A BJ Review: Natural Instincts by M Raiya

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

(3.5 stars rounded up to 4)

Natural Instincts coverDespite being gifted with perfect recall and amazing financial acumen, Kyle’s abusive past has left him lonely and in need of stability and order since stress can cause him devastating physical symptoms. When he takes his therapist’s advice and ventures on a camping trip at a location chosen from pictures online, he finds much more than the peaceful escape he’d sought. Arriving in the middle of the night during a rainstorm and taken on the proverbial road less traveled route by his GPS, Kyle’s entrance into the park brings him immediately into contact with intrigue when he’s faced with a mysterious naked man standing on a picnic table glaring at Kyle with arms lifted to the sky.

I enjoyed this new-to-me author’s writing style from page one, and the story drew me in just as fast. Often shorter stories fail to make me care about the characters. That wasn’t the case here! This author did an excellent job of making me feel connected to Kyle almost instantly. His sense of humor comes shining through despite the angst of both a bad day and a troubled past.

Then there’s Hal and Jon and the mysterious loon. Intriguing characters in their own right. And woven all around them is a stunning setting, because the outdoors and camping are right up my alley.

In fact, this story has many of the elements I look for in a book: humor, angst, past trauma, the supernatural, light BDSM, and hot m/m action. So much potential! The first three-quarters had me enthralled, then rather abruptly the pace sped up, skimming over so much and leaving me with many questions. Leaving me wanting more. I enjoyed this story very much, but its short length didn’t allow it to adequately explore its potential.
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht – The cover captures the many nuances of this short novella. Glowing sun through the trees brings me right into the nature setting, the mysterious and intense gaze of the loon floating near the bottom and the troubled eyes of the handsome man draw me right in.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 54 pages
Published January 7th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
ISBN139781632163745
urlhttp://www.dreamspinnerpress.com

 

Review: Let it Ride (Pickup Men #2) by L.C. Chase

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Let It Ride coverPickup man Bridge Sullivan knew from the moment he met sexy California rodeo paramedic Eric Palmer that his life was going to change.  Bridge got to know Eric when the transplanted New Yorker helped his friends Marty Fairgrave and his lover, ex-bull rider Tripp Colby in the traumatic events of the past year.  After the season ended, Bridge’s nights were consumed by sexy dreams of Eric that had him questioning his sexuality.  Bridge couldn’t wait for the season to begin so he could be reunited with Eric and see if anything past a friendship is possible.

Eric Palmer’s life has been one of rejection and pain.  Abandoned by his family because of his sexuality and betrayed by a former lover, Eric’s trust issues extend deep into his heart.  Only at the rodeo has Eric been able to find a closeknit group of men that have become family to him in a way he hasn’t had in a long time.  Soon the rodeo circuit and the cowboys become a home where Eric feels safe and wanted.

When Bridge Sullivan starts to flirt with Eric when the new season begins, Eric is puzzled.  Eric always found Bridge attractive but he thought his friend was straight.  As the attraction between them flairs up, so does Eric’s fear that Bridge is only experimenting with his sexuality and that this could cost Eric the friends he needs so badly.  Bridge is sure that Eric is the only man for him.  But can Bridge convince Eric that he is serious?  When Bridge puts it all on the line, will Eric be able to put his fears aside for a possible HEA for them both?

There is nothing like a cowboy in love. With Let It Ride, L.C. Chase continues her Pickup Men series that revolves around a small group of rodeo riders on the California Rodeo circuit. We have met Bridge and all the other characters in the first novel, Pickup Men, and now L.C. Chase is focusing the story on another one of Marty’s team members, Bridge Sullivan.  Bridge and his brothers were these lively, wonderful characters that almost demanded more page time in the last story.  Now Chase gives it to them and us in Let It Ride and the result is a totally satisfying romance.

This time Bridge Sullivan, pickup man extraordinaire, has found his “one” in Eric Palmer, the paramedic hired by the rodeo association to work the circuit with them.  Both of the men were involved in the traumatic events of the last season which saw Tripp Colby attacked and injured badly enough that he retired from the circuit.  L.C.Chase has constructed some wonderful characters here and her pickup men, Marty, Bridge, and Kent, are authentic and believable not only as professional rodeo riders but as people too.  Falling back into their stories is like getting reacquainted with friends…its easy, its heartwarming, and its like you never left.

The point of view starts out from Bridge’s perspective with hot dreams of the sexy paramedic in question, Eric Palmer.  Bridge has been unable to think of little else and he is questioning his sexuality because of his intense attraction to Eric.  As Bridge tries to work through the process of what his feelings mean, we can see that this is not really a “gay for you” story but a man who has repressed his bisexuality until now.  It was “easier” for Bridge to date women.  He likes them so his feelings towards men was something he pushed aside as college experimentation.  But with Eric, those old feelings are back and can no longer be denied.  I like this aspect of the story.  It’s not an instantaneous switchover in sexuality.  Instead, Bridge spends the entire summer questioning himself, his motives, and his feelings before he decides to act on them.  This feels like a more realistic approach than an immediate “hey, I’m gay for you” storyline.   Plus there is the factor that Bridge Sullivan is just an accessible and immensely likable character.  You want to see it his way so he can get “his guy” and his HEA.

Standing in the way of his happiness is the man himself…Eric Palmer.  Eric is a complicated, fearful man made so because of his continual rejections and abandonment issues from both his family and the people who told him they loved him.  Now, Eric is consumed by the fact that he is not worthy of love and that no one will ever stay with him permanently enough for a real relationship and a future together.  That fear has emotionally paralyzed Eric to the point that no relationship outside of friendship is possible.  Eric’s the second point of view here and it’s a necessary one for us to hear in order to throughly understand where Eric is coming from and to make his poor self esteem seem real.   In another character where the author hasn’t laid the necessary foundation for that character’s relationship issues and poor sense of self-worth, then someone like Eric would come across as overly dramatic and self involved.  Not here.  When Eric reacts badly and in haste, we get it even though we may not like it.  Eric is that skittish horse that’s been abused.   He shies away because that is what experience has taught him to do.  Again, this whole scenario feels believable and painful.

Honestly, I enjoyed this story more than its predecessor.  I loved this couple and rooted for them immediately.  The angst here is in the normal range of relationship problems as the men involved struggle with their feelings and adjust to the idea of a permanent, loving relationship.  Marty and Tripp are back in minor roles here and that works as well.  L.C. Chase loves her cowboys and knows her rodeo.  That’s apparent in the well-rounded characters and the authenticity which with the rodeo is depicted.  Both the author and her cowboys have earned a place in my heart and on my shelf with their stories.

There is a third story planned for this series, Pulling Leather (Pickup Men #3).  The main character here is an astonishing choice.  Bull rider Scott Gillard is back and looking for redemption.  I can’t wait to see how Chase handles making this “villain” into a romantic leading man.  It should be quite a ride.  The expected publication date is September 1, 2014 by Riptide Publishing.  I will be first in line to pick it up.

The author is also the amazing cover artist behind these wonderful covers.  I have them all for you at the bottom of this review.   Check out that stunner for Pulling Leather.  That cover alone will pull you in and make you want to know that man’s story.

Until then you will have to start back with Pickup Men and meet all the complex cowboys that make up the Pickup Men series.  Then join me in September for the next cowboy on the path to his HEA.

Cover artist for all the Pickup Men covers is the author herself, L.C. Chase.  Love them, love her cowboys and their stories too.

Buy Links:           Riptide Publishing               ARe                     Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 195 pages
Published May 26th 2014 by Riptide Publishing (first published May 25th 2014)
original titleLet it Ride
ISBN139781626491472
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://riptidepublishing.com/titles/let-it-ride
seriesPickup Men #2

Books in the Pickup Men series are:

Pickup Men (Pickup Men #1)
Let It Ride (Pickup Men #2)
Pulling Leather (Pickup Men #3) expected publication date Sept. 1, 2014

Covers in this series include:

Pulling Leather coverLet It Ride coverPickup Men cover