Category Archives: Review

Green the Whole Year ‘Round – Rowan McAllister

GreentheWholeYear'RoundAuthor: Rowan McAllister
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Word/Page Count: 68 pages epub
Published: December 2014

This is an extremely short story, but being that it’s all about a Christmas interlude that takes place in the snow, I *had* to read it. This story is about a couples counselor who goes on a personal discovery vacation post-break-up to figure out what went wrong and how to move his life forward. But because I’m reviewing it, you know the action doesn’t stop there.

Because it’s such a quick read, I don’t want o give away any of the plot points, but here’s what you should know… If you’re looking for a “realistic” read or a super hot read, this isn’t for you. The characters are fairly well-developed, especially for such a short read, but this is short read, so what happens in the winter wonderland, is all you get to see.

This is great for people who love a good holiday romance and a quick read, vanilla sex when it does happen, which isn’t often.

Out of four…
Overall Read: ♥♥♥
Sex Heat: 
Plot: ♥♥

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Letting Hearts Heal – Luna Jensen

LettingHeartsHealAuthor: Luna Jensen
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Word/Page Count: 167 pages epub
Published: January 2015

This is a new author for me, and based on her website, her first published book as well. I read enough to be a bit weary of first timers, but I am so glad I ignored that and purchased this book.

Set on a ranch in Montana, the premise is two people find each other again after a nine year separation and a lot of “life” getting in the way. Throw in a young kid, a fear of cooking, and the main characters Mason and Dean try to find a balance between what used to be and what can be now.

Overall, the story is a nice one – more of a romantic tale than anything else, but it’s a good read. There were several parts that seemed to be glossed over for no reason while other seemingly benign things took up more pages than needed (and one plot line that I don’t think was solved). But it’s all forgivable because the characters are relatable and loveable – and you’re cheering for them to figure it all out.

This is a good read for someone who wants a romance read – there isn’t really any heat in it, so great for first-timers. If you’re looking for hot cowboy action, this isn’t the read for you.

Out of four…
Overall Read: ♥♥♥
Sex Heat: 
Plot: ♥♥♥

Play It Again, Charlie – R. Cooper

Author: R. Cooper
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Word Count: 170,972
Published: 2012

I have attempted one other R. Cooper book before picking this one up, and I forgot that I had put the other one down before finishing it. But that was not the case this time around. Fair warning, this is a nice long book… and it felt like one. The first 130 pages were so confusing that I literally kept reading so I could figure out if I was losing my mind or not. Cooper was obviously trying to show the reader how different/opposite the two main characters are, but by having them confused all of the time, it leaves the reader completely in the dark.

After page 130, the book starts making sense… for the most part. The main character, Charlie, seems like an interesting character – but you don’t feel like you know who he really is until near the end of the book – we learned about him along with his love interest. I don’t feel as though I completely wasted my time, but know that this book isn’t going to knock any socks off for you. The writing is confusing, the sex doesn’t take place until p. 130 or so, and the characters alone are interesting, but together have an unknown/strange chemistry.

After reading this book, I’m still curious about the characters… like, why did he choose Charlie? And how will they work together? And what’s the significance of the family responsibilities and interactions. And for the love of Nancy, what’s up with the “daddy” references. It was super strange – particularly their reactions to it.

Out of four…
Overall Read:
Sex Heat:
Plot: ♥♥

I’m hard-pressed to find an appropriate audience to recommend this to – simply due to the confusing nature of the book and the many unanswered connections/questions. It feels somewhat like a mystery – so if you enjoy working hard to read a book, then this one is definitely for you.

Getting Off the Ground & Infinity Pools – L.A. Witt

Getting Off the Ground
Author: L.A. Witt
Publisher: Amber Quill Press
Number of Words: 20,803
Published: 2011


Infinity Pools
Author: L.A. Witt
Publisher: Amber Quill Press
Number of Words: 40,767
Published: 2011

 

I was SO disappointed in the first part of this “series” – “Getting Off the Ground.” It was a super-short story where two people meet while waiting to catch a flight to Hawaii. They instantly hit it off, one character, Elliot, was left at the alter by his fiance the night before and was trying to keep it together and orderly, by making lists. A nearby passenger Derek overhears Elliot’s predicament and decides to start chatting him up. This was a meeting of opposites attract, they had an intense connection, and then it ended 52 pages into the story. I was ANNOYED. It took me awhile to get into the concept and story, which is unusual for me and a Witt story, but I stuck it out and wanted to find out what happened next. As soon as I saw “Infinity Pools” available, I was hoping that it would be better (and longer) than the first one and tell me what happened – and it finally told me what came next! However, these two books such have been published together as one…

The story was a bit basic and very surface level as in none of the bigger issues they were dealing with, were ever really dealt with. The story was a vacation fantasy story with two unlikely men coming together and essentially spending two weeks having sex and falling for each other. Most of the story was carried by the sex which was hot, but got a little boring at times. I found myself drifting and then trying to figure out who was doing who and what was going on. Don’t get me wrong, there was some serious sizzle at times, but about half of the sex scenes could have been taken out of the book and it wouldn’t have been missed.

Out of four…
Overall Read: ♥♥
Sex Heat: ♥♥♥
Plot: ♥♥

This is a great read for someone who is looking for sex, and lots of it. These are two “normal” guys that hook up, and hook up, and hook up – and fall in love through spending time together over two weeks in paradise. It is an easy and engaging read that you don’t want to put down until you get to the end, but it does stay out of some of the areas that would have created deep and interesting characters.

 

Dawn in the Orchard – Cooper West

Author: Cooper West
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Page Length (ePub): 166
Published: 2011

This was my first foray into reading Cooper West and I wasn’t disappointed. I was bit unsure how the story was going to work out, which was a nice change of pace – there was sufficient back-story at the beginning, and the empathy and connection with the main character, happened immediately. One musician with severe stage fright inherits a home in the back country in North Carolina. He arrives with nothing to his name and without any type of future planned. While he settles into his new place, he finds his passion perhaps for the first time, and takes a chance with his music and love. His new found interest (Chuck), is so in the closet, he can’t even see a way out – can they both get over their fears and real roadblocks, to create music and a relationship together…?

This was a nice story and a very easy read; there were a few times during the book that I stopped to scratch my head, but they were mainly about the life Chuck lead before Gary came to town (ex-wife, kids, etc). These were not main themes of the book until the end, so don’t worry if you are not a fan of that theme. It also seemed to have a lot of work-up for an instant change – something that I doubt would occur in real life. Regardless, it was well-written with well-developed characters and an unique story line.

The sex was good, but not sizzling. I did like how it happened at appropriate times and wasn’t the only thing carrying the story. There was tension, feeling, passion, and more between these two which was payed out well throughout the story – only one or two times where I started wondering during a sex scene. No D/s play at all – very vanilla.

Out of four…
Overall Read: ♥♥♥
Sex Heat: ♥♥
Plot: ♥♥♥♥

This is a great book for anyone looking for a strong story line and great characters. Vanilla sex and is a good starter m/m read – and even interesting for those of us who read it a ton!

By the Numbers – Chris Owen & Tory Temple

(Please excuse the missing book cover and Fictionwise info – their site is down)

Author: Chris Owen and Tory Temple
Publisher:  Torquere Press
Page Length (ePub): 139
Published: 2011

I was glad to see this finally published, as I enjoyed the first firefighter story – and I hadn’t really connected the dots until the main character referenced his boss Chance, and then it all came back to me. Anyway, this was a very quick read and had potential to be a great story, but it continually fell short. The premise of this story is a fireman rescues a pregnant dog from a burning apartment complex, the grateful dog owner seeks out his hero to thank him, ends up befriending him, and then they move in together before, start messing around, and then “overcome” struggles with the fireman’s ex-wife. By the end, there is SO MUCH about the ex-wife that isn’t relevant to their story, that I’m not really sure what the driving force was. This joint writing effort was disjointed throughout, and it seemed like the authors weren’t able to get on the same page to tell this story.

One of the most noticeable flaws, was that he characters seemed to change their core personalities as the book unfolded. For instance, one of the main characters Deuce, opened the story and came across as socially inept, not quick witted, and a bit “dorky.” All of which could have been interesting, but as you read, he became more dominant, had a ton of work friends, was able to socialize fine, and even brazen. The characters were quite surface-level to begin with, so the shifting in personalities broke my connection with their story over and over again. It was also quite far-fetched from reality, but set-up as to be “real life,” which broke down another connection. And fair warning, there is a random daughter thrown in as part and parcel of the ex-wife.

The sex was hot at the beginning, but as soon as the story/characters started falling apart, I found myself wandering through the love scenes. Vanilla with a few over/under tones of Dominance/submission, and there was a varied way in delivering the sex – sometimes the interaction lasted several pages, other times it was briefly mentioned.

Out of four…
Overall Read: ♥♥
Sex Heat: ♥♥
Plot: ♥♥

A middle-of-the-road m/m read. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a hot sexy fireman, enjoys quick/surface level fun, or is just trying to dip their toes into the m/m action. It is an easy read with nothing offensively wrong with it, just not as tied together for an experienced m/m reader and fan.

Bound by Law – SE Jakes

Author: SE Jakes
Publisher:  Samhain Publishing
Word Count: 63,521
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $5.50

I have been waiting for this one to come out! As we know, I LOVED Bound by Honor, the first book in this loose series – in case you forgot, I gave it a perfect score. That being said, this one had a lot to live up to… and I wasn’t disappointed!

This story focuses on the other two members of a foster situation – Law and Styx. They were introduced in the first book and I was curious if they’d ever find their way back together. Now I’m not really giving anything away here, as you can see from the cover artwork, but this is a menage story – and no one was more surprised about that, than me (I tend not to look at covers, the whole saying and such). Anyway, Law and Styx do find themselves back in the same room together, except Law has his new boyfriend with him – Paulo. Let’s just saw that amid gunfire and a manhunt or two, sparks fly.

I’d like to be very clear here – this book was nothing like the first one, which makes it even better in my opinion! This relationship was one of trust, struggle, acceptance, and forgiveness, but without any D/s interaction. Power and control was constantly changing hands, but the great thing was, each character was so well-developed, that you never lost sight of who was saying or doing what. The sex was super hot and intense – ten years apart will do that, but more than that, it was passionate and their connection was evident throughout. It was HOT-HOT-HOT, somewhat “tame” in experiences/positions/locations (if you’re able to overlook the uniqueness of a threesome), but not at all boring. There was a constant give and take, which created a sense of vulnerability in each character at various times. And who doesn’t love hot, sexy, fighting, strong men showing a little vulnerability during crazy hot sex?!

Out of four…
Overall Read: ♥♥♥♥
Sex Heat: ♥♥♥♥
Plot: ♥♥♥

Not quite another perfect score, but definitely close. I would recommend this to everyone – it’s a stand alone book, or a great extension if you read the first one. It is super sexy, hot, great sex, but even better characters. I just hope that Jakes has another one in the works, apparently I’m a huge fan!

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Renovations 1-3 – Anah Crow & Dianne Fox

Authors: Anah Crow and Dianne Fox
Publisher: Torquere Press
Word Count: 46,400
Published: 2011 (compilation)
Fictionwise: $4.99

I know I’m a bit late to this book, but I couldn’t fathom buying each short story, which was barely a few chapters, prior to the compilations being released. That being said, the stories didn’t seem as though they could stand alone, but perhaps that wasn’t the point.

I was excited when I started this story, as I thought the main characters had a lot of promise. There seemed to be reasonable yet meaty personal and familial struggles on both sides and a “realistic” reason bringing the two of them together. And suddenly, I was let down. While these characters and the plot could have been expanded upon and made into a great story, it just fell flat. There was hardly any connection between them once they had sex. The sex and their relationship was not at all related to their struggles – they didn’t really speak to each other, the action was never really furthered… all of that with lackluster sex thrown in! I kept reading on thinking that there had to be some grand redeeming point somewhere – why let these characters go to waste?! But I never found it – I even started the next compilation (Renovations 4-6) to see if things moved along there – more to come on that later. Sadly, it just fizzled (or does it need to start to fizzle?).

The sex was hot for about the first encounter – although it was not very loving or passionate throughout. It seemed almost technical and there were several times that I got bored reading it. I’m not sure if the boredom came from too much sex written in, or perhaps their roles and personalities tended to get mixed up. Either way, it was definitely sex for sex’s sake in this one (and vanilla sex at that).

Out of four…
Overall Read:
Sex Heat:
Plot:

I am struggling with giving this a one overall since I’ve read much worse, I just don’t feel it was worth the time I invested, especially as it had so much promise! I would perhaps recommend this for a newbie who is trying to get a feel for reading about m/m sex, without caring much about the characters, plot, or investment into the story – everyone else will be a bit bored and disappointed.

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Series: Torched and Blow Torch – Chloe Stowe

Author: Chloe Stowe
Publisher: Ravenous Romance
Word Count: 48,611
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $6.99

Author: Chloe Stowe
Publisher: Ravenous Romance
Word Count: 46,530
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $6.99

 

 

 

I actually made a mistake when starting this series, as I bought them both at the same time – I read the prologue for “Blow Torch” by accident. And I have to say, it is an accident that I would recommend all readers to do! It provided me with a great background on the characters and helped me understand everything that unfolds in “Torched” even more. So that’s my tip to the beginning of this Hellsgate series.

That aside, I absolutely loved these two books. They were admittedly short reads and could have unfolded in one book, but I definitely wanted to keep on reading. The characters felt so real even though they were such opposites. One of the main characters is a war veteran and hero (Bronze Star winner) who experiences difficulty in life post-war. He meets, in a rather dramatic way, his love interest who is a very successful real estate mogul from New York. Opposites attract in this one, and they definitely end up working well together through the many challenges life and others, throw their way.

The sex in these books is hot – not graphic or thorough, but hot because of their passion for each other. From their first scene together, it is clear that they have a deep connection pulling them towards each other after years of not letting others in. Sex was part of this book, but definitely not the driving force.

Out of four…
Overall Read: ♥♥♥♥
Sex Heat: ♥♥
Plot: ♥♥♥

I would recommend this series to anyone who is looking for a passionate romance, particularly with imperfect partners in unlikely situations. You will fall in love with both characters and root for them in the most unlikely circumstances, not to mention enjoy reading their passion increase as the story unfolds. Great, fun and easy read with a lot of emotion throughout.

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Take the Lead – Johnny Diaz

Author: Johnny Diaz
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Word Count: 72,439
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $6.99

This book was a bit frustrating – although I did read it all the way through. It is NOT, I repeat, NOT, a romance, erotica, m/m read of any sort. Instead, you waste around 160 pages on a superficial “crush” – and that’s extending the description, interplay and passion between the characters, until the real partner is introduced. And even then, it’s SO surface level and rushed, that’s it not worth all of the work to get you there. In addition, the main plot/focus of this book is around Parkinson’s disease. Definitely a noteworthy cause to bring more attention to, it just didn’t fit in well, if at all, into the story that was trying to be told.

The book was an easy read and the words unfolded nicely. I also liked the approach Diaz took to creating his characters – dare I say very reflective of his own experiences? The main lead was Cuban, and living in Boston, both being a refreshing take on some of the recent stories I read. However, the book had some serious identity issues – it felt as though Diaz was trying to tackle two very different topics, and neither shined through.

The sex in this book was non-existent, so I don’t have a lot to expound on there. The relationships were just too shallow and not well-developed, to provide a review on the sizzle.

Out of four…
Overall Read:
Sex Heat:
Plot:

It wasn’t awful, but I do have a hard time recommending this to anyone looking to read in the m/m, erotica genre. It is grossly mus-categorized and is a bit all over the place. I do think that it would be a quick, fun read for anyone who is touched immediately by Parkinson’s disease.

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