Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Review of Oleander House by Ally Blue

Ally Blue
Oleander House
Samhain Publishing, 2006

Bay City Paranormal Investigations, book 1.
So far there are 7 books, with each a new investigation, but Sam and Bo’s love story continues and is the focus in the first 5 books.

When Sam Raintree goes to work for Bay City Paranormal Investigations, he expects his quiet life to change-he doesn't expect to put his life and sanity on the line, or to fall for a man he can never have. Book One in the Bay City Paranormal Investigation series. Sam Raintree has never been normal. All his life, he's experienced things he can't explain. Things that have colored his view of the world and of himself. So taking a job as a paranormal investigator seems like a perfect fit. His new co-workers, he figures, don't have to know he's gay. When Sam arrives at Oleander House, the site of his first assignment with Bay City Paranormal Investigations, nothing is what he expected. The repetitive yet exciting work, the unusual and violent history of the house, the intensely erotic and terrifying dreams which plague his sleep. But the most unexpected thing is Dr. Bo Broussard, the group's leader. From the moment they meet, Sam is strongly attracted to his intelligent, alluring boss. It doesn't take Sam long to figure out that although Bo has led a heterosexual life, he is very much in the closet, and wants Sam as badly as Sam wants him. As the investigation of Oleander House progresses and paranormal events in the house escalate, Sam and Bo circle warily around their mutual attraction, until a single night of bloodshed and revelation changes their lives forever.

Genre & Keywords:
M/M, paranormal, Gay For You, ghost hunting, supernatural dimensions, violence

Why I read it:
Chris @ Stumbling over Chaos recommended this series to me

Sam joins the team of Bay City Paranormal Investigations, which is led by Bo. There’s an attraction between the two men but Bo is married with children. The team investigates a haunted house. While they discover dangerous supernatural dimensions Sam and Bo struggle with their mutual attraction and feelings.

My opinion in short:
This book had me on the edge of my seat during the complete second half. It has thriller elements as well as a blooming sweet gay for you romance. It’s well written, has likeable main and secondary characters and is a promising start of a series. I liked the angle of investigating the supernatural, instead of (one of) the characters being a vampire, shifter, demon, angel or any other paranormal being. I highly recommend this series.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2 out of 3 flames

What’s more to know about this book:
Sam is a likeable protagonist: open, vulnerable, honest, sexy, caring and forgiving. His frustration and anger are tangible and understandable. Bo is the main cause of his frustration and anger because he refuses to admit his gay feelings. I would’ve loved to smack Bo with something on the head to beat some sense into him (and this urge only grew stronger in the next books of the series). The rest of the team members are nice supporting actors who are interesting enough without them stealing Sam and Bo’s show.
The story is told in third person from Sam’s point of view, which works perfectly for this first book, with him being the newby in the investigation team. The reader has to guess along with him, not only about the investigation but also about the other team members, their relationships and feelings (especially Bo’s).
The plot is the strongest feature of this book, it’s well developed, fast paced and full of suspense that keeps you at the edge of your seat, especially during the second half of the book, when the supernatural danger is manifesting itself more and more. The build-up is dosed perfectly.
M/M. There are not that many smexy scenes (when you don’t count the hot dreams Sam has) but the few sexual encounters between Sam and Bo are pretty scorching and well written. They are cleverly related to the paranormal story line as well. In this book the sex scenes add something meaningful to not only the developing romance between Sam and Bo, but also to Sam’s unfolding paranormal abilities, due to his vulnerability in those scenes (cryptic, huh?).
Writing style
Pleasant, doesn’t draw too much attention to itself, which is good because it never pulls you out of the story. The dialogues are nice and numerous. The descriptions of the surroundings and situations are vigorous and easy to picture. I enjoyed Ms. Blue’s writing.

Favorite scene/quote:
The scene where the other team members find out Sam is gay and the way they (especially Andre and David) handle it:

““Yeah,” Sam answered. “Sorry I didn’t tell you before. It just didn’t seem important.”
“It’s not.” Andre clapped him on the back. “Whatever floats your boat, man.”
“Just don’t stare at my ass.” David grinned over his shoulder. “I get as much of that as I can stand from Andre.”
“You wish,” Andre said, and swatted David’s rear.
David yelped and danced out of reach when Andre lifted his arm for another swing. “See?” he exclaimed. “The guy’s totally gay for me. He can’t get enough of my manly sexiness.”
David wiggled his butt invitingly. Andre calmly flipped him off while Cecile giggled. Sam laughed, feeling the last of his unease drain away. In his experience, anyone who could joke so casually about it had no problem with it. He was profoundly grateful no one had mentioned his confession to Bo the evening before. He wasn’t ready for that conversation just yet.”

Ally Blue’s website | blog | on Twitter | on Goodreads
Buy Oleander House here

The books in this series:
# 1: Oleander House (Sam and Bo, 4 stars)
# 2: What Hides Inside (Sam and Bo, 4 stars)
# 3: Twilight (Sam and Bo, 3.5 stars)
# 4: Closer (Sam and Bo, 4 stars)
# 5: An Inner Darkness (Sam and Bo, 4.5 stars)
# 6: Where The Heart Is (series-related: Dean Delapore's story, 4 stars)
# 7: Love, Like Ghosts (series-related: Adrian Broussard's story, not read yet)

This is the first review I tried the format on that I came up with a little while ago. I would like to know what does and doesn't work for you about this review format.


  1. Great review! This is one of my favorite series.

  2. It a good formula to tell about a lot of aspects of the book/story janna :D For some reason it doesn't get my panties in a twist -don't go into shock!!- I'm just in a funky reading mood these days LOL

    I will come around, you'll see *grin*

  3. I'm thinking this might be a great book to break my m/m cherry on~I did ok with Laid Bare, so I think I could handle this one-and I love a story with ghosts.

    I like your new format-especially the more to know!

  4. @Janna - Can blogger eat up a chunk of my comment?? I swear it did *looks wide-eyed in shock* The short version then ;) The review formula is good, contructive & to the point. You know I love elaborate reviews but this saves a whole heap of time and gives the crucial information! And as for your review...OLEANDER HOUSE for some reason doesn't get my panties in a twist due to funky reading mood.

    Blogger...stopp messing with my comment *angry eyes*

  5. Oh, I'm so glad that you enjoyed the first book!! :)

  6. I read book 1 and 2 and then I kind of petered out. I think I was a bit put off by the ex-wife and Bo's reaction. I'm sure I'll get back to them because I did enjoy the ones I read.

  7. While overall I enjoyed the whole series this first book didn't do much for me. It's my least favorite. I really got into the series around books 3 & 4.

    I like your new format, btw.

  8. I'm so glad you recommended this series to me. I really liked it. This series is like baked lays, you can't read just one ;)

  9. @Eyre: Thanks, mine too!

    @Leontine: LOL! I thought for a moment that reviews used to get your panties in a twist, but my format didn't. About Oleander House and the BCPI series: I honestly think that you'll like this series very much. Maybe not the first book alone, but it's a very addictive series. It made me read the first 6 books in a row, and I usually don't read books from a series like that one after the other, because I like diversity. But this series made me, LOL! Maybe when your funky reading mood is gone, you'll feel different about this book. :)

    @Buckeye Girl: You're a m/m virgin? I think it's great that you're willing to pop that cherry ;) If you need some more advice on books that are good firsts, let me know. :D
    Thanks for liking my new format! :)

    @Chris: I loved not just the first book, but the first 6 books! :) Only book 3 did miss some of the excitement I did feel with the other books. Thanks for recommending this series, Chris! :D

    @Tam: *grin* I think the ex-wife is nearly absent in book 3 and 4, but she's back in full force in book 5. But that's one of the best books of the series for me! I look forward to your thoughts when you get back in the saddle again :)

    @Lily: I partly agree, this first book is really a first book of a series with it's accompanying shortcomings. But it's not my least favorite of the series, that would be the third book. That lacked the suspense the other books had imo, although it was stronger in the romantic department. ;)
    Glad you like the format! :)

  10. @KC: That's exactly it! Baked lays! Thanks for putting it so clearly. :)

  11. Nothing wrong with dream smexing ;)

  12. @Chris: :D

    @Blodeuedd: Not at all. *grin*

  13. This book sounds great - I like the unique mix of paranormal/mystery/ and good smexing ;) I like the new review system too!

  14. @Heather: It's a very addictive mix, I tell you! Thanks, hon :)

  15. Oh, I quite like the sound of this. And love the new review format :)

  16. @orannia: I think you'll enjoy this series! Thanks :)

  17. @Janna - I know this series will one day lure me in...it's like my music...when I'm completely over the moon with a song, friends or siblings tell me; Hon, that was a hit 2 years ago *rolls eyes*

    Sometimes I've good funky moodswings...even in reading preferences rofl

    My word verification is: dying...hhmmmmm is this some weird omen??

  18. @Leontine: I know. It's the same with me :) I'll get back to you in two years to say 'I told you so' when you've 'discovered' this series ;D
    LOL at the word veri. Let's pray it's not! :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...