“I’m so glad I read this book! It totally blew me away!” Review: Vespertine by Leta Blake & Indra Vaughn

“In general, I don’t like to read religious themed books. All the guilt and hate (both self-loathing and hate directed at the MC’s) just makes my heart hurt. Sometimes, though, I feel compelled to make an exception, when it’s an author that I know I like and I am willing to take the chance. I’m so glad I read this book! Vespertine totally blew me away!”

Read more of Jewel at JesseWave’s Reviews.

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Can a priest and a rock star obey love's call? Seventeen years ago, Jasper Hendricks and Nicholas Blumfeld's childhood friendship turned into a secret, blissful love affair. They spent several idyllic months together until Jasper's calling to the Catholic priesthood became impossible to ignore. Left floundering, Nicky followed his own trajectory into rock stardom, but he never stopped looking back. Today, Jasper pushes boundaries as an out, gay priest, working hard to help vulnerable LGBTQ youth. He's determined to bring change to the church and the world. Respected, admired, and settled in his skin, Jasper has long ignored his loneliness. As Nico Blue, guitarist and songwriter for the band Vespertine, Nicky owns the hearts of millions. He and his bandmates have toured the world, lighting their fans on fire with their music. Numbed by drugs and fueled by simmering anger, Nicky feels completely alone. When Vespertine is forced to get sober, Nicky returns home to where it all started. Jasper and Nicky's careers have ruled their lives since they parted as teens. When they come face to face again, they must choose between the past's lingering ghosts or the promise of a new future.
Can a priest and a rock star obey love’s call?

Seventeen years ago, Jasper Hendricks and Nicholas Blumfeld’s childhood friendship turned into a secret, blissful love affair. They spent several idyllic months together until Jasper’s calling to the Catholic priesthood became impossible to ignore. Left floundering, Nicky followed his own trajectory into rock stardom, but he never stopped looking back.

Today, Jasper pushes boundaries as an out, gay priest, working hard to help vulnerable LGBTQ youth. He’s determined to bring change to the church and the world. Respected, admired, and settled in his skin, Jasper has long ignored his loneliness.

As Nico Blue, guitarist and songwriter for the band Vespertine, Nicky owns the hearts of millions. He and his bandmates have toured the world, lighting their fans on fire with their music. Numbed by drugs and fueled by simmering anger, Nicky feels completely alone. When Vespertine is forced to get sober, Nicky returns home to where it all started.

Jasper and Nicky’s careers have ruled their lives since they parted as teens. When they come face to face again, they must choose between the past’s lingering ghosts or the promise of a new future.

I Used To Know How To Use This Thing #blogging

Well, hello there! I used to know how to use this site to do this cool thing called blogging, but then I decided that I needed a break because I had too much on me, and now I’m sitting here looking at this blank page and thinking, “What the hell do I do with this?”

I suppose I should mention that I’m going to have a book out very soon. I can’t decide if I should release it the last week of May or the first week of June. I feel like May is a better month. It sounds happier and it’s six months from when I released Training Season. But, realistically, if I want to have ARCs out, finalize the formatting, and not mess anything up due to a panicky rush, then I should probably set it lose in the wild the first week of June.

I’ve had people ask me what this book is about and each time I flounder. Of course I still flounder on how to talk about Training Season, too. I was at Rainbow Con (which deserves a post of its own!) and a lovely woman named Vicki was looking at a print copy of Training Season. She looked at me and said, “This is your book?” And I said, “Yes. I wrote it. It’s about…things. In a book. That people seem to like.” She looked at me like I was mad (which we all know I am) and smiled politely before putting the book down and walking away. So, yeah, saleswoman I am not!

But, this next book is totally different from Training Season. It’s shorter for one thing and it’s got zero enemas in it, which, hey, will please many folks, I’m sure. I swear I did not drink any liquor on my lunch break, just some kind of power-greens fruit juice thing which might have made me high? I don’t know. Anyway, there’s no figure skating, no ranching, and no D/s dynamics to speak of! And absolutely zero toilets! I promise!

That sells it, doesn’t it? You want to buy this book now, don’t you?

Um, let me try again. It’s a comfort-read featuring the ever-beloved amnesia trope! And a boxer! And a vlogger! And there’s romance and gay lovemaking and a kooky, cliche (in the good way) psychiatrist! And there’s drama! And angst! And hurt-comfort! And squishy, lovable, adorable characters who just make you want to hug them until they come to their senses and do their lives right! (Well, I feel that way about them anyway! And I hope you do, too!)

And if that doesn’t sell it, just look at this cover! I mean, guh, yes? When I send Dar (the cover artist) the back blurb (which is being crafted lovingly by Kathleen Tudor!), I’m going to see if she can’t pull him down just a tad so my name isn’t all up in his eyebrows. I think that will make it easier for me to make a nice little advert out of the cover later when I need one. Anyway, this cover is lovely, isn’t it? He’s looking at you and he’s saying, “Buy  me. I’m an amnesiac. I’ve forgotten things and need to relearn them. You can watch me LEARN ALL THE THINGS. *cough*”

Hooray!

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Hey, readers, I’ll be out during the last week of May or the first week of June, whatever my crazy author decides. In the meantime, I’ll be right here, looking like this, and you can visit anytime.

Well, lookie there. It seems I remembered how to use this thing after all! Just like riding a bike!

Gay Figure Skating – #Olympics – The Frozen Closet – #Newsweek #JohnnyWeir #sochi2014

Timothy Goebel, the 2002 Olympic bronze medalist, agrees. “I’d like to see progress. People doing harder stuff and going faster – that’s the whole Olympics theme. Not prettier outfits and more theatrical.” Goebel was the first figure skater to land a quadruple Salchow in competition as well as three quadruple jumps in a single program.

via The Frozen Closet – Newsweek.

But….who watches for that? Really? I mean, that’s not going to win them more audience/viewers. Sorry, but figure skating fans like pretty things, and they don’t mind pretty boys. And let’s just face it, bro dudes don’t see enough balls or blood or dudes rubbing up against each other, or smashing into each other, or copping feels that are known as “fouls” in figure skating. Sorry.

So give figure skating fans more of what they actually want instead of more of what you want them to want! If I could count the number of times I’ve seen an iteration of “I miss Johnny Weir” or “It’s just not as exciting without someone like Johnny Weir” since this Olympic season started…well, let’s just say I’ve heard it a lot. And which name will be remembered longer? Weir or Lysaceck? I promise it will be Weir.

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Training Season can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, ARe, and Smashwords. And also on iBooks.
Unquestionably talented figure skater Matty Marcus is willing to sacrifice everything for his Olympic dream, but his lack of discipline cost him the gold once before. Now the pressure’s on. He needs a coach who can keep him in line, but top coaches don’t come cheap, and Matty can’t afford to stay in the game no matter how badly he wants to win.
When a lucrative house-sitting gig brings him to rural Montana, Matty does his best to maintain his training regimen. Local residents turn out to be surprisingly tolerant of his flamboyant style, especially handsome young rancher Rob Lovely, who proves to be much more than a cowboy stereotype. Just as Matty requires a firm hand to perform his best on the ice, Rob shows him how strong he can be when he relinquishes control in the bedroom. With new-found self-assurance, he drives himself harder to go straight to the top.
But competition has a timetable, and to achieve his Olympic dream, Matty will have to join his new coach in New York City, leaving Rob behind. Now he must face the ultimate test. Has he truly learned how to win—on and off the ice—during his training season?

Homosexual or Homoamorous

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Larry Benjamin has a great blog post up asking “Is Homosexuality Really Just About Sexual Identity?”

To quote:

I put forth the notion that “being gay, lesbian, homosexual is about attraction, it’s about who you want to hold hands with, who you want to go to prom with, who you want to build a life with. Sex is an outgrowth of attraction, an expression of something. And yes, sometimes it’s just a primal urge but surely not all the time, not every time, not exclusively.”

It’s a topic I’ve been thinking about recently myself, but had never gone so far as to spell it out in the way that Mr. Benjamin has done so well. I’d been thinking more along the lines of, “Maybe it’s time we stop thinking about it as homosexual and consider it homoamorous.”

The definition of the word ‘amorous’ includes sexuality but more largely encompasses the idea of falling in love. To me, that seems more descriptive of the majority of gay and lesbian experiences.

Reading: A Companion to Wolves

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What this book is not: This book is not a male/male romance. This is not a bad thing. On the contrary, I think I was more relieved by the fact that it was not a romance than anything else that happened in the plot-line of the book.

What this book is: This book is a well-written fantasy novel that seemed to just get better as I read, instead of falling apart from an interesting premise as is so often the case. And, yes, there was some homosexual activity within the main story, but the variety of emotional love between men represented in this novel was refreshing. Rather than the book being all about the grand, sweeping romantic love that almost every book in the world features as the main driving force of every character to some degree, this book concentrates instead of a kind of bond between humans — in this case men — that is just as deep, just as important, and just as vital, even if the romantic aspect is either not present at all or buried under a lot more intense connections that supersede romantic love. There was the bond between the men and the wolves, the bond between the wolves themselves, the bond between human members of the ‘pack’, the deep abiding love of men who have given up everything in their prior lives to be in the situation they’ve chosen, and to fight alongside each other in a war.

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Art by Copperbane Studio

I almost hate to focus on the sex because while I found it titillating (hooray!) in the end it seemed to be one of the least important things about the novel (though admittedly one of the things that got me into the novel in the first place, because I’m always happy to see intriguing, unconventional sexual situations in books!), but given how the sex is represented in some of the comments at Goodreads and elsewhere, I want to address it.

I think any reader of BDSM novels will recognize some common themes within the story. Man is considered of equal rank and importance to his wolf  but in the matter or situations driven by pack instinct, such as mating, then the man must not fight the choices of the wolf. “It’s her [the wolf’s] choice,” was mentioned more than once with regards to mating, and it reminded me of BDSM scenes in which the sub allows the dom to choose a partner (or partners) for him/her to have sex with, and in which the sub allows the dom to choose what happens to him/her during a scene of any type.

It’s pretty clear in BDSM research I’ve done, while less clear in romanticised BDSM novels, that there are times the sub does not sweepingly love the choices of the dom, or even entirely enjoy them. And yet that is part of what they do enjoy or get out of the entire experience of being a submissive for a dominant. I suppose it was with that background education and mindset that I went into reading the mating scenes in the book, and I did not find them troubling or difficult to swallow. However, if that kind of reading (or in my case research for writing) isn’t part of your world, then the lack of swelling romantic feeling during the sex scenes might be off-putting. This might be complicated for a reader by not going into the book understanding point one above: this is not a romance novel.

Being who I am, of course, I did start to develop an attachment to various other men that I wished Isolfr would fall for, but in the end I was happy that was not the way the book went.

This book reminded me of a more enjoyable, more interesting, fantasy version of The Sagas of the Icelanders by Jane Smiley. Only better. Because that novel nearly made me cry tears of boredom. (Sorry, Jane Smiley!) This book was not written for the purpose of anything more than telling a sweeping tale of an unlikely, almost unwilling hero, and his wolfsister and pack-brothers. I was encouraged and relieved to find such a book existed in the world. Not every book featuring m/m relationships, or m/m sex, needs to be romance.

In other words, I loved this book for all that it actually was and didn’t hold it against it for all that it wasn’t. In fact, I rejoice in what it wasn’t. I wish that there were more books that understood that people enjoy epic books that also feature graphic sex, not just books that focus on sex (erotica) or books that focus on romance and sex (romance or romantica).  I would love to see more publishing options for that kind of premise, especially for LGBT titles.