“I have a list of hopelessly romantic authors…and Leta Blake just made the cut. There is tension, drama, misunderstanding and hope, all the things I like in my HEAs.Highly recommend.”
“Love this long, angst filled, sexy-as-heck tale. I love Blake’s books, especially Training Season and River Leith, so this was an auto-buy for me. It’s a slow build to a great emotional arc as friendship turns to flirtation turns to sexy times turns to a deep and meaningful connection. Get your tissues ready! One of the most emotional books I’ve read this year. LOVED.”
Smoky Mountain Dreams is available now at:
And now at KOBO.
“Yay! Always fun to have new Leta Blake to read! And her newest M/M romance Smoky Mountain Dreams has more angst than you can shake a stick at, just as we have come to expect from Ms. Blake.
Spoilers abound in this one, so I will be purposely vague. Failed making-it-to-the-big-time country crooner Christopher Ryder meets and starts a relationship with failed-being-a-gay-man Jesse Birch, who owns and operates his own jewelry design studio. There are so many things in the path to their happily-ever-after that it is almost comical. I mean, poor guys! You really will root for these boys from the word, “Go.”
Give yourself some time, because this is a longer book coming in at just over 400 pages. Don’t start it and then have a test coming up or a paper due! You’ll hate yourself because this is hard to put down.
This is a great book folks! It ends in the holiday season and is chalk full of warm ‘n fuzzy holiday cheer. I can HIGHLY RECOMMEND Smoky Mountain Dreams to read by your Christmas tree.
OMG, I forgot to mention the sex! *head/desk* Where is my brain? These two were outstanding in the sex department. And after reading this, you’ll never look at your or your mother’s or grandmother’s or anyone’s string of pearls the same again. *clears throat*”
Sometimes holding on means letting go
After giving up on his career as a country singer in Nashville, Christopher Ryder is happy enough performing at the Smoky Mountain Dreams theme park in Tennessee. But while his beloved Gran loves him the way he is, Christopher feels painfully invisible to everyone else. Even when he’s center stage he aches for someone to see the real him.
Bisexual Jesse Birch has no room in his life for dating. Raising two kids and fighting with family after a tragic accident took his children’s mother, he doesn’t want more than an occasional hook-up. He sure as hell doesn’t want to fall hard for his favorite local singer, but when Christopher walks into his jewelry studio, Jesse hears a new song in his heart.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This charming book is chock full of interesting, lovable, and, at times, hate-able characters. First is Steven, the narrator and main protag, who has come to adulthood but hasn’t really found his footing as an adult. For the past five years he’s been happily lost in that place familiar to most readers–somewhere between dependant adolescence and independent adulthood. Sure, he’s not living at home with his parents, but he’s holding a retail job during the day and clubbing the night away with his fascinating-but-cruel best friend, Adrian, most nights. He’s a typical Gen-Xer in that way, delaying adulthood and responsibilities, and prolonging the time between. Which, huh, speaking of Gen-Xers, he is one, since this this story is set in 1991. And that realization has given me a whole new spin/outlook on Steven. Basically, if you’re familiar with that Portlandia song “The Dream of the 90’s is alive in Portland”? Well, that’s the dream of the Gen-Xers, man, and Steven’s living the dream. [reference: http://youtu.be/TZt-pOc3moc]
But somewhere beneath his shiny, glittering night club life, he’s tiring of it all and he’s growing up, wanting to find something meaningful in his life, something beyond coffee shops, bumps of coke, and his retail job at a fashionable clothing shop. He’s wanting a career, a life, a true love, a home. And yet his current situation keeps sucking him back. It’s easy to stay the same and hard to change–especially when his best friend, whom Steven is half in love with, seems very invested in keeping him stunted.
Speaking of Adrian, he is a scene-stealer in the best way. He’s horrible and yet so compelling. If any reader has made it to adulthood without knowing (and being compelled by) someone like Adrian then you’re a lucky dog. I’ve certainly known enough Adrians in my time to feel both drawn to his flame and an intense world-weary disgust with him. It’s easy to see how he’s manipulated Steven into being his emotional prop through the last five years, and how Steven has been his eager toy.
Enter Steven’s motivation to change. One John Pieters, a charming older man (think Baby Boomer to Steven’s Gen-X) who has life experience and drive. He’s suffered through the 1980s horror of AIDS and clings with tight loyalty to his friends, demonstrating the kind of connection with his self-made family that Steven yearns for and doesn’t get with Adrian. He’s an adult in a way that Steven finds inspiring, arousing, and intimidating. Steven knows that a charming, handsome, older man must look at him and just see a wasteful club kid with nothing going for him.
While Steven does keep John in his mind as a motivator for the life changes he makes in the wake of meeting the man, it’s clear that Steven’s metamorphosis, his true coming-of-age, comes from within. John is the carrot that drives him, like a fantasy or a dream, but something so unattainable at first that it’s only as Steven begins the process of changing the he realizes that maybe it’s not so unattainable after all. At first his metamorphosis is about wanting to be the kind of man John would notice, but it isn’t long before the satisfaction of change motivates him on its own.
I don’t want to spoil too much, and a lot of the wonderfulness of this story is in the details and the way that Steven’s character (and every character of the book) is so relatable and yet so identifiable as being tied to the time (1990s) and place (Seattle). You’ll love Steven and want better for him, like a mother hen ghost, silently following him as a reader and rooting for him to make better choices and then cheering when he finally does.
Speaking of Seattle, the city during the 1990s is beautifully captured here and comes alive in the reader’s mind. While I was not in Seattle in the 1990s, myself, I’ve been given to understand from other readers that the scenes and places discussed are real and recognizable to people who were there.
This Charming Man is a charming, lovely read. There are no difficult hoops to jump through to get into the book. The writing itself is sharp and straightforward. I’ve read it twice and loved it both times, and both times found a deeper connection to the story and the characters.
I think Gen-Xers will especially identify with this story but it’s a great read for all lovers of gay fiction.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Have you ever read a book that left you walking around for weeks in a daze of daydreaming about the characters? Have you ever read a book that tempted you to write fanfiction for the universe because you just couldn’t let it go? Have you read a universe so thoroughly realized that you just want to roll around in it for ages? This book (series, really) was all of that for me and more.
It hasn’t been since Ginn Hale’s Rifter series that I’ve been so taken with characters and their world. I have spent countless hours since reading an early draft of this book thinking of the completely realized side-characters, the intensely relatable main characters, and even making up little side stories in my head for their future.
I can’t fathom reading this series and not falling in love with Henry and Martin, not rooting for them and their dangerous relationship. I can’t fathom NOT reading this series, period, actually, because it has so impacted me and set my mind on fire with feeling and inspiration.
I’d tell you more particulars about the book, but I almost feel like every single bit of it is worth discovering for yourself. Every character, every interaction, every moment is so wonderful and intense that I don’t want to take any of it away from a reader by relating it in advance. Suffice it to say, this book comes with my absolute highest recommendation.
This is just the first book in a four book series (which will also have some side stories that go along with it, but are not required for the rest of the series) and I can’t wait for Book 2! This is just such a lush, wonderful, fantastic world!
Available now at:
Coming soon to B&N, iTunes, and more!
“This book was filled with so much detail and emotion! I love this, the author, and the story. You should definitely read this.”
“The River Leith is a FANTASTIC book. It will immediately grab you, and hold you, and you won’t want the ride to end. I’ve been looking for a long time for a book to recommend as a first time M/M read to one of my best friends, and I think I might have finally found it. I highly recommend this book, folks. And, I plan to rush out and get Leta’s other stories!!”
Jenni Lea’s breathless review of Training Season will never not make me happy! 🙂
“After reading everyone else’s reviews I know there is no way I can put it as eloquently and intelligently as those so I’ve decided to just tell you how this book made me feel. Filters off, this is gonna be real and raw.
OH MY GAWD YOU GUYS THIS BOOK IS SO AWESOME I CAN’T BELIEVE I GOT TO READ SUCH AN AMAZING STORY I LAUGHED AND CRIED AND LAUGHED SOME MORE I LOVE MATTY I LOVE ROB I LOVE BEN I LOVE MATTY’S MOM I WANT HER TO BE MY MOM TOO SO I CAN CALL HER DONNA I WANT TO MARRY ROB AND HAVE HIS BABIES HE’S SO HOT I WANT TO LICK HIM ALL OVER I WANT TO FEED MATTY AND MAYBE TRY HOT WATER WITH BITTERS EVEN THOUGH IT SOUNDS AWFUL I’M SAD ABOUT THEIR STORY BUT HAPPY TOO I HATED THE PAIN THEY WENT THROUGH IT TORE MY HEART RIGHT OUTTA MY CHEST AND STOMPED ON IT AND CAN I PLEASE HAVE THEIR BABIES I WANT THEM TO LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER FOREVER AND EVER AND EVER AND BE A PART OF THEIR LIFE I WANT TO BE A GAY BOY FIGURE SKATER TOO AND FALL IN LOVE WITH A SEXY RANCHER MOUNTAIN MAN AND CAN THIS PLEASE BE A REAL THING I WANT TO MOVE TO MONTANA AND ICE SKATE ON A FROZEN LAKE I WANT A RUSSIAN SKATING COACH AND TO DO A TRIPLE AXEL I WANT TO HAVE SEX LIKE THEY DO OK MAYBE NOT SOME OF IT BUT I WANT TO FEEL WHAT THEY FELT AND CAN I PLEASE HAVE A FEW DAYS OFF FROM WORK SO I CAN DEVOUR THIS BOOK AGAIN I NEED FOR LETA BLAKE TO WRITE MORE STORIES HOW HAVE I NEVER HEARD OF LETA BLAKE BEFORE THIS IS GOING ON MY BEST OF THE FREAKIN BEST SHELF CAN I PLEASE HAVE MORE LIKE YESTERDAY I WANT TO FEEL THIS KIND OF LOVE FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.
Got it? Good.”
“Bottom line? I loved this story. I related to both MCs so much. I understood both of their POVs and thought their feelings were valid and very honest. Wonderful love story about overcoming loss and rebuilding a relationship.”
FIVE STARS from Joyfully Jay for The River Leith!
“So you guys really need to read this book. I truly loved everything about it. I couldn’t put it down and was so sad for it to end. Blake’s writing is beautiful and so eloquent. I could feel the tension between the past and the present, of figuring out where to draw the line between remembering their experiences together and building new ones. The men are sweet, romantic, and incredibly sexy together. This story is just so fabulous and well done, I highly recommend it.”
read the rest of Joyfully Jay’s lovely review via Review: The River Leith by Leta Blake — Joyfully Jay.