Living Life in HIGH CONTRAST–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary M/M romance form Tess Bowery. HIGH CONTRAST is the first book in a series, and features an odd couple romance between a geeky college intern and a smoking hot piercer… Rawr!

High Contrast (Evolution Ink, #1)About the book:
The deepest scars aren’t the ones that show.
Jacob Shain is your average member of Generation Screwed. He has a boring internship, no cash flow, and a tiny NYC apartment he has to share with Ethan, his much-cooler, tattoo-artist twin brother. Not to mention his love life is DOA. At least, until his brother’s shop hires on a new piercer, and Jacob’s humdrum life takes a turn for the weird.

Cody Turner is gorgeous, funny and kind—everything Jacob wants in a boyfriend. Except for the way he refuses to talk about his past, or where he lives, or anything about his personal life.

When Ethan is arrested while on a mission of mercy, the reason Cody is so tight lipped comes to light. And while Jacob and Cody fight to understand the depth of their feelings for one another, the police dogs catch their scent. So does the local mob.

Now Jacob has to make the hardest choice of his life: stay safe like a good boy, or dive headfirst into a world he barely understands…and hope Cody is there to break his fall.

Warning: Contains a good boy who wants to be bad, a bad boy who longs to be good, bodies that are canvases for living art and high-speed chases with police dogs.

My Review:
Jacob is a plain, geeky, out gay man, living with his wild, artistic, tattoo-artist brother, Ethan, in an apartment in NYC. He’s serving a summer as an unpaid intern in his BFFs father’s ad company, and pretty much hating life. A Lot. Jacob wants a man, he feels like a fuddy-duddy, and is currently having a major hopeless crush on the newest employee at Ethan’s tat shop: Cody, the piercer.

Cody’s a wet-dream of a man, in Jacob’s opinion. Tall and lithe, with long blonde hair, amazing tats, and soooo many piercings. His junk could set off the TSA body scanners, I bet. Jacob doesn’t know this, at first, he just hangs out at Ethan’s job mooning over Cody, wishing Cody was gay. Or bi. Or bi-curious…

Thing is, they really hit it off, and it turns out the Cody is totally gay, just not interested—-in getting Jacob mixed up in Cody’s messed up life. And that’s not cool in Jacob’s opinion. This book was so refreshing, with it’s motley cast of hell-raising tat artists, poor schmucky Jacob, and Princess Andi, Jacob’s bestie who is also Ethan’s girlfriend. I really dug the total dynamic, and the twists this book took were beyond the pale.

Ethan gets in trouble for running pot for disabled vets who can’t get a legal prescription filled, as a favor to his business partner. Turns out the “po-po” (NYPD) had been tipped off, and that brings the Russian mob, corrupt cops, Cody’s drug-running ex, and a masquerading old Slovak woman into the mix. We don’t know where the danger lay, but we do know that Jacob will save his brother any which way he can, and Cody feels indebted to The Brothers Shain for their assistance in his recent domestic problems, so he’s down for a Dumpster dive or a covert op, when needed.

I loved how Jacob and Cody totally bonded. They are “geeks of a feather” and that was really cool for this geek to read. Jacob’s an upstanding guy–and pretty much hysterically neurotic–so he’s all about not pressuring Cody into doing anything physical–while he’s also doing a serious solid for Cody. Can’t have the beautiful man feel beholden, or anything. Oy vey. It’s Cody who makes the moves here, and he’s so smitten with Jacob it’s swoony.

Expect bad guys who try to hurt good guys, funny guys who make fun of not funny guys, a couple of covert ops run by absolute novices–seriously, it’s like me and my sisters trying to take down a gang–that result in amazing stand-offs and heroic deeds. I really don’t want to give the plot away, but I can tell you this one ends on a really high note, and it’s only the beginning of the series.

Also, Jacob and Cody totally get it on, and Jacob learns the benefits of metal-augmented male appendages. *wink wink*

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

About the Author:

Tess has been a fan of historical fiction since learning the Greek and Roman myths at her mother’s knee. Now let loose on a computer, she’s spinning her own tales of romance and passion in a slightly more modern setting. Tess lives on the east coast, with her partner of fifteen years and two cats who should have been named ‘Writer’s Block’ and ‘Get Off the Keyboard, Dammit.’

You can catch up with Tess on her website, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Changed by a RITE OF SUMMER–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing my review for Tess Bowery’s newly released M/M historical, RITE OF SUMMER. It’s actually an all-male menage, but that’s only part of the story. It’s set in England, in 1810, and brings in some really scary homophobic issues–as well as packing some incredibly tender and erotic moments. It was a great read.

Rite of Summer (Treading the Boards, #1)About the book:
There are terrors worse than stage fright. Like falling in love.

Violinist Stephen Ashbrook is passionate about three things—his music, the excitement of life in London, and his lover, Evander Cade. It’s too bad that Evander only loves himself. A house party at their patron’s beautiful country estate seems like a chance for Stephen to remember who he is, when he’s not trying to live up to someone else’s harsh expectations.

Joshua Beaufort, a painter whose works are very much in demand among the right sort of people, has no expectations about this party at all. Until, that is, he finds out who else is on the guest list. Joshua swore off love long ago, but has been infatuated with Stephen since seeing his brilliant performance at Vauxhall. Now he has the chance to meet the object of his lust face to face—and more.

But changing an open relationship to a triad is a lot more complicated than it seems, and while Evander’s trying to climb the social ladder, Stephen’s trying to climb Joshua. When the dust settles, only two will remain standing…when they’re not flat on their backs.

Warning: Contents under pressure. Contains three men, two beds, one erotic piercing, and the hottest six weeks of summer the nineteenth century has ever seen. (m/m/m – m/m).

My Review:
Evander and Stephen have been together for nearly a decade, living the gay life in London. Evander is a composer and Stephen a violinist. Evander has a patron, the Earl of Coventry who invites Evander and Stephen for a six week holiday at his country estate. Stephen doesn’t want to go, he hates being confined in places where he can’t be himself, and being openly gay is not possible on the earl’s estate. Plus, he has to suffer the constant company of ‘his betters’ which is aggravating. But, if Evander demands he go, Stephen goes. Plus, Stephen knows their livelihood is dependent on Coventry’s whim and funding so he goes… The only upside is beautiful Joshua, a talented painter who is the distant relation, and personal painter, of one of the noble guests.

Joshua has been without a lover since his beloved sailor sank with his ship two years before. He is terribly attracted to Stephen, and cannot understand why Stephen lets Evander lead him around so much. He is startled to observe Evander and Stephen en flagrante delicto in the dead of night, and is even more surprised when Evander invites him to share their bed. Once.

But once is not enough for Stephen who had secretly desired Joshua, or Joshua. They continue until the party is overtaken by news of catamite (homosexuals) arrests in London. Stephen and Evander are shattered–some of the men taken into custody and hung were friends and former bedmates. Joshua wants to comfort Stephen, but his ability to do so is hampered by the suspicions of their hosts and patrons.

The book is a careful study in the emotional lives of both Joshua and Stephen, who share the POV. Stephen is routinely belittled and abused by Evander, and he knows no other life. Joshua calls to Stephen, supports him in a way Evander never has (or hasn’t in years) and Stephen wants to be with Joshua, but cannot due to Evander’s control.

I was really glad to see the unraveling in this dysfunctional relationship. Stephen really grew in terms of his emotional well-being. Joshua, did not grow so much as curl inside himself. He has lost in love before, and is rather brutal with Stephen in order to prevent being hurt again. He wants Stephen terribly, but won’t accept him if Evander is a part of the deal–forcing Stephen to re-evaluate his relationship, and make choices that are healthy instead of comfortable.

The end was a little too drawn out for me. I liked the story, but wanted it to progress a little bit faster. The characters were all well-drawn and felt very realistic in their goals and behaviors. I really enjoyed the depictions of actual historical events–namely the famous London raids–and how it affected the characters. Expect an HEA and some super sexytimes involving both M/M and M/M/M.

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

About the Author:
Tess has been a fan of historical fiction since learning the Greek and Roman myths at her mother’s knee. Now let loose on a computer, she’s spinning her own tales of romance and passion in a slightly more modern setting. Tess lives on the east coast, with her partner of fifteen years and two cats who should have been named ‘Writer’s Block’ and ‘Get Off the Keyboard, Dammit.’

You can connect with Tess on her website, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!