Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Short Story Review: Stray (Feast, Stray, Love #2)

Feast, Stray, LoveThe author enjoyed my first review so he asked me to review #2 and #3 as well!  I always love hearing that my reviews are well received  and getting follow up review requests.  Plus, I like "collecting" an entire series in my reviews.  If you scroll back far enough in my blog (especially on Goodreads, which is where I started off), you'll find a few of my collections.  Some of them are still in progress.

Feast, Stray, Love by Kevin Anthony
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Funny follow up to Feast (Feast, Stray, Love #1).

Stray takes up a bit after the final showdown in Feast. The story is short, funny, and doesn't lose track of the original storyline. I thought it did for a while, but the threads were being laid to tie everything together. Damien has left Mayson for Port Rising, a cozy seaside town. Living and working at Dirty Betty's, a gay bar, and moonlighting at the local Church for Pastor Abram in gratitude for help when he first came to town, Damien finds himself living a double life.

My favorite character in this one is Sparkles, the owner of the gay bar. I can totally picture him in his evening gowns, or in his teddy bear pajamas. Although he seems silly at times, he as a person comes across as realistic. He's afraid for his bar and his staff, and acts desperately to save them. I also love that Ava pops up again. She is the jack of all trades from Feast, who pops up everywhere performing her latest "part-time." It's funny, but also intriguing. Why is she everywhere Damien goes?

Besides the characters, there is an underlying theme of being true to yourself, even when the mainstream thought is against you. Caleb, the pastor's son, is the primary vehicle of this message. Damien, who sees the good side of the pastor, is surprised to learn that his son was written off when he came out, but doesn't truly believe the pastor is all that bad, just a strict follower of his beliefs. Then he begins to learn more.

Another theme is one of moving on after loss. Damien is coming to terms with the loss of his boyfriend and is avoiding any romantic entanglements, a difficult proposition when the handsome Detective Jaxom rolls into town on a basketball trip. Sparkles says go for it, but Damien feels it would be a betrayal to Ben.

I noticed much less cursing than in Feast, which I felt was good. The sexual situations are relatively tame, but they do focus on m-m relationships. Personally, I don't mind that, but it's worth note. If the reader is uncomfortable with such things, this is not the book for them. I also noticed an improvement in the execution of the dialog, making it seem more natural and easier to picture what's happening while the characters are talking.

As for things I didn't like, I found a couple of places where I felt like something changed in the matrix (pardon the pun). The people would be talking, then something would be said that I thought had already been said. I'd flip back and it wouldn't be exact, but it would be close enough to throw me off. It wasn't too bad, but it was confusing when it happened. I also noticed a few minor errors in grammar such as using a singular verb for a plural noun.

Overall, I really liked this one. It's primarily funny, with underlying themes of social acceptance, dealing with loss, and learning to be oneself. Plus, the creepy Factory is still in play, though not quite as much as in the first, so it has the horror component going for it. I'd recommend this to people who enjoy humorous and scary stories and who either prefer or don't mind the portrayal of m-m romantic relationships.

I picked up a free copy of Stray during a promotion on Smashwords after completing an author-requested review for Feast. When the author requested a review for Stray, I had already added it to my TBR list.

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