The Telling by Eden Winters

18138621Title:  The Telling

Series:  The Telling, Book #1

Author:  Eden Winters

Genre:  Contemporary Romance

Length:  Novel (195 pages)

Publisher:  Rocky Ridge Books (June 30th, 2013) First published in 2009

Heat Level:  Explicit

Heart Rating:  ♥♥♥♥♥5Hearts

Blurb:   Time in Iraq cost Michael Ritter some of his hearing and a friend whose death he feels responsible for. He’d left Alabama hoping to escape a dull, small-town life, only to return four years later, lugging a duffle full of personal demons.

Cookesville, Alabama isn’t the most welcoming place on earth, particularly for a gay, Hispanic student wanting nothing more than, to earn his degree and get back home to Texas. An image of a somber young man that he knows only by name and the stories told by an adoring sister comes to life when Michael returns home, just as Jay is already half-way to losing his heart.

Michael’s biggest battle lies ahead, and he’ll need all the help he can get to find his way in a world where he no longer fits in. Jay’s not sure where he fits either, but it could be next to the war-torn soldier who needs his strength

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Reviewer:   Tams

Review:  Michael Ritter is coming home after a four-year tour that took him to Iraq. Physically he’s fine, having filled out during his tour he’s no longer the shy, skinny, reserved teenager he was four years ago. Emotionally, he’s damaged and broken. War will do that to a man, especially when friends are among the fallen. He suffers from PTSD accompanied by constant, recurring nightmares about the death of a close friend that he blames himself for.

Jay Ortiz fell in love with the shadow of a boy. His roommate and best friend Angie has shared her brother’s letters from Iraq with him, along with stories of their childhood and family pictures. He keeps one ragged and worn picture of Michael when he first joined close at all times. He has trouble at first separating the vivacious boy of his dreams, so full of life, with the man he meets. The blonde haired, blue-eyed boy is now built like a linebacker. He carries the weight of the world on his shoulders and fear and self-loathing in his eyes.

Michael has always suspected that he was gay, but a hateful bigoted stepfather kept his feet placed firmly in his closet. Still, he’s sort of shell-shocked at the reaction his body has to Jay when they first meet. Tall and broad like himself, but Jay’s Mexican heritage is worn proudly as well. Dark unruly hair with a pair of sexy dark eyes to match and skin the color of honey, just looking at Jay makes Michaels stomach twist and his skin tingle. Slowly Michael begins the process of healing with Jay’s help, and explores his sexuality.

This is a character driven story with the slowly developing relationship between Michael and Jay at its core. Michael will forever be an emotional wreck and Jay is going to have to be his anchor. I loved how Jay sang Spanish lullabies to Michael when he had an episode to calm him down. From their first kiss to Jay taking Michaels hand and ‘leading him out of his closet’, a whole lot of ups and downs and a whole lot of steamy sex, these two take lemons and make lemonade! 

At its heart, The Telling is a moving story about the healing power of love. This book is also available as a free read, so there’s no reason why you can’t grab a copy and fall in love with these characters as I did!

The Incident by Xavier Axelson

Title:  The Incident

Author:  Xavier Axelson

Genre:  GLBT Contemporary

Publisher:  Seventh Window Publication

Length:  Novella

Heat Rating:  Moderate

Heart Rating:  ♥♥♥♥4Hearts

Reviewer:  Portia

Blurb:  In the line of duty, decisions that will change your life forever are made in a split-second. Nobody knows that better than Officer Michael Carmac, whose fatal split-second decision haunts his days. Tormented by guilt, Michael seeks solace in a bottle and the friendship he has with his partner, Officer Bertram Angel. But the more he leans on Angel for support, the more Michael discovers a longing that he’s kept hidden for too long. Can Angel help ease the pain of guilt or will Michael’s hidden desires be the end of their friendship?

Review:  When I first went to rate this I scored it kinda low.  But, that didn’t feel right.  It’s been a while since a book had me as twisted up as this one.  It wasn’t until I stopped trying to make The Incident a love story, could I truly appreciate its literary value.

Sure, there is a romantic sub-plot, but this is the story of Michael’s road of discovery and recovery.  Angel is just a piece of the puzzle.  The Incident shakes Michael on a core level.  He is a true Alpha personality and mistakes are something that other people commit.  I love the way Axelson doesn’t sugarcoat the harsh reality of post-traumatic depression and recovery.  Loving Angel might have given him the strength to make healthy choices, but Michael had to want his healing for himself as much as for his lover.  I also really appreciated the fact that the road to happily ever after included more than just some “love conquers all” bullsh*t.

This story is not for the faint of heart.  It’s raw and dirty, yet absolutely beautiful.  I highly recommend adding this to your library.