Author ~ Thorny Sterling
Published ~ 15th July 2014
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Waking up in a strange place isn't a first for model and actor Allan Seville, but discovering himself alone and bound to a rough plank in the middle of an open Texas range certainly is. With no memory of who did this to him or why, panic sets in, until rescue comes riding up on a big, brown horse.
There’s more to Duke Walters than a handsome face and sexy drawl. In the arms of this rugged cowboy, Al discovers a peace and safety he never knew he needed, and now doesn't want to be without.
But someone wants Al out of the way and drugging him during a movie junket in Houston is only the beginning. A world of differences may separate this cowboy and diva, but when danger strikes again, Duke might be the only one who can get them out alive.
Oh, this one was unusual...'different’ but in a good way. Thorny Sterling’s debut novel felt like a refreshing breeze blowing through the world of M/M romance. Splinters (LOL I love the title!) is sexy, witty, funny and really really entertaining, but there's far more to it than that. It has an undercurrent of seriousness that I didn’t expect at first and that for me was the ticket to seeing much more in the book than a funny opposites attract story. But let’s start from the beginning.
Right from the start, the first chapter had me laughing out loud. Imagine Allen, a popular model, waking up naked and tied to a rough wooden plank somewhere in the Texan wilderness. Shocked and confused he tries to remember what has happened the night before in his hotel in Houston but he comes up blank.
Nothing. Nada. Niente. Nichts.
He can’t remember anything but is nearly paralysed with shock when he realises he’s not only restrained and his clothes are missing but...his waist-long hair, his signature feature, his pride and joy—OMG, someone cut it! Then, on top of that he's been shaved. Everywhere! Still trembling in shock and catching his breath Al suddenly sees a man on a horse staring at him, a dust-covered pretty good looking cowboy, in that ‘sweaty rough, bite-this-leather-strap-so-you-don’t-scream-to loud’ kind of way, a man ‘who makes old John Wayne look like a sissy’.
It doesn't help that Duke, said butch, hot cowboy in heels with the big-ass belt buckle on his well worn jeans, has to cut the robe knot that is strategically placed behind Al’s balls, if he wants to free him. Well, shit happens, right? And there are still those nasty wooden splinters sticking in Al’s poor butt. Just saying… I’m sure, Al wasn't as entertained as me… :) Of course that particularly funny beginning sucked me right into the story and it was hard to put the book down. I just couldn’t stop reading.
Anyway, what will be, will be, and the two of them can’t take their eyes off each other. Everything that happens after that is just like their secret dreams. Finally come true.
Oh, damn it. He’s being a knight in…well-worn leather… I stare into those dark amber eyes and want to run away with him until the world makes sense again.
They are drawn to each other like moths to a flame and it doesn’t even take 24 hours for their attraction to become more—much more. *Deep sigh.* Those two are so cute together. The sex is intense, tender and passionate and the emotion between Al and Duke is electric. But the passion between them is so much more than just sex… and the love they have for each other truly touched me and left me speechless.
I fell instantly for androgynous, flamboyant Al. His love for camisoles and hot pink panties with a lace waistband had me allured right from the start. And of course I loved rugged, hairy but oh so sweet Duke. The very model of a cowboy, he even wears a moustache! Okay, I have to admit, the moustache is rather a turn off for me… *shudders*... but as long Al is happy with his hairy, bearded guy on dusty heels then that's alright by me!
His calloused fingers lightly scrape along my cheek before he’s cupping my jaw in his warm, earthy-scented hand. I lean my head into the hold and close my eyes as he dips down to kiss me. Bristly mustache, soft lips, and all the smells of hard working man, and the crisp heat of earth and sun. There’s something so honest about his kiss here and near the end of the day. Him coming home, me meeting him, and the two of us going inside for dinner. Simple domestication. I'd had no idea I wanted this.
The mystery part of the book is nicely done as well. Okay, a certain corpus delicti, a video the guys watch with the sheriff (I liked that man a lot!) shocked the hell out of me. Although this shock only lasted for a blink of an eye, my heart stood still for a moment. Well, I can’t go into more details without giving away too much but at the end of the book I felt bad for the attacker. I even understood the reasons for acting the way he did, and I wished all the best for him.
By the way, I love how the title, the cover and the storyline are intertwined. My first impression of the cover was like…
"Yes. Nice. A tree. The title ‘Splinters’ and the tree on the cover, okay I get it…"
But somehow it seemed like I'd missed something essential. A few pages later the connection finally fell into place.
Before now, cowboys were just sexy like denim and strength. This man beside me is so much more than any of that. I’m staring at the land, but I’m seeing him. All my life, I’ve been the leaves on this tree, shaking in the wind, trying to hold on.
Duke is the roots.
He moves in front of me, a soft expression on his rugged face, and wipes his thumb under my eye. I’ve cried. Seeing this place made me cry.
“Happens for some,” he whispers. “Gets us right in the soul.”
Us. I nod.
“Yeah,” I quietly croak. “Got me.”
After reading this I was in awe. I sat there for a few seconds with goosebumps all over my body, and I had to re-read that quote more than a few times.
Overall, Splinters is a brilliantly written story about a love that conquers tons of difficulties...even life-threatening aggressions. It’s a prime example of an opposites attract story and it's definitely one of the best I’ve read in a while. Hopefully it strikes a blow for guys like Al.
Femme men like myself catch hell all the time for being ourselves, even from within the gay community. Perhaps this was an opportunity to shine a light on our struggles and also our resilience.
So swish, sparkle and wiggle your hips, sweet Al. Just shine your light! :) Highly recommended!
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About The Author
It all started with a blog, a lunch receipt, and the hope of true love. In 2010, with the encouragement of his blog followers, Thorny Sterling wrote his email address on the back of a receipt and gave it to a returning customer who’d caught his eye. One email and a four-hour phone call later, their fates were sealed. Thorny and his husband Jazz have been together ever since.
On his blog, Thorny writes about daily life as a twenty-something gay genderfluid who attends college in Ohio. In his free time, Thorny paints both digitally and in acrylics and writes gay (M/M) romantic fiction. In the summer of 2014, Thorny published his first novel while also taking steps to sell his artwork online. He often donates a portion of his profits from art sales to various LGBT equality and military support charities.
Someday soon, Thorny hopes to become a teacher and legally marry his husband.
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