books

R. Cooper

Books

Hottie Scotty and Mr. Porter (2016), For Better or Worse (2017)

Beings in Love: A Boy and His Dragon (2013), His Mossy Boy (2017)

Novella: Jericho Candelario’s Gay Debut (2018)

Short Story: Vincent’s Thanksgiving Date (2014), Checking Out Love (2015)


Beings in Love


A Boy and His Dragon (2013)

A Boy and His DragonI was perusing ebooks on sale and came across an R Cooper fantasy romance. Then I saw that it was available from the library.

So I checked it out.

And then realized they didn’t have the kindle edition so I had to read it on my phone. (GRUMP)

Arthur MacArthur is in desperate need of a better paying job. Before Arthur dropped out of school to support his younger sister, he loved being a research assistant at the university, and becoming a personal assistant to a famous historian like Dr. Jones is a chance for Arthur to, sort of, live his dream again. But though Arthur was told Dr. Jones is a dragon, one of the most powerful and least understood of the beings, he didn’t anticipate what that could mean—or that he would be so immediately attracted to his boss.

I’ll be honest, I was quite wary of a dragon as one of the main romantic leads, for fear it would be… icky maybe?

Luckily it wasn’t.

The dragon initially appears in his dragon form, which is big, but maybe llama sized rather than elephant or jet plane sized (since the dragon can maneuver through the house.

Arthur is immediately attracted to his new boss, but he is just as attracted to the incredible library the man has–books of all types piled all over the place and in need of not just organization, but also dusting and care.

Bertie’s books were fascinating in their own right.

The first had been large and ambitious in a dissertation-gone-out-of-control kind of way, a sprawling exploration of the witch and werewolf hunts carried out by humans, mostly on other humans.

Being a romance, there is of course sexual tension, but because dragons and other Beings are very different, Arthur can’t tell if his boss is flirtatious or interested in him. And since Arthur desperately needs this job, he is terrified of doing anything to lose it.

Except, perhaps, yelling at Bertie about how terribly he treats his books.

Some of the things I liked best about the story were the glimpses into the cultures of the Beings, including looking at the history of dragons in human culture.

He’d come to the realization that stories about dragon slaying appeared most when cultures and dynasties were on the rise and needed to assert their strength and power.

It was a surprisingly sweet story–the two fell in love over the course of the story, there were communication issues where Arthur didn’t understand quite what Bertie was saying and vice versa, but the fact that Bertie was the boss and Arthur the assistant did make it reasonable (and indeed sensible) for neither to come out and say what they were feeling.

The bond between a dragon and its beloved, particularly when it chooses a human to live, is without a word in any tongue, ancient or modern. In fact, the dragons were convinced that to name it would be to cheapen it, for it was beyond value and to define it as we might attempt to do today would destroy it.

Parts of the story were clumsy (this is an earlier book of hers) and I wonder if the newly released version was re-edited to deal with some of the issues I noticed.

But mostly it was a nice distraction.
Rating: 7/10

His Mossy Boy (2017)

His Mossy BoyThis story has problems, most of which are editing related.

But I was also unable to put it down.

Martin Dyer is a mess. He drinks too much and smokes too much weed in an attempt to escape from his brain and the pressure his mother places on him to be something he is not. What he is, is a barista who enjoys his job and loves working with this hands, making and fixing things.

Martin sighed. “Look, I don’t just want to bake bread. I want to know how to bake all the kinds of bread. I want to, I don’t know, do it in my own kitchen, which I have decorated how I want it— and I know you don’t care how gay that sounds, but I can hear it.”

“Martin, I don’t—” Joe tried to interrupt.

“I can make my own oven mitts, Joe. I can crochet. The only thing keeping me from growing my own vegetables is the fact that I don’t have a yard. I can sand and stain wood, fix locks, do basic plumbing, and I think vinegar can be used to clean almost anything. I would consider murdering someone for a decent mixer or a sewing machine. I collect recipes as if I have anyone to cook for, and the other day, I bought patterns for Halloween costumes for kids. Kids, Joe! You can say it. I’m strange.”

He is sweet and kind and loyal, but completely unable to deal with the thoughts and ideas that ricochet around his mind, crashing into one another and the ideal person his mother built up, which he will never be.

Martin bit his lip, hard, and breathed through his nose, trying to slow down the panicky beat of his heart. The sensation wasn’t unfamiliar. He’d just never realized what this was before, that a person could have tiny little bursts of terror from only a few words.

The strongest, most compelling part of the story for me, is Martin’s struggle with his anxiety. He keeps trying to escape who he is, but of course he can’t, and that leads him to make many terrible choices.

But he also has good friends who, although trying to deal with their own problems, step up when they need to.

“I thought you’d be mad at me.” Martin was quiet.

“I am, kind of.” Joe kept his gaze on the door. “But you seem mad at yourself already, so, how about I just… be here, right now?”

Also, there is Deputy Ian Forrester, who comes into the coffee shop every day, and who Martin is trying very hard not to notice. Or pay attention to. Or stare at.

The story switches between Martin and Ian, but (obviously) I liked Martin’s story best.

This is a wrenching story if you’ve struggled with mental health, but seeing Martin be accepted for who is, despite all the failings he keeps cataloging, is just lovely.

Rating: 7.5/10


Hottie Scotty and Mr. Porter (2016)

Scott Yun moved to Montgomery to help his sister take care of her kids, but it’s an extremely small town, and one of the few single gay guys is extremely cute, but also a widower.

So Scott goes to work at the firehouse, helps to care for his niece and nephew, and spends his free time running and working out. After all, what else is there to do?

The women in town have decided that Cole should start dating again, but apparently Scott isn’t in the running as far as they’re concerned.

Kathy wasn’t really listening to him. She never did. “You’ve got that body and your sweet face— and that booty, let’s be real. But Cole went to college, hon, a lot of college. And he lived in the city.” Scott had gone to college and had lived in the city, but Kathy didn’t allow him to argue.“He didn’t share a dumpy apartment, he lived in style in the city. And he’s been abroad.” She gestured wildly. “He’s a librarian, Scotty! He listens to opera and he reads through the bestseller lists. Yes, he loves an occasional bow tie, and his shoes are fancy, but you aren’t the kind of big, brawny thing he needs to sweep him off his feet, or pin him to the wall….” She trailed off with a dreamy sigh.

That was one of the few problems I had with the story. Kathy was so utterly horrible she didn’t even feel like a real person.

However, she probably is based on someone just that awful.

Luckily, Cole may be cranky, but he’s also lovely.

“I’m more interested in someone’s excitement over something they have just discovered, than someone’s smug, pompous insistence that there is a right and a wrong way to learn to love something.”

This story is told entirely from Scott’s POV, which means that although it might be obvious to the reader what is happening, Scott is so conditioned to believe that guys are interested in him for a one-night-stand, but never anything more, that even if he wants to date Cole, he can’t see why Cole would be interested in him.

Scott’s sister makes it clear that this is a long-standing issue.

“You dumbface.” Angie snorted like a furious but soft-hearted bull. “Are you telling me you think he could do better? Did he tell you that?” Scott shook his head before steam came out of her ears. She was still pretty pissed though. “Holy shit, I am going to fucking murder your exes.”

“They’re not really exes,” Scott pointed out, because she couldn’t blame them for not acting like boyfriends when they hadn’t been boyfriends.

“Yes, I know. Hence this problem.”

I really liked Angie. She may have issues of her own to deal with, but she still takes the time to listen to him–and to understand him.

This was a sweet story that was actually deeper than it seemed on the face, since a lot of it was Scott learning to value himself–and the issue of allies that aren’t really allies.
Rating: 7.5/10

Re-Read: September 2020
Rating: 8/10

For Better or Worse (2017)

There are several things that make this story interesting. First, Javier is a gray ace / demisexual. Second, a great deal of the story takes place in the heads of the two men. Thirdly, the problems between the two (specifically their lack of a relationship) is due to the fact that neither is capable of sharing what they think and feel–and for good reasons.

Javi because most people don’t understand what demisexual is, and Jimmy because rumors followed him to town–rumors that he quashed rather violently when he arrived. Because neither is willing to talk to anyone (not just each other) about their feelings, they have to try and figure out what is happening from looks and things only half-said.

The fact that Javi is terrible at picking up romantic cues exacerbates this.

Everything looks like friendly teasing if you don’t know what sexual tension is. I get confused.”

Also, both are firemen for a small town, which makes them even more reluctant to discuss their sexuality and feelings, both because they have to work with each other, and because the town gossips are rather nasty.

A lot of people thought firefighters sat around doing nothing while waiting for calls to come in, the same way everyone in town assumed their taxes paid for the meals at the firehouse. Both were emphatically not true.

There is some boinking in this story, but not much. It’s primarily a story about two people trying to work out how they feel about each other, and struggling to find the words and courage to unburden themselves.

Oh, Javi’s uncle is AWESOME.
Rating: 7/10

Re-Read: March 2020
Rating: 7/10


Novella


Jericho Candelario’s Gay Debut (2018)

Jericho Candelarios Gay DebutJericho Candelario has spent his adult life helping to raise his siblings and his niece. His father is now sober, but between his past alcoholism, his PTSD, and his health, he wasn’t much help to the family after their mother left them.

For five years, Jerry has enjoyed spending time with Lincoln Lee, the openly gay owner of the local bakery. They spend several hours every week just talking and enjoying each other’s company, and that’s been fine, because Jerry has been busy. But now his younger siblings have moved out, his niece is a teenager and doing her own things, and Jerry unexpectedly has time on his hands.

Time he doesn’t know what to do with.

He and Jerry had argued once, in their way, about the difference between Lincoln working for his dream and doing what he loved, and why Jerry might be tired at the end of each day. Mostly, Lincoln had gotten loud, Jerry had gotten quiet, then said, “I love them. They’re my family,”

I don’t know what it was, but this story just hit me perfectly right now, and kept making me tear up, as Jerry struggled with coming to terms with how his life was changing, and feeling that he was too old to make something of himself.

he thought— or liked to think— Lincoln had learned to read the silences in between, the pause before he mentioned his mother, the revelation that they did not keep alcohol in their house.

Jerry is just so sweet. And Lincoln so clearly into him but Jerry has no frame of reference for anything, and so has no clue how to see that and tell Lincoln what he wants–partially because he believes he can’t really have what he wants.

It’s just lovely.

Rating: 9/10


Short Stories


Vincent’s Thanksgiving Date (2014)

Vincents Thanksgiving DateVincent has issues with anxiety, and it makes him avoid talking to people–even his super cute neighbor who works at the florist.

There was no easy way to explain being a grown man who was terrified of meaningless conversations and meeting new people. Saying small social embarrassments haunted him for years made him sound obsessive and weird. He was, but he didn’t want to his attractive neighbor to know it.

But when Vincent’s sister tells him she’ll be spending Thanksgiving with her in-laws, even though Vin is welcomed, he doesn’t want to go.

First, I really like his sister.

“I want to see you, you know that. The boys want to see you too. They think you’re the best because you let them watch Night of the Living Dead on Halloween— and thank you for that, by the way. Despite the nightmares, they both have zombie fever now.”

Vincent’s anxiety and lack of self-esteem made him blind to what was obvious to the reader was going on, but he wasn’t an idiot, so it was very sweet. And Cory turned out to have a very good reason for having a crush on Vincent, which I thought was the sweetest.

Cory’s relieved grin made him feel like a hero. “Bring them pie and you could show up with Republicans and they wouldn’t care.”

“That can’t be true.”

That cracked me up.

Also, although the words aren’t used, Vincent is demisexual, which is lovely AND there is no boinking!

It’s a lovely and sweet story.
Rating: 8/10

Checking Out Love (2015)

Checking Out LoveJeremy Song is a graduate student who is not always good at focusing but very good about being exciting.

The problem with being one of those people fascinated by everything was that he annoyed those humans around him who didn’t think it was fun to learn and question and talk about woolly caterpillars, or geographic profiling, or shoes and ships and ceiling wax, whatever.

When he learns that a nearby library has local papers, he needs to read some of those papers.

(The Mexican general, Canales’s) teenage daughter, Rosa, had kept a diary. At fourteen or fifteen, Rosa had taken an interest in the various languages around her, from Spanish and English to the Cantonese and Pidgin English of the Chinese laborers, even the remaining Native place names, and written them all down. She had also, in between all the usual thoughts of a young girl, created her own language out of them, for a fantastic world she made up.

Unfortunately, the research librarian has quite a reputation–enough so that he is referred to as The Beast.

“We are in a library, after all. I didn’t mean to be loud, but you startled me. Don’t tell on me. I’ll be good. No need to call the Minotaur.”

The man in lavender stared at Jeremy for another moment, this time studying him from ratty sneakers to quality bag, pausing at his black leather jacket and then his beanie. “Minotaur?”

“You know, the guardian of this place? Like the Greek monster inside the labyrinth,” Jeremy explained. The lavender cardigan had one sleeve that was longer than the other. Jeremy wanted to tug the shorter sleeve until it made sense. He focused on the titles of the books in the man’s large, capable hands. The selection was pretty random for one person’s reading material. The man must have been shelving books. “Oh, you work here. You must know him. Maybe he’s not a monster. It isn’t like the Minotaur got a choice. They locked him in the labyrinth. Did you know that a maze and a labyrinth are different things, although today people use the terms interchangeably? You can get lost in a maze, but you can’t get lost in a labyrinth. Disoriented, maybe, but not lost.”

You can immediately see where this is going, but it’s still a cute short story.
Rating: 7/10