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Archive for the ‘C+’ Category

lightsout185Title: The Haunted Halloween of Barnaby Sloan
Author: Jenna Jones
Length: 7,600 words (28 pdf pages)
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m paranormal
Rating: C+

Blurb: 

It’s Halloween, and Barnaby and his friends plan to do their usual Halloween ghost walk at a local park that is rumored to be haunted. Barnaby worries his new boyfriend Liam will find their plans ridiculous, and he doesn’t even believe in ghosts, but he invites Liam to join them on the ghost walk anyway.

While their friends scare each other at the park, Barnaby confides in Liam about why he doesn’t believe in an afterlife. Then Barnaby hears a familiar voice whispering his name — and of course, he must investigate…

Review:

This is a sequel to The Wishing Book of Barnaby Sloan which was reviewed on the site last October, but which I confess I have not read. It’s not essential you read it, but it would probably be worthwhile. This story takes place only a short time after the last book. Barnaby has been seeing his older boyfriend Liam for a bit, although they’ve not really been dating, more falling into bed. This Halloween, Barnaby worked at a wedding that Liam attended and despite their relationship, Barnaby is not really sure they are “dating”. He can’t figure out why a great guy like Liam would be into him.

Liam asked him out after the wedding, but Barnaby declined as he had plans to go ghost hunting with his friends, and he’s sure a guy like Liam wouldn’t want to do that. His friends give him a bit of a hassle, and when Liam shows up unexpectedly, they push Barnaby to invite him, and to Barnaby’s surprise he’s more than happy to go along.

The event takes place in a local park, supposedly built on a grave-yard. After wandering around in the dark and taking some time to share some personal info, Barnaby hears something odd nearby and of course, like a victim in a horror movie, sneaks off on his own to check it out, getting attacked by some thugs while doing so.

There’s not much to the story. A hint of the paranormal, but I think for fans of the first book they’ll enjoy seeing the couple move forward and share some more intimate details about themselves. It’s more about Barnaby and his desire to believe in the paranormal for personal reasons, rather than a romantic story. If you enjoyed the first story, you will enjoy this one as well.

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Title: Phantom Touch
Author: Delilah Storm
Length: 7,300 words (25 pdf pages)
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m/m (?) erotica contemporary paranormal
Rating: C+

Blurb:

Coerced by his friends, Chris enters the old Weyburn mansion on Halloween night.  The most haunted housed in Ashville, Weyburn mansion is supposed to be possessed by the spirits of Mrs. Weyburn and her many lovers. From the moment Chris enters, he’s plagued by touches which quickly turn into caresses and then more. How can Chris possibly escape all the pleasure those touches bring, and does he really want to?

Review:

This is weak on the romance side, but if you are interested in some hot paranormal erotica, this might be the choice for you. Chris is bullied by his friends into participating in a haunted house challenge. He’s terrified of all things horror-related, but after one bad experience, he tends to go along with things rather than risk the ridicule. He has to enter the house, go to the attic, ring a bell and come down. He finally makes it out of the basement, only to have his flashlight go out, and before long, he’s being molested by ghostly touches, however, that’s not such a bad thing.

The next period of time is the ghostly encounter with one (or more since there are more hands than two, or maybe that’s a ghost trick), and Chris is getting it from all sides and angles, and before long has even run out of spunk. Once it’s over, he finds the door and gets out, only to be criticized by his friends for making them wait.

Chris accuses their gay jock friend of being behind it. He denies it, however promises to give a better blow job, having learned from the best. He smirks at the house and given his comment about last year’s experience there, I’m presuming he had a run-in with the ghost as well.

To be honest, I didn’t much like Chris’s friends or the love interest. The friends, especially his friend Karen who was a real bully, were not very supportive.  Not liking scary movies or horror myself, I could relate to Chris, and was angry on his behalf for the pressure his friends exerted. I also thought Heath, the love interest was very smug and arrogant. Besides being a hot jock, he didn’t come across as very appealing.

I thought the author did a great job with Chris’s fear and anxiety during the story, and even his confusion over what was happening, but his inability to stop it during the sex. Or perhaps his desire NOT to stop it. I just found the characters surrounding that even rather obnoxious and off-putting. But that is my interpretation and others may not find them so. But if you enjoy some paranormal sex, you will probably enjoy this short spooky story.

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brianonthbottomTitle: Brian on the Bottom
Author: Dawn South
Length: 5,000 words
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: m/m contemporary erotica
Rating: C+

Blurb:
Brian Yates is a quarterback in the SexFL. Teams in this football league go wild after the final play, with the winners picking a member of the losing team to help them take full advantage of their victory.

Brian’s been bored with life in the SexFL, but everything changes when an unexpected twist lends Brian on the bottom. Getting touched and teased by his teammates, with his favorite receiver calling the shots, leaves Brian feeling desire – and pleasure – that he never expected.

Review:
This short piece of erotica centres around a fictional American Football league called the seXFL. The football games are normal, but once the games are over the teams strip off and have sex with one of the losing opposing team. Brian is the quarterback for his team and is so good that his team often win. He’s not too bothered about the sex until the tables are turned and it’s his turn to be on the bottom.

If this all sounds a bit like a porn film, well that would be a fairly accurate description! To be honest, I rather enjoyed it in all its porny glory and the fact that it’s well written added to my enjoyment. Brian seems like a decent bloke and I liked that we get to see some of the things he likes about being in the league – such as getting to play football – and some of the things he doesn’t – like his smug teammates. The build up to the sex was nicely done and the sex scene itself was fairly inventive, if a little difficult to picture at times. Given that it’s erotica the sex is pretty tame (or as tame as group sex can get!) but again that suited me as I’m not a huge fan of dirty erotica.

The story is only short and so, aside from Brian, the characters are a little flat but given that they are there mostly to facilitate the sex then that wasn’t so surprising. The story is based around one sex scene and the ending only hints at a possible romance between Brian and another character which I felt wasn’t necessary to the story. Having said that, I liked the lighthearted tone and the cheeky humour in the narrative. If you’re looking for a very short and naughty quickie then this could be one for you.

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NextStopFunnelCakeTitle: Next Stop: Funnel Cake
Author: Heidi Champa
Length: 19,000 words
Publisher: Amber Allure
Genre: m/m contemporary romance
Rating: C+

Blurb:
Travis Webber has been working at his uncle’s amusement park since the days of keeping money in his pocket during the summers of high school and college. But, with his college career cut prematurely short, it’s turned into a full-time job. To add insult to injury, he’s forced to spend the bulk of his summer driving the train that runs through the park. This isn’t a huge problem, however, until someone from his past recognizes him.

Andrew Baxter, the guidance counselor who helped Travis in high school, recognizes him immediately, in spite of the seven years that have passed—and Travis’s cheesy overalls. When he invites Travis out to catch up on old times, Travis is reluctant, but his long-dormant crush on Andrew from his teenaged years is still enough to make him say “yes.”

As the two men get reacquainted, demons from Travis’s past threaten to grind the reunion to a halt. Can Travis learn to trust again and let Andrew into his life, or will old hurts derail his future?

Review:
Travis is getting by, working at his uncle’s amusement park and trying unsuccessfully to save up to go to College. He’s not happy when his uncle makes him spend part of his job driving the train around the park and is embarrassed when his old guidance counselor sees him in a crappy job, with a crappy uniform. Andrew ‘Mr Baxter’ is pleased to see Travis and asks him out for a coffee.

This was a gentle story with a very sympathetic character in Travis who sometimes behaved in silly, slightly immature ways, such as jumping to conclusions without evidence and running away from his problems. However, I thought there was enough explanation as to why Travis behaves as he does to make his actions believable. This made me feel a certain empathy for him, even if I also wanted to give him a piece of my mind! Fortunately, Travis’ best friend was there to talk some sense to him. Travis and Clayton’s friendship was another highlight of the story for me. Their teasing interactions were realistic for men their age, but contained enough seriousness when it mattered.

My reservations about the story revolve around the character of Andrew, or Mr Baxter, as Travis calls him for quite a lot of the story – which certainly didn’t help my feelings towards their relationship. We don’t get Andrew’s point of view so I was wasn’t completely sure about his reasons for asking Travis for a coffee, but it’s obvious that he’s attracted to Travis. Travis tells us that he had a major crush on Mr Baxter when he was at school, and I felt slightly uncomfortable that Andrew may have had inappropriate feelings for Travis when he was his school guidance counselor, even if he is only now, several years later, acting on those feelings. Andrew also seemed rather pushy and lacking in insight when it comes to Travis and his problems which struck me as unusual for someone of his profession – if he still is a guidance counselor, we are never told what he current job entails or whether he still works at Travis’ old school.

So whilst I liked Travis and found the story to be an easy, undemanding read, sweet in some places with a touch of angst in Travis’ past and how that affects him now, the romance didn’t work as well. That isn’t to say it’s a bad story and if some of the things I’ve mentioned don’t bother you then I’d be happy to recommend this story.

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Bearded Caucasian tattooist creates a tattoo on a woman's shouldTitle: Skin Deep
Author: T.T. Kove
Length: 15,000 words
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Genre: m/m contemporary romance
Rating: C+

Blurb:
Kian is dragged along as moral support when his friend Chloe goes to get a tattoo done. What he thinks will be a boring few hours standing around a shop proves exciting instead, when an attraction to the tattoo artist proves to be both mutual and scorching.

And if they can survive the challenges thrown across their path, it may also prove to be something beautiful and permanent.

Review:
This story is part of the same set which includes Reunited, a story I reviewed here. This takes place before that story and has Josh and Damien as minor characters – they are Silver’s roommates – and it’s not necessary to have read any of the other stories in the series.

Kian gets dragged along by his friend Chloe when she goes for a tattoo where he meets hunky tattooist, Silver. It’s lust at first sight and after a bout of sex, they manage to make that awkward move from lusty encounter to dating. The story then follows the pair over the next six months as they fall in love and their relationship is tested.

This was an interesting format in that it took several snapshots of the relationship, showing significant points where they encounter difficulties in their first six months but make it through to allow their relationship to strengthen. Unfortunately, the format also meant that it wasn’t easy to get to grips with the main characters because once they have worked through their problems we skip forward. This misses out on really getting an indepth knowledge of either man and so when it came to some painful revelations towards the end of the story, I felt detached from them. Another slight niggle was the inconsistencies in the London setting. One minute the characters sound like they are from EastEnders saying ‘blimey!’, and the next they are going to the ‘store’ instead of the shop or supermarket. That’s only a minor niggle though.

Despite the niggles, I still enjoyed the story. This author writes emotion well and I was caught up, especially with Kian as the pair work through any problems. I liked the way that everything was handled sensibly and that the couple talk through their issues. I wanted them to succeed. There was a good balance between hot and heavy, sweet and sexy, and a dose of angst. I’d definitely read more of this pair.

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steamyciderandapples200x300Title: Steamy Cider and Apples (Jobs that Don’t Suck #8 )
Author: Jackie Nacht
Length: 13,067 words (62 pdf pages)
Publisher: eXtasy Publishing
Genre: m/m contemporary
Rating: C+

Blurb:

Tyler has a problem. He doesn’t have the funds to cover his fraternal dues this year and needs to find a job. After going to his fraternity treasurer, Mitch, Tyler finds himself working with Mitch’s hot twin brother, Sawyer.

Sawyer has had a crush on Tyler since he first saw the man at his twin’s crazy fraternity. When opportunity arises for the two to work together at the cider mill, Sawyer won’t waste any time to ask Tyler out and hope the two will become more.

Will there be steamy feelings, and will they fall for each other?

Review:

“Short, sexy and sweet” is how the author describes her writing and that pretty much sums it up. When Tyler goes to Mitch for advice on how to pay his dues, Tyler suggests he work with his twin brother at the apple cider place who is looking for extra help in the autumn season. But it seems Sawyer has been working behind the  scenes to get his brother to hook him up with Tyler who is in the same fraternity as Mitch.

It doesn’t take Sawyer long to make his move, however between school and sports and work they don’t have much time to spend together. Just before Halloween, Tyler falls ill and Sawyer takes care of him. It’s all very sweet as the tag line suggests. These aren’t “boys gone wild” in college having raunchy sex anywhere and everywhere. They take their time, and it’s got a more “romantic” feel than perhaps reality for a lot of young adults, but it’s sweet to read.

This is book 8 and many of the characters from other books do make a showing, but it’s quite possible to read as a stand-alone. I’ve read about half of them, and to be honest, there are so many guys involved, I couldn’t always remember exactly who was who, but the main focus is on the two main characters so it’s fine.

When you are in the mood for a little cotton candy read without many obstacles and no angst, it’s a good choice for you. I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure the characters will stick with me all that long.

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MediumSweetExtraShotofGeekTitle: Medium, Sweet, Extra Shot of Geek
Author: R. Cooper
Length: 66 pdf pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: m/m contemporary
Rating: C+

Blurb:

Former soldier Octavio “Tavio” Reyes works as a barista, a favorite with the customers—especially Tommy O’Shaughnessy. An avowed geek, Tommy comes in daily to flirt, usually under the guise of Trekkie talk. Tavio hesitates; now that he’s out of the army, he’s not sure how out he should be, or whether to take his chances on a geek devoted to sci-fi and comic books. But when Tommy compares him to an unemotional Vulcan, Tavio finally considers dating an out-and-proud nerd. Then Tommy surprises him again and introduces him to his daughter, whom Tommy loves even more than Star Trek or Tavio. Now Tavio has a whole new decision to make: Is he ready to romance a family man?

Review:

I really liked this story, but I had to give it a lower grade for what I believe was so much potential lost. Former solider Tavio is the silent type. He’s not good with people, he’s uncomfortable, but he’s good at his job making coffee. It seems Tommy has been coming in for months and basically stands around, ostensibly talking to anyone and everyone, but it’s pretty obvious that he’s there to see Tavio. The register girl even puts hearts on Tommy’s cup when she takes his order for Tavio to fill.

Things seem to be looking up, and Tavio is wondering if maybe, just maybe he might go for it, when Tommy shows up with his daughter. This completely throws Tavio off kilter since Tommy has talked about everything in his life, except this. However when Tommy invites him to watch the girl play baseball on the weekend, he agrees. Some time at the kids’ game, leads to a lot more fun for the adults after. That you don’t see.

Tommy is the kind of guy who can talk your ear off about anything and everything, but mostly sci-fi stuff. Tavio thinks a lot, he’s always in  his head wondering what something means, if he should say something, how he should react, worried about other people’s reactions. I suppose it’s a typical case of opposites attract.

When I mentioned “That you don’t see” I meant it. They go from kissing at the door, to Monday morning where you realize they spent the weekend together. Now I’m not one of the readers who insist on sex in their books, but with Tavio being so quiet and reserved, I would have loved to see how he behaves in the bedroom. Would he cut loose, or was reserved his way. There were also hints that Tavio’s mother may have suspected his sexuality, and I think she would have loved to see that he was hooking up with a guy who had a child, an instant grandchild. It was also nice to see Tommy as a character who was unashamedly bi and very open about it.

There was just so much more. Tavio coming out, the relationship building. Because it’s all told from Tavio’s point of view, you only get his perspective and I think the story was left with a lot of potential that remains unexplored. So while I enjoyed the story, I was left a bit bereft at the end. Sort of a moment of “That’s it?” I know it’s common of short story readers to say “I want more” but I think in this case, it would have enhanced the story greatly to dig a bit more deeply into the relationship. But maybe others will be content with the length. Still a cute read and I have to say I love the cover.

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fullmoondating185Title: Full Moon Dating: Aiden & Ben
Author: Julia Talbot
Length: 10,100 words (38 pdf pages)
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m paranormal (shifters)
Rating: C+

Blurb:

When Aiden goes to Wyoming on the dime of the Full Moon Dating service, he doesn’t really think he and country wolf Ben will be right for each other. He just wants some time off from city life.

Ben knows better right away. He and Aiden are meant to be together, despite Aiden’s city ways and cluelessness about being a werewolf. Can he convince Aiden to stay with him, or will Ben, and Full Moon Dating have to write this one off as a mistake?

Review:

This is a cute little shifter story which is pretty typical of the author’s style. Aiden and Ben both sign up for the dating agency and are put together, even though on the surface it doesn’t look like a match. Ben is definitely a dominant top, but Aiden makes no mention of being into the lifestyle, but they are set up together. Aiden, a photographer travels from Dallas to Wyoming to meet Ben and they soon hit it off.

The biggest issue is that Aiden is a city wolf. He’s grown up in the city where shifting at will is not safe and even on the full moon they shift only for one night. When after their first night he wakes up in his shifted form, he totally freaks out and runs. Ben finds him and helps him through it, but it happens yet again, forcing Ben to chase after him.

Because of the paranormal aspect you have the instant mates thing, but Ben is strong and caring and kind, and Aiden is cute as the city wolf feeling completely out of his element. If you like the author and/or shifter stories you’ll enjoy this. It sets up the second book with the next couple to try out the dating agency. It was a fun light read, but fairly standard fare.

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nightofthedragonTitle: Night of the Dragon
Author: Kate Roman
Length: 11,300 words
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: m/m fantasy romance
Rating: C+

Blurb:
Prince Colin of Astoria is turning 21 and must think of affairs of state and marriage — but all he can think of his lover, Drake the DragonRyder. Such a match could never be countenanced, but Colin knows he cannot give Drake up. With the help of Drake and the dragons, can Colin find the strength to stand against his father the king?

Review:
This fantasy story begins well with Colin attending his 21st birthday party. He’s being shoehorned into marrying the daughter of a neighbouring state and is willing to do his duty but his heart aches for his lover, Drake. At the last minute Colin cannot go ahead with the announcement of marriage. Drake takes him away but Colin is still torn between happiness with his lover or duty.

The first part of the story was very exciting with the tension in Colin between doing what his father wants and what his heart tells him. I felt very sorry for Colin as it was obvious that his father didn’t care for him at all. Colin also feels abandoned by Drake and vulnerable to his father’s bullying. When Drake appears it is obvious that they have tender feelings and the scene where they are reunited was more than just sex.

Another part I liked was in the depiction of the dragons and the hints we get of their lands. I would have liked to have known more about that and perhaps see the pair interacting with the dragons to a greater extent.

Where the story worked less well was after the pair leave the castle. This part seemed a little rushed and we discover a few things about Colin’s father that were thrown into the story but not explored. I liked both characters but the way the story concludes seemed a little forced and I couldn’t see how Colin could be content in the long run. The romance works and I was sure the pair would be happy together but the decision that Colin makes at the end seemed too much of a snap decision. Plus there were a number of loose ends left, especially surrounding the dragons and I wanted to find out how that would work out.

So overall whilst I liked the characters and enjoyed their strong romance, the setting and fantasy aspects to the story could have done with more development. Having said that, if you like dragon stories this could be one for you.

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MulliganTitle: Mulligan
Author: Nora Roth
Length: 16,943 words (66 pdf pages)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: m/m contemporary
Rating: C+

Blurb:

The only thing between Jesse Yates and the top of the air hockey leaderboard is Cameron Greene. When Cameron returns home from college unannounced and knocks the win out of Jesse’s reach, the last thing Jesse plans to do is strike up a friendship with the guy he dislikes on principle. But Cameron charms Jesse without even seeming to try, and the attraction and friendly rivalry between them soon leads to something more.

Everything is perfect until the world as Jesse knows it comes crashing down when Cameron’s secrets are revealed. Before Jesse can find his balance, Cameron is gone without a word, leaving Jesse alone with anger and grief—hoping against hope for a second chance.

Review:

I like this story, but at times it felt a bit disjointed and like I was missing something. Jesse is ready to take the top title in the air hockey tournament when he’s up against a stranger. Going by the way the guy looks, he figures it’s a sure thing, only he soon changes his mind and after a close match, the other guy wins. That’s when Jesse finds out he’s the local champion of air hockey. He’s mad at the fact that he didn’t win and that he didn’t recognize the guy.

They end up meeting at the arcade again and before long there’s a bet, about who will jerk who off. This is the first time Jesse’s been with a guy, but he can’t resist, although he admits to Cameron it’s his first. They soon start hanging out and fooling around. However when Cameron’s family collapses, he disappears leaving Jesse acting out as he finishes high school.

I found it a bit weird that Jesse never asked Cameron why he was home from university, or asked around at school. I know teens can be pretty self-centred and clueless about the world, but it seemed like it would have come up in conversation. Also, they were only hanging out for a few weeks and Jesse was completely lost when Cameron vanished. I could understand being angry he just took off without saying good-bye but to spiral to drunk driving and sex with strangers seemed a bit extreme.

Still, I liked Cameron a great deal and you could see he was the more confident college student, Jesse the unsure high school student, but still both good kids, definitely teen/young adults. So others may not find it leaves them quite as off-kilter as it did me. I’m not exactly sure why. I just felt like some link was missing. But I’m not sure what exactly. If you like young protagonists, it’s a good choice for a quick read.

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