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Archive for June, 2011

Title: How Could Love be Wrong?
Author: BG Thomas
Length: 68 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: m/m contemporary
Rating: C+

Blurb:
As a teenage boy, Clay finds love for the first time with his best friend, Matthew—a love shattered by Matthew’s guilt and religious dogma. Later, as a young man, Clay is blessed with the love of a woman, a close companion who accepts him for who he is even though he can never give her the devotion she deserves in return. But Clay might be able to put his guilt and disappointment behind him—if he can learn to accept love from an unexpected source.

Review:
**Warning: This review might be a bit spoilerish**

On the whole I rather like BG Thomas’ stories, but with this one there were one or two things which didn’t work for me.

The story is a bit of a mini-epic spanning 24 years in the life of Clay. As a young man he falls in love with his best friend Matthew, but when Matthew’s abusive and homophobic father, who is also a church minister, threatens Matthew, he breaks it off with Clay and marries. Clay is broken hearted and turns to his friend Sherry who he eventually marries and has two sons. Later he meets up with Matthew as friends only, but becomes particularly attached to Matthew’s son, Luke.

I know that many readers are put off by themes of religious homophobia, but that actually worked well in this story. Matthew is weak, a victim of abuse who then becomes abuser as he turns into adulthood. More than that he blames his bad choices on others rather than himself. It was a realistic, if a little simplistic portrayal of a man in denial who allows that to taint his entire life. Clay, on the other hand, has a support in the slightly too saintly Sherry and avoids the bitterness which consumed Matthew. In many ways Clay is also rather weak, taking the easier road of marrying without passion because he knows it will make everyone else happy. Yet, that was realistic and understandable too.

Where the story didn’t work for me was in the romantic relationship Clay develops with Luke, Matthew’s son. it wasn’t the age gap per se, after all I’ve read lots of m/m books with large age gaps and they haven’t bothered me, but rather the fact that Clay had been a father figure for Luke as Luke grew up from a boy to a man. Often during that time, Clay talked about how he wished that Luke was his son and so when he started having lustful thoughts, I began to feel rather uncomfortable. I’ve felt this sort of discomfort before when reading stories where we see adults being close to children and then falling in love with them as they get older so really it’s my problem and not necessarily the way the story is written.

The story works as a tale of a man who gets a second chance in love. It was a little melodramatic in places, but overall there was a lot of heart in it and I liked Clay. The use of the moon throughout the narrative was also an effective devise.  If only the romance had come from a different quarter, I would have been able to recommend the story wholeheartedly. As it is, the romance failed for me but other readers may still like it.

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Title: Treasured Possessions
Author: Stevie Woods
Length: 5,900 words (22 pdf pages)
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m contemporary
Rating: C+

Blurb:

Trevor is shocked to find that there has been a break-in at his apartment. Some valuables are missing, but even more devastating for Trevor is items of little monetary value but which mean the world to Trevor have been damaged. Trevor finds it hard to cope with what has happened and if it wasn’t for the support of his friend, Eric, he doesn’t know what he would do. Thanks to the break-in, and Eric, Trevor learns which of his possessions he truly treasures.

Review:

This is a cute little friends to lovers story, that begins with Trevor’s discovery of a break-in at his apartment. His long-time friend Eric is there to help him through the trauma, especially of the loss of things like a rare picture of his parents who died when Trevor was a teenager. Eric knows he’s in love with Trevor but has never said anything for fear of harming their friendship, although he had pulled away from Trevor for a time, but they were now rebuilding their former close friendship.

As Eric comforts him, some unintentionally murmured words of support, have Trevor realizing that he loves Eric. He then starts to think about how he can tell Eric, and get a relationship started. Both men were likable, everyday kind of guys, although I got the impression from Eric, that Trevor was rather fragile, emotionally, if not physically, in part due to the unusual relationship he had with his archeologist parents and their untimely deaths.  I did think that the fact that Eric had pulled away somewhat was realistic. When you first realize that you love someone you are sure doesn’t love you back,  your first instinct is probably to stay away, and therefore not give yourself away or just rub salt in your own wound.  Plus they were coworkers in stressful jobs which contributed to the breakdown.

Once Trevor decides he wants Eric, and he becomes aware of all of the loving things Eric has done for him, he sets out to get his man. In the guise of a celebratory dinner once his apartment is finally put to rights, and his stolen possessions replaced, he sets out to seduce Eric and it doesn’t take very long for Eric to get the point and they are off and running.

If you’re in the mood for something light and sweet, with a friends to lovers theme this is a good choice. It’s not something I may pick-up again, but it was a very pleasant read while it lasted.

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Title: Hairy, Horny, and Over Here
Author: JL Merrow
Length:  6,500 words (25 pdf pages)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: m/m contemporary paranormal (shifter)
Rating: A-

Blurb:

Photographer Ethan is pretty sure there’s no such thing as a jackalope—every bunny he’s ever seen has been a cute little furry thing, not a dangerous, horned beastie. But somehow he finds himself dragged into Parkhurst Forest to look for them by big, tough hunter Logan, who drives Ethan mad with continual comments about his “daintiness.” When the jackalopes lure Logan away, however, Ethan is left to the mercies of an escaped convict from the local prison. Rescue comes from an unexpected source—and Ethan discovers the true reason for Logan’s personal remarks!

Review:

When you need something to lighten your day and your mood, this delightful gem in a perfect choice. It is over the top, it plays on some stereotypes like the big bad American gun lover and made me laugh out loud in my office at lunch time.

Logan was one of those American archetypes that makes you crazy. Big, brash, sure he’s always right, and that the US of A knows how to do it right, and everyone else is just beneath him. I know it’s a stereotype and certainly not true, but the character just made you snort out lout, and poor Ethan’s response was just hilarious. The whole concept of jackalopes and why they are on the Isle of Wight was hilarious. Okay, the whole book amused me to no end.

If you are the type of reader who needs a good dose of reality in your books this may not be for you. Would they really have sex in the woods given the circumstances? Would the police behave that way? Not bloody likely, but it’s so amusing it’s not meant to be taken seriously, so as long as you can just jump on the train and go along for the ride, I recommend a great trip. I have to say, this author can always make me chuckle when she puts her mind to it.

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Title: Becoming His
Author: Shawn Lane
Length: 18,000 words
Publisher: Amber Allure
Genre: m/m contemporary
Rating: C+

Blurb:
For months, Toby Sherwood, a stripper in a gay club, has been a fan of bisexual actor Lucas Cartwright and his cable detective show, Harrow’s Eyes. So when Toby’s invited to a taping of the show, he can hardly wait. Too bad the hunky actor has a girlfriend.

Lucas was charmed by Toby when he originally met the man at the hospital during his brother’s accident. When he breaks up with his girlfriend shortly after Toby visits the set of his show, Lucas begins to romance him.

With concerns over Lucas’s career and Toby’s dancing for other men, can the hot actor and the sexy stripper find happiness in each other’s arms?

Review:
Becoming His is the sequel to Accidentally His which was reviewed here by Tam. I also liked that first book and was keen to read this sequel which combines Elijah’s TV star brother, Lucas, with Kirk’s stripper friend, Toby. Their meeting in the first book looked promising but the sparks just weren’t there in this story which was a little disappointing.

The story follows on a short way from the previous book. Lucas has given Toby permission to come and watch him film his cable TV series. On the day Toby is nervous about looking too out of place and therefore embarrassing Lucas so he tones down his usual exuberant looks. The downside to this is that Lucas doesn’t recognise him. After this less than satisfying start, the two start seeing each other but there’s a few barriers to their happy ever after.

The main barrier to their relationship was a bit of a biggie. Lucas is an up-and-coming TV star and whilst he’s comfortable in his bisexuality, having a boyfriend may not be good for his TV show’s ratings. Added to that is the fact that Toby is a stripper and doesn’t intend changing his job. He likes stripping. Part of the conflict in the story is that many of Toby’s boyfriends have wanted him to stop stripping for various reasons and Lucas says he won’t do that to Toby. However, Lucas is also deadly serious about his job and ambitious for more than a cable TV show. In the end, I just couldn’t see how it was going to work. No matter how much Lucas tells Toby he doesn’t want to change him, and how much Toby stays as the same sweet guy who just likes stripping, Lucas’s public image is going to suffer as a result of their relationship and that’s surely going to drive a wedge between them. This is something that is pointed out to both of the heroes by Kirk and Elijah, and actually I agreed. For me I couldn’t see a future for them unless that problem was properly addressed, which I didn’t feel it was in the story. Maybe there’s scope here for a sequel.

Having said that, the story was still pretty good. I liked Toby and Lucas and wanted them to work as a couple. Toby’s love of his job was clear, but also some of the dangers involved. The scenes with Elijah and Kirk showed us a nice, welcome slice of their HEA.

So overall, this was a decent read with likeable characters with my only niggle being that they rather swept their problems under the carpet than deal with them properly.

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Title:  All Work and No Play
Author: Anah Crow and Dianne Fox
Length: 6,000 words (21 pdf pages)
Publisher:
Amber Allure
Genre:  m/m contemporary
Rating: B-

Blurb:

Joshua has planned every detail of the vacation he’s going to take with his partner, Ciro. All Ciro has to do is show up. They’re headed for Dear Lake, Michigan, a tiny town built around a modest resort that’s been serving up peace and quiet for more than fifty years.

Showing up is harder than it seems. The day their vacation begins, a big client finally decides to move ahead with a project Ciro has been trying to get for months. Joshua is livid, angry enough to leave without him, but there’s nothing Ciro can do about it.

Or is there? Alone in his office before the meeting, Ciro finally sees that he has his priorities mixed up. This meeting is important, but not more important than Joshua. He postpones the meeting, to hell with the consequences, then takes off for Dear Lake to make things right.

But when he arrives, the cabin they were meant to share is empty and Joshua is nowhere to be found. Is Ciro too late to fix what he’s broken?

Review:

This story jumps into the life of opposite-couple Ciro, the workaholic ad agency owner, and Joshua, a more free-spirit surfer dude type. Joshua has been tolerating his lover’s attachment to work, but has finally convinced the man to a four-day weekend. Of course when a client who has been stringing Ciro along finally makes an appointment for the day they are to leave, Joshua’s had enough. He’s going on the vacation, whether Ciro comes or not. He’s finally realized he’s never going to be number one in the relationship. The fact that Joshua finally stands up for himself, motivates Ciro to look at his life and decide what is important.

I liked both guys, although men like Ciro make me nuts, and I always wonder if they’ll really change after one fight. 🙂 I also liked that when Ciro finally makes it to the country resort, Joshua doesn’t just roll over and let him back into his bed right away. There are lots of descriptions of the country resort they are at which is very much like a small town, where everyone knows everyone, and chats with strangers, and that’s something that Joshua needs in his life and would like to share with Ciro, if he’s let him.

Of course this is romance and you know they are going to make-,and live happily ever after, but it seemed natural to me. They had only been living together about six months, so I think it’s natural for things like this to come up after the blush has worn of, and I appreciated that Ciro took it seriously. So when you’re in the mood for a fairly uncomplicated story centred on relationships and priorities, with a lovely setting at a lake-side resort, I would recommend this one.

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Title: City of Gold
Author: LJ LaBarthe
Length: 32 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: m/m historical
Rating: C+

Blurb:

Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire, 1131 AD

Gallienus has spent his life in service of his country, and now his scarred body is no longer up for the fight. Assigned to work the gates of Constantinople, he is charged with examining the cargo brought into the city from all over the world. Misahuen is part of the merchant train bringing wares from the Silk Road to trade, but it’s not Misahuen’s cargo that interests the wounded soldier. Gallienus thought his heart was too battered to love anything but his country. Does he have the courage to dream of a future beyond service to the City of Gold?

Review:
This little short begins well with a strong description of time and setting. Gallienus is a guard to the city of Constantinople whose injuries mean he can no longer fight for his emperor as a foot soldier. As a result, Gallienus is frustrated and bored with his guard duties. When a merchant arrives from the east, Gallienus is captivated by a young man, Misahuen, who works for the merchant.  Gallienus makes sure the merchant is lodging at his local inn so that he knows where he can see Misahuen again and the two grow close over the next few weeks.

I had mixed feelings about this short.  On the positive side, I liked the setting of Constantinople with its hustle and bustle and preparations for war. I also liked Gallienus and felt all his sorrow and frustration over his injury which prevented him from taking part in battle.  He’s a little world weary but when he meets Misahuen, it seems to breathe new life into him, at once energising him and also making his life harder as he considers leaving.  On the negative side Misahuen remains a somewhat shadowy figure, especially as much of the ‘getting to know you’ part is done off-page. We are told that they spend many evenings together, causing them to fall in love, but we don’t get to see that part for ourselves which made the romance a little flat for me.

One minor niggle which actually pulled me out of the story a little and spoiled the carefully constructed setting was when we are told that Gallienus walked so many ‘blocks’ to his home. As far as I am aware, Constantinople/Istanbul was not built on the grid system and therefore distance would not be measured in blocks.  This is a particular bug-bear of mine, so maybe it wouldn’t annoy other readers like it did me.

Those who like exotic settings and historical m/m romance will still like this one.  It was a decent read with a sweet romance at its core.

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Title: Legends
Author: Kayla Jameth
Length: 3,500 words (9 pdf pages)
Publisher: Breathless Press
Genre: m/m/m contemporary erotica
Rating: C+

Blurb:

Austin feels plain and maybe even a bit unattractive, seemingly unable to chose the right clothing and his hair a disaster.  While Jack is always perfect.  Sometimes this makes Austin feel unsure of himself and Jack’s affection.

Austin’s lover, Jack, is assertive and at times a bit domineering, especially in bed.  This tendency in Jack, leaves Austin free to explore some aspects of his sexuality new to him.  But how would he feel about sharing Jack with another man?

Intent on finding out and in the process give Jack a magical evening, Austin arranges to celebrate Jack’s birthday at the new concept restaurant Legends.  He has heard a lot about what to expect of this exclusive establishment, but will Legends be everything that he hopes for?

Review:

Okay, call me an irresponsible reader, but I read the book before I read the blurb. And to be honest, many of the questions I had about the story, were answered there, as much of the back story to Austin and Jack’s relationship lies in the blurb, but is not found in the story itself, which is unusual I think.

The story starts with Austin preparing to take Jack to a special theme restaurant for his birthday dinner. Because I hadn’t read the blurb, I wasn’t quite aware of what type of restaurant until we got that part. It’s very discrete, and when they arrive at their Roman themed room, there is a young naked man waiting amongst the buffet to serve them. This serving, leads to him serving them in more ways than just popping grapes and cheese in their mouths during dinner.

It was obvious from the story that there is a definitely D/s bent to Austin and Jack’s relationship. I got the feeling from reading it that this was not the first time they had shared, however again, if I’d read the blurb I’d have known. However, there was no internal dialog from Austin, or nervousness about doing so as you’d suspect if he was uncertain. He jumped right on board with the plan.

It’s basically a story that takes place over a couple of hours. You know that Jack and Austin love each other, and that this is just kind of hot kinky playtime with a Roman theme. It’s a well written and hot little piece of erotica, however I recommend you read the blurb first, you’ll have a much more in-depth understanding of the couple and their actions during the story that way.

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