Reviews for Taught to Love:
The following review appeared on the review site LoveBytes.com and my thanks go to them and their lovely reviewer Cindy both for her insights into my writing and her agreement for me to repost them here.
Rob Cooper is a good teacher who gets a little frustrated with parents who can’t be bothered with their children’s education. When he meets Ken Reid, however, he finds that the man isn’t uncaring, just oblivious.
Ken is a man so wrapped up in his own grief over the death of his wife that he is completely unaware of the problem his son Sam is having in school. When it’s brought to his attention by his sons teacher, he does everything he can to help him.
These are two good men who find each other through sad circumstances. Their story is sweet and a little funny and I enjoyed how the author managed to have a slow build-up in so few pages.
I have a bit of a problem with the whole “gay for you’ element going on in the story except for the fact that it almost makes sense here. Ken was so in love with his wife that he could never see another woman in her place but because Rob is a man, it doesn’t feel like he’s replacing her. With Rob it just feels like he’s moving on to something different…not less important or less in love, just a new kind of happiness.
Sam is adorable in his campaign to bring his favorite teacher and his father together and I enjoyed the little moments of them all together being domestic.
Anyone who reads my reviews knows that I usually have an issue with short stories, because there’s not enough time for development, but this story managed to tell the full tell in 39 pages without making me feel cheated at the end.
It’s a happy story with very little angst and a good read for when you’re looking for something to make you smile.
I’ve read Taking the Gardener as well by this author and enjoy his writing style immensely. I’ll be looking for more stories from T.J. Masters in the future.
Reviews for Taking the Gardener:
Sometimes you read a book that you just know you will return to again and again. I have, in the past week, found such a book and it will take its place on my shelves with my very favourite books.
In “Taking the Gardener” TJ Masters has created a perfect little love story. It is a simple romance between two men (in terms of genre it is what is called an M/M romance) but it is crafted with such feeling that the reader responds to it from the heart irrespective of the sex of the two main characters. The author clearly loves his creations, especially Tom “the gardener” and it is that, I think, which lifts the book out of the ordinary. I think most of us wouldn’t mind a “Tom” coming into our lives, as this one does for Eric.
Without giving the plot away, Eric Broderick, escapes London for a tiny village in Buckinghamshire. There he meets Tom Bestwick, an attractive and sexy gardener – not tall but good-looking and fit. Tom lives in the guest house where Eric stays and a mutual attraction quickly develops which turns, almost at once, into a sexual relationship of kind that Tom – for one – probably never anticipated.
Eric is an experienced “dom” and Tom becomes his willing sub, despite the fact that he has a long standing relationship with Megan, a local girl. This is only one of the many complications in the unfolding story.
Sex plays a large part in the narrative, but never overwhelms the underlying warmth of the evolving romance or becomes the only pivot of the story. The sex scenes are written with a nice eye for detail, are arousing and effective, and are critical to understanding how Tom’s character develops. Each erotic scene is different and T J Masters weaves in some hot variations involving two or three other characters besides Eric and the always central Tom. The descriptions are intimate even graphic (but never pornographic) and so real I felt almost a voyeur as these attractive men find their lives being changed by what they do to and with each other.
I was particularly impressed by the way the author creates a situation that could be tense and leaves you wondering how things will turn out. Indeed, once or twice situations become quite “edgy” as new characters enter the story and the reader has to ask will they spoil the devotion that Tom and Eric have come to feel for each other. The climax of the book left me on the edge of my seat until almost the last page and I was totally unsure which direction Tom would choose to take.
The settings, whether the rural idyll that is Pittlesburne, a central London art gallery, or Richmond Park are evoked with an eye for specific detail that brings them alive. Tom has more to him than is at first obvious. Even the secondary characters, such as Megan and Eric’s housekeeper, Mrs P, also “lived” for me. Cleverly, the character and appearance of Eric – who is present I think in every scene – are only sketched in. This allows the reader, should he or she decide to do so, to imagine that they are Eric experiencing this life-changing experience.
The tale is simply (if heartfeltly) told and the style is straightforward. The author knows his stuff when it comes to bdsm – roping, spanking and several types of sex are described, and the activities are realistic but never become bogged down in jargon. One could learn from this book much about how to treat a sub of one’s own, but that is incidental to the joy the writer evidently feels in his chosen approach to sex and satisfying others.
Days after finishing the book I still find myself imagining Tom, thinking about him and wondering what it would be like to have someone so lovely come into one’s life. That’s how real he became to me. I don’t think I can find a better way to demonstrate how much this book means to me or the author’s skill.
Overall, “Taking the Gardener” is much better written than other stories I have come across in this genre and I’d rate it as at least 9 out of 10. I heartily recommend it to others and trust that they will enjoy it as much as I did. For my part, I’m already planning a re-read!
“Masters has created two exciting characters in Eric and Tom—two men who seem to know what they want but not how to attain it. While there is not much new here, the story reminds us of the way gay fiction and erotica was once written and it is fun to welcome that style back again.”
“This book is nicely paced and fluid in its delivery. I started to care about the characters and the journey Tom was going on, almost jealous in the new world he inhabited and was exposed to. It is rare for me to read a book in two sittings but I devoured this book losing myself in the growing love story between the principle characters. Well written, strong characterisation with the hint of things to come left me wanting to know what Eric had in store for Tom and his future training in his new found role at his master’s side…”
“This book comes as a refreshing change from so many in the BDSM(M/M) world. The characters were well rounded and wholly believable and the very English setting was both charming and realistic too. I am sure that some might find the explicit sex scenes a bit too much but hey, why do we read from this genre? For me it was no surprise to read that the author has over 30 years’ experience in the BDSM world because the sex scenes were imaginative, realistic and smacked(oops!) of authenticity. There is real romance here along with a large dollop of angst and some simmering conflicts too. These were all brought to a clever and satisfying resolution at the end of the novel. Having said that I was left hoping that it will not be long before we hear more about the lives of Tom, Eric and Megan. Bring on the sequel…
I had the good fortune to read a draft of this before it was published. To be honest, a lot of M/M stuff doesn’t appeal to me, usually because it can all seem a bit homogenous in terms of setting and characters. Taking the Gardener has a refreshingly different setting (the English countryside as opposed to yet another US city) and some really well-rounded characters. The sex scenes are very well-written, and the BDSM stuff is a lot more authentic than what you often find in this genre. Definitely try this out if you’re looking for something a little bit different from your M/M fiction.
-seanreviews (Amazon.com review)
I hardly ever write reviews but as this is a first novel and I enjoyed reading it I’ll give it a try. A book with a lot of likeable characters and the very English setting made a nice change. It’s a well written romance with BDSM thrown in, some of it really hot and some a bit disturbing if you’re not used to it. Looking forward to the sequel. P.S. Mr. Masters,I loved the visit to Patisserie Valerie in Old Compton Street as it was my best friend’s favourite place for coffee and cakes when we lived in London a long, long time ago.
-Sweet by Molly (Amazon.com review)