Saturday, 15 April 2017

New Release: Love of the Game by Phetra H. Novak

Title: Love of the Game
Author: Phetra H. Novak
Language: English
Published: 15th April, 2017
Length:100,000 words (320 pages) approx.
ISBN: Paperback: 978 1 78645 123 1
eBook: 978 1 78645 124 8
ASIN: B06XB72PVZ
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Erotic, BDSM, Adult
URL: beatentrackpublishing.com/loveofthegame

Blurb:
Johannes is starting his new life as a rookie in the best hockey league in the world, the NHL. His new home for the next four years is Montreal, Canada, and he's excited to get to his destination when a storm arrives, stranding him in Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France.

In the airport lounge, he tries to amuse himself the best he can. He's nursing a lukewarm beer, and about to head back to join his parents at their table, when the most gorgeous man he's ever seen, with piercing green eyes, buys him a drink. He swears he has never been so instantly turned on as he is in that moment. The man flirts openly with him, making no secret of what he wants from Johannes as he invites him to meet in private. Not being out only makes Johannes hesitate for a moment before accepting the beautiful stranger's come-on.

Charlie, a cocky and opinionated, ex-submissive and reporter is leaving Paris after being on vacation when the studly jock just happens to appear out of nowhere - served on a silver platter. Charlie sees no reason to deny himself a last rendezvous before he gets on his plane back to Canada.

What he doesn't expect is this stranger to see the real him. Charlie's normal plan of attack is to take charge. But when it backfires, and the studly stranger not only takes control but makes him want more, Charlie does the only thing he feel comfortable doing. He runs!

Editor's Review:
Love of the Game is a romance with strong D/s elements, although there is little in the way of what I've found in other D/s romances I've read. I haven't read many, I'll be honest, because pain is so not my thing, and whilst D/s relationships do not necessarily involve physical pain, it is almost always a feature of those relationships when portrayed in fiction. So, fair warning: there's a chapter that involves spanking (which I found surprisingly funny/sexy), and there's reference to a previous Master/slave relationship that was abusive (some readers may find this a tough one to deal with), but the romance plot itself is NOT D/s. Rather, it is about establishing trust and mutual respect. And love, of course.

Johannes is a Swedish ice hockey player who's secured a place on a top Canadian team; Charlie is a Canadian journalist with a sensational past. When the two of them hook up in Charles de Gaulle airport, it's passionate and feisty, because Charlie is...well, he's a pain in the ass, at first. This hookup is the opening to the book, and there are a couple of explicit scenes later on, but the book isn't heavy on the sex side. Mostly, this is the story of how Johannes and Charlie negotiate a relationship around Johannes' status as a sports star and Charlie's aggressive rejection of even the possibility of love.

The author is a huge fan of ice hockey and really knows her stuff, although there's only one game that takes place on page, juxtaposed against action elsewhere. I particularly enjoyed the switching between Johannes and Charlie in this part of the story, as it also gives insight into Charlie's relationship with his best friends - Marc and Luc - who are in a long-term D/s relationship and they're open about it. Marc - the Dom - constantly comes across as a caring and compassionate man; Luc, meanwhile, is passionate and dramatic, and his love for Charlie shines through.

My favourite chapter takes place in the locker room, with Johannes and his lineup. There is some sexist banter in this scene, which is authentic to context and should not be read as the author's views. That's not why I like it, I hasten to add. I just love the sense of camaraderie, plus some of the other characters are very colourful and certainly deserving of their own story (this is book one of a series, so...). I particularly love Andrew and Sergei (although they seem unlikely 'couple' material).

This contemporary M/M romance ticks the enemies-to-lovers, hurt/comfort and HEA boxes, but it's distinct in its Swedish cultural heritage, the strength of the secondary characters and thoughtful exploration of an embryonic D/s relationship.

Friday, 14 April 2017

New Release: Last Dance of The Sugar Plum by Claire Davis and Al Stewart



Author: Claire Davis and Al Stewart
Language: English
Published: 14th April, 2017
Length: 45,000 words (170 pages) approx.
Publisher: Beaten Track
eBook ISBN: eBook ISBN: 978 1 78645 131 6
eBook ASIN: B06Y1TK4ZV
Category: Fiction
Genre: Crime, Thrillers and Mystery, LGBT, Humour, Romance and Relationships
URL: http://www. beatentrackpublishing.com/sugarplum

Blurb:
Available on Kindle Unlimited

TICK-TOCK-TICK-TOCK-TICK-TOCK

Jonathan is a spy.

Anton is Jonathan's 'keeper'.

Jonathan is a spy with a code implanted deep in his subconscious, so deeply he can't remember - anything at all.

Anton is an interrogator intent on retrieving the code, whatever the cost.

But sometimes they dream of dark tunnels and locked-up rooms, and then they both scream.

TICK-TOCK-TICK-TOCK-TICK-TOCK

Along comes Harry, who seems to have all the answers...but who is he, and which side is he on?

TICK-TOCK-TICK-TOCK-TICK-TOCK

Bang!

For many months, Jonathan and Anton live apart from the world in a hazy, dreamlike state, only interrupted by interrogations and a healthy fear of HQ. One day, they watch a dance performance, and memories begin to unwind... A ticking clock... Betrayal... Missions... Always the scent of oranges. But with clarity, comes a return of powerful emotions...

Last Dance of The Sugar Plum is an exciting spy thriller with as many twists and turns as a maze.

Editor's Review:
Last Dance of The Sugar Plum is the longest and cleverest (so far) of Claire Davis and Al Stewart's stories. It's about...well. Here's what I've noticed in the advance reviews: no one is quite sure what it's about. Yes, there's a love story element, and if you're a romance reader, you'll find there's enough of a happy ending to satisfy your mushy side. But it's not a romance. Given how love develops in the story, it's not exactly conducive to a light-hearted romp between the sheets. But there's certainly love and a few spicy moments.

There's also intrigue, and this is where the cleverness resides. I'd contend Sugar Plum is literary fiction, because it's underpinned by strong themes and draws on many literary devices. It can also be read and understood on many different levels. For instance, I can see an overarching metaphor related to lack of control/being controlled by outside forces. There's the more obvious stripping of identity that comes from being assigned a number, and so many other potential ways to read this story that I could go on forever, but I don't want to shape other readers' perceptions.

Lastly, there's a good deal of humour - some of it blatant and 'in your face', much of it subtle. It's the kind of dark humour viewers of British alternative comedy will definitely appreciate (think Little Britain or League of Gentlemen).

It's an almost-impossible-to-review story, and all I can suggest is reading it for yourself. You'll see what I mean. Or will you?

Buy 'Last Dance of The Sugar Plum':
Amazon [Kindle edition]

Thursday, 6 April 2017

New Releases: Last Winter's Snow by Hans M Hirschi

Title: Last Winter's Snow
Author: Hans M Hirschi
Language: English
Published: 6th April, 2017
Length: 69,000 words (232 pages) approx.
ISBN: Paperback ISBN: 9781786451217
eBook ISBN: 9781786451224
ASIN: B06XMQJMD3
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, History, Romance and Relationships, Political

Blurb:
This is the story of Nilas and how he navigates life, trying to reconcile being gay as well as being Sami. Set over several decades, we follow Nilas and his Swedish husband Casper, as they build a life amid the shallows of bigotry, discrimination, and the onset of the AIDS crisis.

Last Winter's Snow portrays recent LGBT history from a Swedish perspective, from the days when being gay was considered a 'mental disorder' to today's modern anti-discrimination legislation and the move toward equality. It's also the story of one couple and the ups and downs of everyday life in the face of changing rules and attitudes toward them and their relationship.

Last, not least, it's a book that celebrates the rich history and culture of the Sami and their land, Sápmi, as well as their ongoing struggle to achieve recognition and win back the right to self-determination over lands they've lived on for thousands of years.

Last Winter's Snow is Hans M Hirschi's first novel set almost entirely in Sweden, but it is the second time (after Fallen Angels of Karnataka) he takes his readers on a journey into the mountainous regions of Scandinavia in one of his acclaimed novels.

Editor's Review:
Last Winter's Snow is (for me) Hans M Hirschi's best novel to date, not because it is a wonderful love story (which it is), or because the characters are believable (they are), but because it's socially, culturally and politically important.

It's also the one I've enjoyed most, and I've spent quite some time trying to figure out why. I've read a lot of light fantasy as a means of escape, and I still like those kinds of books (and movies), where there is a clear disconnection from reality. It's pure escapism, and it has its place. There's no emotional impact, although that's also true of a lot of contemporary fiction.

Last Winter's Snow is no ordinary contemporary fiction. It's grounded in real cultural history - a history we are in danger of forgetting, and we MUST not forget.

I love the internet. I really do. I love having a camera on my phone, the ability to send letters to people without having to remember to take them to the post box, being able to communicate with my family and friends on a regular (though remote) basis. It's changed our lives for the better in so many ways, but it's not without its limitations and pitfalls. Social network newsfeeds move so fast we lose sight of what happened only moments ago, and we expect everything now-now-now. We choose who to follow, and we choose people like us, skewing our world view. Our photos, once lovingly stuck into hardcover albums and passed on as heirlooms, now exist in virtual folders in 'the cloud'.

Moreover, we lose sight of what happened in the very recent past. In democratic societies, laws are constantly made and remade. The rights we've fought hard to secure are, in fact, never secure. The rapid pace of modern life obscures how hard we fought, and what it was like before - what it could be like again if we don't keep fighting and remain ever vigilant.

This is why books like Last Winter's Snow are so vital. Whilst Nilas and Casper are the product of the author's imagination, their story is a reality that is lived by many. It is a love story - of two men, and of Sápmi - but it is so much more. It is a document of historical significance, a permanent record to survive these transient times.