A Sammy Review: Rock Rod Studios Presents (1-3) Series by Emory Vargas

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Alex UndoneAlex comes again, no longer concerned with the consistency of his semen. His primary concerns are staying conscious and not sobbing for his mother or something equally horrific. He’s down a wormhole of ecstasy and it’s terrifying.

After an incident with a past roommate, Alex isn’t entirely sure he’s totally, completely straight. So when the opportunity to earn some extra and much needed money through gay porn comes up, Alex is open to the option.

He’s not expecting to realize just how much he enjoys being with guys, and he’s definitely not expecting to meet Peter, the sexy, tattooed temporary secretary. Peter’s not into relationships, but the two can’t seem to shake the connection between them, and besides, Alex could really use some help with understanding all the gay stuff. After a couple shoots, Alex may just walk off with a whole lot more than some extra cash.

“What base is fuckmachines?” Alex asks.

“Home run.” Peter turns the kiss into a quick, nipping thing that almost wakes up Alex’s incredibly worn out sex drive. “We’re basically married now.”

I went into these three books with an open mind. I wasn’t totally sure what to expect other than hopefully some delicious smut. I definitely got that, but I also was surprised by some of the other things that came out of this series.

First, I’ll mention that these three stories are a super quick read. They’re perfect for when you have just a couple hours of downtime, or maybe if that’s all you can justify with all the other work you have to do. They were a fun little reprieve for me. You do need to read them all in order, otherwise it’s like picking up a fork and expecting there to be your favorite cake on it and realizing that it fell off before it got to your mouth. Yeah, total bummer.

I wasn’t expecting the nice little drops of humor that were laced throughout each of the books. Alex was naive but not in a completely annoying way. It was believable and sweet and silly.

The one thing that I had some issues with were revealing Peter’s past. As someone who works in a men’s inpatient rehab, I felt like the entire issue was a little footnote, and I’d encourage authors to not include something like that if you aren’t going to give it the time of day in the actual story.

Also, I like angst. No, I love angst. I would’ve adored if there was just a dash of that here, but alas, there was none. I think that will work great for most people, but for me I just wanted more emotions.

All in all, a nice introduction to the author and a sexy little series.

The covers by Emory Vargas are simple, but I think they fit the stories just fine. They work together and you can tell they’re all for the same series, which I appreciate.

Sales Links Amazon:  Alex Undone  |  Opening Alex |  Alex On Top

Books in the Series Reviewed with links to Goodreads pages:    

 

A Sammy Review: The World in His Eyes by A. J. Thomas

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

My dad always says if there aren’t zombies involved in a catastrophe, it’s not worth worrying about.

The World In His Eyes coverLarry Myers works tirelessly to get his doctorate. That means long hours and grueling shifts of sometimes seeing the worst possible things happen to people, especially on his rotation in the ER. Though he loves what he’s doing, it’s not exactly conducive to a relationship, so he often resorts to Grindr for a little destressing between the sheets.

One day he stumbles upon the picture of a man who captures him with his eyes. He takes the chance and writes to the guy named Brandon. What starts as an innocent way to get release quickly becomes more when the two manage to connect on a level that’s night normal for a hookup. But between their jobs, family, and some disagreeable friends, a relationship may be out of the picture, but maybe it’s worth a shot.

“He can’t take on the world,” Larry insisted. “But he’s the only one who’s ever tried to take on the world on my behalf.”

From the very moment I saw this prompt up for claim for this years Don’t Read in the Closet event (Love is an Open Road), I was incredibly excited. This screamed for the author to tell an honest story that didn’t disregard race or use it as some sort of ploy. When A.J. Thomas picked it up, my excitement grew. What I’ve read by her has been quite good, and I was looking forward to seeing what she could do with this.

She did not disappoint. She created this story of two men who are both very independent. Larry, a black man striving to be a doctor and dealing with his mother being in a nursing home, and Brandon, a man who is living in his father’s shadow at the software company he works for. They both felt so real to be… like two completely honest characters, down to some of the quirks of hooking up with a doctor (they may have to leave you midthrust when their pager goes off, whoops!)

It had dashes of humor and the right touch of seriousness. There were so many strong characters, such as Larry’s mom, who Larry didn’t give enough credit to but was a truly shining part of the story. Then you have Larry’s best friend (and ex-girlfriend) August who is a strong female and made me smile a few times.

I thoroughly enjoyed every word of it, and I would love to see A.J. Thomas write more about real black characters. Why? She didn’t ignore race. She brought it in perfectly without making it the focus of the story. It felt real, it was real. There needs to be more of those kinds of characters in M/M stories. Thank you for giving me one, A.J. If you happen to want to write more, well, I’m here to gobble it right up.

The cover art by A.J. Thomas is very simple. While it’s not the most design heavy, I’d prefer that from an author who doesn’t have experience in graphic design. She seemed to understand that and not try to make it into something it wasn’t, so I do appreciate that. It’s simple but not ugly.

No Sales Links:  Free

Book Details:

ebook, 128 pages
Published August 5th 2015 by M/MRomanceGroup.com
edition language English
setting Santa Clara, California (United States)
San Jose, California (United States)
Oakland, California (United States)

A Sammy Review: Paradox Lost by Libby Drew

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars:

He’d had sex with a ghost, and nothing in his life had ever felt more real.

Paradox Lost coverReegan McNamara is from the year 2145. He’s a time travel guide with a bit of an addiction to the jaunts. When he gets the chance to go back to 2020 and see a man he considers a hero give a speech, he jumps at it. Everything starts out fine, but when one of the woman purposefully slips from the group, he finds himself in a whole lot of trouble.

Risking life and limb, Reegan heads back to 2020 after getting the other travelers back safely. Each minute he’s there the risk grows as he begins to cause ripples in the continuum of time. He needs help, and fast. That’s when he turns to cop turned P.I. Saul Kildare, a man with many demons of his own. They’re in a race against time, and Reegan needs to find Silvia before it’s too late for both of them. He just never expects to find love in the past, or the pain that comes with knowing they have no future.

This is what you need to understand. Your past isn’t a string of bad choices. Your mistakes don’t weaken you. And a person doesn’t have to save thousands of people to be a hero. He can save two. Or one. He can save himself, and that might be the hardest, bravest task of all.

I’m not typically a time travel fan, granted I haven’t read much of it. I feel like the plot can go cheesy far too easily, but I was pleasantly surprised by this. There was a sense of adventure mixed with heat and a dash of world building. It was a fun ride, enjoyable.

I felt for Saul and the author did a great job of projecting the pain that he associated with alcohol and being around it. I’d get the same feelings in the bit of my stomach that she conveyed for him, and it made me ache for him. The situation with his sister was also salient, though perhaps not as much as the alcoholism.

Reegan on the other hand wasn’t as easy for me to connect to on a personal level, but I did appreciate his sense of adventure and humor. It was so interesting to see him in the past (or, well, future for me), and how marveled he was by the simplest of inventions, or how puzzled he was by the lack of voice commands. It was charming and sweet.

The secondary characters, such as Silvia and Cammie, were also really nice. Two strong females fighting to survive, each in their own way. I appreciated that and how the author didn’t make Silvia out to be a complete victim. She still fought for herself.

I love the futuristic world that Libby Drew created, and I’d actually love to see more of that in her stories. She threw in some great plot points and it’d be interesting to see her do a series of books that stretch across that development of time and some of the historical events she points out here.

Overall, a nice story that kept my interest.

While I’m not a big fan of the colors of fonts on the cover, it does manage to do a nice job of conveying the futuristic and scientific theme that underlies this book.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 228 pages
Published January 27th 2014 by Carina Press
original titleParadox Lost
ISBN139781426897832
edition languageEnglish

A Sammy Review: Dex in Blue (Johnnies #2) by Amy Lane

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Rating 5 stars out of 5

Dex in Blue coverDex is a seasoned porn star who’s had his heart broken in the worst of ways. His entire identity is framed around a past lover who he never had a chance with, and he practically runs Johnnies while the real boss is busy throwing it all away.

It’s a lot of pressure for a guy to be under, and when Kane takes him by storm with a relationship that seems to be all about sex, Dex goes forth with the assumption that it’s all “just sex”.

Of course, it’s never that simple, and when nothing becomes everything, these two must conquer the difficulties that come from a variety of corners – business, family, and love.

When he held onto Dex, it was all perfect—best part of his day perfect, best part of his life perfect. Just… just sunny spring day perfect, with soft grass where you could see worms and spiders under your feet perfect, and even lizards sunning themselves on granite boulders. Perfect.

Amy Lane is a hit or miss for me, but the Johnnies series has been a huge hit when it comes to the first two books.

I was hopeful when I started this, that I would love it even half as much as the first, and boy did I. Dex and Kane were so completely sweet and complex.

I actually had to take a couple week break in reading this, and normally I lose a lot of interest or forget what is going on, but these two were just so imprinted in my mind that starting up again just went so smoothly.

And, the rarest of all things, I found myself thinking that I would definitely reread this again. (I don’t reread books much, I get bored knowing what is going to happen.)

So yeah, I think it’s safe to say that I loved it.

The cover art by Reese Dante is nice and cohesive with the first book while still having its own personality. I like the addition of the mountains, which speak to David’s roots. I’m not the biggest fan of the font used, but it’s a nice cover.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press* All Romance (ARe) Amazon Buy It here

*available in Paperback and audiobook

Book Details:

ebook, 350 pages
Published October 1st 2012 by Dreamspinner Press (first published September 30th 2012)
original titleDex in Blue
ISBN 1623800110 (ISBN13: 9781623800116)
edition languageEnglish
seriesJohnnies #2
charactersDavid “Dex” Worral, Carlos “Kane” Ramirez, Chase “Chance” Summers, Tommy “Tango” Halloran, Evan “Ethan” Costa
settingMontana
Sacramento, California (United States)

A Sammy Review: Chase in Shadow by Amy Lane

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Chase in Shadows coverChase Summers has been living a lie. He’s got a beautiful girlfriend and expectations, but the real him, well, that’s someone not even he knows. Beneath the carefully constructed exterior is a boy shrouded in an all consuming darkness, and no matter how hard he tries, he seems unable to reach the light beyond that all.

But then there’s Tommy. Sweet, handsome Tommy. He’s the perfect lover for Chase, and if the old adage is true, and love can heal all, then this just may be the key to bringing Chase out of the dark… but sometimes love isn’t enough.

Because you loved me, and I knew what it meant to feel.

Oh bahjeebus.

In several updates while reading this I described the story as having a “constant gut-punch feeling” and I couldn’t have been more right. The entire thing was a crazy rough ride of that tension in my stomach.

My heart breaks for Chase, and for Tommy, and I just adored the characters. It was deep and hot and all kinds of lovely.

I will say though that I had some issues with the therapy sessions, as they were at the very least unorthodox at times. For example, if someone is suffering from trauma from an event that is that grand and is going to get a very harsh response, it isn’t necessarily a good idea to bring that forth in the way that was done in this. Also, I take issue with counselors/therapists/psychologists who refer to patients as crazy, even in a joking context, but that’s just a personal thing.

Overall, not something to read if you’re looking for something light and fluffy, but if you want something that’s deep and harsh, and at times beautiful, then this is for you.

The cover art by Dante Reese is pretty good in general. I think the color red is fitting, as is the paint drip used in the background. It helps match a lot of the emotional aspect of the story. The razors are also fitting, though the way the chain holding them in blended in stands out a bit in the wrong ways. Still, it’s fitting for the story, and overall a nice cover.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press *     All Romance (ARe)    Amazon  Buy it Here

*also available in paperback, audio book and Spanish translation.

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published February 23rd 2012 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB007CS6IYK
edition languageEnglish
seriesJohnnies #1
charactersDavid “Dex” Worral, Chase “Chance” Summers, Tommy “Tango” Halloran
settingSacramento, California (United States

A Sammy Review: Red+Blue (Opposites Attract #1) by A.B. Gayle

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Rating:(3.75 stars rounded up to) 4 stars out of 5

Red & Blue coverRed+Blue is a novel of opposites. Ben is a young man, trying to spread his wings and find his way in San Francisco. From all accounts, he’s never really been in love, and he’s not afraid to go spend a night out on the town. Adrian, on the other hand, is older and established. He’s also Ben’s boss. He has had and lost love in one of the worst ways possible. Between society and family, Adrian’s deep in the closet, with no plans of even letting that door crack open.

The environment of this was perfect. I have some experience with financial types with my own work, and the set up felt of the office just felt so fantastic. One thing is for sure, this is that taboo boss/employee romance done right.

I also enjoyed the outline of the book. It’s split up in three parts, with the first being Red (Ben’s), the second Blue (Adrian’s), and the third a combination. It was unusual but really fitting. At first, when I got to the second part, I thought we were going to rehash everything in Red’s section all over again but from Adrian’s perspective, but it wasn’t like that (thank goodness). Parts were glossed over again, but it really more focused on Adrian in that same time period instead of every same interaction again from the different POV. It also came together really smoothly in the third section. There was no awkward breaking between these perspectives, making for a better read.

Unfortunately, I fear this book may have suffered from the “two day syndrome” that so ails me. A lot of the more emotional aspects were in the later part of section three, which I came back to on the second day. If I had the emotional connection with them, I had lost it by that point. Additionally, I wasn’t a fan of how their first actual sexual interaction happened. It lacked that spark of intensity for me, the surprise.

The writing was excellent, though, and the story good. All around an enjoyable read.

The cover art, done by Anne Cain is nice and simple. I think it does a nice job of showing the contrast between the characters, and of course, it features red and blue.

—-A.B. Gayle is one of Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Down Under Authors for January

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press eBook & Paperback      All Romance (ARe)    Amazon     Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 330 pages
Published May 25th 2012 by Dreamspinner Press (first published 2012)
ISBN139781613725214
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2952
seriesOpposites Attract #1