All Romance Ebooks, MLR Press, Taylor V. Donovan

Taylor V. Donovan’s “Six Degrees Of Lust” Might Leave You Many Degrees Of Anxious For A Sequel

“Some rules are nothing but old habits that people are afraid to change.” ― Therese Anne Fowler

Taylor V. Donovan’s Six Degrees of Lust is a novel that’s part murder mystery and part relationship mystery, with a heavy emphasis on the relationship and even more on the mystery of how Sam Shaughnessy and Mac O’Bannon are ever going to overcome the stop-sticks they keep throwing in the road they’re traveling toward something that could be more than the carefully planned sex-without-strings arrangement they’ve mapped out. Only time will tell.

There’s a serial killer on the loose, and he’s systematically preying on young gay men in several states. If he can’t save these sinners from an eternity in Hell, he’ll gladly speed along the process in getting them there to save the world from their evil ways. This killer has a pattern, means, mode, and plenty of psychologically radical motives to justify raining judgment and retribution down upon the unholy predators who prey on other men, and it’s up to Sam and his crack team of agents with the New York Federal Bureau of Investigations to find the killer and bring him to justice.

Mac has some problems of his own to solve, as well, namely that he’d made a promise to his family five years earlier to stay in the closet for the sake of his father’s small town Texas political career. Years of pretending to be straight has taken its toll on Mac, who’s been hiding his sexuality from his best friends, and had spent years in a secret relationship with a closeted man who treated Mac like a dirty secret rather than a boyfriend. Now that the agreement Mac had made is set to expire in a matter of just a few short months, he’s counting down the days to living his life as a proud and openly gay man, while his family is busy reneging on their end of the bargain and trying to get Mac to give up the “phase” he’s going through so he can settle down with a nice woman and spare them the humiliation of having a gay son.

A chance meeting between Sam and Mac in the airport—Mac on his way into New York City, Sam on his way out—creates a few sparks. That is, if you can call it a spark when a lit match is introduced to a puddle of gasoline. A split second decision by the very emotionally unavailable Sam to give Mac a business card and an invitation for a hook-up leads to one of the most complicated beginnings to whatever it is they’re trying to build that I’ve ever read.

Six Degrees of Lust is an ensemble piece, which means that while Sam and Mac are the main protagonists in this installment of the series, they’re supported by a huge cast of players, including one who’s a cold-blooded, self-righteous killer, as well as those who have the potential to become the main characters in their own novels as this series moves forward. I was highlighting names on my Kindle like crazy as I was reading, because with as many people as were being introduced, I wasn’t sure until I’d finished who was going to be significant and who wasn’t. Well, guess what? I’m still not sure to some degree, because, although I could guess, I still don’t know who the killer is! Yes, Taylor V. Donovan’s thrown in some clues to decipher, but has offered a few likely suspects, so the serial killer is still on the loose and is free to continue terrorizing young, blond, and beautiful gay men well into the next book.

Sam’s carrying some significant baggage since the loss of his child and the end of a marriage gone horribly wrong, which is the linchpin of all his emotional hang-ups and the reason he doesn’t give anything of himself, or want anything from anyone in return. Until Mac, that is, a man whose skills at negotiating and navigating Sam’s moods and masks is slowly causing the agent to begin bending and outright breaking some of his own carefully constructed boundaries.

Patience. That’s what this book and series takes, patience. Don’t expect hearts and flowers romance, don’t expect everything to be neat and tidy by the end of this book. Do expect some steamy smexy bits, though, and to find yourself guessing at every turn who the killer is. Do expect to wonder whose books will be coming up next, too. I know I am. Also expect to ask yourself why is a young androgynous boy a significant cog in this machine, and will Sam and his team catch this psychopath before he has the chance to kill again?

I trust Taylor V. Donovan to know where she’s going from here and to get me there one clue at a time. I’m anxious to see where she’s taking me next.

**And as an addition, Taylor has written a free ficlet called 60 Percent Proof that gives in a little added detail to something very significant that happens in Sam and Mac’s relationship. Definitely don’t read this before you’ve read the book, but most definitely read it after.**

Reviewed by: Lisa

You can buy Six Degrees of Lust here:

Bonnie Dee, Samhain Publishing, Summer Devon

“Gentleman’s Keeper” Is A Historical Romance That Tells A Heartwarming Story

“Together in our house, in the firelight, we are the world made small.” ― Jennifer Donnelly

Everett Gerard is not what anyone might describe as paternal. In fact, the words used to describe Gerard run more along the lines of libertine, gadabout, and then, of course, there’s always his unnatural appetites he must keep secreted away from London society.

Gerard has made a life out of travelling the continent and appeasing those appetites with various like-minded men. He’s not at all interested in the quiet, gentrified country life to which he was born, even though his familial estate is still there, slowly falling into a state of disrepair from his negligence. The abbey is not a place to which Gerard plans to return. Ever. It’s a place that holds too many horrific memories, ones Gerard has spent his lifetime trying to run from, so why ever would he want to go back?

Well, it turns out there’s one very compelling thing that could lure Gerard back to his ancestral home, and that would be a letter from his bailiff, Miles Kenway, informing Gerard that his bastard child has just shown up looking for his father after his mother’s death.

Miles isn’t particularly fond of the abbey’s master. He’s heard the rumors and the outright truths about Gerard’s exploits, not to mention experiencing firsthand Gerard’s apathy toward anything that even remotely resembles the estate’s business and upkeep. His opinion of Gerard couldn’t be much lower, and Miles doesn’t hesitate to let his master know where he’s lacking, in spite of the fact it may cost him his position. For Miles, what’s most important is to get Gerard to the abbey to take over the managing of not only the estate but his son as well.

Young Ipsial Gerard is little more than a feral child who’s been forced to live hand-to-mouth his entire life, caring for his mother in whatever way he could, which usually involved a lot of thievery and very little in the way of mothering. A firm hand and a father’s guidance is what the boy needs, and Miles means to ensure Gerard upholds his end of the bargain.

The Gentleman’s Keeper is a Victorian era romance constructed around the building of a family, both in those to whom you want to belong and those you want so much to belong to you. As Miles and Gerard work together to pull Ipsial into some semblance of civility, one bribe at a time, they also grow to love each other despite some of their misperceptions of each other in the beginning.

There are a few things to like about this book—the storytelling is briskly paced and the language is spot-on, immersing the reader into the thick of the historical setting. I grew to like Gerard and Miles and loved the way they found a common bond beyond their attraction to each other, wrapped up in a boy who they both cared very much for.

There was, of course, an antagonist in the story, as well, one who felt a little underutilized and too easily overcome, but he served his purpose in helping the story move toward its happy ending. The one thing, however, that kept me from truly loving this book, even with its strengths, was the development of the relationships between Gerard and Miles, Gerard and Ispial, and Miles and Ispial. I try not to dwell so much on the show vs. tell argument, but there are times that it’s just critical to the building of believable relationships for me, and I felt there was some show-me missing from this story that, in the end, made it a pleasant read, a very heartwarming tale, but didn’t set me over the edge into a place where I was emotionally invested in the relationship between Gerard and Miles as much as I was glad that Ipsial had finally found a home.

Reviewed by: Lisa

You can buy The Gentleman’s Keeper here:

Andrew Grey, Dreamspinner Press

You’ll Be Glad To Find Yourself “Stranded” With Andrew Grey

“Fall in love… that is fine, but just make sure you fall deep enough to stay there forever.” ― Ram Mohan

I’ve read so many books by Andrew Grey and enjoyed each of his stories, so I was really excited to read this one.

Kendall Monroe is a Broadway star. Kendall’s partner of ten years is best selling author Johnny Harker. When we first meet these two characters, they seem so detached from each other. Johnny is distant, too involved in writing his next novel he doesn’t really seem to care about about Kendall. Kendall on the other hand, is wondering how it has come to this point. As the story in written in Kendall’s POV, we’re only hearing his interpretation of their relationship. We don’t really know what’s going on inside of Johnny’s head, I like this because we got to see them fall in love all over again and we wouldn’t have gotten that if we knew what he was thinking.

When Kendall gets a chance to make a movie out in California, he’s a little worried about going. He’s never been away from Johnny for any length of time before, and now he may be gone as long as three months. Something happens in the story to make his mind up for him; he’s going. I felt as though Kendall was very brave in going out to California by himself. He really didn’t know what was expected of him on a big time movie set. And even though he was feeling insecure about his relationship with Johnny, he was still the professional actor and kept on task.

I loved the flashbacks in this story. Throughout, Kendall reflects back on his relationship with Johnny. We get some backstory on how Kendall and Johnny first met, their first date, how they both fell in love with each other. It was very sweet and adorable. It makes me wonder what happened to that loving couple. How did they become so out of sync with each other in present day? Could it be they both became too comfortable with each other and just took the other for granted? A lot of established couples in stories have a history that the reader doesn’t get a chance see. In this story we don’t see everything Kendall and Johnny go through, but I like that during the flashbacks we do get to see the love and affection they had for each other and what they could have again. The storytelling flowed very easily and I wasn’t distracted going from present day to the past.

There is a little mystery involved with this story and I loved how Mr. Grey kept us guessing about what was going to happen next. Kendall gets himself in a situation that had me sweating with anticipation! I can’t say much about it without giving away spoilers, but a very enjoyable side story.

This book is a little edgier than Andrew Grey’s normal style. Kendall has a lot going on in his world. He’s dealing with his relationship with Johnny in present day, while rehashing the past; trying to figure out what went wrong and can they possibly get back what they had with each other. He’s also dealing with an issue that could be a matter of life or death. But all in all, this is a love story. It’s a story about not really knowing what you have until it’s not there anymore, and could quite possibly be gone forever.

Highly recommended.

Reviewed by: Lynn

You can buy Stranded here:

All Romance Ebooks, Max Vos, Self-Published

In Which “Sasquatch” Finds A Mate

“I don’t know the question, but sex is definitely the answer.” ― Woody Allen

Sasquatch starts out with Jack celebrating his TGIF at the local Oyster Bar. This is not a bar where most gay men would find themselves out for drinks. Jack was just redneck enough where he didn’t care. Jack just wanted to have a beer to beat the heat and get some dinner since it was so hot. While Jack is finishing up his first beer the roar of a Harley pulling into the lot catches his attention. Turns out Dave, aka Sasquatch, a six foot six muscled biker has arrived. Jack knows Dave from high school and he is his closest neighbor. Dave was very intimidating at first sight, but he is actually very quiet and rarely speaks unless spoken to. That changes when Lonnie Cahill arrives at the oyster bar and outs Jack in spectacular fashion. After some rather nasty comments Dave “kindly” escorts Lonnie out and has a drink with Jack before rejoining his buddies. It seems Jack found support from unlikely places.

The next day Jack has a date coming over, Luiz is a hot latino Jack has been seeing. Mostly for hot sex, but Jack is trying to find out if there could be more. After dinner the two men are making out heavily on the couch when Dave shows up saying Mandy, his live-in girlfriend, has kicked him out. There is no way Jack can turn Dave away after he helped him the day before, besides they are friends, you help friends out. Jack and Luiz head to bed and Dave heads to the spare room. After Dave catches an eyeful, and Luiz catches a mouthful of Dave, the three men end up spending the night exploring the limits of their bodies. Luiz then wakes up mad about a threesome he started and Jack has had enough and tells him not to come back.

Expecting Dave to have regrets the next morning, Jack is pleasantly surprised to find out Dave just might have found the very thing he wasn’t even aware he was looking for. The two men end up finding a way, and it just works for them. They find that the people that matter don’t mind and the ones that mind truly don’t matter. Jack and Dave are happy and that is all that matters to them.

Now Max Vos does write with the hearts and flowers, but his stories are also very, very smexy. They are not for the faint of heart. However, if you like the down and dirty with large, muscular hairy men that are into some hot and heavy kink, this is definitely the story for you. Even with the kink, Max gives us the feels and the HEA. I would say the only way this story could have better would be if it was longer. This is definitely a book to keep on the “kink” shelf and I loved every second of it.

Reviewed by: Jackie

You can buy Sasquatch here:

Ellen Holiday

Ellen Holiday’s Vietnam War-Era “Brandon’s Laughter” Is Another Great FREE Summer Read

“Love is a friendship set to music.” – Joseph Campbell

Richie Wilkins and Brandon Burns were friends. And then they weren’t. That happens sometimes when you outgrow a person, or find that suddenly the little things a person does begin to grate on your nerves until you either rip your own ears off or cut that person from your life. Thankfully for Richie’s ears, he chose the latter and pushed Brandon away, severing their friendship. But that doesn’t mean Brandon disappeared from Richie’s life.

Being next door neighbors in a small town, with moms who happen to be friends, makes avoiding each other nearly impossible, but Richie does his best. And he succeeds, mostly, until the day Brandon is lured over the fence that divides them, called by Richie’s music and the allure of Richie himself.

Set in the Vietnam era, Brandon’s Laughter is the tale of two young boys who become men all too quickly. The story takes place during a time in which the fear and denial of being queer outweighed and overwhelmed the love the boys grew to share. As Brandon leaves for Vietnam with Richie’s rejection like a fresh wound on his heart, Richie starts college but soon decides he has to take Brandon’s words to heart, and leaves for Nashville to take a shot at a music career.

Through years of separation, a time during which Richie finally accepts that he’s gay, carries on both relationships and one-night-stands, and ultimately comes to terms with the fact that he’s still deeply and irrevocably in love with Brandon, the tension in this story emerges and grows. Brandon and Richie’s relationship is like a tune that begins in sour notes, all flats and sharps, then slowly unfolds into a gorgeous refrain that I didn’t want to end. But it did, and all too soon.

Exactly three years ago, I read a novella called One More Soldier, a story also set in the 1960s, a story in which one of the characters leaves to fight the war in Vietnam, a story I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Marie Sexton succeeded in pulling my guts out through my tear ducts, and I was afraid that Ellen Holiday was going to do the same with Brandon’s Laughter, but I was spared at the eleventh hour, thank goodness, though that’s not to say I didn’t shed a few tears along the way.

I absolutely loved this story, even if I do think it’s too short. That’s not a slight on the author but a compliment to her. I just didn’t want to let these characters go.

Reviewed by: Lisa

You can download Brandon’s Laughter here as part of the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s “Love Has No Boundaries” summer anthology:

Allison Cassatta, Booyah! Books, Brad Boney, Edmond Manning, Jamie Fessenden, Jeff Erno, Lane Hayes, Luke Hartwell, Taylor V. Donovan

The Latest Edition Of Booyah! Books Is Out! Who Made The List This Month?

Every Month, Mary Calmes so graciously hosts The Novel Approach and gives us the chance to spotlight some of the books we thought were particularly recommendable reads.

If you’d like to see which books captured our attention in the month of July, head on over to Ms. Mary’s Place and see who made our list of top picks.

Cheers, and happy reading!


Authors, T. Strange, Torquere Press

How About A Little Tuesday “Boots and Leather” From T. Strange?

One of the best parts of reading is being able to live your fantasies from the comfort of your couch. Have you ever fantasized about being spanked? About giving up control, just for a little while? Then this book is for you!

Gavin has been going to motorcycle shows for years, hoping to find a hot biker who will introduce him to the BDSM he craves. After years of searching, he meets Terry, who seems to be exactly what he’s been looking for, and vice versa. Before they can play, Gavin has to learn about the differences between fantasy and reality. Boots and Leather is a short, steamy read, perfect for a summer’s day.

This Contest Is Now Closed..

About the author:

T. Strange has been part of the BDSM lifestyle for several years. She has actively participated in her local kinky community, and is very passionate when it comes to education about safe, fun kink. So far, she has two Tales of Leather Sips published with Torquere Press, ‘Boots and Leather’ and ‘Belladonna’. Both stories feature m/m BDSM.

She can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and on Tumblr, or you can email her at

Dreamspinner Press, Susan Laine

“Accidental Chemistry” Will Leave You Wanting More

“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” ― C.G. Jung

This is a very humorous look at two very different men. I have never seen two people have so many problems just trying to hook up. It all starts with Zane being “up to here” with his boss. He doesn’t really have to work but his brother Zak thinks he needs to experience working a job to learn a good work ethic. After taking about all he can, he heads out to a club with one thing on his mind. Yeah you got it, getting laid. While checking out the scenery in his local club he is sent over a drink. When he checks out the guy that sent it, his first impression when the man looks up is “cute blond”. After talking to the guy he realizes the guy is nothing but a fake. Fake hair, caps on his teeth and very shallow. Luckily right at that moment the bartender lets him know this isn’t the guy that bought him the drink, that guy just left. Zane takes off after the guy and finds him. This starts a series of mishaps that just has to make Zane feel as if he is the unluckiest man in the world.

There are tears, an almost broken nose, a big mishap on the stairs that just sounds painful, and cat pee on the sheets. This couldn’t get any worse could it? Well, yeah, unfortunately it could! After Joshua takes care of Zane’s needs, well, Zane falls fast asleep, with no reciprocation. OUCH. When Zane wakes in the middle of the night to get a round two, he finds his bed empty and Joshua gone. Too bad he didn’t get a last name or a phone number, huh?

Now, Zane has only been in one relationship before and that lasted all of three weeks. So why does he feel so drawn to Joshua, and why does he feel this uncontrollable need to find him and make things right? So with the help of his roommates, Zane tracks Joshua down and tries to make him understand that he does want to get to know him, and I have to say he gives great apology!

The two men end up finally getting some MUTUAL satisfaction, and they make plans to spend more time together. Zane decides to cook for Joshua, but they end up doing it together and that makes it even better. There are some truly sweet moments between the two, and it seems to be the start to something special. Personally, I wish the author would have given us maybe another chapter or two to see this relationship blossom. However, Susan Laine did leave us with the impression that these two will work out, and I guess that will be enough for now, but I wouldn’t object to a second visit with these two. One added bonus to this story was the short visit we had from Zak, Zane’s brother, who was featured in the first book of the series “Twice By Chance”.

If you love a short sweet love story with some truly funny situations this story is for you! Truly entertaining and will leave you wanting more!

Reviewed by: Jackie

You can buy Accidental Chemistry here:

A.F. Henley, Less Than Three Press

Music Is Its Own Language In A.F. Henley’s “Sonata”

“Where words fail, music speaks.” ― Hans Christian Andersen

Ian James is thirty-six years old, working at a job for which the prospects of advancement seem pretty slim, people won’t stop taking advantage of him—or just plain taking him for granted—and he’s just gone through a bad break up with his cheating boyfriend, who finally left him for “Guy #3”.

Suffice it to say that in the major scale of life, Ian’s has hit some pretty sour notes.

Hanging out in bars isn’t his idea of a great time, but that’s exactly where he finds himself the night he meets Jordan, a guy who doesn’t look old enough to drink let alone be in a public bathroom propositioning guys for sex. But, again, that’s exactly where Ian finds himself—in a stall trying to make a personal connection with a guy who just wants to get off and get out, no strings attached. It’s all fairly disheartening and humiliating for Ian, and though he gave Jordan his business card, he’s not holding his breath that he’ll ever hear from the guy again.

And, of course, that’s precisely when the universe decides to chime in. Whether you call it fate, destiny, cosmic interference, coincidence, synchronicity, or just plain old karma, Ian and Jordan’s worlds suddenly shrink to the smallest of spheres, one in which they keep meeting unintentionally, much to Jordan’s resentment, but will eventually discover a bond in Jordan’s son Cole, a boy with a disability that has left him little more than a prisoner within himself.

Cole suffers from Asperger Syndrome, an affliction on the autism spectrum that makes any sort of interaction with him next to impossible, and often leaves the boy in an agitated state of inconsolable chaos. It’s through music that Ian is finally able to make a connection with Cole; it’s through Cole that Ian is finally able to reach Jordan, and it’s not long before Ian finds himself tangled in a wickedly complicated web of lies and evasions that brings Ian, Jordan, and Cole to the brink of crisis.

Sonata is a piece that begins seductively, is tempered with disharmony, and builds to a crescendo that left me more than a little shaken by its twists and revelations before it was done. A.F. Henley sets a measured pace in the telling of this story, one filled with deception and betrayal and falling in love while falling for the lies that build to a frenetic climax, then ends on a sweet note that left me wanting more.

This is a book I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend if you’re looking for a single-sitting-read filled with highs and lows and the in-betweens where love grows.

Reviewed by: Lisa

You can buy Sonata here:

Heidi Belleau, Riptide Publishing

Would You Give Up Who You Are To Fulfill A Dream?

“You can’t always judge people by the things they done. You got to judge them by what they are doing now.”–Kate DiCamillo

Heidi Belleau’s latest offering is the first in the “Rear Entrance Video” series. You have to read the book to understand just how unbelievably clever the name of the store/series is. There are five guys living in the house where the MCs of Apple Polisher live, so there’s potential for at least a few more of these guys to have their stories told.

In Apple Polisher we have the honor of meeting Christian and Max, two of the roommates in the old, dilapidated house Christian is forced to move into because it is all he can afford during graduate school. Christian came out to his mom when he was 16. She left the country for her homeland of Jamaica and told Christian he could join her when he gave up his perversion. His Aunt Beverly took over and finished raising him, even paying for his college degree. She has been fighting ovarian cancer and is unable to help with Christian’s grad school expenses.

In order to get the teaching certificate he has long dreamt of, Christian has to maintain a perfectly spotless image, so he is back in the closet. No drinking, drugs, swearing, social media faux pas and definitely no male lovers. And absolutely no working in a porn store. Enter Max, the tattooed, lean, muscled apparent bad-boy of the house. Max definitely has some secrets of his own. Christian is a goner. He and Max have a night together, then Christian gets all caught up in his head and can’t handle it, so he pulls back. Ms. Belleau is great at writing bunches of Christian’s internal monologue. We know exactly what he’s thinking and what he really wants to say, but just can’t make it come out of his mouth.

When ignoring each other becomes impossible, Max decides to leave the house. Ms. Belleau gives us another peek into Christians head, but this time she enables him to pull out some of those painfully honest feelings to convince Max to stay and be his boyfriend.

Meanwhile, Aunt Beverly becomes sicker by the day. Her business is failing. After overhearing Christian discussing the situation with another roommate, Max suggests that Christian work there to help out. At this point, the roommates still don’t know what kind of business it is.

Christian takes on the responsibility of the store and is shocked to find out the condition to which it has deteriorated. The staff is lazy, dishonest and just don’t care about anything but their paycheck. Christian has been compartmentalizing his life up to now. School, work, home all in separate boxes. He is again ignoring Max. It is extraordinary to see how Ms. Belleau empowers Christian to grow and become more assertive. His Aunt’s failing health becomes the last weight that he can handle on his back. He reaches out to Max for comfort and advice.

Boy, do Max and the roommates come through. After a scorching sex scene between Max & Christian in the open (then quickly closed) store, all the walls come down and Christian pours it all out to Max. It is gratifying that Max rallies support for Christian. The roommates all come in and help in the store. Christian realizes with Max’s help that giving up who he really is, is just too much to ask of him just so he can become a teacher.

The secrets just keep coming, though. Max reveals the last secret he has been keeping, thinking that Christian will think Max isn’t good enough for him. Not only does it not drive Christian away, Christian embraces this part of Max’s life and becomes involved in it.

The thing I liked best about Apple Polisher (Rear Entrance Video #1) was the internal dialogue that Ms. Belleau gave us access to. The interplay between the men living in the house was enthralling, in turns funny, friendly, brotherly, supportive, honest and loving. This is a group of guys I look forward to reading more about. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by: Tina

You can buy Apple Polisher (Rear Entrance Video #1) here:

Eli Easton, Harmony Ink Press

“Superhero” Is The Perfect Summer Coming-Of-Age Read

“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.” ― William Shakespeare

What is a boy to do when he realizes that he is gay while growing up in Jefferson, Wisconsin? Jefferson is a city where it seems the only thing a boy is expected to do is play sports in middle school, high school and college and then marry and have the 2.5 kids in the suburbs. Jordan Carson realizes that none of that is in his future, so lucky for him his best friend since second grade is Owen Nelson. Owen is not only Jordan’s best friend, but he is a star wrestler from middle school on. No one messes with Owen, NO ONE, and so by association, Jordan has a built in bodyguard as well as the best friend anyone could ask for.

The book starts out from Jordan’s point of view and we find out how he met Owen. The two little boys bonded over Matchbox cars on the playground and were inseparable from that moment forward. We then go to the summer before 6th grade. This is the summer where Jordan figures out he is gay. While swimming in the pool with Owen a wrestling match starts between the two and ends with them kissing and clutching to one another. For Jordan this is heaven and everything he didn’t even realize he wanted. For Owen, it seems to be just the opposite. Owen is a wrestler, an athlete, one thing he isn’t, and can never be, is gay. The two boys make their peace and agree that nothing like that can happen again, no matter that Jordan realizes that he is truly, irrevocably and forever in love with Owen.

The story then moves on to their high school years where we get a glimpse into the graphic novel the boys make together. Jordan was the artist and Owen the author. This was one thing they could do together, and the short look we got at it showed their dedication to it. This also gave us a view into Jordan’s heart. Owen always has been, and it seems always will be, Jordan’s hero and protector. It also shows us Owen’s dedication to Jordan and the friendship they share. No one and nothing will come between these two, not even crazy zombie football players from a rival school.

Jordan realized at a young age that he is gay, and later realized that he is in love with Owen. From Owen’s point of view we can see that Owen truly believes he is straight. He gets a girlfriend and stays with her for about two years. This is nothing but torture for Jordan, having to watch Owen give his love to a girl and having to live with the fact that Owen’s love will never be his. The situation finally comes to a head, and Owen has to make a life-altering choice. Does he keep Jordan as a friend only and run the risk of losing him, or does he give in and love the man?

This is a decision that Owen does not take lightly. I loved how his thought process worked and how once he made up his mind, there was no one and nothing that would alter his course. Was it easy? No, but then again nothing worth having is easy. Watching Jordan struggle every day with his internal pain was so touching. I cried a couple times while reading this because the pain was so real. There is an HEA, but it is hard fought and completely earned.

I think this is a wonderful title for anyone who enjoys a great YA story. Hopefully Eli Easton will gift us with more wonderful YA stories.

Reviewed by: Jackie

You can buy Superhero here:

Dreamspinner Press, K.Z. Snow

K.Z. Snow’s “Merman” Gives Readers A Little Something To Chew On

“So he rolled on down and rolled on down where the mermaids sang while their lovers drowned…” – K.Z. Snow

If you can, picture a realm where steampunk meets a real-world industrial revolution, a place where those who wear the brand of Mongrel on their person are segregated in the village of Taintwell, a place so near yet so far from the purely human denizens of Purinton, a place that isn’t divided by the haves and have nots as much as it is by the ares and are nots, and you’ll have a rough idea of what you’re in for when you enter this world.

Things have changed a bit in Taintwell and Purinton since Fan, Will, Clancy Marrowbone and Simon Bentcross saved their world from the frightful things Mechanical Circus owner Alphonse Hunzinger and a few corrupt Purinton politicians had planned; though things for Clancy could be better. His departure from Taintwell at the end of Mongrel should have marked the beginning of his pattern of extended absence for the ever-wandering vampire, but less than two years later, he’s back, following an irresistible siren song that only his heart can hear.

Simon is the man Clancy can’t seem to stay away from in spite of the vampire’s history as the non-committal sort. He’s come back to Taintwell to satisfy an unnamed need, but ends up finding an ocean’s worth of trouble in the process when he discovers Jordy Hawkes washed up on the beach, barely alive amongst a tangle of fishermen’s nets.

Jordy and Clancy have a history, one that connects them closely enough that Clancy’s compassion for the man extends to wanting to help him escape from whomever it is that means to do him harm—though Jordy is most definitely not the same man Clancy had known when he visited him as a prisoner on Floating Brick Island so many years before. Time and circumstance and a clockwork inventor have all served to remake Jordy into something other, something no one has ever seen before, and someone dangerous to the human population, not to mention to Clancy himself.

It’s difficult to say whether I loved Merman every bit as much as I did Mongrel. The sequel was two years and some change in the making, so there’s some distance there. I admit to being pretty blown away by the world K.Z. Snow created when she first introduced the mongrel Dog King Fanule Perfidor and his human lover Will Marchman, and I also admit that I’m a fan of steampunk and Alt U and fantasy, so that, coupled with the fact that I’m also a fan of the author, is pretty much the perfect storm. I can say for certain that I really liked Merman for the way the author blended the mermaid/siren song/vampire legends together, then threw in the clockwork mechanics of a steampunk meets the industrialized world; not to mention the building of a romance between the vampire and his human, one that was nearly derailed by a bewitching spell that snared Clancy in a deceptive web. Add to that the opportunity to revisit a world and characters that had totally charmed me from the start, and I’d say it’s a very near thing.

K.Z. Snow is always a go-to author for me, and I’ve never been disappointed yet. This is a historically futuristic world, or maybe it’s a futuristically historical world, but whichever it is, it’s visionary and brimming with imagination and wonderment, as well as a cast of characters drawn with the all the colors in the box of creative crayons. There’s an HFN ending in this one that I can only hope means there will be more to come.

If you love fantasy and have read Mongrel, I’d say Merman is a don’t miss.

Reviewed by: Lisa

You can buy Merman here:

Lily Velden

In The End, Lily Velden’s Characters Find Themselves On The “Same Page”

“Can miles truly separate you from friends…If you want to be with someone you love, aren’t you already there?”– Richard Bach

I really wanted to love Same Page. I really did. The blurb was interesting, the cover arresting, the premise promising. For me, it just didn’t hold up the way I had hoped.

Same Page is the story of Jaxon Moncrieff, a world famous American actor who is seemingly straight and Liam Lassiter, a publicity shy Australian sculptor who is openly gay.  The two meet at the opening of Liam’s exhibition in Sydney.  Jaxon immediately finds Liam enthralling, but Liam wants nothing to do with the actor he mistakenly sees as a publicity whore.  In reality, Jaxon hates the celebrity that comes with his profession and feels like he spends most of his life playing the “part” of Jaxon Moncrieff, actor.

The first third of Same Page was superb.  The slow build in Jaxon’s realization that he feels a strong attraction to Liam, another man.  The way he holds back because he knows how Liam dislikes Jaxon’s image as a womanizer.

Jaxon develops a friendship with Garrett Flemington, Liam’s manager.  Garrett is also a father figure to Liam as Liam’s parents died when he was a teenager and Garrett, along with Liam’s family housekeeper, raised Liam from that point on.  Jaxon refrains from asking about Liam, not wanting Garrett to think that Liam is the motivation behind their friendship.

As the months go by, neither Liam nor Jaxon is able to stop thinking about the other.  When Jaxon is able to move the filming of his next movie to Sydney, he sees it as a golden opportunity to get to know Liam.  He has his assistant find out the location of Liam’s intentionally remote home and just shows up at the gate one day.

What follows, is a beautiful time of learning about one another.  Liam shows Jaxon an Australia many never get a chance to see.  Jaxon starts spending weekends at Liam’s home three hours outside Sydney.  Their physical relationship develops slowly, but they are in love with one another pretty early.  This dance, this slow-burning attraction and the poetic way in which Ms. Velden describes the Australia Liam shows Jax is the best part of the book.  In a way, it makes sense that when they are isolated from the world, in their own personal Nirvana, things are at their best.

It is once Liam and Jaxon give in to their feelings and desires that Same Page seems to jump to a different page.  The sex is hot.  The “I love yous” are tender and beautiful.  Ms. Velden leans too heavily on page after page of sex and  declarations of love.  Easily a third of the book could have been done away with as it did nothing to advance the plot.  At first it was great as a reader to have the desire for sex and love that had been simmering between two characters brought to fruition.  Too much of a good thing immediately followed.

Ms. Velden eventually got back on track, back to the story, which is why I read novels instead of porn.  I enjoyed the final, maybe quarter of the book as much as I did the first third.  The sequel to Same Page, The Race is On, is expected August 9.  I will read it because I am emotionally invested in these guys.  I do, however, believe that a sequel is not needed.  The rest of Liam and Jaxon’s story could have been told in Same Page if Ms. Velden had been able to stay on the same page.  She is a new author, and I really look forward to seeing her grow into a writer that I put on auto-buy.  I know she has it in her, she just has to get there.

Reviewed by: Tina

You can buy Same Page here:

Dreamspinner Press, Jamie Fessenden

“Billy’s Bones” Strikes A Nerve

“Coming to terms with incest is not easy. Learning to be a survivor, not a victim, gives new meaning to life” ― Lynette Gould

Billy’s Bones was the first book by Jamie Fessenden I had read. I saw the disclaimers about it maybe bringing up painful memories of childhood sexual abuse, of which I am a survivor. I made the choice to commit to reading and reviewing it anyway. I am grateful that I did. While Mr. Fessenden loosened the reigns I have tightly held on the memories of some of my more painful experiences, he made me feel even more empathy for Kevin than for myself. I channeled my pain and cried and cried. I don’t want to give Billy’s Bones any more therapeutic credit than it deserves, it is a novel, not a self-help book. I am sure some survivors could read Kevin’s horrifying story and spiral down into a deep place. For me, it was cathartic to cry for another little boy, also for the little boy left behind and the man he has, and is trying to, become. I am tearing up now, just thinking about Kevin and Billy.

Although he is the title character, Billy is not one of the main characters in Billy’s Bones. They are Tom and Kevin. Tom is a therapist to whom Kevin is sent after attempting suicide when he finds out his wife is pregnant. They have one session and Kevin never contacts Tom again.

Three years later, Tom buys a new house and the hot tub needs repairs he just can’t afford. The electrician gives him the name of a friend and handyman who does this type of work on the side. The name is Kevin Derocher. At first, Tom & Kevin act like they don’t remember each other, but it soon comes up that they do. They develop a close friendship. Man to man not man to therapist. Kevin’s wife has since divorced him and is in love with someone else, but remains close friends with Kevin.

As Tom & Kevin become “friends” the sexual undertones to their relationship can’t be denied. Kevin is hyper-sexualized, a symptom of many survivors of childhood sexual trauma. Tom is gay and believes that Kevin is, too, on some level. Kevin isn’t out even to himself. Any sexual touch not initiated by him sends him into a panic attack. Tom recommends that Kevin see his business partner for therapy after a particularly violent panic attack.

There was recently a discussion on another author’s blog regarding the “need” readers have for sex between their MCs. This book is a perfect example of why we don’t need our MCs to have sex. While Billy’s Bones is a romance, it is equal parts mystery, psychological thriller and bromance. The tenderness with which Fessenden treats Kevin (using the character of Tom to do so) is deeply moving. It is a human being caring about another human being in pain. Yes, Tom may benefit if Kevin gets to the source of the memories he can’t access but still reacts negatively to. But Mr. Fessenden proves that getting lucky isn’t Tom’s main motivation. He is frustrated to be in a loving relationship without the sexual aspect that would normally go with it. But he cares about Kevin the man enough to want to help him remember and heal any way he can, regardless of how it affects himself.

The memories uncovered and the callous way in which Kevin’s mother treats those memories and her son made me want to puke, then slap her. Maybe even puke on her. That is my own bullshit because my mom was a lot like that. I’ll cop to a very visceral reaction to that particular part of the book. I am still glad I read it though.

I realize after mulling this review over a bit that I kind of made Tom sound like he had super-human patience. This is not the case. He is portrayed as more patient than most, and incredibly supportive, but definitely human. Tom was frustrated at not being able to be sexual in any way with his partner. He got angry at Kevin for not seeking the help he so obviously needed. He was not some kind of mutant with no needs. He definitely had needs, some of which Kevin was able to meet, others which Kevin couldn’t meet at the time.

Mr. Fessenden treated the subject matter and the victim so tenderly, almost lovingly, that it made me feeling some bad stuff not so bad. I think it took balls to take on a subject so difficult to write about. I don’t know Mr. Fessenden’s personal history, but if he hasn’t experienced childhood sexual trauma and it’s aftermath, he is a deeply insightful and empathetic human being. This book deserves well more than five stars. It IS an emotional read. It is also so satisfying.

Recommended in the highest way possible.

Reviewed by: Tina

You can buy Billy’s Bones here:

MLR Press, Rob Rosen

Rob Rosen’s “Vamp” Is A Snark-tastic Adventure

“War does not determine who is right – only who is left.”― Bertrand Russell

I have read “Southern Fried” by Rob Rosen so I felt like I knew what to expect going into “Vamp”. It turns out that I was right and I was wrong. Rob Rosen has a great sense of humor, add some Class A snark to that and it had me laughing out loud.

The book starts out with us meeting Jack Jackowski, one of the MCs of the story, and him finding out that he has just inherited a LARGE sum of money and a HUGE mansion. Funny thing is he has never heard of this relative of his. Cousin Boris Jackowski has left all of his worldly possessions to Jack and Jack is trying to figure out why. It seems Jack also inherited an Igor Bolinski, the humpbacked house servant that worked for Boris. Igor didn’t have any clues for Jack when he finds a note telling him about being the last remaining survivor of a great war. Oh, and just like all of the prior Jackowski men, Jack is a vampire.

After Jack goes through the transformation he goes outside to “play” with his new abilities. While outside Jack smells something he described as “unique, strange and intoxicating”. Jack follows the scent and meets Steven, a very naked Steven. Jack is shocked to find out that Steven is a werewolf. Not just any werewolf but the Alpha of his pack also. The two men hit it off VERY well and then almost immediately after they are attacked by an unknown assailant with spears. The same type of spears that his cousin Boris was killed with. This effectively brings Steven and his pack into the war with Jack.

It turns out that centuries ago Jack’s family turned another bloodline to vampires and that family is seeking a cure by killing off all of Jack’s family line. Steven rallies his troops, Mack and Ralph, to be Jack’s bodyguards. Jack also rallies his own troops by calling in some newly discovered family members to fight alongside him and Steven. After too many close calls while fending off attacks from the “bad” vampires, Jack and Steven decide to go on the offensive and they start taking the fight to them. With some work between the vampires and the pack they get to a point where they have almost won the war when there is a big twist that changes everything.

Throughout the book there are some great adventures while Jack and Steven not only get to know one another, but also learn more about Jack’s new abilities and how they can work hand in hand with Steven’s. There is a love story in this book, but it doesn’t take center stage at all. I found that I was happily entertained with the interaction between the vampires and the werewolves. Steven and Jack do fall in love, and the ending is a happy one. There are plenty of twists and turns and some great comedic moments. This book won’t be for everyone, and I believe it is a love it or hate it book. It is a unique take on the vampire genre and the ins and outs of their family situations. I did like the book and I am going to have to get “Queerwolf” now because I can only imagine the humor in that one. I recommend giving this one a read, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Reviewed by: Jackie

You can buy Vamp here:

Carole Cummings, Dreamspinner Press

Come In, Have A Seat, And Say Hello To Carole Cummings. She Comes Bearing A Gift!

We’re pleased as rum punch to have Carole Cummings as our guest today at The Novel Approach! She’s here to talk a little bit about her newest novel The Queen’s Librarian, as well as offer the chance for one lucky reader to win an E-copy of the book. Make sure to check out the contest details after the excerpt!


Carole, tell us a little bit about yourself: when did you begin writing creatively? Was there any one person who influenced and encouraged you?

I started writing stories as soon as I could pick up a pencil and make it make the shapes I wanted. I don’t recall a time in my life when I wasn’t writing.

I wasn’t very good at sharing my writing with others unless I absolutely had to, and since I absolutely had to in some of my classes in school, I did eventually end up with a particular teacher who said, “You realize you’re pretty good at this, right?” and I kind of blinked and said, “Uh.” At which he snorted and told me to take his word for it. I didn’t (because writers never really do) but I kept writing (because that, writers always do). He eventually got me into some advanced coursework and wrote one of my recommendation letters for college, where the same professor who told me what my name is in Elvish also told me I should be submitting some of my papers to a couple of small publications that accepted short stories. I didn’t (because I still wasn’t good at sharing my writing unless I absolutely had to), but I did eventually end up submitting to a couple private literary organizations that didn’t threaten publication as a “reward” because he just would—not—let—up. As a result, I won a few amateur awards and an extended scholarship, so I had to put up with my professor being smug for-freaking-ever. Anyway, that’s how I learned to appreciate editing and critique, and though it took me a while longer to learn to deal with sharing in general, I respected both of those men very much and I make myself remember their words any time I find myself questioning the sharing part now.

What do you love most about writing stories in the Alt U/Fantasy sub-genre? Is there something more personally satisfying for you, as a storyteller, to write beyond and outside of the world as we know it?

I think, in a lot of cases, it’s an opportunity to point out some of our less attractive societal behaviors in a way that applies and yet doesn’t apply to a different society that doesn’t have our history. In most of my m/m stories, for example, you’ll find societies that don’t have the same prejudices against what we in our world call homosexuality. In those worlds, where there were no “prophets” telling early inhabitants that they must propagate the species at all costs and thus creating a “wrongness” in natural sexualities, the prejudices never surfaced against natural biological and physiological preferences. There are, certainly, other prejudices that are analogous, but the worlds in my stories don’t generally have that particular prejudice because it didn’t evolve in those cultures. They don’t react in the same ways because they’re not us. It’s very interesting to hypothesize different evolutionary, psychological and societal processes and figure out how they apply to the world I’m writing and the characters that exist there.

A lot of the stories I see labeled “fantasy” are really just stories about humans on a human world reacting in human ways. For me, that kind of defeats the purpose. I like to be presented with a world and its various histories and cultural reactions and then extrapolate how those histories and reactions would factor in with my characters’ own personal histories and reactions. It’s like my own little psychological and societal petri dish.

Tell us about your writing process: Are you a plotter? When writing a series as detail oriented and as epic as Aisling and Wolf’s-own, do you plot book-by-book, or plot the entire series beginning to end before you begin writing?

I really can’t plan too far ahead, because my characters are the ones who determine where the story will go next and they rarely consult me. I know people say “You’re the author, you have the power!” but that’s just not how it works for me. At least, not if I want to allow my characters to become real people on the page. Their motivations and experiences and wants and needs, not mine, are what matter in the world of that story, and since they have all of those motivations and experiences and wants and needs, I can’t control them any more than I can control the guy sitting next to me on the bus. I think of myself as a channel more than an author.

My stories always start with a character who pops into my head for whatever reason and then proceeds to tell me all about himself and his world and what his major gripe is. When he’s spent enough time beating the crap out of my backbrain and filling in details about where he’s been and where he is right now, then I can start writing where he’s going and hope I make it through to wherever he needs to end up. But even when I start a story thinking I know how it will end, the characters always change it along the way and it never ends up where I thought it would.

The Queen’s Librarian is, in comparison to the Aisling and Wolf’s-own series, much more lighthearted. Why the break from drama and intensity?

Though it’s definitely very different than what I’ve thus far published, TQL is not actually different than probably at least half of what I write. It’s actually closer to what the inside of my head looks like than the more dramatic stuff I’ve published over the past few years.

I need things like TQL to keep me on an even keel when I’m writing the darker stuff. I wrote chapters of TQL in between chapters of Wolf because I needed to hide from the Fen-angst every now and then or my head would go ’splody. Probably close to half of the stuff I have on my hard drive is just as absurd and fluffy as TQL. I just haven’t inflicted it on other people as much. ;)

Did you perhaps channel a little bit of Jane Austen while writing this book?

Ha! Maybe in the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies vein. I’ve been saying TQL is kind of Wooster and Jeeves meet Monty Python and Doctor Who. Because, again, that’s just what the inside of my head looks like.

Are you planning to bring Lucas and Alex back in a series of sequels? Because I don’t mind telling you, you really, really should. I’m very much interested in Lucas’ new line of work!

Hee. Thanks. It’s certainly possible. I hardly ever end a story at an END, it’s almost always a beginning, because unless the world blows up and everybody dies, the stories go on, whether I’m there to tell them or not. Unless a character is dead, he hasn’t reached an end, he’s only started a new chapter.

I’d kind of like to see how Lucas’s next chapter goes and how he handles his new job, too, and he and Alex and Laurie were all kinds of fun, so I hope to get back there eventually.

Can you tell us what Fen and Malick are up to these days?

Fen, I think, is training the ever-loving crap out of Morin, because he’ll want to make sure Morin is the best and deadliest general to ever stage a coup, and Fen will want to make sure he doesn’t lose anyone else. Malick is probably watching and drooling and trying to talk Fen out of his trousers every time Fen does an especially acrobatic move or a particularly impressive twirl with a knife.

I also picture Fen, post-Incendiary, spending a lot of time with the governor of Tambalon, learning about politics and trying to get all his ducks in a row before deciding how he wants to help Morin when they go back to Ada. Malick, for all his cavalier “everybody wants me and I have the hottest boyfriend ever,” is actually probably very busy forming alliances, calling in favors and plotting how he’s going to help Fen get exactly what he wants. Because anyone who doesn’t think Fen was the boss in that relationship wasn’t paying attention, and Malick is all about getting Fen exactly what he wants.

How about Wil and Dallin?

I actually wrote a goofy little thing (I’ll have to see if I can find it) where the Old Ones are training Wil in how to use his magic, and he’s not taking instruction very well. They had him practice turning a small pond into a fountain. He got bored and froze the fountain in mid-splash. According to Thorne, “The fish looked… surprised.” Dallin, when Thorne is telling him this, is trying to be very sober and concerned, but on the inside, he’s rolling on the floor. That’s kind of how I picture them: Wil being very much Wil, and Dallin making sure he’s at Wil’s back in case anyone tries to make Wil not be Wil. I picture them traveling around their world and righting wrongs, with Dallin being careful to make sure Wil doesn’t get shot in the back while he’s stretching his wings.

Of all the characters you’ve created, is there one who’s nearest and dearest to your heart?

Ooh, tough question! Generally, it’s whatever characters I’m writing at the moment, but if I had to pick one… Actually, I’m not sure I can. I have a soft spot for Umeia because I think most readers misunderstood her because they humanized her and she wasn’t human, she was an immortal demigod. What she did, she did for the love of her brother and she wasn’t actually wrong, in the grand scheme of bigger events. A lot of readers despised her because of what Malick called a betrayal, but when looked at from the amoral viewpoints of the gods of that world—which was how Malick and Umeia both were supposed to have been looking at things—Malick was actually the one who was being too “human” about the situation. If looked at from Umeia’s POV, Malick was being a sentimental idiot and putting himself in a hugely dangerous position; Umeia was really only trying to save him.

There’s also Ailin and Garreth from Impromptu because their story has stayed with me for so long. I wrote their novel—of which Impromptu is a part—a long time ago and then lost it in a computer crash. I work on rewriting it off and on between other projects. I’m almost done, but other things keep horning in.

Do you have a favorite fictional character (outside of those you’ve created)? If so, who is it, and why?

Everything always comes back to Frodo, and I think there are bits of him in at least one of the protagonists of all of my stories. (I’m talking Frodo of the books, not the movies; there’s a huge difference.) I’ve admired that character since I was ten, and first loves tend to have staying power.

Tolkien, for all his truly amazing work, was better at giving his world depth than he was his characters, but it’s there nonetheless; it shines through despite the obfuscation of superficial exposition. Frodo was a gentle soul with a core of adamant. He took on the most horrible, evil and debilitating thing that existed in his world and gave up his Self to defeat it. (And don’t talk to me about how Gollum saved Middle-earth; I could write dissertations on why that’s a depthless load of bull, and Tolkien himself said it had been horribly misunderstood, so neener.)

If you could sit down to dinner with anyone, either real or fictitious, who would it be, and what would be the one question you’d be dying to ask?

Yikes. Another tough one. It’s really hard to narrow it down to just one. John of Patmos would be one, because he was a crazy bastard and a conversation with him would be enormously interesting, if probably somewhat boggling. Carl Sagan would be a must, and Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of those brilliant minds who can put enormous concepts into understandable shapes, and I’d love to just sit and listen to them talk about the universe. Geoffrey of Monmouth, because he was a fount of history and the first authority on King Arthur, and I would love to know how much of that history was based in fact. In that same vein, I’d love to meet Merlin, though I think he’d be a scary BAMF. Socrates and Plato, for obvious reasons. Some literary heroes like Alexandre Dumas, along with several of his characters. Virginia Woolf, Edgar Allen Poe (though I might need a Zoloft afterwards), Lord Byron (OMG, how fascinatingly fun would that be!), Chaucer (hilarious!). Neil Gaiman would probably be fun and Terry Pratchett… well, that would be like sitting down with a minor god. Can you imagine going out for drinks with him and Death? *falls down*

Yeah, I’m apparently greedy and incapable of picking just one.

How would you describe your sense of humor? What makes you laugh?

Ha. Probably “inappropriate” works best. Maybe “absurdist”. I see humor where it sometimes doesn’t belong, and subtle non sequiturs will generally have me on the floor with everyone else looking at me like Uh, yeah, it wasn’t that funny. There are tons of one-liners in TQL, but the stuff that was going on inside Lucas’s head was what really entertained me.

Do you have any works-in-progress you’d like to tell us about?

There are a few. I’m working on one that’s leaning toward steampunk but isn’t really; it’s more fantasy, but it involves a train and mechanical technology, so it’s on the line. It will be called Blue on Black mostly because it enables me to refer to it as BoB. (As in BoB is being a recalcitrant bastard today.) Kimo is a mechanical and technical genius who disappeared a few years ago, and Bas is the guy sent to find him. It’s gone in directions I really didn’t want it to, but as I said, BoB is a recalcitrant bastard and a bossy jerk and won’t let me walk away from it with a little bit of dignity, so I imagine it’ll be done soonish. (Whether or not I work up the chops to let anyone else see it will be another question entirely.) In between chapters of that, I’ve been playing with a contemporary fantasy in which Emory fancies himself the real Harry Potter (only not nearly as cool) and who was supposed to have died when he walked out in front of a bus. He kind of did die but really didn’t and now the Reaper whose job it was to cross him over is very confused. Shenanigans and lurve ensue. And, like I said, I’m actively working on Ailin and Garreth’s story, and I hope to get the rewrites on it finished after I’m done with BoB.

Where can we find you on the internet?

My site is You can find all the other places I haunt through the links page there.

Would you like to share an excerpt from The Queen’s Librarian with us?

Sure! I’ve got the whole of chapter 1 up on my site, if you’d like to see what comes before this. This is from chapter 3. I wish I could include the entire scene, because it’s one of my favorites just for its sheer silliness, but here’s a taste:


“Lucas! Lucas Tripp!”

“Yes, Lucas, come in here,” Laurie called. “Stop hiding out in the hallway and come let your mother take care of you.”

Lucas was rather surprised the Glare of Death wasn’t melting the lenses of his spectacles and burning a hole through the wall and right between Laurie’s eyes. He squared his shoulders and put on a smile as he stepped into the room, only barely keeping his feet when his mother sailed out of her chair and came at him like a very elegant, silk- and lace-draped battleship.

“What have you done to your lovely face?” she wailed as she took Lucas by the shoulders and shoved his face into her bosom. “Oh, I knew you shouldn’t be down in that dangerous little house all by yourself with that treacherous loft and all that splintery wood, and that dreadful cat! Was it the cat? It was the cat, wasn’t it, oh my poor baby, let me look at you.”

She shoved Lucas back again with enough force that his spectacles slipped down to totter at the end of his nose. “It’s a scratch,” he told her, probably a little bit desperately, though he’d never admit it, because then Laurie would think he’d won, and that was just unacceptable. “And I didn’t even get it at home, my house is not dangerous, for pity’s sake, Mother. I was just being clumsy, that’s all, and you know, you’re really kind of hurting my arms a little, and really, how are you so strong?”

Mother didn’t appear to have heard any of it—she gripped harder. “You’re moving back in here straight away, and you’re putting that awful creature right back out in the barns where it belongs. Alex Booker,” she intoned, turning an imperious glare across the room, “what in the world were you doing while that horrible monster was attacking my son?”

Alex gulped. Lucas didn’t blame him—anyone would. “It wasn’t—”

“Yes, Alex,” Laurie said with a tilt of his head and really quite a believable indignant glare, considering he was an evil Goblin King, “what were you doing while Lucas was being attacked by that horrible, awful fiend and almost losing an eye?”

Mother’s glance snapped back to the plaster on Lucas’s cheek, then widened, even as her grip tightened another notch. She was cutting off circulation now; forget the eye, Lucas was going to lose an arm, he just knew it.

“Your eye!” Mother shrieked. “It’s what they do, you know, they go for the eyes, oh, Lucas, my poor b—”

“It wasn’t Cat!” It had come to this—Lucas was defending a cushion with legs who had basically come with the carriage house because she wouldn’t leave when he’d moved in and only “allowed” him to share “her” space because he was sometimes useful to her. “It was a bush, Mother, a simple thorny bush, and it wasn’t at home, it was at the Duck, and I got a scratch—on my cheek, not my eye—because I was being clumsy and couldn’t get my sleeve unstuck from some prickers when I was—”

He stopped himself short. Because he wasn’t about to tell his mother that he’d been weeing outdoors “like a peasant” or that he’d been weeing at all. There were some things, though Mother was no doubt aware of their existence and necessity, Lucas had no intention of acknowledging in her presence, and what he had in his trousers was one of those things. He’d never be able to use it again—for anything—if he had to admit that she knew he had it. And that would probably disappoint Alex. Well, and Lucas too.

“Really, Mother,” Lucas said, trying to gently twist out of her clutches without looking like he was having some kind of spasm. “I mean, you know, ow.”

“The Duck?” said Laurie. “Do you mean the Drunken Duck?” His eyes were wide and his smile was pure evil. “So you were out rowing with cutthroats and ruffians. At a tavern!” He looked at Alex. “Which still doesn’t explain why you haven’t a mark on you, Alex.”

And why did everyone seem to think that, if Lucas had been fighting, it would have been Alex’s “duty” to step in and save him? There were dozens of insults in that assumption; Lucas couldn’t decide which one to start with.

“Yes, funny that,” Alex retorted, relaxing back into his chair with a small smile that had to mean some kind of trouble. He set to casually straightening his cuffs. “Because, since you brought up marks and all, I was just noticing that strange little bruise below your left ear.” He smirked a little when Laurie too obviously stopped his hand from reflexively reaching up to cover the mark. “Sort of looks like a love bite, but since I’m certain the Prince of the Realm wouldn’t dream of going about corrupting the innocent daughters of his mother’s subjects, that can’t be right, can it? I mean—ha!—whatever would the Queen say if she got it into her royal head that her only son was the randiest horndog to have ever, say, blown up a baking hall?” Alex took a prim sip of his tea. “I saw Miss Maida the other day when I had business in Applethrow. She sends her, um….” He cleared his throat. “… regards.”

And now Lucas couldn’t decide between boggling and smirking. How did Alex know all this stuff?

It had the desired effect on Laurie—he shut his mouth and glared then shot a quick cowed glance at Lucas’s mother. She didn’t notice. She was busy looking at Lucas with… drat. She was going to pull out the tears.

“You went to a tavern?”

She said it like she was talking about the third portal of the Netherworld—the one where all the debauchers and lusters went to cool their heels for eons until the Sentinel Wardens decided they were sexually frustrated enough and sent them off to the second portal to spend another few eons with the proselytizers and the radicals.

Lucas didn’t want to spend eons with the proselytizers and the radicals.

“Laurie’s got a love bite,” he said weakly.

“The Drunken Duck?” Mother sniffed. “The Drunken Duck?”

“It’s an inn!” Lucas defended. “And maybe it has a, um, you know, a sort of hall-type room, which might almost resemble a tavern, but there are more rooms in the place that don’t resemble a tavern, so it’s really just an inn with what some might consider one tavern-ish room among lots of other untavern-ish rooms, which by its definition doesn’t necessarily make it—”

“Isn’t that where Mister Singer met his unfortunate end?” asked Laurie.

Lucas couldn’t tell if it was a deliberate prod or if it was simply one of those occasions where Laurie’s mouth hadn’t bothered to check with his brain before engaging. Either way, it made Lucas clench his teeth, and the headache that Miss Emma’s tea had almost killed came roaring back to life to pulse red and hot behind his eyes.

“Laurie,” Lucas said slowly, “I swear, if you don’t shut your mouth, I will kick your arse so hard you’ll have to reach—bottom!” Lucas snapped wide eyes back to his mother. “I didn’t say arse, I said bottom!”

Oh my god. He’d just said “arse” in front of his mother. To his mother. Twice. He’d gone a little light-headed, so he almost didn’t notice the squeals and shrieks coming from the south garden, or the bobbing heads that a moment later passed by the sunroom’s large eastern window on the way to the front door. He was too caught up in trying to turn back time so the past eternity had never happened at all.

“Oh look, Nan’s here,” he said, and he didn’t even care that it was so obviously wretched. Bugger not letting Laurie win—this one had been over before Lucas had even stepped into the room.


This Contest Is Now Closed.

Carole Cummings, Dreamspinner Press

Carole Cummings’ “The Queen’s Librarian” Puts The Fun In The Fundamental Of Reading

Books may well be the only true magic. ― Alice Hoffman

In our own world, perhaps, yes. But in Lucas Tripp’s world… Well, in Lucas’s world true magic is not confined entirely to the books for which he has a special love, the books for which, as his queen’s librarian, he is solely responsible. In fact, the true magic one can find outside of his books is the kind that makes Lucas’s world of Daimins and stone circles and faerie mounds the sort of place where everyday mundane cares must collide with the mystical. It is the place where books are history, and books are mystery, and books, or one book in particular, at least, is the key to…everything.

Of course, we all know that legends and myth and folklore and fairy tales are largely made up of truths. Well, the truths about Lucas’s adventure are these: His life has become an Occam’s razor of discovery, a place where he must suss out everything that isn’t until he lands on the very best answer for exactly what everything is—which is a tad confounding really, until he uses his heart’s key to unlock the answers. In following his adventure, we learn that his land is drenched in a generations-old cursed, and that it’s possible to be both pragmatic and impractical, and that licking his lover, Alex Booker, in public probably isn’t okay, and that sloppy drunks don’t have to make sense, and that suitors can be pretenders and pretenders can be suitors, and that ale and fairy trees aren’t very good for a person’s clothing or, well, his person either.

We learn that Lucas thinks he may be living in a romance novel, but that’s okay because, oh, how much is there to love about that romance? It is divine, really, as we also learn that Lucas and Alex’s world is like one long and spontaneous smile: lighthearted, whimsical, magical, and romantical all at once.

Just when we’d gotten used to Carole Cummings’ spectacular brand of darkly atmospheric fantasy, she has broken form with The Queen’s Librarian, and I must say that the difference is most definitely delectable. I fell truly, madly, and deeply for Lucas and his Alex, and for the just-this-side-of-impossible world in which they live; fell just a little bit for a Prince, too, who might not be the brightest jewel in the crown but is certainly colorful; fell for the humor and the magic that made this world come to life, and I am most certainly waiting to see what may come next for Alex and his squire, scholar, and soon to be something more in his majesty’s service.

Reviewed by: Lisa

You can buy The Queen’s Librarian here:

Storm Moon Press

When The Pieces Fall Into Place – “Big Damn Heroines”


The ideas behind “Folie à Deux”, my short story for the Big Damn Heroines anthology, fermented in my mind for years before I actually sat down to write the story. Most of the time, strands of ideas come together to meet at one point like a spider web. This story was the epitome of that.

I think, firstly, I’ve always been inspired by my best friend, whom Porter’s character is loosely based off of. She’s a very strong-willed young woman, independent and intelligent, an inspiration to a mousy little coward like me! She’s always leading me somewhere, and one day, she led me to the store to buy a CD.

She and I are huge fans of Fall Out Boy, so when they released their album, Folie à Deux, we rushed out to buy it. The music was incredible, and we listened to it nonstop, so whenever I think of that CD, I think of her. Consequently, I had to weave a little piece of her into the story, and that’s how Porter’s character–and the headphone scene–was created.

There is a line in one of Fall Out Boy’s older songs that always gives me goosebumps, and when my friend left–for greener pastures, I always said–the line seemed to become more potent, more meaningful. It’s basically the story of someone who misses someone else terribly, and their headphones act as a conduit, sending thoughts to that other person in the form of lyrics. Well, I just thought that was the niftiest idea anyway, but couple that with a lonely heart and wham! You’ve got sudden inspiration.

I was enamored with the idea that simply thinking about someone while listening to music could transfer your thoughts to their mind. At around the same time, I finally discovered what “folie à deux” meant and fell in love with that, as well.

“Folie à deux” translates to “a madness shared by two”. It’s a rare psychiatric syndrome in which a delusional belief is transmitted from one person to another, and the concept seems strangely romantic to me. That probably means I’m demented, but I suppose most writers are in their own unique ways.

So, I had all these plot threads and influences rumbling around in my head, but at that point, all I could do was kick them around. I let them woo me, but I could never take them back to my apartment; the date always ended at dinner and a kiss on the cheek. Eventually, I just set them aside to let them simmer and hope that something would come along to tie them all together.

Enter Breathe Carolina, another favorite band in my musical arsenal. It was a few years after my initial ideas, so I wasn’t expecting their songs to act as an adhesive to them. I was just listening to them to get me through a particularly hard time and a particularly hard work-out. But listening to music while working out–well, I suppose just listening to music in general–always seems to act as a stimulant for stories. They’re not always cohesive, and they certainly don’t always make sense, but they’re usually very vibrant.

I was listening to Breathe Carolina’s recent album, Hell is What You Make It, and the ideas suddenly came rolling in like waves at high tide. A little piece of the story rode piggyback on each song and melded together effortlessly, and I barely felt my burning muscles or the sweat on my skin. I was completely absorbed in the other world that my songs and I were creating.

This venture into another, slightly skewed universe would become the “dream sequence” that Porter encounters. It was pretty trippy, like falling down the rabbit hole, and I wanted to capture that in the story with the shortened, choppy sentences and scene changes.

Of course, at first, that was all the story was going to be–an acid trip. But, as I said before, plot threads just seem to come together, and if you’re brave enough to follow them, they usually lead you to some pretty amazing places.

I rediscovered my love for the ideas of madness and shared thoughts, and suddenly it all just seemed to make sense. That was when I picked up the thread and followed it. The dream sequence expanded to include my previous inspirations, and at that point, all I needed to do was sit down and create that world.

The two main characters were simple enough to nail down. They’d already revealed their true colors to me in the dream sequence. Blaise was kind of a crazy bitch, of course, and it was easy enough to make her pretty unlikeable. You could breathe wrong on Blaise, and she’d want to fight you, which was fun for me to write. Porter was harder. I wanted her to be different from Blaise, but with shared personality traits. I wanted her to be softer, but still have her own moments of insanity because they share the same madness. They influence each other, they feed off of each other. Blaise leads Porter to do many things but in a lot of ways Porter is her inspiration, much like my best friend and my music were mine.

In the end, it was a lot of things all at once, a melting pot of experiences and lyrics that captured my heart. I’ve discovered that’s usually how the story goes. And I’ve discovered that even the madness that we keep inside, the insanity that we sometimes choose to share with the ones we love most, can be beautiful. Like little pieces of broken glass. Or maybe that’s just how I see things–through a broken mirror.

Big Damn Heroines Anthology — Now Available from Storm Moon Press for just $5.99 (ebook)

Harmony Ink Press, Jamie Mayfield

You Would Do Well To Make This Your “Destiny”

“Where there is love there is life.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

From the very first sentence of this book we see the struggle Brian has with leaving everything he knows behind. He loves his mom and dad, he cares for Adam, but he is IN LOVE with Jamie. So for Brian, he can’t see any other option than going to San Diego to find his Jamie.

I think the one defining moment for Brian was when he realized he was 100 miles from Crayford. No one knows he is gay, no one would have a reason to hate him, belittle him or hurt him simply for being there. He realizes he is starting a new life. It was like his life was starting over and he could do or be anything he wants.

The first part of this book focuses on Brian’s trip across country on the bus. In my opinion Brian grew more in those days than he did in the first 18 years of his life. First, Brian has his moment of realization that he can recreate himself and start fresh in San Diego. Next, Brian saves a young girl that is being assaulted by two men in the restroom at the bus station. That situation makes Brian realize he can protect himself and others. It was great to watch the transformation start in him on that bus trip.

Once Brian arrives in San Diego, a bit of his newly earned self confidence slips when he realizes the idea of San Diego is nothing compared to the reality. There are more people on one city block than Brian has ever seen in one place in his entire life. But he won’t let that stop him from his goals. Find a place to live, get a job, and find Jamie.

After exhausting the want ads, he finds a listing for a room in a gay publication and this is where his life starts to turn around again. Brian meets Leo, and in this man he finds a home. Basically, it is a small room to rent in a boarding house above a bathhouse, but for Brian it is a life saver. In this unlikely place he meets Mike and Emilio. These two men become great friends. They help him look for Jamie, help him find a job and get him to start coming out of his shell.

Of course, when things start looking good a bomb HAS to drop right? Brian loses his job and that means if he can’t find work he will have to go back to Alabama. Faced with this Brian realizes he doesn’t want to leave San Diego, not only so he can find Jamie, but because he has made a life for himself and he just can’t go back. Right when the money is running out Brian is offered a safety net in the form of a job in the porn company Emilio and Mike work for. Faced with the decision of doing porn or going back to Alabama, Brian does what he feels he has to do to stay with his new family. Little did Brian know, that decision finally brings him to Jamie.

The reunion between these two is so emotional and loving it’s like they have never been apart. Except Jamie is being drugged and controlled by Steven O’Dell and has been for the last several months. Jamie tries to protect Brian by pushing him away, but Brian isn’t going to let it happen that easily. Brian and Jamie try to get every second they can together, and they start to get to know one another again and it seems they just keep falling deeper in love. An opportunity to spend an entire week together at a shoot in New Orleans seems like a gift from above. And it is, until Jamie has a freak out and loses it. He runs back to Steven and tries to get Brian out of his system. When confronted by Mike the worst possible thing happens, Steven catches him in a situation that could cost Jamie everything.

This book was such a growing experience for Brian and I cannot wait to see where the next book takes us. I want to see if Jamie can be rescued and if Brian can forgive Jamie for losing faith in him.

If you want some great YA summer reading, grab this series and run with it.

Reviewed by: Jackie

You can buy Destiny here:


Dear Andrew Christian, I Love You, And Your Men, And Their Manties Ever So Much

Ass Crack – Check
Oral Fixation – Check
Gorgeous Men – Check

More than slightly NSFW? You betcha!

Agnes Black, Rinascita Press

Thankfully, Agnes Black’s “Hidden In Plain Sight” Comes Out Of Hiding

The debt we owe to the play of the imagination is incalculable. – Carl Jung

There’s a brand new author on my radar, and her name is Agnes Black. If you love Alt U that feels a bit like a swashbuckling historical adventure, the novella Hidden in Plain Sight may be exactly what you’re looking for.

This story is part one in a serialized fantasy, so don’t expect loose ends to be neatly tied and bound up nicely for you as you wait for book two. This is the introduction to a new world and to characters who have only just begun to capture my attention and imagination, as Captain Adam Morsden navigates his way through his new place at the helm of the Gyrfalcon, not to mention setting his course through the choppy waters of his sexual appetites, keeping them hidden from his crewmen, the most intolerant a group of men as has ever sailed the high seas.

Adam has just lost his lover, who also happens to be the King of Kadevar, a relationship that Adam is now realizing was destined from the start to fail given their differences in station. What would a King want with a common man, after all, when he could have so much more? Gregory’s rejection has left Adam reeling and grieving over the loss when his ship makes port in Harth, two weeks past due, its cargo now worthless to the merchants who’d contracted it, which now leaves Adam and his crew in dire financial straits.

There’s a dastardly plot afoot in Harth, one involving Adam’s first mate Harry—who has a secret of his own—Sergio, a prostitute who could be Gregory’s twin, and Eamonn—a man whose danger to Adam, Harry, Sergio, and Sergio’s half-brother Miguel, is so subversive as to be impossible to fight against. And this is only the beginning.

Filled with intrigue and danger, sword fights and sorcery, I am completely hooked. Agnes Black’s briskly paced written invitation into this new world has left me with more questions than answers, and has definitely left me wondering about King Gregory. I can’t help but feel there’s far more to him and his actions than has been offered so far. I can’t wait to find out.

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this one to fans of Alu U/Fantasy, if you don’t mind being left wondering, of course.

Reviewed by: Lisa

You can buy Hidden in Plain Sight here:

Allison Cassatta, Dreamspinner Press

Allison Cassatta’s “Pride: Dear Diary Book Two” Strikes A Perfect Balance

“Pride is holding your head up when everyone around you has theirs bowed. Courage is what makes you do it.” ― Bryce Courtenay

Dear Diary: Pride is the sequel to Dear Diary and picks right up where the first one left off. We last saw Josh and Chris as they were going to the prom. But what happened after that?

Chris is just days away from graduating high school, has recently come to the realization he’s gay, and has a great boyfriend Josh, whom he loves and who loves him back. Everything should be perfect right? But it’s not. His childhood friends corner him, beat him down and call him disgusting names. They even spit on him. Chris doesn’t understand whythis is happening; they’re supposed to be his friends.

I loved how realistic this story was. We’ve all read stories where everything is perfect and things just fall into place for convenience. That’s not reality. Sometimes bad things do happen to good people.

Because of his ex-friend’s reactions, Chris starts to believe that being gay means being hated. Instead of the happy-go-lucky kid he was just a few days prior, he turns in on himself and has a hard time reconciling his expectations with other people’s reactions. There are times within this section that he is so overwhelmed that some readers may find him whiny. For me though, I found his inner thoughts and feelings to be very age appropriate.

I enjoyed watching Chris grow into himself and slowly understand that not everyone will hate him because he’s gay. At times, it felt as though he would never get over the abuse from his friends and you really feel bad for him. I was always cheering him on when he was getting down on himself. I wanted him to be positive and believe everything was going to be okay. Chris is a character you just want to hug and protect from the world.

Josh is such an awesome character. He is so positive, loving and thoughtful throughout Chris’s doubts and fears. Josh was always right there for Chris, being supportive and understanding. Not willing to let him get away. Josh convinces Chris to participate at Pride which allows him to see that the world is much bigger than any of his small minded bullies. Chris’s first Pride parade is full of touching stories, acceptance and encouraging sights, to which he feels liberated.

I absolutely loved Chris’s family. His mom and dad and even his little sister were a big plus to this story. I loved their interactions with Josh. They really made him feel like part of the family. It was so nice to read a positive parent reaction to their son coming out.

I believe Allison Cassatta gave us a perfect balance of sweet romance, brutal honesty, and a dose of reality that we all need from time to time.

Reviewed by: Lynn

You can buy Pride: Dear Diary Book Two here:

All Romance Ebooks, Sedonia Guillone

Go Ahead And Judge This Book By Its Gorgeous Cover

“A man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green.” – Francis Bacon

Sakura Genji is a flying fish, the title given to the traveling actors in seventeenth century Japan who performed both on and off the stage, playing their roles to entertain their audience, then playing a different role behind the scenes for the samurai who demanded their bodies for an entirely personal sort of pleasure.

Genji’s beauty makes him the ideal actor for the role of the Samurai Princess, as well as it serving to keep him in a constant supply of warriors willing to pay for the pleasure of using him to slake their lust. It’s not a part of the profession Genji enjoys, but when a man doesn’t own his own body, he’s left with very few options to survive.

Minamoto Daisuke is a masterless samurai with a heart full of grief and a head full of revenge after his wife was murdered by the lord of the Kai Province. For five years he’s been a ronin wandering the country, perfecting his swordsmanship and biding his time until the day he can return and kill the man who stole his wife and his life from him, for no better reasons than pride and jealousy and fear.

That day has come now, the day Daisuke has planned so long for, but fate has quite different intentions for Minamoto Daisuke. Finding Genji bathing in an isolated pool outside of his home village, Daisuke is stunned to discover that the one who has ignited a flame of passion in him is not a woman but a man; though in a place and in a time when men loving men was not uncommon, Daisuke isn’t as shocked to discover he burns for another man as he is to discover that there’s still a spark there to consume him at all after five years of burying everything else beneath his insatiable hunger for vengeance.

Genji and Daisuke’s feeling for each other are intense from the start but their relationship is not a simple one. Daisuke is a man who has dreamt of nothing but avenging his wife’s death for years, but once again fate intercedes. Genji is a man owned by a callous taskmaster who demands Genji’s submission, but again, fate steps in to redirect the course of their lives.

If you’ve ever been tempted to judge a book by its cover, go ahead and do it now because Flying Fish is every bit as lovely on the inside as it is on the out-. This is a lush romance, a love story pure and simple, woven into a land where the shoguns once ruled and where a man’s honor was sometimes his only currency.

If you’ve never read Sedonia Guillone’s work, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend starting right here. The picture she paints with her words is vivid and well worth spending the time to appreciate.

Reviewed by: Lisa

You can buy Flying Fish here:

All Romance Ebooks, Garrett Leigh, Self-Published, Small Gems

Garrett Leigh Takes Readers On A Sweet Stroll Through The “Gypsy Rain”

“What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.” ― Aristotle

Seb works as a fudge maker in a coastal community of England. Dex is a wanderer who kindly returns Seb’s wallet one late night. Seb befriends Dex and they slowly become friends over the course of a summer.

This short story by Leigh is sweet, and I am always amazed when an author in a short space of 40 pages is able to make characters and their story come to life. I found myself liking both characters and was happy that they were mutually attracted to one another. The story has a great pace and readily draws the reader into the story. I was invested in the story from the get go and am hopeful that these characters reappear from this talented author. My only problem with this story is that it did leave me wanting more, but all in all it was a nice story albeit it short and well worth the time it takes to read.

Reviewed by: Bruce

You can buy Gypsy Rain here: