Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

Review © Film Fan “yveythelibrarian” at Amazon (December 2011)

“For those keenly awaiting Marquesate’s latest offering ‘Basic Training’, you will not be disappointed. It contains all the trademarks of this author’s unique style; tough men in a brutal environment, snappy banter,impeccable attention to military detail, and of course well plotted sex scenes. I also like that her relationships always seem to take place over several years. None of this ‘instant attraction’ stuff. I can attest
that Marquesate’s knowledge of the British Armed Forces is spot-on. The author charts the training and challenges that it takes to rise through the ranks like a real insider. I know a few currently serving who are impressed with the accuracy of what is portrayed.

The homophobia that is encountered by the younger character Chris Thompson, is brutally real. The self-doubt and and the eventual self-acceptance of Col “Bulldog Wilson , is equally well portrayed. He is a tough , but sympathtic character and you relate to the inner turmoli he is going through. However where the book shows real maturity is in the development of a genuinely romantic story. I do not want to give too much away, but it’s a great tale, and I really did not want to leave Col and Chris when it came to the end. It’s wonderful seeing a favorite author develop and evolve, and Marquesate seems to improve with each offering. This is tough with a soft centre, Marquesate’s warmest and human work to date, and thought provoking. Any one of the author’s books could withstand a sequel, and this is no exception. Absolutely recommended!”

Review © Valentina Heart at The Romance Reviews (full review) (December 2011)

“I’ve always liked reading about soldiers, the difficulties such career entails and the necessary roughness all of them individually present. I suppose it’s that ever-present infatuation we civilians have toward men who can take care of themselves and daily protect others. Mouthwatering muscles, a knack for weapons and the uniform don’t hurt a bit, of course. (…)

The guys are manly men, bone-headed and strong. While their road together wasn’t easy, there wasn’t much conflict to spice up the story. The sex was hot but not excessive and certainly not brutal. In fact, other than one scene with bloody details of an attack, the book never got any rougher and overall is a rather sweet. The progress of their relationship is very slow and stretches over a few years, where it’s pretty easy to follow their personal growth and that road to the eventual happy ending.(…)

While not amazing to the point of speechlessness, this book is still one of the best m/m soldier books out there and it should definitely be on the subject fans’ reading list.”

Review © Jen at Well Read (Excellent) (full review) (November 2011)

“It’s been two years since the release of the rather excellent Her Majesty’s Men, the last book by this author, but I was so impressed by that book that I’ve hung in there waiting for a new book to be published. Basic Training is that book, and in my opinion the two years have been worth the wait, especially as this book shows some increased maturity in the style of writing from this author. (…)

There were two things in particular that struck me about the story, and which added greatly to my enjoyment of the book as a whole. Firstly, I enjoyed following the unfolding of the relationship between the two men, especially in Col’s emotional journey towards accepting his homosexuality. Those of you who may have read Marquesate’s other books will know that her men are rough and tough; find it difficult to express emotion; and engage in almost brutal sex with each other. Whilst the first two are certainly the case here, the third element was very much toned down from previous books. Col’s one of these men who prefers not to think about emotional mushy stuff, and definitely feels uncomfortable talking about his feelings. As a result he tends to adopt the ‘think about it later’ way of facing up to things which concern him, such as his changing views on his own sexuality. I loved the gradual way that Col deals with these difficult for him issues, and especially the small steps towards accepting himself. Some of my favourite scenes in the book were when Col really thought through his jumbled emotions, or when he bit the bullet and spoke to others. However, when in private with Chris, he does let his guard down and the sex between them was quite beautifully tender in places, whilst also containing some of the roughness that this author is known for. They matched so well as a couple, both of them riddled with their own insecurities and hang-ups whilst providing a solid support to the other. It was more than love or romance, it was friendship, comradeship and a solid foundation for a life long relationship and I loved reading about it.

The second aspect which I really liked about this book was the way that the life of a Royal Marine was so ingrained through every thought and action of both the main characters. There’s enough detail given to understand the life of a soldier – both during the basic training and then on into a career in the Royal Marines – but not so much that I felt overwhelmed by knowledge that wasn’t important to the story.”

Review © bill_m at Amazon (full review) (October 2011)

“this is a timely story, with the demise of DADT in the US military, and it’s well-written and realistic. (…) even if you’ve no military experience you will easily and surely enjoy this story, although the m/m romance element may not be for everyone. If you have military experience – and are at least flexible and forward-looking in your perspective (i.e., not a confirmed homophobe or fearful of gays serving in the military) – you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the realism and sympathy for military training found here. (…) Give this one a chance – it’s very, very good.

Review © haywire at Amazon (October 2011)

“If you started reading Marquesate because of the Special Forces epic or of the novel Her Majesty’s Men or of the short stories that have appeared here and there, Friendly Fire (in mostly dreadful company in a collection also called Special Forces for what reason heaven only knows), For Queen and Country or Code of Honour, in ‘Basic Training’ you will find what you have come to like about the author: strong, believable characters, gritty story lines, a military setting that rings
entirely true and, above all where I am concerned, stories that are true to themselves; oh yes, and some rather hot m/m sex too.

‘Basic Training’ is the story of Col, a sergeant in the Royal Marines and Chris a recruit who is determined to make it through the mud because he has a point to prove. Against the backdrop of the gruelling 31 week training a relationship develops against all odds and, after the most audacious of all the boneheaded things Chris does, the two, very much to Col’s surprise, become a couple. Against the rough military background, this is a real love story and one that works. Col and Chris are in most ways unlikely lovers. There is the age difference, 14 years. There is the military environment; different ranks are not supposed to have relationships in the military and you certainly are more likely as a recruit in special forces training to want to stay out of your terrifying sergeant’s sights than to want to get to know him more closely. There is the difference in their backgrounds and educations…But against the odds the relationship develops and here Marquesate pulls off a master stroke. It would be easy to hit the false tone when these alpha soldiers are out of their natural element and have to start interacting as lovers and then as a couple. Instead she gets it just right. Col is her voice here and his surprise and ironic view of his own feelings and actions provides the needed distance and prevents any false sentimentality. These men are suddenly dealing with emotions, with feelings for each other and it’s completely uncharted territory for them for which their training has made them less fit perhaps than most. I defy anyone, male or female, to remember their first time in love and the heady, silly, clumsy and sometimes downright make-you-blush corny behaviour that went with it and not to share a rueful chuckle with Col. While the story has warm, touching and even funny moments there is, in true Marquesate style, plenty of grit too and homophobia as well as the deadly reality of soldiers’ lives in the time of war in Afghanistan raise their heads and provide a realistic setting that has a direct impact on the two protagonists’ happily ever after.

This is probably the sunniest of Marquesate’s stories so far. A feel good story that has deceptive depth and characters that are well developed, even the lesser ones like Chris’ aunt and uncle. Definitely worth the wait and definitely a novel
that I want as a book on my shelves.”


Zero at the BoneThis post is a rare occurrence, trust me. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t read fiction. Not anymore, since my postgrad degree in English Lit (and a few other choice subjects). Well, I don’t read fiction most of the time, but occasionally, I make an exception, and this happens when there is an exceptional story that is being recced to me by those whom I trust. Most of those are my own readers (after all, they know what I write so they’d know what I like) and so it was this time, we were discussing fiction in my forum, and lo and behold, someone mentions Zero at the Bone by Jane Seville.

My goodness, am I glad that they did!

If you like what I am writing, if you like your men as real men and not girlified, if you like action and adventure and not a single pulled punch, then read this book, it’s fantastic.

The character of D is brilliant (I don’t agree with writing out the accent, I found that distracting, but in the end I didn’t mind, because it was just so great!

Jane managed to write really lifelike and great secondary and tertiary characters, too. I guess that’s rare. I loved X, a great characters and the villains were properly villainous. I love the fact people swear and shout and say nasty things and do even nastier ones.  She really doesn’t pull her punches and hooray for that.

I was awestruck at times at her action ideas, and trust me that says something, because I take great care to have my action believable, and boy, did she manage to keep hers believable, despite the craziness of it all. Pure brilliance.

This is easily the best M/M book that I know of.

Elisa Rolle has a nice review of ZATB, and Jen has a really great one.

This isn’t a Romance, this is much better. This is an amazing love story with fantastic action.

There were moments when I thought “oh damn, I wish I had written that” and that’s meant as a huge compliment. Sucked me right in on the first page and spit me back out, 300 pages later, dishevelled, exhausted and very satisfied.

from-the-frontThis is an absolutely excellent photo book: From the Front: The Story of War by Michael S. Sweeney (Featuring Correspondents’ Chronicles)

It is an amazing photographic account of the wars since the age of photography. Truly harrowing images, very well-known ones (such as the naked girl, running and screaming, burnt by Napalm) and others I had never seen before. First hand accounts of correspondents and images of soldiers, civilians, death and destruction, with such an emotional impact, everyone should read this book and look at the many images. The chapters are titled:

  • War is News
  • “Splendid Little Wars”
  • Total War
  • World War II
  • Cold War to Vietnam
  • War in Time of Peace

You will find photos from as far back as the American Civil war (and some incredible images are amongst them) and up to 9/11.

I really cannot recommend this book enough. For anyone with an interest in photography, war correspondents, or just humans, this is an amazing find. It is also beautifully laid out, interspersed with quotes.

Let me close with a quote from the book that is in the introduction:

Let him who wishes to know what war is look at this series of illustrations. It is so nearly like visiting the battlefield to look over these views that all the emotions excited by the actual sight of the stained and sordid scene, stewed with rags and wrecks, come back to us, and we buried them in the recesses of our cabinet as we would have buried the mutilated remains of the dead they too vividly represented. The sight of these pictures is a commentary on civilization such as the savage might well triumph to show its missionaries.

Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes
after viewing “The Dead of Antiem” at Mathew Brady’s New York studio in September 1862

24947008This is an excellent and very up-to-date book with over 150 illustrations. The book is by Chris McNab and Martin J. Dougherty and it is from 2007.

I found this book in a bargain shop of all places in a small village in the Scottish Highlands and of course had to buy it, because it seemed essential for my writing research. It is, indeed. Some of the chapters include Infantry Firepower, Infantry Tactics, Tactical Terrain, Special Forces, and Counter-Insurgency Warfare. I am particularly impressed by the diagrams and illustrations in addition to the photos.

To quote from the UK Naval & Military Press website:

There are chapters on weapons, tactics, heavy support, – such as air, armour, and artillery – as well as on special situations facing a battlefield commander – including commanding an air strike; handling and firing weapons in conditions of extreme heat or cold; rescuing hostages; amphibious assaults and evading capture. To bring the manual bang up to today’s wars, there are also chapters on counter-terrorism and anti-insurgency – with pictures of a Taliban ambush in Afghanistan to match. Illustrated with more than 150 action photographs and artwork, with examples of real ambushes and battles this is a book for real soldiers and armchair enthusiasts alike.
Quote copyright © Naval & Military Press

Of course, what they forgot to mention is how useful this book is for researchers and researching writers!

Buy COMBAT TECHNIQUES: THE SAS & ELITE FORCES GUIDE: Modern Infantry Tactics, Weapons and Systems from