Acceleration (Impulse #2) by Amelia C. Gormley

Acceleration (Impulse, #2)Rating: 5 stars

Release Date:  November 30, 2012

Publisher: Smashwords

Available at:  Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Rainbow Ebooks, All Romance Ebooks, Kobo

Synopsis: GAINING MOMENTUM

Gavin Hayes is everything Derrick could ask for in a lover. Gorgeous. Passionate. Great in bed. Derrick finds it very easy to just let himself go, to let Gavin guide him and teach him all the things he missed during a decade of celibacy. In the course of a single weekend, Derrick’s routine is transformed, his mornings and evenings filled with sex. Sweet, seductive, wild or raunchy, Gavin offers to him all the pleasure he’s denied himself for so long.

But learning how to be a lover in bed is one thing. Learning to be one out of bed is another. For Derrick, being alone has become habit. Sharing his confidences doesn’t come nearly as readily as sharing his bed. And after so many losses, the last thing Derrick wants is to become dependent upon another person who might not always be there.

And Gavin always being there is far from certain. With an ex-lover lurking in the background, and the question of Gavin’s future health still outstanding, neither Gavin nor Derrick feel capable of asking for anything more than right now. But neither will Gavin be kept on the fringes of Derrick’s life. Can Derrick let someone in, before the opportunity passes him by?

Review: A beautiful story of growth, acceptance and new beginnings.

In this installment we find ourselves right where we left off in Inertia. Derrick and Gavin continue to unleash their lust and desires and decide to take their sexual relationship to the next level. If you read the previous book, you know that although Derrick and Gavin have been intimate, they have not had intercourse and that it would be an enormous step for them to take. I applaud the author, Amelia C. Gormley, for the way she went about this. It was a big step for them and she addressed the importance of that moment while still keeping the passion level on HIGH.

The scene that she created was brilliant. There was expectation, surrender, desperation, vulnerability and ultimately trust. She brought forward Derrick’s need with his every moan, both their lust in every kiss, nip and suck and Gavin’s hesitation and concerns in a way that was very real to me. It was everything I expected and then some.  Every detail she provided shed some new light on Derrick’s desire to let go and give himself to Gavin and only reinforced my belief that these two are perfect together. I was enjoying it so much that I was grinning like a fool and in the end I was as exhausted as them from tapping the hell out of my tablet.

Of course this book is so much more than the sex. That’s just the cherry on top of all the goodness. It’s about Derrick learning to let go of his past and letting Gavin be his future. It’s about accepting that some things in life are uncertain and that you need to live each day to its fullest and enjoy each and every moment you have with those you care about. It’s about Gavin’s need to find a partner that will be there for him, to share the good and the bad and accept him for who he is – strong and confident with a touch of insecurity, demanding and controlling in bed while surrendering his all to his lover. It’s about the fear of new-found love, acceptance but most of all it’s about trust.

And that is what these characters found. Through each event in the book their trust for one another grew. I liked how the author added some obstacles along the way that pushed them to fight for one another. That just made their new relationship more believable to me. Each character developed throughout the story and I was so proud to see where they were headed and now I am more eager than ever to know how they will end up.

I am emotionally invested in these characters. How could I not when I get to see how overwhelmed Derrick is by all these emotions he’s feeling. He is discovering every part of himself. He is learning to be a lover and a partner, while still learning and trying to understand his needs and desires. And Gavin, so confident and strong, but with a tenderness that melts me. I admire his determination to want his needs in a partner met. He doesn’t want to go back to where he found himself before even if it means that he has to let go of Derrick.

The writing once again was excellent. The way the author went about telling this story was amazing. Each event and every emotion expressed came alive and added to the enjoyment of the story. The characters, their dialog and their feelings were beautifully combined and brought forward in a way that touched my heart and added to my connection with these adorable characters.

I am looking forward to the next book in the series because Derrick and Gavin have won a piece of my heart and I can’t wait to visit with them again.

I would like to extend my gratitude to the author for providing me an advanced reader’s copy of this title in exchange of my honest opinion. It was a pleasure to read and everything I expected and more.

_______________________________________

Enjoy the following excerpt from Acceleration

“I’m dressing as what now?”

Gavin grinned, stroking his hand down the velvet collar of a black coat. He’d already showered and had begun to get ready for the party by the time Derrick got home from coaching football practice.

“A Regency gentleman.” The grin persisted even as Derrick looked at him blankly. “Come on. It’ll be sexy. A little touch of Heathcliff or Mr. Darcy?”

Derrick blinked. “You had movie night with Andi recently, didn’t you?”

Gavin shook his head. “Got this one from you. Way back when you said you didn’t talk much and weren’t a lot of fun at parties. So I figured you could pull off a brooding gentleman.”

“Interesting thought, but I think I’m fresh out of brood.”

“You did say conservative.”

“Yeah, I did, but—”

“Well, what could be more conservative than—”

“Than looking like something off the cover of a million romance novels?” Derrick’s voice rose incredulously.

“No, babe, that would be my costume.” Gavin’s grin widened as he pulled another garment bag out of the closet and spread it open on the bed.

“Those are ruffles.”

“Mmmhmm.” Gavin bounced on his heels. “I’m going to be a pirate.”

“Not the unwashed, green-toothed, scurvy kind, I take it.”

“No, more along the lines of Fabio, minus all the bulky beefcake. The bare-chested, rip-your-clothes-off-and-ravish-you kind.” Gavin slipped his arms around Derrick’s waist, kissing the point of his chin. “You’ve got better hair to pull off the look, truth be told, but I didn’t think you’d go for it.”

“What, ripping your clothes off and ravishing you?” Derrick laughed, clasping his hands behind Gavin’s shoulders. “Just what sort of Halloween party is this supposed to be anyway?”

Not that kind.” Gavin smiled and tugged on Derrick’s hips. “Intriguing as the notion might be. I meant I didn’t think you’d go for wearing the open shirt and leather pants.”

“Leather pants? Were pirates known for those?”

“Only the really hot ones on the covers of romance novels.”

Derrick smirked, peeling off his t-shirt and heading toward the shower. “We’re not going for authenticity here, I take it?”

Gavin’s laughter followed him. “Wait until you see Andi’s costume and then ask me that!”

He and Gavin were still trying to figure out how to tie the neck cloth on Derrick’s costume when Andi arrived at Gavin’s apartment. They might have been done already, if not for the fact that Gavin’s costume kept distracting Derrick.

Or at least, it kept distracting Derrick’s hands.

He hung back, fidgeting with his high collar as Gavin answered the door. He remembered all too well the concerned texts from Andi that Gavin had answered their first weekend together. Derrick had walked out on Gavin the week before, after he had revealed that Lukas may have left him HIV-positive. Derrick wasn’t proud of running away, and he couldn’t make any excuse when he’d come back. Gavin had forgiven him, but from the way Andi had kept texting that weekend, Derrick got the impression she was concerned, either about Derrick leaving Gavin in the first place or his coming back after.

He might not have dated in over a decade, but he wasn’t unaware of the importance of the best friend as a sort of romantic gatekeeper. He had to be prepared for Andi’s scrutiny.

Before a greeting had even left Gavin’s lips, however, a short figure in a tricorn and colonial-era naval uniform had grabbed his wrists and clapped shackles on them, declaring him under arrest for acts of piracy.

Derrick’s eyebrows crept upward. Leading Gavin by the chain between his wrists, the grinning, androgynous figure stepped around him and approached Derrick. She seemed ridiculously slim in the narrow-cut white breeches and naval coat, gleaming with brass buttons. Her dark hair was pulled back in a ponytail at the base of her skull, making her cheekbones appear impossibly high and sharp. Her dark green eyes twinkled and she extended a hand to Derrick.

“Hi. I’m Andi. I’m glad to finally have a chance to meet you.”

With an uncertain smile, he shook her hand. “Hi. Derrick.” He looked over her head at Gavin, who played up his captivity with delight. “I thought you said this wasn’t that sort of party.”

“B.Y.O.B,” Gavin said with a careless shrug. “Bring Your Own Bondage.”

_______________________________________

Amelia C. Gormley may seem like anyone else. But the truth is she sings in the shower, dances doing laundry, and writes blisteringly hot m/m erotic romance while her five year old is napping. When she’s not writing, Amelia single-handedly juggles her husband, her son, their home, and the obstacles of life by turning into a everyday superhero. And that, she supposes, is just like anyone else. Her first novella from the Impulse Trilogy is available through Amazon, Smashwords and other retailers.

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By Chance (Courtland Chronicles #1) by Cat Grant

By Chance (Courtland Chronicles #1)Rating: 3.75 stars

Published: November 26, 2012 (2nd edition)

Publisher: Cat Grant Books

Available at: Amazon, All Romance eBooks

Synopsis: A life of wealth and privilege doesn’t equal happiness—just ask Eric Courtland. Growing up with a cold, unfeeling father and unstable mother has taught him exactly what he doesn’t want out of life or love. The troubled young man prefers a solitary life and is content to keep it that way until a campus emergency saddles him with an unwanted roommate.

Popular, wholesome, straight Nick Thompson is far more temptation than Eric’s prepared for, but Nick’s warm, easygoing manner gradually cracks through Eric’s prickly protective shell.

After Eric suffers a traumatic attack, their friendship gives way to an intense passion. Eric’s no stranger to casual sex, but what he feels for Nick is something deeper, and more fragile.

Independent Eric doesn’t know the first thing about being in a relationship, much less with a lover who can’t even admit he’s gay. But conservative Nick can’t seem to find his way out of his own personal closet.

Rock, meet hard place.

Review: A story of friendship, self-discovery and compromise.

Eric is a loner. He keeps to himself and he likes it that way. A self-confessed slut, he prefers his encounters with his men to be impersonal and without expectations. Then his world is turned upside down when, after returning from Christmas break, he finds himself with a roommate. A very handsome, football-playing roommate. And from then on he knows he is a goner.

Nick is an attractive jock who lives in denial and fear. He seems like your typical college junior, with a former girlfriend as a best friend and a football scholarship. But he is much more than that. He is an adorable, young man who fears giving in to his desires to be with a man. He doesn’t want to disappoint his parents and suffer the ridicule from his teammates. It isn’t until he meets Erick that he starts thinking about giving into to his desires, but even after sharing a kiss, he fights it.

I liked that Nick and Eric’s relationship started as a friendship. It added to the credibility of the story. From the outside it looked like any college friendship, but in reality these two were in constant fight with their emotions and desires, until that moment when Nick couldn’t hold back any longer and gives in. What develops next is a journey of new found affection and lust with heartbreak lurking in the corner.

I love to connect with my characters and although I did get to know them, it wasn’t enough for me to connect fully. I enjoyed the interactions between them. However, I wanted more more about the ‘in between’. I wanted to see more of them as friends and then as lovers. I wanted the tender moments and the laughs and the getting to know each other. I wanted to know about their heartache in the time they were apart, feel their regret and see their growth, so that when they got back together and they made their apologies and grand gestures it would have felt more real to me.

The writing was good although it left me wanting to get to know more about the characters and the pace felt rushed at times. As I understand it, this is a revised edition of a book  from the first series the author wrote. She admitted in an ‘Afterword’ included in this edition of the book that she was “still too green back then” to properly present what she had in mind, so I can overlook most of my pet peeves since I have read some of her later work and can attest to her growth as an author.

Also, this was originally the third book of the series so I understand why I am not getting a complete insight into these characters. I imagine this was given in previous books at the time, so I expect more character development in the installments to come and a more thorough exploration of this relationship. I also enjoyed the back story of the girlfriend, Ally, and how she interacted with both men and the family conflict presented in the story.  It is my understanding that these will be explored further in the next revised books, so I am looking forward to reading more of this series. I am especially eager to learn more about Eric. His pain was very palpable and my heart went out to him the most.

All that said, I still think it was a very good story with great follow up potential. So I encourage you to give it a try because after all is said and done, these are great characters and their first foray into a meaningful relationship was a treat to read.

I would like to thank the author, Cat Grant, for giving me the opportunity to read and review this title in exchange of my honest opinion.

My Reread of Afflicted by Brandon Shire

As news of a sequel to Afflicted was released by author Brandon Shire on his Goodreads Fan Group Page, I found myself needing to reacquaint myself with Hunter and Dillon once more. So I decided to join in the group’s re-read on November 26 to visit with these amazing characters again.

I thought it would be nice to make a record of my thoughts and feelings this time around and since what I have discovered has had an impact on my previous review I felt the need to share it with you. It’s the only way I can be comfortable with myself and be fair to you.

First, a little background on my previous read. Afflicted was officially my first author request for my blog and when I read it I was a bundle of nerves. I had to read it on my phone because the Kindle App on my tablet decided not to work and I was too shy to ask Mr. Shire for another copy of the book. In the end, my nerves and my shyness got the better of me and now I realize that I missed some very interesting details. I am not proud of that fact and I am sorry for that, but like they say “Live and Learn”.

As before, the characters were a treat to read, but I felt more of their connection and their chemistry this time around. This I attribute to the fact that I received more insight into each character. Not that it was not provided previously by the author, but honestly, I missed some of Hunter and Dillon’s thoughts that revealed more about their need to fully connect with one another. That was my mistake and again I’m sorry for that.

I also paid more attention this time around to the role the secondary characters played in the story since they were widely discussed in the Goodreads group’s thread. I found that while I enjoyed the interaction between Hunter and Margie, his best friend, this time I felt that she was a nuisance. The first time I overlooked it, but this time I was so emotionally invested in Hunter’s well being and his relationship with Dillon that I found myself wanting to tell her to “shut it and let Hunter be”. I also took more seriously the scene at the restaurant with Dillon’s mother, Lydia, and her lover Travis. I didn’t like Lydia previously and she is still not a favorite of mine. But Travis I just sort of forgot about. I knew who he was and the role he played in the story, but now I am much more understanding of his importance and Dillon’s reaction to him.

And last but certainly not least, was the chemistry. Whoa! If I found it sizzling hot the first time around, this time is was off-the-charts HOT. Between the blindfold scene and the shower scene I am loving Brandon’s muse even more. I felt every touch, every breath and every moan even more since their connection felt so real to me this time.

Of course, the writing was still brilliant, but this time I really got to experience it fully since the writing style didn’t feel foreign to me.  I knew what to expect and prepared myself for it. For example, the descriptions of the tastes, feel and smells were a bit overwhelming the first time around. This was solely my fault since my English vocabulary is not that extensive. I took my time and searched for the meaning of the words I was unfamiliar with, which helped me A LOT in understanding what Brandon was trying to get across. I spent a good amount of time on the first couple of chapters and especially on that first description Hunter gave of Dillon after their first time together. I dissected those and came away with a lot of insight into both Hunter and Dillon. I continued to do the same throughout the book and enjoyed it even more this time around.

I am glad to say that this reread has had no negative impact on my feelings about this book.

Afflicted is a compelling story of irresistible lust and unexpected love between two complex characters with a unique writing style thrown into the mix to make it a beautiful and amazing read.

Taking into consideration all the things I have stated above AND knowing that there’s another book has made me rethink my previous 4.5 star rating. The deduction was based on the fact that the ending seemed abrupt to me considering I was not certain there was going to be a follow-up book and that I felt they had not taken their relationship to the next level.

Maybe all these new insights can be attributed to the fact that I was not nervous this time around nor was I constantly losing my way trying to read it on my phone. Who know? Whatever the reasons are, I am awarding Afflicted the 5 star rating that it deserves.

Truly, I am very happy that I decided to read this book again and that I took a good look at my previous review. Although I agree with most of my previous thoughts, I don’t think my review did the book justice.

I didn’t believe those that said I’ve grown as a reviewer, but now I am inclined to agree.

Rarer Than Rubies (Precious Gems #1) by E.M. Lynley

Rarer Than RubiesRating: 3.5 stars

Published: July 29, 2011

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Available at: Dreamspinner, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: When Trent Copeland runs into Reed Acton at a Bangkok airport, he thinks the handsome American is too good to be true. Why would someone like Reed be interested in a quiet, introverted gay-romance writer? After all, even an obvious tourist like Trent can see that there is more to Reed’s constant unexplained appearances in his path than meets the eye.

Reed Acton has one mission and one mission only—he needs to get the map that was accidentally slipped into Trent’s bag and keep the mobsters who want the priceless artifact from taking deadly revenge. Trent Copeland is a delicious and damned near irresistible diversion, but Reed can’t afford distractions right now, especially if he wants to keep Trent safe.

From Bangkok’s seediest back alleys to the sacred north, the two men will fight to stay one step ahead of the bad guys and learn that the only treasure worth finding is… each other.

Review: A good adventure story with a little danger, a lot of action and an abundance of chemistry.

Trent is an author who has lost his muse. He has retreated into himself after the death of his boyfriend and has been scared of trying new things ever since. His two best friends intervene and send him to Bangkok – or like his friend likes to call it “Bang Cock”. His mission is to let go, have fun and get laid. As soon as he gets his luggage he meets a handsome American. Reed is a bad boy loner who is set on his ways or so he lets every one believe. His mission is to retrieve the map that was slipped into Trent’s backpack and although he finds Trent extremely attractive he doesn’t have the luxury to deviate from his plans – finding the Ruby Buddha.

I loved Reed. He was a strong, bull-headed man with a tender side. I found him adorable – a very lonely man who is longing to find that one person to connect with. He tried very hard to fight his attraction, not only because he was focused on his mission but because he really grew very protective of Trent. And how could I resist that? He melted me each and every time he thought about Trent and when expressed his emotions to him.

I enjoyed Trent’s voice a lot. He was funny and self-deprecating in a very adorable way. He seemed very real to me and I found myself instantly connecting with him. I could feel his hesitation and understand his inner struggles. He gave himself to Trent and risked his life for him in the off chance that what they have experienced can turn into more.

The author did a great job of taking me to Bangkok and pulling me into the setting, the adventure and the romance of the story. She used very detailed descriptions to make me feel like I was walking the streets, perusing the markets and tasting the food.  The interactions between Trent and Reed were a joy to read. Their dialog was flirtatious and full of humor which helped me get to know them better. The writing was good even if I had to suspend disbelief a couple of times. Some of the scenes were unrealistic to me, but I was already involved in the story and so I chose to continue regardless.

This was a very interesting read and I am looking forward to the next book in the series. I really liked Reed and Trent and I can’t wait to read more about their adventures and sizzling chemistry.

I received this book through Manic Readers and I would like to thank them and Dreamspinner Press for the opportunity to read and review this title in exchange of my honest opinion.

The View From A Rusty Train Car by DeeJay Arens

The View From A Rusty Train CarRating: 5 stars

Published: August 20, 2012

Publisher:  Writers AMuse Me Publishing

Available: Writers AMuse Me, Amazon, Smashwords,

Synopsis: “No one talks about what happens when you fall in love with the boy next door — not when you’re the boy living beside the boy next door.”

Jared didn’t want to do it, but it had to be done. Someone had to sit before the government hearing to explain why a gay man was nothing to be vilified, nothing to be hated or feared… that he was just a man. That is what Jared Montgomery is determined to do. He does so by sharing his story – his and Luke’s story – in the hopes that perhaps even just one more person could understand.

Luke and Jared were battling the odds from the beginning. Growing up beside each other, being best friends, they soon learned that if they wanted to share each other’s company, it had to be done in secret, in the confines of the old train car behind the junkyard. There, they were free of the taunts and jibes, the ridicule and hatred… or were they?

Unable to embrace who he is, unable to deal with the tactics used by his family to ‘cure’ him, Luke forces himself into a traditional marriage that is doomed from the start. His true, self-denied love for Jared, and the hatred surrounding it, is killing him. The question is, can Jared get to him before it is too late?

Review: An overwhelming story of friendship, love, loss and acceptance.

Jared is the new kid in town who instantly finds himself befriended by Luke. They are as different as night and day, but perfect together. While Jared is a shy loner who prefers to keep to himself, Luke is the friendly next door neighbor who welcomes him with opens arms. They are inseparable and their bond is strong enough to withstand anything. Or so they hope.

From their younger days as friends, through their adolescence as lovers until their lives as adults, Jared and Luke’s story is one of love and of hate, of new found love and devastating loss, of new discoveries and repeated let downs.

As young boys they find the joy of friendship and brotherhood but also experience the pain of what it means to be themselves in a society that looks down upon the ones that are ‘different’. Their innocence and the beauty of their love is tainted by this and Luke never rebounds from that. He questions himself and his feelings for Jared. He has no one to ask for guidance and he loses his way. His confusion and pain, so very palpable throughout the page, is overwhelming. From the beginning he wins a piece of my heart and I want to shelter him from it all – from the hurt and the pain, from the confusion and the fear. His inner struggles frustrate me and his self-hatred infuriates me because he shouldn’t be made to feel this way, but it is his unending love for Jared and his acceptance of that love in the end what does me in. It was beautiful. It truly was.

Jared, what can I say about him? From an insecure, shy boy whose whole world revolves around Luke and his love for him, he grows to be an assertive young man who stands for what he believes in and for what he feels. He is dealt some horrible cards and some may say that he runs away from his problems, but I see it as him doing the best he can in unbearable situations. His development is a joy to read, but it is not an easy feat. I am with him every step of the way so I see how much he is broken and how deep his pain is. He encounters horrible events and circumstances that are way beyond his control but he pulls himself together and eventually learns to stand on his on.

Oh, but what about Derrick? Here’s where I am still faltering. It’s been a couple of days since I’ve read this book and I still can’t decide how I feel about him, so I’ll just give you a little bit of feedback that way you won’t be influenced one way or another by me. He came into Jared’s life at a moment when he was very troubled. Like a breath of fresh air, Jared feels comfortable enough with Derrick so he can be himself without fear of rejection. He was openly affectionate and free to live his life as a gay man. True, this can also be attributed to his move to a new city, but I believe that Derrick was good for him regardless. He is consistent, open about his feelings and supportive of Jared. He makes mistakes but owns up to it, however I can’t help but wonder about what could have been if only he wouldn’t have interfered. But in the same manner, I can’t help but be glad that he was there too through it all. You see, totally conflicted.

As you can probably tell by now, this book touched me deeply.

This coming of age story is filled with complex characters, both main and secondary, who grew throughout the story and who were real to me. Of course, most of all I enjoyed Jared and Luke. I enjoyed their interactions, their development and their connection. The writing was amazing, from the range of emotions to the overwhelming series of events presented in the page, the author, DeeJay Arens, gives us a great debut novel. From beginning to end, everything the author expressed on the page came beautifully together to make a great read. It is not a light read, but it is an amazing story of lost love and new beginnings with a bit of a reality check thrown into the mix to make us aware that even though the GLBT community is making great strides there is a lot of ground to cover still.

I received this book through Manic Readers and I would like to thank them and Writers AMuse Me Publishing for the opportunity to read and review this title in exchange of my honest opinion.

Mark of the Gladiator (Warriors of Rome) by Heidi Belleau, Violetta Vane

Mark of the GladiatorRating: 4.75 stars

Published: November 26, 2012

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Available at:  Riptide, Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: After an inconvenient display of mercy in the arena, the gladiator Anazâr is pulled from the sands and contracted to nobleman Lucius Marianus to train his new stable of female gladiators. His new charges are demoralized and untested, and they bear the marks of slavery and abuse. Anazâr has a scant four months to prepare them for the arena, and his new master demands perfection.

Anazâr’s surprised by how eager he is to achieve it—far more eager than a man motivated by only self-preservation. Perhaps it’s because Marianus is truly remarkable: handsome, dignified, honorable, and seemingly as attracted to Anazâr as Anazâr is to him.

But the rivalry between Marianus and his brother, Felix, sparks a murder conspiracy, with Anazâr and his gladiatrices caught in the middle. One brother might offer salvation . . . but which? And in a world where life is worth less than the pleasures of the crowd or the whims of a master, can there be any room for love? As a gladiator, Anazâr’s defenses are near impenetrable. But as a man, he learns to his cost that no armor or shield can truly protect his heart.

This title is part of the Warriors of Rome collection.

Reading Progress:

11/16 70.0% “Bwagaha! “Fuck me with a galley oar!” ohhh, but it’s brilliant. LOL!”
11/16 70.0% “”What in Aphrodite’s magic twat is going on at the domus Marianus?” LUV.IT!”
11/16 55.0% “back to Roman times I go after a WHOLE day in real life. *shivers*”
11/15 44.0% “very good action scenes. But I’m totally confused. Ugh!”
11/15 38.0% “Bwahahaha! “Fuck Fortune for a whore.””
11/15 13.0% “switched to reading @computer ’cause I need instant access to google. I know nothing about Roman times.”
11/15 13.0% “My first book of this type. The challenge is paying off.”

Review: An intriguing and informative story of a Gladiator finding love and acceptance in a world where it is lacking. 

I will start by saying that is my first foray into this type of book. I have read historical gay fiction, but this was way out of my comfort zone. But the unbelievable fact is that I enjoyed it from start to finish. Yes, I struggled with words and names and had to constantly look in the included glossary or the Internet, but the journey was very gratifying and informative.

Anazâr is a gladiator with a heart. That’s how I see him. He wanted to survive but he also had morals. He knew right from wrong and it pained him to do some of the things he had to do to the women and for that matter what he had to endure to live. He is humiliated, beaten and used. He was a slave and he accepted that fact. Yet, in his heart he always kept that bit of hope that he would be set free. And for that opportunity alone he kept going. I admired him from the start and the story only helped in making more dear to me.

And Felix, well he was a character all right. He was funny, sarcastic and over the top. But underneath all that he was a vulnerable young man in search of acceptance who gave his everything and only wanted to be loved by Anazâr. Felix was hilarious as he was adorable. He wore his heart on his robe and I could not help but love him. He opened himself up to Anazâr and then came through for him in the most surprising of ways. It truly surprised me when I discovered that he was the love interest in this story. Anazâr seemed to dislike him so much that I had no suspicion that it would be him to win Anazâr’s heart. Well played Heidi and Violetta, well played.

The writing was exceptional, with a lot of attention to detail and a complete set of events placed just right. I enjoyed the world that the authors created. It was based on actual facts and each and every description helped me in placing the characters in Roman times. The action scenes presented during the story were well written and they kept me entertained as if I were an actual spectator. In the end, the resolution to the plot was perfectly exposed. It was exciting, unexpected and rewarding to me. It paid off to see the story through to the end.

It was a history lesson, a murder mystery and a romance all wrapped up in one great book. I learned a lot from that time while I kept trying to figure out who was behind the threats. Throughout the book I had doubts of who was behind it all. Like Anazâr, I didn’t trust anyone. Not even Felix. Add to that  some great one liners that had me laughing out loud and a hot little scene that took me by surprise and I was a goner.

A great read that opened my eyes to another sub-genre in Gay fiction.

I received this book through NetGalley from Riptide Publishing and would like to extend my appreciation to both for giving me the opportunity to read and review this title in exchange of my honest opinion.

All He Ever Desired (Kowalski Family #5) by Shannon Stacey

All He Ever Desired (Kowalski Family, #5)Rating: 4 stars

Published: November 19th, 2012

Publisher: Carina Press

Available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: A second shot at first love

After college, Ryan Kowalski decided to leave Whitford, Maine, rather than watch Lauren Carpenter marry another man. Now his siblings need his help to refurbish the family-owned Northern Star Lodge and he’s forced to face the past sooner rather than later when he collars a vandal—and learns the boy is Lauren’s son…

The last person Lauren needs back in her life is Ryan Kowalski. With a bitter ex-husband and a moody teenage son, she has enough man trouble already. But her son needs to learn a few lessons about right and wrong, even if Lauren has to escort him to Ryan’s door every day to work off his crime.

With all this close contact, Ryan and Lauren can’t deny the chemistry between them is as powerful as ever. But can a few searing kisses erase their past and pave the way for a second chance at true love?

Review:  A great story about second chances at love.

Ryan is a successful builder who returns home to help restore the family’s inn. He is reluctant to return because he doesn’t want to run into Lauren, the woman he opened his heart to and refused him. But of course, fate has other plans for him when he runs into her and then catches her son vandalizing the family’s property.

I liked Ryan from the start. He was a tortured soul who once laid his heart on the table only to have it be broken by Lauren. He lived his life for his work, having one relationship and nothing more significant than that. He felt real and my heart went out to him and his conflicting emotions. While his heart was saying one thing his mind was being practical and it wasn’t until the very end that his feelings won out.

Lauren felt real too. A divorced woman with a teenage son, she struggled everyday to make a life for herself and her son. Always remembering the one that got away and imagining how it could have been. But she doesn’t kid herself into believing that all will be well if she gets together with Ryan. She has responsibilities and I admired her for putting them first rather than giving into her desires to let it all go and be with Ryan.

I loved their interactions. Their chemistry was very palpable and their dialog very entertaining and revealing. I enjoyed having both points of view since it truly gave me a chance to really get to know their personalities, hesitations and wants. The author did a great job of bringing them together in a believable way. Their courtship may have been short, but their interactions and their history really helped me imagine it could be real. I also enjoyed the secondary characters and the son’s struggles with adapting with his situation with his father. It helped show a different, more assertive side to Lauren and Ryan in how they dealt with that situation and how they related to him.

The writing was very good. I feel that my expectations for this book were met since it was filled with great humor and banter, amazing chemistry and well developed characters. I liked that the events presented served a purpose. Each time they interacted with themselves or secondary characters I got to know a little bit more about them and I appreciated that.

I am looking forward to the next book in the series, Josh’s story. I adored him in book 4 and he really won my heart in this book with his humor and great heart.

I received this title through NetGalley from Carina Press and would like to extend my appreciation to them for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book in exchange of my honest opinion.

All He Ever Needed (Kowalski Family #4) by Shannon Stacey

All He Ever Needed (Kowalski Family, #4)Rating: 3 stars

Published: September 10, 2012

Publisher: Carina Press

Available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: He won’t stay put for a woman, and she won’t chase after any man…

Mitch Kowalski lives out of a suitcase—and he likes it that way. Traveling for work has the added bonus of scaring off women who would otherwise try to tie him down. But when he’s called home to help with the family lodge, he’s intrigued by the new girl in town and her insistence that she doesn’t need a man. If there’s one thing Mitch can’t resist, it’s a challenge.

After a nomadic childhood, Paige Sullivan is finally putting down roots. Determined to stand on her own two feet, she lives by the motto “Men are a luxury, not a necessity.” But when Mr. Tall, Dark and Hot pulls up a stool in her diner and offers her six weeks of naughty fun with a built-in expiration date, she’s tempted to indulge.

They’re the perfect match for a no-strings fling. Until they realize their sexy affair has become anything but casual…

Review:  An okay story about finding love at unexpected times.

Mitch returns home where his reputation precedes him and where  all his failures and successes are laid out in the open for everyone to know. Even new comer Paige, who’s the newest addition to the town, is acquainted with some of them. I have read the previous books in the series and I especially liked Yours to Keep, which is Mitch brother’s, Seth, story. However, I feel that this book lacked something that the others had. Mainly great characters that I could relate to. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Mitch and Paige fine, but I didn’t really connect to them. All that I grasped about them is that neither of them wanted to fall in love and that they had great chemistry.

I believe that what truly made this story just okay was that I did not believe that a guy like Mitch, who was so reluctant to commit and such a ladies man that he had a whole warning set up for his sexual partners,  could so easily fall in love in six weeks. Not to mention that Paige, a woman who lived with a the motto that men were luxuries you partake with but not a necessity in your life, would put all she believe aside and give in so easily. It helped that the author made these characters question themselves in the end. But I still would have loved a more lengthy courtship and more dialog between them about their hesitations and expectations.

That aside, the writing was good but not what I have come to expect from this author. However, I admit that even if the story did not delve too deeply into the characters personalities and explored their feelings more, that could also be just me. I tend to want my characters to be people I can relate to and I get to do that by getting to know them inside out. I can’t say that about these two. The story was not long enough to allow that. The romance felt rushed even if their chemistry was very good. I liked that the author took her time bringing them together physically. It would have been even more unbelievable to me if Paige gave in sooner. Their interaction was very entertaining and I would have loved to see more of that. I think that it would have helped in making their connection feel more real.

That said, it is my opinion that this is a good story if you like ‘insta-love’ scenarios in your romance. I can overlook that if the characters are looking for love, but these characters were so reluctant at first that I feel they gave in too easily to their feelings. I encourage you to try it, if nothing else its a great story of finding love in the most unexpected of times with the most unexpected of partners. It has great humor, entertaining dialog and sizzling love scenes. An enjoyable read.

I am hoping that the next book in the series is more enjoyable. From what I gather there is a back story there and Ryan really caught my eye in this book.

I received this title through NetGalley from Carina Press and would like to extend my appreciation to them for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book in exchange of my honest opinion.

The One Who Saves Me (Home #6) by Cardeno C.

The One Who Saves MeRating: 5 stars (or 5 Diet Cokes, whichever Cardeno C. prefers)

Published: November 12, 2012

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Available at: Dreamspinner, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: At fourteen, Andrew Thompson and Caleb Lakes become best friends. As the years pass, they stand by each other through family trauma, school, and the start of their careers. They share their first sexual experiences as friends, learning and experimenting. And they talk each other through countless dates and breakups. Decades of trust and loyalty build a deep and abiding friendship —until Andrew suffers a tragedy. Caleb moves in with him, and the parameters of their unique relationship blur.

Wrestling with feelings he can’t articulate, Andrew spirals into self-loathing. Caleb struggles to help his friend heal, but he longs for more than Andrew can give him. After so many years, neither man knows how to break out of his established role. After all, boyfriends come and go, but best friends are forever.

My Reading Progress:

11/12 100.0% “I’m grinning and crying and I love it!”
11/12 76.0% “Oh crap! I think I need a bit of rum in my Diet Coke.”
11/12 61.0% “I’m interrupting this feast ’cause I REALLY need to do some underwear research. I’m off to Andrew Christian‘s website.For research purposes, of course.”
11/12 27.0% “grinning from ear to ear and literally LOL. “Trifecta of goodness”!!!”
11/12 3.0% “1989 14 yrs old. I was so there!!! tape mix! Bwahaha!”
11/12 1.0% “Really, it does NOT bode well for my emotional state if I’m already crying with the dedication.”

Review: A captivating story of everlasting loyalty, friendship and love.

This is the much anticipated story of Andrew and Caleb. They met when they were 8-years old and rekindled their friendship during a summer at the age of 14. From this moment on they are each others confidants and best friends – his yin to his yang. They were as different as could be, but regardless of that or because of it, the bond that they forged was unbreakable.

Their bond was strengthened throughout the years. It started with their love of video games and music. Then evolved with the sharing of family secrets, sexual orientation and sexual experiences. As they matured, their connection grew with each failed relationship and every sexual encounter they took part in. It faltered with the pain, loss and guilt Andrew dealt with after his boyfriend’s death and soared and stood its ground when they finally accepted what was right in front of them all along. They were in love. That sometimes elusive happily-ever-after kind of love.

Andrew, after having experienced the pain of betrayal that caused their parents marriage to fail, was determined to find his Mr. Right. That permanent person who would be there with him sharing the good, the bad and the ugly. His search for that person was heartbreaking and every single time a relationship failed it chipped at his soul. His only salvation was Caleb. The one person he could count on to be there. To patch him back together so he could get back out there to resume his search. A never-ending cycle of new found love, betrayal and heartache. It broke my heart to see him go through this. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to smack him upside the head or hug him tight. And this could only mean one thing – he got to me and I could not help but love him.

I loved Caleb too, but I didn’t feel that need to save him. While I saw Andrew like a brother, Caleb was the best friend I always wanted. He was funny and sarcastic just as much as he was adorably insecure. He cracked me up with his fashion sense and the roll of his eyes. I loved his choosy ways, he reminded me so much of myself. He found the smallest fault with the guys he dated and chalked it off to the fact that he wasn’t looking for his Mr. Right. Of course, I didn’t believe that for a second. I reasoned that he knew in his gut that no one would measure up to Andrew.

And of course, the chemistry between these two was awesomeness with a cherry on top. Like a keg of Diet Coke I savored each and every encounter. Their lust, their need and their bond were very palpable. They were in sync with each other knowing what the other needed without being asked. With touches and kisses, with each nip, pinch and whispered word I was melted into a puddle of goo.

Cardeno C, once again, did a splendid job in bringing this story to the page. The journey throughout the years was an enjoyable one. To see them growing from teenagers to wonderful men was a joy to me. Their friendship and devotion, Andrew’s struggles, their lust, emotions and acceptance of each other was beautifully weaved together in a way that truly made this story real for me. The dialog was both entertaining and revealing. The events that took place throughout the story were perfectly placed to have their proper impact on the reader. I was grinning with happiness each and every time they got together, screaming at them to get their heads on straight and crying my eyes out with each betrayal and each painful thought.

This has become my favorite of the Home series books. My expectations were met and then some. Thank you CC, my excruciating wait was well rewarded. I couldn’t have asked for more and as we all know I am a sucker for perfection.

This one is for you CC!

 Enjoy.

Leave Me Breathless (Ross Siblings #3) by Cherrie Lynn

Leave Me Breathless (Ross Siblings, #3)Rating: 5 stars

Release Date: November 6, 2012

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: Leather and lace don’t strike sparks. Or do they?

It’s Valentine’s Day, but Macy Rodgers isn’t feeling the love. Aside from a torrid, one-night fling in a backseat a few months back, her love life has been sorely lacking, but fortunately she has devious friends who feel like playing Cupid. Wouldn’t they be shocked to learn that the match they’ve made for her is the same one that steamed up the back of that ’69 GTO…

Seth “Ghost” Warren has just returned to town after an extended absence. Between his grandmother’s failing health, his job as a tattoo artist, his band’s gigs, and a crazy ex that won’t leave him alone, he’s stretched thin. Cautious cowgirl Macy is the last thing he needs thrown into the mix.

She’s all country, he’s all heavy metal—and Macy knows that if anyone can propel her out of her rut, it’s Seth. But when their worlds collide, it’s anyone guess if they’ll survive with their hearts intact.

Warning: Contains explicit sex, graphic language, road trips, troublemaking exes, emotional baggage, and an unconventional but exceptionally hot hero tatted and pierced for your pleasure…

My Reading Progress:

11/11 100.0% “oh hell! I wanted to hate her, but she kind of redeemed herself there at the end. Just a little bit.”
11/10 37.0% “and this right here – the whining and obsessing and the pretending – is why I read more MM now. Love the chemistry, adore Seth, could smack Macy though.”
11/10 15.0% “Oh My! that was HOT!.”

Review:  A sexy, hot read with emotional undertones to add to the greatness.

Oh Seth, Seth, Seth – my friendly, sexy Ghost. He was the perfect hero. Strong on the outside but vulnerable in many ways. Sexy and commanding in the bedroom, but sweet and adorable too. A man who’s had his heart broken and plans to not get involved. Then comes Macy.

Now there’s a character! I’ll be lying to you if I said that I liked her. I didn’t. I’m still not sure I do. She came across as selfish and whiny and I really didn’t appreciate the things she said or thought. She was judgmental and not a good friend at all. Yeah, she grew into a better person, but I didn’t FEEL that change in her so I didn’t buy it at all. Whatever. At almost 50% of the book, I still couldn’t connect with her, so I got over it.

I consider this Seth’s story and as far as the book goes in that regard, it met all my expectations.  The author, Cherrie Lynn, really brought the emotions in this book. In Rock Me, she painted a picture of Ghost as a ladies man who’s only out for a good time, but in this title she brought different sides of him to the page. He was tormented, with a rough past and even a rougher history in love. We discover his vulnerable side, his tender side and that side of him that really just wants to love and be loved for who he is. Who could resist that kind of man? Certainly not me. I wanted to take him home and reassure him that he was perfect, that he was worth it.

I liked revisiting Candace and Brian. Rock Me is one of my favorite books and I’ve read it a couple of times so I loved that I got to see Brian again. He was wonderfully tormented as always.  Candace was great too. I was glad to see how she had grown into herself.

Now to the good part. The sex. It was freaking amazing. Cherrie Lynn painted a picture of sensuality that is still lingering around in my head. The dirty talk, the kissing, the touching…phew! I was melting. I kept grinning like a fool even after it was over. But what got to me the most were the love scenes from Seth’s point of view. Brilliant. I could feel each and every emotion he was feeling. His insecurity that Macy would never love him, that he would never be enough. His desire to be with her, in her. It was excruciating and exciting and a whole lot of things. And that scene in the hotel room when all hell breaks loose? OH.MY.GOODNESS!  His desperation, his pain, his need. I cried when it was over, I really did. And then the scene backstage at the concert and after at the hotel. It broke my heart. Again. To see him so tortured and sad…OMG! it was amazing as it was horrible.

I don’t even have to say that the writing was great. That is a given. The dialog was very good and entertaining. Some of Macy’s thoughts I could have done without, but I guess I can’t win them all. So I’ll leave it at that. You make your own mind about her. I said my piece. Anyway, back to the writing. The pace was excellent, the sex scenes amazingly placed and the other events that make up the story added to its greatness. They were the ones that showed that other side of Seth, so I enjoyed them thoroughly.

What am I saying? I enjoyed every aspect of the book. Yes, even Macy. Without her there wouldn’t have been the great sex and Seth’s emotional growth. So there. She redeemed herself in my eyes. Just a little bit.