I enjoyed both Surrogate and its sequel Reincarnate. Jaime and Seve and Nicholas all touched me deeply and I was desperately hoping that they will be able to overcome the horrible abuse that was done to them and have some happiness ahead of them and I am glad that they did. I have no idea of course if author had in mind the abuses that Catholic church engaged in when she describes the horrific practices the priests of the Temple engaged in, but this real life association definitely came into my mind. Guys struggles to leave the past behind and how hard and painful to make it actually happen affected me deeply.
And while I also think that the book should have mentioned three some relationship (not for my benefit, I knew it before I started the book), I also think that this is one of the very best, believable and touching description of forming such relationship.
REVIEW MAY POSSIBLY CONTAIN VAGUE SPOILERS TO THE STORY TIME OUT.
Other review mentions Time out and I will be mostly talking about it too, since this is the longest of the stories in this lovely collection and probably my favorite. I find this story one of the sweetest BDSM themed stories I have ever read and I do not mean that BDSM in this one is all that light. I just think that Ann gets in Sean's head so well that I am never in doubt that he wants it and why he wants it. I wish some other writers who write BDSM would understand that when you do not show psychological need both dom and sub have for each other, it may so easily look like abuse. Anyway, I really liked this story, liked how in few sentences Sean is fleshed out as more than what his sexual needs are, he is established as a human being who would go extra mile to ease the sufferings of the patients in the hospital. Of course Tom sounds a little too perfect, but I understood that this is because the person who loves him so much narrates and of course loving eyes tend to not notice the character flaws. And I really liked that the prequel to the story gets us in Tom's head.
Unfortunately and I cannot believe I am saying it, since I am a huge fan of happy endings, I did not like the ending all that much. I mean, why a need to give Sean that extra cookie which indeed to me made it look as if he is a helpless mistress needed to be taken care of? It is as if the strong and independent man reduced to less than he was throughout the story. And the reason I am going on and on about FREE story is because I liked and cared about the characters that much :) Of course I appreciate this gift from the writer, do not want to sound ungrateful, but I need to be honest as to how I feel about this story.
There are two stories which were inspired by pictures, which left me in rather melancholic mood.
Another rather sad but also uplifting story about moving on and new beginning and one Christmas story also are in this anthology.
However two stories about Tom and Sean were my absolute favourites.
This was a well researched (actually very well researched) love story with sympathetic likeable characters, but I also liked the first Fluffy tale more and for few days I could not figure out why. And then I realized that I liked kems in the first story more, they were, I don't know more mysterious I suppose? I loved how the connection between Julian and his kem was explored in the first story and here in my opinion kems are reduced to be home animals, if that makes sense? It is not bad at all, it is enjoyable love story, but I wanted kems to be something else I suppose.
My goodness I loved this book, not liked but really really loved. I would not say that the writing in this one is just as top notch as in my absolute favorites of this writer's works, but it is still tons better than so many books by other writers that I have read. Most importantly together with the sequel A fresh start it has one of the best "enemies turned friends and lovers" trope that I have read in the long time. Those characters just tugged at my heart strings, all five of them and to see them finally getting their chance at happiness in the sequel indeed pleased me greatly.
I think though that as much as I loved the guys, Luis' character was just superb. I mean, especially in the sequel I found her the least sympathetic, however very realistic and I found myself if not liking, at least understanding all her choices. What a breath of fresh air from so many female characters in m/m fiction, who are for the most part so very one dimensional and fall flat for me. I mean, I know Ann writes wonderful female characters, had known since Interstitual, but it was great to see the confirmation of it.
I also always like the spiritualism in her books, it is so, I don't know, I guess appealing to me would be the best word.
After I had finished this book by Ann Sommerville and by now having read almost all she wrote I had been thinking how easy it would have been to turn some of her books into public service announcement and how happy I am that she writes fiction first and foremost. If someone wants to take something from her books and do some good, great, if not, you can still enjoy a very well written tale. I mean, she always has some sort of social commentary in her books, in some books it is more visible in others more subtle, but she never preaches. In this book we see how much good one person can do even if all that he is trying to do is to give several hurt kids "a life without fear". Ethan is such a sympathetic protagonist, who had lost so much and is determined to make sure others who had been hurt had a safe place to stay and live despite what the world threw at them only because of who they are. Believe me, Ethan is not a saint, but he just feels so real and so do the kids whom he is trying to at least temporarily protect and shelter to give them chance to regroup and to go back to the world and be a little happier.
I am always delighted when in addition to cool protagonists writer can do secondary characters who are just as memorable and Lisa, Paul, Natasha they are all memorable, every single one of them.
I wished Cam would have been a little more fleshed out though, but otherwise it was a great book.
** spoiler alert ** VAGUE NOTHING TOO SPECIFIC
I bought this book yesterday and devoured it today. I really loved it, but this is one of the most grim and upsetting stories that this author wrote so far. Having grown up in quite restrictive society, stories set up in similar society tend to upset me quite a lot, even though the story has an unequivocally happy ending both on large scale and on relationship scale. This novel again has people with paranormal abilities and how the "normal" society interacts with them and in this one paranormals are treated the most unjustly out of all novels by Ann Sommerville that I have read. I loved how main character grew and learned after being dealt so many blows, but this is the theme I always love in this writer's works, how human spirit can triumph no matter what. Her stories also often ask uncomfortable questions and in some ways this one topped the bar for me. How far those who are being victimized by society are willing to go and should be willing to go to take back what should be rightfully theirs and whether you have a right to judge somebody else who is willing to do the dirty work you were not willing to do in order for you to have happier future? And I really enjoyed the love story and not the least because it makes me believe in the trope I usually cannot stand.