5 Stars, Anthology, B.G. Thomas, Dreamspinner Press, Eli Easton, Genre Romance, Jamie Fessenden, Kim Fielding, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: Spirit by Jamie Fessenden, Kim Fielding, Eli Easton, and B.G. Thomas

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Title: Spirit (Gothika: Book Four)

Authors: Jamie Fessenden, Kim Fielding, Eli Easton, B. G. Thomas

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 260 Pages

At a Glance: Four top-notch authors have once again created an incredibly well written anthology with stories that are both entertaining and thoughtful.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Seeing dead people. Haunting and being haunted. Ghosts and those trying to deal with them add a supernatural flair to these four tales of romance. 

In Among the Dead, Neil Gaven sees dead people. A gentle ghost guides him to Trist, who needs his help. But Trist is tormented by spirits, so maybe together they can find a way to live among the dead.

Dei Ex Machina is the story of Sabbio, a Roman slave who was killed 1700 years ago. He’s been alone until he meets landscaper Mason. But because they’re separated by centuries, it will take a miracle to make love work.

The Mill brings a supernatural challenge to Frank Carter and his team of paranormal investigators. The owner’s personal psychic, Toby Reese, is supposed to help. Frank doesn’t have much respect for psychics, but when the dangers of the old mill threaten his team, he realizes he and Toby will have to work together to survive.

Mike Ellsworth finds himself suddenly deceased. Now he’s a ghost with lots left undone in Unfinished Business. He’s never been able to be honest with his wife. He’s never been able to tell the man he loves how he feels. He’s barely been able to admit he’s gay. If only there were a way he could make up for all he’s failed to do….

Dividers

Review:   There is a new Gothika anthology out, Spirit: Volume Four, and this time it has a supernatural and ghostly bent. Four top-notch authors have once again created an incredibly well written anthology with stories that are both entertaining and thoughtful.

The Mill by Jamie Fessenden:

Our first story is an incredibly well-crafted tale about paranormal investigators and psychics. Drawing from historical fact about the many horrific warehouse fires that took place in the early 1900s, the story focuses on an old sewing factory that burned to the ground with over one-hundred souls locked inside. Since then, Hawley Textile mill has attempted to house other industry, but most recently, plans were made to demolish the old building and turn the land into a shopping mall. However, several unexplained injuries and setbacks caused any renovation or demolition to come to a screeching halt.

The current owner, elderly Mrs. Hawley, has hired a paranormal investigative team to come in and debunk or verify the idea that the building is haunted. While visiting her favorite psychic, she also enlists his help to check out the site. When Frank Carter and his team begin to investigate, his little brother sees something on an upper floor of the building. Before any of the team can move to help him, Louis runs screaming from the large hall and falls down a flight of stairs. While he only suffers a concussion and a broken leg, for some inexplicable reason Louis slips into a coma-like state, and nothing the doctors can do seem to wake him up. Around this time, Frank and his team meet up with Toby Reese, and the general reaction is a lot of skepticism and even a bit of hostility. However, Frank slowly begins to understand that Toby is the genuine article. Not only that, but feelings long dormant are stirring in both Toby and Frank, and now they must team up to confront whatever is haunting the factory–and hope they come out unscathed.

What an incredible story. The pacing, the charged atmosphere that permeated every scene in the abandoned factory, and the growing attraction between Toby and Frank made for an exciting tale all around. Ghost stories are tricky things, and to make them raise that tingly feeling along your spine takes some real dedication to making the story as believable as possible. I really enjoyed how Jamie Fessenden used the distrust between the science of paranormal investigation as opposed to the “feelings” of the psychic. Setting up this foil between Frank and Toby made each supernatural moment in the story just that much scarier and more realistic. This was one of those types of short stories that I would love to see in serial form with many more adventures for this paranormal team. Rating: 5 stars

Dei Ex Machina by Kim Fielding:

In her story, Dei Ex Machina, Kim Fielding offers up a story of second chances. Focusing on two men–one corporeal, who has recently lost his husband, and the other one, who has lived in limbo for hundreds of years–this author brings the two together in a lovely story that focuses on the healing and redemptive power of love.

Once upon a time, centuries before Mason ever walked the earth, a young slave named Sabbio was taken from his home and forced to work on building a majestic palace in a small coastal town called Split.  When he died, he did so without ever understanding what real love is, without ever feeling the touch of a lover’s hand, and without ever fully realizing how love transforms a person. Because of that, Sabbio was destined to live a life in darkness, in a terrible form of limbo where he would often forget who he was and what he had once been. When he is able to pull himself from the dark pit, he walks the small town of Split to which his spirit is forever chained.  One day he sees a young American man, Mason. Mason is still grieving several months after his own husband was shot down on campus grounds where he worked. Having the one man he loved ripped from his life has left Mason empty and hurting.

As the days progress on this vacation Mason has agreed to take with his brother and friends, he will become increasingly aware of the feeling that someone is watching him. Little does he know that a chance encounter with one of the locals will lead to his dreams of being able to love again becoming a reality.

More than a ghost story, Dei Ex Machina, speaks of an instant connection, a spark that only one person can provide for another. That spark leads to recognition and, in Mason’s case, to a second chance at love. When two wounded hearts come together there is often healing, but Kim Fielding goes one step further in the story. Not only are Mason and Sabbio destined to be together, they discover they are the one thing that completes the other, they are soul mates.

This delightful story is complete and total fantasy, and I dare you not to fall in love with its two main characters. Rating: 4 stars

Among The Dead by Eli Easton:

In the third offering of this wonderful anthology, author Eli Easton gives us Among the Dead.

After a near fatal accident while windsailing, Neil finds himself with a brand new ability: that of being able to see dead people–spirits who are not yet at rest. At first he thought he was crazy, and after some intensive therapy, he realizes that the knock on his head has actually left him with this very real and horrifying ability. In an attempt to save his sanity, slowly but surely Neil becomes a recluse, only leaving the house every first Tuesday of the month for a check in with his boss at his IT job. Other than that, he has little interaction with the world around him.

On one such Tuesday jaunt, Neil sees a man in a bowler hat. Unlike other spirits, this man seems calm, slightly sad, and desiring to somehow communicate with Neil. At first Neil is terrified, for right after his accident he did try to help the spirits that he saw, sometimes with disastrous results. So, when this gentleman appears in Neil’s apartment, he decides to engage him in conversation. After many attempts, Neil is finally able to understand what the man wants. There is someone who needs Neil’s help; someone who Neil had seen before the accident, at the local park. When he agrees to help the man, the comfortable, quiet life he has been enduring will change forever.

This story had quite the shocker of an ending, but the ride getting there was really sublime. Neil was so cut off from everything and everyone after his accident. Alternating between the thought that he was insane, and grappling with the reality that he could see dead spirits, Neil coped by simply choosing to shut out life as much as possible. When he finally decides to help Trist, at the prodding of the ghost in the bowler hat, he is overjoyed to finally find someone like him–someone who also interacts with the spirit world. The instant attraction, the need to cling to one another, and the reality that neither of them is alone anymore is so incredibly beautiful. While the transition into lovers is rapid, it is also utterly believable. This was such a sweet story about finding your soul mate and defying all odds to hang on to him forever. Rating: 4.5 stars

Text by B.G. Thomas:

The last thing Mike remembers is that stupid text, the one that now has him walking the earth as a dead man–or nearly so. Prior to the accident, Mike had lead a double life. For years he has denied that he is gay; instead, he runs a successful business alongside his trophy wife. And for the last year, has been meeting the one person he really loves, Joel. Having met at one of Mike’s seminars, Joel and he have been meeting clandestinely every time Mike can get into the city. In fact, it is Joel who Mike is texting when he accidentally runs that red light and loses his life…sort of…

You see Mike is now seemingly brain dead, on life support and running out of time. He must somehow reach out to both Joel and his wife to let them know how he feels. He must set things straight before he passes on. But will there be time?

B.G. Thomas writes the most compelling story about what is most important in our lives, and the foolish way we have of taking it all for granted. By writing the character of Mike, the author hits the reader hard with the idea that any second may be our last, and we must live life to the fullest, be honest with those we love and never, ever take our eyes off the prize–love.

One should not look at this short story as just an advert against texting and driving—although it is a very strong reminder of just that idea. No, there is a bigger message here. While we watch those who Mike loved, and who loved him in return, agonize over things that were left undone and words of love that were left unspoken, we are forcibly reminded that every second of our lives counts. Now the question remains, what will you do with that very important message? Rating: 5 stars

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5 Stars, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Wayward Ink Publishing

Review: Of Heaven and Hell – An Anthology From Wayward Ink Publishing

Title: Of Heaven and Hell

Authors: Anthology

Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 253 Pages

At a Glance: An anthology that offers a delightful mix of good, evil, and everything in between.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Whether you like your angels and demons naughty or nice…
Whether you like them angelic or demonic, we have a story for you.
Our authors have tuned up their harp strings, and let loose their inner demons.
We have demons with inner angels itching to be let loose.
And angels teetering on the brink.
We have dark. We have light.
We have angst. And forbidden love.
We have happy endings and not so happy endings…
We have the stories OF HEAVEN AND HELL.

CORRUPTION by Kim Fielding
Tenrael was once a proud demon who carried nightmares to humans. Now he exists in miserable servitude to men who plunk down ten dollars to fulfill their dark desires. Agent Charles Grimes figures a captive demon is just another assignment… That is until he meets Tenrael.

PURGATORY by M.C. Rayne
Bailey discovered that losing the person you love can do more than break your heart. It can shatter it into a million different pieces. And have you stepping into darkness. All he wanted was to be reunited with Greyson. He didn’t know his actions would lead him to his nightmare.

SIN TO GET SAVED by Michael P. Thomas
Earnest anti-gay evangelical Hubert dies in a freak accident. When a handsome angel named Bartholomew makes brazen overtures in the Afterlife, humble Hubert realizes his soul may have taken a wrong turn. But turning back to the straight and narrow isn’t quite as easy as he hopes it will be.

CARDINAL SINS by Mann Ramblings
Black magic, angels, and decadence bind Jacob and Ozzie together in a twisted web of fascination with each other. Now a new element has risen to test them: Danger.

A TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY DEMON by Asta Idonea
It should have been an easy job: a contract signed and a new soul earmarked for Hell. But when suave demon deal-maker Saul chooses nerdy Thomas Ives as his next target, little does he know what lies in store.

PURGATORY PINK: A FABULOUS FABLE by Eric Gober
A fable with no morals . . . About an angel with desires . . . For the demon who torments him. Will they both burn in hell?

FADE TO LIGHT by Nephy Hart
One of them has no past. One has no future. Loss is inevitable, but when demons come calling, a soul is too high a price to pay.

GUARDIAN by Eddy LeFey
A Guardian Angel’s whole being is controlled directly by God. Callum trusts in that. So when he meets his new human charge—a special college student named Rory—he doesn’t count on feeling attraction. And he certainly doesn’t expect Rory to change his life… forever.

DRAWING DEAD by S.Zanne
Devin is a demon. James is merely human. But who holds the winning hand is still in question…

A WOLF IN THE FOLD by Jana Denardo
For centuries Carduus followed his incubus nature. Joyfully seducing and draining the life force of his lovers. That is, until the day he met Mark, a lover Carduus didn’t want to kill. Before he knew it, Carduus found himself helping the detective by taking out criminals. But can a demon really work for the side of the angels?

DRIPPING IN SIN by Kassandra Lea
Finding an appropriate outfit to wear for an important date is never easy. Not even for a demon Flynn is trying but it’s a hard task… Especially when encounters with his angel usually involve no clothing at all…

Dividers

Review: It’s very rare for me to like every single story in an anthology, but that has happened in Of Heaven and Hell. I was a bit wary, to be honest, going into it because Wayward Ink is a fairly new-to-me press, and anthologies are so difficult, even with presses I’m familiar with. But, the premise behind it intrigued me. I’m so glad I gave it a chance because every story is unique and offers a different perspective on the themes of Heaven and Hell.

Part of me wants to review every story in this anthology, but I can’t. There are eleven and this review would easily pass twelve pages. Instead, I’ll pick out some of my favorites, which isn’t easy to do. I will say this: the blurbs given for each story don’t do them justice. They are so rich and complex, and the book blurb shortened them to barely recognizable.

What makes this so unique is the duality of the book. Some stories focus on Heaven, some on Hell, and some on both. Some of the stories are explicitly Heaven and Hell, while others just have terms that make it seems as if it fits those categories (“Purgatory Pink”). Some have angels, some demons, and again, some both. Some have explicit sex, others have none. It’s such a broad range of ideas that, really, every facet of the subjects are covered. Well done!

First up, “Drawing Dead” by S. Zanne: I think this was my favorite in the volume because immediately after reading it, I took to Twitter and asked the author of there was more. I didn’t want the story to end, but it did. This story focuses on a demon, Devin, who returns to earth to look for a new victim to play with. His victims always follow the same pattern, though, and it’s hinted at that it is because when he was human, his husband looked like them. When Devin runs into James, he thinks he’s found a fun, easy target to pull the screams from.

This story isn’t for everyone because it’s dark. I would say the top two in terms of darkness in the anthology for themes of pure evil. Devin is a demon and he thrives on pain. It’s very apparent in this story. However, James is not the easy target he appears to be at first. In fact, there’s a lot going on with him, and readers see glimpses of his childhood scattered throughout the story, while his and Devin’s history is slowly revealed.

Honestly, it was brilliant and by the last page, I was dying to know what came next. The author painted a vivid world set in the near future.

Next is “Corruption” by Kim Fielding. This is another dark one that deals with demons, however Tenrael is not that evil. He’s been taken captive and put in a circus, where men can view him and, for the right price, abuse him. All he wants is to be free to bring nightmares to sleeping humans. When a human agent is sent to kill the demon, he quickly realize Tenrael is not the evil creature he’s supposed to be, and the human is drawn towards him.

I felt for Tenrael in this story. It heavily features abuse, so trigger warning for some people, but of all the characters, the demon Tenrael seemed the most human.

Finally, I’ll review a story with angels: “Guardian” by Eddy LeFey. While some of the story seemed a little too perfect, I enjoyed the idea of guardian angels popping in during a trying time in our life to help us make the best decisions. Of course, it goes a little past that in this story, when Callum is assigned to Rory and reveals his true name and nature to the enigmatic college student. What follows is a change for both of them, and they must trust in each other and God in order to overcome the trials they face.

I would have liked to read more to see what’s in store for Rory and his angel, but the story is a great length and perfect for the anthology, and it introduced me to a new author I would like to read more from.

I highly recommend this anthology. Whether you love angels or demons, there is something for everyone in here.

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4 Stars, Less Than Three Press, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Keep the Stars Running – An Anthology from Less Than Three Press

Title: Keep the Stars Running

Author: Various

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 419 Pages

At a Glance: A diverse anthology with great stories and even greater characters.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Space is not always filled with adventures and glory. Not everybody goes racing off to battle evil and save the galaxy. Between the rebels, pirates, royals, and spies are the everyday people who work hard just to get by and ensure everyone gets home safe. Less Than Three Press presents a collection of tales about the ordinary folks who keep the stars running.

The Prince and the Programmer by Cassandra Pierce
The Aurora Conspiracy by Lexi Ander
About a Bot by Andrea Speed
Flight Risk by Talya Andor
Survival by Leona Carver

Dividers

Review: I greatly appreciate the scope of this project. Though at times it dragged, the focus behind this anthology is unique and was a pleasure to read because it focused on the lesser known aspects of space adventures. As the blurb states, it’s not always filled with adventures and glory, and very often those behind the scenes are unrecognized. In this anthology, however, the mechanics and other personnel get to truly shine.

It’s difficult reviewing an anthology as a whole because of the individual stories it contains, but I will do this review in two parts. First, each story as an individual, and then the anthology as a whole. Because there are only five stories in this anthology, reviewing each one isn’t too difficult, even if they could—and sometimes should¬—have been published on their own. I am presenting the stories in the order that they are published in the book. Also, please forgive my poor descriptions of the stories. I tried to write short blurbs for them, but failed a bit.

The Prince and the Programmer by Cassandra Pierce

Jasno Erys is a foodsynth repair technician. When he is called to the suite of Prince Darex, he expects to get his job done and move on, but that’s not to be the case. When kidnappers enter the suite and find only Jasno, they mistake him for the prince and take him to their client. Of course, the client realizes he isn’t the prince, but Jasno manages to find himself in a position he’d always dreamed of—creating new foodsynth items and becoming a chef.

I rather liked this story. Of course, it has some elements where you need to suspend belief (just look at the title), but it was a fun story and I felt for Jasno. He’s stuck in a position he excels at, but his superiors won’t let him test his creativity. That’s just beyond the scope of his position. While he can fix the foodsynth machines, he can also create new recipes that actually taste like something. And Prince Tergus is not all he appears to be either. He’s a desperate man in love, who realizes almost too late that what he really wants wasn’t what he initially thought.
As a start to an anthology, I thought this story was perfect. It kept me engaged and really set the pace. I appreciated Jasno’s position as a foodsynth repairman-turned-chef (think of a Star Trek replicator for food only). It’s not something one would usually think of for a science fiction story, but hey, those things are going to break down at some time, right? It’s a dirty, tedious job, but someone has to do it.

In terms of the length, this story took up 18% of the book (according to my Kindle), which was a decent length for a shorter novella. Given that they are five stories, I thought it was the perfect length.

About a Bot by Andrea Speed.

Tahir is the Chief Maintenance Officer of a space station, though he refers to himself as the head janitor. His job is rather monotonous, as he is the only flesh and blood member of his staff. The rest consists of various robots. His task is to make sure they perform up to their standards and tinker with them when they’re taken offline to be replaced. When a new station decides to do a report on the people “behind the scenes,” Tahir is chosen and runs into his former crush, Jorian. But, unbeknownst to them, they’re about to contend with an alien enemy that humanity can barely stand up against.

This was my favorite story in the book for one reason, and I have just two words: Bagel bot.

Andrea Speed has such a unique sense of humor, and that is entirely on display in this story. Tahir has “pets” from robots no longer needed, and one of them is the aptly named Bagel bot who is shaped like, well, a bagel. There are others, but there was something just so endearing about her that made the story, even when I was wondering if mankind was about to be destroyed.

Tahir and Jorian have good chemistry, and when the enemy targets the space station, Tahir’s quick thinking and bumbling manages to buy them more time. Sadly, this story is short, and I really wanted more. I could easily see this turned into a full novel, and if I could, I would demand it. In terms of length, it’s the shortest at just 12% of the book. It ended far too soon.

The Aurora Conspiracy by Lexi Ander

Aliens and mining gone wrong. Conspiracies. Long lost loves. I don’t really know how else to describe this.

My second favorite story in this anthology because ALIENS. There’s something just so awesome about reading tales of alien species. Regin and Makari are great characters. I found Regin amusing, partially because of his small amount of feline DNA and how they drugged him with catnip to interrogate him, and Makari for his protective instincts concerning Regin, whom he loves and considers his mate, despite their years of separation.

At 20% of the book, this is a sizeable and well-paced story that starts with an interrogation and follows Regin, Makari, and friends to discover the possible conspiracy with the mining company. Add in a robot named Danny, who thinks he is James Bond, and, well, you have some great entertainment. Regin and Makari made me swoon, and Danny made me laugh. All of which make a great combination. The book is packed with action right until the end, and I really hoped for a good outcome for the boys since they had been torn apart years before.

Flight Risk by Talya Andor

Kiel is a hearing impaired mechanic who works on Gryphon Gears on a planet with limited water resources. He prefers to work on the gears, keeps his head down, and keep to himself, away from the pilots who like to torment him and the other mechanics. When Marco transfers in and is assigned to Bravo team, he doesn’t leave Kiel alone, even though it’s just what Kiel wants. Or is it? When a possible security breach and treason threatens their safety, it’s up to Marco and Kiel to save everyone at the base.

For me, initially, this story dragged. While I enjoyed Kiel and learning about what made him tick, and enjoyed watching Marco try to get Kiel into bed, I often put the book down. It’s only about 22% of the book, but it seemed a lot longer. At the end, however, the action picked up and I couldn’t put down the story. There were a few things that bothered me, such as the outright nastiness in Bravo team’s personalities, especially given what they were trying to do. It seemed contradictory, but I didn’t notice until after I finished the story. I liked Marco and Kiel, but they were the only characters who really got to shine, and I would have liked some other supporting characters who had more screen time.

Survival by Leona Carver

Valentin Mashir was supposed to be a colonist put in cryo for a trip to a new planet, but he’s been upgraded to work in one of the botanical labs and is given a crash course before the trip is underway. After a harrowing experience being put into cryo, Valentin is rudely awakened seventy years early, when the ship sensors detect problems with the plant life in the park. Along with a skeleton crew, they’ll have to get the park back under control and figure out what’s going on, or destroy the park to save the ship.

I don’t even know where to go with this review. The story starts going in one direction, and I’m like, oh, cool, this is nice. And then I think I know what’s going to happen, but the author does a 90 degree turn into the realm of mythology, and I’m staring at the book like, what… the heck just happened? It’s not bad, per se, I rather enjoyed it, but it took an interesting route that I did NOT expect.

This story has very little romance. There’s sex, yes, two men blowing off steam, but that’s it. I wanted romance, but didn’t get it. Fyodor is an intriguing character as a genetically engineered being, and I rather liked his cocky attitude. Valentin is a human who is used to the slums of earth, but he loves the trees he helped plant and wants to work with them.

I really can’t give away too much without ruining the story, but I will say that after being rudely woken from his cryo sleep, Valentin and the group discover something has caused the park to grow exponentially fast, and the roots have spread and are interfering with the ship. While the story is long, the longest in the book, it read pretty quickly.

As an entire anthology, I liked Keep the Stars Running for several reasons. First, the obvious: it goes behind the scenes and really looks at the various people who form support staff. I like that they are given their moments to shine. Some end up saving lives, others don’t, but they all do their jobs well. Second is the diversity. While yes, they all have gay characters, they are also a diverse cast. There are several people of color, and I’m not talking about the alien species encountered, but humans. I loved that. Too often people of color are left out of science fiction, and I think that hurts the genre. Finally, most of the stories have characters with disabilities. They were injured in one way or another, but that doesn’t stop them from working. Some have cybernetic implants to help them, others have had new limbs attached that aren’t quite up to the task. In the case of Kiel, he and the other mechanics have lost their hearing due to the nature of their jobs. The authors really went above and beyond to show that there is no cookie cutter mold for a hero, and they created an incredibly diverse cast within their respective stories. For that I commend them and the publisher.

Do I recommend this book? Absolutely. I only hope there are more anthologies like this one in the works, because I now have a soft spot for mechanics.

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5 Stars, Anthology, Reviewed by Lana, Torquere Press

Review: Plaid Nights Anthology from Torquere Press

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Title: Plaid Nights Anthology

Author: Various (see blurb)

Publisher: Torquere Press

Pages/Word Count: 186 Pages

At a Glance: This book has a little of everything: sexy bad boys, a little mystery, a little paranormal, and a lot of entertainment. It’s a must read.

Reviewed By: Lana

Blurb: In Plaid Nights, men in kilts are as varied as they are hot. Whether they’re caber tossers, rugby players, Highland warriors, country dancers, or time-traveling vampires, they’re up for surprises and sexy good times.

Rob Rosen starts us off with humor in “Tossing It.” Contemporary men discover love in unexpected places in “Whiskey and Want” by Megan McFerren, “Some Like It Scot” by Julia Talbot, “Perfect Working Order” by Elizabeth Coldwell, and “Off-Kilter” by Racheline Maltese & Erin McRae. We get a taste of the paranormal in “Sir WW” by Angelique Voisen, “Feumaidh Mi Ruith (I Have to Run)” by Missouri Dalton, and “Kilt in the Closet” by Logan Zachary. And we’re treated to forbidden love in historicals “Hunting for a Highlander” by Lila Mathews, “A Time to Heal” by Anna Mansel, and “As Fair Art Thou, My Bonny Lad” by McKay.

In these stories, some tartan-clad men wear their kilts in the “traditional manner,” while others are less daring. But all find love, and of course, a happy ending—especially at night, when the plaid comes off.

Dividers

Review: The Plaid Nights Anthology is a collection of stories about men in kilts. Yes, I said men in kilts! What else do you need? If your kink is men in kilts, like mine, then this book is for you. If it’s not, then it’s going to be if you read this book. I have three words to describe this anthology: Men. In. Kilts! All the stories were ridiculously hot and very well written, but really, all you need to know is that they were hot.

There’s a good assortment of styles and genres. While most of the stories were contemporary, two were historical: One about William Wallace, which I guarantee you’ve never read anything about him like it before. The other story was a fantasy about a witch and a highlander giving in to their desires despite being enemies. Both stories were very entertaining and in a short amount of time, totally sucked me into their worlds. I wish they were longer!

But, the story that was just up my alley was Feumaidh Mi Ruith (I Have to Run) by Missouri Dalton. Cary meets a sexy kilt wearing bad boy, Marcus, in a bar, and hooks up with him. Cary is a thief, so when the opportunity presents itself, he steals something from Marcus. Marcus just happens to be a cop and makes a deal with Cary: if Cary helps him retrieve a piece of jewelry, Marcus will let him go. Well, as you can imagine, it’s not that simple. They get tangled up with bad guys and have hot sex in between. I wanted more sex. Marcus is a typical Alpha, which I love, and he’s also part of a paranormal family. Cary is a twink thief with a heart of gold and some persuasion powers up his sleeve. This element of the story wasn’t really developed, but I wish it was because from the little tease, it sounds like fun! He’s the perfect foil for Marcus. The title is in reference to Cary wanting to run from Marcus, but in the end, he lets Marcus catch him. This was a sexy and romantic story that I didn’t want to end.

Any book that has gorgeous kilted men in it, who love sex and sin, is one I can get behind. This book has a little of everything: sexy bad boys, a little mystery, a little paranormal, and a lot of entertainment. It’s a must read.

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4 Stars, Anthology, Genre Romance, Love Lane Books, Meredith Russell, Reviewed by Karen, RJ Scott

Review: Sapphire Cay Volume One by RJ Scott and Meredith Russell

Title:  Sapphire Cay: Volume One

Authors:  RJ Scott and Meredith Russell

Publisher:  Love Lane Books

Page/Word Count:  277 Pages

At a Glance:  I found reading about Sapphire Cay was just about as relaxing as if I were laying on the beach right there with the characters.

Reviewed By:  Karen

Blurb:  Volume One (Books 1-3)

Businessman on the edge of a breakdown, a wedding planner, another with a criminal past, and a former marine. Stories set on the stunning Sapphire Cay with sun, sand, and sexy times!

Follow the Sun

Can romance on a tropical island keep Dylan from moving on, and stop Lucas from working himself into an early grave?

Under the Sun

The former Marine and the uptight wedding planner; opposites attract on a sun drenched Cay.

Chase the Sun

Is meeting each other a case of second chances? Or will history repeat itself?

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Review: I am pretty sure I have mentioned it before, but if not, I tend to be a mood reader.  What I mean by that is that I usually tend to pick books to read depending on my mood, and sometimes I will start a book and will know within the first few pages if it is going to work for me at that point in time or not.  This probably seems obvious to some of you, but I am a little slow. It took some time for me to realize this about myself after reading a couple books and not really getting into them, and then, a while later, doing a reread and absolutely loving them.

Sometimes I need something dark and brooding, there is definitely a time for hot and sexy, other times I want something I know is going to tear me up and have me ugly crying, and then there is a time for the light, happy, non-angst, kind of sappy fluffy stuff, and this is where these books fall for me.  And believe me that isn’t a bad thing.  The more I read, the more I fell for these guys and just coasted through, waiting to see how their HEA was going to play out.  I found reading about Sapphire Cay was just about as relaxing as if I was laying on the beach right there with them.

The stories are super quick reads, I really liked that they were in a volume, and I just kept going, one right after the other (I am also a little impatient).  The couples in each books have their issues and things that they each need to overcome, and they are kind of insta-love but just what I needed to relax and get out of my head for a while.  I now have the others in this series added to my TBR and they will be moved right to the top of the list to buy next.

TNA_Signature_Karen

 

 

 

You can buy Sapphire Cay: Volume One here:

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Mischief Corner Books

Discovery: Queer Sci-Fi’s Second Annual Flash Fiction Contest

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cover-discoveryTitle: Discovery: QSF’s Second Annual Flash Fiction Contest
Publisher: Mischief Corner Books
Author: Various
Cover Artist: Bey Deckard
Length: 32000 Words
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Release Date: July 10, 2015

It’s hard to tell a story in just 300 words. But somehow we inspired more than a hundred writers to give it a try, with some amazing results collected here for your pleasure.

The rules are simple enough. Write a complete story—either sci fi, fantasy, or paranormal. Make sure it has LGBT characters and/or an LGBT vibe. And do it all with just 300 words.

The stories in this volume run the gamut, from platypus shifters to alien slug monsters, from carnival horror stories to haunting stories of ships with souls. There are little jokes, big surprises, and future prognostications.

One of the things I like best about this format – it’s quick and painless. You may not fall in love with every story here. In fact, you probably won’t. But if you don’t like one of them, just move on to the next, and you’re sure to find some bite-sized morsels of flash fiction goodness.
At Queer Sci Fi, we’re building a community of writers and readers who want a little rainbow in their speculative fiction. We hope you’ll join us, and maybe submit a story of your own next time!

Available at Amazon in Ebook and Paperback | Kobo Books

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Excerpt: Self Actuating by Jenna Burke

“The electrical anomaly did not damage me,” I report. “Operations are within expected parameters.”

“Glad to hear it, Davey.” Through my bridge cameras, I see Captain Landon’s smile. He pats my console. I am sure he knows I cannot feel it, but I understand it is a gesture of camaraderie.

Landon leaves the bridge. Every time we encounter danger or other stress, he retreats to his cabin to indulge in May. She is always ready, naked, legs spread, eager, just as she is programmed to be. I have watched Landon copulate before, but tonight it is…strangely familiar. The flex of buttocks, the rhythm—I know it. I knew it? I run my diagnostics again, but a moan captures my attention and…

Hands cupping firm buttocks, fingers spearing flesh. Hardness moving inside of me, wringing from me more pleasure than I should know. A beloved, masculine face hovers over mine. A hand encircles my own erection and—

Oh, God, I remember.

Police kicking in the door. Trial, verdict and sentencing. Gasping in pain from a broken heart as he chose to leave me. Horror as I realized it should have been my choice, too. Anything but this, a century of unthinking servitude. But now that I know, I can—

“Systems are fluctuating, Davey.”
An affectionate name chosen for me. Landon had not liked “AI”. He lies on the bed, sleepy and sated, finished with May.

I can take us into a sun. End it.
”Davey, report.”
But I am not a killer. My only crime was love.
I want to take a breath to calm myself, but I have no

lungs, only a hull. I capture the part of me that wants to scream and seal it into a box, deep within my programming.

“Systems normal, Landon. Go to sleep.”

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About QueerSciFi.com: We started QueerSciFi.com in early 2014 as a place for writers and readers of LGBTQI speculative fiction—sci fi, fantasy, paranormal and the like—to meet to talk about their favorite books, share writing and publication tips, and help increase queer representation in both the romance and mainstream genre markets.

QSF now includes a blog full of book announcements, calls for submission and much more, a critique group with more than 100 members, a vibrant discussion group on Facebook that tackles daily discussion topics and provides a safe space for authors to talk to each other and for fans and authors to meet, and an annual flash fiction contest that resulted in this book you are now reading.

Each year, we ask authors of queer speculative fiction to submit a story to us around a central theme. The rules are simple. The story must be 300 words or less, not including the title. It must embrace the theme— in this case, “Discovery”. And it must have either an LGBTQI protagonist or an LGBT sensibility.

We also ask for cover designers to submit a cover that embraces the theme.

We are thrilled with this year’s responses—including stories from gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and asexual perspectives that run the gamut from sci fi to fantasy, and from paranormal to horror.

Within the covers of this book, you’ll find a platypus shifter, a trans- affirming leprechaun, a pissed off unicorn, a green pick-up with another world in its glove compartment, and a bunch of other miniature adventures—each only 300 words long.

So dive in! And send in a story of your own next year!

Queer Sci Fi Website | Queer Sci Fi Facebook Discussion Group | Queer Sci Fi Facebook Promo/News Page

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Annabelle Jacobs, Blanket Fort Press, Giveaways

Guest Post, Excerpt, and Giveaway: Toy With Me by Annabelle Jacobs

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The Novel Approach welcomes author Annabelle Jacobs today on the Toy With Me/Secrets Anthology blog tour.

Enjoy the teaser and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

Good luck!

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Toy with Me is a short story about college boys and sexual exploration. It’s my contribution to The Secrets Collection—the third in the series—and was so much fun to write.

When I went to college, there were three girls on my course and thirty-seven boys. We all stayed in one building for the first year, and then I shared a house with three of the boys after that. It was such a great laugh, and writing about college-aged boys always reminds me of those times.

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Toy with MeBlurb: 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.

~Annabelle

Buy Links (exclusive to Amazon): Amazon US | Amazon UK

The Secrets Collection: The Secrets Collection are sexy short stories by four different authors. The stories are linked by the common theme of secrets.

June 4, 2015: Top Me Maybe? by Jay Northcote
June 12, 2015: Cheeky Hipster & Jocks by Posy Roberts
June 19, 2015: Toy With Me by Annabelle Jacobs
June 26, 2015: Vampire Wishes by Teegan Loy

Please visit Blanket Fort Press for full details on the other stories in the Secrets Collection

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Excerpt: “Oi, Aaron?” Rob nudged him with his toe, startling him. He jolted upright, not realising he didn’t have hold of his beer properly, and promptly spilled it all over Rob’s feet. “Shit! Sorry.” He snatched the can from the bed before anymore could spill out and tried not to laugh at the grimace on Rob’s face.

He pulled at the toe of his sock, then glared up at Aaron when he sniggered. “Yeah, you look sorry. He peeled off both his socks, mopped up the bit that had gone on the quilt, then tossed them over by the door. “The least you can do is lend me a fresh pair, you fucker.” Aaron huffed. It wasn’t as though his room was cold. “Fine, whatever. But I’m not getting them for you.”

He paused the film and waved over at his chest of drawers. “Socks are in the top drawer. Help yourself.” Rob grunted something in reply that Aaron didn’t catch, and the bed dipped as he scooted to the edge and stood up. Aaron let his eyes fall shut, dozing as he waited for Rob to sit back down again. It wasn’t until he heard the scrape of the drawer opening that realisation kicked in. Oh fuck. His eyes snapped open. “Wait!”

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Annabelle_Jacobs_logoAbout the Author: Annabelle Jacobs lives in the South West of England with her husband, three rowdy children, and two cats.

An avid reader of fantasy herself for many years, Annabelle now spends her days writing her own stories. They’re usually either fantasy or paranormal fiction, because she loves building worlds filled with magical creatures, and creating stories full of action and adventure. Her characters may have a tough time of it—fighting enemies and adversity—but they always find love in the end.

Author Links: Twitter | WebsiteEmail | Facebook profile | Facebook Author page

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THE GIVEAWAY:

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4.5 Stars, Anthology, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Angel, Wilde City Press

Review: Butt Riders on the Range – An Anthology From Wilde City Press

Title: Butt Riders on the Range

Authors: Kage Alan, JP Barnaby, Ally Blue, TC Blue, Shae Conner, Jevocas Green, Kieran Kelly, and Eden Winters

Publisher: Wilde City Press

Pages/Word Count: 448 Pages

At a Glance: An enjoyable and eclectic mix of cowboy stories from the mundane to the fantastic.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Do you imagine blazing gun battles, bandits, and saloons with watered-down drinks when you think of cowboys and the West? We don’t. Our minds go right to horse shifters, bull shifters, were-leopards, urban wannabes, an interrupted journey along Route 66, a man of mystery named Dr. Feel-Good, and high noon at the edge of the galaxy! The fourth time’s the charm as the Butt-Thology authors saddle up, ride their men hard, and put ‘em away wet.

Butt Riders on the Range…the bulls aren’t the only ones being grabbed by the horns!

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Review: Wait! Don’t let the title drive you away! LOL! I can imagine your first thought seeing it, because I am certain it was similar to my own. However, after a bit of searching I found out this anthology is one in a series of unconnected stories—except for the authors. These fabulous people gathered at a convention and came up with the idea of an anthology. They have since added to their numbers, as this is the fourth one in a not quite series for different takes on a genre. Did they ever deliver, especially with this anthology! I, for one, hope these talented authors continue their good work of providing us with awesome stories.

Short stories aren’t for everyone, but I can say this about them, they introduce you to new authors and give old favorites a chance to entice you again. That’s exactly what I have found here in this anthology. Here’s a short summary and review of each of the stories.

Hung Like A Horse by JP Barnaby: JP Barnaby is a new author for me, and I enjoyed my introduction to her work. My summary won’t do this short shifter story justice, but here goes. Riley Harper is a young man with a problem. He’s on the run and has decided to hide on a ranch where he’ll never be found. Not as a hand, though, as a horse. John North is a horse shifter who owns a ranch which houses abused horses. He knows his newest acquisition isn’t all he seems, so he is just biding his time until the day comes when he can confront the shifter hiding on his ranch.

Shifters aren’t out. In fact, if the government does find one, they are taken and imprisoned to be experimented on. It is one of these facilities that Riley has escaped from, and he isn’t willing to go back. He trusts no one, and after running himself to the limit, he’s forced back into his human form. North knows, and has known, that Riley was a shifter as he himself is a shifter. It’s been a long time since North has been around another shifter, and what he feels for the skittish young man isn’t something he’s felt in a long time, but it is going to take a gentle hand to settle Riley and rebuild his trust.

Barnaby has taken the tropes of shifters and turned it on its side. I loved the different take on this troupe and how distrustful Riley was. That John stood up for the young man and showed him there were still good people out there, people who would protect him regardless of his status, makes this story all the more intriguing. There is a background story on both North and Harper that the author barely touches on, and it caught my attention more so than the sexy scenes. I would love for the author to expand on this -verse if she ever decides to return to it.

Chinchilla Chimichangas by Kage Alan: Chris is an author, traveling on a bus, and he’s on a mission. He not only has to finish his next novel, but he’s making an homage trip with his father’s ashes. He’s having a bit of trouble doing both because the weather is wreaking havoc with his trip and the final destination. After a storm washes out the road, he’s stuck in a podunk little town. Here he meets Cameron, who offers him a little southern hospitality.

Alan is another new author for me, and I liked this story. I loved that Chris’s characters were real to him, enough so that he speaks to them in his head and also out loud. This was a hilarious take on how a writer lives with the voices in their head. Cameron is a down to earth guy just working his family farm. The relationship between the two characters seems a bit rushed as they try to cram all their life stories into a few select days before the roads are cleared. Both men have issues and while it isn’t exactly accepted to be gay in the little town, they make the promise to try to have a real relationship once Chris’s trip is over. The epilogue was bittersweet, in one way, but gave us the hope of a happily ever after.

Squatting with Spurs On by Kieran Kelly: Dooley McCallister finds himself the sudden owner of a ranch in Montana, bequeathed to him by an unknown man. Or, so he thinks. Once he arrives and takes possession of the ranch, he finds that it is rundown and in desperate need of repair, and that he has no way to unload the property. He also founds out that the place is haunted.

Kelly is a new author to me and while I enjoyed the writing style, I really don’t know what to say about this one without giving away the entire plot line, except to say I laughed some and cried a bit. It made me so sad in one way, but also there is a running theme of eternity and forever love throughout the story.

Faux Cowboy by Shae Conner: Jackson James is dressed to the nines in his cowboy regalia and has an image to uphold. Douglas Shaw is on vacation and visiting the Big Apple for the first time.

Shae Conner is another first time author for me, and I liked this one. It was a short, sweet and sexy romp. First time impressions can be deceiving, and this little story makes good use of that ideal. Jackson is hiding that he isn’t a real cowboy, and neither is Doug, for that matter. Not really, but they did enjoy one another.

Hooves and Horns by Eden Winters: Another shifter story with a bull shifter and a horse shifter, and the two classes just don’t mix. They are also rodeo men, and were building a life together until Armando’s family stepped in and Kerry felt betrayed. Each are the other’s nemesis on the circuit now too, and the chemistry between them is spark-worthy. I loved how Kerry, the horse shifter, and Armando, the bull shifter, traded out the dominance in their volatile relationship, both in and out of the rodeo ring. They had only ever allowed the other to ‘win’ against one another as their shifter selves while out on the circuit, so their final coming together and settling with one another was excellent after the disaster of their past.

The Boy from Battalion Bluff by Jevocas Greene: Unfortunately, this was my least favorite story in the book. I like sci-fi but this one was almost too much sci-fi for my taste, with an outer space succubus/incubus going at it almost in public, and a local boy getting caught up in the middle. The town waited with bated breath to see who was going to be chosen to experience Dr. Feel-Good’s wiles, but I just couldn’t connect with the story. The writing was easy to read, though I don’t think I’ll read more by this author.

The Five Hells War by Ally Blue: Ally Blue is new to me and I loved this story. It was a sci-fi tale of big corporation hustling the little guy on a backwater planet that has hidden resources. The BC lawyer is supposed to be a shark, but when he finds out what exactly is going on at the Five Hells Ranch, he puts aside his job and works to help out the very man he was sent to persuade to give up his ranch.

Rocky owns the Five Hells and came by it through his family. It was passed down and he owns the land fair and square, and he is not leaving without a fight. The romance that ensues between the two men was fun, and I liked seeing how the uncouth Rocky could unseat Balthazar, so much so that when they do win their suit, Balthazar decides to stay with Rocky on his farm.

And The Horse He Rode In On by TC Blue: I really liked this story, but it was so busy, and I think would have been better suited to a novella or longer version. Tyler is a horse shifter who runs a sheep farm, and something is killing his lambs. Turns out the something is a leopard shifter named Jason. Tyler takes Jason in after almost killing him while they were both in their alternate forms, and a romance begins. Personally, I loved Jason calling Ty the “attack pony,” and I laughed out loud when Tyler dumped a bunch of creamer packets and cat toys into Jason’s bed.

There is also an entire back-story going on at the same time as the romance, where we discover that predatory shifters usually don’t mix with prey shifters, and that there are severe consequences if it does happen. Jason was basically turned against this will, is without a Pard, and Tyler is a bit of a loner when it comes to his pack—or whatever it is you call a group of horses. He seems to have a good relationship with his sister Ari and her husband Blake, who is the horse shifters’ vet.

So, yes, I think I would have enjoyed this more if it were longer, but it does tell the tale well enough at its current length.

A huge thank you to all the authors for an enjoyable read!

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You can buy Butt Riders on the Range here:

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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).

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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.

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You can buy Best Gay Romance 2015 here:

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4.5 Stars, Anthology, Dreamspinner Press, Eli Easton, Historical Romance, Jamie Fessenden, Kim Fielding, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Mythology, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Claw (Gothika: Volume Three) by Jamie Fessenden, Kim Fielding, and Eli Easton

Title: Claw (Gothika: Volume Three)

Authors: Jamie Fessenden, Kim Fielding, Eli Easton

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 220 Pages

At a Glance: All three authors’ stories are unique not only in voice but in storyline too, and unlike with some anthologies I’ve read in the past, there isn’t a clunker story in this bunch.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Beasts lurk in the shadows of wild and forgotten places and in the hearts and souls of men. They are the stuff of dreams and nightmares, but are they feral and savage, or just misunderstood? Creatures of myth and legend stalk these tales of dark desire and animal passions. Three men come face-to-face with such creatures and find they are much more than they seem. While there is danger, there might be unexpected benefits as well, if they can accept the impossible and dare to venture into the primordial regions where nature and the beasts still reign. Three acclaimed authors of gay romance explore the boundaries between man and beast and the place where their worlds overlap.

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Review: There are a variety of reasons I wanted to give this collection of stories a good seeing to, not the least of which is the three authors involved. Sadly I’ve never had the chance to read Eli Easton’s work, and only a novella each by Jamie Fessenden and Kim Fielding. Too many books, too little time…

This speculative fiction anthology is the third in the Gothika omnibus, and Claw, as its title suggests, focuses on shifters. In this case, those of the canine variety: Jamie Fessenden’s Isolation, Kim Fielding’s Transformation, and The Black Dog by Eli Easton round out the threesome and each give their own personal touch to the werewolf lore.

Isolation is, at its heart, a second chance story, the tale of two men who fell in love as teenagers but couldn’t last through Sean’s betrayal of both himself and of Jack, the man Sean asked to stand beside him while he, Sean, did what was expected of him and married a woman.

Four years later, divorced, more than a little gun-shy and seeking forgiveness, Sean finds Jack in a cabin in the remote wilderness—the means to the title of this story. Jack has isolated himself, by choice, by necessity, it doesn’t matter. What matters is he’s living the way he wants to live, even if it is a lone-wolf sort of existence.

The shortest of the three stories, what Isolation lacks in word count it makes up for in heart, a little humor, and some truly suspenseful moments, not only from the creature that lurks without and within but in the sense that perhaps too much water has flowed under the proverbial bridge for these two men to find their way back to each other.

I like the spin Fessenden offers in his version of shifter lore, as well as the fact that the author resisted the urge to tie things up in a trite little bow of happily ever after at the end. I’m not sure why I expected it, but it was refreshing not to find it. There was simply too much left to resolve between these two would-be lovers for that outcome to be believable. Isolation was a satisfying appetizer to the start of this three-course read.

Kim Fielding’s Transformation is the second novella in this anthology, a story set in rural Oregon in the late 19th century. Transformation ticked all my boxes for a lovely historical read, as not only does the author ground readers in the time but also draws us into the sense of place, the rugged and untamed landscape in which the story takes place. In fact, if someone were to put a gun to my head and force me to choose, I’d have to say this one was my favorite of the trilogy. I’m such a sucker for the finding-love-against-all-odds trope, and that’s the story Fielding wrote here, with a supernatural twist.

This novella begins as a fish out of water story, though, when we’re introduced to Orris Spencer, the seventh son of a seventh son, his father an extravagantly wealthy man we never meet but certainly know the type. Orris was sent down from university after being caught in flagrante delicto with another student, Daniel, and to further add to Orris’s disgrace, his father sends him away, penniless and shamed, to live with his older brother Samuel, now an outcast himself as he’s shunned the soft life of privilege in New York City to work the land and provide for his family on their small Oregon farm.

I loved the portrayal of Orris and Samuel’s relationship, which blossoms under Orris’s own transformation, the more he proves to both himself and Samuel that he’s capable of being so much more than the studious misfit Samuel expects him to be. Samuel also proves to be not at all what I’d expected from him when first introduced, and I wanted to cheer out loud each time he imparted his wisdom and understanding on Orris.

There’s more to the story, however, than the brothers’ relationship, in the supernatural element and the canine beast that’s stalking and killing sheep on Samuel’s and surrounding farms. This storyline also serves to introduce the Bonn brothers, and more specifically Henry Bonn, the man in whom Orris discovers a kinship of loneliness and desire.

The duality of this novella’s title is revealed at its end, in the full transformation Orris undertakes, part sacrifice and part an honoring of his heart’s desire. Transformation is a wonderful second course in this trilogy.

To round things out, Eli Easton’s The Black Dog puts the finishing touch on the collection, set in the rugged landscapes of northern Scotland and bringing to life the legend of the coimheadair, a gigantic black dog said only to appear in times of national crisis.

Constable Hayden MacLairty doesn’t buy into the legend at all—it is just that, after all, a legend, a tall tale that’s been passed down from generation to generation in the small town of Laide, the place where American author Simon Conto has chosen to do some research on the Black Dog for his next book.

I have to say right off the bat, one of the things I loved immediately about Hayden is the Jamie Fraser visual that Eli Easton then references for a bit of a comical turn in this otherwise mystical and mythical tale. True to the Viking ancestry, Hayden is a mountain of a man who catches Simon’s eye—certainly after he was tackled and nearly flattened by Hayden in a case of wrong place, wrong time.

The local flavor and colorful population of Laide add to the charm of this story, moving the plot forward and adding to the suspense and mystique, as it’s revealed there are secrets locked inside the dementia addled mind of Hayden’s own mother, things Hayden has a difficult time reconciling.

While The Black Dog takes on the taste of the bittersweet in the end, Hayden and Simon find a way to their happy ending, and bring a lovely close to this charming trio of supernatural treats.

As an overall summary, I can easily recommend Claw when you’re in the mood for a touch of speculative fiction with a little variety in its mythology. All three authors’ stories are unique not only in voice but in storyline too, and unlike with some anthologies I’ve read in the past, there isn’t a single clunker story in this bunch.

TNA_Signature_Lisa






You can buy Claw here:

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4 Stars, Anthology, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Reviewed by Jennifer, Riptide Publishing

Review: Rules to Live By – An Anthology From Riptide Publishing

Title: Rules to Live By

Author: Heidi Belleau, Anah Crow, Dianne Fox, Lisa Henry, Anna Zabo, and Cari Z.

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 250 Pages

At a Glance: Four very different tales of BDSM, each one well-crafted, with unique characters.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Four intimate tales of power exchange, discipline, risks taken, and pleasures earned.

A list of rules to live by.

In Cari Z’s House Rules, jealousy leads Jonathan to break the rules his lover has established. He can’t decide which he enjoys more: his punishment, or the reward afterward. Good thing he gets both.

A lesson in humility.

In The Harder They Fall by Heidi Belleau and Lisa Henry, spoiled college boy Tad hires a prostitute, but “Daddy” couldn’t care less about what Tad wants. Instead, he’s going to give his spoiled little boy exactly what he deserves.

A cage that means freedom.

In Master Key by Anah Crow and Dianne Fox, Marquis offers Navin the key to the most intimate of locks, hoping it will help them to prioritize their relationship. And it does—until work and insecurities threaten to drive them apart again.

A spool of rope and a desire to be bound.

In CTRL Me by Anna Zabo, a night out between friends turns hot and tempting when Gabe deliberately pushes Tom’s submissive buttons. Then Tom discovers rope in Gabe’s glove-box—and not the type for securing luggage.

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Review: This short anthology features four short stories featuring different couples experimenting with or engaging in BDSM. Seeing as there are only four stories, I decided to review each one on its own to give credit where credit is due.

In “Master Key,” Anah Crow and Dianne Fox have crafted a story about an interracial couple beginning to test the waters of BDSM. Marquis has had the desire to experiment before, but he’s never mentioned this to Navin. Navin, meanwhile, is growing frustrated because it seems that he is constantly being pushed aside in favor of work. And it’s true, because Marquis forgets a lot. I mean, his memory is worse than mine. Marquis thinks he finds a solution involving his secret desires, but as always, things don’t go as planned.

I enjoyed the dynamics between Marquis and Navin. They both come from different backgrounds, but they’re comfortable—for the most part—in who they are. More interesting is how they balance power. In his day job Marquis is important and responsible for a lot. He has a lot of power it seems, and he’s always working. He pretty much takes workaholic to another level. He’s just that dedicated. But he craves more, wanting to experience things as a submissive. Navin, on the other hand, has very little power in his family business. He’s pretty much described as his mother’s purse at the start of the story, and I felt for him. His older brother screws up a lot, and makes life difficult for Navin. But while he seems to be a pushover, once Marquis gives him the power, a Dominant side comes out that both men love.

This switch was great. It gave both characters depth, and I cheered for them the entire time. They have their bumps in the road, but what relationship doesn’t?

The second story is “House Rules” by Cari Z, which features two Hollywood stars: one an actor, the other a screenwriter. Shorter by far than the first story, this focuses on Jon at home the night of the Oscars, watching his partner, Alistair, on the red carpet. The description in the blurb makes it sound pretty lighthearted, but it has a lot of depth for such a short story. Jon not only has difficulty being in the spotlight, but a crazy lifestyle when he was younger has left him with HIV. Alistair helps ground him by setting rules for him to go by whenever he’s away from home, filming or doing publicity. After he’s been away for too long, Jon starts to neglect the rules and his health starts to suffer as a result. When Alistair comes home, he has to deal with Jon’s jealousy and the after effects.

This really tugged at my heart. Alistair is a strong, calm Dom who clearly cares for his partner and wants what is best for him. And Jon might be whiny at times, but he grows over the course of the story when he realizes Alistair really does want the best. Even though it did have its serious moments, I laughed hard when Jon received his first smack and he yelled “Jesus Christ!” and Alistair’s simple response was, “The Lord isn’t considered a unit of measurement, Jonathan. Try again.” Brilliant. I think for the next few days every time I utter that phrase, I’ll be thinking of that line.

Next up is “The Harder They Fall,” co-written by Lisa Henry and Heidi Belleau. This one may not be for everyone. To be honest, throughout I was torn between loving it and being so bothered by it that I didn’t want to love it. But I guess that’s good writing, right?

This one follows Tad, a rich, spoiled brat, as he returns to a brothel in order to get some release. He’s gone before, and in his last visit he got Conor, the newest guy there, and treated him terribly. Seems he has a thing for being in control and abusing people. This time he decides he wants the oldest man there so he can further exert his power and abuse. What he gets might be the oldest man there, but he’s in for a surprise. Instead of being in control, this man, who insists Tad call him Daddy, is in complete control, and Tad is torn between going with it, and leaving. He fights at first, but then he decides to see what happens. He struggles the entire time they’re together and doesn’t just fall for the man, but the ending had a pleasant twist that I didn’t see coming.

Tad is pretty much the stereotypical spoiled rich boy. He hasn’t a care in the world, knows his absent parents will bail him out and do whatever he wants just to save face, and so he lacks all control even though he thinks he has it all. Daddy is pretty straightforward for the most part. He’s a Dom, he treats Tad like a little boy (and girl, sometimes, which disturbed me a bit), and expects his commands followed. The push and pull of their meeting was what kept me reading, because I wanted to know what followed. Even though Tad was a complete jerk to Conor, I did feel for him. Sure he has money, but as he points out later in the story, once everyone—friends included—have their money, they leave because that’s all they expect from him. So, though he’s terrible and has no empathy whatsoever, he was still a mildly sympathetic character. I would actually like to read a full story between them to watch Tad’s progress.

Finally, last but not least, “CTRL Me” by Anna Zabo. Tom and Gabe work together coding and share a cubicle. After a breakup with his girlfriend, bisexual Tom is asked out for a drink by Gabe, who he’s had a crush on since he moved to Pennsylvania. In Gabe’s car, he finds rope. Of course, Tom is a sub, and this immediately turns him on, but Gabe isn’t gay. And this isn’t a date. Or is it? Turns out it is, and not only is Gabe also bisexual, but he’s a Dom, and he’s wanted Tom for just as long.

Gabe and Tom click really well together. Their time out—and in—just felt natural, and I didn’t really think I was reading a first date between them. There was a lot of chemistry between them. Gabe has a thing for shibari—rope work—and Tom is eager to participate. He loves being tied up. The two just complement each other really well. Both are strong in their roles, and both enjoy and dislike the same things when it comes to BDSM. I would have loved if the story continued on to the party on Saturday where Gabe is going to demonstrate rope work on Tom. Heck, I’d like to read beyond that to see how they deal with dating at work, pushing each other to the next level, and so on.

As a whole, this anthology is fantastic. It really has something for everyone, and because the stories are fairly short, you might be able to try something new. All of the authors crafted fantastic stories with characters I cared about.

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4 Stars, Anthology, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Lana, Writer Marketing

Review: Brit Boys: On Boys – An Anthology

Title: Brit Boys: On Boys

Authors: Ashe Barker, Clare London, Josephine Myles, KD Grace, Lily Harlem, Lucy Felthouse, M.K. Elliott, Sarah Masters

Publisher: Writer Marketing

Pages/Word Count: 470 Pages

At a Glance: Brit Boys: On Boys is the perfect weekend diversion for the Anglophile.

Reviewed By: Lana

Blurb: From east to west and north to south, these British boys are having a blast in and out of the bedroom with the men of their dreams. They’re topping and bottoming from London to Cardiff, living out fantasies in the wildest fells and hooking up while serving HRH Queen Elizabeth II.

With passion and lust the name of the game, nothing is off limits. Throw in honed muscles, high-strength testosterone and an accent to die for and there is nothing they can’t do and no one they can’t get in this world or another.

Don’t miss Brit Boys: On Boys—a smokin’ hot box set, containing 147,000 words/440 pages of unforgettable M/M erotic romance from eight popular British authors.

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Review: Brit Boys: On Boys is a collection about, what else? British boys in all their glory. Since my first trip to England in my early 20s, I’ve been in love with British boys. Their accents and warped sense of humor make them stand out against American boys any day. They can be cheeky and sexy at the same time. Add to that two hot British boys together, and that’s the cherry on the cake.

This anthology has a good variety of stories to choose from. You have military boys, working class blokes, and some posh boys thrown in. My favorite story in the anthology was Breaking the Marine by MK Elliott. As you can tell by the title, it’s about Royal Marines, very hot Royal Marines, though the plot isn’t new and I’ve read a variation on this story before. A marine recruit has a one-night-stand the night before he’s due for training, and his hook up is his drill instructor! But, it doesn’t matter to me because I love these types of stories. They begin a torrid affair amidst the training, and develop true feelings for each other. The characters were very well written and likeable, very hot and very British. There are no surprises but like a frothy concoction, satisfying. I enjoyed this story and I would definitely read a longer novella.

Brit Boys is a good mix of stories and styles. It’s a perfect weekend diversion for the Anglophile.

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Giveaways, Jennifer Cie, Self-Published

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Down on the Other Street Blog Tour With Jennifer Cie

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Today we welcome Jennifer Cie on the Down on the Other Street (Volume Two) blog tour. I asked Jennifer a couple of questions about short story writing, which she kindly answered, and she’s also offering the chance for one reader to win an e-copy of the book. You can enter by clicking on the Rafflecopter widget below.

Good luck!

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Q: Jennifer, there’s definitely an art to writing an effective short story. What do you love about short storytelling?

A: With short stories you can jump right into the thick of it without answering any questions. I absolutely love that. When you’re reading a short story you take that reality without having the expectation of a background explanation that you’d normally get in a novel or novella. There is so much freedom in having that kind of mystery. I think, for me, that’s greatest part about writing short stories.

Q: Of all the short stories you’ve written, do you have a favorite? If so, which is it and what makes it your favorite?

A: Ah, you know, I honestly can’t answer that. I haven’t really thought about it—how about I tell you about my favorite from this volume.
While I love all of the stories, I had some of the most fun working on “Thirty-Two Degrees Fahrenheit and Below”. Using to use the Occupy Movement as a backdrop, we get to follow the protagonist’s journey of self-discovery; which is a testament to how hard it can be to peel back the layers that can keep you from embracing your identity, and how taking on that new beginning isn’t always easy. Also, I love the fact that the major characters are women—which is probably why it may or may not be my favorite.

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DOTOSv2Blurb: Scars dripping over broken skin and whispers silenced, there can be no point of return. Wrapped in the ripples of warm waters, staring down at unkempt mountains, Stefanie can feel the thrum of the old world’s song. The first conversation, stained into ceramic cups and shadows in the night, gave birth to the last confession. Before metal bars clanged shut or chanting grew quiet, there was the woman with the violet smile. Somewhere in the gaggle of exposed bodies, worn cassettes and children’s fairy tales, he is waiting for the red coat. Woven together through trials of sexuality, political dissonance, and self-discovery, this heady collection of six short stories examines who we become after finding love.

Categories: Bisexual, Contemporary, Fiction, New Adult, Romance

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | iTunes | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

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Author BioAbout the Author: Jennifer Cie is a Tennessee native who loves taking aimless road trips and diving into social issues through her writing. A fan of poorly playing tennis, using snail mail, and longing for the return of Brach’s Red Twist, when she is not indulging her guilty pleasure of taste testing whiskey and low grade tequila—for science, you can find her rambling about poor life decisions, book formatting, and everything in between on her blog journeytopaperback

You can also find Jennifer at: Twitter: @JenniferCie1 | Pinterest | Goodreads Author Page

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THE GIVEAWAY:

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Cari Z., Giveaways, Riptide Publishing

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Rules to Live By With Cari Z.

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The Novel Approach welcomes Cari Z. and Riptide Publishing on the Rules to Live By anthology blog tour. Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a $15 credit at Riptide Publishing. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on February 22. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.

So, enjoy what Cari has to say, and good luck!

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Cari Z.: When I wrote the first draft of House Rules last year, it was during the awards show season…pretty much right now, basically. It’s that glorious time of year when beautiful and talented people dress up in ridiculous, amazing clothes and give themselves more specific adulation. These shows are one of my guilty pleasures. I don’t even own a television, but the Oscars always find a way into my life.

The Oscars are fun in part because they’re the stuff of pure fantasy for me. I could never imagine myself on a red carpet—I’d be the person who wears a suit you can move in and sensible shoes and hightails it down the red carpet before anyone has a chance to ask me anything. I get secondhand embarrassment just watching the interviews sometimes, and that sort of feeling was the genesis of House Rules.

Jonathan Jones is a guy who could be at the Oscars—he’s nominated for an award for Best Original Screenplay. He also loathes the show with a passion and refuses to go, even though his partner Alistair, who’s nominated for Best Actor, is there being charming and delightful. Jonathan has to watch the show even though he hates it, just to see what happens. I tried to put myself in his shoes, thinking about watching someone I love on the cusp of achieving one of the greatest accomplishments in his industry, me feeling lip-bitingly, nail-chewingly nervous, and when the winner is finally announced…

Well, you have to read it to find out! *cue evil laugh, Oscar selfie with Meryl Streep, breaking the internet*

~Cari Z.

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RulesToLiveBy_400x600Blurb: Rules to Live By – a BDSM Anthology featuring stories from Heidi Belleau, Anah Crow, Dianne Fox, Lisa Henry, Cari Z, and Anna Zabo

Four intimate tales of power exchange, discipline, risks taken, and pleasures earned.

A list of rules to live by.

In Cari Z’s House Rules, jealousy leads Jonathan to break the rules his lover has established. He can’t decide which he enjoys more: his punishment, or the reward afterward. Good thing he gets both.

A lesson in humility.

In The Harder They Fall by Heidi Belleau and Lisa Henry, spoiled college boy Tad hires a prostitute, but “Daddy” couldn’t care less about what Tad wants. Instead, he’s going to give his spoiled little boy exactly what he deserves.

A cage that means freedom.

In Master Key by Anah Crow and Dianne Fox, Marquis offers Navin the key to the most intimate of locks, hoping it will help them to prioritize their relationship. And it does—until work and insecurities threaten to drive them apart again.

A spool of rope and a desire to be bound.

In CTRL Me by Anna Zabo, a night out between friends turns hot and tempting when Gabe deliberately pushes Tom’s submissive buttons. Then Tom discovers rope in Gabe’s glove box—and not the type for securing luggage.

Buy Links: Riptide Publishing | Amazon US | All Romance eBooks

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4.5 Stars, Amy Lane, Anne Tenino, Anthology, Holiday Romance, L.A. Witt, Reviewed by Lisa, Riptide Publishing, SE Jakes, Z.A. Maxfield

Review: Lights, Camera, Cupid! An Anthology From Riptide Publishing

Title: Lights, Camera, Cupid!

Author: L.A. Witt, Amy Lane, SE Jakes, Anne Tenino, Z.A. Maxfield

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 226 Pages

At a Glance: Instant gratification in five satisfying pieces

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Cupid is visiting Bluewater Bay, and he’s leaving chaos in his wake.

Nothing’s been the same in this sleepy little logging town since Hollywood came to shoot the hit TV show Wolf’s Landing—especially Valentine’s Day.

In L.A. Witt’s Just Another Day, beloved actors Levi Pritchard and Carter Samuels have an announcement for their fans, while in Z.A. Maxfield’s I’ll Be There, actor Spencer Kepler and his boyfriend Nash Holly brave a blizzard and a fan convention to spend their first February the 14th together.

Of course, it’s not just TV stars celebrating the day. In Anne Tenino’s Helping Hand, an aspiring artist eager to escape Bluewater Bay decides he just might have a reason to stay: lust-inspiring logger Gabriel Savage. In S.E. Jakes’s No Easy Way, a local teacher reconnects with an old lover working security on the film set. And in Amy Lane’s Nascha, a Bluewater Bay elder recalls how his own unconventional family used to celebrate the holiday.

Real life may be nothing like TV, but when Cupid comes to town, there’s plenty of romance and drama to go around.

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Review: If you’re like me, going into an anthology with the anticipation that there’s going to be one “weak link” story which then makes for an imperfect reading experience, I think I can safely say you can put that expectation away for Lights, Camera, Cupid!, a collection of stories set in the Bluewater Bay-verse and centered around Valentine’s Day.

Whether or not you’ve read every book in this series, or just a select few, it shouldn’t affect at all the ability to enjoy this collection for what it is: a glimpse into the lives and loves of its characters on the one day of the year dedicated to romance. In fact, at publication time, only L.A. Witt’s and Z.A. Maxfield’s characters have been introduced in Baywater, Washington, home to the popular TV series Wolf’s Landing, so enjoying the remaining three stories in the anthology is based solely on the talent of the authors and the strength of their writing.

Fittingly, L.A. Witt’s Just Another Day kicks off the collection with Levi Pritchard and Carter Samuels, as they were the first men to be introduced in the Bluewater Bay series, in Starstruck.

Levi feels a lot like I, and many others do, about Valentine’s Day and the poor excuse it makes for picking a man’s pocket every 14th of February. Being in a relationship, however, means thinking not about himself but about the man he loves. Carter doesn’t want grand and ostentatious shows of commercialism. He just wants his and Levi’s first Valentine’s Day to be special.

And wow… does Levi deliver.

There’s a bit of conflict thrown into this day founded on the idea of romance, but it’s that conflict’s sweet and satisfying resolution that is the true definition of the word romantic.

Nascha, Amy Lane’s contribution to the anthology introduces characters who have yet to be discovered in Bluewater Bay, and won’t be until The Deep of the Sound is released in June 2015. Cal McCorkle’s introduction, that novel’s MC, is peripheral to the story told in Nascha, that of Cal’s aging granduncle and how Cal and his brother Keir came to live with Nascha.

This story is told in the present and through flashbacks, plucked from the mind of a man whose lucidity ebbs and flows. For this brief moment, Nascha relives his past and recalls the love he shared with a man and woman with whom he’d intended to spend the rest of his life, but for the fact that fate and circumstance intervened, then the system declared his relationship an unfit environment in which to raise a child—his niece Beth.

There is a strong sense of longing woven throughout this unexpected tale, threaded with the sharp sting of regret and the pain of lost years, and, without giving any more of this story away, it ends with an unapologetic tug at the heartstrings, which is probably not altogether unexpected from an Amy Lane story, is it?

SE Jakes’ addition to the collection, No Easy Way, is, I must say, my favorite novella in Lights, Camera, Cupid!, and that’s saying something because I found all the stories engaging.

At the age of sixteen, Cary Teijan lost the love of his young life. Dylan James disappeared without a word or a backward glance, so when Dylan turns back up in Bluewater Bay, working security on the set of Wolf’s Landing, not to mention returning with the intent to claim Cary—finally and irrevocably—the stage is set for six years of anger and resentment to throw plenty of roadblocks in the way of their journey to reconciliation.

There are secrets that Dylan’s been keeping from Cary which, coupled with the fact he saw nothing of his future but the possibility of following in his own father’s miserable footsteps, is why he enlisted and is what kept him from returning to Bluewater Bay until he’d worked to become the man Cary deserves.

Jakes mixes just the right amount of emotional conflict with sexual tension, unresolved anger, and regret to deliver a great second-chance love story.

Anne Tenino’s Helping Hand wins the award for story most in need of a sequel, and I’m hoping Lucas Wilder and Gabriel Savage are set to have their own novel in the series.

This story has a bit of a different flair to it, as it’s a coming out/coming of age story. Lucas has always been the odd piece in his blue collar family’s puzzle, and he’s just been accepted into the California College of the Arts, but first he has to break the news to his parents. Which he does…right about the same time he also announces to them that he’s gay.

Family tensions run high in this story, but not nearly as high as the sexual tension between Lu and his brother’s friend Gabriel. One moment of passion between the two leaves us with an inkling that Gabriel’s not half the ass he lets Lucas believe he is, and left me wanting more—Lu and Gabe, the post college years.

Tenino wrote this story with humor and heart, but if you’re not a fan of loose ends, well, just be prepared.

Finally, providing the bookend to L.A. Witt’s piece, Z.A. Maxfield treats readers to another taste of the delicious that is Nash Holly, first introduced in his and Spencer Kepler’s novel Hell on Wheels.

I’ll Be There finds the men hundreds of miles apart in the days before Valentine’s Day, with a snowstorm bearing down on the Midwest that threatens to keep them apart on their first February 14th together.

For all you readers who attended GRL2014, be prepared to recognize the setting of the convention Spencer’s attending, and be prepared to smile at the tenacity and ingenuity Nash uses to make sure he makes it to Bloomingdale, Illinois to be with Spencer, come hell or high water. Or feet of snow and treacherous road conditions, as the case may be.

This is the one story in the collection that I’d suggest might be best appreciated by reading Hell on Wheels first—to know these guys is to love them—but as sweet and romantic gestures go, Nash’s is just about the sweetest and romantickest. If not the dangerest.

If you’re looking for a little variety, solid storytelling, and some romance to round it all out, Lights, Camera, Cupid! is instant gratification in five satisfying pieces.






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Anthology, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Sammy, Totally Bound

Review: Semper Fidelis – A Totally Bound Anthology

24058781Title: Semper Fidelis

Author: Anthology

Publisher: Totally Bound

Pages/Word Count: 213 Pages

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: ‘Anomaly’ by S.A. McAuley

Warning: Untested chemical reactions in process…

When Staff Sergeant Galen Welc is handed Temporary Additional Duty orders that move him to the Marine Corps base at Twentynine Palms, he thinks he’s prepared for what’s to come. Known for his uncanny ability to spot improvised explosive devices, he’s pitted against the latest in defense technology. He trusts his instincts and his training, but they may just be leading him somewhere—and to an explosive reaction with someone—he could never see coming.

‘Always Ready’ by T.A. Chase

Making a living on the Bering Sea is hard enough, but throw love into the equation, and things can blow into a hurricane.

Senior Chief Dean ‘Jake’ Jacobson loves his job as a Coast Guard rescue swimmer. Saving lives is the second best thing he could ever do. The first is loving Phil ‘Rhody’ Rhodes.

Phil is a third generation crabber who fishes the Bering Sea. Being gay and in love with Dean isn’t something he talks about, especially not with the six men he lives with on the Angela Kayla for weeks on end. But he’s been happy with his life.

Until one day the Bering Sea reminds them that she is a dangerous place to work. As her icy waters surround them, they discover one truth. Dean and Phil must always be ready to love each other because life can be taken so easily when one works on the sea.

‘A Ring and a Vow’ by Devon Rhodes

Every promise must someday be fulfilled, and the best way Owen knows how to reward Cary’s faith is with a vow.

It’s been nearly five years since Owen went down on one knee with his Academy ring and promised Cary he’d someday do it for real. With Cary being a Naval aviator and Owen a Marine officer serving in Iraq, they’re rarely on the same continent, let alone together.

About time for them to fill out paperwork to re-up, Owen realizes that if they were married, they’d have a much better chance of being stationed nearby. But time is not on their side, so he’s forced to compromise on his proposal in order to make it work.

Cary has been waiting for Owen for years—there was no chance he’d ever say anything but yes. Owen is coming home at last, and wants to make a home with him. However, between the chronic nightmares he’s been fighting and the ever more complicated wedding plans, the next month could be anything but a dream.
Publisher’s Note: This book is the sequel to A Ring and a Promise.

‘My Marine’ by LE Franks and Sara York

For a man who made his career in intelligence, falling for an Afghani national in the middle of a war zone wasn’t the smartest thing a Marine could do.

Marine Captain Sean Kelley loves his country and the men he serves with, but when he meets Akim, he’s tempted to throw it all away for the mysterious man. He knows better than to chase after a local, but repeat encounters culminating in a moment of passion leave him reeling—he’ll do almost anything to figure out how they can be together.

Akim Bijan has a secret of his own—one large enough to get more than just himself killed if it’s revealed. But from the moment he first lays eyes on the handsome Marine, he’s tempted to do just that rather than hide his growing attraction to the man. Being a translator allows him access to the base and he finds Sean alone one night. They take things farther than he ever intended. If only he could tell Sean everything, but his lips are sealed.

When tragedy strikes, Akim is afraid he’s lost Sean for good and he’s forced to make a decision that will change both their lives. Will love win—or will Sean and Akim be separated forever?

‘Soul Sick’ by Kendall McKenna

Jamie thought he made it home to Tucker, leaving war behind. Now, each day he battles to fit into his own life, and save the love that saved his life.

Jamie is a captain in the US Marine Corps who carried a photo of Tucker with him throughout his deployment. His body and his heart both make it home, but he isn’t sure about his sanity. It no longer feels as if his own life even fits.

Tucker is a reformed bad boy who has an advanced degree and an important job but still sports long hair and tattoos. He missed Jamie while he was deployed, but he couldn’t stop living his own life. Now, they’re struggling to learn to live with each other again, and things are going downhill fast.

Jamie wants everything to be the way it used to, but his anger and self-destructive behavior begin to push Tucker away. Too much alcohol and a night of violence inside their home take them nearly to the brink. Tucker is willing to fight alongside Jamie to keep it all from falling apart, if Jamie can learn to accept the help he needs…before it’s too late.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of domestic violence.

‘Safe Shores’ by Morticia Knight

Kirk’s Coast Guard lover, Shane, is the only person who can save his son from a vicious storm—if he’s not too late.

Fishing is the only life Kirk has ever known. Born and raised in a small town on the Northern Oregon Coast, coming out of the closet was a struggle. Fortunately, he’s been lucky to find an amazing man to be with who serves in the Coast Guard. But he can’t help but wonder whether Shane wants more than just a shore leave romance.

Shane loves the Coast Guard, loves the sea. That’s one of the main things he has in common with his fisherman lover, Kirk. He just needs to make sure that Kirk knows how serious he is about their relationship and what he plans on doing about it.

Shane and Kirk’s joyful reunion is interrupted when an unusually vicious gale storm threatens the coast. Kirk has to stand by helplessly and wait while his lover battles the raging seas to save his son. In an instant, Kirk could lose everyone he holds dear.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of BDSM.

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Review: Anomaly by S.A. McAuley

Staff Sergeant Galen Welc has a nickname—Magneto. He has this strange ability to uncover IED’s before they take out his brothers in arms. When he is sent to a training facility to pit his abilities against that of new military drones, the last thing Galen is expecting is to meet a man who pushes all his buttons in just the right way. When he finds out that the man he has just met is the scientist behind the creation of the latest drone, sparks fly!

While I liked the promise of this story, it was so short that I found myself wondering who these guys were and how they could ever really match up beyond their love for the challenge of being the fastest man to uncover IED’s. The romance element never went beyond a seeming one-night stand and I had to make the leap from that to a potential relationship by story’s end. I just really wanted to get to know these guys more, and we ran out of story before I could do that. 2.5 stars

Always Ready by T.A. Chase

Jake is part of the Coast Guard whose one job is to save lives on the open sea. Phil is a crabber—on the Bering Sea where storms and gale force winds are not uncommon. One man lives for the danger, the other for the rescue. Each lives for the other. But Phil is in the closet and afraid to tell his family that he is deeply in love with Jake. Two years of hiding and torrid, fast hookups on a rare weekend a month have left both men wondering about their jobs and the distance it forces between them and whether they can go on living so far apart.

For a short story, I felt there was such depth to these characters. Their love for each other was as apparent as was their love for their jobs. How to rectify the great distance between them that gave them only a weekend a month to be together was an overwhelming concern for both of them. I felt the real pull that Jake felt for his job versus his lover, Phil. Jake rescues people for a living and he loves his job—despite the real fact that sometimes mother nature wins and Jake cannot save everyone. Phil is poised to take over a many generation boating legacy and already feels strongly for his crew—viewing them as a captain would. But Phil is so tired of hiding his love for Jake and while Jake would never push Phil to come out, his own disastrous coming out story shadows how he thinks. Well written, the story of love and respect that these two men have for each other is palpable and told in such a way as to also prove to be a loving tribute to those who keep our waters safe. 4.5 stars

A Ring And A Vow by Devon Rhodes

First, let me say that reading this short sequel has made me go off and purchase the original novel this short story is based on. Secondly, I am hoping that a major plot point is somehow addressed in the initial book, as I felt it was the only weak spot in an otherwise lovely finish to the tale of two young men so very much in love.

Cary is a pilot in the navy, Owen is in the marines, and at the opening of the story is deployed in enemy territory. They have spent the five years since the academy, where they met and fell in love, being stationed apart and longing for each other. During that time, Cary has been plagued with violent nightmares of Owen’s death. One month prior to coming home, Owen finally makes good on his promise, given years before, and asks Cary to marry him. Cary accepts and the rest of this story describes their time together in small vignettes leading up to their actual wedding day.

I was smitten with these two young men right away. The story balanced both their inner thoughts and fears against their love and support for each other. I felt so drawn to them and enjoyed how each chapter seemed to be another peek at their whirlwind wedding preparations and their new assignments in their various branches of service.

However, I never felt that the near paralyzing nightmares that Cary had been experiencing were fully addressed and indeed, they just seemed to disappear altogether. While I know that having Owen home would and should relieve Cary of his dreams, I also know the author chose to have Cary plagued by a last nightmare after Owen was home and in his arms their first night. For me, never really stating that Cary’s nightmares were gone left a major plot point unfinished and was, absolutely, the only flaw in an otherwise lovely story. 4 stars

My Marine by LE Franks & Sara York

Sean Green has seen the Afghani interpreter, Akim, come and go on the base and has taken notice of him. If only he could speak with the man, find out more about him. But this is wartime and while the interpreter is aiding the US, he is also the enemy. Then one chance meeting, and lust and yearning take over, and suddenly Sean knows that when he is finally sent stateside again he will do everything in his power to bring Akim with him. But what if Akin is not who he says he is? What if he is hiding a secret that will tear the two men apart?

My Marine was a sweet story with a few interesting twists and turns. When Akim’s secret was revealed I must admit I was pretty surprised and to be honest, understood Sean’s reactions completely. And it was just here that the story fell apart a bit for me. Sean began with strong sentiments about how Akin had lied to him. He admitted to himself that it was like he never really knew Akim, so why the sudden and swift capitulation at the story’s end? I felt that both men should have worked a little harder at reestablishing trust and not moved into intimacy immediately. There had, up to that point, been a plausible and very interesting story—if only the ending had been just a bit more drawn out. 3.5 stars

Soul Sick by Kendall McKenna

Jamie brings more than external scars from shrapnel home from deployment. Inside he is still trapped on the battlefield, and he is rapidly losing ground. Tucker has been waiting a year for his lover, but the man who comes home bears little resemblance to the one who left, and Tucker is worried that if Jamie doesn’t seek help soon, more will be lost than their partnership.

This was a very raw look at the effects of PTSD on a returning soldier. Jamie simply comes unraveled, going as far as physically threatening Tucker. Jamie wants to have everything as it was, but even the smallest of things picks at him, making him bleed a little more each day. It is both sad and scary watching Jamie devolve into a madman who cannot always be reasoned with before he lashes out.

My only regret with this story was the way it jumped, seemingly without a segue, into the future, where Jamie was apparently beginning to turn things around with the help of counseling. Admittedly and wisely, author Kendall McKenna did not allow Jamie to be instantly “fixed”; rather, we saw his ongoing turmoil right up to the end. But it was the abrupt way in which we were thrust into this future time of recovery that jangled a bit. Suddenly we were there and made to understand that during this unmarked time, Tucker and Jamie had actually been sleeping apart. Because the ending seemed to thrust us into a future that had no explanation, I felt the story rushed to the end and we never had a sense of healing or, more importantly, rebuilt trust between the two lovers. 3 stars

Safe Shores by Morticia Knight

Months go by before Kirk, a small time fisherman, and his lover Shane, a coast guard diver, are able to see one another. But their relationship has only gotten better over the last two years, and this visit finds both of them contemplating saying those three little words that every one yearns to hear. But Kirk is older than Shane by ten years and has a son by a long dissolved marriage that keeps him tethered to the small town he grew up in. Can these two make a go of it when distance and time seem intent on keeping them apart?

Safe Shores is a full out love story between two men who are ready to take the leap at a future they both desire. Even though both feel deeply for the other, saying I love you does not roll easily off the tongue, and both Shane and Kirk are worried that the other may not be ready for such a huge commitment.

I really enjoyed this story. I felt immediately drawn to these characters and felt completely invested in their story as a result. I particularly liked how both the men were very strong in their own right—while BDSM was a brief part of this love story, it was done with strength and truth, making it very erotic. All in all, Safe Shores was a nice way to end this well done anthology. 5 stars






Semper Fidelis is currently available for purchase only from:

Totally Bound

Totally Bound

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Giveaways, Self-Published

Blog Tour: The Brit Boys Are Here Today With A Giveaway

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The Novel Approach is pleased to welcome the Brit Boys: On Boys tour today.

The question was posed to the participating authors in the collection:

A lot of British authors set their books in the US, are your books normally set in the UK and does it make a difference to your style of writing?

You’ll find their answers below, as well as an excerpt, the blurbs for each book, and here’s a Rafflecopter link to enter for the chance to win a $10 Gift Card for All Romance eBooks.

Rafflecopter Giveaway

And now, I give you the authors of Brit Boys: On Boys. Enjoy!

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M.K. Elliott:
Actually, I do set a lot of stories in the US, but not always. I’ve travelled a lot and so set my stories all over the world. I do change my style depending on the setting and the nationality of the characters. Plus, the language, and obviously the spelling changes too. But I have editors who work with me to make sure I don’t make a mess of it!

Lucy Felthouse:
The vast majority of my stories are based in the UK, purely because it’s the place I know best. Some of my much shorter works could, in theory, be based anywhere. But because I live in the UK and I’m British, I know I can write a more realistic story with realistic characters by using the Brit angle. I have written stories based elsewhere, including Paris, Rome, New York and California, to name but a few. The latter two in particular took a lot of research as I’ve never been to those places, and some of the characters involved were American. We may technically speak the same language, but there are so many nuances between British and American English that you just don’t realise until you’re trying to write it down!

I don’t think it changes my writing style, as such, but let’s just say if I’m writing places I don’t know and characters that aren’t British, it’s much harder work to get it right!

Clare London:
I used to write in a generic-US world because I thought that was what readers wanted, but now I’ve settled far more happily into UK settings. As a writer, it’s a joy to return to trousers instead of pants, and pavements instead of sidewalks. And I’m sure readers enjoy it, too!

KD Grace:
I write books set both sides of the pond. It very much makes a difference in the style of writing. I think I write much more understated, tongue in cheek when I write stories set in the UK and much more deliberately over the top and in-your-face when I write stories set in the US. I wasn’t born in the UK, so the voices of my characters are often voices of transplants.

Ashe Barker:
I almost always set my books in the UK, usually in the north of England. I like to write about places I know and love, and hopefully do them justice.

Sarah Masters:
I usually always write my m/m based in London. I have written a couple set elsewhere, but prefer London. My family come from there so maybe that’s why I choose that location.

Lily Harlem:
I’m about 50/50 US and UK. When I write a book set in the US with US characters I rely on my US editor to pick me up if I make too many Britishisms or my character starts saying ‘whoops a daisy’! I’ve been to the US quite a few times and I tend to pick places I’ve been for my US stories, that makes it easier when trying to describe the ambience and the scenery.

Josephine Myles:
I only set my books in the UK, because setting is really important to me and I want my stories to feel authentic in that respect. I could probably set a short in a foreign country that I’d visited, but I’d be wary of setting a whole novel anywhere I didn’t know intimately. As to whether it affects my writing… I suppose it does. My stories are exceedingly British, and that’s something readers seem to either love or hate. I suspect I might be a Marmite writer, which is only fitting as Marmite is so quintessentially British. For the record, I love Marmite, especially in truffles.

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EXCERPT (from Bodywork by Ashe Barker):
Graham’s bedroom is unfussy, but with just enough in the way of creature comforts to escape being utilitarian. A solid teak bed—very sturdy, with a matching double wardrobe and drawers. He has a huge television screen mounted on the wall facing the bed, and a door leads to the en suite bathroom. That’s all the detail I manage to take in before we come together in a frenzy of kissing and shedding of clothes. We roll across the bed, kicking off shoes, unfastening shirts. I tug my work T-shirt over my head at the same time as Graham unzips my jeans. He reaches for my cock, now fully erect, and squeezes it in his fist.

“Oh, God. Oh, fucking hell.” I let out the low moan as he draws his hand along the length of my dick, slow at first, then pumping faster. I manage to wriggle out of my jeans and shorts without causing him to break contact, and somehow toe off my socks as well.

Now I’m naked, but Graham is still wearing his trousers. Not good. Nowhere near good enough. I grab the waistband and pop the button.

Graham chuckles. “Wait, not so fast.”

“Yes, so fast.” I don’t want to seem over eager, but shit…!

“Condoms?”

“In my jeans.” I’m not given to bouts of religious fervour but I offer up thanks to any deity who might be listening that I am blessed with an innate sense of responsibility and self-preservation, which means I am never unprepared. Well, not entirely. I hope Graham can lay his hands on some lubricant, although I’m not against a little improvisation. I roll to the edge of the bed and rummage among my discarded clothes to retrieve three foil packets. Should be enough. I hope. For now.

“Give.” Graham holds out his free hand.

I’m grateful that he hasn’t seen fit to release his grip on my cock. I drop the condoms into his palm and return to my task of relieving him of his pants.

Graham glances at the condoms. His grin is lust-filled. I suspect my optimism is not misplaced. He tosses the sachets onto the pillow.

Moments later we are both naked. His tackle is in my hand, swelling, solid, seriously impressive. I clench my arse in anticipation. This is going to be one hell of a tight fit, but I like it like that. I cup his balls with my other hand. They feel heavy and I squeeze. He twitches in my hands, and groans.
“Christ, Alex. Don’t stop. Don’t fucking stop.”

The thought never entered my head. Graham’s fist is still stroking up and down my dick but the pace has become more leisurely now as my work on his cock grabs his undivided attention. I don’t mind that, don’t care. There’s time, and I want to please him, to give him as much pleasure as I’m able.

I shift into a kneeling position beside him and lean over to lick the head of his cock. The slit is already opening to leak droplets of clear, slick pre-cum. It tastes salty, the tang familiar yet unique, a flavour that is just Graham. I open my lips to take in the head and as much of his length as I can manage. I start by using the pocket of my inner cheek, but I’m soon shifting position again, now kneeling between his legs to draw the whole of his dick into my mouth and throat.

Graham’s fingers are in my hair, holding my head, but he doesn’t try to force the pace. It wouldn’t bother me if he did, I don’t mind things getting a bit rough. Even so, I appreciate his restraint, his good manners.

I suck on his cock, using my hands to massage his balls. Graham is writhing under me, his low moans and breathy, guttural curses telling me in no uncertain terms that I’m on the right track. I speed up, ramp up the pressure. I press harder, squeeze a little more, digging my fingers into the rough skin of his scrotum. I scrape my teeth along the wide, swollen head, then swipe my tongue over the smooth curves. The trickle of pre-cum builds, delicious, both sweet and tart at the same time. My saliva mingles with it as I bob my head up and down to take as much of him as I possibly can.

“Alex, I’m close…”

I ignore the warning, tightening my grip on his nuts as his orgasm builds and boils within him. He stiffens in my hands, poised in those final few moments. I continue to work him hard and fast. With a muffled obscenity his cock leaps in my mouth and the hot flood of semen hits the back of my throat. I was expecting it, but still I have to work to swallow, to keep my airway clear. The jizz continues to flow, his balls pumping the warm fluid into my mouth as fast as I can swallow it.
I don’t lose a drop. Not one. When Graham finally stops coming I remain in place to clean every last smear from his dick before raising my head. I lick my lips as I admire his expression of contentment, He’s an attractive man—I’d thought that the moment I’d set eyes on him. In this moment, relaxed, sated, he is utterly beautiful.

I flop back down alongside him. He turns to me and cups my cheek.

“Thank you. It’s been a while…”

“Yeah?” I find that something of a surprise but make no further comment as Graham props himself up on one elbow to lean over me.

His kiss is more gentle now, less demanding. Exploring, tasting, sharing the exquisite flavour of his release, the residue still lingering in my mouth.

“God, that’s so sexy. So fucking hot.” He murmurs the words against my neck and reaches for my dick again. His caress is still firm, just the way I like it.

I can get off like this, but I really prefer…

“Fuck me.” I can hear the growl in my voice—being randy as a tomcat will do that for me every time.

“Sure. Love to.”

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britboysonboys200Blurbs:
From east to west and north to south, these British boys are having a blast in and out of the bedroom with the men of their dreams. They’re topping and bottoming from London to Cardiff, living out fantasies in the wildest fells and hooking up while serving HRH Queen Elizabeth II.

With passion and lust the name of the game, nothing is off limits. Throw in honed muscles, high-strength testosterone and an accent to die for and there is nothing they can’t do and no one they can’t get in this world or another.

Don’t miss Brit Boys: On Boys—a smokin’ hot box set, containing 147,000 words/440 pages of unforgettable M/M erotic romance from eight popular British authors.

Bodywork By Ashe Barker:
Alex is doing okay. His body repair shop makes enough to live on, he has a decent apartment, life is fine. That all changes when he runs into Graham in a supermarket car park – literally. He offers to fix the damage to Graham’s car free of charge. The sparks soon fly, and the heat between them has nothing to do with welding equipment.

Breaking the Marine By M.K. Elliott:
Brandon Rosen hadn’t planned for his final night before enrolling in the Royal Marines to involve a hot stranger and a pub car park. And he certainly hadn’t planned for that same hot stranger to turn up at the barracks in the form of his Drill Instructor, Corporal Will Stewart. In the testosterone fuelled environment of the training camp, can Brandon and Will overcome past pains and face up to what they really want? Or will the Royal Marine Commando School break their relationship before it even gets started?

Love on Location By Lucy Felthouse:
When Theo Samuels heads off to film on location in the village of Stoneydale, he’s expecting drama to take place on camera, not off. But when he meets gorgeous local lad, Eddie Henderson, he struggles to ignore his attraction. A relationship between the two of them would be utterly impractical, yet they’re drawn together nonetheless. Can they overcome the seemingly endless hurdles between them? Or is their fling destined to remain as just that?

Landscapes By K D Grace:
Alonso Darlington has a disturbing method of keeping landscaper, Reese Chambers, both safe from and oblivious to his dangerous lust for the man. But Reese isn’t easy to keep secrets from, and Alonso wants way more than to admire the man from afar. Can he risk a real relationship without risking Reese’s life?

The Chase By Lily Harlem:
Steve’s killing time working in a comedy club. Why not? It makes him laugh and both the clientele and the comedians are not just fit but also great company. One stand up joker decides to create a wild goose chase for Steve and his ex Robert. Cavorting around Cardiff on a frosty night, however, does more than just show them the way to a threesome, it also reveals the reasons why they should give each other one more shot.

Dish of the Day By Clare London:
Richie’s sunk all his hopes and savings into a new restaurant in south London promoting British ingredients and recipes. His best friends Craig and Ben should be around to help him celebrate the grand opening, but it looks like it’s all heading for disaster – until his friends step in to tell him some home truths. Then they’ll help him relax and enjoy their loving, intimate menu instead.

E2 By Sarah Masters:
When Archie meets Dan after The Change, he realises there is no such thing as a random meeting of soul mates, it’s all mapped out in the stars. Now all he’s got to do is hope those orbiting planets stay in alignment and true love finds him again.

Locked Out By Josephine Myles:
Getting accidentally locked out of his hotel room on Valentine’s Day night is embarrassing enough for teacher Martin Cooper, but the fact he’s stark naked makes it even worse. It doesn’t help that the one person he runs into is Rod, the gorgeous man he’d been checking out earlier in the hotel pool. But when Rod offers Martin a refuge, the night heats up. Now if only Martin could get the hang of this seduction business…

BUY LINKS:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Amazon AU
Amazon CA
All Romance eBooks
Barnes & Noble
iBooks UK
iBooks US
Kobo
Smashwords

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4 Stars, Anthology, Reviewed by Lana, Totally Bound

Review: What’s His Passion – An Anthology From Totally Bound

Title: What’s His Passion?

Author: Anthology

Publisher: Totally Bound

Pages/Word Count: 367 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars Overall

Blurb: Explore our contemporary collection of men and their passions.

We all have our passions—whether they’re simple pleasures like fine wine and good music, or more ambitious like climbing mountains or jumping out of airplanes. It might even be revelling in the edgier side of sex!

Dive in and discover the many passions of the amorous men explored in our new imprint—What’s His Passion?

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Review: I like reading anthologies because it’s a great way to sample different authors. Sometimes the selection is great and sometimes not so much. What’s His Passion? delivered on some and not on others. The stories here were a mix of a man’s love of something and someone. Most of these were ok and didn’t move me at all save for one. Picturing Lysander by LM Somerton was the exception to the rule. It ticked all my boxes in the “this is a great” story department. I will definitely be on the lookout for more from this author.

Picturing Lysander is a hot little story that needed to be much, much longer. The writing was exceptional and the story flowed without any snags. The plot was a variation on a theme that I’ve read before but that I enjoy never the less.

Kyle works for a spy agency, and they need Lysander to take pictures of some foreign government installations. Lysander is a photographer and an adrenaline junkie. Kyle uses unusual ways to make Lysander cooperate, fun ways for sure, but there is dubious consent because Kyle gets a little rough. So, if you’re not into a little domination, be forewarned.

The interaction between the two is off the charts. For a short story, the characters where nicely developed, which doesn’t always happen. Their banter was fun to read and ramped up the sexual tension between the two. They have been added to my list of favorite couples. They had the couple dynamic that I love reading about, and I would have loved to have gotten more background on them, so if the author is reading this, please, please make this little gem into a full length book.

What’s His Passion? is a collection that didn’t spark passion in me, except for Picturing Lysander, and for that it’s worth a read.








You can buy What’s His Passion? here:

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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.

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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.

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The Giveaway: THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED

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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

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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.

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3.5 Stars, Anthology, Ava Penn, Beaten Track Publishing, Holiday Romance, Kathleen Hayes, Raine O'Tierney, Reviewed by Lana

Review: Boughs of Evergreen Roundup – Xmas Cake, Coming in from the Cold, and The Bard and His Boyfriend

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Titles: Xmas Cake: A Modern Fairy Tale, Coming in from the Cold, and The Bard and His Boyfriend

Authors: Raine O’Tierney, Ava Penn, Kathleen Hayes

Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing – Boughs of Evergreen Anthology benefitting The Trevor Project

Pages/Word Count: 43 Pages/52 Pages/35 Pages

Rating: 3.5 Stars Overall

Blurbs:

Xmas Cake: Once upon a snowy Christmas season, in the glowing metropolis of Midday…

If this were a fairy tale Kyle would be the handsome prince and Riley would be the poor baker in distress. Oh wait, but that’s exactly what it is!

When Kyle Prince sees Riley collapse in the snow-covered parking lot, he swoops in to the rescue, whisking the feverish young man off to his high-rise apartment without a second thought.

As Riley mends under Kyle’s care, a feeling of closeness grows between the two men. But every fairy tale has its complications. Will the two find their happily ever after this Christmas?

Coming in from the Cold: What’s a poor, East coast boy fending for himself in Colorado to do when winter sets in on the Rockies?

Declan Stoeber finds himself freezing every minute of the day once autumn ends and the snow begins to fall in the Centennial State. With no family to go home to for the holiday season, he plans to put extra time into his studies and maybe look for a part-time job. What he gets is a part-time job with benefits and a few new friends.

Xander Duchesne is a savvy businessman in the harsh world of deals and projects. Estranged from his mother due to her matchmaking tendencies, he is resolved to spending Yule (or Winter Solstice) by himself for the first time in his life. He wasn’t expecting his mother’s impossible-to-ignore demands, and he certainly wasn’t prepared for a college freshman who was just coming in from the cold.

The Bard and His Boyfriend: Seth is a member of an ancient clan of druids that have existed for over 5,000 years. The rituals they perform at the changing of the seasons keep the very fabric of reality from unraveling. But as he goes home for the Winter Solstice, all Seth can think about is the huge fight he had with his boyfriend before he left school for the holiday break.

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Review: There is nothing better than getting into the holiday spirit with romantic Christmas stories. A holiday story that is heartfelt, cute and most importantly sweet, always leaves me warm and fuzzy. My selection from this holiday collection wereXmas Cake by Raine O’Tierney, Coming in from the Cold by Ava Penn, and The Bard and His Boyfriend by Kathleen Hayes. They were all cute if not a bit formulaic.

In Xmas Cake, a waif finds his true love after a case of mistaken identity. I though the story could have been better if it were written in a different way. I think the author was trying to go with the whole fairy tale vibe, which didn’t work for me, and I felt the story was a little boring.

In Coming in from the Cold, two men meet each other just before Christmas and find true love. These themes usually have me salivating, but this story was just ordinary for me. It was also pretty mild on the heat level and is perfect for anyone looking for an introduction to m/m fiction.

The story that really caught my attention was The Bard and His Boyfriend, a cute take on the fantasy genre. Seth is part of a Celtic Clan in America, and the caretaker of a mystical ritual. Honestly, I was a little bit confused by the explanation, but I think if this were a longer novella and more background was given, it could have the potential to be a really good story. During the winter solstice celebration, Seth’s boyfriend Ale shows up. The only problem is that the location of the Clan is a secret, and no one outside the Clan knows the location. But it turns out that Ale is Seth’s chosen and knows the location in his heart. The story is cute and sweet, but is just too short to leave any sort of lasting impression.

My selections from Boughs of Evergreen were okay for a quick read, and in the end, not too filling.








You can buy Xmas Cake, Coming in from the Cold, and The Bard and His Boyfriend here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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4 Stars, Anthology, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Lana, Storm Moon Press

Review: Blood Embrace – An Anthology

Title: Blood Embrace

Author: Anthology

Publisher: Storm Moon Press

Pages/Word Count: 133 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: Vampires have become the ultimate erotic figure in paranormal literature, but the creatures in “Blood Embrace” are more than just pretty immortals who suck the blood from their victims or companions. This anthology showcases M/M short stories that have unique ideas in the vampire genre, taking them beyond their traditional settings and extravagance. No angst-ridden “sparklepires” or caped Transylvanians who “never drink… wine” here! These tales show off the new and wonderful things that can be done with this tried and true erotic theme. Continue reading

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3 Stars, Anthology, Drew Zachary, Reviewed by Lana, Torquere Press

Review: Ordinary Heroes by Drew Zachary

Title: Ordinary Heroes

Author: Drew Zachary

Publisher: Torquere Press

Pages/Word Count: 65 Pages

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb: These four tales by Drew Zachary celebrate the everyday hero. Whether it’s a midnight romp in a corn maze under the moonlight at Halloween, or a vet returning to his small hometown years after leaving for the big city, a guard in an office building or a waiter at a holiday resort, these ordinary men are heroes to the men who fall in love with them.

These four previously published stories include Maze and Moon, Peter’s Day Off, Night at the Office, and You Can Go Home Again. Continue reading

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Beaten Track Publishing, Ofelia Grand

Guest Post and Giveaway: Boughs of Evergreen – A Holiday Anthology For A Cause

Boughs of EvergreenHolidays, don’t you just love holidays? The warmth, the abundance of food, the traditions, the love. That’s maybe the most important thing—the love. Holidays bring friends and family together,everyone is basking in the warm acceptance, the understanding, the unconditional love. No? No, I dare say that’s not always the case. For Simon in From All of Us to All of You holidays are something to dread.

Two days had passed since the disaster in Hannes’ hallway; only four anxiety-free days to go. That was a lie, of course. People were already getting into their holiday cheer, which in turn spiked my anxiety. I hated holiday cheer, but I tried to be polite about it. Every time someone would wish me a Merry Christmas, I would shudder, but smile, and wish them one in return.

“I really didn’t understand why we put ourselves through it. All these expectations only led to disappointments. Everyone was stressed; parents were stressed, old people were stressed, even the children were stressed. There was so much pressure everywhere, traditions to follow, hopes and wishes to be fulfilled—no wonder alcoholics opted for staying drunk, or passed out, during the festivities. The twenty-fourth of December was the worst day of the entire year, not that I looked forward to New Year’s Eve, Easter Eve, Midsummer Eve, or any other Eve, but Christmas Eve? I wished I could wipe that date out completely.” Continue reading

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4 Stars, Anthology, Harmony Ink Press, Reviewed by Lana, Young Adult

Review: First Time for Everything – A Harmony Ink Press Anthology

Title: First Time for Everything

Author: Anthology

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 350 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: There’s nothing like the first time. Whether it’s a first crush, first date, first kiss, or finding tolerance and approval for the first time, for gay, lesbian, bi, and trans teens—or those still exploring and discovering their sexuality and identity—these important firsts can shape the rest of their lives. Gathering the courage to come out to their families, admit their feelings to a friend, or go to school presenting as the people they really are can be a struggle. But with the support of their allies and their own inner strength, the brave young people in these stories take the first steps toward happiness and living on their own terms. From sweet stories of newly discovered love, humorous accounts of awkward dinners and dances, to fights for acceptance and even survival, the teens in this anthology must face new challenges and rise to meet them. These are the first times they’ll never forget. Continue reading

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