5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, S.A. McAuley, SJD Peterson

Review: Ruin Porn by S.A. McAuley and SJD Peterson

Title: Ruin Porn

Authors: S.A. McAuley and SJD Peterson

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 252 Pages

At a Glance: I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Ruin Porn the next time you’re in the mood for a beautiful disaster.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: There is underlying beauty in destruction….

Miah Thade, Finn Reese, and Ritchie Meyer are Resonator, an indie rock band with an edge—best friends turned rock stars, known as the Detroit 3. When Evin Rene appears in their life, none of them can deny he belongs with Rez.

They may have named their first album Ruin Porn because people get off on seeing how Detroit went from deeply loved to thoroughly forsaken, but they’re determined to prove that blight isn’t the entire story and blight isn’t always ugly.

Ritchie, Miah, Finn, and Evin take Resonator to a level no one anticipates. But no prosperity comes without sacrifice, and no secret stays hidden without a trail of lies. As Rez’s fame grows, so does the intensity between two of its members… as well as their potential for destruction.

Evin and Finn are about to discover the underlying beauty in their ruin porn.

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Review: So, when I’m offered a book written by S.A. McAuley or SJD Peterson, what are some of the first things that come to mind? First of all, I know there’s probably going to be some angst involved (there is). I know there’s probably going to be at least one character I want to sucker-punch just once (there is). I know I’m not going to get a standard-template romance (this isn’t). I know there’s going to be some pretty amazing emotional and sexual chemistry (there is). And, finally, I know that by the end I’ll be completely invested in the couple’s happy beginning (I am).

Now, you throw these two authors together, and what do you have? A match made in Ruin Porn, and I’m already salivating to get my paws on the next book because that character I want to sucker-punch? Seriously, if this book was angsty… Gird your reading loins, people.

I’d never heard the term ruin porn before, though I now know how apropos it is not only to this book but to all the angst-laden books we love to devour. Ruin porn is about getting off on the decay and destruction of something that was once beautiful. Welcome to the Ruin Porn Club, kiddies, because that’s exactly what these two authors initiate us into as we’re hazed by the growing lust and love between Finn and Evin. And then we get to watch as it all comes to ruin because of lies and fear and homophobia, and the all too intrusive camera-in-a-fish-bowl lives their fame became. And, I reveled in every single word of it. I’m not sure what the repair that begins after the devastation is called, though. Maybe that’s just what we romantics call hope. Finn and Ev give us hope that love will be enough to rebuild on.

The Detroit 3—Miah, Ritchie, and Finn—get a plus one when guitarist Kevin Rene accepts the invite to join Resonator as their bass player, becomes Evin, and spends the next year on a meteoric rise to stardom, while also sneaking in intimate moments with Ritchie and Finn. Let me first say I adore Ritchie—truly, madly, deeply, irrevocably—and while I know threesomes aren’t everyone’s cuppa, there was never a single moment where I felt that the time he spent with Finn and Ev was an intrusion on something deeper growing between the two men. In fact, I’d go so far as to say Ritchie made Finn and Ev possible because he was like the rudder that kept their ship on course. Or he tried to, at least, before the shitstorm hit.

I loved Evin and his quiet strength (and the one line he uttered near the end of the book that made me gasp at its naked and painful truth), loved Finn and the snark and barriers that crumbled when he simply looked at Ev, and I even looo…okay, I didn’t love Miah—not by a long shot. He’s a complete git ::sorrynotsorry:: who’s driven by his ambition, but by the end of this story I understood him a bit better. And a little understanding can go a long way toward seeing beneath the veneer and vanity, and I maybe felt a mild twinge of guilt for wanting to punch him.

Maybe.

No I didn’t.

Ruin Porn is a novel that complicates the already complicated business of falling in love by taking what should be private public, and made me appreciate my mundane nobody existence. It’s super sexy, made me more than a little heart-sore, and kept me glued to my Kindle from beginning to end. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this one the next time you’re in the mood for a beautiful disaster you can see coming a mile away, and have no intention of avoiding until you see it through to its finish.

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You can buy Ruin Porn here:

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5 Stars, Fantastic Fiction Publishing, Genre Romance, Lynn Kelling, M/M/M and More, Reviewed by Lynn

Release Day Review: Double Heat by Lynn Kelling

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Title: Double Heat (Twin Ties: Book Three)

Author: Lynn Kelling

Publisher: Fantastic Fiction Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 299 Pages

At a Glance: The climax of this story is one of the best sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seat scenes that I’ve read in a long while.

Reviewed By: Lynn

Blurb: When Evan and Brennan moved in with their boyfriends, Alek and Luka, they knew things would be complicated, but as their privacy gets eroded, and people around them begin to notice the tangled nature of their relationships, coping becomes a struggle. After Brennan leaves on a brief trip home, and Evan remains behind to enjoy the full attention of both Alek and Luka, the careful balance of things gets thrown off.

Ex-boyfriends surface, haunting Evan and Brennan in similar ways as regret for poor choices threatens their happiness, and the sexual freedom displayed earlier in their lives draws predators willing to use violence, coercion, mind-games and force to take what they want. Though Luka and Alek struggle to protect those they love, it soon becomes clear that the dangers surrounding them will find ways to rush in, trying to take what belongs to them.

Dividers

Review: First off, this is a series that should be read in order. My Brother’s Lover and Dual Affairs are the first two books in the Twin Ties saga. Second, this books deals with some pretty heavy issues that may be triggers for some readers: rape, pedophilia and incest. Please take heed to the warnings.

Having read the first two books, I thought I knew where this story was headed. We’ve already met both sets of twins, and watched as all four men evolved into a relationship with one another. They went through some rough spots, figuring it out along the way, and by the end of the second book, Evan, Brennan, Alek, and Luka are moving in together. So, I’m thinking the third book is going to be an adjustment period, a “getting to know you better” phase. I mean, when you’re in a relationship that involves four people, there’s going to be some issues to tackle, right? Oh boy, was I wrong.

The author takes us on a journey into the past, and we see what really happened to Evan and Brennan before they knew the other existed. At certain times it’s not a pleasant read, but I felt it necessary information so readers fully understood the reasoning behind the characters’ actions and words. Also, I felt the characters needed to be true to themselves and to their lovers about their past; to relive it, understand it, deal with it, and start healing from it. The author does an amazing job here. She gives us cringe-worthy scenes, not for the shock value but for the healing value.

Evan, I loved him from the get go. Even though I thought him to be a little whiny and a bit over dramatic, there was a genuine sweetness about his character. I knew there was more to his story than what the author was giving us in the previous installments, and I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty. We’re in Evan’s head for most of the story, with the beginning of his inner dialogue reading like a broken record of self-doubt. I wanted him to just shut up already, open up and talk it over with his lovers. It can’t be that bad, right? Well, when we get the full, heartbreaking, ugly truth about Evan’s past, I was beyond mortified. And, I finally got Evan. I understood him better. The part of his character that never quite felt right snapped into place. It all makes sense now.

Brennan is Evan’s twin brother. I thought him to be the stronger one. He exuded confidence and independence while all along he was hiding a secret too. Through Brennan’s POV, we see that going back to his hometown proved more difficult than expected because of his own abusive past. Returning home to his lovers, he really has no choice but to tell them everything.

While their situations were vastly different, the one thing that stood out was how each twin mistook abuse as acceptance, both brainwashed into thinking that any attention was better than no attention. One was alone, the other feared being alone. It’s no wonder their back stories had a similar theme. Finding true acceptance within their foursome caused them to finally begin unraveling the depth of mental, physical, and criminal warfare that had been waged upon them. I think the author does a great job delving into these difficult scenes. She was able to bridge the past and present seamlessly, bringing the abusers into the light so the brothers knew them for what they were. We see the real struggle Evan and Brennan went through during this process. The author never glossed over or pushed aside the problem, the characters weren’t miraculously cured by the next chapter. I appreciated that.

Now, I haven’t said much about the other set of twins, mainly because this wasn’t their story. They are both solid characters who are very dedicated to Evan and Brennan. Alek and Luka are there for support, helping as much as they can. It was really nice to see this other side of them, but I know they have their own story to tell. From what I know, Ms. Kelling is planning to explore their backstory in book four. I can’t wait.

The climax of this story is one of the best sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seat scenes that I’ve read in a long while. It wasn’t resolved in a nice gift wrapped box. It was messy, violent, graphic and disturbing. I couldn’t imagine it ending any other way. Evan and Brennan’s stories weren’t pretty, so why should the resolution be?

All in all, this story stopped being about twincest, stopped being about anything taboo. It’s about the love these four men have for each other. It’s about healing and getting back that self-worth, to finally move on, to love and be loved back. It’s about never being alone. I can’t wait for the next book.

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You can buy Double Heat here:

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4 Stars, Dark Hollows Press, M/M/M and More, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Jennifer, Victoria Sue

Review: Orion’s Circle by Victoria Sue

Title: Orion’s Circle (Sirius Wolves: Part One)

Author: Victoria Sue

Publisher: Dark Hollows Press

Pages/Word Count: 156 pages

At a Glance: A shifter story with ménage and unique mythology.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: According to legend, when humankind is at its most desperate, the goddess Sirius will send three of the most powerful werewolf shifters ever created to save mankind. However, because they are so powerful, they will need a fourth to complete them, to calm them and help them reach their full potential.

Aden, a young were, has been his pack’s omega ever since, at the age of fifteen, he didn’t shift like everyone else. Caught, reviled, and tortured because of his empathic abilities, he knew on the night he was told to run as sport for the pack hunters that it would end in his death. What he didn’t know, however, was that on the same night he’d also meet the love of his life and a pathway to answers, because Aden is far more than just a pack omega.

What begins as a hunt soon becomes a new adventure as Aden discovers that he has not only one, but three destined mates, and his role as lover is far more than trivial. The fate of all humankind rests upon it.

Dividers

Review: There is something incredibly sexy about two alpha wolves together. Maybe it’s the fight for dominance, but I enjoy seeing the interplay between them. This book, however, takes it a step further. There are three alpha wolves in a relationship when Aden, a lowly omega, joins the group and completes their—for lack of a better word—family.

Shifter group dynamics have always fascinated me as well. The various roles and jobs that the different leveled wolves are responsible for. And because I’m a sucker for the underdog, I always loved reading stories about the omega. It’s rare, though. Most books seem to focus on the alpha wolves. However, Victoria Sue incorporates the omega in her novel, and turns his role into a rather powerful one.

Aden is an omega in his pack. He is used as an outlet for the alpha’s frustration, and after being locked up, he’s let out for sport as the other wolves hunt him down. He’s rescued, however, when a mysterious stranger shows up with two wolves and rescues him from the hunt. These three strangers are the alphas Blaze, Connor, and Darric, and soon Aden discovers he has a very large role in their lives. He is the “release valve” that allows them to function. His presence calms Darric’s sensual nature and eases Connor’s strong empathy, which allows Blaze to focus on being a leader. And even though Aden is submissive and cautious, unsure of his role in the Alphas’ lives, he slowly starts to gain a little confidence. There were times I wanted to shake him for being so stubborn, and my heart broke for him, but considering his last pack, you can’t really blame him for being the way he is.

Not only is the ménage aspect fairly unique, but the author includes mythology for her world that carries throughout the book. What is Orion’s Circle? What is its purpose? All of these questions are answered throughout the novel.

While the story is great and I love the characters, I did have some issues with consistency in the book. There were some areas that I felt needed a strong editor. For example, there seems to be a case of the magical pants in one place. You know, where they’re off on one page and then being removed again on the next. It slowed me down sometimes because I had to backtrack and reread to make sure I had my information correct, and that was frustrating, but I feel the characters and story were strong enough to overlook these things.

I absolutely look forward to the next book in the series. This one leaves off on a bit of a cliffhanger, which I normally wouldn’t include, but since some readers may not like this type of thing, I will mention it. In this author’s world, omega wolves—male omegas—can get pregnant. So, mpreg awaits!

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5 Stars, Angel Martinez, Bellora Quinn, Pride Publishing, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Flax’s Pursuit by Angel Martinez and Bellora Quinn

Title: Flax’s Pursuit (AURA: Book Two)

Author: Angel Martinez and Bellora Quinn

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 294 Pages

At a Glance: Fantastic second book in the series with returning favorites and new characters.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: A murderer haunts the city, turning the unwary to stone. Between hunting this evil and corralling new arrivals, Flax struggles to guard both his life and his heart.

Quinn and Valerian have come through the trials of facing an undead lich queen and the perils of falling in love. Now they work to restore AURA to its previous strength and efficiency while navigating their new life with each other. Fortunately, they’re not in this alone.

Kai Hiltas has taken over as the head of the research department at AURA and has become everyone’s favourite workaholic, everyone except his lover Tenzin, who has had enough of his late nights and broken promises. As Kai tries to salvage his relationship, he finds a teacher for Quinn, who also happens to be one of Valerian’s new officers, Flax Wolfheart, a sexy elf with trouble written all over him.

Flax has motives beyond simply teaching Quinn to control his magic. He’s trying to recover from his own losses and failures, but he has a plan. The two newest elvish crossovers, Ash and Sage, are sizzling hot and might even like him. With them as backup as he tracks a deadly stone mage and figures out how to teach Quinn, Flax sees his chance to impress Val and snag a place by his captain’s side. On the hunt for both danger and redemption, Flax’s pursuit leads him ultimately down trails he never expected.

Dividers

Review: If you haven’t read Quinn’s Gambit, the first book in the AURA series, you need to. The events from the first book are referred to, and the characters present, for the most part, are established in the first book. There are a few new additions which are great, but the book focuses just as much on Quinn, Val, and Kai as it does on Flax and the new crossovers.

Set after the incident with the Lich queen, Quinn and Val are settling into their new lives with each other and at AURA. Val is the new captain and Quinn works for them. Kai wants him trained, though, and he sets him up with Flax, a talented elf fairly fresh from the academy. Quinn and Flax don’t like each other at first for many reasons, and their relationship starts off rocky. Flax wants the captain, and he doesn’t think Quinn is worthy enough of him. He needs a relationship, and it becomes clear that what happens to Val in the first book is starting to happen to him. But will he find someone to bond with before it’s too late? And what about Kai and Tenzin? Kai stays at work late and breaks promises, and it pushes Tenzin to his limit.

My heart broke for half the book. The authors are really good at portraying characters that make me feel for their situation. I felt as if I was there with Flax as he realized the fading was starting, and when Kai watched Tenzin walk out the door.

As far as new characters go, Flax, Sage, and Ash are great. Their bond with each other grows throughout the book, and they plot to get both Val AND Quinn in their beds to form a senrist with them, because of Val’s heritage. I won’t lie, I really, REALLY wanted it to happen the more the book went on. I was with Quinn thinking about it, and while at first I was put off by it like he was, the more he thought, the more I did, and then the more I wanted it. It just seemed like a really good idea, and I wanted Flax to be happy. I love Quinn and Val alone, but Flax needed someone to love him. Thankfully, he does find that.

I look forward to the next book in this series. I have no idea what will happen, but I know I’ll love it just as much as the first two books.

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Ashley Ladd, Totally Bound

Ashley Ladd Joins Us Today On The “Cooking Up a Storm” Blog Tour, With A Giveaway


This week I’ve had a lot of reason to think about life, to question what is really important and what isn’t.

Unfortunately, my daughter-in-law’s father died a few days ago. He was only 66 and it was quite unexpected. He didn’t have a will so he obviously wasn’t expecting to die so soon. Don’t worry. I’ve had a will since my children were babies, and I’ve updated it as warranted.

Also my husband was put in the hospital again yesterday. This is his third time he’s been admitted within the past six months, poor guy.

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