3.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mel Bossa, Reviewed by Sadonna

Review: Where You’ll Find Him by Mel Bossa

Title: Where You’ll Find Him

Author: Mel Bossa

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 206 Pages

At a Glance: A compelling May/December story that has a lot going on, from an author who can write multiple generations and complex stories convincingly.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: During Pride week in Montreal, Wolfe learns the board is threatening to shut down the YBR queer community center. He can’t let this happen, not while he’s the director and responsible for everyone there. They tell him he’s just a kid, too young to handle these responsibilities, but Wolfe is determined to prove to everyone, including the rich family he left behind, that he’s strong enough to do the job, even if it leaves him with little time for love.

But then devastatingly handsome Gaspard walks up to the YBR stand on Pride community day. Freshly divorced and father to two grown children, Gaspard is finally out of the closet as bisexual, and single for the first time in thirty years. Gaspard falls for Wolfe in a way he’s not prepared for. But as relationships unravel, Gaspard resists his passion for a man young enough to be his son.

Wolfe has spent his life fighting for what he wants. And what he wants is Gaspard.

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Review: I was first introduced to Mel Bossa several years ago by my friend Laura, who convinced me to read a book called In His Secret Life. That book was compelling and tragic and convinced me that this was an author to watch. I have a few more of her books in my TBR pile, and they will be coming up very soon. :)

I really like that this story had both gay and bi characters. Both Gaspard and his ex-wife are bisexual, and they had negotiated a relationship that allowed them to explore their sexuality with same-sex partners within the context of their marriage – until his wife fell in love with another woman. Gaspard is devastated because his had been a happy marriage, and he has two children, Malena and Curtis, who deal with this revelation in very different ways – and for very specific reasons. Gaspard’s daughter lives with him. She worries that he isn’t happy and that he won’t allow himself to find anyone to be happy with. His son has a whole host of issues that have Gaspard tearing himself up with guilt.

On Pride day, Gaspard and Wolfe meet when Gaspard stops by the booth Wolfe is manning, and something about Wolfe sparks Gaspard’s interest. Wolfe is having a tough day, though, and he kind of blows Gaspard off even though he is definitely attracted. He’s got a lot going on in his head – from difficulties with his job, a troubling encounter with a coworker. Some old issues with his family, a relationship, and other bad experiences are plaguing him.

Malena gets a job in her field, and, lo and behold, Wolfe is her boss. So Gaspard and Wolfe “meet” again. She also begins to build relationships with her co-workers, including Zach, who has more than enough on his plate. But Malena also works on getting Wolfe and her father together. Finally, Wolfe accepts an invitation for dinner from Gaspard, and they have a great time.

As their relationship develops, they are both dealing with pretty big issues. Wolfe is trying to come to terms with an event in his past and trying to keep the YBR centre open, against all kinds of funding cuts and difficulties with the staff. Gaspard is working on his book and dealing with a myriad of issues with his wayward son, who doesn’t seem to want to grow up or tell the truth about much. As the story progresses, it seems that while Gaspard feels tremendous guilt, Curtis is a master manipulator who uses the situation to his advantage. Needless to say, I did not like Curtis at all in this story.

Things go from bad to worse with Wolfe’s job situation, his family, and then with Gaspard as well. The wayward son returns and completely throws a monkey wrench into everyone’s life. He really is a completely unlikeable character. While he does have some history, at 25, it’s a bit much to take, but I digress. The secret eventually comes out and we understand (though, don’t necessarily agree with) Gaspard’s guilt and Curtis’s borderline abusive behavior. Patterns are repeated – running away, sacrificing happiness, caving to manipulation. Finally, Wolfe and Gaspard get to a breaking point. But the question is whether or not the breaking point will separate them forever or bring them together for good.

In reading this book, I once again appreciated the author’s ability to let us empathize with characters who feel tremendous guilt for wanting to pursue their own happiness. For some reason, these characters feel that sacrificing themselves and their potential for fulfillment is somehow a betrayal of someone else – whether it’s a lover or a child – and somehow their own happiness is undeserved anyway. Personally, I’ve also struggled with this issue throughout my life, so maybe that’s why it resonates so much with me. Bossa also is able to write manipulators in a very convincing way. Having dealt with this personality type forever, I can feel it coming from miles away. Those characters are very distasteful to me – and that is certainly true about the son in this story. While some behaviors I might forgive in a child, once adulthood is reached, my patience runs out, and that was the case here. Maybe because I was old when I was 12, I have a very hard time with those characters who don’t take responsibility for their own lives. To me, it’s the sign of a good author and storyteller when I have visceral reactions – be they positive or negative – to characters.

That being said, there is a LOT going on in this story. There are many secondary characters that contribute to the mix, and I’m not sure that all of that additional background was necessary to the underlying story of Gaspard and Wolfe. I think I would have enjoyed it even more had it been tightened up a little, editorially, in the middle. Where You’ll Find Him is definitely recommended for Mel Bossa fans, and for those who like a character driven story with some angst.

 

 

 

You can buy Where You’ll Find Him here:

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5 Stars, Drama, Genre Romance, Mel Bossa, Reviewed by Jules, Samhain Publishing

Release Day Review: Craving’s Creek by Mel Bossa

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Title: Craving’s Creek

Author: Mel Bossa

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 220 Pages

At a Glance: Craving’s Creek is truly a gripping page-turner.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: For the man he loves, he will fight—body, mind, and soul.

Fourteen years ago, on a sun-drenched summer day on the banks of Craving’s Creek, Ryde swore to his best friend, Alistair, he’d never be alone in the world. Though Alistair was destined for the priesthood, there was something beyond holy about the first kiss they shared.

But a fun camping trip went horribly wrong when Alistair was involved in a horrific incident.

Now, at age thirty-one, Ryde’s life is a mess of alcohol and the painful imprint of his last look into Alistair’s desperate eyes. Since the evil they encountered on that shore, his first love has been lost to him—until he learns a friend’s wedding is to be officiated by a priest named Father Alistair Genet.

Amid the rush of emotions, one thought crystallizes: Ryde’s love for Alistair not only has never died, it’s stronger than ever. Stronger than God. But it may be no match for the church…and the repressed memories that are slowly tearing Alistair’s mind apart.

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Review: Craving’s Creek is truly a gripping page-turner. I was absolutely enthralled by this story. The blurb only hints at the drama that lies within the book; the story itself is MUCH more intense. I had a few guesses as to “the evil they encountered on the shore,” but having an idea of what might happen didn’t prepare me for the actual fear and sadness that hit me when reading it.

The emotions that you feel when an author puts characters through different experiences are a direct result of how good a job that author does at making you connect with those characters. Mel Bossa did a fantastic job. Both so well-developed and interesting, I was invested in Ryde and Alistair from the word go. When they were happy and carefree together, I was happy. When the unimaginable happened, and they were thrust into hell, my heart was ripped out.

The one constant in the story was Ryde’s love for Alistair, which was keenly felt all throughout the book. I liked Ryde so much. His strength, wit and sass always shone through, whether he was standing up to Alistair’s mother, interacting with his baby sisters, or challenging the priests at the presbytery after he reconnects with Alistair. Even while struggling with alcoholism he never comes off as weak to me. And the strength he has to draw on to help Alistair begin to heal is amazing.

Alistair is such a unique character. Very pure and childlike, and incredibly smart, yet so naïve at the same time. I loved the descriptions in the book of his beauty; I felt like I could see him perfectly. His story arc was so engrossing, I couldn’t put the book down. And his absolute faith and trust in Ryder, both when they were boys, and again when they reconnected as men, was truly beautiful. In fact, his unwavering faith in general was fascinating, as it was both his salvation and very nearly his destruction. Religion is a tough topic to tackle in a novel, and there are certainly some controversial viewpoints here, but ultimately the beauty of Alistair’s faith was nicely juxtaposed with Ryde’s disdain for organized religion.

There were many heart-racing moments, and moments that felt hopeless, but these guys have a wonderful cast of characters in their corner. Ryde’s parents are completely fantastic, and Jamie – Dr. Scarborough, the psychiatrist who helps Ryder, and then later, Alistair, deal with the trauma of what they went through when they were seventeen – was an amazing doctor and a good friend.

The end was a bit of a rollercoaster. I got a titch worried that things weren’t going to be resolved in time, and that perhaps I was headed for a cliffhanger. And then I thought, rather than the big, dramatic showdown, the author was going to take it in a different direction, which I was actually ‘ok’ with. But, then she DID do the big dramatic showdown before wrapping things up, which also worked fine. While it wasn’t a cliffhanger, it did leave me wanting a tad more closure. I would definitely not object to seeing more of these guys in the future! Either way, though, I’ll be checking out more of Mel Bossa’s work.

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You can buy Craving’s Creek here:

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2 Stars, All Romance Ebooks, Mel Bossa

Suite Nineteen by Mel Bossa

I happened across Suite Nineteen as a free read on All Romance Ebooks, and maybe that should’ve set off some alarm bells for me. To begin with, I very rarely find full length novels given away as freebies, and even more rarely have I been lucky enough to find a free novel that’s been great. Unfortunately, this book continues that streak.
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