Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Giveaway & Review: Amor Prohibido by Ellis Carrington

Ellis Carrington
Amor Prohibido
Amber Allure, September 4, 2011

Links: Author’s website | Twitter | Buy book here | Download free short story Yes, Sir here

Jacob Freehan has no job, no man, and no motivation. In pain both from ending a long-term abusive relationship and a severe back injury, he escapes to the sunny seaside town of Puerto Morelos, Mexico for a little yoga, a little R&R, and possibly a place to quietly end his own life.

Pakal is a centuries-old immortal Mayan spirit guide who has been charged with getting Jacob on the path toward healing. Romantic involvement with a spirit charge is strictly forbidden, and it has never been a problem...until now. Pakal sees something special in Jacob, but failure to keep a rapidly growing attraction at bay could result in Jacob losing his life and Pakal being condemned to the Underworld forever...

Genre & Keywords:
M/M Romance, Paranormal, Spirits, Immortals, South America, Healing, Mayan mythology

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 1.5 out of 3

Reviewed by SharonS.:

While this might be Carrington’s first m/m novella, she is definitely not new to writing or romance. Her words flow and her use of description brings the story alive visually, and when you are talking about a hot immortal spirit guide this is a good thing. ;)

Jacob is in a bad place in his life. He just ended a 14 year abusive relationship and has gone on a vacation to Mexico with his best friend to try and work through things. Enter Pakal. Pakal is a spirit guide who is supposed to help Jacob find peace. Both characters are well developed and their stories will tug at your heart strings as they learn about sacrifice and forgiveness. I also enjoyed the way Carrington wove in Mayan mythology about death and the soul into the plot.

There is some passionate love making going on, but this is more about the characters and their struggles to be together no matter the consequences. This is a fun forbidden love story with an interesting plot that left me smiling.



Ellis Carrington is generously offering a copy of her ebook Amor Prohibido to one lucky commenter. To enter leave a comment telling you’d like to have your name thrown in the hat.

The giveaway is international, and the winner will be announced on Sunday, December 4, so be sure to leave your comment before then and don’t forget to check back or leave a way for us to contact you in your comment or profile.

Good luck to you all!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sharon’s Review: Snakeskin Boots by Xara X. Xanakas

Xara X. Xanakas
Snakeskin Boots (Were Menagerie #1)
Dreamspinner Press, October 5, 2011

Links: Author’s website | Buy book here

Jeff Cordata has always known wolves can be dangerous. Not that his luck with snakes has been any better. It's not easy being a wereboa constrictor in a world that worships werewolves.
When the customer he's been watching for months turns out to be an interested wolf, his first instinct is to flee, but his attraction to Brad Cannidy is undeniable despite the strained relations between their families. Then Jeff’s anaconda ex-boyfriend re-enters his life as a pair of snakeskin boots, the hunt begins for the murderer who is turning weres into accessories, and Jeff will have to decide if a boa and a wolf can really mate for life.

Genre & Keywords:
M/M Romance, Paranormal, Shifters, Snakes, Wolves

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 3 out of 3

Reviewed by SharonS.:

This was a fun read! It is about a Were Boa… yeah, and not only that, there are Were Elephants, Raccoons, Scorpions, Anacondas, Spider Monkeys, Cougars and I am probably missing something. And the cool thing is, it leans more towards campy rather than cheesy.

Jeff is a Were Boa who just came out of a physically abusive relationship. His life is pretty good right now. He works at a book store with his best friend Kim, and has a great relationship with his family (they are all snake shifters). He has been fantasizing about a tall dark and sexy man that has been coming into the bookstore for a couple of weeks now. Jeff and Kim have given him the nickname “Eggplant” because it looks like he is smuggling one in his pants *g*. This story is full of stuff like this. Anyway, turns out Eggplant is a Werewolf named Brad and he has decided Jeff is his mate. This would be great except Wolves and Snakes don’t get along, at all. Most Wolves look down on all other shifters. And now someone is turning snake shifters into accessories!

The plot is kind of predictable and not very complex and the writing is straight forward and tight, but I didn’t mind. What made this story for me was the humor - even though it did go over board on the snake and wolf jokes - and that it is told in the first person POV. I love reading first person POV and Jeff is such a funny guy. It was so sexy experiencing Brad through his eyes. I got a thing for men that growl and apparently so does Jeff. ;) There are lots of hot sex scenes with window shaking growling going on.

I admit that I have a completely different standard for my m/m than for m/f romances. In m/f I want my couple to be equals in strength and power with the female putting the male in his place. In my m/m I want one to be dominant and one submissive, but with a smart mouth *g*. Very Yaoi. Brad and Jeff satisfy this itch for me. Brad is constantly pulling Jeff into his lap and reassuring him how much he cares for him and turning all soft and chewy.

Even though the plot was weak and kind of gross, I found this story enjoyable for the Yaoi-like relationship, the humor and the hot sex.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Gay Friday & Queer As Folk

It’s been a hell of a busy week for me at work because of the long-term absence of my boss. Me and my colleagues are trying to keep things going until she returns, which means squirming in a few extra tasks in my already full schedule. But hey, it’s Friday, browsing through my Happy Gay folder of hot boys can make me forget about all that! :)

This is actually a couple from a TV show – probably recognized by most of you – which is called Queer As Folk (2000). It ran for five seasons in the US/Canada and had a UK version for one season. These are the actors from the US version who play Brian and Justin, and they are incredibly hot together on screen.
I bought Queer As Folk on DVD and started watching it this week from the beginning (after watching random clips on YouTube for years). And I’m so hooked! It turns out to be a great quick distraction from work troubles at the end of the day. At the moment it even works better than a book for me, because it asks for less concentration.

If you haven’t seen or heard of this TV series yet, you can find more information here. And here’s a clip to give you an impression of Brian and Justin's hotness, who are btw only two of the group of gay friends that are starring in this series.

Happy Gay Friday!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lis’ Review: The Institute, Book I: Healer by Cassandra Gold

Cassandra Gold
The Institute, Book I: Healer
Amber Allure, October 30, 2011

Links: Author’s website | Buy book here

For years, Dr. Tristan Matheson has hidden his abilities, pretending to be an ordinary doctor. He’s eluded detection—until now. When he’s targeted, Cam, a mysterious shapeshifter, becomes Tristan’s only means of escape.
A member of the Delphic Institute, Cam is capable of taking the shape of anyone he’s ever seen. Retrieving Tristan was supposed to be an ordinary mission, but the feelings the doctor stirs are surprising and unwelcome.
Unfortunately, Tristan and Cam have a bigger problem than their mutual attraction. A war brewing between groups interested in “recruiting” people with special talents could tear them apart before they ever get together...

Genre & Keywords:
M/M Romance, Paranormal, Action, Adventure, Erotica, Abilities, Heroes & Villains, Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 3 out of 3

Reviewed by Lis:

When I received this book to review, I was a bit apprehensive. I read earlier books by this author and while not bad, I didn’t love the stories either. However, when I read the blurb, I was instantly interested, so there I was with a handful of book and eager to read. Fortunately for me, I wasn’t disappointed. The Institute, Book I: Healer thoroughly restored my faith in this author.

Healer is the story of Tristan – a sweet and gentle, but strong man – who’s always on the run, always hiding from groups who want to explore his talent. You see, he’s a healer. Not just any healer, but a very strong one who can heal people with his mind. While on the run, he’s aided by Cam – Chameleon – a shape shifter who can change his form and looks at will. Cam takes him to the Institute, where Tristan can be safe and where he no longer has to run. This is actually where the real story starts.

You probably guessed, correctly, that Tristan and Cam hook up while Tristan is trying to find his place at the Institute. Throughout the story it is discovered that Cam is not just the easy going, charming man he appears to be. He has secrets and like his name suggests, he hides who he really is. The question is, can Tristan see through to the real Cam?

Healer is a sweet, well written story. I found myself immersed in the narrative right from the beginning. There’s a bit of everything in this book: action, adventure, romance, hot sweet steamy & wild monkey sex as well as growth of the main characters. I very much liked how Tristan and Cam both developed throughout the story. They undergo change, do and say stupid things and yes, there is a big misunderstanding. It troubled me a bit at first, but thought later that it was well done. It made both Tristan and Cam’s characters believable and, well, human. This is also, in part, attributed to the fact that this story takes place over several months.

The only thing I didn’t quite like was the part where The Institute itself and the bad guys are underdeveloped. It is clear where the focus of this story lies. In Healer there are good guys and bad guys, but the bad guys are just that: the bad guys. The author relies heavily on the theme where people with special abilities are exploited by the government/private groups, but it is never really explained. It could have given more depth.

The Institute, Book I: Healer is a wicked good beginning of what hopefully will be a new series. It certainly had me smiling.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Making of a Man Series by Diane Adams

Diane Adams
The Making of a Man, book #1 - #3
Silver Publishing


Our December (book #1)
Released December 2010

Sometimes two people fit together so well it seems their love was preordained, as if every step taken led inevitably to a happy ending. Deeply in love, Jared and Alex are such a couple, but the path to true and lasting love is rarely smooth. At 15 being gay isn't the best thing that ever happened to a guy. In fact, Alex Ross thinks it's down right scary. Then he meets 20 year old construction worker Jared Douglas, and Alex starts to think the gay thing might not be so bad after all.
The attraction between them is intense, but mindful of Alex's age Jared is determined to keep the sparks from igniting. The stress of controlling his feelings makes it almost a relief when Alex's father ships him off to prep school. Jared expects Alex to forget him and find a boy friend his own age; he doesn't anticipate how much it will hurt. When Alex comes home for Christmas, just turned 16 with his heart on his sleeve, Jared knows he can't continue to keep everything he feels a secret.

A Place to Run (book #2)
Released March 2011

School’s out and Alex is home, but things aren’t going as smoothly as he hoped. Jared is hesitant about advancing their relationship and fixated on the fact that Alex’s mother doesn’t know he’s gay. When she discovers the truth, her extreme reaction drives Alex back to school early. Jared is stunned. Motivated by his need to protect Alex, Jared begins to question the wisdom of their planning a future together. How will their love flourish when every circumstance makes it seem predestined to fail?

Stronger in Your Hands (book #3)
Released July 2011

Eighteen and still trapped at prep school, Alex feels he and Jared will never get together, and then a surprise visit from Jared puts all doubt to rest. After Alex graduates everything seems to fall right into place. The heat between them is scorching, but secrets from Jared's past and his need to take care of everyone around him, jeopardizes their fledgling relationship. How will they build a future if Jared can't to face the past?

Genre & Keywords:
M/M Romance, Contemporary, First Love

Links: Author’s website | Author’s Facebook | Buy book #1 here | Buy book #2 here | Buy book #3 here

Reviewed by Sharon:

These are all novellas, and we all know how I feel about those: a wonderful medium for a quick yet satisfying read. The Making of a Man series is a beautifully sweet, warm and fuzzy love story that spans 14 years. It is about making the right choices even though it hurts and that love is worth waiting and fighting for.

This is the story of Jared and Alex. Jared is only five years older than Alex, but when they first met Alex was only 15. Jared is openly gay and has had some relationships. Alex hasn’t come out, except to his best friend who is supportive, and has never had any gay experiences. The first book, Our December, is about how Alex and Jared met and dealt with their feelings. It is extremely touching and reminded me of how it felt to fall in love for the first time. My stomach got butterflies every time Alex’s did. Now I know what you are thinking, he is 15! Believe me, Jared knows this and refuses to physically act on his feelings. He makes all the right choices and helps Alex learn about his self and life in general.

I know you’re wondering now…why would I want to read a m/m romance with no sex? Adams was clever, and we get Jared and Alex’s story as a flashback. All three of the books are set in the present. Jared is 35 and Alex is now 30. They are together and happy and have lots of great sex. Each book has them looking back on a certain milestone in the beginning of their relationship. Book #1 is about when they meet and that first kiss *sigh*. In book #2 Alex is 16 and Jared allows some touching, but no sex. While Alex’s dad knows about Jared, his mom doesn’t. She finds out and doesn’t accept it. This causes a big emotional fall out between Jared and Alex. In book #3 Alex turns 18 and Booyah! You know what happens *g*. It was such a messy and crazy experience.

These are straight forward stories, no twists or surprises, but there are quite a few well developed secondary characters. There is some awesome smexing and a happy ever after. You need to read them in order and there are more books in this series to come. The fourth book, Clark’s Story, just released and is a M/F addition to the series which focuses on Jared and Alex’s best friend Clark, but features Jared and Alex as well. I can’t wait to read more about their love story.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 3 out of 3

Friday, November 18, 2011

What I Learned, The moral and realistic argument & Happy Gay Friday

A couple of months ago I wrote a post about the seven arguments readers use - consciously or not - to form an opinion about a book (here's the link to that post).
The more reviews or impressions of books I read on blogs and Goodreads, the more it strikes me how often books get very low rates based on one (or both) of the first two arguments I mentioned then: the realistic argument and the moral argument.

A little recap of those 2 out of 7 arguments:

Realistic argument
A book is good (or bad) when it’s projecting the world (un)realistically, when the story’s reality is (un)believable.

Moral argument
A book is good (or bad) when it contains certain ideas about sex, religion, morals or politics.

Especially the second argument can cause people to rate harshly when there's no match with their own morals. I noticed this seems to be more often the case when a story is set in a completely different world than ours with a different set of morals, for example regarding slavery or physical punishment and abuse. But also contemporary stories can fall from grace because of one immoral act or a character that doesn't act appropriate. Books with a BDSM theme in its more extreme varieties can become a deal breaker for some readers as well.
In that genre not only the moral but the realistic argument often comes into the game as well. It appears as if there are quite a few authors out there that "don't know what they're talking about" when they write about BDSM scenes and relationships and "definitely don't live the lifestyle themselves" (not my words). The stories that they write can not always count on the 'realistic' vote. And sometimes I can't help but wonder how these readers can possibly know... but alas.
Another trope that can always count on some disbelievers is the instant-love between two protags. There are quite some readers that totally don't like this happening in their romances because 'how realistic is it' to fall in love in 2, 3 days/hours or whatever short period of time?

I always feel a little gullible and amoral when I come across another reader's opinion like this of a book I also read and hadn't these concerns about. And when I haven't read the book yet, it never makes me think that I don't want to read the book because of that. I want to see for myself HOW the author handled the topic, the immoral bastard or the building of the unbelievable world. It's never the immoral act itself or the unbelievable action/setting in itself that makes me conclude the story isn't for me. It's always the way it is written that is more important to me.

Not that I don't avoid certain topics that I don't find very attractive. Of course, I have my own likes and dislikes (who doesn't?), but when I happen to stumble upon one of these tropes I like to avoid I would never say I hate the book just because I think incest is wrong or because I dislike humiliation and abuse, to name just a few examples. It depends on how the book is written if I'll think it's good or not.
For instance, I've once read a book about an old pedophile seducing a young guy (it's written by a Dutch author) which was much more than just about that. But the way the author described the feelings of the old man and paced the plot, was done so well, that I totally loved the book. She also left the moral judgement to her readers, she didn't tell us if her protagonist's behavior was good or bad, which challenged me to review my own opinions. Everything together made me conclude this was a great book, although I still think pedophilia is morally wrong.

In general I like to think of myself as quite open-minded and tolerant, although I learn new things about my own misconceptions every day (like only this week I was made aware of my ignorance regarding the topic of trans* people). Reading and talking about books always have helped me to learn and to look at things differently, because of the 'insiders' view a good author can give you to enhance your understanding of certain moral issues. When an author manages to create a believable story which is written so well that it can open your mind a little bit further, it's magical.
And it is what keeps me reading, because it goes for all the different genres I've read, even, or perhaps especially, for romance.

Happy Gay Friday!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lis’ Review: Blood on the Mountain by India Harper

India Harper
Blood on the Mountain
Amber Allure, October 23, 2011

Links: Author’s website | Buy book here

When Gabe Callan left the FBI to start his own security business, he thought he knew who he was and where he was headed. Turned out he didn’t know himself at all. Fortunately, his wife (now ex) forgave him. Together they run Callan Securities, and in the little free time he has, well, one-night stands are good enough.
Then Nathan Graves walks in.
Nathan is a philanthropist and entrepreneur. He’s not a saint. As soon as he met Gabe, he knew he wanted more than just protection from the man. But they’re going to have two weeks in Rio to get to know each other better. A whole lot better, if Nathan has anything to say about it.
Except nothing ever goes to plan, and the two end up chased through the slums of one of the most glamorous cities on Earth, hiding from drug lords in the very shacks and hovels Nathan had come to replace. Getting to know each other better will have to take a back seat to getting home alive.

Genre & Keywords:
M/M Romance, Contemporary, Suspense, Mystery, Action, Adventure, Security

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 3 out of 3

Reviewed by Lis:

Woooooweeeeeee! This book was just what I needed! After a string of books with one strong and one weaker man with a care relationship, I was ready for some strong manly man book. Blood on the Mountain by author duo India Harper gave me just that.

Blood on the Mountain is the story of Nathan Graves, philanthropist and entrepreneur with a new housing project that leads him to the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. The favelas aren’t exactly the safest place on earth and it leads him to Gabe Callan, security expert. The sparks fly as soon as the two meet and Nathan isn’t shy about what he wants either. Everything is well…erh…hot as hell literally and figuratively. Right until the bullets start to fly.

This is a fantastic short read. Well worked out with a fine cast of characters. Nathan and Gabe are their own men. They are strong, independent and are secure in what they want and need and not afraid to show it either. That’s what I liked about these characters most, even though this is a short story. They are very different from each other, but each brings something unique to this book. These are not your typical stock characters.

The mystery is secondary to the developing relationship and fuck-fest, but what little there was, was well placed. There’s more to it and I think there might just be a sequel that expands on the mystery started here. If not, then I’ll be a little disappointed because there was no real end to it.

Blood on the Mountain is a good romantic suspense story where sparks fly of the pages and the main characters get in some interesting situations both in and out of the favelas. Not to mention, you want to know what Nathan can do with his mouth and a condom!


Monday, November 14, 2011

Double Review: Take a Dip by Lacey Wallace

Lacey Wallace
Take a Dip
Dreamspinner Press, September 1, 2011

Links: Author’s Goodreads | Buy book here

After getting his girlfriend pregnant at sixteen, Adam Williams had never questioned his sexual preference. Not that he’s had a lot of chances to experiment in the seven years since. Raising his daughter as a single father hasn’t been easy, but Denise is the most important thing in his life. Then one day while taking Denise swimming at the local pool, Adam notices Mark, a flirty lifeguard who insists Adam isn’t as straight as he thinks. Adam’s sure the attraction he feels is just a phase he needs to work through – and Mark is more than willing to offer his help.

Genre & Keywords:
M/M Romance, Contemporary, Virgin hero, One night stand, Gay For You-ish

Sharon’s thoughts:

Squee! I love Gay For You stories. This was a hot and fun story. Adam isn’t gay, or at least he didn’t think he was. He meets a sexy lifeguard who wants to show him what he is missing, but with no strings attached. Adam can’t quit thinking of Mark and they get hot and heavy in the locker room. This is just a short story and it ends with Mark walking out the door and Adam thinking a challenge has just been issued. Even though we get absolutely no background info on Mark, his flirty behavior and adamant statement that this is a one time deal is very telling of his personality. I would love to know more about him.

My one gripe with this story is it ends! I want the novella! I want Adam to peruse the reluctant Mark and get all angsty before he realizes his promiscuous ways are unfulfilling and he just can’t get Adam out of this head! The Novella Fairy needs to come by and whack Ms. Wallace on the head so she will write their story .

For those who haven’t heard my two cents about short stories…paying for one short story doesn’t make sense to me. I think authors should bundle 2 or 3 of their shorts and sell that. Just saying…but I don’t let this affect my rating of the story.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2.5 out of 3


My thoughts:

Like Sharon, I also love the Gay For You trope. Except, I’m not sure if Take a Dip really categorizes as a GFY story. For me, a Gay For You theme involves a character that is straight and falls in love with a man while he’s never been in love with another man before and most likely won’t fall for other men in the future. It’s just this particular man he wants and will ever want. This story, Take a Dip doesn’t have a Happily Ever After ending, not even a HFN (Happy For Now). The end of this story is rather open. In fact, when the men part after a quickie in the locker room Marc reminds Adam of their agreement that their encounter wouldn’t be repeated. This doesn’t match with a GFY relationship in my opinion. But that may just be me.

Apart from if it is or isn’t a GFY story, I couldn’t appreciate Adam’s repeated ‘I’m definitely straight’ act very much. He started to annoy me with his denial of his own feelings of attraction for another man. On top of my dislike of this trait of one of the characters, I definitely couldn’t feel any warm feelings for Marc, the other MC, either. His flirty behavior towards one of the fathers (Adam) who visits the local pool where he’s working as a life guard, is unprofessional at the least. I also didn’t like his attitude regarding having sex just once with Adam and the arrogant way he treated him, trying to prove his point about Adam’s sexuality.

A huge dislike of the heroes doesn’t help much to enjoy a story. But what particularly made me rate this story much lower than Sharon did, is the writing. I like to feel or experience a story through one or both of the characters, instead of being ‘told’ dryly about their feelings. The telling gets boring after a while – even in a short story as this – and it additionally becomes frustrating when the character starts making assumptions about the other MC’s feelings as well of which we’re being ‘told’ again. Please, ‘show’ me, instead of ‘tell’ me! For example show us when a character is nervous with a ‘swallow’ instead of dryly stating that ‘he’s nervous’, or that a comment hurts him with a ‘wince’ instead of telling…, well, you get my drift.

So, apparently this story didn’t work for me as it did for Sharon.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 1.5 out of 3


Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Gay Friday, A date & Changing habits

Hope this animated gif will work...

After an explosive week at work, in which my boss had a nervous break down and is now recovering at home for god knows how long and in which I'm sort of appointed to be her replacement (O_o), I'm sooooo glad it's Friday!

Because today is my day off, and I have a date with Lis and Leontine this afternoon! I can use the distraction from work and I know I can count on these two girls to give me exactly that! :) All I want to do is talk about books, hot guys, blogging, GayRomLit, the latest gossips and more books. And of course about Lis' latest news regarding her Australia plans and about Leo's new job. We also have to tell Lis all about GayRomLit and I look forward to giving her the book and swag we brought her from New Orleans. I think she'll love the signed copy of the Draegan Lords volume by ML Rhodes. :)

GayRomLit swag for Lis aka Larissa with a lot of M.L. Rhodes goodies and Australian stuff from Geoffrey Knight

Later this weekend I hope to find the time to catch up on my blog hopping, maybe on Sunday... It's funny how little free time I seem to have since we live in this new city. Of course we still have to do some things in the house but those are small jobs compared to a couple of weeks ago. It's probably more the constant flow of visitors, invitations from new neighbours, and wide range of cultural and social events in the city that are very time consuming. I'm not complaining, don't get me wrong, but I still have to get used to all the changes.
And something else I have to get used to and which is forcing me to change my habits is the lack of wireless internet in our bedroom. It's on the top floor, and the little box from the provider is on the first floor. It turned out that the iron beams in the first and second floor's ceilings of our house are preventing the signal to reach the third floor. So, no more blog hopping when I'm in bed. It used to be a good time for me at night, while hubs was sleeping, to go surf the internet and catch up with my blog reading, but now I have to find a new rhythm and a new open spot in my daily routine to do so. Especially leaving comments has been a very random thing lately. I hate that, and I feel bad about it, so hopefully I find a way to change my habits soon.

Happy Gay Friday!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sharon’s Review: Cut and Run by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux

Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux
Cut and Run
Dreamspinner Press, September 29, 2008

Links: Authors’ website | Buy book here

A series of murders in New York City has stymied the police and FBI alike, and they suspect the culprit is a single killer sending an indecipherable message. But when the two federal agents assigned to the investigation are taken out, the FBI takes a more personal interest in the case.
Special Agent Ty Grady is pulled out of undercover work after his case blows up in his face. He's cocky, abrasive, and indisputably the best at what he does. But when he's paired with Special Agent Zane Garrett, it's hate at first sight. Garrett is the perfect image of an agent: serious, sober, and focused, which makes their partnership a classic cliché: total opposites, good cop-bad cop, the odd couple. They both know immediately that their partnership will pose more of an obstacle than the lack of evidence left by the murderer.
Practically before their special assignment starts, the murderer strikes again – this time at them. Now on the run, trying to track down a man who has focused on killing his pursuers, Grady and Garrett will have to figure out how to work together before they become two more notches in the murderer's knife.

Genre & Keywords:
M/M Romance, Contemporary, Thriller, FBI, Serial killer, Action

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2 out of 3

Reviewed by SharonS.:

You don’t need to read this review. I can sum everything I am going to say in 3 words: READ THIS BOOK! I don’t think Janna is going to let me get away with just saying that (true as it may be) so I will ramble on with the occasional fangirl moments…

This story is 100% clever mystery thriller and 100% broken and tortured alpha male romance. The authors achieved the perfect balance. While I could guess who the serial killer was right off the bat; it was the method of their madness that kept me guessing till the end. They came up with a very clever motive for the killer. There is a lot of action and I found myself rolling my eyes at just how much of a beating these guys take, but like any action movie you just roll with it and enjoy the ride (pun intended ) There is some really good rough/tender sex between these two.

You know how some characters stay with you even after you finish the book? Ty and Zane are etched in my heart. Cut and Run is the first book in this series and the fourth book Divide and Conquer has just released. According to the authors there will be 9 total books. I can’t wait to watch Ty and Zane’s tumultuous relationship develop and, I am sure, fall apart once or twice before it is all over. I have no doubt I will be sobbing and squeeing all the way. I just hope the authors have pity on us and give them the HEA we will want.

I don’t want to talk about plot because this is a serial killer mystery and both men have very screwed up pasts that keep popping up to add a new twist. I would hate to spoil anything. I think no matter what sub-genre of m/m you like, you will enjoy this book. Lucky me, I have the next three already cued up on my kindle. These two men are hard and crunchy on the outside, but soft and chewy on the inside and they are both fighting hard not to fall in love.

I have read one other book by these two authors, Warriors Cross, and was wowed by it too (here is my Goodreads review of that & here is Janna’s High Five, Low Five review of it).

The series so far:
#1 Cut & Run
#2 Sticks & Stones
#3 Fish & Chips
#4 Divide & Conquer

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Double Review of Other Side of Night: Bastian & Riley by S.L. Armstrong and K. Piet

S.L. Armstrong and K. Piet
Other Side of Night: Bastian & Riley (Other Side of Night #1)
Storm Moon Press, September 23, 2011

Links: website S.L. Armstrong | website K. Piet | Goodreads | buy book here

Vampires walk among us. For centuries, they have adapted, learning to pass undetected in our world. They no longer fear the day, only the sting of direct sunlight. They are students, bankers, lawyers, and even actors. But when the sun goes down, they are all united by their eternal thirst. We do not see them from our safe and comfortable side of the night. But sometimes, one of us is drawn away from the light and we cross into their world. Into the other side of night.

Sebastian Rossi's second year at the University of Tennessee began much differently than his first. He rushes to and from his classes, covered head to toe in thick clothing. Parties are a thing of the past, and dating hasn't been high on his list of priorities. No, high on his needs is blood. Lots of it. Adjusting to the changes no one even told him would happen following one great night of partying and sex has been hell for Bastian, but he's managing.
Riley Lynch's dream is to be a veterinarian. He works hard to pay his tuition, reads in every spare moment, and tries to forget the nightmare of his sophomore year. Summer has washed away all the bad, leaving him refreshed and eager for his junior year at UT. Life is finally looking up for him, and he has no intention of sliding back down into the depression that had consumed him during his last relationship.
A chance meeting brings their two worlds into alignment and passion sparks between them. When Riley learns of the changes Bastian is going through, he has a choice to make: walk away or embrace the night.

Genre & Keywords:
M/M Romance, Paranormal, Vampires, Discovery, University, Abuse, Acceptance, Blood, Biting, Independence

- Warning: this review might contain what you consider spoilers -

Lis’ review:

In this character-driven story we meet Bastian and Riley. They are two very different persons who meet and fall in love, but there is more to this story, than just two people meeting. For one, Bastian is no longer human. Riley on the other hand, is, but has some issues to deal with before he can commit to a relationship.
Other Side of Night is not an easy book for me to review. There are several issues I have with this story. If I look at it objectively, I can see why people would like this story, so I’ll try and refrain from rambling.

The characters
This story revolves around (Se)Bastian and Riley. There are very few others to be considered a regular cast, which makes this very much a two man story. As mentioned this is a character-driven story and it’s told in four parts, switching from Bastian to Riley and back again.
Both Bastian and Riley are very different from each other. Bastian was once very much the party boy, hopping from one party to another and from one man to another. That is, until he’s bitten by one of his hook-ups and turned into a vampire. A fact that eludes him for a long time. In this, I found Bastian to be very naïve. Even if you didn’t think vampires are real, the need for blood, the aversion to sunlight and growing fangs might have given him some clue. However, he redeems himself throughout the story and he grows through his caring and love for Riley.
Riley on the other hand, goes from a confident, sweet, likeable character to an annoying little fuck. Riley has a few insecurities, left over from a bad break-up with an abusive boyfriend. He slowly learns to trust Sebastian. Trust is very important to Riley as is independence. Throughout the story I found him overdoing it a little on the trust and independence to a point he comes across as unreasonable.

The story
As said, the story very much revolves around Sebastian and Riley. It moves from just after Sebastian is bitten to where it sort of just ends after a big conflict that is left unresolved, something that might have to do with this book being a part of a series. Still, not the best ending ever.
I did very much like the lack of instant love. While there is a connection between the two the love grows over several months. Very refreshing.
There are some conflicts, so reasonable others didn’t quite fit, but it mostly rotates around Bastian being a vampire and Riley’s acceptance of that fact for the first three quarters of the book.
The last quarter is set around Riley’s accident and the consequences of Bastian’s actions. It was something that didn’t quite fit into the story for me and was a turning point for Riley’s character, as it goes from bad to worse after this.
The narrating suddenly becomes very rushed and while I have no problem with cheating spouses, it wasn’t handled well as part of the whole story.

The writing
This might just be my biggest issue with this story. The writing is very scene-like and lacks continuity. We simply move from scene to scene that are important to Bastian and Riley’s story. This left me feeling left out and not at all part of the story. It almost felt like I was reading a fiction-like diary.
While the writing in itself is quite good, the style is something you have to like.

Overall conclusion
My guess is The Other Side of Night is a story you either like or you don’t. For me it didn’t quite turn out as I expected and especially the last quarter annoyed me greatly. I always like something different in my stories, whether it’s a shifter story about a pink elephant or a tutu-wearing werewolf, just so long as it’s worked out well and believable – even when it is in a fantasy world. This wasn’t the case for me in The Other Side of Night. It could be due to the scene-like style or the lack of connection to the characters. However, while I don’t like it, it might just be your cup of vampire erh coffee!

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 1.5 out of 3


Sharon’s review:

Sensual. That is the word I would use to describe this novella. I guess I should explain what sensual means to me, so we are all on the same page. It is when the story is about more than two people coming together in a well written sex scene. There are deep passionate emotions tied to the act, which for me means a lot of slow, deep, drugging kisses! The authors did this very well. I was envious of what Sebastian and Riley have. It doesn’t matter if this was a story about mermaids, hockey players or vampires. I would still love this story based on the character interactions.

The story started out a little slow, but became a page turner once Sebastian had completed his change and decided to peruse Riley. Sebastian had led a promiscuous life style and ended up on the wrong side of some vampire’s idea of a joke. He was changed and then left to figure things out for himself. He had just met the guy of his dreams, another student named Riley. Riley just came out of an abusive relationship and had trust issues and a need to be independent. I loved watching them work things out and deal with everything that comes their way. The story is told from alternating POVs of Sebastian and Riley and focuses on their relationship. There is very little world building, which was fine with me. Did I mention the passionate kissing? There are some secondary characters that make brief appearances and I think we will see more of them as the series progresses.

The story ends with a twist I wasn’t expecting and has me worried about Sebastian and Riley’s future. They have unknowingly become a part of a vampire world with rules and expectations that even the readers don’t know yet.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2.5 out of 3

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Winners of the GayRomLit After Party & Riptide Launch Party!

Today I have six winners to announce! Woohoo!!

The first lucky person is:
You won a backlist book of choice (excluding Crescendo) by Rachel Haimowitz!

The second winner is:
You won your choice of Cat Grant’s Allegro Vivace, Sonata Appassionata, The First Real Thing (Icon Men #1), Appearing Nightly (Icon Men #2), A Fool for You (Icon Men #3), or Entangled Trio!

The third lucky one is:
You won your choice of Bryl Tyne’s Pull, At Day’s End, Beneath Me, Rite of Passage, Behind Blue Eyes, Tough Guy, Best Unspoken, Coin Operated Boy, Trey #3, The Secret Ingredient, and the Zagzagel Diaries!

The fourth winner is:
Your prize is a backlist book of choice by Brita Addams!

The fifth lucky winner is:
You can pick your First Wave Winner’s Choice of any one backlist book from Rachel Haimowitz, Aleksandr Voinov, L.A. Witt, Brita Addams, or Cat Grant (“Frontlist” books, i.e. Riptide releases and newest non-Riptide release, are excluded, as are the Courtland Chronicles)!

The last but not least of the prizes goes to:
You won a backlist book of choice by Aleksandr Voinov (excluding Counterpunch and Dark Soul 1)!

Congratulations to all!!
I’ll email you today to notify you and confirm your email addresses.
The rest of the commenters who didn’t win now, are still in the draw for the big Riptide swag bag which includes great prizes like an iPad or ereader. Riptide will award one lucky commenter at the end of their tour.

For now, here’s some consolation eye candy. :)


Friday, November 4, 2011

Happy Gay Friday

It’s been a while since my last Happy Gay Friday post. I wrote that one in New Orleans, and now it feels like ages ago that we were there. I do miss the fun we had. *sad face*
Anyhow, I’m still trying to find my reading groove again, but it’s kinda hard, with all the everyday boring stuff that steals away time. I hope it will get better soon.

Meanwhile, don’t forget to check out the current giveaways at Rarely Dusty Books. I’ll announce the winners on Sunday the 6th, so tomorrow is the last chance to leave your comments at the below posts for a chance to win the mentioned prizes:

Guest post by Aleksandr Voinov: M/M in 2012 and beyond: Any backlist book of choice by Aleksandr Voinov (excluding Counterpunch and Dark Soul 1)!
Damon Suede's GayRomLit: A million magical moments: First Wave Winner’s Choice --> Pick any one backlist book from Rachel Haimowitz, Aleksandr Voinov, L.A. Witt, Brita Addams, or Cat Grant (“Frontlist” books, i.e. Riptide releases and newest non-Riptide release, are excluded, as are the Courtland Chronicles).
Brita Addams’ GayRomLit Retreat Recollections: Any backlist book of choice by Brita Addams!
Bryl Tyne’s GayRomLit: Reflection of a con virgin: Your choice of Bryl Tyne’s Pull, At Day’s End, Beneath Me, Rite of Passage, Behind Blue Eyes, Tough Guy, Best Unspoken, Coin Operated Boy, Trey #3, The Secret Ingredient, and the Zagzagel Diaries!
Cat Grant’s GayRomLit: Do You Know What It Means to Visit New Orleans…: Your choice of Cat Grant’s Allegro Vivace, Sonata Appassionata, The First Real Thing (Icon Men #1), Appearing Nightly (Icon Men #2), A Fool for You (Icon Men #3), or Entangled Trio!
Rachel Haimowitz' Love Letter to GayRomLit: Any backlist book of choice (excluding Crescendo) by Rachel Haimowitz!

Happy Gay Friday!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sharon’s Review: Sand & Water by Shae Connor

Shae Connor
Sand & Water
Dreamspinner Press, August 15, 2011

Widower John McConnell gets along fine raising his daughter on Georgia's Tybee Island, though he wouldn't exactly say he's happy. Haunted by the memory of his dead wife, John hasn't considered dating again until he meets Bryan Simmons in the park. It isn't long before John realizes that what he feels for Bryan could be something real, but how will he know he's ready to move on?
As John soon discovers, Bryan carries some heavy emotional baggage of his own. With John's help, Bryan starts to put his demons to rest, and together they lay the foundation for a relationship. It looks like they might finally leave their tragedies behind them-until John takes a misstep that could turn a magical night together into their last.

Genre & Keywords:
M/M Romance, Contemporary, Widower, Family

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2 out of 3

Reviewed by SharonS.:

John lost his wife during the birth of their daughter five years ago. He spent the first year trying to drown his sorrows in meaningless sexual encounters with men and women. He finally decided to make a new start and moved in with his aunt on the beach. He deals with his pain by keeping busy with work and raising his daughter Beth.

Bryan, who is openly gay, shows up in the small beach town to help his sister and her family, renovate an old Bed and Breakfast. He is also running from a relationship that has left him with an incredible amount of guilt and heartache.

Unfortunately, this story fell short for me. It touches on many highly emotional issues like moving on after the loss of a loved one, homophobia, and even church views on homosexuality, but there wasn’t much depth to it. I didn’t feel like the characters ever left the shallow end of the pool and the characters’ conversations on emotional issues were too neat and tidy if that makes sense. This is a very light read except for the scene where Bryan takes John to meet his ex. Their situation is heartbreaking.

I also felt this would have made a better novella. There were too many scenes with secondary characters doing mundane things without really moving the story along. I ended up skimming parts to get to John and Bryan’s story. My favorite part was when John and Bryan gave in to their needs. They had been taking things slow because they both had so much baggage, but the need to connect and feel love again was to strong. Unfortunately this doesn’t happen till the last 1/3 of the book.

This is just my opinion on this story and there are others who loved it so I suggest checking out some other reviews before deciding if this book is for you.

Check out Shae Connor’s website
Buy Sand & Water here


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November releases I look forward to & List of current giveaways at RDB

While October has been a hot mess of fun and excitement, November is probably going to be a lot more quiet, cold and normal. For me, this hopefully means back to reading, reviewing and blogging. Finally! Those are the things I love doing the most and for which I had little to no time at all, the past few months (okay, more like the past half year). Especially reviewing is something I haven’t done in ages and I’m itching now to start doing that again.
A dear friend mockingly called me the ‘queen of guest reviews’ and she’s probably right, I definitely need to write some reviews myself again. This doesn’t mean there’s no room for guest reviews anymore of course. Au contraire! I continue posting Sharon’s and Lis’s reviews with the greatest pleasure and gratitude, although I think it isn’t fair nor accurate to call them ‘guest reviews’ any longer. *g*
Anyway, I hope to read and review a lot of books the coming months and here’s a few of the November releases I definitely look forward to.

Wrangled and Tangled
(Blacktop Cowboys #3)
Release Date: November 1

New in the Blacktop Cowboy series. Janie Fitzhugh and Abe Lawson have long been divorced and living apart. Now she's back in town, a changed woman-making cattleman Abe want to wrangle an invitation t...more

Release Date: November 8

A stranger could light up his world...or drive him deeper into darkness. Will Golding needs a break from his usual routine, and he’s been looking forward to a holiday helping Baz, his friend-with-bene...more

Release Date: November 9

College professor James Richards is in a rut and feeling his age. He moved to northern California to escape heartbreak and humiliation, but so far the only good thing to happen to him has been his Bos...more

Release Date: November 14

“Contract killer” is a fitting job for a vampire, and it suits Liam just fine. Cast down from the wealth and status of the Sky for taking a human lover, Liam lurks in the poor and pollution-choked Gut...more

Release Date: November 14

Jesse Clayton loves painting, his cowboy grandfather, and his life as an artist with a wild abandon that leaves scorch marks on everything he touches. Budding Navajo cartoonist Lorenzo Maryboy is a ha...more

The Closer You Get
(Distance Between Us #2)
Release Date: November 15

The virgin isn’t the only one with something to lose... Self-described manwhore Kieran Frost is loving the single life. Two years after moving to Seattle, he still has his friends with benefits, Rhett...more

Russell's Reversal
(Lost Shifters, #14)
Release Date: November 15

Russell has always liked his men the same way he likes his sex: fast, hard, and without any emotional attachments. As leader of not only a pack of rogue Wolf shifters but also of almost every illegal ...more

Texas Winter
(Texas #2)
Release Date: November 19

Sequel to The Heart Of Texas...
Riley’s past comes back to haunt him both professionally and personally.
His dead brother left more than just bitter memories for Riley to deal wi...more

by Kim Dare (Pushing the Envelope #3)
Release Date: November 20

Some requests are easier to put down on paper than they are to say out loud to someone face to face. Especially if the man asking for something is someone like Scott—who can barely speak to Joe withou...more

Honored Vow
(Change of Heart #3)
Release Date: November 21

Jin Rayne is still growing into his frightening new powers as a nekhene cat and his place as reah of Logan Church’s tribe when he learns that a sepat, an honor challenge, has been called. Logan, who h...more

Release Date: November 23

It’s been quite a while since Ross and his master, Harry, have had time to go down into their basement play room and have some fun together. That’s about to change.
Everyone knows that t...more

Release Date: November 27

College freshman, Bart Smith, struggles with the day to day life of trying to keep his minor sister out of the range of their abusive father. He dreams of getting them both away once she turns eightee...more

Current Giveaways
Don’t forget to check out the current giveaways at Rarely Dusty Books. They all run until the end of this week. I’ll announce the winners on Sunday the 6th so be sure to leave your comments before then. Here are the links to the giveaway posts:

Guest post by Aleksandr Voinov: M/M in 2012 and beyond
Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win any backlist book of choice by Aleksandr Voinov (excluding Counterpunch and Dark Soul 1)!

Damon Suede's GayRomLit: A million magical moments
Leave a comment on this post for a chance at the First Wave Winner’s Choice --> Pick any one backlist book from Rachel Haimowitz, Aleksandr Voinov, L.A. Witt, Brita Addams, or Cat Grant (“Frontlist” books, i.e. Riptide releases and newest non-Riptide release, are excluded, as are the Courtland Chronicles).

Brita Addams’ GayRomLit Retreat Recollections
Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win any backlist book of choice by Brita Addams!

Bryl Tyne’s GayRomLit: Reflection of a con virgin
Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win your choice of Bryl Tyne’s Pull, At Day’s End, Beneath Me, Rite of Passage, Behind Blue Eyes, Tough Guy, Best Unspoken, Coin Operated Boy, Trey #3, The Secret Ingredient, and the Zagzagel Diaries!

Cat Grant’s GayRomLit: Do You Know What It Means to Visit New Orleans…
Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win your choice of Cat Grant’s Allegro Vivace, Sonata Appassionata, The First Real Thing (Icon Men #1), Appearing Nightly (Icon Men #2), A Fool for You (Icon Men #3), or Entangled Trio!

Rachel Haimowitz' Love Letter to GayRomLit
Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win any backlist book of choice (excluding Crescendo) by Rachel Haimowitz!

Good luck!
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