Archive for October, 2011

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween from all of us here at Brief Encounters, to all of our followers/readers/lurkers/commenters, even if you live somewhere that Halloween is not celebrated. In North America it’s VERY popular, and of course comes with Trick or Treating, meaning huge quantities of candy in your house until well after Christmas. Since we can’t send you all candy virtually (wouldn’t it be great if chocolate would pop out of the disc drive?), I wrote a little PG rated Halloween story for you. Just click on the bats up top and it should take you to Scribd where you can download the story or read it on-line. I hope you enjoy it and special thanks to Josephine Myles for helping me out.

Hope you all have a spooky treat-filled day and I’ve posted one of my favourite Halloween songs from my childhood. A classic.

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The week of November 7 – 11, we here at Brief Encounters Reviews are following up our very successful Petits Morts chocolate week in spring, with the final batch of stories in the very popular series. You can pick them up here.

We are so pleased to see Clare London joining the group, and while a bit sad to know this is the wrap-up to the series, believe we will love all of the stories as much as we did numbers one through ten.

Rather than talk about chocolate this time, we are focusing, as they say in real estate, on “location, location, location”. We are going to offer some touristic tips you can use when you get the chance to visit the cities and countries where each story in the last seven are set.  Each day there will be one or two stories reviewed along with the tourist information for that location.

The schedule is below, but we hope you’ll join us for each day to see how it all comes out in the end. *sniffle* 🙂

Monday, November 7

  • #11 Happily Neverafter by Jordan Castillo Price
  • Athens, Greece
  • #12 London Eye by Clare London
  • London, England

Tuesday, November 8

  • #13 Spirits and Second Chance by Sean Kennedy
  • Fremantle, Australia
  • #14 Just Desserts by Josh Lanyon
  • Jekyll Island, Georgia, USA

Wednesday, November 9

  • #15 Loose Change by Sean Kennedy
  • Belfast, Northern Ireland

Thursday, November 10

  • #16 Media Naranja by Clare London and Jordan Castillo Price
  • Majorca, Spain

Friday, November 11

  • #17 Immortal Coil by Jordan Castillo Price
  • Chicago, Illinois, USA

We look forward to you joining us next week for some great reviews and exciting travel information.

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Title: Hard Choices: Thanksgiving
Author: Winnie Jerome
Length: 7,000 words
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m  contemporary
Rating: C+

In this sequel to “Hard Choices”, Todd brings his partner Shane over for Thanksgiving. As things go from bad to worse, poor Todd wonders if the situation will ever get better. Can he convince his family to leave well enough alone?

This story is the sequel to the rather delightful 1980’s set romance Hard Choices which was part of the charity sips for the Matthew Shepard Foundation. It’s now rather sadly out of print but the author has very kindly offered it as a free story on her blog HERE. You don’t need to have read the previous story to understand this one, but I would still recommend you read it as it’s filled with marvellous 1980’s references which made me smile – as long as you can cope with a hero who sports a mullet!

Hard Choices: Thanksgiving is written over twenty years on from the first book. Todd and Shane are still together and Todd is now a teacher in high school. He’s told that a new boy in school, Joshua Glasscock, is going to be in his class that day. Todd hopes that the kid is big and thick skinned so that he survives the school jungle with that name. However Josh is small and nervous. When Todd discovers him being bullied later that day, he shares a story with Josh of when he first brought home his partner Shane for Thanksgiving.

As you can see the story is split into two halves. The first half, set in the present, worked best for me. I liked seeing Todd’s teacher viewpoint: His sympathy for Joshua, his weary knowledge of how the student hierarchy can affect a student’s life at school, but also his willingness to make things easier for Josh and not let the bullies get away with hurting him. He was an example of a good teacher who wouldn’t stand down and could exert his authority in a positive fashion. I liked him a great deal.

When the story shifts back in time we see the beginnings of that forceful personality in the way he brings Shane to the family event and then stands up for him when things go wrong. This was one of the better parts of this flashback section. The rest of it didn’t work quite so well for me. I was a little confused about who was who. There are two characters in particular who are nasty to Shane and I couldn’t work out whether they were Todd’s aunt and uncle or aunt and cousin. Then there were other family members but they just seemed to meld into an bunch of people who didn’t like Shane and so it was difficult to separate them in my mind. The day itself was described well at first with Shane’s introduction to Todd’s parents being as awkward as you would imagine, but then the story loses focus a little as nothing much happens for a few pages before a ‘showdown’ at the dinner table.

So whilst the first part of the book was tightly written and strong on character the flashback lost some of that focus which was rather a shame. The story ends back in the future with the men showing how much in love they still are after all those years. It was a nice way to end the story but I was actually more interested in poor Joshua and how he will continue to cope, than seeing Todd and Shane HEA.

Overall, this was still a decent enough story with a good message about standing up for what you feel is right, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as Hard Choices.

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Title: Ghostly Indulgence
Author: Berengaria Brown
Length: 14 pages, 3,100 words
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m, romance, paranormal
Rating:  D+

Blurb: Nurzhan and Spyridion are ghosts. The only night they can become corporeal is All Hallow’s Eve, when they should be busy haunting. Hopefully, there will be some time for fun, as well. They’re determined to get to know each other much better on this one special night. But how can they live a whole year without touching each other again?

Review: Nurzhan and Spyridion are two ghosts who both hold a somewhat secret longing for each other. Yet, as ghosts, they only have one day a year, Halloween, that they can become corporeal, in effort to perform their yearly duty to scare as many people as possible. Yet, it strikes both Nurzhan and Spyridion curious that all the other ghosts spend so much effort on that one day to do something that gleams little reward (Nurzhan laments the tale of Santa Clause, who reaps thanks for his work). So, why not use that one night to do what they really want to do — have hot, corporeal sex in every position while they can?

This is a very short story (capping at 14 PDF pages) and there isn’t much to it. Though not terrible, and with one or two funny quips by the duo, I would have enjoyed it much more with a bit more craftsmanship. There is a lot more telling than showing. Most of the story is an extended sex scene (and abridged narration of more sex). There are a lot of quotes like “[Spyridion] was… a very attentive lover. He was obviously extremely aroused, yet was taking the time to ensure Nurzhan was with him every step of the way.” Yet, I didn’t really see that because there isn’t much connection or detail about their relationship.

All in all, there wasn’t much to say about the story, other than its was only okay for me. I probably wouldn’t have been happy if I had paid for the story. I like to get a really great short story when I buy one, since they’re generally more expensive in ratio to larger works. Some readers who want something sweet and non-committal might enjoy this more than I. Happy Reading.

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Title: Closing Time
Author: JM Snyder
Length: 5,298 words (15 pdf pages)
Publisher: JMS Books
Genre: m/m contemporary erotica
Rating: B-


Mitchell Nolan is a bartender working late on Christmas Eve. As the last patrons leave, he stays behind to clean up. Why hurry home? There’s no one waiting for him, and he knows Santa won’t bother leaving anything special for him this year.

Then he meets Romy Lariner, who ducks inside the bar when his car won’t start. Sparks fly between these two lonely men this Christmas Eve. Maybe Santa has a little something up his sleeve for Mitchell after all …


The blurb on this one sums it up pretty well. Mitchell is feeling a bit down this Christmas. He hasn’t dated since his ex Jamal gave him the “it’s not you, it’s me” speech three years ago. He’s pretty sure he’s destined to be alone, and then Romy makes a sudden appearance seeking help. He’s instantly attracted as Romy is also African-American like his ex and he makes no bones about being attracted to men like that.

After a phone call when Mitchell realizes that Romy has no significant other to return to either on Christmas Eve, they both kind of make a move ending up with some very hot smexin’ on the pool table of the bar. As usual, this author gives you very likable characters who seem “normal”. The story is told from Mitchell’s perspective so you don’t really get a feel for Romy beyond a hot guy, nor do you get to know anything about his personal life. The sex when they finally decide to go for it is hot and raunchy with some touches of humour as they have to find some make-shift lube at the bar.

My only niggle, and this is likely 100% me, not the story, is do people just really meet someone and have that overriding attraction you just can’t fight? Maybe it’s a guy thing? A gay thing? Maybe just not my thing? I kept thinking “Really, you just met this man 7 minutes ago and you’re ready to have sex with him? Really?” Maybe because it seemed out of character for Mitchell who was so interested in finding a lover not a one-night-stand – as he’s gone without for nearly 3 years – I didn’t quite get why he suddenly seemed so eager to shed his jeans except because of some urgent attraction he’d never felt before.

However as I said, this my perception and I believe the story was written as an erotica piece and it does serve that purpose well, leaving a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel for the relationship to develop further. So if a little bit of pool table loving is your thing, or stories with an interracial main couple, it’s a cute quick read.

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Title: Dream Lover
Author: Aaron Michaels
Length: 5,700 words
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m  paranormal
Rating: C

Patrick’s found the man of his dreams, literally. Ever since Patrick met Gino at a company mixer, he’s been having erotic dreams. Incredibly sexy dreams. Dreams that leave Patrick totally spent and feeling more than a little unhinged. How does a guy tell the world’s most beautiful man to get out of his dreams? Especially when Patrick’s pretty sure that beautiful man isn’t exactly human.

*This review contains spoilers*

These TQ Halloween sips can sometimes be genuinely creepy and other times just have a paranormal creature as one of the heroes. In the case of Dream Lover it’s the latter. Patrick meets Gino at a party. There’s an almost literal spark of attraction between them. For the rest of the week Patrick has vivid erotic dreams about Gino which leave him exhausted. In an effort to get Gino out of his head he meets up with the man where he discovers something startling about Gino.

This was rather an interesting premise for a story and it began well. There’s a really good sense of disorientation from Patrick, first at the party and then later that evening when he and Gino meet again by the river, and this follows through into the next week as Patrick struggles with his dreams. However, the story suffered a little with, if you’d pardon the expression, the waters being muddied about Gino’s paranormal ability. He’s both a dolphin type animal shifter who lives in the river by day, and a incubus type creature who can travel to the subconscious plane to have sex with people whilst they sleep. Either one or the other would have been fine, but both together made me scratch my head a little. I couldn’t see why we needed him to be the shifter at all. It didn’t add anything to the story of Patrick and his dreaming. So, the whole shifter part didn’t work too well for me, especially when some of the questions I (and Patrick) had about how Gino logistically works the day river/night restaurant lifestyle were dismissed as Patrick ‘thinking too hard’.

There were a couple of other parts that didn’t work too well either. I couldn’t understand why Gino was so angry with Patrick in the first place, so angry that he attempts to humiliate him in his dreams. The excuse that Patrick had seen him in his shifted form seemed weak to me. Secondly, the men fall in love after a week – and a week of kinky sex dreams at that. They only talk twice and that seems to be enough for Patrick to rearrange his life so he can be with Gino. Maybe they talked during the sex dreams too but if they did that wasn’t made clear.

So overall whilst this story had a interesting idea and I liked the character of Patrick, there were too many inconsistencies and things that didn’t make sense to me for me to wholly recommend it. It’s not a bad story and the writing is good so it may appeal to some but I’ve read better stories by this author.

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Title: No Strings Attached
Author: Lisa Worrall
Length: 3,400 words (12 pdf pages)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: m/m contemporary
Rating: B


Lucas is sure he’s made a mistake—it has to be painfully obvious he’s never been to an underground gay club before. He doesn’t do things like this—he’s too shy, too reserved. He certainly doesn’t expect to be felt up by a total stranger as soon as he walks in the door. But just as he’s talking himself into leaving, the hottest guy in the place with the most beautiful green eyes he’s ever seen pulls him onto the dance floor. Green Eyes insists on “no names, no strings…” and just this once, Lucas is inclined to agree.

Second edition – First edition published by Torquere Press in 2010 under the same title.


Please note that this was previously published by Torquere Press under the same name so for some readers it may sound familiar, however I had not read it before.

The blurb pretty much says it all. The story is told from Lucas’ perspective and he is totally out of his element going to a club and his awkwardness at the whole process is clear, first when some hottie in the line gives him the once over and again when the minute he walks in some twink has his hands all over him. Just as he’s thinking this is the worst idea of his life, the green-eyed hunk from the line tells him no names, no strings, lets dance.

After some groping, loosely described as dancing, the man he refers to as Green Eyes leads him out to the alley where some very hot desperate anonymous sex occurs. Because it’s told from Lucas’ perspective, you don’t know anything about the other guy or what he’s thinking but it was fun to hear Lucas’ internal struggle as he tries to reconcile what he’s doing with the other side of him that kisses after four dates and fucks after ten. Sex in an alley with a stranger is way out of his league, but just this once he ignores the voice in his head. I enjoyed the writing style and have read a couple by the author in anthologies but I will definitely check out some of her other solo works. 

There is little bit of a twist at the end that I rather suspected, but it’s still a nice read for when you are on your lunch or just before bed for a bit of steamy nasty back alley action, which definitely fits the bill sometimes.

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Title: Darkling Mine
Author: Andra Sashner
Length: 8,900 words
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Genre: m/m historical paranormal
Rating: B

Set to solve the mystery of a recent string of highway robberies, Bjorn is startled when he hears the details of the crimes—as though the very darkness comes to life to attack the nobles trapped within their carriages. It is a description he knows very well indeed, a description that puts the robber far closer to home than he dares let anyone realize…

This free story at All Romance Ebooks is perfect for Halloween. It begins with a mystery: Nobleman Bjorn is investigating a series of highway robberies where his fellow nobles are being robbed of their goods. What’s strange about these robberies is that the carriage is engulfed in a darkness which leaves the occupants unable to move until after the robbery takes place. Also only the noblemen are robbed not their companions in the carriage. Bjorn suspects that there may be more to the robbery than meets the eye especially when his vigilante lover starts giving him some clues as to where to investigate.

There were two parts to this book. Firstly there was the relationship between Bjorn and Petrok. Petrok works for Bjorn in his household and they are lovers but there’s a lack of trust between them which is explored during the story. I liked them as a couple, and although the story is only from Bjorn’s third person point of view, I still got a strong sense of Petrok’s feelings. The sex scenes between them were a little kinky but I liked how this linked into the trust problems that the pair are experiencing. The paranormal part of the book worked well as we discover who or what Petrok is, and I would have liked to have known more about his abilities.

The second part is the mystery aspect which is revealed slowly. It was a little cliched in that the other noblemen were all greedy murderous bastards, except for Bjorn of course who’s good, if a little busy and preoccupied at times but determined to do good and find out why. However, the mystery itself was fairly satisfying and led to an exciting conclusion to the story.

If I have any complaints it’s that for such a short story there were quite a lot of characters, both on and off page, and I found it a little difficult to keep who was who straight in my head. There didn’t need to be so many people to make the story effective, and it meant that apart from Bjorn and Petrok the rest of the characters were mere sketches.

Overall, I liked this story. It was something unusual but with a solid core of romance. If you’re looking for something short to curl up with this Halloween week then you can’t go too far wrong with this story. Plus it’s free so no reason to hesitate!

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Title: Keifer and Me
Author: Mike Shade
Length: 3,300 words
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m paranormal
Rating: C+

It sucks when your lover’s been away for a year. It sucks even more when he’s changed a lot during that year. Keifer isn’t the same man he used to be, but Davey’s waited for a year, can he give Keifer the night to prove that not only can things be better than ever between them, but that werewolves aren’t just the stuff of myths?

The story begins with Davey nervously waiting for his lover, Keifer. He’s not seen or heard from him for a year as Keifer’s been overseas, but has faithfully waited for his return. Davey’s not happy to discover that Keifer is holding him at arms length and even less happy when Keifer tells him the real reason why he’s been away for so long.

This is only a very short story and most of that is made up of either Keifer trying to convince Davey that he is a werewolf or an extended sex scene. I liked the character of Davey who’s a bit twinky. He obviously loves Keifer a great deal, enough to wait a whole year for him, and his excitement followed by an initial disappointment at the way Keifer treats him was realistically done. I also liked his little funny asides to himself as he talks to Keifer:

Keifer stops in front of me, his eyes are shining. With madness, no doubt. “Things can be tricky when it comes to love and mating.”
“Tricky.” Okay. Okay, I’m going to have a freak out.

The story suffered from the usual problems with first person narratives in that the character of Keifer remains a bit flat being defined only by his werewolf status, although I liked the way that Davey describes the changes in Keifer and the way he sniffs Davey.

The story was originally published in an anthology of biting stories and this features quite strongly in the plot. This worked well with the werewolf theme but made the story more sexy with a touch of humour than Halloween scary. In the end this was a decent enough story with an engaging character in Davey to lift the narrative.

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Title: Pushing Limits
Author: Julia Talbot
Length: 14 pdf pages, 3500 words.
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m BDSM erotica
Rating: C+

Dell loves to push Law’s limits, but Law’s surprised when a trip to a friend’s house results in the best kind of show, with Dell’s friend Jimmy staging a spanking for their pleasure. It certainly makes for a night to remember, but will it be too much to ask Law to do some of the same things?

Pushing Limits is a short piece of BDSM erotica which I found interesting, but ultimately somewhat unfulfilling. Narrated by novice submissive Law, the first half details Law’s reactions to watching a spanking scene, and the second half shows us what happens when his boyfriend, Dell, escorts him out to one of the private rooms.

The strongest aspect of Pushing Limits for me was the character of Law. His relationship with kinkster Dell is a recent one and he has no prior attraction to or experience of the scene. However, under Dell’s patient guidance, Law is beginning to discover a side of himself he’s never encountered before. Talbot did a great job of showing us Law’s reluctant attraction to the scene, despite his assurance to the reader that he isn’t into kink—merely into the way Dell makes him feel. Of course, in this respect the reader can enjoy understanding more of Law’s desires than he does himself—he’s clearly a natural submissive and is ridiculously excited by everything going on, even if he does find his reactions embarrassing.

At times these reactions do seem rather over the top, and I did chuckle at Law’s claim that he gets hard almost every time Dell calls him “baby”. However, the characterisation is consistent, and Law continues to become over-aroused by almost everything that happens. Watching Teiko kiss the hairbrush he is about to be spanked by is a case in point. There is a telling moment where Law considers if he could ever submit like Teiko, holding back his orgasm on command and calling his Dom “Sir”:

That kind of submission was something I’d read about in the books Dell gave me, or watched in the porn movies he liked. It always made my scalp sweat, like drinking hard tequila on an empty stomach. Was this what Dell wanted? Or did he just want to shock me?

What didn’t work so well for me was the relationship between Dell and Law. With this story being so short and Dell not having many lines, it was hard to get a handle on his character. Clearly he was much more experienced in the scene than Law, but I couldn’t shake off the feeling he was manipulating his new boyfriend in an unfair way. Dell seemed to have a single-minded purpose to push Law’s limits however he felt about the matter. While this might well be what Law had agreed to beforehand, without seeing any form of negotiation between them it did leave me feeling uncomfortable. It didn’t help that we get no sense of their normal lives or their relationship apart from the sexual aspect.

This story should suit anyone who enjoys reading about a novice submissive discovering things for the first time, and who doesn’t mind a rather arrogant Dom. There are no real surprises and the last line fell flat, in my opinion, but it works well enough as a mildly amusing and sexy erotic short.

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