Review of Hell Is In the Details

Tam at Brief Encounters — a review blog that focuses on short stories — posted a great review of my story Hell Is In the Details and gave it a B+, which is very cool. She said:

As a rule I enjoy demon and/or angel stories, and I especially enjoy them when they don’t take themselves too seriously. That is definitely the case here. Hell is pretty much like earth. Crappy jobs with bosses who ride you, forgotten deadlines, a loss of the passion for your work, an inbox full of unread e-mails … life can be as dull in Hell as anywhere else, despite all the fun of torture and mayhem. When Benioth’s boss lets him have it for not bringing the Big Boss his quota of souls, he is finally forced out of his apathy and decides that since he only has a few hours, debauching a young man into the ways of gay sex would be perfect. It’s fairly easy and bingo, he’s got his soul for the quota and can not think about it for another decade or two.

I loved Benioth and Andy. Benioth is kind of apathetic about life and Andy is all youthful exuberance and wide-eyed excitement. The contrast was nice to read and I felt it kind of woke Benny up again. He’d forgotten what that was like, and he wasn’t sure if it was because he was the Demon of Laziness or was it something more. He was really well drawn and his apathy came through loud and clear. What Andy was thinking and feeling was less clear as this is told from Benioth’s point of view, but his enthusiasm for life was evident. The sex had a nice mix of Benioth’s centuries of experience, combined with Andy’s uncertainty and eagerness, sweet and yet steamy too. This is a great light read, perfect as a pick-you-up between more serious fare or just something fun for a quick read before bed or at lunch time.

It sounds like she enjoyed it quite a lot, which is awesome. 🙂

Note before you click through that the middle part of the review is kind of spoilery; proceed at your own risk if you haven’t read this yet and don’t want the ending given away. OTOH if you’re a reader who likes to know pretty much exactly what you’re getting before you dive in, this write-up is perfect.

Thanks to Tam for the great review!

Angie

Review of “Candy Courage”

And another review by Cole at Jessewave’s, this time of my short Candy Courage. He gave it 3.75 stars and said:

There were a lot of things I loved about this story — namely the idea the story is based on. I thought it was a pretty great idea and it was showcased rather well, not only in how Glenn changes after he eats the candy and goes after what he really wants, but in the couple of little vingettes at the start of the story, which show random children and how the candy affects them. I thought the story of little Graciella, who was afraid of her big, scary dog, really cute.

The problem that I had with the story was that the two main characters, Glenn and Neal, didn’t really fit together. I have no doubt that they could if we were given more than a five or six pages of them together. The story is really about Glenn going for what he wants and ending up with a hookup, which is about all that can be told in 14 pages.

Cole’s exactly right there — I’ve never believed stories where the characters are all, “Oh, I love you!” after ten minutes of conversation and one roll in the sheets. I mean, seriously? o_O This isn’t a romance; it’s a story about how Glenn overcame his fear of making a move with Neal. I think they’ll probably work out, but showing that would be a different story. Maybe I’ll write it some day.

Thanks to Cole, and I’m glad he enjoyed it even if it wasn’t a romance. 🙂

Angie

Review of Hell Is in the Details

Cryselle did a great review of Hell Is in the Details, and gave it four out of five marbles.

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Benioth, the Demon of Laziness, is behind on his memos and has just found out he needs to corrupt a soul by midnight to make quota. Luckily the Demon of Sodomy doesn’t mind sharing the fun, and Benioth runs into Andy, who’s still innocent but eager to have someone fix that for him. It sounds like a perfect situation, but somehow things never go right for poor Benioth.
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I always suspected that corporate America got some of it’s less attractive features from the Infernal regions — Angela Benedetti makes that point very strongly, with memos and quotas, job reviews and last minute hustles to get it all right. Benioth needs to scurry — corrupting someone beyond redemption using sloth takes a while and he — really! — doesn’t have all night.

Now, in order for this all to work, you have to reserve judgment on one notion that had me going uhhhhhhhh but you know what? Hell really is in the details.

This was fun, and it gave the devil his don’t.

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This was a fun story to write, too, and I’m glad she enjoyed it. 😀

Angie

Review of Reach Out and Touch

Cole at Jessewave’s Blog is going through all my Hidden Magic universe stories, and this week he reviewed Reach Out and Touch, another Cal and Aubrey short story. He gave it 3.5 stars and said:

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Though Cal has been Aubrey’s apprentice for over ten years (and also his lover), he is still a “baby mage” compared to Aubrey, who is 220 something years old and has been a practicing mage for two centuries. Aubrey never lets Cal forget this — and to remind him, he is always setting little traps for Cal or finding some way to show his dominance. Yet, Aubrey really is the best master and no matter how much of a rascal he seems at times, he does know what is best for Cal. But whether Cal has a natural propensity for arrogance, or being Aubrey’s lover makes him feel the need to meet his lover as an equal in their craft, he sometimes does very foolish things against Aubrey’s advice.

I was a bit disappointed by this story. That sounds harsh, but it really is because I love the other stories and the novel these characters are from so much, so I have very high expectations. Cal and Aubrey have a really amazing, nuanced relationship that always shines through their witty banter. Here, though, most of the story is told by Cal when Aubrey is gone. It is only towards the end of the story, when a contrite Cal is seriously in danger does Aubrey come home to find the disastrous situation Cal has created. Also, this story had a couple of passages that I thought weren’t necessary to the story. They were pretty technical about the magic that Cal was doing that I thought went a little too far in trying to explain what was happening. Ultimately, they took away from the story.

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I can see where he’s coming from, actually. This is more Cal’s story than a relationship story. Aubrey doesn’t come home until more than halfway through, and they don’t start directly interacting until more than three-quarters in. If you’re reading for the relationship and dialogue, there’s not as much of that here as there usually is.

More Cole: “And I did like the story. I loved the ending in particular, which showed one of the rare moments between Aubrey and Cal that I love, when they’re finally on the same level and Aubrey shows his tender side to Cal. They are two of my favorite characters in this genre and I was very happy to revisit them.”

I’ll take that. 😀

Angie

Review of Unfinished Business

Cole over at Jessewave’s blog did a great review of Unfinished Business, and gave it a a 4.5/5.0 rating. (And he’s going to be reviewing the other three stories in the Hidden Magic verse too, which is awesome. 😀 )

In part:

Aubrey is a master mage and over two hundred years old, while Cal is his apprentice in his thirties. They are also lovers and it is very easy to see how much they love each other — in their looks, little touches, and the banter they throw back and forth like old lovers who have been together a lifetime. It is an extreme May-December relationship in terms of age, yet the issues that usually come to light in such a relationship, especially an inbalance of power, are dealt with humor between the two of them. In short, Aubrey likes to brag about his grandiose power and Cal loves to poke the beast.

This story was such a delight. Not only did I get to revisit a world that I love and two characters who make me laugh, but for the first time, we get to see Aubrey and Cal in private. We see them from Cal’s POV and we get a pure voyueristic treat: magical sex between the two men. The story stayed true to their characters as humor and the little games they play shone throughout the dialogue. Also, though not as proficient, Cal is a mage as well, and as highly magical mortals, I knew that their sex had to be interesting. It didn’t dissapoint.

I love that Cole focused on Cal and Aubrey’s relationship, because that’s what makes these characters so much fun for me to write. They love each other deeply, but it’s all plastered over with joking and teasing. There’s something about them that makes me smile, and I never have to wonder how they’d respond to one another.

The age difference is definitely a key factor, along with the huge power imbalance on a magical level. In some urban fantasy or paranormal romances, one character is hundreds or even thousands of years older than the other, and vastly more powerful, and how they fall in love or even relate to one another is just sort of hand-waved. I can’t imagine having enough in common with a guy even 20 years younger than I am to want to get into a relationship, much less a few centuries younger. With Cal and Aubrey, I’m focusing on making the age/power difference work here in a realistic way, and the shared sense of humor is definitely a big part of it. I’m glad that’s working.

Thanks to Cole for his great comments. 😀

Angie

Review of A Hidden Magic

Cole over at Jessewave’s blog did an excellent review of A Hidden Magic, with a 4.75/5.0 rating. 😀

Angela Benedetti’s A Hidden Magic was a breath of fresh air for me. I love paranormals and fantasy, but usually they seem to be pieces of a few famous fantasy worlds cobbled together — not very original. Not here. This story took me by surprise and I found myself happily immersed in this unique universe that seemed to flow naturally from one page to the next. Before I started reading M/M, I used to read popular YA paranormals and many of them were about the Fey, in all different manifestations. I remember now why, although I loved the premise of these books, they always turned me off. I always felt like I was supposed to like the fey.

It’s great that Cole appreciated this aspect of the book, because that was one of my goals in writing A Hidden Magic — making the fey alien and dangerous, not just gorgeous people with pointed ears and a long lifespan. Not that I mind that kind of fantasy, but I wanted to do something different. Even when one of the fey seems to be on your side (like Willowen, or Azzy) they’re doing it for their own reasons, and their motives are based on an alien point of view. I love that Cole caught that and enjoyed it.

There was also a particular device employed by Ms. Benedetti that I rarely see in M/M and really value if well written into the story. The prose changes very subtly with each characters emotions. The story is written in third person close, so if we’re viewing the action through Rory and he gets excited the prose will speed faster and the syntax will reflect his excitement. Conversely if Rory (or any character who has the lens) gets sleepy and is still trying to describe the scene, the prose will slow, the syntax disjointed, until it seems the prose falls asleep right alonside the character. This is done very subtley and when it is done will like it is here, it is a very effective tool in taking the reader along with the emotions of the character or the speed of the action. I was very impressed by this.

Cole’s picking up on that made me beam, like, massively. There are times when I have to fight to keep some of my run-on sentences while going through edits. Yes, I go long at times [cough] but it’s always for a reason, and Cole gets a hug and chocolate for picking up on how it works and how it enhances the reader’s immersion into the POV character’s head.

Read the whole thing here.

Angie

Review of Unfinished Business

Cryselle reviewed “Unfinished Business” and gave it four marbles. 🙂 Here’s what she said:

This was fun — the author expanded on a little scene in a larger work (A Hidden Magic). Cal, the apprentice, gets a really funny, sexy lesson on paying attention under duress, and Aubrey, magical adept and Cal’s master, provides plenty of hot, hot duress. If every lesson was that much fun, Cal will be an adept in no time at all!

I’d read A Hidden Magic a few months back, so I remembered the set-up for the whole asses-ears business, and that was my only quibble with this story. The beginning feels like a scene that was removed from the book for flow, and it doesn’t really capture the purpose of the ears or why they even existed — as a stand alone story they come sort of out of the blue. As a read with, it just follows right on. Following Cal around the restaurant at the beginning establishes that he’s got a life outside magic, but it doesn’t set up the rest of the story as well as it could. Asses ears –> creme brulee –> asses ears might have worked better than creme brulee –> asses ears.

All the same, the sex was hot, the relationship between master and apprentice was both loving and responsible, and the ending sweet.

You know, that one bit — figuring out how much of the set-up from A Hidden Magic to recap, and how to present the info to the reader — was the one big thing I was headdesking over for a while as I wrote this. I don’t know that there’s any one solution that would’ve pleased everyone, but it’s a legitimate issue.

That said, though, it sounds like she enjoyed the story otherwise, and that’s always very cool. 🙂 Thanks to Cryselle for taking the time to review; I’m glad you liked it!

“Unfinished Business” is available here.

Angie

Review of Chasing Fear

Dawn posted a great review up on Love Romances and More of Chasing Fear, my first Halloween short story. I’ve always liked this one and it’s great to hear that someone’s enjoyed it.

Thanks, Dawn!

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CHASING FEAR is a short story that will keep the reader intrigued till the very end. I don’t want to give too much away but have to admit, this was a perfect story to get my manlove fix one afternoon. Short, sweet and oh so sexy, CHASING FEAR is a delight to anyone who wants to experience this author’s writing style. Ms. Benedetti is a talented author who definitely knows how to make the reader get intrigued by having a unique character as a Greenman. I haven’t read a story that contained this type of character before and found myself wishing the story was a bit longer as it whetted my appetite to know more about Emilio and Martin. The writing was tight and the story was fast paced as it raced to the sexy ending.

Meet Emilio, a man who is in a relationship with a greenman, a man who can wield nature magic. Scared to show he is in a gay relationship, he finds himself forced to confront the issue when Martin finds him in the forest. Can Emilio let go of his hang-ups to enjoy the exquisite desire Martin inflames in him? Martin is a greenman and one who enjoys showing the world he is openly gay and in a great relationship. Knowing Emilio is holding back, he finds his lover dawdling in the forest on their annual date night-Halloween- and Martin takes measures into his own hands as he shows Emilio that pleasure can be just as enjoyable in the open as it is behind closed doors. These two are great characters to read about. Different and unique, they also step off the pages to captivate the reader till the very end. I was hoping Emilio would let go of all his fears and let Martin show him how pleasurable desire is out in the open. The sex scenes were tasteful and got your motor running. I was eager to see what exquisite delights Martin had in store for Emilio once he caught up with him.

CHASING FEAR is a wonderful story that will leave you hankering for more. I raced to the author’s website to see if there were some more stories set in the Hidden Magic world. If you want to try this author’s writing out, this is definitely a way to do it. This is a great paranormal tale that will leave you longing for more.

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If you’ve read and enjoyed “Chasing Fear,” there’s a free sequel up on my web site called Catching Courage.

Angie

Review of Candy Courage

Dawn over at Love Romances and More posted a great review of my short story Candy Courage:

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CANDY COURAGE is a short hot story about a man who finds himself full of courage when he finds himself at his crush’s house with his son on Halloween. Flirting and coming on strong to Neal, Glenn wonders the next day what the heck was wrong with him the other night. Can Glenn get the courage up to make it to Neal’s house? I love this author’s writing and CANDY COURAGE gives the reader just enough to tide them over before grabbing one of her longer stories. The characters fairly simmer with life and captivated me. I wished it was a longer story to really see what happens next for Glenn and Neal. The author really delivers a hot, sexy short story to whet your appetite and leave you eager for more.

Glenn is a man who has a major crush on a fellow employee, Neal Simpson. When he eats some of his son’s candy-homemade peanut brittle-he finds himself filled with courage to go after the one man he longs for. Can he find the courage the next day when he is faced with the reality of his date with Neal? I loved Glenn as a character. A strong man but full of doubts, he finds the courage-candy and otherwise-to go after a man he longs for. Neal loves the way Glenn was so flirty the night before. Can both men make a relationship after one night of courage? Strong and well rounded main characters are center stage in this short story. I loved the aspect of having a unique twist to the homemade candy theme and found Ms. Benedetti’s version to be one I was wishing to know more of.

I don’t want to give too much away in this short story but if you enjoy a really well told M/M story that has hints of magic in it, then I highly suggest you grab CANDY COURAGE. You never know, you might find some CANDY COURAGE of your own someday.

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I love getting reviews of older stories. It’s like rearranging the furniture in May and finding an extra Christmas present behind the couch. 🙂 Thanks to Dawn for the review; I’m glad she enjoyed the story!

Angie

Review of A Hidden Magic

Aurora over at Boylove Addict posted a great review of A Hidden Magic, with a nice mention of “Unfinished Business” as well. She seems to have enjoyed it quite a lot, and her review is pretty awesome. 🙂

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“A Hidden Magic” is the first book in the “Sentinels” series, a wonderful story set in a fantasy world were magic and the fey are real. The main characters are varied, engaging and well developed. I love the sentinels and their interactions. What a wonderful band of anti-heroes! The fabulous cast of supporting characters is large but meaningful, well worth the word count. The plot is fast paced, with enough action and humor to keep the reader turning pages non stop with a smile. All in all, score top marks for storytelling!

The world building truly stands out in this story. Everything comes to life in great detail and with fabulous descriptions guaranteed to become a full color mental movie. From downright gross to charming and cute, Ms.Benedetti’s magical creatures are imaginative and engaging. In this regard, the book far surpassed my expectations.

Like most first installments in a fantasy romance series, this story carries the burden of developing a complex world, introducing a large cast of characters and telling the story of the romance. So, while the romance well done and certainly plays a key role in the story, it is a relatively smaller portion of the story. This in no way detracts from the enjoyment of the story. It is just something to keep in mind before picking up the book.

All in all, this is a great book that opens the door to a world that I can’t wait to visit again. Great story, great world, great characters, excellent writing, Ms. Benedetti surely penned a winner!

PS: After reading “A Hidden Magic” you won’t want to miss “Unfinished Business”, a short story that relates the events following one of the funniest scenes in the book. Very good for a laugh!

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Thanks and hugs to Aurora! 😀

Angie