Smart Ass: Close Quarters by Amber Green/LB Gregg
Publisher: MLR Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (230 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by Plumeria
Turner and Turner: One Good Turn
When his parents get a gander at the sex tape sent by a blackmailer, they offer Kendall Turner a few weeks of "rest" in a cushy clinic. No, he says, and hotfoots it across the lawns of the family estate. KT isn't his own worst enemy anymore; there's a new candidate for the title. Suddenly, Kendall's on the lam, trying to outrun a murder rap. Helping - by locking KT naked in their motel room - is his cousin Turn. KT has some issues: he manages to censor himself only when he lies, he's been in love with cousin Turn since forever, and he really would rather kill himself than get more rest at another clinic.
The Men of Smithfield: Gobsmacked
Physician's assistant Mark Meehan's impulse control takes leave when Mark finds his bank manager, who's also his boyfriend, in bed with another man. Volatile Mark sets out to chase down his money and patch up his pride with the help of local law enforcement in the person of rock-steady state trooper Tony Gervase. But, Mark's impulsive scheme for revenge infuriates Jamie and jeopardizes Mark's budding romance with straight arrow Tony.
This is actually two novellas, the first called Turner and Turner – One Good Turn, the second one called The Men of Smithfield – Gobsmacked.
Turner and Turner – One Good Turn by Amber Green
“Be sensible, Kendall,” my mother said in the patient tone that can drive me to a seething rage in three seconds flat. “In the video you are, to put it crudely, tanked.”
To put it even more crudely, I’d been tanked enough to let a guy I’d been stupid enough to trust — for a few months anyway — ream my ass until I gave in to his exhortations to squeal like a pig.”
Tell me you could stop reading after this opening. This first story is aptly named. The protagonist, Kendell Turner is in some serious doo-doo right from the first page. His parents are disgusted and shamed by his overt homosexuality and he seems to delight in rubbing their faces in it through attention grabbing antics like the one that was caught on video tape. So my first thought is -- this is a comedy piece. But then things turn ugly. Turner's father wants to put his son someplace he can no longer embarrass his family and maybe get rid of his urges to fuck or be fucked by other men. Apparently they've done this twice before already. Things quickly spiral out of control when Turner escapes his parent's home and is pursued by his cousin Turn, he finds out his best friend has been murdered, and someone is blackmailing members of his family.
"The sore points are always the ones worth exploring" seems to be one of Turner's philosophies. He has an insane curiosity and a need to know everyone else's business. And the more they don't want him to know, the harder he digs. When it begins to look like someone pretty powerful is setting him up for his friend's murder, he has to get down to business and find out who and why, with or without Turn's help.
Here's the kind of catty internal dialog he employs: And here I thought he barely had the authority to shake his own dick in the john, in regards to his brother, Dean, a weak man totally under his domineering, sadistic father, whose kindest words for him are calling him a parasite and cutting him out of his will. Turner takes nothing seriously, and when he is faced with his best friend's death he is dumbstruck, but in true Turner fashion bounces back quickly. A likable and endearing character, he is a perfect foil for the mysterious and enigmatic Turn whose identity Turner never knew.
I found Turner's character to be appealing. I like smart asses who have a quick wit and a ready barb for any occasion, and Turner has that in spades. Turn is a mystery. Apparently Turner has the hots for the guy, but Turn's reactions to his heavy flirting don't go anywhere, yet there was an undercurrent there. Will it come to anything? Is it only Turner's wishful thinking? An underlying theme is Turner's wish for Turn to become more than a friend. I felt for the guy and wanted to see him and Turn together. But the road to bliss is never smooth and for these two it is especially rocky.
He calls his parents 'hereditary units' which I loved. It's the kind of phrase I wish I'd thought up. One petty little complaint I had was the use of the slang term ’puter. I don't know why, but it annoyed me. But that's just me and certainly has no affect on my enjoyment of the story.
All in all, a fun read with a satisfying ending. Definitely recommended.
The Men of Smithfield – Gobsmacked by LB Gregg
“I stormed into St. Joe’s at the height of the Ash Wednesday noon mass, still dressed in my scrubs. I pushed through the massive arched chapel doors, bringing with me a gust of cold February wind. Seeing Jamie’s pretentious car parked in front of the church, I lost my shit and had to take action.”
And thus Mark Mehan makes an entrance in this novella with a literal bang. He meets up with his cheating ex-boyfriend and thwacks him on the back of the head – twice – with a Bible and in Church, no less. Needless to say he is quickly escorted from the premises and he heads home, only to be pulled over by his long time non-reciprocal crush, Tony Gervase, the local law.
At this point we learn more about Mark's cheating boyfriend, Jamie, who Mark caught in the disgusting act of pounding into the 'disturbingly white, smelly Kevin' who happens to be their landlord. But that's only the beginning of his problems with the ex, which devolve into some nasty domestic violence and a betrayal worse than sleeping around. The only good thing that comes out of all this is he and Tony have some incredibly hot sex. The sex in this novella is much hotter than the sex in Turner and Turner, though that was pretty spectacular.
Mark has known Tony for years, he had a huge crush on the guy nearly his whole life. But he never acted on it, and Tony never let him know how he felt. So over time they drifted apart and Mark ended up with playboy Jamie. Jamie was fun, Jamie was sexy and everything a man could want in a lover. Jamie was also a thief and a liar, but Mark didn't find this out until it was too late. Then he's thrown into a nightmare world where he's broke, battered and committing burglary and ultimately has to decide who he's going to trust.
This novella has a wonderful climax fraught with tension and the threat of physical danger. The ending was more than satisfying. The dialog is sharp and often witty. The characters have depth and are very personable, easy to like, or not like, as in Jamie and Kevin's case. The plot is well constructed and has no flow or logic issues. The story overall is fun and hard to put down.
I highly recommend this book. Both stories were a lot of fun, the characters were more than engaging and the relationships and sex were well done and very hot. My overall rating for the whole book would be 4.5 Cherries. Get a copy today, you won't be disappointed.