Saturday, July 30, 2016

A Flirty Dozen by JL Merrow

Title: A Flirty Dozen
Author: JL Merrow
Purchase or read on KU at Amazon 
Cover Artist: Written Ink Designs
Genre: short stories, single author anthology
Length: 246 pages
Formats Mobi, print

Together for the first time, twelve short stories of male/male gay erotic romance from award-winning author JL Merrow. Ranging from gritty to giddy, all feature two men finding their happy ever after -- or at least for now -- with a dash of the author’s trademark humour.

Read about boys from the wrong side of town, boys from the right side of town, and boys from a town you really wouldn’t want to live in. Meet a rent boy with a secret, a very earthly version of Cupid, and men with a definite tinge of the supernatural. Opposites attract, wishes come true, and old enemies find forgiveness in this variety pack of eight contemporary stories and four paranormal tales that’s a perfect introduction to the writing of a very British author.

All stories are also available as standalone e-books from JMS Books, or you can buy this collection in Kindle format only and get them all for one low price!

Contains the stories:

* Love Found on Lindisfarne
* Free Ride
* Light the Fire
* Dead Shot
* Stronger Where it Counts
* Jack in the Green
* A Ghoul Like You
* Batteries Not Included
* Making it Pay
* Trick or Treat
* Good Breeding
* A Pint of Beer, a Bag of Chip, and Thou



Finding a collection of shorts by an author I enjoy as much as I enjoy JL Merrow was a nice surprise! Turns out the singles are available, but this is a better deal. Some of the stories have appeared elsewhere, and reading them again was like greeting an old friend. So nice that they stood up to the test of time and memory.

So, I should mention that some of these stories were reviewed elsewhere on the blog. Because, old friends.

Some were new to me though, like Love Found on Lindisfarne, which both had the trademark humor and a wonderful twist to the setting and situation. The opening paragraphs set up some expectations, which… Dang, spoilers, can't tell you. It will make you smile.

Another new to me story was a Ghoul Like You, more supernatural and darker, yet with a twist that takes it out of the ordinary. This author can do a lot in a very short word count! Each individual story is probably under 10,000 words (guessing here) but there’s a fully realized story arc in every one.

Each story is a well written gem. Many are light and humorous, which is hard to as well as JL Merrow does it, and a few go somewhere darker. The order mixes them up, so the pacing is good if you read straight through. The very British flavour hasn't been edited out for American sensibilities, and a few situations will be unfamiliar, but stick with it, it all becomes clear.

If you want something to read in small savory, or maybe sweet bites, this collection is a good choice.
4.5 marbles

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A picture is worth...

What or who is this handsome man thinking about, so high above the city? Tell us in 100-1000 words (Honest, drabbles are welcome!) directions here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Dinner at Foxy's by Silvia Violet, Blog tour, Giveaway, and review

Dinner at Foxys Tour Banner


Dinner at Foxys Cover
DINNER AT FOXY’S
LAW AND SUPERNATURAL ORDER BOOK 3
SILVIA VIOLET
M/M ROMANCE, PARANORMAL, SHIFTER
COVER DESIGN: AJ Corza

BLURB
Fox shifter Luke runs Foxy’s Chicken Shack, known for the best and spiciest chicken in town. For months he’s had his eye on Silas, a young cop who patrols the area around his restaurant. When Silas arrives to question Luke about his cousins’ criminal activities, things blow up, literally, and Silas is injured. Luke will do whatever it takes to see his cousins brought to justice. He might not survive his crazy plan, but if he does… Could there be a chance at love for this fox shifter and his cop?

Amazon   |   ARe   |    Kobo   |   iTunes   |   Barnes & Noble



REVIEW

After Sex On the Hoof (reviewed here), I was ready for another story in this paranormal universe. Foxy's has another couple and another look at the way economic upheaval and the new reality of shifters in society are affecting the world. Again there's a law enforcement angle, with Silas, a babyfaced cop who's much tougher than he looks, and foxy Luke, whose family is definitely into some shady business.

Silas is everything Luke feels he shouldn't want and can't really have: honest, kind, human and breakable. Luke doesn't do relationships, being a love'em and leave'em guy means they don't get entangled in his dirty family secrets. Silas is going to mess with all that, and as a cop, he's already involved.

We have first person, present tense in this story, from both Luke and Silas, which pushes the story along at a quick clip. We get to see a lot more of the shifter angle than in the first book, which was a lot of fun. Luke as a fox gets into and out of trouble, and there's a fun but dangerous sequence where cop work and shifter work collide head on. These guys are hot in the sack, where their preferences fit together.  Luke especially has a strong, entertaining voice--he's bad boy though not a bad guy, and he rocks the attitude.

I enjoyed this story the more for having read the first one and knowing some of the characters. Drew the vampire detective and Jason the stag shifter crime lab tech both have secondary parts. I'm  settling into this series for the long haul,  I enjoyed the read and need the third book. And a fourth, when Sylvia Violet writes it. :) 4 marbles



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dinner at Foxys Teas1

EXCERPT
I’m Luke, and I’m a fox. Okay, I’m a fox shifter, but I’m also hot, a smooth-talker, and I give one wild ride. I run a restaurant in Atlanta. We sell the best damn fried chicken you’ve ever eaten. That’s right. I’m a bona fide fox in the henhouse. Our chicken comes in spicy, spicier, and fuck-me-I’m-on-fire.

The dinner shift is crazy as fuck tonight even though my best people are in the kitchen. I don’t know who decided to send me all the large parties, prize-winners for most finicky order, and downright bitchy-as-fuck complainers, but they are all out in force tonight.

I’m about to take a break. I need a whiskey, but a large sweet tea will have to do since I’m working.

The door chimes as it swings open, and I glance up, expecting another party of nine, half of them gluten-free vegans—at a fucking chicken shack—but, no… Fuck me. It’s that gorgeous blond twink in a cop’s uniform, the one who’s become a regular. His baby face makes him look like he’s playing dress-up. I want to run my hands—and my tongue—over every inch of his smooth, pale skin. He glances my way, and his eyes widen for just a second. Then his tongue slides out to moisten his lips.

Maybe this night is about to improve. Officer Blond and Surely-Not-As-Young-As-He-Looks moves my way. Oh yes. Come to Daddy.

I thought you didn’t do cops.

Sometimes I hate my fucking conscience.

Nothing but trouble there.

I’m not like the rest of my family. I don’t run guns or steal cars. I don’t hurt people or use them. But some of my business interests aren’t exactly what you’d call legal. Hell, the simple fact that I’m a fox shifter makes me suspicious to most people. However, this is one officer of the law I wouldn’t mind having a close acquaintance with.

The hottie in blue reaches the counter. “What can I do for you, Officer?” I ask.

His cheeks pinken adorably, but he holds eye contact. “You’re the owner, right? Luke Redtail.”

“That’s me.” I wink, and he glances away. This is going to be fun.

“I’m Officer Bixby, and I need to ask you some questions in connection with an investigation. Is there somewhere private we could go?”

My bed. It’s right upstairs. “I’ve got an office in the back. Let me get someone to run the register.”

As I turn toward the kitchen I see my uncle standing in the small side parking lot. My uncle who’s supposed to be dead. What is he doing here? “Oh fuck!”

As he throws the object in his hand, I scream, “Get down! Now!” I grab my cop and haul him over the counter. Thank God for shifter strength. I wrap myself around him, but in the shock of the blast, we hit the floor.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Silvia Violet writes erotic romance in a variety of genres including sci fi, paranormal, alternate history, and historical.

She can often be found haunting coffee shops looking for the darkest, strongest cup of coffee she can find. Once equipped with the needed fuel, she can happily sit for hours pounding away at her laptop. Silvia typically leaves home disguised as a suburban stay-at-home-mom, and other coffee shop patrons tend to ask her hilarious questions like "Do you write children's books?" She loves watching the looks on their faces when they learn what she's actually up to. When not writing, Silvia enjoys baking sinful chocolate treats, exploring new styles of cooking, and reading children's books to her wickedly smart offspring.

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Bonaventure and Clyde by Devyn Morgan

Title: Bonaventure and Clyde
Author: Devyn Morgan
Purchase or read in KU at Amazon 
Cover Artist: N/A
Genre: contemporary
Length: 20K estimated, novella
Formats MOBI

Handsome cowboy, meet ravishing ballet dancer.

Hunky cowboy Clyde Walker grew up on a horse ranch working side by side with the rough and tough men that ran the place. When Clyde moved east for grad school, he didn't expect to find romance with the type of guy more comfortable in tights and ballet slippers than in jeans and workboots.

Bonaventure “Bonnie” Rinaldi is jaded to pretty boys. However, as a favor to his best friend during an event at a snotty country club, the stunning Bonaventure becomes Clyde’s guide and dinner companion. Bonaventure discovers that chaperoning the smoldering stranger through the event is a nicer duty than most – Clyde is genuine, magnetic, refreshing.

Sparks fly, passions ignite. Except Clyde is Boston bound, and Bonnie’s the premier danseur with the Manhattan Contemporary Ballet Company. Twenty-four amazing hours together and endless weeks of a long-distance relationship can’t form a basis for life-changing decisions. Or can they? To make this work, they'd have to be Bonnie and Clyde...

Bonaventure and Clyde is a gay romance with happy ending, no cliff hangers, and explicit material.


I approach Devyn stories expecting a light interlude, and here, I got lightness and happiness.
Clyde (poor guy, that name!) is a cowboy with wonderful manners, his sense of social nuance is actually amazing. And so are his buns in black leather.

Bonnie’s the son of a socialite family, who probably thinks he’s slumming to be a professional dancer. They don’t have much problem with his orientation or what he does with whom, and this very sense of blasé makes for some humor.

The men were on very different paths when they met, but they’re willing to make major changes to be together. This comes across more as logistics than conflict. Given the activities of the original Bonnie and Clyde duo, I was expecting something with crime, which doesn’t have anything to do with this story. I’m not sure if this was a wasted opportunity or a lesson to the reader about making assumptions, but the story doesn’t involve desperadoes, only desperation to be together again.

This one’s definitely on the fluffier end of the romance spectrum, but I sure did enjoy imagining them dancing the tango.  3 marbles

Saturday, July 23, 2016

A Time to Rise by Tal Bauer

Title: A Time To Rise
Author: Tal Bauer
Buy at Amazon
Buy at All Romance eBooks
Genre: Paranormal
Length: 109K novel
Formats: mobi, epub, pdf

History says the Knights Templar were destroyed in 1307.
History is wrong.

Vampires haunt the sewers beneath Rome, revenants desecrate graveyards, ghouls devour helpless passersby, and incubi stalk dark alleys and seedy nightclubs in Italy’s capital. Deep in the Vatican, a brotherhood exists, sworn protectors of the earth, and they stand firm against monsters from the dark depths. Operating in secret and silence, they protect our world from the sinister, the etheric, and the evils that exist beyond the Veil.

But it’s a lonely life, and Alain Autenberg knows that more than most. His lover was ripped from him years ago, and he vowed never to get close to another soul again. Even when the loneliness presses down on him, and his empty heart cries out for something more.

Something more comes in Cristoph Hasse, a new soldier arriving in Rome to serve in the Pontifical Swiss Guard. Young, brash, and fitting in at right angles everywhere he goes, Cris struggles in the murky, deceptive labyrinth of the Vatican. Propelled forward by a past he can’t understand, Cris collides with Alain, and both men crash headfirst into the darkest secret of the Vatican…and of the world.

A guest review from Patricia Nelson

This story was the thrill ride that goes bump in the night.

Step aside, Ghostbusters! Out of the way, Angels and Demons! Move over, The Da Vinci Code! There's a new game in town, and it's crafted by the brilliant Tal Bauer. A Time to Rise is the spellbinding and awesome start to the new series Apocalypse of the Angels, and it contains everything you could hope for in a paranorma romance/thriller/action- packed book, and then packs in even more! I was utterly enthralled with this compelling tale, and all I can say is......RUN, don't walk to get this book for yourself.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Thousand Word Thursday scene from Kayla Jameth


Today we have a bonus sex scene from A Tested Love, from Kayla Jameth. I've been reading this series set in Ancient Greece with great enjoyment, and when Kayla said, "I have a section to share" I said YES!  This didn't make it into the final version of A Tested Love, but it's too yummy not to read. The series starts with A Spartan Love, and they're best read in order.

There's more to see of that handsome man who makes such an excellent Halys, so I'm going to put the full length picture behind a cut, along with a very sexy scene!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Sex on the Hoof by Sylvia Violet

Title: Sex on the Hoof
Author: Sylvia Violet
Purchase at Amazon
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: AJ Corza
Genre: paranormal
Length: 23,000 words novella
Formats Mobi, Epub, PDF

A stag and a vampire. Mortal peril. True love.

Deer shifter, Jason Fleetfoot, has turned his life around. After years of taking chances, he’s working as a crime lab technician, and he’s determined to forgo the risky behavior of his past. Then he meets Drew Danvers, the only undead detective in the city. Jason hates vampires, or does he? Drew defies all the stereotypes of his kind and something about him has taken hold of Jason and won’t let go. Jason might just dare to take a chance on a man others would label a risk to his health if not his very life.
The first person present tense makes for a very fast paced read once you get past the lump of backstory in the beginning. It sets everything up, but the brick of “here’s where you are, here’s what’s happening” is something to wade through to get to the good stuff. It references other stories in this universe.

Shifters and vampires are known and part of society, even if regular humans are very wary of them. Society has broken down into moderate lawlessness, and everyone’s on edge. The mistrust is so thick that a vampire detective isn’t allowed to work vampire cases. His specialized knowledge, skills and understandings won’t pass for evidence in court, and the alternative may be vigilantism, so he has to just back off. Except—he can’t, especially on this case.

There’s an awful lot of sex, which is definitely of the alpha vs alpha hot variety. Jason’s a major force in his kind, even if he’s aware he’s not a physical match for a vampire. It’s a source of friction between them, because Jason’s not used to being protected or deflected. Drew should be pleased Jason’s one bad-ass herbivore.

The very pace of the read made me over run the actual resolution of the Big Bad issue twice, or it might be that sudden stop for talk annoyed me into forgetting it, because I had to read the section three times to make it stick. It’s all rather overshadowed by their need to get back to bed. Which makes this book perfect for someone who likes plot as seasoning rather than meat. Sex on the Hoof describes it well.

It’s fun, and hot, and tasty mind candy. 3.5 marbles


Monday, July 18, 2016

Angel Undone by Leta Blake, Book blitz and review

Angel Undone Banner
Title: Angel Undone
Publisher: Leta Blake Books
Release Date: 7/18/2016
Genre: Gay Urban Fantasy
Tags: angel, wings, erotic content, blasphemy, urban fantasy
Heat Level: 5
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 25,000 words in Mobi, Epub, PDF 

Add To Goodreads

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00050]

Synopsis

The Archangel Michael is tired. He fought wars and shoved his brother Lucifer out of heaven all before the Dark Ages rolled around. His role as protector of Israel now encompasses all of humanity, and while he performs his job perfectly, there's little personal joy in it.

Until one night in a bar when he meets Asher.

Michael isn’t sure what it is about the vulnerable, self-deprecating Asher that calls to him, but something about the restrained depths of Asher, his gentle smiles and encyclopedic knowledge of flowers, tugs at Michael in a way that can’t be denied. Too bad romance isn’t part of his mission.

Facing an eternity of perfect submission to God’s authority, rebellion stirs in Michael. Questions of free will, angelic vocation, and the role of love and lust demand answers that just might cost Michael his place in heaven.

Excerpt

Angel wings aren’t easy to fold into the shape of human scapulae, but Michael is accustomed to the strain and hardly breaks a sweat. He forces the long primaries to bend into the upper wing coverts, and then, in moves like feathered origami, he tucks it all in again, before smoothing them under flawless human skin.

He glances in the modest hotel room’s bathroom mirror and pulls on the dark brown shirt that will set off his eyes, before running a hand through his blond, curly hair. The light of his angelic grace glows from his pores, too bright to escape notice, and with a small exertion of will he tamps it back.

Though human form is confining and uncomfortable, the time has long passed when dropping down in a blaze of angelic righteousness was appropriate. Now covert operations pay the dividends of souls delivered from jeopardy. Even if Michael’s skin feels too tight, and his wings are already aching, protection is his business and discomfort is a small sacrifice.

After tightening the laces on the leather, soft-soled Clarks he keeps for nights of trawling the Mercy Street bars, he kneels by the sliding glass door to the balcony and looks up at the stars. It’s a fallacy that heaven is up there somewhere. Heaven is everywhere all at once, and yet when Michael dons human skin, he finds his eyes drawn to the sky when he prays.

He rises. Time to go.

Review

The premise had me intrigued: much more than the usual guardian angel falls for his person story, this examines an angel’s relationship to God. The questions are good ones, and the answers—well, for that you have to read. It’s hard to discuss without spoilers. God makes an interesting secondary character.

The third person present tense gives a dreamy feeling, very suitable for being in the head of an angel. Michael’s physical being is an interesting concept: he can fold his wings into an impossibly small space and use them for shoulder blades, he can manifest physically and touchably, but he can’t or doesn’t think to adjust his facial features. His angelic glow gets away from him sometimes, which is good for a smile.

Asher is sweet. Forty years old and only now able to admit to himself that he’s gay, he’s hovering on the cusp of bad decisions, bringing Michael into his life. And Michael wants to stay.

In his turmoil, Michael consults his brother with experience, Lucifer, who’s running a surf shop on the coast. Lucifer’s funny and irreverent, wistful and untrustworthy. In the end, Michael still has to make up his own mind, and that, as much as the love between him and Asher, is where the meat of the story lies.

I think the author’s heat rating is way over stated, 5 makes it sound pretty darn kinky but it’s more of an enthusiastic 3. The sex is happiness for both of them in a way they’ve never had before. Considering that Michael originally gets in bed with Asher as part of his mission, there’s a pretty nice piece of subversion. The 5 may have been chosen for the way God is portrayed, which not may not fit with all readers' ideas of Diety, but which I was okay with.

This is a very thoughtful story with moments of heat and moments where the best of humanity comes out, in thinking and change and accepting joy, and maybe that’s the best of an angel, too. 4 marbles


Purchase

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | ARe | Smashwords

Angel Undone Square

Meet the Author

imageAuthor of the bestselling book Smoky Mountain Dreams and the fan favorite Training Season, Leta Blake's educational and professional background is in psychology and finance, respectively. However, her passion has always been for writing. She enjoys crafting romance stories and exploring the psyches of made up people. At home in the Southern U.S., Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.

You can find out more about her by following her online:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Thorns and Fangs by Gillian St. Kevern, guest review

Title: Thorns and Fangs
Author: Gillian St. Kevern
Cover Artist: Aria Tan
Purchase at Amazon
Purchase at All Romance Books
Genre: paranormal
Length: 117,000 Long novel
Formats: Mobi, Epub, PDF

Nate is caught between two dangerously hot vampires who can compel people to do whatever they want and a ruthless necromancer who wants Nate for all the wrong reasons—and that’s only the start of his problems.

Escort Nate prides himself on two things: his ability to please his clients and his normality – living in the monster capital of the world, ordinary is rare. Hunter, a darkly charming vampire with more charisma than is good for him, decides Nate is just what he needs. Nate’s sympathetic nature and skill in the bedroom are put to the ultimate test. But Hunter wants Nate for someone else – his brother, Ben. Nate is immediately attracted by the control with which Ben holds his sensitive nature in force. Too afraid of becoming a monster to allow himself to feel, Ben struggles to resist Nate’s generosity of emotion. As a vindictive necromancer makes Ben his target of revenge, Nate discovers that making people feel good doesn’t compare to making Ben feel. As Nate’s normal world crumbles around him, and he desperately searches for a way to save Ben, Nate is unable to escape becoming the necromancer’s latest victim.

But Nate’s death is only the beginning. Coming back to life in the bathroom of Gunn, a Department Seven officer who hates the vampire family that Ben and Hunter belong to, Nate doesn’t know who to trust or even what he is. As the necromancer’s trap pulls tighter around himself and Ben, Nate is forced to let go of normal and embrace powers he doesn’t fully understand. In defiance of Ben’s vampire sire and hunted by Department Seven, Nate and Ben finally learn to trust and rely on each other. But when the necromancer succeeds in capturing Ben, Nate alone can come to his rescue.
 Guest review from Patricia

I was in the mood to read something different than what I normally do, and so when I read the blurb for this new-to-me author's book, I thought, "Why not?" Boy, I'm DEFINITELY glad I did! This intriguing tale started off hot as hell, and only got better the further I read. Just when I thought I had everything figured out, the story took a twist I never saw coming. If you want a compelling tale that grabs you from the very first page, then this book is just what you're looking for.








Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Thousand Word Thursday ficlet from Clare London


MAMIL* by Clare London


Frank looked at Vince and bit his lip. “I don’t know.”

“What do you mean, you don’t know?” Vince sounded belligerent. It was a difficult tone to carry off when clad neck to knee in yellow Lycra.

“I’m not sure.” Frank tilted his head and frowned. “You know I’ve always supported you.”

“But … what?”

“I didn’t say but.”

“Every damned mote of your being said but, Francis.”

Frank’s gaze ran over Vince’s form-fitting jersey, the slogan on his back from the local gay outreach scheme, the thigh-clinging leggings, the tight black fingerless gloves, then back up to his burly sideburns.

Vince pressed one of them against his cheek, a little defensively. “The sweat loosens the glue. All the Bradley Wiggins fans are wearing them.”

“I know,” Frank said gently.

“The right gear makes all the difference, you know.”

“I know,” Frank said again.

“I reckon twice around the park each morning and I’ll soon be fighting fit.”

“You’re pretty fit already.”

Vince scowled. “Finish it, Francis. Finish what you really want to say.”

“What?”

“Oh for God’s sake… you mean pretty fit for my age.”

Frank frowned. “Ever think that’s what you think, Vince, not me? You seem to go on about it a lot. We’re the same age, remember. But I don’t feel the need to wear Lycra and cycle with my arse off the seat and my head so far down on the handlebars I can barely see what I’m doing…”

“Just once,” Vince said, quickly. “Just once, I hit that lamppost. The bike was new, remember?”

Frank moved across the room to stand in front of Vince. He ran a hand almost aimlessly across Vince’s hip. Vince sucked in a breath.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Complexity by Harper Miller (review)

Title: Complexity
Author: Harper Miller
Purchase at Amazon
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: Taria Reed
Genre: contemporary, multicultural
Length: 34,600 (novella)
Formats Mobi, Epub, PDF

Fairy tale endings weren’t made for people like me. Happy for now usually ain’t in the cards, either.

The dents on my wall from where my headboard kept knockin’ against the same spot was the first clue that I needed to calm my ass down. At the rate I was racking up notches and plowing through hookups, I wasn’t ever gonna find nothing real. Guess I kinda jinxed myself. I created my circumstances. You can’t get what you want if you keep falling back into the same pattern of bad habits. But then things changed. I stumbled onto somethin’ I never in a million years expected to happen. You gotta understand, I’m never the guy who wins. It was supposed to be just sex, but that shifty, rhyming and scheming bastard, Cupid, pulled a fast one.

I may have changed some stuff to protect a couple of people. But before you go believing the tabloids, make sure you understand that you’re gettin’ the lowdown straight from the source.

I needed to get this off my chest and it’s only fair that you at least get my side of it all. At some point, I might regret telling you any of this, but for now, you need to know.

*Disclaimer* This is a novella. Not a short story, novelette, or novel. This tale features an M/M pairing. If gay erotica/erotic romance is not your cup of tea and you are offended by same-sex relationships or crass language, you should bypass this story. Content is intended for a mature audience, 18+.

Complexity is the fourth installment in The Kinky Connect Chronicles. The Kinky Connect Chronicles are short erotic stories/novelettes all wrapped up in neat little bows. These stories are standalones. No cliffhangers in the lot!

Read that blurb carefully, because the style you see there persists. The entire book maintains the aggressive stance and spelled out phonetic speech. We stay in Manny’s head in a first person present tense ride through one hot and steamy relationship.

Manny’s caginess in revealing his love interest has something to do with the glare of the Hollywood spotlight on the man who called him for a night of no-strings sex that turned into something more. However, it also has something to do with Manny’s focus—we don’t even get a name for Christopher until close to the halfway point. Christopher is an up and coming leading man, not yet secure enough in his star power to risk getting outed.

So some things you have to take on faith, like why Christopher would hook up with someone he met on a singles site that’s not so very more relationship oriented than Grindr when he’s so recognizable, or bring said hookup to a great place for causing a scene, but the chemistry is immediate and hot. The sex is gritty and primal, and the guys are great together in the sack.

Outside the sack, it’s harder, but they find a way to be together under everyone’s noses, and this works until it doesn’t any more. The story starts with this awful time and backs up to show us how they met and got involved.

Manny’s interesting: he has plans and dreams for his own business, and even if at thirty four he’d like to find someone for more than a few hours, he’s looking for it in places where a name seems too much to ask. His background is Puerto-Rican and Bronx-tough, and he’s not about to tell anyone he likes the guys as well as the ladies. His culture is very present (there’s a glossary in the back if you can’t work the words out from context). He’s also kind of blind to his own bullshit—he’s ready to take offense where none was offered and if he demands something difficult from Christopher, he sure hasn’t thought it through.

While I agree with Manny that what he has at stake should be as important as what Christopher has at stake, Manny’s putting his own needs way ahead. That Christopher doesn’t even get into the blurb is perfectly consistent with Manny’s priorities. I don’t actually like him much—he’s not exactly registering Christopher as a lover, more as a meeter of Manny’s needs and those needs better be met right now damn it.

We only see Christopher through Manny’s eyes. He wasn’t planning a relationship any more than Manny was, and is both surprised to find it happening and devastated to find it crumbling. He seems like a genuinely nice person caught in a publicity trap. The two of them take “not talking” to new heights.

The style hovered at the borderline between okay and annoying on the phonetic spellings of Manny’s narration, which was characterization but also wearing. I was happy for Manny in the end, although I’m very concerned for Christopher. I’m not sure what to make of the offer linked at the end: click to find out what happens next seems more like a “rest of the novel” than a sequel, and while the book ends on an emotional high, it certainly leaves the “what happens after that?” open, and if you don’t mind signing up you can find out.

The story is well written, emotional if only on one side, and ends on a high note. For those who have been yearning for stories featuring an MC of color, this may be what you’ve been looking for. This story’s hot and definitely spicy.  4 marbles




Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Complexity by Harper Miller, with guest post and giveaway

Complexity Blurb Banner



Welcome, Harper Miller! She's here with her new book, Complexity, which I can tell you lives up to its name. My review will post shortly, but for now, I'd like to give the floor to Harper.

Writing While Black (Part 1)
 Harper Miller

Before we get down to it, allow me to introduce myself. I’m Harper. I’m a new kid on the M/M block. Complexity is my first foray into M/M romance, however; I pen erotic stories featuring interracial and multicultural protagonists. *waves diversity flag* 

My characters also have very particular sexual interests hence the title of the series, the Kinky Connect Chronicles. *waves freak flag* Oh, Heyyyyyy!

Check out the bottom of this post for links to the goodness!

The stories are all standalones, and you don’t need to read previous installments to understand the characters who appear in the series. You can jump right in at any point. Whew, now that we’ve dealt with formal introductions can we talk, dear reader? Like really dish? Okay? Good. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Otter Chaos by P.D. Singer

Title: Otter Chaos (includes Tail Slide)
Author: P.D. Singer
Purchase at Amazon 
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: Dar Albert
Genre: Paranormal, shifter
Length: 235 pages 84,500 words
Formats Mobi, Epub, pdf, print


Lon Ewing snowboarded in and turned economist Corey Levigne’s life upside down, introducing him to a world he didn’t know existed. Corey’s still adjusting to a boyfriend who shifts into an otter and raids the koi pond—and now Lon says Corey’s department chair is a werewolf?

Wolves at the university, wolves in the bank—across Lon’s desk sits Professor Melvin Vadas and his hench-wolves, demanding a construction loan for the pack’s new lodge in the mountains. There’s just one little problem: the proposed building site is home to a breeding population of rare fish.

What do wolves care for stupid human rules, an otter who’d barely make a good snack, or one pesky man determined to protect the environment? Once they’re snout to snout with Corey and Lon there’s more than silverscale dace on the Endangered Species list.

Includes Tail Slide

Fresh powder snow and running water in the Colorado back country call Lon like the moon calls the wolves. Belly-sliding to a good time on the weekends makes up for a workweek at a desk, and meeting Corey adds a whole new level of fun to snowboarding.

It’s easy to slip away for time alone in the woods without raising suspicion, but how’s Lon to entertain himself when bad snow and a worse spill force them off the mountain too early?

Never give an otter a box of Cheerios.


Talk about a wild ride! Lon and Corey burst onto the scene and into our hearts with the short Tail Slide. How can a human have as much fun as an otter? By going snowboarding, of course! Corey meets Lon out on the slopes, and romance blooms, all is well, until… Lon’s gotta shift. “My boyfriend is an otter” is enough to make Corey’s head swim. Funny, and with a punch line that sets up the main novel and shows us just how far apart their worldviews are.

All the clues for the novel are in the story, from Pumpkin the kitty to Melvin Vadas, Corey’s department chair and alpha werewolf. Lon’s terrified of Professor Vadas, and when Vadas and Corey butt heads over maps and population studies, you know the werewolves are going to be formidable adversaries. There’s a twist here, and if the werewolves are possibly a little less bloodthirsty than they’re so often portrayed, it’s because they feel the hot breath of extinction on their own necks.

Corey’s remarkably inept for a romance hero, which is both lovable and a little strange, but there’s no doubt whatsoever that he’s devoted to Lon. If he doesn’t manage his objectives one way, he’ll find a different path until he succeeds. Their visit to the aquarium was funny and demonstrative—Lon gets so excited about the fish he shifts, and Corey loses him to a meddling aquarium volunteer who throws him in with the other otters. Corey gets him back, and soothes the after effects with hamburgers and hot smexing. A PhD in economics never prepared Corey to go toe to paw with werewolves, and actually, he doesn’t do too badly.

There’s a lot Corey doesn’t understand about Lon as an otter, and it feels like Lon doesn’t understand entirely either—he can’t think about things the same way when he’s shifted. He risks being caught forever in his otter form, and it’s heartbreaking to watch the slow recovery. Might have been a bit too slow of a recovery, I was ready for him to be himself again a little sooner than the story allowed. The style is smooth and the external plot shows this author’s trademark attention to details.

This is fun, triumphant, good wins, evil is vanquished, love prevails, and Corey, poor Corey, gets to meet the parents and their barrage of meddling questions. The koi pond is both a running joke and a bone of contention, and it just could be the focus of dinner sometime if they have the otter-parents over for a barbecue. Much love, much fun! And there really are cormorants in Colorado, we just saw one Friday. 4.75 marbles

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Runaway Millions by Parker Avrile, Blog tour with Giveaway

Runaway Banner
Title: The Runaway Millions
Author: Parker Avrile
Series Title and Number: The Runaway Model Book 2
Publisher: Paris April Press
Cover Artist: Paris April Press Designs
Release Date: April 12, 2016
Heat Level: 3
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 261 pages (78,000 words)
Genre/Tags: Contemporary Romance, M/M Romance

Add To Goodreads


covermarch4

Synopsis

They're the perfect couple until the money runs out...

Kyle, a rising model, is the toast of Manhattan. Bryce, a wildcatter who got rich in the Bakken gas fields, is an inch away from becoming America's newest billionaire.

But their world is turned upside-down when a competing oil company wrests away Bryce's business, his personal jet, and even his condo. Bryce has no choice but to scramble to save his career-- even though a famous rock star is sniffing around in hopes of claiming Kyle for his own.

When Kyle steps forward to defend another model accused of a terrible crime, he's deported. The tabloids follow him, happy to spread rumors about his alleged affairs with the beautiful and the famous of Europe.

Can love survive when one man is on his way up while the other is on his way down? When an ocean divides the lovers? When the gossip columns can't help stirring the pot? The Runaway Millions is Book 2 in The Runaway Model trilogy. This 78,000 word full-length novel complete with a HEA can be read as a stand-alone but if you prefer to read the series in order, please start with The Runaway Model.

Excerpt

Kyle cleared customs in minutes. Checked into the lounge. Ordered not champagne but a tall glass of cranberry juice over ice.

He was early. Sinking into a deep brown leather seat acres away from any other visible human, he plugged in his phone to make sure the battery was topped off.

In an hour the lounge would be packed arse-to-elbow with screaming, giggling, new-to-business-class tourists. But it was empty and silent now.

A voice call then.

While he still had the chance.

"Bryce," he said. "Pick up. Please pick up, love. I'm about to board a flight to London. I've been deported."

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Guardian by Jordan Taylor, Guest review

Welcome Patricia Nelson!

She's agreed to do a few guest reviews here at the Bookshelf. Some of you know her from Mrs. Condit and Friends Read Books and other review sites, and I was pleased she took a couple of books from an unexpected cornucopia that opened up on me. Hopefully we'll see her byline every now and again!

Title: Guardian
Author: Jordan Taylor
Purchase at Amazon
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover artist: Aria Tan
Genre: Paranormal, angels
Length: 12k
Formats available: Mobi, epub, pdf


On a blustery November day in London, Gavin catches a bus from Waterloo Station to his office. He makes this journey five days a week, year after year, alone. Or so he thinks.

He does not know that his guardian angel accompanies him each day of his life, watching over him—loving him as all guardians must. His guardian’s feelings, however, fall into baser depths. As all guardians know, it is taboo to feel carnal love for a human ward. Such a relationship would not be viable—or healthy. Gavin’s guardian knows this. Lives and breathes this. And yet, to lift Gavin from depression, he is willing to attempt the impossible: to manifest as a human for Gavin and finally meet the love of his immortal life face-to-face.

Guardian contains adult content suitable for mature readers only.

I must say that this may only be a short story, but it had quite an impact. Because of a bad breakup with his boyfriend, Gavin has slowly withdrawn into himself. Isolated and depressed, he's only going through the motions, not living, just existing. His guardian angel is growing desperate, and asked the others to help him manifest into a physical form. He interacts with Gavin, hopefully trying to pull him out of his shell. After three lifetimes of being an angel, Gavin's guardian becomes overwhelmed by the sensations of his physical body, losing sight of why he's there, and almost blowing his true mission. I absolutely love the clever, and very original, way he succeeds. This is my first book by Jordan Taylor, but it definitely won't be my last.


Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Fourth of July!

Have a happy holiday if you're celebrating. You'll find me next to the pool with my Kindle in hand.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Policy Change on review requests


The landscape of publishing has changed a lot since I started reviewing. Publishers that were big have gotten bigger, other big names have dwindled or disappeared, new publishers have come on the scene, and self-pubbing has emerged as source of great reading.

As a blogger, I’ve noticed these things. My metadata for each review used to contain the publisher name. It doesn't now. Somehow that became irrelevant a couple of years ago, and frankly, seemed like an insult to some great books to stick “self-pub” on there, so I dropped publisher's name completely. Which was weird, it wasn’t an insult. It was, once upon a time. But not when I read books like Manipulation or A Forbidden Rumspringa or Spokes.

Maybe it’s because I’ve seen so many great books, and great looking books, that have only the authors’ names, or a mini-pub with one or two or three authors in their lineup. I’ve also seen books that seemed to be assembled by bears using Fortran. Some books seemed to be edited with only spellcheck, if that. Others had clearly been honed to maximum polish. Covers could be elegant or awful.

These exact same criticisms could be leveled across all the M/M publishers,and we all know which outfits are/were good at what.

I’ve altered my guidelines for sending books for review a couple of times in the last few years. The last time, I stated it as a challenge. “If you [self-pubbers] think your work stacks up to the m/m publishers, send it on.”

That was overstating the case for the reality of now, though it was necessary for the reality of when I posted that. Some of what I was offered in those days was awful, both on content and appearance. That challenge spared me some eye-pain. It could have cost me some good books. The general level of craft in publishing has improved.

An author recently contacted me, very cautiously because of that challenge. Had he been slightly more cautious, I would have missed out on a superior read and the promise of more, because it’s the first in the series. So thank you, Osiris Brackhaus, for making me think about what’s really important in choosing the books I read.

It isn’t a publisher name or an outdated idea of what publishers do. Some do it very well. Others have been dropped from my reading universe because I guess I do discriminate against Fortran-using predators. Sorry, guy.



So I redid the policy.

All authors and publishers are welcome.


That’s all. Anyone who wants to offer a good read in a well-formatted package, welcome. I'm not going to ask if the publisher is one person or a company with staff. I'm going to look at the file.

The book I nearly missed out on is Softpaw (Smilodon Pride Book 1). Five marbles. 

Friday, July 1, 2016

A Second Harvest by Eli Easton Blog Tour and giveaway







A Second Harvest 

(Men of Lancaster County #1)

by Eli Easton


Blurb:

David Fisher has lived by the rules all his life. Born to a Mennonite family, he obeyed his father and took over the family farm, married, and had two children. Now with both his kids in college and his wife deceased, he runs his farm alone and without joy, counting off the days of a life half-lived.

Christie Landon, graphic designer, Manhattanite, and fierce gay party boy, needs a change. Now thirty, he figures it’s time to grow up and think about his future. When his best friend overdoses, Christie resolves to take a break from the city. He heads to a small house in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to rest, recoup, and reflect.

But life in the country is boring despite glimpses of the hunky silver fox next door. When Christie’s creativity latches on to cooking, he decides to approach his widower neighbor with a plan to share meals and grocery expenses. David agrees, and soon the odd couple finds they really enjoy spending time together.

Christie challenges the boundaries of David’s closed world and brings out feelings he buried long ago. If he can break free of the past, he might find a second chance at happiness.



         


Available in Paperback


Excerpt


A SECOND HARVEST by Eli Easton
It was Saturday and the idea of doing more cleaning held little appeal. What else did he have to do with himself? Nothing. The temptation to go into Lancaster or Harrisburg was there, to seek out a gay bar, or even get on Grindr. Gay men had to exist out here. But… that wasn’t why he moved here. He came here to get away from all that for a little while.
His mind made up, he went to the grocery store in town with a long list. It was a big-chain grocery store, and he was pleased to find nearly everything he needed. The October day was bright with crisp leaves and a blue sky. When he got back home with his sacks of goodies, it was still early afternoon. He opened the windows in the kitchen—struggling against the one over the sink that stuck—turned up the music on his iPhone, and started dancing around, organizing his supplies and digging out pots and pans.
He made the curried carrot ginger soup, a lovely dish with fresh peas, green onion, and radishes, some savory cheese-and-herb swirled biscuits, and a basic herb-roasted chicken. He truly did love to cook, though the past few years, it never seemed worth the effort. There were so many great takeout places in the East Village. Plus Kyle was such a picky eater. He basically ate pizza and stripped-down salads, and that was it.
It occurred to Christie while he was prepping this meal that it was going to be a beautiful repast, and it was a shame he didn’t have anyone to share it with. He could freeze some of it, but it wouldn’t be the same. He thought of David next door, living alone, and of his TV dinner. Would that be weird? That would be weird, right?
Pushing it from his mind, Christie spent the rest of the afternoon jamming to tunes in the kitchen and working his way through the recipes, having fun and dancing in his stocking feet.
When everything was ready, Christie decided the meal deserved some pomp and circumstance. His aunt had a drawer of tablecloths, but they were not quite his style. He used a white linen towel for a place mat and put each dish on the table in the best china dishes he could find. He used a red cut glass for his water and lit a candle in an old silver candlestick he found in the cupboard.
He looked at the table and chewed his lip. Everything looked beautiful. It smelled amazing too. He sucked some chicken juice from his thumb—yum. It almost seemed like a waste to eat it. He wished someone were here to share the meal with him. Anyone, really. The idea he’d avoided thinking about while cooking poked its head out again.
Well. He’d never been exactly shy. If he was going to do this, he had to do it quickly. The food was getting cold.
With a nervous shake of his head, Christie decided. He cut the roast chicken in half and put it on a large plate with a little bit of everything else, covered it with aluminum foil, and ran out the back door.
He hadn’t been to the Fisher’s farm before, and it turned out to be a longer trip down the gravel lane than he anticipated, maybe a quarter mile. He kept up a jog, worried about the food getting ruined. Between that and his nerves, he had a fine sheen of sweat when he got there.
David’s farm was beautiful. The white barn Christie had seen from a distance was huge and picturesque. It made Christie’s fingers itch to draw it. The farmhouse was fieldstone with black shutters. Electric candles in the windows gave it a cozy Colonial air and made Christie realize how dark it was getting outside. Why hadn’t he grabbed his coat? It was fucking freezing. He was an idiot—a shivering idiot at the moment.
Determined to drop off his gift without further delay, he marched to the back door and firmly knocked.
Enthusiastic barking commenced. More than one dog—two or three. Christie felt a little nervous. He liked dogs, but these farm dogs might be territorial. And he was holding a plate of chicken. He might as well have bathed in bacon grease.
A deep voice silenced the dogs and the door opened. David’s face looked stern and worn for a moment, but when he recognized Christie, a smile softened it. “Oh, hi.”
“Hi. Sorry to bother you, but I spent the day cooking, and I made all this food. No way can I eat it all, so I thought I’d bring you a plate. You know, to make up for causing you to burn your dinner the other day, fixing my smoke detector and all.” God, he was overdoing it! Shut up, Christie.
“Oh.” David looked surprised. He glanced at the foil-covered plate in Christie’s hand. “You didn’t have to do that.”
“I was bored.” Christie’s shrug turned into a shiver. He held out the plate. His mouth was dry. He was starting to wish he hadn’t done this.
There was a reserve about David, a way he kept himself at arm’s length. Christie sensed that when David stopped by his house, but he put it down to the fact they were strangers. The vibe was stronger here, on David’s turf. Christie felt like an intruder standing at the back door. David was looking at the plate with an unreadable expression. Please just take it.
Then the wind shifted and a delicious aroma billowed up. David’s face grew curious. “Roast chicken?”
“Yeah. It was from a Thanksgiving magazine. I made some sides too.”
Suddenly David moved. “Heck, you must be freezing. Come inside.”
“Thanks. I can’t stay. I just wanted to drop this off.” But Christie was stepping inside as he spoke, welcoming any relief from the cold air.
“River. Tonga. Sit.” David shut the door. The dogs sat obediently. One was a golden retriever and the other a large furry black mix of some kind.
“Tonga?” Christie asked.
“It’s an island,” David said with an adorably bashful duck of his head. He took the plate from Christie and raised the foil, looked at it, and smelled. “This looks really good. You made this?”
“Sure. I just followed the recipes.” But David’s words made Christie feel infinitely better about bringing it by. “Well. I’ll leave you to eat it before it gets cold. I have mine back at the house.”
“Thanks. It beats the heck out of frozen food.” David sounded sincere. He put the plate on the counter. “Hang on.” He opened up an accordion door in the hall, revealing an overstuffed closet with a collection of coats, hats, and shoes. He selected a black woolen pea coat with large buttons and pulled it out. “You’re going to freeze to death.”
“It was stupid not to wear my coat. I didn’t realize it was so far over here.”
David got an amused smile, but he wasn’t looking directly into Christie’s eyes, so he still seemed uncomfortable. Instead of handing Christie the coat, though, he held it open and moved behind Christie.
Christie blinked. He couldn’t remember the last time anyone had helped him into a coat. He held back his arms and let David slip the coat onto him. It fit in the shoulders okay, but it was big around the waist and hips. David turned Christie in a matter-of-fact way and started doing up the buttons.
Christie’s eyes widened, and he swallowed hard. What the hell? Did David think he was a child? But there was something titillating about being taken care of, or maybe it was David’s proximity, his handsome face focused on his task, his rough hands so close to Christie’s body.
Yes, it was definitely the proximity. Wow, David was a good-looking man. Who knew rugged could be so hot? And to think of all the money Christie had spent on grooming!
There were only five buttons, and when David finished the last of them, just below Christie’s chin, he looked up and saw Christie’s face. He suddenly blushed, his nose and cheeks going red. He dropped his hands and took a step back. “Sorry. That was… sorry.”
“I didn’t mind.” Oh God, Christie’s voice had dropped in register and sounded rumbly to his own ears. That was a smexy voice! What the hell was he doing? “Um… thanks for the jacket, David. I’ll bring it back later.”
“No hurry.” David was avoiding his gaze again.
Christie yanked the door open, escaped the house with a silly little wave, and walked fast back to his aunt’s place.
Once inside he found his own food was only tepidly warm, but still flavorful and delicious. The herb glaze on the chicken was to die for, and it went beautifully with the floury-cheesy biscuits and the curried soup. He hoped David liked it too.
He kept the coat on while he ate, snuggling into the fabric and holding the collar close under his chin. It smelled of earth and hay, a slight trace of motor oil, and the smell of a working man—piney, sweaty, and altogether appealing.
He remained in the coat all through dinner. But only because he was cold.