Alex and Clayton by John Simpson

Title:  Alex and Clayton

Series:  N/A

Author:  John Simpson

Genre:   Contemporary

Length:  Novel

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press

Heat Level:  Moderate

Heart Rating:  ♥♥♥♥♥5Hearts

Blurb:   After quiet, closeted years working as a librarian, Clayton decides to quit his job and use his inheritance to buy a small bookstore in the gay-friendly resort town of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. It’s the beginning of what he hopes will be a new life free of his old repressions.

Alex, an ex-military man and former cop, decides to retire to Rehoboth and buys a house three blocks from the beach. Determined to fill his time with more than chasing hot guys, he visits the local bookstore, where he meets Clayton.

As winter sets in, the town is all but deserted, and Alex and Clayton find themselves together more than apart. Clayton would like a relationship, but his fear of coming out keeps getting in the way. Alex’s sex appeal might be enough to convince Clayton to take a chance in the open… but it will take something more to make it happen.

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Reviewer:   J.

Review:  The m/m romance of Alex and Clayton by John Simpson is a tale set in 1953, which immediately puts the reader in the mindset of life in Belford, New Jersey; which is a great way to begin as life for m/m relationships were still kept hidden and in secret. The reader is then taken from the time of Clayton’s birth and leads to a journey of how similar they were from childhood not having met each other yet. They endured the same battles of bullying and self-acceptance; building self-confidence in them after years of running; and yet, still come from parallel backgrounds.

Without giving away too much, their first meeting was in passing, but when reintroduced once again, there was something in Clayton that seemed to soften the tough guy exterior that Alex had mastered so well.

What is special in this story and the romance between the two characters is their open honesty with each other, despite their differences in their behavior to sex and sexuality. It is refreshing to read their candid conversations that centered so deep and intimate and not the typical general questions two men would ask on a first date. There is no holding back there.

Simpson’s writing feels as if you are there with the two characters and his switching back and forth between the two flows smoothly as the sensual relationship they soon are developing. I never felt lost and became more interested in what they were sharing with each other as the chapters progressed.

All in all, Simpson wrote a wonderful tale of a romance between two men who were different in many ways and yet very similar; that brings them together in exploring a new world together. The characters of Alex and Clayton are ones that a reader would enjoy and if Simpson is creating this to be a series, many would be interested in seeing what other challenges and obstacles would come their way in their newfound relationship.

I’d give this a definite A for good clean storytelling, characters that I liked and appreciated without casting judgment on their pasts and for keeping it basically between the relationship of Alex and Clayton as the title suggests. I highly recommend this read as it gives hope that m/m romance is out there when the time is right.

The Storyteller By Blaine D. Arden

Title:  The Storyteller

Series:   Storm Moon Press Free Reads

Author:  Blaine D. Arden

Genre:   Fantasy, Mild BDSM

Length:  Short story

Publisher:  Storm Moon Press

Heat Level:  Explicit

Heart Rating:  ♥♥♥♥♥41/2Hearts

Blurb:   Banished by his family, young, blind aristocrat Oleg finds there are advantages of living isolated with just his tutor for company. But the perfect day said tutor, Neiam, planned for them, Oleg’s father seems hell bent on ruining.

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Reviewer:   J.

The Storyteller is another wonderfully written story with a little extra towards the end. More of the B&D and S&M themes but not in a way where it’s all the usual “whips and chains” but an understanding between Neiam and Oleg. It’s interesting how the term “pet” comes to mind in this and how it’s used in a term of endearment. Overall, I also enjoyed this story writing which wasn’t all about fluff and sweetness. Then I read the biography and saw that the author is from the Nederlands so that made all sense. Europeans are more sexually open and tend to go for the gut of things without the sappiness that some American writers go for. I did like that ideal that these two characters trust each other and that their relationship stays constant even after the more kinkier edges.

I’d give this story an A- for its depth (father and the relationship between the two) and that realness in the story (two friends, lovers, exploring each other in safe boundaries).