Posts Tagged ‘college’

Reviewed by Carissa

Serenading Stanley by John Inman eBookTITLE: Serenading Stanley
AUTHOR: John Inman
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 234 pages
BLURB: Welcome to the Belladonna Arms, a rundown little apartment building perched atop a hill in downtown San Diego, home to the city’s lost and lovelorn. Shy archaeology student Stanley Sternbaum has just moved in and fills his time quietly observing his eccentric neighbors, avoiding his hellion mother, and trying his best to go unnoticed… which proves to be a problem when it comes to fellow tenant Roger Jane. Smitten, the hunky nurse with beautiful green eyes does everything in his power to woo Stanley, but Stanley has always lived a quiet life, too withdrawn from the world to take a chance on love. Especially with someone as beautiful as Roger Jane.

While Roger tries to batter down Stanley’s defenses, Stanley turns to his new neighbors to learn about love: Ramon, who’s not afraid to give his heart to the wrong man; Sylvia, the trans who just wants to be a woman, and the secret admirer who loves her just the way she is; Arthur, the aging drag queen who loves them all, expecting nothing in return—and Roger, who has been hurt once before but is still willing to risk his heart on Stanley, if Stanley will only look past his own insecurities and let him in.

REVIEW:

“Stuck in the dead grass by the front steps leading up to the entrance of the apartment building was another sign.  This one was handwritten on a slab of cardboard and stapled to the wooden stake pounded into the ground.  The lettering on this sign was rendered in pink Magic Marker.  It read ‘VACANCY.’  And under that, this time scrawled in magenta Magic Marker and sprinkled liberally with glitter, were the words ‘TO APPLY PLEASE BE CUTE.’”

Stanley knows two things for certain: he would do almost anything to avoid moving back in with his mother, and he is abominable at interacting with anyone not long, long dead.  Also, he might just be a little in love with Roger Jane.  OK, that’s three things, but to be fair, he really didn’t want to be in love with Roger.  Not really.  Even if only the thought of those godlike lips made him tremble.  And alright, he also knows that Arthur needs some serious make-up tips–and that he most definitely shouldn’t get them from Ramon.  And that Sylvia is one hell of a woman–despite having more parts than she ever desired.  He also knows that living on floor six of the Belladonna Oven, er, Arms, was likely kill him–or at least Arthur–eventually.  So, it turns out Stanley actually knows quite a bit.

He certainly knows enough to know that Roger will never look at him twice.  What with Roger being a god, in all his beautiful nursing glory, and poor ol’ Stanley entirely mortal, and entirely aware of it.  Except Roger did look–a lot more than twice–and now Stanley doesn’t know what to think.

I am a big fan of John Inman, so I may’ve been counting down the days till I could get my hands on Serenading Stanley.  And I may also have spent four hours curled up on my bed giggling like a stoner with a pet watermelon to play with (um…just read the book, you’ll totally understand) when I finally got it.  There may also have been kissing involved (hey! I’m not that kind of girl…it was a quick, discreet peck on the screen) when Stanley manned up and got all declare-y.  This may have all happened…but the brownies seemed to have clouded my memories a bit…so I’ll guess we’ll never know for sure.

What I do know is that once again Inman gave us a book chalked full with pithy humor and a whole host of characters to fall in love with.  This book is no two-man show.  Yes, we are given god-like Roger, who will use every tool in his arsenal to woo the recalcitrant Stanley.  And poor, earthly Stanley, who’ll use every trick in his, to avoid a broken heart.  But it is the cross-dressing building manager, the lovely Sylvia–who would do anything to make her body fit her soul–and even the kleptomaniac, the beautician, and the masseur, that make the story whole.  Without them Stanley would never have his Roger, and without them we would never have such a fun and truly heartwarming tale of friendship, love, and beauty disasters.

If you are looking for an angst-filled book, than I’d advise you to look elsewhere.  Yes, we have Stanley issues, what with the whole insecurity thing, but it is nothing to bog the story down.  This is a fun, light read, that will have you awwing and giggling away long into the night.  Roger’s insistence, and Stanley’s reluctance, play nicely off each other.  And boy, when Roger wants to make a point, he does it beautifully–and with tongue.  He will also not let his Little Mouse scurry away simply because he fears the big What If.  Plus, when a man comes bearing a watermelon–and something a lot more fun–how can you turn him away?  I loved these two together, and I loved watching Roger serenade his way into Stanley’s heart (in a totally non-musical way–because apparently that would be disastrous).

Between the entrancing tenants of the Belladonna Arms, and the hard-won love affair of Stanley and Roger, I was completely won over by this book.  And Sylvia nearly broke my poor heart.  That girl deserves everything that she got–and so much more.  To be trapped inside a body that never matches you, is a terrible thing.  To have yourself denied because of money, even worse.  I loved that Inman was able to bring Sylvia–and all the rest of the tenants–to life is such a wonderful, and highly amusing, way.  I would have liked a little more tension, near the end, but I think I’ll take the sight of Pete on his knees, any day.

Don’t know what else to say, but that I loved it and I’m glad I trusted Inman with my oh-so-fragile bookish heart.  I totally and completely recommend you read this book when you’ve hit angst overload and need to remember how to smile.  Or if you want to find out just how sweet a twizzler can be.

Carissa rates it – star_review

BUY LINKS: Dreamspinner Press

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Carissa is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.

To read all her reviews, click the link: CARISSA’S REVIEWS
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Reviewed by Carissa

18308701TITLE: Good Boy
SERIES: Theta Alpha Gamma #4
AUTHOR: Anne Tenino
PUBLISHER: Riptide Publishing
LENGTH: 77 pages
BLURB: Brad “Frat Boy” Feller and Sebastian “Toppy” DeWitt have been together for nine months, and their relationship is as hot as ever. The only cloud Brad sees on their horizon is Sebastian’s stress over his thesis. And their uncertain future together after graduation. And how Sebastian sometimes takes Brad for granted. And Sebastian’s unwillingness to introduce Brad to his father.

Other than that, everything’s awesome.

All of Sebastian’s energy is currently devoted to his thesis, and getting into a top-notch PhD program. Fortunately, his boyfriend takes care of all the domestic stuff and Sebastian’s needs. Any minor strain between them will disappear and they’ll return to the status quo after Sebastian graduates. As long as nothing upsets their delicate balance in the meantime.

Then a friend Brad once had a small fling with is forced to take refuge with them, and Frat Boy and Toppy’s delicate balance topples like an elephant on a waterski. Now Sebastian has to face some truths about how he’s been treating Brad, what he wants for their future, and what he has to do to get it.

REVIEW:

Once again we dip back into the world of Theta Alpha Gamma with this fourth installment in the series.  Bradley and Sebastian, of Frat Boy and Toppy fame, have been living in loving bliss since Bradley came out and Sebastian declared his love.  Well, maybe not bliss.  But they do love each other, and while living together has certainly created friction–and not all of it good–no one is looking for an escape hatch just yet.  Except Bradley has had a nagging feeling that something is missing: a missed connection between what was unsaid and what needs to be said between the two.  And after months of trying to ignore the problem, of hoping that the house of cards they have built is held together with duct-tape and not just sex-hoarse prayers, the arrival of Collin at their door pushes Sebastian up to his breaking point and Brad past his.  Now it is up to them both to lay their souls bare, ‘cause life will be looking far from happy if neither of them can find the words to bind them ever-after.

Picking up Good Boy was like a quick, but heart pounding, visit back into the world of my favorite frat-boys.  And sadly, while this story lacked the majority of the Theta Alpha Gamma House, there was plenty of Sebastian and Brad to get my fill of.  And what wonderful flavors they came in, too.  From hot and spicy bedroom play, to sweet and sultry blindfolded promises, there was a little something for everyone.  Even if that something was the sour taste, much like an over-lemoned lemonade, of long held (not-so) secret grudges.  The abundance of flavors should have clashed something horrible, but instead they all fit together to make a truly interesting and exciting story.

After the end of Frat Boy and Toppy I couldn’t shake the feeling that we hadn’t seen the last of Brad and Sebastian, and while we got glimpses of them in Love, Hypothetically and Sweet Young Thing–which, incidentally, happens chronologically alongside Good Boy–it just didn’t feel like enough.  Something was missing from their story–and as we come to find out in Good Boy, something was missing from their lives as well.  Well, not missing…it’s more like it was floating out there in the ether where both of them could feel, but neither wished to acknowledge.  But Brad comes to realize that even if Sebastian doesn’t want to acknowledge it, Brad needs to hear it.  And that, my friends, is when things get interesting.

And hot.

Frat Boy and Toppy had chemistry…but Sebastian and his boy have a nuclear-meltdown level of heat.  I am a fan of BDSM in my stories, loving the play and dynamics that come into effect when Doms and subs unite.  And while we got hints of this in FB&T, it wasn’t something that was overly talked about, or hashed out–which leads, in part, to the conflict in Good Boy.  In this story, it has to be talked about, or else the relationship could very well crumble beneath their feet.  But when the talking is done, and the clothes come off, these two burn up the pages.

Part of what makes this relationship so incendiary is that you get the sense that you are reading about two people who are a Dom and sub.  Not two people playing at the roles.  It is who they are, and when they finally openly acknowledge that part of their relationship, it is freeing and consuming at the same time.  Bradley’s inner conflict and resolve within himself about his sub tendencies was so well written that I had no problem believing that when he was at Sebastian’s feet, it was the only place he ever wanted to be.  And Sebastian grows so much in this story (he starts off as a complete ass, so up really was the only way to go), and learns just what he needs from Bradley–and what he needs to give to his boy, in order for him to be happy with himself.

I do think that in order to fully enjoy this story that you need to have read FB&T (the others in the series are optional to understanding the plot, though well worth the read on their own merits).  Will the story be understandable without having read FB&T? Probably.  But I very much doubt it will be as fun or filling.  There is just so much of the meat of the relationship–and the issues that pepper it–in FB&T, that to skip it would be like gorging on a steak without even pausing to taste the smoky, barbecued flavor on your tongue.  Sure you will get the occasional sweet lick of perfectly cooked meat over your taste buds, but flashes of flavor is nothing compared to the feel of sweet juicy meat running along your lips, over your tongue and bursting fully into all of your mouth.

While I would have quite happily read another hundred pages about these two, and how they are now going to live in this relationship that they have worked out, I don’t feel like we got short changed by the length of the story.  I think the story needed to give some closure to their relationship, and allow us to see the beginnings of their happily-ever-after.  And after it did that, I liked that it ended (even if I did want to set up camp in their bedroom and then sit and drool over the pair for a bit longer).  This story served as a bookend to Sebastian and Bradley’s story.  At least for us.  For now.

As for what is next, I can only hope that Tenino has her sights set on Toby.  My only request is that we get more of those lovely, if somewhat beer-logged, frat-boys from Theta Alpha Gamma.  I just love them–and if you don’t know why, I suggest you take a gander at Sweet Young Thing.

I recommend you read this book if you want to know just what happened to our Toppy and his Good Boy, or if you just feel the need to nuke your e-reader with highly restrained passion.  And if you feel the need to go back and reread the whole series again after you have hit that final page…well you won’t be the only one.

Carissa rates it – star_review

BUY LINKS: Riptide Publishing

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Carissa is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.

To read all her reviews, click the link: CARISSA’S REVIEWS
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