Monday, May 30, 2011

Pioneers by Lynn Lorenz

TITLE: Pioneers
AUTHOR: Lynn Lorenz
PUBLISHER: Amber Allure
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 21k)
GENRE: Contemporary gay erotic romance
COST: $5.00

For his latest project, Matt wants to do a documentary about gays living in New Orleans for the past fifty years, and key to that is interviewing his landlord, Sebastian LaGrange. Sebastian’s life has been colorful to say the least, and the stories he has to tell more than revealing…

Note to publishers: If books are interconnected because of recurring characters, I want to know before I buy. It doesn’t matter if they’re not sequels. Some of us readers do not like coming into a story where characters have had history prior to the story’s start that is detailed in other books. Because if I had known that the characters in this had been in another, earlier story? I would never have bought this book. And it makes me not trust you for future purchases, either, because I hate getting caught out like this.

This isn’t your traditional romance. It’s primarily highlights of Sebastian’s life, as Matt asks him questions about being a gay man in New Orleans over the past few decades. It’s interspersed with current happenings, like Matt and his boyfriend Lane being all gooey for each other, and Sebastian reminiscing on his own outside of the documentary format, but this is mostly a lovefest for a character that, while charming, lacked any sort of emotional pull for me because I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was missing something.

It turns out I was. I didn’t discover it until I was preparing to write this review, but this is connected to another story set in New Orleans that this author has written. Apparently, Matt and Lane appear in Pinky Swear, a story I didn’t read. Sebastian was in it, too. That explains the constant nagging sense that I was an outsider not privy to certain details about these men. I didn’t have them. I had no history with them. I had questions galore that weren’t answered. But still, the story failed to give me everything I needed to appreciate the characters for who they were. Without a prior emotional connection, they come across as too saccharine and superficial.

That being said, I did like the perspective given on growing up gay in a much different era, even when it wasn’t really that long ago. Sebastian’s life has been colorful to say the least, and getting to hear about some of those exploits was interesting if not emotionally engaging for me.

I’ll be very wary of buying this author or from Amber Allure again. I don’t want to have to work to find out if a story is connected to others in some way. It’s too much like coming into the middle of a movie. Others might not have problems with it, but I’m far too linear when it comes to things like this. I want to start at the beginning and go straight through to the end. I don’t skip ahead, I don’t read the ending first, and I avoid spoilers at all costs. Seeing Matt and Lane’s HEA doesn’t make me want to go out and buy the book where they meet. I already know how it works out (and yes, I know it can be argued that we always know how romances will work out since it’s part of the genre rules, but this goes beyond that because I’ve already been in their future). I read to feel, and if I know specifics about what's to come, I'm very unlikely to immerse myself enough to let emotions win.


7/10 – Strongest portions are dialogue-driven, I find this author’s voice tends to get a little too sappy for me in the non-dialogue parts

Hero #1

7/10 – Campy and charming

Hero #2

4/10 – Since the story is mostly about Sebastian’s love life, he gets little page time until late in the story, and then it feels very idealized

Entertainment value

6/10 – I liked the way it was set up, and the potential of what was to come, but didn’t connect emotionally to many of the characters; the sense of being on the outside looking in prevailed too much

World building

6/10 – The sense of what he went through when he was still young comes through in the actions if not the prose



No comments: