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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.

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I Kissed a Boy – Addison Avery

Author: Addison Avery
Publisher: Aspen Mountain Press
Word Count: 86,849
Published: 2010
Fictionwise: $6.00

It’s never a good thing when you finish a book and still can’t figure out where the title came from. But to be honest, that was the least of the issues for this story. Luckily, for my taste at least, neither of them were boys in this tale, but instead, they were child-hood friends who finally decided, somewhat randomly?, to take it a step further. The beginning was promising – one of them was coming home to finally take action on their desires. But after things became blurred during their first encounter, the tale just got strange.

Paul, the person who lived in Los Angeles, had some secrets – big ones, that only came to light when Adam moved to LA with Paul as a snap decision, fearful that he’d lose Paul forever – mind you, this was still during their initial encounter. Anyway, what unfolds was so jumpy, unrealistic, and quite frankly, WEIRD, that I’m still not really sure what happened. Think: a random love square (four people, like that play), but I am not sure whom loves who and all of the details.

The focus here was clearly creating as much hot steamy sex scenes as possible – m/f, m/m, m/m/m. The sex itself could probably have been hot since it took up most of the book, but it was so unclear what the relationships were, that the sex became distracting. In the end, I was rolling my eyes quite a bit, and finally, relieved when it was over.

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

I would not recommend this to anyone. It was way too confusing, even if all you want is hot sex. There were too many partners without any clearly defined roles, and then very end (last five pages), was SO ridiculous, that even if the rest of the book was ok, it destroyed any redeeming qualities.

Nowhere Ranch – Heidi Cullinan

Author: Heidi Cullinan
Publisher: Loose-Id, LLC
Word Count: 68,356
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $6.99

After his family turned their back on him for being gay, Roe left his family’s farm and learned how to survive without creating strong connections or roots. That was until he arrived at the Nowhere Ranch. When Roe needed a break and needed sexual release, he drove to the nearest gay bar – three hours away, to find the owner of the ranch he’s working on, there too. Relationships are not his thing, so getting involved with his boss is a very bad idea, especially since he’s starting to fall in love with the ranch. But one night can’t hurt, right?

This was my favorite Cullinan book yet. It was a fantastic story with rich character development and a story line that was well thought out and surprising at times. The bond and relationship between Roe and the ranch owner, Travis, was realistic and deep. Their exploration together of their D/s relationship paralleled with each of them allowing themselves to open their hearts again, was powerful. There were bumps along the way, but each man found a way to come together and work things out.

The sex was HOT (or shall I saw H-A-W-T)! Several different sexual encounters, but each told a story of their blossoming relationship. Starting from strictly D/s with no strings attached – moving into a loving D/s relationship was exciting to read and engaging throughout. This is a recommended read for any cowboy fans, experienced m/m readers, or anyone who is looking for a unique love story within the D/s relationship.

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

The only thing holding back from this getting a perfect score, is the ending. The last 10 pages or so was a bit of a let down. Don’t get me wrong, it ends up fantastic (and be sure to read it through the very end), but one part of the conclusion felt rushed and slightly out of character. But it doesn’t impact the overall story – just the ending impression.

Undercover Sins – Hayley James

Author: Haley James
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Word Count: 89,3216
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $6.99

An undercover officer spends three months as a rent boy, just to get close to his biggest enemy – a human trafficker.  He won’t walk away from an assignment, especially one that means so much to him but soon he realizes that he could be in too deep. He enjoyed sex with his target more than he could forgive himself for – was he playing a role, or being played?

A very surprising and fast-paced read with so many unexpected twists and turns. I couldn’t put this down as the relationship between Demetrius (the human trafficker), Ty/Gabriel (the undercover cop) and Lee (the bodyguard) evolved throughout. Each character had substantial weight and depth, and I found myself being sympathetic with the bad guy, more than I would have thought possible. The story and twists kept me on the edge of my seat and were unexpected – usually you can feel something coming, but not once did I know what would come next. I read this in one day, it was a real page-turner.

The sex was hot, dirty and plentiful, although not gratuitous. There were so many dimensions to their sexual interactions that it greatly deepened their connection with each other, and also furthered the story significantly. This is a good read for experienced m/m readers or those looking for a quick-paced story with a lot of hot sex – be forewarned, this is not a typical love story and the sex is reflective of that.

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

Almost a perfect score, this is a fantastic read! The only caution here, is to be prepared to a little in love with a criminal – but don’t worry, you won’t hate yourself for it in the end! Be sure to read it all the way to end for a few last-minute twists!

Mistletoe and Submission – Kim Dare

 

Author: Kim Dare
Publisher: Total E-Bound
Word Count: 56,247
Published: 2010
Fictionwise: $6.13

In a completely inappropriate dare, the junior Doms challenge a fellow junior (although very experienced) dom to be tied up and blindfolded in a room until midnight. While completely against his nature, Sloan accepts the challenge to keep from his fellow “Dom” Carl, from accepting it on his behalf. During the dare, a sub makes his way into the room and Sloan is absolutely hooked – he needs to find HIS sub, but no one is sure who it can be. What he does know though, is he wants it to be Carl.

An unusual take on a club’s dynamics and dares – I’m not sure any Dom would challenge another in such a way, and it was a bit disconcerting that Sloan had never actually experienced the things he dished out to subs, but none the less, a strong story ensued. Throughout, there was an underlying tug of shame or question around what it means to be a sub. Carl continuously fought to overcome this and wanted to be treated with respect – something he never saw Sloan do with who he thought were his subs, before. Throughout, there are great internal power struggles while both men try to find out what they want and how to make it work.

The sex was hot with a lot of tame D/s play throughout.  This is a good read for people who like a Christmas themed story; or are testing the D/s waters. Don’t expect a lot of romance here – feelings were not explored as much as they were shown.

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

A good and quick read for anyone who wants some hot D/s action, or is looking to get a glimpse in to the scene. I would also recommend this for people who enjoy stories that deal with the differences between Doms and subs, and the internal struggle behind each role.

Bound by Honor – SE Jakes

Author: SE Jakes
Publisher:  Samhain Publishing
Word Count: 63,422
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $4.50

Soldier Tanner James holds his word and shows up to deliver the dying wish of his good friend who died in combat one year earlier. He walks into the club searching for the owner and badass Dom, Damon. Tanner’s mission is simple – submit to Damon for one night exactly one year following his friend’s death. What happens when Tanner walks into the club is heartbreaking as Damon isn’t sure he’s able to uphold his end of the bargain. Will he be able to overcome his past to embrace the best thing for his future?

Soldiers fighting for power, submission and acceptance – is there anything hotter? This is a great D/s read with incredibly hot sex, but more than that, it was relatable. Each character struggled with emotions and past wrongs, to be able to fully accept their current situation. There were several points in the book that were difficult to read (yes, tears flowed) – the fear, the shame, the underlying pain was always right at the surface. There was sex, lots of sex, but never gratuitous. The subplot and characters were fantastically written and I can’t wait to see their story next! I was not aware that this was part of series when I read it, but I cannot wait to get my hands on the next installment.

The sex was incredibly hot and a relatable D/s relationship, once all of the false starts were addressed. It was an emotional read and one that I could not put down – it grabbed my attention, not just because of the heat (although admittedly that helped), but the plot and characters were so well developed and clearly everything was executed seamlessly.

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

I think this is my first “perfect” score – it truly is a book, not to be missed. The plot was intriguing and had significant depth; hot soldiers; and believable D/s play and relationships. Read this if you like masculine men stories, strong erotica or D/s play.

The Book and the Rose – A.J. Llewellyn

 

  

Author: A. J. Llewellyn
Publisher:  Amber Quill Press
Word Count: 51,023
Published: Janary 2011
Fictionwise: $7.00

A Hollywood writer randomly meets the love of his life who lives on the other side of the world in Barcelona, Spain. Evans just can’t stop thinking about his Spainard – Mio, and is excited to take an extended vacation with Mio when his writing career falls apart. What he finds when he gets to Barcelona is nothing like what he expected! Mio has been keeping secrets from him, and he’s afraid that one of those secrets may be just too much for their relationship to last. Evans celebrates Spain’s version of Valentine’s Day with Mio where they exchange a book and a rose to signify their love – what comes before and after is anything but predictable!

This was an interesting read and not typical of most of the M/M books out there. I was expecting a completely different story based on the opening, and was surprised with how everything unfolded through the very end. This was not a romantic tale in the traditional sense, or rather the typical M/M sense, but the main character was well-developed so it was easy and fun to follow him on his journey. There was a lot of sex throughout, but unfortunately it wasn’t sex that I was able to connect with most of the time – for me, this was a read about an untraditional love story and following your heart.

Be forewarned, there are several different sex partners, scenes, scenarios, and interactions throughout – some scenes may test your imagine from a partner perspective, but very vanilla throughout. Even without the super hot sex and not my typical cup of tea read, I still enjoyed reading this book and look forward to reading more from this author. This is definitely a more male-focused/written book, but it’s a great change of pace.

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

Read this book if you are looking for a more male-perspective in this genre. It’s also a great untraditional love story in a completely new setting and set of circumstances. And if you’re looking for a bit of a fun or lighter read.

With Caution – J.L. Langley

With Caution

Author: J. L. Langley
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Word Count: 77,916
Published: 2007 (relaased on Fictionwise December 2010)
Fictionwise: $5.50

A life of living in fear of his father while always protecting his younger brother, main character Remington goes through a journey of overcoming his fears, understanding his desires, and becoming his own man. Through his journey, he finds his mate in Jake and a new family of friends within the pack. With Jake’s unconditional love and support, Remington keeps his word to his brother and brings justice to his father.

This was a very surprising read – I am a fan of some shapeshifter books, but I must admit I am a hard sell. This one was beautifully written with several key plots and characters, all of which you will immediately fall in love with. You get to see Remington as the ultimate protector of his brother while not being able to fully realize his worth without his true mate, Jake, by his side. This is a great read and I couldn’t put it down – a romance with a bit of a shapeshifter twist, hot men, family responsibilities and duties, and some sex!

The sex in this book comes a bit later in the story, so this is not the read for you if you want immediate gratification – well, at least gratification that doesn’t come in dream form. In addition, the sex is not the main theme here, but the realtionships and pack development are – so this is great for someone who is new to the M/M reading scene, or LOVES warewolves tales. Be warned that the story called for a D/s relationship, but the sex doesn’t really deliver on this front – more by subtle tones, so don’t expect a lot of D/s here. Well written, the characters are what will grab your attention – you love all of them instantly, and can’t wait to find out how it all ends.

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

Read this book if you are looking to get your warewolves fix along with a great romantic tale while watching the main characters work through their inner struggles. The sex is hot but spaced nicely throughout – a great newbie read.

I Spy Something Bloody – Josh Lanyon

I Spy Something Bloody

Author: Josh Lanyon
Publisher: Loose Id, LLC
Word Count: 31,203
Published: November 2008
Fictionwise: $4.99

When in trouble, a spy can only think of one place he can run to – the only place he’s ever felt safe and perhaps even loved, his ex-boyfriend’s home. Unfortunately, the spy is about two years too late after walking out on his ex for a mission. This is the story of how these two people from very different walks of life, work to create a new normal by overcoming years of hurt and letting go of their fears.

While outside of the Adrien English series, this story is told in typical Josh Lanyon fashion – very well-developed characters, danger throughout, real-life internal struggles, and several obstacles to over come on both sides. This is a fun read, and rather short, so you won’t be able to put it down – and just wait until the adventure at the end! Both characters work through some very real struggles including a significant age difference, letting go of a profession/life that they know, learning to accept each other for who they are.

The sex is hot (when it happens), which does not happen often in this book. This is very tame, with some D/s undertones, but not blatant nor a significant plot theme. This is a great read for anyone who loves a good romance, great characters, and some mystery/action and intrigue along the way. It’s also a very “easy” M/M read – and an excellence choice, as are most of Lanyon’s books, for anyone who’s interested in diving into the genre.

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

Read this book if you want to test the waters of M/M stories, love a good romance, or like a little action (not just sex action, but spy action).

Burn – Sean Michael

Burn

Author: Sean Michael
Publisher: Torquere Press
Word Count: 51,011
Published: January 2011
Fictionwise: $5.99

An annual game brings together two childhood friends – finally. After a difficult day as a fireman, Marshall shows up to the annual gathering to say hello to his friends. When he arrives, his friend Dave can tell that something’s wrong with Marshall and finally has his opportunity to take care of his long-time crush. As soon as Dave finds his opening, he’s determined to show Marshall everything that he needs to help him deal with his high-stress job and also satisfy his sexual desires. Marshall has no idea what’s in store for him as Dave takes over as Dom and Marshall learns how to submit.

This is a surprising read from Sean Michael, particularly for the Hammer series. This book is based more on the relationship and internal struggles of the main characters, Marshall in particular, versus the D/s relationship or gratuitous sex. There is plenty of sex, and some of it is gratuitous, but there are also well-developed characters and a decent plot. The D/s relationship and roles are not as blatant in his story – while each character has a clearly defined role in the bedroom, one of the characters is unsure of the lifestyle and continuously struggles to come to terms with it.

There is sex throughout the book – vanilla and some D/s play. At times the sex scenes run too long as is typical in Sean Michael’s writing, but they are always hot! You are rooting for both characters to get what they want and what they need from each other, and you see that the sex helps them both meet that goal.

Overall this is a good read with super hot sex. This is a very beginner level D/s book and good for anyone who is looking for a glance into the lifestyle and the very “mild” end of the spectrum. In addition, it deals with issues of coming to terms with sexual need and roles in a way that is very “friendly” for a new M/M reader.

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

Read this book if you’re interested in getting a glimpse into the D/s lifestyle and the Hammer series. And of course, if you’re looking for some seriously hot sex!