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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.

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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.

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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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.

Amanda Steiger – Feet of Clay

Author: Amanda Steiger
Publisher: Torquere Press
Word Count: 28,950
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $3.99

This was a very short read – about 64 pages or so, and I was wishing that it was longer. Steiger wrote a beautiful story with all of the necessary elements, jammed into a short read. The characters were both complicated and relate-able, even if the circumstances were a bit unrealistic. As you read it, you’re not stumbling over sex or the relationship like so many short stories tend to do – the relationship develops with time, and happens only when forced.

The prose was well written and somewhat inspiring for anyone who fancies themselves as a writer. This was what kept you wanting more. Which is why I wanted this story to be full-length – I want to know how both of the characters developed, a bit more of each back-story, and how they would overcome everything together going forward. While none of those items were addressed in this read, the fact that there is so much more to explore and I STILL enjoyed it, is a feat in itself.

This is a m/m romance – Steiger plays a little with the thought or notion of Dominance/submission, but it’s not fully played out, nor would it be considered D/s (yet – maybe book two?) for those within the lifestyle. The sex, once it happens later in the read, is hot, but the heat comes from their connection, not the graphic details – which is always a nice change of pace.

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

I would recommend this for anyone looking for a one-sitting read and enjoy every minute of it. Also, great inspirational words are written into the plot for aspiring writers (I’m going to keep this one on my eBook reader in case I need a jolt). Very tame sex, when put in perspective, but a great starter book for anyone interested in the genre without wanting to commit to a full-length novel.

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Almost Heaven – Kimberly Gardner

 

Author: Kimberly Gardner
Publisher:  Loose Id, LLC
Word Count: 28,801
Published: 2010
Fictionwise: $4.99

An instant attraction ensues between Chris and his younger brother’s teacher, Kevin. Kevin feels the attraction too, and for once in his life, he decides to act upon it. After seeking out Chris and the connection they had, Kevin is torn between his desire and his sense of duty to the Church. In this short tale, Kevin comes to terms with who he is – will Chris be so willing to participate?

This was a new plot line/twist, so it was fun to read. The story was short, but surprisingly dealt with a very serious decision, properly. At times it was unrealistic, but it was easy to overlook those aspects because you could easily relate to both character’s and each of his struggles. There wasn’t much sex at all, some heated moments, but this is not a story that takes place in the bedroom – it’s more about the characters. I’m not sure that I would actually categorize it as erotica, but rather a M/M romance. Outside of the potential sex, each character was relatable – I thought there was more than enough content to make this into a full novel, so expect “quick” decisions and life changing moments.

This is an easy read, but also engages you to want to know what happens in the end.  As a side note, don’t be scared about the priest angle – there is not a lot of religious undertones, so it should be suitable for everyone without making you uncomfortable.

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

Read this book if you want to sample the genre, sample the author, or wants an engaging story in one sitting.