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Archive for May, 2011

Title: Wanting Sam
Author: Eden Cole
Length: 5,900 words (16 pdf pages)
Publisher: Risky Ink
Genre: m/m contemporary
Rating: C-

Blurb:

Rowan has been attracted to his roommate Sam for months, but because of the terms of their agreement when he moved in, he can’t admit the truth. He’s tormented when Sam sleepwalks in the nude, and it’s getting to the point that he thinks he should just move out. One night changes everything.

Review:

This is a typical roommates to lovers story with a twist. Rowan was so desperate to find a place to live when his relationship went bad, that he said he was straight when his potential roommate mentioned his little bother is homophobic. He didn’t think it would be a problem, until he started crushing on Sam, and things got even more awkward than they already were.

I had a few issues, mostly with Sam and his little brother. Sam treated him with kid gloves because their parents were distant and uncaring, but really, you’re not doing the kid any favours by excusing his rude and hateful behaviour with excuses. If you want to raise him right, then do the right thing and educate the boy. And if my roommate told me I sleep walk naked, I’d start wearing some underwear to bed at the least.

When Rowan finally has enough and tells Sam he’s moving out, Sam freaks and finally confesses he’s gay as well, and the girls and partying was just a front. And how convenient, they both love REALLY rough sex. While Rowan agrees to a clandestine relationship with Sam saying he’s going to address the gay issue with his little brother, somehow I didn’t see it going well, and Rowan ending up hurt. Given the way Sam bowed to his brother, I didn’t see him coming out anytime soon or I saw it ending badly all around. So I guess I just didn’t believe that it was going to work between the two. The writing itself is fine and I’ve liked other books by this author, her voice works well for me, but I just had difficulty with this particular story.

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Title: Highland Lover
Author: Ariel Tachna
Length:   words (20 pdf pages)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: m/m contemporary
Rating: C+

Blurb:

When Derek surprises his partner Bram with an authentic kilt in his family’s tartan pattern as an anniversary present, the results are even better than he expected. Bram looks fantastic in the full dress outfit, and the special dinner Derek has planned becomes only the prelude to an incredible evening with his Highland lover.

Review:

This sweet little short is just a slice in the life of loving couple Bram and Derek. In preparation for their anniversary dinner, Derek has ordered a complete Highland outfit, including a kilt, using the appropriate tartan for Bram’s family. It doesn’t hurt that Derek has a bit of a thing for a man in a kilt.

Bram is very touched that Derek went all out for him, but his nervousness and self-consciousness about going out in public in North America dressed up to the nine in Scottish gear was well done. The smoking hot sex they have when they get back was also very steamy.

The love between the two men was evident in their interactions. Not that flush of first love and overwhelming passion, but a more long-term quiet love. I would have liked to know how they got together, as references were made to their past, however after doing a bit of digging I didn’t find any other books featuring the couple, but I think their story would be a nice one to read someday.

So when you’re in the mood for a sweet read about two guys in love – and really, who can resist a man in a kilt? – it’s a good choice.

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Title: Class Distinctions
Author: Rick R. Reed
Length:  12,000 words (45 pdf pages)
Publisher: Amber Allure
Genre: m/m contemporary
Rating: A-

Blurb:

Kyle and Jonathan were perfect for each other, the two halves that, once together, made a whole. And then one snowy night just before Parents’ Weekend on the campus of Hamilton University, Kyle drops a bomb: he’s breaking up with Jonathan.

Class Distinctions follows the couple through the stormy (in more ways than one) night that ensues. Why has Kyle suddenly decided to throw away something so precious and good?

The answers lie in their backgrounds, and will gradually come to light as a winter blizzard rages around the young couple.

Their tortured paths bring them to the covered bridge where their love had come to life on a hot summer day. But will the warmth of that memory and the heat of the love they once shared be enough to outclass the storm, and more importantly, bring them back together?

Reviews:

This sweet but, also bittersweet at times, short begins with Jonathan, very excited over having three days together with his boyfriend Kyle, since Jonathan’s roommate is out of town for the holiday weekend. He’s got wine, strawberries, porn and lots of lube. However when Kyle arrives, it all goes downhill, inexplicably Kyle breaks up with him, claiming they are “too different”. My heart broke for Jonathan, I may have sniffled a bit. The question is, can they work out whatever “it” is that Kyle believes is too different for them to overcome.

The story is told from both Kyle and Jonathan’s point of views, so you know how both boys are feeling, and you discover why Kyle made the decision he did. I don’t want to give away the why, but it’s something probably many “older” folk like myself would find nearly trivial and certainly not worth breaking up with the love of your life over, but the author really had a grasp of the mentality of youth, and I remember at that age I probably would have reacted the same way, foolish but youth can be so often.

The relationship both boys have with their families is sweet, and I was especially touched by Kyle’s relationship with his mother. It could so easily have been done differently, but I have to say both boys were the kind that would make any parent proud, and yes, young people like that do exist. 🙂

My only complaint if I had one, was that I wanted to see “the problem” confronted, just to see a totally HEA for the whole situation, but I suppose Jonathan’s statement that it didn’t really matter what happened, as long as they had each other was true. For those looking for a steamy romance, this is not the one for you. There is one brief description of oral sex through memories, but the strength here is the depiction of the highs and lows of young love, and the emotions rolled off the page for me. I highly recommend this one.

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Title: Surrender
Author: Jourdan Lane
Length: 50 pages, 15k words.
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: M/M, contemporary, erotica
Rating: B

Blurb: Dale’s been in love with Brandt – his best friend and sometime boss – from the moment they met on the ranch. For nine years, they’ve lived and worked side by side. It hasn’t always been easy and they’ve had plenty of words and fights, but one thing Dale is sure of is that the stubborn man he admires is someone he doesn’t ever want to be without.

But Brandt is straight. Or so he wants Dale to believe. He can’t seem to see his way through years of fear and hiding to tell Dale the truth. Better to let him think all they’ll ever be is friends. One night, however, Brandt crosses a line and everything between them changes – and not for the better.

Fighting’s easy. Making up is the hard part. Can they see eye to eye before it costs them everything?

Review:

A hot cowboy short, written with good style, although not a plot that will ultimately remain in my mind or heart as special.

Dale and Brandt are bunkroom mates, suffering from a misunderstanding familiar in fiction: Dale lusts after Brandt whom he believes is straight. Brandt hassles Dale about being gay, apparently hostile to him. And of course, being rough, tough cowboys, they come to blows over it!

The characters were appealing and well drawn, and there was some very powerful and sensual description of firstly, the characters – The muscles in his back and arms jumped as he worked and sweat covered his naked back. He turned slightly and I could see the dark hair of his chest wet and matted – and secondly, the striking Texan setting: The rain was soon coming down in heavy sheets, thunder rolling, and the lightning flashing so close that it made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.

The first time they had sex it was explosive and harsh, yet it served as the first sign that Dale’s interest was returned, and just as passionately. The characters were fierce and sexy, evident through their actions rather than words. I especially liked the way the author took two bites at the cherry (no pun intended!) of their getting together, acknowledging the misunderstandings and admissions they had to face along the way. But after that, I felt the gritty realism slipped away. Brandt accepted coming out far too easily, after spending his life acting straight. Not only that, he was suddenly happy with public demonstrations of affection. That, and the rather facile HEA, didn’t ring true to me after all the struggle.

The sex scenes were hot and the writing style a pleasure to read. I already like this author’s other work and knew the standard would be good overall. There was a rather odd use of semi-colons in the middle of sentences, and over-use of the characters’ names in dialogue. Some of the dialogue felt too mannered to be from rough-tough cowboys, though I admit I don’t know any personally! 🙂 I also found it strange that David was used as the name for both a ranch hand and a driver, when there were so few characters in the story. Dale’s friend Evan was a decent character,though with little to do except nurse Dale through a night’s misery.

The best bit for me was when Dale gave Brandt his birthday present. It was an unusually touching and precious gift for one ranch-hand to give to another, but this did illustrate the depth of Dale’s feelings. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across you sitting just like that with Basco. You’ve got a way with horses Brandt, like no one else I’ve ever seen.

The story covered several interesting and realistic themes, and even if it’s not one I will personally return to, I recommend it as a well-written, enjoyable and hot cowboy read, and rate it B.

by pettyprose…my opinion alone.

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Title: Crossing the Line
Author: Christiane France
Length: 15,000 words
Publisher: Amber Allure
Genre: m/m contemporary
Rating: C

Blurb:
Rather than embarrass his wealthy family by admitting he’s gay, Alexander Derkeston solved the problem by publicly conforming to their upright, uptight lifestyle as set forth by the first Derekston back in the late 1800’s, and inventing a second, shadowy life on the side.

Even after his parents are killed in a traffic accident and the pretence is no longer necessary, Alexander still continues to follow family tradition and keep his private life private. Then the family chauffeur retires, and Wil Forrest is hired in his place.

Wil is young, hot, sexy, almost certainly gay, and Alexander wants him. Desperately! But Wil is an employee, and when he suggests the two of them go clubbing together, Alexander is horrified. Old Abner Derekston had two rules the family has always lived by…one, never cross the line by getting overly familiar with the help, not if you want to maintain their respect, and two, if you want something, go for it.

Is there a way Alexander can have his cake and eat it, too?

Review:
I was intrigued by the blurb to this book which follows rich department store owner Alexander. He’s in the closet and is quite happy to stay there to preserve the family name and to keep his conservative clients happy. When Alexander’s chauffeur, Wil, makes a play for him, Alexander is at first horrified at the thought of having a fling with the hired help, but lured by Wil’s good looks he goes to meet him at a local gay club. Wil is happily out of the closet and can’t see what Alexander’s problem is, leading to tensions between the two.

Although this story worked well on the whole and the writing was good, I felt that perhaps the story was a little rushed in terms of the timeline. Wil has been working for Alexander for a few months but there’s no mention of them having any contact other than the usual employer/employeee interaction, and as far as we can see most of the feelings that Alexander has are of lust for Wil. However, after one evening together and Wil is calling Alexander ‘babe’ and talking to him like he’s known him for months by starting an argument with Alexander over the way he lives his life. To me this just rang a bit false and the feeling was compounded when three days later they are moving in together. I could see this sort of behaviour being appropriate if the men had been having a clandestine relationship for a few weeks, not just one night.

This aspect cast rather a pall over the story for me as there’s nothing worse than having a character’s actions or motivations ring false for a reader. It’s a shame really because there was much to like about the story otherwise. Alexander’s reasons for being in the closet were realistic and I understood why he acted as he did. The lust Alexander feels for the supposedly unattainable Wil was shown with a mix of zing and humour at the beginning of the book.

Overall, this was a decent read with a sympathetic character in Alexander. If you like stories with characters who are in the closet, it may just be your thing.

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Title: Sleeping Beauty
Author: Rob Rosen
Length: 3,500 words (15 pdf pages)
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre:
m/m sci-fi erotica
Rating: C+

Blurb:

It was supposed to be a routine mission. Space outpost demolition. Place hadn’t been used in a handful of decades. Deserted. Or so James thinks until he comes across a stunning, naked man in a glass coffin, with T-minus twenty minutes remaining before the place is set to blow. But who is this man and how did he get there? And why is James so drawn to him? And what can you do with a stunning, naked man in twenty minutes? More importantly, can they blow before the outpost does?

Review:

This short starts out with James doing his job, ensuring that there is nothing dangerous on the abandoned space station, before it explodes. When he finds the man in the coffin, could he be considered dangerous? Soon however Bevon is awake and talking to him telepathically, and nakedly. Before long, James figures twenty minutes is plenty of time for a quicky, and then to get them off the station. However things don’t quite go as he planned.

I had a few issues with the story. I’m not sure if he was thinking with his dick, or Bevon had somehow enthralled him. The station is going to blow in twenty minutes, take your new man and have nookie on the spaceship. I just couldn’t believe he was so into this strange alien guy that he’d risk his life, but maybe it was more Bevon’s doing than is clearly explained. When it comes down to it, it seems he couldn’t leave anyway and there is a far more complex twist to the story involving time travel. I’ll be honest, I had to run the ending by my daughter because I was a bit lost. Finally it all became clear. I’m not sure if this is just because I’m not much of a science fiction reader, and time travel tends to twist me up at the best of times, or not.

The sex between the two was very hot and you sensed that James was kind of caught up in an almost trance-like state, which may have explained the irrational thought that he had time for sex. Both men were pleasant enough, although you don’t get to know either of them outside of the brief encounter, the entire book takes place over about 18.5 minutes so understandably, not much time to share backgrounds, especially when about 15 min of that is spent naked and having sex.

So while I had a couple of issues, which may well have been my comprehension, I think those who enjoy sci-fi and time travel, will find this a steamy little piece to pass a lunch hour or when you have time for a little taste of the future.

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Title: Bachelor Auction
Author: Vic Winter
Length: 4,800 words
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m contemporary
Rating: B

Blurb:
Jeremy doesn’t think putting himself up for a bachelor auction will do a whole lot of good. Who would want a gay lit professor? When he receives the highest bid, Jeremy is pretty surprised, but not as surprised as he is when he finds out who won his date package. Can he let go and have some fun for one night?

Review:
This was a fun little short which whilst it didn’t blow my socks off had an engaging hero and a sweet little story. The story begins as our hero Jeremy who is a university professor , is waiting in the wings for his turn at a charity bachelor auction. He’s convinced that no-one is going to bid on plain old him and his boring date of dinner and Shakespeare. Of course things don’t work out like that as Jeremy is won for a very surprising amount of money. He’s even more surprised when he discovers who his mystery bidder is.

I have to admit that I liked Jeremy a great deal, mainly because I tend to find men who have a little bit of low self esteem attractive. Jeremy is one of those guys who doesn’t see how he could be attractive because he’s just an ordinary guy. I liked that he was ordinary and not vain. I also liked that the other hero, Derek, was also just average in looks. They fit well together and although the story only follows their date and therefore one evening together, the end is hopeful for the future.

The story also has a gentle humour about it both in Jeremy’s observations and his dealings with his students and they with him. This counteracted what could have been a overly sweet and slightly corny first date story, lifting it into an engaging read. It’s a story with no angst or complications and as such I can see that this will be one of those shorts that I will re-read when I’m in the mood for something light but romantic.

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This is the last story in the series so far. I’m not sure if the author plans for more in the series or not.

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Title: Time Rip (A Sylver and Steele Story)
Author: Mimi Riser
Length: 12,000 words (42 pdf pages)
Publisher: Amber Allure
Genre: m/m sci-fi paranormal (shifters) mystery
Rating: B

Blurb:

Cold murder leads to a hot night when Sylver Starr, a cross-dressing werewolf, and his husband Hunter Steele, a billionaire who just happens to be a cat-shifter, fall afoul of a haywire hex that transforms one and lands the other in his strangest adventure yet…

Specifically, Sylver lands in 1888 London, trapped in the past—but not with Hunter. That’s the strange part. Hunter has been magically morphed into…Sherlock Holmes?

Yep, that’s how it looks. And, no, Sylver’s not happy about it. He wants only to break the spell and return them home. The hexed Hunter, however, refuses to cooperate. His new persona demands a mystery to solve. Unfortunately, he and Sylver find more than one. But the crimes seem related somehow.

And the clues all point to Jack the Ripper…

Blurb:

This book in the series was quite different from the previous three. This time, thanks to a pixie curse, Sylver and Hunter are blasted back through time, and Hunter believes he is Sherlock Holmes. Sylver’s main goal is to figure out a way to break the spell, while Hunter is determined to solve the mystery of the Jack the Ripper killer, as they stumble into a plot of murder and intrigue right off the bat.

The constant bickering and fighting between Hunter and Sylver is toned down dramatically, in large part due to the fact that Hunter is not himself during a large part of the adventure. To me this was a good thing, as I found the constant battling rather tiring, although I’m sure fans of the series who found their interactions amusing may be disappointed that’s not a larger part of this story.

I got more caught up in the mystery itself, and their interactions with Arthur Conan Doyle and that was the large part of the story. And on top of it all, amazingly Sherlock/Hunter managed to solve the mystery of Jack the Ripper.

The tone of this series has changed quite a bit from the first story. It started as a wacky sci-fi adventure that was completely over the top, and has settled down to a more steady set of adventures. It is still amusing, and the characters are still themselves with cross-dressing Sylver as flamboyant as ever, but the focus seems to be more on the story and not just the wild and wacky escapades of the two. I’m not sure if there will be more books in the series. It definitely was not an “ending”, this story was simply another story in the series so I’m assuming at some point the author will revisit Sylver and Hunter. Unlike some series where the latter books never quite live up to the first, I’ve found the opposite in this series for me and I’ll certainly look for any future adventures.

Cold murder leads to a hot night when Sylver Starr, a cross-dressing werewolf, and his husband Hunter Steele, a billionaire who just happens to be a cat-shifter, fall afoul of a haywire hex that transforms one and lands the other in his strangest adventure yet…

Specifically, Sylver lands in 1888 London, trapped in the past—but not with Hunter. That’s the strange part. Hunter has been magically morphed into…Sherlock Holmes?

Yep, that’s how it looks. And, no, Sylver’s not happy about it. He wants only to break the spell and return them home. The hexed Hunter, however, refuses to cooperate. His new persona demands a mystery to solve. Unfortunately, he and Sylver find more than one. But the crimes seem related somehow.

And the clues all point to Jack the Ripper…

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Title: The Art of the Delaneys
Author: Anne Brooke
Length: 10,000 words
Publisher: Amber Allure
Genre: m/m/m (light) BDSM contemporary
Rating: B+

Blurb:
Liam is determined to prove to the Delaney twins that he’s more than just a good bed-partner for them. His chance to show them what he’s worth comes unexpectedly soon when his boss at the art gallery, Melissa, is asked by the Delaneys to take part in an art scam, and Liam agrees to help her.

When the Delaneys turn up with their henchmen on the night of the scam, Melissa and Liam are startled to discover that it will involve a painting by one of their best artists. Can Liam make sure the gallery doesn’t get too seriously involved and keep the Delaneys satisfied, in the only way he knows how, at the same time?

Review:
I’m really enjoying this series of shorts about the hapless Liam and his dealings with the Delaney brothers. This story follows on from the previous book Entertaining the Delaneys. Liam has come to the frankly rather terrifying conclusion that he has developed feelings for Marcus and Johnny and now is determined to find a way to change their relationship from the occasional bout of sex into something more meaningful. With the help of Melissa, Liam’s boss, Liam co-ordinates a scheme to introduce the brothers to the world of fraudulent art in the hope that the brothers begin to see Liam has a use outside the bedroom. However, as always with Liam, things do not go exactly to plan!

As with all these Delaney shorts the pleasure is in the character of Liam whose mix of obsequiousness and cheek towards the Delaneys is quite endearing. This time he’s trying to prove that he’s more than a great body, and on the whole he’s successful, but there are still a few moments when I thought he was going to cock things up completely. It’s been amusing to watch the change in the feelings of the Delaney brothers too as Mark is slowly thawing and you can tell that Liam has Johnny wrapped round his finger. The mix of the humour in Liam and the slight danger of the volatile Delaneys works well and I was rooting for Liam all the way by the end.

If I have any niggles its that I wasn’t completely satisfied with the one sex scene – I wanted more! Also the casual way that the Delaneys go about their scam, and the references to some of their other unsavoury ventures, pricked at my moral conscience a bit. Having said that, I also liked that the author has not toned down that the Delaneys are criminals – and rather unapologetic ones at that – otherwise the danger that Liam feels when in their company wouldn’t work as well.

Overall, this third instalment of the Delaney series was a great fun read with a very likeable narrator in Liam.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how Liam manages to further their relationship into the next story and can highly recommend this book.

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Title: Lean on Me
Author: Julia Talbot
Length: 10,300 words
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m paranormal
Rating: B

Blurb:
Aiden has a special, and sometimes downright annoying talent. He doesn’t mind being psychic, but it is a pain in the butt when it starts to affect his sex life. He thinks he might have found the answer in a club called the Bloodrose, a place where guys like him can find some companionship.

Werewolf and control freak Jared thinks that Aiden might be the most interesting customer who has ever come into the club. He also thinks he’s got the perfect solution to Aiden’s little problem. Can he make Aiden believe that it’s okay to let go when someone is there to catch you?

Review:
I have to admit, I’d been a little underwhelmed by the previous story in the series by this author set in a fictional BDSM club which caters for paranormal creatures. Fortunately this book more than made up for any flaws in the previous book as I greatly enjoyed this story of Aiden who can see into people’s thoughts and also project his own emotions onto others in times of heightened stress or pleasure – Aiden calls it leaning. Aiden has heard that the club’s owner, Jonny, can help him solve the problems Aiden encounters whenever he has sex and so applies for membership. After an initial mishap, Jonny pairs Aiden off with Jared, an Australian werewolf whose abilities balance those of Aiden’s.

One of the reasons I liked this story so much was because Aiden is my favourite sort of hero. Skinny, a bit geeky and shy but intelligent. I warmed to him almost immediately. Add this to his rather embarrassing (for him) problem which was shown with a splash of humour to the reader, and I was hooked on the story from the start. Jared was also a great character with enough of the werewolf about him to be interesting without it overwhelming the human side of his personality. When they are together there’s not just a sizzling sexual connection but also a gentleness between them as Jared eases the nervous Aiden. I thought the way that their abilities meshed was described clearly and added greatly to the romance.

If I have any complaints it’s that the end of the story was a little rushed and I was curious to know more about Aiden’s past dealings with the government. Instead this aspect was washed over in favour of a sudden crisis and an even swifter resolution, which was a shame really as I would have liked to have known more about both characters and a longer story would have given both time to flourish.

That wasn’t enough of a niggle to dampen my enjoyment of the story too much though and I’d recommend Lean on Me to readers who are looking for a paranormal short with a couple of likeable heroes.

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