Category Archives: Review

BOYSTOWN, Season Two (Jake Biondi)







GENRE: Erotic fiction, contemporary gay lit, gay romance


“As the others scrambled, two more gunshots were fired, echoing throughout the room. Blood splattered on the wall and floor as three bodies fell to the ground.” –BOYSTOWN Season One

In the aftermath of the warehouse shootings, lives are forever changed and relationships are forever altered. As the families of the victims work to put the horrific event behind them, they find themselves at the center of an even larger plan for revenge.

Ciancio twins Marco and Gino are as handsome as they are powerful — and they arrive in Boystown with a scheme rooted in the bad history between the Ciancio and Mancini families.

At the same time, Keith Colgan seems hell-bent on getting back the boyfriend he believes was stolen from him, Ben Donovan continues with his plan for Jacqueline Morgan and her son Jesse, and a stranger from the past threatens the future.

It all leads up to a spectacular New Year’s Eve engagement party that no one will ever forget.

Welcome back to BOYSTOWN!


BOYSTOWN, Season Two picks up after the horrific events/cliffhanger in the grandest mini-series/season finale fashion with ambulances rushing to the hospital, as gradually we learn the full extent of the tragedy.

The author continues to shake this ‘Verse, turning it upside down and inside out, and unfortunately for this reviewer, it’s to the point where anything I say would be a monumental spoiler and if you want to find out what happens… Well, you know what to do.

Meanwhile, back at the editing desk, let’s talk about a few quibbles: scenes of affection (always my favorites and about which I tend to be quite picky) head the list. There are plenty, oddles, but but but…

They’ve become mechanized, rote, linear, repetitive and so devoid of emotional context that this reviewer could easily have done without them—and in fact I skimmed most of them because, well… been there, done that. Script-wise that’s fine. The director gets to position the cameras, he choreographs the shot, optimizing, slicing and dicing edit-wise, to either push the FCC envelop or stay within cable TV protocols.

This is nominally a novel—that pared down, strictly-by-the-numbers treatment does not float my boat when it comes to this type of scene.

With some characters there’s more tell than show (Jesse comes to mind) and that leaves questions about motivations and how/why this character is doing this and not that.

There are also some new players on the scene (Marco and Gino) with links to Justin. They ramp up the stakes considerably although at points their backstory threatened to derail the narrative arc.

With a cast this large, it is quite difficult to avoid whiplash, confusing voices and motivations, and burying the plot which now includes the addition of a substantial element of mystery and suspense.

That said, this author had me clicking pages, staying up all night, shouting No, Wait, Are you effing kidding me! My cat was not amused. The thematic elements established at the beginning of each scene conclude with a wry observation, sometimes served with a side of snark and often poetic.

No relationship is safe, nothing is set in stone, and the season finale, which takes place at a celebration, ends explosively… Beyond that, dear readers, there be spoilers.

Be prepared to hate the one you loved, love the one you hate and wonder about the rest. Dagnabbit, this stuff is addicting.

BOYSTOWN is officially a guilty pleasure and as with all such beasts, the need for instant gratification implores Mr. Biondi to write faster.

Five Stars.





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The Art of the Heart (Dan Skinner)





GENRE: Gay literature, coming of age, short story


The heartland of America in 1965 feels like the end of the road for seventeen-year-old Zac Weston. After all, there’s nowhere to go when you’re shy, gay, and a virgin. A natural artist, inspiration strikes in the form of neighbor boy Rory, and Zac’s fantasies spill onto the pages of his notebook. When Zac’s secret is discovered, it might take more than wishes to magically make his world right.


This is a book that quite literally had me enthralled from the first sentence. The prose is elegantly simple, straightforward, evocative, sensual and riveting. The story unfolds in omniscient third, which I will admit, after reading genre fiction, was a stretch to readjust my reader perspective.

This story beautifully captures a time and place, tapping directly into my consciousness, awakening memories, touching all my senses.

It is a coming of age tale, a homage to first love—that very first awareness and the consequences when you are a young boy, a virgin in every sense of the word. It is also a tale of small town America, back when acceptance meant overlooking differences to the point where it breached understanding, slipping into blindness to a boy’s inner turmoil.

Zac was that boy who found refuge from those things he did not understand: why he felt the way he did, the narrowness of his milieu that restricted his choices, and the final inspiration to record his journey, his fantasies, using the graphics arts as his medium for living out his inner landscape.

When Zac’s talent, and his recording of his alternate reality, is discovered, it is his object of obsession and affection, Rory, who recognizes but does not judge.  Zac is proud, terrified, ashamed, hopeful… and what he most wants is something he’s dreamt of for years. But wishing and dreaming, when you live your life with pencil and paper, is nothing like the reality. Zac has no frame of reference until, during the height of a storm, he learns how to turn fantasy into hope.

This is the first work by Dan Skinner that I’ve read. It won’t be the last.

Five stars. Highly recommended read.




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