Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Favorites of 2014

Please join me for a recap of my favorite reads from 2014. Some are from long time favorite authors, others from new to me writers, and all of them made me very, very happy.

CryselleC's favorites 2014 album on Photobucket

Thanks to everyone who came by this year, and thanks to guest reviewers Feliz Faber and Eden Winters, who might be coaxed into more reviews. Thanks to the publishers and authors who offered books, and thanks to the readers who thought I might have something useful to say.

Here's to a fabulous 2015! And keep reading!


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Blog Tour and Review: Canning the Center by Tara Lain


Welcome, Tara Lain and readers! I've just read Tara's new release, Canning the Center, and want to recommend it to you as well. Tara's stopping by with some goodies, giveaways, and above all, a good story. Check out the review, and sign up for a goodie or two.If you like hunky football players, torch singers, and some crossed motives, this is your book for sure. Let's start off with the review.

Six foot seven inch, 300 pound Jamal Jones loves football, so when he finds out the ultra-conservative owner of his new pro football team fired their current center because he’s gay, bisexual Jamal decides to stay in the closet and hang with the females. Then, at a small drag show, he comes face-to-face with his sexual fantasy in the form of Trixie LaRue, a drag queen so exquisitely convincing she scrambles Jamal’s hormones -- and his resolve to nurse his straight side.

Trevor Landry, aka Trixie LaRue, hides more than his genitals. A mathematician so brilliant he can’t be measured, Trevor disguises his astronomical IQ and his quirk for women’s clothes behind his act as a gay activist undergrad at Southern California University.

To Trevor, Jamal is the answer to a dream -- a man who can love and accept both his personas. When he discovers Jamal’s future is threatened if he’s seen with a guy, Trevor becomes Trixie to let Jamal pass as straight. But Trevor risks his position every time he puts on a dress. Is there a closet big enough to hold a football pro and a drag queen?

~*~*~*~*

I really enjoyed the hours I spent reading these two men’s story. While I didn’t read the first book in the series, that’s my loss and not for long! Both men, while very different, had their strengths and their flaws, and had to work their way to an honest relationship.

Jamal, the soft spoken rookie NFL player, knows going in that being open about his bisexuality is going to create friction. If not from his fellow players, then from management, and he’s not encouraged by the object lesson that puts him in the starting lineup. He’s an honest man and resents the deception, and it only gets harder once he meets the fabulous Trixie Larue.

Jamal’s head over heels for Trevor as Trevor and Trevor as Trixie, who sings torch songs with pointed messages. Trevor has a pretty good idea of what Jamal’s up against in the way of keeping secrets and of opposition and support for being true to himself in public. After all, Trevor is part of the problem--he's behind the heat getting turned on the team about GLBT acceptance.  Still, he’s willing to appear in public as Trixie to keep Jamal in the team’s good graces.

Trevor was a slightly problematic character for me. He was willing to function far below capacity and starve himself intellectually in a field where brilliance shows early and quirks are practically required to fit in. Perhaps that was his point, but the sense of screaming WTF was a little loud. I wasn’t sold on his family situation either: his severely demented mother read like she was 80 years old, though his hateful brother rang unfortunately true. Just—so much was stuffed farther down than I could buy into. It did make his final blossoming that much sweeter. He also demonstrates some of the practical problems of dressing in drag, from the discomfort of tucking to how to camouflage an Adam’s apple.

Football of course permeates the story, not too much for someone who isn’t especially into the game, but enough for a very firm foundation. Jamal’s teammates have some complexity: Boogaloo’s in over his head in a few directions but wants the best for his sister and teammates, and Jet the quarterback wants to focus on the game and leave personal matters outside the stadium. Jamal’s family are good, loving people, with a fair amount of idealism. A few characters are drawn with something less than subtlety: Lavinda becomes Evil Harpy Version 5, but she does force a situation into directions no one would at first believe were positive.

The plot kept me turning pages, because Trevor and Jamal kept bashing into each other's issues, whether it was picketing outside the game, prospects evaporating with the truth, or getting introduced to family. The sex was hot, although two guys with that much to lose were awfully carefree about sex in public parking lots.

The ending had a certain “ripped from the headlines” quality that made me want to dance for the appropriateness of the justice and for the joy that Jamal and Trevor can openly take in one another at last. Whatever was drawn with a slightly heavy hand gets burned away in the final chapters, and the book left me with a smile and a sigh. 4.25 marbles




Now for the goodies! Find your copy at Dreamspinner, Amazon, and all your favorite retailers.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 23. Her best­selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft. She lives with her soul­mate husband and her soul­mate dog in Laguna Beach, California, a pretty seaside town where she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”

Website: http://taralain.com/
Blog: http://www.taralain.com/blog
Twitter: https://twitter.com/taralain
FB Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/taralain
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4541791.Tara_Lain
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/taralain/

Excerpt:

Trevor stuck out a hand. “My name’s Trevor. Pleased to meet you.”

Jamal reached out to take the offered handshake and—whoops! In one gentle pull on Trevor’s arm that clearly required no effort on Jamal’s part, Trevor was up against that huge chest. “I’m Jamal. I don’t mean to be presumptuous. Just tell me to stop. But if I don’t kiss you again soon, I’m a dead man.”

Trevor smiled up into those dark brown eyes. “I would never want to be accused of murder.”

Sunday, December 21, 2014

An Angel in Eyeliner by Hunter Frost


Title: An Angel in Eyeliner
Author: Hunter Frost
Purchase at Amazon 
Purchase at Smashwords 
Cover Artist:  C.M. Walker
Genre:  holiday, contemporary
Length:  10k
Formats:  MOBI, ePub

All Mitch wants for Christmas is a quiet holiday free from grief. Patching up the target of a mugging in the back alley of his bar seems to throw that wish right out into the cold Chicago night. But the tatted, pierced, and skinny-jean wearing Keller Graham is fearless and proves to be more than a pair of icy blue eyes lined in black. Keller may be a thief, but Mitch never expected him to steal his lonely heart.
 Holiday insta-love, both charming and a bit far fetched. Mitch, former military medic turned barkeeper, rescues Keller from some toughs trying to rob him, and they end up spending what would be their lonely and grim Christmases together. Keller’s banter is witty, the kind that keeps the world at bay until he chooses to let someone in. Mitch is more literal. This works to his detriment toward the end of the story, where he doesn’t look past the first and obvious interpretation, and ends up eating his words.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Boyfriend Mandate by River Jaymes

Title: The Boyfriend Mandate
Author: River Jaymes
Publisher: Self published/ Amazon
Cover Artist: n/a
Length: Novel (284 pages)
Formats: Mobi

Guest review from Feliz

Stuntman and two-time cancer survivor Memphis Haines excels at beating the odds. When he’s presented with the opportunity to help his ex-boyfriend with a charity event, he jumps at the chance to make up for the devastating way he left Tyler ten years ago. Memphis might have taken the college geek’s virginity, but the former mathelete is now a hell of a head turner. And Dr. Tyler Hall’s cool reserve is a challenge Memphis can’t resist. A self-confessed rule breaker and line crosser, he keeps turning up the heat with one goal in mind: to melt the man’s composure.

Tyler Hall sticks to one simple mandate: no more dating ex-boyfriends. Ever. He certainly isn't interested in hooking up with Memphis Haines, the ex who jumps off buildings, dodges explosions, and poses for designer underwear ads. Ten years ago, falling for Memphis changed Tyler’s life. The man’s abrupt departure turned his world inside out. But he moved on long ago. Besides, he has a clinic for the homeless to run, patients to take care of, and no time to deal with the trouble his ex brings. Memphis, however, seems determined to rehash the past. And his boxer-dropping grin, hard body, and confident charm are resurrecting ultra-hot memories best not remembered, making Tyler’s rule harder and harder to keep...


I enjoyed the first book in this series, The Backup Boyfriend, so I could barely wait for this one to come out.

And I really liked this book too, although not quite as much as the first in the series. More about this later. First the pros:

The writing was wonderful, catchy and smooth (aside from those annoyingly overused expletives--"Judas Priest" and "Jesus Haploid Christ"--ehm, wait, what?) Tyler, whom I didn't care for all that much during the first book, really grew on my during this one. In the first boo, he was a cold, detached asshole, but the details on his backstory revealed here made me understand him much better, made him appear human, and by the end, I'd come to care for him a lot.

Friday, December 19, 2014

From All of Us to All of You by Ofelia Grand



Title: From All of Us to All of You
Author:  Ofelia Grand
Purchase at Amazon
Purchase at All Romance  eBooks                    
Cover Artist:  N/A
Genre:  Contemporary, holiday
Length:  12k
Formats:  Mobi, epub, PDF

Simon hates the Holidays. It’s the same every year - awaiting the dreaded Christmas Eve, when his father gets drunk, while the family fake Christmas spirit and strain to hear the TV over Dad’s snoring. This year, Simon’s sister is celebrating Christmas elsewhere, leaving him to deal with their parents on his own. But there’s a glimmer of hope. A work colleague introduces Simon to her son Hannes at the Lucia Day celebrations, the trouble being that Simon mistakenly believes it’s a blind date, and as if that isn’t embarrassing enough, Hannes wants them to be friends, and Simon’s starting to see signals that aren’t there. He’s beginning to wonder if he’ll make it through Christmas with his sanity intact.

~*~*~*~*

What a sweet, heart-breaking story. We all know that secrets lurk under holiday cheer, and poor Simon and his family have more than most. With the pall cast by Simon’s alcoholic father over the day, and over his life, Simon has more holiday horror than most. He’s making internal bets about how long his father will remain upright on Christmas Day, and it’s clear Simon’s whole life is colored deeply by being the child of an alcoholic. “Normal” is a myth, not his reality, therapist or no.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

I'm back! With reinforcements

Happy Holidays!  Sorry for the long silence: between getting knocked for a loop with strep and then inadvertently changing my password (how to feel stupid in one easy step) and not remembering it, and then you know stuff happens.... The turkey hangover took a while to dissipate.

Anyway, back to the goodies! Feliz has done a guest review for us, The Boyfriend Mandate by River Jaymes, posting on Saturday, and we'll have Ofelia Grand's From All of Us to All of You on Friday, and then back to our regularly scheduled reviews, except maybe more of them since I do have a backlog. [[blush]]. For those who missed us, sorry to keep you waiting.

This also played hell with our blogoversary posts, but we'll be doing that right after the holidays! I have guest posts from some old friends and some new ones, and we'll have goodies and celebrations and you're all invited and hey, bring a friend!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Manipulation by Eden Winters

Title: Manipulation (Diversion #4)
Author: Eden Winters
Purchase at Rocky Ridge Books
Purchase at Amazon
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: LC Chase
Genre: contemporary, action adventure
Length: 71k
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf, print (coming) ebooks preorder until Nov 1, 2014

Lucky Lucklighter has a new life. His old life wants him back.

He traded trafficking for taking down criminals with the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau, and a drug-lord lover for a man on the right side of the law. Bo Schollenberger found the way past the thorny defenses of Lucky’s heart, and made Mr. I-Get-Along-Fine-Alone think about his and his closets, stevia in the sugar bowl, and a picket fence—with a good lock on the gate.

Now Bo is missing, and a voice long silenced asks, “Did you miss me?” Lucky must deal with a devil from his past to get Bo back.

And if Bo isn’t willing to come? A drug ring needs its back broken before flooding the US with a designer high, seductive and undetectable. But there’s a fine line between good and evil, and a truckload of temptation urging Lucky to cross.
Oh yay! Bo and Lucky are back for more stomach-churning, heart pounding adventures. This fourth installment in the Diversion series lets Bo shine as an undercover narcotics operative when a figure out of Lucky’s past and current nightmares turns out to be behind the influx of drugs in their case from the third book (Corruption).

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Cutting Out by Meredith Shayne

Title: Cutting Out
Author: Meredith Shayne
Purchase at Bottom Drawer Publications
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: Mumson Designs
Genre: contemporary
Length: 222 pages
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf

A twenty-year veteran of the shearing shed, Aussie Shane Cooper loves his job, and the home he’s made for himself in New Zealand. If he’s a little lonely, he’s got good mates to keep his spirits up. When a hot, cocky young shearer named Lachlan Moore catches his eye at a competition, he’s content to look but not touch, knowing the young man is out of his league.

Lachie wouldn’t mind a piece of Shane, but the gorgeous gun shearer from Australia is soon forgotten when the Christchurch earthquake hits, and tragedy strikes Lachie’s family. Lachie deals with it the best he can, cutting himself off from all he knows. A year later and he’s back in the shearing shed, out of practice and lacking confidence. That Shane’s there to watch him flounder doesn’t help his nerves.

As Lachlan struggles to re-acclimatise, Shane can’t resist giving him a hand to get back on his feet. As they move from friends to something more, Shane finds himself wanting to know everything he can about Lachie. But Lachie’s got secrets he desperately wants to keep, and when things come to a head, those secrets might just mean the end of them before they’ve truly begun.
New Zealand’s half a world away, known to most of us as spectacular scenery with hobbits and a vague idea of Maoris and sheep. Meredith Shayne’s added detail and dimension and given life to those ideas.

There’s a very, very slow burn between Lachie, a rising star in the shearing world, and Shane, the acknowledged master. It’s not just competition, these men keep an entire industry moving, they’re an essential link between wooly animals and winter coats. It’s a world Lachie loves, and hates leaving.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Coming this week

This last week was a little different. The usual, reviews and and a hot prompt pic, but I also got interviewed at Jamie Lake's blog, which is a first.

Some good reading: Olivia Helling's Damon Snow and the Nocturnal Lessons gave us a Regency era m/m... I hesitate to call it a romance, but there were guys and there was sex and there was love. And Must Loath Norcross from Summer Devon unraveled a plot and got the two hotties together, always good.

Coming up: YAY! One of my favorite authors has a new one out! Eden Winters' fourth in the Diversion series is out now! Manipulation has Bo and Lucky in more danger than ever before. And Meredith Shayne's Cutting Out gives us a look at love in the shearing sheds. Two very different reads, but both good.

Also, I'm revving up for the Blogoversary, finding out which of our favorite authors and reviewers have something to say about our favorite genre. There will be wise words, there will be funny words, there will be my words which I don't promise fall into either of the other categories. ;) There will be giveaways and goodies. If you sign up to follow the blog, either via email or with Google Friend Connect (scroll down, it's on the right) you'll see all the posts for sure. Spread the word.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Must Loathe Norcross by Summer Devon

Title: Must Loathe Norcross
Author: Summer Devon
Purchase at Samhain
Purchase at Amazon
                 Preorder until November 25, 2014
Cover Artist: Kanaxa
Genre: Contemorary
Length: approx  180 pages
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf


When it comes to love, there’s no such thing as traveling light.
Born wealthy and ambitious, Grady once worked hard and played hard—so hard, it brought him to the brink of ruin. Now, after a five-year retreat into the contemplative life, he’s dipping a toe back into the real world.

Assigned to write a series of articles about a Connecticut valley’s small towns, Grady checks into a local hotel. And meets a bellhop who seems determined to show him around…and maybe indulge in a more intimate tour later on.

When Josh’s boss half-jokingly suggests he get on a first-name basis with the writer who could make or break their town’s reputation, Josh jumps at the chance. He dreams of seeing the world, but the man he thought might be his ticket out turns out to be less influential—and more attractive—than he expected.

Together they uncover a strange plot to detour Norcross’s tourist dollars, a plot that leaves Grady bruised and angry. Now they’ll have to decide how far they’ll go to save the town…and how far they’ll fall for each other.

Warning: Steaming-hot room service, delivered by a cute bellboy in uniform. Stolen towels will not be tolerated, but stolen hearts? Help yourself!
It should have been simple: Grady was supposed to come into the old mill town that would rather remake itself than fade away, write up the few attractions, and amble on to the next would-be vacation spot. Josh should have been content with an evening or two with a cute stranger, and leave him happy enough to write something positive. But neither man is exactly who he appears to be, and their secrets end up dovetailing in the oddest way.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Turnabout is fair play, right?

I've been interviewed at Jamie Lake's blog. So have a bunch of other m/m bloggers. I need to make friends with some of these folks.

Blog hop review: Damon Snow and the Nocturnal Lessons

Title: Damon Snow and the Nocturnal Lessons
Author: Olivia Helling
Purchase at Amazon

Cover Artist: Lou Harper
Genre: Regency, paranormal
Length: 25k words, ~100 pages
Formats: mobi

Damon Snow thinks he has the world figured out. As an incubus and male prostitute, it’s a cruel, dark, lonely place where men only want one thing. But when his long-time patron Byrne discovers he’s dying, Byrne offers to leave his entire fortune to him. There’s just one catch. Damon has to write about the reason why another patron procures his services. Caught up in his patron’s impossible love life, Damon suddenly isn’t so sure he knows the answer.



This is pretty far removed from the world of Jane Austen: life in the less attractive parts of Regency London is a struggle to survive with any of the finer feelings intact. Damon has additional strikes against him, being of uncertain and illegitimate parentage, and with a ravening something inside that demands to be fed with lust.

Damon has no illusions about humanity, being able to feel what’s moving inside the minds of his patrons disabused him of believing in kindness and love, to the point of not recognizing it when this rare bird descends. The strange request his patron makes forces him to look outside himself for answers. It’s a strange mirror as well.

This isn’t a romance in the classical sense, though there is an arc with a happy ending. Damon’s the observer who thinks he has nothing to learn. His encounters are the joyless interactions of molly and cull. Something changes for him by the end of the book, but not enough for him to become anyone’s true partner. Further stories are hinted at, and Damon needs the lessons there.

This is Regency from the underclass, no one’s sending calling cards or being seen by the ton. I’m not a scholar of the period by any means, but what I do recognize seems in period, and characters stay consistent with the times. Frequent mention is made of Damon’s incubus but it seems almost extraneous to the story. His fellow mollies have just as much reason to drink themselves into oblivion—they don’t need to sense deeper to know how they’re being abused. However, I’m prepared to believe it will make more difference as the series progresses.

This novella made an interesting opener: the promised legacy hasn’t been signed over yet, and Damon has more to learn about his humanity. I’ll be alert for the next installment. 4 marbles



Sunday, October 26, 2014

Coming this week

Thanks for hanging with us this week! While my Thursday hottie didn't appear on time (mea culpa, I hit the wrong button) he is here, and so were reviews for A.J. Truman's Out in the Open and Wild Horses from Kate Pavelle.

For this week, Olivia Helling's blog tour for Damon Snow and the Nocturnal Lessons will take us back to Regency era molly houses. Look for 1809 vintage rent boys on Tuesday when her blog tour stops here.  We'll also see Must Loathe Norcross from Summer Devon.

I've been posting book reviews for almost 4 years, and that requires some celebration. Some of my favorite authors will be posting as guests, and we'll be doing some giveaways. Blogoversary week is coming, so stick with us. Bring your friends!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Out in the Open by A.J. Truman

Title: Out in The Open (Browerton University Book 1)
Author: A.J. Truman
Purchase at Amazon
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: James of Goonwrite.com
Genre: NA, contemporary
Length: 208 pages, 61,000 words
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf

Libraries are meant for studying – not sex

College sophomore Ethan Follett never says what’s on his mind and never wants to rock the boat. After a high school social life spent anonymous and alone, things are finally falling into place for him. He’s found a group of friends just as studious as he, and is on track for a promising legal career. Out in the open, things couldn’t be better, but secretly Ethan yearns for some real excitement in his life.

He finds it in cocky fratboy Greg Sanderson, who challenges every rigid, preconceived notion Ethan lives by. Soon, their sparring relationship turns sexual, and these enemies-with-benefits get their freak on all over campus. Yet the more Ethan comes out of his shell, the more Greg retreats into his, working overtime to keep his ladies man public persona intact. As the sex gets hotter, and they get closer to getting caught, one part of their arrangement can’t stay hidden any longer: love.

OUT IN THE OPEN is a M/M new adult romance filled with humor, heart, and hot guys. The book is intended for audiences 18+ as it contains explicit sex and language.
When the hot guy in your political science class would rather talk to you than take notes, it’s hard to ignore. Studious, virginal Ethan attracts the ire of the professor but the attention of the frat boy pre-law student who’s the hottest and darn near only guy to ever grab Ethan’s naughty parts. Poor Ethan’s confused but interested, and lets Greg tease him into sexual encounters with seriously high risk of exposure, but never a kiss. Kisses are important, kisses might mean Greg wants more than to get his rocks off with the eager nerd.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A picture is worth...

What's on this gent's mind? Is he in costume or does he always look like his goblet should be filled with blood? 100 to 1000 words to tell us, please. Directions here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Wild Horses by Kate Pavelle

Title: Wild Horses
Author: Kate Pavelle
Purchase at Dreamspinner
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson
Genre: contemporary, horses
Length: 117k words, 350 pages
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf, print

A Steel City Story

Homeless pickpocket Kai Alwright steals a cell phone and some cash one day only to find the owner texting him, appealing to his better qualities. The request to return the phone stings Kai’s pride; he rides his rusty bicycle all the way to the stables north of the city, where Attila Keleman, the phone’s owner, offers him a new start in the form of a job and a roof over his head. Soon Kai discovers a natural talent for work with horses, and he makes every effort to separate his new existence from his promiscuous past on the streets.

Attila is a reclusive horse trainer whose dressage trophies gather dust, and whose broken heart has been walled off. His undiagnosed Asperger’s makes life around people a challenge, but though he prefers the company of horses, Attila finds Kai’s presence tolerable—even refreshing.

When a client who rides at the stable with her daughter finds out Attila is “still gay,” she tries to run Kai off—and she doesn’t stop there. Mortified, her adult daughter runs away and falls victim to a dark figure from Kai’s past. Kai joins Attila in a rescue mission that tears the civilized masks off their hidden pasts.
In my disjointed way, I’ve come at last to the first of the Steel City stories. Broken Gait (reviewed here) is the continuation of these two characters’ story, but here’s where Kai and Attila start out. Actually where they really start out is in a story of the same name in Dreamspinner’s Animal Magnetism anthology, but since we have 117k words in the novel, there’s certainly more going on.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Coming this week

Thanks for sticking around! My heart was in Chicago where it was fangirling on everyone at GRL, I think if I'd actually been there I would have swooned. Maybe some day!

Here on the home front, we had reviews for Seducing Jordan by Andrea Dalling, a bit of erotic coming out, and Broken Gait from Kate Pavelle. Also, Officer Hotty showed up on Thursday. Plot bunny, anyone?

Broken Gait has a book 1, which is Wild Horses. Of course, because I started in the middle, I went back and read it. Which means reviewing Wild Horses, so it will be a back to back Kate Pavelle week. I'll also be looking at A.J. Truman's Out in the Open.

In some wonderful news, my old review buddy from Jessewave's will be posting a review here now and then as her busy life permits.  I'm looking forward to Feliz's opinions.

Keep reading!



Broken Gait by Kate Pavelle

Title: Broken Gait
Author: Kate Pavelle
Purchase at Dreamspinner
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson
Genre: contemporary
Length: 236 pages, 77k words
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf, print

Attila Keleman can find no flaw in Kai’s work at his stables. Three months later, toiling side by side, Attila is smitten. Proud of his new partner, Attila wants to introduce them as a couple at an upcoming horse show. First, however, he has to conquer his demon. Attila can’t stand crowds of people, and a horse shows means just that. Grandpa Keleman can’t help him with his crippling social anxiety from afar. Attila turns to his horse, Sen. His equine partner is trained to help him through the most difficult panic attacks. With Sen and Kai by his side, Attila knows he can risk everything and emerge out of his comfort zone.

Kai agrees to do the show only to help Attila out of his shell. Once there, the press are all over them. Kai’s personality and looks results in media buzz and modeling offers—while Attila falls apart when Sen goes lame. Unable to deal with the pressure, Attila is convinced Kai would be a fool not to flee for greener pastures. Meanwhile, Kai is hell-bent on showing Attila his weakness is also his greatest strength—even if it means resorting to deception.
This is the third of the Steel City novels. Having read them out of order, I can say confidently that doing so works, and which you’d choose depends on your mood. Broken Gait is a character driven novel of consolidation, while the first Kai and Attila story, Wild Horses, (review to follow) has more adventure to it. Jack and Wyatt from Zipper Fall have the tiniest of cameos here, and the connection is mostly in the location.

The author brings us up to speed on Kai and Attila in snips and details, enough to establish what we as readers need to know about what happened before in order to enjoy and understand this story. We find them here already a couple, but still on shaky ground with each other and with themselves. By the end of the book, they’ve found their footing.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A picture is worth...

l
I didn't do it, Officer! But somebody oughta. 100-1000 words on law enforcement at its nudest, please. Directions here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Seducing Jordan by Andrea Dalling

Title: Seducing Jordan
Author: Andrea Dalling
Purchase/borrow - KU at Amazon
Cover Artist: n/a
Genre: contemporary, coming of age
Length: 26k, novella
Formats: mobi

Princeton-bound Jordan Callahan is done with pining over his straight best friend Rick. He can’t wait for college so he can find a man to drive away his pointless crush. Alone on a camping trip just weeks before the semester starts, Rick confesses he’s been fantasizing about Jordan. With his secret wish within his grasp, Jordan is torn between lust and good judgment. Sex will change their relationship forever, and giving in could cost him his oldest friend.

Rick Ferguson can’t escape his obsession. To get Jordan out of his system, he plans a weekend away together without revealing that the mountain cabin has only one bed. Curiosity gives way to deeper feelings, forcing Rick to choose between his best friend and his own identity. Seducing Jordan could be the biggest mistake of his life.

Warning! This m/m gay erotic romance novella is intended for an adult audience. It contains scenes of groping, fumbling, wet kisses, angst, shirtless volleyball, sex toys, and two-man showers.



Eighteen years old and full of questions, Rick sets up a situation where he can get his openly gay best friend into bed. He’s manipulative, and owns up to it, which doesn’t keep him from doing it again and again, and Jordan lets him get away with it about half the time. Calling BS on your best friend takes some guts, especially when he’s teasing you with what you want most.

Rick genuinely is questioning his orientation, but dragging Jordan into his dithering was pretty self-centered, and he flipflops a lot on what he’s willing to do. Kind of understandable, kind of irritating, and probably why nobody should have to date eighteen year olds except other eighteen year olds. Some of it is sweet, some of it is hot, and some of it made me reach for the cluebat. Flirting with the waiter deserved a quick rap in the teeth. Holding back on reciprocating after being the one to set everything up—grrr... Jordan and the readers definitely get whipsawed.

The guys at least are talking, although a fair amount of what they’re saying sounds like wisdom from a much older person, not young men at an age when they know it all and think more frequently with their little heads than their big ones. It wasn’t always the thought that made me think parental POV, more the phrasing and word choice.

Still Rick and Jordan do cover some important emotional ground, a couple years’ worth in a weekend, and some fumbly sexual ground. Jordan does find his spine when Rick tries to have things both ways, which was a big advance for him and a much deserved reality check for Rick. The story ends on a beginning, a romantic place to leave them. 3.5 marbles

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Coming this week

Oh, we had a lovely week here at the blog! This was our first full week at the new URL, which is www.crysellesbookshelf.com. All previous links should continue to work, this is more a redirect than a transfer. Or so my techies tell me. Andy is my hero, because I could never have figured out the transfer on my own. I cry when reading things like svc.ww.oikjnmo. Put that where? Wahh!

I had some lovely reading this week. Cornelia Grey's The Circus of the Damned was steampunky/fantasy/magical/demony fun. I guess you'd call that genre-bending. Also, I finally got Keira Andrews' Amish gay romance, A Forbidden Rumspringa, up. I delayed to let Reading Reality post it first. I cross post there now and again, and this one was of interest to the readers there. 

Coming up, we have Seducing Jordan from Andrea Dalling, a new to me author, and a new one from Kate Pavelle: Broken Gait. This is a sequel to Wild Horses, which many of you have read and enjoyed. Of course we'll have Thursday's prompt pic, and if  *A*Certain*Author* ever gets her butt in gear, we'll have that prompt ficlet.

Who else wants to play? Any of the prompts are fair game.

Also, the four-year anniversary of when I decided to review systematically is coming up in a few short weeks. We ought to have a party! What kind of cool stuff should we have? Let's see if I can get some of our regulars to help me plan.  I can't exactly do cupcakes.... or can I? ;)

Keep reading!



Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Forbidden Rumspringa by Keira Andrews

Title: A Forbidden Rumspringa
Author: Keira Andrews
Purchase at Amazon
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: Dar Albert
Genre: Amish, contemporary
Length: 76,000 words
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf, print

When two young Amish men find love, will they risk losing everything?

In a world where every detail of life—down to the width of a hat brim—is dictated by God and the all-powerful rules of the community, two men dare to imagine a different way. At 18, Isaac Byler knows little outside the strict Amish settlement of Zebulon, Minnesota, where there is no rumspringa for exploration beyond the boundaries of their insular world. Isaac knows he’ll have to officially join the church and find a wife before too long, but he yearns for something else—something he can’t name.

Dark tragedy has left carpenter David Lantz alone to support his mother and sisters, and he can’t put off joining the church any longer. But when he takes on Isaac as an apprentice, their attraction grows amid the sweat and sawdust. David shares his sinful secrets, and he and Isaac struggle to reconcile their shocking desires with their commitment to faith, family and community.

Now that they’ve found each other, are they willing to lose it all?

Note: Contains explicit sexual situations and graphic language. This is not an inspirational/Christian romance.

If you think you're seeing double, it's because a slightly different version of this review was posted at Reading Reality.

When two young men fall for each other in an atmosphere as circumscribed as the Amish town of Zebulon, there’s only a few branches on the decision tree if there’s going to be an HEA. So everything rides on the style and the details.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Circus of the Damned by Cornelia Grey

Title: Circus of the Damned
Author: Cornelia Grey
Purchase at Riptide

Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: Kanaxa
Genre: steampunk, fantasy
Length: 91500 words
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf, print

Magician Gilbert Blake has spent his entire life conning drunkards in the seediest pubs in the darkest towns, careful to hide the true depths of his power. But when he spends a little too much time in Shadowsea and the infamous slumlord Count Reuben gets wind of his abilities, hiding within the Circus of the Damned may be Gilbert’s only chance at survival.

But there’s more to the Circus than meets the eye. Every time a performer dies, a new one must take his place, or the entire circus suffers the consequences. And while the handsome ringmaster Jesse isn’t one to coerce unwilling performers into giving up their souls to the devil, a recent death in their ranks makes Gilbert exactly what they need.

Yet the longer Gilbert stays with the Circus, the more danger he seems to bring them. Being with Jesse is more than Gilbert could have hoped for, but as Count Reuben’s men continue to search for Gilbert and the Circus loses another performer, they all face running out of time long before the Devil claims his due

~*~*~*~*

Last time we saw Farfarello, he had his hands full with a dissipated blues guitarist. He’s back, again not as the POV character, but as a mover and shaker offscreen. You don’t need to read Devil at the Crossroads to understand this book, but your enjoyment at Gilbert’s consternation will be that much greater.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Coming this week

Well, last week was certainly interesting! We had the latest installment in the Delectable series from EM Lynley, Spaghetti Western, which was a great read, and Duende from E.E. Ottoman. Eden Winters came by to show us the 21st century version of opera singers, who all looked good enough to take home, so we could see where she got some of her inspiration for Sebastian in A Matter of When.

Coming up this week, we have reviews of Circus of the Damned from Cornelia Grey (more Farfarello!) and Keira Andrews’ A Forbidden Rumspringa. This last got caught in a scheduling warp—every now and then Marlene from Reading Reality gets to post one of my reviews before I do.

Of course there will be a Thursday picture prompt. Hot guys this time, I promise. Last week’s picture was hot cat shifters—someone ought to write them a little fic.

I am told by reliable sources that this is Queer Romance Month. I'm all for that: it's Queer Romance Life around here after all.

For various blog posts on all sorts of topics, check the Queer Romance Month site.

http://www.queerromancemonth.com/

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Spaghetti Western by EM Lynley

Title: Spaghetti Western
Author: EM Lynley
Purchase at Dreamspinner
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: LC Chase
Genre: Contemporary Western
Length: 220 pages
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf, print

A Novel in the Delectable Series

Cordon Bleu-trained chef Riley Emerson arrives in Aspen, Colorado for a summer at the best restaurant in town, only to discover his jerk of a boyfriend has dumped him, leaving his heart and his plans in tatters. Doubting himself and longing for a change of pace, he takes a low-paying position at the Rocking Z guest ranch, though he expects nature up close and personal won’t hold a candle to his exciting Paris lifestyle.

When born-and-bred cattle rancher Colby Zane spots a newcomer being pawed at by a passel of horny cowboys at Aspen’s Club Rawhide, he rushes in, throws the guy over his shoulder, and rescues him. Sober, Riley Emerson is sweet and sexy, but not interested in more than a one-night stand. Still, Colby’s over the moon when Riley later arrives as the new cook on his family’s ranch.

But all’s not well at the Rocking Z. Unsurmountable financial problems force them to seek a cash infusion from outside investor Fitz Wellington. Fitz is hot for Colby, and he won’t sign on the dotted line without some very personal incentives. The future of the ranch is at stake, and Colby’s just that desperate, but saving the Z might mean losing Riley.

~*~*~*~*
Well, this was a roundup of emotions, a couple crossed signals, and an excellent ending. I've been reading this series, where the books can be read in any order, and enjoying them greatly. We get a tiny cameo from Josh Golden from Lighting the Way Home, another novel in the series, but the story lies in the mountains of Colorado.

Riley and Colby are such opposites, but they have a huge similarity – they’ll take what the other one says at face value, which makes for a couple of problems. If the other guy is saying what he thinks you want to hear, and not what he’s really thinking, or letting you make assumptions, it’s going to take a while to get to the truth.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Guest post from Eden Winters: Not your Grandma's opera

Eden Winters joins us for a few thoughts on music and nommy men (and it isn't a spoiler that she gets their clothes off in her book, is it?)

What comes to mind when you think of opera? Barrel-chested men and comfortably padded women belting out shrill notes in another language?


In my latest novel, A Matter of When, bad boy rocker Henri Lafontaine meets his match in shy, unassuming opera tenor Sebastian Unger. But while Seb might idolize the likes of Pavarotti and Domingo, he’s of the new breed of opera singer, who are just as competitive about their appearances as the average movie star. And the competition is steep.

And while he definitely wouldn’t pass down a role in tried and true operas like La Boheme and The Wedding of Figaro, he and his ilk are equally likely to belt out popular music as well.

I give you exhibit A: Il Divo. Young, handsome, gifted. And not a barrel-chest among them. Here they are singing Unbreak My Heart (and looking spectacular while doing so).




I'll take two of those, Eden! And the music is fine too! ;)

Eden's been watching more than a little opera lately, and maybe listening to some rock and roll, because her latest book has a hot romance and both kinds of singers. Five marble read, folks.


Wealth. Fame. Gold record. Hookers and Cocaine front man Henri Lafontaine has it all…including a control freak manager, band members who smile as they sharpen blades for his back, and last but damn well not least, a fan out to steal his heart. Literally. Trying to write hit songs and plan a comeback in the midst of the hi-fi white noise of LA feels more like watching his world implode, until he’s offered a month in the Colorado Rockies for vocal coaching.

Sebastian Unger’s rich, classically trained tenor inspires wicked thoughts. More than a pretty choir boy, he cracks the whip without hesitation to drive tattooed bad-boy Henri to give his all to his music. Working, fighting, and finally establishing a fragile peace, they find inspiration and perhaps more in each other. But the clock is ticking. Time will pull Henri back to the grit and gold of LA’s mean streets and fame machine, while Sebastian must return to the opera circuit, where a mysterious man known as “the patron” holds far too much sway. Only the trust they've built on a handful of notes bridges their two worlds...and shields them from malice.


A Matter of When is now available at:
Dreamspinner Press
Amazon
All Romance eBooks

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Duende by E.E. Ottoman

Title: Duende
Author: E.E. Ottoman
Purchase at Less Than Three Press
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: Aisha Akeju
Genre: fantasy
Length: 15k words
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf


Famed opera singer Aimé has a lot in common with Badri, the Royal Ballet Company's most popular male lead. They have both dedicated their entire lives to their art, and struggle to be taken seriously among the Empire's elite. And both harbor a secret admiration and desire for the other.

This year for his birthday Aimé treats himself to a night at the ballet seeing Badri perform, and after the show decides to meet Badri and confess his admiration for Badri's skill. But when that first awkward meeting turns to more, they are left wondering if there is room in their lives for both career and romance...

~*~*~*~*

Remember three-act structure? You won’t find it here. Here’s a beginning, which has some interesting elements. And an end. Foomp. No middle.