4 Stars, Loose Id, Madeleine Ribbon, Reviewed by Kim, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Faire Diviner by Madeleine Ribbon

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Title: Faire Diviner

Author: Madeleine Ribbon

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 234 Pages

At a GlanceI must say that I’m quite taken with the author’s storytelling.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Rosewood, the magical Renaissance Faire’s psychic and one of the business partners, has been single for over ten years—ever since he accidentally revealed his psychic abilities to the love of his life and lost him. He has devoted himself to the Faire and the magic within ever since. The last thing he expects when hiring a new business manager is for Oscar—the “one who got away”—to walk back into his life as the most qualified applicant.

While Rosewood tries to deal with Oscar as his new business partner, his abilities start going haywire. He senses danger coming, and it’s somehow tied to Oscar’s dark past. They will have to work together to recover Rosewood’s abilities, help Oscar heal, and save the Faire itself.

And if they can do that, then maybe, possibly, the “one who got away” will become his greatest catch.

Dividers

Review: Faire Diviner is the second book I’ve read by Madeleine Ribbon, Death by Dragon being the first, and I must say that I’m quite taken with the author’s storytelling.

Basically, Faire Diviner starts out with Rosewood using his psychic abilities to look for a potential replacement to fill his Uncle Jorvik’s job as head Manager of the Faire. He’s shocked to discover that the interviewee with the most potential is his first love, Oscar Moreno—The One the Faire wants for the job.

Now, after reading both sides of the story about how these two didn’t stay together when they were younger, I wouldn’t exactly call this a story about “the one who got away” as much as it’s that they both bolted from each other and went their separate ways. And, it would seem they were both at fault for what happened. Youth and inexperience strikes again!

I liked Anthony Rosewood. His character came off as somewhat lonely because of his isolated life from others outside the Faire, and his sensitivity caused by feeling others’ emotions. There’s an innocence about him that is quite charming in itself. As a teen, his mother hurt him deeply when, after his father died, she wanted to commit him to a mental institution because of his abilities. Running away before she could carry out that deed, he ended up at the Faire and under the protection of his Uncle Jorvik.

Vin is someone who Rosewood considers a friend-with-benefits, someone he turns to when he needs a cuddle, which I thought was kind of cute. Oscar is also someone I liked as a character, but he did come with a bunch of his own emotional baggage. He’d just escaped from an abusive long-term relationship. But there was one episode that I thought him quite the AH after he and Rosewood hooked-up. Again, I have to give him a little leeway since both men seem to have a communication problem with each other.

Now that I’ve read Faire Diviner, I went out and purchased the two books that preceded this one. I’m sure I’ll get more perspective on how the Faire operates, but Faire Diviner can be read as a standalone. It just made me want to read more about this alternate universe, and I’m looking forward to reading future stories by Madeleine Ribbon. I think I’ve found a new author to enjoy!

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5 Stars, Astrid Amara, Genre Romance, Loose Id, Reviewed by Kim

Review: Crash Plus Expenses by Astrid Amara

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Title: Crash Plus Expenses

Author: Astrid Amara

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 94 Pages

At a GlanceI love these types of romances!

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Dan Lewinski would follow his subject Connor Katz to the ends of the earth. It’s what he’s paid to do. Apparently this also includes following his subject Connor Katz as they plummet to earth, because their plane is going down. And Dan likes living so that’s a problem.

It’s also a problem because he knows there’s a secret behind Connor Katz’s past, a reason the man’s sister is paying beaucoup bucks to have him followed, a reason Connor appears so quiet on the outside, yet seems lit like a fire from within. Dan needs to know Connor’s secret.

But if they survive the crash, how on earth can Dan get to know the mysteries of a man he’s been in love with from afar without admitting he’s a private eye who’s watched his every move?

Dividers

Review: I’m a big fan of Astrid Amara’s contemporaries. I love her brand of humor and the way her MCs are thrown together so that they have no choice but to get to know each other. Crash Plus Expenses doesn’t waste any time, starting as the plane is about to crash. This part was kind of intense and reinforced the very reason why I avoid flying in planes. But, as the plane prepares for its quick downward landing, there’s a brief summary as to why Dan is on this particular flight. He’s also got a bit of a crush on the man he’s been paid to follow for the last year.

I’m going to spoil things by saying, “Yes, they both survived the crash,” buuuuut now comes the fun part—surviving the wilds of Alaska as they wait for rescue.

I love these types of romances! I loved Dan’s character and how human he was when he let the cat out of the bag about things he shouldn’t know about Connor (oops). Dan really has it bad for him, and the letter he eventually writes to Connor had me giving it a great big aaaaaaah, how sweet.

As for Connor, Dan is his hero…until he learns more about Dan and why he was on that flight (that was an interesting fall out). Connor did have some pretty good secrets from his past, and it’s quite understandable why he was suspicious in nature.

I had trouble putting Crash Plus Expenses down. It just hit all the right buttons for me, and I made the mistake of starting this one before bedtime, then ended up going to work the next day, tired! I will add, if you’re one who doesn’t believe in coincidences (because there are some things that are a little unbelievable that occur throughout the story), this may not be your cup of tea.

I definitely see a sequel…and, lo and behold, as I was getting ready to start this review, I found out there is one (Hanukkah on Retainer)! Guess who went to ARe and bought it without hesitation?

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2.5 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Dawn Flemington, Loose Id, Reviewed by Jennifer

Review: Naked Mailman by Dawn Flemington

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TitleNaked Mailman

Author: Dawn Flemington

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 121 Pages

At a Glance: Interesting concept, but too much packed into a novella.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Mailman Ken Lane is bored with his life. Nothing exciting ever happens to him. That is, until a nude man attacks him and leaves him bound and naked in the back of his mail truck. After all the excitement, Ken can’t stop thinking about the man, especially when he ends back up in Ken’s life and turns it upside down.

Correctional Officer Devon McLaren is a BDSM Dom non-shifting werewolf whose personal life has gone abruptly to hell. The subject of a non-consensual drug experiment, Devon is trying to get to the FBI with information regarding a drug cartel that would really rather he didn’t. On top of that, he’s consumed with lustful thoughts of the mailman he attacked and longs to do many kinky things to him.

Despite the danger, Devon takes Ken on the run with him, hoping that a trusted friend will help them out (and give them a place to do some of those kinky things). But when said friend proves to be a part of the problem, they’ve got to get out of the jam together, before Devon’s pack is destroyed. But can they, or will their obsession with each other get in the way?

Dividers

Review: The title alone of this book intrigued me, and I knew I had to read it. It has BDSM, shifters; I mean, really what more could I want?

Ken Lane, mailman, thinks nothing exciting ever happens in his life, but this all changes one day when out on a routine route, he is attacked, his clothes stolen, and he is left naked in the back of his mail truck. After several days of the news turning him into the Naked Mailman, he tries to resume his normal life only to find Devon, the man who stole his clothing, has broken into his apartment. What follows is an interesting adventure where Ken is dragged around the state, and he learns that werewolves exist. Throw in tarot reading coworkers with completely accurate horoscopes, and drug cartels, and you’re in for a ride.

While the beginning of the book was interesting and left me amused, I started to struggle by the time I got about halfway. Not only is there a lot going on in this story, there’s just not enough room for it. You have werewolves, BDSM, illegal drug experimentation, the FBI… the list goes on. Ken is dragged through it all, his world turned upside down, and he just goes along for the ride. Why? Because Devon is good looking and turns his submissive side on.

It seemed a stretch for me, and the issues started early. For example, I understand that Ken is a submissive, but to have your life threatened while at work and being forced to strip? I can see how it’s a fantasy for some, but this just didn’t feel right. Fast forward a few scenes and let’s talk about the blowjob Devon demands in a public restroom while they’re both wearing clothes they bought off homeless men. I had to cringe just at the thought of the smell of the dirty clothes. But that wasn’t even what bothered me the most. Once they meet Sir Gary—Devon’s Dom human friend—they’re offered the use of his playroom. Ken has never been involved in BDSM. He just knows about it, knows he’s a submissive, and that’s pretty much it. But they engage in a scene.

Without a safe word.

So despite Ken saying no, Devon doesn’t stop, and then Ken soars and floats and he’s happy. But the lack of the safe word while Ken was saying no bothered me. Because it seemed to me like he did want Devon to stop, and because there was no communication beforehand, he had no real way of telling Devon to stop if he really wanted him to.

Some of the dialogue is awkward, such as Devon and Gary referring to each other as Sir Gary and Sir Devon. I get that they’re Doms, but it just felt forced for these characters.

There’s more involved in the book such as the fact that Devon is a shifter who can’t shift—it’s described at one point as a handicap—but there’s just too much to mention in the review.

If you enjoy shifter books with BDSM themes, you may be interested in this book, but as for me, while enjoyable at first, I struggled to finish this one.

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3 Stars, Genre Romance, Loose Id, Mae Hancock, Reviewed By Carrie

Review: Cotton Candy by Mae Hancock

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Title: Cotton Candy (Wyoming Lovers: Book Two)

Author: Mae Hancock

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 185 Pages

At a Glance: This one just didn’t do it for me.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Cowboy Cotton Reid is the laid-back type of guy who accepts people as they are, no matter how flawed. People think he’s fun, honest and crazy about his boss and friend the sexy rancher Bay Redman.

Living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is something that family man Bay has done his whole life. Bay can be like a bear with a sore head if the hay isn’t stored symmetrically or his fridge contains an odd number of jars.

When the two men begin a hot affair, Cotton keeps an important secret from Bay. If he can’t find the courage to tell him the truth before someone else does, Bay may never be able to let it go.

Dividers

Review: Cotton Reid fell in love with his boss—but the man is more than his boss, he is the father figure for Cotton’s daughter Kristen.

Cotton is very laid back, on the outside. On the inside, the man is just full of angst, and it colors everything he does in his job as ranch hand. He is young, he is a father, and he comes to the ranch to meet his daughter and be a part of her life. And remains there for eighteen months, doing nothing about it, before the events of this book take place. Have to admit, I had some trouble with that one, but once the author explained why, it made sense. I still may not have agreed with it, but I had a clearer view of where the author was going. Cotton is a confused character on the inside, and many of Bay’s personality traits appeal to this cowboy who needs help in an overwhelming situation. Cotton is a loving character, he wants to care for Bay and be everything the rancher needs, and in this respect the author hits it spot on.  I rooted for Cotton, he just needed the support.

Bay is a successful rancher and businessman.  If his personal life is not as together as his work one, well he’ll take what he can get.  Bay also has OCD. I really applaud the author for how she treats this disorder in her character.  The way that Bay copes – or doesn’t cope – with the OCD is addressed in compassionate and believable scenarios. Bay becomes an unlikely hero in this story, as his life trauma makes his disorder worse, to the point of taking over, and how he copes with this unique malady and moves forward with his life is admirable. Control over everything is how Bay keeps sane. This seeps into his relationship with Cotton, and Bay’s commanding persona in the bedroom is the perfect complement to Cotton’s submissive heart. But Bay is broken and he needs Cotton to help him heal. As the events in his life swirl out of control, the only peace Bay can find from his OCD is in the calm that Cotton brings whenever Bay is around him.

I have to say, I disliked the secondary figures in the story.  The daughter, Kristen, was spoiled and ungrateful, and her behavior kept getting justified to the point of Bay apologizing to his daughter for the way SHE acted.  Uhm. No. And the ex-wife was horrendous, but then, she was supposed to be, so excellent writing there! Grandma was a mixed bag for me; she was supportive of Bay’s relationships but felt that he could do more to control his disorder. Which, if you have OCD you know that may not be true.

There is a lot of angst flying around in this book, and for that it was a mixed bag for me.  The book is compelling; it is worth the read for those who love cowboys with issues.  This is book two in this series, and I will probably read the next installment just to see where the author will go next with this ranch.

I loved the cover art on this book, done by Dar Albert. The depiction of Cotton was exactly as I pictured him! Thank you for an amazing visual that enhances the story.

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5 Stars, Genre Romance, Loose Id, Meg Amor, Reviewed by Lana

Review: Hawaiian Orchid by Meg Amor

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Title: Hawaiian Orchid (The Hawaiians: Book Two)

Author: Meg Amor

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 302 Pages

At a Glance: Love does conquer all, and Hawaiian Orchid will tug at your heart and make you believe.

Reviewed By: Lana

Blurb: Kulani Mahikoa is “The Orchid,” a young, insecure, pro surfer from a rough background on the Big Island of Hawai’i. He’s Beau Toyama’s cousin from Hawaiian Lei and a healer with a heart as deep as the ocean he’s part of. Like many of the great Hawaiians, Kulani epitomizes the spirit of aloha and love. Kulani’s healing his own wounds, and “The Lost Boys”–young, homeless abandoned and abused gay boys he cares for.

He meets the lone and lonely New Zealand widower, Rob Masterson–a wounded psychologist who’s trying to come to terms with his husband’s death. When he died, they were separated but still living together. Rob needs to reconcile all the pieces of guilt and love to heal before he can fall in love again.

The age difference raises one barrier, and besides that, Kulani has more layers than Rob–with his own New Zealand heritage and tangled knot of emotion–ever bargained for. Traveling between the South Sea Islands of beautiful New Zealand and the exotic Hawaiian Islands, they forge a bond–two wounded men find a home for their shrapnel-laced souls.

Dividers

Review: Hawaiian Orchid is the follow-up book to Hawaiian Lei, and for me, it hit all the marks! It has complex characters, a solid storyline, and Hawaii, an island that I have to visit. And, like its predecessor, it was all about the feels.

Hawaiian Orchid is not exactly a sequel, but it follows Kulani, who is Beau’s cousin from the first book, and Rob, another Kiwi. Rob is in Hawaii to recover from personal tragedy. He is a fifty-something who’s finally ready to move on with his life after the death of his husband.

Kulani is a troubled young man, with a tragic past. Because of his difficult childhood he has taken it upon himself to take in homeless gay youth. In his own way, he’s trying to erase his past wounds. He also happens to be a famous pro surfer, who is known as “The Orchid”.

Rob is not interested in an unstable man, but there’s something about Kulani that he just can’t resist. It’s not all about the sex, they connect on a very emotional level, and it just pours off the page! Rob and Kulani’s relationship has a rocky start, but their connection keeps them coming back for more. Their chemistry is off the charts! There is also a whole bunch of secondary characters that were just great, and added another level to the story.

Again, the island of Hawaii and its people play a major role in this book. There is so much rich multi-layering to Hawaii this book brings out that I just don’t have the words to describe it. As with the first book, Hawaiian Orchid is a very emotional story, so keep the tissues handy. There was a couple times where I teared up.

Hawaiian Orchid is a story about two men who overcome emotional obstacles to be together. Love does conquer all, and Hawaiian Orchid will tug at your heart and make you believe. A story full of emotions that will stay with you long after you are finished.

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4 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Genre Romance, Loose Id, Remmy Duchene, Reviewed By Carrie

Review: Love Me Harder by Remmy Duchene

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Title: Love Me Harder

Author: Remmy Duchene

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 172 Pages

At a Glance: Love Me Harder is a solid interracial romance.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Life hasn’t been perfect for Mathew Chance. Between not knowing who his parents are, and being bounced from foster home to foster home, he’s had to work for everything in his life. But lately, he seems to be overdoing it. With two jobs that barely give him time to breath, love is the last thing on his mind. He doesn’t know whether to bless fate or curse it for shoving Asher Mulgrew right into his path.

Wealthy divorce lawyer Asher Mulgrew has it all worked out. From a successful practice to a supportive sister and a fantastic niece, life is good. But he’s lonely. Though he’s not actively searching for a man, he isn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth when he meets bartender, Mathew Chance. Mathew has a wall built around his heart and Asher isn’t sure he can break through even if he wants to.

Dividers

Review: Mathew Chance works hard—too hard.  Being on his own since he was eighteen, and aging out of the boys’ home the foster system had placed him in, all he has done is work. There has to be more to life than working himself into an early grave, but Mat doesn’t know what that is. Taking the easy road has never been his thing, and he refuses to bow to the pressures of his life now.

Remmy Duchene does a great job with Mathews’s character. She writes his hamster-on-a-treadmill life in a way that you both sympathize and empathize with his troubles and his way of thinking. How many of us feel trapped by life, unable to change the status quo because of finances or emotional instability? All we can do is try to keep going, hoping for something better, and that is Mat’s character to a T. Of course, Mathew’s something better comes wrapped in the package of Asher Mulgrew.

Asher runs his own law firm, and is sexy and established both in business and his personal life. He always longed for someone to share his life with, but so far, no luck—until he scopes out a quirky little bar where his sister wants to go, and runs into a gorgeous, reserved man named Mathew. Again, Remmy Duchene writes a character with feeling. After meeting Mat, Asher describes himself as feeling “intimately bankrupt,” and sets out to change that with Mathew. This is a romance in every sense of the word. The road is a long one for these guys, they begin the journey worlds apart, but they make it to their HEA in the end.

I felt like the story could have had a little more depth; the premise is a tricky one, with the poor black boy and the rich white guy, but I will say I never felt any part of this book to be gratuitous in its portrayals. The main characters are on an even keel in this one, despite their differences (as a matter of fact, their races are hardly mentioned). Love Me Harder is a solid romance between two men doing the best they can, and finding the road easier with someone to love by their side.

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3.5 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Loose Id, Lyn Gala, Reviewed by Sammy, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Without a Net by Lyn Gala

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Title: Without a Net

Author: Lyn Gala

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 266 Pages

At a Glance: Without a Net just needed a bit more attention to details in order to work out a few inconsistencies in the story.

Blurb: Oliver Robertson has been assigned to go undercover in one of the shade clubs that litter the seedier parts of town. He has never engaged in the sort of edge play found in those places, preferring the BDSM in the more mainstream control clubs. However, to find the criminals behind a series of kidnappings, he must go in undercover as a shade sub. The mission becomes more complicated when his captain asks him to collect evidence against a lieutenant who might be a dirty cop.

The case quickly gets out of hand, and Ollie finds himself caught between wanting to do his job and not knowing who to trust. That confusion grows worse when a number of sexy and dominant men challenge his assumption that he prefers safe, contractually negotiated sex. It turns out he has more of a wild side than he expected, and given that he’s surrounded by dangerous men, and he can’t distinguish the good guys from the bad, that’s terrifying.

When Ollie gives his trust to Travis Goode, a dominant who appears to be a federal agent, he might be making the connection of a lifetime or dooming himself forever.

Publisher’s Note: Contains dark BDSM elements.

Dividers

Review: This is my first Lyn Gala novel, and I will say that I knew in advance that she writes about BDSM—her work being edgier and often allowing for a good deal of introspection on the part of her characters. In Without a Net, the author uses the vehicle of a mystery/police sting operation to explore a cop’s awakening realization that he likes to walk the edge of consensual D/s experience. In fact, Ollie Robertson will discover that he has a much darker side to him then he has ever fully explored before, while trying to remain an active participant in the center of a sting operation to bring down corrupt law enforcement officials–namely his own captain.

Ollie is supposed to pose as a submissive seeking employment in one of the rougher shade BDSM clubs in the city. Along with a whole heap of scenarios where submissives are losing themselves in dangerous and dubious consent relationships with abusive Doms, the shade club in question also has been noted for a series of disturbing kidnappings. When the game shifts and Ollie is asked by his captain to continue his undercover work in the club, but also to expand it by allowing himself to be backed up by fellow officers who may indeed be dirty cops on the take, he reluctantly agrees to continue. Then, Ollie falls into the hands of a man who has decided to break him and remold him into a shade submissive, all in order to achieve his own revenge against the captain.

Suddenly, Ollie finds himself bound and being brutally trained, his entire fix on who he is sexually and professionally is thrown into a tailspin, and whom he can trust is murky at best. When a former neighbor visits the compound where Ollie is being held, it is hard for our hero to decide if Travis is one of the good guys or another corrupt agent. Not knowing whom to trust, and rapidly realizing he is not the controlled sub he supposed himself to be, Ollie’s life is spinning out of control…and Agent Travis Goode may be the only true anchor Ollie can trust.

There were many layers to this story of corruption and greed. First and foremost this was a story revolving around the corruption and shake down practices of a law enforcement agency. Ollie had already gone on record calling out fellow officers who were biased or bigoted against the gay community within the force; therefore, the story line that had him being the eyes and ears of what seemed a genuinely concerned captain over potentially racist officers was very realistic and valid.

The tensions created between he and other officers were very well written and gave Ollie’s fears over a lack of support from his back-up team credibility. When Ollie was finally taken into captivity by a seeming bad guy, the flow of this mystery novel deepened, and the plot twists and subsequent “breaking’ of Ollie’s resistance and spirit was on target. However, there were several elements in this story that were muddled and left unclear; for instance, the time frame of the story. There was talk of life on Mars about three quarters into the story that made me really jerk in surprise. At the onset of the novel, I got the feel that the setting was a bit different or other worldly, given some of the technology the cops were using, but I never got the idea it was definitely a world set in the future. It was a shock to me that I was now also reading a futuristic novel with possible sci-fi leanings.

Secondly, Ollie’s near constant internal dialogue, which had him self-doubting all that happened, was sketchy and stretched the bounds of believability.  His accepting the fact that he was brutally handled and involved in several non-consensual scenarios just because his captor was seeking revenge on those who had allowed his lover to be brutally treated, left me shaking my head in disbelief. I feel the guilt that Travis felt would have been a bit more justified if there had been even the slightest anger on Ollie’s part against his captors.

All in all, Without a Net seemed unfinished. I am not sure if I ever fully understood who was doing the kidnapping and where those people ended up in the story. If it was explained, I must have missed it while trying to get a handle on Ollie’s evolving reactions to being forced into submission to a man who mocked and used him repeatedly.

I will definitely be visiting this author’s backlist. I believe she writes in depth characters and exciting stories. Without a Net just needed a bit more attention to details in order to work out a few inconsistencies in the story.

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5 Stars, Draven St. James, Genre Romance, Loose Id, Reviewed by Karen

Review: Lost in the Fire by Draven St. James

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Title:  Lost in the Fire (Firehouse Six: Book Five)

Author:  Draven St. James

Publisher: Loose Id

Page/Word Count:  178 Pages

At a Glance: I’m greedy and love the series that much!

Reviewed By:  Karen

Blurb: Aaron Evans embodies every complication Wren Tucker knows he doesn’t need. The tempting go-go dancer refuses to leave him alone and his attempts to get into Wren’s bunker pants don’t stop at the club–even the walls of the Firehouse aren’t safe. Wren’s control is only so strong, and his desire for Aaron is turning into a clawing need that’s digging through the many reasons keeping Aaron at bay.

Aaron is two cold showers away from hypothermia if the hot fireman of his dreams won’t give in to the lust he sees blazing in Wren’s eyes. The only issue is, Wren is a forever man, and Aaron doesn’t have that in him to give, not with so many secrets locked behind the glitter and gold of his beautiful world.

As Wren begins to cave to Aaron’s delicious demands, he gets a deeper view of the tarnished landscape Aaron exists in. A murky pit of drug addiction that’s slowly dragging Aaron under, and Wren is going to have to fight like hell to save Aaron from it, to even have a chance at a new beginning with the man who brought him out of the shadows.

Dividers

Review: I held out on reading this series, wasn’t going to do it, but pretty much every time I went on Facebook, someone was commenting about it or recommending it, so I gave in and got the first book.   And then, later that night, I bought the second book…and then the third, so you get the picture.  I love this series.

I was so happy to get Wren and Aaron’s story, and it definitely took a different turn than I was expecting. They were so sweet together, but I think you get a little bit of everything with this book. It’s not only sweet but sexy, angsty, happy and sad—it pretty much took me across the board. I thought there were some situations in the book that maybe weren’t the most realistic scenarios, but honestly, unless it’s crazy-over-the-top (and even sometimes then), it is a book, and I am usually using it to escape reality.  So, as long as it flows with the story, I am alright with it, and in this case, until I saw other comments it didn’t really even cross my mind.

The only issue I really did have with any of the books in this series, including this one, is that I wish they were longer…not because the story isn’t complete but I just want more…so, not really an issue with the book. I’m greedy and love the series that much!

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5 Stars, Historical Romance, Loose Id, Nasia Maksima, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Unbound, Unbroken by Nasia Maksima

Unbound, Unbroken

Unbound, Unbroken

Title: Unbound, Unbroken (In His Arena: Book Two)

Author: Nasia Maksima

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 309 Pages

At a Glance: An excellent second installment in the In His Arena series.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: When rising star gladiator Titian finds himself paired with the vainglorious champion Galadros, he finds himself in mortal danger. For a dark spell binds them together, using their lust to make them pawns in the wicked schemes of Alession, the Empress’s right-hand man.

Their only hope is to fight against the bond and hope to break it before Alession forces them to fight each other to the death in the arena. But with every challenge they face, Titian finds himself more and more drawn to Galadros, strengthening the dark spell even as they try to break it.

What begins as pure survival quickly spirals into a whirlwind of lust and love as Titian fights—both for his life and for an impossible future with Galadros. But Galadros has an even darker secret—one that might destroy them both.

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Review: Although Unbound, Unbroken is the second book in this series, you do not need to read the first in order to understand it. Though there are a few characters that make a reappearance, the lovers in this story are new. The previous lovers from book one are mentioned briefly, but as Titian and Galadros didn’t know them, they don’t know the entire story. Alession and the Empress return, as they are central, connecting figures of the series, but their history is explained for new readers and recapped for fans of the first.

Using the slavecraft from the first book, but this time as a stronger spell, Alession binds Titian and Galadros together for the cruel amusement of the Empress. In that, the storyline is not new; however, these two men are and the slavecraft is stronger. There are also darker elements. Monsters created by one of the houses from fallen gladiators appear which the lovers must fight in order to survive. Things are admittedly grim in this book, but the story was completely engrossing.

What I loved about Titian and Galadros was their personalities. Both are strong men, but their desires lie contrary to what the “rules” of Arena are. According to the unwritten rules, the weaker men are “seeded” by the stronger in order to make them stronger. But Titian, in his role as secutor, must submit to his mated provocator. Even though that’s his role, Titian wants to be the dominant man. Galadros, on the other hand, is the provocator, or another mated pair, and though it’s his role to give to his secutor, he craves a more submissive role in the bedroom. When fate throws them together, both men fight for and against what they want because of the rules their society has set in place. If Galadros truly submits like he wants to, he fears he will lose standing among the other gladiators when he wants to be the champion. While it doesn’t seem like a big deal, the admission of his desires could cause him to lose favor with the oddsmakers, which could be fatal.

If you liked the first book, Slave Eternal, you’ll love this one. If you like books with an alternate history intertwined with a bit of fantasy, then give this series a shot. A word of warning, however. There is some dubious consent in this book. It is at times masked by magic, but if that’s a trigger for you, just be warned.

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3.5 Stars, Kathryn Sparrow, Loose Id, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Karen

Review: Alpha Coder by Kathryn Sparrow

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Title:  Alpha Coder (Geek Pack: Book One) 

Author:  Kathryn Sparrow

Publisher:  Loose Id

Page/Word Count:  251 Pages

At a Glance:  A lot of side-stories happening alongside the main plot were a bit too much.

Reviewed By:  Karen

Blurb: As the second son, Liam Reed never expected to be a werewolf Alpha. He preferred to develop software for Soft Corp, but when his brother Jason died in a car accident, their father forced Liam to assume leadership of the pack. Liam plans to govern with compassion, instead of ruling through fear, but pack member Bradley Karr undermines Liam’s leadership, biding his time before challenging for Alpha. Tired of pack politics, all Liam wants is to program and find his mate, but he fears that neither is in his future.

When his mate, werewolf Cody Jones, starts working at Soft Corp as Liam’s intern, sparks fly. However, a relationship with Cody could get them both fired for fraternization. And, that’s not the worst problem. Cody doesn’t seem to accept Liam as his mate.

Liam’s only chance at happiness is to win Cody over while keeping their relationship a secret. But really, Cody would never stay with an introverted geek like him, an ineffectual Alpha failing to live up to his brother’s legacy. Would he?

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Review: Alpha Coder was a pretty good story. I got through it quickly, and it held my interest from beginning to end. I thought Liam was great, definitely not what I would have thought of when they mention that he is a geek—with the exception that he does coding, he didn’t come off as all that geeky to me, but regardless, I liked him. I liked him even more once he got together with Cody, who was so sweet.  I think the two complemented each other, and I liked how the relationship between the two developed.

The issue I had with the book was that there were so many things happening as side-stories.  There was Alice, and there was Julie; there was Bradley and issues with Liam’s dad and brother; and, of course, the Tiger HR guy.  I thought it was all just a bit too much. I find this is has been happening more and more lately with the books I’ve been reading, though, so it is possible it’s just me and that I’m happier with a simpler story.

Alpha Coder was good, and I will definitely read more from this author, but it just wasn’t great for me.

TNA_Signature_Karen

 

 

 

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Giveaways, Katey Hawthorne

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Back to the Sky Blog Tour with Katey Hawthorne

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Today we’re so pleased to welcome Katey Hawthorne back to The Novel Approach to chat a bit about her new book Back to the Sky. Enjoy Katey’s guest post, then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win one of FIVE e-copies of the book.

Good luck!

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Some Kind of Magic

By Katey Hawthorne

So I have this weird little series of books called “Elementals”, and the second one is happening today: BACK TO THE SKY. Each of the four elements will get its own book—and hell, maybe I’ll throw in the fifth just to be a completist—but this one is the “air” book, as the title might suggest. (BY THE RIVER was water—surprise surprise.) They’re weird to talk about because they’re just on the edge of being paranormal—they feel more like a contemporary but there’s that fantastic edge on them that doesn’t normally come with the contemporary package.  It’s not magical realism, either, because that’s a whole other thing… but that’s as close as I can get to an easy explanation.

Effectively, the love interests in these books have some kind of elemental abilities, but they’re understated and uncertain. Sometimes a joke between them and their friends, sometimes something no one says out loud but everyone thinks. What, you’ve never met someone so awesome that you wonder if they’re descended from a god or have secret powers? … Okay, me neither.

Anyhow, here’s a little snippet from BACK TO THE SKY that pretty much says it all when it comes to Geordie and his possible ‘abilities’:

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Excerpt: As usual, Geordie charmed everyone through cooking and then eating. Lauren was easy with him, Raff was half in love, and by the time they were on the chocolate-encased panna cotta dessert, everyone was like old friends.

“Where are you from anyhow?” Lauren asked, her face still flushed from laughing at something he’d just said.

“All over,” was Geordie’s usual answer. But this time he added more to it. “I mean, I was mostly raised West Coast, but born in San Antonio—my mom met my dad there.”

“What’s he do?”

“No idea. I mean, he was more of a sperm donor than a dad.” Geordie laughed and held up one hand as if to wave off potential awkward. “Not to be weird—it’s no big deal. My mom’s cool; she jokes about him being like one of those asshole gods that knocked up mortals all the time, then ran back to their angry wife.”

Raff smacked the table. “Ha! Which one?”

“Thor. I don’t even know if that was a Norse thing. But she is, and since good weather follows me…” There was that grin of Geordie’s.

The one that made Zane want to get him on the nearest flat surface and go wild on him, again.

Lauren said, “That’s weirdly charming. Especially if he looks like Chris Hemsworth. Dude could get it.”

Raff laughed again. “Except it’s been raining here, for the first time in forever. Though—actually, the fact that we had a damn lightning storm might prove the Thor theory. You need to talk to the old man. Shit’s about to flood.”

It was all weirdly true, though, with the weather and Geordie. Especially when they were screwing, now Zane thought about it. The dark clouds passing over the sun the other morning, just at the moment there were dark clouds passing over Geordie’s mind…

Yeah, right. Geordie’s shit was definitely affecting Zane’s brain now.

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Right, that totally clears things up, doesn’t it? Okay, maybe not. But I think it’s a fair example of how it’s a good  book for both contemporary and paranormal romance readers who want something just slightly left of center, probably. Maybe. I hope.

Let me know, would you? ;)

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KH_Backtothesky_coverlgBACK TO THE SKY Blurb: Rather than spend his first post-college summer on the beach with a hot boy and a margarita, Zane Woodward goes home. While the lectures aimed at getting him to be more respectable like his lawyer father aren’t appreciated, Zane wants to be near his sister and his best friend—both of whom he’s convinced need him. Enter Geordie Finsen: the Buddhist, blue-haired, stacked house-sitter-next-door. Geordie has a penchant for parties, older women who can pay the bills, and younger men who can wear him out—and he may or may not be able to control the weather.

While Geordie and his philosophies start to disentangle Zane from his own expectations and hang-ups, they bring the two closer and closer, and their chemistry flares into a hot and heavy summer romance. But Geordie has hang-ups of his own, including an aversion to getting too attached to anyone or anything. When things get a little too heavy between him and Zane, his instinct to cut loose and run free is tested, and Zane’s plans for a perfect escape of his own might never get off the ground.

Buy Links: Loose Id || For other links, Amazon, etc., check out Katey’s Blog

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0afba-katey_smAuthor Bio: Katey Hawthorne is an avid reader and writer of superpowered romance, even though the only degree she holds is in the history of art. (Or, possibly, because the only degree she holds is in the history of art.) Originally from the Appalachian foothills of West Virginia, she currently lives in Ohio. In her spare time she enjoys comic books, B-movies, loud music, Epiphones, and Bushmills.

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THE GIVEAWAY

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3.5 Stars, Genre Romance, Loose Id, Willa Okati

Review: Best Laid Plans by Willa Okati

Title: Best Laid Plans

Author: Willa Okati

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 209 Pages

At a Glance: A free-wheeling rom-com that has dueling, convoluted love stories, conniving best friends, and a resolution that leaves a smile.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: Teddy and Jefferson get along like a house on fire. Literally. Jefferson’s a serious-natured soccer star, and Teddy was born to party till the wheels come off. Oh, they might have jerked it a few times thinking about each other, but they’ll burn this mother to the ground before they ever get along. The only thing they have in common are their friends–Jefferson’s buddy Emmett, and Teddy’s BFF Noelani. Emmett’s just blown all his savings on a house near campus, and he needs tenants to help make the monthly payments. That’s where Teddy and Jefferson come in. Hey, anything’s better than the dorms.

So far so good. Until Noelani’s former fiancé Beau–also Emmett’s former best friend–rolls back into town. Panicked over the return of their old feelings for the rough-riding badass, Noelani and Emmett decide the only sensible ‘save’ is to get married. Of course. Teddy and Jefferson both know that’s a bad idea, and that those two are going to need their friends more than ever. That means only one thing: no choice but to raise the white flag and join forces.

Pros: free rein for sexual hijinks in the name of ‘getting along’. Cons: Easier said than done.

Despite it all, Teddy and Jefferson are also discovering that they have more fun fighting with each other than they would kissing anyone else. Maybe–maybe–they’re falling in love. But when Beau reveals the real reason for his return and everything turns topsy-turvy for everyone involved, is their new alliance strong enough to save the day?

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Review: I am a fan of Willa Okati’s writing and have read several of her stories in vastly different genres. This is the first romantic comedy I have read by her, and I really enjoyed it.

Jefferson and Teddy are about as different as two guys can be. Teddy is a flame-haired, flamboyant party boy. Jefferson is a serious student and soccer player. They have two things in common – their friends (and romantic couple) Noelani and Emmett, and they are both into guys. When there are two rooms available to rent in the off-campus house that Emmett has just purchased, they also end up being housemates.

They definitely get on each other’s nerves. No matter what Jefferson says, Teddy takes it as an insult or a dig at his sexuality and self-expression. Jefferson can’t for the life of him understand why Teddy is ALWAYS mad at him. But they both like the living quarters and want to support their friends.

Noelani has had a rocky road and a really tough time after her former fiancé took off and left her. She and Teddy are a team, and they definitely have each other’s backs. When Emmett, Noalani’s ex’s best friend, woos her, she returns to old herself and is once again happy. Teddy wants to make sure she stays that way, and Jefferson wants to make sure that Emmett is happy as well.

Just when things are starting to get into a pretty smooth rhythm, the ex, Beau, returns. This throws Noelani into a panic and sets off a chain of events that might lead to the breakup of Noelani and Emmett, and sends Teddy into an absolute rage. In order to thwart any ideas Beau has of coming between their friends, Jefferson and Teddy make a pact to stop him. And hey, if there’s a friends with benefits kind of arrangement to go with it, then so much the better. Turns out there is a lot of stress that needs relieving. ;)

I don’t want to get too spoilery, but Jefferson and Teddy try to work their way through the mess that seems to be stirred up with Beau’s return. Nobody is quite sure what his motivations are or what his real goal is in making his unexpected return. Let’s just say that there is definitely a surprise in store for every single one of these characters. And, it seems that there have been a lot of plots and machinations going on behind the scenes that many of the characters are oblivious to throughout the book.

This is a really cute story, and Jefferson and Teddy are fun characters. We feel for Jefferson as he really struggles with trying to figure Teddy out. We empathize with Teddy’s prickly demeanor since he’s definitely been on the receiving end of some pretty unfair assumptions and certain biases. Noelani and Emmett are good supporting characters that definitely provide a different layer to the story. And Beau is an enigma that we don’t really understand until well into the story. I definitely recommend Best Laid Plans for those looking for an entertaining and funny story with some tension thrown in for good measure.

 

 

 

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4 Stars, Genre Romance, Loose Id, Megan Slayer, Reviewed by Angel

Review: Home to Cedarwood by Megan Slayer

Title: Home to Cedarwood (Single Father Society: Book One)

Author: Megan Slayer

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 80 Pages

At a Glance: A sweet and interesting look at life and love in a small town.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Colin Baker owns a book store and he’s back in Cedarwood with his son. He’s looking for a new start after a bad breakup, but he never expected that start to include his old crush, Officer Jordan Hargrove. Jordan hasn’t come out, but if he can score with Colin, then he’s all in. He’s dreamed of hot nights with the quiet man.

After a speeding ticket and some hurt feelings, sparks fly between the bookstore owner and the police officer, but Cedarwood is a small town with small town values, and a gay couple isn’t what the town expects. Colin’s created a support group for single gay fathers and he feels he’s making some difference in Cedarwood. Some folks in Cedarwood are fine with these two men reconnecting, but some aren’t.

Will the naysayers be enough to drive Colin and Jordan apart, or will they make their way together in this small town.

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Review: Megan Slayer is a new to me author, and I enjoyed my first go round with her. I love stories with kids in them, especially if they have some impact on the relationship and aren’t just cardboard characters. Slayer doesn’t disappoint in her characters or her capture of small town life, even if there was much more telling of the story than showing.

While I had other issues with the book, Slayer’s characters felt real and reacted humanly, if that makes any sort of sense. And it was this aspect that had me from the get-go. I was fully engrossed, within minutes of opening the book, in Colin and Gage’s life. There are real issues addressed in this story: homophobia, acceptance, relationships and sexuality, and they are well handled and developed.

There were a few gaps in the storytelling, but it all fell into place and was resolved somewhat realistically with a happy ending for all. I loved the support Jordan and Colin received from both their families and the outside community, barring a few homophobic townsfolk. The insta-love happens so quickly between Jordan and Colin, but care is taken when introducing the relationship to Gage. I really enjoyed this aspect as well as some of the other characters introduced in the book. I am looking forward to more from Megan Slayer and Cedarwood’s townsfolk.

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5 Stars, Genre Romance, Loose Id, Reviewed By Carrie, S.C. Wynne

Review: Secrets from the Edge by S.C. Wynne

Title: Secrets from the Edge

Author: S.C. Wynne

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 142 Pages

At a Glance: This was a great book, the characters well written, and the scenes solid. I highly recommend it for a hot summer day.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Keith Williams is twenty-two and struggling to feel normal again. Once a rising super star in the competitive world of snowboarding, he’s only now healing from a horrible crash that almost wrecked his body and ripped his confidence from him.

Jesse Royce is a reporter embedded on a snowboarding documentary that Keith has agreed to be a part of. The two of them have always had a sexual attraction that’s hard to ignore. But Keith’s loss of nerve isn’t the only secret he’s keeping, and while it’s tempting to give into his desire for Jesse, it might end up being career suicide.

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Review: I have only one complaint about this book. It wasn’t longer. I really wanted more pages of Keith and Jesse.

S.C. Wynne takes us right to the really good beginning stuff, and then lets our imaginations have at it. Oh, these two will make it – they may not get married, being that traditional isn’t who these men are – but they will grow old and have a HEA, that is for sure. All the bad is behind them, the worst has happened, and they still have each other.

Keith is twenty two. At twenty he was at the top of his snowboarding career, when he took a tumble on a questionable course. It has been a hard-fought battle, mentally and physically, to come back into the world of snowboarding, but he is accomplishing it, slaying his demons and feeling normal again.

Jesse works for Snow Job Magazine, a publication which used to be all about snowboarding how-tos and technical know-how, but has degenerated into a gossip rag among the industry. What starts out as a story about the documentary he and Keith have been contracted for, changes mid-stream when Jesse’s boss wants the dirt on all the boarders present, including and especially Keith.

Keith had a hard childhood, being kicked out by his parents when he was a teen for being gay, and there are parts of that time period he would rather stay in the past. He keeps secrets: who he is, what he really feels, his reactions – everything. He can’t tell Jesse…. Can he? The word trust comes into play big time between these two men, and the journey is an incredible ride. I loved the snowboarding talk, the descriptions of the runs, imagining myself with ice crystals on my cheeks was a great escape from reality when the temperature is so hot outside.

This was a great book, the characters well written, and the scenes solid. I highly recommend it for a hot summer day.

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Neil Plakcy, Reviewed by Taz

Review: Love on the Web by Neil Plakcy

Title: Love on the Web

Author: Neil Plakcy

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count:  211 Pages

At a Glance: Love on the Web is a very satisfying read!

Reviewed By: Taz

Blurb: Larry Leavis is too smart and geeky for his family, too gangly and awkward among other gay guys. He’s never felt like he fits anywhere until he meets handsome entrepreneur Julian Argento and agrees to help him build a website for his fledgling web translation company.

Julian isn’t the only guy with his eye on Larry, though. Sexy client Victor Kunin has plans for Larry that go way beyond developing an app for his modeling agency. All this attention has Larry confused. Is Julian using him for his awesome coding skills, or is there something more between them – something that could be destroyed if Julian finds out about some very kinky trysts at Victor’s place?

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Review: Whew! This was a book I couldn’t put down. In fact, I woke up this morning with my Kindle resting on my chest after having lost the battle to stay awake late into the wee hours. Of course, I simply picked the book right up and continued on the journey. What I enjoyed about the book was how all the elements I love about stories were present. The main character had a clear talent for coding of computer apps (well, anything techie really), and the pages were filled with descriptions of the work he needed to do and how his work made him the cream that rose to the top. Along with that, the author included a cadre of weird family members, co-workers and roommates who fleshed out the main character. And, of course, Larry had not one but two extremely hot men who were both pursuing him. One of those men was sweet as sugar, while the other was vile. Don’t you just love when there’s a villain you can hate?

Mostly, this was a story about a guy who didn’t see in himself what everyone else saw in him. He was tall, awkward, and geeky, with a poor self-image. When we first meet Victor and Julian (the two successful and handsome men who pursue Larry), he thinks they are way out of his league. And that was the storyline I loved the most. As the events unfold, we watch Larry learn to see himself the way others see him. As one man treats Larry like scum, he learns to stand up for himself and prioritize what’s important to him. While he’d been afraid to come out to his family at the beginning of the book, we watch him own himself unapologetically. And, best of all, we get to enjoy the slow and awkward romance of two sweet men who complement each other in wonderful ways.

All in all, Love on the Web is a very satisfying read!

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GayRomLit, Katey Hawthorne

Guest Post, Excerpt, and Giveaway: The Countdown to GayRomLit 2015 with Katey Hawthorne

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We’re so please to welcome back Katey Hawthorne on the GRL Celebration blog tour today. Enjoy Katey’s guest post, then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win an e-copy of a book in her Superpowered Love series, winner’s choice.

Good luck!

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Riot BoyHello, hello, and thanks to TNA for letting me drop in and squee about this year’s GRL. People who are going: have you decided what to wear to the Hooray for Hollywood costume party yet? I’m debating a Jedi knight, personally. Oh, what, like everyone didn’t already know I’m a huge nerd.

Speaking of, how ‘bout them superpowered books, right? Last year I had so much fun doing a reading from my Riot Boy, aka my Superpowered Love series, that I signed up for another one this year. To go dirty again, or not to, that is the question? Here’s last year’s, more-or-less:

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What passed for a dressing room was more like a large walk-in closet or perhaps a dorm room. Not much but a ragged couch passed down from the seventies puking up its own guts, a vanity groaning under the weight of ancient makeup, a bunch of overstuffed clothing racks, a changing screen in the corner, and a long, cluttered counter along one wall. There must have been a door at one time, but not even the hinges remained.

He fell back into the couch and started taking off his boots. I noticed his little stuffed fox and scooped it up, then hugged it in the crook of my arm.

He said, “Behold the secret life of a suburban rock star.”

“What happened to the door?”

“Dunno, never seen it.” He nodded at the fox. “That’s George.”

I squeezed George once more before respectfully returning him to his perch.

“Think your sister liked the show?”

“Yeah. I think she liked you.”

“In spite of my shirt.” He stuck the tip of his tongue through his teeth.

“Lucy liked the shirt. Not as much as me, but she liked it.”

He’d kicked off his boots by that time. The moment he stood, I kissed him, then backed him up against the counter. As usual, he acquiesced to perfection, licking at my teeth and pulling me against him hard.

I said, “Can’t be a real groupie till you’ve made out in the dressing room, right?”

He replied by hopping up onto the counter so he could wrap his legs around me. I assisted, then laid one hand on his thigh and brought the other up to his face; our mouths found each other again quickly. At first it was just kissing, kind of slow and hot, like usual. His fingertips, artificially cold, toyed with the hair at the nape of my neck and slipped downward to tickle my spine. His ass scooted forward until he was wrapped around me tight, his bare feet hooked behind my back. I was just thinking how lonely it would be that night—tasting his tongue and knowing I’d miss it later—when his fingers started pulling at the button of my fly.

I laughed into his lips and moved off just enough to say, “The door doesn’t even exist, let alone lock.”

“Fuck it. I need this.” In case I was wondering what, exactly, his hand snaked down the front of my jeans and rubbed my swelling cock.

“Ah.” I leaned into him, knees going weak. “Oh my God.”

“Come on, Etienne,” he whispered. “I made the shirt and everything.”

I chuckled. “We can’t do it here.”

“Aww.” He reluctantly pulled his hand out of my pants.

“It’s got to be somewhere I can do the job thoroughly.” I took his face in both hands and kissed him, long and openmouthed, until he melted against me again. “Somewhere you can swear as loud as you want.”

He grinned and squirmed against me. “Handcuffs?”

“Anything you want.”

“Promise?”

“Promise. Anything.”

“That’s worth waiting for. But while we’re here anyway…” He slipped off the counter, wedging himself between it and me and rubbing off on me at the same time. “Come on, I’ll be fast. Almost came in my pants just now.”

I laughed again, which he took for agreement. He wasted no time dragging me behind the changing screen in the corner. A quick glance over the top to check for passersby, and then I undid his belt and yanked it free in one quick motion. I went for the zipper.

No underwear.

“Jesus Christ, Brady.”

“Ah, I thought you’d like that.”

More laughter. “You planned for this?”

“Of course I fucking did. You gonna give it to me, or what?”

I turned him around to face the wall in reply and dragged his jeans down over his ass.

He wriggled out of them and leaned forward, palms against the wall, leaving me staring at him—still in his FUCK ME, ETIENNE T-shirt but bare-assed and waiting.

My fly was still undone, and I couldn’t resist kicking off my jeans and leaning against him, arranging my dick—straining through my shorts—in the split of that remarkable ass. I kissed the back of his neck and wound my arms around him. His response was to rub up on me, opening up a little farther. I took his stiff cock in one hand and started out slow; he squirmed on my dick and voiced a little moan, then, “Unh, yeah.”

I stroked him, kissed him, and he angled his ass to give me a thrill with every jerk, until my cock was so hot I could’ve come just like that. But no, I didn’t make that mistake anymore—it was all about him. I pulled back a little, spit on my fingers, and rubbed them in a tight circle around his asshole.

He shuddered, his hands curling into fists against the wall, and arched his back sharply. “Yeah, ah fuck…”

I picked up speed, pressing my still-thickening cock into the back of his thigh as I went. His whole body caught my rhythm. I milked it from both ends, pushed every button I knew at once to get it out of him, fast and hard.

“Oh, yeah, mmmnnnn…” He hit the wall with one fist and came with a sigh.

I held him tight, kissing him while he finished and recovered. When I finally let him go, he shook himself a little. I rearranged myself against him, laughing as I looked down over his shoulder. “So much for the wall.”

“It’s probably seen worse.” He laughed too, breathless. “Your turn.”

Before I could respond, he was on his knees, ripping down my shorts. He pushed me back against the opposite wall and went straight for my cock, swallowed it. Jesus, had to be halfway down his throat.

I groaned at the white-hot thrill and let my head fall back, eyelids fluttering. God, he was incredible. He was magnificent. He was—

“Brady?” said an alien voice.

My eyes snapped open; I tried to pull away.

His fingers bored into my hips as he went down again, causing tiny stars to explode behind my eyes. Then up, then down. Never broke his rhythm.

I peeked over the screen to see Tyler at the dressing room entrance. He had one eyebrow cocked but didn’t seem too concerned to find me alone where I had no business being. He asked, “Have you seen Brady around? Bass player, jacked-up hair, tattoos?”

“Um, he—”

Brady chose that precise moment to start stroking my balls, still sucking me off fast and hard.

“Uh…” I blinked, trying to clear my head, face on fire, but Jesus, he was—

Tyler took an inquisitive step into the room. “You okay, man?”

I had no idea what I was trying to say. “He…uh…”

A wave of heat burned through me. His mouth was so hot, and he was so, so good at that, and—

Brady backed off, leaving my dick standing there, dripping and pink. He looked up, making the most hilariously annoyed face, and said, “Goddammit, Tyler, I got a cock down my throat here. Can it wait?”

Tyler closed his eyes. “You must be Etienne.”

“Um…” I would’ve had an answer, but Brady licked me at the strategic moment, so all I got was, “Unh—yeah. Hi.”

I was going to die of embarrassment. As soon as I had a little blood in my brain, anyhow.

“Yeah, nice to meet you.” Tyler turned his back, but before he escaped into the hall, he shouted back at us, “Hey slut-bag, when you’re done choking on a dick, we have a meeting.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Brady went down on me again, shoving me straight back into his throat.

I laughed and burned and groaned, clawing at the wall behind me. Rational thought or trying to sort out the appropriate emotion for the situation had to wait until I finally came down his throat. My knees shaking and my body thrumming, I practically slid down the wall when he let me go.

Following which event we both laughed so hard we ended up in a half-naked, well-spent pile on the floor.

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Of course, I also had the t-shirts last year, so that was part of the choice, I confess. Still, what do y’all think? Go sexy, or just silly? Or both like last year? It can’t be serious. I will laugh and ruin it. My srsface is terrible.

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5 Stars, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Loose Id, Madeleine Ribbon, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Death by Dragon by Madeleine Ribbon

Title: Death by Dragon

Author: Madeleine Ribbon

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 283 Pages

At a Glance: A little bit of fairy tale and a heaping helping of fantasy with a side of action and danger kept this clever and fast paced story moving along.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Fell Harwick, half-incubus and witch extraordinaire, knows how he’ll die. Ever since he was a child, he’s had visions of a dragon tearing him to pieces. Since he’s not terribly fond of the idea–and the power-hungry vampire that killed his mother is now after him for his unprecedented healing abilities–he’s gone into hiding. But when a pair of shifters get shot in front of his cabin in the woods, he feels obligated to keep them safe.

Jett and Theodore are members of the local resistance, fighting against the same vamp that wants Fell. Theodore is a beautiful, tragic mess, and Jett hates all incubi on principle–something Fell finds out as he tries to take energy to power his healing magic.

Jett and Fell might have been able to work around one paranormal prejudice. Jett even encourages Fell into sex with Theodore when he needs energy. But then Fell discovers that his future killer has been sleeping on his couch.

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Review: If you’ve ever finished a book and thought, Dear gods of all fiction, please let there be a sequel, then you’ve been exactly where I am after reading Madeleine Ribbon’s Death by Dragon. Not because the storyline necessarily needs one but because the characters and the world they live in need one. And me. I need one too.

Being a shameless Buy-Now-With-1-Click impulse shopping addict, there were two reasons I bought this book, author unknown to me. First, the title. The second reason, the cover (Fell’s definitely an “I licked him, therefore he is mine” sort of a guy). Why I loved this book, however, has much to do with the narrator of the story, Fell (short for Raphael) Harwick. Fell is a witch with extraordinary healing abilities. He’s also become a bit of a recluse since there’s a vampire who aims to kidnap him and make Fell his mindless meat-puppet in an attempt to reign supreme over the kingdom of “others” with which Ribbon has populated this novel. Witch: check. Vampires: check. Shifters: check. Dragon: check-check. What makes Fell an outcast even more than being a witch, though, is the other half of his biology, courtesy of his father. Fell’s also part incubus, and we all know what sort of shenanigans the incubi are capable of.

But wait, there’s more…

There’s also a great plot to Fell’s story, one that’s a little bit fairy tale and a heaping helping of fantasy with a side of action and danger that kept this clever and fast paced story moving along. Fell is a nerdy guy who has a wicked sense of humor and a sharp tongue he’s not afraid to hone on anyone who gets in his way. There were plenty of times I found myself grinning, if not outright laughing, while reading Death by Dragon, but there was also a good balance between that and the political drama in which Fell is involuntarily embroiled when it becomes clear someone’s broken the laws of Silence—which, in short, means there’ve been supernaturals exposing their existence to humans.

When a group of shifter-hunting men trespass on Fell’s lawn and bring danger to his doorstep, he’s forced into involuntary cohabitation with two of the injured survivors—Theodore and Jett. Being more or less a hermit for the past year, and trusting no one, let alone a grieving shifter and his incubus-loathing brother, Fell’s forced into some major adjustments to his routine; though, there are some fringe benefits to having Theodore and Jett in his house. Namely, Fell needs a soul’s energy to power his magic—whether through kissing or sex—and Jett’s happy to pimp Theodore out for the job, and Theodore’s more than willing to supply all the lip-smacking nookie Fell needs to keep his wards up and healing powers at maximum capacity.

The building of the relationship between Fell and Theodore, and the somewhat grudging (at least on Jett’s side) friendship between Fell and Jett is handled more as an aside to the core plot, which is keeping the vampire, Jamison, from getting his hands on Fell, so I wouldn’t strictly categorize this book as a romance, even with its grand sacrifice and perfect fairy tale ending. The beauty is in the buildup of the alliances, the evidence of betrayal, and the fallout from it all, which impacts Fell, Theodore, and Jett, all three, in a thoroughly heart-tugging way. And there’s even quite a touching reunion between Fell and his absentee incubus father, which I loved for its warmth and support of Fell.

Does Jett ever overcome his prejudice of Fell’s soul-sucker lineage? Does Fell’s vision of death-by-dragon come to fruition? Well, the blurb gives you a few clues to the riddle, but I’ll not give the rest because that would spoil the story. Suffice it to say, though, that finding the answers to these questions was an absolute treat, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend you discover them on your own.

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4 Stars, Alexa Snow, Loose Id, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Lana

Review: Speak No Evil by Alexa Snow

Title: Speak No Evil

Author: Alexa Snow

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 266 Pages

At a Glance: Speak No Evil is a different ghost/mystery story. If you’re in the mood for a moody ghost story, pick this one up.

Reviewed By: Lana

Blurb: Jamie Kincade’s world is turned upside down when Sebastian, a young man who doesn’t speak and who shares the ability to see ghosts that Jamie’s had since childhood, enters his life. Jamie finds Sebastian fascinating on multiple levels, and is determined to help him learn to speak again. He can barely keep his thoughts–or hands–off Sebastian, who wants him and makes no attempt to hide it.

The age difference between them–Sebastian is almost 15 years Jamie’s junior–is a problem for Jamie, but Jamie’s reluctance isn’t the only thing keeping them from focusing on the potential they might have as a couple; the collection of ghosts Jamie has been living with in relative harmony for more than a decade has no intention of leaving Sebastian alone now that he’s here. Their desperate attempts to get Sebastian’s attention are a distraction Jamie would be grateful for if they didn’t upset Sebastian so much. Jamie is torn between wanting to send Sebastian away for his own good and wanting to drag him off to bed, and with Sebastian tempting him both deliberately and subconsciously, it can’t be long before Jamie’s self-control snaps…

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Review: Speak No Evil is a very entraining ghost story that kept me engaged. The “I see dead people” story line has been done to death, but this book had a little twist which I think makes it stand out among the crowd.

We first meet Jamie, who’s a bit of a recluse. He lives alone in the country, he works as a writing editor with no human interaction, and he’s not close to his sister, his only remaining family. His last relationship was so long ago that it’s collecting dust. And, he also sees ghosts. He’s seen them as long as he can remember. After realizing that he’s not crazy, he accepts what he can’t change and deals with it in his own way, keeping away from the living. But, more importantly, the ghosts don’t see him.

As with most ghost stories, on a cold, rainy and windswept night, Jamie’s solitude is broken. Sebastian takes refuge in his shed and turns his world upside down. Sebastian is running from his tragic past. Because of it, he’s stopped talking. He can also see ghosts, but he can also hear them and they him in return. Sebastian sticks around, and together they try to figure out the mystery of their own interactions with the ghost. And there’s some loving on the side.

The subplot with Jamie’s sister was a bit slow, and I wasn’t sure why it was part of the story, but eventually it was cleared up. There’s a twist in the siblings’ relationship, and Jamie realizes that his sister is not that different from him, and their relationship grows stronger. There is also a mystery involving a strange ghost that both see, another ghost threatens Jamie, and Sebastian finds out that he can affect the ghost and help them move on.

While I liked the book, I did think it was slow in some parts, but it did pick up when Jamie and Sebastian played against each other. Their mutual attraction and interactions were very well written, and I really liked it. Jamie was a bit hung up on their age difference, but he got over it eventually. This was a very emotional story with not much humor. I wish it were a little lighter.

Speak No Evil is a different ghost/mystery story. If you’re in the mood for a moody ghost story, pick this one up.

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4 Stars, Douglas Black, Genre Romance, Loose Id, Reviewed by Taz

Review: Port in a Storm by Douglas Black

Title: Port in a Storm

Author: Douglas Black

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 274 Pages

At a Glance: Port in a Storm is a book I couldn’t put down.

Reviewed By: Taz

Blurb: Alex is stuck in a rut. He’s facing a big decision about his future, namely, what to do with it and so far he hasn’t managed to come up with an answer.

Until he meets Jake.

Jake blows through Alex’s world like a hurricane and Alex falls hard and fast for the perpetual traveler with a penchant for secrets and a perfect smile. Jake wants Alex, but life isn’t as simple as that. Jake never settles in one place for long and already their long-distance relationship is driving a wedge between Alex and his family. With no compromises on offer, Alex’s decision about his future becomes a decision about Jake.

For Alex, the idea of losing Jake doesn’t even bear thinking about, but choosing him looks like it will mean throwing away everything Alex knows, including his relationship with his parents. And so, Alex finds himself with another question to answer: how much is he willing to give up, to be happy?

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Review: This was a book I really wanted to like. It opens with a strong hook. Handsome guy is in a bad relationship and meets a hot stranger who sweeps him off his feet. Emotions run strong in this book, something I truly enjoy. And despite the secrets both protagonists keep, when they do communicate, they are brutally honest. You can’t help but love Alex and Jake individually and as a couple. The scenery is beautifully developed, and I can’t help but believe that this author has experienced many of the places in the story firsthand. And the sex. Let’s just say Mr. Black is masterful and trigger the reader’s g-spot, all of this wrapped up in angst. As a reader, I found myself walking along a tightrope for the duration of the book, wondering how these two characters would finally manage to break down the wall separating them and arrive at their happy ending.

That said, I found it frustrating how each character held back when they knew talking was the solution. Each character had painful issues from their past which colored the way they viewed other people and their own futures. Each man knew that revealing their deepest secrets would pave a way for greater understanding and connection. But they remained silent, withholding rather than giving the thing the other needed.

As the book ramped up towards its climax, the issues begin to surface, secrets are revealed, and even then, one of the characters makes a stupid choice (which the character acknowledges), continuing his pattern of taking an easy route of problem-avoidance as opposed to taking the reins of his own life and destiny. It was hard to feel sympathetic when this character only needed to buckle down and grab hold of what the other offered as opposed to waiting until he almost lost everything.

Still, Port in a Storm is a book I couldn’t put down. I needed to see how their journey would end. These two men, originating from the same hometown, yet so vastly different from one another, were like a whirlwind of heat and excitement.

This is a great exploration of living one’s own life, tossing aside the shackles of expectations and obligations. It’s about living life in the now, learning to appreciate what is instead of dwelling on what was or what might be. It’s about forgiving oneself and healing. And ultimately it’s about embracing love, accepting that living honestly, leads to happiness.

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4.5 Stars, Felice Stevens, Genre Romance, Loose Id, Reviewed by Karen

Review: Embrace the Fire by Felice Stevens

Title:  Embrace the Fire (Through Hell and Back: Book Three)

Author:  Felice Stevens

Publisher:  Loose Id

Page/Word Count:  243 Pages

At a Glance:  Right in line with the others in the series, all of which I loved.

Reviewed By:  Karen

Blurb:  Brandon Gilbert has spent years in hiding, but finally he’s accomplished his dream of working as a public school teacher. When offered the chance to help bullied children, there was no way he could say no. Not to mention that meeting Dr. Tash Weber, the psychiatrist who helps them, a sad yet sexy older man, ignited a spark inside Brandon he’d never had before.

Though five years have passed since the death of his lover, Dr. Sebastian “Tash” Weber has no interest in relationships or love. But young, enigmatic Brandon awakens his heart and his desire. Despite Tash’s best efforts to push him away, Brandon unlocks the passion for life Tash thought he’d lost forever.

Falling in love wasn’t part of the plan for either Brandon or Tash, but neither family disapproval nor self-doubts can stop them from embracing the fire that burns between them. And when Brandon returns home to fight for a future he never imagined possible, he and Tash discover that the one thing worth fighting for has been with them all along.

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Review:  So, out of the three books in the series this one probably isn’t my favorite. It was still really good, though, and right in line with the others in the series, all of which I loved.

This is little brother Brandon’s story, who falls for Dr. Tash. They really were quite adorable together when they weren’t having misunderstandings or hiding from one another. There wasn’t anything in particular that I didn’t like about the story, but in comparison to the others, it came across a little more sweet and lighter than the first two. Again, not in a bad way.  I think there was just something about Ash and Luke that drew me in just a little bit more.

Just like Ash and Luke, Brandon has his own past and demons to deal with, and it is Tash that he wants by his side, regardless of how much Tash continues to push him away or changes his mind.  Finally, they just give up and embrace their feelings for each other. There are family members who feel they have a say, and try to talk each of them out of it, but in the end they follow their hearts.

I am a little torn about the epilogue.  On one hand I really like that we not only get to see Brandon and Tash’s HEA but we get to see all of the guys’ HEAs.  But, the part that I am torn about is that it kind of came across as a little choppy.  All in all, though, I love this whole series, and it will definitely be on my reread list.

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3 Stars, Alexa Snow, Genre Romance, Jane Davitt, Loose Id, Reviewed by Sadonna

Review: The Empty Box by Jane Davitt and Alexa Snow

Title: The Empty Box (The Square Peg: Book Three)

Author: Jane Davitt & Alexa Snow

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 273 Pages

At a Glance: This is a pleasant, if not groundbreaking, story.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: Dave’s taking life day by day after leaving Travis, his emotionally abusive partner of fifteen years. Working as the cook at the Square Peg is all the social life he has and he’s content with that.

When a swerving car leaves him sprawled on the snowy sidewalk with a broken ankle, being rescued by his new neighbor, young, sinfully pretty Jeremy, seems like the start of something good, even if twenty years separate the two men. But Travis isn’t content to let Dave slip away and Dave’s his own worst enemy, holding Jeremy at arms’ length when Jeremy wants to get as close as possible.

With decisions about his future complicated by his tangled past, can Dave accept the second chance Jeremy offers or will his heart stay empty of love?

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Review: Note: I have to say I didn’t really realize that this was part of a series when I asked for this for review. I believe the first two books are about two other couples from the bar The Square Peg, but it seems like this can be read as a standalone, and I didn’t feel like I was missing any vital information to this story.

Dave is the chef at a local gay bar. One night, as he’s coming home after closing, he is walking to his condo when he is nearly hit by a rather reckless driver. He manages to get onto the sidewalk, but because of the snow and ice, he takes a pretty bad fall. He knows he’s hurt, but just not how badly. His new neighbor, Jeremy, finds him and takes him to hospital, where he learns it’s in fact a broken ankle and he’s going to be down for the count for a while. Of course Dave is cold and tired and cranky, so he’s possibly not putting his best foot forward with the new neighbor, but Jeremy seems to be somewhat socially awkward and a bit clueless, so they sort of balance each other out.

Dave is in his forties and has finally gotten out of a long term and very toxic relationship with his ex, Travis. Travis is a cheating, lying, addicted, manipulative asshole, and has taken Dave for a ride so many times he’d finally had enough and cut things off for good. Jeremy is only 29 and he is self-employed as a specialty computer builder and works from his condo. He also has a cat. :) Jeremy volunteers to help Dave around the house while he is convalescing. Dave doesn’t really want anybody’s help (he’s kind of stubborn that way), but Jeremy doesn’t want to give up on Dave either – since he confesses that he’s attracted to Dave.

While poor Dave is trying to heal, Jeremy manages to insinuate himself into Dave’s life. Jeremy is an interesting character. He seems to always be trying to figure out what the rules are and what he should say/not say. The authors don’t spell it out, but it’s almost like he’s got a spectrum disorder where he’s not sure what the “normal” thing is that he should do or say in any given situation. I liked Jeremy a lot though – his filter was kinda off, but he’s got a really good heart.

Of course, you know when there is a jerky ex around, he’s gotta cause trouble, so no exception here. Travis is also possessive, jealous and a vindictive user who always belittled Dave and everything he wanted to accomplish, on top of everything else in his lovely personality arsenal. When he figures out that Dave and Jeremy might be more than friends, he starts trouble. Jeremy and Dave do not agree on how to handle things with Travis, and this causes quite a bit of friction in their budding relationship. On top of that, Dave has a slight issue with the fact that Jeremy has never actually been with another man before, and has only dated women in the past. Jeremy is pretty convincing though. ;)
For those who read the first two books, the Square Peg, the owners, and other employees play a large part in this story. Ben and Shane support Dave while he is working to get back on his feet. Patrick and Vin are also there to lend moral support. There is also a lovely side story with a gentleman from the Farmer’s Market, whom Dave is friendly with. He is a gem of a character, and I’d love to read more about him sometime.

Of course, just as Jeremy and Dave finally get to a place where they are both happy, and they are supporting each other and doing exactly what they want to do, the other shoe has to drop. This puts a huge strain on their relationship and could unravel everything they have built together. With two guys who have spent so much time in their own heads, it’s definitely an uphill battle for them to find a way to communicate.

I really liked the characters and found Jeremy especially to be an interesting guy, with all his quirks. He refused to take Dave’s moods at face value and pushed him to stop perceiving himself through the Travis-colored lenses he’s worn for so long. I really loved the beekeeper, Locke, and his nephew. I also really liked the other characters from the Square Peg (and I’ll have to go back and read their stories). There wasn’t anything terribly new or different in this story, but I enjoyed the journey Dave and Jeremy take together.







 

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4 Stars, Genre Romance, Loose Id, Reviewed by Jules, Sage C. Holloway

Review: Spectacularly Broken by Sage C. Holloway

Title: Spectacularly Broken

Author: Sage C. Holloway

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 204 Pages

At a Glance: To sum up: Lysander was completely FABULOUS. Cai was a beautiful soul. And together, they felt real, and…right.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: Turns out naked and hungover on the floor is not the most strategically sound place to be when your dad comes home early. Take it from someone who learned the hard way: nineteen-year-old Lysander Shepherd–son of movie stars, spoiled brat, enthusiastic proponent of drugs and orgies…and now, unwilling resident of Oak Hill Manor, a retreat for troubled teenagers.

Before he knows what’s happening, his designer duds have been switched for tie-dye shirts in therapy team colors, and he is surrounded by an assortment of misfits: a timid nerd, a mute girl, a hyperactive kid…and captivating loner Cai Fields, who is admittedly pretty hot, but seems to hate the world in general and Lysander in particular.

Soon Lysander struggles with lies, withdrawal, and several uncomfortable revelations that he never intended to make, but he also gains surprising amounts of support right in the middle of secret late-night parties, fisticuffs over doing the dishes, and, of all things, croissant blackmail. Even as Cai and Lysander finally give in to the irresistible attraction between them and make a grasp for happiness, their darkest secrets remain–secrets with the power to destroy everything they’ve fought so hard to have.

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Review: Spectacularly Broken was another pleasant surprise during my Memorial Day weekend reading. Based on the blurb, I really expected this book to be a ride on the Angst Train, but that wasn’t at all the case. There was some drama, sure, and some very heavy subject matter, but it was so much more than that. The author did an excellent job of mixing quite a bit of levity in with the heavy, making the overall feel much less dark than I feared.

In the beginning, Lysander comes off as a brat – plain and simple. Massive sense of entitlement, partnered with severe abandonment issues, is certainly a recipe for disaster. So, when he’s told by his father that he is headed to Oak Hill Manor to get his shit together, of course his attitude is less than fabulous. He goes to meet his cousin Finn, who has hit a rough patch of his own and is also headed there, and they cook up a little extra trouble along the way.

Things at Oak Hill Manor are very Breakfast Club-ish, but in a good way. The characters in Lysander’s group are good eggs, and the author does a great job of letting us gradually get to know them through their time at the Manor. I loved the team-building exercises, which really helped the group open up to each other, as well as the way the therapy sessions were portrayed.

Lysander and one of the members of his group, Cai, initially butt heads, but soon come to an understanding and learn to see past the chip they each have on their shoulders. I love the chemistry between these guys, and everything about their romance. There is a big secret between them that threatens their relationship, and contributes to the major conflict at the end of the book – you’ll have to read it to find out what that is! – but in spite of that secret, the relationship really is built on a solid foundation of friendship, support for each other, and, yes, trust. I definitely found myself cheering for them.

I enjoyed the whole thing, but the last quarter of the book was especially gripping. The bonds that Lysander has formed with Finn, as well as with his new friends from the Manor, come into play in a major way, and it was really moving to see them all pull each other up when they needed it. Lysander and his dad also begin to come to an understanding about how things got so messed up between them, and try to figure out how to start making reparations, which was a very emotional and genuine part of the story.

To sum up: Lysander was completely FABULOUS. Cai was a beautiful soul. And together, they felt real, and…right. Sage C. Holloway built some fantastic characters, threw in some real emotions, and wrote a story that I would absolutely recommend to friends. Was this really her first novel?? Amazing debut. I’ll be on the lookout for her next one.

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4.5 Stars, Draven St. James, Genre Romance, Loose Id, Reviewed by Kim

Review: Driven by Fire by Draven St. James

Title: Driven by Fire (Firehouse Six: Book Four)

Author: Draven St. James

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 141 Pages

At a Glance: I can’t get enough of these sexy firemen!

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Taber Delane is lucky to be alive, but his career as a firefighter ended the day a beam snapped, resulting in a crushing spinal injury. Most of his friends are willing to give him space, everyone except paramedic, Deacon Hall.

Deacon hasn’t met a challenge he couldn’t tackle and he knows Taber needs someone in his corner who isn’t afraid to stand up to the big bad fireman. The longer he’s around Taber, the more the sexy vulnerability of the man comes through. Deacon finds he doesn’t just want to be Taber’s live-in caregiver, he wants a chance at the passionate man beneath the stubborn shell.

A shell that is cracking, no matter how Taber tries to hold it together. Deacon being in his home starts to open him up–and open his eyes to the man Deacon hides from the rest of the world. Without seeing it coming, Taber soon craves more. A lot more.

Now if only Deacon can get Taber to see that it isn’t so bad having him there to assist. Even if and maybe especially when Taber is naked, dripping wet, and angry as hell.

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Review: Driven by Fire is the story of how Taber is managing his life after his career as a firefighter has ended with a crippling spinal injury, as well as the fact that he’s a closeted gay man. As the story begins, Taber has yet again chased away a caregiver, and Deacon has volunteered for the job. Someone has to help Taber with the cooking, cleaning, and making sure he doesn’t overdo it with the physical therapy, and Deacon seems to be the perfect man for the job since he’s currently between living arrangements. He’s broken up with his cheating boyfriend and doesn’t mind helping the sometimes-frustrated and cranky and very sexy Taber, and I thought it was rather cute how Stephen, Taber’s physical therapist, got him to agree to have Deacon come help out.

What I really enjoyed about Driven by Fire was that Taber didn’t let his injury destroy the person he was before his accident. In other words, there’s no major pity party going on in this story. But, Taber does have a problem with having too much time on his hands, and his thoughts about his future are not helping. I had a laugh out loud moment when Deacon was out doing something, and Taber decided to snoop through his bags. What he pulled out…well…let’s just say he deserved to be embarrassed.

Even though Taber hates the thought of needing a caregiver, he likes Deacon, and he was a positive distraction when Taber was in the hospital—something he came to appreciate while he was recuperating. I also liked Deacon and loved his brand of humor and how, when it looked like Taber might consider throwing himself into a pity party, he just wouldn’t let him. It’s kind of sweet how these two finally get together, when Taber reveals that he’s not into women.

Thank you, Draven St. James, for writing Taber’s story. I’m looking forward to reading more about Firehouse Six. I can’t get enough of these sexy firemen!

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5 Stars, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Genre Romance, Loose Id, Meg Amor, Reviewed by Lana, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Hawaiian Lei by Meg Amor

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Title: Hawaiian Lei

Author: Meg Amor

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 231 Pages

At a Glance: Don’t miss this one!

Reviewed By: Lana

Blurb: Beau Toyama, a “mixed plate” Hawaiian/Japanese/Tahitian man, is a flight instructor on the Big Island of Hawai’i. He’s a lovely, gentle, shy soul from a dysfunctional island. One day his wife Mikey said, “I love you, babe, but this isn’t working. I need a good man…” She’d paused. “And so do you.”

Matt Quintal, a New Zealand painter with a Norfolk Island and Maori background, has been living the “gay scene” in LA and knows it’s a crock. Needing to escape, his Polynesian soul is drawn back to the Pacific. He visits his sister Rach in Kona on the Big Island, where his spirit connects.

When Matt’s heart is drawn to the sound of a biplane’s radial engines flying overhead, his life is about to change. There’s an instant soul connection and heat between Beau and Matt. Unbeknownst to them, the spirit of Beau’s mom, Tehani, has guided Matt home to Beau.

Beau and Matt need to work together to overcome family dysfunction and abuse. Can they reveal their deep emotional vulnerabilities to find redemption and healing? What they both want is a loving relationship. But they must allow their hearts and souls to open before they can love and trust again.

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Review: How do I describe Hawaiian Lei? The only way I can is to say that it’s all about the feels! I suggest having a box of tissues and a pint of ice cream handy, because this is a very emotional story that you will not soon forget. I had goose bumps while reading it, and kept thinking about it long after I was done. Yes, I loved it.

The story is set in Hawaii, and after reading another Hawaii story, I think I have to plan a trip there soon! Hawaii itself is such a character.

Two men, Matt and Beau, are brought together through fate, destiny, or whatever you want to call it, but nevertheless, they were meant to be together. I do believe that sometimes there are forces at play that just cannot be explained. If you are not as open minded, though, this book might seem hokey. But, if you are open to the unexplained, you’ll be left with goose bumps as I was.

Matt is a Kiwi living in LA. He is an artist who’s fed up with the whole LA scene and after many one night stands, he escapes to Hawaii to stay with his sister. One day at the beach, they see a plane flying, and he needs to know who’s flying it. Something calls to him, and Matt is pulled toward it. The pilot is Beau, a Polynesian god who instantly feels the same connection to Matt, and they begin a tenuous relationship. Beau is newly out of the closet and has insecurities that he’s trying to overcome. Both have complicated histories, with lots of emotional baggage, extended family issues, and exes. This is a very emotional story, and the emotions leap off the page and stay with you.

I loved Beau and Matt. They are definitely going on my favorite couples list. Both men completed each other perfectly, and they were perfectly scorching together. Those parts of the book will make you a little bit hot and bothered.
The story deals with dreams and omens, and I really found it interesting the way all were woven together. The story is very mystical and symbolic. I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s worth the read.

One more thing, I would like to think that the author wanted to be a little cheeky by naming the book Hawaiian Lei because I can definitely agree that this is a perfect “Lei” in more ways than one. Don’t miss this one!

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