Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Can friends turned occasional lovers move beyond past mistakes and wrong assumptions to build something that can last?
Quiet bookworm Shane has a big secret—one he’s kept for fifteen years. AFL superstar Ambrose Jakoby grew up next door to Shane. They were close friends, and Shane supported Ambrose through school.
One night, everything changed.
Before Ambrose left Perth as a scared eighteen-year-old to head to Melbourne and take up his new footy career, Ambrose and Shane slept together.
For the next nine years, they continued a secret friends-with-benefits situation whenever Ambrose was in town. Shane never knew exactly where he stood or how to define Ambrose’s sexuality—and Ambrose didn’t know either. Then last Christmas, everything changed again, and a disagreement strained their friendship. Shane vowed to get over his unrequited love.
But Ambrose is back, recovering from an injury and hoping to make amends. He claims he’s ready for a real relationship. But Shane has to decide whether Ambrose means it and whether his Hufflepuff soul can take the chance.
Knowing Me, Knowing You by Renae Kaye is another enjoyable, sweet romance in her Loving You series. This series, built around a group of friends and couples has had its share of unusual pairings. For some it’s been in exploration of each man’s sexuality, a finding of their identity, an acceptance and self knowledge before they can acknowledge their love for the man that’s their HEA and full time partner in life.
And that has come with some controversy over labels and descriptions.
Thankfully, we seem to have vanquished the “gay for you” trope, at least from most books I’ve read lately for some realistic and honest look at sexuality. Kaye does so here with Ambrose and demisexuality. The fact that he just couldn’t understand his own lack of sexual drive in general as a youth or that it was only oriented towards one or a couple of people seems realistic. There was no one he could speak to, no one to as questions to. The talks he later had, years later, with Shane felt believable and sort of sad, while being ground in a factual reality.
That Shane didn’t understand more of the LGBTQIA spectrum? Maybe not so much. I would have expected more knowledge and understanding from him, less density. That was my frustration as a reader. Shane is surrounded by friends who have gone through a myriad of experiences, he regularly does to Pride Parades. Isn’t he picking up the literature and education as well?
Of course, all of this is mixed in with years of boyhood friendship, kisses and hookups, then miscommunication or no communication, and just dealing with years apart. All done through Renae Kaye’s layered well rounded characters going through believable situations in life. Ambrose is hurt in what might be a career ending injury, and wants to reconnect with Shane. Shane’s needs to see if he is ready to examine their relationship and his life in general. It’s all messy, painful, loving, and real.
And yes, maybe it sometimes even needs to come with some labels if that’s what someone needs. Or doesn’t. Feeling pressured into sex feels pretty believable and understandable these days no matter the gender. So I get that element too. I think most readers will. That it has taken Ambrose all this time to start to figure out why he feels the way he does is no mystery. Some people take much longer. That rings true as well.
I loved bringing the search for Ambrose’s family into this. Such a heartwarming part of this story. I just loved that.
Without heading into spoiler territory, I do feel some ambivalence about that ending. Kaye keeps it real there too. It’s the only way it can happen without a epilogue years into the future. I’m hoping that we keep having a peek at this couple into the next stories and updates as to what their current status is. Maybe even a new story down the line. That would be wonderful.
Cover Artist: Maria Fannin. Love that cover. Light hearted, bright and happy. It draws the reader to it. Love it.
Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 255 pages
Expected publication: October 30th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language English
Series Loving You
Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
This is the second book in the series and should be read in order for maximum emotional impact. A year later, Blue is still basically in the closet. Happily ever afters are work.
So, I’m not going to lie: I was upset about Blue using a beard. Keeping this secret is destroying what they have. At the end of book one Blue had planned to come out and it was Kelly who stopped him. In this book, Blue has let the fear take over and Kelly is the one that wants to be part of a normal relationship where he can participate in Blue’s life like any of the other guys on the team and their wives/girlfriends. Blue was also supposedly the romantic one, yet it is Kelly that seems to be waiting for the big gesture while still not being all in. As a gay man, Kelly understands what Blue would face coming out publicly way better than Blue does. Fear of losing Blue when the discrimination starts, of Blue resenting him, makes him hold back a bit of himself. Even as annoyed as I was, this book sucked me right in.
Of course, Blue is good at pushing things away too–like thoughts of retirement and fear of injury. This time, I was glad to see more football. It was important to show more of Blue’s family as it lets the readers know that Kelly is not correct in blaming football for all of their problems. There were several moments when I wanted to strangle Blue, but I understood all too well why he is the person he is and wanted him to make better choices for his own happiness. Conner has been a good and supportive friend to Kelly, but it’s nice to see that Blue has friends who have his back also. There are some incredibly painful moments in this, but the author doesn’t wallow in them. Those big moments in life (wedding, birth, major illness, death, coming out) are when you find out who really cares for you, and it’s not always who you think, or even hope.
This worked really well as a duology and the epilogue was everything I wanted for these guys, where it was always going in between the bouts of mild angst. I enjoyed both of these books.
The cover art is by Kanaxa. I like the cover, and I supposed it is supposed to be Blue. Blue has new tattoos, as discussed in the book, but not as many as that, and of course, the tattoos are not the same as this model.
Expected publication: October 30th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Series The Game #2
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Jonathon de Mountford’s visit to Merrychurch village to stay with his uncle Dominic gets off to a bad start when Dominic fails to appear at the railway station. But when Jonathon finds him dead in his study, apparently as the result of a fall, everything changes. For one thing, Jonathon is the next in line to inherit the manor house. For another, he’s not so sure it was an accident, and with the help of Mike Tattersall, the owner of the village pub, Jonathon sets out to prove his theory—if he can concentrate long enough without getting distracted by the handsome Mike.
They discover an increasingly long list of people who had reason to want Dominic dead. And when events take an unexpected turn, the amateur sleuths are left bewildered. It doesn’t help that the police inspector brought in to solve the case is the last person Mike wants to see, especially when they are told to keep their noses out of police business.
In Jonathon’s case, that’s like a red rag to a bull…
In the spirit of Dame Agatha Christie, KC Wells delivers a mystery worthy of the great British authors who preceded her. And no sex on page! Imagine that. I actually liked the fact that sex didn’t distract from the story. Yes, there’s a romance, but it’s secondary to the mystery.
There’s a large age gap between Jonathan, who doesn’t have good luck with romance, and Mike, who’s older and doesn’t have much opportunity to meet new men in Merrychurch. But they grow to like each other, and they work together to solve the mystery of Jonathan’s uncle’s death. Mike is a former cop so has the skills and Jonathan has the determination and persistence needed to eventually find the culprit.
Did I guess? Yes! The author gave us clues, but it’s not easy to figure out and it was likely my love of Poirot and Miss Marple that helped me guess correctly. Since this is mystery #1 in a new series, I expect we’ll see more of Jonathon and Mike in future. At least, I hope we do. Mystery buffs should enjoy this one, for sure.
Cover Artist: Kanaxa. The cover is done in sepia tones with both MCs pictured—one superimposed over the shadowed image of the other. To be honest, though it may represent the MCs and setting, I don’t care for the color and it doesn’t stand out at all.
ebook, 1st edition, 204 pages
Expected publication: October 30th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Series Merrychurch Mysteries #1
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Our time together has an expiration date.
HAYDEN: I don’t remember a time when I didn’t love him.
The only guy I’ve ever wanted sees me as nothing more than the kid next door and his younger sister’s best friend. But when Dean comes home after college graduation, things are different. I’ve grown up, and the way his golden-brown gaze scorches a path over my body tells me he’s noticed. When he makes me an offer I should refuse, I’m caught between my feelings for him and logic screaming that this idea is doomed to end in heartbreak.
DEAN: I’m not interested in anything serious but I need to have him.
I plan on spending a few months at home relaxing before beginning my dream internship. What I don’t count on is my little sister’s best friend sending me for a loop. He should be off-limits, but the pull I feel toward him is too strong to ignore. When I come up with a solution to spend the summer together in secret, I’m sure I have it all figured out. I just need to work him out of my system.
It’s supposed to be free of complications…a fling. By the end of summer, it’s anything but simple.
I liked this story, though it took me a bit to even kind of like Dean. Dean has never actually had a relationship and makes it clear up front to his partners that it will never go anywhere but when he comes home from college he is starting to see how no matter how clear he is it isn’t always as simple. Hayden keeps to himself and has never had the urge to try and find a boyfriend, hoping once college starts his opportunities will expand but he can’t help but think about Dean, who he has admired from afar forever.
You could see them both struggle in different ways with their arrangement, Hayden knows he is going to be hurt in the end while Dean becomes more and more possessive and territorial. It hurt to see them both in pain or confused about how to go forward.
I loved Hayden and thought he was adorable in all his innocence. He was quite mature and has a great head on his shoulders. Dean had to redeem himself for me and how he really found that what he always thought he wanted wasn’t the right thing he makes big changes with the main reason being that he can’t live within Hayden. It was nice to see Dean finally take that next step to grow up and both of them find happiness. I am hoping that the next book in the series focuses on one or two of their friends from this book.
The cover art by Baylin Crow is great and I love the visual of Hayden.
Sales Link: Amazon
ebook, 264 pages
Published: October 15, 2018 by Baylin Crow
Edition Language: English
Series: Nothing Serious #1
Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5
Ashraf doesn’t realize how bad his aversion to large bodies of water actually is till the sound of the sea reminds him. As Ashraf realizes that he might never even be able to step onto a beach let alone the sea, he starts to wonder if his relationship can survive his hydrophobia when his partner Jamie, a marine biologist, might as well be a fish, considering the amount of time they spend in water. If he can’t share Jamie’s love of the sea and what they have dedicated their life to, can their relationship really survive?
I like Mathew J. Metzger books because his books are chock full of diverse characters and it’s amazing how much you learn about the world if you can just enter the mind of a character, the more different these characters are from one another the better because you get to cover that many more avenues of life.
This book is an established couple romance and introduced me to a lot of things in the life of these characters that I am new to, like I had no idea this concept even existed before I read this book. It felt like light had illuminated a path that I hadn’t even known existed and it was great for broadening my own horizons and that’s what diverse characters bring, they bring new perspectives to life. They give you the opportunity to experience life as someone other than yourself.
Ashraf and Jamie are two such amazing characters in a relationship. I love established couple romances and that made this fantastic on a whole new level for me. The main plot point of this book which is Ashraf’s hydrophobia was something that is tackled much later in the story, so we had a nice segment of the book devoted to finding out who Ashraf and Jamie are and what life is for them. They have different ethnicities and different religious beliefs and both ascribe to different sexual orientations, it is even comically debated between the couple if they should be considered a straight or a gay couple. But, the book focuses on the fact that despite a whole gamut of differences these two work beautifully together. Together they are more than the sum of their parts. Getting to experience a couple so completely in love with each other was such a joyful experience, it was like getting to experience the feeling of falling in love. I really loved getting to know these two as a couple and as individuals.
Ashraf is the narrator of our story so we see everything from his perspective, so I definitely got to know Ashraf better than Jamie and he was an amazing character, he is a flawed character but deeply insightful. He shares the flaw that all humans do – the flaw where we don’t want anyone to judge us by our looks but judge everyone at first sight just the same. It is a weird flaw, just because you are discriminated against doesn’t mean you can’t discriminate against someone else and that is where the cycle starts and ends. It was an epiphany I had during reading this book, which was pretty jarring and seems to have straightened my view of the world.
Though this story has so much going on and it gives justice to everything it explores at heart, it remains the story of a couple falling in love and facing the challenges in their relationship. It was a story about overcoming your fears and I feel like it was beautifully done, a step at a time till you can manage to look your fear in the eye and breathe, taking strength from the ones who love you to surmount the courage to even begin facing down your fears.
I really loved this story. I really like the characters Matthew J. Metzger creates because they always end up teaching me something about the world at large. If you are looking for a sweet romance look no further than “Life Underwater”, these two are most definitely the cutest couple alive.
Cover Art by Natasha Snow. I am in awe of her covers. This seems like such a simple cover but every time I look at it, I am taken aback by how truly beautiful it is.
Published October 22nd 2018 by NineStar Press
99c BOOK BLAST
Title: Love Times Five
Author: Lily G. Blunt
Cover Art: Jay Aheer at Simply Defined Art
Release Date: January 19, 2018
Genre/s: paranormal, gay romance, contemporary, polyamory
Length: 77, 000 words
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There’s safety in numbers and plenty of love to go around.
When Colin searches for his missing colleague and buddy in the hills of northern England, his life is changed forever. Not only does he find Shaun living in a cabin with the mysterious and undeniably gorgeous Zach, but he also discovers the reason Shaun went AWOL in the first place. Colin wants to draw his friend away to safety, but Zach soon mesmerises him, and he’s happy to stay in his company, for now.
Passing hikers, Wes and Dane, need some assistance, and the three men are willing to oblige. Thus begins a friendship that develops into much more.
The five men each have their own secrets. Some are shared, others are kept hidden. It’s only a matter of time before they are exposed and the consequences could change everything for them all.
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Colin yelped and stumbled back. The penknife fell from his grip as he connected with the solid ground and landed on his arse.
“What the fuck?” Colin gaped at the wild beast in front of him, not five feet away, and apparently protecting Zach, who stroked the wolf’s back as if he were petting a huge dog.
Colin blinked, hoping to clear his vision. Had he knocked his head? Was he dreaming? Had he been drugged too?
The wolf sniffed the air and pawed the grass, its tongue now lolling to the side of its mouth. Teeth, sharp and white and scary, distracted Colin from the animal’s other features. The scent of damp fur and woodland soil filled his nostrils, and warm panting breath ghosted over his face.
The wolf was real enough. No vision. No dream.
“What the fuck?” Colin said, keeping his eyes fixed on the animal as it slunk away to the trees. His heart pounded and his mind was a whirl of confused thoughts. He tried to swallow around a thick lump in his parched throat. “What the fuck just happened?”
Zach said nothing but offered a hand to Colin, which after a few seconds pause, Colin grasped. Between the two of them, they easily hauled his bulky frame to standing. He scanned the grass for his knife, relief racing in his veins when he spotted it nestled among two nearby clumps of greenery.
Colin glanced away from the knife in the direction the wolf had headed. Could it really be Shaun? “I don’t understand.”
“Of course, you don’t.” Zach’s mouth curved into a warm, genuine smile. His eyes glimmered, and some of the tension lifted from Colin’s shoulders. “You must be Colin. Shaun’s sexy boss. He’s told me all about you.”
“What?” Colin’s pulse still pounded, and confusion turned his thoughts to sludge, but his heart fluttered at the hope those words kindled. What the hell was happening? What was this arsehole saying? Shaun had never tried anything on with Colin, not even when they’d been drunk. And had Shaun really… turned into a… what the actual fuck?
“You didn’t think he was interested in you?” Zach arched an eyebrow, and his eyes sparkled. Again.
Before Colin could commit himself to an answer or ask any questions about the precarious state of his sanity, there was movement to his side.
Shaun stood naked, his hands cupped over his groin, a little unsteady on his feet. “Chuck us your T-shirt, Zach,” he rasped, not making eye contact with Colin, his cheeks scarlet.
Without hesitation, Zach shed his top and threw it at Shaun, leaving his own fine torso on display. Smooth, defined, firm—perfect. No wonder Shaun had hooked up with him. Colin wouldn’t stand a chance with this guy in the picture, even if Shaun had liked him once upon a time.
Why was he even thinking about such things right now? He’d just seen Shaun turn into a wolf, and now he was back again as himself. And shortly before that, this ridiculously handsome man had been sucking on his neck and was now acting as if he knew things about Shaun that Colin didn’t even know. Was he losing his mind?
Colin dragged his gaze back to Shaun, his chest and nakedness now hidden from view by the oversized T-shirt. He staggered closer to Colin, his legs unsteady as if he were drunk. Shaun collapsed into Colin’s arms, maybe a deliberate move rather than an uncontrolled stumble. As much as Colin wanted to hug him to his chest, he needed answers. Anger bubbled to the surface and exploded. Colin gripped Shaun by his biceps and held him back at arm’s-length.
“What the fuck is going on? What did I just see?” It took all of Colin’s willpower not to shake the answer out of Shaun. “And what’s this fucking guy been doing to you?”
Shaun trembled beneath his touch, and his voice was hoarse and uneven, not its usual sweet timbre. “It’s okay, Col. I promise you, I’m okay now.” He placed his palm on Colin’s shoulder. “I know it’s a lot for you to take in all at once. I’m sorry I didn’t get the chance to explain before.”
His words didn’t tell Colin anything. “Why the hell didn’t you tell me you were leaving and where you were going? I’d have listened… and helped you.” What the fuck could Colin have done to help if Shaun was a—?
Zach cleared his throat, distracting them both. He moved closer, running his long fingers down those taut abs of his until they came to rest on the waistband of his perfectly clinging jeans.
Shaun gazed at Zach, over his body, the renewed flush of arousal evident in his eyes. Colin’s heart sank but gave a hopeful flip when Shaun looked back at him with that same darkened expression. “Hey, how about we go inside? I can get dressed, and then explain what’s been going on with me.”
For a moment, Colin feared he might be overpowered or drugged or something like that once they got him inside the cabin, perhaps in the same way Shaun might have been. He eyed his knife lying on the ground, tempted to bend down and scoop it up for some protection.
Zach chuckled, and in a smooth yet swift motion slid past Colin. “I think you dropped this.” His mouth nestled close to Colin’s ear, his voice deep, his breath cool. A curl of interest coiled its way around Colin’s groin at the closeness of the man. Zach gripped Colin’s hand, turning his palm face-up, and placed the missing knife softly against his skin.
Colin couldn’t help but let out a gasp. He hadn’t witnessed the knife being retrieved from the ground. Whoever this man was, he was fast. He would probably dodge any knife or fist that Colin hurled his way. No way was Colin walking from this meadow without finding out who this man was. He pocketed the knife, despite his doubts about its usefulness now.
Zach glided away, entwined his fingers around Shaun’s hand, and pulled him towards the cabin. With an encouraging look over his shoulder, Shaun waved his free hand behind him. “Come on. We need to talk.”
Colin really had no choice, so he followed them. He needed to find out what had happened to Shaun and what the hell was going on between him and Zach.
About the Author
Lily G. Blunt enjoys writing contemporary gay romance and paranormal stories. She loves to explore the relationship between two or more men and the intensity of their physical and emotional attraction. Angst often features in her stories as she feels this demonstrates the depth of feelings between them. Lily is often inspired by the lyrics to songs and is forever writing imaginary scenes and plots in her head. Only a few of these ever make their way to the page.
Lily reviews for several blogs and has recently launched Gay Book Promotions, an online book promotion service for authors of LGBT+ romance and fiction. She loves to hear from readers and other authors.
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Book Title: Hidden Depths (Mermen & Magic Book 5)
Author: L.M. Brown
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Cover Artist: Erin Dameron-Hill
Genre/s: Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, MMM Menage
Length: 79 500 words/237 pages
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Release Date: October 30, 2018
Lost beneath the ocean, Atlantis has become a myth. When it rises from the deep everything will change for Kyle, Finn and the merpeople.
Jake Seabrook, a human descendant of Medina, the Atlantean Goddess of Love, never asked for magical powers. Unfortunately, not only does he have them, but they are also growing stronger as more of the Atlantean gods wake from their long slumber.
When Jake develops the power to hear the thoughts of anyone thinking about love, lust or sex, it is strange and embarrassing, but also reveals cracks in his relationship with his mermen lovers, Kyle and Finn. If they are going to continue to live as a ménage, they will have to learn to be honest with each other.
With Jake’s powers out of control and their relationship on shaky ground, the last thing any of them need is a crisis in the sunken city.
The Atlantean gods want to regain the powers they lost when the Atlantean people were banished from the city, but the solution will leave the mer who live in the city no choice but to evacuate and search for a new home or risk exposing the existence of the mer to the whole world.
Kyle and Finn return to Atlantis to help with the evacuation and insure the safety of their families, but time is not on their side. When Atlantis rises, the consequences could tear apart their ménage forever.
Kyle’s hand on his thigh took him by surprise. His mermen lovers were very sexual beings, but they tended to avoid public displays of affection, particularly in front of Finn’s parents. Jake stilled as Kyle moved his hand higher on his leg, dangerously close to Jake’s groin.
At his other side, Finn moved his chair closer and leaned on Jake’s shoulder. To the others at the table, it might appear as though Finn were reading the menu. Jake could tell he was doing nothing of the sort. A few more inches and Finn would be crawling onto his lap.
Then, even more disturbing than having his two lovers getting very up close and personal in public, Jake felt a foot rubbing his ankle.
The angle was wrong for it to be either of his lovers, which meant it must be someone else at the table. Directly opposite Jake, Alex smiled at him and winked.
Jake jerked his foot, delivering a sharp kick to Alex’s leg.
“Fuck!” Alex swore and reached under the table to rub his ankle.
“Alex!” Malcolm snapped.
“Jake kicked me,” Alex muttered.
“It was an accident,” Jake replied easily.
Alex glared at him for a moment before his face transformed and he offered the table a bright smile. “I’m sure it must have been. Jake would never want to hurt me, would you, babe?”
Babe? What the hell had gotten into Alex tonight?
Finn growled beside him and shot his brother a venomous look. “Did you call my boyfriend babe?”
“A slip of the tongue,” Alex said.
“Alex, are you drunk?” Summer asked.
“I’ve not touched a drop.” Alex smiled at his new wife.
“Then stop winding up Jake and your brother.”
“What about me?” Kyle asked. “You think it isn’t annoying me when your husband calls my boyfriend babe?”
“Sorry, Kyle,” Summer offered. “You didn’t seem as angry about it as Finn.”
“Well, I am,” Kyle snapped. “Jake’s my boyfriend, too, even if you all seem to forget it half the fucking time.”
No one bothered to scold Kyle about his language.
“Okay, let’s calm down everyone,” Malcolm said. “We’re disturbing the other patrons, so let’s order our food and try to enjoy the evening.”
Jake nodded and searched for the waiter. Tim hovered right behind him, pad and pen in hand.
“What would you like to eat?”
Since Tim seemed to expect it, Jake chose what he wanted first. Finally, everyone had placed their orders and Tim, somewhat reluctantly, went to put them in.
“Would you like anything else, darling?” Finn mumbled under his breath.
Jake wrapped his arm around Finn’s shoulder and gave him a quick hug. “There’s no need for jealousy, so stop worrying.”
Finn kissed him in response and Jake had to restrain himself from deepening the connection. He reminded himself they were in public and not everyone was comfortable with seeing two men kissing each other.
“I guess I’m not going to be getting a kiss while we’re here.”
Jake knew, without looking, that Kyle had not spoken the words he had heard.
“Finn’s the public boyfriend and I’m…the other one, I guess.”
Jake frowned as Kyle’s words sank in. Was that how Kyle saw himself? He thought back on the times he had been out in public with Kyle and Finn and he accepted that Kyle might have a point.
He wasn’t sure how or when it had happened, but somewhere along the way, Finn had become the more traditional boyfriend. When the three of them were out together, Finn’s hand was the one he held as they walked down the street. When he introduced his lovers to someone, he referred to Finn as his boyfriend but occasionally had stumbled a little with what to call Kyle. People simply didn’t expect there to be more than two people in a relationship.
Jake realized he had been so busy trying to reassure Finn that he wanted him and that he wasn’t simply a substitute for Alex, he had been neglecting Kyle.
About the Author
L.M. Brown is an English writer of gay romances. She believes that there is nothing hotter or sweeter than two men in love with each other… unless it is three.
When L.M. Brown isn’t bribing her fur babies for control of the laptop, she can usually be found with her nose in a book.
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