An Ali Review: Aftercare by Tanya Chris

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 Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Aayan Denir knows Garrett Hillier was once a high-powered defense attorney, and—thanks to a leaked photograph—he knows Garrett is sexually submissive, which makes him ideally qualified to defend Aayan’s brother from the charge of murdering his sub. Aayan would do anything to protect Syed, even if he doesn’t understand how Syed could hurt someone he loves. He could never hurt Garrett. He only wants to take care of him—love him, serve him, cherish him. And maybe torture him. Just a little.

Garrett probably shouldn’t be dating his client’s brother. Right? And what’s the use in a confirmed sub dating a guy who doesn’t want to be a Dom anyway? The important thing is to get Syed cleared of the discriminatory murder charge he’s facing. Aayan is a distraction. But for the first time in the three lonely years since Garrett’s husband died, he’s feeling hope, ambition, and desire. Can he give up the pain he craves to find the love he needs?

As Syed’s trial date looms, Aayan and Garrett explore what a BDSM relationship means for them, and what they mean to each other.

Aftercare is a M/M BDSM contemporary romance about Aayan, a Muslim immigrant who’s not sure he can play the Dom role, and Garrett, a submissive attorney who walked away from his life when his husband died.
This was an unique storyline.  I wasn’t sure about the set up of the story when the book first started but as the story unfolded it started to make sense.  The blurb does a good job of explaining the plot and I was immediately drawn in.
The story covers the mystery behind who killed Syed’s partner as well as the romance between Aayan and Garrett.  The men were very different on the surface but as they got to know each they found they were a good match for each other.  Aayan has never explored his dominant side and he feels it goes against his religious beliefs.  Some of the story is about him coming to a place where he can accept his desire to be dominant and sometimes sadistic as well as maintain his Muslim faith.  I don’t really know anything about the Muslim religion so I can’t say whether this was an accurate portrayal or not but it seemed to be presented in a realistic way in regards to Aayan’s concerns.
While I thought the concept was interesting and I liked the characters well enough there was nothing that especially stood out to me either negatively or positively.  I had no particular complaints about the book but it also probably won’t stand out to me down the road which is why I did not rate it higher.
If you’re a fan of BDSM books and are looking for something a bit different I would recommend this.  It not only has unique BDSM elements but it has a main character who is of color and Muslim.  I appreciated that.
This cover was done by Jen and Kris.  I thought the cover was eye catching and was a very good representation of the plot of the book.
Sales Link:  Amazon
Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 184 pages
Published May 17th 2017
ASINB0722P9BQY

Release Blitz- Bryan T Clark’s Come To The Oaks (excerpt and giveaway)

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Paperback: Amazon US | Amazon UK 


Length: 89,745 words


Blurb

n 1845, as America is drowning in its own racial conflict, in a time when forbidden love has to remain a secret, can two young men find love when one has everything to lose, and the other has nothing?

For Tobias, a young African man, life has ended before it began. Snatched abruptly from his homeland and enslaved into the Antebellum South, grand homes and majestic oak trees meant little to him. Now he is considered the property of other men, but his spirit would not be broken.

The awkward Benjamin Nathanael Lee lives a privileged life. His father owns the largest tobacco plantation south of the Mason Dixon line. Ben wants little to do with the harsh realities of running a plantation—that is, until he meets Tobias, the one person that changes everything for him.

Wealth, greed, and power brought them together. The same now threatens to separate them forever. The two men are on the verge of losing the one thing that matters: their love for one another. Against the odds, they steal off and embark on a journey to find freedom: the freedom to love one another and to live a life without the chains of slavery.

Come to the Oaks is the tale of a forbidden romance—a love forged by two young men as they journey through a land that is tearing itself apart.

Excerpt

In the dead of night, Tobias made his way out into the giant oaks. His heart pounded like that of a cat chasing a mouse as the cool air filled his lungs. Bursting with excitement, he had to slow his steps in the dark, to force his body not to run. They had shared a kiss, and he wanted more. Swiping away at a harassing cicada in front of him, he focused on where he was stepping, listening for Ben as he thought of that kiss.

Tobias smiled when he first heard what sounded like an owl’s call being carried to him on the gentle breeze. Immediately, he knew it was Ben—it was the worst impression of an owl he had ever heard.

Tobias must have been five feet in front of Ben before he saw him kneeling beneath the leafy canopy created by the massive oak trees.

“You’re right, it’s dark out here.” Tobias stopped in front of Ben and started to sit.

“No, not here.” Ben took Tobias by the hand and led him about thirty feet deeper into the grove of oak trees. “Here.” Ben pointed to a quilt spread out over a carpet of dried leaves.

Tobias stood over the small patchwork quilt as he listened for something, anything indicating that they weren’t alone. The rattling buzz of the cicadas and the susurration of the branches swaying above them was all he could hear. Being in the dark didn’t scare him—he was used to running through the jungle at night by himself. So why was he nervous?

Ben lay on the quilt. “Sit down.” A slight smirk brushed his face as he gently patted the quilt beside him. A devilish grin turned the corners of his mouth.

Tobias hesitated before taking a seat. He wondered what was going to happen. Was Ben going to kiss him again? Tobias forced himself to take a breath. When did I get so nervous? I was fine when I left the cabin. A light touch on his hand from Ben caused him to jerk his hand back and suck in a breath of cool air.

“Relax, no one’s out here.”

Tobias sighed deeply. “How long have you been out here?” His eyes had adjusted to the low light of the moon, and he was able to see Ben’s beautiful smile.

“About an hour. Beginnin’ to think you weren’t comin’.” Ben moved in closer to him. Their eyes locked onto one another. Leaning in, Ben gently kissed him. The ever-so-light touch of his lips caused Tobias to gasp for air.

The gentleness in the kiss, the sweetness in Ben’s innocent eyes as they focused solely on him, sent a warm sensation throughout his body. Meeting Ben’s piercing stare, Tobias initiated the next kiss. It was wet and awkward as they struggled to find the place they had been the other day. Feeling a light push across his chest, Tobias realized that Ben was trying to lay him down.

“Wait, wait!” Tobias broke free and sat up. “I’ve never done this.” His heart was pounding as he tried to think of what to say. He could feel his entire body quivering as if he was about to explode.

“Me neither,” Ben murmured, as he reached for Tobias again.

Author Bio


Bryan Thomas Clark is a boisterous extrovert who is a proud member of the GLBT community. After twenty-seven years in law enforcement, he retired in 2015. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Bryan now lives in the Central Valley of California with his husband of thirty-one years. Behind his keyboard working on his next novel, Bryan writes gay fiction with an emphasis on a moral dilemmas and M/M romance. On the rare occasions he isn’t writing, Bryan enjoys traveling, following his husband around the state of California to various equestrian competitions, laying by a body of water soaking up the sun, and watching a good movie while snuggled up with his husband on the couch.

 

https://www.facebook.com/Authorbryantclark/
https://twitter.com/bryantclarkx2
https://www.instagram.com/romanceauthor/

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A MelanieM Advent Story Review: Somewhere to Be by Amy Yip

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Sleigh Ride Advent StoryJamie Goh’s life took a downturn when he lost his job, and a bad relationship left him disillusioned and afraid to trust again. But his friends and family want to see him happy, even if he’s turned off by the idea of dating. Following a Christmas disaster that proves the UK really can’t handle snow, Jamie discovers not everyone is out to hurt him—and loyalty means something to some people—when a sweet guy goes above and beyond for him.

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2015 Advent Calendar package “Sleigh Ride”.

Amy Yip uses every bit of her 37 pages to layer in Jamie’s multi racial family, his wonderful mixture of cultures, Dad from Chinese Malay, Mum from Devon and his speech a natural polyglot of both. It flows so beautifully as we grasp the depth of Jamie’s broken heart, his fear of moving forward and the joy that  meeting Nick brings him.

Somewhere to Be by Amy Yip is one of those stories that is bigger than its pages.  You get the feeling of place, Brighton in winter, grey seas, empty beaches, punishing winds and yet, Jamie loves it. Yip gives you Jamie’s marvelous Goh family, a takeout Chinese food business and combines it with two men trying for common ground and perhaps a future together.  Its realistic, beautifully described and full of heart.  And I wanted more at the end of the story.  I wanted a place at the table and to be a part of their holiday celebration.  You will too.  Grab this story up and join in the romance and wonder as well.

Advent Cover by Paul Richmond.

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

Book Details:

ndle Edition, 37 pages
Published November 30th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB018RSHF5E
edition languageEnglish
seriesSleigh Ride – 2015 Advent Calendar

 

A MelanieM Review: A Guy’s Thanksgiving (The Guy #3.5) by Skylar M. Cates

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Rating:  3.5 stars out of 5

A Work in The Guy Series

A Guy's Thanksgiving coverTwo proposals. One giant dog. Reunited lovers.

Welcome to Glamour, Arizona, where the holidays are never dull. Glamour may be a small town, but the surprises keep coming.

Everybody’s looking forward to Thanksgiving. Only Mac Sharma is a reluctant guest. Even as Anthony and Dean make him feel welcome at the Carrino table, Mac feels awkward among the close-knit group of friends. Life gets even more complicated when Conor Harvey shows up in town.

Mac has been in love with Conor since his university days. Too bad Conor broke his heart—right before he fled to his hometown in Ireland without explanation. Conor’s still a wild artist and as sexy as Mac remembers. But they’re no longer kids. This Thanksgiving, Mac must decide if he can give Conor a second chance.

You know that meme “You had one job”?  Here cover artist Maria Fanning had one job and nailed it. I saw the cover and knew I wanted to read this story.  That was it.  From that table above the title that you knew was going to be laid out full of food for Thanksgiving to that soulful pup gazing out at you below the title, I was hooked.  I’m a sucker for stories with dogs in them anyway, add to that a holiday story other than Christmas?  I’m in.

A Guy’s Thanksgiving by Skylar M. Cates turned out to be such a heartwarming and lovely story, perfect for this Thanksgiving season or anytime you are looking for a sweet romantic contemporary romance to read. Its the first in the series for me but I don’t feel that it worked against me here.  The author did a nice job of bringing all the couples of the previous books together in short little sketches, enough to let us know something about each of them and their relationship and their part in the group.  I have to say that the 126 pages flew by and made the town of Glamour warm and inviting, enough so that I’m going to be backtracking and picking up the rest of the stories.

There are several main story lines, not just one.  The first involves Mac Sharma, art dealer and Irish artist Conor Harvey.  Their past history is one of broken hearts and miscommunication. I liked the interracial relationship, especially Mac searching for his mother’s recipes to bring to the table for Thanksgiving.  The dog?  All I can say is that it involves Henry and Locke from The Last Guy Breathing (The Guy #3) in a heartbreaking, very real way.  And yes, it was my favorite part of the story.  But there was also Anthony Carrino (The Guy From Glamour (The Guy #1) trying for the perfect Thanksgiving for Dean and his loved ones even though, dare I say it, he was sick as a  dog.  Who couldn’t relate to that?  All the couples from the previous stories are united here for Thanksgiving in Glamour.

My only issue here was that this story had so much heart, so many great couples and story lines that it should have been much longer to give them all their needed time and length to shine.  I wanted just that bit more of each of them in this book and feel they all got cut a tad short.  Still the author’s writing is lively, concise and the sex scenes are pretty darn hot.

In all, A Guy’s Thanksgiving by Skylar M. Cates is 126 pages of sweet, heart-felt romance and a quick read at this time of year when so many other things are grabbing at your attention and time.  I was so happy that cover stopped me in my tracks and made me read this story.  I mean really how can you pass that face up?

Cover art by Maria Fanning did the job.  It made me read the book without the blurb, without the title, just the cover.  You had one job and you did it perfectly! Grade A.

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

Book Details:

ebook
Published November 4th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1627985034 (ISBN13: 9781627985031)
seriesThe Guy #3.5

The Guy Series:

 

A MelanieM Review: Acting On Love (Conquest #8) by S.J. Frost

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Rating:  3.5 stars out of 5

Acting on Love coverBrandon Alexander has risen to the top of theatre in Chicago, but when you reach the top, there’s usually only one way left to go. Funding fell through on the latest play he was to star in and now he finds himself an unemployed actor. Coming fresh off a bad audition, he wonders if his time in the spotlight is over. But what worries him more, is not making the man he loves proud of him.

Shunichi Miyamoto runs a highly successful dojo. He had always let work be the focus of his life, until over a year ago, the man of his dreams walked into the dojo to rekindle his passion for karate, and it led to further passions between him and Brandon. He knows Brandon is worried about his career, but he loves him, he’s proud of him, and he’ll do anything for Brandon’s happiness.

Both Brandon and Shunichi want to spend their lives together, but when a new opportunity comes to Brandon, he must decide whether to follow his career dreams or to act on his love for Shunichi.

I have loved all the couples I have met through the many stories of SJ Frost’s Conquest series, but I have to admit that Brandon and Shun hold a special place in my heart.  Acting on Love, the eighth story, brings their relationship to the next level and effectively closes out their storyline in a way that their fans will love.  And as Frost does so, she introduces several potential romances and characters that the series can focus on next.

More a novelette in length, Acting On Love forces Brandon to look at his future as an actor, and where his priorities lie in order for him to be happy.  Shun too must undergo self reflection and prioritizing in his life.  Their future together hinges on the answers they come up with.  In short, this is a sweet love story,  low on angst as the ending is never really in doubt.

I’m not sure this could be called a stand alone story as the background history of all involved is barely sketched in, so having read all the other novels brings a fullness and understanding that it would otherwise lack.  But if you’ve followed the series and the ups and downs of all the characters and their relationships, then this is a lovely story that you will appreciate and enjoy. All the couples from previous stories appear here, another element that brings a measure of familiarity.  Its sexy, sweet, and a satisfying closure to Brandon and Shun’s romance. If you love sexy men and a HEA, I can recommend you read Acting on Love.

Cover art is lovely and works for both the main characters.

Sales Links:  MLR Books  |  All Romance (ARe)  |  Amazon  |  Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 80 pages
Published March 27th 2015 by MLR Press
ISBN 1020150389
edition languageEnglish
seriesConquest #8

Conquest Series in the order they were written:

  • Conquest (Conquest, #1)
  • No Fear (Conquest, #2)
  • Keys to Love (Conquest, #3)
  • Finding a Dream (Conquest, #4)
  • Black Heart Down (Conquest, #5)
  • Beautiful Harmony (Conquest, #5.5)
  • Heartstrings (Conquest, #6)
  • Feeling the Rhythm (Conquest, #7)
  • Acting On Love (Conquest, #8)

A MelanieM Review: The Body on the Beach (Under the Southern Cross) by L.J. LaBarthe

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

The Body on the beachIt’s 1920 in Adelaide, the only free colony in Australia.  When  a body on the beach is found to be marked up with Chinese symbols, it only makes sense for the local constable to call upon William “Billy” Liang for advice and help with the investigation.  Billy Liang, prominent member of both cultures in Adelaide,  has often worked as a liaison between the various emigrant societies in Adelaide and the white establishment.

With his lover and business manager, Tom Williams,  at his side (and with the support of Billy’s wife), Billy and Tom must investigate a crime that looks to implicate the local Chinese community in the murder.  Billy and Tom deal with illegal opium dens, fantan games and gambling, racism, and being shot at throughout the investigation. And while Billy’s family accepts the love he and Tom share, Australia’s laws against sodomy and homosexuality pose a constant danger.    It’s a delicate balance that Billy and Tom maintain, one that this murder and the ripples it sets in motion threaten to destroy.

The Body on the Beach, part of the Under the Southern Cross Anthology, is a perfect little window into a time and societal framework of 1920 Adelaide, Australia.  L.J. LaBarthe recreates gallimaufry of cultures that is Adelaide, a situation that hasn’t changed much today.  Within the limits of the town, there exists the Chinese, the Greeks, the Russians, and more nationalities that have flooded into the region and are now coexisting, however uneasily, with the white population.  I  especially loved the intimate look at the Chinese community from the viewpoint of Billy Liang.  The character of William “Billy” Liang is a compelling one.  He acts as the bridge between all the “foreigners” and the local establishment by way of his success as a businessman and his status within the Chinese insular community.   And he does so successfully because he lives in both worlds in his private life.  He is married to an intelligent, understanding wife who accepts his love and relationship with Tom. Indeed, they have created for themselves their own insulated world where their servants are supportive of their unique relationship dynamics, including the fact that he and Tom live in one section of the huge house and his wife in another.

Some readers might balk at this arrangement, but as its laid out here by L.J. LaBarthe, it not only works but we enjoy the camaraderie and ease in which they all deal with each other.  I enjoyed Billy’s wife for her grace and intelligence as much as I did Tom, a terrific balancing act indeed.

While the plot has Tom and Billy investigating a complex murder, it was all the descriptions of the various sides to Adelaide and its people that I really enjoyed.  I felt as though I was there, walking the streets and beaches with Billy and Tom.   There is the realistic aspect of racism that has to be dealt with along with the need to keep their sexuality and true nature of their relationship hidden.  And within all of that complicated framework, a murderer needs to be caught and brought to justice.

When an author brings me takes me back to the past and makes it feel alive once more, as LaBarthe does here, then I feel that I have taken a marvelous journey, one I was unwilling to see end.  The Body on the Beach is just such a story.  If you are unfamiliar with L. J. LaBarthe, this is a wonderful place to start!

Cover Artist Anne Cain.  How I love this cover!  Everything, from the design to the characters, pull you in as does this story.

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

Book Details:

ebook
Published March 13th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press (first published March 12th 2013)
ISBN139781623805494
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3630
seriesUnder the Southern Cross