Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Review: The Disassembled Life of Duncan Cole by S. Hart - 5 Stars!

by S. K. Hart
5 Stars

Available for purchase at:
  • Print Length: 777 pages
    Published May 30th 2014
    ASIN B00KOR46U4
    Edition language English

Sneaky   Snarky   Steamy   Sexy   and   Shameless!

I have to be careful here. This is a book where I could remark on every single line. I'll try to refrain.
I savored every moment with Mister Duncan Cole. It's like he moved in next door and I went over to visit him each day and each day he did something ridiculous or horrible or sexual... Well, maybe I shouldn't have been visiting at those times. Heh, but who am I kidding, that's exactly why I went to visit.  But I stayed for the shrewd skills of this author. Be sure to bring your wicked sense of humor, be prepared for inappropriate humor and and don't expect cliche, formulaic tropes because they're not here.

I spent weeks with Duncan and Sam and Dan and somewhere along the way Calvin popped in and I don't think he'll ever be leaving. I have a special room all fixed up for him. Room is a bit of a stretch, cage is more like it. Love him, hate him, worship himwho the hell knows but I think he'll just keep coming back, over and over. At least I sincerely hope so.

Apparently, my five-year impersonation of an angry psychopath made everyone assume that I was also a lush.
 Duncan Cole - Eccentric. Bizarre. Awkward. A madman really. And yet . . .
A slight flush found his cheekbones as his lips slid into a lazy grin that looked to be composed of trouble and plans to inflict it. He actually started to bother me.
 Sam Carson - Honestly? I loved him from the beginning. Was so angry with him somewhere in the middle. By the end? He was my hero.

Dan Cartwright - Pull your ginger head out of that...  Oh sorry, you can't. Roller skates, carpetbags and whores? Dan, Dan, Dan you do surprise me.

Calvin Cartwright - Oh Calvin, you really are the backbone of this story, aren't you. Or, er, maybe not. I'm not really sure what makes you tick, but without question, you are the most destable-loveable dead guy and I am besotted.


Duncan Cole is haunted by a murderous steam engine. It's clockwork whistle never lets him forget. It's coming for him, he knows it. He deserves it. The very contraption he should be most proud of is his tormentor.


In which we meet Duncan: professional nobody who presents himself to the public as a scowling, smoking pile of contempt. Against his will, he meets Sam: a less than professional coal miner who inspires the worst in men. Together they take on one malicious train and a most insidious re-animator, and along the way Duncan remembers a few things that he’d previously forgotten.

To survive he becomes reclusive. He is determined to never leave his home again, even if that home and, in fact, all the structures built above it are determined to collapse upon his head.

Ah, such is life in Crush, the whimsically-perverse town that only the writer, S. K. Hart could create.
The smell of freshly brewed coffee confused the hell out of me. I had refused to fill the machine because I didn't want to hear any comments from my coffee pot, the little bitch.
Luckily, or not, for Duncan, Sam comes along with some coffee, some curiosity and some undeniable sex appeal. Sam also has some off page non-con in his background. The first half of Duncan Cole is dedicated to this relationship, their backgrounds and why the teacups keep moving. Oh yeah, and Duncan builds Sam a bed. Swoon!

All of that should be enough to entertain the most ambiguous of readers, but just you wait! You haven't really met Dan or his shockingly delightful brother, Calvin yet. Dan is something of, ahem, carpetbagger and Calvin is . . . unlike anything. Ever. Heh, and you thought Duncan was cranky. Yes, yes, yes, just you wait. Or better yet, don't.
That book had his undivided attention, and that made me flush because that book also happened to be one of the few things in the house that proved I was more than an angry hobo who chewed his coffee and fixed clocks.
If you crave, no, if you beg for, lust after, have an aching need for snark, wit, off-beat humor and wise-assed sarcasm then this is your book. In fact, it's nearly two books in length. And, like I said, I could've quoted a myriad of lines. It's that good. Just one after the next.

I do have to say that this author uses and indulgent amount of words this is not news to herand I have to say that that is usually something that frustrates me, but not here. I tried to figure why that is early in the book and all I can figure is that it must have something to do with the ridiculous, constant smile on my face.

I'm glad I took my time with this, because I got to spend so much time in Duncan's/Calvin's world and if I have any luck at all I'll get invited back in at some point.



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Visit Lisa T at Goodreads

Monday, October 13, 2014

GayRomLit by Proxy? #Cockwalk

Lisa T, Erectile Funktion-Two Blue on Pink, 2014, acrylic on canvas, copper, natural beads, Florida, USA

Well, I guess I could just mope because I can't be at GRL with all my favorite people--believe me, I have been moping. Or I could paint something weird and send it along with the fabulous Lirtle, a.k.a. Irish Smurfétté on Goodreads, who will be there. *I'm not jealous 'cus that's bad. 

For those who don't know, or those who do, GRL has an event called the Cockwalk--an auction of penis art. This year's auction will benefit Chicago's Broadway Youth Center--BYC. I hope my contribution by proxy will spur a bidding war of wildly inappropriate proportions--or a buck or two--to help raise funds for this wonderfully worthy center. Not only does the center offer health assistance, they also provide several other necessary services. Here's a brief sample adapted from their site.

Offers a safe space for LGBTQA and youth experiencing homelessness to access:
  • A place to hang out with your friends, dance and listen to music, make some phone calls, pick up some supplies, and get something to eat 
  • Clothing Vouchers
  • Laundry 
  • Youth Food Bank
  • RAWR
    Amazing space for sharing and developing poetry and writing skills. 
  • Peer Advocate Project Project for and by youth of color that builds youth leadership through harm reduction, anti-violence, and anti-oppression frameworks. 
  • Community Meetings and Youth-Led Workshops 
So, this little 8x10 acrylic painting, with it's springy spunk and romantical hearts, will arrive via Florida, Ohio and finally Chicago, just in time. This is just my way of being there in spirit. Plus, I've painted eyes under the paint so I can see what everyone's up to. Have a blast, have a drink for me and mostly enjoy each other's company.

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Cover Reveal: Rack & Ruin by Charlie Cochet - #GiveAway #excerpt

Yay, Charlie's back and sharing the very intriguing Rack & Ruin cover, plus a thrilling excerpt. Take a look and don't miss the giveaway!

My previous THIRDS book reviews can be found here:


Hello all! Welcome to the Rack & Ruin (THIRDS, Book 3) cover reveal & giveaway! I'm super excited to share with you the cover to for the latest THIRDS book by the fabulous L.C. Chase! There's also a giveaway, and Rack & Ruin is now available for preorder!

When the walls come tumblin' down....



New York City’s streets are more dangerous than ever with the leaderless Order of Adrasteia and the Ikelos Coalition, a newly immerged Therian group, at war. Innocent civilians are caught in the crossfire and although the THIRDS round up more and more members of the Order in the hopes of keeping the volatile group from reorganizing, the members of the Coalition continue to escape and wreak havoc in the name of vigilante justice.

Worse yet, someone inside the THIRDS has been feeding the Coalition information. It’s up to Destructive Delta to draw out the mole and put an end to the war before anyone else gets hurt. But to get the job done, the team will have to work through the aftereffects of the Therian Youth Center bombing. A skirmish with Coalition members leads Agent Dexter J. Daley to a shocking discovery and suddenly it becomes clear that the random violence isn’t so random. There’s more going on than Dex and Sloane originally believed, and their fiery partnership is put to the test. As the case takes an explosive turn, Dex and Sloane are in danger of losing more than their relationship.

Preorder links


Release Day November 7th



Dex had never been so eager to start his daily training session. Down in Sparta, he changed in the male locker room, swapping his uniform for his black Led Zeppelin T-shirt, loose jogging pants, and sneakers. He grabbed his boxing gloves from his locker and slammed it shut.

The bays were pretty busy at this time of day, but there was plenty of free boxing equipment in the boxing bays. He chose one of the emptier ones, and as he got ready, all he could think about was Sloane. The moment Dex had seen his face, he’d known. Sloane was going to run. I’m so stupid. He finished wrapping his hands and made straight for the punching bag.

After some quick stretches and warm ups, he started pummeling the red leather bag, hoping to release some of his frustration, but the more he punched the bag, the angrier he became. He’d told himself not to get so close. His head had known far longer than his heart what would happen, tried to warn him. But Dex hadn’t listened. He’d been a lovesick idiot, trailing after Sloane, getting on his knees, content to let Sloane bleed him. Maybe a part of Dex enjoyed it. Enjoyed being stripped, his vulnerability exposed. Why else would he continue to put himself through this? Why did he keep waiting? Because he’d promised Sloane he would. And what had Sloane promised in return? Dex remembered the words as if they’d been said yesterday. I can’t make any promises. Sloane had made it clear. Dex had no one to blame for his heartache but himself.

“Well isn’t that cute.”

Dex froze. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply. Someone up there was conspiring against him. Was this a test to see how much he could take before he lost his shit? Any other day, Dex would have walked away. But not today. He turned and faced Ash who was dressed similarly in a T-shirt and loose jogging pants. Letty was beside him looking worried.

“Come on. You and me,” Dex said through his teeth.

Ash let out a laugh. “Are you fucking kidding?”

“Does it look like I’m kidding?”

“Sloane wouldn’t be happy about that.”

“Well Sloane’s not fucking here, is he?” Dex snapped. He expected a smart-ass remark, but instead Ash seemed to be thinking it over so he pushed on. “You’ve wanted this since I joined. Now’s your chance. No one here’s going to stop you. You want to beat the shit out of me, now’s your fucking chance.”


Dex nodded and swiped his boxing gloves off the side of the mat. He held them out to Letty. “Help me out here.”

Letty took one glove from him and helped secure the strap before taking the next one. “Dex, are you sure you want to do this? You know he won’t hold back.”

“I’m counting on it.”

Letty cursed under her breath, saying something in Spanish Dex didn’t understand. He tapped his hip where his pocket was, and Letty reached in. She pulled out the small box containing his mouth guard and opened it, looking as if she was going to try again to convince him not to do this, but instead, she held the mouth guard up to him. He leaned over and closed his mouth around the rubbery piece. He could tell she wasn’t happy, but he needed this.

He hopped on his toes, rolled his shoulders, and waited while Letty helped Ash with his gloves and mouth guard. As soon as Ash was ready, they both stepped onto one of the larger empty blue mats. Looking at Ash, all the anger came flooding back, and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t stop thinking about Sloane.

You really thought he wouldn’t run? He’ll always run. From you.

“Come on,” Dex said around his mouthpiece.

Ash shook his head, but there was no way Dex was letting him back out now.

Come on!”

Ash gave him exactly what he asked for. The first punch landed across Dex’s jaw and sent him reeling. He fell hard against the mat, his face in a world of pain and stars in his eyes. How the hell Dex hadn’t been knocked out by that one hit was beyond him. Fuck. That hurt. Okay, maybe this wasn’t your brightest idea.

“That all you got, Daley? One hit? That’s pretty fucking pathetic.”

Bastard. Dex pushed himself to his feet and shook himself off. Would Sloane come back this time? He had to. They worked together. What if that’s all he came back for? You fucked up. The first guy you could see yourself spending your life with, and you fuck it up within months. A new record. Ash grinned at him, and Dex lost it.

He came at Ash with everything he had, mindful of Ash’s fierce hooks. He maneuvered around him, ducking under hooks and jumping out of the way when Ash swiped at him. Ash threw both arms out to grab him, and Dex dropped down to the mat and rolled. He popped back up and took a swing, catching Ash on his shoulder. Then Dex remembered what Ash’s proficiency was. Close Quarter Combat. The guy had been toying with him. Letting him land blows, waiting for Dex to realize the mistake he’d made.

About the Author

CCochet100Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From Historical to Fantasy, Contemporary to Science Fiction, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!
Currently residing in South Florida, Charlie looks forward to migrating to a land where the weather includes seasons other than hot, hotter, and boy, it’s hot! When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | THIRDS HQ | Tumblr | Instagram | Pinterest Email: charlie@charliecochet.com


Visit Lisa T at Goodreads

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Blog Tour: Another Place In Time Anthology - Benefits AllOut.org

“Another Place in Time” by Various
Blog Tour Information

Monday, September 29 –   Sinfully Sexy (Guest Post – Aleksandr Voinov)
                                                Rainbow Gold Reviews (Spotlight)
Tuesday, September 30 –   Elisa Reviews (Guest Post – Jordan L. Hawk)
                                                Cup O’Porn (Spotlight)
Wednesday, October 1 -     Boys in our Books (Guest Post - KJ Charles)
                                                The Blogger Girls (Spotlight)
                                                The Novel Approach (Spotlight)
                                                Book Pushers (Spotlight)
Thursday, October 2 -         Love Bytes (Guest Post – Tamara Allen)
                                                Attention is Arbitrary (Spotlight)
                                                Smoocher’s Voice (Spotlight)
Friday, October 3 -               Prism Book Alliance (Guest Post – Kaje Harper)
                                                Boy Meets Boy Reviews (Spotlight)
Saturday, October 4 -          Joyfully Jay (Guest Post – Joanna Chambers)
                                                MM Good Book Reviews (Spotlight)


There is a giveaway that will be available throughout all blog tour stops.

§  A backlist ebook from ALL of the authors participating in the anthology (one each from Tamara Allen, Joanna Chambers, KJ Charles, Kaje Harper, Jordan L. Hawk, Aleksandr Voinov, and Alex Beecroft)…7 books in total!
§  A $50 Amazon giftcard
§  A $50 donation in the winner’s name to AllOut.org (all proceeds from the sale of this anthology will also be donated to this charity)

Rafflecopter code:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Welcome to another place in time...where one can be swept away into lands and eras long forgotten. 

Included in this anthology:

"Office Romance" by Tamara Allen
The post-war economy is at a standstill, much like Foster Wetherly’s life until he’s forced to do battle with irritatingly confident—and competent—fellow ex-doughboy Casey Gladwin for a position in their shrinking department at Manhattan Security Mutual.

"Introducing Mr. Winterbourne" by Joanna Chambers
Lysander Winterbourne appears to lead a charmed life. Handsome, amiable, and a renowned sportsman, he is the darling of London society. As far as Adam Freeman is concerned though, Lysander is just another spoiled aristocrat.
A wealthy mill owner, Adam has no time for the frivolous world of the ton, but when his younger brother becomes engaged to Althea Winterbourne, he reluctantly agrees to be introduced to society–with the Winterbourne clan’s golden boy as his guide.
Resigning himself to a few days of boredom, Adam is surprised to learn that there is much more to Lysander than his perfect surface. But will Adam have the courage to introduce Lysander Winterbourne to his own secret self?

"The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh" by KJ Charles
 Lord Gabriel Ashleigh is a ruined man. Last night he lost everything at the card tables to his brother’s worst enemy, notorious gambler Francis Webster. Tonight, he’s going back for one more game. Ash thinks he has nothing left to lose. But Francis sets the stakes, and they’re higher than Ash could have imagined…

Two Regency bucks. One game of cards. Everything to play for.

"Unfair in Love and War" by Kaje Harper
Many men lost brothers overseas in the summer of 1944. Warren Burch was one of them. For months he still clung to his big city life in Philadelphia, but finally he's made the difficult choice to return to his home town. Warren's polio-stricken leg won't let him serve, so the least he can do is be there for his mother, when brother Charlie never again will. Arriving home means a whole new life, constrained by the rhythms and prejudices of a small town. Fortunately, it's made more interesting by the mysterious and attractive young man next door.

"Carousel" by Jordan L. Hawk
When a child goes missing, is it a simple case of a young runaway, or are more sinister forces at work?

“Carousel” is part of the Whyborne & Griffin series and takes place between the events of Stormhaven and Necropolis. It can be read as a standalone.

"Deliverance" by Aleksandr Voinov
This is a re-vamped, re-edited, improved version of "Deliverance". It's about William Raven, a templar, who thought he'd escaped his past. (Same character as in The Lion of Kent.)

Along with a foreword written by Alex Beecroft, enjoy these original short stories that make up "Another Place in Time".

All proceeds from the purchase of this anthology will be donated to AllOut.org in celebration of LGBT History Month, October 2014.


Publisher:                Self-published
Release Date:         October 1, 2014
Purchase Links:      Amazon, Smashwords


Tamara Allen

Joanna Chambers

KJ Charles

Kaje Harper

Jordan L. Hawk

Aleksandr Voinov

Foreword by Alex Beecroft

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Author Interview and #GiveAway: The Elusive Brandon Shire on Summer Symphony

Author Interview and Giveaway 
with Brandon Shire

Hi Everyone, I'm thrilled to have been granted an interview by Brandon Shire for the release of his latest novel, Summer Symphony. Please join me in welcoming him to the blog, and be sure to sign up for the giveaway below. Two lucky winners will receive an ebook of Summer Symphony.

Brandon, welcome back to Attention Is Arbitrary. I want to congratulate you on your latest novel, Summer Symphony. I know you like to stand back and let your books speak for themselves (read: you’re reserved), but I’m delighted that you’re letting me share more about this book with your readers. 

After reading this novel I was speechless, for a moment. Okay, I was a sobbing mess. Then I had nothing but questions. Many of those I’ll have to discuss with other readers, but there is also a great deal that I want to know from you. Thank you for indulging me. 

Lisa: The subject matter of Summer Symphony is emotionally charged to say the least. Why did you want to tell this story? 

Brandon: This story unfolded by itself. My mother, who I care for now, was staring off into the distance one day and I asked her what she was thinking about. To my surprise she started telling me about my two sisters who were lost to miscarriage, and how the doctor told her she could just have more before he walked from the room. The conversation stuck with me. Seventy years on and she was still thinking about the babies she lost. And of course, being a parent myself, I wondered how I would feel (from a male perspective) had my own children never come into existence. It was a story that needed to be written. 

Lisa: I couldn't agree more and am guilty of not recognizing that this is a problem society should take a look at.

Although Martin and Ren come from wildly different cultural backgrounds there is a common theme: that men have to be strong. To be strong seems to mean denying something to/of yourself. Do you think society’s views on this are changing? Progressing?

Brandon: Honestly, I don’t. We in the West like to think we’re progressive on most social issues, but in this case, I didn’t find that to be true. 

Lisa: You spanned 3 continents to bring this story to life, but you focus primarily on Croatia and Japan. What made you choose these areas of the world? Did your research bring you any surprises? 

Brandon: Fans on Goodreads actually chose Croatia before I started writing. I knew I wanted a European view, and because I have such a broad base of fans I asked for their opinion on a place we don’t see much of in LGBT lit. Croatia was their choice. Japan was my choice because I wanted the two MCs to come from very diverse cultures. 

Probably the biggest surprise that popped up in the research phase was the complete lack of resources available to men in grief. Couple that with the bizarre (and seemingly prevalent) perception that men don’t grieve over the children they lose to miscarriage and stillbirth and I was pretty speechless. 99.9% of the resources I found were geared to women, and those for men were most often about ‘how to help your spouse,’ yet there was virtually nothing aiding them in dealing with their own emotions. It makes no sense to me. How are we still making it shameful for a man to be upset over the loss of his child? 

Lisa: I was particularly surprised by the electric energy you infused during the symphony scenes. How were you able to accomplish this? Do you know music inside and out? Do you attend philharmonic concerts? Did you have help? 

Brandon: The music scenes were probably the hardest to write because I had to try and bring each note to life with words. This was another area of massive research– days listening to classical music and months spent trying to craft just a few paragraphs so that the reader was sitting in the concert hall. 

I don’t have any musical training, and I haven’t attended the symphony in years, but I do have a great love for music and that’s what helped. Shira Anthony was also indispensable with her technical input on music and orchestral politics. I should also mention that my Croatian consultants were essential in making this book a reality. They helped with everything from food, culture, politics, LGBT issues and street names. If readers would like to know more about the beautiful city of Zagreb I would recommend stopping by Secret Zagreb. Iva will bring the city alive for you. 

Lisa: Well the level of research and consultant input shows. Everything about this book felt solid.

This story is wonderfully complex. If I were to look at Mirnela’s actions alone I could probably write pages about her. She is strong, brave and very intelligent. I guess I don’t have a question, but I wonder if you want to tell us how she fleshed out while you developed your manuscript. 

Brandon: Mirnela’s character was in constant flux right from the beginning. Her story


Martin Zoric had vivid dreams of fatherhood, of a small hand pressed to his, of pink dresses and girlish laughter. Then his wife had a stillbirth and his world fell apart.

He listened to the unwanted apologies, stood by his wife as was expected of him, and kept his façade strong and firm for the entire world to see.

But does he have the strength let go and really grieve?

When Ren Wakahisa landed in Croatia he was hoping to escape the cultural pressures put on him to conform. His family wanted him to forsake love for duty. They viewed his happiness as secondary to familial prosperity.

Does he have the courage to be who he wants to be? Or, will he yield to their wishes?

Summer Symphony is the story of how two men find their answers and what they learn about strength, and grace, and the endurance of love.

is so tightly interwoven with politics and Croatian and Romani cultures that I had to research every aspect of her personality and then sit back and look at how that would effect her relationship with Martin. I have fifty written pages of history just on her, but to include it would have made this book her story and not Martin’s. 

Lisa: Does it bother you that your readers call you all sorts of ugly swear words? I can’t be the only one. You're sort of known for your emotional impact.

Brandon: (Laughs) You’re not. I usually get an email box full of invective about making readers shed tears. It doesn’t bother me. It let’s me know the story touched you, and that’s really my goal. I’m not a great writer, but I know I can tell a story that’s going to get under your skin. :) 

Lisa: Some of us would argue the great writer part. Your writing has always reached me.

What new tortures do you have for us next? I understand you’re working with some Wicked Men? 

Brandon: I always have a few projects percolating and this time is no exception. Fans have asked for more erotic M/M and of course I’m going to come at their request with a twist. The Love of Wicked Men is going to be exactly what it sounds like -- the men we love to hate and hate to love. The first MC is a complete a-hole, and I’m dying to see him put in his place. He’s gay, rich, gorgeous, and ruthless; and doesn’t care about anyone but himself. We (me and my readers) are going to take him down a few notches. Actually I want to break him, but I’ll let fans decide on that. 

This book will be different because I’m going to put it out in small increments (episodes) and give readers a chance to change the storyline as we go along. Right now, I’m thinking six episodes which readers can grab as they come out, and then a single book for readers who prefer their stories all in one bite. Genre? Think legal, erotic, mm thriller. You’ll probably see the first episode in 2015, but I’ll post more details in the Goodreads group as things progresses. Right now I’m in research mode for this and several other projects. 

You could also probably expect another major tearjerker in 2016, but more on that later. 

Lisa: Thank you for your insights, Brandon. You’re very welcome to swing by the blog anytime. Best of luck with this release and with all of your other current projects. 

Summer Symphony is available from Amazon, Smashwords, and most other retailers for Pre-order. 

10% of the proceeds from the sale of any of Brandon’s books are donated to LGBT Youth charities combating homelessness.

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About the Author

Award winning writer BRANDON SHIRE is a distinct voice in contemporary fiction. Mr. Shire was chosen as a Top Read in 2011, Best in LGBTQ Fiction for 2011 & 2012, and garnered several Honorable Mentions, as well as a Rainbow Award for Best Gay Contemporary Fiction.

Connect with Brandon at BrandonShire.com

Books by Brandon Shire



Available for purchase at:

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Review: Summer Symphony by Brandon Shire - 5 Stars

Summer Symphony 
By Brandon Shire
5 Stars

Available for purchase at:

10% of the proceeds from the sale of any of Brandon’s books are donated to LGBT Youth charities combating homelessness.

~ ~Enter the Giveaway Here~ ~


     Emotional.                 Musical.              Political.            Traditional.           Classic.
        Contemporary.         Modern.           Romantic.          Breathtaking.

The way Brandon Shire lays words on the page just works for me. With Summer Symphony he has captured me once again. I am an unabashed Brandon Shire devotee and a fortunate beta reader of this book. You have no idea how hard it's been to not spill everything about this powerful read, but it's something you'll need to immerse yourself in to appreciate this literary gem.

        He was afraid of that place now, mostly because he  didn't believe in it anymore. It was the musical fairytale his life had never become.


Martin Zoric - What a beautiful soul. This man, the maestro, is talented, kind and so destroyed. 

Ren Wakahisa - A modern young man trapped by tradition. He escapes his bonds momentarily, only to land in another's struggles.

Mirnela Zoric - Fascinating. Strong, smart and very perceptive. A very impressive character.

The Symphony - It's nearly a character in its own right, with its demands and rewards. Its politics and its emotion.


I never thought I'd read a book that dealt with the subject of stillbirth. I'm not that strong. If it wasn't for the pull that Mr. Shire's writing has for me, I wouldn't have attempted this. How wrong I would have been.

Yes, the basis for the story is a devastating stillbirth, but with its focus on Martin rather than Mirnela I felt that I wanted to see where Mr. Shire would take this story. Martin's grief has disabled him, and from the depth of his despair we learn that men can be ruined emotionally by this tragedy that is typically viewed as a woman's burden.

Again, while that is the basis, those details are in the past; it's the present and future that Martin and Ren must figure out how to navigate. These two men come together from opposite ends of the earth, but find they each have something to offer the other.

Ren is trying to escape his own burden. I had to wonder how "real" his conflict was in modern society, and I was surprised to find that it is not uncommon in Japanese culture. Even today. He is in a very difficult position, and I was quite apprehensive about his outcome.

I don't often find myself writing about the women in my MM reads, but Mirnela deserves a whole review all on her own. Brandon has created an amazing character here, and I can't wait to get to discuss her with others. I bet she'll be controversial.

I also want to discuss what the author was able to accomplish in the symphony scenes. Without being ostentatious, the musicality of his writing gave passion and power and drove these scenes to a degree that had me feeling and experiencing the music on the page. I was in the concert hall seeing the sweat on the brow of the conductor, surrounded by the intense love of music that permeated the entire read. Breathtaking.


When Brandon told me what this book would be about, I don't think I reacted very well. It was something like, "you're going to write about what now?" I mean, come on, we'd come off two hunky, steamy novels, and it threw me for a moment. I shouldn't have had a doubt. I'm learning that when he tackles the tough stuff, he's at his best.

One of the most difficult books I've ever read, emotionally, was Brandon's Listening to Dust. This latest book doesn't have that soul-shattering effect, but the masterful writing style and fully absorbing content were impressive and memorable. That's not to say that this didn't leave me sobbing. It did, but it was quite a different, sensory experience.


Martin Zoric had vivid dreams of fatherhood, of a small hand pressed to his, of pink dresses and girlish laughter. Then his wife had a stillbirth and his world fell apart.

He listened to the unwanted apologies, stood by his wife as was expected of him, and kept his façade strong and firm for the entire world to see.

But does he have the strength let go and really grieve?

When Ren Wakahisa landed in Croatia he was hoping to escape the cultural pressures put on him to conform. His family wanted him to forsake love for duty. They viewed his happiness as secondary to familial prosperity.

Does he have the courage to be who he wants to be? Or, will he yield to their wishes?

Summer Symphony is the story of how two men find their answers and what they learn about strength, and grace, and the endurance of love.

~ ~ ~

10% of the proceeds from the sale of any of Brandon’s books are donated to LGBT Youth charities combating homelessness.

~ ~Enter the Giveaway Here~ ~

About the Author

Award winning writer BRANDON SHIRE is a distinct voice in contemporary fiction. Mr. Shire was chosen as a Top Read in 2011, Best in LGBTQ Fiction for 2011 & 2012, and garnered several Honorable Mentions, as well as a Rainbow Award for Best Gay Contemporary Fiction.

Connect with Brandon at BrandonShire.com

Books by Brandon Shire



Available for purchase at:

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I would like to thank Brandon Shire for providing me with a review copy in exchange for my honest review. 
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Other Fun Stuff!