Seems I'm obsessing about the coming winter and as some kind of subconscious resistance to the cold I read a bunch of books set in tropical places and tossed in a spy. We'll start with that.
I Spy Something Wicked by Josh Lanyon (50 pages)
This is a little slice of life piece with Mark and Stephen of I Spy Something Bloody. Mark has been retired from the spy life for 4 months, is going to college, happy, things are going well when he gets contacted by the old organization and they need him to do one more run to Afghanistan (where he'll likely die) to save his old boss/lover's political career. He's got 48 hours to decide if he breaks his promise to Stephen about never going back or if he gives into a totally misplaced (in my opinion) sense of loyalty. I have to admit that Mark makes me crazy. I work for a government, trust me, you owe no one anything and no one gives a damn about you, you are always dispensible. His sense of "owing" them something makes me berserk and I just want to shake him and tell him to get a grip. I don't care if you slept with your boss, they'll toss you under a bus if it's convenient, that's how it works in government. So I guess I'm not very sympathetic to Mark's plight and dilemma, for me it's a no brainer. But of course the writing is outstanding and it's nice to see Mark and Stephen happy and living a "normal" life down the road.
Tropical Hedonism by Dakota Rebel (74 pages)
Starting my trip to a tropical isle (or two). This starts with Wesley, a Dr. on a tropical island being called to help a young man found washed up on the beach. He's not hurt badly and Wesley takes him back to his home to fix him up. There is instant attraction (like Sean is jumping Wesley within 20 min. of waking up from being unconscious) and then there is all this mystery about explaining stuff to him and finding him a sponsor so you know this is no ordinary tropical island. I won't go into it but I liked the idea. What didn't I like. Insta-love. Arrggh Within 36 hours Sean and Wesley declare their undying love. Next? Big misunderstandings. No wait, just assumptions made after overhearing one sentence of a conversation which makes older Wes sure that younger Sean will dump him now (despite declarations of undying love made not 15 min. previously). There were just things that happened or we're told happened that I'm like "Huh? When was there time for that?" So I have to say it had great potential and then it was all rushed into too few pages. If there had been a period of attraction between the two over a period of weeks (or even days rather than minutes), a gradual development of love, more explanation as to how things worked on the island, etc. it would have been much better. Insta-love and me are not fans and while I get insta-lust, it really went downhill for me after the mutual declaration of twu wuv.
Netting Neptune, Taming Triton and Poseidon's Pleasure by KC Kendricks (82, 97 & 117 pages)
My next trip to a tropical island, St. Lucia where I would kill to go in real life. These are three books that all centre around one resort in St. Lucia and a combination of men who are all interconnected in some way. I'm not sure I should have read them one after the other. It brought out flaws to me that I likely wouldn't have noticed if I'd read them each several weeks apart as they were published. Too late now I suppose. If you like a formula that is pleasant enough, these are the books for you. What I mean: (Using N, T and P for easy reference)
Older guys: N - Theron 39, Cody 40; T - Steve 30, Austin 42; P - Brett 49, Mark 38
How they all connect: Theron is Austin's brother, Austin is Brett's lawyer and Mark is Brett's old lover.
Damaged guys: N - Theron spent 9 months in jail for a crime he didn't commit but his lover did - life now in the toilet; T - Austin's lover cheated on him after 12 years because he was helping Theron; P - Brett's Dad used to beat him just for fun and hated him, Mark was nearly a hate crime statistic and gave BJs for money to survive in his youth
Plot: Couple meets, couple falls in lust has some fun, one guy leaves island early either because freaking out about relationship or for some other quasi-legitimate reason, lover left behind more or less chases after to declare themselves. Brett didn't run in the last one but not for lack of trying.
Now I'm not saying these things made the books bad. They are all likable characters, I wanted them to get their HEA, I believed the attraction and even more (not necessarily insta-love but a connection), the setting sounds freaking divine but there were some things that I noticed repetitive. Some of the sex scenes from one book to the next sounded very similar. I know with genetics there could be relatives who stroke off the same way (it's freaky how my daughter sleeps in the same position as her father, that's not learned) but for 6 guys to all use the same technique seems a bit unrealistic. And as I said, the same format, meet, freak, run, reunite read one after another was a bit ho hum. Not tons of angst, no serial killers or freaky exes. These are actually what I guess you'd call good beach reads. Pleasant stories to read but then you move on (while imagining yourself in the setting). So I'd definitely say worth a read, especially because they are older characters who've had life and relationships but I would say read one every couple of weeks to escape the rigors of winter rather than in one fell swoop like I did. I have a feeling I would have enjoyed them much more that way.