A Jeri Review : Hug It Out (Haven Hart Universe #2) by Davidson King

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This book really surprised me. In a good way. I really didn’t expect to like it as much as I did for a couple of reasons. The first was total bias- a new author. She wrote one book before this that I didn’t read because new author. I’ll get to the second.

Teddy is a professional companion and hugger. Yes, you read that right- a hugger. Sounds cheesy, but the more I read into his meanings for starting his business, it totally made sense. And it could have been so cheesy- but it wasn’t. He wasn’t this overly optimistic happy guy. He was just a regular guy with an odd profession.

Riordan can safely be called a vehement non-hugger. In fact, unbeknownst to his family, he is a professional assassin. But after a job goes wrong, he takes a hiatus from the job. But he is holed up in his house, no friends, withdrawing more and more. So his sister hires Teddy to move in and help Riordan for a month.

We should not late Riordan. He is mean and nasty. He kills people for a living. He takes a gruesome souvenir from each of his kills.This is the second reason I didn’t expect to like it. I mean, GRUESOME. And yet…you kind of feel badly for him.

There is absolutely no reason that Teddy and Riordan should work. Total opposites. Warm and fuzzy versus cold and hard. But, they do. Color me shocked.

The plot line was interesting, the sex and relationship were hot and I didn’t figure out who the Big Bad (Buffy reference) was until it was almost revealed.

So I know that this author is a huge MM fan. And to bastardize a Quentin Tarantino quote “she didn’t go to book school, she read books”.

And yes, I am definitely going back to read book 1 and I look forward to book 3.

Cover art while dark seems perfect for the story.

Sales Links:

AMAZON US: https://amzn.to/2GqNjbC

AMAZON UK: https://amzn.to/2GKqrHh

 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Published March 2018
Original TitleHug It Out
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHaven Hart Universe #2

A Jeri Review : Dream (Skins #1) by Garrett Leigh

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

This was my first book by Garrett Leigh and it won’t be my last. While some things left me wanting, overall I really enjoyed the story and characters.
Lovato’s is a sex club for all. They have BDSM as well as couples who want to see and be seen. Dylan just wants one thing- to be used. He loves his day job, but at night he needs the release. And mystery man Angelo is there to provide it. After a fairly anonymous night in the club, Dylan can’t stop thinking about Angelo. And fate brings them together again.
Angelo is a former professional ballet dancer who has to retire due to health reasons. He also takes over the family’s deli after his father dies. He went from the world stage to the deli counter in a small town in England. Lovato’s gives him the control he needs.
The push and pull between them was great to read. Dylan in charge during the day, Angelo in charge at night. Angelo did have a bit too much going on for me. Chronic illness, crazy family, financial issues, etc etc etc. It was a bit too much. And Dylan was also a bit too much in his seemingly perfect life. Doing a job he loves, living in his own place, a loving father. They couldn’t be more opposite. And I enjoy opposites attract, but there were just so.many.issues with Angelo. And of all of those issues, I really expected more about him having to give up the career he spent his whole life  building. But that seemed almost an afterthought.
There is A LOT of sex in this book. Yes, it is absolutely hot, but they fell back on sex far too often instead of being real with each other. They story could have been so much more by delving into other things without just always ending in sex. The scenes were very well written and not repetitive, but it was a lot.
The ending was nice and tidy, a bit too tidy if you ask me. But it was still an enjoyable read.

Cover Design: GDLeigh @Black Jazz Design. Cover Photo: Dan Burgess @Moonstock Photography. Very hot!

Universal Buy Link:  books2read.com/DreamGL

Buy Link:  Amazon

Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 244 pages
Published January 23rd 2018 by Fox Love Press
Original TitleDream: A Skins Novel
ASINB0792NRTH6
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesSkins #1

A MelanieM Release Day Review: The Gryphon King’s Consort by Jenn Burke

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Love takes flight.

The sudden death of the Gryphon King throws the kingdom of Mythos into uncertainty, and Crown Prince Luca rushes both his coronation and an arranged marriage to a man he’s never met. Eirian is young and idealistic, and while they both want what’s best for their people, their philosophies couldn’t be more different. While Luca believes in honoring tradition, Eirian is determined to infuse modern values into their kingdom of magical creatures. When given the choice between loyalty to his husband and his own crusade, Eirian makes a decision that might doom their marriage.

Still, Luca is committed to making their union work, and that means forgiving his brash consort. But when Eirian becomes the target of a deadly conspiracy, Luca must act fast—or forever lose the chance to explore their burgeoning love.

I don’t honestly remember reading anything from Jenn Burke before but if The Gryphon King’s Consort is typical of the tales I can expect from this author, then I’m off to search for other stories to read.  It’s full of gryphons, all sorts of magical beasts, political intrigue, an arranged marriage, and happily, a romance that leads to a love that’s forever after. I mean these beings live a long, long time!

Be still my heart!

A story from Dreamspinner Press’ Dreamspun Beyond line, Burke does a lovely job of laying down a complete alternate universe.  She delivers on the history of the hidden world of magical beasts revealing themselves to humans, the resultant wars and the peace accord that survives to present day.  Also the factions within the Mythos kingdom, the Modernists and the Traditionalists.  It’s a neat believable divide albeit complete with magical beasts (which I adore btw).  Also, a touch I appreciated is the connection a King has with his people.  It’s something I wish more heads of state had these days.  That scene was marvelously touching and pulled the reader further into Luca’s character and his new role as King.

Even the author’s take on gryphons and their ability to shift into different creatures is wonderful and used to great effect here within the storyline, along with all the other hosts of magical beasts/beings we meet here and the rituals or parts of their cultures that Jenn Burke has created for the story.

And all that serves as a foundation and stage for her two main characters, Luca and  Eirian (as well as some memorable secondary characters).  I felt both men/beings were so well done.  The story is told from both perspectives and works extremely well that way.  The reader can see what the emotional cost of an arranged marriage is as far as trust, lack of friendship, personal knowledge  and even missing simple comradeship can be between two people.  Especially when the affairs of state seem determined to keep them apart.

This is, quite simply, a slam bang fantasy romance!  One you can immerse yourself in and be quite startled at how quickly you’ve come to the end.  I loved it and was sorry to see it over.  If you are a lover of fantasy and romance, here’s a story for you!

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson.  I like the cover, definitely catches your eye.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 210 pages
Expected publication: December 15th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635339208
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Leaning Into Always (Leaning Into Stories #1.5) by Lane Hayes

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Let me start by saying I love Lane Hayes’s work, so I immediately jumped at the chance to read this one for review. I was given three weeks, but I took less than three days to read it, savor it, and write this review. This story was delicious, delightful, and decadent. Better than a fine piece of chocolate!

Set in San Francisco, this story was originally part of an anthology and is now going to be the start of a new series. All I can say is “Sign me up!” because if the rest are anything like this one, I’m all in.

There’s not much I love more than a geek, so I was quite happy to find that Eric Shuster is that and more. He’s also cute, humble, sweet, and the type of person who sees to the needs of his friends before his own. His work partner and ex-lover, Nick, has announced that he’s getting married, but Eric can see immediately that he’s marrying for money, not love. The girl is the daughter of a wealthy investor and Nick is always on the lookout for more funds for their technology company, whether they need them or not.

As the story evolves, Eric finally faces the fact that he and Nick were really never in love, just friends and fuck buddies, and there’s no reason to grieve his loss. He ends up spending more time with his friends, especially Zane Richards, a handsome sportsman who loves his water sports, whether they be surfing, water polo, or sailing. In fact, Zane has his own company working with the wealthy who need an experienced yachtsman to simply sail or to race. Eric and Zane become closer than they’ve ever been in the dozen years they’ve known each other as they rediscover their likes and dislikes and explore a deeper connection than the usual surface level among friends.

I highly enjoyed watching their friends-to-lovers relationship develop. Ms. Hayes provided the perfect amount of heat and humor and even a little angst, though thankfully that wasn’t overdone. Just give me a love story that will cheer me up, make me break out my personal fan, and leave me feeling warm and fuzzy and you’ve made my day. This one made my day. I highly recommend it to all MM romance lovers, and especially to those who enjoy friends-to-lovers romances. Yummy!

~~~~

Cover art by Reese Dante shows a male naked torso against a scenic background photo depicting the Golden Gate Bridge with sailboats gracefully floating along below on the deep-blue water of the bay. It feels refreshing and is both attractive and pertinent to the story.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 100 pages
Published September 5th 2017 by Lane Hayes
Original TitleLeaning Into Always
ASINB075CVSKG6
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesLeaning Into Stories #1.5

RELEASE BLITZ Leaning Into Always (Leaning Into Stories #1 Part 2) by Lane Hayes (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Leaning Into Always

Series: Leaning Into Stories, #1, Part 2

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher: Self Pub

Release Date: September 5

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 30k

Genre: Romance, Bisexual, Established Couple, San Fran, Beach, Surfer, Geek, Opposites Attract, Friends to lovers

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Life is good for Eric Schuster. He owns a highly successful tech company, has a great group of buddies, and he’s about to marry the man of his dreams. Eric is pleasantly surprised to find the transition from friends to lovers has been easier than he thought. However, after running into an overly friendly ex-boyfriend on an impromptu trip to their shared hometown, Eric realizes things are about to get complicated.

Zane Richards is a quintessential California surfer dude turned professional sailor. His laid-back approach has helped him navigate difficult times in his life. Eric may not share his easy-going mindset but Zane knows without a doubt Eric is the one. However, carving a future together may require confronting a piece of the past Zane thought he’d left far behind. Both men will have to decide if they’re willing to risk what they know for a chance to lean into always.

Excerpt

“Hmm. I want to drop this, but…I have one last question. What did you mean about ‘being from here?’ I know San Francisco is home now but this is a nice place too. I always thought it would be kind of cool to move back someday so I could—”

“No. No way. Never,” I replied emphatically.

I tried and failed again to make a getaway. Zane pounced on me and held me down, snaking his arm across my chest to keep me next to him.

“O-kay…where’s this coming from?”

“I can’t explain it. You wouldn’t understand.”

“Try me.”

“It sounds stupid.” I met his patient gaze, hoping he’d cut me some slack, but he didn’t budge and I had a feeling he wouldn’t until I spit it out. “Fine. I was teased pretty mercilessly for being a geek from kindergarten through high school. I never fit in. I wasn’t blond, athletic, or particularly charming. I was smart. Smarter than I appear to be now,” I huffed.

“Who bullied you? I’m gonna kick some ass. No one messes with my man,” he said, nuzzling my neck.

I chuckled, running my fingers along his spine. “Thanks. I told you it sounded lame. I’m a perfectly well-adjusted adult when I’m not here. And I’m actually pretty good when I come for quick family visits, but this feels different. It feels like I’m being thrown back in time and forced to hang out with the cool kids. Today was a great example. I made a fool of myself out there and I made you mad. Yeah, I was jealous but that was only part of it. I also wanted to prove I’d grown up a little and that I wasn’t the same sunscreen-caked dork who’d sit under an umbrella and read when he went to the beach anymore. I guess I still am.”

“You seem to be forgetting one major detail, Er.”

I traced the laugh-lines at the corner of his eyes and pushed his hair from his forehead. “What is it?”

“I like you just the way you are. I don’t expect you to change and develop a sudden passion for things I enjoy doing. Just be you. And if that means you’d rather finish a chapter lounging in the sand than jump in the water, that’s okay by me.”

“Thank you.”

“Don’t thank me. It comes with the territory. I wouldn’t want to spend the rest of my life with you if I didn’t love all your weird habits,” he teased, pulling us both to sit up.

“Weird? Me? I bet you can’t name three weird things about me,” I declared as I sauntered toward the bathroom.

“I bet I can name ten. I’ll give you my list at breakfast. Jump in the shower while I call housekeeping and ask them to change our sheets.”

I stopped in the doorway and frowned. “Just tell them I spilled water on them or something.”

“Why lie? I’m going to tell them my boyfriend got jizz on my side of the bed and…”

I shook my head mournfully and turned on the shower to drown out his silly speech about being stuck with a messy lover and crusty sheets. I chuckled at his ‘put upon’ tone and called for him to join me before stepping under the spray. I stopped abruptly and backed up to look at my reflection. My cheeks were flushed, my eyes were bright, and my smile spanned my entire face. I was incredibly happy and if I said so myself, it looked good on me.

Purchase at Amazon

Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in an almost empty nest.

Books by Lane Hayes:

Better Than Good, Better Than Chance, Better Than Friends, Better Than Safe, The Right Words, The Wrong Man & The Right Time, Leaning Into Love and Leaning Into the Fall, A Kind Of Truth, A Kind of Romance, A Kind of Honesty, A Kind of Home AND A Way with Words

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | eMail

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Release Blitz for Without A Compass by Helen Juliet (excerpt and giveaway)

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WithoutaCompass-f

Book Title: Without a Compass

Author: Helen Juliet

Publisher: Self Published

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Release Date: August 24 2017

Length: Words: 80K

Genre/s: Contemporary Romance, New Adult,

Fish Out of Water, Gay For You, First Time Gay, Opposites Attract

Blurb

Riley Anderson isn’t an outdoorsy guy. He’s a desk jockey, office by day and couch by night. So when his family insists on a camping trip for his father’s 50th birthday he’s hardly thrilled. Things only get worse when Kai shows up, too.

Kai Brandt’s more than eager to go camping with his best buddy, but his buddy’s little brother Riley is all grown up now, and hotter than hell. Kai’s willing to help him pitch more than just a tent… Which is weird, because Kai never swung that way before.

Events conspire to out Riley’s secret AND leave him stranded in Kai’s care for longer than they’d planned for. Trapped together in the wilderness, they’re going to have to face a few hard truths if they’re going to make it back to the world.

But even if they manage it, the experience will leave them forever changed.

Without a Compass is a steamy, standalone gay romance novel with a HEA and no cliffhanger.

Without A Compass

Excerpt

He’d only just managed to get his boxers on in time when the outer door swung inwards and let in a burst of light. For a moment he couldn’t see and he threw his hand up to shield his eyes. “Hello?” he squeaked.

“Oh, hey,” a deep voice replied.

Riley froze as the door swung back and he was left looking at a sweat-soaked Kai. His vest and very short shorts clung to his damp, muscular body. The vision it offered up made Riley gulp.

The tattoos on his arms appeared to gleam under the sheen of sweat from whatever workout he’d just completed. Amongst the varied designs, Riley could make out a bear and a skull surrounded by roses. The colours were muted. His artist had used subtle shades to create tone. The overall effect was powerful but not overwhelming.

Plus, it didn’t hurt that the arms carrying the decoration were huge and chiselled to perfection. Riley had almost died of happiness the couple of times Kai had casually draped one of them across his shoulders the night before.

He remembered where he was. He needed to do or say something before the moment stretched out any further and became weird.

His natural instinct was to snatch his towel up and cover his body. That would definitely make things awkward though. So Riley used all his self-control to merely pick it up as casually as he could and started drying off his hair. Just like you’re at the gym, he told himself.

“Morning,” he said brightly. “You go for a run too?”

Kai blinked a couple of times. It was obvious he was looking at Riley’s almost totally naked body and Riley tried his best not to shy away in shame. No, he wasn’t nearly as ripped as Kai was, but he knew he didn’t look too bad. This was probably awkward for Kai too, especially after last night. But if they could just move past it, it would be fine.

As if coming out of a daze, Kai shook his head and walked forward. His towel was slung over his shoulder and he had a simple all-in-one shower-gel-and-shampoo bottle clutched in his hand. “Oh yeah mate,” he said cheerfully, answering Riley’s question. “It’s beautiful around here. It would be rude not to go exploring.”

Riley chuckled and thankfully found himself dry enough to pull on his shorts. He felt slightly less vulnerable with that small amount of clothing protecting him.

“I had to sweat out the hangover. How are you feeling?”

He didn’t just mean after the alcohol. But he wondered if Kai would pretend nothing out of the ordinary had happened. He wouldn’t blame him if he did; in fact, it would probably be best for both of them if that’s how they moved forward.

“I’m good,” he said, stopping at the sink next to where Riley’s products were littered. “Can I borrow some of that?”

Riley nodded and offered up his toothpaste. Kai pulled a toothbrush from his back pocket and got to scrubbing.

As Kai was unable to talk for the moment, Riley applied his deodorant in increasingly awkward silence. He should think of something to say, something funny! Something that wasn’t ‘So, do you regret that kiss last night? Because I don’t.’

Instead, he chewed at his lips and began picking up his various tubes and tubs to collect them back into his wash kit.

“Whereabouts did you-”

“How did you-”

They both looked at each other, then laughed. Kai spat out his toothpaste and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “I was just wondering how you slept.”

“Oh, fine thanks, fine.” Riley paused as Kai began peeling off his vest. “Uh, you?”

Kai rubbed his face. He seemed a bit sheepish for some reason. Riley hardly noticed though as he was focusing extremely hard on not staring at his pectorals.

“Yeah, fine,” he grunted. But he offered up a smile that cancelled out whatever had bothered him.

Buy Links

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads Link

Author Page

Without A Compass

Meet the Author

Helen Juliet is an M/M author currently living and working in London. She’s been writing stories since she was young, and got her start publishing fanfiction of sites like Wattpad. Fifteen years and over a million words later, she discovered the world of M/M fiction and found it was just as good as the fanfiction she was reading. She fell head over heels in love with the genre and became determined to try her hand at a book herself. On December 31st, 2016, she rang in the new year by publishing her first original novel, and hasn’t looked back since.

Social Media Links:

Blog/Website

Facebook Author Page

Facebook Group – Helen Juliet Books  

Twitter

Giveaway 

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Release Blitz Schedule

WITHOUT A COMPASS SCHEDULE

August 24

Bookaholic & KindleTangents and TissuesDrops of Ink, Making it Happen

Diverse ReaderLouise LyonsLily G. Blunt 

August 25

Kimmers’ Erotic Book BanterThe Way She Reads

Love Unchained Book Reviews,

Millsy Loves BooksWe Three Queens, My Fiction Nook

August 26

Follow the ReaderSmokin’ Hot Reads Book BlogBayou Book Junkie

Sur l’étagère,  Gay Book ReviewsWe Like It Big Book Blog,

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue WordsValerie Ullmer

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Review of Brook Street: Thief by Ava March

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Rating: 4 stars

Lord Benjamin Parker has always thought that he might be gay but never put it to a test.  Until now.  One evening at a gambling hell known to be frequented by men who discretely prefer the company of other men, he sits at a card table next to one of the most attractive men he has ever seen.  That man turns out to be Cavin Fox. Cavin Fox has come, not to gamble, but to pick up a wealthy mark to take home and fleece, leaving the mark’s pockets empty come morn.  But he is enjoying their flirting and conversation and the even drags on more than it should.

When the men do leave the establishment together, the night turns into a evening of sexual exploration that neither man will forget.  And Cavin leaves, taking nothing from Benjamin as being with Benjamin has affected him deeply.  Benjamin feels the same and wants nothing more than to see Cavin again.  When events conspire to bring them together  again, Benjamin vows to keep Cavin with him just as much as Cavin feels he cannot stay and take advantage of Benjamin’s feelings.  It takes a dramatic rescue and confrontation to bring about a solution they both can accept in order for a thief and a lord to live happily ever after.

Brook Street: Thief is the first of a trilogy by Ava March that captures the historical feel of the times and still delivers an emotionally rewarding romantic story of love found among the gutters.  Both main characters are easy to love.  Lord Benjamin comes across as an affable fellow, good natured, and generous hearted.  His story of how he determines he actually may be gay will bring smiles to your face as it did to Cavin’s.  The youngest of five children of a Marquis, he doesn’t stand to inherit the title or lands so he is free to be a “confirmed bachelor” all his life, a quaint way of saying he prefers the company of men.  But it is with Cavin Fox that my sympathy and love were quickly seated.  A guttersnipe who was plucked out of the streets by a man named Hale who prostituted him out as well as trained him to be a thief, Cavin still retains a gentle soul and good heart.  When in his anquish he determines not to see Benjamin again, the reader hurts as badly as he does.  Ava March does such a terrific job with them both, that I never felt they were anything less than real.  A young man named Sam also figures into the story as a young brother figure for Cavin.  I hope to see more of him  in the latter stories.

And there is the setting here.  It is 1822, London, England.  March’s descriptions of the hellish nature of the place where Hale, Cavin and the boys live gave me the shivers.  From her vivid descriptions, I could see the rats and urchins vying for garbage scraps as the consumptive whores with their dirty feet watched from their doorways.  Never was I go glad to be living in 2012 America.  March did a beautiful job of conveying time, place and atmosphere and all in a mere 112 pages.  Quite a feat.

If I have a quibble it is that the ending came about a little too fast and the solution Benjamin and Cavin found seemed too pat an answer for the times they live in.  But considering the happy ending and the promise of more to come, I will leave my quibbling there.  I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.

Cover.  What a gorgeous cover! Stunning in its emotional appeal and  coloring.  Fantastic job.

Review of Frat Boy and Toppy by Anne Tenino

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Rating: 4.5 stars

Brad just had an epiphany, several actuality.  Too bad it happens when his teammate bends over to expose his hairy ass in the communal shower. It’s not just his obvious physical reaction to the moment but all the moments leading up to this one that tells Brad that yes, he really is gay no matter how hard he has denied it. Now what is he going to do about it?

All his life Brad Feller has done what people expected of him.  Huge physique? Athletics all through school into university, while a little voice in his head whispers he would be happier in home economics and cooking classes.  Join a frat full of jocks because of a family legacy and expectations? Yeah, and because he needs to the money for school.  Date girl after girl even after he starts to realize he is using them as a front? The answer is yes to his growing shame. And then there is Sebastian, his TA in the History classes he took for graduation.  Sebastian is gorgeous, cool, hot and oh so out.  Sebastian is also the star performer in all of Brad’s dreams and hopes. Brad wants to come out but doesn’t know how.  His whole world is about to change.

Sebastian is aware of the hot jock watching him in class.  A straight guy , the Frat Boy, right? But a meeting over a paper and Brad himself tells Sebastian a different story.  Brad wants him and Sebastian is only too happy to oblige, take a teacher roll as it were.  But the sex between them is more than hot, it is mind blowing, and perhaps  something more than Sebastian wants to admit.  Can Frat Boy and Toppy admit to the changing relationship between them and grasp the love within their reach?

This book more than met my expectations.  I had expected a cute, somewhat fluffy enjoyable book about coming out and opposites attracting.  This was so much more.  Let’s start with characterization, which for me is always the driving force behind terrific books.  Brad Feller is such a surprising character.  Yes, his exterior is that of a intimidating jock but his interior? Inside he is an almost excruciatingly vulnerable young man trying to understand his sexuality along with his need to be safe and loved.  That his inner voice is also honest and humorous is a huge plus as well. Brad is well aware of the dichotomies he represents, the brooding jock exterior versus the uncertain, insecure, shy young man he really is. Years of hiding his real self has also isolated him as he keeps even his so called friends at arms length.  Tenino has done such an excellent job in creating Brad that from the first inner mumblings of Brad’s thoughts on his life and sexuality, I was hooked.  Not only hooked but in love.  How could you not fall in love with a compassionate, funny, gay chef in jocks clothing who first gets in touch with his inner sub by interacting with his   hair brush in a way not sanctioned by its manufacturer.  Trust me, I was choking in laughter over that one and you will too.

And then there is Sebastian.  In other hands, I am sure he could come across as a complete jerk, a player with a revolving door in his bedroom.  But again Anne Tenino gives us a complicated, totally real person who is more than a match for our Brad.  Sebastian appreciates Brad and truly sees the real person Brad is while totally appreciating the gorgeous body toned through constant workouts and athletics.  Sebastian too must work through his own issues before he can accept the fact that what he is feeling is love for Brad and not just an appreciation of their great sex life.  Sebastian is deserving  of Brad’s love, it just takes him some time to realize it.

There is wonderful humor throughout the entire story.  This includes one of the most memorably funny coming out scenes I have read recently.  I laughed until I cried, trust me it’s hilarious.  This story has it all.  Pitch perfect dialog, outstanding characters, very hot sex scenes (waving fan) and a heart warming tale of coming out and coming to terms with who you really are. I wanted more, much more of Brad and Sebastian, that was my only complaint.  So will you. You really don’t want to miss this story.  It’s that great.  Trust me.

Cover:  What a great cover.  Cover artist is LC Chase and I think they did a wonderful job. Loved it.

Review of Pricks and Pragmatism by JL Merrow

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Rating: 4.25 stars

Luke Corbin is home studying when his lover and owner of the apartment comes home to tell Luke to pack and leave as he’s found someone new. And once more Luke finds himself homeless again, a circumstance that happens often as Luke trades his sexual favors for a place to live and food to eat while he is going to college.  His lifestyle was necessitated by his father throwing him out of the house when faced with a gay son, and Luke’s drive to finish college no matter what it takes to accomplish his goal.  It’s not like Luke has cared about any of the men who took him in, they were just a means to an end.

Then a former lover introduces Luke to his friend,Russell, a chemical  engineer who just might be able to help Luke out.  Russell is definitely not the type of man Luke would hook up with. For starters, he has a pudgy round face surrounded by a scraggy beard and too long mousy brown hair. Russell is wearing clothes that would have been castoffs in the 80’s and is about as socially inept as they come.  But when Russell offers Luke a place to live, Luke is prepared to handle it in his normal way.  But Russell refuses Luke’s seductive attempts. For Russell, sex is about more than casual hookups and all he wants to do is help Luke out.

As Luke slowly adjusts to just being a roommate instead of bed partner, he starts noticing all the things about Russell that make him special and unique in Luke’s experience.  Russell is kind, smart, and funny. And all of a sudden Luke is looking at Russell very differently than any else before.  What will happen when Luke throws out his pragmatic ways in hopes of catching the one man who doesn’t appear to want him?

I am a fan of JL Merrow’s books and this little story just adds to my admiration.  Merrow packs a lot of emotion and plot into 60 pages. In Luke, you have a totally understandable young man.  While you may not like his actions, when you learn the foundation for his behavior, his attitude towards his lovers as well as his outlook on the methods he chooses to get by become acceptable as well as understandable.  To Luke, he is not whoring himself out but merely exchanging services to get what he wants.  Luke is all too human, he has been hurt by his family and by his first lover and it shows.

Russell is a great unexpected character.  This is not your typical cute nerd with glasses who becomes a gorgeous god when he takes them off, Clark Kent style.  No Russell remains Russell, an out of shape, shy, nice guy who everyone overlooks or thinks of as totally forgettable.  I don’t think there is a person out there who can’t come up with someone like a Russell in their own life or memories. Perhaps, like Luke at his first encounter with Russell, we wrote them off or ignored them. But Merrow shows us what happens when circumstances forces both parties to become acquainted with each other to the point of friendship first.  Then the exterior  qualities can somewhat fade in order for the person’s inner character to shine through.

In 60 pages, Merrow gives us a lovely little journey through low expectations into found friendship and the potential that lies ahead if only it can be seen and acknowledged.  It really is a lovely romantic tale full of unexpected realism and some straight truths about people and our perceptions.  Great job.

Cover by Angela Waters

Country Mouse by Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov

Standard

Rating: 4.75 stars

Owen Watson is on vacation in London and overseas for the first time.  After his traveling partner and ex-girlfriend ditched him for a hookup, Owen lands in a pub drinking a glass of bad beer by himself.  He’s tired from playing tourist all day and he needs something to eat. Instead of dinner, he gets an offer for another drink and a night of sex from Malcolm Kavanagh, a bonds trader and sexual player.

Malcolm Kavanagh has been waiting for his “one night only sub” to arrive.  The man is late and Malcolm’s patience has run out.  When he spies the Yank at the bar, he decides to honor him with a night of mind boggling sex before kicking the Yank out the door before breakfast.  With 80 hour work weeks, Malcolm doesn’t do relationships.  He doesn’t have time. So introducing a tourist to the joys of BDSM fits into his schedule of sex with no commitments. But moments into his pickup , he realizes that the Yank isn’t falling into line as he should, and Malcolm is more than a little stymied.

Owen is open to a night of casual sex but it will be on his terms and not the arrogant but gorgeous jerk trying to pick him up. One night later and things have changed.  Malcolm is not quite the shallow, heartless top he made  himself out to be and Owen is not the innocent country mouse Malcolm supposed him to be.  The more things change between them, the more Malcolm and Owen admit to themselves how much they want to stay together.

Country Mouse is a delightfully sexy short story from Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov.  Really, can we get them to write another?  Because I loved the result of their combined writing styles and ideas.  The authors took two stock characters, the country mouse visiting the big city for the first time and the big bad city mouse with his experience and sexual prowess, tweaked it and turned the characters on their stereotypical heads.  And made us cheer for them, laugh with them, and hope that they have a happy future together.  Didn’t I say I loved this book?

While Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov have such difference writing styles, you can always expect great characterizations from them.  Owen and Malcolm are two such wonderful creations, beautifully realized in only 79 pages.  Malcolm starts out offensive and quite frankly not terribly likable. Owen Watson is an affable person but only so far and ends up being more than a match for Malcolm’s cocky attitude. As Owen asserts himself, we start to see a shift in Malcolm’s behavior.  This shift carries right into the heart of Malcolm’s character and the unlikable facade dissipates and allows the real Malcolm that Owen sees to shine through.

What was so sexy and hot was that the change in their roles starts to happen during their sexual encounters.  Malcolm is supposed to be this badass Dom teaching this inexperienced Yank how to be his submissive toy for the night only Owen has something or rather someone he intends to be doing before the night is over.  Let’s just say their expectations don’t play out exactly how either of them intended, much to their combined enjoyment and laughter.  That’s right….fun and laughter amid sexual hijinks.  In a story by Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov!  Owen and Malcolm enjoy the heck out of each other and you will be laughing along with them.

Their relationship continues to develop as Malcolm takes Owen sightseeing in a nice series of scenes that  take place at different tourist sites throughout London. At each location, Owen and Malcolm learn something about each other as well as historical facts. As they grow on each other, so does the pairing grow on the reader until you take  them both into your heart. If you are expecting a angst filled story, this one is amazingly angst free or is that angst light?  Either way, it doesn’t matter. There is some angsty moments at the end as you would expect but it is satisfactorily dealt with in an ending that will have you cheering.

Grab this one up.  I always find bad boys so appealing but here both the Country  Mouse and the bad boy City Mouse crept into my heart and set up housekeeping.  Never thought I would say that about mice.  Drat it.  Now where’s the cheese?

Cover: Love this cover.  Cover art by Jordan Taylor.  Smart sexy and eye catching.  Just like the men inside.