Lenni Reviews: "Cross My Heart" by Catt Ford

*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated for 18+

Daniel Hunter sees Lana Renault pass him in the streets and is immediately smitten by this beautiful, elegant, and classy Parisian woman. But Lana is Roland Reynolds; who feels more comfortable living as Lana and wearing women's clothing without judgment. Having had painful and violent reactions in the past, Lana has resigned herself to a life of loneliness. Daniel's gentle and romantic pursuit of her is very tempting but Lana is terrified of how Daniel may react to the truth.

This book reminds me of those old black and white romance movies with some deliciously smutty bits thrown in. At times it does fall into the trap of being too perfect but this is a book for hopeless romantics who believe in happily ever after - which I am not. But, with Ford's writing, I almost believe it. Starting off a bit slow but touching my heart, I give this book a 3.7 out of 5. 

Lenni Reviews: "Dreadnought" (Nemesis - Book One) by April Daniels

*I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Danny is out secretly buying nail polish and ends up thrust in to the middle of a superhero battle. Defeated, Dreadnought transfers his powers to Danny, giving him super human abilities but the female body this transgender teen has always wanted. But not only does Danny have to deal with coming out as the new Dreadnought, she also must come out to her strict parents, the Legion of other heroes, and content with Utopia, the cyborg villain who killed Danny's predecessor. 

After reading "Black Angel" I was a little nervous about another LGBTQ YA novel. However, this book is much like "Rebel Genius" in that I was hooked and entertained for most of this despite being outside the target demographic.

This novel touches on the good and bad about being a trans teen with the added flight of fancy that if anyone bullies you for being trans, you can pummel them into the ground. Danny is such a great kid, you can't help but root for her and just outright DESPISE what she's put through. And, as a comic book geek, this also makes for an awesome superhero story. There is genuine peril Danny has to deal with as a budding super-heroine and despite the world ending consequences; the story doesn't feel like it gets bogged down when dealing with the issues surrounding a transgendered individual. Some reactions are almost TOO evil but I think that's just the part of me that is desperately holding on to a shred of hope in humanity. It doesn't pander, it doesn't preach; "Dreadnought" is a well-written, wild ride, and if it's the start to a series; I look forward to more. 4.7 out of 5.

 

 

Lenni Reviews: "Deadlight Jack" by Mark Onspaugh

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Jimmy Kalmaku and George Watters may seem like any other old retirees, but they are both supernatural heroes who saved the world. When George’s grandson vanishes while on vacation in the Louisiana bayou, both men must use their abilities to the utmost in order to defeat the terrifying Deadlight Jack.

This book is like Murder She Wrote or Columbo except with demons and old men using magic. George and Jimmy's rapport is a pleasure to read. You can tell they're old friends and are just the best. About 10% George says the line: "The only pickups I'm gonna be making are of pretty girls who like jazz and want to go dancing with the area's black Astaire."

"Too cute!!"

"Too cute!!"

I found myself chuckling and smiling whenever they talked. I did find it amusing how people kept mistaking them for a gay couple (especially considering how much gay smut romance I read...) and that joke is thankfully not overused. It would have been really easy to use that gag to DEATH but Onspaugh kept it at the level such things should be in real life; not that big a deal.

Deadlight Jack is legitimately horrifying; so when the actual plot gets going it's tense and exciting. The humor is still there but you feel that impending danger. The ending may have been a little deus ex machina but you're having so much fun, it's acceptable. I can tell so much love was put in this book. This is George and Jimmy's second adventure (I plan to read the first just for fun) and the epilogue makes noise about a possible third. I sure hope that's true because I am totally on board. 4.7 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Like Heaven on Earth" by Jaime Samms

*I received this book in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+.

Cobolt Winslow is involved in an unhealthy, long-distance relationship with Calvin Denvers. Calvin infected Cobolt with HIV, which cost Cobolt his dancing career in their ballet company as his body became too weak to put up with such strenuous activity. The only stable person Cobolt has come to rely on Malory Preston; a driver who works for Cobolt's brother, Azure. As his health takes a turn for the better, Calvin comes back into the picture and Cobolt is faced with choosing between dancing and his growing attraction to Preston.

I cannot go any further without mentioning the naming conventions in this book. Yes, they are a little odd (at least for me) because it was like reading characters from a fantasy novel but this isn't fantasy. I did get used to it as the book went on.

The relationship between Cobolt and Preston works and makes sense the way those characters are written; even if there are times where I felt Cobolt needed a swat of sense on the back of his head. If a character can frustrate you, he/she is well written.

Other than that, this book is short, sweet, sultry when it needs to be, but standard. Cobolt and Calvin's HIV status is handled with maturity and not used as a crutch or a lame gimmick to make the characters act a certain way. The dancing was immersively written and the subtle nuances of stage culture were there but not as dark as something like Black Swan. I enjoyed it and by the end I was cheering for Cobolt but - and it's likely my personal bias here - the attempts to make Calvin a sympathetic character failed miserably. It would take MUCH more than 204 pages for an abusive cheater to redeem himself in my eyes but this is certainly not the book's fault. I'm betting since this is the third in the "Dance, Love, Live" series (and yes, this novel can totally stand on it's own), I'm sure Calvin has or will get an entire book to himself to work out his issues. As for this book, a happy 3.5 out of 5.

 

Lenni Reviews: Evolution by Lissa Kasey

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After seeing the sheer number of hits on my review of In These Words forever ago, I'm pleased to continue to review more m/m romances for you all!

Gene Sage wants to be a singer and hit it big one way but his band, Evolution, is virtually unknown. That is until a vision of ghost while he's driving causes Gene to hit a man with his car. But he's no ordinary man. Kerstrande is an undercover vampire and former rock star, and Gene's idol. One stray paparazzi catches them together and before Gene knows it, Kerstrande is managing his band and fighting an obvious desire for the young singer.

It is a nice male/male paranormal romance that's light on the heavy smut. The dynamic between Gene and Kerstrande is very much like Gravitation (between Shuichi and Yuki); the older jaded man and the younger more idealistic man. Yet Gene is a street smart, capable person with a likable personality and it's easy to see how his light and Kerstrande's darkness are attracted to one another. Kerstrande however, can be obstinate to the point of frustration; rightly fearing his more bestial nature will put Gene in danger yet unable to stay away. But if they wrapped everything up too tightly, the ending wouldn't have been nearly as satisfying or make sense for the characters. And I always say if a character annoys you; the writing is strong enough to illicit an emotional reaction.

The ending leaves you wanting more and I look forward to seeing how this couple will manage Gene's growing fame and abilities and Kerstrande's growing hunger. In the world Lissa Kasey has created, the public knows supernatural beings exist and there is a backlash against anyone not fully human. Evolution is a quick read but a fun one, and I can see this series having potential

Lenni writes more than reviews! Check out her site here.