Review – Fever Pitch by Heidi Cullinan

Fever Pitch coverTitle: Fever Pitch
Series: Love Lessons #2
Author: Heidi Cullinan
Publisher: Samhain
Rating: 5 stars

Publication date: September 2014
Genre: M/M romance/New adult
Length: 306 pages

Review Summary: A lovely college-based gay romance that had me gripped from the start and never let go.

Plot Summary/Description

Aaron Seavers is so crushed by his domineering father that he can’t even decide where to go to college. He wants to study music, but his dad wants him to follow in his footsteps and become a lawyer. He’s also afraid to admit, even to himself, that he’s gay. His mind is finally made up when he reconnects with a high school classmate, and at the last minute he applies to the same college.

Giles Mulder is stunned when the gorgeous and apparently straight Aaron arrives on campus, threatening to reawaken unhappy high school memories. With Giles making music on his violin, and Aaron in the choir, their paths are bound to cross. Their attraction grows, but will Aaron follow his heart or his dad’s wishes?

Fever Pitch made the NPR’s Best Books of 2015 list – it’s great to see a gay romance on a mainstream ‘best books’ list like this one.

Fever Pitch Review

This is the second in a series and I haven’t read the first, but it’s about a different couple. This one stands alone with no problem, and the couple from the first book appear only briefly.

Aaron and Giles make a great couple. Aaron is the more attractive but he’s also more damaged. Giles has suffered in high school for being out, but his family are ultra supportive. Aaron has maybe suffered more by never daring to be himself. I loved that aspect, seeing Aaron slowly develop and come into his own strength, aided by Giles but not dominated. They take a while to get together, which gives Aaron time to find his own inner strength.

There’s a lot about music which didn’t mean much to me but it was never too much because at the same time there’s a high-voltage attraction between the two guys which comes across in all the music passages as well as everywhere else. If you knew the songs they talk about, it would likely add something, but I didn’t care that I didn’t.

Aaron has a snarky and secretive roommate, Elijah, who takes some getting to know but is well worth it. He takes a while to win Aaron over, but he had me at hello! The end has Elijah mixed up with another character and I rushed to check if the next book would be their story. It is so I grabbed it – here’s the review of Lonely Hearts.

Click to see price on Amazon

Review – Forget Me Not by Jordan Castillo Price

Forget Me NotTitle: Forget Me Not
Series: Mnevermind #2
Author: Jordan Castillo Price
Publisher: JCP Books
Rating: 5 stars

Publication date: February 18, 2014
Genre: M/M romance/Science fiction
Length: 206 pp

Review Summary: A mesmerizing second book in the Mnevermind series from Elijah’s POV – even better than the first, but doesn’t stand alone.

Plot Summary/Blurb

Elijah Crowe is a talented mnemographer with skills and ideas that startle even Daniel Schroeder, but he’s on the autism spectrum and his communication issues have stopped his career from ever taking off. Instead of being prized for his talents, he’s teaching beginner classes at the mall.

Elijah’s strongly attracted to Daniel, but there’s still an ex-wife with an important place in Elijah’s life. He also has some issues with a co-worker, and he’s not sure how to handle them. Will Daniel understand and accept him as he is – either in the world of mnem or in real life?

Forget Me Not Review

This is the second in the Mnevermind series by the wonderful Jordan Castillo Price – or is it a serial? I’m not sure. There was little resolution at the end of book #1, and they are of a length where the whole trilogy could be published as one book – a long book, at around 600 pages, but still.

Anyway, this volume is told from the point of view of Elijah, who’s on the autism spectrum and therefore way off the regular M/M hero spectrum of characteristics. I loved Elijah – I think I like him more than Daniel, who seems a little puzzled by Elijah.

The author does an excellent job of showing Elijah’s communication difficulties in action, while making him one of the cutest characters imaginable. He’s only able to act like others in mnem, and to explain that, I’d have to go into the sci-fi aspect of this series, which I like but don’t totally understand. I said in my review of the first book that it reminded me of Total Recall and maybe that’s stopping me understanding it better. Anyway, that’s not a heavy element, so you can easily cruise through it.

Something that does come across better in this book than in the first, is Daniel’s skill as a mnemographer and how successful his business was before things went wrong. Modesty prevented Daniel from revealing this in his own narrative, but Elijah doesn’t hesitate to do it for him. I appreciated Daniel much more at the end of this volume.

Elijah has been married (to a woman) in the past and still seems to be best friends with her, which leads to some interesting challenges for other characters, if not for Elijah himself.

I hate some of the things that are happening to Elijah in this book. He’s being menaced, and his psychiatrist or whatever she is seems to have no idea. On the other hand, he and Daniel seem just wonderful for each other. Each of them brings out the best in the other, and that’s lovely to read.

All in all, I found this book mesmerizing.

This is a trilogy so we’ll have to wait for the third volume to tie everything up. There’s no question about Elijah’s feelings for Daniel but is Daniel really going to fall for the ‘real life’ Elijah? This is romance so we know the answer … it’s just a question of how convincing Jordan Castillo Price can make it.

The books don’t stand alone too well. You’d want to have read Mnevermind 1: The Persistence of Memory (see our review) before getting this one, or you’d have (even more) trouble understanding the sci-fi aspects. In fact, if you didn’t read them back to back as I did, but read the first book a couple of years ago when it first came out, you might want to give yourself the pleasure of reading it again!

I haven’t found a release date yet, but there were nearly two years between the first and second books … *gulp*. Not sure I can wait that long.

Click to see price on Amazon

Review – Fish and Ghosts by Rhys Ford

Fish and Ghosts coverTitle: Fish and Ghosts
Series: Hellsinger #1
Author: Rhys Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Rating: 4 stars

Publication date: December 30, 2013
Genre: M/M paranormal romance
Length: Novel

Review Summary: A must for anyone who likes their M/M romance served up in a haunted house.

Plot Summary/Blurb

Tristan Pryce’s uncle died and left him the huge and beautiful Hoxne Grange because he was the only one of the family who could see the ghosts that used it as a stopover on their way to the next world. His other aunts and uncles, not surprisingly, want to have Tristan certified as crazy to get their own hands on the house, so they call in Wolf Kincaid, the CEO of the paranormal research team Hellsinger Investigations, to prove there are no ghosts at the Grange.

Wolf’s looking forward to showing Tristan up as a fake, but things don’t turn out that way. He’s not as crazy and a lot more attractive than Wolf’s expecting. Then Wolf’s team’s activities unleash the ghost of a serial killer in the grounds, and not just their hearts but the Grange and even their lives are in danger.

Fish and Ghosts Review

So right off, I loved the premise here. Haunted house, reclusive hero, friendly ghosts. Other things I loved included Tristan, who is troubled enough to be interesting without being angst-ridden. Wolf is a good partner for him, if a little less developed. Rhys Ford is an excellent writer and I like her style.

Tristan and Wolf are two appealing characters and there is a good tension and fun dialog between them. Some of the ghosts are lovely – Jack the dog and Heather the cook are too sweet for words (although a little research might have prompted the author to give her a different name – Google’s telling me ‘Heather’ didn’t become popular until the late 19th century, and cooks were always called by their last names in England anyway).

On the subject of names, at first I thought the name Wolf was too cheesy to be bearable, but I forgave the author when it turned out to be short for Wolfgang – almost. Because then you’re left with the question of whether it sounds like ‘volf’ or ‘woolf’. I’m sure there’s a rule in all those ‘how to be a writer’ books about not giving your characters hard-to-pronounce names…

The main characters do have a bad case of insta-love. Initial hostility set up by the situation dissolves almost on sight. Wolf forgets about his client’s interests and takes Tristan’s side. Tristan, who has preserved his virginity until now (why?) suddenly decides this is The One.

The sex scenes are long, maybe too long for some readers. However, they’re not just acrobatics, they do develop the characters and the relationship, so even readers who usually skip these scenes might appreciate them. If you like M/M sex scenes you’ll love them.

In summary, Fish and Ghosts by Rhys Ford is a must for anyone who likes their M/M romance served up in a haunted house. Since it’s the first in a series, I’m hoping the relationship between the two MCs will develop at a deeper level in the next book. I’d like to see more of Tristan and the ghosts, and less of Wolf’s staff and family. But I’ll certainly be looking out for more from the Hellsinger ghost hunting team.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering about the fish in the title, it’s a play on the old saying, ‘fish and guests stink after three days’. Because that’s how long the ghosts stay at Hoxne Grange…

Click to see price on Amazon