A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Winter’s Knight (New Amsterdam #2) by Kelly Wyre

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

If you want a continuation of Clark and Daniel from book one, there is a short story numbered 1.1. This second book in the series actually gives more details on the backstory of how clubs Bliss and Break came to be. There is finally more shown about Clark’s side job with Lucien, complete with glimpses of Lucien and Clark’s complicated relationship as friends, business owners, and employee/employer, which help address one criticism I had for book one. Apparently they are not just bar owners, but they and their friends/employees have formed a vigilante group bent on taking down a BDSM club involved in the skin trade, run by the mob.

Lucien hasn’t seen his friend Shea for three years, since he quit his job and vanished. Lucian has kept tabs on him and he seemed alright: maybe just dropped out of the rat race to sidestep the expectations of his family. This had some amazing parts, and then had things that just didn’t work for me. Lucian is in love with him, yet stops talking to him? It’s weird that Lucian just decides to finally ask Shea out on a date under these circumstances. One thing that confused me was how close Lucian seems to Shea’s family, and how Shea is supposedly close to his family, yet when Shea just stops going home, no one goes to see him? He built his house on the family property! The author tries, unsuccessfully in my opinion, to explain this away. Could Shea really stay hidden just by selling his things and changing his job? His parents go to society and charity galas; could Shea really be that much of an unknown quantity with the mob looking for him?

They have known each other since they were six, so the three years apart helps separate the love of a childhood friend from the love for an adult. This unravels slowly, the reader working out the story of Shea from Lucien’s point of view. Shea has a country accent at the beginning, fine since he grew up on a farm, albeit a wealthy successful one. Yet, at times he is very loquacious. At first it seemed to only be pretty protocol speech when they Scene, but then it fades in and out at other times also. Yes, he is well educated, but it just doesn’t seem to me like this character ever found a consistent voice. I struggled with Lucian as well. Some of his dialogue is so pretentious, “and thus you please me greatly,” not just when they Scene, but all the time. Yes, they call him Prince, and he plays that up, but…at times his words still seemed forced, awkward, and highly stylized–like he was trying too hard to be posh. This too is weakly explained away by, a lisp? My theory is that the author is too caught up in dichotomy, but opposite sides to everyone doesn’t always translate into successfully making them complex characters.

This becomes about taking down the bad guys in military mode with guns and state of the art equipment. Though, Lucian is aware of his “arrogant insanity at orchestrating such chaos.” Although dubcon and murder are mentioned, they happened previous to the events in this book and are not described. There is, however, on page torture. I couldn’t help but think of the Unbreakable Bonds series by Drake and Elliot, so if you liked those, you might like this, but the sense of closeness, of friends as family, is not quite realized. Lucien’s father is a corrupt politician with ties to the mob, so although Shea’s storyline finds resolution here, there could be more bad guys for the vigilante friends to go after in the future. Yet, they also introduce a criminal named Kris Fawkes with the enemy of my enemy is my friend type of scenario.

The sex scenes here are tempered a bit at the beginning due to Shea’s past trauma, which is actually very effective. It’s when the BDSM becomes more involved that I think it falls down. “Shea had to trust that what he longed for wouldn’t harm him so long as he did it with the man who claimed to love him.” This needed more deft handling. So, for me the erotic parts where a mixed bag. Since this is a romance, I’m going to judge it on that part of the book, more so than anything else, and even relying on a shared history, this didn’t sparkle where it could have.

The cover design by Natasha Snow matches the series, but I have no idea what this cover is about.

Sales Links:  JMS Books LLC | Amazon

Book Details:Kindle Edition, 183 pages
Published September 8th 2019 by JMS Books LLC (first published April 2012)
Original Title Winter’s Knight
ASINB07XD9162C
Series New Amsterdam #2

An Alisa Review: Forever Nine by Kris T. Bethke

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

When Jesse Reid needs emergency surgery, he calls his neighbor to come pick him up instead of one of his many family members. As the youngest of nine, Jesse is used to feeling like a leftover, and he doesn’t need their coddling.

Holden McRae is a big, beautiful man, everything Jesse wants. But Holden has made it clear he doesn’t want Jesse as a submissive.

Under the influence of Holden’s care, Jesse becomes bolder and makes Holden see what he’s been missing. The two men’s interests line up, and the attraction that has always been there is something they can finally act on. As Jesse heals, he shares parts of his life with Holden, and Holden helps him see he’s so much more than #9. Their love might not be the most conventional, but maybe it’s exactly what both men need.

This was a nice short story.  Jesse is tired of being the afterthought with his family and is overwhelmed by them so he calls Holden from the hospital.  Holden has denied his attraction to Jesse for years but their forced closeness breaks through his barriers.

I felt for Jesse with his family and was so glad that Holden stood up for him with his family which helped him to learn some more about his brothers but also help get his thoughts across to them.  Holden seems basically scared of throwing Jesse into the BDSM deep end but Jesse has been curious for years.  I don’t know I think they jumped into some things a bit quick and Jesse had a hard time saying what he wanted which made Holden have to assume.  I’m not sure there was something wrong with the story but it just didn’t click or work for me.

I think the cover art by Written Ink Designs is a nice picture of Jesse.

Sales Links: JMS Books | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 83 pages

Published: July 20, 2019 by JMS Books

ISBN: 9781634869454

Edition Language: English

An Alisa Review: Come Play: An MM Erotica Charity Anthology

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Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

Watch and Learn if the Coach’s Little Kitten can be Tamed. Follow the Doctor’s Orders and read all about Brotherly Love. Understand Abstract Love and then take a peek at A Kink Chronicles Short. It’s all about Pretty Boys, The Kiss, and Particular Tastes bundled up in this must-have erotic anthology.

Come, play with us.

Abstract Love by Sara Dobie Bauer

A Kink Chronicles Short by Luna David

Brotherly Love by Lynn Van Dorn

Coach’s Little Kitten by Quin Perin

Doctor’s Orders by Emma Jaye

Particular Tastes by T.S. McKinney

Pretty Boy by E.M. Denning

Tamed by T.M. Chris

The Kiss by A.G. Carothers

Watch and Learn by K.C. Wells

** All proceeds from this anthology will be donated to The Trevor Project. https://www.thetrevorproject.org **

This anthology features a collection of erotic MM short stories.

I love collections like this, it gives such a great variety to read and exposes me to new authors.  I really enjoyed the interactions with these characters for the most part and what I didn’t were mostly just items I would stay away from in my usual reading.  I love that this collection of stories is benefiting The Trevor Project tool, it always makes me appreciate authors a bit more when I know they care.

In Coach’s Little Kitten Baxter is out satisfying his sexual urges when Caleb catches his eye.  I liked the connection that Caleb and Baxter had, even if they more than likely won’t see each other again.  Donovan is Abstract Love fights his attraction to Sam with all his might.  But we get to see that he is deeper than what he shows on the surface and it may just take him a little bit to come to terms with how he is feeling.

In The Kiss we see Liam search out his desires and finds much more than he ever bargained for with Gavin.  Some of the definitions within this story confused me, especially primal, but I liked reading about BDSM with a slightly different angle.  I loved Paul in Pretty Boy, even when he was sure that no one would want his in his women’s clothes and makeup, he still wears them even in secret.  Once Mark realizes what’s going on though he quickly shows Paul how much it doesn’t bother him, I will point out for some this story had the most taboo to it, not that it bothered me ;).

In Particular Tastes Christian is still trying to come to terms with what happened months ago but Hudson doesn’t want that to happen.  It was funny seeing neither of them knowing how to actually approach the other but finally get a chance to figure it out. Doctor’s Orders pulled at your heart strings before it got to the kinky part, Alex has been through so much.  I was glad that Nate was able to show Alex that he can be whatever he needs to be and there is nothing Alex could do that would make Nate back away, even trying his kink he has never told anyone about.

I love Jay and Jamie in Brotherly Love, though I have to say I really hated the relationship their parents had with the other with Jay’s mom and also Jamie’s dad showing contempt or not love towards their step-sons.  I hated seeing that these two have been battling with their feelings for so long but finally get the chance to figure it out, even if Jay pushes a bit.  I loved how accepting Jay’s father was of their relationship and Jamie was able to gain that family when his father turned his back on them and the back and forth snippets helped to see how their relationship has evolved over the years.  In A Kink Chronicles Short we see Knox, Zach, Ronan and Jamie exploring some of their fantasies.  I love the closeness of these characters and how they are willing to do almost anything to make their fantasies come true knowing that Zach is true to Knox while Jamie is true to Ronan.

I hated seeing that Jake in Tamed has been shamed and hurt by so many Doms that while he longs to let go and for that connection he feels he has to fight for it.  I loved that Eduardo could see right through it and made it known that he would stand by Jake for however long it would take him to earn his trust before they go any farther.  Zac in Watch and Learn has never had good sex but Chris longs to show him what he’s been missing.  These two go to some weird parties that have somethings going on far beyond my comfort zone but it helps Zac learn what really turns him on.  I had the hardest time with their insistence that they didn’t want a relationship but ten months later they are having dinner together multiple times a week and doing special things for each other’s birthdays, I don’t know about you but it sounds like a relationship to me.

Cover art by Morningstar Ashley is great and gives just the right amount of these for this book.

Sales Links: Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 680 pages

Published: June 11, 2019

Edition Language: English

Blog Tour and Giveaway for Keeping Cade (Crave #1) by SE Jakes

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Keeping Cade

Crave Series, Book 1

SE Jakes

Gay Menage Romance

Release Date: 05.27.19

 

 

BLURB

 

Protection has its price, but so do fantasies…

 

Fantasy Week happens twice a year at Crave, and it’s always a big hit—a way to live out your wildest fantasy in a safe, sane, and consensual manner.

 

But when Cade comes in with his Fantasy Week invitation, he’s not happy about it. He’s stoic as hell and his preferences don’t seem to match his fantasy at all…and yet, despite that, he enjoys himself with Tegan and Vic. At least at first.

 

When it becomes glaringly apparent that the fantasy isn’t something Cade’s comfortable with, it’s confusing for the men he’s been paired with, and Tegan and Vic put a stop to the scene immediately.

 

What Cade doesn’t know is that Tegan and Vic are not only co-owners of Crave, but they’re also owners of a mercenary group, Gray Ops, that’s run out of Crave. They’ve also been circling each other for years… but nothing sparks until their session with Cade.

 

What happened in Room 4 is something none of the men can forget…but it’s got nothing to do with a fantasy and everything to do with blackmail. Can Tegan and Vic help Cade keep his secrets, while keeping all of them safe at the same time? Because the threatening to spill out aren’t only Cade’s…

 

*This series is set in the MEN OF HONOR world, in the bar called Crave from Bound By Honor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Excerpt

 

Just when you thought you’d gotten away from this shit, you’re back in.

Oz stopped in front of the door marked Room 4 and handed Cade his card. “Give this to the first man you see inside the room—that’s when your fantasy starts, so now’s the time for any last-minute questions or concerns.”

“I just need to do this.” His heart thudded in his chest. He took a long gulp of water, and Oz put a hand on his arm.

“Hey, it’s normal to be nervous, but this is supposed to be fun. Freeing. Nothing happens that you don’t want. Remember, red and yellow, okay?”

Right—fun and freeing. Cade wanted to tell him that this was an obligation for someone he loved, because of someone he hated who, for all he knew, might show up behind this door…but instead, he simply nodded, handed off his glass…and walked inside.

The door closed behind him as he waited for his eyes to adjust to the low lighting in the room. Later, he’d notice the bed in the corner, the bench, and various BDSM tools, but his immediate focus couldn’t help but narrow, with a laserlike intensity, on a man who took up all the space in the room.

That force of nature stood casually, leaning against the wall, his gaze bent on exposing and seducing and Jesus, he was goddamned beautiful in that hot, badass kind of way with short, spiked, almost white-blond hair that made him look fierce. He was taller than Cade and broader, but his body was honed from whatever work he did for a living and not simply gym muscles. Cade could definitely tell the difference. This man was capable.

This man would break him. And he’d have fun doing it.

Cade shifted, not sure what to do next. Finally, he held out the card and said, “Hey, I’m Cade.” Like maybe the guy didn’t know who he was, or why he was here.

The man’s dark-blue eyes caught him, held him in place. “Hey, I’m the one who’s going to make you scream.”

His voice was a deep drawl that ran like warm honey down Cade’s spine. He fought a shudder and lost, and the man graced him with a wicked smile.

Man up. Get it over with. Cade straightened his spine and waited for the order.

It came far too quickly.

“Strip. Now. There’s no reason to keep your clothes on for what you’re here to do.”

SE Jakes writes m/m romance. She believes in happy endings and fighting for what you want in both fiction and real life. She lives in New York with her family and most days, she can be found happily writing (in bed). No really…

 

Facebook page: Facebook.com/SEJakes

Twitter: Twitter.com/authorsejakes

Goodreads Group: Ask SE Jakes

Tumblr:: sejakes.tumblr.com

Instagram: instagram.com/authorsejakes

Newsletter: www.SEJakes.com/Newsletter

 

 

 

 

A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Keeping Cade (Crave Club #1) by S.E. Jakes

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Related to the Men Of Honor and Phoenix Inc. series, you can read this without reading the other seven books, as there is plenty of recapping, (over two dozen characters are mentioned in the first few chapters alone), but be prepared for the plot to be connected. I picked this because I remember reading said series a long time ago. This first paragraph is usually where I try and give a little synopsis of the plot, so here goes: Cade, a professional fighter working for the Russian mob, dates the wrong man, a spook named Courier. Courier then blackmails him into doing sexual things or else he will kill one of his best friends, a Delta Force active duty serviceman now in Africa. Of course, the BDSM club named Crave, which he is forced to go to, is run by ex-military men who run a mercenary group named Gray Ops. Is he an unwitting honeypot to get to the owners Tegan and Vic, or is something else happening? I am going to give you a spoiler, so if you don’t want to know, don’t read anymore. It’s also a major trigger, so I’m not even going to feel bad about it. Be prepared for multigenerational child abuse happening here.

At this point, I will say the erotic parts can survive without the plot, but the plot is pure angst and sex–bonding over past trauma and lust. At first, it’s difficult to emotionally engage, because the characters are like caricatures. The men teeter between heavy testosterone “f*ck or fight,” (the author’s words, not mine) hyper-masculinity, to swoony heroes in a bodice ripper. I’ve been reading m/m romance for almost a decade now and I think my expectations of this genre are much higher. Also, fairly or not, it’s difficult not to compare this to other works by this author that are much better, especially since most of her characters are very similar. The depth always seems to come from the characters having been tortured during their military service, or being abused in foster care, and suffering from PTSD. Then you get hit in the gut by all of the child abuse, both current with a character who is a minor, and past with several main characters. That’s not even talking about the paedophile ring and the human trafficking.

This starts out well, if you don’t mind sexy dub-con, but Tegan and Vic go into alpha protective dom mode immediately after one scene with Cade, a complete stranger, and start acting like they are life partners. This is done knowingly, with a nod and wink, as werewolf mates are referenced by an old friend. Cade, a former Ranger and Delta Force member, and professional street fighter, is treated like a helpless kitten. I also never like it when books use former sexual abuse as the reason people like BDSM–because they are damaged and then let people continue to abuse them, but it’s okay because they need it. It’s so busy recapping the past and writing in various new characters and topics that can be revisited in the future, that this plot suffers. This triad is compared to two other triads from the previous series as well, so I guess it’s an “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” mentality. The rest of the book is finding a way for this threesome to get closer, exploiting all of their past pain, to build up to a rescue that isn’t all that exciting. I had a difficult time rating this because it has so much going on that it doesn’t do any one thing particularly well or believably. I know there are fans who will love this book because they get to see some of their past favorites, but for me having a few walk on roles wasn’t enough.

The cover art design is by Croco Designs. I would guess this is Cade and the red cover is evocative of an emergency or danger, but this really doesn’t give you anything else about the story.

Sales Link: Amazon

Book Details:Kindle Edition, 321 pages
Published May 24th 2019 by Stephanie Tyler LLC
ASINB07S7KDVLX
Edition Language English
Series Crave Club #1

A MelanieM Review: Between Bloody Lips (The Valentino Family #2) by Sai Fox

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

 

Who is Nicolai Valentino?

Some think him a devoted son, a ruthless killer, a vicious monster. The heir of the infamous Valentino family, Nico is a man with blood-stained hands and a heart of ice.

To Gabriel Delatto, Nico is more than that: a childhood friend, a passionate lover, a misunderstood soul, a man whose cold, calculated outward exterior protects the broken man inside. Nico is his best friend, his lover, his other half—his better half.

But how much of that is true? And how much is just lies whispered between bloody lips?

New York to Tokyo—Gabriel is willing to follow his lover to the ends of the earth to find out what Nico is running from.

Or, maybe, what is Nico running to?

Author Note: Please be advised that there are sexual scenes of explicit graphic nature, including BDSM themes, within the following story. These are done between two parties over the age of 18.

There are scenes involving non-consensual BDSM themes and mentions of past physical and mental child abuse and graphic material that may not be suitable for all audiences.

To be honest, after reading the first story in this series I wasn’t at all sure I was going to continue with the series.  I thought that book,On Hands and Knees, was lacking in world building and a foundation for the characters and the characters relationship necessary to the story and  overall arc.  But there was just enough intrigue and interest for me to continue and I’m so glad I did because this?  This novel?  It’s a completely different animal.

Between Bloody Lips (The Valentino Family #2) by Sai Fox to be sure builds on the somewhat nebulous storyline of the prior book, picking up right after the events there.  But here everything is so much more fleshed out.  What was a disadvantage in the first story becomes a strength here, and that would be the tortured narrative of Gabriel Delatto, whose mind and memory never seem little more than a shaky thing ready to fly apart, and it’s threatening to do so without it’s anchor, Nico.

Gabe is running after an elusive Nico, ending up in Japan,  with an elusive criminal underworld filled with layers he can’t comprehend, and the reader is there floundering  with him.  This is a dark, angst filled story.  Both Gabe, Nico and some of the others here have come from a tormented, background of systematic child abuse and it has left both men deeply scars and in many ways twisted and wounded beyond repair.  They seek through BDSM, cutting, and more, relief through pain, humiliation, and submission.  While some of these scenes read as BDSM others read as self harm, and others still more are non con, violent dub con, and more.  As I said this is a violent world of criminals and the dark nature of others, the author has realistically shown that.  So be warned.

As the story progresses and we sift through Gabe’s tortured mind along with his efforts to understand Nico’s predicament and his own, we start to form our own ideas of what is behind Nico’s running and the some of the layers start to come together but it does not prepare us for the startling revelations towards the end.

I cannot go into details here except to say this is an exceptional book, from the characters to the convoluted, labyrinthine story.  Everything finally comes together in one smashing, stunning climax that is worth both books.

Plus for once, I enjoyed the fact that the author did not take these tortured men and miraculously “cure” them.   Or promise a HEA, no matter what that blurb says.  No.  They can’t be promised that given who and what they are.  A HFN is realistic and yes, there are still questions we might not know the answers to, but that feels real too given the circumstances here as well.

For me I wish Sai Fox had run both books together for one brilliant story because that’s what this second novel becomes.  Just brilliant.    And one, if your stomach can handle the abuse, cutting, and everything, is worth it all.  I highly recommend it.

 

Cover art by Samantha Garrett is dark and stunning, just like the storyline.

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 380 pages
Published May 11th 2019
ASIN B07NK6JJ5G
Edition Language English

Book Blast for Between Bloody Lips (The Valentino Family #2) by Sai Fox (excerpt and giveaway)

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BOOK BLAST

Book Title: Between Bloody Lips (The Valentino Family, Book 2)

Author: Sai Fox

Publisher: Independently Published

Cover Artist: Samantha Garrett

Release Date: May 11th, 2019

Genre/s: Mystery/Thriller/Erotic M/M Romance

Trope/s: BDSM, best friends to lovers, forbidden romance,

Themes: how far will you go to save the one you love, redemption, forgiveness, unquestioning love

Heat Rating: 5 flames

Length: 64,000 words/ 370 pages

Add on Goodreads 

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Blurb

Who is Nicolai Valentino?

Some think him a devoted son, a ruthless killer, a vicious monster. The heir of the infamous Valentino family, Nico is a man with blood-stained hands and a heart of ice.

To Gabriel Delatto, Nico is more than that: a childhood friend, a passionate lover, a misunderstood soul, a man whose cold, calculated outward exterior protects the broken man inside. Nico is his best friend, his lover, his other half—his better half.

But how much of that is true? And how much is just lies whispered between bloody lips?

New York to Tokyo—Gabriel is willing to follow his lover to the ends of the earth to find out what Nico is running from.

Or, maybe, what is Nico running to?

 

Excerpt

Nico was beautiful in his fear.

Nico’s hair was mussed, sweat dripping down from his hairline to the collar of his shirt, his pendant standing stark against his throat. There was blood splattered across his cheeks like macabre freckles, a dribble just below his nose making its way down his bottom lip.

Gabriel didn’t know if it was his or someone else’s, but it looked exquisite against his skin.

What would Nico’s blood have tasted like? What would Nico’s fear have tasted like?

It didn’t matter. Gabriel would have kissed it away if he could.

If he could, Gabriel would have done many things differently.

If he could.

If he could

This was all wrong.

“Stop, Gabriel.”

The air in the house was like an oven, nary a breeze to give either of them comfort. Despite the distance between them, a chasm that only seemed to grow wider, Gabriel could all but feel the heat from Nico’s mouth against his.

Nico was fire and Gabriel…

Gabriel was just the kindling.

They were so close—all Gabriel had to do was reach out. All it would take was a hand around Nico’s collar and he could crush his lips against Nico’s. They could fall into each other’s arms as they always had, always would.

That would have been right.

That would have been good.

But there was something pink and gelatinous smeared across the front of Nico’s shirt, something that Gabriel knew intrinsically belonged in someone’s head, not spread across Nico’s white button-up.

Nico’s hands shook like leaves on trees just before the hurricane ripped them off and scattered them across the sea.

When their eyes met, Gabriel turned away his head as though someone struck him.

Nico’s unbridled fear staring back at him through piercing dark blue eyes made his stomach churn.

That wasn’t how Nico was supposed to stare at him. That wasn’t what they had, that wasn’t who they were supposed to be.

Why was Nico so scared?

Why was Nico scared of him?

“Gabriel—Gabe—”

Gabriel could hear the words, feel the cold metal in his hand. He knew that there was something wrong with this scene, knew that this wasn’t how any of this was supposed to go. He could feel the heaviness of the gun, the cloying smell of blood and shit, the sweat on his brow, the panic clawing through his stomach—

“Gabriel—please. Please, listen to me. You don’t have to do this. I know you, Gabriel. I know you. This isn’t you. This isn’t you.”

“Get out of the way, Nico.”

It was his voice.

He could feel the hum of the words leaving his throat, how his lungs exhaled with every syllable. He could feel the way his lips touched, how they formed words, how his tongue clinked against his teeth.

He could feel it, feel all of it, just as he could feel the metal, hard and cold, gripped in his hand.

“You can’t do this. you have to stop—” Nico reached out for his arm, but it met nothing but air.

Gabriel tried to lower his hand, tried to loosen his grip on the gun, but he couldn’t.

He couldn’t.

“Don’t make me hurt you.”

“Gabriel—you’re better than this. You’re more than this!”

Was he?

“My hands are bloodier than yours.”

Gabriel wanted his hand to shake, but it was steady.

It was too steady.

“Baby. Please. If you do this… you can’t come back from this.”

He wanted to let go, wanted to scream, wanted to say something—anything.

Why couldn’t he stop himself? Why couldn’t he let go? Why did it feel as though he were a marionette, a puppet with someone else pulling his strings?

I don’t want this. I don’t want to do this. Please. Please. Nico—please—

“Gabriel… I love you.”

It was a whisper between bloody lips.

“I love you. Please don’t do thi—”

Gabriel pulled the trigger.

Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang.

Silence.

 

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.

 

Author Links

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Giveaway

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win a signed set of The Valentino Family Series (2 books)

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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)