Happy by Chris Scully

HappyLGTitle:  Happy

Series: N/A

Author:  Chris Scully

Genre: Contemporary

Length: 147 pages

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (March 30th, 2016)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥3.5 Happy

Blurb: Growing up Greek-Canadian, Peter Georgiou always knew his duty was to his family, for whom twenty-first century rules don’t apply. In his early thirties, Peter still lives at home, dates who his parents tell him to, and works at the family restaurant. But watching his two best friends find happiness in each other’s arms has made him worry over his destiny.

When Louie Papadakis returns home to nurse his broken heart and start a new life, he can’t believe his sister is dating his high school crush, Peter. There’s a sadness behind Peter’s eyes that draws him in, and a chemistry he wishes he could ignore. After his closeted ex broke his heart, Louie is afraid to fall in love again, especially with a man who’s keeping secrets.

As Peter finds himself drawn to Louie in unexpected ways, old and new worlds collide. Then a family crisis forces Peter’s hand and he must decide if he’s willing to sacrifice his happiness for family duty.

ISBN: 9781634771399

Product Link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7560

Reviewer:  Kenna

Review: I wanted to love this story.  I really did.  I always enjoy it when people find each other after years apart, and I had high hopes for “Happy”. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t connect with the characters.

I grew up around families of Mediterranean descent, and family is the most important thing in their lives.  They’re utterly devoted to one another, and sometimes, that isn’t such a good thing.

Peter has allowed his family to hold him down for years and years, and it drove me freaking NUTS!  Peter is trapped living in his parents’ home.  Even though the basement has been converted into an “apartment”, he has zero privacy, with his mother just walking in, picking up his laundry, and hounding him about everything.

He’s stuck working in the family’s restaurant.  He’s supposed to be running it, and he has so many ideas to make it more successful, but his father continues to shoot all of them down.  Worst of all, he’s being forced to date a woman (of his Mother’s choosing), even though he’s gay.  He’s expected to marry her and crank out babies.  He’s absolutely miserable, and even though I felt sorry for him, I wanted to throttle him for tolerating all of this.

Louie has just broken up, and he’s come home to nurse his broken heart.  He just so happens to be the brother of the woman poor Peter has been dating.  Louie crushed on Peter back in high school, and when he sees him, he starts all over again.  Knowing it should be forbidden, he allows himself to become close to Peter…as friends.

It makes him sad and angsty, and Peter gives off so many mixed signals.  He flirts, he touches, and he gets jealous when Louie goes on dates.  It became uncomfortable to me.  Once again, I wanted to throttle Peter because of what he was doing to Louie’s heart.

I hated Peter’s family, especially his mother. She’s written stereotypically…overbearing and obnoxious.  She berates Peter for hanging around with Louie because of his sexual orientation.  She wants Peter to go into counseling with the priest of the Orthodox Church the family attends…to pretty much pray the gay away.

Peter had a few good friends, though, and they were relatively supportive.  Louie’s relationship with HIS family is strained, to say the least.  They’re shamed by his homosexuality.  Thankfully, toward the end, he and his sister become close again.

I feel like I’m ranting here.  Well, I guess I am.  I had a queasy feeling in my stomach the entire time I was reading.  There were some parts that were enjoyable.  I loved the sex scenes.  They were very hot. Especially the one in the dark restaurant.  The way Peter and Louie come together and unite through a crisis is great as well.

The last 20% or so saved this one for me.  Chris Scully’s writing style is smooth but very detailed. Even though “Happy” was only a 3.5 for me, I won’t hesitate to read some more of his work.

* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through http://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com *

Between the Frescoes by Kay Berrisford

kb_betweenthefrescoesTitle: Between the Frescoes

Series: N/A

Author:  Kay Berrisford

Genre:  Contemporary

Length:  149 pages

Publisher:  Loose Id (September 9th, 2014)

Heat Level:  Explicit

Heart Rating:  ♥♥♥♥♥4.5 Hearts

Blurb: UK grad student Mark is taking a huge step in his life. After years of suffering from anxiety and depression, he’s summoned the courage to travel to Florence and give his first public lecture. Distraction from his nerves comes in the unexpected form of Doug, an American guy who sweeps him up into a whirlwind romance on the journey to Italy. But after a scorching one-night stand, Mark discovers Doug is not just a fellow student, but a fierce rival, and everything falls apart.

Doug is studying in Europe, but his commitments are back on the other side of the Atlantic. He’s attracted to Mark yet soon decides Mark’s hang-ups and competitiveness are more than he can handle. The idea of a holiday fling sours further when he hears his younger brother has gone missing. He just wants to get home to Minnesota and be with his mom.

But the magic of Italy keeps pulling Mark and Doug back together. As the passion between them rises, they must find a way to put aside their enmity and help each other through their troubles —a difficult journey, even in the most romantic city in the world.

ISBN:  9781623004958

Product Link: http://www.loose-id.com/between-the-frescoes.html

Reviewer:  Kenna

Review:  I enjoyed the hell out of this book.  The blurb was intriguing to me.  I love the whole enemies to lovers trope.  I also love stories that are short, sweet, and to the point.  Boy meets boy.  Boy likes boy.  Boy and boy get hot and heavy.  Boy has issues with boy.  Boy and Boy make up.  So, “Between the Frescoes” made me a very happy woman.

The summary is pretty simple.  Two men meet in an airport and discover they’re heading to the same conference in Italy.  Mark has been holed up doing nothing but pursuing his advanced education.  He’s written a paper about his research he’s quite proud of.

One of the reasons he’s closed himself off from the world is his depression, anxiety, and sadness over a humiliating review of his work several years back.  He bears a hatred of this man, but he’s decided it’s time to get out in the world. Doug is heading to Italy to present a paper about HIS work as well.  He feels an instant connection with Mark, just as Mark felt connected with him.

They get to know each other a bit on the long flight, and by the time they get to Italy, Mark has offered to let Doug stay in the apartment he’s rented because Doug will be too late to get to his hotel.

The story really takes off from there.  Mark and Doug are SO hot together.  Their first makeout session was fantastic, and it only get better from there.  Yes, there was the inevitable conflict, but the resolution came about quickly enough I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the angst.  The background characters were well written and contributed to the book, rather than detract from it.

The bad guys were sufficiently bad, and the good guys (or girls) were awesome.  Other than Mark and Doug, the best character was Italy itself.  It’s obvious Kay Berrisford has been there herself, or at least done a LOT of research.  Her descriptions of the locations were vibrant and detailed.  I could close my eyes, and I could “see” in my mind what was happening.

All in all, this is an excellent read.  As I mentioned, it was short and sweet.  I read it in a little over and hour, and I was very satisfied with it.

I highly recommend you pick this one up.

* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through http://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com *

Innocence on Film by Lilith Duvalier

innocenceonfilm1l__94304.1427134058.300.450Title: Innocence on Film

Series: Selling Out, #1

Author: Lilith Duvalier

Genre: Contemporary/ Erotic Romance

Length: 114 pages

Publisher: Evernight Publishing (March 24th, 2015)

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥3 Hearts

Blurb: It’s a rich man’s world. Shawn and Fletcher are just trying to survive in it. Unemployed, down on their luck, and three months behind on their rent, the two of them realize that it’s time to throw in the towel. Their dream of escaping Ainsworth, Iowa (pop. 658) is dead. Within the week, they’ll be evicted, shipped back to their respective parent’s houses to drown in student debt they can’t pay back, and watch their high school girlfriends raise other men’s’ children.

But when they take the last of their money to a bar to drown their sorrows, a well-dressed man with a big wad of cash and a little website offers them a life line. A jaunt across town, a quick tryst for the cameras and the cash is theirs.

The outrageous proposition is their only hope, but each enters the studio with secrets. What will it cost them to bare it all?

ISBN: 978-1-77233-290-2

Evernight: http://www.evernightpublishing.com/innocence-on-film-by-lilith-duvalier/

Reviewer: Kenna

Review: “Innocence on Film” is a short, sweet, and to the point erotic romance. However, I’m not sure if I’d call it “sweet” per se. Let me explain.

Shawn and Fletcher are broke…hopelessly, haplessly, broker than broke. They’re months behind on their rent, and neither of them have a job at the moment. They resign themselves to moving back to Iowa and being miserable. The boys decide to take their last 40 dollars, go to a bar, and get drunk. While they’re there, the bartender says he knows someone who can help them out and points them to man on the other end of the bar.

That man approaches them with an offer they pretty much can’t refuse (in a hilariously written German dialect, no less). He pays men to have sex on camera. At this point, I should mention that Shawn and Fletcher are straight. They’ve been with women all their lives and they don’t really have much inclination to change, except the money can pay their back rent and keep them in the big city for several months while they try to get back on their feet.

According to the German man, straight men having gay sex for the first time is very popular on the internet right now, and he’s got a website that caters to those who love that type of film.

As you can guess, Shawn and Fletcher take the man up on his offer. They’re nervous, but they figure that, since they’re best friends, everything would be alright in the long run. The German man gives them a rundown on what he’d like them to do, then turns the camera on and tells the boys to get on with it. It’s awkward at first, but soon, they give themselves over to the passion, and they have really great sex. They leave the building with their cash, but there are feelings between them they didn’t expect.

The rest of the story focuses on Shawn and Fletcher coming to terms with what they did. Shawn hides out in his room for weeks, not really wanting to see Fletcher. Meanwhile, Fletcher goes and gets a job helping to design a certain gay movie company’s website. They keep thinking about each other and that night. They’re confused and even a little scared. Finally, it’s the day when their movie is to debut on the site. How do they feel about that?

I liked “Innocence on Film”. I didn’t love it. I wanted to because the blurb really grabbed me. I usually fall in love with at least one of the MC’s, but Shawn and Fletcher never really moved me. Their personalities rubbed me the wrong way, and I was getting so angry with Shawn for not facing Fletcher and talking things out. He was cowardly, in my opinion, and I just can’t get past that.

The single sex scene was off the charts hot, but the romance that I wanted to see develop never really came about. As I mentioned, they thought about each other a lot, but that just wasn’t enough for me.

This was a very short read. It took me just over an hour to get through it, and I’m not sorry I read it, but I just felt like there should have been more…more romance, more sex, and more communication.

Just more.

* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through http://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com *

Tartan Candy by KC Burns

TartanCandyLGTitle: Tartan Candy
Series: N/A
Author: KC Burn
Genre: Erotic Romance
Length: 222 Pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (February 26th, 2016)
Heat Level: Explicit
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥4 Hearts
Blurb: Finlay McIntyre (aka Raven) is a successful adult film star with a penchant for kilts, until an accident cuts short his stardom and leaves him with zero sexual desire, lowered self-esteem, and no job. He knew his porn career wouldn’t last forever, but he wasn’t prepared for retirement at twenty-eight. While trying to figure out the rest of his life, Raven agrees to attend a high school reunion. That’s when a malfunctioning AC unit in his hotel room changes everything.

Caleb Sanderson, an entrepreneur with his own HVAC business, has no idea what to expect when he steps into Raven’s hotel room to fix his AC unit. They’re attracted to each other, but Caleb, closeted, can’t afford a gay relationship, not with his mom pressuring him to produce grandchildren. If he wants to keep Raven—who no closet could hold—he’ll need to tell his family the truth. But Raven has a few secrets of his own.

He refuses to reveal his porn past to Caleb, a past that might be the final obstacle to Caleb and Raven having any kind of relationship.

ISBN: 9781634770538

Product Link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7469

Reviewer: Kenna

Review: Oh my goodness, but I enjoyed this book! Yes, I thought the blurb made it sound like it’d be a good one, but I wasn’t really prepared to be blown away. I am so glad I was wrong.

Let me give you a quick rundown. Raven (Ok, that’s his porn name, his real name is Finlay) was a porn star. He always wears kilts, and that was quite popular with the viewers. Unfortunately, there was an accident, and he’s now scarred. He also has lost his sex drive and his confidence. In order to pay his rent, he begins to market himself as a no-sex-ever escort. The story starts with him being absolutely miserable the date for the high school reunion of a rude, nasty man.

Caleb has his own business working with heating and air conditioning. One of his contracts is the hotel where that reunion is taking place. He is called to repair Raven’s ac unit in his room. He, himself, is rather miserable because he’s so far in the closet, he’s actually UNDER it. His family (especially his mother) is pressuring him to setting down with a nice woman and start putting out babies.

That’s as far as I’ll go. No spoilers here. Just let me say, when Raven and Caleb meet the first time, there are fiery sparks between them. In fact, Raven does something hilarious to meet with Caleb again. I loved both MC’s. They tore at my heart. Each one of them was so broken, but once they meet, they begin to put each other back together again. Their romance is both tender and hot. I mean smoking hot.

They have wonderful chemistry, and the scenes are well placed in the story. There was nothing gratuitous about them. It feels like this is “instalove”, but it really isn’t. Sometimes, there is such a deep and overwhelming attraction that it can’t be contained.

The plot is well thought out and interesting. Raven and Caleb each have a head for business, and they’ve very smart. The background characters are divided into two categories. Friendly and hilarious or stomach churningly (I made up that word.) annoying. It’s a perfect balance, and they enrich the story, rather than being intrusive.

All in all, I will tell you “Tartan Candy” is a great read. It grabs from the very beginning and holds on until you see the words “The End”. It’s the first book I’ve read from K.C. Burn, and I intend to read more of her stories.

Highly recommended!

* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through http://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com *

Carry Me Home by Sterling Rivers

CarryMeHomeLGTitle: Carry Me Home
Series: N/A
Author: Sterling Rivers
Genre: Contemporary
Length: 187 Pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (February 8th.2016)
Heat Level: Explicit
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥4.5 Hearts
Blurb: After his mom dies, Aiden Price returns to Texas to deal with the aftermath. Amidst disapproving family and painful memories, Aiden finds solace in love letters he discovers in his mom’s attic. Needing a change when his sexual orientation is unexpectedly revealed and his dad rejects him, Aiden sets out on a journey to Montana to find the mysterious author of the letters. There he meets Cody Bannar, who volunteers to be his guide.

Cody had a rough start in life but after being adopted into a huge, loving family, he lives out and proud, unafraid of what others think about his sexuality.

Aiden and Cody hit it off and Aiden is welcomed into Cody’s family with open arms. As they continue on their quest, they begin to fall in love, but Aiden isn’t ready to commit to Cody, or to embrace who he is.

Not until after the truth behind the love letters is revealed does Aiden realize his mom would have wanted him to follow his heart.

And home is where the heart is—firmly in Cody’s hands.

ISBN: 978-1-63476-842-9

Product Link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7391

Reviewer:  Kenna

Review:  Aiden Price has lost his mother, the most important person in his life. She was hit by a drunk driver and languished in a coma for five weeks. He and his sister are not close. She tried to get him to pull the plug, but Aiden was reluctant. He kept hoping that she’d wake up, but that was not to be.

This leaves him in absolute anguish, so when he goes to her house to sort out her things (she left him the house in her will), he feels very lost. Aiden is gay and closeted to his family, and he’s alright with that. As mentioned, he and his sister aren’t close, and his father has been uninterested in him since he divorced Aiden’s mother when he was 13 years old.

While in the attic, Aiden discovers an old army lockbox full of love letters to his uncle George from someone called Bibby. The first few were very sweet, but sad, as George had gone off to war. However, a few letters in, Aiden discovers that Bibby was a man, and he and Uncle George had been having a secret relationship. Of course, it would have been considered perverted at the time, so Bibby didn’t even get to kiss George goodbye at the train station because people would see.

In a state of confusion about his life, and missing his mother terribly, Aiden decides to head to Montana, where the return address on the envelopes is. There, he meets Cody who has such a sunny outlook on life, it’s infectious. Aiden begins a journey of self-discovery as he and Cody grow closer. He meets and becomes a part of Cody’s extended family and the people of the small town takes to him as well.

As Aiden falls harder and harder for Cody, he realizes that he’ll have to leave the warm arms of Montana, leaving him with a dilemma.

I. Loved. This. Book! The blurb intrigued me, and I’m so glad to have been able to read Carry Me Home. First and foremost, I consider it to be a great love story. Whether it’s about two men, two women, a man and a woman…hell, a man and a space alien, it’s about love. Aiden loved his mother, and she died. Bibby loved George, and they couldn’t be together. Aiden begins to love Cody, but he thinks he’ll be leaving soon.

This story grabbed my heart and held on all the way to the end. Aiden was so devastated by this mother’s loss, but I got to come along with him as he began his road to happiness. Watching him and Cody embark on the quest to find Bibby was exciting as well as sweet, and oh, when Cody brought Aiden home to meet his family, the smile on my face would have to be chipped off.

The chemistry between Aiden and Cody was off the charts. I fell in love with them as they were falling in love with each other. They were perfect as a couple. Cody wanted to take care of Aiden, and Aiden, as independent as he is, needed to be taken care of at this point in his life. The conversation and hand holding was almost as sexy as when they finally made love. Note that I said almost. Oh my, when they come together, it was so hot!

However, it was quite tender as well. The men were tentative but enthusiastic, and it was a joy to read. I’ve often said that sex isn’t the most important part of a story, but good scenes, placed where they need to be as opposed to being gratuitous, is a wonderful enhancement.

I don’t want to give the ending away. I believe that everyone should read this book, and it should be savored. I will tell you its perfection…sublime even. I expected to like Carry Me Home, but I wound up with a book that I’ll reread often.

You should definitely pick this one up.

* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through http://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com *

The Big Apple by Rose DeAngelo

51pxePyFkGL._SX318_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Big Apple
Author: Rose DeAngelo
Genre: Contemporary
Length: 78 pages
Publisher: Roses Romance Publishing (January 9th, 2016)
Heat Level: Moderate
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥2.5 Hearts
Blurb: Edwin has always assumed his whole life that he didn’t deserve true happiness. Kentucky wasn’t exactly the nicest place when it came to openly gay artists like him, but it was the only place he’d ever known. He could never move away from it. He figured he’d never be able to fulfill his dreams of going to art school and having a thrilling romance with an attractive man. But when he meets Will one day on his morning commute to work, everything changes.

Will gives him the courage to gamble on everything and give up his quaint Kentucky life for the bustling New York City. Edwin never expects to see Will again and soon after moving to New York, he forgets about the magnificent man. But when Will comes rushing back into his life, Edwin can’t believe his luck.

Is this Edwin’s chance at the magnificent romance he’d always dreamed of?

Warning: Contains sexy themes and language. Intended for mature readers!

Product Link: http://amzn.to/1QJisIM

Reviewer: Kenna

Review: Edwin is an artist living in conservative Kentucky. He wants to break free, but fear holds him back. He meets Will on the bus. They share a pleasant conversation, where Will tells Edwin he’s moving to New York City. In just that short period of time, Will manages to convince Edwin to consider art schools there. Months pass, and Edwin has followed his dream, and he’s now working in a NYC Starbucks, going to art school. He keeps thinking about Will, and he often fantasizes about seeing him again.

Fate is on his side because one evening Will actually comes into Edwin’s Starbucks. They share conversation, and Will gives him his number, and of course, Edwin promptly loses it. Again, months pass, and on Valentine’s Day, they run into each other again. This time, there’s not a chance in the world they’re going to get away from each other.

I wanted to like this book. I love the whole star-crossed lovers thing. I love when serendipity brings a couple together. I just couldn’t get into this one, though. I’m not sure if it was because it was such a short story, but I do know that I was distracted by repetitive words and some editing issues.

When the men finally do come together, it’s cute, and their sex scene was pretty hot, but I was completely turned off by a quote from Edwin at the very end. Edwin climbs out of bed when they finish, and Will asks him where he’s going. The response was, “To get rid of the sack of semen on my dick”.

Look, I read erotic romance every day, and I’ve read some very dirty things, but that one sentence turned a decent and romantic scene into something a bit on the vulgar side.

I was also disappointed that the story was over at 37%, and another story followed, rather than making “The Big Apple” longer. Some extra character development and some time for Will and Edwin to get to know each other better (and maybe even another hot sex scene or two), would have made me happy.

Since there is a second story, I’ll give you a quick rundown of it. There is a huge blizzard, cancelling all flights. The airline is offering lodging for the displaced passengers. Three men and one woman (with an EXTREMELY unhappy baby) all wind up at a bed and breakfast run by a strange couple. They all mad, and they’re taking it out on each other and the owners.

As their time there goes on, they seem to relax…even though they refuse to play the games that the B&B’s owners want to play. One of the men is a doctor, and he’s very uptight, but he begins to take pity on the baby’s suffering mother. The other two men wind up bunking together in the same room…literally bunking…as in bunk beds. As with the mommy and doctor, they begin to get along, and they eventually realize that they should be together.

I hate to say it, but I resented this story. I wanted more of the men from “The Big Apple”. I didn’t care for any of these characters. I felt that they were all self-absorbed and snarky and I got kind of a twisted thrill from their misery.

I really wish that both stories could have been…I don’t know…MORE.