Book Review – Ella Frank “Confessions: Priest”

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*I think this is my favourite of all the covers in this series.

Joel Priestly is a fantastic character and one that Ms. Frank has taken pains to create and present as a stoic, intelligent survivor of intense trauma as a child. His early years were a haze of manipulation and violence, more of which she makes clear in this third book using flashbacks to his life with his mob boss of a father.

The delicate relationship that he is just beginning to flesh out with Robbie Bianchi, along with his husband, Julien, takes a big hit at the end of the second book (Confessions – Julien) and the first chapters of this book follow the three men trying to rebuild a level of trust with each other.

I like the way Ms. Frank writes about emotional issues like this. She seems to understand the psychology of people who are coming together – the doubts and fears that can plague us when we are getting to know someone new – and is able to communicate this through the thoughts and actions of her characters.

Honestly, I found this book to be my least favourite of the three, only because it deals with more angst and less “happy fun times”. I don’t write a lot of angst in my stories because I prefer to see people happy and dealing with the everyday challenges of a regular existence, rather than the less common trials of extreme violence and trauma.

I did like the way that Priest went out of his way to protect his loved ones in the face of the storm he knew was coming. It showed his strength and his faith that he could triumph over what had haunted him throughout his life.

I’m REALLY glad that Ms. Frank has promised to write a fourth book to give these guys a happier story together, now that their personal truths have been dealt with. Because when Joel and Julien and Robbie are relaxed and just enjoying their chemistry together? It’s perfection.

So yes, do read this book to learn the truth about Joel’s past and watch him protect his men, then keep your eyes out for Book 4 later this year!

*A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Confessions: Priest, book three in the steamy contemporary MMM Confessions Series from Ella Frank, is available NOW!

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2waxq4X

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/ConfessionsPriest

Add to GoodReads: https://bit.ly/2MbqMTy

Start the series with Confessions: Robbie today!
Amazon US:http://amzn.to/2HdQ7IU

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/confessionsrobbie

Add To Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2EWp3Aq

About Ella

Ella Frank is the USA Today Bestselling author of the Temptation series, including Try, Take, and Trust and is the co-author of the fan-favorite contemporary romance, Sex Addict. Her Exquisite series has been praised as “scorching hot!” and “enticingly sexy!”

Some of her favorite authors include Tiffany Reisz, Kresley Cole, Riley Hart, J.R. Ward, Erika Wilde, Gena Showalter, and Carly Phillips.

Connect with Ella:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ella.frank.31/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EllaFrank2012

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ellafrank1/

Mailing List: www.bit.ly/1hEYtgn

Website: https://www.ellafrank.com/portfolio

Book Review – Ella Frank “Confessions: Julien”

*Confessions – Elizabeth – I read this book in the throes of grief over my beloved pet Schnauzer, Bee Bee, who had to be put down last Thursday, three weeks shy of her 15th birthday.

Thank goodness I can rely on Ella Frank to tell a great story.

Confessions: Julien centres around Julien Thornton, master chef and one third of the romantic unit that encompasses him, the stern and quiet Joel Priestley, and the flashy and unstoppable Robbie Bianchi. They are all unique individuals with different and, in some cases, traumatic pasts who have come together in the name of sexual attraction and burgeoning love.

In this, the second book of Ella Frank’s Confessions series, we learn even more about Julien and Joel, who have been so good to our beloved Robbie but hide secrets from their pasts that have the ability to affect this new relationship. I love how Robbie’s naturally exuberant and intuitive personality provides a needed lightness and perspective to the other men, who’ve been struggling and really need an outside look at what is going on with them. Here we are confronted specifically with Julien’s backstory and how he suffers daily from vivid memories and crippling guilt.

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Robbie keeps underestimating his own abilities to react positively and intelligently to the emotional stresses going on around him, but both Julien and Joel know that he is becoming a needed counterpoint to their obsessive and controlling natures. As Robbie also discovers an intrinsic love of submission and service, specifically with regards to Joel, we observe two different personalities who just happen to click so perfectly that we cannot even imagine them being apart.

As always, the sex scenes sizzle. They resonate, too, with honesty and overwhelming emotion. Frank wields a deft hand at describing men in the throes of passionate lovemaking that doesn’t shy away from the grittier details. It’s not fluffy romance, but hard, rough, exciting moments of pure male sexual energy and satisfaction, underscored by a strong developing attachment.

I enjoyed this middle instalment of Robbie, Julien and Joel’s story and look forward to finding out more about the “Priest” of this ensemble in book three.

*A free copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review.

*****

Confessions: Julien, book two in the steamy contemporary MMM Confessions Series from Ella Frank, is LIVE!

Synopsis:

People are complex.

Love a double-edged sword.

And when it comes to a broken heart, there are no rules, only time…

For the past eight years, Julien Thornton has been living with a secret. One that only a handful of people know about.

To the outside world, he has it all.

A thriving career. A loving husband. And a face that the American public fell for by the millions, on a reality show that inadvertently saved his life.

But behind the shine of celebrity, behind the easygoing nature, a crippling truth fills Julien with pain and self-loathing. It’s a truth that he fights to overcome daily with the help of his husband, Joel Priestley, and now their boyfriend, Robbie Bianchi.

But unlike Priest, Robbie doesn’t know what he’s helping Julien to fight. He doesn’t know what Julien did all those years ago. And with the anniversary of his sister’s death fast approaching, the time for explanations is running out.

And thus the question: will the princess be able to forgive the prick as the priest once did?

Only time will tell.

Download today or read FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2LYB8Wq

Amazon Universal: http://mybook.to/ConfessionsJulien

Add to GoodReads: https://bit.ly/2HKj17D

Start the series with Confessions: Robbie today!
Amazon US:http://amzn.to/2HdQ7IU

Amazon Universal: http://mybook.to/confessionsrobbie

Add To Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2EWp3Aq

About Ella

Ella Frank is the USA Today Bestselling author of the Temptation series, including Try, Take, and Trust and is the co-author of the fan-favorite contemporary romance, Sex Addict. Her Exquisite series has been praised as “scorching hot!” and “enticingly sexy!”

Some of her favorite authors include Tiffany Reisz, Kresley Cole, Riley Hart, J.R. Ward, Erika Wilde, Gena Showalter, and Carly Phillips.

Connect with Ella:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ella.frank.31/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EllaFrank2012

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ellafrank1/

Mailing List: www.bit.ly/1hEYtgn

Website: https://www.ellafrank.com/portfolio

Series Review – Christina E. Pilz “Oliver and Jack”

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I just finished the sixth and final book in the Oliver and Jack series by Christina E. Pilz and am now in mourning that the story is complete.

Sometimes, in a lengthy series, the final books can seem lacklustre and underwhelming. Even if the writing continues on a level of excellence, the story can sometimes fizzle out and be less than comparable to the earlier books.

Well, not in this case.

The three books following Fagin’s Boy (which I reviewed here), At Lodgings in Lyme, In Axminster Workhouse and Out in the World, carried the story forward with the two main characters facing further challenges but feeling more and more affection for each other, both physical and otherwise and I found the final two books in the Oliver and Jack series – On the Isle of Dogs and In London Towne) – to be riveting, revelatory and supremely satisfying.

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Ms. Pilz’s unfailing ability to transport her reader to the streets and byways of 19th century London and environs is astonishing. She is able to convey the noise, the stench and, yes, the beauty of this unique setting with her eye for detail and the manner in which her finely drawn characters react to their surroundings. Her use of language, particularly, to show the difference between the social classes, is perfectly executed. Jack’s street-smart and profanity-laden dialogue contrasts beautifully with Oliver’s more polite turns of phrase in a way that keeps the characters quite distinct and beautifully contradictory.

I have to say that Pilz’s version of Jack Dawkins, the Artful Dodger, is one of the most vibrant and colourful character representations I have ever had the pleasure to read. I fell deeply in love with his expressive language, straightforward outlook on life, and ability to find pleasure and humour in even the most bleak of circumstances.

Pilz has a wonderful grasp of human psychology and how people react to traumatic circumstances. Her 19th century world is brutal in its veracity but the way these two characters struggle to survive and barely escape some horrible situations is a testament to the harshness of the Victorian reality and its rigid social structure. When addressing less-than-appealing events, Pilz manages to maintain a sense of delicacy and honesty that, while not shying away from important details, shows her characters’ great strength in the face of adversity.

In conclusion, a beautiful series written with a deft hand and sharp mind, presenting characters at odds with the times of their existence who nevertheless find love and laughter to carry them through until they can grasp their happy-ever-after, which is all the more special because of the trials they have endured to get there.

 

 

Book Review – Christina E. Pilz “Fagin’s Boy”

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First, I must confess to putting off reading Fagin’s Boy, which I downloaded for free from Amazon several weeks ago, because I read a lot of historical literature like Dickens, George Eliot and Charlotte Bronte, and I was really worried that this book would not live up to my expectations of it. I’ve always loved the story of Oliver Twist and the movie musical as well. But the idea of a follow up story wherein Oliver and Jack (the Artful Dodger) grow up and fall in love made me giddy with excitement. But I was nervous about the writing.

When I finally began this story and immediately found myself transported back to Victorian London with all its period charm as well as its grime, brutality and criminal underbelly, I was thrilled.

I usually like my gay romance reads to be fast-moving, full of sexual tension and graphically described intimate scenes. This story read more like a literary novel with a leisurely plot and much introspection on the part of the central character (Oliver) which was absolutely fine because the quality of the writing and the author’s attention to period detail supported that. Indeed, I found myself entranced by her vivid descriptions of life in middle class London, then later by the squalid lifestyles of the lower classes.

Pilz does a wonderful job of navigating the subtle dance between two men who share an unstated obsession with each other but don’t fully understand where that obsession comes from or to where it might lead. When it gets there, her handling of Jack and Oliver’s acknowledgment of their physical attraction to each other is beautiful to behold and hotter than Hades.

I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys historical romances with strong, vividly depicted characters and setting and an undeniable passion between two people struggling to survive and thrive in a harsh and unforgiving world.

There are five more stories in this series and I look forward to enjoying each and every one of them, the next being Oliver and Jack: At Lodgings in Lyme.

Thank you to Christina E. Pilz for permitting me to combine my love for historic literature with my fondness for gay romance in her painstakingly researched and beautifully written series.

Movie Review – “Call Me By Your Name”

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*Contains spoilers*

I have watched this film three times now, and it gets better at each viewing.

Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name is a feast for the senses – an erotic buffet filled to the brim with symbolism, intellect and culture.

But most of all, innocence.

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Call Me By Your Name is the story of 17 year-old Elio’s sudden infatuation with 24 year-old graduate student, Oliver, one of a succession of yearly summer visitors brought to the beautiful Italian villa by his father to help with paperwork and for the chosen student’s own intellectual and spiritual enrichment. It is based on the book of the same name by André Aciman, which I read before viewing the film. In this case, the movie exceeded the promise of the book – which in itself was wonderful – by immersing the viewer in the lush Italian summer that Aciman writes about and by selecting Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer as the two lead actors.

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Their chemistry is palpable from the moment they first meet through the tentative attempts at flirting and seduction, through to the final moments at the train station when Oliver has to leave. Chalamet was deservedly nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor. Somehow, he is able to show every emotion and thought that crosses Elio’s mind as he tries to figure Oliver out and decipher his own confusing feelings of attraction.

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This is one of the most mature films I’ve ever had the privilege to watch. It is a story in which sex is as natural as breathing, as wonderful a part of growing up as anything else, where nothing is shameful about embracing one’s desires and enjoying the fruit of life. The peaches that ripen in Anella’s orchard are as full of promise and as sweet as Elio. They are innocent but sensual in their own right, just like him.

As Elio and Oliver bicycle through the Italian countryside growing ever more aware of their mutual attraction, the viewer is treated to such a natural growth of love and longing that it becomes a part of the landscape.

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The house in which Elio lives and where Oliver stays for the summer is a character in itself. Like Elio’s parents, the ancient villa is always welcoming, doors open wide to the sunshine, balconies overlooking vast expanses of grass and trees. But there are hidden passages and secret rooms too, where only the most loyal companions are taken. Elio’s private escape above back of the kitchen, where he brings Marzia to wile away the hours until his tryst with Oliver, is also the room where he has intimate relations with a ripe peach and later cries in Oliver’s arms over the fact that Oliver must soon leave.

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This film is a celebration of summertime, first love, sexual exploration of all kinds — opposite sex, same sex, solitary sex with a peach — beauty and desire. It is also a celebration of how a parent can let their child become an adult by sitting back and letting that child explore the world on his/her own terms. By understanding that sexuality is a natural part of living and that putting barriers around who we’re allowed to fall in love with or engage with sexually is a losing game, and why would we want to play it anyway?

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Call Me By Your Name Book

Friday Flash Fiction – Jingle Balls

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Dear Lord, it was sweltering outside. How was I supposed to get in the Christmas spirit surrounded by palm trees, surfers and ancient volcanoes?

I’d jumped at the opportunity to move to Hawaii when the possibility of a transfer had come up within the company. It had been absolutely amazing for the first six months until I’d realized that nothing was changing. The weather was the same as it had been at the start of my stay.

Of course, that had been one of the major draws of moving here, but I hadn’t counted on the boredom of waking up to the same thing day in and day out. Sure, it rained sometimes. And some days the winds were stronger than others. But I had grown up in a climate that transformed itself on a regular basis. I had gotten used to the seasons changing and seemed to unconsciously have used them to mark the passage of time if nothing else. Here, on this island, I felt like I was trapped in a constantly repeating pattern. It was a pleasant pattern, there was no arguing that. Warm and sunny most of the time, with no hassles like shovelling snow, scraping car windows or trying to find a winter hat that looked half decent.

I couldn’t believe I was thinking this, but I missed winter. Actually, I missed the gradual change of Autumn to winter and the prospect of spring returning. Especially right now, with Christmas only a few days away.

The only good thing (and it was a really good thing) that made Hawaii feel like home was the fact that the man I’d met a month after setting down roots here had moved in with me and we shared a relationship that was astonishing in its honesty and passion.

As I pulled into the drive of our hilltop bungalow wondering how I’d get through the Christmas season without the things that made Christmas, well, Christmas, I knew that at least I had someone wonderful with whom to share my nostalgia and celebrate the season.

“Hey, Gorgeous, I’m home,” I said as I pushed open the door and dropped my parcels. “No peeking in any of these, by the way.”

“In here,” came Josh’s cheerful voice from the living room.

I toed off my flip flops and tossed my keys on the stand, then wandered towards the living area. When I got to the archway between the dining area and the living room I froze at the sight that greeted me.

“Josh? What the hall have you done? And holy shit, what the fuck are you wearing?” I said, staring open mouthed at my muscled boyfriend who stood in front of an artificial pine tree that was flecked with fake snow and decorated with white and blue balls and pretty paper snowflakes, in only a pair of tight white briefs embossed with the visage of the jolly old elf himself and the Aussibum logo.

He smiled and stepped back from the tree. “Ta da! What do you think?”

“I think,” I said, feeling the moisture collect in my eyes but fighting it back (it was just a fucking tree, for God’s sake!). “I think I love it.”

His smile grew bigger and the gratitude swelled inside me again. Then he gestured down to the tiny trunks he wore. “And these? Tell me what you think of these.”

My eyes drifted over the soft white cotton that contained his familiar package and outlined his beautiful, sexy ass.

I shook my head. “I can’t tell you that, Josh.”

He screwed up his features. “Huh? Why not?”

“Because my brain just exploded. Why did you get rid of the palm tree we decorated? I don’t miss it at all, but why?”

He shrugged. “Because I could tell you hated it. I wanted you to have something more reminiscent of Wisconsin. Something that would make your Christmas a little more enjoyable.”

I walked over to him and reached out to pull him in for a kiss. His lips were soft and welcoming and tasted of peppermint. “Have you been eating candy canes, Josh?”

He grinned. “Maybe.”

“You are the sweetest man I’ve ever known. Thank you for making my Christmas this year.”

“You’re welcome. Do you like the balls?”

“Oh Josh, I like them very much,” I said, staring down at his tiny white Christmas briefs.

He gasped in mock astonishment. “My goodness, someone’s in a better mood.”

“Thanks to you. Now let’s go pretend there’s a raging blizzard outside and we can’t leave the bedroom for three days.”