Boys Will Be Boys by Paul Alan Fahay

Title: Boys Will Be Boys

Author: Paul Alan Fahey

Genre: Young Adult, Historical (1950s)

Length: Short Story

Publisher:  Queerteen Press (October 14th, 2012

Heat Level: Low

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥4Hearts

Blurb:  In the late 1950’s, fourteen year old Philip Noland is a gay but sexually inexperienced freshman at St. Sebastian’s, a Catholic high school for boys. Alone and emotionally isolated, with the exception of two friends named O’Riley and Carlin, there are no familiar guideposts for Philip to follow, just an excess of rules and regulations that make no sense to him.

A late bloomer, Philip learns to masturbate effectively and fall in love for the first time, but his greatest challenge isn’t the regimented behavior at St. Sebastian’s — it’s surviving a bully named Molinara who has set his sights on Philip.

Can Philip navigate the minefields of St. Sebastian’s and emerge victorious?

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Reviewer:  Madison

Review:  I enjoyed the author’s writing style. The way the report cards and other notices were incorporated into the story was both unique and effective in terms of establishing the setting and characters.

I wonder what the intended audience’s age is for this story (I’m guessing it’s fairly young). The entire time I was reading, all signs led to impending tragedy, but that climactic moment wasn’t really that bad. It could’ve been much darker.

Overall, this is a touching short story about young friendship and love. Yay, Smith!


Beauty in the Breakdown by E. L. Esch

Title:  Beauty in the Breakdown

Author:  E.L. Esch

Genre:  Contemporary

Length:  Novel

Publisher:  Loose Id (October 2nd, 2012)

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating:  ♥♥♥♥4Hearts

Blurb:  Luke Martin Cleary isn’t out of the closet to his brother, and that’s always been okay since he isn’t involved. Then he meets Rowan, a fragile man with a dark past and one hot body. But Rowan’s heart and body are broken and guarded, and it’s going to take a lot of love to touch someone so completely untouchable. Literally.

Rowan Wilheim Nails is a man in pain. Ever since an abusive falling out with his ex-boyfriend, he’s developed a phobia of being touched by another person–a phobia of being hurt again. So when Luke and Rowan meet at a bar and end up at Luke’s apartment later on, Rowan is skeptical of spending the night in Luke’s bed. There’s only one thing he can do to make touching Luke’s skin bearable–get drunk.

Luke hates Rowan’s coping method, but how can he help change it when he doesn’t understand Rowan’s situation? By getting involved, he decides, even if that means divulging his secret to his brother. And so Luke begins breaking Rowan and his walls down, slowly and tenderly and maybe a little more roughly in the bedroom, but definitely without hurting him again. No matter how long it takes or how untouchable Rowan claims to be, Luke is determined to heal Rowan so that one day there’ll be nothing between their hearts but each other’s skin.

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Reviewer:  Madison

Review:  Luke and Rowan hook up one night and both feel an instant connection. They want more than a one-night stand. The problem is they both have some serious baggage to overcome. Luke is still haunted by the death of his parents and the promise he had made to his dad not to reveal his sexuality to his younger brother, despite now being his sole caretaker. Rowan has just come out of a physically abusive relationship and can’t bear skin-on-skin contact without the aid of alcohol to numb the pain. Despite these obstacles, Luke and Rowan fall in love and work to heal old wounds.

The story took awhile to draw me in, but once the connection between Luke and Rowan was established, I felt for them. They were both fighters, both stubborn. Yet, they showed their vulnerability with one another. The way their relationship developed was sweet. I didn’t fully understand Rowan’s skin phobia, nor did I understand how he got over it, but I’m glad he did in the end. The story was well written with believable dialogue and likable characters.

Ethan, Who Loved Carter by Ryan Loveless

Title: Ethan, Who Loved Carter

Author: Ryan Loveless

Genre: Contemporary

Length: Novel

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press (September 17, 2012)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥5Hearts

Blurb:   By twenty-four, Carter Stevenson has stuttered and ticced his way to debilitating shyness. Although his friends accuse him of letting his Tourette’s dictate his life, Carter moves from Los Angeles to a quiet California town. He’ll keep his head down and avoid people. He doesn’t anticipate his new neighbor, Ethan Hart, crashing into his solitude and forcing him to get out and live.

From the beginning, Ethan makes his love for Carter clear. But he fears Carter won’t see past Ethan’s damaged brain, even though it makes Ethan more attuned to his emotions than most people. For Carter, there’s a bigger issue: he’s been burned by so-called “perfect” matches, and he won’t risk his heart again.

One way or another, Ethan’s determined to show Carter they belong together. Then Ethan receives tragic news. Suddenly he must turn to Carter for strength and support. Will Carter come through when Ethan needs him most?

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Reviewer:  Madison

Review:  In Ethan, Who Loved Carter, Ryan Loveless tells the story of two young men, each with a disability affecting their capacity to interact socially.

Carter has Tourette Syndrome. Because of his stuttering and jerky body movements, he is uncomfortable being out in public. At best, people stare; at worst, they mock or insult him. If it weren’t for his best friend coming around to check on him and pushing him to go out, he’d probably never leave the house. His past relationships have all ended badly, and he’s afraid to put his heart out there again.

Ethan, now in his mid-twenties, suffers from a traumatic brain injury resulting from an accident that occurred nearly ten years earlier. His injury prevents him from living independently, although he can do most things for himself. He lives at home with his parents and his fifteen-year-old brother. He works in a local coffee shop, where his co-workers are friendly, but the customers aren’t always patient or kind. He’s had sexual encounters with men, but has never been in a lasting relationship.

“The stars arranged themselves into symphonies for him. Ethan told his dad how they burst and shone, how he could hear them in his head, sometimes so loud he needed to cover his ears, but that was wrong because the music was in him and if he covered his ears, he trapped it. Dad tried to understand, and Mom did too, but they didn’t hear the music, didn’t see it no matter how often Ethan traced it in the sky.”

When Carter moves in next door, the two men become friends. Ethan wants more, but Carter is skittish. In time, once they’ve gotten to know each other better, and Carter finds acceptance not only from Ethan, but also Ethan’s family, Carter admits his feelings for Ethan. In each other, Carter and Ethan find love, acceptance, and understanding.

These characters had me in tears as I experienced their heartaches and struggles in navigating the world around them. Yet at the same time, it moved me to see how much people truly cared about them. Even Ethan’s angry younger brother, who was often mean to them both, displayed moments of such tenderness and acceptance. It made my heart ache with joy. The way Carter took care of Ethan with patience and kindness when he needed it, never treating him like a child, and the way Ethan then took care of Carter in return, was simply beautiful.

One of best books I’ve read. A must read for anyone who likes their romance sweet and emotional.

Cutaway by Liz Borino

Title: Cutaway

Author: Liz Borino

Genre: BDSM

Length: Novel

Publisher:  Lazy Day Publishing (September 19, 2012)

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥3.5Hearts

Blurb:  Two years after Steve Michaels called, “Action!” on a new phase in his career as co-producer on the television show Ben’s Life, the lights go up again on his Dom/sub relationship with actor Zack Greene, but Hollywood cameras don’t always capture the truth.

A mention of Steve’s past in the BDSM scene has Zack craving new ways for them to connect. All of the couple’s concerns fall away when Steve and his ex, Peter, are in a car accident. The last ones to know, Zack and Josh, Peter’s slave, rush to the hospital. The injuries from the accident force the dominant man to set aside his pride and accept help from Zack. Will the couple get to explore new boundaries in their relationship or will the dependency Cutaway the structure holding their relationship in place?

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Reviewer:  Madison

Review:  Steve is the director of the highly successful TV show, Ben’s Life. He’s been in a monogamous relationship with the show’s lead star, Zack, for five years. Steve and Zack enjoy elements of a Dom/sub lifestyle, although neither is heavily into the scene. Steve identifies as a Dom, but draws the line at doing anything that would cause his lover pain or humiliation. Zack identifies as a sub, but has a big ego and a feisty attitude that often result in inappropriate behavior.

Steve is so lax, and Zack so obstinate, I have a hard time thinking of this as a D/s relationship. It doesn’t help that the other D/s couple in the story is heavily into the lifestyle and their personalities are extreme. Even so, it’s sweet to see how devoted Steve and Zack are to one another and how deeply they love one another. I admit I know very little about BDSM, so I can’t speak to the authenticity of the character’s actions.

Their safe word made me laugh. 😀

There are several really interesting things happening in the plot, like Zack having to give his collar to a coworker on set, and the accident that causes Zack to have to care for Steve for a change. These could have been played up more, with more emotion, and perhaps in a full-length novel, they would have been.

I was also intrigued by the character Josh. I was a bit shocked at how the story ended. I was hoping for resolution for Josh’s storyline. I’m assuming there will be another book in this series that explores Josh’s story further. At least, I hope so. We’re left with a pretty major cliffhanger! From what I know of Steve and Zack, it’s highly unlikely that they would take in Josh as a third, but I was secretly hoping for that. He needs some hugs and kisses and sweet loving, too. 🙂

Sub-mission by Sage Marlowe

Title: Sub-Mission

Author: Sage Marlowe

Genre: Contemporary/BDSM

Length: 152 Pages

Publisher:  Total E-Bound (August 27th, 2012)

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥5Hearts

Blurb: Pierce Hollister is a down-to-earth businessman. Most of the time. His romantic side has him secretly dreaming of Mr. Right, a family and happy ever after.

Noah Conway is a single father who doesn’t believe in happy families anymore. When his daughter’s life is at stake, he would sell his soul to save her but as a sadistic Dom takes an interest in him, he sells his body instead.

A shared session at a BDSM club leaves Pierce intrigued and soon he finds himself willing to do anything in his power to heal the wounds that life has left on Noah’s soul. When he realizes that the very thing Noah dreads the most might just be what he needs, Pierce sets out on a mission – but maybe it’s just not in his power to save Noah.

Will Noah be able to battle the demons that haunt him and find the happy ever after Pierce has dreamed up for them?

Reader Advisory: This book contains a scene of dubious consent.

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Reviewer:  Madison

Review:  Pierce likes to spend time at his brother’s club for the occasional hookup, but he’s not really into the BDSM scene. Ultimately he’d like to find a long-term partner, someone to settle down and share his life with. But for now, he’ll settle for casual sex. That is, until he meets Noah, first at the club, and then again months later outside of the club.

When Pierce initially meets Noah, he’s a sub in training. But the Noah he encounters months later is completely different. Noah is a control freak, both in his everyday life and in the bedroom. His past trauma has left him with trust issues, and he’s not willing to open up emotionally.

Pierce falls hard for Noah, but as time passes, their relationship feels more and more imbalanced. Pierce must find a way to break through Noah’s walls if they have any chance of making it.

The story is well written with engaging dialogue and well-developed characters. I became immersed in their world right away. The plot is suspenseful (I hope I didn’t give too much away) and kept me reading. I have a soft spot for emotionally traumatized characters, and the author did an exceptional job of portraying Noah’s pain in a believable and sympathetic way.

Furthermore, I thought the sex scenes leant themselves well to the story. Not too long and drawn out, not too sparse or too prevalent. They felt just right.

This was a very satisfying, sexy, emotional read. I highly recommend it.

Finding Home by Cameron Dane

Title: Finding Home

Author: Cameron Dane

Genre: M/M Romance

Length: 97 Pages

Publisher:  Loose Id (May 13, 2008)

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥4Hearts

Blurb: Picking pockets and stealing cars, Adam Reyes does what he must to survive. Working Chicago’s O’Hare airport, he feels pretty confident when he spots his next mark.

Security expert Rhone Quinn can’t believe the wiry kid who grabs his cell phone almost gets away with it. Logic says turn the teen over to the cops, but Rhone is a man who trusts his instincts, and his gut tells him to offer the young man a job and a chance to begin a new life. Little does Rhone know that when he makes this choice it will forever change his life, too.

Over the years that follow, a mentor relationship turns into a unique, abiding friendship. It eventually leads to true equality between Rhone and Adam when Adam becomes a full partner in Quinn Security. Unbeknownst to Rhone, as time passes by, Adam is also falling deeply in love. With Rhone. Who isn’t gay. And who doesn’t know that Adam is.

Then, one day, Rhone discovers the truth. Will Rhone’s new awareness of Adam’s feelings bind the men together even more intimately, or tear them apart for good?

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Reviewer:  Madison

Review:  Adam lives on the streets after being kicked out of his house by an abusive, homophobic father. Rhone catches him trying to pick his pocket. Instead of turning him over to the authorities, Rhone offers him a job at his firm, Quinn Securities. The two eventually become roommates and over the course of the next ten years become best friends. Rhone has no idea his friend of so many years is gay until he walks in on a rather startling scene. What follows is an intense encounter between the two.

I enjoyed watching the relationship slowly build. Rhone and Adam cared deeply for one another. Even though the relationship was platonic, I still had the sense that they were in love. Rhone’s cluelessness wasn’t really plausible (didn’t he wonder why Adam hadn’t been on a date in the ten years he’d known him?). It takes these two a frustratingly long time to get together, but it is very satisfying once they do. The erotic scenes are very detailed and drawn out, even if they’re not realistic (neither of them had ever been with a man, yet they had mad lovemaking skills). If you’re in the mood for a hot and steamy read, Cameron Dane does not disappoint.

A Cat Named Hercules by K. C. Kendricks

Title: A Cat Named Hercules

Author: K.C. Kendricks

Genre: Contemporary

Length: Novella (119 Pages)

Publisher:  Amber Allure (January 15, 2012)

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥5Hearts

Blurb: New in town, Shiloh Rudy joins a group of civic-minded volunteers to better acquaint himself with his recently adopted community. It’s a good way to make friends, network, and help make a difference, not to mention perhaps meet someone interesting—in a romantic sort of way. The one thing Shiloh didn’t expect was a love to rival all others to come with four white paws.

Gale Widmyer is on his feet and moving forward after piecing his life back together following a series of wrong choices. The one bright spot in his existence, even in his darkest moments, was the fulfillment of his dream to become a veterinarian. Gale’s making good on a promise to himself when an abandoned kitten leads him to Shiloh Rudy and a chance at the happiness he never hoped to have.

Laying the cornerstone for a developing relationship comes easy for Shiloh and Gale. But the wounds of the past often remain unhealed at their deepest point. A few careless words erect a wall of silence between the two men, one Shiloh has to breach if he hopes to win Gale back. But it will take more than apologies to win Gale’s forgiveness and put old fears to rest. It’ll take a cat named Hercules…

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Reviewer:  Madison

Review: Shiloh is new in town. Despite having a group of good friends to pal around with, he is lonely. He’s ready to settle down and try his hand at a long-term relationship. Especially after meeting Gale, a local veterinarian he meets after finding and adopting a stray kitten.

Gale, who is in his mid-30s, has just recently come out of the closet after a painful divorce. He has never been with a man before, so he is hesitant to accept Shiloh’s advances. Their strong mutual attraction, however, cannot be denied.

These two have amazing chemistry both in and out of the bedroom. They are a perfect match. They adore each other, just as much as they adore the feisty little kitty cat that brought them together. I hesitate to call this story “adorable” (although it is) only because it was also very, very hot. K.C. Kendricks not only lets us peek inside the bedroom, she also lets us peek right under the covers to witness all of Gale’s firsts in what are some very steamy love scenes.

Once I started reading, I could not put this one down! Loved it!

Favorite quote: “If I had only known kittens can climb drapes, perch on top of a traverse rod, and then screech like some femme fatale in a low-budget horror flick to be rescued. That a kitten sounds like a herd of buffalo running on hardwood floors in the middle of the night. If I had only known a kitten’s claws can sink through a sheet into your balls while you’re jerking off. An old adage says, “Live and learn,” and I amassed an encyclopedic amount out cat wisdom in less than twenty-four hours.”

All or Nothing at All by Carolina Valdez

Title: All or Nothing at All

Author: Carolina Valdez

Genre:  Gay / Science Fiction / Futuristic / Action / Adventure / Ménage (M/M/M) / Group Sex / Exhibitionism / Public Places

Length: 156 Pages

Publisher:  Amber Quill Press (November 13, 2011)

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥3Hearts

Blurb:  Duty robbed them of their last night together. A deadly fireball struck Earth’s New Los Angeles in the late afternoon, and instead of an evening of dinner and passionate sex with his lover, Battalion Chief David Garrison reported for duty and led his elite fire warrior squadron to fight the raging flames engulfing historic L.A. At first light the next morning, duty sends David’s lover, Dillon Rapner, a special agent working undercover, off world to ferret out the source of these incendiary bombs destroying Old Town.

During his search, Dillon is captured and enslaved for several years on another planet. Only thoughts of returning to David, the man he would love forever, keeps Dillon alive and determined to escape.

Never in his wildest imaginings, however, did Dillon expect that when he returned to Earth he’d find another man in David’s bed…

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Reviewer:  Madison

Review: Well, the blurb pretty much gives everything about the plot away except for the resolution, which you can probably guess before even reading the first sentence. At least I did. I would have enjoyed this one more had I not read the blurb beforehand. There simply weren’t any surprises in the story.

Kudos to the author for making me cry, though. My heart went out to poor Dillon. I can overlook a lot of problems if I’m drawn into the story emotionally, and I was. I also enjoyed the world building. Especially the futuristic sex toys.

A good editor would have probably scrapped a few lines here and there. For example, the explanation about why they weren’t using condoms (thanks to modern medicine) was silly, and not something either of the men would have been thinking about in the heat of the moment. There were also at least three places where the wrong name was used (David instead of Dillon, or vice versa). I had been so proud of myself for keeping the two D’s straight, and then the name errors pulled me out of the story. These were minor disturbances, though. Overall, the writing was good and it was a quick, enjoyable read.

Theory of Attraction by Cleon Lee

Title: Theory of Attraction

Author: Cleon Lee

Genre: M/M Romance

Length: 118 Pages (August 11th, 2012)

Publisher:  Silver Publishing

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥3Hearts

Blurb: Ethan Roberts is a TA and the resident gay Don Juan of St. Phillips University. Getting tired of one-night stands, he decides to pursue a serious relationship. However, the only guy he really wants is Aaron Marcus, a shy and nerdy Sociology TA.

His upbringing and his past relationship have made Aaron Marcus insecure and paranoid. He thinks Ethan is just another guy who wants to make fun of him with his over-the-top courtship. However, his perception of Ethan changes when Ethan takes him home and takes care of him after Aaron gets drunk in a bar.

It is up to Ethan to reassure Aaron that despite Ethan’s inexperience in relationships and Aaron’s neuroses, they can make their relationship work.

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Reviewer:   Madison

Review:  Theory of Attraction is a light romance based on an “opposites attract” storyline. Ethan is used to being able to turn on the charm and win over any guy he sets his sights on. At the moment, that happens to be Aaron. Aaron is a fellow grad student who is also working on a dissertation for his Ph.D., but the two men couldn’t be more different. Ethan is gorgeous, outgoing, and confident. Aaron is nerdy, introverted, and insecure. Despite the fact that Aaron is not his usual type, there’s something about Aaron and his shy, quiet demeanor that Ethan finds endearing.

Ethan’s initial attempts at wooing Aaron are rebuffed. Aaron is simply not interested. He doesn’t see any reason why Ethan would genuinely like him, so he steers clear of him. Eventually Ethan convinces Aaron to give him a chance and the two connect.

I enjoyed Cleon Lee’s writing style. The dialogue flowed nicely and her use of imagery drew me into the various settings:

Morning sun was a bitch. She rose too early and shone too brightly. Aaron’s head hurt and he felt as if something had crawled into his mouth and died there.


He heard a chuckle. He opened his eyes and looked in that direction but promptly regretted his action as sunlight stabbed his brain.

I also liked the alternating points of view, although more could have been done with that. I would have liked more character development. Perhaps in a full-length novel we would have gotten that. There are hints of Aaron’s backstory, but I never fully understood why he acted the way he did. We discover that he’s come out of a bad relationship and that he had family issues, but neither of these events were fully explained. Why was Aaron so gun-shy? It was mentioned several times that Aaron felt Ethan was making fun of him, but I never got that sense. How is giving him flowers or chocolates making fun of him? I would have liked more backstory from Ethan as well. What was it about Aaron that attracted him so much that he went for months without sex, just waiting for the chance to go on a date with Aaron? It was a little hard for me to believe. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Aaron. A lot. I just didn’t get why Ethan liked Aaron so much.

In the end, they do finally connect, and they make a sweet couple. The scene where they become intimate was refreshingly different from what I’d expected, though it could have been a little steamier for my taste.

Once I got to the end, I turned the page, expecting another chapter. It ended a bit too abruptly. Overall, I liked the characters and I liked the premise, but I wish there had been more to it. With a bit more depth of character, a bit more angst, a bit more “happy couple” in the end, this would have been a more satisfying read.

If you’re in the mood for a quick, light and fluffy romance, I think you’ll enjoy this one.