Tyler Knoll was born one wild, stormy night in April 2013.
Of course he might tell you that he'd been born twenty years earlier, but should we believe anything he says?
Whatever the date of his conception, Tyler's writing reflects the books that have influenced his life.
First off, like most gay men, he was snared by gay porn, wallowing in tales of bigger, stronger, harder. But then his fickle mind was drawn to the tales of bondage and beatings.
When a silly misunderstanding nearly cost him his life and his sanity, he turned to a different kind of book for his salvation. But even that encounter proved hazardous to his existence, not from the cold, but from irate fans.
Finally, he discovered, like many story book heroes before him, that sometimes those closest to us prove to be the best in the long run.
This member has not published any books.
The Fence And Then The Trees
on March 26, 2014
Great premise. Shades of The Green Mile and Shawshank Redemption, but that's a good thing not a bad thing. Considering the darkness of the setting and the fact that both main characters were not "good" characters, they still came out smelling like roses.
on March 26, 2014
I was prepared to ignore a few implausabilities and the hand on heart patriotism because the writing was so good. And who said grown men don't cry. I also appreciated that the sex wasn't so much on page, but the frank talk about sex and everything pertaining to it was. More realistic.
Dark Angel Sounding (A Gay BDSM Erotica)
on April 11, 2014
Most of my responses to habu's books are solid 4 star ratings with the occasional 5 (in parts). The "misses" are usually because I've read that scenario before in another of his stories. He does tend to build, morph and tweak them a bit which is offputting when you've bought another version.
The interesting thing about this one, was that he actually tried it himself to see what it was like.
Habu draws on a lot of his own life experiences, particularly places he has been to or lived in. This gives them a gritty feel which I like.
They're not romances. But they're not intended to be. Fanciful? Realistic? Somewhere in between.
Spy Tails 001
on April 11, 2014
This review also pertains to the follow up book Spy Tails 002. I'm not going to go through every story, just give an overview.
According to his Goodreads bio, habu "has lived extensively in East and Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Europe as an embassy-based intelligence agent, which influences the settings and plots of many of his stories."
Apparently, he has experienced first hand the levels at which an Agency supposedly disapproving of homosexuality is happy to go to when it suits them.
A lot of the plots revolve around honey traps -- or the "Candy Store" as he puts it -- where leverage is obtained by giving someone what they want rather than torturing them.
The impact this has on the agent is lightly touched on, but never in depth which is a shame. You can tell some are happy to be used and abused, others have more difficulty coming to terms with it.
As could be expected, there are twists, backstabbing and betrayal.
And lots of lots of sex.
Some stories show how dangerous it is if feelings become involved.
Others show the irony that underlines a lot of intelligence gathering. One of my favorites was "Golden Question" in Spy Tails 002. Not so much for the plot or sex (they were fine) but because it captured what I feel is a little understood part of intelligence gathering, the accumulation of facts that aren't world shattering, just a "need to know". I loved the bit where the Green Berets had actually trained the Turks for covert operations, but they couldn't ask them where they were going to be deployed, as that might convey tacit approval. Reminded me of the Aussie SAS training the Kopassus!
Some stories show how just a little tweak can drastically change the course of events, but in real life, critics rarely balance this out, preferring to argue about the amount of time, money and effort spent gathering what ends up to be useless information. Who is to know what is important or not? Certainly not the person collecting it. That is the nature of the profession.
Perhaps what they should be debating is the damage this does on the lives and loves of those involved. Covert activities by civilians can also result in them suffering from PTSD, especially when lives are affected by their reports or actions, but is this ever taken into account?
Do we ever see the great John le Carré character, Smiley, actually smiling?
And if you're wondering whether a Government funded agency would ever allow this to happen? The author reassures the reader by stating:
This anthology is pure fiction.
Nothing like this would happen in the real intelligence world. Wipe from your mind even the slightest thought that anything like this has already happened in the collection of intelligence down through the ages. There would never be a special unit in U.S. intelligence, for instance, that collected intelligence the time-honored way—by providing sexual favors and subornation. There would never be an Agency special unit informally known as the Candy Store. This unit would not have five informally separated sections: male on female, female on male, male on male, female on female, and anything goes. There would certainly be no use of male homosexuality, and society’s censure of that, to recruit and control foreign intelligence assets as is fantasized."
That's a relief. Lol.
on April 11, 2014
I was intrigued to read this anthology of October-December stories because the subject has interested me ever since I wrote a book with a May-December age gap and, through that, met another writer, Don Schecter who tackles the theme in his stories. (He is now in his late seventies).
Since then, I've got to know Don quite well, and he regularly beta reads my stories. Over time, we have discussed his feelings about age and the different relationships he has with younger men, so the topic is quite familiar to me, hence my interest in how Habu treats the same theme.
It probably helps that I'm in the November category myself, so I understand the changes in both body and desire. I have contemporaries in vastly different stages of health and happiness. Some former superfit people are on a slew of medications. Others have put on weight and lost fitness. Getting older is the pits but the alternative is worse.
This collection begins with the concept of age being a state of mind. A more confident older man challenges a fifty year old to stop being an observer of life and to get out and live it. This is a great lesson for everyone. Time seems to accelerate as we age and if we're not proactive about creating and ticking off that bucket list, it will be gone and we will have done nothing. Inertia rules, okay.
The next one was an older more confident executive moving confidently in on another at a crossroads in his life. Once again, he learned that you have to believe in yourself, so you can grab opportunities as soon as they become available.
The next story, "Play On" had a tennis coach who hadn't lost any of his cunning or sex drive. Told from the viewpoint of a younger man who had always felt totally out of his depth, we get this same reaction as he blunders helplessly along, despite his age, still a pawn of an older man.
Tennis is again the theme of the next story which is set in a retirement community. For a change, the author has three elderly females putting their spin on what they are seeing. Then we see what actually happens in a tender, heart warming encounter and finally we switch back to the three original onlookers. This was the perfect way to show this simple but heartwarming reaffirmation that grief may be there, but happiness can still be found no matter how old you are.
"Tempting Memory" has a lovely twist in it. This story of the ageing rocker with his even older, manager lover was a treatise on memory as the title suggests. How much we owe to what has gone before. It's a story about loyalty as much as anything. Even if that is all that there is left.
The final tale "Tuscan Memory" also appears as a standalone Tuscan Twilight
This explores how much are we ruled by who we are and where we are. And poses the unspoken question, what happens when duty and tradition take precedence over following personal desires. What happened in the past was only mentioned, yet it was amazing how strongly that reverberated.
What the author did well, as usual, was creating with only a few words, characters who have their own distinctive story arc and baggage. You quickly appreciate that the Conte, Damien and Dakota have very different agendas. But each feels justified in their own actions, both past and present. The setting adds a beautiful backdrop to it.
The preoccupation with appearance and physical beauty is a common thread as well as the ability to perform. Yet each character is different and each situation different.
This ability to quickly depict unique individuals is the biggest strength of Habu's writing. No doubt this stems from his job as an intelligence analyst, having to sum up thousands of words in his reports to his superiors and accurately portraying the strengths and weaknesses of the people involved and the situation they were dealing with.
I just wish he'd make a decent bibliography of his short stories and show where and when they appear in his anthologies. Switching titles slightly adds to the confusion. Luckily in this instance, I hadn't bought Tuscan Twilight, but I would have been annoyed if I did later and discovered I had it in an anthology.
His anthologies are good value, money wise, and are an excellent way to sample his writing.
These are the sorts of stories that I think people jaded with mm romance might like. They show men with all their fears, flaws and fantasies. And if the sex is impersonal and physical, lacking much emotional connection, maybe they are a more honest depiction of the situation, romance tropes notwithstanding.