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'10 Authors Insider Tips

Cooking Up A Storey
by Donna George Storey
Have More Good Sex
I Can Do Better ...
Trying to Get the Feeling
Plotting and Planning
Character Profiles
Discovery Draft
Be Bad to Be Good
E-Book Revolution
Naked for Halloween
Sex With Pilgrims


FictionCraft
by Louisa Burton
The Music of Words
The Balancing Act
Your Fictional World
Backstory & Foreshadowing


The Fine Art of Submission
by Shanna Germain
Nailing the Query Letter
Banish the Boring Bio
Becoming a Market Master
Become a Market Master, 2
Backstory & Foreshadowing
Enticing An Editor, Part 1
Enticing An Editor, Part 2
Contracts, Money & More


Serious about Smut
by Vincent Diamond
No More Horsing Around
Short Stuff
Selling Short Stories
Editors' Pet Peeves
Settings: Beyond Time & Place
Beating Up Your Scenes
Selling Your Books in Person
Staying in the Saddle


The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister
Broken Rainbows
Talk the Talk
Equations
10 Commandments for Writing
Plotting to Avoid
Cover Story
Rewriting




'10 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister
St Valentine's Day
Renaming Body Parts
Sex, Cigarettes & Erotic Fiction


Between the Lines
with Ashley Lister
C. Sanchez-Garcia
Emerald
Kathleen Bradean
Lucy Felthouse
Neve Black
PS Haven
Tracey Shellito
Tresart L. Sioux


Cracking Foxy
with Robert Buckley
Plenty of Miles Left
Don't Worry, Be Happy
Fly the Unfriendly Skies
Coffee Time
Castrated Words
Virtual vs. Actual Romance
Bait
The View from Gallows Hill


Get All Worked Up
with J.T. Benjamin
The Fashion Industry
The Same Old Same Old
Writing Porn
About the Closet
... About Spirituality
Making Sense of Religion
Worked Up About Monogamy
What's Next
All Worked Up About Nature
Still All Worked Up...


Sex Is All Metaphors
by Jean Roberta
Holiday Ghosts
Love and Romance
An "Interracial" Epic
Trying to Make It Go Away
Sexual Etiquette
Sex and Children
People Against Bad Things
Virtual Acceptance
His Cold Eyes, His Granite Jaw
A Flash of Northern Light

Tangled Web: An M/M Romance

By Lee Rowan

Book Review by Vincent Diamond

 

Tangled Web

Having read Running Press's first two male/male romance releases, Transgressions and False Colors, I found Tangled Web a much stronger book, with more energy and action. It's not to the level of a contemporary action-adventure tale, of course, but Rowan has a good sense of pacing and offers readers more active scenes on the page along with a nice mix of point-of-view changes. The main characters, Brendan Townsend and Philip Carlisle, are sympathetic, believable, and easy to root for.

Set in 1816 London, the story follows Brendan as he tries to help his sometime lover Tony get out of a blackmail situation. Tony has dragged Brendan to a "gentlemen's club" that caters to homosexual and rough trade, and the book opens with a scene in which Tony has sex with a masked man in front of dozens of similarly masked onlookers. Tony is impetuous, indiscreet, and slightly stupid so Rowan has to work pretty hard to make Brendan's loyalty to him understandable. Given the historical context, though, and the need for total secrecy about homosexuality in the day, this works as motivation for Brendan to seek help when Tony is blackmailed because of his sexual orientation.

Enter Philip Calisle, the former colleague of Brendan's older brother, and a man with his own history of sexual confusion. As a young man, Philip had an unrequited crush on one of his military commanders, and his questions and fantasies since then have been pushed to the back of his mind by the grief of losing his wife and son during childbirth. When he meets Brendan, he pushes down his immediate attraction to the much younger man (of course he does! Hello, it's a romance!), and agrees to help with the blackmail issue. Philip lives (mostly; he's one of those historical characters with multiple homes, it seems) on a working horse breeding farm so he and Brendan have their mutual interest in all things equine to start their romance. (And in Rowan's favor, she gets the horse stuff right. It's a topic she's written about herself: writers who don't research horses—so accuracy in the horsiness end of it is important to her.)

Given the nature of the time and the story, there's a lot of narrative; it's to be expected. People reading male/male historical romances aren't looking for fast-paced, staccato action, and zippy Elmore Leonard-esque dialogue. They like languorous scenes of extended dialogue that dance around the Real Topic at Hand; they like vivid descriptions of olde England; and they like unrequited/unacknowledged/unacceptable love. The style of story either appeals to you or not.

The book has too little sex to rightly be called erotic; one explicit one at the very start that doesn't involve Brendan directly, and two more later on with Philip are restrained. I think both work well in the context of the story arc and the genre. They make love the first time then split up with questions from both sides about what they'd done and What It Means. There's the blackmail subplot and an even smaller subplot about smuggling, but they're sidelines to the main story: the believable and charming romance between Brendan and Philip. I think it totally worked, and readers will enjoy Rowan's well-paced scenes, energetic storytelling, and, if one is a bit of a horse geek like me, wish for even more of the horse-y stuff. Perhaps a sequel, checking in on these characters five years later, will give Rowan the chance to show Brendan traipsing about the country, happily doing horse portraits for wealthy owners, and loving Philip all the while. M/M romance readers can only hope.

Vincent Diamond
April 2010

Tangled Web: An M/M Romance
(Running Press, December 2009; ISBN-10: 0762436840)
Available at: Amazon | Amazon UK

______
© 2010 Vincent Diamond. All rights reserved.

About the Author:
Vincent Diamond's short story collection, Rough Cut, was released by Lethe Press in 2008. "An erotic wordsmith," says noted editor Richard Labonte in the foreword to the book, "...erotic fiction that possesses story-telling heft." Diamond's stories have appeared in Screaming Orgasms, Sex on the Beach, Coming Together: Under Fire, Country Boys, Truckers, Best Gay Romance 2007, Hot Cops, Love in a Lock-Up, Best Gay Love Stories 2005 and 2006, in the e-books Feathers, Chance Encounters, Under Arrest, and Play Ball from Torquere Press, and online at Fishnet, Clean Sheets and Ruthie's Club.
More info, with free stories and excerpts, available at: www.vincentdiamond.com.



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