Hope by William Neale

I am very glad that MLRpress asked MANtastic Fiction to take a look at William Neale’s Hope. Some of our members had kept up with the Home series, but I had yet to start it. This gave my the perfect opportunity to discover what everyone had been raving about.

Blurb:

Dumped by his closeted lover only to fall for a man who’s already taken, Spencer Hawkins finishes up his fellowship to discover he doesn’t have a job. For anyone on the outside looking in, it seemed Spencer was failing miserably at life in general, until one phone call changes everything. The prospect of pulling up stakes and relocating to a new city provides the one thing he needs most—Hope.

Hunter Harrison’s partner has left, abandoning not only him but their adopted son whose heart defect has left them in limbo awaiting a heart transplant that may not come in time. It took meeting Spencer for Hunter and his son to find something new to hold onto—Hope.

Building a love that can last a lifetime will take strength and the one thing they found in each other—Hope.

Available from MLRpress

Here is what fellow bookclub member Lynn had to say about it:

Wow, what a great story! I’ve read and enjoyed all of William Neale’s books and this one didn’t disappoint me. In fact, it went beyond my expectations.

Hope is about, well, it’s about Hope. It’s hoping Spencer can find love and happiness after his lover of three years leaves him. It’s hoping eleven year old Ethan finds a new heart in time to save his life. It’s hoping Hunter won’t have to bury his son. It’s hoping Rogie and Ryan, two young men who have committed themselves to one another have what it takes to make it last. It’s hoping Thomas finds his true worth as a human being.

This book s not only a journey of finding new love, but also new beginnings and finding your true self.

This book had me not wanting to put it down. All of the characters are interesting and they all have their own story to tell.

I found it interesting and kind of sad that Hunter didn’t think he could take care of his sick son and have a relationship with Spencer. I have a feeling Hunter really wanted this relationship with Spencer but was to afraid of being hurt. Hunter’s partner had left him shortly after adopting Ethan, so Hunter had to take on the responsibility all alone, and had been doing so for years. He just didn’t want to get hurt again. I believe Spencer had to prove to Hunter that he was willing to be there for both Hunter and Ethan. Spencer was there for Hunter when he needed him the most and proved than in fact. Hunter not only needed but wanted that love and support that only Spencer could give him.

Spencer on the other has his plate full. I feel Spencer had some soul searching of his own to do what with trying to fit into a new job, teaching English at a very exclusive school, in which he has to deal with false accusations that may have well turned out to be the beginnings of and end to his teaching career. Getting over his lover Carson who left him after three years. Getting back into the dating scene in search of “the one”. Spencer is a smart guy, he knows what he’s about and what he wants out of life. He makes some choices that are nothing but a win for everyone involved.

It’s a well balanced read, you have the love interests, but it isn’t all butterflies and buttercups! Some really bad stuff happens, but everyone gets through it and they are all the better for it.

The only thing I didn’t like and I thought it a little odd at the time, was a little episode in the beginning of the book. It seemed out of place and I was confused when I read it. As the story goes on, it started to make sense to me. The author wants us to not like this character, he wants us to find him repulsive and a little sleazy! But, by the end of the book, this one character redeems himself in ways that was really shocking and surprising. There is hope for him yet.

This is the last book we’ll ever read from William Neale. I know he had many more great stories to tell, and it breaks my heart knowing we’ll never get to read them.

And here is what I thought:

Hope, like all of the books in the Home series, is bigger than just the main couple. There are several points of interest that keep the novel from being one type of story. I appreciated how all the different fires within the story were handled – almost brutal situations with a hint of sweetness – a William Neale trademark. We get to revisit with characters – that because those people are just as fleshed out in this book as they were in their own book – I found it wasn’t entirely necessary to have read the previous novels to be completely aware of what was going on and how they fit in. And I thought the romance itself was very interesting. The book blurb more than hints at the resolution, but there is a short time where the reader might root for it to go another way.

I love supporting cast and Hope has quite a few. The events of Hope almost directly follow the events of Always Faithful. We see his opportunity to head back to Cleveland and that naturally brings in Rogan, Lucas, and their family. There are a few subtle characters that become much more involved in Hope, which may suggest that there might have been at least 1 more book in this series. Fortunately, the personality of the assumed future-book-leading-man was still such that he wasn’t really ready for a relationship so there was no obvious set-up or cliffhanger where he is concerned.

I am a huge pain in the butt about reading things in order. Can’t help it. No matter how many people tell me that one story doesn’t really influence the next too much, I have to start at the beginning. I’m always afraid I’m going to miss some obscure detail or important moment that will limit my enjoyment of the current story. Crazy, I know. But when I received a request to take a look at Hope, I had not read the rest of the Home series. I had only read a couple of his short stories. So, of course, I had to start at the beginning … Hence, my 3 day weekend with William Neale. What I found impressive was the complete wrap-up he accomplished with each book. Repeating characters and situations where dealt with so smoothly that I can honestly say that Hope can be read without having read the previous books. I’d recommend them whole-heartedly, however, not because Hope is incomplete without them, but because their journeys are just as colorful and engaging.

I think there are two defining themes in all of William Neale’s novels. The first thing might be the most obvious – sweet, romanticized characters and dialogue. The second being his knack for targeting themes that get overlooked, serious aspects that might make people uncomfortable because of the injustice and horror. How he was able to balance the sweetness with the darkness was a true talent.

As stated in his own bio, William Neale knew that not everyone appreciated his characters getting along so well. Very few of the conflicts are between the romantic couple. In a theme I enjoy very much, most of William’s pairings are between friends or rivals who shared a long history and were finally ready to make the leap. Hope was a little different in that Spencer, our main hero, was relatively new in town and was meeting his love interest(s) for the first time. What had already been established, though, was Spencer’s romantic nature and his desire to find a lasting lover. I love that we see him “date” instead of just sticking with the first guy he meets. I found that to be more realistic.

As issues would arise, Spencer (or one of the supporting cast) would know just what to say. This more than anything, is where the “sweet” shows up. On one hand, I applaud the character’s maturity. On the other, I wonder if I would have been so level headed. The result is a thought provoking guide that might help young gay men, and probably people in general, in dealing with similar situations. I did notice, though, that Hope had a few instances where characters would go with a gut reaction first and then have to do a little damage control before the situation got too out of hand. This may have been a compromise between William and his readers.

In complete harmony with the romance are some really tough subjects. Like with his other novels, Hope is heavily couple-based for the first 40-50%. The second half of the story is the couple, along with the rest of the cast, dealing with some really important and horrifying realities. It is what I’ve come to expect from William Neale’s books but is unlike so many of the “sweet” stories that fill the M/M genre. Hunter is in real danger of losing his son, Spencer finds legal and moral trouble at his new job, Thomas remembers his horrific past and tries to reshape his future. A high school student decides if he even has a future. These aren’t new topics, but the depth and conviction in which these events are handled makes me want to put a copy of Hope (and all of the Home series) in the hands of every person over the age of 16 who may be struggling with their sexuality and/or identity.

I have only 3 criticisms.
-The first is that I would have preferred some of the dialogue to have been broken up more. Same words, just some indication of tone/attitude changes so that it was more conversational instead of run-ons.
-The second is that there were many more abrupt scene changes than any of his previous novels. Was that intentional? A style purposefully chosen to highlight the struggles of the character most often abrupt? Or because William didn’t get a chance to put his final touch on it? I don’t know.
-And the third is the maturity of a couple of the kids. Granted, the kids have always been characterized as being mature for their age, but I felt that adding their bit of news at the end was a little rushed. It was good since we won’t get to see more of them later so it was nice to see them so settled, but had there been an opportunity for more stories then I would have been upset that they weren’t given as much time on page to develop as the other characters.

Overall, I am definitely impressed with Hope and will be adding it to the books I highly recommend.

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A new side of Ethan Day

So this funny, charming, and crazy man had some ideas and wrote a lot of books. And in them, his characters were just as funny, charming, and crazy as he is. Readers laughed so much they cried. The self-proclaimed “little homo that could” is now one of the brightest names in M/M publishing.

But like all people, Ethan Day is not one thing. He’s not even “just” two or three things. So what happens when an unapologetic, hopelessly romantic comedian, optimist and dreamer gets serious? Well … let’s see.

As I understand it, A Token Of Time had been rolling around in Ethan’s noggin for years, slowly shaping into a darker, grittier, less intentionally funny novel than anything he has released to date. There is mystery and intrigue, heartache, drama, an homage to the “matinee era” of Hollywood, and a paranormal twist that I look forward to discovering. And, of course, a romance, too … because even though he has stretched his creative wings and entrusted us with a soulful story many years in the making, he will always be Ethan.

Blurb:
On the run from his family, Zachary Hamilton was cursed with a gift he neither wanted nor asked for. The recent murder of his lover unleashed a chain of events revealing Zachary’s connection to the recently deceased legendary matinee idol, Marc Castle. Attempting to unravel the mystery behind the movie star, Zachary encountered an ancient relic shrouded in history and folklore, leading to a discovery so shocking it altered his very existence – challenging everything Zachary knew to be true – to believe that the impossible, was possible.

available from MLRpress







In celebrating the release of A Token Of Time, Ethan Day is offering up 1 e-book copy to a very lucky winner. To enter, please comment below with the era you would would most like to visit. Contest is open until Wednesday, April 25th, at 11:59 pm (PST). Winner will be randomly selected and notified on Thursday.

And the winner is Claire! I will be e-mailing you directly.

Spend a weekend with William Neale

Whether you knew him or not, whether you ever read any of his stories or not, I think everyone in our M/M community shared a shock with the sudden passing of William Neale. And for those who knew him best, and loved him longest, the monumental loss is sure to be felt for many years to come.

But for this week, let’s take a moment to celebrate his 55 years of life and all the love, joy, sadness, and experience he poured into every story he created. His romances are a testament to how easy love can be when you find the right person. His couples certainly had their obstacles – some small, some huge and devastating – but there was always an underlining strength to his characters, the innate desire to do the right thing no matter how hard or what the consequences might be, that was inspiring in so many ways. Integrity, honesty, commitment, sacrifice, intrigue, romance, and good old-fashioned hospitality are just a few things we associate with his novels because William Neale, the man as well as author, undoubtedly embodied all those things himself.

And with a cosmic silver lining, we as readers get one more chance to experience his magic. Hope (officially #4 in the HOME series, but I count it as #5) is being released this Friday, April 27th.











Home – bully/bullee find common ground as adults and a 13 year absence.
Son Of A Ditch – former military man settles in his hometown and reunites with his best friend, set approximately 4 years after Home .
A New Normal – newly graduated, friends finally act on their attraction, but are almost sidelined when one of them confuses the love and affection he feels for his friend’s father as being in love, set outside the current Home universe, can be read either before or after Son Of A Ditch as the events happen at about the same time but have no direct connection yet.
Always Faithful – friends-turned-lovers adjust as military service forced a long distance relationship and threatens their reunion, combines several characters from previous 3 books, set 8 years after Home and 4 years after A New Normal and Son Of A Ditch.
Hope – a man influences 2 romantic interests to open their hearts and take a chance on a fuller life, but can only keep one of them, combination of characters from previous 4 books, set immediately after Always Faithful.

And in honor of Hope’s release this Friday, MLRpress is offering up an e-book copy to one lucky winner. If you’re already up to date on this series then I’m sure you have been patiently waiting for Spencer’s story. And for those who have yet to begin, you are in for a treat!

To enter, please leave a comment below telling us which of the many couples/characters in the Home universe is your favorite. For those who haven’t read the series yet, please tell us which couples/characters are your favorites from the author of your choice. Contest is open until Thursday, April 26th, at 11:59 pm (PST). A random winner will be chosen and notified on Friday.

Congratulations bookophile81! I will be contacting you directly so you can claim your prize.

To Be A King with Edmond Manning

Edmond Manning just released his debut novel … you may have heard of it. King Perry is currently rocking a near perfect 5 star rating over on goodreads. Here is the blurb:

In a trendy San Francisco art gallery, out-of-towner Vin Vanbly witnesses an act of compassion that compels him to make investment banker Perry Mangin a mysterious offer: in exchange for a weekend of complete submission, Vin will restore Perry’s “kingship” and transform him into the man he was always meant to be.

Despite intense reservations, Perry agrees, setting in motion a chain of events that will test the limits of his body, seduce his senses, and fray his every nerve, (perhaps occasionally breaking the law) while Vin guides him toward his destiny as ‘the one true king.’

Even as Perry rediscovers old grief and new joys within himself, Vin and his shadowy motivations remain enigmas: who is this off-beat stranger guiding them from danger to hilarity to danger? To emerge triumphant, Perry must overcome the greatest challenge alone: embracing his devastating past. But can he succeed by Sunday’s sunrise deadline? How can he possibly evolve from an ordinary man into King Perry?

Available through Dreamspinner and Amazon.
As of todays date, the King Perry paperback is available from Dreamspinner for 20% off the original price.

One reviewer going by the screenname Enny has this to say …

King Perry is like a golden river that soaks of all the labels, puts candles into the boxes and then carries them away on a journey to a place where this river meets the ocean. I’m fairly sure that this place has dolphins, raspberry pies and little toddlers who play on the beach all day long.

This is easily one of the best books I’ve ever read.

And Mrs Condit Reads Books writes:

This book is not about lust or hook-ups or even art. It is a quest for finding one’s true self, whether that is a painful discovery or a happy revelation, or some of both. Get ready to *feel* more than just read a story.

And if you’ve ever checked out Edmond Manning’s website then you will find he has a very witty sense of humor and a great zest for all facets of life. If you doubt me then just try sending him an e-mail … you can find his contact page here. It definitely took me a few minutes to collect myself before e-mailing him the 1st time. Or you can check out his youtube video entitled Sh*tFirst Time Authors Say.

So now that we’ve all met Edmond Manning properly, here is what he has to say about the driving force behind his breakout novel, King Perry.

Why did you write this Book?

Since my novel, King Perry, came out through Dreamspinner Press, I’ve been interviewed a few times and really enjoyed each experience. But until recently, nobody has asked me the question: why did you write this book?

It’s a tough question for me to answer because while I’ve been writing fiction for a long time, nothing I wrote prior has burst out of my imagination so powerfully as King Perry. A voice from deep inside me said ‘You must finish this. Explore this. Get it out there.’ I needed to write this.

Why?

I wanted readers to experience their kingship or queenship. (I love the word queenship. We don’t use it often enough.) I do believe that we are all amazing, gifted, unique. It’s a notion that’s hardly original: Oprah has been spouting that message for decades as well as self-help and spiritual gurus. But what if it was more than “we are each unique?” What if each of us – every damn one of us – was essential to the success of the world? What if each of us possessed a power so magical, so overwhelming that every single one of us might be considered “the one true queen” or “the one true king?” Impossible, right?

Maybe not.

In the story, readers go on the exact same path as the main character, knowing as little as Perry does, being as bewildered as he is by the narrator’s odd choices throughout the book. Why have breakfast at a homeless shelter? Why steal a baby duck? The readers get answers, but only when the controlling narrator is ready to answer them. And as Perry draws closer to his own kingship, readers draw closer to theirs. I’ve been delighted that several readers, after finishing, have emailed me their King and Queen names. I love it!
Why did I write this book? I think that our world is in trouble right now. To change that, each of us has to step up as the king or queen of our own lives, embrace that royalty in order to save our planet, to save ourselves. It’s not too late. But it requires the power of a queen. The power of a king.

To help my GayRomLit friends explore their kingship or queenship, I’d like to offer three (3) free electronic copies as a giveaway.

Thank you to Mr. Manning for his generous donations to our reading challenge. To enter to win an e-copy of King Perry, please tell us what you would be Queen/King of. It can be anything you enjoy doing or holds any meaning. It can be funny, witty, serious, or insightful.

If you want help to discover a more meaningful Queen/King name, you can follow the advice of Edmond Manning himself in this youtube video titled Discover your king or queen name

Contest is open until 11:59 AM (PST) on Sunday, April 15th..

*** Edmond Manning and Goodreads have teamed up for another contest. (Please note that the selection of winners and distribution of prizes for the goodreads contest is in no way determined by MANtastic Fiction.)

For those of you who would prefer to win a paperback copy, you’re in luck! On goodreads, I’m offering 5 free paperbacks to those who might be interested in participating in their drawing.

To win, follow the Goodreads link and click to enter.

And the winners are:
Bobby D Whitney
brandimroberts
sherbear4c

I will be contacting you directly about claiming your e-book. 🙂