I like to think I am pretty professional, or relatively so, when I approach authors about reviews. Yes, I could sit back and just let the requests flow in (and they do) but many authors just don’t think to ask. When I see a title I know we want to review I will kindly ask them if they would be willing to provide us a review copy. Sometimes that answer is yes, sometimes it is no. I then offer that book to all my reviewers, etc. Umm… that did not happen with AJ Rose’s latest release, Queers. I think he said yes because I scared him. 😉 I think the word PLEASE was used about 5 times (and yes it was in all caps). Beverley here ~I won’t even go into the pleading and crawling I did to get Brandilyn to do a buddy review with me!
Author: AJ Rose
Publisher: Voodoo Lily Press
Rating: 5 of 5 stars (from each)
Within her walls are stories. Love. Laughter. Tears. Lives lived to the fullest, and sometimes cut short before they really get started. She’s seen it all, from homelessness to super-stardom, boys dressed as girls, girls dressed as lamps, and boy, does she have secrets she could tell. Her one truth is that everyone who darkens her doors is accepted with open arms and a song.
Her name is Queers, and for one of L.A.’s few dueling piano bars, she has a lot of heart. On her stage, the beautiful voice of Duff McKinley rings so true he captures the shattered heart of his boss, Brad Mosely, who checked out of life three years ago. But even lifelong dreams have untold consequences.
Duff came to L.A. to chase his musical aspirations, but his best friend Garrett Slater accompanied him to chase a wish of his own: finding The One, his white knight. He believes Landon Kennedy fits the bill. Suave, handsome, and powerful in the music industry, Landon can show Garrett a life he’s only seen in movies. But even as Landon helps Duff realize his dreams, he brings Garrett into a nightmare he may never leave, one from which Garrett’s roommate, Jackson Moriarty, is determined to rescue him. If Garrett repays Jackson by seeing his own charms, so much the better.
Yes, within her walls, Queers has long history. Unrequited love, sinister intentions, fame, fortune, and a group of friends and lovers who would do anything for each other no matter the cost.
If you read my Best of 2013 (Part 1 and Part 2), you will know that AJ Rose is on both lists. His Power Exchange series is an all time favorite of mine. He is an elegant and thoughtful author and a pleasure to read, even if he rips your heart to shreds, repeatedly. His characters and settings are well-rounded and real; his settings are vividly described without wasting words. Rose does not publish a book every month or even every 6 months, but, when he does, it is something special… something worth waiting for.
Queers is Rose’s latest offering. Fans of his Power Exchange series will recognize some elements, the heart-breakingly beautiful prose, the hot, but necessary, love scenes, the characters you want to both coddle and strangle in equal measure. However, this is not a reboot of his popular series. Queers is a completely new story with completely new characters. It is also not a simple romance; instead, it is an ensemble fiction revolving around a group of 20/30 somethings in LA looking to make it big or at least get by.
There are four main relationships intertwined throughout the story; each one bringing substance to the story as a whole. These friends and lovers could not exist without each other. They couldn’t survive without the love of each and every character. They couldn’t be given their own story. By combining eloquent prose with thoroughly developed characters, you have a robust and satisfying story. There are some sensitive topics addressed, including infidelity, domestic abuse, grief, fame, bullying, and the detriment of public perception. These may be hot buttons for many readers, however, without each and every one of those themes, the story wouldn’t be the saga that it is.
I spent much of the book wanting to coddle Jackson, strangle Landon, and slap Garrett up-side the head. I also spent much of the book cheering on Moonshine, Duff, and Brad. When I finished the story at 4:30 am this morning (yes, I just couldn’t put it down), I messaged the author to let him know I was done, and I summed up my opinion in one word – Epic.
A solid 5* from me! I think the story and even the characters, in the context of the story, have been well covered so far in this review. So I wanted to focus my thoughts on the language and tone of this ‘epic’ novel by A.J.Rose. One of the best quotes for me was concerning the bereaved ‘Brad’…
He’d finally, finally let someone in, and while still terrified, he realized something even more important. He wasn’t dead yet.
I thought this was very powerful way of summing up the feeling of bereavement after losing a ‘soul mate’. I read some of the later scenes such as those written in an alley outside a Hollywood police Station, and found further, powerful and profound, descriptions of loss and bereavement. The gradual ‘thawing out’ of Brad is a very strong theme in ‘Queers’ and done with real sensitivity and understanding. This ensemble cast all have their strengths and weaknesses, which is why the tone of the novel tends to subtly alter, depending on who is the focus of that section. Landon for me was a bit of a ‘Boo, Hiss’ villain and maybe I would have preferred to have been fooled by him for longer but the transparency of the villain, highlights Garrett’s blindness and delusions. Language and use of it also leads me to the sex scenes… After reading the first time ‘Duff’ and Brad have penetrative sex, I noted in my kindle ‘Now that is a sex scene!’ The following quote is just a small part of this scene…
That strong need to be Duff’s everything overcame him again, and he knelt up, gripping the backs of Duff’s knees and fucking him in earnest, watching his dick plunge inside that incredible body. ‘Stroke yourself,he growled,’…
What made this scene even better for me is that the inevitable ‘clean up’ is delayed by Duff’s
and the scene ends quietly, with the two men strengthening their emotional connection. I too loved this author’s ‘Power Exchange’ series and was impressed that the intensity of those books was toned down for ‘Queers’ but the emotional connection with the reader was not. In addition the humour in Queers is really refreshing and should any of my male friends wish to cross dress for the evening, I can advise, with confidence, on how to hide their ‘junk’. One last important factor to highlight in my opinion is the portrayal of ‘Moonshine’ and ‘Jennica’ in this novel. It was wonderful to see women, in a novel mainly about gay men, portrayed in such positive and strong roles. So often women are either the understanding, comic ‘fag hags’ or the homophobic ex wives or girlfriends who you can’t wait to see go! AJ Rose writes real women, whether lesbian or straight, who interact with gay men in real ways and have depth and personality. I love his characters because he doesn’t write stereotypes, although allows for the idiosyncracies that feed them, he writes about people. In his words Queers definitely isn’t ‘Twatwaffle’!
We would like to thank AJ Rose for providing us with an ARC of this title in exchange for our honest opinions.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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