Gay romance fiction

Review: Gathering Storm by Lyn Gala


Just finished GATHERING STORM by Lyn Gala....
I enjoyed this book a lot. It really walks the edge of being an action thriller with a romantic subplot rather than straight MM (not knocking, just saying). Fiercely and joyously lurid: strippers, paranoia, abductions, mercenaries, and government conspiracy. I totally enjoyed it, read it at a breakneck pace, and found it completely satisfying, but I think it'll shock some people who are expecting something mushier or more literal.
A couple thoughts:
Lyn Gala can write. Really write. Pacing, detail, solid-ass research of her topics... Interesting, flawed characters who make real choices... Plot and character working in tandem. She has skills and talent and a real voice.
The violence and pacing and breakneck action are extremely well-handled. This doesn't feel like horseshit, "keep them apart until they can bone," obstacle-mongering. But it also veers into seriously grim, nasty, dark brutality. Seriously. Again, an odd choice for the genre, but one I enjoyed categorically. Absolutely more thriller than romance. Fascinating minor characters who all add visibly to the rush and flow of the story, internal and external. And a few of those all-too-rare creatures in MM: women who act like living, breathing humans.
The central relationship is fascinating, and the two main lovers are both perfect for each other and deeply scarred people. Interesting and sexy. Loads of tiny memorable moments and details that accrete to form these two men believably. I'd know them if I saw them on the street, and not cause they're naturalistic or homogenous. They're so stylized, but still humanized. Tricky thing to pull off, that. On the other hand, the entire book delays their actual "relationship" until literally the last 30ish pages. On the other-other hand the relationship (and intimacy) feels so earned that it works. Though deeply romantic, it doesn't feel like a romance. Interesting.
The BDSM is extremely well-handled and specified and complex. This doesn't feel like someone who's hit Wikipedia and the Mr. S catalog to assemble some quick-fix spanky naughtiness. Not only is BDSM here literally character-development in every case, but it evolves and refracts their internal landscapes as they converge. Imagine! Sex that means something! Rough sex that isn't a cartoon! Lyn Gala has thought not only about the "Tab-A, Slot B" mechanics of sex, but the way that very formalized sexual interaction reflects and affects the people involved. That last bondage/whipping scene is pretty fucking perfect, both as porn and as character-driven prose.

Oh yeah... and best cover of the damn year, hands down, goes to Dreamspinner Press for this one. Mesmerizing, spot-on without being even slightly literal.

Will I reread GATHERING STORM? Not sure yet, it's harrowing... but I definitely enjoyed reading it. And I'll be reading everything else she's written or will be writing. Newly minted fan here.