What happened to 2015?!

book meme 6So…wow! The year’s end already? I’m a bit stunned, but also grateful. Some years whoosh by like a snowplow burying me under, but this year I’ve had the opportunity to read some really fun books, travel and interact with fantastic authors and review-types, like myself, and enjoy many moments along the way.

I’ve mentioned in the past that I also write, and I’m at the point of sending out a manuscript to agents coming next week. Fingers crossed that I’ll have the chance to promote some of my own fiction one day soon!

Book meme 3For the blog, I’ve gotten some great stats. Nearly 13,000 pages views this year. Not bad for a relatively unknown chick who drones on and on about books. If you’ve signed up to get my posts emailed, you’re in good company–140 of you special folks right now. Thanks for joining me on this madcap escapade! Lots of people are finding my reviews, and reading them/sharing them. I appreciate that so much, because it’s not easy reading and writing content to support the blog. It takes hours and hours each day, in fact. My hubs will attest he’d much rather I gave (most of) it up, so I could just sit and veg out watching TV with him…crossing his fingers that that might ever happen. TV is not really my thing.

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Goodreads tells me I read 375 books this year, but it’s been more. I didn’t log all my reads, though there are few that didn’t get reviews there. I have had a great time working with Joyfully Jay Reviews, picking up some excellent reads through their platform and generally interacting with those lovely folks. Authors have reached out to me and I’ve reached back, supporting their fiction in the best way I can. That’s a wonderfully rewarding experience, emotionally, and helps my pocketbook from getting TOO frayed. Yes, there are books that I do buy, and I cherish all my books–whether they were purchased or gifted for my review.

As this is a year’s end recap, it’s apt to highlight some books/series that got into my brain in the past 12 months.

Best read of the year:
No question it was CARRY THE OCEAN by Heidi Cullinan. This book touched my soul and left it altered for the better. Having suffered depression in my life, and having close friends/family with kids on the Autism Spectrum, this plain-spoken M/M romance between a brilliant autistic man and his depressive neighbor was spectacular.

Best YA read:
NOT IF I SEE YOU FIRST by Eric Lindstrom. Touching tale of an orphaned blind girl who learns to “see” everyone she knows in the best light–even herself.

Best YA series:
I’ve really enjoyed reading the Backstage Pass series of contemporary YA romances between the members of the boy band Seconds To Juliet and the smart, worthwhile girls the boys all fall for. There are five books in the series, and I think I reviewed 4 of them…
Abby and the Cute One, Mia and the Bad Boy, Anya and the Shy Guy, Daisy and the Front Man.

Book Meme-1Best Adrenaline Rush:
KICK AT THE DARKNESS by Keira Andrews, a zombie apocalypse M/M romance kept me glued to my iPad long into the night, and the next day.

Best SciFi series:
I’ve really enjoyed the AI world carved out by Susan Kaye Quinn’s Legacy Human series. It’s a bit dystopian, a bit tech and a bit romance. And I love all those bits! Looking forward to reading more of this in 2016. THE LEGACY HUMAN, THE DUALITY BRIDGE, STORIES OF SINGULARITY.

Best contemporary New Adult series:
Karen Stivali’s Moments in Time series is really a must read for me. This is a contemporary M/M romance which is emotional and sexy, at the same time. I’ve loved all four Moments books so far, and eagerly anticipate the next release. MOMENT OF IMPACT, MOMENT OF TRUTH, MOMENT OF CLARITY, and MOMENT OF SILENCE.
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Best Paranormal Romance:
THE SECRET CASEBOOK OF SIMON FEXIMAL by KJ Charles rocked my world and set it right again. Historical M/M paranormal romance that kept me turning the page long after I went to bed.

Most Resilient Heroines: (Teen)
Ivy in THE REVOLUTION OF IVY by Amy Engel–She takes on her entire desolate town and finds the true love of her life. YA dystopian.

Lulu in MY BEST EVERYTHING by Sarah Tomp. West Virginian high school senior Lulu’s college fund has dried up, but she can’t bear to stay in her small town any longer. So, she enlists the help of Mason to make a fortune selling illegal moonshine. YA contemporary.

Morgan La Fey in SWORD by Realm Lovejoy. Morgan kidnaps a prince, drags him through the swamps of Camelot and helps him find Excalibur–all to thwart a murder plot. And her execution? Wow. YA fantasy.
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Best Action/Adventure:
I AM THE TRAITOR is the final installment in the Unknown Assassin series by Allen Zadoff. You really need to strap in and read I AM THE WEAPON and I AM THE MISSION, first. You’ll thank me. YA contemporary.

Best Enemies to Lovers:
Historical
TO LOVE A TRAITOR by JL Merrow really flipped all my historical British M/M romance switches…
Christmas Romance
IF ONLY IN MY DREAMS by Keira Andrews took two battered hearts and shoved them into a car on a cross-country trek to make it home in time for Christmas. Swoon.

Best erotica:
The CAUGHT ON CAMERA series by Lily Harlem is spectacular M/M romance. Just loved all the sexy sexy bits, and the romance that developed between two new-to-porn stars on a filming trip was tender and lovely.

Best Menage:
M/F/M
THREE TWO ONE by JA Huss. Hot and chilling, by turns. This is a dark romance and not everyone makes it out alive.
M/M/M
SHARING A POND by Alex Whitehall. Frog Shifters. Pretty much knocked me out. Not the sexytimes, as those were satisfactory, but the emotional issues were excellent, and I’ve got a thing for frogs, I think.
Historical M/F/M:
THE MISTRESS AND HER MEN by Julia Talbot. A sassy widow and a daring nobleman–plus some BDSM? Yes, mistress!
Historical M/M/M:
RITE OF SUMMER by Tess Bowery was so loving and tender, and troubled.

Best Near Historical:
IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT by Judy Blume, historical fiction featuring her true-life experience of living in a town where three airplanes crashed within 59 days of each other. Harrowing!

Best Recovery Story:
CLEAN by Mia Kerick. This one gave me chills. M/M YA romance between two guys who’ve been down and out and almost didn’t make it.

book-meme-8Best Subculture:
Who knew the Amish would captivate me? I adored Keira Andrew’s M/M Amish Romances A FORBIDDEN RUMSPRINGA, A CLEAN BREAK, and A WAY HOME. They really touched my heart.

Honestly, I could go on for blogs, and blogs. But I won’t; books to read, books to write after all! That said, I’m looking forward to sharing reviews for great books in the coming year and I hope you’ll enjoy reading along with me.

Feel free to send me your recommendations. Goodness knows, I’ll probably pick it up. (Fiction, and preferably romance-ish, though. I don’t review non-fiction, memoir or cookbooks.)

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!
Book Meme 2

 

Taboo Love: QUILLON’S COVERT–Review and Kindle Giveaway

Hi there! Well, this is my last review post of 2015–tomorrow I’ll feature a “Best Of” recap–and I figured why not go out with a bang. I had my curiosity piqued regarding a new M/M taboo romance QUILLON’S COVERT from the writing team of Joseph Lance Tonlet and Louis Stevens so I went for it.

You’ll remember that I absolutely loved Tonlet’s GRIF’S TOY, and I’m no stranger to taboo romance. I read VC Andrews’ FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC when I was in seventh grade. So, at age 13, my first experience reading sex was the rape of a sister by her beloved brother. And I followed that series with MY SWEET AUDRINA which featured the gang rape of a pre-teen girl. So, yeah, my HEAs got off to a VERY rocky start!

That said, QUILLON’S COVERT is an erotic taboo romance that has graphic depictions of consensual incest between a father and son. It includes, as an off-shoot, adultery, as both characters are married at points in the story. If any of these are a trigger for you, avoid the book.

The authors have hosted a series of blog posts in support of the book, which features some candid thoughts and snippets regarding the book’s content and their philosophy. You can access those here. I was not part of that tour, but I read and enjoyed the book enough to recommend it. And there’s a huge giveaway that includes a Kindle, which you can enter down below.

Quillon's CovertAbout the book:
Martin is a guy’s guy, one who enjoys the simple things in life: baseball games with his son, family days, barbecues, and date nights with his lovely wife.

Once a year for two weeks, Martin takes his son, Marty, to Quillon’s Covert, a rustic family cabin secluded in the beautiful California mountains. Since before those long days of learning to play ball, Marty has loved his dad, but as Marty matures, Martin starts to see something else settle in his son’s uncertain gaze. What’s there lingers a little more than it should, and it seems far more appraising than it once was.

As Marty shows every sign of taking the lead, Martin is faced with the tough choices most parents never see: lose his son by being a father, or try to balance what’s best for their relationship by being something… more.

But with another trip to Quillon’s Covert on the horizon, has the point of no return already begun?

Note: This book contains incest. GAY, EROTICA, ROMANCE, TABOO, INCEST, INFIDELITY

My Review:
4.5 Stars for this one. I had to dip my toe in this pond–even just to experience it from a simply puerile viewpoint. So many books in the hetero world deal with incest, of a sort–there’s a huge rise in step-brother/step-father romance. And, after my youthful reads from VC Andrews I knew I was in the target audience for taboo incestuous romance.

This is as soft and romantic a love affair as I could envision. I was captivated, despite my initial fears.

Martin Quillon is a doting father who has feared the loss of his son, Marty, in very real terms when he choked on a candy cane at age 6. Marty has struggled with bullying and stuttering, and Martin’s been his rock, a constant source of unfailing love. This is not to say Marty does not experience this with his mother; he does. But the story is only told in vignettes of the two-week excursions to their father-son retreats they take to their isolated mountain cabin every year.

The book begins when Marty is fourteen, a few years into their visits. While on the Quillon’s Covert “compound”–a one room cabin near a lake–they shed their clothes and live one with nature, fishing and barbequing and having a boys time of it. By the time Marty is fourteen he’s beginning to recognize that he’s enamored of his father, but this is still chrystalizing. His father is big and broad and strong, and all that Marty longs to be. The first several vignettes are really there to establish their deep and loving bond as father and son.

As Marty matures he recognizes that he’s not just in awe of his father, he’s attracted to him. He’s 16 and already confessed his homosexuality, and been totally supported through that. Due to some injury Martin is obliged to not only punish Marty (it makes sense in the story) but to facilitate Marty’s hygiene, and this is the first time that Martin begins to suspect Marty has more than a filial affection for him. Because we have been privy to both characters’ POV, we know that Marty has long desired his father, in a pure love sense.

I will not be coy about this: there is a physical sexual relationship between Marty and his father. This is fully desired and incited by Marty–and only becomes fully physical once Marty is 18 y/o. The result is a spectacularly tender relationship that exists only two weeks a year. It’s expressly a loving experience, one the men anticipate for 50 weeks each year as the story winds on. This continues for…years. As a kid I watched SAME TIME NEXT YEAR (which was wholly inappropriate both of me, and for me) and this book has the same sense of two people finding a respite together in a socially-unacceptable relationship. During this time Marty matures, grows into his manhood, and still never wants his precious alone time with Martin to change. The sexual encounters become more defined and explicit as the story continues. They are determinedly honest.

“No,” Marty began at length, “I don’t feel guilty.” He looked up and met Martin’s interested gaze. “What I mean is, I look at the cabin, at our time here, as a bubble–and I’ve thought about it in those terms for years.”

“A bubble?”

Marty nodded against Martin’s knee. “Our ‘real life’ doesn’t touch out time here, and our time here doesn’t touch our ‘real life’. I said before I’ve accepted that we’ll never live as a couple, and I meant that. It’s taken me a long time to get to that point, but it’s true, Dad.”…”What we do here is between us and no one else.”

I think the biggest problem I had with this one–setting the incest angle completely aside–was this infidelity issue. As mentioned, I read a metric ton of VC Andrews as a kid, so I’m kinda inured to incest. Also, this book has such tenderness, such love, I was less afraid of the damage that Marty might have–especially as he was always the aggressor. No, I think I had this niggle in the back of my mind regarding Martin’s wife, and later, Marty’s husband. I was not satisfied by the epilogue which brought Marty’s son to the lake house–while the shenanigans continued. As a parent, I’m well-versed in getting sexytimes in under the oblivious eye of a toddler, and yet this somehow upset me. It’s probably some hang-up of mine, but it still got to me. I think I would have liked the end better if Little M had stayed home with his other daddy.

That said, this is a well-written taboo story that explored a consensual father-son sexual relationship that was so carefully written as to be a romance.

Interested? You can find QUILLON’S COVERT on Goodreads, Payhip, AllRomance, Smashwords, and Paperback. It is not available at many ebook sellers due to its taboo content.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter link to enter a giveaway for MANY prizes, including a Kindle Fire 7, and several ebooks, audiobooks and signed paperbacks.

Good Luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Authors:
Joseph Lance Tonlet is a born and raised Southern Californian—with a twenty-year stint of living in the Midwest. He loves the laid-back lifestyle of San Diego and considers himself lucky to live where people dream of vacationing.

A lifelong reader of m/m fiction, he began his writing career one night sitting at his MacBook and has never looked back. He writes to bring the characters he dreams about to life.

You can find Joseph online on his website, Facebook, Twitter (18+)ElloGoogle+, tsūPinterest, Tumblr (18+ only!), Goodreads, and YouTube.

Louis Stevens is a gay romance author born and raised in South Africa. He was a shy outcast who had few friends in school; generally feeling excluded and on the fringe of society. However, when he discovered gay romance and erotica in 2007, at the age of seventeen, his mind and world opened up.

He wrote his first story, A Better Life, longhand in a 197 page spiral notebook, on his bed every night with a pillow curled under his chin. Although the book wouldn’t be published until 2011, with the now defunct Silver Publishing, he found the experience entirely liberating. He’s considered himself a writer ever since.

Catch Louis online on AmazonGoodreadsFacebook, his website, his blog, and on Youtube.

Their Love Was BUILT–Excerpt, Review and Giveaway

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Hi there! Today I’m sharing an excerpt and review for BUILT, the first full-length novel in Jay Crownover’s new Saints of Denver series. Releasing next week, BUILT is a contemporary romance featuring a hard-working man with a checkered past, and the ice queen lawyer whose heart he melts.

Be sure to check out the excerpt and enter to win a $25 gift card and a set of The Point book series!

Studio portrait of young bearded man --- Image by © pinkypills/Corbis

Studio portrait of young bearded man — Image by © pinkypills/Corbis

About the book:
From the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men books comes an electrifying new spin-off series, Saints of Denver, featuring all the characters fans have been dying to read about.

Sayer Cole and Zeb Fuller couldn’t be more different. She’s country club and fine-dining, he’s cell-block and sawdust. Sayer spends her days in litigation, while Zeb spends his working with his hands. She’s French silk, he’s all denim and flannel.

Zeb’s wanted the stunning blonde since the moment he laid eyes on her. It doesn’t matter how many smooth moves he makes, the reserved lawyer seems determinedly oblivious to his interest—either that or she doesn’t return it. Sayer is certain the rough, hard, hot-as-hell Zeb could never want someone as closed off and restrained as she is, which is a shame because something tells her he might be the guy to finally melt her icy exterior.

But just as things start to heat up, Zeb is blindsided by a life altering moment from his past. He needs Sayer’s professional help to right a wrong and to save more than himself. He can’t risk what’s at stake just because his attraction to Sayer feels all consuming. But as these opposites dig in for the fight of their lives, battling together to save a family, the steam created when fire and ice collide can no longer be ignored.

How about a little taste?

                   I dug my fingers into his wrists and scowled right back at him as his pulse kicked into my touch. “I don’t think you’re an asshole or a player at all, Zeb, but I also have no experience with men like you.”

“Men like me? What does that mean? What kind of man am I?” He was getting angry and frustrated and I couldn’t blame him. It was hard for me to explain why he was everything I wanted but everything I could never have. We were on two different levels when it came to our personalities and I knew there was no way someone as passionate and expressive as he was would ever be interested in someone as reserved and closed off as I was. Where I was the frozen tundra when it came to emotional availability, he was the blazing heat of the desert. I could see the fire of his annoyance in his gaze as he waited for my shaky explanation.

“You’re a man who is sure of himself and confidant. You’re a man who is used to having women fall at his feet. You’re a man who is exiting and interesting.” I lifted an eyebrow at him. “You’re a man who is tattooed and drives a cool vintage truck around, you’re a man who doesn’t mind getting dirty and can create things for a living. All of that is the total opposite of everything I’ve ever known, Zeb.”

His eyebrows went from the deep frown over his nose to shooting up on his forehead and disappeared under the dark fall of hair that rested there. A grin that could only be described as wicked slashed through his beard and his hands tightened where they were still holding on to my face.

“I thought you were going to say a man with a past. A man that has been to jail. I thought you were going to say a man with my history is the kind of man you have no experience with. You surprised me.”

If I was a different type of woman, I might have smacked him for that kind of ignorance. “Where you have been doesn’t define who you are, Zeb. I told you when we first met that I understand that people make mistakes.”

He grunted and moved his face closer to mine. “And here I am on your doorstep with another one. You want me to teach you about a man like me, Sayer? I’m pretty simple to figure out.”

I didn’t believe that for a single second, so I opened my mouth to tell him. There was never anything simple about passion. I didn’t get a chance to utter a sound because before I got a word out I suddenly knew exactly what it felt like to be kissed by a guy with a beard because he dipped his head and devoured my mouth with his.

It felt phenomenal.

My Review:
Sayer is on her own for the first time in her life, but that doesn’t mean she’s left her baggage back in Seattle. Six months ago her father died dropping the bombshell that he’d fathered another child–Rowdy from the Marked Men books. Sayer’s mother committed suicide while Sayer was in her teens, and her father was an emotionally abusive man who found fault with everything Sayer did–including crying at her mother’s funeral. It’s not been easy to open herself up to Rowdy and his friends, but she’s trying hard to rebuild her life.

In doing so, she buys a beautiful historic home that needs renovation. For this job Sayer hires Rowdy’s good friend Zeb. Zeb had spent 2 years in jail for assaulting his sister’s abusive partner. Since then, he’s put all his effort into being a model citizen, including starting his construction/renovation business from scratch and hiring guys with criminal histories, training them to be overcome their past and develop a worthwhile trade. Zeb makes no secret of his attraction to Sayer, and while she’d like to sate her desire for more with Zeb, she’s so ingrained with insecurity thanks to her daddy issues it’s hard for her to relax around him.

Before they can even begin to gain ground together Zeb needs Sayer in a professional capacity. Sayer’s not thrown off by Zeb’s past–or present–she only feels unequal to the strong love she knows he gives unflinchingly. Watching both Poppy and Beryl, strong women friends who have overcome physical abuse, gives Sayer a guide to dig her true self out from beneath her callous mask. While Sayer helps Zeb she becomes more and more involved in his life, and the relationship they both wanted begins. It’s still a hard path, but I liked how they were honest–even when it hurt and meant temporary separation.

I don’t want to give away too much, but I think readers are REALLY going to love Zeb. He is a stand up man, who takes on too much responsibility for others, perhaps. He does the hard work for himself and Sayer, and his steadfast love is the balm to her chafed heart. I think he’s one of the best hetero male leads I’ve read in a long time. There’s not too much sexytimes, though when it happens it’s yummy. Readers may not find Sayer approachable–and that’s by design. I still could appreciate her compassion, even if I didn’t connect with her self-loathing. The end is a spectacular HEA.

Interested? You can find BUILT on Goodreads and pre-order it in advance of its Jan 6th release on Amazon, iBooks, and Barnes & Noble.

***GIVEAWAY****

Click on the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win a $25 gift card and a set of The Point book series!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

Jay CrownoverAbout the Author:
Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men and The Point series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she’ll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.
Catch up with Jay on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

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Buried Feelings in DARK ECONOMY–A Review

Hi there! Toady I’m sharing a review for an historical M/M mystery with a dash of romance tossed in. DARK ECONOMY by M. Keedwell is a full on 19th century sleuthing expedition, and it was rather interesting.

Dark EconomyAbout the book:

Love can’t stay buried.

Medical student Cadell Meredith has been known to acquire “volunteers” from the occasional pauper’s grave in order to improve his surgical skills. While the legality of this practice is a bit murky, he wouldn’t go so far as to call it out and out robbery.

His latest acquisition, however, is different. The body on his table was obviously healthy, wealthy—and murdered. Cadell feels compelled to seek justice for the dead man, but while dissection comes naturally to him, crime investigation is unfamiliar territory.

Furthermore, he’s caught the attention of one of those new police officers, Blaine Breton. A handsome, sentimental fool who insists Cadell is a criminal. A criminal! Cadell is the first to admit he’s no saint, but he’s no killer.

A marvelous game of cat and mouse ensues as Cadell seeks to expose the truth while hiding his own secrets. A task that grows ever more difficult as his desire for Breton grows…and the danger deepens.

Warning: This story contains mystery, mayhem, and a male romance that starts off in the most delicious way possible—mutual hostility. Enjoy!

My Review:

This is a LONG, but interesting, historical mystery with a DASH of M/M romance.

Cadell Meredith is a medical student in 19th century London. Driven to supplement his income by drawing true-to-life medical diagrams for some of his professors, he stoops to stealing fresh bodies from graves, which is how he comes across the recently murdered Robert Treswick, son of an earl and buried unnamed in a pauper’s grave. It’s also how he falls onto the radar of Constable Blaine Breton–of his majesty’s service. Seems Breton has a particular dislike of graverobbing louts, and lumps Cadell in with this criminal sort.

Cadell is drawn into discovering who murdered Treswick and that puts him into contact with Breton more than feels comfortable. The unnatural urges he’s squelched since he and a childhood friend were caught experimenting and Cadell’s father disowned him eight years ago are all inflamed in the presence of the cold and calculating Breton. In order to turn the tables in his favor, and work toward the mystery’s end, Cadell devises a plan to steal one of Breton’s constable suits and masquerade as an officer. This does move the plot along, and forces Breton to follow his quarry, Cadell, more closely.

I’m not going to belabor the talk of the plot. It’s long, and circuitous. I felt as if I was reading Alistair McLean again, at times, with all the misdirection and partial clues. I will say that I wanted there to be more of a spark between Cadell and Breton. They have a very tentative dance–how does a man approach an officer of the law with his unlawful desires, anyway! That’s one stumbling block. The other is the graverobbing. Both crimes would get Cadell swung from the gallows. That said, there are moments of quiet intimacy where a rapport and grudging regard are built. When Breton needs assistance, be it medical or menial, he calls upon Cadell. There are others involved in the morass, a friend of the late Treswick who becomes an intimate confidante, and a reconnection of Cadell with his teen love.

Throughout, however, there is this excellent discipline of Cadell’s to remain obsessively focused on deciphering the guilty party. By the end he’s uncovered three bastards, foiled a theft ring, and solved three murders–while nearly becoming a fourth. If you’re looking for a spicy romance, this is not your book. If you are looking for a complicated mystery with some M/M elements and excellent historical accuracy, this is your read. I did enjoy it, but would have loved a bunch more lovin’.

Interested? You can find DARK ECONOMY on Goodreads, Samhain Publishing, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Cephalopod Coffeehouse Dec 2015–SHOULDER PADS AND FLANNEL-A Review

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Hi there, and Merry Christmas for those who celebrate! It’s the last Friday in the month, and that means I’m participating in the Armchair Squid’s blog hop. So….welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month. Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun. Today I’m sharing a review for SHOULDER PADS AND FLANNEL, a YA coming out romance from Jo Ramsey.

Shoulder Pads and Flannel (Deep Secrets & Hope #2)About the book:
High school football star Guillermo Garcia can count himself among the popular kids—for now. Although he secretly dates Evan Granger, who is openly gay and badly bullied for it, Guillermo doesn’t dare let his teammates, classmates, or close-knit family learn about his sexuality.

But Guillermo witnessed an attack on Evan, and now the school bullies plan to out Guillermo in retaliation. In their small town, word spreads rapidly, so Guillermo must make a quick choice—come out now on his own or risk having someone else do it for him.

My Review:
4.5 Stars for this realistic YA coming out romance. This is the second book in a series, but can be read as a standalone.

Guillermo “Moe” is a high school junior, new to his small Massachusetts town. He’s only been there six months or so, and he’s a closeted gay athlete. A football star. He is secretly dating Evan, a femme out-gay boy in his class. Evan was the MC from the first book in the series who had been assaulted (gay bashed) by two of Moe’s former teammates, Jim and Ray. They were kicked off the team for participating in a hate crime, and sentenced to probation.

Moe feels guilty for being gay. His parents are from Puerto Rico, and they have rather conservative ideas about manhood and family. They moved from NYC due to crime in their neighborhood, and Moe’s both happier and more frustrated. He likes his school more, but he laments the lack of anonymity. In this small town people notice things–like how he and Evan walk around town together. They threaten to reveal Moe’s “gayness” and tease his younger brother Ernesto. Moe fears coming out, and what that would mean for his position on the football team, with his home life and with Evan. Evan is still being threatened–now because people are mad that Jim and Ray are off their team, as well as his own femme style. It upsets Moe that he can’t really protect Evan they way he wants to–because doing so would clearly out him. But, after anonymous calls to his father at work and coded messages he starts receiving on social media indicate, it’s only a matter of time before everyone knows. Should Moe tell his family? His teammates? How “out” does he have to be?

I found this to be a refreshing look at so many aspects of teen life. There are girls who own their sexuality (“promiscuity”) and boys who own their homosexuality and bullies–physical and emotional–and kids taking things “too far” and homophobia and slut shaming and reality. Moe doesn’t always understand Evan’s need to be femme, and even wear female clothing and make up, but he loves Evan, and that means loving all of him. Evan doesn’t want to pressure Moe to come out, even though doing so would make their relationship easier–and probably get the bullies off his back.

Moe’s family is really wonderful, well, his parents are. They are thoughtful and concerned, and care deeply for their boys. His brother is a typical tween boy and has a lot of anger regarding the rumors surrounding Moe’s sexuality. There is much more to this story than coming out. There is hope and acceptance and manipulation and drama. I believe the ending is happy, for most of the parties, and it’s a positive and uplifting message. I expect this kind of situation is less-than-easy to deal with, but the narrative was sensitive and realistic at the same time.

I really like Moe and Evan. They are great kids. Their rocky start is sad, but there is certainly plenty of hope in the end. Also, this is a YA story which has no steam. Evan and Moe spend time alone together, but mostly they hang out, talk and occasionally kiss. Evan has never had a boyfriend before, and Moe wants to take everything slow because he believes, like his Catholic parents, that a sexual relationship is better saved for people who plan to spend their lifetimes together, and high school is too soon to make those kind of choices.

Speaking of Catholic parents, Moe’s parents plan a conference with their parish priest, to discuss Moe’s sexuality in confidence and determine if there will be blow back in their house of worship. Their plan is to leave and find an inclusive church if that is the case. Though we don’t find out the results of that meeting in this story, I really respected this family decision, and the comfort that it brought to Moe.

Interested? You can find SHOULDER PADS AND FLANNEL on Goodreads, Harmony Ink, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

Thanks for popping in! Be sure to check out the review on fave books from my fellow Coffeehousers. And best wishes for a glorious holiday season! 😀

Finding Love as a TWOFER–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a brand-new contemporary M/M romance from Daisy Harris. I’ve liked her books in the past, including CITY SLICKER AT THE HORNY GOAT RANCH, and was eager to check out TWOFER. This is a New Adult romance, that really thinks outside the box, and packs in the steam.

TwoferAbout the book:
Bottoms up!

If a college freshman can’t get laid in sun-drenched Miami, he’s doing something wrong. Frankie Perez is determined to help his roommate get some man action in any way possible.

When Frankie’s arsenal of dating apps, fashion advice, and playing-hard-to-get lessons doesn’t work, he realizes Jeremy needs remedial help. Except tutoring Jeremy in the art of sex gets steamier than Frankie expected—and it scares the hell out of him.

Jeremy’s not sure why he’s wasting his time hooking up when he’s only got eyes for the slinky, sexy roommate he comes home to at night. But the hotter their chemistry simmers, the quicker Frankie dances away.

In near desperation, Frankie suggests the two of them team up to find a third to top them both, forgetting that two bottoms aren’t immune from lusting after each other. In a world where every man is an option, choosing one to love can be the sexiest risk of all.

Warning: Contains questionable morals, copious immature hijinks, an X-rated photo shoot, and disastrous threesomes. Sex toys were misused (but not harmed) in the making of this book.

My Review:
This is a book that is going to get mixed reviews, I think, because it is a non-traditional M/M romance.

Jeremy and Frankie are college freshmen and roommates at Miami Central. They are both gay, and Jeremy is out on campus, but I don’t think he’s out to his family. Frankie is out and proud, happy to hook up with anyone–except Jeremy. They are friends, and he feels bad knowing that his awkward, geeky engineering roomie is a hapless virgin, but he doesn’t want to get into a relationship. His first BF was a jerk, and he is done–DONE!!– with boyfriends. And, Frankie knows that Jeremy is the keeping type. It’s true; Jeremy wants a boyfriend, and he wants to start his sex life with a partner who will be considerate and compassionate. Problem is, Jeremy’s really drawn to Frankie.

Frankie tries to take the middle road of “sex guide” getting Jeremy a make over of sorts, and playing wingman on his escapades. With mixed results. The two-timing TA? Bust. The Grindr hook-ups? Fleeing (quite literally) for his life. Frankie does take a bit of pity on his newly-sexy friend. He works out a bit of experience with him, just so Jeremy can be prepared (yeah right! Super altruistic of you Frankie…) for his meet-ups.

Thing is, Jeremy’s pretty sure he’s a bottom–even without ever having had penetrative sex. Frankie KNOWS his preference, and he’s unwilling to even try topping Jeremy. Instead, he tries to find a top to satisfy them both, this way he can guide Jeremy’s partner into treating him good. Hence the book’s name: “Twofer.” So, yeah, while Jeremy and Frankie are really falling for each other they also recognize a bit issue in their relationship: neither of them can truly satisfy the other sexually. (Jeremy does try topping, and it’s a disappointment.) They enlist a few tops, and nothing really goes well. They strategize. They invest in toys. Things get better, but it’s not quite the end they seek. And an answer appears that they can’t deny–which is where I think a lot of readers could get frustrated.

See, romance readers are often married to the HEA, and this is generally acceptable ONLY for an exclusive couple. Or, maybe, an exclusive triad. Jeremy and Frankie don’t fit that mold, but they figure out what works for them. They seem happy at the end, and I can accept that. Personally, I think the idea of finding one’s true love in college is unrealistic, but that’s okay. Within the setting of the book, they only commit to each other for their time. There are no wedding rings–which is excellent, on account of the guys being barely 20 y/o. I liked how they support each other, and comfort each other and how they make a great pair. Do I think they are going to be together for ever? Unlikely. But, I’m satisfied with their story to this point. I felt convinced of their commitment to each other as a couple, even if they were not exclusive. As a romantic, I am sure I would have liked it more if I felt these guys were a perfect fit sexually–and then I set my rose-colored glasses aside and recognize the futility of championing the love of a couple of college kids. Even if they were a great sexual match, college is a weird time, and lots of people aren’t looking for a forever match, there.

I think if you like interesting couple dynamics, sexy menage action, and two likable guys who aren’t exactly perfect, you’ll probably enjoy Twofer. It’s got a lot of heat, and some terrific humor. The hi jinks are funny, the awkwardness is real and, sadly, hysterical. Jeremy’s a sweet soul, and his patient love melts poor Frankie’s jaded heart.

Interested? You can find TWOFER on Goodreads, Samhain Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and AllRomance. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Retired party girl and science fiction enthusiast, Daisy Harris spends most of her time writing sexy romance and plotting the fall of Western civilization. Her books can be found on Amazon, Nook, and wherever else fine erotic romance is sold.

Ms. Harris lives in Seattle, where she tortures her husband by making it rain. She enjoys watching bridges cause traffic, watching football games cause traffic, and blithely wearing wool socks with sandals. She has never taken a single picture in which her bra strap is not showing.

Want to find out about new releases, general news, and her latest inappropriate boy band crush? Sign up for her newsletter, or check out her website, or twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Happy Book Birthday to SAFE LIMITS!

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Hi there! I’m so excited to share in the release day festivities for SAFE LIMITS by Morticia Knight. I really loved BUILDING BONDS and this one sounds like a great addition to the series! The Kiss of Leather series is a M/M BDSM experience, with lots of feels and lots of sexytimes.

Be sure to enter the giveaway for the first book in this series, BUILDING BONDS. It’s a steamer!

safelimits_800About the book:
The men from Kiss of Leather gather together to rescue a terrified young sub. But it’s Master Derek who wants to keep him for good.

Master Gavin and his boy, Kyle are celebrating their newly established bond when Master Josh calls requesting their help. Josh’s sub, David, needs the men to help his best friend from childhood while they’re away at a BDSM convention in San Francisco.

Corey ran away from his Master after a horrible scene, but he blames himself for everything that happened. No Master would ever want him if they were to find out what he did. Corey’s not sure if he’ll ever feel safe enough to give himself to a Master again anyway, even if all he’s ever wanted was to belong to somebody.

Master Derek agrees to watch over Corey until Josh and David return from the convention. All he needs is another pretty twink messing with his head and his heart, so the older, growly bear of a man determines to keep his distance. But when Corey wakes up screaming after a devastating nightmare, Derek is more drawn than ever to the young sub – the need to keep Corey safe from whatever or whoever has hurt him becoming his main priority.

Kyle and Corey develop a friendship when Corey assists Kyle in the dungeon furniture workshop. Kyle has his own fears – the ones that make him feel he’s broken because of the things he desires to do with Gavin. Through helping Kyle, and receiving his own help through Derek, Corey decides he’s ready to let go of the demons from his past and move forward into a new life.

Now if Corey can only get Derek to believe that he’s ready – and to finally do something about it.

How about a little taste?

Derek was not one to live with mystery – especially with someone under his roof. He respected Corey’s boundaries and his need to keep certain things to himself, but he didn’t think it was completely unreasonable to at least attempt to be friendly with each other. Corey finally answered him.

“I’m usually up pretty early. I can’t sleep much past seven, even when I was going to school and it was the weekend.” Corey’s eyes tracked everything in the kitchen that wasn’t anywhere near Derek. “Plus, I get really tired at night. I used to be the one who fell asleep on New Year’s Eve.”

“Used to be?”

Corey finally looked in his direction. “Tony was more of a night owl. He insisted I stay awake the last few New Year’s.”

“Tony your Dom?”

Corey actually appeared to shrink into himself even more. “Ex-Dom.”

“Hmm.” Derek shut off the burners then pressed the lever down on the toaster. “Hungry?”

“Yeah.” Corey nodded with an enthusiasm that made Derek wonder about the kid’s recent circumstances and whether he’d had enough to eat. He finally lifted his gaze to Derek. “Can I set the table for you? Or…something?”

“I’m not that formal here. You can grab the orange juice and butter from the fridge though. I already have plates and glasses.” Derek wondered if he could draw Corey out of himself a bit more. Mundane topics seemed to be relatively safe. The mention of the Dom had caused him to shut down instantly. “Hope you like chorizo and eggs.”

Corey brought over the items Derek had requested. He set them down then moved quickly away.

“Anything you have is great. I meant…” Corey swallowed, his expression pained. “I meant to say thank you to you last night. I should’ve said it to Gavin…” Corey’s eyes flashed up at him with panic. “Um, Master Gavin and Kyle, but they left before I could tell them. This is really cool of you to do. So, thank you.”

Derek offered him a smile. It wasn’t an expression he employed often, but he sensed that Corey needed some reassuring. “Sure. You’re welcome.” He finished pouring the juice then handed the tumblers back to Corey. “Here you go. Have a seat and I’ll get the rest.”

Corey nodded and did what he was told. Derek found himself intrigued by the young man. It was the absolute last damn thing he needed at the moment, but he couldn’t help it. Corey was too young, too pretty – but he didn’t seem to be too spoiled. Derek ached to know more. All he had to do was figure out how to approach Corey without scaring the shit out of him.

I really love how Morticia writes these BDSM books with such care and respect built in. The love stories always build bit by bit with constant attention to detail from the Doms to the subs they grow to love.

Interested? You can find SAFE LIMITS on Goodreads, Pride Publishing, Amazon (US and UK) and Barnes & Noble.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win an ebook of BUILDING BONDS.
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Good luck and keep reading my friends!

Morticia KnightAbout the Author:
Author Morticia Knight spends most of her nights writing about men loving men forever after. If there happens to be some friendly bondage or floggings involved, she doesn’t begrudge her characters whatever their filthy little heart’s desire. Even though she’s been crafting her naughty tales for more years than she’d like to share – her adventures as a published author began in 2011.

Once upon a time she was the lead singer in an indie rock band that toured the West Coast and charted on U.S. college radio. She currently resides on the northern Oregon coast and when she’s not fantasizing about hot men she takes walks along the ocean and annoys the local Karaoke bar patrons.

You can find Morticia online on her website, Goodreads, Totally Bound, Amazon, Twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading (and commenting!) my friends! Pride-Promotions