"[...] the romance between the two main characters absolutely shines. Their interactions are the heart and soul of this book and if you’re looking for a heartbreakingly beautiful romance full of the elegant turns of phrase that Prozorova and McFerren are so skilled at, you’ll find it here.
I was also very impressed with its willingness to explore the consequences that affairs have on marriages, rather than resorting to the old fanfic trope of “Oh, they have wives? Let’s just . . . scoot those wives off to the side. Into the fridge, yeah, lets put them there.” Both of the wives are fully fleshed-out as characters, something which I would be downright shocked to see in most “illicit affair” novels, and both become just as compelling as Henry and James.
The Unmentionables is also very well done as a historical novel, taking place as it does during the rarely discussed Lavender Scare in the 1950’s, an equivalent to the Red Scare, in which the US government was systematically purging its branches of lesbians and gay men. Anyone not considered “reliable, trustworthy, of good conduct and character, and of complete and unswerving loyalty to the United States,” was dismissed.
In the end, I really don’t have enough good things to say about this book. While making an effort not to spoil anything, I’ll say it definitely wrapped up in a satisfying way.
It makes for heavy reading at times, (most of the time,) and delves into some of the horrific elements of 1950’s America that some people would prefer to have swept under the rug. But if you’re looking for an intensely romantic novel with a pair of unforgettable main characters and a good dose of angst, you really can’t go wrong with this one." - Annika (ARC review of The Unmentionables)
"I haven’t read any short stories quite like this one. Because it’s a short story there’s really not much time to give any character background or development. However, I thought the authors did a good job of letting us know that Vance was an egotistical a-hole and that Ethan won’t be a doormat.
After Vance thoroughly humiliates Ethan he soon realizes how badly he behaved and becomes quite contrite. Sparks begin to fly and the two finally give in to their lust for each other.
I enjoyed this story for what it was – a rather short vignette about two people who really have nothing at all in common. There were a few pretty hot scenes and over all I found this a quite enjoyable well written short piece." - ButtonsMom2003 (review for Bespoke)
"A wealthy doctor loses his luggage at Thiefrow [sic] and orders a bespoke suit from an inconsequential tailor in a small shop in the general vicinity of the conference the doctor is attending. The tailor is an artist, and as such he sees what is needed and begins his masterpiece. The doctor is not pleased, and as if it were a pastiche of the plot of Eugene Onegin, the doctor rejects the suit, only to realize later it (and the tailor who made it) are his true loves.
It is easy to describe the process of making art when the art being made is painting or sculpture. We know what Michelangelo went through to create his David. But it is actually far more illuminating to see this process when the art being created is unusual, in this case a bespoke suit. Bespoke suits are not necessarily art -- they are merely bespoke. This, however, is the David of bespoke suits: timeless and immediate, painfully beautiful.
I loved this short and focused story." - Anonymous (review for Bespoke)
"Though short, the tale feels welcomely [sic] close to eerie to start due to the era. This is then alleviated thus by the desperately intimate love both Ian and Everett shared. Partial to the loneliness and excitement of them both, even in those times." - Sven Z (review for Urgent Train Message: Immediate Delivery)
"Emotional. That’s Vel’s writing in a single word, but that really doesn’t do it justice. I’ve wept, I’ve grinned, and I’ve been so struck by the beauty of his prose that I’ve reread some pieces three or four times in a row. Each story I’ve had the pleasure of reading is built on a foundation of raw honesty; there’s pieces of him, and his experiences throughout everything he writes. Sometimes his writing is heartbreaking, sometimes it’s charming, but all the time it’s thought-provoking and achingly genuine.
A piece I really connected with was ‘Usefulness’ in issue three of Polychrome Ink. As someone who is part of the S&M subculture, it was a beautiful thing to read something that captured what I’ve felt by putting feelings similar to mine in the spotlight in a meaningful and respectful way. To be able to read about parts of oneself that are often considered taboo, in a story where said parts are accepted, encouraged, and even celebrated? What a lovely moment in time.
Every word of Vel’s should be read and hoarded and loved, I genuinely recommend it all.” - Staci Rodgers (review for body of work)
"Whether it is transformative works or original works, Vel’s voice and style come through loud and clear. The characters do not speak like robots or hooligans at a soccer meet. They speak like anyone you would chance on the street and could sit down to tea with to while away an afternoon. Or like someone you thought only lived in your nightmares.
The situations they find themselves in, even the more fantastical ones, still ring with a believable authenticity that leaves you hoping (or dreading) “could this happen to me?”.
You will be swept away. You will laugh and cry, rage and curse. You will feel.
And then you'll be eager to do it all over again." - Stephanie Anne (review for body of work)
"One of my dearest friends and an author I admire in every respect, great integrity and indomitable talent. Vel's writings always have my heart at war between arousal, melancholy and pure rapture. Vel is also one of those rare, kind souls who if he sees another author struggling will do everything in her power to nudge them across that finish line. Competition has no place with him, just compassion." - Catherine Winther (catherinewinther.com) (review for body of work)