Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Based on the blurb, this book wasn’t quite what I thought it would be, so I struggled to rate it and review it without spoilers. This is billed as a paranormal erotic romance, and while that is true, it is so much more. Tags are spoilers, so as per usual, I will only give them when I think stories could be triggering to people. This book contains multigenerational family trauma, sexual abuse, incest, attempted suicide in first person, suicide, bipolar and OCD mental health issues, drug and alcohol abuse, and ghosts thrown in with kinky sex. Since this is told in a single first person point of view, I got very attached to this character, but talking about him is a spoiler. This story is not told in linear time, so it might be difficult to get into the first two or three times it goes from the present to the past, but then it seems very natural as he shares his life through memories. The characters become complex and multifaceted the more the book goes on–one minute I might hate a character and the next I felt sorry for them even though that doesn’t absolve them of their awful choices.
Let’s start with the erotic romance, which I think worked very well. He meets a Dom named Devon in a club and everything goes sideways. Luckily another Dom named Mike helps him when he needs it, allowing the reader to get to know more about the main characters before any sex actually happens. The trust comes when the paranormal aspects are believed by everyone involved, which helps the romance move forward. I think this was effective. All the characters here are likeable and believable. The sex scenes are hot. With an 11 year age gap, the huge disparity in circumstances, and the added D/s aspect, there is plenty of the hurt/comfort trope in play. Devon ends up being compelling as a Dom and very endearing as a person.
There are so many great secondary characters in this book: Officer McBride, Devon’s sister-in-law Maya, Dom Mike, and the medium Maxine are the obvious favorites. There are also well written characters that evoked very negative emotions for me like Uncle Barry, Mom Dana, and Vern. Barry seemed confused about right and wrong without ever trying to figure it out. Dana deserves credit for doing the best she could at the time, she made an effort…but not enough of one to actually heal, so that saddened and frustrated me. She had plenty of opportunities to get help from mental health professionals, but just didn’t. That may seem like victim blaming to some, but she had children to raise and could have done better by them. As for Vern, I hate him. At its heart, this is the story of two brothers and their tragedy, as well as how everything got to this point–it’s a story of an American family tragedy.
As for the paranormal aspects, occultism is treated with respect here, not as a party trick. I believe in energy work, in cleansing, in the benefits of ceremony and feel like this is a really good idea for anyone who wants to find closure for grief and trauma…we have funerals for a reason. Often, the difference is at a funeral people focus on the good, forgetting the bad…and that might not help people find any sort of resolution, especially with the ridiculous notion of not “speaking ill of the dead,” which is just a whole layer of guilt people get wrapped up in. I don’t agree that intention matters most. For many, this will be a lot of woo but this is based in what some people actually practice, so either the author does believe or has done excellent research on the topic. It does walk a fine line…and then gets preachy at the end. I would have rated this higher, but I don’t like being prostalitized to. Also, evoking Robert Monroe and the Matrix Control System is strange in an LGBTQIA book because he believed one reason for his theory is because all mobiles are split into two genders, ever seeking reunion with each other. Ugh.
This book is a rare gem–entertaining and packs an emotional wallop without wallowing in emotional pornography. I like how the ideas of Platonic solids, sacred geometry, and reincarnation are synthesized together, yet the New Age ideas used to explain the phenomena were a bit offputting for me. There is a lot to unpack here, but I’m not going to get into spiritual arguments about an erotic fictional book. Finally, there is an epilogue about 4 years later than the main events of the book. I liked the range of reactions to what happened because in the end, people still choose how to process things. Having or creating an opportunity for closure doesn’t mean everyone will let go and move forward in a positive way. I’m glad theirs is psychological work with a therapist, rather than only relying on New Age ideas.
The cover design was made by Written Ink Designs | written-ink.com. At first I thought the images combined with the title were a bit misleading, but the more I think about it, I really like them for the metaphorical imagery. The main character is trapped until he gets to see the bigger picture and find his asylum, his safe place where he is free.
Cover Art:= is dark and works for the story.
Published January 2nd 2020 by JMS Books LLC
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
This story started slow for me. I got messed up by the out of order flashbacks until I got further in and was able to “anchor” the time in my own mind. I also wondered why anyone would be attracted to Dr. Grant Anderson, who, in his own words, was “…brusque. Rude. Insulting. Demanding. A perfectionist.” But by the end, I was Team Grant. I totally turned around and loved it. Apparently, I have a soft spot for crusty surgeons who only fall in love once and when they do, their insides turn to ooey-gooey love mush. 😀
Six years ago, Leo left town with his ex-boyfriend who promised him the world. Curtis had just gotten a lead role in what promised to be a smash hit and came back to take Leo with him. Turning away from his new love interest, Grant Anderson, he puts his eggs in what turns out to be the wrong basket. Now back in town, he’d like to get to know Grant better, but he has his daughter in tow and he has a major health issue he needs to deal with first.
Grant wants no part of reconnecting with someone who deserted him, but when he starts to see Leo around the hospital where he’s on staff as a surgeon, he learns what is going on medically, and it’s not good. More worrying, he gets to know Leo’s daughter, teaches her chess, and befriending the precocious five-year-old who has to wait while her dad gets dialysis. He’s finding a soft spot in his heart for her—and for Leo. Oh, oh, the great stone-faced Dr. Grant is headed for a downfall.
I love the way the author built Grant’s character and the way the past was woven through the story in flashback sequences, so we get to know the real men—both Grant and Leo, and we get to bite our nails during Leo’s surgery, hang out with Lucky, the little girl, as she comes to love Grant, and watch Grant have his emotional meltdown. There’s room for Leo’s ex in this story too and plenty of opportunities to fall in love with all the characters.
What struck me about a third of the way through, as I kept thinking this guy reminds me of someone, in that Grant is very much like Patrick in the Will & Patrick Wake Up Married series. And Leo, like Will, has a medical condition that the hard-shelled surgeon can’t fix. Very similar, and the author mentions this was written originally as part of a short story collection so I suspect Will and Patrick grew from these characters. I would have liked to have known that going into it but in any case, I fell in love by the end of the story and so did Leo and Grant. Tissues are highly recommended—both for tears of sorrow and tears of joy. A must read for those who enjoy opposites attract MM romance and, of course, Will and Patrick Wake Up Married.
Cover art is simply adorable and works for the story.
Sales Link: Amazon
Kindle Edition, 2nd Edition, 209 pages
Published January 9th 2020 by Leta Blake Books (first published February 28th 2018)
Original Title Stay Lucky
Edition Language English
settingNorth Carolina (United States)
Title: Bound To Liberty
Author: Kiru Taye writing as Kai Tyler
Series: Bound, Book 5
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Queer Romance
TAGLINE: James isn’t ready to lose his heart again. Will Ethan fight for his love?
As if life isn’t tough enough for James Coker, rejected and nearly killed by family, he is also a closeted gay man in a country where being gay is outlawed. So when the first man he’s ever loved gets engaged to a woman, James’s solution to heartbreak is to indulge in a holiday fling.
In contrast, Ethan Eze has had life relatively easy. Born in the ‘Land of the Free’ and nurtured within a family where he can be whoever he wants to be, he’s a military veteran who is not afraid of going for what he wants. When he meets James, Ethan wants him.
Desire burns between them and soon blurs into devotion. But James is not ready to lose his heart again. Ethan has fought for his country. Now will he fight for love?
Bound to Liberty is a story about breaking free from mental chains and living a life of boundless love.
Content Warning: homophobia, threat of forced outing, depictions of anxiety,
AVAILABLE NOW ON
ON PREORDER UNTIL FEB 7TH ON
Add to Goodreads: http://ow.ly/jbnB30kiyjL
Ethan let the men out and locked the door. When he turned around, James wasn’t in the living room.
“James?” he called out as he strode across the space. Getting no response, he knocked on the closed door to the younger man’s room. “Can I come in?”
“It’s not locked,” James’s muffled voice came through.
Ethan pushed the door and stopped at the threshold.
His ward paced the room manically, muttering to himself. Although the AC was on, sweat beaded his hairline and his hands were clenched.
The sight of James’s distress undid Ethan. His job was to keep James physically safe and find his stalker. His professional remit didn’t extend to dealing with emotional baggage.
Nonetheless, he’d be damned if he just had to stand guard while the young man hurt. He stepped into the room without a second thought. Nothing else mattered but taking away the suffering. Neither his misgivings about getting personally involved with his ward nor the risk of losing an influential client if he cocked this up stopped him.
“Hey, what’s wrong?” He halted in front of James, blocking his pacing path.
James shook his head and tried to swerve past him.
He reached out and settled his hand on the man’s shoulder. “Talk to me.”
As a lover of romance novels, Kiru wanted to read stories about Africans falling in love. When she couldn’t find those books, she decided to write the stories she wanted to read. She writes sensual African stories as Kiru Taye and writes queer romance as Kai Tyler.
Book Title: Hold Me Up (Chasing Gold Book 1)
Author: Colette Davison
Publisher: Independently Published
Cover Artist: Colette Davison
Release Date: January 29, 2020
Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance
Trope/s: Second chance, sports, slow burn, hurt/comfort
Themes: Forgiveness, trusting others, dedication, self-care
Heat Rating: 2 – 3 flames
Length: 68 500 words
It is a standalone story.
Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited
Can second chance love survive past trauma?
Reece has one goal: to compete in the Olympic Games. With the gymnastics World Championships looming, his dream is one step closer to becoming a reality.
When his childhood sweetheart, Alex, walks back into his life unexpectedly, Reece’s world is turned upside down. Alex was the boy who inexplicably pushed him away and broke his heart; the boy he still loves.
When the truth behind their break-up is revealed, Reece wants to hold Alex up and give him the strength to heal.
But can Reece be Alex’s rock, and remain focused on his training, or will his Olympic dreams suffer in the process?
Hold Me Up is a MM second chance romance, with a slow-burn relationship and lots of hurt/comfort. It’s the first in a series of books that follows male artistic gymnasts as they chase gold.
Trigger warnings: Hold Me Up features a character who suffers from anxiety and panic attacks due to a past event that is briefly described.
“Pizza and beer, as requested.”
Alex’s smiled deepened as he stood back, allowing Reece to enter.
“Are we eating at the table, or are we going to be uncouth?” Reece made eyes at the sofa and then frowned playfully. “How can you be uncouth when you can’t be couth?”
Alex chuckled. “You’re an idiot.”
“It’s true, though,” Reece pointed out, kicking the door shut behind him. “Just like you can be over- or underwhelmed, but you can’t actually be whelmed. The English language is weird.” Raising the hand carrying the beer, he pointed to the table and then the sofa. “Table or sofa?”
Alex considered the question. The sofa would be far more relaxed, but he wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not. In just a few days, most of his barriers regarding Reece had crashed down. He was enjoying having Reece back in his life, but he felt like it was for all the wrong reasons.
Reece took the decision out of his hands. “The table is occupied by your laptop. Let’s take the sofa.” He put the pizzas and beer on the coffee table before flopping down on one end of the sofa. He looked up at Alex expectantly. “Are you joining me?”
Alex glanced at the table, wondering if he should offer to move the laptop. It would have taken him two seconds to close the lid and prop it against the wall and only slightly longer to take it back through to his bedroom, but he didn’t want to. Instead, he wandered to the kitchen units and grabbed the bottle opener from the drawer.
“Good call,” Reece said as he pulled two bottles out of the cardboard pack. He held them both while Alex flipped the lids off, and then gave one to Alex. “I got us garlic bread,” he declared. “And I seem to remember that you’re not much of a fan of topping on pizza, so I’ve got a margherita for you and pepperoni for me.” He took a swig of beer before opening up the pizza boxes and handing Alex his. Then he reclaimed the bottle. “We should have a toast.”
Alex raised his eyebrows as Reece lifted his bottle.
“To you. Reporter extraordinaire.”
Alex felt heat creep up into his face. “I don’t—”
“I do,” Reece cut him off. “Like I said earlier, your article was amazing.” He glanced around the room. “You should cut it out and frame it.”
The heat swept up to Alex’s hairline and into his ears. “My boss already did.”
“Where is it? I don’t see it up anywhere.”
“On the wall?”
Alex shook his head.
“You need to bring it home. I’ll help you put it up, if you want?”
Alex dipped his chin. “I—”
“It’s your first article. It’s a big deal, Alex and you should be bloody proud of yourself.”
About the Author
Colette’s personal love story began at university, where she met her future husband. An evening of flirting, in the shadow of Lancaster castle, eventually led to a fairytale wedding. She’s enjoying her own ‘happy ever after’ in the north of England with her husband, two beautiful children and her writing.
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