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What's Amelia reading?

Author of m/m romance, usually contemporary, occasionally historical, even sometimes post-apocalyptic. Check me out at ameliacgormley.com

Plagiarist Alert: Elizabeth Nelson

Trinity - Elizabeth Nelson

Plagiarist Alert!

Her blurb is actually author, Roni Loren's bio.

This thief has plagiarized Kristi Avalon's, Billionaire Bodyguard. (http://www.amazon.com/Billionaire-Bodyguard-Book-Bodyguards-ebook/dp/B00ALJDTIU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1386185918&sr=8-1&keywords=Billionaire+Bodyguard)

The author's photo is stolen also http://www.businessinsider.com/author-elizabeth-nelsons-fake-photo-2013-12


I wouldn't be surprise if this thief's other books are also plagiarized. Spread the word if you can.


Spokes - P.D. Singer I've been looking forward to reading this book in its entirety for a long time, having gotten a sneak-peek at the first part of it a while back. I couldn't wait to discover how things turned out between Luca and Christopher.

I'm pleased to say that the rest of the book was everything I wished for and more. Luca and Christopher are both solid, sympathetic, and flawed characters. They both make mistakes, they both react badly to things, not everything is sunshine and roses and that is absolutely perfect. The subject of closeted athletes is not a new one in m/m romance by any stretch of the imagination, but the way P.D. Singer comes at it makes it fresh for a couple reasons.

First, because cycling. I mean, how many of us who don't do that particular sport know the first damn thing about it? P.D. has this knack (one I would love to acquire) of taking a subject the reading audience won't be familiar with (she's done it before with forestry and rock-climbing and archery) and making us understand it without feeling like we're getting an info-dump. She works it in very organically, and I love that. I was reading from the POV of a character who knew the sport intimately, and I managed to make out most of what he was talking about without being jerked out of the flow of the story. It's really superbly done.

Second, because realism. Most athlete/sports stories I've read deal with relatively safe sports. Cycling is not one of those, and P.D. tackles that head-on. There are a couple moments when you're just like, "Whoa. This shit is real." Most of us don't expect to see serious danger in our sports, so it really grabs you and jolts you out of any sense of complacency about a pretty, neatly-tied-up ending. Which is not to say the characters don't get their HEA. They do, but they also have some very serious losses along the way.

Another great thing about this book is the MC's voice in the narration. There are some LOL moments when a witty line slips in so subtly you almost miss it, and I always love that.

So, definitely a book I would recommend. I enjoyed it enormously.

Training Season

Training Season - Leta Blake What an amazing book. Where do I even begin?

Matty. I love that he is so unapologetically femme. He totally owns who he is and that is amazing. But he's also a very flawed character, in the best possible way. He's bitchy and selfish and immature at times. But he's so damn passionate about everything that you just have to adore him.

Rob. If he has one flaw as a character, it's that he's a little too perfect and could use a couple flaws. But he's also the perfect stabilizing, grounding thing Matty needs in his life.

The story. At times it was so hilarious I literally LOLed and other times I literally wept. It took me across the entire emotional spectrum. I love that there were no easy solutions to the dilemma Matty faced, no pat, perfect way he could have it all without sacrificing something. And I love that this book goes a route many wouldn't, and demonstrates that even when you do make the sacrifices and give something your all, sometimes it's still not enough. The side characters were well constructed, each having their own subtle influence on the MCs without ever being heavy-handed.

And all of this was delivered in Leta's smooth, flawless prose. I don't know how she does it. I envy her the knack for it. She manages to be descriptive without becoming flowery, and there are never any moments (as there almost always are with other authors) where I read a sentence or a paragraph and it just feels clunky and takes me out of the story. She's truly one of the best authors I've read in this genre.

Now, in the interest of transparency, Leta is a friend of mine and I read an earlier incarnation of this book years ago. That said, it's still an amazing book, and even better for the changes and additions she's made. Nothing I've said in this review has been sugar-coated; every word is 100% true and I would make all these same statements about this book if it were written by a complete stranger.

Anyway, I can't recommend it highly enough.

Playing for Keeps

Playing for Keeps - Lexi Ander This was an incredibly sweet and touching look at the possibilities of a triad relationship.

Anything For You Sir

Anything For You Sir - Max Vos This was really well done.

#First Impressions #Second Chances

#First Impressions #Second Chances - Heidi Belleau There are just no words for how adorable I found this story.

Stalking Dreams

Stalking Dreams - Leta Blake This was an incredibly strong and evocative piece, and I can't wait to see the novels that are going to be set in this universe. Amazing stuff.
El Presidio Rides North - Domashita Romero,  地下ロメロ,  neomeruru I loved this story. I don't even read zombie stuff and I loved it. Excellent work.

Ascending Hearts: 2 (Tempting Tales)

Ascending Hearts - Keira Andrews, Leta Blake I really enjoyed this latest Tempting Tales offering. Jack and Rion were great characters, two very different, nuanced men, each in his own way trapped in his circumstances. As with the first Tempting Tales book, [b:Earthly Desires|15712132|Earthly Desires (Tempting Tales, #1)|Leta Blake|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1340071974s/15712132.jpg|21379428], I think what I found most compelling was the history behind the story. Leta and Keira have a way of exploring how the characters became who they are and how their circumstances evolved that is just endlessly fascinating to me. They also construct one situation which I always find very heart-rending, which is where the characters find themselves at an impasse where they desperately WANT to be together, but simply can't.

My only complaint is that at about 9% of the way through the book, there is one paragraph that I suspect the wording of which is pretty important, because (I suspect) it's a carefully constructed bit of double-speak that traps Jack into a certain situation, but somehow it came out as complete gibberish. This is no fault of the authors or the writing; Ellora's Cave (the publisher) needs to be more careful about their formatting and editing.

Apparently this was only a problem with the .prc version and EC is aware of it and has fixed it.

Rock Her (Rocked, #1)

Rock Her - Liz  Thomas I'll pass. Not interested in being spammed. Blocking this author.

Power Play: Resistance: Volume 1

Power Play: Resistance - Rachel Haimowitz, Cat Grant Brilliantly Subversive, Deliberately Horrific (aka: read the freaking subtext)

It took me a long time and a couple read-throughs to digest this book enough to collate my thoughts into the ability to write a review, which I felt really moved to do because I think a lot of people miss the point of this book, both on the positive and the negative end of the spectrum.

If your first reaction to this book is "OMG HAWT I WANT IT" or "OMG AWFUL HOW DARE THEY" - STOP. Stop right now. Step away from the keyboard. Think about it for a while. If those are your first reactions, you have entirely missed the subtext of what is going on here. Go back, re-read, and pay closer attention.

Let's get one thing straight. As a practitioner of BDSM, I cannot in any way, shape or form call what happens in this book BDSM. BDSM is a consensual practice, and for anyone with a modicum of common sense, "consent" actually means "informed consent." I mean, let's look at the acronym RACK: Risk-Aware Consensual Kink. At what point in this process was Bran ever truly "aware" of anything? Much less the risk of what was going on? Since Bran was in no way, shape, or form informed enough to give true consent, I can't call this BDSM.

Which is the entire freaking point. Calling this a book about BDSM should rightfully offend any practitioner of BDSM. People who practice RACK should be appalled by what happens in this book, because it is a perversion of everything we hold dear. I sure as hell was. But I was appalled with a purpose.

So while parts of this book were undoubtedly erotic, they were erotic on the level of torture porn, not on the level of BDSM and there is a big, big difference.

But it's so much more than torture porn. It's an object lesson in why communication is so important in a BDSM and how without communication, BDSM is just abuse. Without communication, there can be no A in RACK. And without the A, there can be no C.

I can't presuppose the authors' intent, but it seems very obvious to me, due to the number of subtle-yet-undeniable parallels, that this book was deliberately constructed to be the anti-50SoG. And by that, I don't mean this is "50SoG done right" as a number of people have called it, because it's not done right. Not by a long shot. Let's be very clear about that. In absolutely no sane world should this be considering "right." If you think this is something to aspire to in your own kinky life and if you're not horrified by what happens in this book, you've absolutely missed the point. Put the book down and educate yourself before you get seriously injured.

This book isn't a "here's how it's really done" gesture of one-upsmanship. It's far more subversive and subtle. This book conducts a study, by compare and contrast, of why 50SoG DOESN'T AND WOULD NEVER WORK.

Let's examine just a few of the parallels between the two books.

1) In 50SoG, Anastasia is an ignorant virgin who knows almost nothing about the world.

Okay, Bran isn't technically a "virgin" but he is very sexually unaware. Up until this point in his life, sex has been merely the scratching of a biological itch. He hasn't had sex so much as he's masturbated using other people's hands and mouths rather than his own fist. He is also, because he's so busy working and because he doesn't have a lot of money, very unaware of the world around him. He exists to go to work to buy food to keep existing to go back to work.

2) Billionaire businessman playboy. That one's easy.

3) A contract. In neither book is the "contract" legally binding because under the law, you can't consent to be enslaved. Yet both books pass it off as such.

4) Stalker billionaire, whee!! Having met our Ana/Bran once, the billionaire playboy subsequently becomes rather creepily fixated upon her/him.

5) Denial of information. In 50SoG, Christian Grey deliberately and explicitly refuses Ana permission to research the BDSM lifestyle and inform herself about what she's getting into. In this book, Jonathan denies Bran permission to become informed by 1) assuming he knows more than he does already and 2) denying him the ability to communicate effectively from the get-go.

6) Isolating the sub. In 50SoG, Christian begins to interfere with Ana's other social relationships, isolating her and keeping her focus upon him. In this book, Jonathan simply cuts Bran off from the world entirely by moving him in.

7) Sub who doesn't know she/he is a sub who is traumatized by the early S&M activities because he/she doesn't enjoy it, because it's forced upon them.

8) Christian ignores Ana's safeword. Jonathan punishes Bran for using his because he thinks he "knows" whether or not Bran means it (clearly when he went to Dom school, no one ever taught Jonathan that the safeword is there not only for physical but also for emotional distress.)

Okay. That's just in the first, what, 25% of the book? Eight rather obvious parallels. That needs to tell us something. The parallels are handled subtly enough so that they're not immediately apparent or obviously derivative, but they are unmistakably present, and this book is far too well written for that to have been an accident.

The parallels are deliberate. Why are they there? Because the authors are playing Mythbusters. Don't know what that is? Basically, it's a TV show that takes urban legends/myths and uses science to deconstruct them by trying to recreate them exactly as they are described and seeing whether or not they work. If they can replicate the results, the myth is confirmed. If they can't, it's busted.

With me so far?

In this case, instead of using science to deconstruct the myth of 50SoG, the authors use their real world BDSM knowledge. They recreate the 50SoG scenario and then they absolutely shred it with a cold, hard dose of reality.

One disaster at a time, they show why 50SoG wouldn't work given the set-up of the situation. And most of that lesson hinges on the absence of communication.

At the end of the book, Bran tells Jonathan "we stopped talking" but what he's saying there is "we stopped communicating." Jonathan didn't allow Bran to communicate at all, and Jonathan didn't communicate, he pontificated. And without that communication, what you're left with is abuse. It's not BDSM, it's abuse.

This book is not romantic. If it titillates, it should only do so on the most base, crude, voyeuristic level. This book should be considered intellectually horrific (as should 50SoG) and anyone reading it should be deeply, deeply disturbed by it, whether or not they know the first thing about BDSM.

It's a book about how BDSM without communication is just abuse. Without communication, there can be no informed consent, and without consent, anything that happens is abuse. It simply is. What this book shows us is just how terrible 50SoG is, because it takes that abuse and tries to make it pretty and romantic. In this book, the abuse is not pretty and romantic, and it strips away the pretty, romantic mask from what happens in 50SoG and reveals the ugly underside of what is really going on.

Then it goes on, in the sequel, to turn this lesson on its head and show the flip side, how once communication is established, everything falls into place and works. Once and only once there's communication, trust and even love can develop, and a beautiful relationship can evolve. But that's a review for another time.

It's a brilliant construction, it truly is, and I have to give Ms. Haimowitz and Ms. Grant mad props for being so deftly subversive. I'm only giving four stars because it still makes me cringe and want to read with a hand over my eyes while peering out of the slits between my fingers, but the writing, and the lesson it teaches, is absolutely top-notch.

Fire on the Mountain (Mountain, #1)

Fire on the Mountain (Mountain, #1) - P.D. Singer I really loved this. Review forthcoming when I haven't been awake all night voraciously reading.

The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap - Paulette Mahurin This is a well-written tale about ripple effects. The world is just starting to understand the impact of rapidly-traveling global news by means of the telegraph when news of Oscar Wilde's prosecution reaches a small Nebraska town, bringing with it a rash of homophobic sentiment that threatens the quiet, comfortable life of a lesbian couple.

Where this story really comes to life is in the cast of supporting characters. Ms. Mahurin took her time building her townsfolk and bringing them to life, and it shows. She also took her time in her research of the time period (excepting some occasional lapses into a more modern vernacular that felt out of place and anachronistic.) The one place this adept handling of minor characters fell short was in dealing with the antagonists, the town's busybodies whose gossip threatens the title character and her partner and their newfound friend. It was clear She tried to make her main antagonist less two-dimensional by giving her a background that might explain her antagonism, but that felt a just the smallest bit too contrived, based on a coincidental resemblance on the part of Mildred Dunlap's enterprising father. The timeline also didn't add up, in that Josie's backstory to make sense, she would have had to be in her 40s, and yet she had school-aged children, and didn't seem the type to marry and have children late in life, particularly in that day and age. So the gossip's backstory ultimately didn't make sense, but then, perhaps that was part of the point: that hatred is ultimately senseless, no matter how we try to rationalize and excuse it.

(edited: this portion of the critique was due to reader error)

All told, though, despite these issed, it is a well-told tale. The recurring imagery of the rattlesnake was particularly deft, in that at the end there is a very clear parallel drawn between rattlesnakes emerging from winter hibernation and the town gossips once again resuming their activity in the spring following a winter of tragedy. That tragedy, also, was a very skillful touch, because the person who paid the price for the vindictiveness of this cast of characters was the most innocent character of all, and that is a powerful message. Bigotry hurts the innocent.

Very well done.

Earthly Desires (Tempting Tales, Book One)

Earthly Desires - Keira Andrews,  Leta Blake This was a wonderful fairy tale, witty and whimsical, sexy and silly, surprisingly touching at times, laugh-out-loud funny at others, and when the plot really got rolling, a complete page-turner.