The Touch of Hope by Brandon Shire

18103307Title: The Touch of Hope

Series:  Love Has No Boundaries Series

Author:  Brandon Shire

Genre:   Young Adult

Length:  Novella (46 Pages)

Publisher:  M/M Romance Group @ Goodreads (June 19th, 2013)

Heat Level:  Low

Heart Rating:  ♥♥♥♥♥4.5Hearts

Blurb:   Dear Author,

I got tired of my dad using me as a punching bag, so I packed some clothes and left our apartment one day while he was at work. Life is tough, but I learned that living on the streets is even tougher.

When I thought things couldn’t get much worse, Erik suddenly appeared before me, just like an angel. Is this a dream or are the drugs making me hallucinate? What is he running from? Why won’t he tell me about his past? Can I trust him?

Photo Description: tumblr_lc8oe9Wzyw1qf2u9po1_500

Two slightly lanky, dark-haired boys are embraced, one behind the other. One boy has his hands inside the pockets of the hoodie of the boy in front of him. This small gesture hints at an unfamiliar reassurance that he plans to make his intimacy more than words will allow.

This story was written, as a part of the M/M Romance Group’s “Love Has No Boundaries” event. Group members were asked to write a story prompt inspired by a photo of their choice. Authors of the group selected a photo and prompt that spoke to them and wrote a short story.

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Reviewer:   John

Review:  I have to admit something. I loved this novel! The Touch of Hope stars Jonathan. Now, Jonathan ran away from home and has been living in the streets. One day, he bumps into Erik and that’s where the story takes off.

I loved Jonathan and understood why he had to run away from home. His dad was an asshole and his mom lived in another world. All I wanted was to hug and protect him. I loved Erik. He was strong and a complete survivor. The one thing that turned me off was the fact that this novel was just too short. I wanted more! I really hope that the author continues with this story or expands it into a full-length one. The characters were just too good and lovable.

I recommend this little short to anyone who wants to read about the sad reality that millions of homeless teens around the world have to go through every day. Trust me, it will touch your soul and leave you wanting more.

Afflicted by Brandon Shire

Title:  Afflicted

Author:  Brandon Shire

Genre:   Contemporary

Length:  133 pages

Publisher:  TPG Books (September 5th 2012)

Heat Level:  Explicit

Heart Rating:  ♥♥♥2 1/2Hearts

Blurb:  A high-priced male escort and a blind gay man meet by chance. What ensues is a hot, steamy romance by two men looking for something more than a one night stand. But can they reach beyond their own insecurities to grasp what they really desire?

Meet Hunter Stephens. He’s gay, tall, dark-haired, and he’s hot. Very hot. But he doesn’t rely on the visual cues when appraising a man because he’s also blind. He listens to the timbre of their voice, trembles at the touch of their skin, and luxuriates in the deep richness of the aroma of man. He’s hard of the hand because he’s a black belt and takes no shit, but soft of the heart because he’s lonely and has been for a while.

Until he meets Dillon.

Dillon Chambers is straight man candy. He’s a high-priced male escort that works with an exclusive agency who handles only the wealthiest of clients. But it wasn’t always like that for him. At sixteen he was thrown out of the house for being gay and struggled to survive, turning tricks on the street and finding food and a place to sleep wherever he could. He met two people who changed his life, but he has never met anyone who could change his heart.

Until he bumped into Hunter.

And now they are both Afflicted.

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Reviewer:   Any

Review:  Afflicted.

So am I.

I was really hoping to love this story, I’d heard so many good things, but I just couldn’t get into it.

Initially, I was excited, because this story is partly written from the point of view of a blind man (Hunter)—and I was super curious how it would be written to “show” and integrate the reader into a scene. And to give credit where it’s due, the writing and descriptions in this story are wonderful. I really did get a sense of character and place through the senses of smell, sound, taste and touch.

It was a pity that while the narrative and the writing was solid, the story itself lacked tension. Yes, there was a bit of conflict between characters both internal and external, but I couldn’t care enough about it because I didn’t feel what was at stake, and I never got invested in the characters journeys.

Also, where I thought there might be more conflict, like when Dillon tells Ronald he wants out of the escorting business, it fizzles into a low temperature scene where it’s agreement all around.

Regarding sex scenes. At first, it was hot—at least the lead up, but I was put off (and this may be a personal thing) by the fact they didn’t use protection. Hunter and Dillon barely knew each other—added to that; Dillon is in the escort business—and not a condom in sight.

This might be a forgiving point in the story if I didn’t get such a sense of contradiction. Shawn, someone who was close to Dillon, had watched his closest friends die off in the AIDS epidemic. I would have thought this would make Dillon particularly sensitive to using protection and safe sex.

And while I loved and think it’s fantastic that the author donates 10% of all his book sales to a couple of organizations that help get LGBT kids off the street, I felt nervous thinking of teenagers picking up this story and reading it with all the unprotected sex in here.

I want to end the review on a positive note. Brandon Shire’s writing—the descriptions, use of language, flow of sentences, and variation of imagery—is really quite brilliant. I’ll be interested to read some of his future works.