Category Archives: Romance

Review – My Regelence Rake by J.L. Langley (3.5 Stars)

Before you find your prince, you have to kiss your share of rakes.

With his days occupied with duties as Captain of the Guard, and nights consumed with upholding his reputation as a rake, Lord Sebastian Hastings’s schedule is filled. There’s no extra time to be anyone’s bodyguard, but the royal family’s safety is a task he sees to personally.

Prince Colton Townsend has loved Sebastian for as long as he can remember, but he’s done pining for a man who has vowed never to remarry. So he consoles himself with the second love of his life—horses. Stable building and horse racing consume his every thought, at least until he’s stuck with Sebastian dogging his every step.

While looking over the prospects at an auction, Colton is trying to ignore his sexy, pesky bodyguard when he feels compelled to take on a bully to protect an abused horse. Sebastian is dragged into the fray, and their good deed sparks a string of nasty rumors.

There’s only one way to quell the political storm: marry. But instead of solving everything, Colton realizes his new husband is a bundle of secrets, none of which he’ll give up easily. Unless Colton makes one, last-ditch effort that could break his heart for good.

Warning: Contains an obnoxious filly, a love-struck prince, a meddling king, a matchmaking duke, vicious rumors and hunky ex Special Forces soldiers.

J.L. Langley was one of the first m/m writers I encountered, and is still an autobuy for me. She’s not terribly prolific, so it’s always a reason for celebration when one of her books comes out.

My Regelence Rake has been a long time coming—the previous book in the series, The Englor Affair, was published in 2008. I wish I could say that it was worth the wait, but of the three books in the series (begun with My Fair Captain) My Regelence Rake is easily the weakest.

Don’t get me wrong—if you like Ms. Langley’s writing, and I do, hence the autobuy status—MRR is still a fun romp through what is a cleverly built futurescape. The conceit of these books is that there are planets in the far future (the date of January 12th, 4831, opens the book) which have chosen to replicate the era of Waterloo, the Prince Regent, and Jane Austen. One of these planets is Regelence, where same-sex marriages are the norm, and young males as protected and hedged ´round with rules as young girls were in the original. (The other is Englor, and the second book takes place there; while it is also Regency in culture, same-sex marriages are not the norm, and the situation creates a different type of tension.)

The planet is ruled by King Steven and his Consort, Raleigh; they have five boys, each of whom (at least so far) gets his own novel in the series. My Regelence Rake tells the story of Colton, who is in love with Sebastian, Viscount Wentworth, the rake of the title, who has demons of his own to battle—although he is and always has been in love with Colton, he has a Past that makes him feel that he is not good enough for the young prince. Circumstances throw them together, of course, and between Sebastian being assigned as Colton’s bodyguard and the mystery of Sebastian’s past, the two find themselves in various predicaments.

Although there are plots and subplots in each of the books, they are linked by a common thread—another mystery, involving the intergalactic navy that protects the planets in the union of whatever part of the galaxy, and betrayals and kidnappings and all sorts of fun stuff.

In fact, I think that that was what disappointed me the most about this book. The other two played more with the intergalactic stuff, and that world-building and the interplay between the sci-fi elements and the Regency-like cultures made the stories fun. This book sacrifices that interplay to focus on the social constructs of Regelence culture. But the “historical” elements of the planetary societies are the barest minimum, basically what everyone “knows” about the period:  Tattersall’s, private clubs, gambling, balls. Nothing in depth, nothing that smacks of any real research, so while it might appeal to those with a Regency jones, it falls short of feeling real. The main plot is situational, based on Sebastian’s Past and his involvement with Colton; while there are occasional references to the intergalactic naval mystery, they don’t affect the story one way or another.

Another problem I had was with the relationship between Sebastian and Colton. Part of what I enjoyed in the first two books was the culture clash between Nate—a starship captain—and the prince Aidan, and Simon—officer of the more conventional Regency planet of Englor and heir to that throne—and first-time-away-from-home Payton. Here there is no such culture clash; it’s more of the traditional romance with difficulties thrown in, and there’s nothing of the sense of wonder and exploration and edginess that made the encounters in the previous two books so entertaining… and hot.  MRR is still pretty hot, but not up to the level of the first two books.

My Regelence Rake is still an entertaining book by anyone’s standards. If it had been the first book in the series, though, I might not have read the others. As it is, I have hopes for the other two brothers in the royal family of Regelence and really look forward to reading those. Hopefully in sooner than four years, though.

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Review: 5 stars for One Small Thing

When you read a lot, you begin to notice the little trends that occur.  At the moment one of those trends is the single gay man unexpectedly becoming a father.  Usually when this happens, it is because the guy is helping someone else become a parent and has to take responsibility after a tragedy occurred.  Other times, it is because a sibling has pasted and the main character has to now raise his niece or nephew.  One Small Thing takes a totally different path however.  In this story main character, Rue Murray, ends up having a one night stand.  When the girl ends up pregnant, with no desire to be a mother, Rue doesn’t hesitate to step up to the plate.  I liked this new turn as it gives this new trend a fresh spin.  The authors did a wonderful job showcasing the uncertainty and fear that Rue goes through during this time in his life, which allowed the story to come across realistically.

The other main character in this story is Erik Van Nuys.  Erik is a science fiction writer who suffers from a variety of phobias.  These phobias have caused a number of problems in his life.  When he’s forced to move into a new apartment, he becomes Rue’s new neighbor, which leads to more than he can handle.  I really loved Erik.  The way he works around his issues made me laugh, especially after he starts babysitting little Alice.  Another area which will keep the reader entertained is watching Erik as he shifts from straight science fiction to gay romance science fiction.

Erik and Rue are two vastly different characters. That the authors kept this in mind and allowed the men to move from total strangers to friends, and then to lovers, made their relationship more believable.   Due to their differences, however, the men have many stumbling blocks to overcome and when misunderstandings occur it looks as if those differences may just end up keeping them apart.  I liked watching as these two become, along with baby Alice, a family.  The authors brought the connection between these two across wonderfully, as well as showed the men’s growing maturity as they dealt with being parents.

Piper Vaughn and M.J. O’Shea make a great writing duo.  Their books are always entertaining and keep the reader’s attention.  After reading one of their stories I always find myself looking for more.  If you have yet to try one of their stories I would say give One Small Thing a try, you won’t be sorry.

Review – Speechless

Speechless

by Kim Fielding

If you are looking for a sweet little romantic love story, look no further!

Travis is working a crappy machine shop job in Portland, OR.  He has no friends, no car and not much of a life.  Every day on his way home from work he passes a handsome man playing guitar on his front steps.  Drew has aphasia and cannot speak or write.  The boys meet, become friends and have a wonderful romance.

You would think that because Drew can’t speak that you don’t understand what he is thinking.  But Fielding is great, we get expressions, gestures and Travis figuring it out.  It works really well and Travis talks enough for the two of them.  But the dialogue doesn’t overwhelm the story either.  It is quiet, thoughtful and lovely.  It makes you slow down and realize there are many ways to communicate, we just tend to talk too much to notice.

Speechless is a short story, around 60 pages, but it doesn’t feel rushed in any way.  The romance is adorable but there isn’t much smexing.  It happens but there isn’t much description or play by play, so if that is what you are looking for, you won’t find it here.  Instead you find two men, who both have disabilities, that find love and acceptance.  But while they have disabilities they aren’t disabled.  They don’t allow it and find ways to be better and stronger than what other people “see” and expect.  This novelette was well written and even though there isn’t a ton of conflict, there isn’t meant to be.  It is more of a “don’t stand in the way of your own happiness” type thing due to fear or expectations.

I read another review of this story who said it was “cute with a side of angst”.  I couldn’t say it better myself.  So sweet!  4 star short story.  It even gave me little happy tears (though I warn you that I am a sap!).

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