Category Archives: Reviews: LGBTQ+

Tal turns his hand to college age sports and knocks it out of the park

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The Jock by Tal Bauer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t know how he does it but it seems whatever he turns his hand to, Tal Bauer can produce a masterpiece of emotional turmoil which just ticks all my boxes and makes me happily raging!

This book sees him visiting college with a new age (21) pairing who really shouldn’t, on paper, have anything in common to connect them, other than their sexuality.

But from the moment Wes and Justin meet in Paris (my absolute favourite city, so this was a joy!) it’s obvious there is the potential for something special.

The thing which struck me most about this book is just how nailed on Tal gives the reader the unbelievable – and quite wrong – amount of pressure Wes is under as a closeted American Football college star with NFL prospects.

His coach piles it on, not maliciously, but it makes him live his life hiding a huge part until Paris and Justin. For the first time Wes meets someone he’d be willing to give it all up for.

Their romance is beautiful in its simplicity and its honesty, they fall fast and hard for each other but they’re also aware of the wider repercussions. At first Wes is willing to stay in the closet, and Justin is willing to live in the shadows.

***SPOILER***

But after the Coach’s responsibility speech, Wes worries about the threat of turmoil, exposure and potential danger to Justin if he comes out and he ends things.

This part of the book broke my heart as each of them suffers from the pain of losing the person you know you want to spend the rest of your life with.

There’s all kinds of sorrow and it’s intrinsically entwined with Wes’ college team’s success on the field, they’re storming their championship and scouts are calling for more than just Wes when it all comes crashing down.

And, at this point, speaking as an ex-journalist, can I just say how much I utterly despise scandal sheet reporting.

***END***

I’ve said in the past how much Tal’s books make me go OMG, so while I was expecting this book would be no different, I have to say I wasn’t prepared for the gut punch I felt when that moment happened.

It’s brutal and, sadly, all too common still even in this day. Wes’ life is upended and the consequences of him falling in love seem to be beyond repair.

However, as this is a Tal book, he somehow manages to draw all the broken pieces back together in a way which isn’t just relatable, but which feels honest and inevitable. The final few chapters are a hard fought for victory which makes it all the sweeter.

I’d have loved an Epilogue a few years down the line but, even though these two young men are only 21, their commitment and love is fixed so deep that you know it will last any challenges it faces.

Definitely one of my favourite books from Tal.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review

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Another one to add to my favourites shelf from J.R. Lawrie

57431205._SY475_The Sheltering Tree by J.R. Lawrie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

J.R.’s debut collection of short stories is one of my favourite books of all time and this one has gone right next to it on the shelf.

The relationship between Alastair and jay is perfectly developed through intense chemistry when they first meet, to a hesitant friends with benefits sexual exploration and then into a deep friendship.

They are studies in opposites, Alastair’s high flying job as Commander of the Metropolitan Police puts him in the spotlight, but it’s something he does under sufferance. Jay’s role as CEO of a company helping at risk kids is close to home, and he’s hiding a painful secret which would have devastating consequences if it comes out.

There’s a tension runs through the book because of this secret, which the reader isn’t a party to either in full, which makes the narrative pacing a perfect blend of the quieter, intimate moments with the suspense elements.

Sex is inspired between these two. Alastair hasn’t had chance to have a relationship for years, Jay is too busy hiding himself to really let go but together, they fly high.

The scenes at Cliveden are among my most favourite romantic encounters in any book, they’re so filled with all the feelings the two men are trying to suppress. The speculative added commentary from the hotel staff just pops the cherry on an already delicious cake imho. It made me smile big time.

There’s also an excellent set of secondary characters, one of my favourites being Alastair’s personal assistant (and general go-to gal) Juliet, who is encouraging and mothering of him even though she’s much younger.

I won’t go into the details of the suspense element of the plot, only to say that it works perfectly throughout as Jay’s past comes back to threaten not only him, but Alastair’s position. The build-up to the final quarter of the book will make your heart race as the danger gets closer.

Oh, and the wee little Easter Egg reference to Richard from J.R.’s Let Your Heart Be Light: A Collection of M/M Holiday Romances was brilliant. If you’ve not read that book yet, I’d definitely suggest you do!

I can’t wait to see what other people think of this book, it’s one of my absolute favourite reads in any genre.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review

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A Silver Fox barrister – what’s not to like and I mostly did

57294047._SY475_The Captain and the Father of the Bride by Catherine CurzonEleanor Harkstead

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first book in this excellent series was a quite serious affair set during World War I.

This one is as far removed from that as it’s possible to get really, filled with millionaire yacht owners, seals (the animal kind not the US Navy version 😉) and it’s more camp than the annual boy scout jamboree.

I loved the premise, I loved both Leo and Archie, I really liked Liv and Rob and Conrad was a total arse.

So why not a 5* review? For me, this time the “loviness” as in upper class style of stereotyping which is all ‘darlings and overly effusive declarations’ just was over-egged a bit.

However, what absolutely was 5* worthy in this one was the smexy times between Archie and Leo. They are utterly adorable and seriously smoking hot.

I absolutely bought into their instant attraction at the London hotel and then the feelings of angst when they met again.

The plot for this one is also out of the norm, even though it centres on a fake marriage style of device.

As someone who’s spent a lot of time in Court, I have to say that sadly characters like Conrad aren’t an invention.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and I read it in one go. A few less over-enthusiastic declarations and I’d have loved it.

#ARC kindly received from the authors in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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