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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: ♥♥♥

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Tigers and Devils – Sean Kennedy

tigers and devils sean kennedyAuthor: Sean Kennedy
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Word/Page Count: 376 pages epub
Published: March 2009, August 2012

I must confess that I read both books in this series, out of order! Usually that means I can never go back, but I loved the second book so much that I thought I’d give the first book (Tigers and Devils) a go. And it didn’t disappoint! Even with knowing how the story progressed, it was a completely different story and held its own nicely.

This is the love story of two unlikely and opposite men, struggling through different situations to come together – and hopefully stay together. One is a very famous/popular soccer player, the other a somewhat stereotypical film festival coordinator. Think: macho pro-athlete, coupled with a lanky nonathletic sarcastic movie buff. But it came together amazingly well and un-cliched. Through publicity hoops, jealous exes, fears of being outed, and “am I good enough” struggles, this is a love story that mostly seems “true to life.”

The sex is hot, but not prevalent. Which was kinda nice, I have to admit. Sex was had when it fit the story, not the other way around. It was hot at times, somewhat “eh” at others, but overall, created a lot of heat to the tale… even if it was pretty vanilla.

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

I really liked this series (at least the two books I’ve read in it) and would recommend it to anyone who likes a good love story that isn’t always flowers and fake promises. There were struggles, true ups and downs, passion, and a good love story.

By the River – Katey Hawthorne

Author: Katey Hawthorne
Publisher: Loose ID
Word Count: 30,388 (72 pages epub)
Published: 2012

This was my first time reading Katey Hawthrone – and I’m glad I picked it up. The summary of the book was a bit mysterious – I couldn’t tell if I was going to get a shifter book or a love story from the description, so I did not have many expectations going in.

The story was about a hometown guy moving back home for no reason other than he was pulled back there. In fact, it seems like he’s lived his life and made decisions because they felt right – without ever looking into the reason behind them. On one of his runs he sees another man that he’s attracted to, and from then on, they are inseparable. Oh, and did I mention that the man lives on the river?

The read itself was intriguing, I kept wanting to see what was next and ended up reading it in one sitting (a very quick, short read). The attraction and pull between the main characters was very well-written. However… I am still unsure how/why/if there was a fantasy element in the book. It was never really explained and that was a bit… peculiar. In addition, this book practiced one of my biggest pet peeves – it ended in the MIDDLE of the story. I still have no idea why he was different, how it ends up, why the craziness is there, what happened to his mom, did they return, and so on. She cut the book way too short and kept me wondering (which is NOT a good thing once I get to the end).

The sex and heat, was good though – it was more about their connection than the actual act most of the time. In fact, I believe they only had “sex” once, but were active along the way. The characters seemed connected and very much into each other – and it was hard to look away!

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

This is a quick read and HOT – vanilla sex for sure, but if you like a strong connection with a little bit of mystery, than this is a great read for you. It combines heat and sometimes graphically describes the actions, and other times hints at what’s going on. If you are able to look over the plot holes (and incomplete story), than I would recommend this.

On the Dotted Line – Alexa Snow

Author: Alexa Snow
Publisher: Torquere Press
Word Count: 50,330
Published: 2012

While the convention of this story has been told many times before (wealthy doctor falls in love with a poor retail guy), but the story overall was a decent read. Typical instant attraction in a moment of urgent panic, and then stumbling/fumbling to match up correctly, and end with the secret (being poor) being spilled to a happily ever after.

There was nothing earth shattering about this story – in fact, there were a few boring moments, but I liked both of the characters on their own – and together. The one lingering question is I have no clue what the obsession with pens was or why it was in the story – it was never explained (that I can recall at least).

The sex was ok – very vanilla, very middle of the road. There was attraction there which came through nicely, but nothing over the top. Two “normal” guys who liked each other with a small bit of turmoil thrown in, came together when they had sex.

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

I would recommend for any newbie’s to m/m as this is a very easy love/romance story with very light sex and heat. It’s also a quick read for anyone who’s looking for something a bit more low-key with better character development.

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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