Mark's Courage by Diana DeRicci

MarksCourageTitle: Mark’s Courage

Series: Finding Happiness 03

Author: Diana DeRicci

Genre: Contemporary

Length: Short (27pgs)

Publisher: Happy Ending Press (15th February 2013)

Heat: Moderate

Heart:  ♥♥♥♥3½Hearts

Reviewer: Pixie

Blurb: Jimmy’s career is rolling full steam ahead and the challenges of a dating a celebrity are beginning to encroach on Mark’s stable world. When Jimmy is nominated for an award, even Mark’s co-workers question his intentions. Will he stay at a job he enjoys, or will he find the strength and courage to be what Jimmy needs most?

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Review: This story is part of a series and must be read in order. Jimmy’s career as an actor is really taking off and Mark is in full support.  But, when Jimmy is nominated for an award, Mark’s friends ask him when he will be embracing the life as a celebrity spouse and it leads Mark to begin realizing the direction his life is taking.

This is a great little snippet into Mark and Jimmy’s lives. Mark enjoys his life as an IT expert and is happy for Jimmy as his career takes off.  But, he soon begins to realize that his happy little world might have to change as Jimmy becomes more noticed in the acting world. Jimmy and Mark are a great couple and we see some great moments between them.  Jimmy is on a break from filming and they visit Mark’s parents, they have an interesting way of sharing Chocolate Pie and they have a very romantic time.

There really isn’t much for me to really say about this story except that it is an ongoing series with future additions expected, the characters are both great and you want to see how they progress through the difficulties that are thrown at them. There is some incredible hot sex between them, and it shows the depth of their love.

I have to recommend this to those who love watching relationships grow, difficult decisions and some really hot sex and the promise of seeing these young men in the future.

Spiretown by Lia Black

Stockholm - SwedenTitle: Spiretown

Author: Lia Black

Genre: Fantasy, Dystopia, Magic

Length: Novel (233pgs)

Publisher: Vinedark Publishing (2nd December 2012)

Heat: Moderate

Heart:  ♥♥♥♥3½ – 4Hearts

Reviewer: Pixie

Blurb: It’s been several years since the end of the Mage wars. Those born with the taint of magic are sent to places like Spiretown, a city within a city that serves as a prison for its inhabitants. Logan Grey is the self-proclaimed mayor of this ghetto, but he’s suddenly found himself in some trouble, and he needs help from an unlikely source.

Templar Battalion Commander Collin Anderfels is having a very bad week. His fiancée left him for his best friend, he was blown up in a raid gone wrong, and now he’s been forced to protect a man who represents everything that Collin loathes. Worse still is the fact that Logan Grey keeps saving his life, and he seems intent on bedding the young Commander, despite Collin’s sometimes violent protests.

Somehow, beyond prejudice and deceit these two unlikely partners find themselves becoming more than just allies, but can a love born from lies survive when the gates of hell are torn open?

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Review: Spiretown, a place where people born with the taint (magic) are shipped to when their magic becomes apparent. Logan is a mage, who has his own little part of the world in Spiretown. But, he needs help when he discovers the Red Seal (a group of rogue mages) are targeting him. So, he approaches an unlikely source for assistance. Collin is a Templar Commander.  His group is there to keep the mages in place and to destroy any who succumb to the demons. Being approached by a mage for protection is astounding; beginning to have feelings for the mage just might destroy him.

This story is slightly dark, with prejudice, hate, anger and fear, breaking down those emotions and finding love. When Collin’s team is lead into an ambush by the Red Seal, he never thought his savior would be a mage.  But, that mage wants something in return, he wants protection. Logan needs the help of the Templar if he is going to bring down the Red Seal. Saving Collin fit into his plans, and now he just needs his web of lies to come to fruition. But, neither Logan nor Collin reckoned on an emotional connection forming between them. But, it is that love that just might save them all, when the Red Seal attempt to rip open the gates of Hell.

This is a great story if you are looking for a story that is drenched in angst and darkness. After the Mage Wars, all humans showing the taint of magic were rounded up and put in places like Spiretown.  Children taken from their parents were handed over to the clergy and Logan was one of those children. Templers are plainbloods (humans with no ‘taint’), who are given the task of dealing with any mages who succumb to demons.  Many of them, like Collin, hate the mages due to losses of family in the Mage Wars. Logan is a special mage though; he has special abilities that the Red Seal want.  Logan turns to Collin for help and it begins a complex relationship between the mage and the Templar.

I have to admit to that this story isn’t black and white.  Neither character is particularly lovable due to their personalities, but the longer you read the more you understand what drives them. The storyline is brilliant, but twisted, and at times will turn your stomach, especially when it comes to Logan’s past. We see a huge development in Collin’s psyche as he comes to realize that not all mages are evil and that some humans do deserve what they get.  The relationship he develops with Logan is not easy, but it is something that he would give everything up for. Logan is a very complex character and how he has been treated as a child has left scars on his soul.  It has also molded him into the way he is now and it’s a miracle he isn’t completely insane.

I have to recommend this if you love angst, demons, mages, harsh lives, some hot sex, great descriptions, some horrific scenes, a love emerging against the odds and an ending that has hope.

Black Hawk Tattoo by Aundrea Singer

BlackHawkTattooLGTitle:  Black Hawk Tattoo

Author:  Aundrea Singer

Genre:  M/M contemporary

Length:  Novel (318 pages)

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press (January 7, 2013)

Heat Level:  Moderate

Heart Rating:  ♥♥♥♥3.5Hearts

Blurb:  Toronto artist Gabriel Navarro splits his time between slinging ink and working on his master’s degree. He’s sure of his beliefs and his artistic integrity and naïve enough to think he’ll never compromise—until Iraq war veteran Jake MacLean shows up in his tattoo parlor.

Overcome with anger and survivor’s guilt, Jake is locked in a struggle to atone for sins he’s sure will never be forgiven. Desperate to get his life back on track and with nowhere else to go, he moves in with his sister in Toronto. He doesn’t expect to fall for Gabe.

Though Jake’s refusal to talk about what happened in Iraq frustrates Gabe, accepting Jake’s claims that he’s “fine” is easier than dealing with the truth. But pretty soon it’s clear Jake can’t control his panic attacks, and his condition is worsening. If Gabe can’t help him face his demons, Jake is headed for a crash—and there’s every chance he’ll take Gabriel down with him

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Reviewer:  Showme

Review:  Jake is an ex-soldier who hasn’t recovered mentally from a horrific helicopter crash during wartime. He suffers from a serious case of PTSD, but has no interest in seeking help. He’s pretty much a mess, and wanders around day to day in daze, just existing. Gabe is a nice guy who likes to help people when he can. He’s an art major who found a job as a tattoo artist, but has no tattoos. It’s certainly not stereotypical for either Gabe or Jake, which I find kind of refreshing. I also like the idea of a tough military man and a tatted up alternative guy, but that’s not what you get in this story. Not that that’s bad, just don’t expect it in this book.

The two meet when Jake decides he needs a large tattoo and walks into the shop where Gabe works. Their first few meetings are going over the tattoos, while Jake snaps at Gabe, and Gabe manages to insult him, but they’re attracted to each other, so both guys look forward to seeing the other.  Things kind of evolve quickly from there after one of Jake’s episodes sends him running to Gabe for help.

It didn’t seem like the two MCs had much chemistry. It was more “a nice guy who likes to help people” meets a “guy who’s a mess and needs help.” Then they both happen to be gay and attracted to each other. There were a few reasons given for why they liked each other but it just never really clicked for me. Jake was damn near impossible to like. I guess his character was well-developed, but when writing a romance I want to find some likable quality about one of the guys falling in love.

Gabe’s character was likable. He’s younger and quick to help anyone who needs it. He’s funny, even if he does sometimes say things he shouldn’t, or avoid things he should confront. He really wants to help Jake, but he also just wants to be with him, and avoids some scary signs of trouble from Jake.

This book overall felt high on drama and angst, but somehow seemed slow and heavy. I guess what you need to know before you pick up this book is that it deals with a serious topic and doesn’t really lighten up at any point. There were funny moments, so it’s not exactly a somber book, but it’s not your normal m/m romance either.