An Angel in Eyeliner & Hawaiian Trunks – Short stories with the promise of more

Last week, in my “I’m back post“, I mentioned some of the books that I had read over the holidays. I made it a goal to read at least one book from every author I’ve met in recent years (which means tons of books…) to understand them better, learn about their writing style and see if I see their essence in their writing. Two authors I’ve known online for some time, Hunter Frost and Caraway Carter, as they both have published with my publisher, came to GayRomLit in San Diego last fall, and there was chemistry. We became fast friends. We all share a similar sense of humor, wicked, dirty, and we are about as politically correct as Donald Trump at Taco Bell, at least when we’re on our own. To read their work was going to be a delight. As they are both fairly new to the writing arena, they only have short stories published, so I read those. Here’s my take on them, ladies first:

An Angel in Eyeliner

The cover of Hunter Frost's short story, as stand alone.

The cover of Hunter Frost’s short story, as stand alone.

I’ve owned An Angel in Eyeliner for more than a year, as Hunter’s short Christmas story was first published in the same anthology, Boughs of Evergreen, along with my own. This two-volume brick of stories is so thick, filled with so many stories that I never really got around to reading them, and I missed Hunter’s contribution. An oversight, and I’ve since read other stories, too, and I have to say, Boughs of Evergreen is quite the book if you’re bored. It’ll keep you busy for a loooooooong time.

Hunter’s story seems dark, a lonely man rescues a guy in the back alley behind his bar, and takes him in, for a drink. That’s the premise of the book. Hunter’s writing is exquisite, and the story is very entertaining. As much as it falls into the “typical” MM romance genre, which is not what I enjoy reading, since it’s too predictable, the story is so well crafted, so well written, that I read it in a single go. It’s a real page turner. There’s a hint of fairy tale, which is perfect for a Holiday tale, just a bit of magic hinted at, not explicitly, but making you believe, which is what Christmas is about: faith. Not necessarily in higher powers, but in each other, in friends, family, or – in this case – a complete stranger.

Having gotten to know Hunter personally, I see her in between the lines. As you probably do not, you don’t know if that is a good thing or not, and I won’t review Hunter the person, my friend. Let me jus say that this is a story you better not miss… It’s worth reading, and I have a hunch that An Angel in Eyeliner is going to become a Christmas regular, just as I watch “Miracle on 34th St” every year…

I look forward to reading more from Hunter, and can’t wait to get my hands on her debut novel!

An Angel in Eyeliner is available on Amazon from Beaten Track Publishing and as part of the Boughs of Evergreen Holiday anthology.

Hawaiian Trunks

The cover of Caraway's short story.

The cover of Caraway’s short story.

When Caraway walks into a room, people notice. Not sure if it’s his bellowing laugh or the smile permanently etched onto his face, but it’s been a long time since I’ve met such a bubbly personality. Hawaiian Trunks promises to be very much the same. Just look at the cover.

It’s not a Christmas story, but – given the setting – a summer read. Our main character is in Honolulu with his two best friends and an entourage to make sure their wedding goes smoothly. The story kicks of with the actual beach ceremony. Our hero is lonely, and as his friends get married he dreams of getting hitched himself, and as so happens, he does meet someone…

Hawaiian Trunks is MM romance, but with more twists than I can give away without giving away too much. This is, after all, a short story. And it is a short story that would’ve deserved to be elongated. I want to know more about the background, the symbiotic relationship between our main character and his two older friends. Is he simply their house boy or is he their house boy? And how did he end up in that position? And what about his love/lust interest? There has to be a lot of back story to tell…

Hawaiian Trunks is a light, horny and easy read, and it leaves me wanting more, which is a good thing. Caraway’s writing is as light and fluffy as I know him to be, but I also see the depth of his personal life experiences in it. And as with Hunter, I won’t say how. It’s there. I look forward to reading more from Caraway, and I hope he breaks free of writing short stories. Nothing wrong with short stories, but this man has so much more to tell. I, for one, want to read it…

Hawaiian Trunks is available on Amazon from MLR Press.

To review friends

Here I am with the two authors of today's reviewed stories, Hunter Frost and Caraway Carter.

Here I am with the two authors of today’s reviewed stories, Hunter Frost and Caraway Carter.

Reviewing books isn’t easy, when you know the person it’s even more difficult (and shunned by Amazon…) To review someone you love is almost impossible. What if I don’t like the story? I have two more reviews coming, also from authors I know and respect, one I really enjoyed reading, one I struggled with.

My take was to tell the author first, and here’s the real challenge: not liking a story doesn’t mean a story isn’t well crafted, well written, a good story. It is, and that is what I will focus on in my review. As a student of literature at university, I hated James Joyce, found Ulysses incredibly boring, probably the most difficult read of my life, yet the man won the world’s most important literary prize. I find Goethe literature’s most overrated author, yet German literary expertise disagrees with me. Our personal likes are very different from what makes a story “good”, and my likes and dislikes shouldn’t determine what others read.

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