Tag Archives: m/m romance

Book Review: Innocence and Carnality by J. Alan Veerkamp

Innocence and Carnality       

Author: J. Alan Veerkamp

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

American release date: April 23, 2019

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/LGBT Romance/350 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Nathan is a bird in a gilded cage. A member of the Deilian aristocracy, his life is proscribed by a series of rigid rules. But something goes horribly wrong when his “inclination” is discovered—that is, his homosexuality. Suddenly he has become the black sheep of his family, and his future looks bleak indeed, as the people of Deilia do not tolerate such behavior. Nathan’s father has him fitted with a chastity belt to keep his virtue intact until such time as he can find him someone who is willing to wed him, sacrificing his very dignity in the process.

Nathan’s father eventually comes up with a husband for his wayward son… enter Lord Rother Marsh Delaga III. He shows up one day and is unlike anyone Nathan has ever met. He is quite open about being gay, and is very obviously interested in Nathan. The wedding takes place right away—this is a man who doesn’t let the grass grow under his feet when he wants something—and he whisks his handsome and innocent young husband off to the strange and seductive land of Marisol.

Delaga House is not what Nathan expected. In fact there’s no way around it, it is a bordello. With some very interesting occupants.  Such as Alexandra, the very competent manager, and Blythe, the rather large bodyguard with a mind of his own and a mouth to match, and Vivian, who has a sharp tongue and an inflated sense of her own importance. Luckily, Nathan has brought his valet Harston with him, with whom he is close, someone to anchor him in this strange land.

Thanks to his strict upbringing, Nathan has trouble adjusting to the sensuality of his new life, but it feels oh so good. And just when he thinks maybe life as a married man in Marisol will be good, he the blinders torn from his eyes. Has he traded one kind of cage for another? Where can he turn and who can he trust? If he doesn’t lost his innocence and learn how to deceive, he will never survive the experience.

Innocence and Carnality is my first book by J. Alan Veerkamp, but it won’t be my last. I’ve been looking forward to reading this ever since I saw snippets of it in our writer’s group. It was well worth the wait. It’s sci fi with a definite steampunk vibe that I love. I especially loved Nathan, and enjoyed reading about his journey, and the things he had to do to survive as he became less and less innocent through necessity. The author has a wonderful writing style that flows easily, and he creates very memorable characters. The sex scenes are very hot and steamy and very explicit.

If there is a lesson one can take away from this book, perhaps it’s that there are no absolutes with good and bad, and what may seem to be good may not be, and what is looked down on as bad might be just a matter of understanding. I think this book would make an awesome movie.

In all good books, a character should grow in some way, not simply exist. Veerkamp has accomplished that with young Nathan, who not only experiences new things, but learns from them and develops as a person. You can’t help but cheer for him and hope he rises above the bad in his life in the end in order to emerge triumphant. I highly recommend this book if you enjoy men having hot steamy sex but are also a romantic heart, and liked it with a touch of sci fi.

Well done, J. Alan, well done indeed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: Q*pid by Xavier Mayne

Q*pid

Author: Xavier Mayne

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

American release date: August 28, 2018

Format/Genre/Length: E-book/M/M Contemporary Romance/310 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Archer is the AI at the dating service Q*pid, and he has his own ideas about how matches can be made. Veera, his programmer, is frustrated that he isn’t listening to her and insists on going his own way. She’s on thin ice as it is with Archer at work, and not everyone at the dating service is convinced of Archer’s ability to make working matches. But when he proposes changing the protocol that determines which gender the clients are looking for, making them open to more possibilities, they are determined he and Veera have lost their collective minds. Due to a misunderstanding, Archer proceeds with his plan, and the results…

Drew Larsen is working on his PhD, and his dating life is fraught with strong and strange women. It’s not surprising that none of his relationships last. He finds more pleasure in the company of his elderly neighbor, Mrs. Schwartzmann, who has more tall tales than Carter has little liver pills.  Fox Kincade is a very successful man in all ways but one—finding the right woman. But never fear, he has a spread chart for everything, and since joining the dating service Q*pid, he is determined to find Ms. Right, as long as he follows his own rules of dating. He feels pressured, though, because he is the last of his group to find their partner. His standards are high. He is determined only to date women who match him at least with an 80% rating or higher.

When Fox and Drew are each notified  of a match exceeding 99%, they are overjoyed! But that joy soon turns to confusion and dismay when they open the match to find themselves looking into another man’s face! The dating service, once it discovers what Archer has done, quickly rescinds the matches, but too late for Fox and Drew, who have to decide to do with this information.

Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith…

Q*pid is a well-written, romantic story about love and possibilities, based on the understanding that love is not limited to nor restricted by body parts. By what matches where or what goes where. Love is soul-deep. You just have to be open to it.

Xavier Mayne writes well, and he draws his characters as people we can easily like and believe in. The secondary characters—Drew’s neighbor, Mrs. Schwartzmann, and Fox’s bff Chad and his wife—are delightful people you would really like to spend time with. From the beginning, I knew the outcome was predetermined—it is a romance, after all—but the journey to happiness is well worth taking, and the ending is satisfying on many levels. Don’t forget to bring plenty of Kleenex.

All in all, this was a good read, one I would recommend if you like two men finding each other when they think they want Ms. Right. And it also goes to prove you don’t have to have all the same interests to be attracted to someone.