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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Plus Ones – Hank Edwards

Author: Hank Edwards
Publisher: Loose-Id
Word Count: 65,168
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $6.99

I struggled through this book – I was expecting it to be a great fun read based on the description, but it fell quite a bit short. Essentially, the gay marriage law was signed into effect and all of the gay couples that the main characters know decide to get married as quickly as possible that summer, before the law is overturned. So they each attend several of the weddings with different dates (as the plus one). Through many meetings, words unspoken, misunderstandings, and so on, it takes them just about the entire book (perhaps 5 weddings?) to finally realize that they wanted to date each other.

It was trying, really – I would have thoroughly enjoyed this book had it been kept to two or three weddings, but the continued missed opportunities ended up being lame. And half the time I kept thinking that “men do NOT talk like this, nor would this ever happen for so darn long.” There were some funny parts, particularly with the weird habits of some of the dates, and a random sub-plot that added little value – perhaps because it wasn’t fully explored.

The sex that occurred throughout the book, was between the main characters and different people just about each time. It was based purely on the physical and circumstance, and lacked passion and steaminess. The sex was very mild/tame and not at all “graphic” or a play-by-play.

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

Overall, this is a very surface-level read. You don’t get to know any of the characters all that well, they do not have significant voices or in-depth realizations/issues, but it is a fun dating around book. I would recommend this if you’re looking for a lazy, fun read and enjoy lots of different partners (and a good laugh at some of the crazy people in the book!).

Make A Right – Willa Okati

Author: Willa Okati
Publisher: Loose-Id
Word Count: 81,295
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $7.99

I was torn over even purchasing this book, especially when I saw the steep price (thank you for coupons), but being an Okati fan, it was just too hard to pass up. The story begins somewhat abruptly with two former lovers, crossing paths. Their 10-year history together is uncovered slowly throughout the book, but the premise is that they need to join forces to attend their friends (from their foster home) wedding. The story line itself – everything from how they met, their relationship, the premise for them coming back together, and the random characters, were a bit far-fetched and felt somewhat arbitrary at times. However, when you’re able to weed through the confusing plot turns and random dialogue and revelations, these characters evoked great emotion and passion throughout – and this fact alone, is why I’ve given it the rating I have.

The personalities between the two main characters were as different as night and day, but each loved the other in his own way, which made it sometimes painful to read (think tears), and other times almost comical. Tuck was, by far, the more relatable character and made this read worth it. I don’t think that any of this would happen in real life, nor do I agree that anyone would give in to someone who hurt them for TEN YEARS, but in this book, it seemed to happen to wrap up the story quickly.

The sex between them, when it happened, was a bit all over the place. The first encounter felt shameful, but after that, while there were regrets, the sex was filled was passion, thus, evoking even more emotion than their encounters evoked. Very vanilla sex, but you could feel their passion and wacky love for each other and it brought them even closer.

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

Overall, I would recommend this book if you’re a Okati fan, or if you’re looking for some strong emotions in your story (and can overlook some random things thrown in). I was impressed by the level of heartfelt connection throughout, but there are definitely some plot issues that would make it difficult for a plot-driven reader to overlook.

Dear M/M Authors…

I had to take a vacation from your books… I absolutely LOVE reading your creations and respect you more than I can put into words – your courage and ability to create tales and deliver them so I can be entertained, enriched, enlightened; is something to aspire to. BUT… I had to take a vacation. At first it was because I ran out of books and had already exceeded my monthly eBook allowance. But really, it was more than that. I have some gripes and I just couldn’t read another book – they all seemed to be….

  • Please, please, please don’t treat your readers like morons. We are smart and enlightened people. We READ. You do not need to repeat a zillion times (or really, repeat AT ALL), details in the story. If I read it earlier in the book, I remember it. Perhaps say it again if it’s been awhile, but I do not need you to tell me someone’s profession/age difference/insecurity/family relation/main plot point/tension or whatever, every single page. Especially if it’s NOT IMPORTANT to the overall book. I am tired of being treated as a moron.
  • You don’t need to get overly creative about naming, well, the penis. If I read one more: “log; hunk of meat; poker; log of love; sausage;” and so on, I may just scream. Really? Nothing kills the mood quicker, honestly.
  • Integrating characters or plots that clearly were edited out… but not fully. Lately, things seem to not add up, a lot. Like an entire plot was taken out because it was not relevant – and then, you have a random page or chapter with that thread. Please review what your editor does – this is very difficult to read and still understand what the heck is going on.
  • Your characters, should well, be characters. I know that sex plays a major role in some, ok most, of your stories (and I thank you for that), but more and more I’m finding that characters break character to further the plot or get a random point across. For me, nothing makes me put down the book faster – I fall in love with your characters, but if they are just a jumble of undeveloped actions, I could care less about his plight, development, or where your plot is going.
  • Taking the “easy way out” – I have seen so so so many “short stories” that had enough meat and bones within the characters and plot, to be actual, well, novels. WRITE THE LONGER BOOK. I don’t want you to neatly tie up the story in five pages so you can be done with it. Take care with your endings the same way you did with the previous 70 pages. It is so upsetting to be completely engaged and then have a “and then x, y and z fell into place and they lived HEA.”

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming (and I’m back to reading you with a vengeance).

Sonoran Heat – Katrina Strauss

Author: Katrina Strauss
Publisher: Amber Quill Press
Word Count: 48,547
Published: 2010
Fictionwise: $7.00

The beginning of this story definitely tries to grab you – almost a bit too fiercely. However, I was intrigued enough to continue reading and pleased to find that the beginning scene of a very young trio, was not a main story plot – but the background for the true love story. It did take me some time to be ok with the age difference between the main characters, which was also a theme of the story – a man in his 40s and a 21-year old. They did have a strong connection and bond, and age faded into the background as their love blossomed.

This is an easy and quick read, and probably could have lent itself to a longer story – apparently I think all of the good ones need to be longer these days! There were a few cliches throughout, but presented in a way that wasn’t so in your face; instead, woven into the plot line quite nicely. I am curious if there is a sequel or two, based on some of the characters introduced as there was enough ground work to create more fun in the Arizona desert.

The sex in this story is very tame and vanilla, but hot when it happens as it is filled with passion, trust and understanding. Each character continues to work through their pasts and hopes and fears for the future, that each coming together helps cement their relationship and sense of belonging together. The sex will not ignite any pages, but it is tender and thoughtful and fun to read. The focus here is their relationship, not having sex for sex sake.

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

I would recommend this for anyone who enjoys a good love story; interaction between an older guy and younger man; and loves a well-written story (without minding some usual themes). This is a particularly good read for newbies to m/m as it’s not at all scary and quite tame with a “real life” story plot.

 

Man of His Dreams – John Jockel

Author: John Jockel
Publisher: Ravenous Romance
Word Count: 49,708
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $6.99

This book revolves around a childhood crush on a movie star that follows Zack through adulthood. Here’s the thing though… while you wait for the movie star and Zack to finally meet each other (think near the end of the book), there is a lot of random side plots and interactions. Literally, random. You are taken on a trip around the world where Zack appears to dive off of the virginity wagon with guns blazing, having random and illicit sexual encounters in each city on his summer trek. All without meaning, all without any depth or purpose.

The sex in this story is a bit difficult to classify – it was SO surface-level and most likely improbable, that any potential hotness from the interaction, was sucked out of it. Each encounter was another “fetish” or cliche starting with the back-room of a gay porn movie theater, an older teacher and college student, cheating with a fellow co-ed, sex club orgy… and so on. When the main plot finally comes to light, the sex is forgettable at best and unfortunately lacks passion – particularly the passion that the reader was led to believe from a lifetime of hero worship. I think this plot IDEA has a lot of potential for a fun read in a fantasy brought to life situation, but this read missed the mark.

And if all of that hasn’t convinced you to skip this one, how about several plot lines/characters that have absolutely no resolution or purpose in the story? It seemed at times that this was a first draft – plot lines that were edited out of the final story arc, but the chapters/characters were forgotten about and left in, leaving for a bumbling read.

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

Not recommended for anyone, really. Skip it…

Trust Me – LA Witt

Author: LA Witt
Publisher: Champagne Books
Word Count: 89,334
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $5.99

Homicide detective Brian is called out to a gruesome murder and is stunned when one of the victims is the spinning image of his boyfriend. What ensues is an intricate tale with many twists and turns as he tries to figure out what happened at that scene, with his boyfriend James, as the main suspect. Will his personal relationship get in the way of his job?

This was a great cop/detective read! It was jam-packed with evidence, several chases, endless questions, and more twists that you could even imagine. And jam-packed in the middle of all of that, is a relationship between the lead detective and the prime suspect. Brian is constantly questioning himself and his relationship throughout, but still finds himself drawn to James. Their desire and passion is almost tangible each time they come together – but their struggles in between those times, adds even more fuel to their fire.

The sex was quick and hot with one or two tender sessions thrown in there; filled with feelings of desire, lust and turmoil. Very vanilla, but unexpected and hot nonetheless.

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

I would recommend this to anyone who loves cop dramas and the bevy of suspense around the crime. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be surprised – and also fall a bit in love with both characters here… even if you fight against loving James.