between Cody and Sebastian is sweet; I would dare to say it’s not passionate, but that is not what Cody needs now. Cody needs sweetness, reassurance, comfortable; I think Cody would be scared by passion, he would run away from passion. Sebastian’s sweet approach is what allows him to get near to Cody, to quietly and kindly open each protective layer Cody put around his heart.

The ghost story is a nice supporting plot to Cody and Sebastian’s love story. It’s a little sad, but with an happily ever after like that of Cody and Sebastian.

Amazon Kindle: The Gallows Tree
Publisher: Silver Publishing (January 6, 2012)

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle
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The first book I read by Megan Derr but for sure not the last, Midnight impressed me for the originality and quality of the story, both characteristics seldom found in independent small presses. Or at least when such presses are targeting a reader in search of “fun”. And please take this as the right compliment I’m paying to this author and this press. It’s not easy to write a story that is able to both involve than amuse you, at the end of Midnight I’m an happy reader, since I spend some pleasant hours with these characters and I would be willing to spend even more time with them, like if I made new friends and I was still eager to know them even better.

It’s “ordinary” to write a paranormal romance about vampires, or elves, or werewolves; if you start to talk about dragons, ghosts, witches or draugrs (from what I understood the historical version of zombies), it starts to be a little less ordinary, but still, I had already read about them in previous paranormal novels… but having all of them together? In an historical setting that was giving a “fashion-like” side to the story? Well that was original, and good.

Devlin White, eleventh Duke of Winterbourne, is a black witch; yes, someone already told me that, if it’s a man, than it’s not a witch but a warlock or a wizard, but in the novel the author appealed to Devlin as a witch and so I will do. Midnight is the Devlin’s ward, an orphaned child Devlin met during one of his mission; unfortunately Devlin was unable to save the six years old child, but when the little thing awake from the death as a draugr, Devlin bound him with a spell to his own life: if Devlin dies, Midnight dies, if Devlin lives, Midnight lives and grows and loves… Devlin. 15 years are passed and Midnight is now a 21 years old youth, beautiful and more than faithful to Devlin and only him; Midnight has always been in love with Devlin, even when he was 6 years old, and that love is the reason why he awake from the death; that innocent love turned into passion when, at 15 years old, he spied Devlin with another man, a beautiful young man with long black hair; Midnight decided he would grew in the perfect image of Devlin’s lover, so that he could replace him in that role. It’s not Devlin who shaped Midnight into his lover, it’s Midnight who has done everything in his power to be the one Devlin can love.

There is a lot to love in this story, basically all the characters are wonderful, even the villains. The half elf, half wolf Barra, the knight Neirin and his dragon Troyes, the vampires Ceadda and Alucard, and many, many other paranormal creatures are more than supporting characters to Devlin and Midnight, but what I probably loved the most in this novel is what I said at the beginning, that it was fun and yes, something even light; there was a lot of “love” for pretty things, Midnight being the prettiest thing of all, and the dark, gothic side of the story was always softened by something sweet and romantic, like a kiss, or pretty and shiny like a useless, but beautiful jewel.

Amazon: Midnight
Amazon Kindle: Midnight
Paperback: 298 pages
Publisher: Less Than Three Press (January 11, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1936202638
ISBN-13: 978-1936202638

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle
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Also Best Characters Development (1° place)

I didn’t really know what to expect from this fantasy gay western romance, fantasy and western seemed a strange pair, but I have to admit the author blended them in a perfect way, avoiding any friction between the genres.

Aren comes from a wealthy family, boarding school, good college, but I gathered they were not so tight or supporting of their own son. Aren is orphaned by mother, sent to boarding school as a little child, it was quite obvious that he lacked a fatherly figure. Abused by older kids when he was in boarding school, he moved to college to end up the kept boy of a college professor, someone who used, and again, abused him. When he got tired of his new boy toy, he sent Aren in the Oestend, i.e. the equivalent of the Far West of the XIX century, a place where civilization and modernity are still strange words.

The setting is fantasy since there is a lot of paranormal elements in the story, and there is the use of “modern” elements, like electricity, in an old fashioned environment, like a XIX-century-like cattle ranch, but truth be told, I think the author opted for the fantasy to have a little more “freedom” with her characters, allowing them an homosexual relationship with, yes, a little opposition, but at least not a death-by-hang crime.

In the Oestend Aren meets Deacon, the foreman of the ranch in which Aren will be the bookkeeper. Deacon is a Native of the Oestend, like Olsa, to very old housekeeper of the main house. They are pretty much how you would imagine to be the Native Americans, people with very old traditions, having their roots in ancient times, still very much bonded to them. As it is, the Wraiths, the ghosts haunting the Oestend lands, and killing the farmers are ancient warrior ghosts who, I gather, are still protecting their lands and their people. It’s strange but in the end, I was almost feeling sympathy for these ghosts, even if they killed a lot of people, and amongst them, good and bad men.

The relationship between Aren and Deacon is not easy but neither too complex; as soon as they realized the attraction is reciprocated, Aren and Deacon settle into an almost “marriage” bond, an equal partnership where they comprehend and support each other. Deacon is for sure the stronger in body, but Aren has a better emotional balance. It’s strange, and well welcome, but Deacon doesn’t substitute the fatherly figure Aren was searching, on the contrary, he gives that power in their relationship to Aren to make him emotionally independent and stronger.

Amazon: Song of Oestend
Amazon Kindle: Song of Oestend
Paperback: 412 pages
Publisher: Total-E-Bound Publishing (October 26, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0857157477
ISBN-13: 978-0857157478

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle
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I shouldn’t been surprised by the top notch quality of Carina Press’s titles, this publisher may releases few books per year on the M/M genre, but they are always carefully picked, as are their authors. And it’s not the first time I enjoyed Clare London, she is able to weave original stories whatever genre she picks, and actually, this time I have even some difficult to simply fencing this book into a genre. You could say it’s a mix of paranormal/horror/fantasy, but it’s everything so light that actually it’s more cross-genre.

Ace is a ghost, demon, incubus? What we know is that Ace died of an horrible death and soon after he awakened in the body of another man having sex and enjoying it. If it was a way to exorcize the pain of his death, he doesn’t know, but he liked the experience and now he is simply jumping from body to body, preferably man, and preferably involved in some sexual escapade. Ace is a “tourist”, he has no the power to direct the man he is in, he can only push them to express at the best their personality.

When he jumps into Dan, he thinks he has hit the jackpot: not only Dan is a good and handsome guy, he has one of the most beautiful boyfriend, Ricky. Apparently Dan is a lucky guy, and he is having the time of his life with Ricky in the shower; sure Ricky is questioning why Dan, usually so quiet and shy, is suddenly so assertive, but Ricky likes it, and so why look a gift horse in the mouth? But as soon as the shower ends, Ace realizes it’s not a bed of roses for Dan and Ricky, there are unresolved questions between them, a jealous ex-boyfriend of Ricky, self-esteem issues for both of them, and a difficult to accept they can be happy with the little they have. Ace is annoyed, he is in for the fun but not for the drama, and he would like to just go, but something in Ricky prevents him doing so, a memory from his own past, someone he wanted to help but that he doesn’t know if he managed to. Maybe this is Ace’s second chance, maybe this time he will be stronger, and the happily ever after will be for both Dan and Ricky than for him.

I really, really liked this story, it’s was at the same time original but almost simple; it didn’t try to blog me with too much innovation, trying to impress me on how good it was, in a way it was too good to do that: it was more like a “just read me, enjoy me, and you will understand why”.

Amazon Kindle: The Tourist
Publisher: Carina Press (February 28, 2011)

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Mark A. Roeder is in my reading list since a very long time; I actually bought this novel, Masked Destiny, more than 2 years ago, but I haven’t read it yet for a very simple reason: I was afraid. Aside for two novel set in the ’50 (Outfield Menace and Snow Angel), all these novels turn around a group of gay guys in Verona, a small town in rural America, between the ’80 and the first years of the XXI century; the first two of these boys, Mark Bailey and Taylor Potter from The Soccer Field Is Empty, met a tragic fate in their own story, and I was really afraid all the following stories had the same path. I was wrong, plenty wrong, and in a way, Masked Destiny was a good choice since I had another point of view also on Mark and Taylor’s story, story that maybe I will finally have the courage to read sooner or later.

The writing style of the novel is something I believe is common to this author: each chapter is a first point of view from one of the two narrative voices, Oliver and Skye. The most interesting aspect of this writing style choice is that Oliver and Skye are not together, and so basically they are telling us their parallel lives, giving each of them a different insight, and details the other cannot know. While Oliver is a nice character, a nerdy 14 years old with a big heart, the most interesting character is for sure Skye: he is vain, conceited, but nevertheless a good boy. Skye is overly worried about his body, he is well aware that is a stupid thing, not really important, but nevertheless he worries. The main comparison parameter in Skye’s search for a boyfriend is the other guy’s look, and he was even willing to make exception on morality, if the look was good enough. Lucky for his own good, he doesn’t arrive to the limit, but almost.

The novel is pretty complex and indeed, for a small country town, there are a lot of crimes happening in Verona, not all of them related to the gay factor; but that is probably the main expedient of the author to build his plots: most of the supporting characters arrive from previous stories, like same-sex married couple (? I need to read this story…) Ethan and Nathan, or football coach Brendan Brewer and his boyfriend, or teenager couple Nick (Ethan and Nathan’s son) and Sean. The paranormal element that was non-existent I suppose in the first novels, it’s now one of the main themes and for the reader who followed the series it will be not a surprise like it was for me; but the author managed to intertwined it in the story, making it almost “likely”.

I’m not regretting my choice to start the series more or less in the middle, to me it worked since it enticed me to go back to the stories of the supporting character I liked the best, but for sure it generated some spoilers the more traditional reader maybe would like to avoid: to me it was good since I’m that reader who read the last pages of a book to be sure, but I know that is not the same for others.

Amazon: Masked Destiny
Amazon Kindle: Masked Destiny
Paperback: 346 pages
Publisher: iUniverse, Inc. (August 19, 2004)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0595329586
ISBN-13: 978-0595329588

Series: Gay Youth Chronicles
1) Outfield Menace
2) Snow Angel
3) The Soccer Field Is Empty
4) Someone Is Watching
5) A Better Place:
6) The Summer of My Discontent
7) Disastrous Dates & Dream Boys
8) Just Making Out by
9) Someone Is Killing the Gay Boys of Verona
10) Keeper of Secrets
11) Masked Destiny

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle

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At the end of the nineteen century, two lovers have to face the worst of separation, death. They are both men, but this is not the story of how difficult it was for them to be together, when the story starts they are a couple and they would be happy if not that Philip is deathly ill, consumption, and day after day he is fading away. Jonathan, who is also the wealthier of the two, decides to bring Philip in a big mansion just outside New Orleans, not in the hope to see him better, but to alleviate his last months; in the isolated place, with only the servants as witnesses, Jonathan and Philip are building memories that will serve to Jonathan to survive losing his lover.

There is a bit of paranormal element in the story, but it’s basically an historical short story. The author devoted enough words to describing the setting, the disposition of the mansion where the lovers are living, with the highlight of the “modern” comforts wealth allow them, like an in-house bathroom.

I like also the shift in power between the two men, something that explain Jonathan’s desperation in losing Philip and his apparently incapacity to go on alone: when the story starts Philip is so ill, that Jonathan seems, and is, the strongest of the two; it’s him who takes care of Philip, like a mother with a son, even if there is always the underlying spark of desire. But before Philip’s illness, it was Philip the master in the couple, Jonathan was his pet; without Philip, Jonathan has no balance, no reason to survive his master.

Of Death and Desire is a nice short story, with enough development to give the reader enough material to imagine what in the short story itself there is no time to tell.

Amazon Kindle: Of Death and Desire
Publisher: BWLPP (March 20, 2011)

Reading List:
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This is a classical ghost story, both for the style, that reminds me of some old gothic novel, than for the setting, so dark and oppressive even when it’s full daylight; the author doesn’t exactly say that, but I had always the feeling that it was raining outside, or at least it was foggy. Not that in the English country you can expect something else.

Anyway, at the beginning of the story, Charles, second son to an earl, is coming home; he is probably like most of the second son of his time, no heir to the title, no built to be a soldier, without enough faith to be a clergyman, and so he was sent away to study and maybe make a career in politics. But he probably didn’t have either that skills, or he was not like his father wanted, and so, in the end, Charles was no one, he felt like no one.

The gothic feeling of the story is clear from paragraph one, with Charles arriving to his father’s mansion by night and passing through the family’s cemetery, among white marble tombs that seem almost alive in the night. Charles is trying to convince himself that he is overacting, but as soon as he enters the house he finds his father dead, his brother George already ensconced in his place, his pregnant sister Elizabeth almost in a hysterical status, and his dying sister-in-law Emma secluded in the above bedroom. Plus Jasper, George’s youth best friend, visiting; probably this last would be the most usual of the event, if not for the fact that Jasper’s guardian (a gentle way to call his natural father, he is a bastard son) was also Charles’ father worst enemy, and Jasper is also a catholic priest, in a family where is old tradition to hate all Catholics.

But it’s not hate that draws Charles to Jasper, even if all dressed in black and with strange tales of ghosts and otherworldly vengeances, Jasper is a very handsome man and he stirs odd emotions in Charles, feelings that, if I understood well, he was already having for one of his London friends, but he had never had the chance to explore.

Maybe the feeling of darkness and oppression is also due to the fact that, for the majority, the novel is set inside the house, with its whispers and cracking sound, wooden stairs and unused upper floors. Even the characters where not so much, in the end, like in an old mystery, if indeed someone killed Charles’ father, that someone is still in the house and they are someone they know well, a relative or a friend or one of the three servants.

In comparison to other stories I read by Alex Beecroft, probably the sexual side of this story was a little more evident, and even Charles and Jared, when indeed arrived to share their bodies, were more generous with the reader, letting him stay in the room with them. Now don’t get me wrong, this is for sure not an erotic romance, there are sex scenes but for sure weight less than the plot and the characters development, but even if in minority, they are nevertheless nice and good.

Buy Here

Amazon Kindle: The Wages of Sin

Reading List:
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Do you know what can happen when you buy a book only thank to the trust you have on the author? That a nice surprise can wait you. I didn’t read Downtime’s blurb, I read Tamara Allen, the author of Whistling in the Dark, the book who came first in the Rainbow Awards, and a book I really liked, and I bought the book. I didn’t know what Downtime was about, but thank to the nice cover I was expecting a late nineteen century historical novel. So I was quite surprise from finding me reading about Morgan Nash, an FBI agent in special mission in today London. Well after the first puzzlement, I stubbornly continued to read, without again bothering to check the blurb, truth be told, Morgan seemed a nice character and I was already wandering what could be his story. That Leonard London police detective was not a bad character, could be him Morgan’s love interest? And then Reese, Morgan’s American boyfriend, even him was not a bad chance… I was already immersed in the story, and building in my mind Morgan’s possible story development, when the unexpected happened… Time-Travel!

Oh yes, a real, good, old-fashioned Time-Travel romance. Can you believe it? Time-travel was one of my favourite genre when I was a teenager, but truth be told, I didn’t find many good book after that. It’s not easy to write a good book with an abused theme. Anyway, thanks to a spell found in an ancient book, Morgan is sucked back in time, in 1888. I think the author chooses a far enough time to give the reader the taste of an historical era, but not so far to put Morgan on a difficult situation. As he later thinks, if the time was 1388 with outdoor bathroom… well it wouldn’t have been the same.

So Morgan is obviously out of place, but not so much to not being able to integrate. The group of friends who summoned him, nice Derry, brooding Ezra, and flamboyant Henry, help Morgan not only to find a place where to stay (Derry’s home turned lodging house from his sister Kathleen) but they also try to help going back “home”. The problem is that the book, the only lead they have to do that, is vanished. Plus it seems that fate doesn’t want for Morgan to be back yet. Through Ezra’s psychic powers (he is a sensitive and can see and speak to ghosts), Morgan understands that he isn’t allowed to go back, but at the same time he is neither allowed to chance the future. Morgan is “arrived” in past London right at the time when Jack the Ripper is perpetrating his crimes, and Morgan would like to help. Plus there is another reason to enjoy his time in nineteen century, handsome Ezra who, even if engaged and soon-to-be-married, seems to be quite interested in Morgan, and not since he comes from the future. The love story between Morgan and Ezra is sweet and quite, not overtly passionate, but not for this reason less romantic.

I think the author did a good job in not overloading the Time-Travel theme; there are some antics of Morgan, like some slips he has when he talks about airplanes or electricity, but more or less, he fits quite well in the 1888, and most of his oddities are charged to him being an American fellow. I think that also in his own time, Morgan is an “old-fashioned” man, that type of cop who prefers to look and search more than to wave a gun.

There is also a good description of the life of homosexuals in Victorian time, basically they needed to not be noticed, to avoid the forced hospitalization in some asylums (obviously this was the solution if they were from a wealthy family); but if they managed to stay put, the solution of living in all male lodging house maintained by a lady with a good reputation was not a bad solution…

Amazon: Downtime

Amazon Kindle: Downtime

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle

Cover Art by Lorraine Brevig
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When I started this book I wasn't expecting to find romance in it, since it was presented as an old classic sleuthing novel, and so you can imagine my surprise when the hero, Elliott, not only has a romance, he has THREE romance, two of them at the same time, and he is not even a slut ;-)

But I will try to start from the beginning. Elliott is a very wealthy man without attitude, who chose to work not for necessity but for pleasure. He loves the olf fashioned buildings of Chicago (a thing Chicago is famous for and I can say since I wandered for the city centre searching for them when i was there) and he made a work of them: he buys a building at time, gives it new life to then selling it to trusted hands. And sometime he falls in love for a building so much that he doesn't have the heart to sell it, and so Elliott has a strange collection: where other people collect miniatures, he collects real buildings. If you find strange that I spend so much time talking of Elliott's hobby, it is since most of Elliott's passion is reserved to his love for those old buildings, on a personal level he is quite aloof, almost detached. Elliott is a real nice guy, he seems to have no problem to find a guy when he wants it, and all his past lovers are still in nice terms with him... also since Elliott is so good that he is never the one to dump, they dumped him, always pleading forgiveness... mmm, I believe that Elliott is real good to not become involved when he doesn't want it.

When the story starts, Elliott is in hospital recovering from an accident and he "feels" that someone else is in the room. Elliott, practical guy he is, soon realizes that the presence is a ghost, and it doesn't take him much to link the ghost, whose first words were, My name is John, to the John Doe who was admitted in the ER at his same time, and who unfortunately died. The ghost is not actually your usual ghost, he is as I said, a presence, he talks in Elliott's mind when said mind is free from any other thought (means when Elliott is asleep), and makes clear his presence giving strange feelings to Elliott regarding objects and pictures. The ghost apparently is suffering from amnesia, and Elliott's quest to find who he is goes pace to pace with his ability to recall little pieces of his past life. So the main mystery, the core of the book, is to find out who was John, and the author is very good in letting the reader catches only little clues here and there. I pretty much soon suspected who John was, but I had an advantage that not many of you will have. Anyway I don't want to say more on it, since as I always say, you can't summarize a mystery without risking to give up the mystery itself.

Let us instead talk of Elliott's personal life, that is for me almost as interest as the mystery itself. At the beginning of the book, Elliott is in an on / off relationship with Rick; Rick is a nice guy, but sincerely I don't feel like Elliott was really involved; and so I was not surprise when Elliott manages to be dumped again... Rick also took the guilty on himself, and Elliott told him to not worry. I was not so disappointed that the first romance in the book ended in such a cold way, since I was already planning the romance between Elliott and John, the ghost. But no, even if I'm sure to have read something more between Elliott and John than a simple utilitarian bond aimed to discover John's identity, the author has someone else in mind for Elliott. Enter Steve, a young, hot and nice latin american guy who Elliott meets in a club and the same night takes to bed. The relationship between Elliott and Steve is more interesting than the one with Rick, but still I feel like Elliott is not entirely involved, I always feel as if he is taking back something. It's strange Elliott is quite a "physical" man, he has sex both with Rick than with Steve (but not at the same time!), even if the author adopts the the "behind closed door"'s rule, the reader knows that Elliott is not shy or antisocial, but truth be told, I felt a real emotional involvement only with John, and John is not even corporeal!

In the end, maybe I'm wrong but for me the real couple here are Elliott and John; Steve is a really nice guy, even John tells so to Elliott, and the reader can't really resent him, since being John a ghost, and an incorporeal ghost, you can't pretend for Elliott to be a monk. And so here my idea that Elliott has two relationship at the same time, one with Steve involving his mind and body, and one with Elliott involving his heart; till the day mind, heart and body will devoted to the same man, Elliott for me remains an on the edge man, still waiting for something.

Amazon: His Name Is John

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle
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"Famous for the notorious witch trials of 1692, the small seaport town of Salem, Massachusetts had been trying to smudge out the horrible image of murder and injustice for centuries. In a complete turnaround, the town had begun welcoming anyone who was a self-proclaimed witch, and by the early 21st century, one in four Salem residents claimed either to be a witch or to know one."

It seems an idilliac situation, isn't it? A place where everyone would be glad to come, if he is interested on the paranormal side of life. And so it's not strange that Cash Rowan, ghost and demon hunter, chooses Salem as his final point for the Halloween night. But Cash is searching a specific demon, and maybe this time he is lucky. Jace is the owner of the Demon Tailz, a upper-class night club, and he welcomes Cash at open arms... the reader is expecting a hot night but it is not what he will have.

Cash is not searching for sex, and Jace has that side of his life covered since he is in a relationship with his twin brother Konnor. To know what it will happen, you need to read the story, since if I tell you more, I for sure will spoil it, it's only 25 pages long. But despite being so short, the story is really really nice.... well maybe nice is not exactly the right word: it's a mix of splatter and comic, love and sex, Ghost (the movie) meets "The Night of Living Dead" or something similar... I didn't know if I should feel horror or smile or be a sappy romantic.

There are at least three unexpected events: when Cash reveals his real purpose, when Jace helps him, and when Konnor comes back home. All of them gave me a feeling of surprise and a need to re-read the scene to be sure to understand well what it was happening... and since it's, as I said, a 25 pages long story, I believe it's quite an achievement. Can't wait to read the following chapters in a series that I believe will be a favorite of mine.

Amazon Kindle: StarCrossed 1: Demon Tailz

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