Sunday, April 28, 2013

Interview with Nessa L. Warin (Harmony Ink Press)

Ending off Geek Week with Nessa L. Warin. She answers all the questions and share her top 5 geeks.

Hi Nessa, and thanks for stopping by POR today.
Hello! Thanks for having me!

Tell us a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing.
Um. Wow. Okay. I live in Southwest Ohio with my two cats and honestly geek is one of the first words I always use to describe myself. I’m geeky about traditional stuff like Science Fiction and Fantasy books/movies/television shows and going to Renaissance festivals and Dragon*Con, but I’m also a big wine geek. I love going to wine tastings and learning about the different kinds of wine and the differences in what different vineyards produce with the same grape. It’s fascinating what the mineral content in soil or oaking wine can do to the flavor, for example.

Let’s see, what else. I just recently escaped from an Evil Day Job of Doom and now I work for Harmony Ink Press when I’m not writing. I’m stoked to be part of the Dreamspinner/Harmony Ink family and I’m passionate about what Harmony Ink is trying to do with getting books in schools and libraries where gay & lesbian kids can read them. I now do the social media, I read submissions (but I don’t make the final decision), and I’m going to be running the editing queue shortly. It’s exciting stuff.

Was gay fiction something you always wanted to write? Or did you develop it as an interest over time? 
It developed as an interest over time. Like many people writing in the m/m genre, I came to it via fanfiction and I remember that first moment when I discovered m/m romance was possible. I was reading on a Lord of the Rings fanfiction archive, I clicked on a link, and I read a couple paragraphs and realized it was Legolas/Gimli. I’ve never hit a back button so fast in my life. Except, the idea stuck in my head, and a few days later I went back and… kinda decided it wasn’t so bad. And then my interest in it grew. And grew. And now that’s all I write and practically all I read, though I do read other YA stories to stay abreast of the market.

It's Geek Week here on Pants Off Reviews. Tell us what geeks mean to you.
To me, a geek is someone who is extremely passionate about something they enjoy. Most people think of geeks as the people who are into comic books or Science Fiction or Fantasy and who run around cosplaying at conventions. And those are geeks. To me, those are the traditional geeks, and I proudly consider myself to be one of them. But there are people who are geeks about other things too—cars, wine, sports, really anything you can think of. And that’s where the broader definition comes in as far as someone who’s passionate about what they love.

Would call yourself a geek? If yes, can you tell us why?
I am absolutely a geek. As I said above, it’s always one of the first words I use to describe myself. I do run around in costume at conventions, I go to renaissance festivals (the best thing about my friend moving to Houston from Ohio was a place to stay so I could visit the Texas Renaissance Festival). I go to Dragon*Con every year.

I’m also a geek in the sense of being passionate about my interests too. I’m a wine geek. I have more bottles of wine at home than I have space for, but that doesn’t stop me from buying it. I rarely drink it at home because I want to share the experience with people and compare notes on the taste. I go to wine tastings at least once a month, more if I can manage it, and I adore restaurants with an extensive wine list, particularly when they offer flights.

So, yes. I am a geek and I am proud of that fact.

Do you feel that there is a better opening to write geek characters in YA than say in adult themed gay romances?
I think there’s probably a bigger opening for the traditional geek character in YA fiction rather than adult themed m/m romance. A lot of teenagers feel like they’re geeks or feel like they can relate to geeks because they’re similarly ostracized for other reasons, so I think there’s a big market for it. Also, without the limitations of a romance, there’s more room to explore the character being a geek.

I think there’s plenty of room for geek characters in adult themed romance as well, though, particularly with my expanded definition. A character who is geeky about something is interesting. If it’s done right, it can teach the audience about that thing while still drawing them into the story. The challenge can be not letting the character’s geekiness take over and derail the romance. In YA an author doesn’t necessarily need to worry about that, because the romance is secondary in a lot of YA stories.

Tell us a bit about Harmony Ink Press and future plans (releases).
Harmony Ink Press is an imprint of Dreamspinner Press. It released its first book last March and currently releases two books a month. That will increase to a book a week in mid-May. The focus is on positive LGBTQ Young Adult fiction, and that includes the entire spectrum—gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans*, and questioning. We publish books about teenagers who know they’re LGBT and teenagers who are discovering their sexuality, which means that the book might not end with the teenager in an LGBT relationship. We want the books to focus on positive character growth, not the relationship.

As for upcoming releases, Beau Schemery is releasing the second book in his Verses of Vrelenden series, which I’m very excited about. There’s a prequel to The Thunder in His Head by Gene Gant called Everything We Shut Our Eyes To. We have a couple more lesbian titles coming out this summer. We also have something big and exciting coming that I can’t tell you about yet, but watch the news coming from Romantic Times. There’s going to be an announcement there from one of our authors.

Any works featuring geek characters (existing or upcoming)?

Well, for me, Sauntering Vaguely Downward, obviously, which is part of your giveaway. Both Brendan and Dylan are geeks and they meet at Dragon*Con. I have a new series that will be published soon called All Corked Up. The first book, Syrah, is out in August or September of this year and one of the characters there is a wine geek.

For Harmomy, I’d say that Lucas from Play Me, I’m Yours by Madison Parker is a geek. So is Wesley in You Belong with Me by Jeff Erno. The Seventh of London and the Verses of Vrelenden books by Beau Schemery feature characters that I’d call geeks and they’ll also have a lot of appeal for the traditional comic book/Science Fiction & Fantasy geeks. So will the Lords of Arcadia books by John Goode.

Who has it better Top or Bottom?
I’d say switches have it best. *winks*

Pants, is it better to write with them on or off?
It’s definitely more comfortable with them off. Probably, though, it depends on where you’re writing. It wouldn’t be good to write without pants if you’re sitting in Panera, for example. At home, though? Off.

Top 5 geek characters? From either books, movies, tv shows etc....
End with a hard one, why don’t you? Okay. Agent Phil Coulson from the Marvel Cinematic Universe/Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D television show, the Doctor from the television show Doctor Who, Richard Castle from the television show Castle, Abby Schuto from the television show NCIS, and Penelope Garcia from the television show Criminal Minds. And lots more, since having a geek character is a great way to get me to love something.

Thanks Nessa for stopping by today, lovely to have you. If fans want to keep in touch, how can they get in contact?

It’s been my pleasure. I’m on Twitter and Facebook as nessalwarin, and my email is I’m always thrilled to hear from readers. And, of course, you can reach me via Harmony Ink Press as well.

Win Sauntering Vaguely Downward in the Giveaway...

Guest Post: Moon Shadows by Neena Jaydon

When I was coming up with the characters for Moon Shadows, I wanted Theo to be a geek. Geeks are under-represented. Let's face it, there are more geeks around than ever before. The things we like aren't just in comic book stores and on bookshelves, they're on TV and in movie theatres. Yet we don't often see ourselves on the page or on the screen -- or if we do, we are either totally stereotyped or just plain unrecognizable. Not only did I want to offer a slightly less traditional romantic hero, I wanted him to reflect my experiences being a geek. That meant making sure of a couple of things.

The first one is pride. While he is incredibly shy, Theo is not ashamed of who he is. Sometimes this puts him in conflict with Max, who is far more mainstream. Also, Theo's passions are not a substitute for something better. He doesn't like what he likes purely to escape from his problems. He considers being a geek an essential part of his identity. The connections he makes with imaginary characters are important to him and the skills he's learned as a geek keep him happily employed. To put it simply, he's a proud geek.

Secondly, my geeky werewolf is not a loner. Theo came into being in my imagination with friends in tow. His circle of close friends may be socially awkward, but they have jobs and relationships. They spend a lot of time together, and they support each other. As many dust-ups as can happen in any given fandom, this is my experience with having geek friends. They are open-minded, helpful, and love to share their passions. That sharing has enriched my life, and so I knew Theo had to have good people like that in his.

Theo takes strength from other geeks. Even when they are complete strangers, geeks add energy to a room. When I lived in Japan, I went to many events, from tiny fanclub gatherings to large conventions. It was addictive being in spaces full of people just as enthusiastic about something as I was. As a group, we geeks transform those spaces just as we create new things out of what we love. Whatever else happens in our lives, no one can take away that creativity, that love for the imaginary, or those wonderful connections with other geeks.

And on top of all that, as this Geek Week has shown us, the geek can also get the guy!

* * *

Excerpt from Moon Shadows

Slouched in a computer chair, Theo had his hair tied into a ridiculous little topknot. There were dots of paint and holes in his worn-out T-shirt. He was squinting through his glasses at the very small statue of a chariot in his hand. Then he visibly stiffened, tiny paintbrush hovering in midair.

"Hi," Max said. Amusement and embarrassment warred within him, but he tried to keep his tone normal. "Sorry. You forgot this." He held up the sweater. "Your friends said to come in."

"Oh." Theo set down the miniature chariot. "Thanks. Just, uh --" He pointed with the end of his paintbrush to an empty chair.

Max sat down and saw by the startled flutter of Theo's lashes that the chair had been intended for the sweater, not him. That made him perversely want to stay.

"So, what are you doing?" he asked.

"Worldhammer. It's an RPG. You can use miniatures for it." Theo laid aside the paintbrush and rubbed his hands against his jeans. "D-did you want some coffee?"

"Sure." Max watched Theo get up and move to his coffee maker. Theo's baggy jeans didn't quite hide the length of his legs and the curves of his butt. When Theo turned back to set a mug of coffee in front of him, Max saw the strong column of his neck, how it tapered out to his shoulders, and pressed his lips together. What a waste.
Theo began to tidy up, hands deftly putting little glass bottles of paint into a plastic storage box. They were big hands, yet not clunky, with long, agile fingers.

"You think it's weird." It hadn't been a question, and he almost hadn't heard it.

"What? No." Max handed Theo a stray paintbrush, a laugh escaping him. "Yeah, a little. I'm sorry."
Theo shrugged stiffly. "Not everybody has to be into the same, uh, things."

"That's true. You're right. I shouldn't judge." Max felt something inside him relax. He leaned on the table, looking into his coffee mug. "Most of my friends think I'm just playing around, being a dog trainer. To them it doesn't sound like a real job."

"Yeah," Theo said, dipping paintbrushes into clear liquid. "I get that all the time." Finally turning his head, he looked at Max sidelong. That conspiratorial look made Max's heart beat faster. Then Theo turned away, going to the sink.

Damn. Did we just have a moment?
* * *

twitter: @NeenaJaydon

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Guest Post: Roan McKichan is an Action Hero Nerd by Andrea Speed

My character, Roan McKichan, is an action hero nerd.

Now there could be an argument that a nerd, by nature, can’t be an action hero. But Roan is a special case, being that he is a virus child, born infected with the werecat virus, and he’s had some unusual side effects that probably propel him beyond the usual nerd. He’s probably also better looking by a damn sight. But he wasn’t always this way.

Roan’s back story is a pretty tragic one. His father is unknown, and his mother died not too long after he was born. If she had family, they never came forward, leaving Roan a ward of the state. He grew up passed between foster homes and hospitals, and since he was a virus child (never expected to live long or well), his existence was quite isolated, lonely, and troubled. Roan therefore loves books. He’s said they saved his life, and they may very well have. They were his constant companions when he had little else, and since he was immediately ostracized wherever he went, they offered a refuge from the pain of the real world. This is a common enough story for most social misfits, and Roan’s love of books continued into adulthood. Although not yet specified in the books, Roan was a total science fiction nerd, and for most of his adolescence, The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy was his Bible.

An incident in an abusive foster home ultimately flipped the switched for Roan. While he was still a nerd, and still relentlessly bullied and ostracized, he decided to embrace it, and began fighting back. (If I wanted to piss Roan off, I’d say he started expressing his inner lion, but I’d never do that.) Punk rock helped him a lot in this regard by the teen years, because it encouraged letting your freak flag fly, and he had the freakiest one of all. Of course, it’s hard to see how this rebellious nature led him to become a cop, however briefly, but it makes sense if you realize he was told he could never be one. Telling Roan there’s something he can’t do is a pretty good way of getting him to do it, which his boyfriends figured out almost right away.

Roan may have become a fighter, but he’s still a nerd. Not only does he still love books, but he still really enjoys nerdy things. He watches a lot of Cartoon Network, and both Aqua Teen Hunger Force and The Venture Brothers have been name-checked (he has the latter series among his DVD collection). He also enjoys Doctor Who, loves Monty Python, and has an animation cel of Lionel Hutz from The Simpsons in his office. He’s admitted to Dylan that he used to have a bit of a crush on Commander/Captain Sisko from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He can drop obscure references at the drop of a hat, and I’ve hidden a Mystery Science Theater 3000 joke reference in Infected: Undertow (coming out this summer), that few people will probably get. (Certainly the man Roan tells it to has no idea what he’s on about.) I’ll give a hint to those who might be curious: Skydivers. That’s all you get.

The cops he works with in a consultation capacity have taken to calling him, somewhat sarcastically, Batman, and while he hates it, Roan has also noted how wrong a nickname that is, mainly because he’s not a rich guy with a lot of tech. Thanks to the movies, that’s not nearly as nerdy a reference as it could be, but you just know Roan was a comic reader at some point in his life. (Which I can verify. He was an X-Men fan, and has the whole run of Transmetropolitan in his library.)

Circumstances he has no control over have made him something like a superhero, which you’d think would be a nerd’s dream. But there’s always a downside you don’t consider, and Roan would be happy to tell you all about it … if he acknowledged being a superhero at all. But he will happily call himself a nerd, as that’s a badge he’d wear with pride.

The Lisa Simpson Memorial Standing: Everybody knows Lisa is the top nerd. But it's not fair to others, so let's just say she's the nerd in metirtum just to free up some space for lesser nerds? 'Cause I'm going to do that anyways.

Speaking of which ….

Here’s Roan’s top five TV nerds:

5. Felicity Smoak, Arrow (TV) – We all watch Arrow for the quality manmeat (come for Amell’s bare torso, stay for Manu Bennett … I mean seriously, holy shit…), but Felicity is one classy nerd. The tech geek that all superheroes need, she can hack anything, and look good in a pair of nerdy glasses, as well as make a dry quip or two. She doesn’t get distracted by being surrounded by handsome men in the batcave (arrowcave?) either, which puts her way ahead of me.

4. Seymour Birkoff, La Femme Nikita (original series) – The new one isn’t bad, but he has more social skills and natural aggression than the awkward, socially inept tech expert for Division. He was smart, but if anyone didn’t belong in a group of secret assassins, it was him. Also, unlike most of the nerds on this list (except for #2), he’s not really handsome. Which is a nice bit of verisimilitude. (Hey, most of us aren’t conventionally handsome. It’s just the luck of the draw.)

3. Abed Nadir, Community – Perhaps a more stereotypical nerd, but done in a way that’s endearing. Also, it’s kind of nice to see a nerd of color, as they’re not all white guys, damn it. He hasn’t displayed much in the way of computer skills, although you assume he has them. He’s a pop culture focused nerd, which I have a fondness for, no matter how socially maladjusted they can be. His close friendship with ex-jock Troy is also very sweet.

2. Arthur, The Tick (cartoon, but you can also count the live action sitcom if you want) – Here’s a pudgy accountant who buys a kind of working moth suit at a garage sale and decides to be a superhero. Except, he really doesn’t have any powers, except the limited, clumsy flight the suit gives him. So no talent, but a lot of enthusiasm, which makes him the Ed Wood of superheroes. Did I also mention that physically, he’s kind of a coward? This is why it’s a good thing The Tick, a nigh invulnerable superhero type (possibly alien, also possibly crazy) literally falls into his life. While Arthur’s inner hero does peek out at times, he remains his nerdy, somewhat timid self at all times, a sidekick barely worthy of the name, and there’s something quite beautiful about that.

1. Willow Rosenberg, Buffy The Vampire Slayer – How do you not love this girl? Even when she went evil, you wanted to give her a big old hug. There’s just something endearing and sweet about her, and she has so many weird hyphens – as in nerd-lesbian-Jewish-witch – how can I not love that? I mean, I know a gay-hooker-vigilante and a straight-dominatrix-investigative assistant, so I’m down with the hyphenated people. Possibly because I am one. Anyways, if you could only have one nerd in a lifeboat with you, she’s totally the one  you would want.

Be sure to enter win your choice of an Andrea Speed book in the Giveaway...

Friday, April 26, 2013

Review: Taxes and TARDIS by N.R Walker

Reviewed by Fehu
Taxes and TARDIS by N.R Walker
Novella: 133pgs
4 Pants Off

This edition is no longer available

Brent Kelly is a laid-back tradesman whose only concerns are drinks with friends and which man to bed next. In need of a new accountant to sort out his nightmarish shoebox of tax receipts, he's referred to Logan Willis. He doesn't expect to be intrigued by the science fiction-loving, geeky guy with dark-rimmed glasses and a TARDIS-blue shirt. So his fascination with the soft-spoken Englishman surprises him, and their mutual attraction is completely unexpected. He most certainly never expects to fall in love. One a jock and the other a geek, both men know the differences between them are vast and could cause problems. But in this opposites-attract erotic drama, maybe it's the differences between them that make staying together worth the fight.

Fun read that hooked me from the start! One has to appreciate a guy that arrives to an accountant with a shoebox full of tax receipts. Logan was less appreciative then, since he had to work through that all, but I was grinning already and liked Logan's sense of humor and his taste of colour and hobbies! I mean if one is asked about a colour only a geek, who loves Doctor Who (which I approve!) would actually tell the not knowing public, that it's TARDIS blue. Now, not everyone knows what TARDIS means, and no I don't mean the scientific correct answer. You can imagine that Brent was struggling a bit with this answer.

Brent was a jock, who played football in college and usually goes for the muscle and not for glasses and nerdy looks and usually he isn't interested in relationships. Imagine his surprise when he meets the nerdy accountant, with a British accent and cannot stop himself from looking at him or behaving like an idiot, saying the first thing on his mind.

Don't worry even here Doctor Who saves the day! Brent researches Tardis and Doctor Who and actually has something to talk about with his cute accountant. I loved that they bond about Doctor Who and in the end there is even a keychain in the form of a Tardis, geeky, but totally cute!!! I really liked the first part; there was geekiness, some good lines and a budding romance. Then when they got together it dragged a bit, but the story picked up the tempo and worked out in the end. Since this one is one of the earlier works by this author, I'm looking forward to read more, the writing worked for me and I liked the main characters Brent and Logan a lot!

Geek Level: Geek score maximum 5 points Logan's first meeting with Brent doesn't go by without him mentioning Doctor Who and hey at least they had an interesting topic to talk to about! Then there were the time they watched the series together, really sweet! And the Doctor Who themed gifts, Brent has given Logan.  So yes, nerdy looking, with glasses, an accountant who loves Doctor Who and to read, makes for a perfect specimen for our geek week!

Should You Read It? Well if one likes m/m romance and Doctor Who then yes one must! Honestly it's sweet romantic story, that isn't focused on sex. I liked the references to the series and enjoyed reading it. Recommended!

4 Pants Off
Note: Taxes and TARDIS is not for sale at the moment but will be very soon. With a new publisher and cover art, all new and improved. So add it to your wishlist and get it once its be re-released...

Review: Astronomical by Silvia Violet

Astronomical by Silvia Violet
Short Story: 99pgs
4 Pants Off

When sexy, kilt-wearing astronomy professor Greg MacIntyre moves in next door, Blake Theriot knows he's in trouble. Blake is a research librarian, and he likes things orderly and controlled. But in his secret fantasies, he craves a big, powerful man like Greg to stir up his life.

Every time Blake tries to talk to his erudite neighbor, his brain shuts down and his vocabulary is reduced to one-word utterances, but when Blake's niece challenges him to invite Greg to dinner, he does. A few shots of after-dinner whiskey loosen Blake's inhibitions, and the two men share a hot kiss and the promise of more. Can Blake relax enough to give himself a chance with Greg, or will his fear of letting go ruin his hopes for love?

Publisher's note: This book is a revised, re-edited version of one previously released by another publisher under the same title.

There is nothing greater than two geeks in one book, but add a kilt wearing geek on a ladder and you have gold. I loved the hell out of this cute story, and it’s one of those I would love reading another 100pgs.

Blake Theriot is a research librarian and he spends all his day surrounded by books (he's a total book nerd). He also enjoys the time he spends with his niece and cooking, after his last disastrous relationship Blake isn't looking for a relationship. He likes order, lists, and making plans and adding that in a relationship has taught him a hard lesson. So yeh, single life isn't anything to celebrate but no one can hurt him that way. So when Greg MacIntyre moves in next door, Blake is taking notice. Greg is sex on legs, and sometimes you get to see those legs because Greg is the kilt wearing type. When his evil genius niece suggest they invite Greg over for dinner, Blake knows he's gonna lose his heart and pop serious boners at the dinner table.

Hard to fathom Greg being interested in him but it turns out that he is and their chemistry is off the chain. But of course there’s the doubt that eventually Greg will tire of him eventually so what’s the point in even starting something. It will take his niece and sister to show him how much of an idiot he's being, and maybe having Greg in his life wearing kilts on a ladder might be worth a little heartache.

I really liked this one, very cute and sexy because two nerds are better than one. Really like Blake, he's all bookish, insecure, and I love a man that can cook. Greg wears a kilt on a ladder (nough said). Together their cute, though not enough pages to delve in their relationship the impression is that their solid and will make it. A cute short read!

Geek Level: A solid 4 out of 5. Greg is an Astronomy professor and he says something that are just so smart and he watches The Last Airbender with Blake's niece. Blake is just geeky and loves books with the added nerd factor of his upcoming geeky niece (also into astronomy).

4 Pants Off

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Review: Nobody's Hero by Katey Hawthorne

Reviewed by Fehu
Nobody's Hero (Superpowered Love #3) by Katey Hawthorne
Novel: 344pgs
3.5 Pants Off

Jamie Monday lives in two different worlds. With his family, he's the golden child of awakened superpowered society. He's meant to do Great Things and pass on his powers -- with the appropriate girl, hand-picked by his mother.

He's already failed at the former, so he can't bring himself to tell her that the latter isn't happening, either.

With his friends, he's the social director and life of the party. He's also an out gay man with an appetite for the quick and easy lay. It's tough to have a relationship when you're hiding off-the-charts electrical powers, but Jamie doesn't mind.

Not until the prickly, paddy rocking, geeky-hot new guy at work shows him what he's been missing, anyhow. Kellan Shea's singular combination of dirty mouth and pure soul makes Jamie spark right from the beginning. To break through Kelly's defensive front and get to the gentle heart inside, Jamie will have to reconcile his split life: come to terms with his past, his family, his powers, even his nightmares.

Easier said than done, but if Jamie doesn't step up and own the truth, he could lose his love before it gets off the ground.

Short Review:
Book chemistry strikes again! Jamie is a flirt and somewhat of a slut, with paranormal abilities. It's also his abilities that make him very valuable as a match in an arranged marriage, on which his family keeps insisting. The problem is just that Jamie is gay and doesn't really want to marry his intended and that he has found a guy at work, an IT-nerd, whom he likes, Kellan. Of course no one in his family knows that Jamie is in fact gay and he is not planning to tell them anytime soon! When Kellan and Jamie meet for the first time sparks fly, but of course they have to work through some difficulties like Jamie having to tell Kellan about his powers and his family.

Nice story, but I didn't love it, since I couldn't really connect to the characters and get into the story fully. It was a bit predictable from the start and the paranormal elements were not all that much brought into play, which is a pity. It's the first book I've read by this author and apparently there were two before this one, so I might just miss some information needed to enjoy this one more. I loved Kellan's cats really cute!

Geek Level: Kellan and Jamie bond over comics and superheroes, Spiderman for one. When Jamie visits Kellan at his flat, there is a Spiderman poster and some application, so that's point one for geekiness, the glasses and the IT-job bring two points. Geekiness is not the major focus of this story, but it plays a role. So this one get's 3 points out of 5.

3.5 Pants Off

Guest Post: Kim Fielding Is A Geek

A reviewer recently wrote of one of my books:

I feel like this is just an insulting portrayal of what the author thinks a geek is like but has never actually liked one.

This is the first time in my life I have been accused of insufficient geekiness. Not only do I count many geeks among my friends and coworkers, not only am I married to one, but I am one myself.

You want proof, you say? Well, it began in childhood with a taste for science fiction and fantasy. The very first movie I ever went to with a boy was in 6th grade, and it was Star Wars. My first job was a volunteer gig at a science museum. In 9th grade I won a trophy (which I may still have somewhere) for the highest science grade in my school. Junior high was also when I learned to program in BASIC.

My geekiness did not diminish in high school. I took AP classes. I wrote bad poetry. When I was 16, I looked like this:

I competed on the speech team. I kicked butt at Trivial Pursuit (except the sports questions). Even when I went through my punk phase (Ramones T-shirt, ragged Levis, safety pin in ear), I was a punk geek. I was a National Merit Semifinalist:

After high school came college and then the great bastion of geekdom, graduate school, where I spent eight years earning not one, not two, but three graduate degrees. Yes, my degrees were in the social sciences rather than the hard sciences, but I was the first person among my peers to learn to use e-mail and browse the World Wide Web (using Mosaic on my Mac, in fact). That has to count for something.

I married a guy who became an accountant. I got a job in academia, where geeks rule. I wrote Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan fiction. When I travel, I take pictures of my Spike the Vampire doll posing in front of scenery. I have also knitted an anatomically correct Spike doll. I gave birth to two wonderful geeky daughters: the 13-year-old is the county spelling bee champ, a Harry Potter fan, and an author of Merlin fanfic; and the 10-year-old plays elaborate video games and creates scale models of buildings. Here’s a photo she took today of Spike (not the X-rated one) destroying the Eiffel Tower:

In short, I think my geek creds are pretty strong, and I’m proud of them.

Many of my characters fall well into geeky territory. Dylan Warner from Good Bones may be a werewolf, but he’s also an architect with a soul patch, who buys organic and listens to the Decemberists. Jeff Dawkins from Venetian Masks is an IT guy from Sacramento. He’s the sort of person who keeps track of all his purchases on an iPhone app and meticulously follows Rick Steves' travel recommendations. When my maimed giant in Brute is granted a royal boon, instead of honorary titles or gold he asks for lessons in learning to read. Even rough, tough ex-con Aiden Finn from Night Shift joins a classics book club.

I don’t just like geeks—I love them... in all their marvelous diversity.

Kim Fielding:

Be sure to enter to win Venetian Masks in the Giveaway...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Review: Venetian Masks by Kim Fielding

Reviewed by Fehu
Venetian Masks by Kim Fielding
Dreamspinner Press
Novel: 216pgs
4 Pants Off

Jeff Dawkins’s last partner left him with a mortgage he can’t afford and nonrefundable tickets for a month’s vacation in Europe. Despite a reluctance to travel, Jeff decides to go on the trip anyway. After all, he’s already paid for it. He packs a Kindle loaded with gay romance novels and arrives in Venice full of trepidation. There he meets the handsome and charming expat Cleve Prieto, who offers to serve as his tour guide. Jeff has serious misgivings—he wasn’t born yesterday, and something about Cleve doesn’t sit right—but anything is better than wandering the canals alone. With Cleve’s help, Jeff falls in love with Venice and begins to reconcile with his past. For the first time, Jeff finds himself developing strong feelings for someone else. But he can’t be sure who that person is because Cleve’s background remains a mystery embroidered with lies.

Then a dark figure from Cleve’s past appears, and Jeff must choose whether to let Cleve flee alone or to join him on a desperate run through central Europe. Maybe Jeff will finally be able to see behind Cleve’s masks—if he survives the journey.

Jeff's ex-boyfriend left him with non-refundable tickets for their Europe trip and a mortgage to pay, when he broke up with him. So what does the predictable and reliable IT-guy to do? He actually goes on their planned vacation to Italy, Venice after some nagging from his mother.

The story has an interesting beginning. What would one do with non-refundable tickets and booked time-shares in some of the most interesting European cities? It reminds me a bit of an adventure novel, where you can choose your own adventure and the story was a bit like that, since Jeff's decisions were anything but rational or sane or believable, but it was fun to follow him down the rabbit hole!

So the game begins: a geeky IT-guy has two choices going on vacation in Europe (he never traveled outside the USA before and not much inside the USA) or be adventurous and accept the challenge. He goes for adventure, but with well researched and planned actions, spending diary and all. Jeff doesn't appear very exciting or adventurous at first just your normal guy, who likes security and plans ahead.

Next step in the game is: Jeff meets a hot guy after arriving in Venice and has the chance to take the mysterious American guy on his offer to pay him, to be Jeff's guide for the length of his visit. What would you do? Again Jeff goes for the interesting option, which you would not expect from him, what with the spending diary and all, since he is worried about the money at the beginning, but then doesn't mind paying 100 Euros for the day to the mysterious Cleve, plus meals and tickets.

Cleve and Jeff are attracted to each other and come together pretty quick, at least they have sex after a few days of knowing each other. So what would one do after one sleeps with a guy, who then steals one's money and credit cards? One option would be to cancel the card, be hurt, angry and go to the police. Second option, which is not rational, but one might be in love, so one tries to find the guy. Jeff sees that a charge was made for a ticket to Croatia and so he chooses option two and follows the guy to another country!

When he finds out that Cleve is a former porn star, was involved with a Mafioso, who is still chasing him (who would not believe such a story???) Jeff takes another unexpected and dare I say less than sane option, to confess his love and join Cleve on his flight from the evil gangster. All ends well, even if one Kindle is destroyed to serve a higher purpose and in defence of one’s love! So what would you do at the end? Leave the guy you’ve only known a month tops? Or bring him back to the USA to meet your parents and to live with you? After I described all of Jeff's decision, I think you can guess the answer. ^_^

Geek Level: Hmm, actually with all this irrational decisions and spontaneity, Jeff earned some adventurous credits. At the beginning he was a bit geekier what with all the research, the geeky profession as an IT-guy for a time-share and the planed live. Oh and he gets some points for his love of Kindle romance novels, with dubious historical correctness (Cleve read some aloud). Plus geek point for using face recognition software to find out about Cleve's (no normal guy would think of that!). Out of 5 geek points, for profession, behaviour, looks, hobbies and favorite references to movies/TV shows, this books scores 2 points.

Should You Read It? I think this is one of the books you either like or hate. I liked it, love the detailed description of Venice, it reminded me of my own stay there. The novel is well written and well researched, it's mostly fun and light, and an easy read for a train ride, a rainy day or for the beach. It's mostly plot driven, but the plot isn't exactly very complex. And you have to bring some sense of adventure into it. So Jeff's reactions and decision are not exactly what I would do, but they make for a great holiday adventure/ romance story.

4 Pants Off

Review: Bennie's Wish by Xara Xanakas

Bennie's Wish by Xara X. Xanakas
Dreamspinner Press
Short Story: 74pgs
3.75 Pants Off

For years, Ally Theodisius has suspected his “friends” have been humoring him to stay in his good graces—and his wallet—so when a No Pants Day breakfast ends in his humiliation, he finally takes a stand.

When model Bennie Arnold runs into Ally, his first impression is of a cute, adorably dimpled writer in dire need of a real friend. Bennie would be happy to fill the role. There’s just one little problem: he’s going commando, and it happens to be No Pants Day. If he has any hope of getting his wish, Bennie will have to use his best assets to convince Ally he’s the real deal.

Ally Theodisius is rich and wants to be a writer, but all his work keeps getting rejected. He can't understand why, when his friends are saying that his work is genius. Ally suspects that they might just be leading him on to keep on spending his money, and he could maybe go so far as ruling them out as friends. His entire life has consisted of people being kind to him because of what he could offer them, and he wonders why he even keeps around the leeches but in the end it beats being completely alone. It's No Pants Day and his so called friends are finding ways to spend his money again, and after reading some of his writing Ally is going to give his friends one more chance to prove some sort of sincerity and then take it from there.

Ally is a little apprehensive about not wearing pants because of his less than stellar body (his opinion and pointed out by his douchbag leeches) he decided to make it work. They hit up a local restaurant where Ally sees a beautiful man and is instantly smitten. But of course said man is out of league that is until he is approached by the beauty and he realizes that this man calling himself Bennie is nothing but a prostitute (or is he?) Ally is humiliated by how low his friend's are willing to stoop to get him laid, but he's taking it no more. As the saying goes "don't bite the hand that feeds you" and clearly Ally Theodisius has been bitten too many times.

This is another story that I wished was longer, Bennie and Ally are so super cute that I wanted them to have more pages. I liked and was frustrated by the whole prostitute situation. I could understand Ally believing the worst, because a good-looking guy like Bennie has never shown interest in him without money somehow being involved. I just wanted Bennie to shout "Hey I like you and those sexy dimples and I gots my own money" would that have been so hard? Don't even get me started on those sorry excuse for friends, I loathe them and wanted them to cry just a little (leech ass Mofos).

In the end it was a really cute story with likable characters so likable that they needed another 100pgs more. I hope I see them again because I am missing out sexy scene time because somehow I feel like they would set fire to the pages.

Geek Level: 2.5 out of 5. Ally is clearly geek but it doesn't really get set in the story until the very end. kudos for the celebrating of No Pants Day, but the icing on the cake was Towel Day ( Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy). I feel like if it were longer it would have been a strong 4 geek wise.

Guest Post: The Caring and Feeding of your Nerd, Geek, or Dork by Salome Wilde

While many writers of MM erotica and romance can’t get enough of beefy broncos or tasty twinks, there are plenty of us who enjoy main characters that reflect a wide and wonderful variety of gawky, gangly, and gitty gorgeousness. In service of the mission of Pants Off’s Geek Week, I offer the following classification of geeky types—both arbitrary and idiosyncratic, followed by a quiz to determine your ideal geeky type as a reader.

The Nerd: Hyperintellectual and at times fussy, the Nerd is the highest in social functioning of the geeky types. Has to be reminded there is a world outside the mind and that spontaneity is not his enemy. Can be pedantic, even in bed, but a little voice inside tells him he needs someone to shake up his world.

The Geek: The most obsessive of the types, the Geek doesn’t sail the seas of social interaction well unless he’s in his element of SF fandom, gaming, or doodling physics equations. Can be neat or messy, but never free of clutter—in mind or home. Still, there’s a heart strongly beating for companionship in there.

The Dork: Akin to the Dweeb and the Nebbish, the Dork is most likely to benefit from a makeover. While he may contain elements of the Nerd or the Geek, he is most defined by his social awkwardness, even unto cluelessness, and his lack of style. Lots of untapped potential is what makes the Dork most alluring.

Now that we have some clarification, on with the quiz!

First, put yourself in the position of your generally preferred mm romance character type and assume he is looking for geeky action. Next, envision the scenario of a casual blind date where you meet up at a coffee bar in a local bookstore (as if those exist anymore). Now, select your preferences by letter based on the following prompts.

1. On the t-shirt your date wears is:

a. An image of Einstein with mathematical equations floating around him.
b. An image of Einstein doing the Vulcan salute.
c. An image of Einstein in sunglasses, dappled with grease stains.

2. His conversation starter is:

a. “I’ve always been more of a tea drinker.”
b. “I prefer the Nicaraguan blend, but only iced.”
c. “Oh crudsicles, I’ve spilled my drink.”

3. His hair is:

a. Neatly trimmed.
b. Messy (or is that a failed attempt at style?)
c. In need of a good wash and trim.

4. When you invite him to come back to your place, he:

a. Blinks rapidly and sips his tea.
b. Replies with an offer to play WOW at his apartment instead.
c. Blushes and nearly kicks the table over.

5. When you walk out with him and push him up against the wall for a kiss, he:

a. Is flabbergasted, adjusts position, and then gives in.
b. Indulges with sloppy abandon.
c. Bangs teeth with you and almost bites your tongue, but doesn’t give up.

6. When you ask him for a second date, he:

a. Agrees genially, and insists on deciding the location.
b. Checks the calendar on his smart phone to make sure he doesn’t miss LARP night.
c. Is so astonished you want a second date that all he can do is nod vigorously.

7. When, sometime later, you end up in bed, he confesses his virginity, and:

a. Is a bit uptight about fluids, but you’re too in love to care.
b. Asks if you want to roleplay Battlestar Galactica, but you’re too in love to care.
c. Has no idea what he’s doing and almost falls off the bed, but you’re too in love to care.

Now total up your responses by letter:

Mostly A’s: The Nerd type suits you best.
Mostly B’s: Gotta be the Geek for you.
Mostly C’s: Get yourself a Dork and party on!
A Mix: Congratulations: it’s all good for you, and the categories I’ve come up with are as silly as they seem.

Closing confession: This post has inspired me with the idea of creating symbols for publishers to place on the back of books containing geeky characters to help classify them. Does that make me a nerd, a geek, or a dork?


Salome Wilde is the author of pansexual erotica and queer romance in diverse print and ebook collections. The first volume in her co-written mm romance novella series, After the First Taste of Love, is available from Storm Moon Press and features her beloved mixed-race nerd hottie Angelo delValle. Follow @salomewilde on Twitter and visit for more.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Review: Dirty Laundry by Heidi Cullinan

Reviewed by Fehu
Dirty Laundry (Tucker Spring #3) by Heidi Cullinan
Riptide Publishing
Novel: 265pgs
3.75 Pants Off

The course of true love doesn’t always run clean. But sometimes getting dirty is half the fun.

Entomology grad student Adam Ellery meets Denver Rogers, a muscle-bound hunk of sexy, when Denver effortlessly dispatches the drunken frat boys harassing Adam at the Tucker Springs laundromat. Thanking him turns into flirting, and then, much to Adam’s delight, hot sex over the laundry table.

Though Denver’s job as a bouncer at a gay bar means he gets his pick of geek-sexy college twinks, he can’t get Adam out of his head. Adam seems to need the same rough play Denver does, and it’s damn hard to say no to such a perfect fit.

Trouble is, Adam isn’t just shy: he has obsessive compulsive disorder and clinical anxiety, conditions which have ruined past relationships. And while Denver might be able to bench-press a pile of grad students, he comes from a history of abuse and is terrified of getting his GED. Neither Denver nor Adam want to face their dirty laundry, but to stay together, they’re going to have to come clean.

This title is part of the Tucker Springs universe.

A geek and a bouncer meet in a Laundromat. It does sound like a joke...or the beginning of a porn movie, which is not far from what happened after the geeky grad-student; Adam is rescued by Denver, a gay bouncer from a nearby gay club, when Adam is harassed by some drunken frat boys.

Adam is working on his PhD in Entomology, so he gets geek points for the studying the subject and some more for choosing and being exited about hawk moth. I can honestly say I've learned more about the hawk moth from this book, than you'd imagine one could reading an m/m romance. Did you know that you could mistake the hawk moth for a humming bird in flight? No, me neither and I had to Google the moth. Well if he had to study bugs, moth isn't as bad as it gets, but studying any insects sounds very geeky, so that made it perfect for the geek week.

I liked the combo of a geek with a bouncer, not exactly innovative, but a nice contrast. What made the book quite unique was Adam's OCD and how it was handled here. OCD played a big part of this story and I liked the fact the Adam had weaknesses, had issues, it made him appear more fleshed out and real and that was also a bit of a distraction. A lot of the book deals with Adam's issues, like not being able to tolerate other people in his place or being in their place, his panic attacks, his angst and self-criticism. He appears in full colour and other characters dim in comparison, even Denver his lover, is not as fleshed out. Secondary characters like Louisa, a Trans* woman and even his bug study group or the ex-boyfriend Brad, pale in comparison to Adams characterisation, which is a shame, since I thought Louisa had a lot of potential, as did Oliver. The book wasn't short, over 200 pages so there was room for development and I think with less sex we could have a bit more geekiness and more detailed characters.

Still I enjoyed the romance and even all the issues for 3/4 of the book and it was going for more than 4 pants, but then something changed. I'm not big on BDSM and it was there from the beginning, but mostly in a lighter form. Actually this is one of the authors who writes that kink in a way that I can enjoy, it's usually not light. My problem here was the punishment and the mental health issues. Adam wanted to be punished after he had freaked out, punished for not  being able to handle his OCD and I'm sorry but that felt wrong with me. Denver has issues of his own; we find out that he has a learning disability and a lot of self-worth issues. They do make quite the pair, but they fit, just the punishments in regard with Adams OCD behaviour made me uneasy. Also the last quarter of the book feels a bit rushed, since all things happen pretty fast and they are building their own house already.

Geek Level: Well this book gets 2 geek points for study subject and choice of profession, sadly the geeky stuff was bugs and some of Adams appearance, and no other geeky trivia was mentioned!

Should You Read It? It depends, I enjoyed it, it's well written for one, some missing words aside. There is a plot and I think it deals with a common trope of geek/ muscle stud in an interesting way, adding some unique twist to the theme through the mental issues. For people who want an easy romance, the OCD might be a bit too much, since it really is a big part of the story, which made the plot more believable and added to it, at least in mine opinion, but I can see how people might find it too much for a m/m romance book. Also the BDSM part is not everyone’s cup of tea, but if one doesn't mind these two points, than this will be a good and intriguing book to discover!

Review: Social Skills by Sara Alva

Social Skills by Sara Alva
Novel: 357pgs
3.5 Pants Off

Music is the only form of communication Connor Owens controls. No matter how badly he wishes to fit in, friendly banter and casual conversations have never been his thing. College is yet another social universe he has no clue how to navigate—until he meets Jared, a football player with chestnut eyes and a cocky grin that holds the power to shatter his self-imposed prison.

Jared's attention opens Connor up to a new realm of emotional and physical intimacy. But as Connor's self-confidence grows, so does his fear that everything will fall apart. Because in this socially stratified world, how long can a relationship between an introverted violinist and a closeted football player really last?

Connor Owens is extremely shy, and the only time he seems to shine is when he's playing the violin. The music takes over and he gets lost in a world where he speaks through his music and everything seems easier. Connor really wants to fit in, and being in college is a time for socializing and making new friends. Yet, the words always get lost in Connor's throat and leave him feeling silly. He does manage to make a friend in that of his music stand partner. When Connor is asked to tutor two jocks, his shyness and not wanting to hurt his professor's feelings have him saying yes. But when the actual time for tutoring is to begin, Connor just hopes he doesn't bomb and/or completely embarrass himself.

One of the boys he has to tutor is Jared, and Jared is the kind of guy that Connor finds attractive but alas Jared is the typical jock who is insanely popular with the beautiful girlfriend. Connor knows he could never be anymore than his tutor or something even as close as an acquaintance but when a true friendship begins to develop Connor is walking on cloud nine because nothing could be better. That is until Jared kisses him for the first time and Connor realizes he's getting more from Jared than he could have possibly dreamed. Downside, their relationship has to stay hidden behind the walls of Connor's room. But it's alright, Connor is willing to take scraps if it’s coming from Jared and he's just happy with their cozy little love nest. That is until the walls start to crumble and keeping their relationship a secret starts to hurt Connor more than he ever expected. It might be a case of love gained and then lost.

On one hand I really enjoyed this story, but on the other hand I feel like it followed the typical nerd/jock trope. From keeping the relationship under lock and key then being suddenly outed and riding the storms. I guess I was expecting more but it failed to meet my expectations. Even with my misgiving, there is a lot to like about this story. For on the evolution of Connor Owens was really great to read, he went from a social outsider to a man actually making an attempt to speak up. He didn't become a social butterfly overnight which makes his character believable and enjoyable. Jared, my feelings are mixed on him. I feel like I have read his type so many times that I am far from being sympathetic. Then he had the audacity to pull a jealous type of boyfriend thing, gawww it just freaking annoyed me. I started to like him close to the end when he was showing actual courage.

The lowest point for me was the situation with Jared's ex-girlfriend. I am trying to understand her actual purpose, apart from outing them to the entire college. Writing a mental illness is delicate enough but...I just don't see how she worked into the storyline (I guess helping her out showed both Connor and Jared's caring side). Yeh didn't like that part of the story.

Geek Level: A 2.5 out of 5. Connor is a music geek and dude does all the reading for school (I mean all his reading). He's smart enough to be a tutor, reads a little science fiction and his social anxiety really says geek. Though not 100% a part of the storyline, he still does a little geek.

Should You Read It? If you're a fan of the nerd/jock finding love trope, then yes this book might be it for you. As I said I did like it, but was sorta expecting more and was hoping it would step away from the usual set up. I really liked Connor and have feels like he deserves more than Jared (he certainly does) but alas the heart wants what the heart wants. A good job by Sara Alva, and I am looking forward to more books by the author.

3.5 Pants Off
Be sure to enter to win Social Skills in the Giveaway...

Guest Post: Music Nerd by Sara Alva

If you got the above joke, you’re probably a music nerd. Whether you’re an orchestra dork or a band geek, you are part of a culture with its own special language, its own cliques, and its own cheesy inside jokes.

So what makes an instrumental musician a dork or a geek? Maybe it’s our tendency to name our instruments. Could be the rosin on our shirts or the “hickey” from the chin rest on our necks or the funny faces we make when we play. There’s also the alone time we need for practicing, which often appeals to shyer individuals. But all of that shyness, dorkhood and geekdom disappears when we have our instruments in hand, when we’re confident about a piece we’re playing and have the need to share that music with the world.

Connor, the main character in my novel Social Skills, wears the title of orchestra dork with…well, let’s not say pride, but full awareness. He’s socially inept in the real world, but finds a place to belong when he has his violin in his hands. At the start of the novel, music is his only place for confidence. It takes romance, heartbreak, and risk before he’s able to find that his strength can extend beyond the notes he plays.

Outside the pages of a novel, there’s still a lot of opportunity for cool for any music nerd. While Connor and others like him may not realize this during the socially split years of middle and high school, it turns out some people actually find musical ability pretty darn attractive. I grew to learn during college and adulthood that I did hold a certain kind of power—a way to communicate emotions and experiences without words.

And hey, we’re free to break the stereotypes as well. There are electric options for nearly all acoustic instruments now (I may or may not have a purple S-shaped electric violin), and plenty of rock music that makes use of orchestral instrumentation. We can break out of the mold, find new ways of bringing music to people who don’t frequent orchestra halls, add a little flair, and show the world just how sexy music nerds can be.

To that end, I leave you with some musical pickup lines:

This cello isn't the only big wood between my legs.
You can tickle my ivories anytime, baby.
You had me at cello.
Excuse me, do you believe in premarital sax?
You be the conductor, I’ll be the fermata. You can hold me as long as you’d like.
I'd like to finger your fret board.
I C Major potential in us getting together.
Good boys deserve more than just fudge.
Baby when we’re done, you’re gonna need a whole rest.

*cue collective groan*


Social Skills by Sara Alva

Music is the only form of communication Connor Owens controls. No matter how badly he wishes to fit in, friendly banter and casual conversations have never been his thing. College is yet another social universe he has no clue how to navigate—until he meets Jared, a football player with chestnut eyes and a cocky grin that holds the power to shatter his self-imposed prison

 Jared's attention opens Connor up to a new realm of emotional and physical intimacy. But as Connor's self-confidence grows, so does his fear that everything will fall apart. Because in this socially stratified world, how long can a relationship between an introverted violinist and a closeted football player really last?


"Seriously, dude. No roommate? That's fucking awesome." Jared breathed with a sigh, settling himself on the empty bed across from Connor's. "I mean, don't get me wrong, Ben's a cool guy and all, but…wow. No roommate. I wouldn't mind that."

Connor shrugged. He'd only grown less and less sure of how to behave as their strange day together wore on, and now Jared was in his space—his sanctuary—and there'd be nowhere to run to if things got awkward.

Or with his track record, when things got awkward.

"All right then, no more excuses. Play for me, maestro."

Ordinarily, Connor hated playing for private audiences. But at this point, it seemed like the safest thing he could possibly do with Jared in the room. At least it would offer him a much-needed break from his anxiety.

He took out his violin and set some sheet music on his miserably bent wire stand, just so he wouldn't be caught in his lie from earlier. Then, with only a deep breath to bolster him, he launched into the first thing he could think of—the solo from Scheherazade.

It was a haunting melody, wistful and yearning, yet with a touch of hopefulness to it at the same time. The room and the tension slipped away as he drew the bow across the strings, his fingers vibrating with emotion—a simple task given what kinship he felt with the piece. It was so easy in this space to express himself, to make perfectly clear who he was and what he wanted from life. If only it were possible to speak with these notes in the real world.

He pulled the last sweet note to completion and kept his bow poised on the string, soaking in the final drops of security.

"Jesus, that was incredible." Jared's awestruck whisper dropped into the charged silence. "You're fucking amazing."

Connor shook his head. "N-not really…I'm not playing the solo for the concert or anything."

"Well you should be," Jared said, standing and walking toward him.

Connor blinked a few times as Jared was suddenly taking hold of his violin. He rarely if ever let non-musicians handle it, but he couldn't seem to find the willpower to either stop Jared or put the violin away himself.

With great care, Jared took his instrument and bow and laid them on the bed, then walked back to him. He grasped Connor's left hand and turned it over in his open palm. "What did I tell you—you have great hand coordination." His thick fingers flitted over Connor's more slender ones. They paused to feel each fingertip, lingering in the faint grooves from the violin strings.

Connor closed his eyes, his mind reeling. Jared stood far too close, and the touching was beyond any contingency he'd ever planned for. If he didn't keep a grip on himself, his body might decide to do something without his consent. Something he'd never live down. Something that would force him to drop out of school and move to a cabin in the middle of the woods, where he wouldn't have to face this ultimate humiliation ever again.

"Your fingers are so nice," Jared murmured. "Mine are like bear paws…"

Still hiding behind closed lids, Connor didn't realize a tear had slipped out until a rough thumb brushed his cheek. And he certainly didn't realize how impossibly close Jared had gotten until he felt pressure against his lips—soft, pliable skin, sliding over his, with the hint of a tongue begging for entry into his mouth.

Buy Links: Amazon ||AllRomanceEbooks ||Smashwords

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Review: Your Biggest Fan by Missy Welsh

Your Biggest Fan (Greek's Invented Love #1) by Missy Welsh
Novella: 160pgs
4 Pants Off

Truman Durant has two painful secrets. One keeps him in the closet and the other hangs inside his closet. Letting either out seems like the equivalent of suicide to him. He didn’t know just how badly he needed Stasi Manolis until he found himself in the pushy Greek’s sights. Would giving up his secrets and maybe falling in love really be so bad?

My first book by Missy Welsh was My Summer of Wes which is absolutely awesmazing. So I was really excited to read Your Biggest Fan, but man I wasn’t expecting the amount of sexy that’s in the story. Plus, nothing gets me happy like a man who likes to dress up a bit.

Truman Durant has two secrets and both leave him with crippling fear if anyone was to ever find out. He fears that he will lose his friends and the athletic scholarship he got, because Truman doesn't want to live in his car like he once had to. A scandal caused him to lose his family, home, and just thinking about it happening again makes him break out in a cold sweat. You see, Truman is gay and he likes to dress up in woman's clothes now and again. There times he gets caught in overwhelming need and finds hook-ups on the internet but they always leave him feeling dirty and used. Yet, he feels like it’s the only thing he deserves and keeps his closely guarded secrets under lock and key. That is until there was Stasi Manolis, a big whole Greek who got by all his defences and healed his heart.

Stasi Manolis is out and proud, and confident in whom he is. He's tired of taking smack from the jock fraternity so he's gonna crash one of their parties. Not really for the purpose of causing trouble, but for his eyes to land on the blonde beauty that is Truman Durant. Stasi notices that Truman is skittish but interested and he's willing do anything to get his attention (not as creepy as it sounds). What he finds out about Truman while in caring stalker mode, both surprises and excited him. Seems his stunning blonde beauty is also a bombshell.

The men begin a tentative relationship, mostly due to Truman's experience; Stasi becomes a friend, and also a lover. Stasi is out and proud but Truman is stuck in the closet, and just the thought of coming out leaves him in crippling fear. So their relationship has to be a secret, and it means Truman gets to dress up in pretty clothes only for Stasi. A disaster comes in the form of Truman's frat brother, who’s a complete homophobic asshole, but it’s not all complete angst. There's light at the end of the tunnel, and Truman gets the light hearted feeling he's longed for plus a hot hairy Greek sex god.

I really liked this one, loved the whole cross-dressing and Truman was a real sweetie. I just could not understand how he was so clueless, I can understand him being wrapped up in his fear but man...he really had no idea and his hiding wasn't needed. I liked Stasi too, so glad he made an appearance in Truman's life because Truman was playing a dangerous game with internet hook-ups (dangerous game). He needed his big hairy Greek to teach him to love himself.

Geek Level: This one is a low 2 out of 5. Yes Truman is jock but he's also super smart and dedicated to his work. He's loves Algebra and Chemistry (total nerd) and he wears glasses to read which kicks up the geek level a notch. His nerdiness wasn't the overall focus of the book, so we didn't get geek all the time. He's still a nerd though  :D

4 Pants Off

Review: How To Repair A Mechanical Heart by J.C Lillis

How To Repair A Mechanical Heart by J.C Lillis
Novel: 255pgs
5+ Pants Off

Eighteen-year-old Castaway Planet fans Brandon and Abel hate bad fan fiction—especially when it pairs their number-one TV crushes of all time, dashing space captain Cadmus and dapper android Sim. As co-runners of the Internet’s third most popular Castaway Planet vlog, they love to spar with the “Cadsim” fangirls who think Cadmus will melt Sim’s mechanical heart by the Season 5 finale. This summer, Brandon and Abel have a mission: hit the road in an RV to follow the traveling Castaway Planet convention, interview the actors and showrunner, and uncover proof that a legit Cadsim romance will NEVER, EVER HAPPEN.

A Brandon and Abel romance: also not happening. Brandon’s sick of his struggle to make “gay and Catholic” compute, so it’s safer to love a TV android. Plus Abel’s got a hot new boyfriend with a phoenix tattoo, and how can Brandon compete with that? But when mysterious messages about them start popping up in the fan community, they make a shocking discovery that slowly forces their real feelings to the surface. Before they get to the last Castaway Planet convention, Brandon’s going to find out the truth: can a mechanical heart be reprogrammed, or will his first shot at love be a full system failure?

I am legit happy out of mind for this book, excuse me while I go rabid fangirl and try to put down in words all my feels. This is by far my most favest YA book EVA, filled with so much love that captures that in between from young and carefree to adulthood. But mostly it’s so perfectly fandom that my fanfic loving heart was so super happy. How To Repair A Mechanical Heart is shiniest of gems.

Brandon & Abel are huge Castaway Planet fans, and they're planning to do a roadtrip along with their friend Bec, and be at every stop for the Castie-con to ask the most important question: "Is there a legit possibility that Cadmus & Sim could hook-up?" the awesome attractive leads of CP. Brandon and Able are very against Cadsim, and has started an online war with fangirls about their fanfiction and how totally bogus an actual hook-up is. While that all sounds exciting, there’s a war raging inside of Brandon, first he lied to his parents about Abel tagging along, and second his lies to Abel has made him into a person he's not. Yes, his parents know about him being gay, but they're not 100% ok with it and most importantly Brandon isn't sure he's 100% ok with it himself.

So the summer comes down to battling fanfic fangirls, and Brandon struggling to control the voices inside while fighting the feelings he may or may not be having for Abel. Things take an interesting turn when Hells Bells appear on the scene, first it seems they might be fanatics turn crazy stalker spies but Abel and Brandon get the shock of their life when they find out that they HB is actually Shipping them (say what the actual feck now?) and they're calling it Abandon. Abel is completely stokes on the idea but Brandon is a little apprehensive cus its like some of the writers went into his very soul and started writing words on paper. One thing is for sure, this summer all secrets get revealed and maybe Abandon was meant to be after all.

There is so much to love about this story, just so freaking much! First, Brandon & Abel are awesome interesting characters that fill the pages with their youth. Where Abel don't gives a fuck attitude is amazing, Brandon's somewhat introverted ways create a perfect balance. It’s like "what the hella" that they aren't together during most of the books (to me though they were always together and just needed some push). Second, their online war with the fangirls is what Awesmazing is made of, plus with the Church of Abandon shit got very real. I laughed so freaking hard and totally got real fangirl feels (it was like reading me on pages). Third, Brandon's very real in your face emotions. His expressions are raw, and he's messed up on a level that is total teenage boy angsty and it really draws the reader in he’s relatable on so many levels.

This book made me filled with rainbows and sunshine wrapped in sprinkling of unicorn dust. One of the very best YA books out there, for originality and being made of total Geek. As a lover of fanfic myself this book really hit hard on many a levels (fangirls know what I'm talking bout).

I just have one thing to say to J.C Lillis "I NOW WORSHIP YOU, NEVER STOP WRITING WORDS!”  :D

Geek Level: On a scale of 1 to 5, this is most definitely a 5 of epic proportions. This book is geek layered in geek and then wrapped up in more geek for the road. Brandon and Abel fully carry around Action figures of their favourite Castaway Planet Characters, and recite lines from the show to add into their daily lives. If that isn't geek...then I don't know how to help you. Gawww, this book is freaking amazing I wanna rip of my clothes cus of so many feels.

5+ Pants Off
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Guest Post: The Matrix of Geekdom by Lex Chase

Hello, I’m Lex Chase, the brainchild behind the superhero romantic comedy Pawn Takes Rook, the first book in the Checkmate series from Dreamspinner Press. I want to thank Pants Off for letting me join in for Geek Week. It seems Geek Week was an event that the universe seemed to have made for me and others like me. I answer the question of what is it to be a geek and have written a book that celebrates geekdom.

To be a dirty hipster for a moment, I was a geek before being geeky was cool. I was a geek when it seriously wasn’t cool and I honestly wished I could have been anything else. But I never really made a conscious shift of giving up comic books to become a cheerleader. Cheerleaders in my small middle school world were selfish and self-centered, I was not those things, and apparently Fox’s Glee plays this stereotype quite well. Geeks and nerds of all ilks I’ve learned growing up are rather caring individuals. They’re polite, they pick you up when you’re down, and they’re passionate about their interests. But then, yeah, you have a few rotten eggs in the bunch that ruin it all for everyone because My Fandom Is Better Than Your Fandom or the ones that were obviously raised by rabid hyenas. Let’s not focus on them. Let’s focus on the awesome.

My novella, Pawn Takes Rook, is a tiny morsel of how being nerdy is actually pretty cool. Our protagonist, Hogarth Dawson, is a 23 year old that was pretty much raised by the internet. He grew up on I Can Haz Cheezeburger, YouTube, Internet Memes, Videogames, and Nyan Cat. He is a very current nerd, he’s very now and in the moment. However, in the case of his partner in crime, the stoic Memphis Rook who has been on the planet longer than he cares to admit but is a gigantic nerd for all things ‘80s, these references go sailing over Hogarth’s head. The generation gap is one thing, but the generation gap in geekdom is another. The good news is like all geeks, they can find common ground—to a point. Rook is more into the original Terminator film and Hogarth is more about Terminator: Salvation. Like comedian Bill Engvall says about his and his daughter’s musical interests: “I don’t mind my daughter’s taste in music… Just my taste in music is better.” Music is still music. And Terminator is still Terminator and Star Wars is still Star Wars… Wait. Did I say that out loud? Forget I said that. Strike that remark from the books.

I think all geeks everywhere (excluding the ones raised by rabid hyenas) all seek a common ground. Or their interests intersect in some way. My own true story of the Matrix of Geekdom is I was introduced to a young lady that was an award winning costumer when at the time I was still a comic artist. When we first met, I felt she was far and beyond out of my league in maturity. However, she was rather in love with my character designs for a comic I was doing at the time. And then, a couple years later, we met up at Anime Weekend Atlanta, where she had created a costume based on one of my characters seen here:

Since then, she has become my Sister-From-Another-Mister and hopeless geek-in-arms of The Avengers, Lost, True Blood, and the Walking Dead. In return, I’ve become extremely geeky about WWII era music, and Russian opera. See? She’s getting some class in me after all.

So no matter the continents that divide us, and the miles between us, all geeks intersect at some point and find common ground. And that’s why being a geek rocks. 


Pawn Takes Rook: Blurb
The first time Hogarth Dawson sees superhero Memphis Rook, he comes to Hogarth’s rescue by cracking the heads of two thugs like eggs into a skillet. Hogarth is utterly smitten, but he soon discovers the superhero Power Alliance has ejected Rook for failing to protect a civilian.

 Hogarth devises a plan that will reinstate Rook and might even earn Hogarth a place in Power Alliance roster. But what he expects to be a simple few missions rescuing kittens and helping little old ladies cross the street turns into a shocking reality of citywide chases, foiling robberies, and facing his ex. Then Hogarth discovers the beating Rook saved him from wasn’t a chance attack. It’s possible Hogarth is just a pawn in Rook’s game….


Pawn Takes Rook: Excerpt 

When I first saw Rook, he was cracking the skulls of two goons like eggs into a skillet. I sat there like a freaked out choir boy on my butt between the trash cans lining the alley behind Ted’s TV Tabernacle, gazing in awe and wonder. Rook had hands that could mold steel like Dollar General Play-Doh. He did just that by wadding up Random Thug Number One’s Louisville Slugger into a sadistic snowball and beaned the guy right in the ear. Getting snow in your ear has to be the most excruciating sensation in existence. I can’t imagine getting Kentucky’s finest steel shoved into your noggin.

I don’t remember if I screamed. I likely did. Totally did.

Random Thug Number Two went flying past me in an expert over-the-shoulder throw, his open mouth smacking wetly into the bricks. Broken teeth bounced over the sidewalk. Random Thug Number Three ducked behind the trash cans opposite me. He popped up once in a while, hidden behind the mound of bags and cans. His alligator eyes inched over the unfolding scene from the safe vantage point of the trash bag swamp.

Rook surveyed the alley, making sure he had gotten them all. He snorted a puff of steam with menacing satisfaction at seeing one guy out cold and another on the fast track for full dentures before sixty. Then he came to me. Now, when I say he was smoldering, that’s totally what he was doing. Smoke rose off his tattered trench coat in ethereal coils. Rook’s smoking frame could have been caused by the chill of the oncoming winter and the steam of sweat, but it definitely added to the sexy first impression.

His eyes, oh my Christ on a cracker…. They were not quite blue, not quite green, but like that girl on the National Geographic cover. Those haunting Afghan eyes.

“Are you okay?” Rook rumbled in a perfect antiheroic growl while reaching for my hand. His fingers, broad, callused, and strong, hung there long enough to cue the musical montage in my head. I couldn’t believe it. The one and only Memphis Rook had swaggered into my mugging, ready to bust heads. It was like he planned it, really. Or our universes collided in some awesome poetic way that I can’t think straight at the moment because holy crap, those hands are huge!

That’s when Random Thug Number Three opposite me decided to ruin the amazing moment, popping up like a spring-loaded Halloween skeleton and launched at Rook.

Rook turned in a smooth whoosh of muscle and fabric, and I shrieked as the knife skewered into his gut. He latched onto his killer’s knife hand in surprise.

“Oh God, oh God, oh God!” I screamed. I knew in that infinitesimally dark moment, I was going to die alongside the guy who fought in vain to save my life.

Confused, the thug glared at him, then to his captured wrist, and back again. “W-what are you?” he stammered as courage ran down his pants leg.

Rook released him. The thug held up the knife with the blade crumpled onto itself like a bullet impacting a Kevlar plate. The thug backpedaled, falling backward over a black plastic trash can after slipping on a greasy Five Guys burger wrapper. He screeched, twisting in an about face, and ran like a kid who had spilled orange juice on his dad’s vintage Playboys.

Then Rook turned those Afghan eyes on me, and the musical montage returned. The sleepy, sultry lyrics to “Dream Weaver” crooned in my head along with the accompanying halo of sparkles. His hand, those powerful, thick fingers, reached for mine….

And then he flat fuck fell over in my lap like a Buick dropped from low earth orbit. Steam rose from his body in the not so sexy eau de parfum of burned rubber and gasoline. He lay there, crushing my pancreas while out cold.

And that’s how Memphis Rook fucked up my life.

By coming into it.

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