Book Review: Jefferson Blythe, Esquire (Rating: 4/5)

lanyon-jefferson-blythe-coverJefferson Blythe, Esquire, by Josh Lanyon
Publisher: Carina Press/Harlequin (November 16, 2015)
Genre: Gay (M/M) Adventure; Romance

Rating: 4 out of 5

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“Why are you so afraid of being different?”

If I had to describe this novel in three words, those words would be quirky, delightful, and unique. Thankfully, I get more than three words to talk about how much I enjoyed Jefferson Blythe, Esquire! Reading this novel was an adventure unto itself, with surprises around every corner and the kind of fantastic character growth and emotional impact that you can expect from a Josh Lanyon book!

Jefferson has been toeing the line his entire life. He does what he’s expected to do: got a degree in the field his father wanted, got engaged to the girl next door, and plans to join the family firm. But after his fiancée breaks up with him, he decides to go on a trip to Europe, using the journey to shed the “old him” and rediscover himself.

“Jefferson, you’ve just started this trip. You’re on this… journey. It has to be about you right now. Not us. Do you see what I’m saying?”

And at the heart of it, that’s what this novel is all about. Jefferson has to face a lot of hard truths about who he really is, and what he wants in life. At times, it’s overwhelming, but he’s determined to keep moving forward, with the advice from The Book– his grandfather’s 1960 “Esquire’s Europe in Style”. It’s more than a guidebook… it’s a roadmap to the person Jefferson wants to become.

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All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.

There’s also a delightful mystery/adventure mixed in, which I really enjoyed. Jefferson expects to have new experiences in Europe; he doesn’t expect a case of mistaken identity! When a lady insists that he’s an international criminal, Jefferson suddenly finds himself dodging goons and bullets across London, Paris, and Rome!

Now, for a guy who suddenly finds people waving guns at him, Jefferson is a bit *too* cool under pressure. He doesn’t panic, like a normal person might. He doesn’t freak out. I would have liked to see the character act a bit more human when confronted with things straight from a crime thriller novel, but Jefferson accepts and moves on as though it’s nothing.

Still, a really fun novel, with a really excellent main character. Jefferson is a delight, and watching him become his own man and accept what he wants in life made for a really fantastic read!

Buy Links: Amazon / Publisher

* I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange
for a fair and honest review. *

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Review: The Relic, by Maggie Nash (Rating: 3.5 out of 5)

nash-the-relicThe Relic, by Maggie Nash
Publisher: Totally Bound Publishing
Word Count: approx. 37,000 words
Genre: M/F Erotica/Romance, Action/Adventure

Originally Released: June 14, 2010
Re-Released: September 29, 2015

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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* I received an advanced copy of this novel from Totally Bound Publishing in exchange for a fair and honest review. *

This short novel is packed full of intrigue, danger, and a whole lot of passion! I thought the plot was a lot of fun, and the sex was steamy hot in all the best ways. It’s a pretty short novel, and the focus is definitely more on the erotic side than on the actual mystery, but I still thought the story was an interesting one.

Summary:

Finding herself in the wilds of a Penang rainforest wasn’t something Magda was exactly happy about. Being there on a mission to recover an ancient relic that threatened world peace certainly had its appeal, but the heat, the bugs and wild animals quickly cancelled out any of the excitement of the chase. Adding to her misery was the arrival on the scene of the last person she ever wanted to cross paths with. Vincent Stone, her rival in the search for the relic, and her ex-lover. The man who’d ripped out her heart and trampled on it had no business being in the same country as her, let alone the same town.

Vincent isn’t doing much better as he tries to remember why he’d broken it off with her. She made him feel more than anyone else but in his line of work, and with his past history, he didn’t have room for a relationship. But damn, she made him want one.

Fate has a way of playing with realities though and as they teamed up they both came to realise that sometimes it was better to just go with the flow. They used to be a great team, but could they forget the past long enough to save their lives?

For a novel that’s being re-released, I would expect a lot of the typos and awkward sentences to be cleaned up, but it doesn’t look like a lot of editing was done. Possibly the review copy I received hadn’t gone through the final editing process yet, but there was a blatant typo in the very first paragraph!

Character-wise, this was a mixed boat. Magda is a strong, smart, and sexy woman who refuses to take any crap from anyone, and I really liked that about her. She’s very good at what she does, and she’s unashamedly open about her interest in sex, which makes her a breath of fresh air in a genre filled with demure women. However, she did drive me absolutely crazy at times, when she’s too blinded by her own importance to temporarily submit… which almost gets her and Vincent killed.

“Are you out of your freaking mind?”
“What do you mean?”
“These women do not move around un-chaperoned. You brought attention to us both by defying that rule. How could you be so stupid?” (ePub pg. 50)

Vincent I didn’t like at all. He’s arrogant, full of himself, and a testosterone-fueled ball of anger and sex. KEEP IT IN YOUR PANTS, DUDE! He hurts Magda by leaving her because he’s too emotionally constipated to sleep with a woman for anything other than fun, but then refuses to listen to her saying “No thank you” when they reunite, even though he’s just going to hurt her again. I hate guys who think with their dicks instead of their brains, and Vincent is definitely one of those guys.

“Get over yourself, Vincent Stone. Hundreds of women may drop at your feet, but I am definitely not one of them.”
Not this time.
Never again. (ePub pg. 17)

This is a fun read, but not much beneath the surface. The plot is really set up to allow for more sex, which is fine because I definitely expected a light-hearted erotica novel going in. If Vincent had been a more likeable character, I definitely would have rated this higher.

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Book to Movie Monday: The Hobbit

The original version of this meme is from Bring My Books.

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In honor of Hobbit Day tomorrow, I wanted to focus today’s Book to Movie post on The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, and the film adaptation by Peter Jackson. (I’m going to ignore the 1977 animated version. Trust me, it’s for the best.) Also, several scholars and fans read the character of Bilbo as being asexual, although of course this will never be confirmed (USA Today, Penn State University blog)!

(Hobbit Day, which falls on September 22, celebrates the birthday of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, the main characters of Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.)

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Book Summary:

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They have launched a plot to raid the treasure hoard guarded by Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. Bilbo reluctantly joins their quest, unaware that on his journey to the Lonely Mountain he will encounter both a magic ring and a frightening creature known as Gollum.

When I first heard that Peter Jackson was adapting The Hobbit, I was thrilled. He had done what no other director had managed to do only a decade prior, adapting the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy into three stunning, Oscar-winning movies. I thought I could trust him to adapt one of my favorite childhood books as well.

I am a huge Tolkien fan. Huge. In fact, I temporarily moved to New Zealand and worked on one of the sets, just to be as close to Middle Earth as I could possibly be. But I think a lot of other Tolkien fans would agree with me when I say that the Hobbit movie adaptations were not well done. They were, in fact, rather terrible adaptations.

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(Are they terrible movies? Not really. They’re poorly paced, but not awful. But when placed in side-by-side comparison with the book, they definitely fall short.)

The Hobbit book is a children’s novel. At around 300 pages (depending on the edition), it’s a short, light-hearted novel, especially compared to its behemoth big brother, The Lord of the Rings. Peter Jackson took this average-length novel with it’s rotund, cheerful, middle-aged protagonist, and turned it into a 10+ hour cinematic epic, full of violence and darkness.

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There will always be deviations from the book in the transition to the screen; some things just don’t work well in a visual setting. Look, I’m not upset about things like adding Galadriel and the newly-invented character of  Tauriel to the movies. Tolkien wrote a sausage-fest, and this is the 21st century where women dream of going on epic quests just as much as men do. I don’t even really object to Team Hot Dwarves, where certain dwarf actors were prettied up for aesthetic purposes.

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(In the book, the dwarves are all portrayed as older, with long beards. They’re definitely not sexy young things like Mr. Turner here.)

What I object to is the loss of what I see as the central themes of the book. The movies cease to be about Bilbo’s courage and strength, or about the mythology that Tolkien so carefully adapted to his fantasy world. It only barely touches on the theme of history repeating itself. Instead, it becomes an action movie. A movie about war and battle and good versus evil, about romance and explosions and impressive CGI effects. It’s a movie about anything that will get more money in the box office.

Jackson made a point of trying to include many of Tolkien’s classic lines, and he captured several of the more comedic scenes perfectly. But he completely missed the point of the book, I think, and he destroyed a childhood classic by turning it into 10 hours of slow-as-molasses plot, with superfluous battles and heaps of darkness and angst.

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