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New Release! The Love of Wicked Men Season One by Brandon Shire *Review*


The Love of Wicked Men Season One
by Brandon Shire

An Erotic Legal Thriller
Released June 12th 2015



Sid Rivers and Jack Brown are two sides of the same coin. One is a lawyer with his own firm and dreams of money and power; the other is a criminal with a lengthy record and a quest for vengeance. When they meet, sparks fly. But was their meeting an accident? Or was it planned by the billionaires who want to control their destiny?

The Love of Wicked Men is an erotic journey into the underbelly of the legal profession, the corporate culture of profit-at-any-cost, and the secret world of industrial espionage.



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Sid Rivers is an ambitious lawyer who will stop at nothing to be successful. Being wealthy and powerful is all he’s about and he will stop at nothing to achieve his goal. Then he meets Jack Brown. The sexy thug has caught Sid’s eye but the last thing he needs at the moment is a distraction.

Jack Brown is out for revenge and he’s determined to get it regardless of who stands in his path. Not even the arrogant, sexy lawyer that pushes all his buttons will lead him astray.

Oh what a wicked web of lies, deception, power and corruption does Mr. Brandon Shire weave!

Right from the get go we get to know Sid Rivers and all he stands for. He is arrogant, selfish and rude. He knows what he wants and he will go to any means necessary to get it. As the episode progressed we got to see Sid getting more involved in this new case and get a glimpse of how dangerous it can become for him in the long run.

I did not like Sid at all, but I was so very intrigued by him. Jack Brown, on the other hand, was as likable as he was confusing. I didn’t get much from him, but the little I got had me thinking that his story was a good one.

In Episode Two the twist just keep on coming and so does the revelations. We now get to know a bit more about Jack but not enough to understand his connection to Sid. Meanwhile, Sid studies the information he retrieve and starts plotting his way through the case. He involves his partner and associates and puts his plan in motion.

Jack and Sid continue to cross paths and the tension between them keeps up mounting. Especially after that Sid’s rendezvous with an old flame. It was so very wicked and such a tease for things to come!!! And I’m not even going to mention how tantalizing the ending was. This tangled web was only going to get messier!

By Episode Three, with the plan to take down the opposition in motion, Sid starts getting results. And with those come some betrayals too. The associates are doing their best to make their end goal, especially the few Sid trusts to make it happen. However, there’s always one who to screw things up and puts everything in jeopardy. Oh but how I wanted to strangle that little dweeb!

Unfortunately I didn’t get my fix of Jack and Sid, since they didn’t get any ‘screen’ time together. Sid is keeping his distance since he learned Jack’s not who he thought he was and Jack is off tying some loose ends and figuring out who’s after him. But don’t start fretting yet! We do get to see Jack getting his groove one. And what a sexy groove it was! My anticipation for Sid and Jack getting together was definitely off the charts!

With Episode Three getting all twisty and complicated it was time to take it down a notch. Or so I thought! In Episode Four Sid is feeling the pressure and is in need of unwinding. This is where he meets and get his ass handed to him by no other than Hunter Stephens. He’s one of the main characters in Brandon Shire’s Afflicted I and I loved seeing him again.

What also made this episode so enjoyable was that I got to know a little bit more about Sid’s past and what propelled him to be the person he is at present. Jack also sheds some layers in this episode. I loved watching him struggle and seeing how his connection to Sid had him all out of sorts. But let me be honest here, what I loved, loved about this episode was that i finally got to see Sid and Jack together. And I have no words, dammit! It was all I was expecting and a whole lot more. HOT doesn’t even come close.

And after that little treasure of Episode Four we find ourselves in the midst of chaos in Episode Five. And what a ride it was! We finally find some answers, encounter some more betrayals and go, go, go! There was action and violence, angst and tenderness and quite a few gasping moments thrown in there to keep you interested.

In this episode Sid realizes just how dangerous it was to take this case. We also continue to learn more about him and watch as he fights his connection to Jack at every step. Ohhh and we get one hell of a turn of events! First, there’s the hook up I did not see coming but loved to experience. Then there was the news that left me reeling. This episode…epic!

With Episode Six being the last one of the season you can expect it will be as fantastic as the others. In Episode Six, Jack finally finds some closure and Sid has the power he always wanted. He has achieved what he set out to do but not in the manner he set out to do it. Now he must try to salvage what he can while coming to terms with how grave and real the danger is–not only to himself but for Jack too. It was a bittersweet conclusion for Season One, but I don’t think I would’ve ended it any other way. Only time will tell what’s in store for these wicked men!

Some will say I’m biased since I consider Mr. Shire to be one of my favorite authors, but I assure you I am not. In my experience not every author can take an idea, roll with it and deliver a fantastic story while still taking into consideration the readers’ input. Add to that the fact that the cast of characters (and believe me there are quite a few!) were all intriguing in their own right, complex and developed as the story continued on.

Personally, it was the mix of characters and riveting storyline that keep me reading all through the night. The constant twists and turns, the characters that I loved to hate and the anticipation of what the hell was going to happen next had me in a fit of grunts, swearing and OH MY GAWDs! I am certainly looking forward to the next season. There MUST be a next season!

*I received a copy of this title in exchange of my honest opinion.


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About the Author

Great stories should not depend on gender or sexual preference of a character, but instead upon the strength of the characters and the honesty and urgency of the story.

Brandon Shire proves he understands the complexity of writing LGBT fiction from two very different viewpoints – serious and smexy. His serious fiction is written for those who enjoy a book which explores life’s darker elements in a more literary form, while the smexy fiction is for those who enjoy a graphically erotic romance.

Regardless of the differentiation above, Brandon writes for people who enjoy being challenged, and for those who strive to understand situations they don’t typically encounter. He pens raw, emotional stories about characters which readers will either love or love to hate.

Life and love are pretty damned special, but neither is always perfect. Life can be painful, and real love hard to find. Brandon’s fiction is an exploration of the (sometimes) arduous search for the happiness we all desire.

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New Release: Summer Symphony by Brandon Shire *Review*


Summer Symphony
by Brandon Shire

From TPG Books
Released October 1st, 2014



Martin Zoric had vivid dreams of fatherhood, of a small hand pressed to his, of pink dresses and girlish laughter. Then his wife had a stillbirth and his world fell apart.

He listened to the unwanted apologies, stood by his wife as was expected of him, and kept his façade strong and firm for the entire world to see.

But does he have the strength let go and really grieve?

When Ren Wakahisa landed in Croatia he was hoping to escape the cultural pressures put on him to conform. His family wanted him to forsake love for duty. They viewed his happiness as secondary to familial prosperity.

Does he have the courage to be who he wants to be? Or, will he yield to their wishes?

Summer Symphony is the story of how two men find their answers and what they learn about strength, and grace, and the endurance of love.


Summer Symphony_300
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On a rainy Saturday morning Mr. Brandon Shire took me on a journey where my heart was broken, mended and lightened. With his trademark style of writing I found myself reliving the pain of miscarriage, re-enforcing my believe that music can touch someone’s soul and healing old scars.

I was forewarned by the author himself when he told me “It’s a tearjerker, not a romance, so take that into consideration.” But I had followed the progress of this story since the very beginning and could not help myself–even knowing full well that it might affect me one way or the other.

Martin is a conductor in Croatia. He lost his daughter a few months back and has yet to give in to the pain. Music–the one thing that always brought him comfort and happiness–has lost its magic. His wife, who he has known since childhood, has had enough and leaves him.

Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, Martin can’t escape. His pain in right there on the forefront of his mind. Thoughts of raising a little girl, teaching her his love of music and cherishing her every step in life haunt in day in and day out.

Then in comes Ren. A Japanese piano player, Ren has been hired to play a concert during the summer in Croatia. He struggles between duty and being true to himself and takes advantage of the delay this engagement will put between him deciding to do what is expected of him or what he truly wants.

Like Brandon Shire stated, this is not a romance although it has romance elements in it. It’s a story of loss and the pain that loss brings about. It is a story about the healing power of music and of finding yourself and accepting what fate has brought to your doorstep.

These men loved deeply and it showed with every emotion they portrayed. From the frustration over having to choose your future or the loss of all things you have held dear, Brandon Shire didn’t miss a beat in bringing a wide range of emotions to the page. I loved how he went into the nitty-gritty of losing someone. Martin had given up and his every action or thought showed that. Just as well shown, were Ren’s conflicted emotions over the pressure his mother was putting on him.

Thankfully, there were other elements in the story that lightened the read a bit. There was the setting and the way the author went about bringing it to the page without being overburdened with details. There was also the music. I loved how the music came alive and jumped off the page. I found myself searching for the music referenced in the story and I am not a lover of classical music.

This was not an easy read for me since it brought about all those not-so-happy moments from my own experience. However, I don’t regret reading it. It served to enlighten me in how men are prone to keep their grief hidden, even when it affects them so deeply. It also served to ignite a feeling of hope that we, as individuals, are stronger than we think and can find solace in the unlikeliest of places.

All in all, a poignant story of love, loss and the strength within us all.

*I received this title in exchange of my honest opinion.


About the Author

Award winning writer BRANDON SHIRE is a distinct voice in contemporary fiction. Mr. Shire was chosen as a Top Read in 2011, Best in LGBTQ Fiction for 2011 & 2012, and garnered several Honorable Mentions, as well as a Rainbow Award for Best Gay Contemporary Fiction.

Connect with Brandon at BrandonShire.com

10% of the proceeds from the sale of any of Brandon’s books are donated to LGBT Youth charities combating homelessness.

Books by Brandon Shire


The Value of Rain
Listening to Dust


Afflicted I
Afflicted II
Heart of Timber


SIDE NOTE: Oct is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Month.

Cold (Cold #1) by Brandon Shire

Cold_600Rating: 5 stars

Publisher: TPG Books (May 14, 2013)

Available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

Synopsis: Prison is a brutal, heartless, and demeaning environment. No one knows this better than a man sentenced to life in prison for murder. Lem Porter is a high-profile prisoner who had a solid career ahead of him in a field he loved until he killed his brother. He has spent almost eighteen years behind bars and doesn’t have much hope left.

Anderson Passero had it all. He built a career, a name, and a relationship with a man he thought he loved. Only after he very publicly landed in prison did he realize how ignorant he’d been. He has eight months left on his sentence and he is eager to go home and put prison life behind him. He doesn’t know it yet, but he will always carry these eight months with him, and they may just help him to understand what love really means.

Review:  After having spent months following the progress Brandon Shire was making on this book,which included reading a brief profile of who Lem and Anderson were and endlessly trying to figure out how Mr. Shire was going to bring it all together, all I have to say is “Bravo, Mr. Shire. You have done it again!”

Brandon Shire did a wonderful job of giving me an ample view of Lem and Anderson’s surroundings – how it affected their thoughts and actions. But he outdid himself in bringing these complex characters to the page by providing enough of their thoughts, regrets, needs and wants for me to be drawn into this story fully. To the point that I did not mind what wasn’t revealed.

Lem, facing life in prison, won my heart from the moment he stepped into the story. I wish I could take him out into nature and see my this gentle giant in his environment. Quiet, strong and considerate. He may be a murderer, but his heart is good. His actions, his guilt – everything came together to endear him to me. I can’t wait to read more about him.

Anderson was not on my list of favorites. Slowly but surely he burrowed under my skin until I came to enjoy him too. His development throughout the story was great to see. Even if at times I wanted to smack him upside the head, the times when I wanted to comfort him outnumbered them. This was only possible because even though Brandon showed his faults – his selfishness and arrogance – he also showed his yearning to find someone who saw him for who he was and not the persona he put out for the media and the club scene. I believe he found that in Lem. Of course, only Brandon’s Muse and time will tell if I’m correct, but for this story I chose to believe that it was.

I wish I could say more about this wonderful story but it’s not something I can talk about without giving too much away. So if you take anything from this review, take this:

Cold is not a story about the brutality of prison, nor is it not a fairytale. It has its rough moments, its passionate moments and its painful moments but it also has life affirming moments – life is but one, beauty can be found in the most unexpected of places and precious moments should be enjoyed for all they’re worth.

I received this title from the author in exchange of my honest opinion and participation in the blog hop tour for its release.

Blog Hop: Cold by Brandon Shire *Interview*

Blog Tour Banner(1)

Welcome to the Cold Blog Hop Tour

Celebrating the release of Cold by Brandon Shire

Here you will find in-depth back story answers to some of the questions that came to me while reading Cold. Author Brandon Shire has been kind enough to take some time off from his busy schedule to appease my curiosity, so sit back and enjoy. Don’t forget to comment below to be entered in the giveaway for the chance to win your very own copy of Mr. Shire’s latest release.

LeAnn’s Book Reviews (LBR): Hello, Brandon! Thank you so much for visiting us today and agreeing to answer a few of my questions regarding Cold and its characters.

Brandon Shire: Thanks for allowing me to be here. It’s always an honor.

LBR: Back in January you stated on the Brandon Shire Fan Group on Goodreads that this was mainly a story of bringing together two different men within the “sordid environment” of prison. I know you are led mostly by your Muse, but would you have brought these two characters together away from the prison environment they found themselves in?

Brandon Shire: Likely not. I believe that these two would not have considered each other outside of prison. They are too different, and I wonder if they would even be in the same environs. They are so diametrically opposite that the backdrop of a ‘forced’ meeting was necessary for them to see beyond the walls they had built.

LBR: I agree that Lem and Anderson are different in some aspects – mainly in physical presence and how they carry themselves. While Lem is big in stature and his presence commands respects, Anderson is short and prefers not to draw attention to himself while in prison. However, I was surprised to see a side of Lem that went against what most people would perceive him to be. Is this a character trait of his or does Anderson bring this side of him to the surface?

Brandon Shire: I believe intimacy draws things from people which we we don’t expect. When personal barriers come down we get a better glimpse of what sits inside. Also, what most people perceive is usually a front based on opinions from both the perceived and the perceiver. The people around Lem based their opinion of him on stereotypes. So what we were allowed to witness as he and Anderson grew closer was definitely something which was drawn from Lem. I don’t believe we would have seen that side of him if not for Anderson.

LBR: In the beginning, Anderson comes across as aloof and kind of a snob. Is this a mechanism for self-preservation he’s had to learn during his life?

Brandon Shire: Honestly, I don’t think it had anything to do with self-preservation. Anderson was just a snob. He had money and looks and a family that mostly supported him. He was a typical gay whiner. I really didn’t like him when I first started writing the story, and he is definitely not the type of person I would hang out with in real life. Anderson would probably claim self-preservation, but I don’t buy that. My attitude towards him, right from the beginning, made him a difficult character to write. Maybe because I wanted him to be that wounded soul and not just the over-privileged wanker that he was.

LBR: Having seen how Lem longed to be with Anderson, I can’t help but wonder, will he make an effort if he is ever offered a chance at parole?

Brandon Shire: Tough question because I can’t say what’s in Lem’s head yet (the muse hasn’t told me). I do think Anderson changed him and his perceptions about himself enough that he would definitely want to further things between them. The real question will be whether Anderson would allow their relationship beyond prison. Would Lem fit into his lifestyle?  What would Anderson’s friends think of this big old country hick? (Like you, I’m still waiting to hear about it.)

LBR: You mentioned once that your Muse let you know the reason why Lem killed his brother, but in their time together, Lem never revealed to Anderson his reasons for doing it. Was this because he didn’t want to taint his time with Anderson with the truth behind his actions or is it that he hasn’t dealt with it himself?

Brandon Shire: I think Lem believes that to be private information between him and his brother, and no one else. He has never spoken of it to anyone. I don’t know if he will ever share it with Anderson. And frankly, at this point, I don’t think Lem should share it with Anderson. For me, Anderson hasn’t really proved himself worthy of the information.

LBR: We mostly experienced Anderson’s point of view – his thoughts and feelings – when he got together with Lem. Is there a reason for this?

Brandon Shire: Lem is so quiet and has spent so long not allowing himself to just be, that he doesn’t really know how to verbalize it. But nor do I think he needs to. He’s a very intelligent but simple man. Over-intellectualizing on how he feels is just not something he does. He’s one of those emotional rock people we all know that just does what he knows to be true to his heart. And, I think that perfectly fits in with his character — a big, gentle bear.

LBR: Will I get to see these two together again? (I know, I know, the million dollar question, but it had to be asked!)

Brandon Shire: Yes, there is a book two coming. When, or what the title is… I have no idea, yet.

So there you have it folks! I can’t wait to see what Brandon’s Muse has in store for these characters.

Don’t forget to comment below to be entered to win your very own copy of Mr. Shire’s latest release. Please be sure to include your email and which format you prefer the book in (.mobi or .epub) if you were to win a copy.


The contest has been closed. Below is the number drawn by Randomizer.org

Congratulations to the winner and thank you for participating.

Winner Cold Giveaway

Afflicted II (Afflicted #2) by Brandon Shire

Afflicted IIRating: 4.25 stars

Published: December 4, 2012

Publisher: TPG Books

Available at: Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

Synopsis: Hunter and Dillon finally came to terms with the idea that they wanted more than just hot sex with each other. Dillon decided to quit hustling in order to invest his time and energy in building their relationship, and Hunter let his barriers down and opened his heart. But fear has a way of creeping up and dismantling things that we hold precious. Dillon’s family isn’t quite finished with him yet and Hunter is torn about whether he should step into the fray.

Their journey together comes to a thrilling conclusion. Or does it?

Review: A great follow-up book filled with emotions and unquenchable lust that will leave you wanting more of the raw sex, the tender lovemaking and the love.

I met Dillon and Hunter in Afflicted, where their one chance encounter turns into something more. Feelings are not in the equation in this stage, just a need to connect and explore. Afflicted II picks up where the previous book left off. Hunter and Dillon are still exploring this new-found relationship and their sexual connection, but the feelings are starting to make an appearance. And so it continues.


The author, Brandon Shire, grabbed my attention from the first sentence I read. In the previous book, I got to know Hunter through his interpretations of the different smells, touches and tastes. In this installment, I was immediately wrapped in Hunter’s descriptive thoughts, specifically Dillon’s scent. Oh, but not just any scent. No, Hunter is thinking about Dillon’s horny aroma. That’s Hunter for you – horny, insatiable and strong and independent. Or so I had come to expect.

I got to see a crack to his armor when Dillon takes him for a getaway on a remote cabin. All through the drive he can’t help but feel that something important will happen. He fears the worst – that Dillon will change his mind about taking their relationship further. This is the first of many times that I got to see this insecure, vulnerable side to Hunter and I loved it. Although he did try to be objective and take it slow, his feelings for Dillon were too strong. He wants to protect him, shelter him from his family and keep him for himself. He opens himself to this new-found connection and lets the chips fall where they may. He struggles and he denies, but underneath it all he KNOWS. He loves Dillon deeply and he is everything that he had ever dreamed of. I loved reading Hunter’s development throughout the book. From and independent, strong man who believes he doesn’t need a deeper connection with anyone else to an honest, vulnerable man who opens up his heart and fears for the first time in his life. He is raw and passionate, he takes the lead then submits beautifully to his passion and Dillon’s ministrations.


First, I was taken through Dillon’s past and the hurt and pain that are still evident even after 10 years. The glimpses into Dillon’s struggles made me connect to him more. Mr. Shire brought them all to the surface to give me a clear view of what he has been through and how these experiences have shaped him. He is a survivor – strong but vulnerable in how he feels. He appreciates what he has found with Hunter and he will do his best to make it work. Being open about his past with Hunter is the first step he takes to prevent problems along the way.

Then comes a series of events that leave Dillon broken – news about his father and a visit from his mother.But Hunter is always there, a presence to remind him that he is not alone in this. That he can lean on him and find strength in their connection. He knows how he feels about Hunter and he’s tired of waiting, of being safe and thinking things through. He dominates, but submits to his feelings. He is honest and loyal and I love him for it. His development was a beautiful journey to read. From a handsome prostitute who doesn’t know what he wants and doubts himself every step of the way to a strong young man confident in his love for Hunter, open about his domineering sexual ways and sure of himself and his decisions.

The Great

I enjoyed this book from start to finish. I loved how it made me feel all kinds of emotions and how the characters developed throughout the story. The writing was excellent. Please, as if it could be any different. It may not have been as lyrical as I’ve come to expect from Brandon Shire, but I believe that it fit the story perfectly. The beauty of the story is in its realness and the way the author went about telling it was brilliant. This story is filled with pure, raw need mixed with love and real life.

And of course, I can’t forget the sex – to the rhythm of the rain, against a wall, spread on the kitchen counter, and in a public restroom. Each and every single time these two came together it had a purpose. No, not just to get off. The sex to the rhythm of the rain was about letting go and opening themselves to each other and to what they have found. The encounter against the wall was a show of power, initiated by Hunter but totally dominated by Dillon, it showed a new balance in their relationship – Hunter’s willingness to give his everything to Dillon and Dillon’s determination to have all of Hunter. The kitchen scene was about Dillon’s confession and Hunter’s silent acceptance and the scene in the restroom, well that was just them being their usual passionate, insatiable selves.

I’ll just keep my favorite sex scene to myself. I’ll just say that Mr. Brandon Shire managed to surprise the hell out of me and made me blush.After all I’ve read, that is not an easy thing to do. Yes, there is a lot of sex and it is hot and raw and amazing, but it is not what the story is about.

The Good

The secondary characters were a joy to read, even Margie and Lydia. I admit that I have come to better understand where they are coming from and I am glad that Hunter has them in his life. I liked that Lydia seemed more approachable now, which I attribute to Hunter’s willingness to see another side of her. This time around I would have loved a lot more interaction between Hunter and Margie. She is great at telling it like it is and apparently Hunter respects her opinion. Their banter was both enjoyable and revealing. Travis made me angry and I found myself wanting to smack the hell out of him at times, but he was not entirely to blame for some of the things he did. Yes, he made a huge mistake, but that was essential to Dillon’s development, so I could overlook it.

The Ugly

Abigail and the two dreaded words “THE END”. Once again, I am left hanging with an abrupt ending. :'(


All in all, Afflicted II was an amazing read – full of lust, longing and love.

I would like to extend my appreciation to Mr. Shire for providing me a copy of this book to read and review in exchange of my honest opinion.


You can find an excerpt of Afflicted II on Goodreads and more information on Brandon Shire’s books and LGBT Youth Organizations he lends his support to on his website.

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.

One Small Thing (One Thing #1) by Piper Vaughn, M.J. O’Shea

One Small Thing (One Thing, #1)Published: May 4, 2012

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Available at: Dreamspinner, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: “Daddy” is not a title Rue Murray wanted, but he never thought he’d have sex with a woman either. Now he’s the unwitting father of a newborn named Alice. Between bartending and cosmetology school, Rue doesn’t have time for babies, but he can’t give her up. What Rue needs is a babysitter, and he’s running out of options. He’s on the verge of quitting school to watch Alice himself when he remembers his reclusive new neighbor, Erik.

Erik Van Nuys is a sci-fi novelist with anxiety issues to spare. He doesn’t like people in general, and he likes babies even less. Still, with his royalties dwindling, he could use the extra cash. Reluctantly, he takes on the role of manny—and even more reluctantly, he finds himself falling for Alice and her flamboyant father.

Rue and Erik are as different as two people can be, and Alice is the unlikeliest of babies, but Rue has never been happier than when Alice and Erik are by his side. At least, not until he receives an offer that puts all his dreams within reach and he’s forced to choose: the future he’s always wanted, or the family he thought he never did.

Rating: 4.25 stars

Review: Sweetness! That is the first word that comes to mind when I think of this book. Just a great pile of gooey sweetness sprinkled with a few nuts along the way to make the enjoyment ever more worthwhile.

This is the story of Rue, a bar tending cosmetology student, who dreams of making it big in West Hollywood. He is an admitted slut, who only tops and leaves his lovers behind without another thought. One night he gets an unexpected visit from his “girl-periment” and finds himself accepting custody of his baby girl. After all is said and done, Rue finds himself in a bind. How is he supposed to go to school during the day and bar tend at night while caring for his baby? In comes Erik,  the new tenant in Rue’s building. Adorable and totally reclusive Erik who you just want to wrap up in your arms and shelter him from the world. He is a 27-seven year old Gatorade-guzzling, Star Wars fan who writes for a living. Can they be more different?

When I first read about Erik, my mind wondered how in the hell the author would bring these two very different guys together and make it work. They were total opposites. Where Rue was outspoken, Erik was shy. Where Rue was flamboyant and a slut, Erik hadn’t been kissed EVER. Their only common ground would have to be Alice, and that only happened after Erik accepted the babysitting job.  So I was skeptical, to say the least.

Well, kudos to the authors. They managed to bring it all together nicely. My only concern would have to be that both Erik and Rue could have been developed a bit more. I would have loved to know the cause of Erik anxieties and Rue’s reason for never having a relationship. However, this didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story. I loved how they eventually got together. They really bonded as friends first, which put Erik at ease and made it easier for me to accept the fact that he went ahead into a relationship with Rue even though he was lacking experience in the romance department. It also helped that Rue questioned his all consuming attraction to Erik. He second guessed himself about his feelings and tried to forget about it which made their getting together all that more believable.

Aside from Rue and Erik there was Dustin. He has been Rue’s best friend for years and makes a great addition to this quirky family. He was adorable and funny and totally had the best of advice for both Erik and Rue. I really enjoyed getting to know him and I am definitely looking forward to his story.

The writing was very good,  filled with humor and banter and some angst and drama to make it a well rounded story. All the elements that make a great read for me. The characters were amazing, their dialog was interesting and the tender moments shared by them were great. I enjoyed their interactions with Alice, since it showed a different side of each character. I really enjoyed the intimate moments between Rue and Erik because they showed their connection. For me, those moments weren’t just about the physical, but more about the emotional connection these two guys had found with each other. Yeah, I’m a sap. I know.

This was a great book to read and I’m glad that I don’t have to wait long for the next book to come out. I enjoyed Dustin a great deal and I think his HEA is overdue. Just a couple more days to go!

I would like to thank NetGalley and Dreamspinner Press for the opportunity of reading and reviewing this title.

Listening To Dust by Brandon Shire

Listening to DustSynopsis: Murder touched Stephen Dobbins when he was a young boy and left him living in a void of aching loneliness. A chance meeting with a young American chased away the fear that he would always be alone and brought him the prospect of a new existence.

Dustin Earl joined the military and escaped his small town Southern upbringing with the hope that he could give his mentally challenged brother a better life. But Dustin had never known real love, an honest hug, or a simple kiss. He considered his sexuality a weakness; a threat that had been used against those he cared about.

For eight months their relationship blossomed until Dustin suddenly returned home. He cherished Stephen, but felt his responsibilities to his brother outweighed his own chance at happiness.

Shattered, unable to function and unwilling to accept Dustin’s departure, Stephen flew three thousand miles to get Dustin back and rekindle what they had. But what he would learn when he got there… he could never have imagined

Rating: 5+ stars

My thoughts: You caught that, did you? Yes, a 5+ stars rating along with my thoughts on the book. Why? Because I can’t bring myself to review this book and do it justice.

I went into this book merely by the recommendation given to me by Lisa, a fellow M/M reader, and the fact that Brandon Shire wrote it. I did not read any reviews nor did I read the blurb. Did it make any difference in my reading experience? Yes, I believe it did. I only knew that it was a different read from what I am used to and that the writing would be spectacular. Oh, and that I needed tissues!

You see, back in August I decided to challenge myself and step out my comfort zone. Which meant that I would explore different genres, hopefully with a romantic undertone to them, but especially something that would be a different read for me. I chose to do this by taking recommendations, choosing books with a more serious storyline and trying out new authors.

I first discovered Brandon Shire’s work when I read Afflicted, where I immediately discovered his talent for weaving emotionally packed stories and creating complex yet very real characters.  So I was looking forward to reading this and took the plunge into unchartered territory. And I am glad to say that it did not disappoint.

“Love steals everything from you, Mémé, and leaves you with nothing”

With just these words, found in Chapter 2, I knew I was in it for the long haul. So much was said in that statement that my heart went out to Stephen right there and then.

And so began my journey into the lives of Stephen and Dustin. What came next was an overwhelming story of love and loss, filled with regret, guilt and heartache. Their love, like a storm, tore through me leaving me painfully sad and angry. Yes, angry. Not at the author or his book. But at the people who continue to abuse, judge and discriminate against others. I was so overwhelmed by my own emotions that I had to step away and gather my bearings.

When I returned to the book it did not take but a couple of pages for my emotions to come to the surface. But this time, I did not want to step away.

“He absorbed every grace Stephen laid upon his body; shivered and moved with Stephen as if they had been lovers for decades instead of mere minutes. He was still drunk, but his passion burned; burned like a white hot sun that sucked Stephen into a realm of ardor which he did not know existed.”

That passage right there is just one of the many that represent why I enjoy Brandon Shire’s writing. He manages to bring such emotion to the page. I could feel Dustin’s apprehension, his fear. I felt Stephen’s passion, his understanding of Dustin in that moment. I felt their loneliness and their longing for something lasting, something real. I felt for them and longed with them. Who doesn’t want to love and be loved? To be accepted for who they are – with their warts and all?

Stephen and Dustin’s story touched me deeply. But what I loved the most was the underlying message of love and acceptance, of forgiveness and of letting go. How all these things when thrown in together define what true love really is. And I am a believer of true love. Of love and loss and that sometimes love is just not enough. What I take from this story is that I need to live in the moment, that I have to accept myself and respect others because life is unpredictable and all you have is the here and now and how you choose to live it.

“Finally, I know that when the air has settled and all the past particles of anger and shame have disappeared, we will still have that one moment. It will still bring us together.”

So I urge you to buy* this book, read it and think it through. My only hope is that it has the same impact on you that it had on me.

*10% of the proceeds from the sale of any of Brandon Shire’s books are donated to organizations that help homeless LGBT Youth get off the street. Click here for more information.

Afflicted by Brandon Shire

AfflictedSynopsis: A high priced male escort and a blind gay man meet by chance. What ensues is a hot, steamy romance by two men looking for something more than a one night stand. But can they reach beyond their own insecurities to grasp what they really desire?

Meet Hunter Stephens. He’s gay, tall, dark haired, and he’s hot. Very hot. But he doesn’t rely on the visual cues when appraising a man because he’s also blind. He listens to the timbre of their voice, trembles at the touch of their skin, and luxuriates in the deep richness of the aroma of man. He’s hard of the hand because he’s a black belt and takes no shit, but soft of the heart because he’s lonely and has been for a while.

Until he meets Dillon.

Dillon Chambers is straight man candy. He’s a high priced male escort that works with an exclusive agency who handles only the wealthiest of clients. But it wasn’t always like that for him. At sixteen he was thrown out of the house for being gay and struggled to survive, turning tricks on the street and finding food and a place to sleep wherever he could. He met two people that changed his life, but he has never met anyone who could change his heart.

Until he bumped into Hunter.

And now they are both Afflicted.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Review: This was a surprisingly good book to read. Both characters had issues to deal with that interfered with finding love, but they were great characters to get to know. Hunter, so strong and determined, revealed a very vulnerable side filled with loneliness and a need to love and be loved. And Dillon, sweet, sweet Dillon, he had a rough past, a very interesting present and a loneliness so great that you could only feel for him. I very much enjoyed how these two got together and finally got through ONE of their issues.

I cannot comment further on their relationship, since their story finished abruptly.  I could not believe that it finished so unexpectedly. I remember looking at my location in my Kindle and thinking to myself that it was a mistake. In my opinion, they were in the middle of one of the most defining moments of their relationship and I thought they would start sharing more about each other, which in turn would take their relationship to the next level. They did that up to a point, but to me it was not good enough (thus my 4.5 star review!).

All that said, I have to congratulate the author for such beautiful writing. Every emotion – lust, loneliness, anger, insecurity- was so magnificently written that I felt each and every one of them. Especially Hunter’s. The author managed to describe these in a way that really let me relate to him. The sex scenes described from Hunter’s POV were splendid. At first, I had to really pay attention since it was so very different from what you read everyday with a sighted MC. The author described every single detail using the other senses – how it felt, smelled, tasted and sounded.

I am looking forward to next book since I am very interested in knowing how Hunter and Dillon continue together. Well played, Brandon Shire! You had me hooked from the start, now I have to wait and see.