Like London buses, you wait ages for a review from me, then four of them come along at once 😉
These were among the recent free offering from Smashwords. Two were out and out excellent, the other two well worth your time.
And I am happy by R. Cooper is a gorgeous little steampunk/Edwardianish story about an ex-kept boy turned valet, and his disabled war hero mster who is now in Parliament, though still struggling with the effects of the war, lost chances for love, and his amputated leg and arm. Wonderful angst yearning, and tenderness, and kudos for a maimed hero who is given dignity and agency, without being a vehicle for able-bodied pity.
Butterflies (The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal) by K J Charles is Victorian detective/horror pastiche done with the skill and panache this author demonstrated so devastatingly in A Charm of Magpies. A proper yet blisteringly angry narrator is forced to work with the man he thinks has spurned him, on a case as menacing as it is dangerous. A side story to The Caldwell Ghost, a novel unfortunately published by Torquere Press, it nonetheless stands alone, and if you want to see more of Ms Charles’s work out, well, let me not dissuade you.
Right Hand Red by Danni Keane follows two boys from the age of four to young adulthood, through their friendship, their difficulties, and their sexual awakening. Sweet but not without angst, and I may have grown a bity teary-eyed at one or two points.
Stag: a Story by Ben Monopoli is not romance but instead an all too realistic window on the world of a thirteen-year-old gay boy, going to his first school formal, and trying to avoid the whole issue of a partner. Nice writing, and may tempt you to seek more out by this author.
Title: The Broken Bell
Author: Frank Tuttle
Genre: Fantasy, horror
URL: Samhain Publishing
Price: US $6.50
Other Information/warnings: horror, violence
Summary [from the publisher]:
There’s no way Markhat can turn away his newest client. Who is he to refuse the woman he loves—especially when she bribes him with breakfast?
This time it’s Darla’s friend Tamar Fields, whose fiancé vanished days before the wedding. His wealthy family insists Carris Lethway is simply away on urgent business. Tamar smells a lie, and she needs Rannit’s most famous finder to figure out if the source of the suspicious aroma is a conspiracy, or the groom’s cold, sweaty feet.
As if his plate isn’t piled high enough, Mama Hog’s slip of the tongue has landed him in the middle of a good old-fashioned Pot Lockery clan feud. Plus, Rannit’s streets are abuzz with rumors of war—and Tamar’s case has his own lady love hearing wedding bells of her own.
As Rannit arms for battle, Markhat finds himself torn between old alliances and new commitments, and a growing, awful fear that no matter which way he turns, all he loves is about to go up in flames.
My review: Continue reading The Broken Bell by Frank Tuttle
Author: Christian A. Young
Genre: science fiction
Other Information/warnings: none
Summary [from the author]:
A life of larceny in a half-wrong body isn’t what Aldin hoped for, but right now it’s all he’s got and he’s making the best of it. When an unwelcome surprise sends him running, his prospects hinge entirely on his wits and an unlikely ally.
When I was younger, this was the kind of story I would inhale like air. Tightly written, clever, thinky science fiction with masses of ideas, interested world building and commentary packed into spare, punchy prose.
And then I discovered m/m, where the art of the short story is confined to stroke fic and PWPs. Because short fiction is hard, and you need to be more than just a decent writer to make it work. You need to be really good. And Mr Young is really, really good.
Aldin is an art thief, looking to complete one last job so he can finish his sex reassignment surgery and live in the body he knows he belongs in. But his partner has other ideas. Just when all seems lost, help comes in the most unexpected form.
That short summary doesn’t do justice to this. For heaven’s sake, risk the whole buck and buy this, and enjoy it. It’s rare enough to have a transgendered hero in any story, but even if you haven’t the slightest interest in that, this is still a short, cracking read. Science fiction as it should be. Highly recommended!
Title: Death by Misfortune
Author: AM Riley
Genre: Detective mystery
URL: MLR Books
Other Information/warnings: Violence, references to abuse and BDSM, explicit m/m sexual content
Summary [from the publisher]:
After a glamorous studio party, “Psychic to the Stars” Sylvie Black is found murdered in her fortune telling booth, a blood soaked tarot reading spread out before her. Shortly afterwards, the high-profile director who was about to produce Ms. Black’s ‘tell-all’ Hollywood screenplay, is found murdered as well. Closeted Homicide detective, Bill Turner, and his partner, Kate Crandall, find themselves sorting through a cast of likely suspects, who all seem to have secrets worth killing for. They soon run up against the studio rumor mill, and Jeremy Reilly, a young studio AD determined to protect their prime suspect.
My review: Continue reading Death by Misfortune by AM Riley