Isn’t there no better feeling than finding a book that’s like magic in your hands. A story that, from page one, sucks you in and holds you hostage. One that when you get to the end and you can feel your heart squeezing, and your soul aching, and you just clutch the book to your chest because you know that physically putting it down would be like ripping off the toughest of band-aids.
I’ve felt that way about only a handful of books and the sad fact is that, despite rereads, I’ll never get that initial feeling again. There is literally nothing like reading an epic story for the first time. Nothing.
I want that feeling again.
This time I’ve decided not to wait for an epic romantic read to just fall in my lap. I’m going to be proactive. I’m on the hunt, tracking, and capturing as many of these elusive novels as I can.
Mission: Find Epic Romance | Book 1: Sinner’s Gin
Series: Sinner's Gin Genre: M/M Rock Star Contemporary Publication Date: December 24th, 2012 (Dreamspinner Press)
Sinner’s Gin is a story/series about a rock band (Sinner’s Gin) who faces tragedy in a fatal crash killing three members. It leaves Miki St. James alone and scarred, full of demons. The body happens to be found in the back of Miki’s GTO, and it just happens to be the body of the villain from Miki’s childhood. Enter Investigator Kane Morgan, Miki’s initially grumpy neighbor, to save the day and potentially mend Miki’s broken heart.
Sounded like a pretty good setup, and I figured that a book by Rhys Ford was probably a safe bet, so I jumped into Sinner’s Gin with both feet, excitement at full throttle. Blame it on how much I enjoyed reading Fish and Ghosts, but I really felt like Sinner’s Gin was the perfect candidate for some good reading.
Unfortunately the one minor problem I had in Fish and Ghosts was magnified in Sinner’s Gin. Miki and Kane seemed to dive into romance far too fast. In particular, I thought Miki opened his heart far faster than it seemed to make sense to me. Miki’s baggage went far deeper than the limo accident that took the lives of his best friends. Miki’s baggage went all the way back to somewhere around 2-3 years old. It was serious stuff, which made me feel like the walls should have been a bit more impenetrable.
Despite the unbelievable insta-love, I did find myself invested in the history of Miki and his band. I wanted to find out why this series is named after a band with only one member left. I also adored the Morgan family. Kane’s mother, especially, was pretty fantastic. Add to that, there was a pretty big reveal at the end of the story, and I knew that I would definitely be moving on to the next book immediately.
Mission Status: Failed Final Analysis: Lukewarm feelings at completion Rating: C+
Mission: Find Epic Romance| Book 2: Whiskey and Wry
Series: Sinner's Gin Genre: M/M Rock Star Contemporary Publication Date: August 19th, 2013 (Dreamspinner Press)
I’m not going to give you the synopsis of the second book in the Sinner’s Gin series. I also implore you to not go read it, because it starts off with a pretty major spoiler. Suffice to say that Sinner’s Gin left off in a place that just begged the reader to dive right into the second book. If you decide to read this series and feel the way I did, I’m telling you, don’t do it. Take a break. Breathe in something else. Not because Whiskey and Wry was bad. It was set to be at least as good as Sinner’s Gin. Take a break just so you start this read with fresh eyes.
I truly think that was my main problem. I shouldn’t have attempted to jump right into the sequel. It really only works if you are so enamored of the series that you don’t mind the small flaws. Whereas, in this case, I was incredibly annoyed by the flaws, and my mind just magnified them in Whiskey and Wry, to such a degree that I couldn’t ignore them.
For instance, I do not like the word ‘suckle’. Major turn off. Babies suckle, it’s not sexy.
I also do not like the use of the term ‘boyo’. Not when talking to a friend/lover. The word itself is kind of hokey, but that could be me. Even more importantly, it gives the impression of an imbalance of power. It’s similar to ‘kid’. If it’s a father figure talking to a son, it can pass as endearing. If it’s a boss, or teacher, it comes across condescending. At least that’s how I read it. So, when the two main characters are talking about being intimate, talking about perfect asses, and tasting each other… ‘boyo’ should not be used.
In the end, I’ve not given up on Sinner’s Gin. I refuse to say that this was a DNF. I truly believe that I’m going to go back to this series. We’ll call this a ‘Not Right Now’ read.
Either way, not epic.
Mission Status: Failed Final Analysis: Revisit at Later Date Rating: NA
Mission: Find Epic Romance | Book 3: Finding the Sky
Series: Standalone Genre: M/M Contemporary YA Publication Date: February 11th, 2016 (Harmony Ink Press)
Finding the Sky isn’t technically a romance. It does have romance in it, but it’s also a coming of age story and YA contemporary fiction. It’s about a biracial young man who is struggling between being lured into the gang life and staying out of trouble. He then finds himself out in the country, where on top of it all he feels attraction for another boy. It seemed like it was the perfect selection for me.
I was wrong.
Let me start out by saying that I hate when people use the word ‘juvenile’ when talking about a book. I feel like it’s so patronizing. Perhaps it’s that my mother used that word years ago when telling me why she couldn’t read my favorite book (Outlander), but it immediately sets me off. Unfortunately I can’t find a better word to describe this book. It was juvenile. It was painful to read. There was no substance anywhere.
The conversations between characters read like cue cards, and there was very little emotion to carry the poor writing.
I wish I had more to say. Unfortunately it was completely uninspired.
Did. Not. Finish.
Thank you to Harmony Ink Press and Netgalley for providing a copy of his book, in exchange for an honest review.
Mission Status: Failed Final Analysis: DNF Rating: F
Series: THIRDS Genre: M/M Urban Fantasy Publication Date: July 6th, 2014 (Dreamspinner Press)
PsyCop by Jordan Castillo Price is one of my favorite ongoing ‘romantic’ series. I think that’s because, while the romance is top notch, the story is actually more of an Urban Fantasy. What the two main characters are doing with their lives is just as important as what develops between them.
Keeping that in mind, when I first bought Hell & High Water I was pretty excited to read it; it’s got some pretty good reviews. Even though I was excited, and I kept looking at it on my Kindle, not quite able to forget that it was waiting for me, I hesitated picking it up. That could have potentially been because I was afraid that it would be too sweet. While I read a lot of UF M/F pairings, PsyCop is the only one I read that’s M/M, and it holds a pretty high standard.
Happily the first THIRDS book was about more than just sex and Insta-love. It wasn’t actually Insta-love at all. It’s about a relationship that will take time to develop, as it should. Sloane has way too much baggage to just jump right into love with someone new. Apparently some readers had a problem with how the romance in the story wasn’t wrapped up in this first book, but for someone like me it felt perfect. I think I would have been more bothered if it had packaged up all neat and tidy. I’m not generally a fan of a love story that starts with one, or both, of the characters having been in a ‘soul mate’ type of previous relationship. When it is done, it needs to be tasteful, and in my opinion that comes with time, so in that regard Hell & High Water was perfect.
The icing on this very delicious cake, though, was Dex. Yeah yeah, so sometimes he could be impulsive and I can see how some may find that annoying. I found it refreshing. He kind of reminded me of Rhage, which is the biggest compliment I can give, IMO. He was funny, sweet, kind… and he used his humor and quirkiness to bust people out of their shell’s or boxes. He’s clever, and charming. Hilarious.
If Sloane plays his cards right, he’s going to be a very lucky man.
Mission Status: Inconclusive Final Analysis: Highly enjoyable. Major potential. Further investigation required. Rating: A
Unfortunately it looks like this time around we may have missed the mark. It’s alright, there are bound to be some duds. Thank goodness for THIRDS that was so good I feel as though I may have some new leads…
Now here’s your mission, should you choose to accept it: Send me recommendations! I’ll do my best to choose some and read them, include them in my journey. M/M, M/F, F/F, anything is a go. Nothing is off the table.
Can you find my next Epic Romance?