Monday, December 9, 2013

REVIEW: The Backup Boyfriend by River Jaymes

The Backup Boyfriend The Backup Boyfriend by River Jaymes
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was a nice contemporary romance. I have no major criticisms. It just didn’t work for me.

What I Liked

+ the characters

Alec got off on the wrong foot with me in the beginning. I found him whiny, and I feared he was going to be a doormat. I perfectly understood he was grieving over the breakup of his two-year relationship, but I wanted Alec to express it in anger and bitterness and be all revenge-y. Thankfully, he quickly improved. He showed some anger and backbone (in his own mild mannered way), and he had Dylan to carry the revenge part for him. I came to like Alec more than I thought. I didn’t think I would.

I also liked Dylan. I liked his sense of justice and how he put his anger (as an angry person with issues) to good use, by helping Alec get back at his ex, Tyler. Dylan could have easily come off as emo because of his issues because, boy, he had a lot of them, the poor guy. I was amazed how well-adjusted he was.

My favorite character was Noah, Alec and Dylan’s flamboyant friend. There’s a lot of bad romances out there that can be majorly improved if they have a supporting character like Noah. Sometimes characters make stupid choices, and they need some sense slapped into them. Noah slapped some sense into Alec and Dylan. He was the best friend a main character in a love story could ever ask for.

I never cared for Tyler. I’m surprised and miffed that he’s going to be the main character in the next book of the series. However, I did appreciate that he didn’t turn out be to the Evil Ex the book introduced him to be, and that his new boyfriend Logan was nice and not the new bitchy jealous lover. One of the great things about the book was that it didn’t play into stereotypes.

+ the plot

Another great thing about the book was the plot. The book didn’t drag out the revenge plot line. The confrontation between the exes happened early in the story and on time for reader’s satisfaction. Once it played out, the book moved onto other things and didn’t go back to rehash it like a worn sock. From the start the plot put Dylan on front stage next to Alec, and it never once switched him out for Tyler. The plot was always about Alec and Dylan with Tyler in the dark background, and this is very rare for a romance with this kind of premise. Usually, the ex would be on the front stage and fighting our destined lovers for the spotlight, making a lot of drama. That didn’t happen in this book.

The plot had angst. How can there not be with the amount of issues Alec and Dylan had? But the angst was moderate and never became a sticking point for me. I really like how plot brought up heavy topics like HIV and sexual orientation confusion without making things preachy or depressing to read.

I do confess that it greatly helped that there was smut to make up for any dispiritment the angst caused. I was amazed that the book actually pulled off having a healthy dose of smut without sacrificing an inch of the plot or bogging down the pacing. Hot damn. It’s an award-winning feat.

What I Didn’t Like

Though the book had many good points (smut being the biggest, ha!), the book didn’t work for me. First reason: It felt emotionally subdued. My interest never wavered from the story, but I couldn’t seem to maintain an emotional connection with the story. For instance, when the characters were angry, their anger didn’t rise beyond the page.

Second reason: As much I wanted to wanted Alec and Dylan to be together, I wanted more for them to get over their issues (or at least some of them) before they got together. Alec just got off from a long-term relationship, and the last thing he needed was to be with someone, like Dylan, who had a fear of commitment and hopped from one bed to the next and, oh yeah, was straight. Not to mention that when Alec gets into any sort of a relationship he invests all of his heart in it, which makes one night stands poisonous to him.

I liked Dylan, bless his heart, but I didn’t want him to hurt Alec or be hurt himself. I didn’t like how they didn’t take Noah’s advice and keep their relationship platonic or dissolve it if they couldn’t. I hated how they kept their relationship undefined and uncertain up to the end because the men were afraid to face their fears and fully fight for their love. Their relationship was a fiery trainwreck waiting to happen.

Fortunately, that didn’t happen but the fact they would choose to walk on that incredibly emotionally dangerous path, no. I couldn’t accept it. I can’t accept characters who ignore the warning sign of falling rocks and keep on walking when there is an alternative path, a safer path, that will still allow them to get to their destination.

Third reason: There were two niggling inconsistencies. Inconsistency #1: Alec is a doctor for a clinic who treats the homeless, and Dylan is a mechanic at a busy autoshop and is the only mechanic at the autoshop. Both own their own businesses. Both lead busy careers, especially Dylan who told Alec right from the get-go how super busy he is. Yet, after the beginning of the story, they never once failed to make time for each other or needed to reschedule. How? It’s next to impossible, if not outright impossible! The conflict of their schedules and the discussions of making time for each other just suddenly stopped. When Alec had social events to go, Dylan quickly agreed to go to them without a thought of checking his schedule if he had prior appointments.

Inconsistency #2: Noah didn’t miss a beat warning both Alec and Dylan who were friends of his about how dangerous it would be for them to be together. Not a single beat. As soon as he found out about the true nature of their relationship, he visited them the very next morning. Yet, he never once warned Alec and Tyler, also a friend of Noah’s, about how the two didn’t suit each other? That he had a feeling they would break up sooner or later? It didn’t sound like Noah at all.

Fourth reason: I still don’t get how Tyler broke up with Alec. The book did explain why they broke up (and why they couldn’t work out as a couple), but it omitted from explaining what prompted the breakup. All the book said was that one day Tyler simply literally walked out on Alec, and that’s it. That didn’t satisfy me.

Fifth reason: It annoyed me how it never dawned on Alec that the reason Dylan was a commitment-phobe was because he had abandonment issues, which could be seen from a mile away. Come on, Alec. Work on your cluelessness. It’s the biggest reason why your relationship with Tyler failed.


I rate The Backup Boyfriend 2-stars for it was okay. It read differently from the usual mm-romance, but unfortunately it just didn’t work for me. I would recommend it for readers who like contemporary romance. But for readers like me who prefer paranormal romance, I say pass.

Goodreads | Amazon

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

REVIEW: El Presidio Rides North by Domashita Romero

El Presidio Rides North

El Presidio Rides North by Domashita Romero
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A fun and playful mm-romance... in a zombie apocalypse and it’s not a parody. Say what? But there it is, and it was refreshing!

The story kicked off with our narrator under a zombie attack, about to die a lonely death, when out of nowhere a guy whacked the zombie and rescued him. Zombies 0, Shovel 1. Naturally, the two men teamed up afterward. Ain’t nobody else but them and the zombies. Not wanting things to get personal and be all sad shit if something bad happened, savior dude nicknamed our narrator “Gaga” and himself “Mercury.”

I completely understood Mercury’s reasons for his nickname policy. Nevertheless, because of his resistance to open up it took me a long while to warm up to him. Gaga, I liked him instantly. I also pitied him, and I must confess I pitied myself for how much I could relate to him. Moving on.

Though it’s a short story, a word count of 19,000, I learned surprisingly a lot about Gaga and Mercury. As the two men journeyed north, they had zombie scenes, fun scenes, and zombie fun scenes. The zombie stripper scene was one of my favorite. I loved how the men never acted dumb and forgot about their zombie apocalypse reality, but at the same time they continued to enjoy life regardless. For them, Hell was a state of mind, not their reality.

If you take away the zombie apocalypse, it’s a simple road trip story of two men getting to know each other, and later developing feelings for each other. Their interaction was riveting. At the end when they finally did the horizontal I went “yes!”

Unfortunately, the post-coital bliss wasn’t as blissful as it could have been. Another opportunity to deepen the intimacy arose but Mercury rebuffed it by continuing with his nickname policy.


I rate El Presidio Rides North 3-stars for I liked it. Despite being one step short of a completely satisfying story, the mm-romance was a great story overall, and it’s free. Recommended if you’re looking for something light and refreshing to read to improve your mood.

Goodreads | Read it for free

Monday, December 2, 2013

NEWS: a new look for the book blog

Tolerably Smart news:

If you're reading this post from the RSS feed, check out Tolerably Smart for the new look. It's significantly different from the last 2-3 looks, which were simple background and color change. The new look is bland but it's smoother and easier on the eye. The web elements no longer disjoint, and the background no longer distract. I'm aiming for a minimalist web design.

Due to spam, comments on Tolerably Smart have been restricted to registered user, which virtually changes nothing because I receive all of my comments on Goodreads anyway.

Please support Tolerably Smart by reporting any writing mistake, broken link, design issue, and the likes. To report, leave a comment on Tolerably Smart, Goodreads, or Booklikes. I also made a blog button, which you can find on my (slightly) updated About page. Thank you again to Cassi of Galavanting Girl Books for the used bookstore photo to serve as the blog button's background.

Social networking news:

I opened an account on Booklikes. Had one for several weeks now. It's all right. Though I despise Goodreads's censorship, my main hangout will still be Goodreads and my reviews will still be posted on Goodreads and Tolerably Smart.

And here's why: Most of my friends are staying on Goodreads (think Facebook), and Goodreads's database remains the best in the world. I won't post my reviews on Booklikes, because posting it on Goodreads and this book blog is more than enough I can tolerate. Not to mention that the end of the day, regardless of how friendly Booklikes is (now), Booklikes is a social networking website in which the products are the users. Like all social networking websites, they will either shut down because lack of use or cash out because it ain't a charity. (Sometime they cash out and shut down like in the case of Dodgeball. Yikes.) I will stay with the devil I know, which is Goodreads. /rant

Moving on. I, Experiment BL626, am still active on Twitter. Didn't think I would be. If you have been wondering why I cease posting news on Tolerably Smart or why I rarely post them on Goodreads, it's because I tweet them now. It's easier, and I'm lazy.

That's the end of the news. Happy holidays. May everyone have no life so they can have time to read.