Training Season is Leta Blake’s debut novel and the first book I’ve read by this author. It features the romance story of Matty Marcus a once Olympic skating hopeful and Rob Lovely a rancher/cowboy with a heart of gold.
Matty’s lack of discipline previously cost him the gold and a back injury completely sidelined him from skating. Now recovered he’s in search of a top coach and a comeback. But in-demand coaches don’t come cheap. A wealthy skating patron steps in to generously contribute to his Olympic dream in exchange for a six-month housesitting stint in rural Montana. This leaves Matty with plenty of free time to train and make enough money to hire the best coach in skating.
Much to his surprise, local residents in small town Montana turn out to be tolerant and friendly, especially his next-door neighbour rancher Rob Lovely, who proves to be much more than a cowboy stereotype. They begin a relationship and Matty learns much from Rob and about himself. With his newfound self-assurance, he drives himself harder to go straight to the top. But competition has a timetable and to achieve his Olympic dream Matty must leave Rob behind to join his new coach in New York City and focus on winning the gold.
On the high plains of northwestern Colorado, tales emerge near Yampa, up where the Bear River runs and the Causeway and Little Causeway Lakes nestle into the wilderness like curled cats lolling in the comfort of gracious laps. It is here within the purely black chill of night time when the pop and hiss of a campfire illuminates the faces of wide-eyed children hunkered with their backs to the deep, dark shadows of pine, spruce, and aspen; it is here where the telling of the tales commences from elders to youngsters.
Real or imagined movement within these night shadows is perceived by the children as bears, wolves, or maybe spirits of the White River or Yampa Ute Indian tribes. There is a sense that some malevolence lurks in the shadows, something that may rob sleep from the young who understand the thickness of a nylon tent is no defense against…well, imaginations do conjure a bleak inevitability in such circumstances.
George Seaton’s latest release, The Gift of Stories, is a stand-alone short story of some forty pages that is part of the “Average Joe Collection” published by MLR Press. It is a lovely and heartfelt tale within a tale of many themes including, the magic and importance of stories in our lives and the imparting of wisdom from one generation to the next.
“Cody Pinnt’s sense of himself came early; valued the carousal of pubescence as an affirmation of his nature: Queer. No doubt about it. Didn’t linger on the implications. Took to wrestling as a worthy sport, befitting the use of his body strengthened and sculpted by the demands of a lifetime of work that began before sunrise and ended after sunset. The leveraging of that strength against others, the feel of sweat-soaked skin and nylon singlets, the smell of the battle, the more often than not sublime joy of the win, all of it barely satisfying a voraciousness to get on with it; life just moved too damn slowly in Big Spring for Cody Pinnt’s liking. Cody Pintt knew who he was early on. Knew where he wanted to go. Knew, too, the worth of Skylar Hand to his life.”
I readily admit that George Seaton is a favoured author in gay fiction and it is always a pleasure to read one of his stories. In his recently released novella, Saving Skylar Hand, Mr. Seaton gifts the reader with a beautifully written and tender holiday tale of lifelong friendship between two boys that are separated by the life choices they make as young adults, only to realize that their love for one another is immutable and that they cannot spend their lives apart.
Given all the activity and travel over the months of July and August I’m quite surprised that I managed any reading at all. Not much actually, but certainly more than originally anticipated. Reviewing was another matter altogether as I found it extremely difficult to sit still long enough, especially on the many glorious sunny days, to actually write reviews for all the books read over the course of both months.
In all, I managed to read five books of which I reviewed three. Two books read were from new to me authors, Tigers and Devils by Sean Kennedy and Normal Miguel by Erik Orrantia, the latter of which I reviewed for Rainbow Reviews. I also read the first book in a new series by two of my favourite authors Reno MacLeod and Jaye Valentine entitled, Let Them Try, which I reviewed for Three Dollar Bill Reviews. All of the books read over these two months range within the good to very good categories and some are excellent.
With autumn just around the corner (although you wouldn’t know it with the 40° Celsius sweltering heat of this past week) and the cooler weather setting in soon I hope to fall back into my natural state of reading and reviewing more.
March was a relatively productive reading month with two exceptional stories, The Summer Between by Andrew Binks and The Decade of Blind Dates by Richard Alther. I also read and reviewed the latest installment of Andrew Grey’s Love Means Series, Love Means … No Boundaries and a sweet western/cowboy m/m romance by Leiland Dale entitled, When The Blue Bird Calls.
Devon Reid, veterinarian, had a partner of two years, a beautiful house, and a fantastic job. Then, life as he knew it, changed. Six months ago, he became his mother’s sole caretaker when her cancer returned. With his constant absence from home, his relationship ends leaving him alone in one of the most emotionally draining points in his life. When his mother passes, he is lonely and loses his zest for life. With his emotions and life in turmoil, Devon decides it’s time to make a change.
Leaving the city life behind and taking a job in a small town in Montana, was just what the doctor ordered. Then, he meets the hunky ranch foreman, Greg Elliot. Greg has lived most of his life on a ranch. Living in a small town didn’t offer many prospects for a relationship, until he meets the new veterinarian in town.
While they try to resist the obvious mutual attraction, a fateful call during the night changes it all. What is a city boy to do when a small town cowboy ropes him in?
Virtually all the books I read this year are in the area of gay fiction (erotica, romance, horror, suspense, urban fantasy, western/cowboy, young adult, etc.), and as the year draws to an end I thought I’d put together a list of my favourite books and stories for 2009.
The two books that standout the most and I consider my #1 reads for 2009 are Amnesic Nostalgia by Zea Miller and Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction by editors Timothy J. Lambert and R.D. Cochrane. These two gems rightfully take their place as part of the list of some of my most favourite books.
Mute saloon keeper Donnell knows all about prejudice; he’s had to battle it all of his life. He also knows how self-righteous and judgmental the people of the old west town of Nazareth can be, so he isn’t surprised when he sees them spurn requests for work from a man who walks into town looking to be all but on his death bed. Donnell takes the man in and nurses him back to health, falling in love along the way. But is Donnell destined to have his heart broken?
Teddy has worked on the Lawson ranch and sheep farm going on four years now, since the age of sixteen. Roy is the ranch foreman and quite a despicable man who abuses Teddy. For all of his twenty years on this earth, Teddy hasn’t had an easy life and doesn’t ask for much. Teddy feels that all things considered, his life could have been worse and at least he has a job and isn’t alone. One stormy night, Roy sends Teddy to the airport to pick-up the new ranch hand – Marco Belini. Marco becomes Teddy’s bunk-mate, and in getting to know him, Teddy finds a kindred spirit when it comes to gentling horses. In Marco, he also finds a friend and eventually a lover.