4 Stars, Anthology, Cleis Press, Reviewed by Jennifer

Review: Best Gay Romance 2015 – Edited by Felice Picano

Title: Best Gay Romance 2015

Author: Anthology – Edited by Felice Picano

Publisher: Cleis Press

Pages/Word Count: 244 Pages

At a Glance: A great collection of short stories with something for everyone.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Gay romance is coming into full bloom in the wake of the Defense of Marriage Act’s fall, and the literary world is giving this full expression. New series editor Felice Picano is one of the top gay writers in the world with many awards and much critical acclaim to his credit. Picano has written novels, plays, and major nonfiction works and he is at his finest when it comes to the subject of love. In Best Gay Romance 2015, he gathers a sweepingly romantic collection of short fiction that is long on love (and sex).


Review: Anthologies of short stories are always great, because when you’re in the mood to read but not wanting to commit to a full novel, you can take your pick of stories. It’s also a great way to discover new authors. This anthology was a special treat to read for several reasons. First, it’s a Cleis Press anthology, so I knew it was going to have a good selection. I had enjoyed their BGR books from other years and have yet to find one that disappoints. Second, the editor is Felice Picano. I’ve read his works before, and it’s always high quality, so I knew that this collection would have excellent selections. And finally, many of the authors in this collection I’ve already read before and enjoyed, so I knew even if the unknown authors were a miss for me, I was sure to have several fantastic stories that made up for it. Lucky for me even the unknowns were chosen with care, and this anthology really does have a bit of everything. From a novel with demon-induced time travel to a story with Jane Eyre appearing in it, you’ll find at least one—but most likely several—stories to enjoy.

Normally when I review an anthology, I like to review each story, but there’s just too many to do with this one. I will say that each story was enjoyable, but I’ve pulled my top three for review.

In “Discodemius” by Jerry L. Wheeler, Kevin attempts to summon the demon Azmodeus, but gets a different one instead, that sends him back to the 70s. Trapped there for two months, he finds love, only to have it ripped from him when the demon, Discodemius, sends him back to his own time. It seems like that’s it for his love, but is it?

I enjoyed this story because it was so unexpected. I’ve read Jerry Wheeler before—and had the wonderful opportunity to meet him and hang out—and he has a great sense of humor that translates well into his writing. I had been expecting another traditionally romantic story, but this one had elements of the fantastic that sucked me in. I laughed at the demon Discodemius, and laughed when Kevin was “entertained” by being sent back to the era of the disco. There is tension when his time is up, but a twist at the end had me laughing again, this time at the demon!

“Reader, I Married Him” by Michael Thomas Ford was perfect. If you’re an English major you know where that line comes from, and as soon as I saw it in the table of contents, I knew I would love the story. I was not mistaken. Though the story itself takes place during a single night, the title clearly lets the reader know that the story of Adam and Jay is far from over. And I really wish I had the entire book to read! I love that Adam is into Jane Eyre, and Jay is referred to as Bertha Rochester by his lady landlords (he lives in their attic apartment). The two of them just click so well, and it felt authentic reading it. Too bad there isn’t more!

Finally, “The Kingdom of Haeven” by Eric Andrews-Katz. This story is not what it appears to be. It seems, on the surface, to be a sci-fi story, but after reading it—and bursting into tears—I went back to reread the beginning and was hit with the beautiful intricacy of the story. It gives the brief glimpse of General Tyler and Captain Wilyem as they discover whether or not Tyler has been named the new king of Haeven after the passing of the previous king. After massive over-population on Earth far in the future, two new planets are settled with gay men moving to Haeven and lesbians moving to Minervite. I was deeply touched after reading this story. The twist at the end was as unexpected as it was heartbreaking.



You can buy Best Gay Romance 2015 here:

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble

Cleis Press, Felice Picano, Giveaways

Excerpt and Giveaway: Best Gay Romance 2015 from Cleis Press

Cleis Press

The Novel Approach welcomes Cleis Press today, with an exclusive excerpt and giveaway of their new anthology, Best Gay Romance 2015, edited by Felice Picano.



Best Gay Romance 2015Blurb:

Gay romance is coming into full bloom in the wake of the Defense of Marriage Act’s fall, and the literary world is giving this full expression. New series editor Felice Picano is one of the top gay writers in the world with many awards and much critical acclaim to his credit. Picano has written novels, plays, and major nonfiction works and he is at his finest when it comes to the subject of love. In Best Gay Romance 2015, he gathers a sweepingly romantic collection of short fiction that is long on love (and sex).

Buy Links: Cleis Press | Amazon US | Barnes & Noble


EXCERPT: Super Service by Michael Roberts

My front door was wide open and so was my mouth.

The vision in front of me wore an immaculately white crewneck T-shirt that hugged his chest as if it and the torso had fallen in love and intended to cling to each other as closely as possible. I couldn’t blame the T-shirt. A fanciful image, peut-êtrè, but the sight made me absolutely giddy.

His jeans were washed, pressed, loose fit and somehow more sensual than if they were skin tight and composed mostly of patches, holes and loose thread.

He was looking down at a clipboard in his hands, and the top of his head was sexy. The light-brown hair was short and one small tuft wasn’t properly combed, and this imperfection was endearing. I asked myself how I could swoon over a man whose face I hadn’t yet seen. He glanced up, and everything was a gorgeous picture with the doorway as frame.

He appeared to be in his early twenties. His nose was aquiline and his lips were firm and his eyelashes were lovely little creatures that had wandered onto the symmetry of his features.

“Mr. March?” he asked, and I could tell from his tone and from the expression on his captivating visage that he had said the same thing earlier and I hadn’t heard, so taken was I.

“Yes,” I answered, “that’s me. That’s I. I’m him. I’m he. I’m March.”

There was a beat of silence, after which he said, with a slight smile that could have meant so many things, “I’m Reggie. I’m here about your cable television.”

“There’s nothing wrong with my cable,” I said, nearly blushing at the double entendre, bereft to know that there thus was no reason for him to stay, that he soon would pass out of my entranced vision. I didn’t want to tell him that I knew nothing was wrong with the cable because I’d been watching a Lifetime movie with Heather Locklear.

“I’m here preventatively,” he improbably said. “I want to make sure nothing goes wrong in the future.”

“Oh,” I replied and continued to stand like a dunderhead in the door until Reggie raised his eyebrows interrogatively. I sort of squeaked, “Oh,” and stood aside to let him into the apartment.

“Where’s the TV?” he asked, and I wordlessly pointed.

Reggie rippled toward the living room. His upper body flowed beneath the white cotton, his thighs reluctantly releasing the denim as he moved. He bent over to inspect the cable connection, and I was mesmerized by the smoothness of his bejeaned rear end. I reflected that I was a man somewhere in his thirties with a certain level of sophistication and intelligence and savoir faire, and therefore I should not be subject to such emotional overload, and then Reggie squatted in front of the wall plug-in, and the fabric embraced the semicircles of his ass, and I was utterly lost.

“Were you watching this?” he asked, nonjudgmentally, indicating Heather’s shock as she realized that her sister was in fact her brother and guilty of at least three murders, including the one of the Pekinese.

“Phhh,” I said dismissively with an airy flip of my hand. “I was trying to find that special on Etruscan art.”

“I hope it gets shown again because I’ve got to commandeer your set for a while.”

“Fine, fine,” I assured him. “Fine. I’ll just…” I gestured in the direction of my easy chair. Was there, heaven forbid, a porno mag on the side table or a gossip sheet, something that I perused as an alternative to my regular intellectual pursuits? Good, there was a Henry James novel that I’d been trying to read for two years. I sat down and opened the book and attacked the first chapter, the first sentence that went on for three pages.

“Is there another TV?” asked Reggie.

“In my bedroom,” I told him, “through that door. And also one in my roommate’s bedroom, that way.”

I could see him in the corner of my bedroom with the set, and although nothing was occurring but his turning things off and on and fiddling with wires, he was also turning me on.

Next, he went down the hallway and over to Travis’s room and out of view. He was out of view even when I got up and tried, ever so casually, to see him. I was, irrationally, jealous.

Irrationally because, for one thing, Travis wasn’t even there, so nothing was happening, unless, of course, Reggie had thrown himself on Travis’s bed, as if he were in a different Lifetime movie and was rolling about lasciviously, running his hands up and down his marvelous body, and I was becoming vaporous, and I needed to put the brakes to the fantasy train on which I found myself, though, yes, if Travis were there, he probably would be admiring Reggie’s construction; what breathing gay male wouldn’t?

Travis and I had been, at various stages in our relationship, lovers, buddies, cronies and maybe soon to be crones, now, for the moment, closest friends. Someday, we would be like old dogs who would sniff each other’s butt and realize that we had been on that route before, many times before, and we would pad harmlessly to the fire and lie down to sleep, our legs twitching in remembered romantic pursuits, and people would no longer be able to tell us apart.

But we weren’t at that point, yet, and so I was indulging in absurd resentments over a roommate who was away from the city visiting another friend. I didn’t know if I was suspicious of Travis’s succumbing to the charms of his buddy, whom I knew to be attractive and about whom I myself had the rather-more-than-occasional lubricious thought, or envisioning Reggie’s enticements having their sway over Travis if he were here, which he wasn’t, and what if he found Reggie to be more alluring than me—which, all things considered, was possibly not impossible—oh god, my head was aching, and I sank down into my chair and sat on Henry James.

The doorbell rang.

One paid the price for living in an apartment building in which the lobby door didn’t ever completely latch, allowing all sorts of interlopers to, well, interlope.

I sprang up.

Then a part of me sprang up farther. In the hallway stood a man who was stocky in a linebacker sort of way—I’d learned a few things about football from a former lover who was into sports and sportsmen, which was why I still had a Pavlovian response to men who looked like athletes. He was wearing a short-sleeved shirt that was trying to meet the challenge of keeping its wearer’s upper section encased but had partially given up. Two buttons were open over intriguing curvatures, and biceps that had biceps were about to burst the seams. His work pants were of a matching gray-green color with front pockets that gaped over hefty, muscular thighs.

He was examining a clipboard in his hands, and the top of his head was sexy. (The scent of déjà vu and the not-unpleasant tang of perspiration wafted across my quivering nostrils.) His thinning dark-brown hair was in a brush style. I asked myself how I could be so enamored of a man whose face I hadn’t yet seen, and he glanced up and answered my question.

His face was also athletic—as if it had been in scrimmages in which the opposing team had wreaked some havoc but had not damaged his innate good looks. The tip of his nose angled a bit and a small scar creased his jawline. He was probably in his midthirties.

“I’m Ken, and I’m here about the plumbing,” he informed me.

“My plumbing’s all right,” I said, and I very nearly added, “according to my latest doctor’s visit,” but I didn’t. Suddenly, I felt as if I were in one of those experimental films that play with time and sequence and I didn’t know the script.

“Are you Mr. March?”

“I think so.”

His aspect didn’t change—well, there may have been a flicker of a smile.

“Actually, it’s not your plumbing, but some of the apartments below yours. There’s a problem that we think may have started farther up, and we’re trying to find out where.”

“That’s logical,” I said, although that wasn’t true—in fact, I thought I saw logic’s tail disappearing at the end of the hallway.

“So if I may, I’d like to look under your kitchen sink.”

I wanted to say, “Yes, and I’d like to examine your pipes, too,” but I didn’t. Instead, I said, “You may,” feeling as if I were in a fog.

“Well…” he said, and indicated that perhaps it would be best if I got out of the doorway and let him into the apartment.

“Of course,” I said, and moved. He reached down and picked up his toolbox, and when he had entered, I led him into the kitchen, glad that I had washed the dishes and emptied the trash.

He opened the cabinet beneath the sink and lowered himself headfirst into it. Soon he was lying on his back, his upper half inside, his lower half sprawled along the floor. I stared down at him.

His thighs weren’t all that stretched his pants.

“That’s okay,” he muffledly said, “you don’t need to hang around.”

And groin gawk, I told myself under my mental breath.

“I’ll call you if I need anything,” he added.

I retreated. It wasn’t enough that his bottom section was spread before me and that his crotch was jam-packed, making my own crotch tight, but his legs were the sides of a triangle and the apex was richly round, distracting my exit. I bumped into the kitchen doorjamb and tried to get out of the room before he noticed my awkward egress and emerged from the cave of my cabinet, wrench in hand. I continued to back away into the living room to my chair and sat on Henry James.

I may have squawked, and I rose precipitously up as if Henry had pinched me. Simultaneously, the doorbell rang. I stifled a second squawk and went to answer.

Continuing my descent into the anthropomorphic, I nearly bleated like an alarmed sheep. At the door was a man in painter’s clothes, with a spot of ochre on his fly. He was looking at a clipboard in his hand, and the top of his head was of course sexy, his hair combed in a sort of Elvis Presley fashion and glistening in the hallway light. Hadn’t I been in a scene something like this one not long ago? When he glanced up at me, I saw that under the painter’s cap, he was attractive: he had a mustache and was young looking, middle twenties, except for wrinkles around eyes that were a penetrating shade of blue, and I did not want to be thinking about penetration, and I said, “Uh?”

“I’m Frank,” he responded, although responded may not be the right term—how do you respond to “Uh”?

“I’m a painter,” he said, rather unnecessarily.

“I didn’t—” I said, and he said, “I know, but your landlord—” and I said, “It’s rather busy here,” and he said, “Oh, I’m not painting today; I’m just checking things out,” and so was I, and I said, “Uh.”

He waved a set of paint samples at me, and I nodded, having run out of things to say. I let him into the apartment, wondering when the tea party was going to begin.

As he went past me, I smelled a subtle cologne, certainly not eau de Sherwin Williams, and that was odd, but I got distracted by the fact that his work clothes fit his body so well, and he had a fittable body. He walked with a certain insouciance, a certain swing to the hips, that one wouldn’t—or at least I wouldn’t—have associated with a housepainter.

He flashed a grin that left me weak from top to bottom and in between, and he headed toward a hallway, and I wandered to my easy chair and sat down on Henry James.

I tried to read the Henry James, which might have been written in a foreign language. Henry James has that effect on a lot of people. But a lot of people are impressed by Henry James, and I find that the mere mention of the author or his books, whether or not one has actually read Henry James, can be useful in cruising a certain kind of target.

I didn’t know how many times I’d struggled through the first sentence when Ken came into the living room and coughed discreetly. I jumped a few feet and said, with my sang as froid as I could muster at the moment, “Yes?”

“The problem may be in the bathroom,” he said, “so may I…” I vaguely indicated the way, and he went in that direction.

I settled back to Henry James’s confusing syntax.

“Mr. March,” Ken called after a few minutes.

I marked my place with a finger, superfluously, since getting back to page one would present no problems. “Yes?”

“Would you come here? I want to show you something.”

I put Henry James on a table—I’d sat on him as often as one should sit on Henry James in an afternoon—and walked to the bathroom and went in. I said, “What do you want to show me?”

He shut the door and faced me and replied, “This,” and pulled down his pants, and his hard cock jutted out.

It went very nicely with the décor of the bathroom.

“Do you like it?” he asked, and I said, “Ahhh…” or maybe I said, “Ummm…”

Whatever I said seemed to encourage him, for he said, “Would you like to try it?”

Of course I would. I was alive, wasn’t I?

Cleis Press, Giveaways, Rob Rosen

Guest Post and Giveaway: Men of the Manor (An Anthology) Edited by Rob Rosen

Rob Rosen

The Novel Approach is happy to have Rob Rosen here today on the Men of the Manor blog tour. I asked Rob to tell us what prompted him to put his own erotic twist on the historical romance genre, and this is what he had to say.


As a fan of both Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs, I thought, hey, wouldn’t it be uniquely different to see what happens to the men of the manor when the lights go down and the ladies head to their beds for the night? Then I purposely chose stories from both viewpoints: from the perspective of the lords and the perspective of the staff. In truth, I enjoyed it the most when the staff took advantage of their employers, and gained something other than sex as a result, but the stories of the lords are just as intriguing, frequently showing a side of them you don’t normally get to see.

Erotica fans will enjoy the sex, romance fans will enjoy the tender moments, and historical fiction fans will get a kick out of the pre-World War One setting. In the end, I think I put together exactly what I was hoping for: something that appeals to a wide audience, and yet something that hasn’t been tried yet. I hope the readers feel the same.




unnamedBlurb – Men of the Manor: The country estate, masters and servants, mystery and intrigue, sex and money—all go hand in hand in these turn-of-the-century tales of what goes on behind the manor’s closed doors. Does the master lure the butler to the phonograph room for a romp behind the sofa, or does the stable boy have a tryst with the footman while the lord longingly watches on? Does the aristocrat drop his foppish manners when the butler helps him undress? And do the classes exchange more than pleasantries when the lamps are dimmed and the ladies retire for the evening?

Rob Rosen has gathered the hottest stories of romance and sex between wealthy aristocrats and the hard-working estate staff, all with a pre-World War I backdrop, including the fashion and art and the latest inventions of the day. War is years way, the estates are huge and sprawling, the fashionably elite have too much time on their hands, while the toiling underclass are always on the lookout for a means to a brighter future — no matter whose bed they end up in. Think Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs, but with enough sex to make the town vicar blush.

Available at: Amazon US | All Romance eBooks | Barnes and Noble


Rob Rosen BioAbout the Author/Editor:

Rob Rosen, author of the novels Sparkle: The Queerest Book You’ll Ever Love, Divas Las Vegas, Hot Lava, Southern Fried, Queerwolf, Vamp and Queens of the Apocalypse, and editor of the anthologies Lust in Time, Men of the Manor, and Best Gay Erotica 2015, has had short stories featured in more than two hundred anthologies.

3.5 Stars, Anthology, Cleis Press, Erotica, Reviewed by Taz, Shane Allison

Anthology Review: Men on the Make: True Gay Sex Confessions — Edited by Shane Allison

Title: Men on the Make: True Gay Sex Confessions

Author: Anthology – Edited by Shane Allison

Publisher: Cleis Press

Pages/Word Count: 232 Pages

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Blurb: Gay award-winning editor Shane Allison brings together a staggeringly sexy set of true stories reflecting gay life today. Men on the Make is as incredibly diverse as the culture itself, with true confessions that are revelatory, sometimes shocking, and always extremely personal. Allison’s book is a one-of-a-kind nonfiction compilation where gay men share peak experiences that are compelling and telling. As with the lauded editor’s fiction, Men on the Make features the absolute hottest, kinkiest, and most unexpected sex: sex in public, sex with a stranger, threesomes, foursomes, or moresomes. Continue reading

A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week, Aleksandr Voinov, Alex Beecroft, Carol Lynne, Cleis Press, GayRomLit, Jayson James, Joanna Chambers, Jordan L. Hawk, K.A. Merikan, Kaje Harper, KJ Charles, Lexi Ander, Lisa Henry, Lynley Wayne, Sherrie Henry, Sophie Bonaste, T.A. Chase, Tamara Allen, Tere Michaels, Will Parkinson

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Lisa_avatar_twitter Happy Sunday, everyone, I hope you’ve had a great weekend so far!

We have an outstanding week ahead for you here at The Novel Approach, including the kickoff of our GayRomLit Virtual Gift Basket Giveaways–Gift Cards and E-books Galore. We’ll have three baskets to give away this week, and four next week, so be sure to stay tuned for that and so much more from our guest authors. And, of course, we’ll be bringing you many more reviews.

Here’s whats on tap!


Monday – Kicking of the week, this week, is Will Parkinson on his Wet Paint Blog Tour and Giveaway

And joining us today as a first-time visitor, Lexi Ander stops by with a Guest Post and Giveaway on her Twin Flames Blog Tour

Tuesday – We’re winding down these final weeks of the Countdown to GRL Celebration with Sophie Bonaste today, on her Death Gets a Boyfriend Blog Tour and Giveaway

We’ll also be hosting the authors from the Authors Gone Wild Anthology

And, watch for the first of our seven Virtual Gift Basket Giveaways to go live today, which will include not only a $25 Gift Card to the e-tailer of the winner’s choice, but eight e-book titles from some of our participating authors

WednesdaySherrie Henry stops by with another Countdown to GRL Celebration visit

We’ll also be hosting the blog tour for the Historical Anthology Another Place in Time, featuring authors Tamara Allen, Joanna Chambers, KJ Charles, Kaje Harper, Jordan L. Hawk, Aleksandr Voinov, and Alex Beecroft

Round Two of the Gift Basket Giveaways happens today, with another $25 Gift Card to the e-tailer of the winner’s choice, as well as eight more e-books up for grabs

ThursdayLisa Henry stops in today on her Sweetwater Blog Tour

We’ll also be hosting author T.A. Chase today, on her Walking in the Rain Blog Tour

FridayLynley Wayne is here with an interview and giveaway on her Facing Demons Blog Tour

K.A. Merikan also drop in on their Guns n’ Boys Blog Tour

We also have another Virtual Gift Basket to give away today, featuring a $10 Gift Card to Are or Amazon, a $15 Gift Card to Dreamspinner Press, and seven more e-book titles

SaturdayJayson James is our guest today on his Pieces of Us Blog Tour

And we’ll also be hosting Tere Michaels on her Faith & Fidelity Blog Tour, with a Giveaway

Sunday – To bring a close to a fantastic week, today we’re hosting author Carol Lynne on The Brick Yard Blog Tour

We’ll also be hosting Cleis Press on their Men on the Make Anthology Blog Tour


And that rounds out the week ahead. Until next week, happy reading!

3 Stars, Anthology, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Cleis Press, Neil Plakcy, Reviewed by Jordan

Review: Active Duty Anthology – Edited by Neil Plakcy

Title: Active Duty

Author: Anthology (Edited by Neil Plakcy)

Publisher: Cleis Press

Pages/Word Count: 224 Pages

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb: These fierce stories of love on the front lines grab and hold readers’ attention as they travel the world with these soldier on Active Duty. In the wake of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act getting repealed, Neil Plakcy brings the two issues together into heart-pounding vignettes of men in action who put their lives on the line to protect and serve. The heat of battle only amps up the level of excitement knowing that this tryst might be the last. These heroic hunks fight for love and honor and will have readers begging for their next debriefing! Continue reading

4 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Cleis Press, John Preston, Reviewed by Lisa

Saturday Classic: “Mr. Benson (A Novel)” by John Preston

“I’ll expect unquestioning service from you. I’ll expect you to be mine—not a trick, not a lover, not a person—just a piece of ass who happens to be my personal servant.” – Mr. Benson

Title: Mr. Benson: A Novel

Author: John Preston

Publisher: Cleis Press

Pages/Word Count: 230 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: Mr. Benson is the compelling story of a young man’s quest for the perfect master. In a West Village leather bar, he finds wealthy, sophisticated, exacting Aristotle Benson, who leads him down the path of erotic enlightenment, teaching him to accept cruelty as love, anguish as affection, and ultimately, Mr. Benson as his master. Continue reading

Cleis Press, Michael Bracken, Neil Plakcy

How “Soaring” Took Off – A Guest Post And Giveaway From Michael Bracken And Cleis Press

268149_2261498423256_6153149_nI’m just old enough to have been born when there were only 48 United States, and the world I was born into is not the world I live in today. Society is changing—too fast for some of us, not fast enough for others—and things that were once taboo, hidden behind locked doors and spoken of only in hushed whispers, are now displayed in public and are part of our common discourse.

The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is one of those changes, and when editor Neil Plakcy asked me to write a story for Active Duty, an anthology of erotic stories about the repeal’s impact on the military, I knew I wanted to be a part of his project because of the subject. Continue reading

Cleis Press, Mitzi Szereto

“The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray” Takes Oscar Wilde’s Creation To New Levels Of Sin

“The sin we had done once, and with loathing, we would do many times, and with joy.” ― Oscar Wilde

First off, let me say I feel obligated to start this review by warning readers this is not an LGBT novel. It’s neither gay nor bi fiction that aims to satisfy your romantic itch on any level, so if you elect to read it, don’t venture into it anticipating a story that portrays Dorian Gray as a man who searches the world over to find his soulmate, falls in love with him and then lives happily-ever-after. That’s not this book. The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray is not M/M fiction as much as it is a book which portrays men occasionally having sex with each other, and doing it violently: there are trigger tropes in this novel that might cross your personal reading boundaries, including non-consensual and dubiously consensual sex, so consider yourself forewarned.

This book also contains copious M/F content, so if that’s not your cuppa, don’t bother reading the rest of this review because this definitely isn’t the book for you.
Continue reading

Cleis Press, James Lear

“The Hardest Thing” Is Impossible To Resist

There is no grief like the grief that does not speak.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I knew as soon as I finished reading The Hardest Thing that it was going to be really hard for me to review this book. I’m not a writer so how can I possibly put into words how much I enjoyed this book? How to describe how much I laughed and cringed? How much I didn’t want this crazy story to end?

The Hardest Thing is a tightly wound mystery novel. The story revolves around Dan Stagg, a tough ex-marine, who’s discharged for “inappropriate sexual relations”. We all know what that means. His years of living DADT caught up with him after his lover Will was killed by a sniper’s bullet in Afghanistan and his career began to unravel from his grief. It was extremely heartbreaking reading about Dan and Will’s struggle to hold down a relationship in a very hostile military environment. They could not show affection for each other, or Dan show his devastation when Will was killed. There where teases of the past, and this just made me want to read more of Dan and Will’s story together.

A couple of years later, Dan finds himself working as a bouncer in a downtown club. He lives in a shabby apartment and only has sex if he’s drunk. He tries not to think of Will but that doesn’t always work. His pain practically jumps of the page. He hates the downward spiral his life has taken. A chain of events changes his fortune. He lands a job as a bodyguard to a rich guy’s male “secretary”. The job is to take the “secretary” out of town for a couple of days. Simple but extremely complicated. Dan’s not a stupid guy but a desperate one, who’ll do stupid things.

Dan’s world is thrown into a tailspin when the “secretary”, a blond Sterling McMahon. walks in wearing too short shorts, a too short top and sucking on an iced drink. As soon as the two meet there’s major sexual tension. It was fun finding out if Dan slammed Sterling up against a wall or if Sterling seduced Dan. Dan gets his payment, a gun and no questions asked. And so the adventure begins.

They go out of town to New Hampshire. On the way there, things get interesting fast once Dan and Sterling fall into bodyguard/ward with benefits relationship. And when they do get together it’s pretty good. Through sex, lots and lots of crazy hot sex, Dan and Sterling develop feelings towards each other. Dan is surprised that he can have these feelings after Will. Dan is torn because he feels that he’s betraying Will in having feelings for Sterling. But the heart wants what the heart wants. Sterling begins to open up and the truth emerges about his situation. Sterling’s real name is Jodi and he’s involved with organized crime and someone wants him dead. But it’s not the whole truth and Dan is beginning to suspect that he was hired for a totally different reason. Everything is not as it seems. The story takes unexpected twists and turns, characters enter and exit which I’m not going to give away because this book is definitely worth reading.

This is the first book that I have read by Mr. Lear and I was totally blown away. The story was beautifully written. It was funny and heartbreaking at times. It made me care about Dan and Jodi and want them to have a happy ending. But as in real life, I’m not sure that’s possible for them.

If you love reading sexy, character driven stories, then this book is a must.

Reviewed by: Lana

You can buy The Hardest Thing: A Dan Stagg Mystery here:

Cleis Press, James Lear

“The Hardest Thing” May Be Resisting This Giveaway!

Killing is easy. Love is… The Hardest Thing

James Lear does Lee Child

Once a major in the U.S. Army, Dan Stagg fell afoul of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. In his late 30s, tall, and muscular, Dan is prone to violence, always upholding what he views as justice. He’s offered a great deal of money to protect the young male secretary of a powerful real estate broker. The vain, shallow—but most of all hot—young man’s idea of protection includes sex. Dan quickly realizes something strange is going on: he’s being used as a shield for a much more sinister operation and must chose between easy money and sex or the ideals that he embodied in the Army. Why should he do the right thing—particularly when the army betrayed him? The Hardest Thing is a sexy gay mystery as only James Lear can write it: filled with lots of gay sexual encounters, romance, sweat, violence, and conspiracy.



Cleis Press, Shane Allison

Feel Like Taking A Little “Steam Bath”? Shane Allison and Cleis Press Would Like To Give You One!

Steamy encounters in the bathhouse have been the stuff of erotic legend for centuries, just ask Spartacus!

Shane Allison turns the stereotype on its ear in Steam Bath, a rollicking romp of pretty boys and dashing daddies doing it. From fresh faced twinks to to silver foxes and beautiful bears, Shane delivers sensational stories where every man is naked ALL THE TIME! A towel-snapping good read, Steam Bath is filled with sizzling porn bodies, sexy boys next door, and tantalizing tricks that fully capture the erotic dynamic of between men.

Rob Rosen turns up the heat once again in his new tale, The Key. A young detective sets out to investigate the disappearance of a young twink, but finds more than what he ever thought imaginable in Logan Zachary’s Incubus Steam. A tattooed bad boy gets taught a hard lesson in Eric Del Carlo’s Steam Punk. A mind is not the only thing that gets blown in Rafaelito V. Sy’s Raf’s Journey. Things get hot and heavy when a college professor and one of his horny students stumble upon a European steam bath in Jarrett Neal’s The Chaperones.