Title: The Rain Maker Series: N/A Author: Anne Brooke Genre: Fantasy Length: Short (12 pages) Publisher: Amber Allure, Amber Quill Press (October 26th, 2014) Heat Level: Moderate Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥4Hearts Blurb: A man stands alone in a deserted pub courtyard. His boyfriend has left him and his relationship is truly over. But, in the midst of his loneliness, a stranger appears, a stranger who won’t allow himself to be seen, but who has a deep affinity with the rain and who offers irresistible comfort.
Blurb: The moment model and part-time actor Benjamin spots the sexually alluring Alan outside his local restaurant, he’s determined to get to know him better. So he takes a chance and pretends to be Timothy, the blind date Alan is waiting for.
When Alan asks him about submission, safe words, and spanking, Benjamin knows the sensible thing to do would be to leave. Funny then how he finds himself eager to know more. Will it be a date to remember and, if Alan discovers his deceit, could he ever be persuaded to take a chance on Benjamin?
Review: A case of mistaken identity turns out to be a good thing in this sexy little short, with just a hint of BDSM.
When Benjamin is approached by a slightly older, graying, and gorgeous stranger, he pretends to be the blind date the guy is waiting for. Within the first five minutes of conversation, Alan is describing in great detail exactly what he wants to do to Benjamin. Taking a chance, Benjamin rides it out to see where the evening takes him. When he figures out that Alan is a Dom, he continues the charade. The two share a very passionate and sensual night, but when Alan learns that Benjamin is not who he pretended to be, will he take a chance on him?
This is the first book I’ve read by Anne Brooke. It will not be the last! The author captured the essence of sensuality in so few pages. The way Alan dominated Benjamin with zero cruelty and played his body in ways Benjamin had never been played, was just oh so sexy. I tore through this book on my lunch break. If you’re looking for something quick and sexy that will leave a huge smile on your face, take a chance on this one! (Pun intended!!)
Blurb: Michael Jones, a young gay artist and part-time prostitute, will do anything to stage his first exhibition. When he falls in love with rich financier, Jack Hutchinson, he seems set to achieve his goal. But as Michael becomes caught between the unforgiving territory of smoky-bar Hackney and the green-garden luxury of upper class London, the intense mindscape of a man obsessed with his dreams is revealed as he attempts to free himself from his past.
When a net of antagonistic relationships and inner battles encroaches upon him, the consequences of Michael’s uncompromising pursuit emerge in tragedy, leaving him having to fight for all he holds dear, and in the only way he knows how.
NOTE: This book was previously published under the ISBN: 978-0-98282-674-4. This reissued version of the book has been reedited.
Review: As I’ve finished this book, I find myself still crying. It started thirty pages before the end and the emotional state that this book has left me quite painful. I don’t know what to make of this book really. I found it brilliant in a way, powerful as hell too, but above all, I found it saddening and depressive.
The protagonist, Michael, is such a disturbing character. It’s the first thing shown to you by the author, shoved right in your face, and it colors the entire book. His obsession is huge, a swallowing emotion that sweeps out of your feet with every line you read. He has dreams of making it big, and though he lives in the darkest corner of London, where you can easily name it the slum of the city, he never stop pushing, never stops pressing, or giving up. He sells his body whenever he needs money, but the way that doesn’t really touch him yet still leaves marks in his soul is amazing really to read. A character that as much as he gets, it’s never enough. He needs a job; he obsesses about it, pushing through it until he gets it. He wants a man, he obsesses about him verging on disturbing, even though he’s not available, but he wins him over. Yet it’s not enough. He wants an exhibition and literally sells his soul, making himself vulnerable to people who use him, abuse him, and threaten to destroy everything he ever dreamed of and in the end even that doesn’t liberate him.
Another astonishing fact is how brilliantly his self-destructiveness is painted. I cringed most of the read, no scratch that, I kept on cringing more and more and it never seemed to end as the story wove over. There was not a single moment of joy or happiness in this book. Even when Michael was most happy at the beginning of his relationship with Jack, even then everything was layered in gloom and doom. It was inevitable that all that would result in the most tragic way, but so foolishly I never expected the exact way. I never expected this end… Foolishly yes because in hindsight it was more than obvious.
What I loved the most though was the description of the artist and his mentality. Having a couple of experiences myself with artists, the entire description of how Michael felt, acted, draw, or even saw life, felt as if I was taken back in time, to places and people who once were part of my life. In some ways Michael was exactly like my cousin was, lost in his world, and his perception of what was going on around him. When he kept loosing himself in his thoughts of drawing, felt the urge to laugh out loud at the perfection of that describing, at how wonderful the author captured the essence of talent. And the desolate feelings that come with it.
I think though, even as this book is the saddest one I’ve read, even though Michael was brilliantly written, it would have been higher up on my list if the read didn’t lack a certain something. I don’t know, was it the fact that this entire book was seen from Michaels distorted point of view? On the other hand, that unique viewing of this story from Michael’s eyes was what gave this book its originality. But there was a connection lacking. For example, I didn’t get why Jack fell in love with Michael in first place. Through very small glimpses I got the impression Michael must be stunning, but that was it. Why did Jack fell for him so hard, why did he accept all his antics? All I had was Michael’s need, his using Jack and for some reason that went on and on… The fact that I felt disconnected, yet forced to endure all those emotions that swirled with pain, pity, and a pathetic feel for the main character, was only made worse by a drag in the lines. I felt myself pushing through my limits to keep on reading. I had to stop and take breaks for a bit of air, as it seemed to run out of if constantly while reading. It took me forever to finish this book with only the last fifty pages making a difference where the pace quickened and the rush for the bitter end became more palpable. In the end, all I was left with was tears and a feeling of profound heartbreak.
Blurb: When Craig Robertson’s religious fanatic father disappears, Craig is forced to return to the home he left behind after an underage affair in order to look for answers. He takes with him his new lover, private investigator Paul Maloney, who is more than willing to help solve the mystery.
During his initial search, Craig locates items that belonged to Michael, his lover in that long-ago ill-fated affair, and soon discovers that Michael has disappeared as well. The search becomes an investigation into Craig’s past, and, because of distressing gaps in his memory, he’s terrified of the truths he might find.
As Craig’s obsession with uncovering clues grows, however, his fragile relationship with Paul begins to disintegrate. Haunted and stalked, Craig has to face down the horror of his memories if he wants to have any hope of a future at all…
Review: The first thing I noticed about this book – which totally disappointed me – was the fact that it’s written from Craig’s perspective. It’s Craig’s story. In Maloney’s Law we met him at the end of the book and we got a very nice impression about him. The easy going sexy as hell model was bound to bring new air and adventures to Paul’s hard – so far – life. But, in all honesty, I was disappointed. My main love, Paul, was lost in this book. I missed his peculiar mind and his melancholic thoughts. I missed the mystery that always followed him, I missed Paul himself.
Yes, surely he was in the story as he did pursue a relationship with Craig and helped him through this “mystery”, but in no way was Craig a match for Paul when it came down to interesting characters. I could not help but compare the two of them. I could not help but compare the two books and the results are not good.
As I said, Craig as we met him is an easy-going, always happy-go-lucky guy. It’s a façade, it’s a persona he puts out to escape his ugly past and a heavily disturbing childhood. The moment Paul steps in his life; his past chooses to reach him again. His inability to recall facts and memories from disturbing events that happened with his first lover and his father is what makes him decide to get Paul involved in some sort of search and find; for a missing ex, for a missing father, and for missing memories.
I don’t know if this story could be better, but as it is, it was frustrating in many ways. I tried to like Craig. I really did and perhaps too hard, but failed. The character is constantly hiding behind lies (it made me wonder with Paul’s past and his affair with Dominic how he tolerated it). In the beginning at least it seemed as if he could not get one single truth from his mouth. Later on we readjust our opinion when we witness him that the person he lies the most is himself. It becomes truly annoying seeing how he tries NOT to find the truths he’s searching for. I disliked most the fact that he would go and lock himself up to “think” only to try to not “think” those thoughts. It was a study on evasion and yes, I understand his past had a toll on his behavior, but it was so hard to concentrate on the book when all thoughts and events came around as a big jumble, making hard to keep your interest.
There was also the “mystery/suspense” part of the book that in no way was a match for Maloney’s Law. It was too easy to see through this plot. It was too easy to find the leads for the psycho-killer. In addition, the fact that it took forever to get there, the fact that too many leads were left unexplored and Paul’s unique abilities were left sleeping, really hit that spot of anger and frustration for me. I’m still not over the fact that Paul was a secondary character here.
I could go on and say how the intensity was lacking and the emotions lacked chemistry, the friendships were by no means the same level we were used to in the first book, the desperation levels too, but there is no reason to keep going on. I’ll just go on and on comparing and the end result is that the sequel is too low and doesn’t even come close to the brilliance of the first one. The stake was raised too high.
In the end, this book comes close to 3 Hearts because objectively it was good and well written. You can read it as a standalone easily. It focuses on religious obsession and how people twist and perverse faith into abnormality and loses the very point of it. Bearing that in mind and if you’ve not read the first book I’m assuming you’ll like this one.
Blurb: Shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Prize 2006 (for novels set in London) and the Royal Literary Fund Scheme, and longlisted for the Betty Bolingbroke-Kent Novel Award…
Paul Maloney, a small-time private investigator from London, reluctantly accepts a case from his married ex-lover, Dominic Allen. Before he knows it, Paul finds himself embroiled in the dark dealings of big business and the sordid world of international crime. The deeper he pushes, the closer he comes to losing everything he holds dear.
Can he solve the mystery and protect those he loves before it’s too late?
Review: Wow, just wow! The more I read Ms. Brooke’s books the more I’m coming to the conclusion that this author picks her characters right from the corner of the street. In this book too, she has made an extremely great job with her protagonists. But it’s not just them. Every single character here is unique. I couldn’t stop thinking while reading this story that each and every one of them pulses with life. They are true if not real and able to evoke too many emotions from the reader.
Paul Maloney is the leading character here. I’ll disregard his appearance description as it has nothing on his personality. There is nothing perfect on Paul, nothing polished to a box of stereotypes. He was for me, for the duration of the book, very much alive. As the story begins, you understand immediately the melancholy that surrounds him. The feeling of being lost in pain and things he can’t control. He is quite obsessive with time, memories and love. Born and raised in a family that let him go and would rather not have him, it feels as if he is constantly running after love, with love always eluding him. He might be a very smart character, but here he’s quite stupid with love for the wrong man. He knows it, he tries to change it and he fails. Only when everything is literally over is this character able to move on. He quite reminded me the saying “There is nowhere to go but up, once you reach bottom”.
Dominic Gregory Allen, Paul’s ex-lover, married with two children. He is Paul’s doom in more ways than one. It is incredible how much I hated this character from the start of the book. I despised him, loathed him with a passion. I was prepared to the classic stereotype when an author makes the misunderstood character “lovable”, gives it absolution and pairs the two men together. Thank you, just thank you for not going there dear author. Dominic is the rich guy who will do everything and anything no matter what for money. He will probably pick a 20 pound note over saving a life, he’s that much of a shark, and he admits it. He knows who he is, what he is and doesn’t shy away from it. Funny thing is that we witness clearly how much he loves Paul. He does, however when it counts he still pick he damn money. He is a sad, sad one, quite pathetic in the end, but oddly enough I felt no pity for him.
Jade, Paul’s assistant and best friend. She is NOT the classical fag-hag even if that’s what comes in mind when you first meet her. She is smart, sensitive and stupid in love with a man who not only can’t see it, but could never possibly reciprocate. She is Paul’s right hand in this job too and his conscience when it comes to his dealings with Dominic.
Blake Kenzie, the bad guy. I have no thoughts for him. He is perhaps the weak part of this story for me. Paul should have withdrawn instantly when he met him in Cairo, but as I said, he’s quite stupid with love here.
So in this book Dominic returns to Paul’s life with a job offer that looks shady the moment he opens his mouth. This case seems easy and clean yet underneath a whole different level of crime lies. I spent the entire book trying to understand why on earth Dominic employed Paul for this. The more Paul finds out the worse the danger. But, while everything he unearths are half-truths, things that make no sense the danger is real. Constant life threats that are promptly being ignored and I couldn’t understand why. Thing is that Paul himself did not make a show for smarts here. Way I saw him he was mostly lucky with the discovery and Jade made the rest happen. His detective work was a bit fragile. But the story was good and suspense held you a captive till the end. Right in the middle of the book the author drops THE bomb and kills a character I would never guess she would. It was so unexpected that literally takes you by surprise and changes the whole way you view this story. Everything, everything change from that moment on and the emotions are so strong you can feel them flowing off the book.
The end was very much to my satisfaction as well. I have questions about Dominic’s money and what happened to them, but I rather liked the turn it took. Although there was the note of optimism coming from Paul, that underlying melancholy that comes hand in hand with him was still there and it made me smile. And I wonder what happens next. No there is no cliffhanger here, just a promise for more.
I loved the book even if it’s a bit bittersweet, or perhaps because of it. Strongly recommended for fans of the genre.
Series: Part of the Office Affairs from Amber Allure
Author: Anne Brooke
Genre: MM / Contemporary / Romantic Comedy
Publisher: Amber Allure (March 23rd, 2013)
Blurb: Darren Fording works as Senior Timetabling Officer for his local college and has happily been arranging the schedules alongside his stalwart team for more than two years. When Max Sheldon arrives to take over as Acting Registrar, Darren finds himself consumed by lust for his new boss and making the kind of decisions he, as a stuck-in-his-ways administrator, has never made before.
At their first official meeting, Darren takes his courage in both hands and initiates a full-on kiss, which Max returns with enthusiasm. The encounter ends there, however, as Max is reluctant to pursue a relationship of any kind with a subordinate. Darren is equally determined not to take “no” for an answer.
When a visit by the educational inspection team goes terribly wrong, Darren must use all his wits to both save the reputation of the college he loves and to prove his worth to the man who’s beginning to mean so much to him.
Review: Who Moved my Holepunch is the title of this book and damn it if it could scream OCD louder, not even mentioning the pun in there. And as you can probably guess from the title alone it’s a comedy.
Darren is a timetable manager and he loves his job, as it requires him to stay on his toes and keep everything organized. That works perfectly with his slightly OCD personality. But, everything change when a new registrar comes in their college.
Max is tall, dark, and drop-dead gorgeous. Not Darren’s type, but that doesn’t stop him from ogling and literally drooling over his new boss. And there is also something in Max’s eyes that make him memorable. So much so that, Darren starts having wet-dreams about him. A fact that leaves him quite unsettled whenever he and Max are in the same room.
And oh my Lord. I’m astonished with this book. If I was required to utter a single word while reading it, I’m not so sure I could have managed that. Not only was I awfully engrossed with the story, but I just couldn’t believe what I was reading. It was good, great even.
This book gives the “office affair” phrase quite a new meaning in my opinion. Funny as it was it kept me in agony with the pair’s shenanigans. I literally had a constant fear they’d be caught any second during their “games”. And oh dear, what a thought of having Darren behaving the way he did. Scared me more than a damn horror book would at some points.
In the whole, it was a fascinating read. I laughed. I gasped. And I felt the exquisite chemistry this author achieved between her characters. The world they were put upon was not something I anticipated, but even college administrative jobs can be fascinating within a creative mind. A lovely novella not to be missed.
Blurb:Can one determined angel smooth the course of true love and help Ricky get his man?
Ricky has been secretly in love with his best friend Jez forever, but he’s never dared confess his feelings because he thinks Jez is too high-class for him. One evening, while sharing a quiet evening with Jez, a mysterious angel, Madred, appears and tries to persuade Ricky to take a chance on love.
Too bad Ricky doesn’t believe in angels. Madred is forced to take desperate measures in an attempt to show the reluctant Ricky the truth. When the angel leaves, can Ricky find the courage to declare himself to Jez, and what will happen to their friendship if he does?
Review: Ricky loves his best friend Jez, but has never had the courage to do anything about it. He thinks he is just an airhead who doesn’t deserve someone like Jez. Luckily, his Guardian Angel Madred thinks differently. But, first Madred has to make Ricky believe in angels, before he can make him believe in himself.
This is a very cute little short that had me giggling. Ricky pines for his friend Jez, but doesn’t think he is good enough. Madred is Ricky’s fifth guardian angel, yes that’s right fifth, Ricky doesn’t believe in angels so divine intervention is a little tricky. Madred and Ricky go head to head as Madred tries to get Ricky to take a chance at happiness, if only he would put his heart out there to Jez.
Ah, this is such a sweet short about taking chances; Ricky has been gently nudged quite a few times to put his heart out there to Jez. But, he always thinks of something that always holds him back. This time Heaven means business and Madred is given the task of convincing him. Loved it, the storyline was great, but we didn’t get to know the characters, except that Ricky is extremely stubborn, it was a shame but for a short story it was great.
I recommend this to those who love angel intervention, conflicted men, a sweet short story and a happy ending.