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deadly_nightshadeVictor J. Banis is not only one of the more prolific writers today, he is also one of the more talented and versatile writers. So it was exciting news to me to learn awhile back that Mr. Banis was going to be doing a series of books in the mystery genre – which happens to be my favorite genre fiction.

The first book in the series, titled Deadly Nightshade, introduces us to two San Francisco policemen, Tom Danzel who is a very experienced, straight and masculine homicide detective, and Stanley Korski who is a slightly built, gay, and very much a rookie cop. The only reason Stanley is teamed up with Tom is that there is what appears to be a drag queen, killing men in San Francisco, and Stanley, being openly gay, was chosen to assist Tom in an area where Tom has no expertise.

One small caveat should be given here however. If a reader is looking for a crime driven police procedural this might not be the book the reader is seeking. While there are some very interesting twists that take place as the pair go about solving the crime, by far the strength of the book is about inter-personal relationships – not only between Tom and Stanely, but also between Stanley and his estranged father, and between other characters as well. The reader is almost certain to be drawn instantly to Stanley but it might take a little time for the reader to warm up to Tom, though it is almost certain the reader eventually will. 

If a reader is looking for a well-crafted, quickly paced romantic novel by a master writer, this is definitely the right book. Among Banis’ many talents is that he is a master of witty dialogue and wicked humor and that is never more evident in his writing than in Deadly Nightshade (The Man From C.A.M.P. Notwithstanding). For those old enough to remember some of the old movies, the banter between  Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn comes to mind.

I highly recommend Deadly Nightshade and have only one minor quibble with it. I would have preferred if Stanley and Tom had taken just a bit longer to reach the boiling point. However, I understand the reason for that is that this was projected to be a three book series. I surely hope, however, that reader’s can prevail on Mr. Banis to keep the Stanley and Tom series going past the initial three books as he has a winning combination here.

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vglmale4Rick Reed has been making quite a name for himself in recent years as a writer of horror and of suspense thrillers. Though Reed’s name would not readily come to mind if one were asked to name some of the better known writers in the field of gay romance, if his latest story for Amber Quill Press, VGL Male Seeks Same, is an indication of things to come from him, readers will soon be recognizing him as one of the premier writers of gay romance. 

Ethan Schwartz is a very average, middle-aged Chicagoan who is tired of being alone. Neither his job as a theater publicist nor even the fact that he lives in the Boystown district of Chicago bring him in contact with other men who are looking for the same things in life. Briefly considering and discarding the idea of getting a pet, he decides to give romance one last try when he hears a co-worker praising a local online introduction service. Initially Ethan was honest in his portrayal of himself and he got no responses, causing him to create what he thought was a more desirable persona by submitting a false photograph.

Not only was Ethan deluged with replies from those merely looking for sex, but he received one reply from a man named Brian that seemed genuine and that interested him very much. Ethan soon found himself falling for Brian, but since Ethan’s profile was based on a lie what would happen when the two decided to meet? What does indeed happen is well worth finding out as Reed takes us through the budding romance, at the same time drawing a vivid picture of the life of gay men in Chicago.

With VGL Male Seeks Same, Rick Reed has proven he is not only a master of horror and suspense, he is also a master of the light romance – I use the term light romance in no way disparagingly, but to differentiate it from an angst driven romantic drama. The writing is light and breezy and witty and one does indeed quickly come to care for both Ethan and Brian. There are surprises along the way, especially the ending which will be vastly satisfying to any lover of the happily-ever-after romance. I very strongly recommend VGL Male Seeks Same by one of the bright lights of the GLBT literary world. More info can be found at http://www.amberquill.com/AmberAllure/VGLMale.html .

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