Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Gnarly by Mickie B. Ashling

Dr. Ed Hollingsworth, widowed for five years, returns to San Sebastián, Spain, after a thirty-year absence. He seeks out his first and only male lover, pro surfer Javi Elizalde.

After surviving a near-fatal shark attack, Javi turned his back on the sport he loves and became a recluse.

Iker Lizaso, professional jai alai player, finds himself at loose ends now that his contract has expired. Forced to retire at thirty-eight, he returned to his home in the Basque Country to figure out what to do with the rest of his life.

Three different men, encumbered by their past, converge in a city famous for its food, summer festivals, and romantic promenades. Can they find happiness together? It’ll be difficult, maybe even improbable, considering their backgrounds, but Cupid’s arrow usually hits the mark, and this particular strike might be epic.

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

Add to Goodreads –

Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
Dreamspinner Press

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I have to admit that I had a really hard time with the first half of this book. It just seemed very slow moving. However, I understand that it was necessary to build the history and explain what each of the characters had been through up to that point. But once we got over that hump, the story was just so much more interesting to me. Watching the three men figure out how they fit together, while also dealing with life changing and evolving around them.

It was wonderful to watch as Javi pulled himself from depression to turn back into the man he'd once been. His two men each helped in their own ways and together. It was just fantastic.

I liked Iker, but he was sort of an added bonus in my opinion. Sure, he made their love scenes sexier than ever, but he didn't really see a whole lot of growth in my opinion except for figuring out what he wanted to do with his life since the career he'd once had was over.

Now, Ed. He was by far my favorite character even if I did want to kick him in the rear from time to time. There was just so much that he had to go through. I loved the scene when he came out to his boys, but that's all I want to say about that so I don't give anything away. I felt like Ed was the one that had to work the hardest and the one that had to make the most sacrifices through the story, but he was also the one that really learned a lot about who he was and what was important to him.

This is a wonderfully complex second chance romance between three slightly older men. Ed returns to San Sebastian a widower with grown children. He has fond memories of a college summer fling with a beautiful surfer and he is drawn back to a time when his life was much simpler. Javi never forgot his American lover but the former champion surfer is struggling to adjust to life as an amputee and to find a reason for life after surfing. Together, the men meet a third, slightly younger man who is also dealing with important life changes.

This isn’t an easy story. All three men are complex and their lives have been both interesting and challenging. Where many ménage stories are written as erotica, this story focuses more on the emotional connection between Ed, Javi, and Iker. It is definitely still a sexy read, but it isn’t only a sexy read. At times, this story moves slowly. All three men have lived full lives and the relationships between them build gradually. This is a thoughtful study of middle life and the unexpected moments that change expectations, needs, and desires.

The author brings the magical Basque region of Spain to life beautifully. The wonderful description the beaches, the food, and Javi’s bar had me desperate to return to Javi and Iker’s beautiful home. The Basque country is a very special place and the writer definitely does it justice.

I really enjoyed these three slightly life-worn older men who are willing to explore new possibilities together. The story is more thoughtful and reflective than exciting, but there is a warmth and depth to the writing that really resonated with me.

This is an interesting mix of a book, starting way back in Spain the mid-80s, and then fast forwarding 30 years... and a whole lifetime of experiences for both Ed and Javi. Ed moved on and is now widowed and looking for... well he isn't quite sure what, but maybe if he finds Javi, he will know. But the Javi he finds is someone battered by life and loss. He does, however, rally at Ed's arrival, and feel jealousy when Ed spends the evening with Iker.

There is a lot to grab your interest in this book, and it gets super hot when the three men realise that maybe there is something in the feelings that they all have for each other. I am always curious as to whether one feels like the third, and this is addressed really well here – and in a slightly unexpected way, given their original insecurities. Some really fun moments, like Ed with his boys, and some extremely hot ones too.

This book, for me, is a success!

The blurb for this book captivated me and I couldn't wait to dive in. Once I started reading this book all my enthusiasm left. The book was very wordy, there were pages upon pages without dialogue and I just couldn't connect to any of the characters. I put the book down several times and each time I picked it back up it was the same. Even the sex scenes couldn't pull me out of the blah feeling I had. Javi, Ed, and Iker could have been something great together, but I just didn't feel it. Then Ed was afraid of telling anyone he was bi and he didn't even tell anyone until the second to the last or the last chapter of the book. Plus, we didn't really get much closure. Sure, Ed came back for the holidays but how long did that go on? Was he ever going to move to be with Javi and Iker full time? It was just one long drawn out book that I couldn't connect with any of the characters.

MICKIE B. ASHLING is the pseudonym of a multifaceted woman who is a product of her upbringing in multiple cultures, having lived in Japan, the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East. Fluent in three languages, she’s a citizen of the world and an interesting mixture of East and West. A little bit of this and a lot of that have brought a unique touch to her literary voice she could never learn from textbooks.

By the time Mickie discovered her talent for writing, real life got in the way, and the business of raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing—and the inevitable emptying nest—dreams of becoming a published writer were resurrected and she’s never looked back.

She stumbled into the world of men who love men in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called “gut-wrenching, daring, and thought provoking.” She admits to being an angst queen and making her men work damn hard for their happy endings.

Connect with Mickie

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Gnarly (World of Love) by Mickie B. Ashling to read and review.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for taking the time to read and review Gnarly. Very much appreciated!


All comments are reviewed by a blog admin before being published. We thank you for visiting our blog & leaving a comment.