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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Dreamspinner Press, Jamie Fessenden

“Billy’s Bones” Strikes A Nerve

“Coming to terms with incest is not easy. Learning to be a survivor, not a victim, gives new meaning to life” ― Lynette Gould



Billy’s Bones was the first book by Jamie Fessenden I had read. I saw the disclaimers about it maybe bringing up painful memories of childhood sexual abuse, of which I am a survivor. I made the choice to commit to reading and reviewing it anyway. I am grateful that I did. While Mr. Fessenden loosened the reigns I have tightly held on the memories of some of my more painful experiences, he made me feel even more empathy for Kevin than for myself. I channeled my pain and cried and cried. I don’t want to give Billy’s Bones any more therapeutic credit than it deserves, it is a novel, not a self-help book. I am sure some survivors could read Kevin’s horrifying story and spiral down into a deep place. For me, it was cathartic to cry for another little boy, also for the little boy left behind and the man he has, and is trying to, become. I am tearing up now, just thinking about Kevin and Billy.

Although he is the title character, Billy is not one of the main characters in Billy’s Bones. They are Tom and Kevin. Tom is a therapist to whom Kevin is sent after attempting suicide when he finds out his wife is pregnant. They have one session and Kevin never contacts Tom again.

Three years later, Tom buys a new house and the hot tub needs repairs he just can’t afford. The electrician gives him the name of a friend and handyman who does this type of work on the side. The name is Kevin Derocher. At first, Tom & Kevin act like they don’t remember each other, but it soon comes up that they do. They develop a close friendship. Man to man not man to therapist. Kevin’s wife has since divorced him and is in love with someone else, but remains close friends with Kevin.

As Tom & Kevin become “friends” the sexual undertones to their relationship can’t be denied. Kevin is hyper-sexualized, a symptom of many survivors of childhood sexual trauma. Tom is gay and believes that Kevin is, too, on some level. Kevin isn’t out even to himself. Any sexual touch not initiated by him sends him into a panic attack. Tom recommends that Kevin see his business partner for therapy after a particularly violent panic attack.

There was recently a discussion on another author’s blog regarding the “need” readers have for sex between their MCs. This book is a perfect example of why we don’t need our MCs to have sex. While Billy’s Bones is a romance, it is equal parts mystery, psychological thriller and bromance. The tenderness with which Fessenden treats Kevin (using the character of Tom to do so) is deeply moving. It is a human being caring about another human being in pain. Yes, Tom may benefit if Kevin gets to the source of the memories he can’t access but still reacts negatively to. But Mr. Fessenden proves that getting lucky isn’t Tom’s main motivation. He is frustrated to be in a loving relationship without the sexual aspect that would normally go with it. But he cares about Kevin the man enough to want to help him remember and heal any way he can, regardless of how it affects himself.

The memories uncovered and the callous way in which Kevin’s mother treats those memories and her son made me want to puke, then slap her. Maybe even puke on her. That is my own bullshit because my mom was a lot like that. I’ll cop to a very visceral reaction to that particular part of the book. I am still glad I read it though.

I realize after mulling this review over a bit that I kind of made Tom sound like he had super-human patience. This is not the case. He is portrayed as more patient than most, and incredibly supportive, but definitely human. Tom was frustrated at not being able to be sexual in any way with his partner. He got angry at Kevin for not seeking the help he so obviously needed. He was not some kind of mutant with no needs. He definitely had needs, some of which Kevin was able to meet, others which Kevin couldn’t meet at the time.

Mr. Fessenden treated the subject matter and the victim so tenderly, almost lovingly, that it made me feeling some bad stuff not so bad. I think it took balls to take on a subject so difficult to write about. I don’t know Mr. Fessenden’s personal history, but if he hasn’t experienced childhood sexual trauma and it’s aftermath, he is a deeply insightful and empathetic human being. This book deserves well more than five stars. It IS an emotional read. It is also so satisfying.

Recommended in the highest way possible.

Reviewed by: Tina

You can buy Billy’s Bones here:

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