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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: ♥♥♥

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.

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.

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!

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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Dutch Treat – Andrew Grey

Author: Andrew Grey
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Page Count (ePub): 161
Published: July 2011
Rainbow EBooks: $5.59

As the story begins, you find the mind character in his first “long-term” relationship (all of six months), and about to head out on a work assignment to the Netherlands. He’s nervous about the effect his five months away will have on his relationship, but learns that he does not have to worry about that for long. When he arrives in his new country, he immediately runs into Stephan – a colleague who is ready to help him find his way in his new land.

To be honest, I was very disappointed with this book. I am a huge Andrew Grey fan, and I felt that this one lacked his usual magic. There was no passion or connection between the two main characters. I kept thinking how arbitrary their story seemed and how they fell “in love” out of nowhere. I didn’t even know that they liked each other! In addition to their lack of connection, there were a lot of superfluous details about the Netherlands that never played back into the story – perhaps they were edited out, but either way, the details were a bit tenuous. On the positive side, I found myself very interested in the work story and what the outcome would be with that drama – probably not the best sign when reading a romance novel.

The sex was forgettable… really, I don’t really remember them having sex. Grey tried to incorporate a D/s situation, but it was an undertone that was never really brought to light or explored.

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

This was a quick read and had a fun subplot (the work drama), especially for people who may work in the corporate world and it took place in an unique location. So perhaps this would be a good read for people looking to explore new settings and a light read.

Scorpion – Aleksandr Voinov

Author: Aleksander Voinov
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Word Count: 71,207
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $6.99

I am usually not one for historical reads, but the description of this one intrigued me and I’m glad that I gave it a try. Set in a very different world than we live in now, this story was an engaging tale that explored over-coming circumstances, creating your own family, and the different levels of class within a society – all with smoking hot soldiers. The writing had a few stumbles – there were some paragraphs that either seemed repetitive or irrelevant, but the characters were very well developed and made up for it. There were a surprising number of twists and turns, most that you didn’t see coming, which was a great surprise. The plot was the real strength in this story.

I would not say that I read “LOVE” between the characters in this book, and to be honest, the sex was lacking feeling, but they way it was presented fit within the historical setting and circumstances in most respects. The passion felt between the two main characters was hot, the sex was a bit rough and sometimes forced, but it was always intense. This is correctly categorized as a m/m erotica read with a hint at Dominance/submission, but nothing overt.

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

I would recommend this read especially for those who enjoy getting lost in a different time and place, especially those who love a good monarch tale. The sex is rough; meaning that there was some forced situations and some hard to read scenarios. This would not be a great starter m/m book, but an enjoyable read for any seasoned readers. 

He Completes Me – Cardeno C.

Author: Cardeno C.
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Word Count: 92,511
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $6.99

Zach reluctantly makes his way back to his hometown following his mother’s death. He hasn’t been in contact with his family since graduating high school. His memories about his family and his home town, are anything but pleasant. When he arrives, he wants to be sure that no one forgets just how “gay” he is – so he dresses and acts outrageous in defiance. But just as soon as he’s ready to denounce everything and everyone again, he meets his brother’s best friend, Aaron – and their instant attraction takes them both by surprise. What happens between them, is anything but easy – but hopefully worth the struggle.

I absolutely loved this book – it was my first time reading Cardeno C, and I am upset it has taken me so long. This story was well written, easy to read, but most of all – it was based in reality. The characters felt like real people – they had jobs, responsibilities, true internal struggles, and hurt emotions. These things weren’t cast aside or quickly wrapped up, just because there was a love story to take place – and I loved it. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s nice to read something lightly based in reality, but this was a refreshing gritty change of pace. I wasn’t able to put it down, and in fact read it in one go. There were several struggles throughout – being ok with yourself; getting over or better understanding things that happened as children (overcoming abuse and the guilt associated with it); building relationships in the here and now; choosing sides within a family; and being open to accept and give love unconditionally.

The sex was HOT. The first interaction was sizzling and occurred early on – just a sign of things to come. The sex was “making love” from the very first encounter, which just added to the interactions and struggles, making their coming together even hotter. There were a lot of different types of sexual interactions as well – in a bathroom stall, phone sex, and so on – great variety and true to the situation.

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

This is a great read and I definitely recommend it to just about anyone! You won’t be able to put it down. This has very hot sex, but not anything outlandish (vanilla most of the time with some hints of D/s), but so loving and emotional, that you’ll be hooked. I loved it so much, I bough the next book in the series immediately – and loved it just as much!

Red Skies – Joanne Kells

Author: Joanne Kells
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Word Count: 105,120
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $6.99

After years of merely going through the actions of life, Jesse finds himself confused and scared about the prospect of finding love again – especially now that he’s ready to acknowledge that he’s gay. His past relationship with a man, continues to haunt Jesse and holds him back from going after what he wants – the ranch owner’s son, Ade. Ade is not willing to be second fiddle to anyone, but quickly finds himself lusting after the quiet foreman. Will both men be able to overcome their internal struggles and desires and go after what they both need?

This story was well-written and very engaging. It started off slow, but hang in there because it’s definitely worth it in the end! One of the best features of this story is how well-developed each character is – even the ones who are not physically present. Almost immediately I found myself rooting for the characters and fully engaged with their emotional story and turmoil. The love story wasn’t rushed which I appreciated. There were a few places where I thought the “end” could have been rushed to fruition to satisfy a shorter book, but Kells stayed true to the story and characters. There was a lot of emotional turmoil and ups and downs throughout – I found myself smirking, tearing up, and every thing in between – which for me, shows the depth and flow of Kells writing.

The love romance was hot and so was the sex. Don’t expect a lot of sex in this story – it truly is more of a romance than an erotica read. However, when there was sex, it was passionate and emotional and always added significant value to their story together. There was a hint of some Dominance/submission, but it was very vanilla sex with more assertion at times, than anything else.

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

This is a great read and I definitely recommend it. Hot cowboys, internal struggles, emotional turmoil, and did I say, hot cowboys? I think this is a good read for many different audiences – romance readers, new m/m readers, and those who love a good long book.