Friday, October 29, 2010

Torquere Charity Sip Blitz Set #3

Batch the third of the Healing Hearts short stories. Some nice ones today.

It's a Calling, Mara Ismine

Weary of life and of his job practicing medicine, Jock reevaluates his life when an old friend passes on. World travels eventually lead him back to the Scottish town where he grew up, where he must face his memories of Ewan, the lover he left behind many years before. Will Ewan still be there? And if he is, can they recapture the magic they once had together?
A sweet and loving story, this small tale of returning to roots and redemption takes a twist that was all the more fun for being so unexpected. Jock and Ewan have more to endure than most to achieve their happiness, but time matters little in the face of this sort of love. Greatly enjoyed this.

Breathe Into Me by Jenna Jones

After a warning from his doctor, Caleb Smith is looking for ways to get healthy in both body and mind. His sister Katie convinces him to give yoga a try, and he's surprised to find that Sasha Volsky, his boyfriend from high school, is her teacher.

At first, Caleb is more interested in reuniting with Sasha than in yoga, but Sasha has a single condition before they can become involved again. Caleb has to take care of himself. Can Caleb find balance between what he wants and what he needs? The answer may be as simple as breathing.
This is a charming story of non-Western medicine and of youthful sweethearts finding each other again -- holistic Sasha and hard driving, everything-that's-wrong-with-the-Western lifestyle Caleb come to terms with being in each other's life again. Sasha, pliable as willows in the wind but still unwilling to risk himself on a man who seems hell-bent for destruction, has something to teach his lover of long ago, and Caleb, too, has a lesson for Sasha. This story made me smile, and it's funny -- I wouldn't have chosen it just from the blurb, but it's one of my faves so far.

El Cedral By Kiernan Kelly

Dr. Derek Thomas has a pediatric practice at an affluent New York Hospital that comes with all the perks -- the salary, the townhouse, the car, and the handsome neurosurgeon boyfriend. When his relationship goes south, so does Derek, but will he be happy with a simpler life working in a Mexican clinic with a man from his past?

Looking to evade heartbreak in New York City, Dr.Derek Thomas comes to spend his sabbatical practicing medicine in what feels like a less prosperous Cozumel with a friend and former lover, Dr Juan Canche, who has returned to his home to practice. They slip quickly and easily into a sexual relationship but it isn't until Derek's left behind lover, the imperious Dr.Peter Schmidt, comes to make demands and threats, does Derek acknowledge what he finds important.

This was an ok story, with occasional puzzling sentences, where who does what needs to be sorted out, but I didn't connect. The characters seem like Central Casting directed them into the text, and the relationship between Juan and Derek is never questioned -- it's simple and inevitable. Some practical matters are also left unaddressed, like how does Derek get an adequate patient history if he speaks no Spanish? He learns, but he's going to be less than useful until he can communicate. I've read better from this author.

Buy the stories here.

Friday, October 22, 2010

I've finally lost my marbles!

Actually, I'm giving them away. If other sites can have divas and nymphs, or some other fun rating symbol, I want one, too.

Marbles, for a crazy woman, seem about right. Once I twisted the arm of a handy fifteen-year-old boy with Photoshop, I have some to share. You might get five if I love your story.

I might have a slightly different opinion:I have this one, just in case, , but I hope I never need to use it.

Hmm. looks like it's running away. Maybe:or if the story has fallen and can't get up.

Anyway, I now have a full suite of handy graphics for a more finely tuned opinion visual than just the whole numbers I've been using. Previous reviews will get their marbles edited in as I have time, and future reviews will have them from the start.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Torquere Charity Sip Blitz Review Set #2

Reading my way through 28 short stories written to benefit Doctors Without Borders -- here's the second installment of reviews.

Conwy is a new to me writer, and this story is a favorable first impression. A sweet and gentle coming to terms with horrors and difficult emotions, Colin and Jamie find their way back to one another, halfway around the world from where they started. The timeline felt strangely flexible and the public display of affection after the warning that such things weren't a great idea did make me think hmmm, but a good read.
Winston Quirk -- Martin Delacroix
This story has a feel of memoir, of a man easy in his sexuality but less comfortable with his lingering notions about race. How it fit the theme besides incidents of first aid, I'm not sure; all the real healing seems to be done in Dane, the narrator's, mind. But I'm glad to have read it

Sweet story showing the difficulties doctors face trying to build relationships and balance them with training. The sex scene was particularly hot, with that just-want-you-too-bad feeling and a little bit of improvising. The kitten, amazingly enough, did not steal all the scenes. Another new-to-me writer.
Get the stories here.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Torquere Charity Sip Blitz Collection Review #1

The Torquere authors have agreed to donate their proceeds from these medical themed stories to Doctors Without Borders, matched by the publisher, so I can have some smuts and help others at the same time - sweet!
First off, I wish that this file had anchors in it, those helpful internal linkies that let you get to story # whatever and then (also important) Back To Top. Yeah, I can navigate without in a big PDF file with some effort, but why should I have to? Maybe it messes the other formats? I dunno, let's run it through Calibre and find out.
I have the collection of twenty-eight stories, so it's probably going to take a bit to get to them all. Lots of familiar faces and a bunch of authors I haven't read yet, and a couple of first publications, and a theme big enough to get your teeth into, and there should be all kinds of adventures in here. I'm reading in order (see grumbles about navigating, might as well make it easy on myself).

Live by the Sword -- Lee Benoit
Cute - first story I've read with the dragon-dogs, although they were bit players here. A more serious subplot with a twelve-year-old named Bug, which kind of says a lot about his homelife, resolved off-screen but well, and the vet and the blinded researcher were hot together, although I'm still having trouble believing in one particular aspect of the sex. In order to see the real dragon-dog action, I'll need to read the others.

Of Sound Mind -- Elizabeth Brooks

This is could be a really good story, but the author hit one of my major stomach-turning themes. Say "soul-mate" and I don't care WHAT goes with it, I'm gone. Sorry, Elizabeth, I can't say anything intelligent here. Next time, okay? DNF

How Did I Lose My Passport – and Find My Love -- JM Cartwright

Not instalove, if you allow for a slow windup from a distance, but definitely insta-relationship, and given the elements of rescue going on, almost edging into dub-con, and with the repetitive use of an endearment that started to come across as rather creepy, almost like a Dom who hadn't done proper negotiations with the sub, just -- took over. I understand this was the author's first story, so I'll look at the next one, but if I'm paying money, I don't want it to feel like fan fiction. Chapters for 7000 words of continuous action are unnecessary, and more editorial guidance will probably smooth out such blips.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Enslaved - Kate Cotoner

Injured crusader Falk du Plessis survives the Battle of Hattin only to be sold at the slave market in Acre. He's bought by Sinan, a mysterious Saracen who takes care to hide his true identity. Falk has the feeling they’ve met before. Their attraction is instant and mutual and their destinies are inextricably entwined, but duty and loyalty to their respective masters threaten to drive them apart.


I like historicals, although I admit that here I don't know the background well enough to say how accurate Kate Cotoner's gotten it. And then I decided, it doesn't matter, because it rings true, and she does have a reputation for getting it right. And here, she paints the opposing sides, and the sides within sides, so well that the scholarship doesn't have to be on the reader's end to be fully immersed in the world of the Crusades.

The Saracens have the better end of the deal here, that's for sure, and Falk was wise enough to understand that.

Sinan does seem to talk a little more freely about secret matters than seems wise, but the information had to get out there, and this was one way.

A good read, and I'd read more from this author in a flat minute.

Buy here.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Duet - Eden Winters

DuetDuet by Eden Winters

The English are an evil not to be tolerated, or so Aillil Callaghan believes, and Malcolm Byerly, the Kentish tutor his father brings to the Highlands to teach his younger brothers, is no exception. Their affection for the boys and a shared passion for the violin brings the two men together, and scarlet fever tears them apart. When a Druid priestess offers her aid, grief-stricken Aillil vanishes into legend, to be handed down from one generation to the next.

Over two centuries later, violinist Billy Byerly’s arrival at Callaghan Castle for a concert feels like coming home. An old man presents him with a strangely familiar violin, and from its strings he draws melodies he doesn't remember learning. Billy doesn’t believe in ghosts, but if the tales of the Lost Laird aren’t true, then why does he dream of a dark-haired, kilted Highlander? And why is he haunted by the strains of a phantom violin?

Two violins, one love. How many lifetimes?


I'm reading my way through Eden's books, lots of good stuff. This one is a little familiar -- love beyond death, one of her favorite themes, and a whole lot new. I didn't know whether to like the historical section better or the modern section, maybe just a smidge toward the historical, if only because I wanted to see Malcolm creep under Aillil's plaidie like the tune says.

A+ for using a name that I haven't seen a billion times to run together with the other stories that use it, and A+ for killing off so many characters and making me like it.

And A+ because the ending is happy after all. *cries and smiles*

My rating: 5 of 5 marbles

Buy it here. Really.