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”

FB Author Page:


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!