Rec: Silver in the Wood

Title: Silver in the Wood
Author: emilyenrose
Format: Novella
Published/Free: free, on ao3
Length: 19291 words
Status: Complete
Rating: Everyone (maybe Teen ?)
Warnings: None
Link: http://archiveofourown.org/works/12161433
Summary: It was the middle of an autumn downpour when Tobias first met Henry Silver. Midsummer had come and gone, and the wood was quiet.

Review: Very good and well written story with mythological/english folklore elements in a sort of victorian setting (this last characteristic isn’t very pronounced). Poetic and slighly melancholic story that still ends on a positive/hopeful note.

Rec: Machinations

Title: Machinations
Author: Auriel Naughtwell
Format: Novella
Published/Free: Published
Length: 85 pages
Status: Complete
Rating: Everyone/Teen
Warnings: Parental illness, implied sexual situations
Link: https://gum.co/machinations
Summary: Machinations follows Rasio Alsamar and his childhood friend Alyn Lacwynn from their humble beginnings at the countryside when the world was simple and all they cared about was their familiar train passing by. They grew up together, but distance and the flow of time tears them apart.

Do you think love could survive for 20 years?

Rec: Traveling Blind

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Title: Travelling Blind
Author: Liz and Josey
Format: Series of 3 novel(la) length stories
Published/Free: Free
Length: 172,000 words
Status: Complete
Rating: Mature
Warnings: None
Link: http://www.emptymirrors.org.uk/tb/index.html
Summary: Two men with nothing apparently in common meet up a year after a single sizzling encounter. Malcolm Cullen, private soldier, ex-special forces, is in New York on business. James, an out of work actor, has sunk lower than he ever thought possible. Now dependent on drugs and selling his body to get by, he needs someone to give him a hand up. Is Malcolm that man? And what will happen when their worlds collide? Can either learn to trust?

Review: This story isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s an old favorite of mine and I’ve wanted to recommend it here for some time. It’s written almost as if it is the result of an RP session between the two authors, one that has a start the reader never actually sees but does get a feel for. I enjoyed the back-and-forth, however, as well as the feeling that I’d been dropped into the story at the second or third chapter. Things move fast so you don’t have much time to wonder what is going on. You take the clues they give you and go with it.

I also really like that the heroes are mature men in their forties, both of them with dark pasts that haunt them still. James is a heroin addict with a history of sex work to fuel his habit, and he’s a little bit crazy with a lot of self-loathing. Malcolm is the big, strong, silent type but his past in special ops has left him with more than a few mental scars. The sex is frequent and includes themes of domination and submission.

There is a lot of fighting between the two, plenty of missteps and falling outs, but all throughout I found myself rooting for them both to stick it through. As rough and awkward as they could be together, their basic attraction to one another felt real. The stories are heavy on angst and hurt and while the first two installments in particular, if memory serves right, it is Mal who provides for the recuperating James, it was very clear to me that both men needed each other.

The writing style is rough and gritty with raw, succinct description. As I said, it does feel like an RP session with the way it goes from one POV to the other, but that was easy enough to get used to and in the end I really enjoyed it. If you’re a fan of angst, hard sex, and men (not boys) you may want to give this series a shot.

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Rec: The Ballad of Barefoot Robin

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Title: The Ballad of Barefoot Robin, or The Ridiculous Seduction Of Lieutenant Worthington
Author: mooncalf
Format: Novella
Published/Free: Free
Length: 20,000 words
Status: Complete
Rating: Mature
Warnings: None
Link: http://s2b2.livejournal.com/57246.html
Summary: Naval officer posted in a backwater gets trouble and more from the thief Barefoot Robin.

Review: I found this a lighthearted and sweet story and enjoy the character interaction. I also like the distinctive ways of speaking the main characters have.

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Rec: Catalina Blues

Title: Catalina Blues
Author: Marlo York
Format: Novella
Published/Free: Free
Length: 28,200 words
Status: Complete
Rating: Mature
Warnings: Homophobia, violence.
Link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/631563
Summary: Stranded in the Pacific Ocean during WWII, an American gunner and a Polish ace pilot discover that a brief romance can help them get to the other side of the war. For a few days they can get away with loving one another.

Review: This story is part of the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s Don’t Read in the Closet events. During these events, members post photos and prompts for stories they’d like to see. What particularly intrigued me about Catalina Blues was that the photo used is a historical one from World War II. (History buffs, or in-the-buff buffs, can check it out here. Warning – naked guy.)

This is a well-written story about young lovers finding each other in the midst of battle. Leon is living with the fear of death, as well as the fear that his sexuality will be discovered. Nikifor (Kip) is desperately holding on to the last remnants of his obliterated home town. Good sense should have kept them apart. Luckily, they are both too young to have developed much good sense because they may have just what the other one needs for happiness.

Rec: Running Far Afield

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Title: Running Far Afield
Author: Libby Drew
Format: Story
Published/Free: Free
Length: 15,500 words
Status: Complete
Rating: Mature
Warnings: None
Link: http://www.libbydrew.com/running-far-afield.html
Summary: Aaron thought nothing would be different in his new town of Ridgton. Instead, nothing is the same. When he meets Chris, he finds not only a fellow baseball player, but a close friend – one who gives him the courage to explore the things about himself he’s been hiding.

Review: I know Libby Drew’s stories have been rec’ed here as a whole, but I’m picking this one out of her collection because I sincerely enjoy everything she writes and can’t help but clap my hands when I see an update, but this one is my favorite – one of my favorite online stories even. It’s one of those stories that come to mind when I’m sitting on the train to work feeling like romance and letting my mind wander, those that I want to recommend but don’t because I’m not sure I’ll do them justice, those I like to read when I want to read something I like… It’s a top 5 story, all being number 1 in that top 5. I was delighted from the time I first read it.

I love it because it feels real. There are moments and emotions in there that are so well rendered that I could sincerely relate to the characters and feel their emotions like they were my own. Some things they experience I never did and some I did, but everything I could imagine vividly. I like how the budding attraction between the characters is described, how the reciprocity of it and both the shyness and boldness it provoques are made clear through simple moments. The characters are human and not cliché, even if the situation they live in could have led to that.

To summarize : it’s a pretty classic romance and it’s really good ! 🙂

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Rec: Idle Hands

Title: Idle Hands

Author:
Sporkess

Format:
Novella

Published/Free:
Free

Length:
25k+

Status:
Complete

Rating:
Teen

Warnings:
Suicide

Link:
https://www.fictionpress.com/s/3227695/1/

Summary:
Julian and Nicolas have been best friends for years, since meeting in a headmaster’s office and making a bet to see who could cause the most trouble until they were free to leave the families and lifestyles they despised and go their separate ways. Now, after a year of silence, Nicolas has come back to collect on the bet.


Review:
This is a beautiful short about two young men coming to terms with their lives. The author manages to pack in a complex, interesting narrative despite the shortish length, and even though the main subjects are the kind I usually avoid in my fiction like the plague–rich kids and their shenanigans, ew–I found myself getting drawn in to this fic. Check it out if you have the time, and you won’t regret it. Slight warning though: this fic gets fairly dark, so of that bothers you this may be one to skip.

Rec: How to Shake the Other Man

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Title: How to Shake the Other Man
Author: Derek Palacio
Format: Novella
Published/Free: Published
Length: 60-ish pages
Status: Complete
Rating: Teen
Warnings: Mention of sexual assault and physical assault, whole story revolves around a murder.
Link: http://store.nouvella.com/product/how-to-shake-the-other-man-by-derek-palacio
Summary: Seven years after leaving his father’s home, Javier is growing increasingly restless as he works the streets of New York. But when he is taken in by Marcel, a boisterous, charismatic Cuban with a legion of street coffee vendors, their relationship evolves rapidly into something vital and sustaining.

Determined to keep Javi around, Marcel implores his younger brother, a former boxer turned trainer, to turn Javier into a fighter. Oscar eventually gives in, and pushes the flighty young man towards his debut.

But days before the match, Marcel is murdered.

Bound together by tragedy and circumstance, Javier and Oscar must decide what they owe and want from each other in Marcel’s absence. Raw and unrelenting, HOW TO SHAKE THE OTHER MAN is a bruising portrait of brotherhood and the void of love lost.

Review: I am a big fan of Nouvella, a small publisher that specializes in putting out three to four novellas per year by unknown authors. They’re niche, but I am all for supporting shorter literary fiction. (I feel like sci-fi and such embraces the novella more.)

How to Shake the Other Man is the story of Javier and Oscar, who are both reacting to the death of Marcel, Javier’s sugar daddy/boyfriend and Oscar’s older brother. It is, as such, thin on the romance but still thick on emotion. It’s short, but it has quite a bit to say about race, sexuality, class, and human connection. And, well, it’s beautifully written. (You can read an extended excerpt here.) For all that it’s a foregone conclusion that Javier and Marcel’s relationship is doomed (given Marcel is dead), I liked the glimpses of their life together. Theirs was a complex relationship, Marcel definitely afraid that Javier would leave. Both men have their scars from their pasts, but Marcel is older and more over it. There is a structure (the upcoming match) that keeps the story from meandering too much, but it really is all about the characters.

How to Shake the Other Man is a finalist for both a Lambda Award and a Triangle Award.

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Rec: Set Me As a Seal Upon Your Heart

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Title: Set Me As a Seal Upon Your Heart
Author: Rave
Format: Online Novel
Published/Free: Free
Length: 30,000 words
Status: Complete
Rating: Mature
Warnings: Explicit sex, not much else, though dub-con is discussed as part of the backstory.
Link: http://archiveofourown.org/works/345952
Summary: Cris is a half-demon. Ricky is a priest.

Review: This is extreme RPF AU. RPF is difficult for me to read when I know who the characters actually are, and the narrator of this story is Cristiano Ronaldo – whom I think most people in the world have at least heard of – but he’s called “Cris” throughout the story so it’s easy to forget that it’s not an original work. I’ve never heard of the other guy, and the setting/setup is completely AU. There’s a little soccer, but not much.

This is a really good story. The dialogue is good, the sex is hot (once you get over the fact that one character is a priest – which was a little difficult for me), and the side characters are wonderful – Pepe, Marcelo, Pepe’s terrifying mom, Zizou… side characters can make or break a story for me, if the author seems to have forgotten that anyone else on earth exists besides the two leads, but they’re all well-executed here. As are the leads: Cris is difficult and screwed-up and sometimes a jerk, but still sympathetic; Ricky is almost too good to be true until he gets to show some frustration and doubt near the end. His outburst about God at the end of the story is pure gold. Basically it’s a funny, hot, sweet, sometimes chilling, always well-written piece, and I highly recommend it.

Edit: Upon closer examination of the tags I have discovered that “Ricky” is in fact Kaká. I am an idiot. Still, since he’s called by a different name in the story it shouldn’t be a problem for any RPF-phobes like me.

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Rec: Money in my Pocket

Title: Money in my Pocket
Author: K.L. Sweet
Format: Novella
Published/Free: Free
Length: 38,000 words
Status: Complete
Rating: Mature
Warnings: Not really.
Link: https://www.fictionpress.com/s/3107366/1/Money-In-My-Pocket
Summary: Don’t judge Rhodey, he was totally getting paid for his, er, services. Things just happened to get a little complicated along the way. SLASH

Review: The author says she wrote this nano style, and to expect a lot of plotholes and awkward writing. But though the speedy writing style does show, it’s a fun romp and I read it in one sitting. I have to say I have a soft spot for guys who have mismatched ideas about what’s going on between them, and this story delivers that. I also have a soft spot for guys who are not nearly as much of an asshole as they think they are, and that’s here too. Plus a little of “I hate you – I love you,” and there’s also an all-seeing, all-knowing, wise girlfriend who is pretty endearing and clearly has a life of her own even though it’s not front and center. I said no warnings, but it is an M story and it does get pretty messy.

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