4 Stars, Amber Allure, Genre Romance, J.D. Walker, Reviewed by Lana, Short Story

Review: Romancing the Bouncer by J.D. Walker



Title: Romancing the Bouncer

Author: J.D. Walker

Publisher: Amber Allure

Pages/Word Count: 13k Words

At a Glance: I really enjoyed Romancing the Bouncer but would have liked it to be just a bit longer.

Reviewed By: Lana

Blurb: Bennett “Ben” Pachowski has been a bouncer at Throwbacks for years. He likes his job, though he gets tired of being thought of as more brawn than brain simply because of his size. He also prefers to be romanced before sleeping with a man.

Ben’s favorite band, Rebel’s Ultimatum, occasionally plays at the club, which gives him an eyeful of the sexy bass player, Monty Mabuse. They’ve been eyeing each other for months, though Ben is content to flirt and nothing more, since “commitment” seems a foreign concept to the selfish, arrogant and flirtatious bass player.

But Monty wants Ben to become the next notch on his bedpost, and a devious trick to get what he wants blows up in his face.

Will Ben be able to forgive Monty for his deception? Perhaps, but if Monty wants to have a relationship with Ben, he needs to make some changes, and it remains to be seen whether he can become the kind of man Ben will respect, let alone love.

Sometimes, a little romance goes a long way…


Review: Romancing the Bouncer is a short and sweet romance that’s long on the sweet and very short on content, or rather, length. But, as they say, size doesn’t always matter; it’s how you use it. Well, the author used a small amount of space to create two characters that I really liked and felt for but wanted to see more of.

The story centers on Ben, a tough but sweet bouncer who’s looking for his forever man. Because of the way he looks and what he does for a living, people make assumptions about him, and they are always wrong. He’s a thinker and likes to read to the elderly at an assisted living home. And then, you have your typical sexy musician, Monty, who’s looking for his next hookup and sets his sites on Ben. Both are attracted to each other, and Monty gets the upper hand through some subterfuge. Ben’s not so thrilled and basically dumps Monty without even dating him. It was cute how Ben wanted something more meaningful, and Monty just wanted to get in his pants. After some time apart, and then a reconnection, Ben and Monty developed an actual relationship and it was very believable. Both characters for me felt like real people and not a caricature. Both evolved and grew, and I really enjoyed their progress.

And, I really enjoyed Romancing the Bouncer but would have liked it to be just a bit longer, something to get my teeth into. It’s sweet, sexy and just right for a very small snack.






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5 Stars, Annabelle Jacobs, Dreamspinner Press, Freebie, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Short Story

Release Day Review: A Serious Thing by Annabelle Jacobs

Small Gems



Title: A Serious Thing (Will & Patrick: Book 1.5)

Author: Annabelle Jacobs

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 36 Pages

At a Glance: Annabelle Jacobs gives readers a sweet and FREE holiday treat.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Patrick has a plan, and he’ll go to great lengths to see it through.
After three weeks apart due to work and school commitments, he and Will are finally getting to spend some time together. Patrick is staying with Will over the Christmas holidays, and he intends to tell him how he feels on Christmas Day. It’s going to be perfect.
But of course, Patrick’s plans don’t always go smoothly….


Review: For those of us who fell in love with Patrick and Will in Annabelle Jacobs’ A Curious Thing, this sweet little Christmas vignette, A Serious Thing, is the perfect follow up to the story that left us with their happy-for-now-ish ending.

Patrick is so near to completing school, and he and Will have had to make do with weekends together, but life in general and Will’s obligations have kept them apart for three weeks now, and Christmas is just around the corner. Patrick has plans to make this holiday a special one for both Will and himself, but there’s a trick to the timing of it that Will not understanding may make things tricky for Patrick to pull off. The chemistry between these two guys is still white hot, and Jacobs doesn’t bother to keep readers in suspense, waiting for the sparks to fly between them. That’s the beauty of the short story, though—the instant gratification—especially when we already know the characters, and let me tell you, Patrick and Will burn up these pages in such a delicious way.

Ben, the best brother ever to Patrick—not to mention, the best friend ever to Will—also shows up again to be supportive and generally awesome too. Bottom line here is that this short story is wonderful, beginning to end, but I wouldn’t recommend reading it as a standalone. Get to know these guys in A Curious Thing first, and while you’re at it, you can grab this freebie as a sweet bonus holiday treat.






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4.5 Stars, Holiday Romance, Kenzie Cade, Less Than Three Press, Reviewed by Sammy, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Short Story

Reindeer Games by Kenzie Cade



Title: Reindeer Games

Author: Kenzie Cade

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 68 Pages

At a Glance: If you are looking for a nice little story filled with Christmas cheer and sexy men, then definitely take a chance on Reindeer Games.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Dashing von Stride has one thing on his mind: winning the window display contest for the Miracle on Main Christmas Contest. His plans are set and ready—and then he walks into his toy store, Reindeer Games, to find a sleigh that shouldn’t be there. The mystery sleigh sparks a new plan, however, and now all Dash needs is the perfect Santa to model his display after.

This year, the pranks with his reindeer have gotten out of hand. Instead of preparing for the Big Day, Niklaus Kringle is hunting for his missing sleigh. Locating it should have been easy, but games easily won are seldom worth playing…


Review: Cute, sweet, lighthearted: any and all of these words could be used to describe author Kenzie Cade’s Christmas offering, Reindeer Games. If you are looking for a well written bit of fluff to take your mind off the holiday and its mad rush, look no further. This little story is the perfect ticket to some much needed getaway time from reality.

Cleverly based on the idea that Santa has children and that elves are the magic that is Christmas, the story begins with the reindeer having played a trick on Nik Kringle by hiding his sleigh right before the “big day”. Found by a toy store owner who turns out to have a little magic of his own, Dashing von Stride (Dash) discovers the sleigh standing in his display room and immediately uses it as the inspiration for the window decorating contest held annually in the small town of (wait for it) Wassail. I was laughing so hard at these fantastic names and the tongue-in-cheek humor the author obviously used when coming up with them.

When Nik and Dash meet, there is an immediate sense of rightness—of everything finally falling into place for both of these fellows. Once Dash is clued in to exactly who Nik is and why he is in town, the story moves swiftly to an immediate and delightful happy ending.

Pure fun and a sexy happy-ever-after is what this novella is all about. Nik and Dash could not be more perfect for each other, or sweeter, and did I mention hot? But honestly, there was little to criticize in this story simply because you can sense the pure delight the author took in crafting this holiday offering. The two main characters sensed their immediate bond, and wasted no time in exploring exactly what that meant. The mischievous and aerodynamically correct reindeer only added to the fun. Perhaps the only criticism I might have is that the smarmy and nasty shopkeeper who always seemed to take first place in the window contest was under utilized in this story. I felt like a slight tussle with him, one that might have threatened Nik and Dash getting to know one another, would have spiced up the story a bit. However, that was more a matter of my personal taste than a real fault in the story.

If you are looking for a nice little story filled with Christmas cheer and sexy men, then definitely take a chance on Reindeer Games by Kenzie Cade.






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4 Stars, Comedy, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Sammy, Rob Rosen, Short Story

Review: Best Laid Trap by Rob Rosen



Title: Best Laid Trap (Sleigh Ride: Advent Calendar 2015)

Author: Rob Rosen

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 24 Pages

At a Glance: Fans of Rob Rosen will immediately latch on to his wickedly humorous writing style and slightly crazed characters.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Roy has a crush on Steve, so when a work-related ski weekend is offered, Roy jumps at the chance to finally lay a trap for his hunky coworker. An abandoned cabin nearby is perfect for his scheme, and Roy stocks it with champagne, rubbers, and lube. But fate intervenes, and it’s not Steve, but Ranger Josh, who ends up trapped in the cabin with Roy during an avalanche. Roy’s plan might be ruined, but there’s still a chance for a very happy New Year indeed.


Review: It’s holiday time and Rob Rosen offers up Best Laid Trap, another offering form the Dreamspinner Advent Calendar: Sleigh Ride. I must admit I am a huge fan of Rosen’s acerbic wit and snarky repartee, and this little short starts out in typical Rosen style, replete with a near stream of consciousness from the narrator and star of the story, Roy.

The plot is a simple one: Roy has been crushing on a coworker and accidentally finds an abandoned cabin right off the bunny trail at the ski resort they are both staying. With seduction on his mind, Roy sets the trap for his amour and sits back to wait. Little did he know that Mother Nature, a randy forest ranger, and some karma would change his whole night–and perhaps his future as well.

Be forewarned, this short story is about as insta-lust as you can get, but with lots of humor and a fairly hot, lengthy sex scene to boot. This is a mere snippet, so if you are looking for a great deal of character development, or much past a short rendezvous with a hint of a happy-ever-after, then this might not be the selection for you. However, fans of Rob Rosen will immediately latch on to his wickedly humorous writing style and slightly crazed characters.

Roy is sweet and funny as he lays out his night of seduction for a coworker. When he finds that he is going to be left high and dry, he barely has time to be disappointed before the ranger of his dreams appears and he grabs opportunity with both hands! Barely a short story, Rosen still manages to pack this gem with soppy moments filled with inner dialogue from Roy’s head that will have you laughing. All in all, this was a fun romp that will leave you wanting just a little more!






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Mary Calmes, Self-Published, Short Story

Hannah’s Big Night (A Jory and Sam Thanksgiving Ficlet) by Mary Calmes

Hannah's Big Night

Hannah’s Big Night

© Mary Calmes 2015

“Where are you going?” I asked my older brother as I walked into his room.

“You’re not supposed to just come in here,” he snapped at me.

“Yeah—yeah,” I said dismissively. “Where are you going?”

He sighed irritably, which was my cue to leave it alone, leave him alone, but he was climbing out his bedroom window onto the roof above the porch, so I had to know.

“Go to sleep.”

I scowled at him. “It’s ten o’clock at night; in what realm of your dodgy imagination am I going to bed this early?”

“Stop,” he groaned. “You’re not British.”

“Are you sure, guvnor?”

He rolled his eyes. “You’re especially not Eliza Doolittle. Being her in one play does not make it so.”

I shot him a look, one he knew, and took a deep breath. I was tired of the run around from my brother, Kola Kage, so I filled my lungs to make sure the yell would carry when I let it out.

“No—no—no,” he gasped, darting across the room, grabbing my hand and pulling me down beside him on his bed. “C’mon, B, you gotta let me go out and check on Anthony.”


“Anthony Mascaro.”

“Oh, that’s your friend who borrows your bike.”

His scowl was back. “What?”

“Ugh, really? This is me you’re talking to.”

He considered his audience for a moment, but come on…

“How do you know he borrows my bike?”

“’Cause every morning at around four, he parks your bike behind the house so you have it to ride to school with me and Pa.”

He grunted.

“And last night it wasn’t there, and that was a whopper of a lie you told Pa about leaving it at the park last night.”

Kola squirmed. “I feel bad.”

“You should feel bad ‘cause Pa’s not getting you a new one ‘til after Christmas, and now you look like a scrub walking while we’re both riding.”

His face scrunched up. “A scrub?”

“Just—that’s what Melody Thompson said.”

He thought a second. “How come Melody Thompson already wears make-up?”

“I wear make-up,” I said, sticking up for my friend.

“Only when you’re in a show,” he reminded me.

I nodded. “She wants to be pretty.”

“Well, you don’t have to worry about that.”

I dropped my chin and then looked at him because really, we both knew he was full of poop. “Really?”

He groaned.

“Just tell me what happened already,” I pressed him. He was my brother, he couldn’t keep anything from me, I could always get it out of him. “The bike’s gone and you think something happened to Anthony?”


“Then tell Daddy,” I told him.

“No,” he said, looking scared. “Anthony said if he gets in trouble, he’ll get taken away from his Mom and she’ll have to go back to where she lived before and he’ll have to go to Foster Care.”

“What’s that?”

“If you don’t have any family, that’s where you go?”

“Who doesn’t have a family?”

“Lots of people.”

“Yeah but,” I was trying to figure it out. “If you don’t have a family, where do you go on Thanksgiving?”

“Anthony says they eat at a shelter.”

“Oh,” I said, nodding, finally something I understood. Last Thanksgiving, me and Kola, Daddy and Pa had all gone to a shelter and served food for the homeless people. “I didn’t know they let kids go to the shelter.”

He nodded. “They do.”

I took a breath. “Yeah, but how come this is about your bike?”

“Well, at night Anthony rides around his neighborhood on my bike and watches for police cars. If he sees one, he makes a call on his cell phone.”

“He has a cell phone?” I was so jealous. “How come?”

My brother shrugged.

“How come he doesn’t use his own bike?”

“It got stolen.”

“Oh, that’s sad.”

“Yeah so now they told him if he doesn’t watch out for police, he has to deliver stuff to people.”

“That doesn’t sound so bad. It’s better than riding a bike in the middle of the night.”

“Yeah, but he’ll have to make his deliveries during the day.”

“And then he’d miss school.” I said, putting it all together. “I see.”

“So, could you please help me?”


“Just stay here and if Riley comes upstairs, you––”

“Nuh-uh,” I said, shooting him down. “I go with you.”

“But I gotta find Anthony and the bike.”

“I can help you; I’m good at finding stuff.”


I took a deep breath again.

He shoved me over on the bed. “Fine, whatever, just don’t yell.”

“Okay,” I said, so happy he was letting me help him. “Where does he live?”

He made a face. “Kinda far.”

“How far?”

“Like we need to take Pa’s bike.”

“Okay,” I agreed. “Just let me change.”

“B,” he whined. “Come on, we gotta go before Daddy and Pa get home from dinner.”

I snorted. “They went to that awful place with the real napkins; they’ll be gone for hours.”

“But you don’t need to––”

“Silence,” I commanded before telling him to go downstairs and tell our cousin Riley that we were going to watch a movie. Not that she cared; she’d be talking to her boyfriend all night, but it was always better just to say something. Misdirection was key. Daddy said that’s what you did when you were undercover, which, technically, we were.

“Oh God,” Kola groaned when I got back to his room.


“Why are you wearing that?”

“Why wouldn’t I wear this?”

“We’re not stealing the bike from anyone.”

“How do you know? Maybe somebody stole it and we’ll have to steal it back.”

“Yeah, but you know that cat burglars don’t actually wear cat ears,” he said snidely. “And there’s still glitter on them from Halloween.”

“Shhhh,” I ordered before climbing out the window.

He was right behind me. “Be careful,” he said, and his voice went up high because it was crackling lately.

Downstairs, we darted around the house, got Pa’s beach cruiser out of the garage—it had fat wheels but still wouldn’t make it too much longer with the snow—and Kola got on before I got on the handlebars. We weren’t supposed to ride like that, Pa didn’t like it, and I couldn’t wear my helmet because of the cat ears, and Kola’s had reflectors on his that he didn’t want to attract attention… so we were both without them. We were double in trouble if we got caught but if Pa caught us, the helmet situation was the least of our problems.

We rode down Harlem Avenue for a while, and then Kola turned off on one side street, and then another, and another, until the street lights weren’t bright white anymore and instead, a sort of dull yellow. There was a ginormous vacant lot we had to go around, and then dark alleys that were creepy that we rode by, and finally Kola announced that we’d reached Anthony’s building. It took more than an hour to get there, and it was really cold. My nose felt like it was going to freeze off.

“Where are you gonna hide Pa’s bike?” I asked my brother.

We looked around for a few minutes, and Kola found a tarp in one of the alleys, and we put it behind a dumpster. Inside the building, we found Anthony’s last name and went up three flights to his apartment.

It was loud inside and a lot of people were arguing in the halls, and there was graffiti but not the pretty kind I liked. When we got to where Anthony lived, the door was open, which wasn’t safe, and Kola called his name.

“Now who the hell is that?!”

We both peered around the corner and there was a lady on the floor, bleeding from her nose and lip, and a man was holding her hair in his fist. There was blood on his other hand, probably from where he’d hit her—it was easy to tell, I watched a lot of TV, so I knew these things—and she was crying.

“Please, Luis,” she begged him.

“What are you doing?!” I shrieked at him.

He let her hair go when he reached for me, and she scrambled to her feet, grabbed me and Kola, and ran us into a bedroom and locked the door.


We both turned and there was Anthony, on the bed. When he sat up, I saw that one of his eyes was big and puffy and couldn’t open, and he was bleeding like the lady.

“Is she your Mommy?” I asked him.

He nodded and then looked back at my brother. “You guys gotta get outta here before Luis hits you too.”

“Help me!” Mrs. Mascaro rasped, trying to push a really heavy chest of drawers in front of the door.

Me, Kola and Anthony all rushed to help her, and then once we moved it, we all got on Anthony’s bed. His mom stared at me and my brother, touching both our faces.

“He would’ve…he was going to…and then Anthony… and now I don’t have a choice and…who are you?”

She was kind of out of it, and crying, but she was bleeding and she had a really big bump on her head, so it made sense.

“This is Kola and his sister B,” Anthony told his mom, crawling over to sit by her, and taking her hand.

“Where’s your phone,” I asked him. “Kola said you have a cell phone.”

He reached under the mattress and passed it to me as somebody started banging on the door.

Mrs. Mascaro screamed, which scared me, but I only dialed faster. After a second, he answered.

“Who’s this?”

He sounded growly but that was because he didn’t know it was me yet. “Daddy!”

“B?” He sounded confused which made sense since this wasn’t our phone at home. “Who’s phone is this?”

He had Riley’s phone number programmed into his so again, the question made sense. “Daddy, there’s a man trying to hurt Anthony and his mom, and we’re in their house, and he’s trying to break into the room.”

Anthony’s mom screamed again.

“B,” he said, and it was like he didn’t have any air. “Where are you?”

I passed the phone to Kola because I didn’t know, and he gave Daddy the address as he listened a moment before moving the phone away from his ear and putting it on speakerphone.

“Keep the phone on,” he directed us. “And talk to Pa.”

“Pa,” I whimpered.

“Hi, B,” he said, his voice shaking. “Tell me what’s happening now?”

“The bad man is trying to get in, but the dresser is super heavy.”

“Okay,” he said as there was a huge bang and the chest of drawers moved a little.

“Pa, it’s moving,” I said, getting really scared.

“Don’t worry, B,” Kola told me, and then he got off the bed, and even though Mrs. Mascaro yelled at him to get back, he walked over to the door at the same time it sort of blew up.

The dresser got thrown sideways and the door flew open, and there wasn’t just Luis anymore, there were two other guys with him, standing there. Kola was so brave, facing them, and even when one of the men made like he was going to hit him, he didn’t move.

“You better leave us alone,” he told them. “My Daddy’s coming and he’s a marshal.”

“He’ll kill you if you hurt us,” I screamed at them.

Luis grabbed Kola by the throat, and I got up and ran to him. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I didn’t want him to hit my brother like he hit Anthony and his mom. But when I reached them something weird happened, and he looked at me and then he looked again like I surprised him. I lifted the phone to my ear to tell Pa what was happening, but he took it from me, hurling it into a wall, then shoved Kola down and grabbed me.

I tried to use my Tae Kwon Do moves on him, but I was only a yellow belt, Kola was blue, but one of the men had a gun. Daddy had told us not to try and hit someone if they had a gun.

One of the men picked me up and carried me out of the room, and when Kola tried to run after me, Luis slammed the door in his face.

I got slung over the guy’s shoulder and when I tried kicking and punching, he put me down on one of the landings, I wasn’t sure which one, and Luis slapped me really hard across the face. It hurt bad and I started crying, even though I knew it was weenie. Luis grabbed my arm tight and dragged me down the stairs and outside, and then he put me in the backseat of a car. Luis got in the back with me, and the other two got in the front and the tires made the whiny noise when we drove away.

It was weird to be in a car with strangers, and I tried to think of how long I was going to be grounded when I got home.

“I need you to call your Daddy,” Luis told me, shoving a phone at me.

I was confused. “I already called my Daddy, he was coming.”

He shook his head. “Don’t play dumb with me, I know who you are little girl, I’ve seen your picture in the paper.”

I wasn’t sure what he meant.

“You’re Aaron Sutter’s kid.”

What? “Nuh-uh.”

“Yes, you are,” he snarled at me like a dog, “I saw you in the paper just this morning.”

And I got it. “Oh, that’s because I went to the Aquarium with him last night,” I explained. “My Uncle Duncan had to work, so I went with Uncle Aaron to the fundraiser gala.” I loved going with him, and sometimes I even got to go when Uncle Duncan was there. But I always got a new dress, and I had a white princess coat I got to wear that had crystals for buttons that I wore with my white gloves. Sometimes I even got new shoes, but Pa told Uncle Aaron I couldn’t have new ones every time. But last night was special because I even wore my tiara. “But he’s not my Daddy, he’s my Uncle.”

“Uncle my ass—that’s your father, so you better get him on the phone because if he wants you back in one piece, he’s going to pay.”

He had the guy in the passenger seat pass him a phone from the glove compartment and it was really old, one of the flippy kind that I knew was a burner because Daddy said that’s the kind crooks used, and he shoved it into my hands and told me to call my Dad.

It was lucky for me that I had four numbers memorized and they were Daddy’s, Pa’s, Auntie Aja’s, and Uncle Aaron’s. So I dialed and it rang a lot of times before he answered.

“Who is this and how did you get this number?”

“Uncle Aaron,” I said and sniffled a little ‘cause I was a bit scared. “I need some money.”


Maybe he couldn’t hear me. “I’m in trouble and I need some money.”

The phone was muffled for a minute. “B?”


“You need money?”


He chuckled. “Honey, does your father know you’re calling me?”


“And why not?”

“Because I got taken.”

“Wait, what?” He said, and now he sounded like he couldn’t breathe just like had happened to Daddy. “Honey, where are you?”

“A man has me.”

“What man?”

I put the phone on my chest. “Can I tell him who you are?”

Luis shook his head and I put the phone back to my ear. “He said I can’t tell you.”

He took a breath. “Ask him how much money he needs to bring you to me.”

I looked up at the Luis. “How much money do you want?”

He snatched the phone from me. “Sutter, if you ever want to see your little girl again, you need to deliver ten million dollars to Navy Pier by midnight.” He listened then. “I’ll call you back with the details.”

Ten million dollars was a lot of money. I wasn’t sure I was worth that much. “Can I talk to him?” I asked Luis.

“No,” he snapped and hit the END button.

I started to cry because I really wanted to talk to Uncle Aaron, but then I remembered what Pa said about getting kidnapped. He said that you had to always try and get away. You never had to stop. And Pa knew a lot about being kidnapped—he was kind of an expert since it happened to him more than once. Daddy always said it was ‘cause he was a trouble magnet, but Pa said that was nonsense. My Uncle Dane said the magnet stuff was true too, but Uncle Dane thought I was one too, and that was just bananas. So I wiped my face on my sleeve—which Pa didn’t like, but I didn’t see me asking Luis for a Kleenex—and I checked to see if the door was locked.

Our van at home locked automatically. As soon as Pa moved the stick thing to the D, you could hear the doors lock, but this car was old, there weren’t even shoulder seatbelts in the backseat where I was, and so the door wasn’t locked since I could see the button thing was up.

When we stopped at a light, I pretended like I was gonna barf, and Luis told me to roll the window down. But I pulled the door handle and opened it instead.


I fell into the street, and there were a lot of cars, but I ran fast and they missed me, and when I got to the sidewalk, I ran some more.

I got kinda turned around, but then I saw The Flamingo and I knew where I was. Sometimes I got mixed up—did Daddy work in the U.S. Courthouse building or the Federal building?—but last time we went there, Kola said it was the thirty story one and not the forty-two story one, so I ran to the right one and pounded on the door a second before I saw the two men walking up the street. Both of them had the same star as Daddy hanging around their necks, so I got to them as quick as I could. As soon as I reached them, one of them knelt down to talk to me.

“Sweetheart, what are you doing out here so late?”

It was kind of hard to breathe because I ran so far. “I’m––”

“You’re Hannah, aren’t you?” The other man said. “I’ve seen your picture.”

It was neat how big the man’s eyes got. “You’re Sam Kage’s daughter?”

I nodded.

He picked me up, which normally, since I was ten now, I didn’t like, but I was tired and getting cold, so it was okay.

“What happened, honey,” the marshal who wasn’t holding me asked. “Why’re you here?”

So I told him about Anthony and his Mom and Kola, and me and Pa’s bike—because that was important—and Kola being brave, and Luis hitting me, and the other two men and how I had to call Uncle Aaron, and how much ten million was, and how come Luis thought I was Uncle Aaron’s daughter, and how silly that was, and how far I’d run.

“Okay,” he said as he used his card to make the door open, and pulled his gun out at the same time.

Once the three of us were inside, he put his gun back in the holster before we all went up in the elevator.

“You can call me B,” I told the man who was holding me.

He smiled at me. “Well, you can call me Ian, and this is Miro.”

They were nice, and I wasn’t scared one bit, and when we got to the office, they took me to the breakroom and put ice on my face and gave me a juice box to drink. I didn’t really like grape, apple was my favorite, but I didn’t want to make them think I wasn’t appreciative. Pa always said you had to be nice even if you didn’t get exactly what you wanted.

After a few minutes, Miro passed me his phone.


“B?” Daddy sounded funny, like he’d run far too.

“Hi, Daddy, are you mad at me?”

He coughed. “No, baby, I’m not mad at you.”

“Is Kola okay?”

“Yes, love, Kola’s fine.”

“Is Anthony okay?”


“And his mommy?”

“Everybody’s fine, sweetie. What’d—did those men hurt you?”

“Luis hit me on the face,” I told him. “Miro gave me ice to put on my cheek.”

He coughed again. “But that’s all?”


I heard him take a breath. “

“Daddy, you can’t let Anthony get taken away from his Mommy, okay?”

“I won’t.”


“I promise.”

“Do they have to go back to his Mommy’s country?”

“No, B.”

“You promise?”

“I promise.”

“And could they come and have Thanksgiving with us at Nana’s?”

“They’re not going to be here tomorrow, B, so no.”

I knew Daddy made people safe by moving them far away and giving them new names. I didn’t know how he did that, but Pa had explained that much to me. “Okay, so long as they’re together that’s all that matters, right?”

“That’s right.”

“Oh, Dad, did you get Pa’s bike?”

“Kola made sure I got it, yes.”

Such a relief. “Are you coming to get me now?”

“Yes, honey, I’m on my way.”

“Will you call Uncle Aaron and tell him I don’t need the money?”

There was a long silence before he said, “I’m sorry, what?”

So I told him about calling Uncle Aaron, and then he had to get off the phone and I gave Miro back his. “I wonder why Daddy didn’t want to talk to me anymore.”

“It ain’t like that,” the other marshal, Ian, told me. “He wants to talk to you, but he’s gotta call your uncle and tell him everything’s all right, and then he’s gonna go pick that guy up and feed him his teeth.”

“Ian,” Miro whispered.

“What?” He gave Miro the look Kola gave me when he thought I said something dumb. “He is.”

“It’s okay,” I told Miro, patting his hand. “Daddy always says that if anybody hurts me or Pa or Kola that he’ll kill them, so, you know, he might shoot Luis in the head.”

They were both staring at me like I was an alien or something.


Miro cleared his throat and took my hand in his. “Sweetie, your Daddy doesn’t go around shooting people, but that man that took you is in a lot of trouble. Your Daddy has to alert Chicago PD and tell them that he kidnapped you and asked for a ransom. Before, we weren’t sure why he took you or even if he did it on accident, but now we know he had a plan. That changes things. That’s a federal offense.”

“Does that mean super in trouble?”

“That’s exactly what that means,” Ian said, smiling at me.

I smiled back because sitting at the table with them, I knew nothing else bad was going to happen to me.

A while later, I was sitting at Miro’s desk helping him look for his mouse that other people liked to take, and watching Ian smell a mango that he took out of the fruit basket.

“That’s a huge basket,” I told him.

He grunted.

“A nice lady sends it to us once a month,” Miro told me. “We helped her kids out when we were in Phoenix.”

“May I have one of the apples?”

“Go for it.”

I was picking one when I heard my Daddy.


When I turned around there he was, and I ran to him as fast as I could.  It didn’t take long since he was running too, and when he reached me, he scooped me up and hugged me.

He held me super tight, and I wiggled so I could get my arms around his neck. I kissed his cheek and held on and even though I was okay, I started to cry.

“It’s okay, B, I’ll always find you.”

“I know,” I told him.

He gave me one last squeeze, and then there was a noise by the elevator and there were more marshals, and Luis and the two other guys all in handcuffs.

Luis looked like Anthony and his mom now, all bloody and bruised. I watched him walk by and he almost stopped to look at me. His mouth dropped open, and I was going to say, “See, I told you,” but it was bad manners to gloat. Uncle Dane always said so.

“Daddy,” I whispered up at him. “Did you feed Luis his teeth?”

He glanced over at Ian, who only smiled before he knelt down next to me. “I just had a quick word with him about taking children who don’t belong to him.”

I nodded. “I understand, it’s ‘cause you love me.”

“I do indeed.”

As Daddy and I went down in the elevator, I asked him how come Pa and Kola didn’t come up.

“I didn’t want Luis or those guys to see Kola again, and I didn’t want them to see Pa.”

“In case they come back for revenge,” I said, getting it. “Good call.”

He squinted at me. “You know what’s going on, right, because you watch a lot of television?”

I nodded.

“Of course you do,” he sighed. “We’re going to the emergency room after this, you know.”


“You and Pa sure do like that place.”

“We don’t like it,” I promised him. “Sometimes it just happens.”

He made a noise like I was full of it.

“You know,” I said, squeezing his hand as he looked at my cheek. “I know what I’m gonna say this year when we go around the table and say what we’re thankful for.”



“And what is that?”

“My family and Miro and Ian.”

“Miro and Ian, huh?”

“Yeah.” And then I thought of something. “Maybe you should invite them to Thanksgiving dinner at Nana’s.”

“They’re good,” he said in that way he had where it sounded like the sound was coming out of his chest.

He picked me up as the elevator doors whooshed open, and I saw Pa and Kola on the other side of the room by the doors. They both came running.

“I can’t wait to get home,” I told Daddy before they reached me.

“That’s good,” he said, “because you and your brother are going to be grounded until the end of time.”

I really didn’t mind. It was home after all.


3.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mary Calmes, Reviewed by Sammy, Short Story

Review: Easy Evenings by Mary Calmes



Title: Easy Evenings (Mangrove: Book Four)

Author: Mary Calmes

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 77 Pages

At a Glance: Several huge plot holes turned this novella from a sweet little romance into a rather confusing story.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Lazlo Maguire doesn’t do relationships—he does transactions. Six months of the year, he’s an expensive rent boy in Manhattan, and he moves so fast that settling down could not, would not, ever enter his mind… except for once. Britton Lassiter he meets man to man, not as hustler and mark, and it’s too good to be true when the lawyer wants to keep Lazlo even if he has to share him with the job.

But Lazlo has his reasons to walk away from the man he’s grown to love. The other six months of the year, he is laid-back Laz, a shopkeeper in the sleepy coastal town of Mangrove, Florida, where the artist he never allows himself to be in the Big Apple shines through. He lives for his time by the ocean, the place he hides his secrets and nurses his broken heart.

Then fate intervenes, and Laz gets the surprise of his life when he spies Britton in Mangrove—but it’s not meant to be… not until Britton sees the change in him and wants to be a part of Laz’s new life so that every evening can be easy… together. Hopefully the secrets that tore them apart won’t come back to haunt them.


Review: Let me begin by saying that author Mary Calmes writes very sweet and lovely romance stories. This is an author I go to when I really want a bit of escapism. Her stories are most notable in that any great conflict is usually quickly resolved, her people are beautiful, angst is minimal, and there is always a swift and loving happy ever after. So, it’s safe for me to say that when I choose to review one of her stories, I look at them in this light, with an eye more toward fantasy than realistic m/m relationships. Her latest installment in the Mangrove series, Easy Evenings, is no exception.

Lazlo Maguire is a rent boy. He divides his year between time in Manhattan, where he provides sexual hookups for a variety of clientele, to the quiet town of Mangrove, Florida, leading a quiet life as a shop keeper and creating sculpted wind chimes and various other things out of metals. When he meets Britton Lassiter, his world is turned upside down. Britton makes him want things that he can’t possibly have, and feel things that he’s never felt before. For the first time, here is someone who could possibly make Laz walk away from his rent boy existence. But Lazlo’s life is not his own and despite how much he would like to have that happy ever after with Britton, the responsibilities he has will never allow him to give up the empty life that holds him prisoner.

The story picks up when Laz return for his six month stint at home in Mangrove, and discovers that Britton has moved his law practice to the same town. Without much of a clue as to the why and how, we discover Britton has taken out a restraining order against Laz, and one can only assume that is because Laz has been attempting to reestablish their relationship. This would be the same relationship that Laz walked away from after realizing that Britton was worthy of much more than a rent boy for a life partner. All of this is done in flashback style, narrated by Laz himself—so it is sketchy at best. Then there is a sudden twist in the story when a little three-year-old girl is unceremoniously dumped on Lazlo’s front porch, and he is informed that he is the father. Suddenly everything changes, including his relationship with Britton.

Laz is one of the sweetest characters I’ve ever read about. The reasons behind his being a rent boy almost broke my heart. The sweet little girl that he is left with is quite precocious. While she seems a bit too old in her outlook for the age of three, and her dialogue is way too sophisticated for that age as well, I was able to overlook that as the way in which she was written made her truly delightful. These two really captured my heart in a big way—I wanted them to be happy in every way possible.

Britton was a real study in contrasts. Needing to submit to Laz in the bedroom while, at the same time, so fiercely eager to take care of Laz outside of it, I felt I knew so little about him. This was really Laz’s story from beginning to end, and I felt that Britton was a bit underdeveloped as a main character. However, the two made a fiery match and were very well suited to each other. Unfortunately, this was a swiftly moving story and as a result, I felt like major chunks of the story were left untold. For instance the reasons for the restraining order were never really discussed. And just as quickly as it was mentioned, Britton was dropping it in order to be with Laz.

Also, the declaration that he had never had unprotected sex other than with Britton was a blatant lie, particularly since earlier in the story he relates how one evening he had sex with a trick’s wife which apparently produced the little girl Katie. Then again, we are told in the story that he never gives out his real name while turning tricks in Manhattan, except to Britton, yet three years after that one evening, the stepfather currently stuck with Katie after her mother had died is able to track Laz down without knowing his real name. There is a hint that Lazlo knew more about Katie’s mother, but it was never explained so it left me unsure as to how Katie even came to exist.

Ultimately, it was these huge plot holes that turned this novella from a sweet little romance into a rather confusing story. Every time one of these inconsistencies ripped me from the pages, I had to make a concerted effort to put my head back in the game and continue the story. I have read other short stories by this author and found them to be quite lovely. Unfortunately, Easy Evenings had too many troublesome and conflicting details to make this a romance I could recommend.






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3.5 Stars, Kari Gregg, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published, Short Story

Review: Sightings by Kari Gregg



Title: Sightings

Author: Kari Gregg

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 42 Pages

At a Glance: Sightings is a sweet romance with a nice little twist.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Quinn Laramie moved to Mill Valley to care for his sick Aunt Betsy. After her recovery, he invested hours once spent in hospitals hiking and exploring the surrounding hills rather than returning to an empty apartment in the city.

Patrick, a photographer and self-proclaimed paranormal expert, saved Quinn from tumbling into a flooded creek where a bridge had washed away years ago, taking a pair of doomed lovers with it. Quinn and Patrick meet for other creepy jaunts thereafter: a derelict one-room schoolhouse, an abandoned cemetery, the burned-out shell of a home… Quinn hasn’t seen any ghosts yet, but Patrick’s shy kisses haunt him after each paranormal adventure ends.

Quinn wants more, and with their next spooky tour set to begin, Patrick is finally ready to give in. But what surprises wait them in the eerie manse atop Warner Hill?


Review: Kari Gregg’s Sightings is a romantic and sexy paranormal story, with a bit of a twist to keep things interesting. The story is so short that summarizing the plot even a bit would risk giving away too much, the blurb serves just fine for that, so I’ll just say that I really liked the way Gregg brought Quinn and Patrick together. Patrick’s shy hesitance and Quinn’s longing for something more with the man who’d become a friend, and who’d even saved his life once, kept me wondering what the conflict was.

I also liked the role Margaret Warner plays in the story. She was a bit mysterious and I couldn’t help but be curious about what her significance was in helping Quinn to understand Patrick, which then plays right into the nice plot twist. While it’s no big secret something supernatural is at play in this story, I still liked the “what” of it, and once all was revealed, I thought it was a sweet resolution to the romance between these two men.

If you’re looking for a quick little ghost story that will tug at your heartstrings a bit too, Sightings will fill that need.






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5 Stars, Genre Romance, JCP Books, Jordan Castillo Price, Reviewed by Lisa, Short Story

Review: Memento by Jordan Castillo Price

Small Gems



Title: Memento (A PsyCop Short)

Author: Jordan Castillo Price

Publisher: JCP Books

Pages/Word Count: 22 Pages

At a Glance: If you love the PsyCop series, don’t miss Memento.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Seasons change, and so do fashion trends. But in this heartstring-tugging PsyCop short, what’s beneath the clothes matters most.

Do clothes make the man? Jacob Marks cuts an impressive figure in his tailored suits, but Victor Bayne is another story. Nowadays, Vic does his ghosthunting in off-the-rack blazers, polyester blend slacks and cop shoes with nonskid soles. But back before he was a PsyCop—or even officially psychic—he rocked combat boots and a beat up biker jacket…and lots and lots of punk T-shirts. When he finds a faded tee in the back of a drawer, he’s eager to lob it in the trash. Jacob, however, finds himself waxing sentimental about Vic’s younger, more carefree days.

This steamy 5000-word PsyCop short in Jacob’s voice takes place after PsyCop #6, GhosTV.


Review: On the list of things I love about the PsyCop series is the first person narrative. Victor Bayne tells a great story, sticks to the facts—which are often spare when it comes to personal details—and in that, we always see Jacob through the filter of Vic’s penchant for understatement and, perhaps, underestimating just how much Jacob loves him. And this is why I adore Jordan Castillo Price for giving us these little day-in-the-life snippets from Jacob’s point of view.

Memento shows us the sentimental side of Jacob Marks, gives us a glimpse of the Vic we never get to see from Vic’s POV. In this vignette we get to see just how much Jacob treasures even the smallest tokens of Vic’s past—before the asylum and before Camp Hell—and how distractible Vic is when it comes to his excessively sexy man. This is such a sweet and erotic little scene—no ghosts to contend with (except the ghost of a memory), just Jacob showing us how much he treasures these quiet and mundane moments at home with Vic. It’s an unexpectedly sincere peek inside the framework of a partnership that shows us Jacob loves Victor Bayne for much more than his ability to see ghosts.

If you love the PsyCop series, don’t miss Memento. I’ve already read it twice because, like Jacob, I have a miles-wide mushy sentimental streak, especially when it comes to these two men.





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4 Stars, B. Snow, Dreamspinner Press, Reviewed by Kim, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Short Story

Review: Emily’s Magical Bejeweled Codpiece by B. Snow

Small Gems

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Title: Emily’s Magical Bejeweled Codpiece

Author: B. Snow

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 48 Pages

At a Glance: I’m giving this short story a high recommendation for those who have a quirky sense of humor.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Tom, museum curator and expert in Renaissance jewelry, doesn’t think his boyfriend Peter is “The One.” Peter is perfectly happy with Tom, but Tom is obsessed with the artist Benedetto Emilio Nesci—exciting, passionate, extraordinarily talented… and dead for over 400 years.
Tasked with researching a bejeweled codpiece, Tom abandons his professional ethics—and his sanity—to try on the codpiece and is transported halfway around the world and back in time, right into Florence, Italy and Nesci’s workroom.
After his initial panic subsides, Tom seizes the opportunity to allow Nesci to seduce him, but Tom discovers not everything about the sixteenth century is as romantic as he’d imagined. Getting back to the modern world and Peter becomes Tom’s only wish, but desire and reality are two completely different things, and Tom might not get what he wants this time around.


Review: First off, I have to say both the title and the cover of Emily’s Magical Bejeweled Codpiece caught my attention. But, to be honest, I made the mistake of reading other’s initial reviews and wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to read it. Still, I’m one who always likes to walk on the wild side and give new authors a chance.

OMG! I’m so glad I gave this book a chance. I started off grinning and then had some serious LOL moments when Tom made his trip back into time to meet his obsession, Emilio.

See, this is what I love about time travel stories that actually take the romance out of the time period and put a little something like reality into it. I actually know someone like Emilio, and damn if I didn’t have the same reaction that Tom had. I especially enjoyed how sweet it was when Tom got over his OCD with Peter.

Sorry…I’ve been known to have a quirky sense of humor, and I guess that’s why I loved Emily’s Magical Bejeweled Codpiece. There are two authors that I know of who share this sense of humor—Ethan Day and John Inman. I’m giving this short story a high recommendation for those who also enjoy that quirky humor too.

I’m so looking forward to reading more from B. Snow!





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3 Stars, Genre Romance, Jay Northcote, Reviewed by Sadonna, Self-Published, Short Story

Review: All Man by Jay Northcote

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Title: All Man

Author: Jay Northcote

Publisher: Self-published

Pages/Word Count: 44 Pages

At a Glance: Another cute and flirty story of an opposites attract variety, with enough surprises thrown in to keep us guessing.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: “You’re the sleek little sports car to my Land Rover.”

From the moment Gareth walks through the door of the salon to fit some new sinks, Jules can’t take his eyes off him. Jules has always been attracted to men who are his polar opposite, so burly Gareth is Jules’s fantasy man.

At the weekend, Jules gets into a tough situation with another bloke in a gay club and Gareth comes to his aid. Gareth rejects Jules’s subsequent advances but leaves him with the hope that his attraction isn’t completely one-sided. Fantasy could become reality.

With Gareth’s work at the salon nearly done, he’ll soon disappear from Jules’s life for good. Time is running out. Jules needs to prove to Gareth that he’s tougher than he looks and that his feelings run deeper than gratitude.


Review: This story is a spin-off of Top Me Maybe? (published a few months ago). Julian, or Jules, as he prefers, is a coworker in the salon with Tyler from the previous story. He is a little bit envious of Tyler’s hot butch policeman boyfriend. But then he is distracted by Gareth, the guy who has come to fix the sinks at the salon. He is everything that Jules likes: big, hairy, muscles, etc. He flirts a little with Gareth on a Friday and then offers to trim up Gareth’s buzz cut. When Gareth leaves, Jules sighs but looks forward to his weekend out dancing and clubbing with his roommate Sacha, and hey, he’ll get to see Gareth on Monday when he returns to the shop to finish the job.

But over the weekend, Jules happily runs into Gareth at the club he goes to with Sacha. While Gareth doesn’t dance with him, they do run into each other again at a very fortuitous time. Won’t spoil the surprise, but it turns out Gareth and Jules have more in common than they ever thought they would.

This is a really sweet (but not sappy) story of two guys who are attracted but may be a little bit apprehensive about the reaction they might get. Both are willing to be somewhat vulnerable and honest and, in this case, that is a good thing. Recommended for a short story with a happy ending. :)




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4 Stars, Amber Allure, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Maryann, Shawn Lane, Short Story

Review: Unobtainable by Shawn Lane

Title: Unobtainable

Author: Shawn Lane

Publisher: Amber Allure

Pages/Word Count: 13000 Words

At a Glance: This was my first time reading author Shawn Lane, and I have to say that though the story is short, it’s also very good.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Scott O’Hara and Edgar Lopez have been partners in the homicide unit of Haydon Cliff’s Police Department for the last couple of years. Edgar is openly gay and a bit of a player. Though Scott is also gay, he keeps it to himself. Even from Edgar. Until one night, a slightly drunk Scott initiates sex between them. Scott doesn’t expect the sex to be repeated. He doesn’t do one-night stands or have casual sex-buddies. But Edgar has other ideas and Scott can’t seem to resist his sexy partner.
While they try to solve the mystery of who is murdering Haydon Cliff’s homeless, they also try to solve the mystery of whether Edgar’s heart can really be unobtainable.


Review: Unobtainable is a fast paced murder mystery; suspenseful, with some drama and a lot of heat, and I really enjoyed the interaction between the two MCs, Scott O’Hara and Edgar Lopez. This was my first time reading author Shawn Lane, and I have to say that though the story is short, it’s also very good.

I could quickly tell Scott is a very caring person. He cares about his Mother, his sister and her family, even a homeless lady named Betty. I also liked the ease of the conversations between Scott and his sister Ofelia. And even though he more than cares about Edgar, Scott’s afraid of having his heart broken again. All he really wants is a solid relationship with the right man.

Edgar, meanwhile, is portrayed as a player, though there really isn’t a lot of that going on in this story. To me he just seemed like a good guy, but because of mixed messages between him and Scott, there is some drama added to the story. Deena, Edgar’s mother, is a good character too, and I loved how she talked with Edgar and Scott.

For being a short story, Unobtainable is a page turner. It held my interest to the end, so sit back, relax and just enjoy!





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3 Stars, A.V. Sanders, Genre Romance, Less Than Three Press, Reviewed by Jules, Short Story

Review: Percolation, Poetry, and Passion by A.V. Sanders

Title: Percolation, Poetry, and Passion

Author: A.V. Sanders

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 11000 Words

At a Glance: Percolation, Poetry, and Passion is a cute story with lots of potential.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: Beckett works at a coffee shop to make ends meet while attending a prestigious university. It’s not the most exciting job, but he’s done it long enough he’s good at it—and can avoid the tedium by spinning sexy little daydreams of things he doubts will ever happen.

Daydreams that soon include Simon, the hot, handsome, and older freelance writer who stops in one day. But then Simon becomes a regular, a bright spot more interesting than the inside of Beckett’s head, and daydreams start to seem like they could be something far more tangible—if reality doesn’t get in the way first.


Review: Percolation, Poetry, and Passion is charming at times, especially in the beginning, and Beckett and Simon really are pretty adorable, but it was also frustrating at times because I felt like, as a story, it had so much potential that was just not able to be fulfilled due to the length. I’m not sure if this was a submission call from the publisher that only allowed for so many words, but I truly wish that A.V. Sanders had been able to give Beckett and Simon more time.

This story ticked several of my boxes…college student, southern boy, May/December romance, etc., and, as I said above, the main characters were pretty adorable. Beckett lets Simon know, via subtle, or sometimes not-so-subtle, interactions at the coffee shop that he is interested. And when Simon is free to act on those advances – he does go through a breakup in the story – he asks Beckett out on a date. I really enjoyed the date scene; it was imaginative and lovely to read. We don’t get to see much in the way of ‘spark’ between the guys, but we see enough to know they have an attraction and a nice connection.

Things start to go awry when it becomes clear that there just isn’t going to be enough backstory to have everything make sense. There is a fight where Simon becomes extremely jealous and angry at Beckett because he is meeting his professor for dinner. Simon’s reaction seems out-of-character; however, we don’t know enough about his story with his ex, and we don’t know enough about Beckett’s professor or his intentions, to truly make everything click. The couple goes to New Orleans, Beckett’s home town, to see his family, but the scene is quite awkward because it’s just not fleshed out enough. That whole bit was so rushed, as was the entire end.

Percolation, Poetry, and Passion is a cute story with lots of potential. Unfortunately it simply felt too rushed and too short. Perhaps the author can show them some more love in an expanded novella? I bet many readers would love to see Beckett and Simon get the shot they deserve.





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3 Stars, Genre Romance, Jay Northcote, Reviewed by Sadonna, Self-Published, Short Story

Review: Top Me Maybe? by Jay Northcote

Title: Top Me Maybe? (BFP: The Secrets Collection)

Author: Jay Northcote

Publisher: Self-published

Pages/Word Count: 33 Pages

At a Glance: Cute short story that has characters acting against type, and loving it.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: Duncan has a secret fantasy, but is Tyler the right man for the job?

Tyler’s new policeman boyfriend, Duncan, is gorgeous. Tall, broad, and über-masculine, he’s the epitome of the dominant top—in appearance at least.

When they discuss their sexual fantasies, Duncan confesses to a secret desire that surprises Tyler. Luckily for Duncan, Tyler’s happy to oblige and is determined to give Duncan a night to remember.


Review: I have enjoyed Jay Northcote’s writing thus far, and this is no exception. Top Me Maybe? is the story of Duncan and Tyler. It’s a bit of an opposites attract sort of story in that Duncan is a tall, dark and handsome, brawny policeman who is rather freshly out of the closet, and Tyler is a hairstylist with blonde hair and a slender build. Together they have a lot of fun in their month of dating, and Duncan is a sweet and gentle man who is a wonderful top for Tyler.

One evening, as they are sharing, Duncan confesses that he does fantasize about being topped, and to Tyler, who has always been versatile, this is music to his ears. But will this work? Is Duncan serious about it, and what if he doesn’t like it? Tyler has a few fears, but he’s willing to put them aside to give Duncan what he needs and move their relationship to the next level.

Both characters are sweet and gentle with each other. They communicate in a warm and honest way that makes us root for them. They show genuine caring for each other and want to give each other what they need. I found them to be delightful together. It’s definitely a short and angst free read – recommended for anyone who needs a quick fix of the happy.




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4 Stars, Genre Romance, JL Merrow, JMS Books LLC, Reviewed By Carrie, Short Story

Review: Love Found on Lindisfarne by JL Merrow

Small Gems

Title: Love Found on Lindisfarne

Author: JL Merrow

Publisher: JMS Books

Pages/Word Count: 35 Pages

At a Glance: Who wouldn’t like a lovable dad, a precocious almost-teen, and a Viking?

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: When single father Chris meets a Viking re-enactor on Lindisfarne, he thinks it’s the perfect recipe for a holiday fling — and nothing more. Ian, or Ulf, as he’s known when in character as a Viking berserker, is a dreadlocked nomad who never stays in one place for long.

Chris had a relationship with a free spirit like Ian before, and it didn’t end well for him or for his bright but troubled daughter Kelis. He’s determined not to risk the stability of her home environment for Ian, no matter how well she gets on with him — and no matter how much Chris is drawn to the man.

But Chris hasn’t reckoned with the Viking way of taking all you’re willing to give — and coming back for more.


Review: Love Found on Lindisfarne is a short story that hooks you in from the first paragraph.

“It was a hot summer’s day on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. The lanes were dusty underfoot, the languid breeze heavy with the scent of the North Sea, and a Viking had just offered to buy my daughter.”

Chris is a single father with regrets, and Kelis is his twelve year old daughter. Together they travel to Lindisfarne on holiday, in their quest to accomplish a castle a day – and meet Ulf, or Ian. Ian is a Viking reenactor who is really too great a guy to be a berserker.

This is a feel good story. If you have an extra hour and want a little pick me up, then grab this book. You will read it with a smile on your face that won’t fade once the last page is read. It will leave you with a little warmth in your heart. The story is also well written for being so short, something that is not that easy to accomplish. Sometimes you just want a lovely romantic short, and this fits the bill nicely.



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5 Stars, Genre Romance, J.D. Walker, JMS Books LLC, Reviewed by Lana, Short Story

Review: Heavy Metal Cowboy Blues by J.D. Walker

Small Gems

Title: Heavy Metal Cowboy Blues

Author: J.D. Walker

Publisher: JMS Books

Pages/Word Count: 25 Pages

At a Glance: I absolutely loved Heavy Metal Cowboy Blues!

Reviewed By: Lana

Blurb: Lester “Les” McCoy is a retired cowboy who now lives in the city, working days at the Ranch and Feed. He loves his country music. Not so his tenant, Damien Ridley, who lives downstairs in his duplex and works evenings at the gym.

”Metal boy,” as Les likes to call him, prefers to listen to all things rock and metal at decibels that make his ears bleed. Damien is attracted to Les, which he makes abundantly clear with those translucent gray eyes and his hot, kissable mouth. Problem is, although Les is in lust with Damien, he’s an old prairie bachelor and sees his metal boy as too young for a roll in the hay. He’d rather be put out to pasture.

Enter a friend who’s gay-bashed and a co-worker who kicks his head out of his ass, and Les reconsiders whether a heavy metal dude can help an old cowboy with the blues.


Review: I absolutely loved Heavy Metal Cowboy Blues! It had just the right amount of cuteness, snark and hotness, a perfect mix that entertained and satisfied. But, as always, when I get into a story and it’s too short I get mad! LOL. This is my only negative here. The story was just too short and should have been a part an anthology or a full length novel.

The story is about Les, a thirty-something cowboy who likes country music. He’s sort of content in his life but lusts after his tenant, Damien. Damien works at the local gym, is also in lust with his landlord, Les, and likes to play heavy metal music at top volume. They bond over their hatred of each other’s music and a need to help out a friend. Les finally gives in to Damien’s relentless pursuit of him, and the result is perfect! I loved them together because they were total opposites that complemented each other. Okay, the opposites attract storylines tend to me my favorites. Their initial lust gives way to genuine feelings, and I wanted to know what happened after the story ended. It’s told from Les’ POV, and it was fun being in his funny, sarcastic head. This story needed to be longer!!

Heavy Metal Cowboy Blues is a sweet little tale that shows opposites do attract and can make beautiful music together!



You can buy Heavy Metal Cowboy Blues here:

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4 Stars, Genre Romance, Kate Lowell, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published, Short Story

Review: Lead Me to You by Kate Lowell

Title: Lead Me to You

Author: Kate Lowell

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 20 Pages

At a Glance: Kate Lowell has penned, unashamedly I might add, a full-stop tug at the heartstrings romance, with plenty of sizzle to add some heat to the sweet.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Who takes their claustrophobic boyfriend spelunking for his birthday?

Henry can’t say no to Jaime. So, despite his misgivings, he lets Jaime lead him into the bowels of the earth for a surprise. In the intimate dark, he discovers that his love for Jaime is stronger than his fear of imminent death at the hands of Mother Nature.

And Jaime has an ulterior motive that will make all the hyperventilating worth it.


Review: Kate Lowell’s Lead Me to You is easily one of the most romantic little stories I’ve read in quite some time. On a scale of one to ::sigh::, I must say it left me on the breathless side of happy that I spent some time with Henry and Jaime.

We get a not so subtle hint from the outset of Lead Me to You that this is an opposites attract story between our nerdy bookworm Henry and his rugged, outdoorsy lover, Jaime, but we also are given to understand their relationship works because they have enough important similarities that it makes their differences more endearing than troublesome. We also see put into play one of the universal commonalities of a loving and committed relationship—one partner pulling out all the stops to make the other happy. The best part of this story, however, is that it’s neither Henry nor Jaime sacrificing alone, but both giving of themselves equally, and this story ends in such a sweet and heartwarming way.

Kate Lowell has penned, unashamedly I might add, a full-stop tug at the heartstrings romance, with plenty of sizzle to add some heat to the sweet. I liked this small gem quite a lot and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to any of you short story lovers out there, for an instant gratification reason to smile.



You can buy Lead Me to You here:

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4 Stars, Amber Allure, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Sadonna, Short Story, Vivien Dean

Review: Wild Fragile Vines by Vivien Dean

Small Gems

Title: Wild Fragile Vines

Author: Vivien Dean

Publisher: Amber Allure

Pages/Word Count: 13000 Words

At a Glance: This is a really beautiful and touching short story of a love that one man can’t let go, and the other can’t accept.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: When his boss’s twenty-year-old son announced he wanted to be more than friends, Tim Kammerling told him no. He wasn’t ready to have a relationship with someone more than ten years younger than him.

Devin, however, knew he couldn’t stick around Napa and honor the status quo. Instead, he left town, and he and Tim became long-distance friends.

Now, through the letters he’s kept over the years, clippings he’s collected, and the memories he’ll never shake, Tim stands on the threshold of a new beginning.

Yes, a lot can happen in eighteen years. Letters are sent. Calls get made. And lives are changed…


Review: There is nothing better than a good short story that is emotional without being melodramatic. This is such a story.

Tim has had a rough life – always taking care of his loser father. He’s finally got a good job he loves and that he’s really good at. There is just one complication that comes up—Devin, the young son of the vineyard owner who is home from Berkley on holiday, declares his love for Tim. While Tim won’t lie about his orientation, he doesn’t advertise it either, and he certainly isn’t ready to take up with the boss’s son. They can be friends but nothing more. Devin is a musician, and he decides to drop out of college and moves to Seattle to get his career started.

But he keeps in touch with Tim, no matter where his life and music take him. This story is told largely in epistolary form, starting with Devin’s letters and, as the years go by, cell phone calls, texting and eventually emails to Tim.

What a beautifully poignant story of a love that smolders for many years before it can burn brightly. Wild Fragile Vines is highly recommended as a wonderful example of a complete short story.


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2 Stars, Erotica, JMS Books LLC, Reviewed by Taz, Short Story, Wayne Mansfield

Review: An Island, Lost by Wayne Mansfield

Title: An Island, Lost

Author: Wayne Mansfield

Publisher: JMS Books

Pages/Word Count: 42 Pages

At a Glance: I feel this author tried to accomplish too much in the short amount of space he used for the story.

Reviewed By: Taz

Blurb: Clint is travelling on a small Cessna Citation over the Pacific. When the plane hits a pocket of turbulence, he is wrenched from his nap and plunged into a nightmare. The plane plummets into the ocean.

Clint and one other passenger, a man named Carlos, survive. The hulk of the plane sinks, leaving them adrift with no land in sight. They fight to stay alive, but thirst and exhaustion overtake them.

Purely by luck Clint finds himself washed ashore on a mysterious island. But where is Carlos? Did sharks get him? Did he drown? With survival foremost in his mind Clint finds clean water and fruit and a safe place to rest.

Then Clint discovers the island is inhabited by other castaways, men who have been washed ashore on this unknown island over the years. One of the men is Andy, with whom Clint falls in love.

Only much later does he discover Carlos’s fate, along with the fact that the island has more secrets to reveal. One that could cost him his life.


Review: Every once in a while I choose a short story, somewhere between 10K – 20K words, mostly during the summer, as an enjoyable and quick read. An Island, Lost is one such book and was a first for me from author Wayne Mansfield.

This story opens with one of the best hooks you can imagine. A plane crash and the protagonist is one of only two survivors. I had high hopes for the story, but it quickly fell short of my expectations once it got going. The relationship with Alan was hot, and I enjoyed it, but when confessions of love were made, I had a hard time connecting to the strength of their emotions.

The lone woman on the island, who’d been banned from the male village because of her vampiric tendencies (although she’s never called a vampire) seemed a contrived conflict, placing Clint, our main character, in harm’s way. As quickly as the conflict arises, it is resolved (which makes sense in a story of just over 10,000 words).

In short, I feel this author tried to accomplish too much in the short amount of space he used for the story. Had this been about a man who crashed, landed on an island, and found love (with lots of smexy scenes woven in) I would have enjoyed it more. Or, if the conflict had been more about Clint struggling with his fate and then accepting it in the end, I might have found the story a bit easier to digest.

As it is, this story was not for me. Although I did have to cover myself when reading the sex scenes so as not to embarrass myself or anyone around me.



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4 Stars, Annabelle Jacobs, Blanket Fort Press, Genre Romance, New Adult, Reviewed by Lisa, Short Story

Review: Toy With Me by Annabelle Jacobs

Small Gems

Title: Toy with Me (The Secrets Collection)

Author: Annabelle Jacobs

Publisher: Blanket Fort Press

Pages/Word Count: 11000 Words

At a Glance: Toy with Me earns a solid “A” in the short story telling department.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Aaron is hiding something in his drawers—but that’s not his only secret.

When he moves in with his new housemates, Aaron intends to tell them about his sexuality from the outset. But a large pink item of a personal nature, given as a joke, scuppers his plans and he misses his chance.

Fellow housemate Rob is out and proud. He guesses Aaron is gay, and when he finds Aaron’s other secret concealed in his sock drawer, he takes it upon himself to help Aaron out with a little sexual experimentation.


Review: Short stories—it seems readers either love them or don’t, and understandably so, but I do happen to respect them as a time honored storytelling medium. And sometimes I just love the immediacy of the good feelz you get from diving right into the heart of a romance without a lot of angst to build up to it. It’s the get in/get happy/get out that I adore, when all’s said and done.

Annabelle Jacobs’ Toy with Me is a feel-good-romance that, in my humble opinion, works perfectly. As a New Adult story in a collegiate setting, Aaron and Rob aren’t posed as guys who’d have a dense and troubled life history behind them anyway, so the immediacy of their falling in lust with each other in a less-is-more way was not only sweet but believable too.

I loved Aaron’s innocence, the blushing and the trepidation he feels about revealing his sexuality to his new flatmates, even though it’s not at all likely to be an issue. I loved the contrast of Rob’s no nonsense approach to figuring out if Aaron, like Rob himself, is gay, and then leading Aaron to the story’s inevitable conclusion but doing so in such a subtle yet irresistible way.

Toy with Me ticks all the boxes required of a short story. It’s a romantic little tease that brings on more than a few smiles along the way, and, while it didn’t spell everything out for me, it did leave me with the belief that Aaron and Rob will look back quite fondly, decades from now, on their years together as college sweethearts.



You can buy Toy with Me exclusively at Amazon:

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4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Jessica Payseur, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Short Story

Review: Kithric’s Mountain by Jessica Payseur

Small Gems

Title: Kithric’s Mountain (A Daily Dose Story)

Author: Jessica Payseur

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 30 Pages

At a Glance: A daily dose with a lot of bittersweet emotions.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Kithric, an aging dragon tamer, leads a solitary life atop his mountain, until the day he accidentally traps a dragon that is more than he seems. Expecting to be killed for capturing a dragon shifter, Kithric instead finds himself spared and left to deal with his continued solitude.
He finds he can’t be rid of Ylfrin the dragon shifter that easily, though, and as Ylfrin continues to return, bit by bit Kithric begins to fall for him and starts to value using what life he has left to the fullest. But before he and Ylfrin can explore their feelings, they must first confront dangers and corrupt forces encroaching from outside Kithric’s Mountain.


Review: Sometimes you just need a quick read for the day. Maybe you don’t have much time, but you want something to whet your appetite until you can sit down and enjoy a full novel. Kithric’s Mountain is one such story, and while it sounded great to me, I was surprised by how much heart there is in this story.

Part of the “Never Too Late” collection from Dreamspinner Press, the story focuses on one older man, and one younger. Kithric is an older dragon tamer living alone after his business partner dies at the claws of a dragon. Now Kithric is just biding his time until the same happens to him. In face he welcomes it. He’s tired of living but doesn’t want to do it himself, and if he gets a little careless in his dragon trapping, so be it.

Ylfrin is a handsome dragon shifter Kithric ensnares one day. At first outraged, when he discovers Kithric would welcome death, he lets him go. But Kithric keeps trapping dragons despite being told not to.

What follows is a short, bittersweet story. Not all is as it appears with Ylfrin, and the twist to the “Never Too Late” theme was surprising. I was won over by these two men, and my heart ached for them. I wanted to know more about what would come next in their lives together, because yes, this is a happy(ish) ending. The one issue I did have was that the resolution was pretty fast. There’s a threat to Kithric, Ylfrin rushes in and has already solved the problem, and bam. End of threat.

If you like fantasy and are thinking about checking out one of the 2015 Daily Dose titles, I highly recommend this one for the unique take on the theme.



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3 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Dreamspinner Press, Katya Harris, Reviewed by Jules, Short Story

Review: A Life Without by Katya Harris

Title: A Life Without (A Daily Dose Story)

Author: Katya Harris

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 47 Pages

At a Glance: Overall, A Life Without is a good read.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: After decades of wondering and worrying over his submissive tendencies, fortysomething Todd decides to explore his fantasies. His first step is to join a BDSM club, and it’s there that he meets Malik, a young and beautiful Dominant who is very interested in introducing Todd to this world. In fact, Malik is interested in everything about Todd, which is startling to the older man given the differences in their ages. Malik helps Todd explore his submissiveness, but after an unpleasant meeting with Todd’s ex-boyfriend, he also encourages him to confront his demons so he will no longer live his life in shame.


Review: A Life Without tells the story of Todd, a forty-something year old man who is at a crossroads in his life when we are introduced to him. After suffering a nasty breakup with his boyfriend of six years, Todd has decided to finally seek out the one thing that he has been lacking, the one thing that might make him truly happy…someone who will appreciate and understand his need to submit.

Todd joins a BDSM group, and is very fortunate when the manager introduces him to a young Dom named Malik on his first night at the club. I liked Malik and I liked that Todd wasn’t hung up on the ten year age difference. We find out later in the story that Todd’s ex is seven years older than him, so obviously age isn’t a big factor for Todd when considering a relationship. It was also interesting, and refreshing, that even though Malik was the younger one of the two, he was the one helping to guide Todd. I have found I really enjoy the dynamic of a younger Dom in BDSM books where there is an age gap.

I also enjoy books that explore the theme of seeking one’s happiness and trying to live your truth. And, for the most part, Katya Harris does a nice job with that aspect of the story for Todd. I love how brave he is – and that Malik acknowledges that fact – for finally going after what he desires. Todd does have a bit of shame to overcome before he can truly embrace his sexual needs, but I wish the author had come up with a better way for him to work through it. The encounter with the ex-boyfriend didn’t feel entirely natural to me, and she started to push the envelope a bit with some declarations of feelings, making the climax of the story come off as somewhat forced.

The very end of the book was cute, and though it’s tough to get too invested in the characters in a story of this length, I did like Todd and Malik together. Overall A Life Without is a good read, and a worthy addition to the 2015 Daily Dose Anthology.



You can buy A Life Without here:

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4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Nancy M. Griffis, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Short Story

Review: A Most Unusual Courtship by Nancy M. Griffis

Title: A Most Unusual Courtship

Author: Nancy M. Griffis

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 32 Pages

At a Glance: If the short prequel is any indication of the rest of the series, it’s going to be great.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Gerald Smithson, master leathersmith, has ample reason to distrust mages. He doesn’t take their commissions and steers clear of them wherever possible. When Lord Leo Harris tries to hire him, Gerald sends the mage packing. Unfortunately, the simple act of Leo entering his shop brings Gerald to the attention of a Dark mage who kidnaps him as a chance to get to Leo. Now Leo must not only rescue Gerald, but find a way to win his heart. It will be an unusual courtship, to say the least.


Review: Set in an alternate-history, magic filled Victorian England, this prequel introduces Leo and Gerald, a mage and a leathersmith. Gerald creates works of art with leather, and he distrusts mages. So much so that whenever one comes to his workroom to commission a piece, he turns him down. That is, until he meets Leo. Of course, he says no the first time, but after he’s taken by dark mages and Leo saves him, he agrees to help him.

The world Griffis has created is well depicted even for a short thirty-two page short story. Readers discover not only is magic possible in this world, but same-sex relationships are as well, without any of the usual worry, and the author even briefly suggests that it’s something to do with the Greeks. Fascinating!

While Leo and Gerald are both fun characters to read, I really love Gerald’s grandfather. He’s funny and completely accepting of his grandson. It’s revealed that Gerald has two marriage offers from well-off men, and when Leo takes an interest in Gerald, his grandfather encourages that as well. He’s such a fun character, slightly cranky, but mostly cheerful.

Would I read the rest of this series? Absolutely. It’s hard to craft an entire world in such a short story, and Griffis pulls it off admirably.



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4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Sammy, Rob Rosen, Short Story

Review: Twenty-Five Years by Rob Rosen

Title: Twenty-Five Years (A Daily Dose Story)

Author: Rob Rosen

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 19 Pages

At a Glance: Check out this delightful romp. It’s guaranteed to make you smile!

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Sometimes letting go of an obsession leads to something better instead.

A twenty-five-year high school reunion is Conrad’s chance to finally come face-to-face with his unrequited love, Todd. Instead, he discovers he himself was an unrequited love for Gary, his friend from the chess club. When the two return to their old gym locker room, long-lost friends at last become found loves. As for Todd, well, let’s just say that karma can be quite the bitch.


Review: If you have never had the pleasure of reading author Rob Rosen before, this short story, Twenty-Five Years, would be a most delightful way to introduce yourself to his writing. Humorous, smart and risqué, this author does tongue-in-cheek like no other.

A high school crush is not an easy thing to let go of, particularly when the person you were hungering after seemed to disappear after graduation. For Conrad, this dilemma was magnified due to the fact that he had just one memory of mutual masturbation in the high school locker room to feed his twenty-five year old crush on the class president, Todd Smith. Now a class reunion looms and Todd will be there—will Conrad get a second chance?

Sweet, short and very funny, Twenty-Five Years hits us all where we live. Who didn’t have a crush on the most popular boy or girl in school? And who doesn’t remember to this day that one moment our said fixation spoke to us—or looked at us—or breathed in our direction? Mr. Rosen cleverly takes us back to a time we all remember and wraps it up in humor and a happy ending. No, Conrad does not get his crush on—he gets way better! Check out this delightful romp. It’s guaranteed to make you smile!



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4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Maryann, Richard May, Short Story

Review: Because of Roses by Richard May

Title: Because of Roses (A Daily Dose 2015 Story)

Author: Richard May

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 26 Pages

At a Glance: This is my first read by Richard May, and I have to say it was a very good story, well put together.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: After the death of his longtime partner, American attorney Dan Evans is reassigned to his firm’s London office. It’s a change his life sorely needs. While admiring roses in a small village in the Cotswolds, Dan meets Martin Saint John. Martin, still fit and attractive at seventy, has also lost his partner, and now spends his time growing roses, meeting friends in the pub, and going to church on Sundays, content with his quiet life. Roses and tea progress to spending weekends together exploring the countryside, but the differences between Dan and Martin go beyond the fifteen year age gap. If they can open their hearts and accept love—instead of accepting its absence—they might find a second chance at happiness. All because of roses.


Review: Daniel Evans has worked in the New York Office of Patents for nearly forty years, but when he is offered a position in London, he takes it without hesitation. After three months of living in one of the firm’s temporary apartments, Daniel finds a permanent place to live.

Daniel and Bob, his partner of twenty-seven years, had planned to live in a small town once they were retired, but those plans changed when Bob passed away almost two years before, and now Daniel is making this move alone. His real estate agent has found him a cottage in the village of Little Helms. It’s close enough to the commuter line to London, but he has his doubts about the cottage: the front yard needs work, and his six-feet-two-inch height isn’t really compatible with the low doorways. But, he fell in love with the kitchen.

As he and the real estate agent leave to discuss the purchase of the cottage, Daniel hears a snipping sound and notices a man across the way clipping roses. As Daniel calls “hello,” the man turns around and waves. Martin Sinjin lives in the cottage across from Daniel’s, a man who is, by Daniel’s estimation, somewhere in his seventies. Martin is a special man. He puts a lot of time and love into caring for his roses, and he and Daniel have something in common—Martin also lost his partner Tom to cancer.

Martin offers a wonderful friendship to Daniel; they go furniture shopping together, go out to dinner, Daniel cooks for Martin. Martin even offers to pick Daniel up at the commuter station. He is just there for Daniel at every turn. Daniel would like more with Martin, but is a friendship all he’ll ever have?

Because of Roses is a nurturing story. Just as Martin took care of his roses, he took the same care with Daniel, and sometimes things just need time and attention to make them blossom. I liked the fact that age was not a factor in Daniel and Martin’s relationship, and the message that love can happen at any time in our lives. This is my first read by Richard May, and I have to say it was a very good story, well put together.



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