Title & buy link: Weight of a Gun 2
Authors: Gryvon, Scarlet Blackwell, Cornelia Grey
Cover Artist: Nathie
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Genre: M/M contemporary, M/M fantasy
Length: Anthology (88 pages)
Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5
A guest review by Leslie S
Review summary: A mixed bag of stories ranging from fantasy to erotica to vaguely steampunk, all linked by the common thread of gun kink.
Continuing in the world of ‘The Machinist’, Avery Belfour and his captor/lover Lord Harrow now face the threat of ‘The Inquisitor’. But Harrow is very possessive of his prize and has no intention of turning Avery over without a fight.
Then, a routine black market bust goes wrong for Officer Caleb Baker. He ends up ‘Playing With the Big Boys’ when the thieves get the drop on him and decide to have some fun with their new catch.
And finally, Cole Beauchamp is the greatest pistoleer of all time; he’s also thoroughly unpleasant and has a habit of scaring away his assistants. But when he is sought out by a devotee with a love of guns that matches his own, Cole finds a new respect for ‘Benjamin Pepperwhistle and the Fantabulous Circus of Wonders’.
‘The Inquisitor’ by Gryvon picks up from a short story in the first Weight of a Gun anthology. Machinist Avery has been sprung from prison by Harrow, the lord of a colony, who now keeps Avery enslaved in both the bedroom and the workroom. Harrow is gathering weapons and other illegal technology and Avery is the only man skilled enough to fix and modify the machines. When Einhart, the Emperor’s Grand Inquisitor, visits in search of Avery, Harrow knows something’s wrong.
Avery reveals that he ran away from the imperial court after being ordered to build a weapon. Now the Inquisitor has tracked him down and is determined to take him back. Monstrous shadowbeasts attack Harrow’s stronghold, and Avery goes missing. He wakes amongst a group of people who give him strange drinks and encourage him to feel harmony with the shadowbeasts. As he learns to communicate with the creatures, Avery realises that electricity is the thing that drives them to attack humankind.
Harrow searches for his machinist lover as he prepares to move his arsenal out of the colony and away from the Inquisitor’s prying eyes. He and Avery are reunited during a shadowbeast attack, but when the Inquisitor catches them both, there’s one more surprise in store…
‘The Machinist’ was actually my least favourite story in the first Weight of a Gun anthology, but this sequel is much better. We get Harrow’s POV for the first time, which added more depth to the narrative and also helped with the world-building. The first story was little more than a scene from the middle of an action film; this time there’s a stronger narrative thread and the sense that this is a world bigger than the two protagonists. ‘The Inquisitor’ ends on a cliff-hanger, which is annoying, but given the growth shown in this episode, the next instalment of Avery and Harrow should be even better. 3 stars.
In ‘Playing With the Big Boys’ by Scarlet Blackwell, cop Caleb is on patrol with his colleague Dennis, who’s telling him that once in a while Caleb should drop the macho act and try a bit of bottoming and submission. They chase a couple of thieves into a warehouse, and then Caleb is knocked out. When he comes around, he’s handcuffed and at the mercy of the two hot thieves, Leon and Riley, who have some specific ideas in mind for their entertainment.
This is a straightforward piece of erotica rather than a story. It’s well written, but to be honest, 20 pages of sex gets a little tedious. If you’re into gun kink and threesomes and looking for stroke material, this’ll do the trick. 2 stars.
In ‘Benjamin Pepperwhistle and the Fantabulous Circus of Wonders’ by Cornelia Grey, young Benjamin longs to join the circus. He has a particular interest in guns and, following the scent of spent gunpowder, he tracks down the famous and irascible Cole Beauchamp, star of the show. Benjamin is as gauche as Cole is antisocial, and when the circus owner laments that Cole’s last assistant has packed his bags and left, Benjamin steps in and takes the job.
Soon he’s accepted by the other circus performers, but it’s Cole whom Benjamin really wants to impress. He proves his worth—and his love of guns—during a public performance, and finally Benjamin feels like he belongs.
This was my favourite story in the anthology. Cornelia Grey has a great talent at immersing the reader in the narrative, investing it with sly humour and subtle world-building that paints a vivid picture not just of Cole and Benjamin but of the minor characters and the world they inhabit. The gunplay is sensual, with a long, teasing build-up (including a little exhibitionist kink :grin:) to the sex scene. The characterisation is solid, too, and I particularly liked how both men are so awkward with outsiders yet, once they bond over the love of guns, they understand one another and establish trust. 4.5 stars.
As usual for anthologies, this one presents a mixed bag. Cornelia Grey’s story is the stand-out, while Gryvon continues to build on her potential. While Scarlet Blackwell’s erotica does the job, it sits oddly between two stories that are more focused on action and romance. Nevertheless, a decent collection.