1st Place Winner, Best LGBT+ Anthology
1) Julian Keys speaks with a distinctive and lively voice. His writing, direct yet nuanced and with many an arresting turn of phrase, is a joy to read….
2) My favorite kinds of stories are the ones where I start out thinking “this kink/pairing/genre/etc really isn’t my thing,” and then the author changes my mind. This was that kind of book and then some. Yes, the stories are some of the sexiest I’ve ever read, but it’s the characters who make them unforgettable. Mason, the Fancy Man, is one of the most intelligent, thought-provoking, passionate and compassionate characters I’ve ever read. I love the interplay of race, power, and kink. The writing is elegant, spare, and thoughtful. Truly an outstanding collection.
1) I thoroughly enjoyed Tumbled and the book held my attention from start to finish. Audens character development and dilemma throughout the book felt real and I was very happy with the resolution. A very well written and researched read.
2) I’m not into sports romances or open-ended romances. This one ticked off both boxes, plus added a love triangle that gives us a lot to work with but not much to show in the end. Despite that, however, this is a well crafted story with realistic characters, even though the setting is supposed to be the near-future but reads like contemporary. This is about youths trying to find their place in the world, and how to fit their personal and professional lives together. Wanting to be free from expectations and demands is a struggle every young person can identify with and relate to. But wishing to excel at what you’re great at and to follow your dreams is also a struggle, just different kind. I liked this story but wasn’t wow’d by it.
3) There’s little time wasted. The story is short and sweet and the plot develops at a good clip without sacrificing the good, meaty parts of a story. And speaking of which, this story *feels* like a story. One of the criteria I use is “if sex were removed, would there still be a plot?” The answer is a most astounding yes, and the plot itself is excellent. …. Everyone is unique and this author has a knack for bringing characters to life. Each one had their own hopes, dreams, fears, and mannerisms and felt very real and human, most of all. Clear, concise, enjoyable. Easy to read. Straightforward. Enough to sate the reader’s need to consume without robbing the reader of the ability to imagine for themselves. Excellent. Strong Recommendation for Consideration. This is the first time in reading the slush for the awards that I have been so enthusiastic about a story. I believe this is one of the best I’ve read so far and am glad I was able to judge this gem. Thank you!
It was a very very dark read, and I had to interrupt it a few times because it was unbearable at times. What really made me reach the end were the characters. Jaye is an innocent man who goes through horrific things and he is able to find his strength. Cash, his protector, is not a black or white character, and he’s not positive or negative. He’s very hard to label, and I loved that. Even though I like a little bit of romance and I hoped against hope that there was going to be a big moment, there wasn’t, but it’s ok, because the “relationship” at least felt real. The setting is dark and for someone like me who loved the prison series Oz it was quite entertaining (even if I hate myself for feeling this). Anyway the fascination I had with this book is that it wasn’t trying to sugarcoat Jaye’s situation and that the character has a great survival instinct, he was a great fighter. Not a book I recommend if you want a light read.
At 10%, I was ready to throw in the towel, but I persevered. At 25%, I had to take a break from reading, and truthfully, I considered calling it quits. I found the violence in the first quarter of this novel unbearable, but I trusted it was crucial to the plot development, and I was already fully invested in the characters, so I read on. The author paints a vivid setting through scant description, allowing the reader’s imagination to take over. The characterisation is rich and consistent. The story unfolds at a perfect pace (although the last 10% felt a bit like ticking boxes for readers). This is not the book for me; nor is it the kind of book I would usually read. I’m grateful for the opportunity to do so.