A Sammy Review: Closing the Loop by Jane Davitt (a Double Dipping Review)

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

“You’re attractive, somewhat needy, and emotionally bruised. Eat and get a good night’s sleep and tomorrow you can begin your holiday properly. I’ll stay out of your way and make it easy.”

“You sound like a doctor, not a lawyer. Got a broken heart? Take two pills with every meal and apply the ointment sparingly.”

ClosingTheLoop_400x600Coming off a nasty breakup (and spending the past years with a guy who was not worth even a quarter of that), Lee’s determined to enjoy his vacation – even with said ex on board.

After pulling strings and getting a little lucky (or a lot), he’s able to switch rooms. He’s surprised when he gets to his cabin to find the handsome, demure Cole – the same man he had helped get on the ship in the first place. Maybe it’s a sign, but at first, Cole doesn’t seem too open to the idea of fun, which makes no sense for a cruise like this.

Even though neither of them were looking for any sort of lasting relationship, fate may just have other plans, if they can make it through the roadblocks (or icebergs) it throws in their way.

I had you for no time at all and it’s like you were always there and now you’re not and I’m not handling this well at all.

I’m sad to say that, at the moment, I’m feeling a bit underwhelmed by Closing the Loop. I went into it expecting something kind of fun and light, which isn’t necessarily something I usually go for but was kind of looking forward to, and instead, I got an odd mix of… I’m not really sure what.

There’s some heavy subjects just kind of tucked in there and while they didn’t really bother me, I can’t say I felt they added anything to the plot. It could be that I lacked a connection to the characters on the level where something like what was going on with Cole would’ve made an impact on it. Instead, it all felt so strange and out of place. Most of all, what we did get from those experiences felt like it hovered on the surface. I feel like if you’re going to throw it in, you really need to go all the way with it, and I’m not sure the author succeeded in that for me.

It’s unfortunate, too, because as I’m sitting here, I don’t feel any particular way about the characters in general. I won’t remember them come tomorrow or the next day. What I will remember though is those leather gloves. I can say for certain that I won’t be able to look at leather gloves the same way again. The sex in general was pretty delicious, though not the hottest I’ve read in recent memory. It kind of fit the theme of just okay.

The premise in general was interesting. A gay cruise? Yay. The execution and some of the choices just fell short for me personally, but it may hit for other readers.

The cover art by L.C. Chase is nice and in general fits the story, though I don’t actually recall the characters lounging lack that, and I’m not sure I’d think of Cole as the kind of man to wear bright yellow swim trunks after reading the book. So it works, but not completely.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing  –   All Romance (ARe) Amazon     Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 150 pages
Published May 25th 2015 by Riptide Publishing (first published May 23rd 2015)
original titleClosing the Loop
ISBN139781626492813
edition languageEnglish

A BJ Review: Human Choices (Guardians of the Leythe #2.0) by Jaye McKenna

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Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

Human Choices coverKhy has been held prisoner for years, drugged, bound with a collar around his neck that keeps him from using his leythe energy, and forced to serve Master Rikard. Treated like a slave during the day and enduring agony at night as his power is ripped from him for Rikard’s nefarious use, Khy has little memory of any other life. Until one day his master is called away on urgent business, and Khy is left alone. When the drugs wear off, he makes a break for freedom while he can.

He meets Jaedin, a former ranger who is still mourning the loss of his beloved Talon five years after his death, in the town of Rosefire. When Jaedin steps in to help Khy, he finds himself haunted by voices and in an attempt to rid himself of them, sets off in search of Khy thinking he has cursed him.

This was written from a photo and prompt for the Love’s Landscapes series of DRitC. The author did an absolutely amazing job with incorporating the prompt and the photo so truly perfectly into the story that was written. I initially read this story (which is second in a series) before having read the first book. I enjoyed it then, but this past week I went back and read it after reading book one, and it came to life much fuller and more completely since I now had a background on Varien and Tor.

The world building in this series is excellent, and all of the characters are well drawn. I cared about them and what would happen to them immediately. Plenty of angst (this author’s guys tend to go through the wringer a bit, which I love!) Totally rooting for Khy to have a HEA although the whole thing with Jaedin near the start did piss me off while at the same time I found it interesting. This story is tagged as non-con, but its a different take on the non-con trope. Almost a reversal. I won’t spoil that by explaining, but give it a read and see.

So back to the world building. There are so many elements of this series that I find pretty damn cool about its world, well, I mean in addition to the magic and the hot long-haired guys, of course.

* The Fireskye, made me think of the Northern Lights (which have always fascinated me)! Only even more cool. 

* The Black? Is it death? Hell? Both? Something else. 

* The leythe itself and how it runs through what is turning into quite a complex history.

I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting Tor and Ash from book one. And while I loved the new guys (especially Jaedin), I am still most drawn to Ashnavayarian, I hope he continues to appear in this series as I find him quite fascinating as he grows and changes—which he’s done a lot of from book one to this story! And I loved the little bits of him and Tor’s continuing relationship that peek through in this near the end.

An engrossing fantasy with magic, angst, and a fascinating world. I highly recommend this, but must say I think you might enjoy it even more if you read Human Frailties, Human Strengths first. I know I did.

The cover by Cinchbug is nicely representative of the story.

Sales Links:  Free here at Goodreads M/M Romance Group

Book Details:

ebook, 141 pages
Published June 7th 2014 by M/M Romance Group @ Goodreads
edition languageEnglish
series: Guardians of the Leythe #2.0, Love’s Landscapes, Don’t Read in the Closet Events , more
characters: Jaedin (Human Choices), Khy (Human Choices), Ashnavayarian “Ash/Varian”, Tor MacAran

A Mika Review: Kage by Maris Black

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Kage coverMy name is Jamie Atwood, and I’m an addict. I never thought I’d say such a thing. Never had a problem being overly-attached to anything in my life. I came from a perfectly middle-class family, made good grades, and had a hot cheerleader girlfriend… but the truth is, nothing ever really moved me. So how did a guy like me become an addict?

I met Michael Kage.

Kage is an MMA fighter. A famous one. I like to think I helped him get that way.

He’s charming as hell, with looks to rival any movie star and talent to back it up. So why did he need to hire me as an intern Publicist? Simple. He has a darkness in him– like a black hole so deep it could swallow him, and me, and everyone we know– and that’s not good for business.

The first time I met him, I felt the pull. I think the addiction began at that very moment. And even if I’d known then what I know now, I would have fallen for him. How could I not?

For me, Kage is everything.

As much as I would like to 1 star the story, I can’t. The writing was okay, just not so much the execution. I think I would have liked the story if Jamie was not a idiot in the beginning, and then acting like a love drawn puppy later on in the story. I found Kage ridiculous. If there was ever an athlete who worked out his much, ate the right things every freaking day but turns around drinking and smoking weed. Really? Kage, you respect your body? When did Kage become a psychopath? His range of emotions went from scared closeted guy to You don’t know what I’m capable of. His behavior at the end of the story left a really bad taste in my mouth.

The story had some good parts. I do feel like Jamie was naive to certain situations. He did not see that Kage misled him from the beginning. I thought the whole uncle owning the business/mob tie situation was irrelevant, I did not get the point of this plot reference. Another huge problem to me was the sex. I’m not a man, but I’ve read countless mm books and PREPARATION is a must. For this author to do that with someone that was considered a virgin was demeaning/border like assault during that last scene.

Cover Art by: I actually liked the simplicity of this cover.

Sales Links:    All Romance (ARe) Amazon    Buy It Here

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 226 pages
Published May 25th 2015 by Maris Black Books
ASINB00VMX9MSK
edition languageEnglish

A Stella Review: Alchemy Ever After by Raine O’Tierney and Siôn O’Tierney

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Alchemy Ever After CoverThe city of New Alexandria is filled with powerful magicians-in-training and mechanical follies, the world’s largest library, and marvels beyond compare. The allure of this modern metropolis draws young people from all over the world, but Idrian has come instead for the opportunity to learn the new art of alchemy.

He’s been taken as an apprentice by Maketh, a scholar experimenting with new ways to combine technology and the ancient mystic arts. Together they’ve animated a living ice sculpture. Idrian cannot wait to unveil the sculpture alongside the other wonders at the annual Spring Festival.

After witnessing his master in a passionate embrace with another student, Idrian’s mind drifts to things beyond alchemy. And when a warm touch accidentally awakens the consciousness within the living sculpture, Idrian learns firsthand about physicality and the magic of passion.

“Idrian stepped into the room he had visited so many, many times since beginning his apprenticeship. His eyes went immediately to the creature Master Maketh was animating for the annual Spring Festival. It lay naked, in the middle of the room, covered only by a thin sheet that did nothing to hide its form. Not only was it a thing of great beauty, it was a poetic creation too. It would “live,” moving and breathing, for only a few days before melting to nothing on the last day of the festival.”

Alchemy Ever After is a lovely short story, not exactly fantasy, at least not just fantasy, with some elements of steampunk, I honestly can’t quite place it. Still, the setting was interesting even if I’d have liked to know a little more about the world they are living in. The plot was well developed, I liked how the story evolved and most of all how the characters interacted with each other. For being so short, just a little more of fifty pages, I felt it a complete book. Having read Somebody Nice and Sweet Giordan, Please Remember by Raine, I already knew she could write sweet but solid stories.

It was an interesting and most of all different read, definitely not my usual. I admit I struggled a little at the start, I couldn’t understand where it was going. But when I discovered in Idrian not just an innocent young man, but a strong character, firm in his feelings and choice of working, I was captured. I liked him a little more every page I read. And the ending was simply perfect. Just what I was hoping to get.

Cover art by Catt Ford. Well done, I like the colors a lot. Really eye catching.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press –  All Romance (ARe)Amazon    Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook,56 pages
Published January 28th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN13 9781632163011
Edition Language English

 

It’s Release Day for Jeff Erno’s Speedy Rewards! (excerpt)

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Speedy Rewards Banner

Synopsis

Phil Mitchell pours his heart and soul into his job as manager of Speedy Mart, a local convenience store. He loves his work and he loves his fellow employees, but when it comes to his personal life, Phil is lonely and depressed and still pining for his long-departed ex.

He embarks upon the week from hell where anything that can go wrong does. It begins with a truck crashing into his outdoor sign and only goes downhill from there.

Add an asshole homophobic boss hell bent on seeing him fired and Phil realizes he needs to put into place a plan to save himself and his job.

Speedy Rewards Jeff Erno

First step in his plan: do something about his love life.

Meanwhile, Ezra, one of Philís team members, is dealing with his own roller coaster ride of a week.

As is Brandon, the local cop.

And Mark, the homophobic boss.

Perhaps, with a little luck, the next week will be better.

Buy Links

Don’t miss the 1 Year Anniversary 40% Off Sale on Wayward Inkís Publishing’s site:

Book trailer

Excerpt

Phil had started out in retail back in high school, working as a bag boy at the local supermarket. He took some community college classes but did not complete his degree. It didnít matter, though. Back then, a college degree wasnít required, especially not for retail management. He rose quickly in the company, advancing to a management position.

Finally, when the company heíd worked at for ten years went belly-up, he found himself in the unemployment line. At age twenty-five, his mom had just died and he found himself completely alone, unemployed. He decided to go back to school to complete his degree. He signed up for online classes and continued with them even after he landed the job managing the convenience store. He received his diploma right around the time he met Darren online.

Looking back on his life, he realized that period, though difficult, had been perhaps the most hopeful he could remember. Though still grieving the loss of his mother, he felt like life had begun anew. He had a new career, a man he genuinely loved, and even a college degree. That was also when he began learning Spanish.

But the honeymoon stage of his relationship with Darren didnít last long, and when it became obvious Darren was far more interested in spending his free time with a bottle of booze than with Phil, they started to grow apart. Phil devoted most of his energy to the store, and when he wasnít working, he spent a good deal of time online. The relationship withered on the vine, until one day, Darren was gone.

“You work hard,” Humberto said. “You’re always working, no?”

“Sí,” Phil said, laughing. “Yes, I’m always working.”

“Every day I see you. You no have days off? You work too hard, man.”

“Well, it seems to me you work pretty hard, too, Humberto. You’re in here every day, on your way to work. Come on down to this register. I’ll ring you up.” Phil stepped over to the check stand on the far end, the one Janine had just vacated.

“Gracias,” Humberto said, stepping up to the counter with an armload of junk food. He placed the bags of chips and the Hostess snack cakes on the counter.

“What do you do?” Humberto stared at him, smiling, and Phil wondered if maybe he didn’t understand the question. “¿Cual es tu trabajo?”

“Oh… oh. Soy un manitas.”

“¿Manitas?” Phil had heard the word, but couldn’t immediately remember the meaning. “Oh, you’re a handyman. You fix things.”

“Sí, sí.”

“Wow, like, do you do plumbing work?”

“Oh yes, yes of course. Por supuesto.”

“Hm. Ya know, I need to find someone to come fix my sink. At home, I mean. At my house. Do you have a card?”

Humberto cocked his head to the side, as if thinking.

“¿Una tarjeta? A business card.”

“Oh, yes. Yes!” He reached into his shirt pocket and removed a business card, handing it to Phil. “Call me and I’ll come fix you up.” He winked, and as Phil looked into the man’s eyes, a lump formed in his throat. “I have all the right tools for the job.”

Phil quickly looked down at the touch screen on his register, trying to focus on the task of completing the transaction. “Uh, yeah. Um, do you want a bag for this?”

“Una bolsa,” Humberto said, laughing. “Sí.”

Phil placed the business card next to his register and tore off a plastic bag from the dispenser. Then he began filling it with Humberto’s items.

“I’ll let you see my big hammer,” Humberto said, lowering his voice.

About the author

JEFF ERNO began writing LGBT fiction in the late 1990s. Although an avid reader and amateur writer from a very young age, Jeff pursued a career as a retail store manager in Northern Michigan. When his first gay-themed novel was published, he was shocked that anyone would even want to read it. So far, he ís published over thirty novels. Jeff lives in Southern Michigan, where he works part time at a convenience store.

Jeffís writing credits include a variety of themes and sub-genres including male romance, Young Adult, Science Fiction, erotica, and BDSM. He is the winner of a 2012 Rainbow Award and an Honorable Mention in 2011. His style is unpretentious and focused upon emotionally-driven, character-based stories that touch the heart. Jeff is especially passionate about young adult literature and combating teen bullying and youth suicide.