Quickie: Bonded 2 by Sara York

Bonded_2Other Reviewers: Goodreads

Page count: 203

This is an advance reader copy given to me by the author for an honest review.  As with all of my review, these are my own opinions.

Basic Plot:

Liam flies home to Mississippi to go to his grandmother’s funeral, only to have his parents commit him against his will for gay conversion.  Liam’s partners rush to his rescue bringing in their FBI from Sam Graves.

How will they save Liam and shut down this conversion operation and save others as Sam finds his own love.

Relationship:

This book is really a set of two relationships all revolving around the kidnapping of Liam.  This is book two in the Bound in Love series.  The relationship of Liam, Chris, and Greg is developed in book one, so don’t expect a lot of relationship development here.  What we get in this book for development lies within how Greg and Chris physically and emotionally support Liam through the legal processes.

While this plot continues on, we also get a new relationship flourish with Sam and Hudson.  There is a little mystery behind their relationship that should not be spoiled here.  We do get to see the beginning of a BDSM relationship here.

Strong Points:

  • Drama:  We got to see a lot of exciting drama in a short book of 203 pages.  There is a ton of sex and a lot of external conflict to keep the pace fast.

What Could be Better:

  • Too Much Sex:  This is a short book at 203 pages.  So to have so many sex scenes in BOTH sets of relationships made me start skimming.
  • Too Many Relationships: This goes with the “Too Much Sex”.   This felt like at the end of the first book the author had just a bit of relationship development to go, so York added the secondary relationship as filler.  So I had no committment to Sam and Hudson’s relationship.
  • Too Fast into BDSM: I know that in the gay leather community, sex and relationships can move very quickly, so to some degree Sam and Hudson was very believable.  But the Sounding that quickly in a relationship?  As far as we know, they have not played together, they have no mutual friends within the community to vouch.  That does not seem very safe or sane to me.
  • Does this really happen, even in the south?  Listen, I understand that gay conversion is a thing, and I can agree that living in the south gay bashing and religious persecution happens.  But I doubt that ADULTS are committed that quickly with the AID of police officers and an entire division.  It was laughable and an insult to southerners to stereotype them like this.  If the author wanted to talk about this very real gay conversion issue, then they should have made it more realistic.

Conclusions:

We had the happy ever after that I wanted when I started to work.  Getting to see Liam, Chris, and Greg again was great.  But I would have really rather have spent some time learning about Sam and Hudson if they were going to be characters I was supposed to care about.

But this book felt more like a gay soap-opera rather than any hard-hitting crime drama.  So, if you are interested in shallow sex and action with a happy ending, then this is for you.

 

Bea

Quickie: Chaining Flame by James L. Wolf

Other Reviewers: Goodreads

Chaining_flameWord count: 16,230

My Quickie Reviews are designed for those books in which it would be unfair to rate on my full-novel scales.   James L. Wolf’s Chaining Flame then, fits this category perfectly.  At 16,230 words, this is a novella, and I would consider it more of an erotic novella as opposed to a gay romance.  I wrote a piece on my opinion of the difference between romance and erotica last year.

So what does this mean?  Well, there is not a lot of time to spend on developing characters or relationships, so the author usually chooses to advance the relationships through sex.  In my opinion, that does not automatically lessen or improve my enjoyment of the book, but rather I leave that up to the author to keep me compelled with their writing.

Full Disclosure: This book was given to me by the author for a fair review.  My opinions are always mine, and I strive for a honest review.

Basic Plot:

Ilamaych is a war spoil turned slave, and is now on the road to the market.  While traveling with fellow slaves and slavers, he is bought by a seemingly innocuous farmer, Earen.  Ilamaych knows very little of the people here or of his new Master Earen, other than that Earen is attracted to him.  But while Ilamaych strives to understand his new role, he is torn away from Earen only to discover yet another destiny.  With these new changes, comes another potential lover, Ficus.  Will Ilamaych’s life ever be the same?

Relationship:

I see this novella written into three parts (Ilamaych’s perspective, Earen’s perspective, and Ficus’s perspective).  As we see through each character’s eyes, we begin to understand their backstories and the world around them.  Because this is an erotic novella, I expected most of the development to be sexual, and while that was true, I found it more sexy and intriguing than smutty.

Ilamaych’s view is from what I would consider the reader’s viewpoint.  We are not from this world; it is scary and new.  We understand Ilamaych’s sadness, despair, and fear.  Wolf does an excellent job of pulling us into the story immediately:

His leathers were filthy beyond anything Ilamaych would have ever tolerated given a choice.  He was embarrassed by the smell and nudged them into an abject pile with his feet.  The man sat in a rough-hewn chair and watched, stroking his scruffy beard.  He did not comment.  Ilamaych bore his gaze uneasily.

So, we get that feeling of non-consensual sex and slavery.  As the story unfolds, including very sexy scenes, are we aroused?  Do we feel disgusted?  What does this mean?  Are all three of these characters going to get their “happy every after”?  Are they worth it?

For me, Earen was pretty assholian in the beginning of the book, but by the end he has the farthest character development.   We are encouraged not to give up on him:

Earen wished he could touch Ilamaych’s hand or shoulder; some form of physical contact.  After being alone for so long it had been astonishingly easy to draw someone into his little world.

I feel by the conclusion of the novella Earen deserves love and a second chance at life.  We do not see enough of Ficus’ storyline, and Ilamaych is more of a “typical submissive” character.  I could say more about the characters, but I do not want to spoil some of the story and surprises.

Strong Points:

  • The Sex Scenes: These scenes are certainly erotic and graphic.  While I would not call it “BDSM”, I would say that triggers and themes you would find in a BDSM novel can be found here.  I would absolutely say that if you do not like BDSM type novels you would find the sex and relationships uncomfortable in Chaining Flame.  Also note this is poly relationship, so if you are only after monogamy and churches this  might not be for you.
  • The World Building: Right from the beginning of the novella, I was pulled into this world.  The author impressively drew me into the backstory and concerned for Ilamaych’s wellbeing.  How did he get to where he was?  What would happen to him?  It opens so mysteriously that you are compelled to keep reading.

What Could be Better:

  •  Too ShortBy definition, novella’s are short; which means that it is up to the author to give us as much information, plot, and development as he can before the end.  I actually thought this book was well paced.  Wolf spent enough time at the beginning to develop the world, Ilamaych, and Earen.  The middle and ending sections we have Earen’s character development and the beginning of external conflict.  While I think the addition of Ficus was important for the ending plot, he addition felt rushed.  We knew little about him and did we truly care about his part of the relationship?  A full length novel would have given us the chance to build his character.

Conclusions:

Before reading Chaining Flame, I knew nothing  about James. L. Wolf as a writer, so I jumped at the chance to read someone new.  I was pleasantly surprised (the cover had that typical low-press composite feel that would have repelled me on the shelf).  The book was well written with a robust world for the length of novel.  I finished this book probably in less than 2 hours because I was that enthralled with the read.

That being said, there was room for improvement.  If this had been a full length novel, I would have given it as 3 star because of the lack of development of the relationship and Ficus.  But, this is a novella, which is designed to give us more of a “snippet” and power packed story, which was delivered.  I will say that this has aroused my curiosity  about Mr. Wolf’s writing and I will check out his other novels.  If you want a hot, quick, BDSM-style fantasy read, give this one a shot!

Bea