Monthly Archives: October 2012

Strange Bedfellows – Rob Byrnes (Bold Strokes Books)

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There’s nothing quite like anticipation, and since I became a Grant Lambert and Chase LaMarca fan with Byrnes’ last book, Holy Rollers, I was hoping we’d see another one of his caper novels. Thankfully, he’s come
through once again with an equally complex, wrong-headed and thoroughly impossible challenge for Grant and Chase in Strange Bedfellows.

Austin Peebles, a Congressional hopeful, is a good-looking young man with a penchant for sexting cock shots. One, which also shows his face, is intercepted by right-wing blogger June Forteen. Enter his campaign manager, Kevin Wunder, who hires Grant and Chase to retrieve the picture. But Wunder doublecrosses them, and Grant and Chase set out on a course for revenge. And they bring a hilarious crew to help them pull off the job.

Lambert and LaMarca are wonderful characters—two men in a long-term relationship which has seen its ups and downs and has settled into a weary comfortability. The banter between these two is their bedrock, sly and loving even when they’re insulting each other. They are the center of Byrnes’s universe of woefully inept criminals.

If you’ve read Byrnes’s two other caper novels, Straight Lies and Holy Rollers, you’ll find some old favorites reappearing to help Lambert and LaMarca, but Byrnes changes it up with some new crooks as well. The most notable of these is Nick Donovan, son of one of their previous cohorts, who has a penchant for costumed superheroes and shows up at jobs perfectly inconspicuous in silver metallic jumpsuits with red capes, favoring names like Cadmium or The Conundrum. It’s enough to make you snort coffee all over your Kindle.

But Byrnes really shines at the caper—misdirecting your focus, springing surprises and introducing complications with ease. Coincidences seem natural, the unpredictable planned, and the simple answer never what it appears. Boldly plotted and perfectly executed, I could eat these with a spoon. And they’re propelled by Byrnes’ whipcrack dialogue and smart-ass humor.

So, add this one to your library and pick up the other two while you’re at it. But get one of those plastic sleeves for your Kindle.

You’ll need it.

©, 2012, Jerry Wheeler

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The Revolt of the Naked – D.V. Sadero (Amazon Digital Services)

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I haven’t read much erotic sci-fi—maybe because not that
much of it exists (fan fiction notwithstanding)—so I don’t have a standard of
comparison for the blend. But I’ve written and edited a lot of erotica and I’ve
read a crapload of sci-fi, so maybe my viewpoint is more germane than not.
Either way, D.V. Sadero’s The Revolt of the Naked is an interestingly
hot read.

Talanta, an Earth colony which becomes host to the few
Earthlings left after a plague wipes out everyone except men, has two classes
of men: Freemen and Nakeds. The Freemen are the ruling body and have the Nakeds
as their slaves, kept under their thumb for labor and sex by a combination of
surgical implants and radio control. A few of the colonists, however, despise
slavery and have taken to the surrounding jungle to start their own
civilization. They are the Jungle Men. When an earthquake destroys the tower
that controls the Nakeds, the inevitable revolution occurs. Freemen are overthrown
and the Jungle Men find their own way of life in trouble.

Sci-fi has lots of opportunity for social commentary, and
Sadero takes advantage of that in many spots. Dr. Jason, one of the Freemen
scientists, and Valor, one of the Jungle Men, have a son together that Jason is
raising as a Freeman. Valor only sees him during his infrequent trips to the
city. This “mixed race” couple provides for some of the most intriguing moments
in the book. Also intriguing is what happens to the Jungle Men’s society as it
is invaded by the newly-freed Nakeds, both in terms of social interactions and
physical infrastructure.

All this appeals to the geek in me, but Freemen and Nakeds
and Jungle Men all wear as little clothing as possible, leading to all kinds of
sex. The only off-putting element in all this horniness is that men who like to
be penetrated are the lowest of all classes (The Fucked), and are reviled by
all others. Nakeds may be fucked since it is their job to be abused, but to
actually prefer it is abhorrent. This unaccountable sex-negativity in a society
where sex five or six times a day is not uncommon seems unrealistic, but not
enough to be a plot impediment.

In short, The Revolt of the Naked is a great erotic
novel with some unique and creative differences. Give it a try, but don’t read
it on an airplane—as I did—unless you want some very interesting reactions from
a staid seat-mate. 




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©, 2012, Jerry Wheeler

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