A Letter to M/M Writers From a Concerned Reader

 

As the owner of MM Good Book Reviews, I wear many hats; principally those of reader, writer and reviewer.  I love reviewing books and thankfully, based on the traffic, some folks like to read what we have to say.  But, at my core, I am first and foremost a reader.  In the past few months, I have seen several conversation threads within M/M writers’ circles that concern me.  Rather than deal with each instance separately, I have compiled a short list of some of the issues I’ve encountered that weigh heavily on my heart.  I have watched silently, unsure as to what would be a helpful addition to the discourse.  I’m not trying to stir up more drama and I am not speaking for any of my reviewers.  The essay that follows is merely my humble opinions as a reader.  I would love to hear your comments.

 

 

My book was given low ratings on Goodreads and/or Amazon”.

This is my new pet peeve.  I hate when my fellow readers give a book a low mark and then do not write a comment.  WTF?  How the hell am I supposed to evaluate the book?  It happens a lot on Goodreads and Amazon.  Bogus ratings screw up the averages and being shallow, I may pass over a book with a low average.  BUT…after I’ve read and reviewed a book, I do go back and read other people’s reviews.  Some of them are really thoughtful.  I find myself nodding when I come to a point where I agree, and cussing under my breath, when a point, in my opinion, is way out in left field.  I’ve seen writers brag that they never read reviews…well; they should; if they are serious about learning their craft and growing as artist.  Yeah, there are idiot readers who have nothing better to do than rate books they haven’t read, but some us read the damn book and just didn’t get it.

Get a life.  And by that I mean, find a way to balance your creative art with other things.  Yeah, you’re a writer…So what? I’m a nurse.  If I spent every waking hour taking care of patients without breaks I would end up *shudder* in the psych ward where my husband works.  When my oldest daughter was learning to cook, she wanted the family to praise her, before the first bite was finished.  If the dish as a flop, she would sulk for days.  I can’t help but think some writers are the same.  You’ve worked for months, maybe years and if readers don’t love your “dish”, some of you get a little mental.  One bad review is just one person’s opinion.  A couple of bad reviews may signal flaws in your writing process.  Either way, you are not your work.  Keep writing.  Keep improving…and take every bit of criticism with a grain of salt.

REVIEWERS ARE NOT THE ENEMY!!!  You can imagine this one really get to me.  I’m sure that as you, the writer, are reading a negative review, the urge to blast back at the reviewer is overwhelming…fight that feeling.  I cannot say it enough; a review is just one person’s opinion, based on their interest, history, etc.  I may love Stephanie Hecht’s EMS series, because I can appreciate all the medical research.  Another reader can read the same text and feel Grey’s Anatomy would have done it differently.

And often that bad review doesn’t get enough notice to cause even a blip on most other reader’s radar.  But, the ranting, raving and name-calling?  Trust me, that will get a lot more attention across the social media outlets.  Your credibility and future earnings are not worth risking to “be right”.

“Readers thought my book was too “Harlequin/Mills&Boon”.

I actually have a couple of thoughts on this.  Mills & Boon and Harlequin are million dollar publishers.  They’ve been around a long time and are household names.  Stop taking this as an indictment, even if that is how it was intended.  Not everyone likes their romance hot and heavy.  Write the romance you would want to read, and if you get it right, readers will support you.  There’s a lot to be said about the glance across the room, the note in the briefcase.  If sweet romance is your thing, go back a read some of those old Harlequins you still have in the attic.  Learn how those writers structured their stories to create suspense and sexual tension. Don’t try to pass off a weak storyline as love at first sight.

Being sweet doesn’t have to be corny.  If you write stories with no conflict, no sexuality (not the act, but the desire) and every word sounds like an adult version of Barney, don’t whine when readers blast you across social media.  Being elegant and classy does not remove the need for plausible interactions between characters.  If the choice to refrain from sex is moral…show us that.  Let us see your character struggle with his carnal nature.  It will make us invest in him and isn’t that what you wanted when you create this person.  Whoever put the idea in writers collective heads that men can’t do romance should be shot.  The wining and dining might take on a more masculine feel, but who doesn’t like their lover to do nice things and “court” them?  Don’t believe the hype.

If you secretly long to write het romance…you should do that.  Too often the titles that attract this type of criticism read more like traditional heterosexual romances.  Just because you’ve given male names to your characters, does not mean that you’ve written a masculine character.  Regardless of orientation, there are some things that are not interchangeable.  Gentle man does not look like gentle woman.  Even, excuse my digression from PC; flaming fairies should still retain an essence of masculinity underneath the make-up and heels. My advice would be to get to know some gay men.  Talk to them about their experiences.  If that is not possible watch quality gay porn, gay movies…hell, read the works of your fellow writers and really study their characters.  Get to know other M/M writers over social media and ask the bestsellers how they craft their heroes.

“They hate my dialogue”.

I don’t know what goes on in other reader’s heads, but when I’m really into a book, I can almost hear the characters speaking.  IF that conversation takes on a robotic monotone, that book may never be finished.  This is an easy one.  READ YOUR SHIT OUTLOUD.  Your eyes may know all the grammatical rules, but your ears are a much better judge of realistic dialogue.  If you find yourself stumbling through sentences or paragraphs, step back and see if you can make it flow better.  Trust your ears…not your eyes.  Fully engage in conversation with all kinds of people.

Make sure that your dialogue fits your setting.  If you’ve taken the time to set an action packed scene, full of tension and foreshadowing and then drop in wimpy words, you have failed me as a reader. 

If you aren’t feeling anything, as you write…you’re probably doing something wrong.  You should be getting horny as you write love scenes, mad when your character is confront injustice…trembling with fear as they enter that basement.  If you aren’t feeling it…how can you make me feel it?  If I don’t feel it…why should I turn the page?

Eavesdrop on every conversation you can.  You may not have teenagers at home.  Tune into MTV and see how teenagers actually talk.  I hate when I can tell when a writer is not familiar with children based on the words that come out of their fictitious kid’s mouths.  My 6-year-old is gifted and uses words like “hyperventilate and phenomenal” routinely…most kids don’t.  People who do not speak English as a first language speak differently.  Figure it out.  There are regional dialects.  Gender difference. Generational nuances.  It might seem like a little issue, but as your reader, I want to get lost in the words, not keep getting distracted with bad dialogue.  The words of the characters are integral to how I see and hear the plot.  Poor use of dialogue can turn a really good story into a Saturday Night Live skit…quick.

 

Not all gay men are whores.

Sure there have been all kinds of studies that say that men think about sex more than women.  But, you don’t have to look any further than your family, friends and co-workers to know that wanting doesn’t have to equal getting.  And wishing doesn’t mean doing.  I find it offensive to see men constantly being portrayed as testosterone driven sex machines.  If your guys aren’t in a paranormal heat, don’t be scared to let them actually get to know one another before hitting the sheets.

And, even if a man is a complete horn dog in, say college, which does not mean that his focus will be the same in his thirties or forties.  Emphasizing a character’s sexuality in his teens or twenties may be realistic.  Forty year old men cruising for twinks on Saturday night is usually more creepy than sexy.

If his commitment phobia is because of a bad breakup or being raised in a dysfunctional family, let us know that.  We’ll accept him more, if we know why he does the things he does.

Sex with strangers in public bathrooms doesn’t have to ever be part of a gay man’s experience.  It may be, but with all the self-education within the gay community, it happens less often than some writers would like readers to believe.  Recreational doesn’t have to be reckless.  As you write those steamy restroom scenes, ask yourself: would a straight couple do this?  If you would be disgusted to find a woman on her knees sucking off a man she just met…why put a guy down there.  Especially, a guy you want us to love and respect.

*snark alert* If you don’t have a penis, I recommend having at least one of your beta-readers possess one.  I cannot tell you how many sex scenes I read that are not anatomically possible.  Unless a man has a tongue like an anteater, he will never lick his partner’s prostate.  NEVER.  So unless you are writing sci-fi and your licker is an alien, please stick to the realm of possible.  There is too much free gay porn on the internet for this one to ever be forgiven.

That being said, I would love to see more quality erotica on the market.  Words on paper for no other purpose then to titillate.  I will pay good money for some well-written smut!

There is enough room in my Kindle for more than one writer.

This whole need to badmouth other writers is juvenile.  You may think that you are being witty, but as a reader…I read snark.  Tearing down another writer is more often seen as bad grapes.  Within days of winning all kinds of awards for Bear, Otter and The Kid, TJ Klune had to defend the authenticity of his work against accusations of plagiarism.  Why?  Did the writer who leveled those allegations make even a single sale from starting all that drama?  I doubt.  Because your readers like the work of another, does not mean they love you any less.  And their disappointment with another won’t make them like you any more. I know for a fact that TJ Klune came out of that situation with a stronger fan base and new readers

“I had to work with a set word count”.

Now, I understand that publishers have certain expectations of their writers.  But, if you know that it takes you 25k words to tell a story well.  For god’s sake, stop trying to do it in 10k.  The results are not pretty.  If you are interested in learning how to write quality novellas, study the works of writers who do it well.  Stephani Hecht, Amber Kell, Kim Dare and Shawn Lane are some of the best.  Yes, there are fewer words, but that just means that they all have to count.  Some things aren’t skippable.  We still need a beginning, middle and end.  There still has to be intention and resolution.

And if your story should be a novella, stop trying to sneak in adverbs and adjectives and extraneous prose.

Bottom line:  Know your limitation.  If you were born to write beautiful prose with mouth-watering descriptions of every damn thing…do you.  But, if you oops up and churn out a short little diddy with no point…don’t whine when your readers call you on it.

“Women shouldn’t write gay romance”.

This is like saying male physicians should not delivery babies.  And there are some women that I wish would stop writing homoerotic romance, but someone is buying their stuff, or they would simply go away.  My only caution would be for female writers to have gay men, that they respect, beta-read their work for authenticity.  No one man can speak for an entire community, but they can often point out issues that diminish an otherwise good book.  A female reader might not notice the discrepancy, but a gay man might.  A gay man who may have no problem calling you on your sloppy research.  The more authentic your characters, the greater your credibility with readers.

And while I’m speaking of gender, I don’t check the genitalia of a writer before purchasing a book.  So whether they are male/female, gay/straight, transgendered, and blind, crippled and crazy, if they produce an end product that speaks to me, I will support them.  Please stop dropping drama in my inbox.  Write your stories and let me decide if I am interested enough to read them.

 

No man is an island

It’s really easy to feel like you are abused and mistreated, when you are trying to work in a bubble.  Network.  Network.  Network.  The more you do, the more you will be able to differentiate between real industry issues and personal problems.  Conferences like, GayRomLit give you an opportunity to meet other writers in your genre and interact with readers.  Another excellent resource is Rainbow Romance Writers.  In the grand scheme of things, your genre is still in its infancy.  There is no reason why your voice cannot be instrumental in shaping this exciting arm within romance.

“No one knows my name”.

In this day and age, no writer can afford to NOT have an online presence.  Facebook Fan pages, Amazon Author pages, Twitter tweets and author blogs are not luxury items.  Readers are by definition nosy parkers.  We want to know the creative mind that has brought us hours of reading pleasure.  Any and everything you want to throw at us keeps us satisfied until your next release.  Some authors don’t talk about writing at all on their blogs.  They post recipes and pictures of their kids.  What you write is not important to us…that you write is.  I love the interracial romances of Alex Berry, but they are a big unknown.

And keep your post/tweets/comments positive.  You don’t have the luxury of getting on every political/religious/social soapbox around.  To us you are a celebrity of sorts.  We may never get to tell you how your comment hurt/offended us.  But, we will look at your next release a little differently and maybe even skip it all together. That’s not to say that you are not allowed an opinion, but you are a writer, words are your business, take a minute to mentally edit yourself before clicking that send button.

Be yourself…and think outside the box.

Be yourself.  This last point I have to make as a reviewer.  On any given week, I may get as many as 50 plus submissions for review.  There are some weeks where, if I removed all the star-crossed werewolves’ mates, misunderstood hustlers and closeted cowboys I’d have 2 books to read.  Don’t get me wrong…I loved those characters, the first twenty times I met them.  But, I’d also like to see linebackers who bottom, cops with gentle spirits, grown men taking their time falling in love and maybe a kid or two thrown in the mix.  Just something new.  Find your own niche.  Cookie cutter writers are a dime a dozen.  The writers who are making the most impact and pulling in the big bucks are those that tapped into something unique.

This topic came up recently, with my review team.  I would love to see more quality interracial/multiracial romance.  Pixie asked for “more real horror or science fiction or fantasy.  You know, the real epic kind, like Rick. R. Reed, Mel Keegan, Mercedes Lackey and J. L. O’Faolain.” Artemis loves stories where they really show the characters connecting on an emotional level.  I love the new romantic suspense lines, Sanctuary by RJ Scott comes to mind, that are stronger on the suspense than the romance.  Or Dorian Grey, where the main character is gay…but it doesn’t define him.

Realistically, there has to be some “writing to your audience’.  But, the same readers who enjoy your current work will probably love that innovative love story that is presently just a kernel in the back of your mind.  Give us a chance to fall in love with those characters…we may surprise you.  And if we don’t…who cares?  You will probably pick up new readers who love the new characters, as much as others love the old one.

And if you can’t find a publisher, self-publish.  Self-publishing isn’t the bastard step child of “real publishing”, anymore.  Popular writers, like Mercy Celeste and Lisa Worrall have taken the plunge with pretty nice results.  The only drawback to self-publishing, is that it is now…all on you.  You can’t blame your editor, publisher, or priest if sales are poor.  But, listen to your muse…not someone else’s.  If you write an authentic story, based on realistic characters in plausible situations…SOMEONE WILL LIKE IT!!~!  Don’t oops up and throw in some hot manlove, you may accidentally become a bestselling author.

I know that some of you are going to read this and be pissed that I, a non-writer, am putting my nose into business that I know nothing about.  This essay isn’t written for you.  This is for the readers and writers and yes, reviewers who love this genre.  I love what I do.  Nothing gives me more pleasure than finding a literary gem and pimping it online.  I enjoy the interaction that I have with the various publishers and review coordinators who pop into my inbox and wall.  I was thrilled to introduce debut writers John Inman, Alex Kidwell and Robin Saxon to my readers, but when I shut off the computer and cuddle with my Kindle, I’m just Portia the book addict.  I’d love to disappear for a few hours into a world of your creation.  Feel free to feed my addiction.

Just sayin’ 😉

Portia

The Vicar of Passmore by Mark Adlers

Title:  The Vicar of Passmore

Series:  N/A

Author:  Mark Adlers

Genre:   Contemporary Humor

Length:  Novella

Publisher:  eXtasy Books (February 15, 2012)

Heat Level:  Moderate

Heart Rating:  ♥♥♥♥♥4.5Hearts

Blurb:  The country gives you more than fresh air.

When the townsfolk of Passmore get wind of the fact their Vicar’s new verger, Wilson Rooney, is gay, a series of events spark the start of both his and the vicar’s adventures when it comes to keeping the rather interesting flock of Passmore within the fold. Not only that, they’ll have to gain the approval of the parish council before Wilson can be accepted. No small task when it’s headed by one of the most conservative parish council leaders ever to have walked the face of God’s green earth.

Can the vicar get Wilson accepted into the community? Or will his efforts result in a disaster that will divide the town they have been trying to keep together since the decline in population has hit them hard. Time will tell, but not before love blooms in the most unexpected way and the vicar uses some rather unorthodox methods to get his parishioners to see the light about Wilson and his lifestyle choice.

Product Link:  http://www.extasybooks.com/the-vicar-of-passmore-4/

Reviewer:   Portia

Review:  This book opens before Wilson even gets to town.  The mayor of Passmore is having fits at the very idea of hiring an openly gay man.  The poor vicar is caught in the middle of a debate that has the potential to rip the quiet little village apart.

Okay…confession time.  Once upon a time, when I first started reading M/M fiction, I read a free sci-fi piece off of Mark Adler’s website.  The main character had a detachable penis…I don’t think I ever finished reading that one.  Since then, Mark and I are friends across social media and I love his humor and slant on life.  But, sadly, I have never been tempted to purchase one of his books…until now.

I am a huge fan of the BBC sitcom, The Vicar of Dibley, which ran from 1994 – 2007.  From page one; I felt like I’d been dropped into the tight-knit world that is an English village.  And I giggled through till the end.  This is not your traditional romance. Wilson finds true love, sure.  But, the cast of characters that we meet and fall in love with are amazing.  Mrs. Clump, who misses her dearly departed submissive husband, Mr. Noel, her next door neighbor, who feels he has come to an age where clothing is optional…even to do yard work, and my personal favorite, Farmer Scott, a simple farmer who is very “fond” of his animals. As with all good parody, there is a subtle tread of social commentary, but if you aren’t looking for it…you’ll probably miss it.

I feel confident saying, if all clergy were like the Vicar of Passmore, Karl Edmondson, the world’s houses of worship would be filled to overflowing.  He takes his job as shepherd of his flock serious, but loves and respects each one individually.  I hope this is not a one-off.  I would love to revisit this village again.

Spirit by P. A. Friday

Title: Spirit

Author: P.A. Friday

Genre: Contemporary, Slight BDSM/Kink

Length: Novella (70pgs)

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (7th March 2012)

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥3 ½Hearts

Reviewer: Pixie

Blurb: It’s hate at first sight when Grant McDowell meets co-worker Tristan Wetherby-Hyde. Working-class Grant fought his way up in the world and into a position at Spirit Advertising, and he can’t help but think that Tristan, son of the agency’s homophobic CEO, had everything handed to him on a silver platter.

But their differences aren’t enough to keep their mutual lust in check, despite Tristan’s fear of exposure and his father’s reaction. Both Grant and Tristan know exactly what they have to lose—what they don’t know is that their hearts are also at stake.

Purchase Link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?cPath=69&products_id=2811

Review: Grant thinks that Tristan is the stuck-up spoiled son, who has been given an easy ride in life and hates him on principle. Tristan thinks that Grant is an uncouth prat and hates him, because Grant hates him. The sparks fly and passion ignites, but are these two just too different.

A very hot novella where opposites are more than attracted. Grant is a man who has fought to get where he is today.  He has stood on his own two feet and made it, as far as he has, on his own merit.  He hates people who look down on him because of his accent or his schooling. When he meets Tristan for the first time, he thinks he has him pegged and is surprised by how things turn out. Tristan knows that he will always be a disappointment to his father and when he embarks on an affair with Grant, he knows that if his father ever found out that he was gay, then he would be sacked, chucked out and disinherited, but he can’t fight the draw that Grant has over him.

This is a hot story with a lot of sparks and passion between the two MCs. Tristan is a bit of a submissive and Grant a Dom and there is some mutual enjoyable violence between them. We get a slight feel for the characters and they are both seen dwelling on what has happened between them and what might happen yet.  And although they come from completely different backgrounds they seem to mash well together. The sex is explosive and a little bit violent at times, but it is very hot.

I will recommend this to those who like opposites attracts, enemies to lovers, a bit of sub/Dom and an ending that is satisfying to both Grant and Tristan.

 

 

 

Take Me Home by Sloan Parker

Title:  Take me Home

Series:  N/A

Author:  Sloan Parker

Genre:   Romantic Suspense

Length:  Novel

Publisher:  Loose Id (December 13, 2011)

Heat Level:  Explicit

Heart Rating:  ♥♥♥♥♥5Hearts

Blurb:   Aspiring television writer Evan Walker has been in love with his best friend since high school, but Kyle doesn’t do boyfriends. Never has. Never will. Evan knows it’s a bad idea to give in to desire when he wants more than a friend with benefits. He has a new dream job. Now all he needs is the dream partner.

Kyle Bennett is a mystery novelist with a severe case of writer’s block. He needs a change. He has three days on their cross-country train trip home for the holidays to figure out how to tell Evan he’s staying there for good. He also has to write the overdue pages for his editor. Only, he’s a little too distracted by the close quarters in their sleeper compartment—and Evan’s ass—to get much done.

The sparks that fly between them are hotter than ever. Good thing they have a real-life mystery to focus on: why people all around them, including Evan’s new boss, want to get their hands on a journal that once belonged to Kyle’s grandfather.

When a blizzard traps them in the mountains, Kyle and Evan steam up the train’s windows and must finally face their true desires.

Product Link:  http://www.loose-id.com/Take-Me-Home.aspx

Reviewer:   Portia

Review:  It’s not often that I anticipate a book.  When you read for a living, it’s hard to get excited about every book that lands on your desk.  But, I’ve been waiting for a new Sloan Parker, for what seems like forever.  Breathe has been one of my favorite books since the beginning.

So, when I started Take Me Home, I was a little let down…for a minute.  I had to pause and tell myself, Lincoln and Jay weren’t coming back; this was Kyle and Evan’s story.  When I stopped comparing, my interest level rose and I could enjoy Take Me Home as the standalone it is.

The romantic build up was really gradual.  Knowing Sloan is a romantic, I was pretty sure Kyle and Evan would end up together, but there are several moments when I couldn’t be sure either would let down his guard enough to risk falling in love.

But, to be honest, it’s the sub-plot concerning Kyle’s grandfather’s journal that really had me turning pages.  This is listed as a contemporary romance, but could easily have been dubbed a romantic suspense.  (Now listed as LGBT Suspense)

The mystery unfolds brilliantly, as Kyle and Evan take their romance to the next level.  There were enough plot twist and turns to keep me guessing and as I am a card-carrying mysteryholic…that’s saying a lot.

Breathe is still my favorite Sloan Parker novel, but Take Me Home is already on my list of books to read again.  There’s something hot about the instant love of paranormal mates.  Love at first sight can be so sweet.  But, nothing beats a Friends-to-lovers romance for me.  And Sloan Parker mixed just the right amount of angst and sensuality to make this a very entertaining read.  Highly recommend.

Floods and Droughts by Zahra Owens

Title: Floods and Drought

Series: The Wranglers 03

Author: Zahra Owens

Genre: Western, Contemporary

Length: Novel (300pgs)

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (9th March 2012)

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥3 ½Hearts

Reviewer: Pixie

Blurb: Tim Conroy knows all about patience. He’s waited three years for Rory McCown to get out of jail after doing time for stealing horses from the Blue River Ranch. Now that Rory is eligible for parole, Tim makes it his goal to persuade his boss, Hunter Krause, to give Rory a second chance.

He almost regrets it when Hunter agrees. Rory is a morose loner one moment, then arrogant and overconfident the next. The attraction between them is still there, but as soon as they start to get close, an old enemy throws a wrench in the works… and their fledgling relationship may not be strong enough to weather the coming storm.

Purchase Link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2812

Review: Tim has been keeping tabs on Rory while he has been in prison. When he is eligible for parole, Tim gets Rory a job on the ranch.  The same ranch where Rory got into trouble in the first place.  Tim takes on the responsibility of Rory and has to fight hard to prove that Rory deserves a fresh start with a clean slate. Rory doesn’t know why Tim has gone to so much trouble, but is thankful. Rory has some secrets that he keeps hidden, but as he gets closer to Tim he decides it is time for him to get clean.

This was very well-written and I did like the dynamics between Tim and Rory and the progression of their story. Rory has had a crap hand dealt him and there are vague references to things that have happened to him in the past. When Rory and Tim meet up again, the sparks are still between them, but Rory has a lot he needs to work through before he is truly comfortable.  And Tim has a hard time trying to get people to accept Rory, especially his brother.

There is conflict where there needn’t have been any, if certain people had kept their noses out.   As Tim and Rory had enough to deal with and because of one person’s interfering Rory nearly loses everything.  Even with Tim standing by his side it is still a near run thing. Tim is a lovely character and he is far from as gullible or naïve as some people think him to.  He is strong-willed when he believes in something and he believes in Rory 100%. Rory really isn’t sure about Tim at first and it takes him a while to realize that Tim is serious about him and won’t let him down.

Tim and Rory are really hot together and are well suited.  They complement each other and each has something within themselves that the other needs. We also briefly catch up with Gable and Flynn, Hunter and Grant (grrr) and some of the other characters from both Clouds and Rain and Earth and Sky and for me some of them are still not likeable.

So ,with this one I am going to recommend it to those who love troubled men, hot cowboys, hot sex, a bit of danger, a bit of angst, a strong-willed young man and a happy ever after.

Bad Boyfriend by K. A. Mitchell

Title:  Bad Boyfriend

Series:  Bad in Baltimore

Author:  K. A. Mitchell

Genre:   Contemporary

Length:  Novel

Publisher:  Samhain Publishing

Heat Level:  Explicit

Heart Rating:  ♥♥♥♥♥5Hearts

Blurb:   Sometimes it’s good to be bad. Real good…

Bad in Baltimore, Book 2

After Eli Wright came out, his parents threw him out. In the five years since, he’s made his own way, lived by his own rules, determined to never change himself—not for anyone. He’s not against finding Mr. Right, but Mr. Right Now will do just fine.

Quinn Maloney’s reward for ten years of faithfully keeping his closeted boyfriend’s secrets? A hell of a wake-up call to go with his morning coffee. Not only did Peter have affairs, he went straight to marry his pregnant girlfriend—and Quinn was to never reveal their history.

With the baby’s baptism looming and Quinn expected to put on a polite front, he decides he’s had enough of playing the peacekeeper. One wink from a much younger, eyeliner-wearing guy in a bar, and Quinn’s found a perfectly outrageous date for the occasion.

The date goes better than he ever imagined. And so much worse, as Eli convinces everyone they’re madly in love. That wasn’t part of the plan, but the more Quinn learns about the man behind the makeup, the more he wishes it was true.

Product Warnings

Contains an absolute bastard of an ex-boyfriend. Not responsible for sudden uncontrollable urges to punch him in the teeth. Also not responsible for any overheating or sudden urges brought about by explicit sex with a little BDSM thrown in. 

Product Link:  http://store.samhainpublishing.com/bad-boyfriend-p-6558.html

Reviewer:   Portia

Review:  I can honestly say, I have never read a K. A. Mitchell book that I didn’t like.  Bad Boyfriend has everything that I’ve come to expect from K.A. Mitchell; namely, a very well-written story with believable characters who muddle through to their HEA.

Strictly speaking, this is Quinn’s story.  He’s the first character we meet and I instantly pegged him as the sweet guy next door.  Then enters Peter.  From scene one, he rubbed me the wrong way and I kept my fingers crossed that Mitchell had a nice house fire planned, he could be trapped in.  No such luck.

But, luckily, Peter was dumb as a brick and dumps poor Quinn.  If he hadn’t, Quinn wouldn’t have met Eli and despite their differences, Eli is perfect for Quinn.

The guys from Bad Company feature quite heavily in Bad Boyfriend.  But, if you didn’t read book one of this series, Bad Company, Bad Boyfriend still works as a standalone.

This was really an enjoyable read.  Emotionally, it was a lot more angsty than the holiday novellas I’ve been gouging on this week.  And there were a few instances where my Kindle was in danger of being thrown across the room.  I hate when men make bone-headed decisions, because they’re too proud to ask questions.   But, obviously, that is a fabulous plot device, designed especially to endanger Kindles all over the world.

Highly recommending this title.

Po' Boys Anthology by Tc Blue, Kiernan Kelly, Lydia Nyx, Julia Talbot, and Ba Tortuga

Title:  Po Boys Anthology

Series: N/A

Authors:   T.C. Blue, Kiernan Kelly, Lydia Nyx, Julia Talbot, B.A. Tortuga

Genre: M/M contemporary

Length: eBook, 205 pages

Publisher: Torquere Press

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥4Hearts

Blurb: New Orleans is beautiful, mysterious, and above all, sexy. Po’ Boys explores all the dark alleys and shadowy cemeteries the city has to offer, with all the heat you expect from the Deep South.

In Ghost Hunting with the Stars by Lydia Nyx, Harley Weston is an average guy. So when Jackson Carney, America’s favorite gay ghost hunter, comes to film a TV show at the haunted French Quarter hotel Harley works in, Harley isn’t impressed. However, Harley does admire Jackson’s surprisingly down-to-earth attitude.

In Bubba’s All Night Diner and Bait Shop, by Kiernan Kelly, you’ll find muffuletta and murder at Bubba’s, where the danger is as thick as the accents, and the sex is as spicy as the jambalaya.

In Sexual Frankenstein, by TC Blue, friends and band mates Darian Jones and Tony Delacourt think they know each other well. When an opportunity for the band falls into their laps, it seems like a dream come true, but between their unacknowledged attraction, and some questionable decisions, they must decide whether to play it safe, or risk it all.

Finally, in Link to the Crescent, by Julia Talbot and BA Tortuga, werewolf Landry is sent to New Orleans from his home in the swamp, told he’ll meet his destiny. What he meets is vampire, Thierry, who might just be exactly what Landry’s looking for.

Let the good times roll!

Product Link: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=76&products_id=3531

Reviewer: Artemis

Review: Having lived in the Gulf Coast area for many years, I fell in love with all things Cajun.  So, I was really looking forward to reading this book. It is made up of 4 different stories, all set in or around New Orleans,

In Ghost Hunting with the Stars, by Lydia Nyx, Harley meets Jackson Carney, America’s favorite gay ghost hunter, and immediately thinks he resembles a perfectly decorated cake.  All pretty on the outside but weirdly fake.  Harley is just an average guy and has no interest in celebrities, but as he gets to know Jackson he starts to realize that America’s favorite gay ghost hunter is really a pretty nice guy.

I loved the author’s writing style and she created two very likeable characters.  They had an easy way of bantering with each other that made me smile.  I also enjoyed the secondary characters she added into the story.  Harley’s best friend Keith was funny and a bit crass and Jackson’s assistant Amanda was slightly scattered and frantic.

This story had a little bit of ghost hunting, a little bit of sex, some real life stuff thrown in and really well written characters and dialogue.  Very enjoyable!

In Bubba’s All Night Diner and Bait Shop by Kiernan Kelly, Jackson shows up at the diner looking for the Malvin brothers and Bubba offers to show him the way to their cabin.  Bubba is the diner’s owner and has an accent as thick as the gumbo they serve.  Jackson looks like an FBI agent, but is really looking for the Malvin brothers to get their signature on the paperwork that will give his company rights to the natural gas reserves hidden underneath the swamp.  Too bad the Malvin brothers are too dead to sign anything!

Bubba and Jackson get acquainted during the murder investigation and subsequent arson investigation and hospital stay.  When the whole thing finally unravels, Bubba and Jackson are more than happy to keep seeing each other, even if they do come from two totally different worlds.

I liked the story the author created and it really was true to life with gators and shotguns and everything else you find in the back woods of the bayou.  I admit, though, I am never a huge fan of trying to read accented speech.  It makes it very realistic, but there are a few too many aint’s in the story.

In Sexual Frankenstein by TC Blue, Darien and Tony have been in the band with each other for a couple of years, each one secretly crushing on the other and assuming they have no chance.  An amazing gig falls in their laps and during the course of the night they find themselves getting involved with other people.  These brief liaisons serve to open their eyes to what they COULD have if they just manage to find the courage to grab it!

When Tony and Damien finally acknowledge their attraction to each other and end up in bed it is sweet and hot and a little bit frantic and even just a tad bit awkward.  Just what you would expect of 2 college kids who have been suffering from unrequited love for the last 2 years!

The author created a group of very likeable characters and I loved that there was an epilogue at the end to let us know how things ended up after the initial craziness of the new relationship.

In Link to the Crescent by Julia Talbot and BA Tortuga, Thierry is bored. He has been around a long time and has lost interest in life.  Landry is a werewolf, sent from his pack, in search of his destiny.  He is young, but denies it, and hungry and wanting to play.  Thierry offers him a nice rare steak and a bit of fun and they quickly move forward to a fiercely loyal and protective relationship. Unfortunately, another pack has already claimed this area for themselves and Landry and Thierry need to stake their own claim.

This was a fast paced story with thoroughly enjoyable characters.  Thierry is protective and loving and Landry is adorably playful and willing to please.  I found it interesting how the author blended the wolf and the human in some scenes.  It was often difficult to determine which one was actually in charge.  Throughout the story, I could really feel how much they cared for each other.  I wish the story had gone a little farther, I didn’t want it to end!

These four stories are all very different, but if you love the bayou and all things Cajun I think you will really have fun with this anthology!

Orlin's Fall by Amber Kell

Title:  Orlin’s Fall

Series: Planetary Submissives 02

Author: Amber Kell

Genre: Science Fiction

Length: Novella (61pgs)

Publisher: Total E-Bound (12th March 2012)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥3 ½Hearts

Reviewer: Pixie

Blurb: Orlin didn’t know when he put himself up for sale that he would be responsible for changing a kingdom.

Broke and homeless, Orlin puts himself up for sale as a pet. Approached by his new Master, Orlin decides maybe being owned by a gorgeous king wouldn’t be fate worse than death. He doesn’t expect to become the one person who changes the views of an entire kingdom…or to be more than a lover for the man who buys him.

At first sight of the sexy oiled sub, Aester Fall knows he’s not leaving until Orlin belongs to him. He might be hanging on to his kingdom by his fingernails but he knows some things are worth the fight. When he returns home with Orlin, he learns his new pet might not be as pet-like as he first appeared.

Neither man expects to change the fate of a world…much less two of them.

Purchase Link: http://www.total-e-bound.com/product.asp?strParents=&CAT_ID=&P_ID=1576

Review: Orlin sells himself at auction as a pet after his parents die and he is left with nothing.  Orlin hopes that life, as a pet, won’t be too bad and after his term of service, he will have the money he needs to start a new life. But, he never expected to be sold to his mate. Aester follows the advice of the seer and goes to the auction where Orlin is on the auction block. The first look he gets of Orlin and he knows he is the one, now he just has to keep him safe.

A cute little novella that provides great entertainment. Orlin has had a lot to cope with, his parents died and left behind huge debts, his extended royal family won’t help him out so he does the only thing that he can think of… he becomes a pet, a nice name for a submission love slave. Orlin isn’t really suited to be a pet, because although he is slightly submissive he has his own way of doing things.  That and the whole “fifth in line for the throne” thing, that has given him royal training since birth.  Aester is new to his throne and set on doing everything the law says, but his pet is disrupting everything by how he acts; insisting on *gasp* walking and translating with cat people.  Before long, it brings Orlin to the attention of Aester’s uncle.

This is an enjoyable light read that is well written. I liked the way that Orlin got into trouble without even trying and that it brought to light to Aester the problems in his Kingdom that he never suspected.  And also unearths some unsavory people, who would do him harm. I would have liked to know more about Orlin’s powers as they developed, but it was only a novella ;-). Aester is a strong character, but he wanted an equal that he could spoil and while Orlin is a submissive he can hold his own and be a strong support to the right man.

You know, I love this series because we have strong characters that are either dominate or submissive but each will have a strong core and they need a partner who is their equal, but also the perfect match to their own personality. I also like the way Amber Kell has written this in the way that although they are Doms and subs, it isn’t in the way that BDSM is usually portrayed.   It is more like, their natural personalities have one partner who is slightly more Dominate than the other.

So, if you enjoy science fiction, hot sex, magic and slight danger, hot men, slight D/s relationships and a happy ever after then I have to recommend this to you.

 

Darcy Burke by Joyee Flynn

Title: Darcy Burke

Series: Beyond the Marius Brothers 02

Author: Joyee Flynn

Genre: Paranormal, Shifter, Vampire

Length: Novella (119pgs)

Publisher: Siren-Bookstrand (17th March 2012)

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥3 ½Hearts

Reviewer: Pixie

Blurb: In a world where humans and paranormals coexist in secret and where they are at war with soulless demons, vampires dream to be united with their mates.

Darcy Burke is a strong and caring vampire warrior who lost his family long ago. After so many casual hookups, he bumps into a man who he longs to love and support for the rest of his life.

Ayden Magee is a werewolf who has been stuck in his wolf form and is desperately trying to find a way to save his brothers. When Darcy helps him change back, Ayden sees the possibility of a future with this man, one filled with the tenderness and love he has been missing.

Will Darcy and Ayden be able to save Ayden’s brothers and build a lasting relationship together, or will their differences and their pasts be too much for them to conquer?

Purchase Link: http://www.bookstrand.com/darcy-burke

Review: Ayden is a werewolf who has been through a traumatic experience and is now stuck in wolf form; he is desperate to change back so he can get help rescuing his brothers.  When he meets Darcy, his dreams might just come true. Darcy is a warrior and he liked to play around a bit, when he meets Ayden he promises to help get his brothers back, but their mating is far from easy.

I enjoyed this book to an extent as it was well written, but there was some stuff that really niggled at me. When Ayden and Darcy first come together it was with a patience that must have nearly killed Darcy.   He tries to pace it, because of what happened to Ayden in the past, but also because he has just gulped down a load of shifter blood so he is extremely horny. Ayden lets Darcy in, but because of the short amount of time they know each other they haven’t had the chance to get to know each other and it causes problems between the two.

The pace of the book is good and there isn’t any real danger, just a slight threat.   And there’s some arguing as they try to work things out, the sex is really hot and erotic and it is really sweet and slightly funny, but cringe-worthy when Darcy takes things into his own hands as so not to hurt Ayden (I crossed my legs in sympathy). The two characters were good together and I enjoyed how they interacted with the other characters.

The only thing that niggled at me was Elena (Marius Brother’s mother) can’t she just keep her nose out of other people’s business for just one book and can’t she just stop throwing her weight around like she’s the freaking Queen.   I mean, God,  she’s in The Marius Brothers, The O’Hagan Way and Beyond The Marius Brothers, please just give me a break from her.

So, in all honesty a good book that I will recommend to those who love vampires and shifters, a bit of conflict, a bit of relationship conflict, hot man love, great characters and a happy ending with a good idea of the next Marius Brother’s story.

 

Tribulation by Etienne

Title: Tribulation

Series: A Buckhead Tale – Appearances Trilogy 02

Author: Etienne

Genre: Contemporary

Length: Novel (271pgs)

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (19th March 2012)

Heat Level: Low

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥4Hearts

Reviewer: Pixie

Blurb: Two weeks after Philip d’Autremont is acquitted of his wife’s murder, it’s time for him and his partner and lawyer, Charles Barnett, to start building their life together. But it turns out that not everyone in Atlanta is as ready to leave the trial in the past as Charles and Philip, and a surprise attack leaves Charles in the hospital and Philip’s arm in a sling.

With thoughts of their own mortality fresh in their minds, Charles and Philip make a decision that will change their lives forever. Future plans and home renovations take their minds off the attacks, but the danger isn’t over yet: the people behind the attacks are still at large, and they weren’t acting alone.

Purchase Link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2828

Review: Philip and Charles are building their lives together, but there are repercussions from the trial when supporters of those who tried to derail justice decide to serve out their own form of justice. Philip and Charles take stock of their lives and make life changing decisions and further plans for the future.

Another well-crafted story from Etienne. With this story we see the progression of Philip and Charles’s relationship as they make changes in their lives and try to find those who would harm them. Philip and Charles are still as close as ever when they are attacked.   it makes them take stock of their lives and their future and so they set in motion plans to enrich their future. They are still a much loved up couple and at times they struggle to keep up their active sex life, as they recover from their injuries.

As always, the story is focused on the MCs relationship, with the hunt for the attackers going on in the background. In this one we also get to see that Richard’s and Bruce’s relationship has progressed and they make a very nice couple together. We meet Philip’s nephew, Steve, who will be prominent in the next book.   So, we get some details on his background and his current fears.

The realistic relationship portrayal is fantastic and although there is danger it isn’t over done or down played too much.  we just have two men who are just trying to live their lives the way they want without interference from others and they manage that with the support of family and friends old and new. The focus of Etienne’s books is always the relationships and the everyday life they lead and how they cope with the ups and downs that life throws at them and this one doesn’t let us down.

I have to recommend this to those who love solid relationships, slight danger, true love, well written stories and a happy ending. P.S. I am hoping that we might get Richard and Bruce’s full story one day.

 

The Seahorse Who Loved the Wrong Lynx by Scarlet Hyacinth

Title: The Seahorse Who Loved the Wrong Lynx

Series: Mate or Meal 08

Author: Scarlet Hyacinth

Genre: Paranormal, Shifters

Length: Novella (133pgs)

Publisher: Siren- Bookstrand (10th March 2012)

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥3 ½Hearts

Reviewer: Pixie

Blurb: Best friend or beloved? All his life, seahorse Layton believed he loved lynx shifter Corbin. But when his body and heart reach out to Corbin’s brother, Preston, instead, he is left in absolute confusion, humiliated and afraid of his own emotions.

For years, Preston has known Layton is his mate. The only thing more painful than his mate choosing his brother over him is the knowledge of Layton’s pain at Corbin’s rejection. But then, his friendship with Layton suddenly becomes more. The knowledge that it could still be a one-time thing hurts more than Layton’s platonic affection ever did.

When as a result to their passionate encounter, Layton becomes pregnant, erratic emotions explode. What will happen when the reason behind Layton’s confusion is revealed? Can Preston and Layton overcome the threat on their hearts, lives, and families?

Purchase Link: http://www.bookstrand.com/the-seahorse-who-loved-the-wrong-lynx

Review: Layton has loved Corbin for years, but ever since THAT kiss with Alexis, a shady incubus, he’s started to have feelings for another.  When he finally acts on his attraction, he realizes the truth. Preston has longed for his mate, but knowing his mate wanted his brother, he has stood aside hoping that Layton finds happiness. But, now that Layton has turned to him the truth emerges and their families and friends are in grave danger.

A well-written novella that has added more twists to the Mate or Meal series. Ever since that kiss with Alexis, Layton has developed an attraction for Preston which is now throwing doubts on Layton’s belief that Corbin is his mate.  When the truth emerges, their families uncover a plot to start a race war. Preston has suffered watching his mate chase his brother, but now that he has his mate in his arms, nothing is going to separate them again.

I loved the new twists that emerged and I really hope that in future books it will be revealed how the other side found out who Preston’s mate was. With the continuation of these stories, new plots emerge and old plots reveal their connections and they are really good. What I enjoyed about this story was that there wasn’t too much angst or moping about the Corbin, Layton and Preston triangle.  It was cleared up quickly and the story-line progressed well, while adding in new details, so that we weren’t left hanging about the confusion of why Layton thought Corbin was his mate.

Preston and Layton made a great couple and they had some really hot sex.  I liked how there wasn’t too much angst when they got together and that they accepted quickly how they felt about each other. The other characters added to the story well and I liked the new characters that were introduced as well. There were one or two editing mistakes which really shouldn’t have been missed,  but other than that this was an enjoyable book.

So I will recommend this to those who love shifters, a touch of angst, m-preg, twists, a really good story and a happy ever after.

 

 

 

Last of the Lesser Kings by T. L. K. Arkenberg

Title: Last of the Lesser Kings

Author: T.L.K. Arkenberg

Genre: Fantasy

Length: Super Novel (504pgs)

Publisher: Silver Publishing (28th January 2012)

Heat Level: Low

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥2 ½Hearts

Reviewer: Pixie

Blurb: Fleeing Janir, the High King his magic helped create, Neathander finds a home and love in the free kingdom, Rivensed, and its King, Aorin. But when Janir’s army comes, Neathander risks everything to save the last of the lesser Kings.

After twelve years of conquest, Janir of Meanga has become the High King of all the human lands. At his side through it all is Neathander Arian, the magician who once loved him.

Neathander has since become disillusioned: with Janir’s ambition, with the violence of war, and most of all with himself. He has done monstrous things, and he’s uncertain if redemption is even possible. But when he flees north, away from Janir’s final war of conquest, Neathander comes across two lost children, and when he helps them find their way home, he meets their father: Aorin of Rivensed, the last independent lesser King.

Aorin is gentle and kind and welcomes Neathander even after learning of his past. Neathander, in his turn, grows to love the King. But Janir’s victory must be complete: he will let no kingdom stand against him. Neathander must fight against the very power he helped create, while struggling against the temptation to give into the violence he is capable of, even to save Rivensed. Unrequited love for Janir made him willing to become a monster; Aorin’s love might save him–if Neathander in turn can save the last of the lesser Kings.

Purchase Link: https://spsilverpublishing.com/product_book_info/products_id/722

T.L.K. Arkenberg A.K.A. T.C. Mill and Therese Arkenberg

Review: Neathander is an Arian and for the past twelve years has done everything he can to ensure Janir raises to power.   But, now he is disillusioned with the wars and Janir.  As he walks away, he vows never to use his power over the ailon for bad again.  When he rescues two children from a wolf, he finds himself in a place he never thought he would, Rivensed.

A well written story with a good plot and story-line. Neathander is in the land of humans because he followed his lover who was a mercenary.  When he died in battle, Neathander was left alone to fend for himself.  When he comes to the aid of a young man, his life changes and it is several years before he realizes what he has turned himself into to try to gain Janir’s heart. When Janir insists on more war, Neathander leaves him and ends up in Rivensed, the next land that Janir wants to conquer, where Neathander proceeds to fall in love with its King, Aorin and Neathander swears to protect them from Janir.

Neathander is a complex character.  On one hand he is strong, scary and powerful.  On the other hand he is weak, pitiful and spineless.  and I really have to admit I wanted to smack him and tell him to grow up and stop latching onto every King he saw. Janir is a power-hungry tyrant who was created with the help of Neathander.  Who, at first, wanted justice for Janir, but it wasn’t long before he was doing anything to gain Janir’s approval. even knowing that Janir sneered at his sexuality. Aorin is a strong, compassionate and thoughtful King, but he has a lot on his plate and Neathander isn’t helping with his infatuation and promises to do anything to help.

I have got to say that I was disappointed with this as a gay story, as the only person in this book that I can say for definite is gay is Neathander.  Janir isn’t… he uses men to humiliate and punish and Aorin seems to be reluctant to have anything to do with Neathander, in a sexual way.   It felt to me more like a straight man being pursued by a gay man and finally giving into the inevitable.  There isn’t that much m/m contact except for a few kisses. The actually story-line and plot was intriguing which is why I bought the book, but the execution sadly failed and for 504pgs I was expecting more world-building and character development.

Okay, so as you are all aware I am a Fantasy lover and the bigger and more epic the better.  And when someone advertises that it is an action, adventure fantasy then it had better be action, adventure fantasy.  and with this book the action, adventure was missing or did I blink and miss it? I was so not impressed that all the exciting stuff was in the twelve years that was missing with only one of two small shows of power after that. I also wasn’t impressed that Neathander’s character seemed so weak.  That he would do anything, even murder people, for a few crumbs of affection from a man who he knew despised him for his sexuality.

This book could have been so much more. But, that isn’t to say that the story isn’t good, because it is. I am just a hard-core fantasy fan ;-).   So, if you like fantasy, magic, volatile kings, an interesting story-line and plot then give this one a go.

 

I Am Fallen by Scarlet Blackwell

Title: I Am Fallen

Author: Scarlet Blackwell

Genre: Historical (1888) Angel, Fallen Angel/Demon

Length: Novel (192pgs)

Publisher: Silver Publishing (17th March 2012)

Heat Level: Low

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥4Hearts

Reviewer: Pixie

Blurb: Children’s book writer Jacob Bailey has retreated to Scotland to die in solitude, tormented by the loss of the love of his life and wishing for an end to his suffering. In the remote house on the cliff, he is visited by an angel with history and pain of his own, a being who brings far more to Jacob’s final days than he could ever hope for.

CONTENT ADVISORY: This title contains a bittersweet ending.

Purchase Link: https://spsilverpublishing.com/product_book_info/coming-soon-c-2/products_id/762

Review: Jacob is a man who knows that the end is coming.   He knows the cancer has come back.   He doesn’t need a doctor to tell him. Now, at a remote cottage away from family and friends, he has choices to make and as the pain gets worse, he is visited by angels.

This really is a bittersweet story that tugs at your heart-strings. Jacob has had one gay experience in his life and he hasn’t really been happy since the love of his life sailed for America. Now knowing that the dreaded cancer is back he isn’t sure if the angels he sees are real or not but he believes that they are. There are three underlying stories twisted together, we have Jacob and his lost love Lucien, we have Lucifer and his lost love Raphael and we have the comfort that Jacob and Lucifer offer each other.

This story is bittersweet all the way through.  There are sparks of happiness or joy, but all the way through, we know that there will not be a happy ending.  as we read,  we can see Lucifer trying to give Jacob comfort and Jacob trying to understand what Lucifer could want with him, if not his soul. We also have Lucifer and Raphael hashing over the past and what they both felt.  Raphael knowing that spending any time with Lucifer will get him punished and Lucifer *sigh*, Lucifer feeling hurt that Raphael had denied his love.

This is a story that is not your usual Fallen Angel/Lucifer story.  There is a unique reason for Lucifer’s fall from Grace and what his duties are. And this story is all about lost love and at the end maybe new beginnings. The way this story is written is brilliant.  It is the touching, agonizing drawn out last weeks and months of a man’s life as he reflects on what he has done, but Lucifer feels a certain kinship for him and tries to ease some of his pain and to keep him on the right track.

Scarlet Blackwell has written a story that makes you live the agonizing, pain-filled moments of Jacob’s last weeks and months.  the descriptions of the agonizing hell he goes through while his Guardian Angel stands by his side watching,  makes you question why is suicide a sin , when Angel’s won’t give them respite from the pain?

This for me was a great read… a different reflection on Heaven and Hell and Heaven doesn’t come out smelling of roses. I recommend this to those who want a slightly whimsical, reflecting, regretting, and truth facing, longing and forbidden love.

 

Earthly Concerns by Xavier Axelson

Title: Earthly Concerns

Author: Xavier Axelson

Genre: Paranormal

Length: Novella (178pgs. Large print)

Publisher: Seventh Window Publications (12th March 2012)

Heat Level:  Explicit

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥4Hearts

Reviewer: Pixie

Blurb: Between love and loss, there is obligation…

It was a peaceful night when Barrett and his daughter were driving home… then something happened. Something sinister.

Between shadow and light, there is uncertainty…

Now the only person Barrett can turn to for help is Anson, a man gifted with psychic abilities beyond reason. But Anson is also his ex-boyfriend, a man whose heart he’d already broken.

If you can see, you have to help.

As Anson delves deeper into the circumstances surrounding Barrett’s accident, he begins to realize that he’s not only in a race against time, but in a battle against his own broken heart and the terrifying understanding that whatever has taken Barrett’s child is a force of evil beyond anything either man has ever encountered.

And between decision and consequences, there are… Earthly Concerns.

Purchase Link: http://www.seventhwindow.com/index.php?main_page=product_music_info&cPath=&products_id=42

Review: Anson is awakened in the middle of the night by a phone call from his ex-lover begging for his help.  Anson doesn’t really want to, but knows that something sinister has happened and he is the only one who can get Barrett’s daughter back.

This is quite a darkish story that is well woven… but kinda odd. Anson is a psychic who is able to see and he doesn’t really know how it all works. Barrett is Anson’s ex-lover.   He couldn’t be the man who Anson needed so let him go.  Now, he needs Anson’s help to find his daughter.

I liked the dark aspects of this story.   the shadowy figure, the descriptions of moths, beetles and spiders and Anson being all angsty over Barrett. We don’t get a real feel about Barrett, except for his despair over his missing daughter and Anson.   Well, Anson comes across as a bit obsessed with Barrett. I liked the way that Anson and his psychic ability are portrayed and the descriptions are very well done to give a vague but dark feel to the story.

There is an extremely hot encounter between Anson and Barrett that is done as a memory dream and it shows an extremely passionate relationship that is filled with doubts. I must admit that I wanted to know more about the connection the two men have and how they came to have been separated, as you get the feeling that maybe Anson wasn’t as patient as he could have been with Barrett.  As Barrett, according to Anson, was struggling with his sexuality. It would have been really nice to have got something from Barrett’s POV, because all we know for sure is his despair over his daughter.

So, I will recommend this for those who love dark, mysterious, angst filled, despair lingering and pain filled stories that have hot sex and an ending that promises more for the two men.

A Hard Winter Rain by John Inman

Title:  A  Hard Winter Rain

Author: John Inman

Genre: Mystery, Suspense

Length: Novel (300pgs)

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (5th March 2012)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥4 ½Hearts

Reviewer: Pixie

Blurb: Sean Andros is tired—tired of hustling, tired of trying to make the rent, tired of running from his past.

But the past can chase you down in a heartbeat. Suddenly Sean’s living a nightmare again and casualties are stacking up around him. The only person he can trust is Harry, a man twice his age and the closest thing to a friend Sean has ever known. Harry Connors has loved Sean since their first night together, and now, with danger hard at their heels, Harry will do anything to protect the tough, strangely vulnerable young man who begs him for help.

Harry had better be serious about offering protection, though, because the demons threatening Sean’s life are no joke. Only a hard winter rain will wash away the evil that drove Sean Andros to the streets, and Sean and Harry are going to have to be strong if they plan on sticking around for the sun.

CONTENT ADVISORY: This title contains scenes of rape.

Purchase Link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2804

Review: Sean is in serious trouble.   His past has come back for him, but he really doesn’t have a clue who from his past it could be.   When Sean flees the scene of a murder, he runs right into Harry’s arms.  Harry convinces Sean to let him help and it is the beginning of a game of cat and mouse with an insane killer who will stop at nothing to make Sean pay.  As the two men try to think of a way to end the game, they become what Harry had always hoped for.

This is an incredible well-written story that starts out intense and doesn’t let up until the very end.  Sean is a hustler and while he dreams of having a better life, he knows that at the moment hustling pays well.  Harry owns his own hair salon and is forty-five.   He dreams of having a relationship with Sean, who is more than half his age. These two men come together when Sean needs protection and it is a fight for both of them to survive.  The pale man is out to punish Sean.   Sean caused him to commit his one sin and now he needs cleansing, he is doing God’s work, a mission that would give him absolution and nothing will stand in his way.

This book is from several POVs, from Harry and Sean’s, to the Pale man, to the lead detectives.   We get a well-rounded full view of all aspects of the story and I have to say I loved it.   We get the feelings of each person and the reasons behind why they do stuff.  So, instead of sitting there baffled by what a person has done you completely understand exactly what is going on.  You get to relate to characters that we wouldn’t normally get the chance to and it gave the author a wider scope to work with. The main story in this book is about the plan to set-up and kill Sean, the reason behind it and the murders the Pale man commits.   The story of Harry and Sean is there, but it lingers in the background, only coming forward when it needs to.  We also get to know the two main detectives very well and they add a bit of light relief at times.

The relationship between Harry and Sean really is secondary, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t important because seeing these two come together is really nice.   Yes, at first, you doubt that Sean is being serious, but then you realize that he really does genuinely care for Harry and they fit together nicely.

With this one I am going to recommend it to those who love mystery, suspense, danger, tension, conflict, protective friends, fantastic characters, a brilliant story-line and a happy ending for Sean and Harry.