Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Grand Jeté, Diana Copland

I love ballet I love male ballet dancers in particular and I love M/M. This book had me covered. 

- Review by Kazza K

This was a nice story. Nothing untoward, histrionic, or angst ridden in sight. Just nice characters, a nice family, and friends.
Grand Jeté
Jordan Armstead has reluctantly been taken to see his niece, Mandy, as the white mouse in a performance of The Nutcracker, two weekends before Christmas. He's tired, would rather be shopping, but does it because he loves his family. Thankfully Jordan's mum knew just what would pick Jordan up and decided to give him some incentive -

"You don't get to nag when someone is being a good sport. And here," she handed Jordan a heavy magazine, "you look at the menu."
"It's not a menu mother," Jillian said with an expressive eye roll. "It's a program."
"I think that depends entirely on one's point of view," Carol muttered under her breath...
She looked down at Jordan as she walked away. "Page fifteen, " she muttered, then threw her scarf around her neck with a flourish and followed Jillian toward the door.
When he came to page fifteen he smirked. He should have known. Company Members was printed across the top.

Davis Conrad, one of the 'Company Members,'  stands out on the, uh, menu for Jordan. He happens to be dancing the Arabian Pas De Deux.

So his mum, his sister and his brother, plus his nieces and nephews all accept Jordan for who he is. Which is nice, you get tired of the whole homophobe drama in the family trope.

He knew how lucky he was that his mother and siblings accepted his orientation; he had too many friends whose parents hadn't, and he knew what kind of heartache that lead to.

Davis Conrad is 31, getting up there for a ballet dancer, principal or soloist. He has injued himself during the performance and finds himself both at the ER, with a career ending injury, and dumped by his partner, all in one fell swoop. Just for the record there is no grand jete in the Arabian Pas De Deux, not the standard variation anyway. However, the title is nice and the book is intially about ballet and the theme intertwines throughout the book so I'm not complaining, just saying .

Obviously our ER triage nurse, Jordan, and gorgeous ballet dancer, Davis, are bound to cross paths, officially, this time. Davis has nowhere to go while he intially recovers and can manage to book a flight home. Jordan offers his place and some extra TLC in the mean time. Okay, it may be a  little convenient but it's nice, and I enjoyed the whole thing.

The book follows two men, who like each other, have both been left by partners, and find one another at a time when they needed someone else. Davis is charming, he says the loveliest things to Jordan, whose ego has taken a bit of a battering. Jordan is a gentleman and Davis is so enamoured of his caring, thoughtful ways. The intial build is over nearly two days.There's a little bit of tension as Davis goes home and Jordan can't seem to contact him which just added that little tug at the heartstrings.

There is a nice epilogue, four years down the track. They are still going strong, which is always nice to know. I do prefer closure. I like it more when a book doesn't just stop; rather it lets you know how the couple are doing, And they are doing very well.

Grand jete is a delight. It is sweet, it is well paced, it has engaging characters, and it has ballet in it. I'm all for those things. If it sounds like you then I say grab a copy and start reading.

If you want to see some fabulous grand jete's en tournant watch the wonderful Carlos Acosta doing Solar's Variation from La Bayadere. They're towards the end :)

Woke Up In A Strange Place, Eric Arvin

Woke Up in a Strange Place

An amazing story of self-discovery.  One of my all-time favorite books.
-Review by Cindi

The following review was originally posted on Goodreads on October 25, 2011.  I have only pushed one other author in the M/M genre as much as I have Eric Arvin... and this particular book.  I read Woke Up In A Strange Place over a year ago, but I still love it as much now as I did then.  This book turned me into a huge fan and I have loved every other book of his that I have read.  If you are interested in something totally different from the norm, I highly suggest Woke Up In A Strange Place.  You won't be disappointed.

Wow.  This was (by far) one of the most unusual and unique books I have ever read.  While looking for something new to read I saw the author's name on a site.  I saw this book.  I wasn't sure about it until I read a recommendation by another author (T.J. Klune) that I had just read the day before. That pushed me in the right direction and I decided to give it a try.  I am so glad I did. 

I am totally at a loss as to what to say about this book.  If I go into the story, I will give it away.  I do not want to do that.  All I will say is that it is a story of self-discovery, told in a way that I have never seen before.  Yes, it is a love story.  But the love story, while the ultimate goal of the story, is not front and center for the entire book.  While it is always there in the background for the main character (Joe) there are other things that must be resolved along the way during his journey.  The characters introduced during Joe's journey are funny, some are silly, and some are heartbreaking.

It takes a lot for a book to affect me to the point of tears.  This one did.  There were the good tears but there were also the sad ones.  Joe's road to self-discovery is not always told in a good or happy way.  That is what made the book so good.  

I could go on and on about how much I love this book but I won't.  Just read it.  It's not an overly sexual book.  There is not a lot of graphic stuff here.  But the love story is amazing.  This is one that will stick with me long after I completed it.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Ruthless, Poppet

A terrific, short horror story centred around Halloween.

- Review by Kazza K

When Ruthless opens it's Halloween and Ruth is excitedly looking for the love of her life, Cole. What she discovers is another woman's legs wrapped around Cole. Hurt and shocked by her partner on their anniversary, Ruth kills herself. Ordinarily I'd be tough on this one. No-one is worth it, I'd say, but I knew going in what was going to happen. I also like Ruth's narrative/tale so, yeah, no complaints. I can't fully review Ruthless it's too short and I would ruin a good tale.

RuthlessBasic premise, though, is that Cole Black is a prick. He cheated on Ruth, she killed herself. He played the grieving partner. Assuaged his own guilt by promising to 'be good now' to himself. A leopard can't change its spots; or in this case a lying, rat, bastard can't change his recidivism. So we move along in time and Cole is now married to Grace, with two children, and cheating on his current wife, with Melissa, his current mistress. The telling of the story is so very real. I have seen this, and seen this, and seen this. I loved the way Poppet pulled it together, the way Cole paints his 'miserable existence' to his mistress, Melissa, at his wife, Grace's, hands, against the reality of what his life is really like - you know 'horrible wife, treats me so mean, I'm never appreciated, I love you , going to leave for you......' His wife studies, works, does housework, raises two children, all to help them get to a better life. It is so wonderfully, realistically written.

A lot of this book is played out online between characters that have formed, what I would call, an 'attention seeking troll circle,' those that lie about themselves and look for affection from others who can't see them, don't really know them, and desire the same. You can be anyone online. Sound familiar? Only there is a supernatural, horror theme attached to this short story. It's not all done online but technology helps a ghost :)

Everyone gets a POV in this book, dead, alive, betrayed, innocent. I loved seeing the story unfold from Ruth's, Cole's, Grace's, Melissa's, and Melissa's husband's POV. Loved seeing what they were thinking as things came to a head.

My only complaints with this book is that it wasn't long enough, but, once again, I knew this going in. It's advertised as a short story. That doesn't stop me from wanting it. However, the ending was poetic and took the book full cicle. If you read Ruthless think about the 'prophecy' and also the last line. Perfect, Poppet. Perfect.

Lots of messages - karma is a bitch, baby. It doesn't matter what you look like, people cheat for their own reasons. Also technology, in particular the internet, can be a wonderful yet consuming
master/mistress all at the same time.

Poppet is an unusual author in her style, but it's a damn good style. She is masterful at painting visual imagery and creating a feeling inside the reader, pulling a depth of emotion out, building a tale of pure imagination and interest. I wasn't sure going into Ruthless, for personal reasons, glad I did though. From the title on it's a great ride, I only stopped to add status updates, so I really was invested. I had an idea of what was going to happen - just not how, by whom, and to what extent. If you're in the mood for a horror short, it's around Halloween in America now, grab a copy and have a read. Loved it!

Monday, 29 October 2012

Great Restorations, Libby Drew

Great Restorations

A wonderful story about a closeted man who struggles against small-town bigotry, evil relatives and a bit of mystery to finally embrace who he is when he finally meets the man worth stepping out for.

- Review by Cindi

Marc Wynn lives in small town America.  He has a thriving business, Great Restorations, a loving yet eccentric aunt and a small group of close friends and employees.  No one knows that he is gay and he plans to keep it that way.  He has no desire to ever be public with his sexuality nor will he act on it.  He is casually dating a local woman, Rachel, and as long as he continues seeing Rachel no one will ever suspect that he would prefer to be dating men.  He's not happy with his choice to stay private but he feels that he has no choice.  The thought of his aunt looking at him differently or treating him differently is not worth the chance of telling her about his homosexuality. She raised him from the time he was a small child and he feels that he owes her for everything.  Then there is the town he lives in.  Everyone knows everyone's business and he's not willing to rock the boat, so to speak.  So he keeps quiet.

Then he meets Sawyer Calhoun and he is shaken to the core.

Every Saturday morning Marc takes his aunt to estate sales.  During one of these excursions, they go to the home of man who recently passed whose grandson is selling off antiques from the estate.  The grandson is Sawyer.  The moment Marc meets Sawyer he wants him but Sawyer refuses to be someone's little secret so he pushes Marc away.  Sawyer is not ashamed of his sexuality and he will not have a relationship with someone who he can't be with publicly.

Sawyer wants to restore his grandfather's old house.  He makes a visit to Great Restorations not knowing that Marc is the owner.  Sparks fly (again) and they have a difficult time staying away from each other, especially after Marc's company is hired to do the total restoration of the home.

This kind of went back and forth and I found myself wondering if Marc would ever get up the nerve to finally embrace who he is and be with Sawyer.  It takes a tragic event for this to happen and when it does, it's not done by Marc's choice.  Though the revelation is unexpected and probably not wanted at that particular time, Marc does not shy away from it and he begins being more open with not just Sawyer but with everyone.  I was very impressed with how that played out.  As it was happening I was thinking "Oh no!" and wondering if Marc would run away or deny.  He didn't and I was glad.  The cat was out of the bag (so to speak) and instead of denying and running, he stood up and showed all who he was and that yes, he was gay and that he was involved with Sawyer.

There is a little bit of family drama with Marc's horrible absent parents.  Marc's father is the perfect bastard and his mother is the perfect "stand behind my man regardless of who he hurts"  helpless woman (you'll want to slap both of them before it's over).  The secondary characters are all wonderful.  Marc's aunt is hilarious.  He has a small group of employees and friends who are all written well.  Sawyer's best friend is a treat. He is a character that I would love to see have his own book (perhaps with Rachel?)  Speaking of Rachel, she was not written as the horrible female who is dating Marc.  She is a true friend and her character was written perfectly.

Overall, this is an excellent book.  There is just enough drama and angst to keep it from being overly sweet.  Marc and Sawyer are perfect in every way... and for each other.  One tiny thing bugged me but it's something that others probably will not even notice so I won't mention it. 

I highly recommend this.

Lucas (Vampires in America #6) , D B Reynolds

Another good book in the Vampires In America series. Looking forward to the next book now.

- Review by Kazza K


Lucas takes up where Betrayed: A Raphael and Cyn Novella left off; on the hunt for Alfonso Heintz, the vampire who ordered a hit on Raphael; Lucas's Sire. I give points to Lucas for his none-too-swift and fairly gruesome dispatch of Heintz. I do so love a strong vampire, and Lucas is that. He is remiscent of Raphael, but, of course, no-one beats Raphael in my books.

Lucas spends his time between his favourite spot, his ranch in South Dakota, with his horses, and his condo in Minneapolis. He is the Vampire Lord of the Plains Territory, and Klemens, a neighbouring, scumbag, Vampire Lord, wants to declare war on Lucas and piss Raphael off at the same time. Ambitious Klemens, and very stupid; let's be honest.

Kathryn Hunter is an FBI Special Agent attached to Quantico. Her boss is stuck in a 1950's mindset of the fairer-sex-belong-elsewhere, but she lives for her job. Daniel, her brother, and well known photographer, has been reported missing by his agent. Initially Kathryn feels it's not an issue, Daniel drops off the grid sometimes, but never for a week plus. Kathryn has been like a mother to Daniel and they are very tight. Kathryn takes leave to find her brother and uses her FBI status to nose around parts of South Dakota, such as The Badlands, where Daniel has been seen on several occasions.

An FBI agent is mentioned as waiting to meet with Lucas in Betrayed. That FBI agent, we learn in Lucas, is Kathryn Hunter. It has come to her attention that two witnesses have seen Daniel leave a local blood house with a vampire named Alex, so Lucas, as the local vampire leader, is on her radar. Lucas resents human authority, like the police and even moreso the FBI, but it's lust at first sight when he meets 6', blonde, and buttoned down Kathryn Hunter. Likewise Kathryn can't help but feel the heat for the rather luscious Lucas. Lucas is not unlike Raphael in suggestively saying Kathryn's name and playing sexy little games with the uptight Kathryn. Lucas may be very powerful but he is less intense than Raphael and has a laidback, sexy, charismatic way about him. I'd like to see more of him but I'm not sure how that would work.

Meanwhile you know Daniel has been drugged and is being held somewhere as a captive and that he's alive as snippets of his initial confusion and then dismay are occasionally mentioned throughout the book.

On the negative side -

The sex was okay just not terribly inventive overall. The first couple of times, absolutely, then it got a bit humdrum. I mean Lucas is a very thoughtful guy, but I'll be honest I'd be unimpressed with the lack of different positions and oral if it were my lust-filled relationship. It was - on the wall, legs around waist, bite, on the bed, legs wrapped around waist, bite,  up against the shower wall, legs wrapped around waist, bite. No blowjobs. I'm a big girl, I like big girl sex .

Kathryn had the potential to be on par with Cynthia, but it wasn't fully realised. She was a bit of a generic romance heroine with a Glock and a sniper rifle. Believe me it sounds more exciting than it really was. She was married to the job, can't say she loves the guy she does.....I'm all for independence, but independence with communication works better for me. I'll be honest and say I expected a bit more than she delivered.

On the positive side -

Lucas is utterly charming, and with more exposure throughout other books he really could be very exciting. However, Kathryn would need to loosen up a bit. There's also potential for a spin-off in his territory as his 2IC, Nick, was interesting in his own right, and there is trouble brewing in the territories with a miffed vampire. I could just see it being quite interesting. As a character Lucas has much going for him.

The story was interesting, between the vampire war and the romantic components of the book. I didn't actually know who had kidnapped Daniel; not that a lot of the book was really devoted to that side of things. I did, however, like how another vampire, Kurt, searched for him, and how it ended, too.

It was a romantic book, which I enjoyed, and I loved the way Lucas would use 'Katie Mine' as an endearment, amongst other little bits and pieces of Gaelic.

It was quite a well paced book with enough going on to make me want to turn those pages.

We, very, briefly get to meet Aden who is the next vampire-off-the-rank. Hmm, he sounds quite the independent thinker and candidate for some trouble, in the best sense of the word.

Overall -

This is my personal gripe, as I adore Raphael and Cyn, but I had really hoped for Raphael and Cyn here and felt disappointed that they weren't. I know it's not their book but, at the end of Betrayed, I thought their little 'difference' may have been covered here, however, it was not to be. My desire, no fault of the author.

All in all I must say that Lucas is another good installment in the Vampires In America series, which definitely keeps me happy and looking forward to more. VIA is a strong paranormal series and if you haven't read it I'd recommend putting it on your must read list.

Lucas (Vampires In America #6)

Sunday, 28 October 2012

One True Thing, Piper Vaughn, M.J. O'Shea

One True Thing (One Thing, #2)

Good continuation of the One Thing series.  Dusty finally gets his HEA.
- Review by Cindi

I never start my reviews by listing the official blurb of a book but I feel that it is necessary in this case for reasons that I will state farther into my review. There are very slight spoilers.  Take note of that before reading.

From Goodreads:

Dustin Davis spent years wishing for a prince but kissing frog after slimy frog.  When he sees Archer Kyriakides for the first time, Dusty thinks his luck has finally changed.  Archer could be it.   The One.  But their hot and cold romance leaves Dusty confused:  why does it feel right one moment and wrong the next?  It doesn't make sense -- until the day Dusty meets Archer's identical twin, Asher, and realizes he's been seeing them both.

Asher Kyriakides dreams of being a fashion photographer, but he's stuck with a job he hates and an irresponsible playboy brother whose habits drive him absolutely insane, especially when he finds out Archer is dating the cute little blond Asher can't seem to forget.  Torn between loyalty and desire, Asher does nothing but try to warn Dusty away.

But when Archer finally goes too far, Dusty turns to Asher for support, and Asher knows he can't refuse.  It isn't long before they realize they're falling fast, but more than one thing stands in their way, not the least of which is Archer, who isn't quite ready to stop being a thorn in his brother's side.

I am a huge fan of this series and I admit right off that I am a total fangirl for the main character in One True Thing, Dusty Davis.  I fell in love with him as a secondary character in One Small Thing and have eagerly awaited the sequel where Dusty would finally get his much sought after happily-ever-after.  I have (to date) read close to 500 books or short stories in the M/M genre and Dusty ranks up there as one of my all-time favorite characters, main or otherwise.  As much as I loved Rue and Erik in One Small Thing (the main characters), it was Dusty who stood out for me.  I have compared other characters (from different books and authors) to him.  I felt the need to share that before going any further with my opinion of this specific book.

First off, I have to say that the blurb is misleading in regards to Dusty 'seeing' Archer and Asher at the same time.  He isn't seeing both at the same time, not in the way the blurb implies.  As much as I was looking forward to this book I was hesitant to read it as well because of the implications (I'm paraphrasing):   Dusty is inadvertently dating identical twins... one hot, one cold... and he suddenly one day finds out that the man he is dating is actually two different guys.  

Okay, that's wrong.  Completely wrong.  Dusty literally bumps into Asher on the street one day.  Somehow, someway, he just knows that Asher is the The One, even if Dusty never says a word and the 'meeting' is over in seconds.  Weeks later, Dusty is still thinking of the one who got away.  Miles away Asher is feeling the same way in regards to Dusty.  Weeks go by and Dusty sees ARCHER in a coffee shop and he is convinced that Archer is the man he stumbled into all those weeks before.  The man who has invaded his thoughts since that quick moment on the street.   At no point in the story is Dusty seeing or dating Archer and Asher at the same time.  There are a few instances where Asher and Dusty SEE each other in public but they do not have any kind of relationship, nor do they even speak to each other, until much later.  Dusty thinks he's Archer during those times.

Archer is a bastard, to put it mildly.  A user, a druggie, a man whore, a deadbeat who refuses to keep a job and all he does is have one-night-stands and parties all the time.... and he uses the hell out of and takes advantage of his twin.... constantly.   Asher, his identical twin, is the complete opposite of Archer.  He's a hard working photographer who doesn't sleep around, he's responsible and all he wants is a man who he can share his life with.  

Dusty starts (kind of) dating Archer even knowing that the spark that he felt initially is not there.  Not willing to give up, he keeps going (even if he refuses to have sex with Archer... which causes major issues between the two) hoping to find that spark that he KNOWS he felt when he literally stumbled on him months before.  After a rather embarrassing incident, Dusty discovers that Archer is an identical twin when he comes face to face with Asher.  The spark is there and Dusty realizes during that moment that the man he has been dating is not the man he thought he was.  Later, Archer leaves Dusty in a very compromising position and Dusty immediately calls Asher for help.  Thus the beginning of their relationship is born, even if Archer is still there in the background.... being the absolute total bastard that he is.

This story was going along perfectly.  Asher and Dusty were perfect together in every way. They were quickly moving toward their HEA regardless of Archer and his issues.  Until around the 80% mark on my Kindle Fire this was a 5-star read for me.  Then Archer did something to Asher that was unforgivable and instead of doing the right thing to rectify it, Asher went in a different direction.  He was willing to almost give up Dusty, the love of his life, by making a choice to almost do something that would destroy the relationship completely.  That bugged me.  While reading this particular part of the book I was thinking that there was only one way to fix what Archer had done and surely Asher would do it.  Instead, he took the problems on himself instead of making Archer responsible for his actions and it almost destroyed him and Dusty in the process.  The way I saw it, Asher was going to lose the relationship with his brother either way so why not make Archer responsible for his own actions for the first time in his life?  It did not happen that way and I was not pleased with how that played out.  

Overall, the book was very good with the exception of the issues mentioned above.  Rue, Erik and Alice from One Small Thing are in this quite a bit and that made me happy as I love them all.  Dusty is, and will forever be, one of my all-time favorite m/m characters.  The fact that the authors were able to use the actual photo on the cover that inspired them to write about Dusty made it that much better.  (For those who don't already know, the blonde on the cover is the popular gay porn star, Austin Mitchell, and this particular photo was used with permission for the cover).

Archer is the perfect bastard.  I have read comments recently where a couple of readers were asking if Archer will ever have his own story someday.  I personally do not wish to read anymore about this particular character.  In my eyes, there would be no redemption for him no matter how the authors portrayed him.  I do, however, want to see more about Dusty and Asher.  There are a few things that I felt could have been elaborated on and I would love to see how those are resolved.  The Archer/Asher names were confusing in the beginning.  The POV's alternate in the book between Dusty and Asher so that helped to lessen the confusion on that front.

I really enjoyed this even if I did find myself shaking my head a few times.  I look forward to reading the next in the series, about two secondary characters mentioned slightly in this one (Lane and Josh).

I love, love, LOVE the cover.  :)  (Dusty/Austin Mitchell is absolutely adorable!)

This is book two in the One Thing series.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Twin Flames (Sumeria's Sons #1), Lexi Ander

Twin Flames (Sumeria's Sons, #1)

This is a book of many parts. I truly enjoyed Twin Flames. It is  a beautiful, enthralling M/M shifter tale.

- Review by Kazza K

When I started this I thought - "Oh crap, lexicon of ancient terms, gods/goddesses/mythology. Am I in the mood?" I read through the glossary of terms and I kept going, thankfully. This book is an interesting read. There are many things going on - it's a shifter book, it's part ancient tale, part magic and mythology, and tribal, and part mother earth. But it's also about a lover's betrayal,  a journey to recovery, a friends to lovers story, a cowboy book, and, incredibly, all parts are very well blended.

I cannot review this book in full, to do so would ruin it. I hope that the review a) makes sense, and b) does it justice.

At the start we meet Tristan, who has been betrayed by his, supposed, Twin Flame, his Bashert, Theo -

Unlike humans, Lycans were reborn after death. The Bashert was an eternal companion. More than simple marriage or the magical life bond. The Bashert was your eternal destiny. A marriage could end. A life bond would complete your soul until the next death and rebirth.

Theo does not do anything by halves. He has cheated within a short period of time with 7 lovers - way to rip your Twin Flames heart out, Theo. Well, in this case, literally poison the bond brand that Tristan carries on his body, through neglect. So when we meet Tristan he is, in fact, soul-sick, being poisoned, and dying from Theo's selfish actions. Before the council of Elders Tristan decides on breaking the Twin Flame bond, which no-one is too thrilled about. It could have killed Tristan, however, if he lives, there is also the feeling of utter humiliation as shifters become aware of what has transpired -

I would become the poster boy, the name parents would whisper to their children as a warning of what happened to mistreated Flames. 

Long story short - in steps Gregori, a magi and friend, and Nathan, Tristan's older brother and healer, and, most importantly, Ushna, his friend. Ushna steps in to support Tristan emotionally, so that he can, hopefully, live, and carry on after the bond-break. This is quite the sacrifice, as the person having the 'breaking' often does not go back to the person they were prior. However, Tristan has declared his wishes, and the bond is broken.

Seven years have passed when we rejoin Tristan and Ushna. They are in the middle of a hunt for a serial killer who has killed their friends, who also happen to be their neighbours. They have bought, and are working a ranch together, with human ranch hands and their foreman, Randy. During the hunt Ushna turns Lupe, which is the third shifter form, something not many shifters can do. So he has human form, wolf form and Lupe form. Tristan can talk to Ushna and centre him during his Lupe shift. Furthermore, it seems there may be stronger feelings from Ushna, in regards to Tristan, and this is why Ushna shifted into his third form, to protect Tristan when the serial killer cornered him.

There are some very light and humorous moments in Twin Flames. Randy, the human foreman, has some good dialogue with Tristan after there has been a major 'occurrence,' and people seem to be acting strangely at the ranch around Tristan. The people are actually Anat Warriors who have sworn fealty to him after a major event and are staying on to 'work the ranch', which actually means staying on to be a part of Trsitan's tribe and to protect him -

There was a creak on the roof overhead, but I didn't look. I could feel the warrior perched there. "Are they able to follow instructions or are all of them going to be as weird as the fella on the roof behind us?" It appeared the warriors were going to have to work on their stealth if a human could pinpoint them. "I never said they were normal, Randy."

"I'm going to saddle Socks and find a quiet place to have my mental breakdown, so I can come back and act as if everything is okay."

The two protagonsists, Tristan and Ushna are wonderfully endearing characters. I just loved them.  Ushna is quiet, which is perfect, given two major life events. Tristan is introsepctive, which is to be understood after what he has endured at the hands of Theo; what it means for him in shifter terms. When they get together, realise what they might mean to one another, it is both beautiful and sexy. It is also fitting that Ushna protects and cares for Tristan in his 'hour of need' and Tristan gets to do the same. They love each other passionately. There is only one sex scene in the book, but it's worth many ways. Plus, the story is so well written, I was deeply enmeshed in the narrative, world building, and storytelling in general.

I have to be honest and say it may annoy some people the way this book ends. It actually ends in the middle of something that is shaping up to be quite epic. I couldn't even call it a HFN. I don't mind personally, but people who like a neat bundle by books' end may be better off waiting for the second book's release in November and then read them back to back.

I cannot wait for book # 2, Songs of the Earth, if it's as good as Twin Flames I will be a very happy reader. Lexi Ander has written a very, very good book and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it. Highly recommended reading for those who like mystical, mythology, shifter, M/M, paranormal, friends to lovers, and some cowboys thrown into the mix. Seriously, it works like a charm. Twin Flames deserves a big reader audience.

A Reason To Believe, Diana Copland

A Reason To Believe

A tough detective, a hot medium and the ghost of a murdered little girl.  An outstanding murder mystery with a bit of romance.

-Review by Cindi

Detective Matthew Bennett does not believe in ghosts so he is shocked to the core when the ghost of 6-year-old Abby presents herself to him at her home just hours after her murder.  Not just presents herself but leads him to her body.  He is so shaken by it that he is taken off the murder case and put on administrative leave by his superior... the same superior who has had Matt on desk duty for the fifteen months following the death of Matt's work and life partner, Brad. The supervisor is a homophobic bastard who has been after Matt's job since he was inadvertently outed at Brad's funeral.  Matt "seeing ghosts" may just be the thing to help him succeed in getting Matt removed from his position.

Even after being taken off the case, Abby makes her presence known to Matt.  He confides this to his sister-in-law and best friend who insists that Matt go with her to see a medium, Kiernan Fitzpatrick, who is holding a large group reading at a local hotel.  Being a skeptic, Matt balks at first but eventually gives in.  After three hours of watching Kiernan "speak to the dead" in a large group of people, the session ends and Matt is ready to leave.  Kiernan has other ideas.  Abby has made herself known to him during the session and he wishes to speak with Matt privately in regards to what he has seen.

Kiernan has been a medium his entire life.  With the help of his older sister, Aiden, he has made a huge name for himself with his private readings, group sessions and a very popular cable television show.  He is funny and quirky.  I fell in love with him immediately.  Kiernan is not the typical psychic/medium.  He's small (around 5'6") and he wears funny t-shirts with different sayings on them.  My personal favorite (because of my own height) is I'm not short.  I'm fun-sized! He is a bundle of energy and at one point is described in the book as an overgrown puppy.  The description is perfect.

Matt grudgingly agrees to meet with Kiernan at his hotel room to discuss Abby's murder case.  An unusual alliance forms and the two work together to find out who murdered the little girl.  There is instant attraction between Matt and Kiernan but Matt is still mourning the senseless death of his long-term partner 15 months before and is hesitant to move forward.

The murder case is strikingly similar to the real JonBenet Ramsey case in the United States in 1996.

- JonBenet and Abby's bodies are both found in the basement on Christmas hours after being reported missing and after the basements had already been searched.

- Both girls are 6-years-old at the time of the murder.

- JonBenet participated in beauty pageants and had several trophies and awards as a result.  Abby was a dancer who had her own collection of trophies and awards.

- JonBenet and Abby's parents were both well-off financially and prominent members of the community.

- Both had parents who were immediately accused in the media in a very public way.

- The investigations were both bungled by investigators and evidence either compromised or showed up mysteriously later.

That is where the similarities end.  In the beginning (with the exception of Abby's ghost making an appearance) I was taken back to the massive media coverage of the real-life unsolved case.  I felt that I was reading the actual stories of what had occurred in the Ramsey home.  It did not take long in my reading to see that this fictional story was going in an entirely different direction.  Thankfully.  :)

With the help of Abby's ghost, Kiernan and various secondary characters, Matthew continues the investigation of Abby's murder even after being ordered to cease the investigation.  Matt and Kiernan gradually get closer though Matt is still mourning Brad and is having a difficult time with the feelings that are suddenly there for another man.

The murder mystery was interesting and it kept me guessing almost to the end.  There were a couple of times when I was shaking my head (I can't say what they are without giving spoilers) but they were not enough to prevent me from thoroughly enjoying the story as a whole.  The way everything comes together for the resolution was quite good and a bit surprising.

Matt and Kiernan are perfect for each other.  Watching Matt finally realize that it's okay to move on after Brad was beautiful.  Kiernan is patient and understanding during the entire journey.

You have to seriously suspend any and all belief when you read this book.  I'm not simply referring to the ghost aspect but others as well.  You will find yourself asking "How is that possible?" more than once in regards to specific characters.  Abby was a true pleasure to read about.  She's an adorable little girl who acts like a little girl... even in death.

There is an insta-love aspect to this story but it did not feel like it.  So much happens between the moment that Matt and Kiernan meet and the time they actually become a couple that it seems like much more time has passed than it actually has.  The sex scenes are hot and beautiful at the same time.

This is an outstanding book.  This will go down as one of my all-time favorites of 2012.  This is my first by this author and I can not wait to jump into more by her.  While this ended perfectly (a definite "Aww!" moment) I hope that the author will add a quick short one day so we can catch up with Matt and Kiernan again.  I am eager to see what happens after THE END.  

I highly recommend this.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Conduct Unbecoming, L A Witt

Conduct Unbecoming

Everything I want in a contemporary, full length, M/M book I got in Conduct Unbecoming. One of my favourites of 2012.

- Review by Kazza K 

I loved this book. It's been a while between drinks, as the saying goes, for me and L A Witt. Thank God I pre-ordered this. If I hadn't I may have missed out on what is a terrifc piece of M/M fiction. One of this year's best.  Once I picked it up I could not put this book down.

"Dude, Okinawa is a fucking shit-hole." My cousin Jim's words repeated over and over in the back of my mind.

This pretty much introduces us to Eric Randall's sentiments on his latest posting to Okinawa. He's left his 16 year old daughter, Marie, for yet another posting to a foreign land. This time for three years. He's proud of who he is, proud of serving his country, but is essentially going to have been away from his daughter for over a quarter of her life, and he's over it. The fact that Okinawa is not the Amercanized place that he's been led to believe it is makes it seem even more isolating as he tries to settle in, right hand drive vehicles, and kanji signs included. He's gay, he's divorced, so he has no family with him, he doesn't play golf, and he's unsure of the gay scene on the island. Plus, it's hard to be friends with your subordinates, and, as an enlisted man, you can't fraternize with the officers.All of this is going to make it extremely socially difficult being in such a small 'community' for Eric

Shane Connelly is a Commander and has been on Okinawa for long enough to know the ropes. He, too, is missing his twins, who would be around 7-8. He has not had a pleasant separation from his wife, Katy, who it seems asks for money, is aloof, and appears to be none too keen on meeting him half way with the children. She cheated on Shane while he was on one of his tours. He goes to Palace Habu, a local gay club, to hook-up, and one night in walks this breathtaking man, that he has to have. Of course it's Eric. He organises with the bartender to pay for this new guys drink, it's the quick or the dead in Palace Habu, after all.  I have to say that the first scene where these two men get together is incendiary. Two alpha males, that are versatile, make for some smoking sex, and then some.

What I liked -

That it is explained that Shane is bi, he has dated men and women. it is clear-cut why his marriage broke down. Same for Eric. He is gay, married his wife when they were young, discovered that she was pregnant, that he couldn't make it work, even though they were, and still are good friends. She just wasn't the right gender for him. They maintain a tight relationship and have done a great job raising their daughter in solidarity.

This book is over 300 pages and it really builds on the relationship, and who these two men are very well. There is no insta-love. Insta-lust, yes. But not love. No love is mentioned until around the 90% mark, and I loved how darned good that felt. I liked watching their relationship grow. That they built on common interests and likes - the same sense of humour, exploring historic castles, war memorials, dining, snorkeling, family, understanding each other's job, photography -  I loved the camera rivalry between Nikon and Canon -

Shane peered at my camera and wrinkled his nose. "Canon."
"Yeah, so?.....
"Oh. So you're a Nikon man.
"I am." His lip curled up with mock disgust. "I suppose I can be seen with you, even while you're shooting with that. Not like anyone will suspect us of being together now."  

I loved, loved, loved the two MC's Eric Randall and Shane Connelly. I also liked them as men. Both were decent, loved their kids, took care of their responsibilites, were proud of their respective service for their country. Without being perfect, they were just good people in the best sense of the description.

They were great together. If you like hot, buff navy men going at it. Here is your book. If you like a cop thrown into the mix, you're in luck as well, because Eric is an MA, Navy Police. So you get to see some police work thrown in, on occasion. Eric's job is also pivotal towards the end of the book.

There was this amazing chemistry between Eric and Shane, and the sex scenes were just erotic as erotic could be. Holy heck, my Kindle asked me for a glass of wine and a smoke after! 
Great, sexy kissing too. God, I love it when it's well done in books, particularly M/M, and I got it here -

A light kiss became a longer one, and we sank back onto our beach towels and kissed for the better part of a lazy hour like we wanted nothing more than to just touch and taste each other.

This quote is the abbreivated version. I will never look at a beach and wetsuits the same way again. For as much as it is sexy there is also a beautiful romance that develops in the truest sense of the word. One where they just wanted to be with each other, to tell the other about their day, share their life, their milestones, their worries, their time, and growing affection.

I liked the fact that while DADT has been repealed L A Witt still gave readers something to think about. Let's not kid ourselves, you still don't want to be gay in the armed services. Some may be sympathetic, and Shane had a friend who was. Many are not so comfortable with it, and Morris, the antagonist, of sorts, was very much a representation of thoughts and ideas about gay men, and, in fact, women serving, that are still very much alive and have to be dealt with today. Plus, fraternization rules and regs are still very much in place, which was a double whammy for our two MC's both wanting each other - being same sex, one an officer, one an enlisted man. Bad news on all counts.

Because of all of the above Eric and Shane have to find places to be able to be together. Luckily, Shane has learnt more than a few places to be away from other Americans, from prying eyes, so they can meet and be friends, enjoy the sights, and do something other than just banging each others brains out in their apartments. But it was always tense, because they never knew who might see them. Plus, the more you are on your own the more likely it is that people will look a bit closer at your sexual orientation, so it's like being on high alert. That's the backdrop against which Conduct Unbecoming is set. So there's always a concern about what the heck is going to happen to these two men. For two guys who shouldn't be forming a relationship, based on their job descriptions, who love their jobs, and have family repsonsiblities, yet are two people that fall for one another. I had my heart in my mouth as I wondered how this was going to go. The unfairness of having to hide your feelings. I understand the fraternization laws, I've contracted to the armed services. However, love does not understand rank, rules and regulations. I wondered how it was going to work for them. And by God I wanted it to work for them.

I love the way L A Witt writes changing POV's. Yes, at times, you may have to stop and think or find a signpost as to who is talking, because these men were so much alike. That was part of the charm for me, their genuine reason(s) for being in a relationship. It never seemed like she had just thrown them in and hoped for the best. I was engrossed in how they felt about each other, what was going on in their lives, and how they viewed the sex as it intensified into something more, into lovemaking. The POV's were never clunky and always gave you the opportunity to see what both men were thinking, feeling, just how hot one makes the other feel, how sad, or angry they were. There's no missing communication for the reader. Perfect.

There is a lovely travelogue of Okinawa and its surrounds. If you're not interested in other countries perhaps you won't enjoy it so much, but if you like travel and new sights L A Witt does Okinawa justice. To me, everything always progressed the relationship and also served as culturally and historically interesting.

I loved reading Shane's thoughts on Orion beer; particularly associated with the first night he met Eric, and their....dalliances.

It was nice to see Marie get to visit Eric. It was also nice to see how Shane progressed his relationship with his ex wife, and they learned a few things about one another, the reasons why Katy did as she did. Things in life and love are not always as clear cut as they may seem.

Chapter 24, the combined heading 'Shane and Eric' nearly ripped my heart assunder and destroyed me. I loved these two guys together. I felt like I was reading a duet, like they were going to burst into song together, as crazy as that sounds. It was lyrical and beautiful They have given up so much for their country. Expecting someone to give up love? I don't like it, irrespective of signing a contract. I'm glad they worked this out too.

There was not one thing that I didn't like about Conduct Unbecoming.

Overall -

I loved the pacing of this book.  I appreciated the fact that there was a statement being made by L A Witt in amongst the sex, growing relationship, all 'round interesting love story, and beauty of Okinawa. A statement that just because DADT has been repealed does not make it easy on servicemen and women. That serving one's country takes a toll on the family as well as the person serving. That tours of duty do people's heads in and sometimes something has to give.That the fraternization rules are archaic and, on top of so much that these people give already, love often gets sacrificed cruelly. You are not hit over the head with this, it' is not preachy, however, it's there, if you look.

If you like armed services,  navy in this case, M/M, perhaps one a cop, sexy, sexy writing, some beautiful scenery, great characters, a bit of action, that's all here. If you also like a primarily character driven story, with some realistic dialogue, detail, emotion, and hope, that's also here. If you also want a slower build to love, as should be the case in a contemporary 300+ page book, then Conduct Unbecoming is that book. If you just like good writing, once again, here it is. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I would more than love to see another book/novella on Eric and Shane and, yes, I would pre-order that too. I am now re-reading it, that's how much I loved Conduct Unbecoming.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Înflori, A F Henley

Inflori is about two men.  One who is used to an excessive lifestyle, and one who is a believer in kindness, zen sayings and the curative powers of tea. Dustin 'meets' Nicolae one day in the street,  Nicolae talks about the sun shining even behind clouds, and Dustin can't stop thinking about this strange, intriguing man that gave him something warm and encouraging on a hung over, cloudy day.

I't's hard to describe Inflori other than that. It is a character driven story. There is a bit of suspense near the end, but it never really ramps up, so no big dramas. It's more how a random meeting can leave quite an impression. Plus, both men are from different backgrounds. One wealthier, but isolated. One poorer, but surrounded by a family or sense of community.

The things that worked for me -

The premise was an interesting one -Nicolae, who was blind, could 'see' more clearly than many sighted people. Had a freakish sixth sense. He was Roma and that 'mystery' was played upon. He was also generous, kind of spirit and soul. With a calmness that steadied others.

The way Dustin said the name 'Nicolae' with such reverence. Also how he loved Nicolae's zen ways -

Nicolae, he was soon learning, didn't do anything without purpose. If Nicolae said "bring an umbrella".  One would be wise to bring an umbrella. If Nicolae told him to watch his right, Dustin was realising that meant look, react, and figure out what the hell was coming at him from his right.

Nicolae would not just give himself up to sex with Dustin, who was used to no commitment, and quickies in club bathrooms, prior to meeting Nicolae. So Dustin, who wasn't used to someone like Nicolae, didn't think that Nicolae was interested in him -

"I am very interested, no worries of that." Nicolae paused fingers gently kneading. "There were things I needed to know about you first. I told you: I need all of you if I am to have some of you."
"I know," Dustin said.....
"Do you?" Nicolae kissed the top of his head. "Then you know that I am a greedy man. I do not give away that which is mine. And if I have you, if I let you in and you become mine, Dustin, then you will belong to me. And I will never let you go."

Nicolae's dogs - Malachi and Shyla. I'm a sucker for dogs.

There was a quirky quality to the book that I am more often than not drawn to. I'm quirky :)

I liked Christina, Nicolae's friend, who was happy, and caring, and was no M/M female caricature by any means.

I love the cover. It's eyecatching

The things that did not work for me -

Sometimes, I felt the use of language too formal or stiff for the occasion, especially when there was sex.

At times there was too much inner monolgue between when a question was asked and when it was answered; I would have to go back and check the question again.

There were some editing issues - question marks where there shouldn't be, an overuse of exclamation marks, in parts, and there were a few typos. All of these could have been dealt with by tighter editing. I mention them because they do detract from reader enjoyment.

Jewel, Dustin's friend, was not utilized enough, which was a shame, he had the potential for a cheeky, fun character. I liked it when he rang his mum, instead of the police, when he was calling the antagonist's bluff :) Perhaps later for Jewel.


Inflori is an interesting and different book. It has different characters, an interesting premise, and a happy ending. If you're looking for a M/M that is not heavy, is not full of sex, has a small touch of the mystical, and is quirky, Inflori may be right for you. This is a first book for A F Henley. I believe, and I would certainly read more by this writer.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Second Chances, T A Webb

Have your tissues ready. A sweet, sad, yet hopeful read. 

- Review by Kazza K

Second Chances spans the time period from October 2000 through to the Epilogue in December 2011. The book is built around Mark Jennings. Also the Jennings family, Mark's partner, Brian, a friend, Antonio and his son, Mark's work, and a young lad named Robbie. The book pretty much opens with Mark's beloved mother dying and the emotional vibe surrounding the family matriach's impending death. It sets the tone for a bit of the book. There is a hopeful note to Second Chances but, to be honest, it also has a melancholic undercurrent. And, yes, I cried.

There are several stories going on in Second Chances. At the epicentre is a friendship between Mark and Antonio, who meet at the beginning, when Mark and his partner, Brian, are separated. The other primary relationship centres around Mark and Brian. Brian has cheated on Mark, do not be concerned if that bothers you, it is not on page. We first meet Mark after he has separated from Brian, through to when he and Brian reconcile and, once again, become partners. There is a lot of love between Mark and Brian, there is also an illness/condtion that is never fully disclosed until well into the book.You can guess, roughly, one or two things but, still, it is kept private. When we meet Antonio he is a masseur who helps with Mark's tension when his mother is dying. They develop a special connection and friendship that continues when Mark and Brian reconcile through to the end; although their relationship changes. There is also a friendship that develops between Mark and a young man, Robbie, who lives at Hope House, a non-profit organization that Mark work's for. Robbie has been living on the streets, and abused prior to Hope House. Antonio also has a son, Jason, who becomes an integral part of the story. Both Robbie and Jason become friends and grow up on page during the  book's timeline. I won't elaborate more on the plot.

Second Chances is a well named book because at it's very heart are several second chances - Mark forgives Brian and takes him back, Mark gives Antonio a second chance to become someone better, Mark's wonderful father gets to look out for and love another person in a fostered/adopted arrangement after he loses his wife, someone he gives a second chance to. Sam, Mark's brother gets to have a change of attitude, and more.

What I liked -

While this is obviously a piece of fiction it is also a very real-feel book. Some parts stretched this a bit, but, hey, it's fiction. Second Chances is a heartfelt book about caring people, for the most part, and, also, for the most part, about a pretty decent family. Some siblings are much easier to like than others; it's the same the world over. It's also very much about love, pain, and grief, something I suspect T A Webb has had his fair share of and has poured into this book. I don't know Tom, I can't say for sure, I can only surmise. It's also something plenty of people have had to deal with or will at some time.

Second Chances is a very raw book. The best way for me to qualify that is to say that, while it lacked a multi-dimensional layer, in places, and got a bit bogged down in others, it made up for that in it's passion, and this sort of ballsy, genuineness.

I appreciated Mark's take-no-crap attitude. I also very much admired his 'I'm not going to be a dirty little secret' mentality.

I loved the way they remembered those who were departed. That they were always in their hearts and  minds.

I liked that monogamy and the gay community were shown to be quite capable of going hand in hand, if the couple so chooses. Two sides were shown, however, Mark was a firm believer in this way of life. Thank you for that, Tom.

What was on the negative side -

It's a tad long. It just got a bit bogged down a couple of times. However, I kept my reading pace up for the most part, so I certainly must have enjoyed the majority of it.

Way too much about family, for me. I'm not a big lover of this much family detail in my erotic, romance books. 

I understand when you're on the inside looking out it can be hard to see someone has feelings for you, BUT, I found it a stretch that Mark did not know Antonio had feelings for him.

Overall -

I think T A Webb has written a lovely, sweet, yet melancholic book, that does give you hope, and, I believe, faith in some people within our community. The epilogue is lovely and does the book justice. I did enjoy reading Second Chances. I think it will suit people who like writers such as T J Klune. I would recommend this book to people who love a nice, yet, at times, sad, family orientated, romantic book, with some heat, some heart, and a happy ending. You will need tissues.

Second Chances

Friday, 19 October 2012

Hotel Pens, Geoffrey Knight

My name is Joe Jordan, and I have a confession, an obsession, an addiction. I am addicted to stealing hotel pens. In every room I stay, in every hotel bar I drink at, from check-in to check-out. I must have their pens.

I've never read anything by Geoffrey Knight before. Because I have a MAJOR pen fetish, when I went into Dreamspinner and saw the title, Hotel Pens, I knew I had to read it, without even reading the official blurb.

How lucky can one be! This book is beautiful - from the standard of the technical writing, the poetic nature of the writing, the dialogue, the humour, to the wonderful snapshots of NY, the characters, the poignancy, and, when it occured, the sex.

Joe Jordan is a travel writer who is on an assignment to write 'Five Ways to Rediscover New York.' He knows New York well and isn't so sure that there is anything refreshing or 'new' that he can come up with -

Without question, no matter how crowded New York gets, it can be the lonliest place on earth for the brokenhearted.

You know Joe is feeling lonely and you know his assigned piece he has to write is going to be difficult with the above sentiments running through his soul, his mind.

One evening he spies a sexy fellow hotel patron nick a pen and put it in his pocket. Now we know that Joe is a pen connoisseur, so when he sees this happen he just has to hang out a little longer and maybe get to know more about his fellow pen fetishist. Joe asks for a pen, from the conceierge, to write down details he doesn't really need to write down. He nicks a pen as well. An exchanged, knowing look, an arched eyebrow, and a written down room number, by the sexy pen nicker, all follow.

Claude Desjardins is French and translates romance novels. He not only translates these books, it seems, he is one of these books in so many ways. I must declare that Claude is adorable. He starts writing information on Joe's body, followed by "look in the mirror," which the insecure Joe initally mistakes for a rebuff - of his body, of his desirability. Let's put it this way, there is a...tantalising moment between Claude and Joe, in Claude's room, involving a penis, a zipper, some quick heat, the nicked pen, and Joe's anatomy.

Basically, the book is Claude being utterly romantic, writing meeting places on Joe's body, and helping Joe with his assigned New York travel piece. Joe needs a refresher course on New York, a look through unjaded, romantic eyes. Claude is so stereotypically, romantically French. And I think that is utterly charming. But that's not all there is to this book  Along with the growing attraction, Joe finds something he long thought lost, or maybe he never had before. He also gets to say 'hello/goodbye' to someone that was important, patch a fence, feel happy for the other person, and feel good about himself. That was nice. Because Joe travels constantly for his job it's near on impossible for someone to compete with different timezones, Joe not being there etc etc. His prior relationship was a casualty of his job.

You don't learn as much about Claude, in the beginning, other than he's cute, sweet, romantic and comfortable in his own skin. That he's waiting on Henri to arrive and Joe is convinced he has a lover coming, or he's going to be in the middle of a relationship, somehow. He hopes not. But who is Henri? You do learn that Claude also deals with pain, that, conicidentally, is so beautifully and sensitively handled by Geoff Knight that I was in total awe. I don't want to say more because I will spoil it.

The two MC's are really easy to like, really easy to read about, really easy to want to see being together. The book ends, I suppose, in a HFN. However, it is not disappointing. Au contraire! It is incredibly uplifting. I loved the last page. However, having said that, I would LOVE to see Joe and Claude again, soon. I'd love to know how they're going, as I care for them, and want happiness for them both. I can imagine though. I guess I'll leave that up to Geoffrey Knight, and perhaps Joe and Claude :)

I just want to end with this. It's not at the end, it's at the beginning, but I thought it lovely to end my review on -

And so the game began, as I started following this beautiful French stranger through New York like a lost child following breadcrumbs through a fairy tale. Rediscovering the city I thought I knew so well. Learning not to doubt myself. Learning to be brave again. Learning that nothing stays broken forever, not even hearts.



An Unconventional Courtship, Scotty Cade

A sweet love story between a boss and employee.
-Review by Cindi

Tristan Moreau is the chief administrative officer and personal assistant to Webber Kincaid, the President, CEO and Chairman of Kincaid International, a company founded by Webber's father.  Tristan has held this position for two years and has been secretly in love with his boss the entire time.  Having experienced a harsh reality from a previous lover who was unavailable, Tristan never makes his feelings known.  Not to mention that it is a pretty good bet that Web is straight as Web has a very well-known and public 'friendship' with a beautiful female model. Even if Web did, in fact, care for Tristan that way, a relationship between the two of them could be disastrous to the company and to Web publicly.     

Web asks Tristan to go on a three week trip to the company's private Caribbean island in order to work through a string of hopeful acquisitions that the company wishes to obtain in the future. Tristan jumps at the chance to go even knowing that it will be difficult for him to keep his feelings for Web to himself.  Once they get to the island, that becomes imperative as Web's female 'friend' Deanna is on the ground awaiting their arrival.

There is a bit of going back and forth between Tristan and Web with a couple of major misunderstandings but they eventually find that they are feeling the same things for one another. Once this happens, the story takes a major turn.  The word sweet comes to mind to describe the new relationship, though sweet might be too mild of a word to describe it.  Once confessions are made, it is all about romance and well, sweetness.  :)   Perhaps it was a tad too sweet at times.  Tristan and Web are absolutely in love with each other and they make up for losing the past two years.  There is a lot of romance and a lot of nice gestures.  Some of the romance seems a little over the top but it was written well.

This is a very descriptive book.  You will learn every minute detail of every special event (including sex) that Web plans for his new lover.  The Caribbean islands are described so well that I could actually picture these places in my mind as the author described them.  I'm not saying the descriptions are too much.  Not at all.  It was all written well.

Back in the states, Tristan and Web must decide how to live together as a couple without hurting Web's professional reputation or the reputation of the company founded by his parents. When they get back to the office, they discover discrepancies in regards to one of the company's former and (perhaps) future acquisitions.  There is a horrible employee, Nathan, at the heart of it.  I was very pleased with how the Nathan thing was resolved even if it came across as not quite finished.  This is okay as I have read that there will be a sequel.

This is a very nice story with interesting characters.  Tristan is the consummate professional who just happens to be in love with his boss.  Webber is the perfect boss who has longed to share his life with his assistant.  Sure, some of the romance may have been over the top at times but it was still fun to read.

My first by this author.

An Unconventional Courtship

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

All Bets Are Off, Marguerite Labbe

Not your typical professor/student story. 
-Review by Cindi

Eli Hollister is convinced that he has finally met the right man at the right time.  His previous relationships have always ended the same way.  The right guy.  The wrong time.  When he meets Ash Gallagher and they share a sexy evening together he is convinced that he has finally found the one.  He finds out how wrong he is less than twenty-four hours later.  Eli is an English professor and Ash turns out to be one of his students.  Knowing that he must avoid Ash outside of the classroom, he does everything he can to put him out of his mind.  The only problem?  Every time he sees Ash he wants him... bad.  This makes for a difficult semester for both men as they are eager to spend more time exploring each other..... far away from the classroom.

Ash is a military man, having spent several years in the Marines and deployed all over the world.  He is now in the Reserves and is a few months  from getting his college degree and moving on to a career in some form of law enforcement, far away from the small town where he is going to college.  Eli is supposed to be a fling, nothing more.  Just a warm body to share his bed with until he moves on to bigger and better things with his life.  He remains close to all of his military buddies and some are added as secondary characters.  They are not in the book very much but when they are they are critical to Ash's story.

A tentative friendship develops between Eli and Ash.  Eli and Ash fight their attraction but it is a losing battle as neither can keep their hands off each other when they are away from school.

There is a bit of drama with someone breaking into Eli's home and office.  The head of the English department (and Eli's boss) does everything in his power to get Eli fired and makes his work life a living hell in the process.  Eli and Ash have to be secretive or the department head will have more than enough evidence to get it done.

Throughout the book, Eli and Ash place bets with each other.  Those were funny to watch.  The first one is placed during their first evening together while watching a Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees baseball game (if you know baseball, you know how intense that rivalry is).  It is no secret to all who know me that I am a serious Major League Baseball fan and they also know where my loyalties lie.   I kept reminding myself that it was fiction.  :)  While I may not share the author's love, kudos to her for writing the baseball scenes accurately and real.  While the baseball scenes are not overwhelming in any way, they are still interesting, especially to this baseball fan.

The future does not look good for Eli and Ash.  They have to overcome the difficulties of having a secret relationship that, if found out, could hurt both of them professionally. Then there is the fact that Eli is looking for long-term and  Ash is not.  The way everything finally comes together is brilliant.  There is a major "awwww!" moment at the end that had me smiling.

This is a well written story with a few very steamy sex scenes.  I highly recommend it.

All Bets Are Off

One Small Thing, Piper Vaughn, M.J. O'Shea

Two total opposites.  A baby.  An amazing best friend.  A sweet love story.
-Review by Cindi

Rue, who is openly gay, decides when he's drunk one night to have sex with a girl.  She ends up pregnant and tells Rue that she will put the baby up for adoption unless he wants it.  He decides on the spot that he will raise his child. The child turns out to be Alice.  I love books with kids in them.  Granted, Alice is a baby and doesn't exactly contribute much (herself) to the story but it is because of her that Rue meets his reclusive neighbor, Erik.  Rue is in cosmetology school and he works at a gay bar.  His best friend (Dusty) can babysit Alice while Rue is working nights but can't during the day because he goes to school with Rue during that time.  Totally desperate, Rue asks Erik if he can take care of the baby while he is at school.  Erik (a writer) is prone to panic attacks and does not like any type of change.  He has never held a baby before much less babysat one.  Due to his financial situation, he (eventually) takes the babysitting job.  And this is where the story gets going.  I fell in love with Rue and Dusty right off.  It took a little while for me to warm up to Erik but when I did, I fell in love with his character as well.  Rue and Erik are total opposites.  I am a big fan of opposites attract stories.   Rue is so out going but yet he is so insecure when it comes to his feelings for Erik.  Erik, who has never had any type of relationship, is terrified of what he is feeling for Rue.  It was such a pleasure watching the two of them finally get it right.  And they definitely get it right.  No insta-love ...  a real story about real people who have real issues who have to work hard to get where they are going.  I totally loved it. 

I am happy to see that this is book one in a series.  I look forward to reconnecting with these guys (and Alice) and I can't wait to see Dusty have his HEA in One True Thing.

One Small Thing (One Thing, #1)

This is book one in the One Thing series.

Sweet Surrender, Jack Greene

More sexy fun with Jack Greene. It's become a habit!

Saints alive this little ebook is smoking hot!! There may not be many pages but they are alive with some action, plenty of  sexual build up, and equally sexy release.

This is like every kind of erotic fantasy/romance novella rolled into one. Young virginal, twinky sex-slave/pleasure-puppet/man-maiden (insert your own alliterations), is up for auction. Said virgin has been taught in the ways of pleasuring a man, without ever having had a hand on him, or having had a release. He's sweet but he's willing. He's turned 18 and tonight is auction night. Until the big bad mercenaries *snort* raid the auction house. Their gorgeous, and studly, leader, Rakurr, decides he likes the spoils of victory. Yep, our sexy, yet virginal twink, Siris. Thing is, a guard of young Siris's, Legar, also has the hots for our sexy virgin. So, there's a bit of a tussle, until Siris steps in and declares his interest in both hunky, virile men. Can't blame him there. Legar is out of a job, his place of employ has been raided after all, so Rakurr offers him a job with his band of mercenaries. They shake on it (they may be a man of fortune and a virgin's auction house guard, but they're men of honour:)) and decide they will take Siris back to Rakurr's well appointed villa, mercenary work pays good coin, and have their wicked way with Siris. Who is soooo in. I'm liking it so far.

The journey back to Rakurr's villa  is an interesting one. Siris gets to ride first with Legar, then with Rakurr, and when he is with each man he asks them to describe to him what they wish to do with him, how they will take him. Which makes a horseback journey much hotter, I'm here to tell you. Neither man is short of visions and Siris enjoys what he hears...demonstrably. All their engines are revved up.

By the time they get to Rakurrs's everyone is ready to blow....a gasket. It's menage time. And it's not disappointing. It's hot.

The dialogue is humorous, it's camped up, quite deliberately, it's fabulous, fantasy, fun. And, I kid you not, it's very sexy - I think it's 22 pages and, seriously, that's not easy to do in so few pages. I love Jack Greene for some quick, fun, sexy reading and Sweet Surrender did not disappoint.

The cover makes it look like a BDSM read, it's not. So I'm using another picture.

Siris is tired after a nice night of lovin' :)