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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.

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.

Khyber Run – Amber Green

Author: Amber Green
Publisher:  Loose Id, LLC
Word Count: 62,023
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $5.94

The name of this book intrigued me – mostly because I had no idea what it meant. This story is set in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in the middle of the current war. The beginning was a bit confusing as you are unsure not only where the character is, but also what all of the nicknames mean – both are settled somewhat, but I found that the confusion of location was constant throughout. I had to refer back a few pages every now and then to confirm where they were.

This was an intense read, but not because of the sex or interaction between the apparent love interest. In fact, there was no sex until page 105 (other than a random quickie around page 60 or so) – consider yourself forewarned. This is a war story, plain and simple. The main character is searching to find his place in the war as a Pakistani in the U.S. military – on a mission to avenge his fallen brother. The sex was rough and about circumstance, not feeling, lust or love – and it was rough, although it only occurred twice (maybe three times) during the entire book. I wish that there was more of a connection or character development here, as I usually love military men stories.

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

Read this book if you are interested in learning about a different perspective of the war and enjoy reading about rough, meaningless sex – although you will be waiting awhile for it to happen!

No Apologies – Tibby Armstrong

Author: Tibby Armstrong
Publisher:  Loose Id, LLC
Word Count: 55,510
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $6.99

After being together for a decade, without ever admitting the truth of their relationship, screenwriter Greg Faulkner hopes that he is able to convince the one person in the world that means anything to him, to stay with him – even if that means addressing his biggest fear and admitting he’s gay. His partner, producer Aaron Blake is tired of hiding and doesn’t think that their love is enough anymore. He reluctantly agrees to attend Greg’s most recent and personal film project, with the promise of this being their last act as a “couple.” What unfolds on the screen is the history of their relationship together – out there for everyone to see.

I was rather surprised by this book, particularly in the manner in which it was told. To be honest, I’m a bit tired of flashback romances, and I was not very eager to read another one. However, this wasn’t nearly a flashback – it was their love story being told through the eyes of a movie. It was a very interesting tale and struggle, and one that unfolded quite gracefully as though a movie/screenplay would. The characters were well-written, although I did have some trouble reconciling some of their personality traits within the movie, to the actions in person. I would say this would be the only thing that was a bit confusing – the movie was not exactly their love story, but you didn’t find that out until the end leaving the reader to wonder what actually did occur between the two lovers. That being said, it was a quick read and a unique perspective of storytelling.

The sex was placed throughout – almost hard to read at first due to the young age at the time. But there was definitely love between both characters and their love was communicated and displayed through their sexual interactions.  The sex wasn’t graphic or detailed, but definitely passionate and vanilla.

This was a good read, and an even better story – I can almost see it being a real movie (has Armstrong thought of that?). I wished they were a bit older, but I’m guessing that’s my own personal preferences. It was an easy story to get into and hard to put this one down.

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

Read this book if you are looking for a new story and perspective; enjoy reading about young love; or watching the struggle of admitting who you are to yourself. This would be recommended for newbies to the m/m genre up through experienced readers. This is more of a romance than an erotica tale, but there is still some good sex throughout!

Manning Up – J.T. Steele

Author: J.T. Steele
Publisher:  Loose Id, LLC
Word Count: 45,927
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $5.99

Baseball star Elijah finally ends his sham of a marriage, finally ready to move forward and be true to himself. He just so happens to meet his soul mate to help him realize the possibilities for him to live as a gay man. Growing up in a strict religious family with his father as a preacher, Elijah needs to open his mind to what his heart has always known. When he meets Wesley, he knows he can’t wait any longer.

This book was confusing on so many levels – the first 20 pages are so were definitely the highlight, but very misleading. The story tries to pack too many different themes into one short novel, when had the story been played out without the “fantasy” undertones, it could have been even more poignant. As a reader, you think that the book is going to explore being a superstar gay athlete – but it barely touches on it. If you’re looking for that story, choose a different book. Instead, it is very focused on magic and psychic powers that Wesley is honing and Elijah trying to move past his father’s beliefs.

The sex in this book was anything but sizzling. Steele went for a strong D/s tone and play, but with the lack of character development, a somewhat erratic story line, and no real grounding for that type of relationship, it completely missed the mark and unfortunately tainted the hot factor for the book as a whole. The book was an easy read, so I’m certain that Steele can write an enjoyable book, but it felt like he put together bits and pieces from a how-to book without delving deeper into the story and characterization – or the parts that would keep readers engaged.

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

This book is hard to recommend for me – I’d say if you like a little magic and perhaps constant tame sex and a quick read, then this book is for you. If you’re an experienced m/m reader, however, don’t even attempt it.

Dark Heart – Thom Lane

Author: Thom Lane
Publisher:  Loose Id, LLC
Word Count: 48,940
Published: December 2008
Fictionwise: $5.99

Set in a time long ago (actual historical date not given), a house slave becomes intrigued by a new guild houseguest – Master Lucan. There is an immediate connection for the house slave, Tam, and he has hope for the first time in his life – hope that Master Lucan is the perfect match for him – except, he is a powerful mage with a special power. As Master Lucan uses his powers for good, he realizes he needs (and wants) his boy by his side.

This tale was a different type of read for me – and a completely different take on the Master/slave realtionship. In all honestly, I was struggling to adjust to their interactions, as there was nothing consensual about the pairing. However, the characters were drawn together and their relationship developed to one that was caring and consentual at the end. I was intrigued by both the setting and the special powers, which was a surprise for me, and both added significant value to the story.

This is a quick and enjoyable read, and is the first of a series of stories from Lane which incorporate mages, Master/slave relationships, and long-ago times. The characters were developed well, although there was more emphasis on the plot, setting, and power exchange, than on the characters. The sex was powerful and happened often – maintaining the M/s dynamic throughout. Be forewarned, that some parts may be difficult to read, especially if you are active in the lifestyle. But those moments added to the connection the reader has with the characters (yes, I even shed a few tears in this one) and were true to the story’s setting.

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

Read this book if you enjoy historical setting with a fantasy/mystical flair; enjoy the power dynamic between a Master/slave; want a quick and hot read that takes you to another land.

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.

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).

Truthful Change – J. Davitt and A. Snow

Truthful Change

Authors: Jane Davitt & Alexa Snow
Publisher: Loose Id, LLC
Word Count: 94,755
Published: 2010
Fictionwise: $7.99

When a retired mercenary finds himself without anything to do but enjoy his extensive house and new gardener, nothing but trouble can follow. The gardener, who has his own hidden agenda, can’t seem to stay away from his new boss, even though he has a “boyfriend” at home.

This story is very well written and paced nicely. The book takes place in Texas, mainly at the two homes of the main characters. However, there is plenty of drama, twists/turns and hidden agendas, with surprising action at the end. Although one of the main characters is a retired mercenary, don’t expect a lot of violence throughout, it’s more of a love story and two people learning to work through betrayal, new emotions and love.

The sex at times seems a bit gratuitous, but it’s definitely hot (and very tame). For the first time for both of the main characters, sex is more than sex – and you can feel their connection – in a glance, or in the middle of a sex scene. M/M, very vanilla – unless you count a little biting!

Overall, this is a great, quick read. You’ll instantly like the characters, even if you think you should have some reservations about them (i.e., ex-mercenary). It’s a very easy read for those just looking for some heat with a bit of mystery and agent action.

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

Read this if you like… quick M/M action, two hot potentially dangerous guys falling in love.