Published by Cheyenne Publishing
Set in the very English suburbia of 1962 where everyone has tidy front gardens and lace curtains, Junction X is the story of Edward Johnson, who ostensibly has the perfect life: A beautiful house, a great job, an attractive wife and two well-mannered children. The trouble is he’s been lying to himself all of his life. And first love, when it does come, hits him and hits him hard. Who is the object of his passion? The teenaged son of the new neighbours.
Edward’s world is about to go to hell.
This was utterly compelling, both for the setting and for the inevitability that the protagonist's world was going to fall apart spectacularly at any moment. Which would be, of course, all of his own doing. The ending was even more spectacular (if that's the right word) than I expected. Amazing.
Miss Bannerman and The Duke
by Fenella J. Miller
Published by Musa Publishing
Rose Bannerman is willing to save her family from ruin. Her twin, Millie, is far too sensitive to marry for convenience, so Rose must do so.
She has loved Perry, the Duke of Bentley, since the schoolroom, but he would never consider her for his bride.
When they become reacquainted, Rose finds the Duke arrogant and Perry considers her pert. He believes Millie is a more suitable match.
Rose takes Millie's place on a carriage ride and pretends to kiss him. Her intention is to embarrass him; she doesn't realize her impulsive action will compromise them both.
Perry is obliged to offer for her, an arrangement neither party is happy with. Can Miss Bannerman and the Duke put aside their differences and make this arrangement work?
I think this is the first pocket novel I've read, at least since I realised they were pretty much a genre all of their own. A sweet story told in around 100 pages, it felt exactly the right length even though I found having all the major characters introduced at once a little perplexing at first. A few minor historical glitches, but I'll definitely be picking up the author's other similar stories at some point.
Wolves of the West
Published by MLR Press
Sometimes your life is defined by the things you have to keep hidden, whether it's being gay or what happens when the moon is full.
Sold as a Ten Minute Read, this managed to pack in a lot of worldbuilding for such a short story, but also left a lot of tantalising threads hanging. I really wanted to know more about all the main characters and their interactions, and would definitely be all over a longer follow-up.
Pricks and Pragmatism
by JL Merrow
Published by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
English student and aspiring journalist Luke Corbin should be studying. Instead he’s facing homelessness, thanks to the lover who’s just kicking him out of their posh digs. It’s not his first rejection—his father tossed him out at age sixteen—but Luke has no problem trading his favors for a home and security. Especially with rich, powerful, handsome men.
Except now, with finals bearing down, there’s no time to be choosy. He needs a roof over his head and he needs it now. Even if it means settling temporarily for a geeky, less-than-well-off chemical engineer called Russell.
Luke’s fully prepared to put out for the guy—because after all, in this world no one gets something for nothing. But Russell isn’t just a nerd; he’s an honourable nerd who wants to save himself for someone special.
At first Luke is annoyed, but the more time he spends with Russell, the closer he comes to a devastating realization. He wants to be that someone special. Except he’s fallen for the one man he can’t seem to charm…
I love Jamie's humour, but in this case I felt that the story wasn't long enough for us to get a proper sense of the characters. I also found myself wishing we got to see a little more of what happened next. Hoping to see these guys again some day...