Axelson, Xavier. “Menage”, Seventh Window Publications, 2012.
Three in One
It is a pleasure to inform you that three Xavier Axelson novellas have been published in a single volume, “Menage”. Each of the three (reviews below) is an exciting and stimulating read and Axelson seems poised to inherit the crown of gay erotic writers. The stories here are “Dutch’s Boy”, a cowboy story with very strong characters; the second is “The Incident” aout a cop and the third is “The Birches” which deals with the pleasure of the culinary. I have reprinted my original reviews here.
Axelson, Xavier. “Dutch’s Boy”, Seventh Window Publications, 2011.
Following a Dream
Have you ever read something that made you say “WOW!”? All of us have and I certainly have done so more than once. I just got floored again by Xavier Axelson’s “Dutch’s Boy” because it reminded me so much of growing up and making decisions. The future is so unknown and we can only deal with by going through it and such is the story of Harry Reynolds, Harry dreams of leaving home and riding broncos but his father, Dutch, does not want him to go until he feels his son is ready to do so. Obviously Dutch is a bit out of town with the younger generation because we know that once someone wants to do something, not much can stop him. Harry feels like this is something he has to do and he has to do it now and he makes the move and leaves before his father can stop him. His dream of riding gets a few extra additions as he experiences sex and love out on the road. Now that Harry is on his own, he has to grow up and do so quickly.
I fell in love with Harry. Axelson gives us a loveable character with him and he is wonderfully fleshed out. All of us are bound to see a little something of ourselves in Harry and it seems, to me, at least, that his rebellious nature makes him that the kind of guy you just want to grab onto. I could not help but think how much he and I were alike. I was determined to leave home and move to Israel and nothing was going to stop me and I saw this kind of determination in Harry.
However this is not a tale of wanderlust but it is a story of following dreams and finding oneself. Harry told his best friend, Reb, that he was leaving and it is here that we get a hit of what awaits us. Harry felt he had to find out who he was and he was not about to let his father stop him. The road his self-discovery was peppered with good times. I can’t say too much more about the plot because I want you to read this. What I will say is that this is a story that held my interest from the very first sentence and I did not stop reading until I finished it. My only complaint is that I wanted more.
The market is flooded with stories of young men on identity quests and what makes this different is that Harry knew what he wanted. He just did not know what would happen to him on the road to finding himself. Axelson has quite a story here and his skill in telling it is felt all the way through.
Axelson, Xavier. “The Birches”, Seventh Window Publications , 2011.
Striving for Perfection
I remember my father telling me to strive for perfection but learn to make peace with mediocrity. Of course, he would have never accepted my being mediocre and to him, life was about the quest for perfection. Leo, the character in Axelson’s new book is also a perfectionist. He is driven by not just being the best but being perfect. He wants to be the perfect chef and while perfection is an ideal, it is one that s not easily reached and Leo’s drive also drives his friends and family to the edge. It also made love almost impossible because there is always someone a bit better, a tad more perfect.
Finally Leo is able to see that his goals are not realistic but it took his meeting Dock for that to happen. The new and happening restaurant, The Birches, belongs to Doc and it is very successful despite the fact that Dock has not been trained as a chef. Nevertheless, he supervises and does the cooking. Leo loves the food there and also harbors a crush on Dock but even more important than that, Leo learns that he has set his goals to high.
If you have read Axelson, you know that he is a master of the erotic and he does not slack off here. In fact, he uses the kitchen for more than cooking and gives us a wonderfully romantic story with two very real characters. I am not really a big fan of erotic literature but every once in a while, I will pick up a book that is classified as such. I must say that this is one on the best that I have read in quite a while and the reason for that is because Xavier Axelson is a great storyteller. Here the story supersedes everything else and I think that is because it is so real. We all know a character like Leo, or some of us might even be “Leos” and I have always found that being able to identify with a character is a way to discover what makes a good read. This is more than just a good read, it is a mighty fine one and I suggest that you get a copy.
Axelson, Xavier, “The Incident”. Seventh Window Publications, 2011.
I learned of Xavier Axelson with the release of “Dutch’s Boy” and I loved it. He recently sent me his new book, “The Incident” and I have been pondering on how to write a review of the book without giving important information away. I suppose that I should say at first that the plot is excellent and the writing is wonderful. Axelson deals with making decisions and how they affect us and he makes the point that we sometimes forget that there is an outcome—any decision that we make will affect us in some way and while we think that the effect will be over and done with, we forget that there are also long range results.
When I received the book late last week I immediately replied to the author that it might be a while before I get to it as I have a stack of books on my desk that I am working on. Then I made the mistake of taking a peek and that was it—I was hooked. I have always loved reading about how our lives change based upon the choices we make and Xavier Axelson shows that very clearly here. Michael Carmac made a “split-second” decision that haunted him long afterwards. Because of the guilt associate with what he decided, he began to drink and he tried to find solace in the friendship he shared with his partner, Bertram. Bertram and Michael were close friends and nothing more than that but Michael discovered that the more he depended upon Bertram for support, the more he realized that there was something more than friendship there and it ate at him. How does one flip a friendship into a love affair? Suppose it happened at an inconvenient wrong time? How do we handle rejection and acceptance? These are the questions you will find yourself asking and than answers are in the book.
What sets this above other m/m novels is that it deals with real happenings as well as ideas and all of us have been in a very similar situation. Without giving anything away, let me say that Axelson handles the situation beautifully. I know that he has solidified my hold on his literary output. Everything is balanced, the characters are real and the story will keep you flipping pages as fast as you can. (Can I say that about an ebook?).
There seems to be some kind of bond between those who work together in law enforcement and many times beneath the hard guy exterior is a man with a heart of gold and who is only too ready to share his love with someone else. Axelson deals with the power of forgiveness and redemption and the guilt that goes along with making a decision.
Michael must go on this journey and find love so that he can continue on. Axelson uses erotica, to a degree, so that Michael can be seen as true to himself and get past the guilt that he feels (and no I did not say why he feels that guilt). To be a good cop it takes not only responsibility and honesty. It also involves love and when one works in a small place where nothing is ever forgotten makes things twice as difficult.
As I said, the plot is good, the sex is hot and if Michael really needs solace, he can feel free to call me.