Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Superb third book in the Foster High series
Very Highly Recommended
It's not a prerequisite to have read the other two Foster High books, but recommended. You will lose the nuance and backstory and a whole lot of great writing. And there may be spoilers here...
It's been only two days since baseball jock and school BMOC Brad came out to the school in an attempt to support his boyfriend, nerdy and invisible Kyle. The repercussions haven't really hit either boy terribly hard yet, as they skipped school the day before, and now will have to face the music.
The reaction at home has been mixed. Kyle's mother, gone agan, isn't a factor. And Brad's parents are, as usual, fighting over the news. It's at school where the dread will come in. Brad picks up Kyle and, drawing on other for strength, they head in to Foster High.
The kids are waiting. The news has spread, the gossip ripe. Whispers greet them everywhere they go. Conversations stop as they walk into their classes. Students once friends now look at Brad like he grew an additional head. For Kyle, it means he's noticed now.
But with attention comes conflict, and the underlying homophobia Kyle feared. And it comes out - verbally, physically, emotionally. Even to the point where Brad may not be allowed to play baseball, since he might...become aroused by the bodies around him. Never mind he's been dressing out in locker rooms for years. Never mind he is counting on a scholarship to get the hell out of North Texas.
Will the pressures of being out be too much for Kyle and Brad? How will the school, and the school board, deal with openly gay student? And, most importantly, will the boys be together and safe?
John Goode has once again delivered the goods. This is an emotionally stunning, powerhouse...gem of a story. The two characters, Brad and Kyle, leap off the page with verve and conviction. They grabbed my attention, my love and my heart.
This is a hugely relevant and important series. Nobody else in the genre has captured the pure psychological weight on the shoulders of gay teens, and how truly fragile, yet strong, these kids are. Brad on his own was maintaining, hiding his true self under a self-hating persona. And Kyle was living day-to-day, counting the moments until he was out of school.
Ah, but together? These two together have found something special, something that makes them more than just the sum of the two wholes. They found synergy. And with that, they can make it through.
There are horrible things that happen along the way in this book - deeds that can't be undone, words that can't be unspoken, hurts that can't be taken back. But alongside all that - there is something more. Something underlying all the pain and the fear and the hate.
The unspoken forces that Mr. Goode has given us here are Hope and Love.
Hope for these two boys. Hope for at least some of the people in this small Texas town. Hope for their parents, their friends - old and new. Hope for other gay men and women there.
And love. The love of a young man for another. A parent for their child. Love of self.
This book moved me to tears. Joyful tears that Kyle and Brad will make it. That they are not alone. And that it does get better.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Fantastically dark and sexy novellas
Very Highly Recommended
As his Mafioso overlord lay dying, west coast boss Stefano Marino waits and wonders what his share of the old man’s territory will be. He waits his turn, hanging out with all the other bosses when Silvio Spadaro shows up to the vigil. Silvio is there in place of his “mentor” and lover Gianbattista Falchi, a respected retired Don. Although being gay usually means a death sentence among these men, Silvio is respected as a made man and as heir to Battista.
Over the course of five short novellas, we watch as Stefano, straight and happily married, falls under the spell of the intriguing and highly sexual young man. He catches Silvio in his guest quarters, which leads to a dangerous sexual encounter. After the two part, Silvio returns to Italy to be with Battista, while Stefano returns home to California.
There is a problem in his territory, however. The Russian mob is making a move to consolidate their power and force Stefano’s family out. Permanently. He has no choice but to approach Falchi for assistance. While in Italy, he observes the two lover’s violent love-making, exciting and dangerous as it may be.
While taking action in spectacular fashion against the Russians, the two men play a hot and sexy seduction game. Silvio’s brother Franco, recently released from the French Foreign Legion, comes to visit and assist, and becomes part of the intrigue and romance.
But the final test of courage will come into play when an Assistant D.A. with a personal ax to grind wades into the equation. Where Russian mobsters and his own men failed to bring Stefano down, the law may find a way. Will Silvio and Stephano end up together? Or will their differing needs and futures keep them permanently separated?
Aleksandr Voinov, author of Scorpion and Dark Edge of Honor, has created perhaps his sharpest and most interesting characters here. Silvio and Stefano are edgy, dark and full of uncompromising heat and passion. The two simmer and bubble, then explode across the page in the most deliciously unexpected and wild ways.
This series is not for everyone, containing scenes of extremely rough sex and borderline dubious consent, as well as a little brother-on-brother action. But set that aside and savor the powerfully delivered storylines, characters that grab you by the throat and, surprisingly, by the heart, and action that is sublime.
I am a huge Voinov fan, and this series is him at his dark best. Bullets fly, plots abound, twists and turns take us on a fantastic joyride through the recesses of these men’s souls. The length of each novella had me hungry for more, and the finale was so satisfying, I felt like lighting up a good cigar, drinking two fingers of good scotch and closing my eyes and starting back at the beginning.
Subtle in some ways, in-your-face most of the time, but oh-so-very right. Just so damned good and truly not to be missed. This will have you scrambling to check out Mr. Voinov’s catalog of works. You won’t be disappointed. Just remember, it's not everyone’s cup of tea.
Thank God it’s mine!