An Alisa Release Day Review: A Cordial Agreement by Ryan Loveless

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

Can a wealthy but frustrated CEO and a guilt-ridden stripper find what they need in a consensual, nonsexual whipping boy arrangement?

 

Billionaire mogul Grant Jessup, fifty-three, buries his sexual tastes and the reasons behind them—the stresses of his business empire and family. In contrast, Jim Sieber understands the regret that makes him seek pain and penance. As an asexual averse to erotic touch, Jim sets strict boundaries. But as the relationship evolves, Grant struggles to respect them, and both men realize for their association to continue and perhaps grow into real feelings, they’ll have to explore new ways to satisfy each other.

 

I enjoyed this story and seeing Grant and Jim navigate a relationship with a few hurdles to overcome.  Though Jim and Grant’s arrangement is strictly business it quickly changes to much more.

 

I have enjoyed a few asexual romances before and this was one of the better ones, it didn’t go to romancy but I easily saw how hard it was for Jim to find happiness or even someone he could trust to spend time with and not push him.  I could see how stressed Grant was and how Jim made him want to not be so much though not much changed on that front.  This was short so it didn’t go into how their relationship would evolve but was nice.

 

The cover art by L.C. Chase is nice with a visual of Grant.

 

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 118 pages

Published: May 17, 2019 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-64405-223-5

Edition Language: English

Looking for Your Next Romance? Check Out the New Release Blitz for A Cordial Agreement by Ryan Loveless (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: A Cordial Agreement

Author: Ryan Loveless

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: LC Chase

Ryan Loveless Artist: Alexandria Corza of Seeing Static

Release Date: May 17, 2019

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 118 pages

Genre: Romance, BDSM, age gap, gay, asexual, bisexual, contemporary, rich/poor

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Synopsis

Can a wealthy but frustrated CEO and a guilt-ridden stripper find what they need in a consensual, nonsexual whipping boy arrangement?

Billionaire mogul Grant Jessup, fifty-three, buries his sexual tastes and the reasons behind them—the stresses of his business empire and family. In contrast, Jim Sieber understands the regret that makes him seek pain and penance. As an asexual averse to erotic touch, Jim sets strict boundaries. But as the relationship evolves, Grant struggles to respect them, and both men realize for their association to continue and perhaps grow into real feelings, they’ll have to explore new ways to satisfy each other.

Excerpt

JIM SIEBER kept his attention on the television in front of him, pretending to be engrossed in the telenovela playing. He didn’t need to be fluent in Spanish to know Ricardo was in deep shit with Sofia. Occasionally he caught a glimpse of the bartender in his peripheral vision and doubled down on his TV viewing. Behind him, a steady slap of leather against bare skin pulled a rich, throaty holler from a man. Jim sat at the corner of the bar, loosely surrounding his double whiskey with his long fingers. He sensed a few stares, but people left him alone. He’d figured they would after his first time when a man had snaked his hand around Jim’s neck and called him boy. Jim had twisted the man’s thumb so far back he’d almost broken it. “Not your boy,” Jim had said, after he’d forced the man to his knees in pain. Evidently, word had gotten around. No one had approached since.

It was his own damn fault. He didn’t know why he’d come to an S&M club if he wasn’t going to get involved. He hadn’t come to watch. Hell, he wasn’t watching, not anything except the telenovela. The beatings going on behind him could have been happening on another planet. But he had to stop himself from flinching with every stroke he heard, and curled his fingers into his glass with every scream. He’d come here because he’d wondered if pain would make him forget. No, not forget. He’d come here because he’d wondered if pain would absolve him. Sure, he could have tried boxing or started a bar fight, but he didn’t want to be arrested, and his boss got huffy about facial injuries. A respectable S&M club had seemed like his best option. Except for the red flag that Jim hadn’t considered, and which had stopped him from taking action. As the subs walked past after their sessions, hugged against their Doms, he knew why he could never do that. Aftercare involved touching. It might turn sexual. Jim’s skin prickled at the thought, a march of ants that he couldn’t shake off.

So he stared at the television and talked to no one.

“Hey. Hey!” Jim jumped and blinked. The bartender was talking to him. He thumbed to a set of stairs leading up to a balcony and a single door. “Boss wants to see ya.”

“Boss?” Jim asked.

“Wouldn’t keep her waiting,” the bartender said.

Jim looked around, expecting to find some muscle waiting to haul him up, but he saw a clear path to the stairs. “Okay.” He considered his glass.

“I’ll keep it for you, if you want it later.” The bartender pulled it off the bar. So that settled it. Jim headed for the stairs. At the top, he knocked. The door flew open. A woman with an olive complexion and straight black hair reaching to the middle of her back beckoned him in. He’d expected leather, lace, and high heels. She wore smart black slacks and a maroon shirt tailored to hug her waist and not strain at her bust. The amount of cleavage on view from the two open buttonholes would have been acceptable in any corporate boardroom. Instead of heels, she wore what looked like bedroom slippers. Not the sexy kind, either. More like the “home alone with a Harlequin novel and a mug of hot chocolate” kind. He relaxed instantly. The image reminded him of many pleasant nights spent with his mother when he was a child. With almost nothing between her feet and the floor, the top of her head barely reached Jim’s nipples. As soon as she closed the door, the sounds from downstairs disappeared.

“Soundproofing?” Jim asked.

The woman smiled and extended her hand. “I couldn’t concentrate without it. I’m Tanya Wyatt. You can call me Tanya or Miss Wyatt, whichever you’re more comfortable with.”

“Jim Sieber.” He left the implication that she could likewise call him whatever she wished unsaid. They shook hands.

“Come sit down, Mr. Sieber. Take the seat of your choice.”

He followed her back to her desk. As she sat in her chair, he noticed his options—a straight-backed wooden chair or a pillow on the floor. He chose the chair. If Miss Wyatt noticed his fraction of a second of hesitation, she didn’t comment.

She folded her hands and made a serious expression.

He waited.

“Mr. Sieber, when a new person comes to the club and doesn’t engage in activities, whether that is actively, voyeuristically, or simply socially, for a week, we understand. This is a new experience for them, and we appreciate their need to acclimate at their own pace. Some people can take two or three weeks before they are ready to take the next step.”

Jim’s throat tightened. “So?”

“You have been coming for nine weeks, and aside from nearly breaking Henry’s hand, you haven’t spoken to anyone.”

“So, you called me up here because I haven’t made any friends?”

“I’ll put this bluntly. My staff and clients are starting to wonder if you’re police. Are you the police, Mr. Sieber?”

“No, ma’am, I’m not.”

“Then what can I do to help you achieve your goals here? Because unless you’re here to improve your Spanish, I’m guessing that you’re not getting what you need out of your visits.”

Jim wished he’d brought his drink along. He stared down at his hands, which had subconsciously assumed the position like they were gripping a glass. “It’s hard to explain.”

“I want to help you.”

On the cusp of voicing his needs, he felt stupid. “I should go. I’m sorry. I won’t come back.”

“Truffle?” Miss Wyatt asked. Jim blinked in surprise as she opened a box on her desk and offered a tray of cocoa-dusted chocolate drops to him.

“Thank you.” He took one and popped it in his mouth before he could think about it.

As he chewed, she spoke. “People come here for a variety of reasons. They aren’t all what you might suspect. So, if you’re thinking that you’re out of place because your reasons don’t match what you believe they should, believe me when I tell you that you are wrong. Look at me.” She gestured at herself. “I’m a heterosexual woman who owns and operates an exclusively male S&M club. What are my motivations? Why do I do this? I bet they aren’t what you think.”

Jim wasn’t sure if she wanted an answer. He stopped chewing to let the chocolate dissolve on his tongue.

“Delectable, isn’t it? A good friend goes to Belgium on business. He always brings me a box. He’s a considerate man. We won’t talk about his personal life.” She offered a bland smile that Jim interpreted as “I’m sure you know what I mean.”

“Is he a client here?” Jim asked.

“He’s a dear friend.” She smiled again. “Another?”

Jim shook his head. “No, thank you.”

“I’ll have one.” She closed her eyes as she chewed. Jim watched her jaw and throat move. She didn’t seem to be putting on a show. For a moment, he wondered if she’d forgotten him.

“I, um, I’m not sure I’m comfortable here.”

Miss Wyatt opened her eyes with the laziness of a cat waking. “In the office or in the club?”

“Here.” Jim gestured, taking in everything. “Everything’s so sexual. If you knew what I do for a living, you’d think I’m weird to say that, but….”

“But sexual is not what you want from your experience here,” she finished.

He nodded.

“So what do you want? Pain? You said not sexual, so I assume you don’t want pleasure?”

“Sex isn’t pleasurable for me.” He cringed. He hadn’t meant to share that.

“Mr. Sieber, if you’ve suffered a trauma and you’re here to work through it, I have to advise you against this. I can direct you to other resources—”

“I wasn’t traumatized. I’m not interested in sex. I don’t like… being touched like that. It makes me uncomfortable.” That put it mildly.

“Well. You might be the first asexual we’ve had here that I know of.”

“I don’t sign autographs.”

She laughed. “All right, you’ve explained why your goals aren’t sexual. Let’s talk about why you’re asking for pain. Are you a masochist?”

“No, ma’am.” He dug his heels into the carpet as she unraveled him.

“But you want to be hurt.”

She sounded sure. He glanced up, wondering if he should put up a front and demand to know why she’d jumped to that conclusion instead of asking if he sought to hurt someone. Her thoughtful expression shut him down. She looked ready to explain his life for him. And worse, she would be right.

“Yes,” he said, instead of the protest he’d halfheartedly intended. “I want to be hurt.” He said it aloud, slowly, to hear himself.

“Why?”

One look at Miss Wyatt told him she already knew why. She wanted him to say it.

“Because I deserve it.” He swallowed.

She kept eye contact and gave a small encouraging nod.

“Because I’m guilty of something and I… I want to be absolved.”

“Mr. Sieber, are you a fugitive?”

“No, nothing like that.” He realized what he sounded like, talking of guilt and absolution with such fervor.

He fell back in relief when her lips twitched into a smile. She reached across the desk. He grasped her hand.

“Mr. Sieber, I give you my word that I will match you to a client who will respect your boundaries. As for the absolution you desire, I’m afraid you’ll only find that if you’re willing to let yourself.”

“Thank you.” He began to shake with relief. He’d have what he needed soon. Everything would be okay.

“Now. Let’s go downstairs so I can introduce you properly to our bartender, Noel.” She pulled a pair of heels from beneath her desk and quickly swapped her slippers for them. “You have a lot of paperwork ahead of you, young man, and you’re going to need a soda to help your nerves.” He jumped when she touched his shoulder. “This is a big step.”

“I’m ready.” He stood up and walked to the door, where he waited for her. “Thank you, Miss Wyatt.”

THREE MONTHS Later:

Tanya Wyatt never failed to add excitement to his day, so Grant Jessup had allowed himself a rare nonbusiness lunch when she’d invited him out. Of course Rory had scowled at him. His leaving meant she needed to cancel a meeting on his account, but it was a one-on-one and it involved spreadsheets. Frankly, Grant was glad to be free of it. He still had heartburn and acid reflux from the day before after two acidic meals, one featuring citrus and the other tomato sauce. It had worsened overnight.

A new box of chocolate truffles sat on the table between Grant and Tanya. Grant had dutifully handed them over upon arrival, kicking off a conversation about his most recent European business trip. Then, when the waitress carried away their entree plates, Tanya slipped the truffles into her bag. Recognizing the significance of the action, Grant glanced around for eavesdropping ears.

“So, what’s the occasion?” he asked.

“There’s a young man I want you to meet. He started coming into the club about five months ago. I haven’t been able to match him yet. He’s breathtaking but asexual. He only wants to be beaten, but the Doms I’ve paired him with get handsy. It’s counterproductive to his needs.”

“So you think I could keep my hands off him?”

“You have a considerable amount of restraint. You are possibly my last hope. Plus, given what you’re currently looking for, I think he’d be a good match for you as well.”

Grant considered it. “How attractive?”

“Greek god.”

“Mercury or Hercules?”

“Narcissus.”

Grant arched an eyebrow as his heart clenched with a mix of youthful guilt and nostalgia. Tanya had touched a nerve she couldn’t possibly know about. Unless… she’d been to Grant’s home. She could easily have seen the painting of Narcissus that hung in Melanie’s former office. Melanie had left it and a number of other paintings behind after the divorce. Tanya might have guessed it belonged to Grant.

“You’d trust me to work out my frustration on his ass? I know how protective you are of your clients’ bottoms, Tanya.”

“Oh, you won’t touch him until you and I have spent at least forty hours together and I’m positive you know how to recognize when your temper isn’t in check.”

Grant gave a light snort. “Please. I didn’t get this rich by losing my cool.”

“That’s my point. You’re so good at hiding when you’re about to boil over that I wonder if you even know when you’ve reached the point before it’s too late. I’m not about to put a whip or any other implement in your hand before you’ve proven yourself to me, especially considering your reasons for doing this. You can keep your temper in business interactions, but you’re talking about family.”

Grant sighed. He didn’t care for Tanya’s methods, but he respected them, and if this plan worked out, it would meet a need he’d been looking to fill for a few years. “Fair enough. I suppose you’ll want to start this training the usual way.”

“Naturally.”

“You know, I think it’s hilarious how you’re protective of everyone’s ass but mine.”

“Darling, no Dom gets in my club without getting whipped by Miss Wyatt. You know that. If you can’t take it, there’s no reason I should let you dish it out.”

He sniffed. “I don’t see why one needs to give repeated proof. You’re a perverted woman.”

She grinned. “If you made yourself more of a regular, I wouldn’t have to keep reassuring myself.”

“Come on, Tanya. I can’t exactly be seen there, no matter how discreet you insist everyone is. My family is already in the tabloids more than I’d like.”

“I know. So, I’ll see you at mine at ten tonight?”

“Fine.” He dug into his pocket for a pillbox and pulled out an omeprazole tablet. “When do I meet this young man?”

“Heartburn or ulcer?” Tanya asked. She nodded at the tablet as Grant put it into his mouth and swallowed with a bit of water. It wouldn’t be as effective with food already in his stomach, but it was better than not taking it.

“Heartburn, but ulcer is around the corner I’m sure.”

“What does the doctor say?”

“Says I have too much stress in my life and I need to cut back.”

“Are you going to listen to him?”

He smiled. “Why do you think I take so many trips to Europe?”

“Grant, I know you take pride in your job, but—”

“It’s not a job. It’s a career. It’s the family business that I built on my father’s framework, so whatever you’re about to say, stop.”

Tanya put her hand up and changed the subject back. “He works at a strip club in upper Manhattan. I don’t want you to meet him yet, but you can send one of your spies to check him out.”

“And by ‘spy’ you mean Rory?”

She smiled. “I do. See you tonight, babe.”

Grant sighed, already anticipating the pain in his ass the evening would be.

Purchase

Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Overdrive | Google Books

Meet the Author

Ryan Loveless is the author of numerous M/M romance novels and short stories. She is honored to be recognized as a Rainbow Book Award winner (several titles), an Epic eBook Awards finalist (In Me an Invincible Summer), and a Florida Author and Publisher Association bronze medalist (Ethan, the young adult adaptation of Ethan, Who Loved Carter). She lives in New York with her family, a sentence that brings her great joy to write.

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A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Impacted! (Bay Area Professionals) by Mickie B. Ashling

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Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5 

As the author acknowledges, she had a limited knowledge of BDSM when this was written. While this story was originally written in 2009, this is a re-edited and re-released version for 2019. It does jump right into a rough sex scene between strangers with no real concern for trust or safety, not really enough lube, and no prep.

Scott Gregory has bought into a periodontal practice in San Francisco. Knowing his partner Ron is conservative, he decides to stay in the closet due to the trial period in the contract before he becomes a full partner. His hookup with Red, from a BDSM club during his vacation, turns out to be Robin Kennedy, his new dental hygienist. Of course he is in the same boat–working for a homophobe and worried about being fired. Scott’s best friend from school, Susie ends up being hired to be his assistant. I’m not sure that having Susie or Ron’s point of view helped this book.

As soon as Scott and Robin see each other, they want each other again even though it’s a terrible idea. Then they go straight to Scott calling him Master for their second scene and swiftly into a contract. The encounter where Scott tops Robin is uncomfortable; he’s a virgin and doesn’t bottom, or as far as we know even use toys and there is no prep at all! Robin says he would never risk exposing Scott, yet that’s exactly what he does. If you read the blurb and thought, what could possibly go wrong…then you know exactly what goes wrong. Of course, they get caught. Then there is an OTT (over the top) ridiculous plot twist!

Susie doesn’t come across as the most likeable character. She also can’t be that close of a friend if she doesn’t know about Scott. Now all of the sudden she gets introduced to BDSM. I found this whole plot point rather irritating to be honest. She obviously has trust issues, hasn’t seen a loving relationship, and treats men as disposable…but now all of the sudden that makes sense because she might be a Domme? The other dental assistant Jenna, Ron’s wife, and Ron’s daughter are not pleasant either. In fact, the only likeable female character in this is actually Robin’s mom.

I guess this is frustrating because I liked elements of this and it flowed well for the most part, but there were just so many things that didn’t work for me. After such a major conflict, everything gets wrapped up with a bow without really working things out properly in my opinion. It ends abruptly. I must be in the minority in my view because there are five books in this series, with Bonds of Love being the sequel that still focuses on this couple. I’m torn about whether to read it or not because I know these guys now and I want to see them progress emotionally and deal with things more maturely. I want to know what happens with Ron. However, I am annoyed with Jenna and she’ll likely feature in the sequel. I personally have no interest in Susie’s storyline going any further. I don’t see how Ron could be redeemed and I don’t have any interest in what that would look like. I have to decide if this HFN is enough for me, or if I want to read about what Scott and Robin’s relationship is like now that they are out of the closet. Also, there are some soap opera elements that should be wrapped up in the sequel.

The cover art is by Kanaxa. I don’t know who this is. Scott is described as having honey colored hair and green eyes. Robin is a natural redhead with freckles. This cover has no connection to the story at all.

Buy links:  Dreamspinner PressAmazon 

Book Details:

ebook, 234 pages
Published August 3rd 2009 by Dreamspinner Press (first published August 2009)
Original TitleImpacted
ISBN 1615810234 (ISBN13: 9781615810239)
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Bay Area Professionals #1
settingCalifornia (United States)

An Ali Review: Trusting Him (The Retreat #2) by L.M. Somerton

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

Trust is hard earned and all too easy to lose.

 Luke Redding’s military background is an asset when it comes to managing The Retreat, but it hasn’t helped him find the submissive he longs for. A secluded life in the New Forest, witnessing a stream of happy couples playing out their fantasies, doesn’t provide much opportunity to develop a relationship either. When a friend’s manipulations lead to him taking on silver-haired Skye as a trainee sub, Luke finds it hard to trust in his own ability to provide the guidance Skye needs.

Skye Ingham wants to explore his submissive nature but the noise and crowds at The Underground are overwhelming. He can’t believe his luck to be taken under Luke’s wing and offered a job at The Retreat. As Luke tests his boundaries, Skye trusts him implicitly, but how can he convince his new Dominant to have faith in himself?

Amid the bustle and excitement of a big house party at The Retreat, Luke and Skye edge their way towards a deeper understanding of each other’s needs and desires. But it will take a final leap of faith to secure their future and open a path to love.

This was a nice continuation of this series and I really look forward to seeing the other employees here find their HEA.  My problems with this story is it felt like something was missing though out the whole thing.  After some thought I think it was any romance or actual feelings, their interactions seemed to cold and calculated even when they weren’t in a scene it just didn’t add up to a happy couple for me.

Luke and Skye are basically thrown together by their matchmaker bosses though it takes Luke a whole like 3 days to admit he really wants Skye for himself.  The timeline for their relationship just didn’t work for me, I know if really happened over about a week time frame but there were times it didn’t add up.  One whole discussion that was skipped was Skye’s safe word, Luke made a big deal about him needing to select a safe word by the following evening and suddenly that night he mentions Skye having his safe word if needed but a safe word was never given, if felt like a whole part was skipped over.  I look forward to reading more in the series I just hope they are closer in quality and story to the first book.

The cover art by Melody Pond is okay and similar in style to the last one though the building seems to have completely changed.

Sales Links: Pride Publishing | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 226 pages

Published: April 9, 2019 by Pride Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-78651-734-0

Edition Language: English

Series: The Retreat #2

A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: Inked Music by Sean Michael

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Rene Conette is a bored businessman looking for…something. The first impression is of complete privilege so I wasn’t sure if I liked him, but I found myself warming to him more and more as he is patient and kind, if used to getting his way. Gavin Turner is a musician with a haunting past: an obsessed fan kidnapped and tortured him. Once his interest in BDSM became public, people judged that he either enjoyed it or got what he deserved. The cast is completed by twin brothers Silas and Dev, former police who helped rescue Gavin and now work as his private security.

Gavin’s history sets up a way for Rene and Gavin to take time to establish trust before adding mild BDSM elements into their relationship. The sexual aspect does start surprisingly fast. The book is definitely erotic romance going from one hot sex scene to another, which is what the author does well. It’s the the dialogue in the getting to know each other scenes and the scenes between sex scenes that don’t seem to flow as easily. After setting up Silas and Dev as Gavin’s protectors and family, they are largely ignored for the rest of the book. There is more than one conversation about Gavin’s relationship with them not being sexual, which is a little repetitive. If they are supposed to be Gavin’s family and closest friends, it seems strange that Rene ignores them. I know they are supposed to be on duty, especially when outside, but in Rene’s home in a secure building where you have to be buzzed up, the fact that they are on high alert is a little odd to me. Really though it’s the smallest part of the book. The majority of the book is the sex scenes. While hot, they are pretty tame so this may be a good book for people who don’t like anything hardcore.

They are both wealthy, so they do live in their own little bubble on their own schedule. Work is only mentioned briefly. At the beginning, it did seem as though Rene was in the closet, or just very discreet, taking a female friend to all of his work or social functions. Given the issues Gavin’s last Dom had with his fame after what happened, it did make me wonder if that would also be addressed with Rene, but it’s never mentioned again. This book does end on a HFN/HEA. If the author does write another book with these characters, maybe focusing on the twins, I would like to see what would happen if Gaven was recognized and no longer able to be incognito and how that would affect their relationship. In the end, even for an erotic romance, I guess I wanted a bit more plot and a few more details. The book is surprisingly low angst for the subject matter, has steamy scenes, and a sweet, quick romance.

The cover art is by L.C. Chase. It shows Gaven, insular and alone, focused on what matters most to him. He’s described as being thin with dark hair, dark eyes, and tattoos so this isn’t quite how I pictured him.

Buy links: Dreamspinner Press |   AmazonKobo |  Barnes and Noble 

Book Details:

ebook, 1st edition, 193 pages
Expected publication: April 9th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 139781644051092
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Review: On Hands and Knees (The Valentino Family) by Sai Fox

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Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5

Nicolai Valentino is the almost perfect heir to the Valentino Family—impeccably dressed, devilishly handsome, impossibly cold, and absolutely dedicated to a family that scorns his very existence. Born to the infamous Boss and a Japanese woman of no consequence, Nico must fight for respect in a blood-thirsty world that would be much happier to see him with a hole in his head.

Blood runs thick in the Valentino Family. To them, Nico’s little better than water.

Gabriel Delatto is Nico’s right-hand man, his childhood friend, and under the darkness of their ruby red sheets, his lover. But more than that, Gabriel holds the secret to unlocking who Nico really is—the true Nico, not the mask beginning to crack around the edges.

But there is a pleasure in that pain, he knows. There is only ever pleasure when it comes to Nico, even if it comes from the crack of a whip or on the edge of a blade.

But there’s someone lurking in the darkness, something that neither Nico nor Gabriel truly understand, But there is one thing they do know—

It isn’t afraid to bite.

I had a tough time with the rating on this story for several reasons. On Hands and Knees (The Valentino Family) by Sai Fox was a new title and author for me so you all know I immediately read the author bio and information.  She’s been writing for years. She’s currently living in Japan. Pluses. That leads me to more pluses and minuses of this story.

I’m drawn to stories with complex, dark characters and this promised two.  As I got into the novel, there are multiple mysteries surrounding both main characters of Nico and Gabriel, their traumatic childhoods, and yes, even a present timeline going back 6 months.  The author presents clues but nothing more.  There is really only the barest of world building here and little character framework other than their twined childhoods after a certain age, an implied horrific “Training” they endured by The Family as kids, and the present romantic/physical relationship which is barely tolerated,  and that might end at any moment, It also includes a D/s element (spanking, whipping) .

The story is heavy on sex, light on  layered character development.  We are more told how crazy Nico is than shown except for one rather mild example.

What the story relies on is promise.  The narrative offer is held out for more.  More revelations, more character growth and depth.  Of the two men, Gabriel is easier to relate to but you should be able to relate to both and that really doesn’t happen here imo.  Nico just isn’t given the dimension he needs outside of the sex scenes.

Then there is the issue with the editing.

Here is an example:

“There were scars crisscrossing his skin, leaving perfectly puckered and raised lines for Gabriel to stare down at in complete and utter awe. They were mostly pale brown, not deep enough to leave lasting damage or scar but enough for Nico to feel.

Uh, wut?

Well, the author meant bruises or welts from the whipping from a belt earlier that morning but used the word “scars” instead.  That’s only the first of many such errors.  Plus these two men are supposed to be keeping their relationship on the down-low yet plenty of people within the organization have heard the “screaming” going on from their sessions.

Sigh.

Yes, an editor, a really good editor is clearly needed here.

The story ends on a cliffhanger with a new element introduced that’s interesting but makes little sense with what the author has already told us.

I have no idea if I’m going further with this series or not.  Probably with one more story just to see how the cliffhanger is resolved.

I will leave someone else to comment about the timing of the sessions (in an office right before an important meeting of the Mafia), the lack of safe words etc., and other aspects of the D/s relationship.  I think I’ve covered plenty here.   If this sounds like this is the story for you, the buy links are listed below.

 

Cover Artist: Samantha Garrett, the cover art is ok.  The font is easy to read but the graphics are dark and murky which may be what the artist was going for but it loses something in the composition.

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US 

Amazon UK 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 232 pages
Published June 1st 2018
ASINB07D92HV75
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesThe Valentino Family

Author Note: Please be advised that there are sexual scenes of explicit graphic nature, including spanking, within the following story. These are done in a fully consensual manner between two parties over the age of 18

BLOG TOUR for Red Zone by TS McKinney & Shannon West (excerpt and giveaway)

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Red Zone Tour Banner

RED ZONE

T.S. McKinney & Shannon West

Gay Romance, Contemporary New Adult, Sports Romance, & BDSM

Release Date: 03/15/19

Red Zone 1

BLURB

From the outside, it looks as if college football quarterback Kingston Bentley has it all—good looks, outstanding athletic ability and a 4.0 average in his classes. But looks can be deceiving. Kingston is battling inner demons that are jeopardizing his safety and slowly driving him to more and more acts of desperation. Everywhere he looks, he’s got nothing but trouble, and when he loses his coveted first-string position on the football team, he goes back to the one thing he can count on—cutting to relieve the pressure and the emotional pain.

The gorgeous new quarterback on the team, Memphis Sabine, is the Coach’s son, and under enormous pressure of his own to lead his new team to the national championship. For that, he needs Kingston’s help, and they soon become an unbeatable force both on the field. But when Memphis discovers Kingston in the act of cutting, he uses his forceful nature and all he knows about being a Dom to take Kingston in hand and ensure his welfare. Kingston loves the pain, but he rebels against the idea of being Memphis’s sub. As Kingston begins his training, however, Memphis discovers just how fragile their relationship really is, and how desperately he needs to help Kingston deal with the secrets from his past.

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EXCERPT

I took hold of his wrist and held on, squeezing a little. “Who’s in charge here, fireball?”

I could see it trembling on the tip of his tongue to cuss me out and tell me to go to hell. His eyes got stormy and his face sullen, but I waited him out, pressing his wrist harder. “I’m waiting for an answer. I thought we’d already decided this last night. Now who’s in charge here?”

Finally, after what seemed like hours, but was really only a few, long seconds, he dropped his gaze. “You are,”he said, grudgingly. I loved his little hesitations. They told me this was hard for him, but he was doing it anyway, because I’d told him to.

“That’s right,”I said, my voice soft and coaxing. Sometimes it felt like I was encouraging some wild animal to come out of its hiding place in the shadows. “And what is it you have to worry about today?”

He looked up at me, a little blank at first, and then he got a nervous look in his eyes, like he’d forgotten something. I sighed and said, “The answer is nothing. You don’t have to worry about a damn thing because I got this for both of us. I’m making the decisions now and all you have to do is go along for the ride.”

ABOUT T.S. MCKINNEY

I have spent my entire life reading, reading, and reading some more! I love to get lost in the land of fantasy where I can be as naughty as I like without facing too many penalties! Earlier this year, I decided that maybe I should try writing my own naughty stories. That way I can do wickedly delightful things to my imaginary boyfriends without serving any serious jail time! My publishing company, Dark Hollows Press, has been awesome and most patient when dealing with their newbie.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2T8BkEV

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100006245056875

ABOUT SHANNON WEST

Shannon makes her home in Georgia and North Carolina with her husband and family. She believes that love is love, no matter the gender. Shannon mostly spends her days at the keyboard trying to elude housework, which stalks her relentlessly.

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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shannon.west.399

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Retro Review Tour and Giveaway for On Hands and Knees (The Valentino Family) by Sai Fox

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RETRO REVIEW TOUR

Book Title: On Hands and Knees

Author: Sai Fox

Publisher: Self-Published

Cover Artist: Samantha Garrett

Release Date: June 1, 2018

Genre/s: Mystery, Thriller, BDSM

Heat Rating: 5 flames

Length: 40 000 words/ 226 pages

It is the first book of a series, with additional books due to be released in the summer.

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Tagline

Valentino blood runs black.

Blurb

Nicolai Valentino is the almost perfect heir to the Valentino Family—impeccably dressed, devilishly handsome, impossibly cold, and absolutely dedicated to a family that scorns his very existence. Born to the infamous Boss and a Japanese woman of no consequence, Nico must fight for respect in a blood-thirsty world that would be much happier to see him with a hole in his head.

Blood runs thick in the Valentino Family. To them, Nico’s little better than water.

Gabriel Delatto is Nico’s right-hand man, his childhood friend, and under the darkness of their ruby red sheets, his lover. But more than that, Gabriel holds the secret to unlocking who Nico really is—the true Nico, not the mask beginning to crack around the edges.

But there is a pleasure in that pain, he knows. There is only ever pleasure when it comes to Nico, even if it comes from the crack of a whip or on the edge of a blade.

But there’s someone lurking in the darkness, something that neither Nico nor Gabriel truly understand. But there is one thing they do know—

It isn’t afraid to bite.

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

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Amazon UK 

 

About the Author

Sai Fox was born and raised in New York City, so it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that there’s an ever present coffee cup on her desk as she writes well into the night. A chronic insomniac, some of her best ideas come to her right before heading off to bed.

Currently residing in Tokyo, Sai finds most of her time spent writing, reading, and wandering the strange and intoxicating streets that tell thousands of stories… with a cup of coffee. There is always a cup of coffee.

Sai has been writing fiction for well over a decade, enjoying the ability to push boundaries of society and sexuality through her work.

 

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A MelanieM Review: Ties of Destiny (Curse of the Crown #1) by Caitlin Taylor

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

When forces both inside and outside the palace walls threaten the life of Crown Prince Akoni, he finds himself in need of a guard. Someone who will protect not only him, but also his secrets – and he may have found the perfect man for the task.

Being a soldier is Jeffery’s life. He won’t be defined by his past, but fights for the present, not some future he will never see. Yet, his mandatory reassignment to the palace as Prince Akoni’s personal guard forces him to set aside his plans. His role places Jeffery in the presence of nobles whom he despises, and Prince Akoni is worse than most.

Can two men learn to trust each other, or will the secrets they carry bring about their own demise? Will having Jeffery close to him help Prince Akoni to become King – or cause more deaths? They need to depend on each other, for the sake of the future, because if they cannot, the past will only repeat itself and neither of them will survive.

Ties of Destiny is the first book in the Fantasy series Curse of the Crown.

Well, Ties of Destiny is certainly an unusual sort of fantasy novel.  I enjoyed it immensely even if or maybe because it reads more like a fantasy mystery novel than it does a straight out fantasy fiction.  With most fantasy series, the first story is full of world building, set the stage with our characters, their backgrounds, relationship dynamics, and any huge issues that we know will need to be resolved.

Caitlin Taylor gives us only some of that, along with some astonishing twists in the fantasy genre, like motor cars and trucks.  motorcycles and arms to go along with swords, knives,  and horses.  It’s an odd mishmash of past and present that, tbh, I’m not sure always works, and the explanation could be enlarged on other than history and the obtaining of a special mineral that allowed this society to make jumps in technology. But just like so much else here, perhaps the author is leaving that to future stories.

Yes, there are plenty of places here where Taylor purposely leaves out information.  Jeffery’s background  for instance.  We are given hints, and make certain conclusions, as do all the other main characters around him as to his backhistory (not that of his soldiering days, but the all important beyond).  That’s key, I’m sure to the next story.  Same goes for Prince Akoni where we are missing some rather key details about his father, their relationship, and dynamics.  And the curse of course.

All of these “holes” or mysteries are things you think might be part of the foundation story, but not here.  But Taylor uses these huge gaps to build suspense, anticipation, and yes, frustration with the progress and type of relationship building between Akoni and Jeffery.  Because everything is shrouded in mystery, there’s no communication and therefore, no trust.  A huge issue with these two.

Not that they don’t already have the weight of so much more on their shoulders.  There’s magic gone wonky, unexplained ties, a rebellion, and, yes, more mystery.

Plus we really need more world building as far as what constitutes this monarchy, its regions, religion, etc.  So far we have descriptions of battles, certain cultures likes the Clansmen, which I found fascinating, along with hints from a Southern region, but nothing substantial yet about anything.

Yet for all that, this story is rich in emotion, political deceit, an ominous magical curse, and a heavy threat that hangs over a nation.  Plus characters I’m now heavily invested in.

I haven’t even mentioned the penchant for dominance and bdsm sex have I?  Among multiple partners…  Yes, not your typical fantasy novel.

So what you have here is a wild fantasy story with castles, swords, magic, cars, motorcycles, horses, a variety of  mysteries and missing back histories (on purpose), bdsm sex, D/s light,  along with a bit of a cliffhanger.  Some would call that a hot mess, but really I think Caitlyn Taylor has something here.  The author somehow pulls all those elements together into a whole and makes ou care about the characters, and the plot and where they are all going.  That’s sort of magical right there.

And I can’t wait for the next book to arrive.  If you love fantasy with a quirk, check this out.  I definitely recommend it.

Cover art: Dee Aditya at Decorous Studios.  I really like this cover.  It has an important element from the storyline as well as the crossed swords.  Also important.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 333 pages
Published October 28th 2018 (first published October 26th 2018)
Edition Language English
Series Curse of the Crown #1

A Jeri Review: Damaged by Tricia Owens

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Rating: 2 stars out of 5

I have mixed feelings about this book. It could have been so much better if it had gone in a different direction.
After a bust gone wrong that kills his partner, Jack heads off to an Indian Casino to wait out his suspension while they investigate. He is drawn to the manager of the casino, Taylor (who is constantly referred to by his last name Brandt) even though he only plans to gamble, sleep, and drink.
I couldn’t quite figure out if Jack was gay and suppressed it or was just in the closet or is bi or ?? But this is his first experience with a man.  And, it is definitely an experience.
Taylor, or Brandt, is gay and has had some bad relationships. Of course both of those were with cops so he is wary.  Both of them took BDSM way too far to the point that he almost died. You’d think after the first he would have learned his lesson. He also mentions that he was mostly trying BDSM out. Uh, that is kind of extreme. And if the first time left you almost dead, why try again?
So Damaged these guys definitely are. But they way they come together is not healthy at all. Jack uses Brandt to punish himself. Brandt uses Jack to punish his former Doms. Honestly, it is books like this that give BDSM a bad name. I love broken characters and watching them find love and redemption. But this was not the way to do it.
 I didn’t feel a connection between them at all. More like they were each objects to each other. A ways to a means.
There was a bit of a subplot about Native American lore and the forest surrounding the casino and the inordinate amount of people who seem to commit suicide there. It was mentioned here and there and, again, it could have made a really strong impact at one point but it was kind of just tossed off.
And the pretty rainbow bow at the end was a bit too much after the darkness of the book. I would give this a pass.
Cover art:  Tricia Owens.  The cover aptly indicates parts of the story and gives the reader a major element at a glance.  Great job .

Buy Links – Available on KindleUnlimited

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 133 pages
Published February 12th 2018 by Tricia Owens
ASINB07N7F5M4H
Edition Language English