Thursday, August 20, 2015

Review: Sweet by L.F. Blake


Title ~ Sweet

Author ~ L.F. Blake

Published ~ 18th August 2015

Genre ~ Paranormal M/M Romance





An incubus makes a terrible boyfriend. But then, so does a fairy.
David is the last of his family, the end result of a long proud line of fey. Left to the care of his thousand-year-old “grandmother,” David was raised to love the earth and value his fey heritage – and to despise the human blood destined to rob him of the near-immortality his ancestors enjoyed. Caught between two opposing natures, David has done his best to survive. He’s used his good fey looks to build a career for himself as a fashion model in the ultra-modern metropolis of New Berlin. But as he ages, that career begins to stumble. At twenty-six, David is terrified that his human blood is about to betray him, and he’s fighting that fear the only way he knows how.
With pills, booze, and denial. And with Connor Wroth, his lifelong best friend, who just happens to be a rock star and an incubus.
On one hand, Connor is flamboyantly famous, a demon who survives by consuming the lustful energy of others. On the other, he’s the one person David has always been able to depend on. And if their friendship happens to include great sex, well, that’s not hurting anyone.
The trouble is, Connor isn’t sure he wants to be friends anymore. He’s been head over heels for David since they were teens, and he’s tired of watching David throw himself away over a futile quest for perfection. Especially when Connor knows David is already perfect the way he is.
So Connor hatches the perfect plan to get himself invited into David’s home as a houseguest, to get closer than close and turn their friendship into something much more.
And to prove that while he might be sleeping with half the city, there’s only one man in it he really gives a damn about.

Alan’s Review

A Beautiful Love Story About Demons and Fairies

I’m not usually a great fan of fantasy, especially fantasy about demons and fairies. On the other hand, my tastes have been challenged, more than once, by some of my favorite authors of gay fiction occasionally taking a detour into the netherworld. There’s something about the opportunity for unlimited metaphor, about plumbing the depths of emotion without being tethered to mundane reality that seems to set these writers’ imaginations free.

Ms. Blake is one of those wondrously imaginative writers, and Sweet is one of those books.

Written with a deft hand and prose that, at times, verges on poetry, Sweet captivated me, grabbed ahold of my heart and wouldn’t let go until the very last page. I bought the book because I love rock-star romance and had read (and loved) this author’s earlier rock epic, “The Far Away Years”. Sweet however, isn’t so much about rock-and-roll. It’s about the supernatural world, alive and hiding just beneath the surface of the real one - the world of demons and fairies.

It’s the story of Connor and David. Connor is a young Incubus, not yet grown into his powers, who sees the beautiful David – he of the long golden hair and silver eyes – asleep on a branch of the huge Magnolia tree in the yard across the street. Though both boys are only 13, it’s love at first sight. Both are too young to know it, but that fateful moment defines the intimate friendship that will dominate the next decade-or-so of the young men’s lives.

As demons go, Incubi are, perhaps the least threatening. As Ms. Blake writes, “Men live on bread. Vampires on blood. Incubi on sex. And the fey live on dreams…” “Fey” is the preferred term for fairies, those almost-extinct creatures of nature and light, the beautiful ones who are the keepers of the last vestiges of magic in the modern world. David is fey. Though ethereal, elegant, and as elusive as smoke, fairies are also enormously strong, very difficult to kill, yet also in a race toward oblivion, as they continue to marry humans and give birth to half, quarter and eighth fairies, such as David. In the process, they lost their immortality. David’s grandmother is, perhaps, the last of the pure fairies, finally aging and facing death at the end of a life of more than a thousand years.

The boys grow into adulthood as devoted best friends. David capitalizes on his other-worldly beauty to become not just one of high fashion’s most popular models, but also a talented designer with his own fashion line. Connor used his power of seduction to become one of the world’s top rock-stars, selling his sex, his raw energy and the music of the night to millions across the globe. His job and his raw sexuality afford unlimited opportunities to feed from fans of either sex, but still, there’s only one person in the world to whom he tells his secrets, his own wants and desires, and that’s David.

David’s time has been a bit rockier. He’s had a number of lovers, including one who lasted four years. His career is not doing well, either. The astonishing beauty that captivated photographers, designers and fashionistas isn’t working any more. Much to his chagrin, he actually has fine lines radiating from the corners of his eyes. At the ripe old age of 26, he’s starting to age – he’s not becoming an old hag overnight, by any means, but he’s aging like a normal human. Unlike his pure-bred forebears, he is not blessed with their timeless beauty. And in the world of high-fashion, there’s always someone a year or two younger waiting in the wings to take advantage of the inevitable disintegration of the stars who came before them. It’s the cruelty at the core of the fashion business, its endless flirtation with youth. To make matters worse, David has found solace in booze and prescription drugs. With a little help from his “friends”, he’s still young, beautiful and never, ever lonely.

David’s big problem is that he’s never realized that, laugh-lines included, he is still beautiful and magical, or would be, if he hadn’t given up on himself.

Sweet is a book about love built on a framework of supernatural powers and incompatible beings. It delves very deeply into what love is, how we search for it, lament its absence, and often don’t recognize when it’s standing right in front of us. It’s also about distinguishing love from need, passion from lust, comfort from boredom and courage from fear. Connor is afraid he’ll never deserve David. Let’s face it, fidelity is not in his lexicon. He has to screw around to survive. It is his nature.

And David, on the other hand, is so terrified that the devotion Connor has always saved just for him was, in fact, just another seductive manipulation that allowed him to get close enough to feed on him. Or was it? How often has Connor sucked the essence out of his soul to slake his hunger, or have his ministrations, his concern, his help and care been an authentic expression of his love?

Ms. Blake explores these areas authentically, yet with poetry. Love is probably a better subject for poetry than prose, but even that’s not enough for Ms. Blake. She evokes emotions, apparently effortlessly, with color, smell, light, music and taste. A sample:

“His eyes were the most incredible shade of gray, almost blue in the dim light. They made Connor think of hidden woodland springs, of dew caught on blades of grass. He lowered his mouth deliberately to David’s, expecting to taste cool water. Instead, David was all sunshine, rich honeyed tones laid over warm flesh.”

In this simple, short paragraph, Ms. Blake captures David’s fey connection to the earth, Connor’s wonder at the colors, tastes and tones that express his love more than any possible overt act ever could, and it provides the reader with some real insight into the goodness that lies at the core of the incubus, who is, ostensibly, supposed to be a manipulative predator.

But even more important, the very words are a joy to read. And it’s those words that make Sweet such a profoundly moving, unique and powerful book. There are innumerable examples of Ms. Blake’s sheer genius with words. She draws vivid pictures of settings, characters, and their thoughts and feelings. She brings them to life with elegance and passion. Who would have thought that a supernatural romance could have been such an exquisite reading experience? Not me. I stand corrected.

This is a five-star book that I recommend from the depths of my heart. It is an esthetic and emotional experience built on unique and inventive premises and history. It is beyond allegory. If you enjoy love, poetry, and beautiful writing, you must not miss this one.

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